Private Tales The Weight of the Past

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer


The Hanged Man
Character Biography
Vel Anir - The Three Gutters


How long had it been? Five years? Six? Aleric couldn’t even remember anymore. The last time he had seen them he’d been a boy, less than a whelp and three times as cocky as he should have been. It had smelled the same then as it did now. A mixture of piss, unwashed bodies, and blood.

Somehow, some way, he still found that comforting.

The noise as ever was raucous. Drunkards spilling out from their taverns, ‘beggars’ doing their best to rob them, and everyone else trying to figure out what scam they would be running next. In a way it was comforting to see it all be the same, to know that even after all the chaos the Three Gutters would never change. It was almost enough to bring some semblance of warmth to his heart.


The three Gutters had earned it’s name near the founding of Vel Anir. This district of the slums having been founded around three canals which had once feed the city fresh water, now used for the disposal of waste and whatever the hell else those in the city proper didn’t want. Whatever ran through the gutters now could hardly be called water, though some people still had little choice but to drink it.

Aleric stepped over the small bridge placed across one of the three, slipping to the side to avoid a group of young boys. All of them eying him up and down to see if he carried anything of worth. He plucked at his cloak, showing them the rags that he wore. The same clothes he had been wearing for weeks on end now. One of them spat on the ground in disgust, and Aleric couldn’t help but grin.

He remembered being one of them.

He remembered a lot.

Quickly he let his cloak fall back into place, stepping off the bridge and into the slums proper. His shoulders squared, and his eyes set forward as he finally came back home.
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It'd only been a week since she'd last been in the Gutters, but a week had been too long and her body was tired. Lileas had been up town, in some swanky estate where they hadn't even asked her name let alone realised she hadn't been one of their staff. Her hair was soft and still smelled of lavender, her clothes were much too clean for this part of the city, and the sack she carried was heavily burdened with all manner of fine clothes, trinkets, treasures and treats that she was sure the house would barely even notice were ever missing.

She was shivering despite the mild temperature and the thick cloak she wore, and her pale eyes were dull with fatigue. The wagon she'd hitched a ride on trundled onward, rocking and creaking more and more the closer it travelled to the Gutters where the dirt roads were more divots and debris.

"Get on out of it!" the old man in the driving seat of the wagon yelled as they came to an abrupt halt. "Go on! Beat it!" he insisted to the small gang of boys who had blocked his road.

"Whatchu got?! There's a toll, dontcha know?!"

Lily snorted from the back of the wagon and stood, a small smirk on her face as she shook her head at the sight of the boys. "This ain't much of a welcome back.."

"Lily! Ey move aside lads, let the Lady through." the little ring-leader tipped his hat and bowed theatrically. Lily curtsied with amusement.

"Good sirs." she smiled, and tossed each of them a crisp, red apple each as she passed, with which they were more than happy to accept as toll payment.

"Next corner will do me just fine." Lily called to the driver who answered with a 'righto', and slowed to a stop, allowing her to gingerly hop down into the dirt. She hauled her luggage over her shoulder with a quiet 'oof'
Thanks Charlie!.."

"Any time, lass." he waved, and carried on.
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Aleric squatted on top of the edge of a roof top, mostly hidden by the rise of a chimney which his head rested gently against. It was something he'd always done before they put him away. A place to gather his thoughts, to watch the streets below and not be bothered by every rat and urchin running around.

What was true then was true now.

No one had bothered him for time that he'd been there. Several hours having passed since he'd first stepped foot back in the gutters. Clouds now hung above, a gentle rumble of thunder echoing in the distance threatening the coming storm.

In his time above the streets he had seen a few familiar faces, and none of them friendly.

They were all older.


Though he supposed that was no different than himself. What would they think when they saw him? Did he even belong here anymore? Would they greet him with open arms, or would he feel a knife in the belly as his arms wrapped around them.

He was sure that for most it would be the latter, but then again that was no different than it had been before he'd left. A sad, small smile touched his lips. Eyes flickering as a carriage slowly made it's way into the square below. Aleric watched it with quiet disinterest, following along as it came to a stop on the corner.

Some rich fool come to buy stolen goods? An idiot glob of party boys come to see the dangerous side of town? A lady looking for a lost so-

Aleric's head pulled away from the chimney, his eyes widening as he saw her.

Older, just a little taller, but there was no mistaking. "Lileas."

The soft whisper fell from his lips.
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"Need a hand carryin' yer wares, Lil?" the young lad who'd tipped his hat skipped over, quickly followed by the others who all crunched into their apples.

"You think I've gone thick, Freddie? Not likely..." she laughed and reached to give him a playful slap on the side of his head. The boy grinned.

"We wouldn't never steal from you, Lil, would we lads?"

