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Masahir N'air

Ibn ḏahabiyy šams
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Figured I'd go ahead and add more explicit trigger warnings to this, as it is a heavy topic and just saying 'mature themes', I feel, doesn't do it proper justice. I don't know if the "Sexual Content" tag applies here as nothing sexual is described in any sort of explicit sense, but I added it just to be safe.

Trigger Warning: Anxiety/Panic Attack; PTSD; Sexual Assault/Rape Trauma mentioned; Domestic Abuse

As the hospital doors slid open Masahir reflexively held her hand up, shielding her eyes from the bright sunlight. With a gentle tug Ra pulled her along, murmuring that soon they’d be home and she could relax. It was only when her mom abruptly stopped with a sharp, hissing gasp that Masa dropped her hand from her face.

Immediately her eyes smarted, causing her to squint and blink the blurry tears away, “Mom what’s-” her voice faltered as she adjusted to the light, greens and blues coming into focus as trees and broad leafed plants. The wind from a grey churning sea whipped her dark hair into a messy ruffle as she gaped, wide-eyed, at the alien landscape.

This was not Nippur.

~ * * * ~

She’d made her mom double and triple check every nook and cranny of the hotel room before allowing her to leave. The loneliness ate away at her though, and as strong as she tried to be she paced. She found herself wandering around the room anxiously, trying to find something, anything, to busy herself with, to take her mind off of the constant whining keen.

Eventually she settled on distracting herself with makeup. It had always consumed her before, hours spent in front of the vanity readying her appearance for the public eye. It was soothing and quiet- fun, even, to play with the brushes and shades, painting her face up to look beautiful. It was sure to calm her down at least a little bit.

She sat on the lid of the toilet, pulling a flat iron over her wind blown hair while she waited for her mascara and sharp black eyeliner to finish drying. Anything to get rid of the frizz the humid air caused would gain her praises at this point. She wasn’t used to dealing with salty ocean air, it’d made her nose scrunch up. While she had found the gulls cute at first, soon she was hurling foreign insults at the arrogant birds for snatching at her bag of crisps.

This place was so weird. She’d never seen so much green and blue stacked into a single place. Apparently this entire city was perched precariously atop a floating island. The residents didn’t seem to like talking about the churning ocean beneath their feet, either, it seemed. They sneered and batted their hands as if swatting even the notion of it out of the air, asking why they’d ever need anything from that place when their island was the most advanced area of all.

In the neighboring room a TV clicked on, the mumble of voices and sounds faint through the walls. If she listened closely enough she could catch little snippets that sounded like lines from a daytime soap opera. It must’ve been nearing a seasonal finale, as the ambiance grew with overblown, dramatic lines on betrayal and romance lost. She gave a soft snort at the melodrama and plucked her hairspray off the counter, spritzing it over her mane just the same as another other day spent getting done up. This time was different, however.

Her throat tightened up and her mouth went dry as the alcoholic scent wafted through the air. Her stomach twisted in on itself and took her breath away. In nothing more than an instant she was pulled back into that dreadful night again.

Deep red shadows stretched back across the room, pinned into strange shapes by the ring of lights crowning the vanity mirror. The handle of her dressing room door clicked shut- piercing and sharp, the snap of the lock sliding into place fell on her senses like a guillotine.

Plit- plit- plit- plit-

Streaks of black mascara swirled around the sink drain. She gripped the edge of the sink until her knuckles turned white. Ragged sooty lines crawled their way down her discolored skin, feeding the dark little vortex of the drain.

Plit- plit- plit-

Her gown peeled off her shoulders, sliding down her form like a layer of slick wet skin. She fought to push it over her hips.

She sucked a breath in sharply.

A sand colored, furry hand reached around and gripped her throat, his words fanned across her neck and slithered into her ear like a poison. Her legs were still caught in the snare of her dress when he forced her down.

She could still feel his hands clasped around her throat, crushing her windpipe. Furiously she dug at her nails, trying to get his fur and skin out from under them, and when that failed the diva raked at her neck and arms. She crawled out from her skin and wanted to rip it all off. Everywhere he touched was filthee, degraded, unpure- she couldn’t bare the weight of the sensation.

Her heart raced, slamming against her ribs, it felt like it was climbing into her throat. As she threw her head back she caught a glimpse of her face in the mirror- hideous and stained by his affections, his imperfections reflected back onto her, into her, like a wicked cancer.

He pulled her apart at the seams and smashed her back together out of order. He tore at the fabric of her being and ripped her security away like a thug. He poured his disgust into her and smothered her cries, smashing glass perfume bottles across her face to silence her. Like a brute he twisted her arms behind her and slammed her into the wall.

