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WRITING CHALLENGE #5, 30 APRIL - 14 MAY
Posted: Apr 30 2016, 10:14 AM
Writing Challenge #5
That's right, writing challenges are back on Unbound! We've changed the format to a bi-weekly occurrence, to give everyone more time to participate at their own pace. We've also made a change to the method of claiming points for participating, so please be sure to glance through the new post. Everything else is the same - one entry per member to participate in the event. If you have any questions about the changes or the challenge generally, feel free to PM me on this staff account.
Prompt: Write about a time your character felt rejected. Whether this was another individual, or an organization, or social attitudes in general, how did they cope?
Submissions should be 250-2000 words. Write from any format or POV of your choosing! This challenge will end May 14th 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 5 2016, 06:01 AM
Words, soft and breathless, were spoken as hands continued to explore the expanse of flesh long after the exertion was over. Rougher, but just as breathless, words answered her, amusement in his tone that received a playful smack against his shoulder. Those same fingers moved up to gently tug the cord loose from around his throat, and she sat up to examine the pendant at the end of the leather rope. It was a replica of a family crest, perfectly rendition, and she expected nothing less. Legs and arm untangled from the sheets and blankets that had been wrapped around her, and she moved to stand. A questioning word caused her to pause, looking over her shoulder with a sly smile.
"Something to remember you by, my lord."
Lorraine stood on the balcony, fingers wrapped tightly around the pendant that hung around her throat as the memory slowly passed from her mind. Passed perhaps wasn't the right word, it was still there, but it was locked away. In a place where it couldn't hurt her anymore. She'd intended to give it back. It wasn't hers to keep after all, but as time went by he had never asked and she felt almost naked without the strong leather cord around her neck.
The spoken endearment made Lorraine's lips curve into a small smile, and she turned away from the balcony to look at her father. She licked her lips, and moved across the room. Around her father she tried to keep the heartache from her expression, from her words.
"You have not called me that in ages, papa," she said softly. "Why the change now?"
"Because I know when my girl is hurting."
Lorraine paused, her hand hovering over the bottle of drink as her father spoke. Was she that obvious? Shaking her head slightly, she grabbed the bottle and poured two glasses of the dark, amber liquid. She turned towards her father, forcing a smile onto her lips as she held a glass out to him.
"I am fine. What did she really have to be upset about? It was clear from the start that neither of them had been in it from an emotional standpoint. It had been about the passion, about the physical attraction. Lorraine could feel her father's eyes on her, and the added scrutiny caused her chest to tighten. She tipped back her head, draining her glass. Lorraine's brow rose when her father held his untouched glass out to her.
"I believe you need this more than I."
Lorraine took his glass, grasping it between her hands as she stared down at the liquid. She felt her father step up next to her, felt a strong arm wrap around her shoulder as he pulled her against him to press a kiss against her head. It was a simple gesture, but it was one that had caused her eyes to start burning with unshed tears as emotions threatened to make her more vulnerable than she already felt. As he pulled away, his footsteps fading behind her, Lorraine tipped her head back. She drained the glass, tossing it onto the table a moment later. Threading her fingers through her hair, she let out a slow, steady breath.
At the time she hadn't realized what those words had meant. Now she was all too aware of it. He had left, and had no intention of coming back. She was stronger than this. Stronger than to let herself fall apart over something that didn't matter. Lorraine let out a breath, rubbing her hands along her thighs as she stood. Her feet took her across the room to the small box that sat on the chest by the wall.
Opening the lid, she stared for what seemed like forever, before her hands finally rose to untie the leather cord from around her throat. Lorraine swallowed, tightening her hand around the pendant so hard it hurt. Finally, she placed the pendant and cord into the box, slowly closing the lid.
And it was time she moved on.
