Author Topic: By the Moonlight: Anastasia 'Nastia' Caris  (Read 626 times)

Euniana

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By the Moonlight: Anastasia 'Nastia' Caris
« on: December 28, 2018, 07:01:20 AM »
Prelude

The Carises were not devouts of Selūne. Though they sought her blessings at times as most Faerūnians do, their faith lay elsewhere. Cander Caris was a woodsman, a follower of Silvanus. Elena Caris (née Blake) had been an itinerant priestess of Ilmater who retired from her active ministry to raise a family with her husband. The two somewhat settled in the small village of Northbrook, not far from the great city of Silverymoon. Though the couple were formally retired from the dangerous lifestyle of adventurers, the Carises maintained something of their old wanderlust. Travelling much of the year, Cander worked as a hunter, and Elena as a healer.

The Carises were Illuskan through and through, but Elena was said to have a Rashemi ancestor, though she knew hardly anything of that side of her heritage. The only remaining aspect of it was a family tradition, where the female offspring were given Rashemi names -- so it was that their child came to be named Anastasia 'Nastia' Caris. Despite their different faiths, all the circumstances surrounding their child's birth convinced them that their daughter was meant for the Moonmaiden. Conceived under a full moon and born under a blue moon in 1362 DR, Anastasia 'Nastia' Caris was dedicated to the goddess as a newborn babe. Her affinity to the wild and inability to sit still for long, traits inherited apparently from her parents, made her a curious child who accompanied her parents on long treks into the mountains, as far as the Spine of the World where the Carises maintained a lodge. Despite the difficult physical demands, the young Nastia would learn to love the frigid north despite all its challenges, and they would go on to remind her of the happy years she spent with her parents.

Nastia was a quiet and introspective child with few friends, a consequence of her family's near-constant movement and lack of strong roots. Nonetheless, she would come to make a lifelong friend in the young reclusive wild elf Callithyra, when she found the child obliviously lost at night in the woods. The wild elf would come to be something of a guardian angel for the child, watching her grow up and occasionally visiting her to provide much-needed company. Though Nastia never realized it and always credited Selūne's watchful eye, it was the wild elf's many private interventions that kept the child's curiosity from leading her into doom. When tragedy struck in Nastia's seventh year, it was again Callithyra who whisked her back to safety.

The Carises had planned a trip deep into the Spine, tracking a group of yetis that were harrassing local Uthgardt camps. Though they left Nastia behind in the lodge for safety, the child rather recklessly followed in secret. Nastia would slip and fell into a crevasse, where Callithyra rescued her and brought her back to Northbrook. For her parents, it didn't work out so well. They went on to find that the Uthgardt camps they were intending to help had been devastated by tribes of bugbears driven out from their lair by orcish activity. Something was stirring in the Spine and causing a chain of disruptions and displacements that threatened to spill further south, potentially threatening even the Silver Marches. Without warning, Northbrook would not stand a chance.

The Carises fled back to their lodge, which they found ransacked and occupied by an orcish warband. Assuming the worst and driven to despair, they threw themselves at their daughter's presumed murderers. only to be mortally wounded. Cander was carried off by his vanquishers, never to be seen alive again, and Elena fled down the mountains, barely able to pass warning to a frontier settlement before succumbing to her injuries. Thanks to their sacrifice, armies from the Silver Marches and their allies mustered in time to put the hordes from the Spine to rout before they could fully assemble. Though some speculated that the drow were the true masterminds, no concrete proof was ever found. The frozen, half-eaten remains of Cander Caris would only be found years later in the mountains by a traveller. The remains of the Carises came to be interred in Northbrook, where the two were remembered as heroes.

As for the newly orphaned Nastia, it was the church of Selūne that opened their arms to her. The priestesses Bethany Helder and Mara Bergen would raise her as one of their own, schooling her in their ways. They would quickly realize, however, that the child's destined path, though illuminated by Selūne, was to be a different one from that which they took. Nastia's blessings made her more suited as a champion than for the priesthood. With no suitable Selūnite warriors to serve as Nastia's mentor, the priestesses turned to an old friend of Elena Caris's, an Ilmatari paladin serving in the Knights in Silver, Sir Dimitri Duskwood. Nastia served under him first as a page and then as a squire, blossoming under his harsh but competent tutelage.

The quirks of Sir Dimitri's brand of discipline would mould Nastia in particular ways. Her curiosity would be reshaped into a keen love for learning, her wanderlust into a deep compassion for the realms. The chaste and austere knight -- it was said that he took up a vow of chastity after a failed suit for Elena's hand -- would teach Nastia the values of propriety and modesty, something that would come to play a role in her inner turmoil as they battled her youthful yearnings for something more than lifelong celibacy. Still, she never found love in her brief life in Toril.