"Nooo, wouldn't do that Lil, course we wouldn't.."
they insisted. In fairness, she had kept the street kids sweet with a penny here and there, and they had never caused her any trouble.

"Here.." she dipped her hand into a pocket in her cloak and fished out a trinket - a small medallion on a chain. "Alfie should give you a few silvers for this, split it - put it toward your education, eh?" she smirked half-heartedly as she pressed it into Freddie's palm. They all peered at it as though they had never seen anything quite so fine in all their lives, each squabbling to hold it.

"Cheers Lil! We will!" they nodded, bowed, and skipped off triumphantly with their cut of her week's work. Keeping the little rats on side was only wise in the Gutters..

Lileas huffed as she adjusted her haul and slipped into the darkness of one of the many alleyways in the labyrinth of the slums. The ramshackle buildings were built so closely together that there wasn't too much room to move between them as it was. Rickety planks lay as bridges over tiny rivers of filth and between the rooftops, and Lily knew every path and doorway, and which ones to avoid.

Having the vague notion that she was being watched, she paused cautiously at every corner, her fingertips brushing the dagger at her hip as she glanced cautiously up and down the lanes and leaned here and there to catch her breath.
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Aleric watched her for a time, a small smile plucking at the corner of his lips as she pressed a medallion into one of the boys hands. He recognized none of them of course, most of them would have barely been tykes when he had gone away, but he knew what she was doing.

Nothing ever changed in the Gutters.

His eyes followed her as she slowly slipped into one of the alleyways between the ramshackle buildings, and for a moment he hesitated.

The question of whether or not to follow her flickered through his mind again and again. She had always, always been the closest thing he had to family. But what if things were different now? He'd been gone for years. Cut off without a word.

For all intense and purposes he'd been dead.

"But it's Lil." He said to himself softly, as if silencing every argument.

A slow breath filled his lungs, and quickly Aleric darted off to the side. He moved quickly, his footfalls shockingly quiet as he began to bound down between the ramshackle buildings. Hopping from half broken beams and lunging off of planks of wood that would have been called balconies here in the slums.

With a muted thud he landed just a few feet in front of Lileas just as she looked behind herself. Within the span of a breath he closed the distance between themselves. His hand reaching out to gently shove her back into the alleyway and into the darkness.

His face mere inches from hers as he tried to cover her mouth and whispered. "Shh."
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Lileas let out a shriek that was half masked by the clank of her bag hitting the ground, and half smothered by a hand as she was pushed back against the damp wall. The blade was already in her hand, and the tip of it was swiftly under the man's chin as she breathed hard and fast through her nose, her pulse racing.

Darkness shrouded his face despite how close he was to her, but she stared back, wide-eyed as she tried to find the details. The tip of the blade pressed up in warning, and she tried her best to keep her hand from shaking from the weakness that plagued her.

"Back off, and maybe I won't open your throat." she muffled almost inaudibly into his palm with a huff.
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He couldn't help the smile that spread across his lips. Not mocking or anything close to it, but genuine and warm. Aleric almost laughed as she threatened him, the tip of her knife pressing beneath his chin. Threatening to nearly draw blood.

"Lil" He said softly. "I'd really rather you didn't."

His fingers slowly slipped away from her mouth. "But..."

Slowly, as nonthreatening as he could possibly be he slowly pulled back the hood that had covered his face. Revealing just enough of his face to show her who he was, hoping that he had not changed too much. Hoping that the scar across his eye was not too vulgar.

Hoping that the crimson line across his throat did not draw her gaze first. "I didn't want you to scream."
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The sound of her name as he spoke it sounded strangely familiar, only deeper. Her brow furrowed, and she watched him closely as he pulled down the hood. It was his eyes that drew her gaze first, and though it took her a long moment, her expression paused the moment recognition set in and she stared at him as though she was looking at a ghost.

"Aleric..?" she breathed, her mouth open and her eyes burning with unshed tears as she looked over him. Her free hand rose, trembling as she reached to touch his face just below the scar that ran across his eye, and then her gaze fell to the scarred skin around his neck.

She recalled the day she was told that he was being hanged. The Robber had taken great amusement in telling her, and she had sobbed for days.. more. "You're alive." she whispered quietly, a tear dripping from her lashes to splash upon her cheek. "He told me they hanged you.. I thought you.. How are you alive?" another tear fell, and the blade slipped from her hand to clatter to the ground as she threw her arms around him and held on for dear life..
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The clatter of the blade was almost enough to make him flinch, but before he could even do that Lileas wrapped him in a tight embrace. Her arms slipping around his form and squeezing hard enough to drag the breath from his lungs. Her words whispered barely reaching his ears as for a second he questioned reality. Wondered if any of this was real.

He had thought about this moment for so long.

