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WRITING CHALLENGE #17, 14 MAY - 29 MAY
Posted: May 14 2017, 12:44 PM
Writing Challenge #17
Welcome to another writing challenge here on Unbound. I left a bit of a break in there, because this time of year a lot of people don't want to pile challenges on top of their exams. But don't worry, we're back with another prompt. As always, direct any questions about these challenges to my staff account.
Prompt: Parents! How does your character feel about their parents and how they were raised?
If your character knew their biological / adoptive parents, write something that expresses the relationship between them. This may be a journal entry discussing them, a letter to them, or a post of an important event they were involved in.
If they had someone filling the emotional role who was not legally their parent, they may be used instead so long as you express why they were a strong influence.
If they did not know their parents and had no relevant comparisons, you may write on the subject of that absence. Perhaps they wished they had a parent, or else that they considered parents overrated.
Posts should be at least 400 words to claim credit. Write from any format or POV of your choosing! This challenge will end May 29th at 11:59pm and will have an award of 200 sovereigns.
Reply below with your challenge submission to earn credit for this challenge!
Posted: May 16 2017, 01:44 AM
I wish I had a place to send these letters to. Or even to know if there is a place in which you reside that letters can reach you. It's been many years since we parted and my heart still hurts when I think of you. Will this always happen? Will I one day be on my death bed with this heaviness in my chest? Will I always feel this way?
I hope so.
I do not think I could bear it if this pain left me, because that would mean I had forgotten you.
I am already beginning to forget what you look like. I find it difficult to recall the sound of your voice.
The way your hands smelled like herbs and soil and your hair like the first blossoms of spring.
I miss you. But I am beginning to wonder if it's the idea of you that I miss and not you. A person who I don't even know is alive. A person who gave me away.
I know why you did it. I understand, Mother. I promise you that I do. I was the man of the house.
It was my duty to protect you and my little sister. I still remember what you said before I was pulled from your grasp 'You're the man of the house. And men made sacrifices so that their family can prosper.' Was my sacrifice worth it, Mother? Are you and my sister well? I do hope you are. I hope that with the gold the Magister gave you, you were able to fix up the damage done to the house. I hope you were able to buy new clothes and put food on the table. I dearly hope in my heavy, heavy heart that you are happy now.
Are you happy? It's all I want. It's what would make all this worth it. I hope you have found a husband. I believe it is what Father would have wanted. I hope you have found someone to love and that he loves you back in return. I hope he takes care of you and loves my sister as his own child. Perhaps you have had another son. Perhaps he is fair haired and dark eyed like me.
I only ask that you do not replace me in your heart. There may be another in my seat at the table,
but please do not forget me, mother. I am frightened because you are fading in my mind. Have I already faded from yours?
The world is a frightening place. I do not understand it. And for the first time I am understanding what it is like to feel truly alone.
With all my love always,
Posted: May 20 2017, 08:04 PM
As a reminder, this closes May 29.
Posted: May 21 2017, 03:57 PM
"Maybe," Bartrand growls, "if our 'dear mother' wasn't drinking all the money away. . ." And then you see fit to stop listening. This is how things go now. He blames her, and you snap back at him. The two of you spar like restless wolves, teeth bared and clashing.
You still take the bait this time, turning on him with a short, "Piss off, Bartrand." When that isn't enough to quell the restlessness in your chest, you keep going. "You can keep blaming everything on her until the next Age, but that doesn't change a damn thing. Nothing is digging us under. If you want to keep acting like we're the most disenfranchised poor souls in the Marches, feel free. I don't know what kind of sympathy that gets you from anyone else. It's not getting shit from me."
You can see it in his eyes. He's not prepared to have this fight today. He makes a noise somewhere between a grunt and a sigh and walks out - not just out of the room, out of the estate. On some level, it's hilarious that you could chase him out of his own home. Maker knows this place isn't yours. Your name might be on the deed, but Bartrand's influence has crept into every corner of it. He's so nostalgic for Orzammar you can practically taste the dust.
It's not him who does this. He doesn't take care of the ugly parts. He's not watching her sob and shake and vomit, not pulling her back together in the worst moments, not being sworn at all the while. Sometimes you think you see your mother in there beyond it all. She must have been a good woman. She must have been a good anything, but even in your youngest years you find too much of it clouded by the drink. Memories you could never work out the strangeness of now show all the marked traits. Too far gone. Always too far gone.
Bartrand can take the family business and shove it where the sun don't shine. He loves all of it: the pretending, the Merchants' Guild, the intrigue. When he tells you that you wouldn't last a day in all of it, you believe him. You bite your tongue so you don't tell him he wouldn't last a day taking care of your mother.
When it hits her, it hits her.
You're not short for money, so you get the truth. The drinking is going to do her in, which doesn't surprise you. On some level it's a relief - and this is disgusting of you - because it means she'll stop. Still, you don't get to do this the pretty way. You don't get to know her properly in her last days.
The Mercenary's Price writes itself around the uncomfortable hours you spend at her bedside, folds itself into them until they're no longer uncomfortable. She has always loved your writing, despite everything else. So you tell a story. You make it up as you go along, sometimes, turning asides into the tale itself and making. . . Something. Something you can't discern the true quality of. Mother, perhaps delirious or perhaps the most lucid you've seen her in weeks, adores the whole thing. She asks you to read it to her at every chance she gets.
When she stops being able to ask, you keep reading it anyway. The days fall away beneath you. You write and read and she drifts in and out of vague consciousness; the ever-present visits of the healer are suddenly a solid constant. You fear leaving the room sometimes, in case. . .
It's morning, and you're trying to wake yourself up. You couldn't sleep until sunrise. Someone is knocking on doorframe. "Master Tethras? It's. . . I think it's time."
Fire, you have been told, represents rebirth. The dangerous beast that it is, it holds life and death in its hands.
The manuscript is burning in front of you and you don't know what that represents.
You still have ideas for it swimming around somewhere in your head, but that's not fair. This was your mother's book - or, at the very least, it was being written for her. Maybe it's an impulsive decision, or maybe it's the right one. There's no going back from it now. The ashes are mixing with the firewood. You've learned, or you've tried to learn, the importance of something being too far gone to salvage.
Something about this feels disturbingly final, you decide, eyes stinging from proximity to the smoke. It hits you then that, if you play your cards right, you will never have to spend time in this estate again. See, it's only been a day. You shouldn't be able to smile yet, not the way you understand grief. But you realise that you'll never have to set foot in this place, with the relics and the carrying on and Bartrand's blighted voice drowning every ounce of life, and a dying mother upstairs, and you smile.
Truth be told, you don't feel all that guilty.
Posted: May 29 2017, 11:36 AM
Thank you to both Gabe and Fox for joining this family-themed prompt! (Someone needs to set up a thread of Varric enjoying a hot cocoa and not getting more responsibilities or losing any more people mmkay?)
Don't forget to claim your sovereigns and keep an eye out for our next challenge.
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