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The Lord Ruler's perfect capital city, Luthadel, is doing the impossible: rebelling. Skaa half-breeds are being taught the power of Allomancy, something that the Lord Ruler's obligators said only existed in the nobility. The enslaved skaa, with their murderous benefactor, now fight back against a living god's oppression.

So, the Inquisition was formed. The nobles begin to fear assassination from all sides. The times of nobility Mistborn killing each other are over. The Steel Inquisitors look for aristocrat traitors and insurgent skaa, and the skaa try with all their strength to merely survive. The Lord Ruler's perfect Final Empire is slowly devolving into chaos.

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1 reply to this topic

#1 Nell

  • Tutor's Assistant

Looking Good in Red
  • Age20

  • Relationship StatusSingle

  • OriginLakeside

Posted 14 June 2011 - 05:12 AM

Skaa Assistant

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Name/Handle: Comatose
Contact: The only place to find me is in your deepest darkest dreams.

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Name: Nell
Type: Skaa
Age: 20
Gender: Female
Place of Origin: Lakeside
Occupation: Tutor's Assistant
Relationship Status: Single

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Nell is about 5'5", with the thin wiry build that is common among the skaa. Her hair is that exceedingly plain color not bright enough to be blond, not vibrant enough to be classified as red, and too light to be brown or black. If another was asked to describe it, the colour they would likely choose is "auburn" however Nell prefers "mousy". When worn loose, it is slightly wavy, and just long enough to be easily put into a bun to keep it out of her face, or up under a cap if she needs to impersonate a boy. At least, that's the idea. In reality, her hair can be surprisingly unruly, and she has yet to wear a bun or braid that has no wisps defiantly sticking out.

Her eyes are vibrant blue, that make it seem like her stare is intent even when she is day dreaming. Her skin is on the pale side, but shy of sickly. Her overall look is slightly frazzled and frayed around the edges, but on the whole, together. She usually wears blouses or shirts, with straight narrow skirts of neutral colours, sometimes with a shawl for warmth, but she is equally comfortable in trousers, cap, and jacket of similar colors. The plain clothing is both what is expected of a skaa of her station, and Nell's way of distancing herself from her past. At night, however, she still dreams of ball gowns. Despite her self imposed plainness, Nell has a warm, natural, down-to-earth look that is exceedingly different from the elegance and glamour of the noblewomen she serves, but equally beautiful. She herself, however, is unaware of this fact, thinking herself to be exceedingly plain and unremarkable.

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Nell is compassionate and caring, despite all she has been through, she continues to believe people are good at heart. The isolation of her childhood has honed her imagination, and she has become very creative. She is fascinated with noble culture, and often likes to imagine herself at balls. Her two primary role models have been scholars, and thus, she has always enjoyed learning. She often feels like she is constantly yearning for something she doesn’t really understand or know. She is also unaware of some social norms, and can be unintentionally bizarre at times. Her temperament can be fairly child like at times, and her spirit is a reckless one. Since Lord Jeremiah’s death, she has suffered from bad dreams, and has never really been the same.

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Special Skills: Singing.
Strengths: Despite being new to the world of reading, Nell has thrown herself into it, and has become surprisingly adept, despite still being too new for the skill to be classified as special. She is very bright, even though she has next to no education. Despite her sometimes dreamy attitude, Nell still has the strong and determined work ethic needed to survive as a skaa. Her greatest strength however (and also her least practical), is her empathy. Nell is very adept at seeing to the heart of the turmoils of others, and usually feels the need to do what she can to help them. She usually has good intuition.
Weaknesses: Physically, Nell is in no way strong or co-ordinated, and is prone to blunders and clumsiness. Thinking herself exceedingly ordinary in every way, Nell rarely thinks of herself as capable of anything. She is also constantly haunted by guilt for what she has done in the past. She has tried to learn all the social skills she missed during her childhood, but there are some she has missed, and they often reveal themselves just in time to get her into trouble.

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The night seventeen-year-old Lord Jeremiah Pirelle found Nell's mother was a dark and stormy one. Kendrys was nearly unconscious, covered in dirt and muck, sopping wet, and, most alarmingly, was well into her seventh month of pregnancy. Despite his youth, Jeremiah had made a hobby of watching and studying the summer tempests from a vantage point overlooking Lake Luthadel, and was in the process of returning to his family manor at Lakeside when he found her. The storm had faded to a steady drizzle at this point, and so the young lord had forgone the use of his carriage to ride his horse with the rain on his face.

