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Wed Dec 28, 2016 3:18 am by Sentinel

Hi all,

We're aware of a peculiar forum glitch that's causing some subforums to be locked.

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*wipes sweat from brow* Whew, political correctness is a lot of hard work. But it has to be done.

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Anaphora: O, Absalom...

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Anaphora: O, Absalom...

Post by Captain Whitehawk on Thu Dec 22, 2016 2:18 pm

Author's Notes:

I made the mistake of thinking I knew who Ludis was and how he started out ... only to learn more about Acritudo and Anaphora in general and realize a few isolated facts about his life (his mother having a Cruelty Trait, then apparently losing it by his hand?  His father without a Trait, but married to her?  The death of his sister at a young age by ambiguous means?) and watch them all sort of connect like this. To a large degree it was the understanding of Cora's personality that led to this.  It's not that this makes sense to happen to Ludis (because abuse is never justified or a logical solution), but it makes lots of sense for it to be something for Cora to do/be.

To you, Ludis, I'm sorry.  You were so much happier and saner before I pieced it all together.  I solemnly hope you survive the roleplay.  But also -- thank you for existing.  You're very interesting to try and understand.



32And the king said unto Cushi, Is the young man Absalom safe? And Cushi answered, The enemies of my lord the king, and all that rise against thee to do thee hurt, be as that young man is.
33And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!"

-- 2nd Samuel 18: 32-33 (King James Version)




Chapter One: Absalom
Ver 75th, 9983

The crowd is full of red and a sky wrinkled by clouds looms overhead.  Cloying scents of sweat, dirt, sickly perfume, carcasses, and people-smell waft through the crowd and dogs wander through the people pushing by for little dead things or fallen food or really any nearly consumable (or even non-consumable) item they can fasten their teeth on.  The dogs aren’t fed well and no one wants them; they wander to and fro from place to place looking for something to swallow, places to lie down at night, and open patches of free sunlight where they can rest their filthy pelts down for a while without anyone telling them to git or kicking them out of their path.  In this way, I reflect, they really aren't all that different from the man being dragged to the whipping post to be tied down and beat.

His bony shoulders bulge out and create craggy shadows across his back as the whip snaps down red against his skin and the bludgeon pummels him so hard it creates ripples of bruises on impact.  Catcalling from the crowd mingle with his groaned weeping and their spit colors the cobbles beneath the man’s feet.  Beside me I can sense my mother’s smile in the way she holds herself: the pleased set to her hip and the casual fall of her arms crossed beneath her breasts are an expression of her ease and comfort with what I, she, everyone there is watching.  For the people, it’s a form of entertainment.  After all, it is nearly three o’clock in the afternoon and the rhythm of the day is reduced to a plod as jobs are completed and the next one is not quite started yet -- but will be in about an hour’s time, given some chance to procrastinate; at this in-between time, the public is looking for a little relaxation and amusement.  

I don’t like watching this for many reasons, which is something I feel guilty for.  Watching every hit the man receives is like feeling it on myself, the same way a person could imagine pain in themselves and feel it wherever they made it up.  And there is the whole set-up: even if it’s completely justified, the powerless nature of the criminal and the unstoppable nature of his torturers is personally alarming; I hate being trapped in ways like what I'm seeing.  It’s like knowing all the right answers for the test and the teacher but being unable to write or speak and I watch the minute alterations in the faces around me as they scorn me and I feel it and I hate it.  This isn't a classroom, but it's similar: the people gathered around to watch your destruction and pain as they continue to claw their way up the hierarchy.  

While the way the man’s face contorts and his body heaves under the beating isn’t upsetting per say, even if I look at the man and feels no compassion for him, I still know how much pain the man is feeling and this makes it hard to focus to what my mother is saying to me out the side of her mouth.  “-- would've done a better job," she is saying.  "But the way he squirms is beautiful, just beautiful.” Her eyes are locked on the man.  “The color of his bruises, the blood on his face, the cuts and the bones...” She sighs.  “It’s wonderful.”  

This man is a traitor to the empire of course, because every defector is justly tortured and killed for their crimes against Acritudo and the Zeidan, and no idle man would be dragged in for this sort of thing.  I wonder what he did, how treacherous he had been and how he’d given himself away; it always seems that the ones who get tortured are the really stupid ones, the ones who can’t talk their way out of problems or be aware enough of their surroundings to know how to get out of bad ones, and so watching this one meet the consequences for his own inadequacy is fairly mundane.  

Clothing shifts and dark hair drops near my face as my mother leans down to whisper in my ear, her fingers wrapping around my shoulder.  “Watch now, Ludis.  Watch how they hurt him.  If you were in their position, what would you do?”