She would like it, he promised as black spots danced across her vision, she just had to stop fighting. It was her fault for not listening to his venomous desires. After all, in his arrogance he knew it was his right to do this to her. They could’ve been happy together if she’d stayed with him, she was horrible for leaving him over his abuses. Couldn’t she just see that he cared? He screamed at her swollen purple face, demanding to know why she didn’t love him like he loved her as blood ran from her busted lip.

She wilted, sinking to the floor, her petals broken, beaten and bruised. Within her he had planted a twisted seed that sprung sour into the bitter fruits of fear. Her heart would mend in time, but it would mend crooked and scabbed. Her soul was bound, warped from the abuses he thrust upon her and stitched back together with haphazard and shambling well-wishing.

She pulled her bare knees up against her chest and curled into a ball on the floor of the shower stall, wrapping her arms around herself. It was a hollow comfort as even here, in this strange new world, she gasped for breath.

The brunette let out a raspy, quiet laugh as she turned the water on as high and hot as possible. It didn’t matter. None of it mattered. She let the shower soak her, but it didn’t matter; how hard she scrubbed at herself would make no difference either. Steam clouded the opaque glass door and the overhead stream bordered on scalding her, yet she couldn’t bring herself to notice. In vain she wrenched the shower knobs, it wasn’t hot enough. It would never be hot enough to wash herself clean of his scent, it lingered everywhere on her, straight down to her very bones.

She pushed her face into the water as a long lamenting wail ripped out of her throat, unrestrained and wild. Racking sobs cut her howling pain into pieces, draining the breath from her until she was left gasping. Her entire body shivered despite the burning water, and she folded in on herself further, twining her fingers through her matted wet hair as she rocked back and forth.

Maybe if she cried for long enough the pain would pour from her mouth and eyes, maybe it would sink out of her core from between her legs. Maybe, maybe if she screamed for just long enough it would crawl out of her and she could forget everything. Perhaps the blood washing off her arms from wickedly desperate claw marks could mean something if the agony wasn’t limitless.

Her mind raced, clocking twelve thousand miles per minute. She felt disgusted and repulsed, violated and broken beyond repair. Could her life ever be normal again after he chewed her up and spat her out? Would the bruises ever really fade? She was certain that others would look at her and know and see how pathetic and weak she really was. They would hate her for it, they would pity her and mock and leer when her back was turned. Did you see that woman in the store today? How miserable, right? Whoa, what happened to her last night? Given up without a fight? Maybe she shouldn’t have pushed his buttons. In time she’ll learn to fall into place, like a good girl. Guess he just had a temper. Boys hit girls because they like them, it means he likes you.

Imaginary faces curled into jester grins, the dirge bells pitch shifted into their coy questions and concerns. Their pity was a disease, it wrapped itself around her and turned her to a leper. Forever she’d carry the bandages, shuffling towards a dull, liar’s light.

The bathroom door swung open and the shower door was slammed to the side. A furry little set of hands reached out and gripped the girl’s shoulders firmly.

“DON’T TOUCH ME!!

For the first time in her entire life, Masahir screamed at her mother; it was an unbridled and feral sound that tore out of her as she jerked away from the contact and threw herself back to the wall. Her face was twisted, her eyes wide and dazed- locked on something far away.

Absolutely stunned by her reaction, Ra staggered backwards and caught herself against the counter, just a moment more and she would’ve been struck across the face with a fist. In an instant the surprise was gone, replaced by a violent snarl, “child! Masahir, you-!! You will listen to Ra’tima-dro!”

Khajiiti woman reached in and cut the shower off, her movements sharp and aggressive as she wrestled the girl from the shower and bundled her up in towels and robes. “This girl will listen to her mother, she will listen, and she will know well. That furless bastard will never reach you here- Masahir stop! Fighting! Uugh!”

She got her daughter to shakily stumble from the shower to the floor of the bathroom, and set to drying her off as best she could. As the small feline gave deep breathes, she calmed down a bit and began to hum softly. It was by no means a ballad of any sort, but her scratchy cooing filled the room with a gentle lullaby, sang in the distant language of her own homeland. It rose and fell with the rust of grief and ached from the core of her being.

Tears beaded at the edges of her icey blue eyes, she tried to blink them away but they fell to the towel across her lap as if to spite her attempt at staying strong. She twisted the cloth in her hands and sniffled softly, her throat burned but she couldn’t tell if it was from the tears or the fact that she hadn’t sang in years.