He'd only stopped at first because he thought she was a noblewoman. Her pretty face, and delicate figure certainly indicated nobility. After a moment of studying what he thought to be a corpse on the side of the road, Jeremiah soon came to the conclusion she was a skaa. Not only was it inconceivable for a noblewoman, and a pregnant one at that, to have ended up in such a state, the woman's clothing was clearly of skaa quality, and even the poorest of nobles would not be seen in it. Though beautiful at a glance (incredibly so, considering she was covered in muck and nearly dead), upon further inspection, it was clear she'd lacked the careful grooming that made most noblewomen appear so sharp and elegant all the time. Hers was a softer, more pastoral beauty; one that had no place in the majestic ballroom of the nobility. Another man might not have known the difference, but skaa, along with the heavens, were one of Lord Jeremiah's areas of study, and he had been working on telling the difference between skaa and nobility for some time. Though physiologically there was little difference, Jeremiah had learned to detect minute differences in behaviour and appearance between the skaa and nobility that came the ways in which they were raised and taken care of. Noblewoman who were slender, for example, were usually thin in a graceful and delicate way, while the skaa women of small size had a more emaciated and fragile look to them.

"My Lord?" murmured one of his four body guards, "I don't mean to complain, but the others and I are getting chilled, and I doubt your lady grandmother would ever forgive us if we let you catch something on one of these excursions. Might we move on?"

Lord Jeremiah nodded his head, shaking it. Yes, he should bet getting back soon. The woman was obviously skaa, and of no concern for him. Though he valued all human life, even that of the skaa, he was reasonably certain the woman was dead. Besides, she was some other nobles' responsibility, and she would probably find more peace shivering to death in the rain than wherever she came from. She was likely some whore from a brothel, who had fled when she learned she was with child instead of face execution.

Jeremiah had begun to ride once more, but stopped again. The woman must have been at least into her third trimester of pregnancy. The whoremasters and inquisitors were usually very meticulous in their work. Skaa whores were to be killed immediately if found to be pregnant, and many nobles did away with them after a single night, just to be safe. The question was, how had that fragile and weak figure on the ground evaded them long enough to become so great with child?

There could be an explanation of course, the few scattered skaa half breeds that popped up from time to time were proof the inquisitors did not always win their deadly game, but the thought was enough to make Lord Jeremiah turn back for one more look at the woman on the ground. He turned just in time to see her eyes flutter weakly open.

He was off his horse at at her side in an instant. Skaa or not, she was a woman in grave need, and his gentlemanly instincts would not let him pass by without at least trying to help. Up close, she was fairer than he had thought, her skin was delicate, and soft to the touch, and here eyes were the most brilliant shade of blue he had ever seen. Perhaps she was of noble blood after all.

"My... my Lord," she murmured softly. Her voice was weak. "P-p-p-please, I am so cold. Please have mercy, I am a good skaa, II... I have done nothing wrong..." Well, that answered one of his questions. Her eyes followed his to her swollen belly. "The child... the father is skaa, I s-s-swear it. In the Lord Ruler's name I promise you, I have never lain with a nobleman. Please, my lord, I beg you... at this point her voice grew louder, but with desperation rather than strength. "For the child's sake, if not for mine. One of your maids can take care of it, if I don't make it. Please my Lord, have mercy... have mercy..." she trailed off slowly, and her eyes began to flutter slowly closed.

Seeing her there, her clothing so drenched, he could see almost every detail of her thin, malnourished figure, her fair skin quivering lightly in the cold, and those beautiful blue eyes beginning to close once more, the young lord knew he could not leave her to die. He gave orders for his guards to wrap her in their cloaks, placed her gently into his carriage, and watched over her for the remainder of her journey home.

As she recovered (in the quarters of skaa servants he knew he could trust, for he would not risk his grandmother finding her), bit by bit, he managed to piece together her story. Her name was Kendrys, and she was the same age as him. She had worked in the city, likely in a mill or forge. She had always been a pretty girl, and her mother had beaten her and smothered her with ash to cover it up. She had rebelled though, thinking her mother was jealous, and was forced underground when her pretty face caught the eye of a passing nobleman. While in the underground, she had eventually ended up under the protection of a skaa thief. When she had become pregnant with his child, she quickly realized the underground was no place to raise a baby, and ran away, hoping to find a place to lose herself among the masses at one of the plantations that surrounded Luthadel. Lord Jeremiah often spent what little free time he had between his studies, the family business, his grandmother, and trips to Luthadel, with Kendrys. He began to enjoy seeing Kendrys's dull eyes light up with laughter when he said something funny, and her weak form perk up when he entered the room.

Kendrys was entering her eighth month of pregnancy when he realized his scholarly interest had become romantic, and that he was falling in love with her. Thoughts of her delicate body began to fill his mind when helping his grandmother organize the maintenance of the many noble family retreats and summer manors his family rented out in Lakeside, he began to see her face in the faintly shining stars as he studied them through his powerful telescope, and daydreamed about those beautiful eyes when he was gazing into the eyes of another at a ball in Luthadel. As soon as he realized this, he began to panic. To love her, he knew, was to destroy her, for he would not risk death and disgrace to let her live once he was done with her. As much as he desired her, he could not bear the thought of ending the life he had saved himself.

