A Measured Response


CONTENT WARNING: May contain physical, emotional, and mental abuse. Reader beware, Precia is not nice.

Date: 2017-01-09
Pose Count: 14
Precia Testarossa 2017-01-09 20:17:17 66731
Fate really should have known better.

Life has been too easy, since leaving Eclipse and her mother's wishes behind. It's been too simple, getting by day-by-day.

So when she woke up to find her dog missing, and a little ratgirl sitting and staring at her, perhaps it wasn't too big of a surprise. "Your mother would like to speak to you in her Garden," is all the little prissy ratgirl said before vanishing.

Poor Fate.

The Garden of Time remains steadfast, a bastion of Precia's power and knowledge demonstrated without subtlety or demurement. At every corner, her Puppet Soldiers stand guard, protecting Precia's innermost sanctum--and especially the massive mana generator at the core of the place--tirelessly.

Upon learning of Fate's arrival, Precia made herself quickly available in her throne room. There, seated upon the dais that is her throne, the tired-looking mage sits quietly awaiting her daughter's arrival.

Before her, chained to the floor by heavy metal links is Arf. Her mouth has been shoved full of heavy cotton reinforced by a thick leather strap, all bound fruther with magic.

But she's conscious, her eyes and ears are free; the familiar can witness what takes place, but not respond beyond rattling her chains.
Fate T. Waldia 2017-01-09 20:33:08 66734
    Mistakes have clearly been made.
    Waking up to Ertiga in her room rather than the more familiar wild red fur of her canid companion was enough to jolt Fate awake faste than an electric shock. For a moment; for one brief, moment a thrill of sudden terror and worry embeds itself in the child's heart like a thorn, sharp and poignant, and she knows precisely why, in just the second before the lab-rat girl is even gone.
    Fate left. She abandoned her mother's dreams, whatever mystery they may be, and selfishly went off on her own. Whatever joy she might have had in the time since she had fled died in her chest then and there, with the sudden tight feeling squeezing on her heart, and the tiny voice whispering at the back of her mind.
    'You are a bad daughter.'
    It takes her a few moments to steel herself, fingers clasping around the triangular pendant of her faithful Device. "Bardiche..."
    There is silence, a moment in which the stalwart black axe even seems hesitant, before responding in a low ping. <YES SIR...>
    A brief dimensional jump, and Fate arrives, as bidden, cloak fluttering as she strides down the familiar, barren, and unwelcoming halls towards her mother's throne room.
    "I'm here, mother." The girl says, voice soft as a whisper at the door, only entering once given prompt to do so. Anything she could have thought to give in her defense flees her, at the sight of Arf, bound and chained.
Precia Testarossa 2017-01-09 20:46:58 66735
"Enter."

The word is barely above a whisper, yet it carries to Fate's ear like the judge's gavel, sharp and poignant and commanding.

Precia does not look up as Fate enters the room. She does not stare at Fate. She merely waits for the child to approach.

Silence hangs in the air, heavy and oppressive. Precia allows Fate several moments to think; to defend herself against accusations unmade.

When she does not do so, the old mage finally asks, "Do you hate me?"
Fate T. Waldia 2017-01-09 20:57:24 66736
    It has been some time since Fate was last here. And the last time she had stood in her mother's throne room, she was not alone. A part of her regretted Takashi coming, that day, due to the injury Precia had wrought upon him; a memory that comes back in painfully vivid clarity as she crosses that threshold. Her mother had nearly killed him.
    And now here she stands again, this time feeling far more alone. For a long moment, her gaze is on Arf rather than her mother, wordlessly trying to tell her Familiar everything will be alright. But Arf knows Fate better than anyone else. And as a Familiar she has a much deeper understanding of the child's feelings due to their close connection.
    Fate might not fully believe herself.
    And then. Then Precia asks that question. She no longer looks at Arf, but niether does she look at the seated Mage, scarlet eyes downcast, daring not make eye contact when asked such a thing.
    That question is more loaded than a shotgun.
    The astounding ambient silence of the Garden floating in dimensional space is, perhaps, the only reason she can be heard so clearly when she answers, hesitant.
    "... No, mother."
Precia Testarossa 2017-01-09 21:01:47 66737
"I would like to believe you," Precia replies quietly, allowing just a hint of pain and worry to enter her tone. Now she looks up, finally regarding her daughter directly. "I would like to trust that all of this has been some plan--some purpose--and not a betrayal of me and all of the sacrifices I have made for you."

