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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

Picking up the pieces [closed]


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The woods were somehow darker than she remembered. In a way it was as if the event had sent her back in history, to a time before her howling happened, and before she had learned to control her senses. Sohvi stumbled for the fourth time, landing on her knees again. The pants she was wearing would need knee-patches or they would be useless. Oddly trivial thoughts, but they were comforting. She used a tree to pull herself up from the ground, and kept on moving. As she walked she thought of little things, like the herbs she was going to have to plant next week, and the stew she could make from one of the rabbits she and John...

 

A choked sob seemed to echo through the otherwise silent woods. It was as if all the night time creatures were too startled by the event to make a noise, as if it loomed over them the way it loomed over Sohvi. A predatory memory, ready to sneak up on her and... She shook her head. Little things. She had to think of little things. Timewalker was home, probably looking serious the way she often did, pondering on something epic that had happened centuries ago. Something good, unlike...

 

How had she forgotten in the first place? She sank to her knees again, willingly this time because the memory just wouldn't stay away now that she finally found it again. She had screamed, bitten, kicked and clawed at John when it came back. All the things she never did when it happened. All the things she could never do, because she had to stay quiet, because if her father ever found out. She could hear Runa's voice whisper at her in the dark. "Hussy!" Jealous, because none of her eldest brother's friends would ever look at her the way they did at Sohvi, not knowing that the only reason they looked at Sohvi the way they did was because they knew. "Oh Light, they knew... they all knew." she whimpered, pressing herself against the tree to make herself as small as possible.

 

A faint rustling noise forced her to turn her head. Eyes High was watching her, his golden eyes fixed on hers. Another sob escaped Sohvi. "I can't..." she whispered, not quite knowing what it was that she couldn't do. "I just want it to go away... why won't it go away again?" The darkfurred wolf that had been her steady companion ever since her howling turned away and ran off somewhere in the woods. Again Sohvi heard her sisters voice as the girl turned away from her in disgust. Just like the wolf. Just like everyone would, when they knew. And John would tell them. He'd know. He could probably smell it on her, just like Ephron could. He knew. Shivering violently, Sohvi stayed where she was, her side pressed firmly against the tree. They all knew.

 

 

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Sipping from his mug, Anton began to knead his forehead with a free hand as he disengaged his eyes from the ledger before him.  He knew there was an exceptionally good reason that he had never made a home in any one place, maintaining them was expensive.  Even with the funds he could pull on, favours he could call in if he were inclined to, it was still a lot for him to tackle alone.  Well, not alone as in he had no one to help him, he knew they were willing to, but some things could only be done by himself.  He wasn't sure if he was willing to inflict budgeting on someone else, or keeping an inventory.  Besides, as the Head he was the facilitator, the one who was meant to keep things in order, it allowed other people to go and do their jobs.

 

Twitching as his mind began to feel another consciousness trying to make itself aware, to communicate, Anton frowned as he left the dining room for the porch out the front.  Opening himself up to it, reluctantly, the jumble of images that spilled forth were enough to get Anton running.  Eyes High had been with Sohvi but she was hurt, he wanted Anton to come to him and was going to meet him halfway.  Taking great strides as he ran, Anton felt like his heart was going to burst as he ran for his life, afraid more than anything else of what was wrong with Sohvi.  All the images told him was that she was curled up against a tree, weeping, perhaps even clutching a wound of some sort.  His imagination was running wild with the possibilities of what could be wrong.

 

There was Eyes High, waiting for him only a moment to get close before he turned around and took the lead.  Following, he managed to keep pace as the wolf led the way, his paws tearing up the grass with Anton in close pursuit.  Panic more than anything was at the foremost of Anton's consciousness.  Light, if anything happened to her, he wasn't sure what he was going to do.  So he threw everything into each stride, adrenaline and more fueling the almost unnatural speed at which he loped behind Eyes High.

 

There she was, curled up against the tree and sobbing her heart out.  Almost leaping the last few steps, Anton sank down next to her, planting his knees in the earth as he reached over and shook her shoulders to get her to notice he was there.  "Sohvi?!  Sohvi!"  Still ignoring him as she sobbed.  Opening his mind to her, he began to try and get her attention with the wolf mindspeak even as he kept talking, trying to get through to her.  She wasn't injured, at least not seriously, but there was something else wrong, that was the only way he could explain the tears and the scent of panic and hurt coming from her.