In the end, his choice was taken from him. Kendrys, though she had recovered much in her time at Lakeside, had not recovered enough. When her child came three weeks early, her body was not ready, and she died in child birth.

The child, however, survived. It was a baby girl, and her name was Nell.

Nell was given to one of the chief skaa maids of the Pirelle household to raise, but Jeremiah continued to check in on her from time to time. She was a quiet child, largely because Jeremiah, hoping to care for the girl, and to hide her from this grandmother, gave the maid and her their own quarters. While thoughtful, all the gesture really accomplished was to isolate Nell from all the other skaa children her age. When she became old enough to help with small chores, she began seeing other children for the first time, but never had any time to talk to them while she was working. The maid who shared her rooms was always more of a reluctant caretaker than a mother, for the woman had many responsibilities of her own, and by the time Nell was two, she began a family of her own that she needed to take care of, and was replaced. Because of this isolation, Nell soon developed a wild and vivid imagination, and would spend hours in her room by herself, playing at games no one else could understand. She was also the spitting image of her mother, right down to those large vibrant blue eyes.

Jeremiah found himself becoming entranced by the child, and he found himself visiting more and more, sometimes even participating in her strange games, or giving her gifts, like pencils and paper to draw with. She was fascinating! And she was skaa. Nell was five before Jeremiah realized the opportunity he had. A skaa child, who he could watch develop step by step. He could hardly imagine what that would do for his research. It would have to be kept quiet, of course. The Steel Ministry, let alone his grandmother, would never approve of his interest in teh skaa.

Nell soon became attached to Lord Jeremiah as well. She had been shy at first, she was living mostly in her own world, and she didn't know how to handle intruders. But once she ascertained he meant no harm, she slowly began to trust him, and began to show him things, like how to catch dust fairies, and the hidden songs of the mistwraiths.

It was around the time that Nell turned seven, and Jeremiah turned twenty-four that his grandmother, Lady Pirelle discovered what her grandson was always so interested in in the skaa servant quarters. Lady Tabitha Pirelle had assumed leadership of her house when her son and his wife had tragically drowned in Lake Luthadel shortly after their only son Jeremiah was born. Tabitha had been a Lakeside noblewoman even before marrying into the Pirelle family. For all of her life, she had bent and bowed and debased herself before the powerful noble families who came to Lakeside to escape the hustle and bustle of Luthadel, making sure their manors were clean, well maintained, and that they enjoyed their stay in the small resort town. She took pride that in her time has head of house Pirelle, she had managed to become one of the most prominent of the Lakeside houses. Despite her success, the high nobility continued to treat her like a common servant. No worse, they treated her like a skaa! She quickly began to resent her place in the hierarchy, serving the the nobles who should have been, in her opinion, her equals, in order to survive. As the years went on, resentment began to harden her heart and twist her mind. She began dressing up skaa girls and women in noblewomen's gowns, just so she could feel some measure of power by ordering them around, and beating them for no apparent reason when she was angry.

Hoping to teach her grandson a lesson about keeping things from her, and hoping to displace some of the rage that consumed her and never entirely went away, Tabitha had the seven-year-old Nell brought before her, and began to have her beaten. Nell had never encountered Lady Pirelle before, and she did not understand the fury in the woman's eyes as she watched her soldiers beat Nell. She had been beaten casually once or twice before, but only a cuff across the head, or a blow to her backside, as a punishment for being slow or clumsy when she was sent to do chores, or when she was day-dreaming too much. She had never experienced a deliberate extended beating like this before.

She began to cry and cry, but the mean woman wouldn't stop! She had waved the scary men aside now, and was lashing her herself. What did she want with Nell? What had she done to deserve this?

Luckily, Jeremiah stormed in before the beating went too far. He demanded that his grandmother stop the cruelty, and explain herself at once. Lady Pirelle calmly informed him that she had been testing Nell for allomancy. When she became aware that he was favouring a skaa child, she grew wary that one of their rivals would notice, and spread rumours that Nell was Jeremiah's half breed daughter. She had to be sure the child was not a half breed, so she could not be used against them.

Jeremiah told his grandmother she was being ridiculous, and the two spent the rest of the day fighting. The made who was her most recent caretaker took Nell back to their quarters, and bandaged her as well as she could.

Eventually Jeremiah came to see her. She was scared of him at first. Nell had always hated loud noises and yelling, and he had shouted very loudly when he had seen the mean lady beating her. But, as he began to speak to her in soothing words. She saw he was crying, though she didn't know why, for she was the one who had been hurt, hadn't she? He was obviously very sad though, and all she could make out of what he was saying was "I'm sorry."

