←  Fountain Square

Mistborn: The Inquisition


Daydreams of Starlight

Nell's Photo Nell 27 Mar 2013

Nell sat silently as she watched the elegant falls of water spring from the fountain that gave the square she sat in its name. The water slightly clouded, dyed with the darkness of a recent ash fall. While the darker coloration of the water seemed to make the otherwise picturesque scene Nell now observed more ominous, it hardly came close to hinting at the horrors that fountain had been a stage for mere days earlier.

The thought brought Nell's gaze downward to consider the blood from countless executions that stained the cobblestones of the square. The stains were faded, from regular scrubbings and frequent ash falls, but still there. Nell doubted even an army of motivated urchins would be capable of restoring the square to a place of purity. If a square could be called innocent, Fountain Square had lots its innocence for good long ago.

Nell shook her head, trying to clear it of disturbing thoughts. Barty had given her the afternoon off. He was busy with some research, and had grown tired of her lurking over his shoulder, trying to help with something she couldn't possibly help with. He had been gentle and considerate as he told her he needed some alone time, that he didn't need her for anything, and that she could go enjoy herself, but the implications had still stung. Didn't he realize that Nell enjoyed herself most when she was him, even if their interactions were confined to her observing hom do what he loved?

What he loves... the thought brought a slight smile to Nell's lips, momentarily banishing her melancholy. What would she give to be one of those poor dead insects, if only to feel the warmth she saw in Barty's eyes while he studied for herself. Surely if she felt that love, even if only for a moment, she could die happy.

But no, to Barty Nell could never be an object of love. She was a skaa, he was a noble. She could be a helpful pair of hands, a willing student, or a devoted servant. Perhaps, she could even be considered a friend, but she knew deep in her heart, beneath all of her fantasies and delusions, that she could never be an object of devotion for Barty, not matter how much she might wish otherwise.

But oh, wouldn't it be wonderful if her wishes could come true? Encouraged by the thought, Nell's imagination took hold and the idea blossomed into a day dream. What would it be like if the square was not haunted by the ghosts of dead skaa? Instead, it could be the haunt of lovers, lit by candles and limestone whose light reflected in the pure, clear water. In Nell's fantasy, ash did not fall from the sky here, the sanctity... the innocence of the place kept it away. While in reality it weas barely midafternoon, in her fantasy Nell saw the mists swirling around her, dancing with themselves and seeming to encourage other occupants of the square to do the same. Above her, stars Barty had told her about were shining down. This square was special, after all. It was a place where people came to find their true loves...

Nell continued to pass her time with this new fancy, quickly becoming oblivious to the square around her.

Avyn's Photo Avyn 19 Aug 2013

Avyn's stomach growled. While he had learned to live on whatever could be scavenged, it seemed his stomach hadn't. There had been less food than usual. Probably because of the rumors about a skaa mistborn. "All just overactive imagination, if you ask me," he muttered to no one.

A rat darted past him, and he scowled. Even rats have fuller stomachs than I do. His shuffling gait pushed the thin blanket of ash forward, building up in the front, and then falling to the sides of his boots. We skaa are like the ash to the nobility. After the fire, the obligator looked upon the ruins of our tenement with a blank expression. But beneath that, there must have been satisfaction. That we were put in our place.

The buildings, tall and ash-stained, loomed to his sides, oppressive and dark. The opening at the end of the alley he was slowly making his way through began to grow, and the light at the end seemed an escape from the buildings to his sides. He increased his pace, getting as close as his old body could to a run, a desperate need to escape the alley, to reach the light.

When he arrived there, he realized where he was. The fountain square, the place where skaa, brought like sheep to slaughter, were executed. He noticed the flakes of ash clouding the water of the fountains. Like skaa blood. His scowl returned, even deeper than before. He surveyed the area, looking for anyone to beg from. The square, as usual, wasn't particularly crowded, and there were seldom few generous people in Luthadel, but there were enough.

His eyes caught on a girl sitting near the fountain, facing away from him. She seemed to be his best choice. Young enough to be generous, but old enough to have money to give. Perfect. He mentally prepared himself, choosing a rough, scratchy voice and an extremely pronounced limp. He approached her, keeping close enough so his voice could be heard without shouting, but far enough that he would be out of range of any violence directed his way.