 

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It was like being back home again, the morning after he came to her for the first time. She'd huddled in her bed, determined to never get out of there again. Her mind had been blank, as she refused to think of... anything, really. As long as she just kept from moving it would go away. The memory would go away. Her sisters would go away. Her... Her brothers would go away. Everything would go away, and it would be fine, and no one would ever find out. That's what Joe said. What he whispered to her before he snuck out of her room. Her mother never should have insisted on her having her own room. it was all wrong. But she wasn't thinking about it. Just not... thinking.

 

Until her sisters started to shake her and call her name, and tell her that she was lazy and slutty and definitely not one of theirs because one of theirs would never be as ugly as she was. But that wasn't what Joe had whispered. It... Sohvi Her name again, but a different voice. Familiar, not so filled with bad memories that she'd forgotten all about until John... Shimmer! there was worry in the voice, the voice that had come at the start of her new life, the one without the memories. Or so she thought. Why couldn't she just keep them away, like she did before?

 

She turned her head, looking at the person who was shaking her. Not Runa, not Rada, not even her mom. Anton. This was Anton, who looked worried. Who had never tried to... and who had never hated her for what she looked like, or what other people thought of her. "I never wanted it." she said, repeating the same thing she said to him when Ephron showed up during her dream training. But it had never been Ephron. How could she have forgotten that so completely? She didn't even remember if it was just once, or if there were many mornings during which she refused to get out of bed. Her mother looked so worried, thinking she was sick, but at the same time knowing...

 

"They all knew." she said, her eyes wide as if she could see the faces of her family. All but one. His voice was enough though. "Oh Light, they all knew but they never did anything to stop it, and I never wanted it..." Even as she rambled she imagined her father's face, if there wasn't some kind of smugness behind his scowl. And Jon's face. Pious Jon, always on his knees for the creator but in the meantime he knew, and he didn't do anything. With another loud sob she burried her face against Anton's shoulder. "I thought it was over." she whispered between sobs. "I thought that if I'd just stop thinking about it, it would be over."

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He'd never seen her like this, not even close to it, and Anton was honest enough with himself to admit that it scared him a great deal.  The first words were familiar, and it took him a moment to place them.  The very first time he had given her instruction in the Wolf Dream, the apparition of that man when she had tried to manipulate her environment.  But that thought was quickly replaced with new ones as she kept speaking, of them all knowing something, of them not putting a stop to something.  As she buried her face in his shoulder and sobbed even harder, talking about how she had thought it was done with, his suspicions of what had her so upset became more certain but he didn't say anything of it.

 

Instead he simply held her close, rubbing hands along her back as he murmured that he was there, that he would take care of her, that she would be alright.  Simple things that he could do to help her, to try and calm her.  Keeping his mind open to Sohvi's, he began to send images through it, happier ones, times that they had spent together.  Showing her how to twirl a staff, games they had played like trying to teach her how to play chop, cooking together, anything he could think of that was warm and might help give her stability.  Eyes High was quick to follow, Anton could sense some of the images flowing from him as he rested his head on Sohvi's free shoulder, of times spent together.

 

The sobs lessened a little, but the hurt and the pain was no less keen for that.  Out in the woods was not the place to be, Anton needed to get her some place warmer and some water, things that would help her calm down.  "Come on."  Removing one of his hands from her back, she seemed to hold on tighter as if afraid he was going to leave her, but instead he slipped his hand underneath her knees and slowly got to his feet, picking her up as she held on.  "Its alright, I'm taking you to the Tracker Lodge.  Its ok, I'm not leaving you."

 

Murmuring what things he could think of to try and help her regain herself, Anton began to walk steadily away from the site he had found Sohvi with her in his arms.  Eyes High walking alongside as he kept communicating with Sohvi, both the man and the wolf united in trying to comfort the woman that they took away from that place.

 

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The images that had occupied her mind ever since they had been triggered were starting to blur in with different ones. New life, old life... Joe, Jon, Eyes High, Anton, her mother, John, Ephron... everyone. She felt as if her head was about to burst with all the memories, good and bad that were flooding her mind. Was she going to go insane, on top of everything? Something between a sob and a laugh escaped her. Think happy thoughts, her mother had always said. But what did that hag know about anything. Oh, she'd certainly known well enough about some things. Sohvi shivered, something that wouldn't stop any time soon.

 

"I don't know why they didn't stop it." she whispered, clinging to Anton as he carried her off somewhere. Trackers lodge, probably. She could see his hut clearly, as it had been when she first arrived. A little on the shabby side, because Anton was rarely there, and a little on the small side because he lived alone. Nothing like the farm where she grew up. Nothing at all about Anton reminded her of her life before the howling. Maybe that was why she hadn't been able to remember it for so long. It was always easier to focus on the less horrible things. That's what she'd done back home as well, by naming Ephron as the bane of her existence, instead of...