So, Nell took his face in her hands, and patted the back of his head. She looked him straight in the eye and said, "It's okay Lord Jerry, you don't have to cry. Besides, your tears will make the dust fairies all wet, and Lady Dust Fairy just got a new gown!"

Jeremiah laughed then, so loud and deep Nell became afraid again. Then he brought out a new pencil and paper, and she spent the next half hour drawing, while he watched her. She didn't know why, but Lord Jerry liked watching her for some reason. She didn't mind, she liked watching people sometimes too.

Finally, it was time for him to go. Like always, he took her drawing with him. She wasn't allowed to keep it in her room. As he went to leave, he paused and turned back to her.

"Nell... things are... they are going to change. There's nothing I can do. You are going to be working for Lady Pirelle now. You must do all your chores extra well... do you understand me?"

Nell was confused. She didn't know who Lady Pirelle was, or why she was going to work for her. Working was just another game to her, but one you had to play really well if you didn't want to get punished.

"Nell," he said sternly. "Do you understand me?"

"Who's Lady Pirelle?"

Jeremiah paused, at a loss for words. How was he to explain to this seven year old child, this sweet, innocent, beautiful child, what his interest in her had doomed her too. His grandmother had been implacable in the end. Nell was to become one of Lady Pirelle's 'ladies' and that was that. How was he to explain to this little girl that she would be serving the woman who had just beaten her?

In the end, he let the maid do it. He was told Nell cried at first, and the maid had to be harsh with her, but in the end, she agreed to be good. And so, the following day, Nell was dressed in fine light blue silk (cheap, previously used silk, but silk nonetheless), and was sent to attend on Lady Pirelle. She got beaten three times that day, hard, but not as hard as she had that first time, and the other 'ladies' discretely began showing her what to do. As soon as Lady Pirelle found out, she had all her ladies beaten, and ordered none of them to help her. After that, Nell was on her own again, and soon, the only people who spoke to her were Lord Jeremiah, and Lady Tabitha.

Nell soon fell into a routine, and it was that routine that she grew up on. In the morning, she woke up in the quarters set aside for Tabitha's ladies. The other women were all older than her, and had been instructed not to speak to Tabitha's special case, and so none of them ever became Nell's friends. When she was young, she spent time waiting to take a perfumed bath (Tabitha refused to be waited upon by smelly skaa), playing one of her games silently in her head, where she couldn't get in trouble for it. When she was older, she began studying the other women, wondering what was going on behind all the perfectly blank faces, and imagining where they had come from before Lady Tabitha had acquired them.

After she had bathed and dressed, she and three other ladies would serve Lady Tabitha her breakfast. During this time, the Lady of House Pirelle would hurl various insults at them, give them names like Lady Widdershins, and expect them to respond, and beating them when they didn't, or at random. When she was fourteen, Nell tried to answer to every name. The other ladies caught on, and soon every one of them would answer every time Tabitha called out a name. At first, she was amused, but by the second day, she grew bored, and it soon became a rule that if more than one person answered (or if no one answered) all were beaten. And so, every interaction with the Lady became a guessing game. Sometimes Tabitha was deliberately tricky, and would look and gesture at one girl, while talking to another.

After breakfast, the ladies helped Tabitha wash and dress, and then spent the day following her around, doing random chores for her, and generally accepting her abuse. While Nell's role as a 'special case' soon began to lessen as Tabitha tired of her, it never totally went away, and the horrid old woman would often single her out. At first, Nell had been terrified of the woman, and spent most of her first few days in tears. Soon she got used to it, and got over some of her timidness. The constant beatings began to seem not so bad, and Nell learned to detach herself from them by travelling off in her mind to some imaginary land.

As one of Lady Tabitha's Ladies, Nell got the opportunity to watch many interesting people. Tabitha spoke and socialized with all the most important people in Lakeside, and often people of the higher nobility, sometimes even from Luthadel itself. Always on the sidelines, but never quite able to see the whole picture, Nell soon became fascinated with noble society, and the world of fine gowns and glittering jewels that went along with it. Not having much else to do while waiting on Tabitha (making them wait on her and do nothing was one of her favorite games, and she punished inattention harshly), Nell began to study people more and more, hoping to learn as much of their story as she could, before they were swept from view. As she grew older, she honed this skill, and soon became adept at using hints to see to the heart of most situations.

While her interactions with Lady Tabitha were limited to, "Yes my lady", "No my lady", accepting abuse in silence, and answering whatever outrageous question she was asked as best she could, all of Nell's real human contact came from Lord Jeremiah. He visited her at least four times a week, and sometimes more. Often, he would bring a game, or some drawing materials and just watch her, or would ask her about her day. Nell's favourite times were when he allowed her to ask him questions, because she loved learning, and his every answer was a treasure trove of information she could use to build her perception of the world outside her very small world.