FOR BOARD, MEMBER, CHARACTER CONCERNS PLEASE PM THE ANDRASTE ACCOUNT
Posted: May 10 2016, 12:02 PM
Music permeated the area as Naevia strode quietly through the garden. She stopped as she rounded a hedge, watching Caelistis Manor as it rode above the sculpted treetops, the perfect representation of a merchant family's fortune and a Laetan family's humble standing among the gentry. Lavish, yet frugal; it would take a generations-long importing dynasty of luxury goods to know how to achieve that particular combination, ludicrous as it was.
The balcony doors were open, spilling light into the quiet night. She watched the well-clad figures seemingly glide through the space beyond them, in the modest ballroom where her parents like to entertain. Had she known there would be a gathering on this evening, she would have delayed her arrival a day. These events were difficult to circumvent, however; House Caelistis was no longer known for hiding themselves from the outside world. Not since Octavia and Gaius began to shine, and the dark mark Naevia had left began to dissipate.
Drawing her hood over her head, she made use of the skills she had been honing since childhood to make her way unseen through the dimly lit garden and to the well-concealed servant's entrance behind the archway that supported the balcony. The kitchens were bustling with activity, but no one noticed her as she slid along the outer passages, sticking to the paths less travelled as she skirted along the outside of the bustle and remained in her state of self-imposed solitude.
There were areas of the house where no one went during these events. It was easy enough to slip unnoticed into one of the servants' passages that would be unnecessary for this evening's task, and to make her way to the areas less travelled. The library and her father's study should be safe; her father kept it firmly under lock and key when they entertained, turning this area of the house inevitably into the one their guests found most mysterious and tempting. What a cruel misfortune for all of them that these locks were of dwarven make, and even a trained specialist like Naevia would have difficulty picking them.
The servants' passages were never locked, however. She emerged from behind a bookcase that gently and soundlessly slid away from the wall to allow her entry to the library. She would have continued without pause to the next passageway, to take her where she wanted to go, had the doors to the study not been wide open.
That doorway seemed to stare at her accusingly as she peered into the inner sanctum of what they normally hid. Not since she was a child had she been permitted entry into that space, when her father would bounce her on his knee and show her the documents he worked on; the ledgers and agreements and letters from faraway places she'd dreamt of visiting and he'd promised to take her to. Where she had sat on the floor and played while he and his mother worked and entertained their professional contacts. Where he had retreated to for days without emerging after that man had come, that horrible man who was kind to her and then lost her smile.
Where he stood now, leaned over a drawer and searching for something, and then straightened and turned and met her eyes.
He met her eyes.
He met her eyes.
The last time her father had met her eyes, she was eleven years old.
The man had come in hours before noon, and carried himself with a haughty way about him. He gave her chocolate, brought all the way from Minrathous, he said, and Naevia was delighted, though they themselves had chocolate from Rivain, and Antiva, and Orlais. He'd smiled at her and patted her head, and sniffed at her parents as he said, If there is magic in her, I will find it, not to worry.
Not to worry, words that echoed across a decade after their conception. Not to worry, though they had every reason to fear his findings.
He did not smile at her before he left, after the examination was complete. Instead he left her in her room and instructed her to wait, and she sat and ate her chocolate and waited for her father to fetch her and tell her she had done well. But Father never came, though she heard the front door open and close and saw the man depart in his wagon through the window. Still he did not come, nor Mother, though she waited and was good.
She knew she had been good.
But then she could no longer be good.
Her steps were not soft as she bounded down the stairs. How different life had been there, when she had not shied away from being noticeable in her own home. The servants smiled sadly at her as she passed them with her sing-sing hellos, and Nanny tried to tell her not to go into the study, where Father's voice was angry and terse in meeting with Mother's soothing tones.
She did not listen. She wanted to hear she had been good. She wanted to have been good.
And he met her eyes as she came bouncing through the doors. Just for a moment, he met her eyes. Then he turned away, and would not look back. No matter how she pleaded, no matter how she danced, and even when she raged at the world and tried to collapse the very foundations of the house, he did not look back. So then she was good again, just as he had asked, and quiet, and stepped softly, and was unseen. He could not turn away from her if she was nowhere to be seen.
