Who

Ksenia

What

Ksenia's return home is not met with open arms. Not unsurprising considering that selfish acts generally have unintended consequences.

When

It is afternoon of the fourth day of the second month of the second turn of the 12th pass.

Where

Roma Caravan, Southern Weyr

OOC Date

 

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A day comes when a girl must face the music of the choices she made. Her life's path was severed the moment that man stepped out of the trees with his bow and arrows. She still remembers the drop of her stomach, the squeeze of her lungs and the sudden freeze of breath. Never imagining he would follow through on what —

Ksenia pulls her thoughts away from that day so long ago, for so much has changed. What started as a kidnapping turned into a rescue. A rescue from a life she chafed at, a life she didn't want, but the consequences of such far-reaching acts will not be easy to face; they will dig deep into this new life she's started to create. One that exists to bridge the gap between her trader desires and her tether to the heart of a dragon.

Indelibly, irrevocably, Ksenia is no longer the same woman as she was. She is no longer the First Daughter in a long, unbroken line of First Daughters that date back to before the comet hit Pern. Tucking strands of reddened espresso behind her ear, she steps through the meadows that open into the clearing towards the river. Down below, she can see her caravan, her family at work. She can see her younger sister down by the river, and Iain's dark head doing what he does best: slacking.

A deep breath is taken, the shaking of her hand is quelled and she wraps that pride of hers around her like a cloak of invincibility and steps towards her family with purpose. Roasting meat rises on the winds to tease her nose and her stomach growls, reminding her that she's not eaten since arriving in Southern Weyr. She's come at this venture alone, because it might have began against her will, this whole situation has become one of her choosing.

If you close your eyes,
Does it almost feel like
Nothing has changed at all?

It is tempting to turn around and return to the gilded cage where life's problems weren't nipping at her heels, but that's no life. No matter what the cage given, she's a trader through and through. A wild spirit that travels the jungles and shoots the game that she brings home to her family. A girl afraid of fish but not of felines. Girl? Woman. She's old enough that she shouldn't be this nervous, but family is different in the Roma, and her grandmother makes her feel like a girl of fifteen every time she turns those black eyes upon her.

Shedding the trappings of the weyr, she wears only the long length of cloth that she was given, wrapped around her in a series of criss-cross weavings that leaves freedom of movement, and the little bells she'd started sewing onto the edges of the cloth. It's only partially done — or so it seems. She's left her hair hanging free, returning to them different from when she left, weapons long since lost by the river's edge.

"Maeyra," Ksenia's voice reaches her sister's ears at the same moment her sister finds her. Her younger sister. Iain's head surely whips up as they realize she's returned. Apology is writ across the features of Ksenia's face as Maeyra reverts to the childhood name she used to call her, "Kenzi…" But then the steel grip of a hand wraps around her upper arm.

So much flashes before Ksenia's eyes — the betrothal she didn't want, the man her father was going to sell her too, but if anything cuts the deepest its the look in her sister's eyes. As if fate has already stolen her from her beloved.

"Papa," Ksenia tips her head back to the man who holds her hostage. Calm are the tawny eyes and proud is the stance, but that all unravels as she notes the bottled red that seems incapable of staying contained within the bulging blood vessels of her father's face. "Wait, wait, I— "

I can explain. I renounce my First Daughter. I want my daughter. I…

An aborted thought that's clamped over her mouth by her father's meaty hand. A sound is birthed at the back of her throat, a wild thought spiking through her mind, wondering at the wisdom of going alone with nothing but a crisp, white note left.

Oh where do we begin?
The rubble or our sins?

"You disappeared. We thought you were dead and you had the audacity to send us a note that you were alive but wouldn't be coming home for a while." Papa's angry voice is ground through the mortar of his throat, his vocal cords the pestle to create a wholly intimidating sound. "You knew Melkíor had already paid for you." No one would intercede on her behalf when her father starts dragging her away from the shocked faces of her sister, of Iain, of the rest of her family, her clan. "You dishonored us. You dishonored me. This is not the first time I've cleaned up after your mess. At least you didn't come home pregnant — " This last is hissed when he tosses his daughter into the wagon that is hers. " — this time." Ksenia's hands hit the wooden slats of a familiar place. Her place. Everything in this wagon is hers: the draperies, the tables, the knick-knacks, the fortune telling table, her clothing.