And so, though her life was hard, Nell the quirky, shy child grew into a quiet, competent, but off-beat woman. And much to Lady Tabitha's annoyance, she also grew more and more beautiful everyday. Jeremiah soon found himself in the same situation he had been in with Kendrys. As Nell entered her late teens, he soon found it difficult to be around her, even when he focused on the academic aspect of studying her development. He began to idealize her in his mind, seeing her as a goddess among women. Like her mother before her, her image intruded on his everyday activities. But the same problem remained, for to love a skaa woman in the final empire was as good as killing her. Try as he might, he knew he could not possess her without causing her death, and trying to prevent it would only seal his own doom as well.

Nell, remained mostly oblivious to his affections, and his visits continued to be the highlights of her day. Because of her isolation, all she knew of real human interactions were what she learned from watching the nobility and other skaa, and from her time with Jeremiah, and so she did not see anything out of the ordinary with his behaviour. She was unaware of even her own beauty, let alone that someone was noticing it

Eventually Jeremiah came up with a plan. One of his old students was setting up a practice of his own, and would need a skaa assistant. The boy was bright and talented, but he had no head for business and was entirely too trusting for the Final Empire. Letting the boy think he was helping him, Jeremiah would offer to transfer him the lease of one of his skaa for use as an assistant. The skaa, of course, would be Nell, but the Lease would record her transfer a day before it actually took place. He would be sure to have perfect alibis for as many nights leading up to that night, and as many after as well. That way, if he was careful and discrete, he could have one magical night, and if the Inquisition ever came calling, he could have proof that on one of the few nights he was unaccounted for, the girl in question was not his property. His poor student, though he was one of Jeremiah's most brilliant pupils, would never recall the exact date his skaa assistant began working for him (there was a reason he needed an assistant after all), and his trusting nature would cause him to believe what his teacher had written on the lease.

When he told Nell she would be leaving Lakeside, she didn't know what to say. On one hand, she knew this was her chance to escape from the tyranny of Lady Pirelle, and finally get out in to the real world she had always dreamed of, but on the other, the manor at Lakeside was her entire world. How was she to survive out there, without anyone she knew? Nell felt overwhelmed, and began to back away from Lord Jeremiah. The fact that he had the strangest expression on his face did not help things. She'd never known anything but the small manor and its grounds. What was she to do out there, with only a man she'd never met before for company? Out there...

Suddenly, her nerves were overcome by sheer excitement. She would be out! Free to explore the world. Jeremiah said she would be going to Luthadel, one of the most important cities in the world! She could meet people, and see how they lived, and see the world outside the manor, and go dancing in the mists and...

Jeremiah was very close to her, and Nell realized he must be waiting for an answer. "I... I don' know what to say," she said.

Jeremiah pulled her quietly onto a nearby balcony, where they could speak more privately. Usually he visited her in her room, but today they met in his lavish apartments. "hat is there to say Nellie?" he asked, his voice growing agitated. He ran his fingers through his rapidly thinning hair. He was worried about something, very worried. But what? "I'm giving you your freedom. You'll be happy with Lord Tacitus, he'll take care of you. I'll go with you tomorrow, if you like, to the market to meet him. You're a smart girl, you'll make an excellent assistant. You just have to remember to pay attention to instructions, and if you keep your head down, you'll do fine in Luthadel. Bartholomew is a kind man. He'll treat you well, and keep you safe."

"I... thank-you," she said quietly. Jeremiah was practically vibrating with nervous energy. He sounded like he wanted her to be happy, but there was something bothering him. What was wrong? Had she done something? "It's just... I've never been... out there before. And I've never met this Lord Tacitus. I was a little overwhelmed, that's all. Just nervous." Nell moved to take Jeremiah's hands, hoping to stop them from shaking, but found hers were as well. I can't believe I'm going to be free... "Thank-you, Jerry," she said softly, using his old nickname. "I... I really don't know how to thank you. I... I'm terrified, I have no idea what to expect, but it's exhilarating. I feel like I could jump over the ash mounts or out run the mists. It's all I've ever dreamed of." Cupping his hands between her own, she held them and gave them a tight squeeze. "Thank-you."

Jeremiah had stopped shaking, that was good. Now however, he had gone stock still, his entire body was rigid and tense. She could even feel it in his hands. His eyes seemed to bore through her own, as if they were desperately searching for something there. For some reason she could not explain, Nell felt suddenly uncomfortable. She dropped his hands, and moved away slightly, crossing her arm under her breasts, and holding her sides in a defensive posture. "Look at us" she laughed nervously. "Both so worked up we can barely function." Looking back, she found his eyes still staring hungrily at her, as if they were trying to swallow her whole. Trying not to show her discomfort, Nell gave a shy smile and a polite curtsy. "I shall miss you, my Lord."