"Excuse me, miss, could you spare a clip? I have no family, no food, and no home."

The girl turned. Her eyes, an amazing shade of blue, brought the weight of years of memories crashing down onto him. It was Etan. It had to be. But it couldn't be. He fought back the sob that rose in his throat, swallowed, and said, in a pleading voice,


Nell's Photo Nell 04 Sep 2013

Excuse me, miss, could you spare a clip? I have no family, no food, and no home." Nell turned, jolted out of her fantasy by the plea of a beggar. As she turned, the swirling mists and twinkling starlight conjured by her imagination were broken to pieces by the harsh afternoon sun and the earnest face of the beggar now in front of her.

"Please?" he asked again. His voice was tinged with sadness, and though she was having difficulty seeing clearly because of the light, she thought he might be holding back tears. She wondered who he might have been, and what had put such sadness in his voice. Raised as she had been in the confines of a manor, Nell had very little understanding of how other skaa lived. She had heard murmers, of course, from the other 'ladies,' and others since she had started working for Barty. However, the few skaa privileged enough to have clean clothes to wear and regular meals seldom mixed with those less fortunate.It's strange she thought, That even among skaa there seems to be a pecking order. She doubted Barty would ever notice such things, sometimes she could almost forget he knew she was a skaa. Almost.

After a moment, Nell realized she had been staring at the man for several moments without saying a word, imagining what his life must be like rather than answering his plea for help.

"I'm sorry," she said after taking a moment to collect herself. Could the man not see that she was skaa as well? Perhaps, she realized, Perhaps he thinks me a poor noble. Nell supposed that, to someone who had never had enough to wear or eat, even her modest clothing must look like finery, clean and tidy as it was. "I truly wish I could help you, but I can't." Nell trailed off, not really knowing how to explain. The only money she ever had were funds Barty had given her to run errands with, like all skaa, being property herself, owned nothing. She had heard of some fortunate craftsmen, who had earned a measure of independence and property for themselves, and also the rumours of skaa criminals whose stolen fortunes let them pass as minor nobles, but she herself could not imagine having money of her own to give.

Avyn's Photo Avyn 11 Sep 2013

"I truly wish i could help you, but I can't"

She can't?

“Miss, please.” His voice cracked, and he swallowed, pushing the memories back down.

Avyn could see the regret plain on her face. She may be skaa then... I haven't seen skaa with clean clothes in years. We don't deserve them. No. She must be noble. No noble would let skaa have such nice clothes. Perhaps she will take pity on me.

“Anything you could spare. If you have no money, simply letting me sleep in an alley behind your home would be so very generous. Or even just a crumb of food? Or a sip of water?” He looked into her blue eyes, so much like Etan’s, and the memories surged back to the forefront. He saw the ash on the ground, but it was not from an ashfall. It was from the fire. The one that started it all. The wind stirred the ashes, and formed the tattoos on the obligator’s face. The bloodstains, so much like those in their temporary home. “What is your name?” he asked plaintively. A fleeting, irrational hope flashed through him as he struggled to control himself.
Edited by Eclipse, 11 September 2013 - 11:14 AM.

Nell's Photo Nell 14 Sep 2013

Nell stood, hoping to create some distance between herself and the man. The desperation in his voice as he begged made her nervous. "I'm sorry," she mumbled again, "I have no house, and I can't... Barty... I mean, that is to say my Lord..." What was she to do? She could only imagine Barty's face if she brought home some beggar from the streets. For all she knew, the man thought she was a dupe, and would break in and rob the place as soon as she and Barty were asleep.

Thankfully, the man's questions gave her a way out, and so she took it. "My name is Nell," she said quietly. "What is your name?"

Avyn's Photo Avyn 07 Oct 2013

Avyn frowned. She had a master, but she was dressed so well. He rubbed his temples, looked down at the ash-stained ground. She must be a servant to some high lord. What am I getting myself into? He shook his head slightly. What is there to lose?

Barely raising his voice above a whisper, he lifted his head and said, "Avyn. My name is... Avyn. Who is this Barty?"
Edited by Eclipse, 07 October 2013 - 10:21 PM.