The breathy sweetness of her voice, the way she drags out her syllables and pauses clues me into what she’s really wanting: it’d been several years and I’ve still not manifested Cruelty just like her.  She wants me to, and I want to make sure I do it for her too, but even though I’m twelve I’ve still not mastered it.  In situations like these, I’d come to recognize the best thing to do was to tell her what she wanted to hear.

“No one’s touched his dick yet, but they should.  I’m sure they could get him screaming if they would.”  I stop myself from licking my lips, from fidgeting.  Instead I keep myself calm and smooth, delivering my lines just right and saying them in the way she wants me to be: a cold, single-minded killer and torturer, the same illustrious and worthy position she’s earned after so much hard work.  “If they broke a bone, maybe the coccyx, the femur, maybe the patella, and kept hitting on it, he’d pass out from the pain.”

“What if you don’t want him to pass out yet?”

They’d taught me this in class, had all the diagrams out on the pages in black ink on white pages and they had notations on each area of the body in detail: what bone connected to what, what kind of ligaments and muscle structures bound the bones together and where the fat collected to pad the body so it was harder to harm.  Little bones first, especially in areas where they could move easily or were sensitive or could be ground against other bones.  “They could smash his hands first, break his feet and ankles and shift them back and forth slowly so the bones grind against each other,” I say a little too quickly and mechanically.  This isn’t the classroom, I snap at myself, and I can see the classroom and the teacher’s face were I to give the answer that way -- she would tell me I lack conviction, because I’d been told that before, more than once; my mother’s face twitches in a manner similar to my teachers, and her lips wrinkle into each other in a line of momentary displeasure.

The man is so quiet now it looks like he may have passed out.  Which is disappointing because there are so many other executions that’d happened other days where it went on for much longer.  Three spears are taken from the weapons rack and shoved through him and he gasps and gags and gurgles and then gives up and dies, sinking into death and gone in a moment.  We all cheer, but it’s over now and that means there’s more work to do and things to move on to.

“You’re going to be just like them,” my mother tells me, thumb rubbing slowly side to side across the back of my neck.  “There’s so much power and pride and delicious fun to hurting others, Ludis.”  She gestures to the corpse at the town center, abandoned now both of spectator and companion; his blood is joining the dark brown stain on that part of the street.  He’s boring, more than anything else.  “When you gain Cruelty, you’ll have the power to hurt anyone who hurts you whenever you want to.  You’ll make us so proud.”  She tussles my head, and I smile at it, the warmth of her hand and the nice, soothing feeling of the touch.  “There’s so much power in pain,” she says to me.

There’s power in holding it over other people, I think, not correcting, just adding, because it’s something I’d been thinking over before.  There’s power in being able to control people.  And really it’s all the same thing: being able to hurt people is just the same as being able to make them do what you want because they can’t escape either of them.

But I know she’s waiting for an answer, so I smile at the corpse, take in the blood and gore and look back up at her.  “My victims would never be able to escape me,” I say.  “I’ll trap them before they even know I’m there.”

It pleases her, I think, the barest sense of tactics: to truly outdo your enemy you need to trap them before they have any sense of a trap; they need to be so oblivious to your intentions that it confuses them when you’re holding a gun to their head or a knife to their throat; to win, the opponent must never know they were a target.

A few weeks later I'm given clearance to watch her at work as an observer and student and I bring a notebook along to take notes in, rolling a pen between my fingers as I wait while we pass through security protocols.  I'm patted down several times and it's uncomfortable: their clammy, heavy hands touching me to check for weapons but it feels like an invasion of space and privacy that I don't like.  And the touching itself is not something I want; there's a kind of pain inside and out that comes with it because I know I don't want to be touched by them but I can't stop them, either.  My shoulders lower as we finally pass them by, relief flooding me and swirling into my chest, dropping to my fingers and toes and slowing my heart down.

"You could have anything hiding down your pants, Ludis," my mother says to me, seeing my discomfort. "Best to make sure you're not doing anything naughty."  And she smiles.  There's a razor edge to the smile she gives me that makes me also feel uncomfortable.  But there's no reason to be, I quickly remind myself and slew the idea away.  This is my mother, the woman who gave birth to me and has been tenderly, protectively raising me since I took my first breath; there is no one I could ever encounter that I could owe more of myself to.  

The door slides open for us and I enter first and I'm waived through to take a seat near the back where I can't distract either my mother or the prisoner that she is to be working towards breaking.  I catch their eyes as I enter: it's a woman with olive skin like mine, brown eyes, a flat nose, a round face and trembling chin.  There's an eternity in that moment, I can almost see her thoughts: was a child sent to torture her, to wrestle information out of her and put her through the most hellish misery possible?  Then her body spasms from beneath the straps holding her down and I recognize my mother's Cruelty at work when I see it and take a seat, clicking my pen's nib out for use.