Her melody, in the depths of its despair, started to change- a glimmer of hope as the notes and words from a familiar song melded into it and carried it upwards. Masa wasn’t sure at first, everything still felt heavy and cloudy, her body tense and tired... but... She was certain she recognized it. The memories felt so far away, like someone else entirely had experienced them, all that time ago in the Nippurian ruins.

Weakly she lifted her head and gazed at her mom, the older woman’s dark lips were pulled thin and crinkled down at the edges. The song came to an end with a single lingering, strained note and with a pained whisper Ra spoke.

“This one... is sorry she could not protect you.” She grimaced, unable to met her daughter’s dark eyes. No matter how much time passed, she would still be that scrawny little orphan girl to her. She pinched her eyes shut, her sinuses stung with the threat of more tears if she wasn’t careful in her composure.

Her jaw clenched and unclenched several times before she found her ability to talk once more. “This one... Ra’tima-dro made sure to take care of that snake, she promises that he will not hurt you anymore.” Her chest heaved with a shuddering exhale.

Her blue eyes shot open as Masahir took her hand and held it softly, stroking the back of it with her thumb. Masa’s mouth pulled into a tiny, worn smile and the silence lingered for a moment before she began.

“I love you Mom.” Her voice was faint and fragile, it teetered on the brink of agony and resolve. The grey feline sighed, her shoulders slumping a bit as she finally relaxed.

“Come,” Ra beckoned as she stood, offering her daughter a hand, “you need your rest. Let your mother fix you something warm and sweet, no?”
 
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Masahir N'air

Ibn ḏahabiyy šams
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The aroma of cookies wafted through the air, teasing and beckoning Masahir into wakefulness. She groaned softly, shifting around under the fluffy white comforter in an attempt to go back to sleep. Her body still felt drained and achy from the intensity of her episode. After a few moments trying in vain to catch more dreams, her body rolled into a deep stretch and she unconsciously scratched an itch on the inside of her forearm.

She jolted upright and winced hard at the discomfort, her eyes snapping down to stare at the sleeves of bandages on her arms. Her mouth pulled into a frown with dismay, she had forgotten how badly she’d hurt herself during her panic. A pit formed in her stomach as she glanced from her arms up to Ra’tima and back, bowing her head like a child who got caught red handed. The dancer bit her lip, working it between her teeth as she mulled over everything in her head. Her mom must have wrapped her wounds while she rested.

Her head hung in shame as the reality of that fully started to sink in.

Her mother had not only pulled up out of the depths of despair and comforted her, turning a check to the uncontrolled and raw emotions that Masa lashed out with, but she had gone on to mend her wounds to boot. Her tongue felt heavy with the taste of bittersweet gratitude, humbled by the fact that the icy little woman was still so loving to her, even after she acted like total garbage.

She gave a weak, wry smile. She was a beautiful, captivating pile of trash, but a pile of trash nonetheless. She felt greedy and selfish, clinging to her mother’s soft underside like she was suckling for pity.

It was with solemn contemplation that she idly traced around the edges of her smartphone. Lithe fingers played over the glittery red case and lingered on the crack that split its way across the screen. She scowled slightly, wondering and hoping that she’d get over everything sooner rather than later, that she’d be able to slide casually back into some semblance of her old life. The dancer stayed trapped in her mind at every waking moment, plying her emotions and forcing the fears away.

Suddenly the phone buzzed to life, a message notification pinning itself on her lockscreen.

Lord Wolfe
"Yo, Masa! So I met the greatest guard to ever live ...”

Her heart jumped into her throat. Victor Wolfe? Lord Wolfe? From- from New Babylon?!? She blinked several times in disbelief, they were somewhere else right? Maybe- maybe it was just a trick of the smiling one, maybe they could return home to the rolling sand dunes and hot desert sun and away from all this god awful humidity.

She shifted, leaning forward and swinging her legs off the bed, snatching her phone up in one fluid movement. A pit sat in her stomach, could this seriously be real or was it just some cruel form of message lag? She stared at the notification, trying to process all her antsy thoughts, until she drew the unlock pattern and swiped into her message center.

“Yo, Masa! So I met the greatest guard to ever live in Nippurian history today, Sir Dave of Daveltof, and it got me to thinking that perhaps I am not only surrounded by a bunch of clones/ alternate versions of our lovely comrades, but that perhaps that other Nippurians had been kidnapped to this world. If you get this, I would love to have that gorgeous face representing our Kingdom once more, This world is lonely... Lots of love, High Emperor Victor, Lord of Nippur, Guardian of Gilgamesh, Sectary of diplomacy, your comrade, Wolfe."