On her eighteenth birthday, in 1380 DR, Nastia Caris was due to be knighted. Unfortunately, orcish hordes once again stirred in the north, and the knights were mobilized. Preferring a formal ceremony to an impromptu dubbing, Sir Dimitri delayed her knighting as they rode out north. What was supposed to be a weeks-long delay would turn out to be much longer than they had anticipated, as the tendrils of the Mists wove their way into Toril and snatched Nastia into their dreadful embrace...
« Last Edit: February 11, 2019, 01:46:22 PM by Euniana »

Euniana

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Re: By the Moonlight: Anastasia 'Nastia' Caris
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2019, 07:05:57 PM »
*This is the beginning of a new journal, written in an Illuskan shorthand of Nastia's own devising. Code is used to substitute keywords and phrases, and the text is likely to be illegible and innocuous.*

It has been months since I arrived in these misted lands. I suppose it's past time I collected my thoughts on parchment. Though it has not been long by any objective method of reckoning, I feel as though a lifetime has passed. It seemed eons ago that She last spoke to me in a way that elicited no doubt. And the harshness of this cursed world has been harrowing on my soul, though it has also strengthened and hardened under the pressure. I suppose there is much that I have survived, and I now wield blessings that I could've only dreamt of back home. Everything I knew back home so ill prepared me for all this that I feel I've learnt more here than I had in a lifetime of devotion.

Despite all that, I'm still only an eighteen-year-old, with the kind of worldly experience that would entail. I'm young, naļve, and incompetent. I wish to help but know not how to use my strengths properly. I'm weak, not just physically or spiritually, but also in not knowing how to help without it backfiring. I've made more friends here than I ever had back home, and for that, I'm grateful -- but it also means I lean on them more than I truly should. I have to learn to stand on my own two feet one day and not just count on others to clean up my mess -- literally as well as metaphorically.

Rhea [the word 'the artificer' is used in here, and the pronoun 'he' is used from this point on in reference] is perhaps a prime reflection of all my failures. I want to trust her, despite knowing that she has repeatedly proven less than trustworthy. Her life of crime [the words 'his mischief' is substituted for the phrase] troubles me, and it is perhaps for the best that I know as little as possible. Nonetheless, I fear that in lending her my sympathy and aid -- though there is precious little I've truly done for her -- I help to perpetuate a greater evil. Thaelandriel and Hestiana [initialled as T. H. and referred to in the singular in the coded text] are often here to counsel me, but I fear my idealism will drag them down with me.

Thaelandriel [written only as 'Th' in Espruar, the elven script of Faerūn, referred to hereafter in the feminine in code] has come to mean much to me. This is a relationship [the word used seems to refer more specifically to a business relationship] the ways of which I'm unfamiliar with. I hope I do not hurt him ['shortchange her' is used in code]. He is older and wiser, and I am young and foolish. It's my fear that I will bring him down into ruin, and I fervently pray I do not do so out of ignorance and incompetence.

It is strange to think that I am a knight now. I shudder to think that the girl I was some moons ago was even supposed to have been dubbed. I feel less ready than ever, and this burden is not something I feel ready to bear. At times, it feels less of an achievement and more of a hollow symbol, as my new title is recognized nowhere in the Core. Nonetheless, I must resist this tendency of despair that I've experienced lately. I must not bring dishonour to Her.

I hope to revisit this journal soon after and record more of my thoughts.

Euniana

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Re: By the Moonlight: Anastasia 'Nastia' Caris
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2019, 04:00:37 PM »
*This entry contains three Illuskan-themed ballads.*

1.

Eala, westerlies wax,
For winter comes; it is well-nigh.
Sing the song of the longspur,
For winter comes; it is well-near.
Last of the leaves, lost to the winds,
Rimed with the last of my love,
Sing the song of the longspur!

The bear buries her weary weight,
And the ermine wears her white.
Fowl hum at last their farewell hymn
And ride the azure road.

The bunting croons his lullaby,
And may it not soon cease,
For winter comes; it is now here --
My heart in hoarfrost throbs.

2.

Rising, rising, leap and fly,
May the risen moon shine tender.
Ere I close my dying eyes,
I pray the moon my heart to comfort. [or should it be I pray Selūne? I am uncertain]

Take my hands and take my ears,
Take my greying hair and lips.
Let my feet one last time walk
To climb that silvery light above.

3.

Let wintry winds sweep that old grave
That autumn leaves had covered up.
Deep drifts of snow shall be his cloak,
Selūne his only loyal friend.