And now, again, twenty years later, he met her eyes.
She froze in place and could not move. Her airs could scarcely draw lungs, and her hands, with all their dexterity, forgot how to move and how to act. She felt her legs weaken and thought she might fall, collapse under the weight of that dark-eyed stare.
Her father seemed frozen too, rooted to the spot where he had discovered her, staring into her eyes and breathing quietly, slowly. Despite herself, despite everything, every experience, every truth, she found herself yearning, begging, pleading for him to speak. Any word, any utterance - even an exclamation of surprise would do, so long as they were his words, and they were intended, at last, for her.
And below that, deep within the recesses of her mind, she was eleven years old and clad in her finest dress, a gift from him, and pushed through the doors to his study though her mother tried to stop her. There she spun and danced and laughed, and hoped that if only there was enough of her, he would look at her again. He would see her again. He would love her again, and tell her she had been good.
His eyes left her.
She seemed plunged into darkness, where it was cold and quiet, and he was gone. The girl was gone. The desperate sobs and pleads for love were gone. He stood erect, an unapproachable statue, and looked past her, through her, anywhere but at her, and then turned away and left. Left her there, alone in the library, without even locking the doors to the study behind him.
Careless. She had never known him to be that. She had never known him.
Quietly, she stepped toward those open doors, to where the scent of him still lingered and would always rest -- settled into the walls, the desk, the carpets and bookcases, like a constant presence announcing his dominion in this place. Her feet brought her to the doorway, her toes pressed against the doorstop, and she froze in place again.
There was warmth in this room, emanating in waves, promising to take her in its arms and hold her close. She was cold and draped in darkness, winter's long forgotten child, adrift and anchorless, and it was a harbour, a shelter, a castle fit for Kings and Queens and Princesses in their pretty dresses.
For all of those, but not for her.
She took hold of the double doors and pulled them shut. They towered over her, as though she were still as small and frail as she had been then, when they had first rejected her. But she would not beat at them with little fists, though her hands were stronger now and her attacks more potent. She could break these engraved doors in all their stark severity, and deny them their power to turn her away.
But she wouldn't. All things were in their right place. Apart from her, still in the open, visible and laid bare. So she retreated, drawing close to the next hidden entrance, and slipping into the dimly lit servants' passages.
In her right place, as she should be, as she always would be. Where she would know, beyond all doubt, that she was good.
Posted: May 11 2016, 07:21 AM
Time off was a rare thing for Oliver these days. Since Markus had already been the one to take his vows he had spent every night training, trying to hone his skills to at least be well off enough that he would this time be considered for full Templarship. But once overworked, it was demanded that he took a break, time to think for himself directed by Melody who had decided on covering his work while he took at least a two day break. But the whole thing had been so strange, at the beginning Oliver had been even better than Markus, learning thinks quickly, executing everything easily. But then Markus had gotten ahead of him, Melody had gotten ahead of him, and now they were both full-fledged Templars. And he was sitting in the kitchen of his childhood home, staring into a bowl of flour.
“Oliver, darling?” The sound of her voice was as rhythmic as chantry bells, but quiet as Oliver looked up, finding his mother standing there in the doorway. There was a soft sympathetic smile on her face, and despite it being meant to comfort him, it only made his stomach turn, though he tried his best to smile back at her. But he wasn’t shaping up to be the son that he promised he would be. Irene crossed the floor as he looked back down at the bowl set on the counter, and he felt only slightly soothed as she placed a hand on his shoulder.
“Mein Liebling, there’s nothing wrong with you, you know.” It was like she could read her mind, and he stared at her blankly, before shaking himself mentally of whatever sad expression he may have been wearing. But he should have known better than to try and hide anything from his mother. She did teach at the abbey in Kirkwall, and working with kids all the time, he wouldn’t think there was much he could hide from the woman, being her own child.