She held her forehead in her hand, her deep eyes lingered over each word, but one sentence in particular kept grabbing her attention. Lonely. This world is lonely. Her lips pulled thin as her face shifted restlessly through several emotions and thoughts. It was lonely here. She felt so separated from everyone and everything she’d ever known, everything had happened so fast, nothing had even had the time to sink in, but with each word the text hammered the reality of the situation in.

With surprising calmness she responded back: “Lord Wolfe?? What happened? Where are we?”

High Emperor.... What... what did that even mean? Her brows furrowed together in contemplation. Gilgamesh was the King, the Lord of Lords, the God of Heroes, no one in their right mind could supplant her Gilgamesh, not even the charming Lord Wolfe. Could Victor have challenged Gilgamesh? No, that wasn’t right, she couldn’t bare the idea of the lord plotting against someone so fit for the throne, then also winning. No, the king must have-- Must have...

Her phone slipped from her hand as her heart wrenched. The clatter of it hitting the floor was dampened by the stiff carpet, but it still managed to surprise Ra’tima. The feline had been so focused and intent on the agonizingly sweet smell that she hadn’t realized her daughter was awake yet.

Her quiet humming slowed to a stop as she took in Masahir’s body language, half off the bed, hair a mess with her face in her hands. Her slender shoulders shook with the tiny telltale signs of tears and silent sobs. Her fuzzy hand slid over the back of the stove and cut the oven off so nothing would burn- at least, she hoped nothing would.

With an adamant frown she wiped her hands on a dish rag and went to her daughter. “Masahir, what is wrong?”

The phone vibrated, screen cutting on to show another new message preview. Icy eyes flicked down and gave the text header a passing glance. Her frown deepened. Wolfe. The lord that had busted those openly crooked, ill-planning morons.

Lord Victor Wolfe
"WOO! Finally a response, either Candy is...”

“Ma, tal... Tell this one, what did he say?” She gently gripped Masa’s arms, moving them away from her face.

“What happens if... Gilgamesh is gone? What will we do? I don’t think my heart can take anymore Amá...” She sniffled, wiping her eyes and looking away as Ra gave her an incredulous look.

“This one is crying over the possibility that the king is gone? This is nothing to cry over, there are more important issues for us to cry over.”

“But... Amá... He was a good king,” her response was much more bashful under the weight of her mom’s gaze.

“Good king, bad king, alive or dead king, it has little bearing on this one’s situation currently.” She picked the phone up from the floor, unlocking it and glancing at the message.

“WOO! Finally a response, either Candy is still mad about that kicking incident, or he isn't in this world, Goldie might just be playing cold for now, I hope. But always it would seem that once again when all of our plans seem to be falling into place, and a semblance of sanity and stability is in my life, some interdimensional reprobate puppet master (hopefully not a smiling or angsty child, I am getting sick of dealing with both of those lording it over me) has decided that we are far to good at checkers, and has decided to place us into a game of 3D chess. But ever the tactician I managed to gather some good allies, one of them being the son of my dearest of... Gilgamesh damnit I miss him, Erik Vrell! Using my skills in the field of diplomacy I have managed to create a small Kingdom, not quite what we used to have but that is mostly due to the lack of brilliant people like yourself my dear. Anyways the place is called Inverxe I believe it is a moon? I have sent the location to your device and would love to see you there, it is an ice planet so I suggest dressing warm, or not ;) I am sure I could find ways to help with that."

She gave a snort. The wall of text was an affront, did the lord not get proper grammar training? She shook her head and gave a quiet scoff of disdain at the closing flirt. Another privileged male playing at her daughter’s soft heart for a night of fun. He was like any other sleazy charming politician, a complete snake. She tossed the phone on the bed next to Masa and gestured. “Come, the sweets are ready, they will lift dear Masahir’s mood, and,” she withdrew her communicator and swiped through the programs, “use Ra’tima-Dro’s device and search for a new bodyguard.”

“New bodyguard? Why, didn’t Foley come through with us?”

Her question hung heavily in the air, and her mother did nothing to answer it, instead pulling the treats from the oven.

“Amá...?”

The khajiit let out a sigh, “this one searched the city earlier but could not find him. Either way, he has an account for that network. If he’s here he’ll see it, and this one won’t have to spend hours interviewing him.”

The silence blanketed over them both, lingering like a harsh haze. The dancer’s lips turned up into a pout as she tried to hold back more tears. She stared down at the communicator. Today was just one thing after another and her head simultaneously swam yet felt full of rocks. She wiped her eyes again and glanced between the phone and her mother once more before getting to making a post on the website.