Oh how I mourn and how I sigh,
How this world's joy all goes to naught.
Heartbeats shall cease -- or they may not --
A difference I do not perceive.

Spring rains descend on that old grave
And batter down the silent ward.
New flowers sprout, though soon they die,
Lathander his lone faithful guard. [switch line with above?]

Oh how I mourn and how I sigh,
How this world's joy all goes to naught.
Heartbeats shall cease -- or they may not --
A difference I do not perceive.

Dry warmth creeps round on that old grave
And wears away the faded words.
A death forgot, amidst life lost,
Jergal his only silent judge.

Oh how I mourn and how I sigh,
How this world's joy all goes to naught.
Heartbeats shall cease -- or they may not --
A difference I do not perceive.

As autumn sings on that old grave,
A cycle once more come and gone,
The harvest comes to reap anew,
Silvanus his last comforter. [or Mielikki?]

Oh how I mourn and how I sigh,
How this world's joy all goes to naught.
Heartbeats shall cease -- or they may not --
A difference I do not perceive.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2019, 03:35:03 AM by Euniana »

Euniana

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Re: By the Moonlight: Anastasia 'Nastia' Caris
« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2019, 03:51:08 AM »
*Another Illuskan-themed ballad*

4.

A parting from thee -- unbridled my sorrow;
A lachrymose gaze -- unstopping my ache.
Remembrance of love is a song writ for twain.
I will not soon change -- and neither willst thou.
So brighten thy tears and with booming voice sing:
This song from my heart, 'tis for thee and for me.

Gaze upon me, and say 'Forget me not.'
Thine eyes I too see are alight with regret.
Our parting was done; the past is now past.
And yet in my heart -- thy visage still shines.
So brighten thy tears and with booming voice sing:
This song from my soul, 'tis for me and for thee.

Art thou now embarking for places afar?
A desolate ending is not what I have sought.
Will there be a morrow to greet my bleak heart,
Or will it too wilt like this snow-mantled rose?
So brighten thy tears and with booming voice sing:
This song from my mind, 'tis for thee and for me.
« Last Edit: February 02, 2019, 12:19:16 PM by Euniana »

Euniana

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Re: By the Moonlight: Anastasia 'Nastia' Caris
« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2019, 06:11:47 PM »
*A frantic journal entry, written in a trembling hand in Illuskan*

By the gods, it was like nothing I've seen. A giant, monstrous, serpentine thing, with mist snaking around its grotesque form.

It opened its gaping maw, and I felt a tinge of queasiness, which grew explodingly into a tidal wave of nausea. All my strength drained out of me. My knees buckled under my weight, and the thing pounced on me.

Its attention wasn't even on me. I was just an obstacle in its way: something to be batted aside, no more than a bug in the path of an advancing wagon. Crushed under a wheel without anyone taking notice or giving it a second thought. Probably the only reason I even lived. And for what?

I want to go home.

Euniana

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Re: By the Moonlight: Anastasia 'Nastia' Caris
« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2019, 05:04:29 AM »
*A journal entry written in Illuskan*

It's been a long time since I last visited this journal. I have seen and endured so much, and yet achieved so little. I'm no longer the same girl I was, and for all that, my failures and inadequacies continue to add to my shame, now heavier than it has ever been. At times, I feel my soul stretched to its breaking point, but what else can I do but soldier on? Except -- in the absence of a marching order and a company of brethren, where am I going? I see as though through a glass dome, Her holy light distorted into something I cannot determine the trajectory of. I may be here for a reason, but what is it? I crave guidance, companionship, purpose, but there is so precious little. So few of Her flock are here. The sister is gone again, lost to the cruel mists for all I know. Th [a ligature written in Espruar] and K [written likewise in Espruar], who is as family to me, are my last comfort -- but I fear I cannot do this even with them. In front of them, I'm more darkness than light these days. I've begun to find that I often awake in the middle of the night, my sheets damp with a salty wetness. I've never been known to be lachrymose, having only shed tears once in recent memory, during what ought to have been a joyous occasion. What is wrong with me? In less guarded moments, I'm alarmed to find that I want to curl up and never wake up again. I've even said it aloud once. This is not the fate I should want for myself, but how long until I can no longer tell? Which will break first, my spirit or my body?

I feign strength in front of the others, but I'm not sure of my strength at all. I'm a vessel filled with Her grace, and daily I struggle to carry this burden. Lucille and Tess see so much potential in me, but no amount of regret or standing tall will erase the consequence of my poor judgement in allowing the Artificer to get away with his lies. It is Her teaching that mercy and compassion must be tempered with an iron resolve to destroy all corrupting shadows. In this, I have failed. I was so cruelly manipulated, my immature mind turned against itself in ceaseless doubt, a perhaps prudent disposition perverted into perilous naļvité.