Jeremiah caught her by the chin before she could complete the curtsy, and slowly raised her back up. His eyes, still ravenous, held hers for another moment, before darting away, as if searching the grounds for onlookers. He needn't have worried. Jeremiah's apartments were on the top floor of the manor, and the balcony came off of the back side, overlooking the lake. It was entirely private.

Finally he spoke. "I... I shall miss you too Nellie. I've come to care for you very much you see. Very much... yes, I care for you a great deal you see. More than almost anything... I...." Jeremiah trailed off, lost in thought. His eyes were lowered now, and though he was turned towards her, Nell could not discern where he was looking.

"We will be able to see each other again, won't we" she asked. Her voice came out choked and strangled, and she felt like a little girl all over again.

"No little one... I don't think we shall." Seeing him there, so sad and broken looking made Nell want to weep, and all wariness of his hungry eyes faded away as pity took over. This was her Lord Jerry, and she might never see him again. No he looked like he wanted to cry. She didn't want him to be sad.

"Oh Jerry.." she murmered softly. Then, without wasting a moment, she went to him and wrapped her arms tightly around him. "Thank-you," she whispered in his ear. "Thank-you so much. I'd be dead right now, if it weren't for you, and I don't think I can ever repay you for everything you've done. I will miss you with all my heart, I promise you. I won't ever forget you." Suddenly, Jeremiah began to cry into her shoulder. She did her best to hold him close, but his sobs grew more and more violent. Slowly, she rocked him back and forth, trying to sooth him. Suddenly, his arms were around her back, clinging to her as if she were a rock and he was being lost at sea. Holding him tightly, Nell tried her best to whisper soothing words into his ear, despite having no idea what was going on.

Slowly, he calmed down, and the sobs stopped. His strong hands, however, remained firmly around her.

"I love you Nellie," he whispered once he had mastered himself.

Nell hesitated. His voice was full of passion, and he had never said that before. No one had ever said that to her before. "I love you too Jerry," she said eventually, giving him one last tight squeeze.

As she moved to pull away however, she found his hands were still wrapped around her. Suddenly, she felt wetness on her neck.

"Jerry... what are you doing?" His hands began to rove up and down her body, feeling the countours of her shoulders, back and waist. "Jerry... I... you're scaring me. Please. Please stop."

Lord Jeremiah didn't seem to hear her. "I've waited so long," he said, his voice hoarse from the crying. "So very long. Ever since your mother..." He lowered his voice to a whisper, and began to press her more firmly against himself. His hands continued to creep lower and lower. "This desire... it's... it's destroyed me, don't you see? We have to do this. I have no choice.." And then, he brought his mouth into hers, kissing her passionately.

Nell clamped her mouth shut, and turned her head to the side, earning wet kisses on her cheek and neck. "Please Jerry... don't do this. You're a noble..."

"The papers say you are already sold. They'll never be able to trace us..." his hands began paw at her clothing. One hand lifted, and he began to undress himself.

"No..." she began, but his mouth on hers silenced her. She tried to twist away, but the strong arms that had held her as a child refused to release her now. Panicking, Nell began to thrash about, desperately trying to escape. Jeremiah cursed, and struggled to hold onto her, all the while fondling her body. Nell twisted again, and found herself up against the balcony. Pressed between it and Jeremiah, she had no where to run. His hands were like claws now, and his grip was so tight it seemed to sink into her flesh. Nell tried to fight back, but he was too strong. Suddenly, there was a ripping sound, and a large portion of her dress was torn away.

And Lord Jeremiah Pirielle let out a single cry as he tumbled over the edge of the blacony and down into the rocks beside Lake Luthadel. Nell watched till he vanished into the darkness, and then cringed when she heard a sickening crack. The last thing she saw was the look of sorrow in his wide and panicked eyes.

Nell stood still for a moment, not comprehending what had just happened, or knowing what to do next. Then, she ran, covering herself as best she could with the remains of her dress and a shift. She knew the manor well, and managed to keep to unused halls until she was back in her chambers. There, she hurriedly changed into plain clothes, packed her things, and left the manor through a first story window.

She waited at the market, trying her best to remain inconspicuous and stay out of sight while she waited for Bartholemew Tacitus, all the while trying her best not to think about what had happened. She began praying silently to the Lord Ruler to let her forget killing the only person who had ever shown her any kindness, or why she had done so.

She waited longer than she had expected to. Finally, when she thought no one was coming for, a lost looking read headed boy poked his head around the corner, and Nell began a new life. When an investigation began to discover the reason Lord Jeremiah Pirielle was found dead and half-naked on the rocks outside his manor, some mentioned her name as a suspect, however she was quickly discounted when everyone realized her lease had been transferred the day before the incident. Lady Tabitha was wroth for months (both for her grandson's death, and the the loss of one of her favorite playthings), but slowly, life returned to normal in Lakeside.