Precia grimaces just a little, as if she doesn't like what she sees, then straightens a little more fully in her chair until she is once again tall and imperious upon the throne. "I would like to believe that, Fate. But as the days and months have passed, I have grown increasingly uncertain of just where your loyalties lie. If you do not hate me, then what purpose do you have to abandon me? And if you do not abandon me, then what purpose do you have to avoid me? You see, I go in circles of logic that confound and confuse me, Fate. Help me to understand. Why has it been so long since I have heard anything from you, and why am I told that you are no longer living with the support structure I have provided to keep you safe on Earth until you have completed this difficult task I have asked of you?"
Fate T. Waldia 2017-01-09 21:17:44 66739
    Right now it is, perhaps, the most difficult thing in the world for Fate to look up. A herculean task of such legendary proportions, akin to Atlas holding up the very world on his shoulders. And Fate's shoulders are so thin and delicate, already shaking with the weight Precia places back upon them by so simply letting herself sound so pained.
    "I..." She has nothing. At least for the span of a few breaths, trying to think of something to say that will make up for her dereliction of duty as a daughter. Or perhaps she has something. "I don't hate you, mother." She ventures again; "I didn't... Mean to get distracted." Yes. That's all it was. A distraction. Daring to venture off the path of her task, let others take up her time and attention that should have been focused on being the lynchpin to Precia's sole desire of attaining the Jewel Seeds.
    She had one job, and she didn't even get it done, did she?
Precia Testarossa 2017-01-09 21:22:19 66740
"Distracted," Precia replies quietly, and then a hacking cough wracks her chest. She curls over, and a little rat scurries worriedly out of her robe to peer up at the mage, concerned but not acting on her behalf. That coughing fit passes soon, and Precia is left wheezing for air.

"Distracted," she repeats, voice more hoarse and pained than before. When she looks at Fate, it is with an utter lack of understanding--an utter lack of compassion. "I mean so little to you," she muses quietly, then slowly starts to rise. The little rat scurries to the very edge of the throne's arm-rest, but doesn't dash off after Precia.

Precia's staff simply appears in her hand, as she desends from the dais towards Fate, slowly and without determination. "You don't hate me," Precia replies, "I am not even worthy of your hatred. I mean nothing to you," she says softly. "You would see me die, my dreams unfulfilled, without any concern for my happiness or my health."

Precia looks, now, towards Arf, and asks, "Was it you? Are you who distracted my Fate so? Was it you who poisoned her against me?"
Fate T. Waldia 2017-01-09 21:58:04 66741
    Distracted, yes. In the moment, Fate feels it is a good choice of wording.
    And in the next second, Precia makes her regret it, in entirety.
    The pained tone of the older mage's voice is enough to make the smaller girl flinch then and there, as though dealt a physical strike from the woman's words along. Then there's the staff. Fate knows full well what it is capable of and its alternative form, yet that isn't what puts her on even more of an edge. "Mother, no that's not true-" She attempts to defuse the moment. An attempt that so clearly fails when Precia Testarossa's attention turns upon the bound wolf, struggling with her binds with such a fervor, she practically vibrates. Arf's mouth may be stuffed, but she doesn't need it to talk.
    <<Fate did everything you asked her to->>
    It is Fate who cuts her off, voice rising with a sudden desperation. "Mother no, it wasn't Arf!" She says defensively, "It wasn't her, it was me." Added in an attempt to shoulder her mother's displeasure, like the good daughter she wishes to be. To admit her mistake then and there, and stop being so selfish, as Precia points out she had been. "I don't hate you, I was wrong."
Precia Testarossa 2017-01-09 22:30:50 66742
*Snap*

The sudden, sharp crack is intense and without preamble, painful where it stings Fate across the stomach. Precia's staff has transformed now into the all-too familiar, and all-too uncomfortable shape of the whip. Tendrils of something other reach down from nowhere, grabbing at Fate's wrists and pulling her forcibly, suspending her into the air.

At the throne, the little rat squeaks in terror and hides, ducking behind the seat and only barely peaking out.

*Crack*

The whip sounds a second time, and with it, Precia pours out her anger, her pain, and her disappointment.

"How could you?" Precia asks, as the whip cracks a third time against Fate. "After all I have done for you, all I have given you, how could you abandon me so?"
Fate T. Waldia 2017-01-09 22:49:40 66743
    If Fate has anything else to say in her defense, it's struck from her mind. Replaced with starbursts of pain flashing across her vision; the sudden and decisive blow of the lash catching the child off guard. She yelps, a sharp, shrill, sound of blended surprise and pain, as the initial belting lash staggers her. To her credit, Fate remains standing; albeit nearly slammed off her feet before regaining her balance. A moot point when the dark tendrils descend and hoist her like a ragdoll.
    Even Ertiga hides, when Precia is in a bad mood? It is a fact that almost doesn't even register as the blonde sucks in a ragged breath through her teeth, before clenching her jaw in silent acceptance. The next blow comes with that familiar lancing pain, and Fate's voice is muted, catching in her throat as she does her best to show her mother that she is of the Testarossa bloodline. In spite of the pain, she is strong. She can take this. "... I'm sorry, mother."
    It's just correction.
    Now though, Arf can't hide. She can't curl up on the other side of the throne room door, shut her eyes, and cover her ears. She's forced to watch.
    <<Stop! She gets the point!>> The faithful Familiar mentally howls, snarling through her binds. And yet Fate doesn't fight it. Precia has Arf in, perhaps, an even worse situation. And that is foremost why she so readily returned in the first place.
Precia Testarossa 2017-01-09 23:19:03 66744
Precia stands still for several moments. Her question is unanswered, and for that she is still enraged. But too, Fate has apologized. A memory of Alicia, apologizing for breaking a beaker, comes to mind. Precia dwells in that memory a moment too long, and the pain and torment of her lost daughter goes with it. "I'm sorry, too," she counters Fate's apology.