K put it well when she thus described me: I always see the good in people, until I don't. It's a strange quirk of the person I've become that I try to see light where perhaps there is none. Maybe, in words more reminiscent of the good sister, I see my duty as to bring light to the darkest of places, so darkness alone does not dissuade me from trying -- but I expect it to be well-lit when I retreat to what ought to be places of safety, where I'm able to show my vulnerable side -- and there, even the merest flicker of a shadow will chill my heart and drive me into anger and, I suppose, self-righteous sanctimony. After all, when I see the light as my refuge, to sense the slightest hint of intrusion from the darkness is akin to having one's innermost sanctum broken into. The consequence is an ill-aimed festering of fury, and my patience wears abominably thin when it comes to tolerating imperfection from those who ought to be my closest allies.

I don't know whether I've done the right thing in my last decision. With the sister gone, and Th's judgement made hopelessly non-impartial by our relationship, I question whether I've made yet another grave mistake. I suspect things will never be the same again, regardless. I crave so much for Her comforting voice, just to tell me one more time that everything will turn out just fine.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2019, 05:08:25 AM by Euniana »

Euniana

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Re: By the Moonlight: Anastasia 'Nastia' Caris
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2019, 11:35:10 PM »
*A journal entry written in Illuskan*

I'm an eighteen-year-old girl lost in the mists and scared out of my wits. All I can cling onto are my beliefs, my principles, and my memories of an adoring mother who lovingly knit me together and claimed me as Her own before I was born. When Her voice ceased reaching me, a part of me withered inside. The real Nastia of Silverymoon -- Nastia of Northbrook -- is now just a reflection of a memory long past, and what I am is a mere potential, bereft of all the innocence and joie de vivre of that girl, not even a woman yet, who was somehow going to become a knight. It was a less cruel world, and what I -- she -- didn't know would never hurt her. Sometimes, I wonder how Nastia is doing back in the real world. Has she surpassed Sir Dimitri? Has she broken free of his perhaps well-intended but nonetheless suffocating shackles? Does the proximity to her parents, and to her Mother in Heaven, comfort her? Maybe Sir Duskwood's ongoing influence would mean that she would never find love. How might Nastia have turned out? Such are the questions I ponder at times.

But I cannot look alone towards the past and what might have been. Even if a real Nastia lives on out there, and I'm just an impostor, this is still where I dwell. My life, my priorities, must be here, in this cruel, twisted world where the darkness reigns supreme, and the champions of the light are too few, too unready, too feeble in mind, body, and soul. I am one of them, and though I falter, I cannot give in while I can still feed the dying light with all my being. I may have done wrong. I may have proven myself unworthy with my immature indiscretions. Others who carry the light may not much care for my help. But by my soul, I'm not allowing myself to be eaten from the inside by this festering darkness.

I have always been a stoic little girl, and I never shed tears lightly. Each time it happened was an occasion seared into my mind. The first time I bled, I panicked and ran all the way home to Northbrook, I vividly recall, following a full moon. I ran into the embrace of Mara and Bethany, who held me and comforted me. It was silly and foolish of me, as I'd completely forgotten about the lessons they'd taught me, but they patiently listened to my woes and fears and told me again of Her holy cycles that She had blessed us with, a reflection of Her own splendour. I left Silverymoon feeling alone in the world, and in Northbrook, I felt special, blessed, and loved. Not one of the acolytes or the other girls laughed at me or made light of my anxieties, even though I'd made a scene. I was family to them, accepted unconditionally with tender love. I miss that connection.

There is no church of Selūne in the mists, like Vasilli told me. We were four, and then three, and now, I do not know if there is even anything anymore. Perhaps I have erred in accepting the complication that Th [a ligature in Espruar] offered me. She allows her duties to take herself away from me, and I feel both lonely and resentful with her frequent absences. I'm not sure this is a healthy relationship, at any rate. I feel dirty from what we have done, and she is nowhere to reassure me. I don't know if I can go on like this.

Euniana

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Re: By the Moonlight: Anastasia 'Nastia' Caris
« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2019, 08:22:50 PM »
*Written in Illuskan in a meandering hand*

As pale as the night that chills my core,
As cold as the dusky gloom-lit sky,
My lifeless body in repose
Shall rise again to steer my soul.
My heart drums on adrift at sea
To burst asunder in the storm.
My head cleaved from my bloodied frame
Shall sing this languid threnody
Alight with shadows bright as morn.