Nell's Photo Nell 08 Oct 2013

"Barty is... that is to say, Lord Bartholomew Tacitus is my master. I assist him with his work." Nell shook her head, trying to clear her thoughts. The beggar, Avyn, had seriously disconcerted her, and she wasn't thinking clearly. "That's not important though. I'm sorry, I shouldn't have mentioned him. It's a pleasure to meet you Avyn." Nell did her best to smile warmly, but she couldn't help but feel that her nervousness might have spoiled the expression. Why couldn't this man just leave her alone to day dream in peace?

Avyn's Photo Avyn 09 Oct 2013

It's a pleasure to meet you, Avyn.

The nervous smile she put on as she said those words made him stop for a moment. He looked at his ash-smeared hands, and at her clean face, untouched by the ash. A skaa then. But an assistant? What work does this Barty do? And why would he stoop down for a skaa assistant when he could have a family member or lesser noble? Avyn took a step back, suddenly self-concious about how close he had come to this young stranger.

“I’m sorry if I’ve bothered you, I’ve had few interactions with anyone these last few years…” He trailed off. His eyes on the ash covering the ground, he paused for a moment, as if preparing himself.

He looked up. “You… You look so much… So much like her… My granddaughter…” He made a noise somewhere between a cough and a sob.

“Once again, I am sorry if I’ve bothered you.” He hesitated, not sure if he should leave, or if she would show pity on him and continue talking to him. The silence stretched on for one second. And then another. And another....
Edited by Eclipse, 09 October 2013 - 01:26 PM.

Nell's Photo Nell 09 Oct 2013

Nell blinked. She looked like his granddaughter? This seemed to make the man sad, perhaps he had lost his grand daughter? Both children and adults died easily enough in the Final Empire. Nell knew that, though she had little experience with death herself. In that moment, however, she could think of little else to do other than comforting the pitiful figure in front of her.

"No," she said, approaching the man and instinctively reaching to place her hand on his shoulder to comfort him. Her earlier caution seemed to be a thing of the past, overridden by her natural inclination to care for her fellow human beings. "It was not a bother at all. If anything it's me that's been a bother. I'm... that is... I'm not very good at talking to people either. At least, not if I don't know them first. I get all clumsy and awkward, and I'm sorry if I've made you feel badly. You've been very nice to me, all things considered, even though I can't help you."

Avyn's Photo Avyn 23 Jan 2014

Avyn shook his head quickly to clear it, and looked up into Nell's eyes, seeing depthless pools of innocence and care. So much like Etan. No, stop thinking like that. She's just a normal, innocent girl, now leave her alone and beg somewhere else.

"No, you've done nothing wrong, I've just been going through a difficult time in my life."

He took a deep breath, calmed himself down a bit. And instead of sorrow returning to him when he began to breathe normally again, he was overwhelmed by curiosity. No, just leave her be. But she deserves to be repaid for her care, for not ignoring me like everyone else. She seemed confused when I first approached. Was she lost? Curiosity got the best of him, and he had to ask her.

"You've been so kind to me, is there anyway I could repay you? Do you need any help with whatever you were doing before I approached you? Any errands for this 'Barty'? I may not be successful, but I do know my way around Luthadel. "

Avyn felt better now, While Etan was gone, he could pay tribute to her memory by helping this skaa girl who so reminded him of her.

Nell's Photo Nell 24 Jan 2014

"Oh no," Nell said, feeling a blush colour her cheeks in embarassment. "I... I wasn't doing anything. Nothing important anyways. Barty, that is, Lord Bartholemew, he sent me away for the afternoon. To have some free time," she added hastily, not wanting the man to think ill of Barty. "There was nothing he needed me for this afternoon, so I have the day all to myself." All to herself. Why did she so often hear people talking about having something to themselves in such a happy way? Didn' they see that having something all to yourself only meant that you had no one to share it with?

"Anyways," she said, trying to move passed her awkwardness. "I'm fine, completely fine. Totally without complaint." She sighed, not knowing what else to say. Wouldn't it be lovely if she could have said she was more than fine? What if she had been feeling grand, or enthused, or lovely. What was fine compared to feelings like those?

"I suppose we could keep each other company," she said on a whim. "You said you had been having a rough time lately? I'd love to hear about it. Not that I'd enjoy hearing about your suffering, just that I'd, well, I'd be happy to listen, and help if I can. Of course, if you aren't comfortable that's fine too." Nell stared at the ground, unable to look him in the eyes and see what she might find there. Who was she to speak to him about his sorrows? What did she know of true hardship?