The first few days of Nell's employment with Bartholomew Tacitus were uneventful. She performed all the tasks he gave her automatically, using the labour as an escape. She found she had trouble eating, and her nights were plagued by nightmares. Then one day, a hint of that old curiosity returned. While dusting some books, she pulled an interesting looking one off of a shelf, and began to page through it. There were no pictures, but the writing was ornate and beautiful. Not really realizing what she was doing, Nell leaned against the shelf with the book cradled in her arms, and assumed one of the pose Lord Jeremiah often did while reading.

"Oh! Lantry! Isn't it fascinating?" Nell was so startled she dropped the book, and nearly stumbled onto the floor herself. There, in the doorway, stood her new master, Lord Tacitus himself. His vibrant red hair was unruly as always, and his face was alive with enthusiasm. In her current state, Nell was unsure if she had ever seen a sight so terrifying.

"A-ap-apologies, milord. I meant no disrespect..." Nell trailed off, unsure of what to say next. What was she supposed to tell him, that she was pretending to read? He would think her mad and dismiss her. Perhaps even just put her out of her misery. Nell didn't know much about the world, but she knew the lives of skaa weren't worth much. "I... I was merely checking the pages sir. For dust." Nell hastily picked up the book and fumbled to put it back on the shelf.

He seemed confused. "What are you apologizing for?"

Nell felt her face grow redder. Lady Tabitha would sometimes play dumb and force her 'ladies' to explain their wrongs when they made foolish mistakes. She hadn't thought Lord Tacitus to be cruel, but she supposed all nobles must be the same underneath. But they all seem so beautiful, she thought, thinking of the balls and the gowns. Then, her thoughts darkened. Lord Jeremiah had seemed nice too...

"I... I was fiddling with milord's books when I should have been about my work," she said hastily, more to banish her memories than to answer his question. "I was just day dreaming, milord. It won't happen again though, I promise. I'll work harder in the future."

It seemed he would not be satisfied until she told him everything. In that, he and Lady Tabitha were exactly the same. "But you don't have anything more important to do, do you? I don't mind if you read them. Why shouldn't you?"

"Milord... I was.... I was just... I was just pretending." Nell felt tears grow in her eyes, but she pressed on anyways. "Skaa can't read. Everyone knows that."

Lord Tacitus's mouth closed and opened several times, and his eyes widened in shock. Had she said something to offend him? "Milord...."

"I'm so sorry..." he started. Sorry about what? What had she done now? Nell felt like she was going to begin crying in earnest when he uttered the four words that would change her life forever. "You have to learn!"

It was hard at first, but with Barty's patient teaching and perseverance, Nell found a whole new world opened up to her. While her tutor preferred to read books explaining how the wide world around him worked, and Nell shared some of his interest, her true favorites became the stories of adventure and intrigue. Her overactive imagination found purchase in these stories of beautiful noble women and daring young heirs of vast fortunes. They fought monstrous mist wraiths, and outwitted corrupt villains, and climbed the mountains of Terris. Her promise to be more dutiful was soon forgotten, and many of her spare hours were taken up lost in one story or another.

As Barty introduced her to the world of reading, he also began introducing her to himself. She learned he was smart, and funny, and kind. She discovered she could almost always tell exactly what was on his mind, and that he was the worst of liars. He was a great teacher, a talented scholar, and an enthusiastic friend. The days of cringing when 'Lord Tacitus' walked by were over, and Barty soon became her greatest hero, better than Lord Jeremiah ever was. Slowly, her nightmares began to retreat, and Nell began to find happiness in her new life.

Like all men, however, Barty had at least one vice, and that was his taste in women. Time and time again, Nell watched as Barty would fall head over heels for some blond student, or that brunette colleague, and time and time again she saw his heart break when reality did not match up to the fantasy he created in his head. She wanted to reach out to him, to help him, but did not know how. All her watching and imagining had never taught her how to deal with this situation. And so, Nell just did her best to be there for Barty, and be the best assistant she could be, all the while developing feelings for him that even she could not begin to understand.

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Nell had watched as the Lords and Ladies danced by, each one an epitome of elegance and grace. She sighed as a particularly skilled couple danced passed. The woman's skirts billowed as she spun, and her partner stepped in and cradled her between his arms. They were just so... beautiful, she could not look away.