But the apology doesn't stop the whip from lashing out again, again, as Precia works through her own inner turmoil and pain. Arf's cries fall on deaf ears, as Precia mirrors her own pains upon poor Fate's body.

Eventually, the sobbing wreck that Precia has become regains control, and the lashes stop. Eventually, she takes a breath to steady herself. Eventually, even Ertiga dares to peek back out at her mistress. But the familiar says not a word.

Eventually, Precia reaches up to wipe at her eyes, and then looks Fate over uncertainly. "I truly am sorry," she reiterates quietly to the girl. "But I cannot allow your distractions to come between us any longer. I am sending you back to earth, Fate," she says quietly. "You will go with Arf to retrieve the remaining jewel seeds. I have six of the twenty-one which we know to be there. It is not enough. Somewhere on that planet there are fifteen moure, and I need them, Fate. I need all of them. If you love me, you will retrieve them for me. But if you do not love me, you will retrieve them anyways. One of the six I own is now embedded in your dear Arf's collar. If you try to remove it, it will enact my wishes upon her. If you try to tamper with it, the same. If you fail me for too long, I will have Ertiga activate it from afar."

Precia falls silent for several moments, allowing those words to sink in, before asking, "Do you understand?"
Fate T. Waldia 2017-01-09 23:54:01 66752
    The truth is, Fate does not HAVE an answer for Precia. Or perhaps if she does, she's more than fully aware it would not appease her mother's ire-- which is clearly well and reasonably earned, in this case. Fate ran away. Maybe she expected this, when called to return, and perhaps that is why she does not plead for it to stop.
    In those tense silent moments of Precia's silent memory, Fate dangles, trembling. Heart racing in her chest while torn between squeezing her eyes shut or watching to see if her mother will calm. But the grand mage does not calm. And Fate can only put on her brave silence for so long as a result. It is but a few more lashes before the muffled grunts finally break in to a half-strangled sob, when her self control breaks. And then that, too, eventually evolves into a much more honest cry of pain.
    By the time Precia stops to wipe her eyes, Fate is left dangling almost entirely limp, breath shallow and ragged from pain and from trying to keep from exacerbating said pain. But it's Arf that protests, shaking her binds and snarling.
    <<Wh... What the hell is wrong with you?!>> It's too cruel; and now she can't look away from it all or hide, the faithful Familiar reacts in the only way she can, now. <<This is too much! Are the Jewel Seeds really worth all this?!>>
    And yet, PRecia answers her already. She shows just how far she is willing to go, in revealing the location of Seed XV- seated squarely in Arf's collar, and what will happen should they think about disobeying.
    Even Arf's projected voice is less than a whisper. <<... You monster.>>
    Fate's reply however... May just be what Precia might have expected.
    "... Y... Yes... Mother."
Precia Testarossa 2017-01-10 00:00:01 66755
The acceptance earns Fate a reprieve. Precia's device is once again a staff, clutched in her hand and leaned upon. She turns away, and Fate is dumped unceremoniously to the ground. "Take your pet and go," she says as she makes her way back to the dais. "Return to Takashi Agera, and tell him that I expect his cooperation, as well, or I will ensure that Tomoe pulls his funding for good."

Precia re-mounts her throne and settles in once again, turning to face Fate. "Ertiga will look in on you in one week. I expect progress, Fate. I expect much more dedication from you. Do not fail me again."
Fate T. Waldia 2017-01-10 00:22:54 66765
    Fate is still unmoving for a long few beats. Before her binds give way. The child falls- it is a sudden drop. One she is both unprepared for and incapable of arresting, while her head swims half-conscious. It is a bad landing, as a result; with no attempt in the slightest to even catch herself, the small blonde lands hard on her knees at first, before simply crumpling forward like dead weight, and she does it without a sound any louder than the thump of her landing- as sound which comes far too loud in the silence of the Garden of Time.
    It is just a few breaths before she stirs; wordlessly planting her hands on the floor and pushing herself to stand, shakily.
    She can't look up, now. She can't look her mother in the eyes after that. And it is because Fate Testarossa knows that her mother is not angry with her.
    She is disappointed.
    It is an astounding display of willpower in how the child picks her battered body off of the floor, her every movement slow and measured to mitigate the remaining sting of the lash, while trying to hurry herself from her mother's presence to keep from taking up any more of Precia's time, quaking fingers fumbling Arf free of her binds. In the end, Arf is in human form in a flash, finishing the job and gathering Fate into her arms to carry her out.
    One last "Yes, mother." on their way out the door ends it, Arf only pausing long enough to glare, staring at her cherished Master's mother with a hateful glare of the purest and only barely leashed fury.