"… are you?"

Raising her head, feeling the sting to her knees, Ksenia glares at her father. "No." This single word is spit out with a venom surprising to Lainier. Standing, the proud woman folds her arms across her chest and raises her chin. "I will not marry. I will not be the instrument to lead this clan, not for a such a weak man." A shudder courses through for memories of Melkíor, his softness, his slimyness; everything about the man is weak and undesirable. Notably, the disease of his attitude.

"I refuse."

Her father's dark eyes are cruel, a cruelty he's slowly come into over the course of time as his own character failings struggle to hold their own in such a heavily matriarchal society as the Roma. The smile hints at what a handsome boy he must have been. Handsome and charming enough to capture her mother's attention, but her mother is weak and was never able to withstand Lainier's vices.

"We thought you were dead, selfish girl."

But did they? Did they really?

We were caught up and lost in all of our vices
In your pose as the dust settled around us
And the walls kept tumbling down
In the city that we love
Great clouds roll over the hills
Bringing darkness from above

A dread starts to unfurl within the pit of her stomach, tugging her down into a darkness she's not used where her family's concerned.

"Your sister's marriage has been arranged. Which she will go through with like a good girl."

It's the punch to the gut that Ksenia feared but hoped wouldn't happen. Not everything in life is fixed by running away — nothing usually is fixed, actually. She closes her eyes and remembers that day in the clearing when freedom was hers. It wasn't really though. Her freedom was restricted the moment her father signed the marriage contract. The moment Melkíor claimed her as his.

"Your sister has been claimed as Second-First Daughter since my own has died, but you are very much alive," her father's eyes narrow upon the wayward daughter in his hands. "And now I've got to decide your fate."

"No! I renounce my claim. I renounce my status. I renounce my title! I am just Ksenia of the Roma! I renounce it!" Ksenia, awakened finally, yells that out, running to the little barred window that looks out into the clearing, shouting it. That is until her father's hand clamps onto her mouth and she's dragged back to the center of her wagon and given a little shake.

"Shut up." Another shake to emphasize the point. Outside, she can hear the murmur of her people. One voice in all of them shoots a dart of pain into the farthest recesses of her heart. She bites the inside of her cheek, tasting the metallic hint of blood, to keep herself silent forcing herself to glare death at her father from over his hand.

But if you close your eyes,
Does it almost feel like
Nothing changed at all?
And if you close your eyes,
Does it almost feel like
You've been here before?
How am I gonna be an optimist about this?

"Ksenia. Daughter. You've defied me for the last time," Lainier hisses, glaring. Letting her go, he steps back and glances around the wagon. "Welcome home." And with that, he turns and exits, the door slamming shut the moment her body smacks into it. She pounds on it, her efforts futile.

"Papa! Papa! PAPA!!" Her screams mean nothing, however. She's shamed her family and now she's once again stuck in this damn wagon. Sliding down the length of the door, she huddles and draws her knees up. A memory, long ago, surfaces of a similar situation, but with entirely different reasons. At least this time, she's not pregnant.

And out there, her daughter's laughter carries straight to the heart as she cries out, "Mama! Mama!" to a woman that's not her.

Life is never easy, nor are there ever easy solutions, especially when you don't make good choices to begin with.

And now, once more, she's trapped as someone else gets to decide her fate. Banging the back of her head against the wooden door in frustration, her thoughts turn to her mother. Useless. Her grandmother, however. Biting her lip, she can only hope that somehow, somewhere, her grandmother hasn't succumbed to the illness and will intercede on her behalf.

Somewhere, she worries at the consequences of her actions, at what he will think. At what he will believe when he finds her gone, again. Again, frustration rises and the desire to smash everything around her is a swell of emotion that chokes, strangles the sounds that come from her throat.

Galvanized suddenly, Ksenia shoots to her feet and rushes to the tiny window that lets in the summer heat and sunshine as well as the heavy sweltering heat of the jungles. "Hey, hey! Help me!" She tries to get the attention of some of her family members, but this time — this time she went too far. She played fast and loose with her own life and the consequences of her own selfish desires have hurt the people around her.

She has a lot to atone for, but for all that she's done, for all that she was, she's still the First Daughter of the Roma, in an unbroken line of First Daughters since before the comet. That has to mean something, something more than just determining who gets to be leader. It's time…

… to stop running and face the music.

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