For the first half hour I manage to focus and ignore and take objective notes, the ink flowing slick like blood across the white page and I fill those pages over and over again, writing down observations, methods, the progression of the torture session, tools used, what was said and what wasn't, and as I notate the subtle, the subliminal progression of body language and tone and the push and pull of wills and emotions, I slip too far down into it.  There'd been times when I'd been told that I had too much weakness, too much frailty and spinelessness burrowing like sickness through me: I can sense every ounce of that inefficient defect when I hear the screaming.  Really hear it.  Through the earplugs in my ear I can hear the rawness to her voice and the throes of agony in her body and I am captivated, struck, and horrified all at once by what I'm seeing.

As blood flows from her nose and condenses in her sweat and I watch her flail and spasm and twist, voice caught in ragged gasps and breathy wails, I find myself caught between staring at my unmoving pen, feeling the tension of my shoulders and arms as I try to look studious and busy, and glancing up to look at my mother and see the ferocity of her grin, the long shadows in her gritted teeth, caught beneath her brows and trapped against the glint in her eyes.  

There is no doubt in my mind that I have done nothing wrong: I have not committed any crime, disobeyed any order, failed to complete any task given to me; any expectation that I was told to reach for, I made it and reached beyond it.  But just like every criminal dragged to be beat and then killed, I see the possibility for me to be there.  If I slipped up just a little, if I broke a rule, crossed the path of the wrong someone ... I could easily be put in their position, and from there all would be lost for me.  No out, no hope for security or safety.  From that moment on, I would be caught under the assured hell of a torturer's blade.  Maybe, maybe ... I don't like where this thought is going, I try to stop it -- Maybe if I accidentally ... if I broke a rule or disobeyed ... I could find myself under mother's knife ... One look at the woman strapped down to the operating table and instantly my throat erupts with sharp nausea.

That night for the first time I dream of my mother and the tight grip of her hands locked around my throat, throttling the air out of me.


Last edited by Captain Whitehawk on Tue May 02, 2017 8:03 pm; edited 12 times in total
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Re: Anaphora: O, Absalom...

Post by WritingBookworm on Sun Dec 25, 2016 1:59 am

Oooh, this was intriguing. I can't wait to see what you've got in store for Ludis in Anaphora!

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[Infinity's Row: Interlude l Anaphora: Pariah l Infinity's Row: Uncontrollable l Anaphora: Vengeance]
Currently Reading: Star Wars: Phasma by Delilah S. Dawson
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Re: Anaphora: O, Absalom...

Post by Captain Whitehawk on Mon Dec 26, 2016 10:54 pm

Thank you, Writing, I am too!  Anaphora is a fantastic roleplay!  ^_^

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| Anaphora: O, Absalom ... | Anaphora: The Undying | Anaphora: Mischief Managed |
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Re: Anaphora: O, Absalom...

Post by Captain Whitehawk on Tue May 02, 2017 10:20 am

Hear me, O Death, whose empire unconfin'd
extends to mortal tribes of ev'ry kind.
On thee, the portion of our time depends,
whose absence lengthens life, whose presence ends.


Thy sleep perpetual bursts the vivid folds
by which the soul, attracting body holds :
common to all, of ev'ry sex and age,
for nought escapes thy all-destructive rage.


-- Orpheus’ 86th Hymn (translated by Thomas Taylor)



Chapter Two: Thanatos
Aestas 66th, 9984


It’s hard to wake up that morning.  For several minutes after my eyes have opened, I lie there and breathe because it’s a struggle to do anything else.  There’s a throbbing in my head; I start to feel it after a while, this condensed lump over my brow.  There’s blood on my face, I can sense that now.  I reach a hand up, find the trail of it across my temple and down my cheek, feel the lines of dried blood crack and flake underneath the weight of my fingertips.

I’m not forgetful as a general rule; most things that have happened to me I can recall clearly, and all the things I’ve experienced are formulated as a library in my head, one that I can flip through quickly at any time.  Which is why when I try to piece together what happened in the past twenty-four hours that would leave me with a wound like the one I can feel on myself and I don’t immediately remember, I’m perturbed.  I sort through the previous evening: school, homework, teaching my little sister how to read again.   Rayli had kissed me good night last night, but kisses didn’t feel like a bludgeoning.  After she’d gone to bed then.  I was one of the last to bed, father had already gone to sleep, even before Rayli had and she was four.  So it’d just been me and mom, and she’d --

Whipped out her baton and beat me with it.