 

She heard a door close behind her and Anton. The Tracker's lodge? His hut? the farm? The memories were all still blurring together. She instantly curled up and wrapped her arms around herself when Anton put her down on a bed. Her eyes were locked on the door, as if she expected it to open any moment. It made no sense, of course. Joe was miles and miles away. He probably didn't even remember her, and even if he did, he'd just think of her like some kind of devil, the way her father did. "I hope he feels dirty." she muttered, before looking at Anton. "That would only be fair, right? for him to feel at least a little dirty, after all he did to me."

 

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"Shhh."  Sitting down next to her, Anton put an arm around her even as she leaned into him.  Light but she had given him a scare, and he was still scared.  It was a side he hadn't seen of Sohvi's, something she'd managed to bury so deeply that he had never suspected what she spoke of.  Rubbing her arm as he tried to think of what to say, there wasn't really much that he could.  Tell her it was alright?  It wasn't, it clearly never had been and she had never come to grips with it.  The way he had found her, the thought that someone had done that to her angered him but it was a small emotion compared to the worry he had for Sohvi.  He would help her first, then he could settle accounts with whoever had hurt Sohvi so deeply.

 

There was one thing he could say, something he was sure he had to, yet he was loathe to do it.  She had just begun to settle, yet the pain was still in there and buried deep.  It needed to be unearthed before it could be healed, or it would always remain in there, worrying away and burrowing even deeper.  Unsure of what would happen, he hesitated but he did what he felt was necessary nevertheless.  He just hoped that she trusted him enough to open up now that she had better control of herself, and that she knew that he was there for her.  "Sohvi, can you tell me what happened?"

 

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"No..." she whispered, turning her head away from Anton. She'd never told anyone, simply because she already knew what their reaction would be. Besides, they already knew. Maybe they didn't know exactly what happened, but they had to suspect. Things like that didn't happen in the house you lived in without people at least suspecting. And her mother had known. She'd come to her, and placed her hand on her brow and asked her if she was ok, and she said, she hadn't been, but she hadn't been able to tell her. She had already known the outcome. She'd be turned out, on account of being a loose woman, the way her sisters always said.

 

Anton would do the same. She knew it, even though she also knew that Anton was nothing like the people she'd grown up with. How could he respond any differently. All the people she ever met would have said it was her own fault, for being who she was. Even old Marty. Even her mother. Didn't her mother mean just that when she left Sohvi behind, shaking her head and telling her husband that Sohvi wouldn't be able to work that day? And hadn't he done the same, when he looked at her and scowled, practically telling her that it was her fault that his eldest son took an interest in her?

 

"I never wanted it..." she whispered again. "I told him so, when he came to me. Like a thief in the night, always sneaking around, always silent. He told me that it was all fine. That he had to, because I was a woman now, and it was his duty to... to..." she fell silent, hearing his whispers as clearly as she'd heard them when it happened. "But if it was his duty, then why did he want me to be quiet about it? and why didn't he go to his other sisters? I don't understand. It was wrong. It was all wrong. Jon told me that. Told me that women like me were like the dark one to good, pious men like Joe." Her upper lip curved in a silent snarl. "But I never wanted it. I never asked him to come to my room at night. I never did..."

 

 

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A tear running down his cheek as the words came from Sohvi, he hugged her even tighter as they drifted off to nothing.  The idea of her hurt like that, again and again until she had left, the pain made it difficult for Anton to breath.  She had never hurt anyone, he knew her, knew what she was like, she had done nothing to deserve what had happened to her.  No one deserved what had happened to her.  It was filthy, the idea that someone had done it to her and then told her that it was her fault, that no one had helped her, that they had simply let it happen.

 

"I know you didn't, Sohvi, I know."  The words were choked but Anton got them out nevertheless.  "There is nothing wrong with you, there never was.  You aren't the Dark One, you didn't 'tempt' him and it was never his 'duty'.  It was wrong."  That wasn't all that Anton wanted to say either.  She had kept it deep within for so long, what had caused it to come out now?  He had a suspicion brewing, but he didn't want to scare her, not now or ever.  So it was that he spoke as gently as he could, even as he tried to contain the grief of her pain that welled within.

 

"Sohvi.  I'm not mad at you, and I won't be mad at you, but I need you to tell me something.  What made you remember all this?  Why is it hurting now when I knew nothing of it before?"