“Mutti, I…I don’t know if I’m more disappointed in the fact that I wasn’t ready or…. the fact that I was okay with it.” He watched the change in Irene’s expression, calm to concerned in a heartbeat as he placed a pinch of a different dry ingredient into the bowl before him. After a moment of silence, she took a soft breath.
“And what is it that you want to do?” She asked, though there was no judgement in her tone, only curiosity.
“The truth is I feel more comfortable sitting here baking bread for you and Rudi than I do….than I do…” He trailed off as something at the doorway caught his eye. Irene turned calmly, the appearance of Alwin didn’t seem to strike the same fear within her as it did within Oliver. His father was strongly rooted within his own beliefs, and it meant that he wouldn’t accept anything different.
“Than you do what, Maus? Protecting the innocent?” The response made Oliver’s throat close, and he couldn’t find the words to answer. “That’s not…”
“How is it that your brothers can do what it is I’ve taught them, yet you resist? You always find a reason to do as poorly as you do.” And it was true, the more he had listened to the Knight Commander speak, the less and less it seemed like mages were people. And that thought scared him. Almost like they were things meant to be contained with no emotions or present mind. Maybe he at the moment was over thinking it, but each day it seemed less and less like a mage was a person.
And was he expected to make them feel that way?
“Instead you’d rather do this!” The words were entangled with his father stomping across the floor, and Oliver raised his arms to block as the bowl was uprooted from its spot on the counter, flour expelled onto his person as the wooden thing clattered to the floor. Oliver didn’t react, as one of his brothers might have, instead staring as his shoes, dusted white from the flour. There was a gasp from Irene, and Oliver heard her voice, displeased an angry as a hand settled on his arm, gently.
“Don’t you have somewhere to be, Alwin? The next thing that you throw at [i]my son is going to be sent back at you twice as hard.”[/i] Always a mother bear, there was only so much the woman could watch before she stepped in, and he heard the surprised voice of his father.
“Leave him to his time to relax, all he’s done since that ceremony is work to try and make you happy, for you to say such things is unworthy of you.” Oliver looked up in time to catch a harsh glare from his father, and even in spite of his mother’s words, he heard his father’s whisper from a distance “Schande.” Before he turned and walked from the room without another word.
Shame. Oliver couldn’t deny that he didn’t want to spend the rest of his life doing what his father had envisoned all five of his boys to be, because that wasn’t who he was, not who he wanted to be. But the weight of his father’s disapproval, his favoritism of Quirin, Markus, and Diedrich, even Rudi who was both ready and eager to follow in the line directly after Diedrich, it was a crushing weight that rested on his shoulder’s daily.
His father never smiled at him, never bothered talking to him unless he needed to, or to scold him for something going wrong during training. To his father, he and Markus weren’t twins, because he was a failure while Markus eventually excelled. Quirin was a fine Templar, and Rudi and Diedrich wouldn’t fall too far behind them. But Oliver was nothing, not yet deemed a proper Templar and a failure in his father’s eyes for not getting it right the first time. Another thing he wasn’t getting right?
Being his son.
It wasn’t until his mother touched his cheek and pull back her hand to reveal a wet trail did Oliver notice he was showing any emotion at all. Saddness? Anger? Frustration? He didn’t know what it was anymore, but when she hugged him, Oliver clung to her.
“Hush now, I know.” But she didn’t know, they didn’t know the way Alwin truly pushed him. He didn’t feel like he belonged here and the look in his father’s eyes made him think harder than he needed to sometimes.
Sometimes he thought maybe it would had been better had he not existed at all.
Posted: May 15 2016, 08:44 PM
This challenge is now closed!
Thank you to Angel, Birthe, and Loot for these interesting looks at rejection - and don't forget to claim your participation points.
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