No, that can’t be it.  It doesn’t seem right.  Out of place.  Not consistent with what I’d experienced before and knew as the standard of my relationship with my mom.  We didn’t work that way.  Something like this had never happened, so it couldn’t, didn’t make sense.  

But … maybe it could.  She’d brought me to another torturing session a week ago, had asked me to give her directions and decide how it was supposed to be.  I was to make plans, compile information, act as an executive officer any time I came into contact with someone waiting to be dominated, subdued. Maybe last night had been … another torture session.  Or something like it.  She’d been teaching me something?  As I go through the evening again, slowly open the memory up, I see that yes … she had been teaching me.  The slow making sense of it, the playing around with what I remember and how it had happened, it hurts.  I don’t quite understand it, even though I know I should, that I would in an instant if it were class and this a textbook passage.

”The first step to being a good torturer,” she’d begun, taking off her jacket and pulling out a few knives from her pockets, flipping through her pocketbook collection for a few with serrated edges. “Is to know what pain really feels like.  It’s one thing to watch someone else suffer, quite another to feel it yourself.  So I'm going to start small and work up from there.”

I’d felt my heart palpitate, put my hand on the back of a chair nearby, crossed slowly to put it between her and I.  I didn’t know that I was hearing her right.  But, no -- of course I was.  I didn’t misunderstand things, I didn’t mishear things, and when I thought something was happening it’s because it was.  And my mother standing on the other side of the table has laid out her small knife collection, teasing out certain blades and separating them from the others for … use.  Clean blades, sharp edges, leather wrapped, well-loved handles.  She drew a finger down the flat of one of her smaller blades, assessing for a moment before shooting a look at me, a little annoyed.  

She wanted me to obey and do as she said and I was not to be hanging back, I was to submit to her and do what she wanted me to do.  This I understood from the way she held her weight, the slight tension to her shoulders, the loosely done braid that she’d thrown over her shoulder to get it out of her way.  It was an experimentation sort of evening, only tonight I was meant to be the experiment.


I swallow, remember, look down at my forearm covered by sleeve, and slowly try and tug it back.  But the fabric is glued to my arm with blood and after the first touch I can sense the fibers sucked into the dried cuts on my arm and I don’t want to touch it.  It was already a little swollen, but hot to the touch now that I’ve tried to move it.  I leave it be.

There is pain in me, I can sense that right away.  I feel betrayed and anxious and worried and confused.  What time is it?  Is Rayli already up?  Is she home or at school?  In my assessment of mother I don’t think she would touch, much less harm her.  The little girl’s only four, just going into school and so precociously fragile.  I’d been taught well for the first twelve years, ergo Rayli wouldn’t be touched.

But what am I worried about?  There’s a growing knot of tension in my belly that’s tightening my throat; my skin is washed in heat then clammy chill, the sensation of being too warm and uncomfortably tight in my own skin, everywhere.  I have to calm down.  

Afterall, it’s only my right arm that’s been cut up.  I’m left handed.  All I would need to do is make sure I cut the sleeve off my shirt, bandage what’s underneath, and put a on a new long-sleeved shirt.  Cleaning up my face would take a little care, but in ten minutes I’m sure I could fix it all up.  I’m not broken.  All of this can heal and get better, my body isn’t so easily dominated by a little pain.  There’s nothing strange about any of this, this is all very normal.  After so many tests and school days learning about torture methods and Acritudo law, the next step surely would have been to, well, experience it my … myself -- what had mom said?

”You’re weak, Ludis.  Too incompetent, silly, stupid.  You’d fail the exam to any Academy, and that’s not acceptable. I’ve put hard work into you, Ludis.  You’re not growing up, and it’s going to take more to shape you up.”  She sets down the knife she’d been inspecting and takes up another. “It’s not easy being a parent, you know.  It’d be so much easier to not care, but because your father and I love you as much as we do, I'm going to keep working at it.  You’ll turn out, but only if I keep working on you.”

I bit my tongue to distract myself, to put a stop on the chokehold the lump in my throat is making.  Crying was always, always inappropriate.  Weakness, incompetence, impotence, the signs of a lesser, inferior being.  I’d been slapped before to knock it out of me, it’d be shameful to be so pathetic so openly.  Instead I focus on the feel of the wood beneath my fingers, how much pressure I can administer by tightening my hand.  I feel vaguely like I’m dying and nothing’s happened yet, another shred of awareness that bothers me.  I lift my eyes to watch my mother, to focus on what she does and be practical, useful like I ought to be.

”Pull up your sleeve,” she says, gesturing to my arm.  “We’ll have to start simple, but this will make you good.”
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