“Hi, I’m using using mi amá’s account to search for a bodyguard. I’m a young female celebrity and I’d prefer a lady bodyguard if at all possible, for personal reasons. I’m looking for someone big and menacing towards nasties that might want to get inappropriate towards me, but who’ll also know how to be supportive and listen to me, and can be trusted to keep personal things on the down low. My madré will be conducting an interview if we like you. Thank you!”

She hit “post”, huffing and going back to playing on her phone. He didn’t know where Gilgamesh or Erik, or Kanda were. She didn’t know where Foley was. She didn’t even know what this forsaken place was called, let alone where anyone that was any sort of importance was, aside from Ra. She just wanted to curl up and sleep forever, to tune out the unending dull static that had begun to consume her existence. The buzz of her mom’s phone going off felt distant and unimportant, she didn’t even bother to offer it back to her.

As she stood up her eyes slid over the kitchenette. The sink was tidy, the counters wiped down, a small collection of cooking knives and other miscellaneous utensils sat in their holders. The small feline was busy pulling cups down and plating the sweets. Soon a cup of milk and warm comfort food was held out to her, she accepted with a weak smile.

“I put out a job offer like you said.”

“Good. Now, let this one rest and enjoy her moonsugar. Jone and Jode know this one needs sleep.”

“You used to tell me about your home, Elsweyr. ... How did you deal with being stolen away by the Smiling One?”

The small woman sat down and shifted, grunting as she tried to get comfortable under all her colorful robes and jewelry. “This one wants to know how Ra’tima-Dro felt after being dropped into the omniverse?”

She gave a dry smack as Masahir nodded eagerly, and downed a long swallow of her milk. Setting the cup down with a sharp clack, she started, “she felt shocked, confused, annoyed. Above all that is else, annoyed. Finally this one had gotten her trades set up, finally she was comfortable and ready to bask in the warm sands when she was snatched by that smiling, sniveling brat.”

“With this world, there is no smiling child that the wise Ra’tima-Dro has found yet. She thinks maybe she was just too boring for its spoiled tastes, or maybe this is just another trick of Baan Dar. Ra’tima-Dro is smart and sharp, but she does not hold all the answers.”

“Don’t you miss anyone from home?”

A long hush was held. “She does, yes.” The words felt heavy on the khajiit’s tongue. “This one hopes her right hand is managing things well, or he will be cleaning this one’s boots with his tongue when she gets back.” Her threat was punctuated with a dry chuckle.

“He was a good khajiit, smart, strong, fast. ... He thinks he saved this one’s skin, but she thinks it the other way around.” She folded her hands in her lap, her blue eyes staring off into some distant memory. “He always got his tail caught in the door while heisting, and always had a silver tongued comment to make. ‘Ra’tima-Dro’, he’d say, ‘when will she teach this one her tricks and cheats? He thinks maybe she doesn’t because she’s scared that he will be better than her, that she’s jealous of this one’s glorious silky mane and glossy stripes!’ Pah, this one would say, pah...”

“You loved him, didn’t you Amá?” Masa’s big brown eyes seemed to study the woman, hungry to examine her inner emotions.

Twenty long years lingered on the woman’s lips, yet all she could manage was a weak and fumbled, “he was a cunning thief.”

“Amá ...?”

“This one asked if Ra’tima-Dro missed anyone? Yes, she misses them. She misses them greatly, but there is nothing she has found that can change things back the way they were, nor would this one want to leave you behind, tal. This one knows you want to know how to handle this new loss, and she says focus on now. Masahir can not go back to the past, no one can, forget it.”

“... I can’t believe you’re asking me to forget them. I can’t, I’m not like you-- I can’t forget their faces and names and voices, I can’t forget their dreams and all the hopes they held- How could you- ?”

The feline’s body language shifted, her grey ears flattening against her skull as her eyes narrowed dangerously. “If forgetting them is what it takes to keep this one’s head on straight then so be it! Ra’tima-Dro does not cry over what she can not change, child!”

Masahir flinched as Ra stood, averting her eyes away from her mother’s affronted stare and seeming to cower in front of the petite cat. Every muscle was held taut with misplaced but learned fear. Before more than a moment had passed, however, Ra’s stance softened. She let out a deep sigh and ran a tender hand through her daughter’s voluminous hair. “Tal... This one does not aim to hurt you with her words.”

She brought her other arm around to cradle Masa against her stomach. “Ra’tima-Dro just wants what’s best for you. This one hates to see her beautiful, gentle and sweet tal cry. Especially over things that can not be fixed.”

“I can’t forget... I don’t know how...”
 
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