Continuation from "The Emperor's Pleasure: Hero Treatment" for Aelflead Kirastes, Keydis Lysistrata, and Red. Relevant posts quoted below:
*This is mainly a character-development piece. Consider it a success if these characters don't kill each other.The Geamhess cut gracefully through the sky, wispy clouds parting around the figurehead of Serpens before being drawn toward the humming engines under the protruding wings. Royal and beautiful from the outside, equally immaculate within. The forty-eight guests inside, renowned warriors and heroes from different battles and sponsors, were tended to night and day. The feast of that first night was the largest and most opulent, but none of the guest wanted for wine or spirits, and the tables were always filled with bread and fruit, cold cuts and cheeses, decadent and yet easily preserved. It could easily be mistaken for a pleasure cruise, despite the dire circumstances that had drawn them all together.
Everything is shrouded in thick white vapor, so thick that she can't even see her hand in front of her face. Wind rushes past, tugging at her hair, pulling her clothes. The metal beneath her feet hums, and that hum rushes through her entire body. The smell of the air, crisp and clear and with a hint of sea-salt, mingles with the tang of metal and oil. It's an indescribable rush, and she leans forward into the gale, holding her arms out to the side.
All at once, the mist breaks around her. She squints against the brilliant sunlight, a giddy grin spread across her face as the wide, blue sky opens up before her. Wisps and streams of cloud trail from the bow of the ship and the balloons on either side. She giggles, eyes bright and merry as she stands alone atop the airborne vessel. Even standing still, it feels like she's soaring ahead at a breakneck speed, basking in the warmth of the sun, reveling in the pull of the wind. Her dress whips and whirls wildly.
"What are you doing--?"
With a start, Keydis sat bolt upright, laboring to catch her breath, regain her bearings. Her skin glistened with sweat in the dim light. Her stomach lurched and Keydis clutched at her left arm, biting back a hiss of pain as her fingers tightened on the mangled flesh. Slowly, she pieced together where she was, aboard the Geamhess, heading to Pelagia. Aboard an airship, like the one… Keydis scowled and forced herself to her feet, stumbling in the dark. There was someone else laying down nearby, asleep, their breathing calm. Red. Slowly, Keydis fought down the panic, sitting back on the mattress. Now that her eyes were adjusting to the darkness, she could make out the shape of Red's body, turned away from her and facing the wall. However spacious the rest of the ship was, the sleeping quarters they had been given were tiny. Letting out a held breath, Keydis sat back on the mattress.
The specter of her dream memory gradually faded and Keydis loosened the grip on her arm. Most of the time, she could keep the panic down, but each time she woke up on the airship, it returned in full force. In the dim room, Keydis traced her fingers over her left arm, wincing even at the light touch.
The corruption of Caeancora had once only covered her elbows, coating them in a violet, metallic substance, a calling card of the vistra she had defeated. On her right arm, it had spread slowly, claiming a millimeter at a time, leaving the skin at the transition red and sore. Her left arm, though, had nearly been overtaken. Most of the limb, from wrist to bicep, was covered in Caeancora's plating, with deep veins of cracks exposing raw, red flesh. Keydis reached under the cot for gauze, pulling old dressings away before beginning the daily task of wrapping her arm tightly. Moving slowly, trying to avoid waking Red, she pulled her long red sleeve over her bandaged arm. After that, she slid into her smallclothes, put on the rest of her clothes, and finally donned her armor. Lastly, she pulled the leather straps tight over her right arm, flexing her arm once they were in place.
Keydis grabbed her sword and then stood, placing a hand against the wall to steady herself as nausea and dizziness washed over her. Pausing only to give her companion one more look over, Keydis slid open the door and stumbled out into the hallway. She carefully closed the door back and tried to regain her bearings. The main room of the ship would be loaded with food, every hour of the day, but eating would have to wait. Instead, the brunette wandered down the carpeted corridor, looking for somewhere with room to stretch, exercise, something that didn't require a lot of thought.
So early in the morning, much of the Geamhess' passengers were still asleep. The relaxed atmosphere of the ship made nights, for most at least, restful and fulfilling. And while there were clearly some unfortunates among the Geamhess' number who found themselves trapped at the, "uneasy," portion of "uneasy peacefulness" for one reason or another; they were few in number, so finding a place that required little thought was an easy task in the morning.
Surprisingly, on such ship designed with comfort in mind, there were very few places with significant room to move, save for the ship's deck. Because the vessel had been built for carrying passengers in massive number, much of it's space was dominated by passenger rooms save for a few, and one in particular that boasted especially ornate double doors.
Double doors that were cracked open enough to grant a purview of the room beyond, and bid the sounds of a woman's voice, heavy and somewhat breathy, counting to escape from it.
Further inside of it, this room boated relatively high ceilings compared to the rest of the ship's rooms though not much more than a meter. Every wall inside of it painted with exquisite craftsmanship so that the artwork shimmered softly and seemed to move across the interior. Glossily finished tile made up the entirety of the hard floor inside; and atop it a figure clad in a black cloak, who's dark scarlet hair followed her fluid, spinning movements like a ribbon following a stick.
Aelflead it seemed, was having just as much trouble finding peace on the Geamhess as a certain brunette.