"I'm sorry," she said quietly. "You must think I've just some silly girl whose too young to really understand the world works."

Avyn's Photo Avyn 24 Jan 2014

The girl's sudden self-doubt made him realize exactly how young she actually was. But he felt a sudden urge to comfort her, just as he would have comforted Etan.

"You're not a silly girl. The fact that your master trusts and likes you enough to give you the day to yourself proves that you must be responsible and intelligent. In my thirty years in the mines, I didn't get a single day to myself, and there wasn't a single day where I completely avoided a beating."

Once he had finished comforting her, it registered with him.The girl actually wanted to hear his story. Avyn was so used to being ignored that he had grown to expect it, and yet Nell had actually asked to hear it. All at once, the story began to spill out of him, like a dam breaking.

"My family was murdered," Avyn lowered his voice, "By inquisitors. It was my granddaughter who drew them. They hung her from a spike down her throat. It.... It broke me. Ever since I've been wandering Luthadel, scraping by on whatever clips nobles deigned to toss to me. You are the first person to give me more than a passing glance. The care you showed me reminded me of my granddaughter. But, she's gone."

Avyn looked down, suddenly afraid that the story would scare Nell away.

"Of course, there's nothing you can do about that now."

And then it hit him. I may have lost my granddaughter, but there must be some way I can help this girl who is so much like her.

"If you do think you need to learn more about how the world works, the one positive thing that came out of my life is that I've learned quite a lot about the workings of Luthadel. I could teach you."

Nell's Photo Nell 16 Feb 2014

Nell's heart went out to the poor man as he told his story with such frank honesty. When she spoke in reply, she felt a tightness in her throat, and she had to fight to keep the water in her eyes from spilling out.

"That... That's awful. I'm so sorry, perhaps I should not have asked." Nell looked away. What would it be like if Barty were to be taken from her in such a terrible way? What had this man's granddaughter done? What crime had she committed to draw the wrath of the Inquisitors? Nell's curiosity was tingling, but she held in in check, not wanting to subject the man to more pain. It was likely he wanted to remember his granddaughter as a sweet young girl, rather than a criminal. Nell could understand that, for it was the same thing she did she let herself remember Lord Jeremiah. It was much more desirable to remember his kindness and caring, rather than that horrible want in his eyes, or the awful look on his face as he fell into the darkness.

"What would you teach me?" she asked, eager for a shift away from such a depressing topic.

Avyn's Photo Avyn 17 Feb 2014

She stayed. She didn't run from him as if he had a disease, didn't look upon him with disgust, but she stayed, and showed sympathy. Avyn was filled with wonder at the innocence of this girl in front of him, so reminiscent of Etan's. He pushed the memories away, knowing that while Nell's innocence was a precious thing, it could not last long in Luthadel, and it would be better for her to be eased into a more mature mindset than thrown headlong into it as could easily happen to a skaa girl such as her. And so, Avyn would help to guide her.

"The ways of the city: Who to trust, who to avoid, how to act to stay safe in different areas of the city, and how to fall and lie there so the beatings end more quickly. And these are just the beginnings of the things I've learned. This city may be a harsh one, but for the skaa who survive, there are lessons it teaches."

While there were no obvious bruises on Nell, Avyn was sure she was beaten by her master. He had never heard of a noble who didn't beat their skaa, and so the lessons about dealing with the beatings was by far the most important lesson to learn.
Edited by Eclipse, 18 February 2014 - 12:01 AM.

Nell's Photo Nell 06 Sep 2014

Without realizing it, Nell began to back away slowly. Avyn's words troubled her, reminded her of those darker times, before she had met Barty. The memories seemed to choke her, taking hold and blocking everything else out. All at once, she felt she could hear Lady Pirelle's cruel laughter echoing through the mist, and see the look in Jerry's eyes as he tumbled out into the darkness.

"I... I'm sorry," she said after a moment, "But I... I think I'll be okay on my own." Suddenly she wanted very much to be back at home, watching through a crack in the door while Barty worked on his experiments, or curled up with the book she was working on. "I think I know the city well enough," she said truthfully, "And I don't have to worry about beatings, really. Lord Bartholomew," she continued, remembering Barty's proper title this time, "is really very kind to me."