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"It wasn't his fault." she said, wide eyed again as she tried to remember just what had gone wrong. After all those years of carefully forgetting everything that had ever happened between her and Joe, there was something that had brought it all back. "I was just out riding with him. We were hunting, like we usually do because he's helping me with my bow practise, and it feels good to hunt. Like I'm doing something right, you know?" she looked at Anton, hoping to find some kind of understanding in his eyes.

 

"Go on." he said. She didn't want to though. "It wasn't his fault." she repeated. She knew how Anton felt about the Rangers. It would be wrong if he started to hate them even more, just because of her memories. "We were just hunting, but we'd gone out a bit too far and we decided to camp out. There was a fire, and he smelled good, and I know that it was just my wolf instincts that were telling me it was all fine, but I just thought... I just thought it wouldn't do any harm."

 

Just a cuddle, that's what she'd thought. Just a kiss, perhaps. And she'd wanted that, unlike anything Joe had ever wanted from her. "But then... he touched me... and there was something about that... and suddenly it was like he was Joe, and I had to get away." She shivered again, thinking of her desperate battle with the utterly confused John. "I think I may have hurt him. I just didn't want it anymore. It was like with Joe, only this time I didn't have to stay quiet and this time no one would hate me for hurting him."

 

"Then he stopped touching me, but it was already too late. I remembered again. Oh Light, I remember everything." she sobbed, hiding her face from Anton again. "I just couldn't look at him after I remembered so I ran. I should have done that when Joe first came to me. Should've ran away. I just thought that it would get better. Not with Joe, but I thought that... maybe someone would say something. Do something. anything..."

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So, she had gone behind his back, but that wasn't important now.  What was important to him was that Sohvi was alright, and now that she had let the worst of it out, now that she had nothing else to hide as far as he knew, maybe it would be a step in the right direction.  He hoped it was, maybe it would never leave her, but he hoped that it would lose its grip on her.  How that could be done, he wasn't sure, but he would try nevertheless.  Sliding his hand up from her arm to her face, Anton held her close as he wondered what to do with her.  Perhaps it would be best if she slept for now, but he would have to make sure she didn't simply run into the Wolf Dream either.  She needed real sleep.

 

"Its alright, shh, it may hurt to remember but its not something you should have to hide from.  You didn't do that, that was done to you.  You did nothing wrong.  I want you to remember that, it was not your fault."  John on the otherhand, Anton had known that that would be dangerous ground to walk on with Sohvi.  He hadn't known this was the reason, but her shyness merited caution.  Light, as prejudiced as it was, he was beginning to resent the Rangers more and more.  Such recklessness, and it was unfair on some he was friend to like his mentor Burrich, but then he didn't think of Burrich as a Ranger.

 

Stroking her hair, Anton's voice was a little calmer, even though he was upset, as he spoke.  "I think more than anything now, you need rest.  I want to go mix something for you with some water to make sure you aren't plagued by nightmares, and I will remain here the entire night.  I'll bring Eyes High in as well and we will all stay here with you.  When you wake up in the morning, I'm going to make you breakfast and we will talk more on it.  Alright?  You have nothing to worry about, you're safe here."

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"I liked it better when I didn't remember." Sohvi said, stuck somewhere between smiling and crying her heart out. "I think that's why I forgot so completely. I just wanted it to go away, and I thought that as long as I just pretended it didn't happen, it would soon be that way." she shook her head, smiling wryly. "It's kind of like that childhood rhyme, where you have to close your eyes and plug your ears, because if you can't see or hear the dark one, then the dark one can't see or hear you either. Maybe that actually works on the dark one, but it doesn't work that way with memories."

 

Anton walked around a bit, gathering some things for her. She followed him with her eyes, comforted by his presence. "I could have dealt with all those memories... Rita, Runa and Rema telling me I was hideous, Rada and Reva not caring about whether I lived our died... Jon with his speeches, Jak with his pranks... Jim and Jay with their drinking and their stupid friends. All those memories would have been fine, if I didn't have this one on top of them."

 

She sat up when Anton urged her to, and drank the thing he brewed for her at his insistance as well. Soon enough she felt herself get a little fuzzy around the edges. The sharpness of her newly found memories softened to a murmur somewhere in the back of her mind. "Don't go." she whispered, just before she sank into a deep sleep. Don't let him in.  she thought to Eyes High, even though she knew that Joe was nowhere near the stedding. But perhaps, if she were lucky, the wolf could keep him out of her dreams as well.

 

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