After one last look however, she forced herself to move on. Lord Blanches might be a minor lord, but he still wouldn't tolerate a skaa gawking rudely at his party guests. She was lucky Barty had even let her come, she couldn't afford to disgrace him. She'd never forgive herself. Barty himself was sitting at a table with some aquaitances, catching up. Nell cast a shy glance over to where he sat. One of the men at the table must have made a good joke, because Barty was smiling. He had the sweetest smile, full of honesty and warmth. Nell caught herself day dreaming what it would be like to spin and twirl like the ladies in their gowns, with Lord Bartholemew Tacitus there to cradle her in his arms. He'd taught her to read, hadn't he? Why not to dance?

Nell had begun humming along to the orchestra when she bumped into a passing lord, sending them both sprawling to the ground.

"Apologies milord," she murmered hurriedly, hoping to help the man to his feet. As she approached, the man's eyes went wide, and for a moment, she was back on that balcony, watching her mentor fall to his death. No, not now! her mind whispered. This is no place for that! By the time she was done wrestling down her inner demons, the young Lord had regained his own footing.

"Clumsy Skaa," was all he said. As he passed, he gave her a sharp cuff on the ear. There was no true force to the blow though. It had been done in passing, and the motion was careless. Nothing like Lady Tabitha's beatings. Nell's eyes quickly went to Barty, hoping he hadn't seen. Lord Ruler, please no! She didn't know what she would do if she made Barty angry with her. He was the only person she had in the whole wide world. Thankfully, his attention seemed to be on young Lady Blanches, who was one of his students. Nell knew the woman flirted with Barty in the hopes he would give her a break on her lessons, but she hadn't said anything. She didn't have the heart to tell him he was wasting his time, and she knew the infatuation would blow over soon enough.

It's past time I was at the servant's meal, she thought. She was here, after all, as Barty's assistant. Now that she'd served him his dinner and drink, her place was with the other servants, so the nobility could forget all about her, and continue with their beautiful dancing. At a ball as small as this one, skaa servants were often used in place of the more expensive Terris stewards, so Nell shouldn't be too out of place.

On her way to the kitchens, however, Nell caught sight of a small veranda. The doors were thrown open, and she could her the sounds of several ball-goers conversing out in the mist-shrouded garden. They won't miss me in the kitchens she thought. I'll only be a moment Mumbling a quick prayer to the Lord Ruler to keep her safe from the mists, Nell ventured out, taking care to stay away from any of the conversations, lest she be accused of eavesdropping. Lord Blanches had taken care to make his garden look beautiful tonight. It was lit with dozens of lime stones and torches, and the mists made the scene look like something out of one of Lord Jeremiah's tales.

Don't think of him she told herself sternly. Suddenly, Nell grew cold, and clutched at her shoulders where her plainly knit shawl should be hanging. She'd left it inside. For the second time that night, she saw his face, his mouth opened in a perfect 'o' as he shouted one last time. She remembered his face exactly, but for the life of her she could not remember what he had said. Why won't he leave me be? It was an accident! Again she tried her best to forget. Upon failing, she pushed the thoughts aside, and tried her best to hum along to the music. Nell thought all music was beautiful, but balls seemed to make even the most over-played tunes seem special.

As she turned another corner, Nell found the sort of spot she had been looking for. A small nook, between the manor and the garden wall, fenced off by a neat hedge and a small bench, with only a single torch. In this private little corner of the grounds, it seemed the music on the air was playing just for her.

"Why yes, Lord Tacitus," she said softly as she curtsied. "I'd love to dance with you." Then she was off. Her spins and twirls were not as elegant as the ladies in the ball room, but that did not matter. She was in the arms of her Lord Tacitus, and he was charming and graceful, with the sweetest of smiles. As she went along she imagined the swirling mists were dancing as well, and that she and Barty were putting even them to shame. As the music flourished, so did she, laughing gaily as she did so.

As she danced, it began to feel as if Barty really was there. All of a sudden, she could feel his hands on hers as he spun her around.

"Lady Blanches says I'm handsome!”

Nell screamed and spun, slapping him with the back of her hand. She immediately regretted the action. "Barty, I'm so sorry! Are you all right" His hand was on his cheek, and his eyes bore a hurt expression.

"W... why...?"

"It was an accident... you just... startled me. I'm so sorry! Please say you're not mad. I didn't mean it, I promise! I'm so sorry."

As always, he had the grace to look ashamed. "I didn't mean to scare you. It's all right. It doesn't hurt much. I just...I'm sorry, Nell, really."

Nell waved his concerns away. "It's fine. I should have been paying more attention. I..." All at once, the meaning of his words sunk in. "Who... I mean she... I mean, that's great Barty. I..." Nell took a moment to collect herself, and regain her breath, and smiled. "Of course she did. What else would she call you? Are you... going to be all right?" She braced herself, and prepared to listen. As he unpacked his heart, she tried her best to be the friend he needed her to be.

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#2 Chaos

High House Noble

Posted 29 September 2011 - 03:47 AM

Oops Matt. Looks like we forgot to accept Nell, even though we had both read her.


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