Dreamed of it over and over again as he sat in the darkness of his cells. Small fantastical moments that had drifted through his mind. The voices of his friends, the warmth they would greet him with, the embrace that he now found himself so tightly wrapped in.

Aleric couldn't help but wonder if this was another fantasy. Another one of those lurid dreams he'd had in the infirmary after a particularly brutal beating. His hands shook violently as he raised them, still doubting the moment, and then he clutches her. Softly grabbing Lileas and pulling her even closer as he finally proved her existence to himself. A long shuttering breath left his lungs, eyes closing. Tears falling down his cheeks as he whispered back.

"They did." He told her, his voice barely loud enough for even her to hear.

The angry red scar around his throat seemed to pulse as he spoke the words. A reminder of that day. A token that the Guard had left him for all his years in prison. A mark of the when he has won his freedom. "They tried."

Aleric said as his fingers gently pressed against her. His whole body shaking as for the first time in six years he felt something other than rage and despair.
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Lileas held him tightly as she felt him shake, her mind reeling in disbelief that he was here at all. How long had it been since she'd seen him dragged off by the guard? She had wanted to do this every day since. After a long moment, she let go just to look over his face again, laughing away her own tears as she reached to brush his away with her thumbs.

"It's you..." she breathed, her head still shaking as she looked up at him.. "And you got taller.." she smiled brightly, though it wavered as she glanced either way down the alley..

"But you shouldn't be here.. It's not safe. You know he has eyes everywhere." she frowned, panic hitching in her tone.
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"So did you." He said with a small smile on his lips. "If only a little bit."

Aleric couldn't believe how good it felt to stand here, to be faced with someone whose motives he didn't have to question. Six years in Harrowgate had made him paranoid. In his mind nearly everyone was an enemy. Someone who might plant a shiv in his side or rat him out to the guards.

But Lileas was right, it wasn't safe, not here.

And the fact that she invoked him sent a chill down his spine. He was still alive, even after all these years. "This is home."

He said softly.

"Where else could I go?" The world had always been small for them. Lileas stepped into the light of the upper-city from time to time, but even that was just a quick jaunt. The wide world was as foreign to them as the sky was to a fish.

The Gutters was where he had been born, and Aleric knew it was where he would die. He had known it even wallowing in a prison cell.

A thought flickered through his mind.

"The hideout." He said softly, speaking of where their little gang of gutter rats had made their home so many years ago after they escaped the Robber. "Is it still there?"
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Lil's lips twisted at the truth of how short she was and always had been. It was difficult not to enjoy the sight of his smile, but she was also painfully aware of the likelihood of him being seen if he lingered here for too long.

"Anywhere else but here.." she frowned sadly at him. To see him again was everything, but she knew he couldn't stay, and her chest ached even more as she realised he was alone. Her head shook gently as he mentioned the hideout. "It was burnt out.. The others fled. I.. tried to make my way on my own, but it didn't work out so well.." she frowned, dropping her gaze shamefully and huffing as she leaned into him, resting her head against his chest.

"I can't believe you're alive.." she murmured.. "But I won't see you dragged back to Harrowgate or murdered. You have to go."
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As Lileas continued to speak it felt as though she'd taken the knife touched earlier to his throat and driven it into his stomach.

Every word dashing a little bit of hope that he'd had left. His fingers furled into fists around the neat lines of her dress, scrunching the soft fabric as he shook. Whether with rage or despair it was difficult to tell, but she would feel her head rise and slowly fall as he desperately clung to some semblance of control.

Knowing that a scene would only tempt fate all the more. "I'm sorry."

He whispered quietly.

Aleric knew he wouldn't leave. Knew he couldn't leave.

Anger flickered through him, but not at her, never her. It was rage that had been boiling, seething wrath which had kept him alive even in the darkest depths of Harrowgate. The bile in his throat not because of the decision she had to make, but because she'd had to make it in the first place.

"I should have been there." He told her, his voice firm. "I should have gotten us all out."
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Her slender brow knit at his apology and she looked up at him in confusion, her head shaking.. "You don't have anything to be sorry for.. I.." she stopped, feeling sick with guilt, much as she had done so many times since. Fresh tears stung at her eyes.

"You should have been there, but it's my fault you weren't." she swallowed, her eyes falling briefly to the scar from the noose that had been meant to kill him. "We shouldn't have been there, we wouldn't have been there if I hadn't..."

"I'm so sorry, Aleric..".. She had lay awake countless nights imagining the suffering he endured in Harrowgate. The guilt alone had almost driven her to death, but her suffering had been nothing in comparison to what his must have been. She was crying now, her tears flowing freely as she clutched at him.
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Aleric pulled Lileas back into a tight embrace. One arm wrapped around her, the other threading through her platinum locks as he held her tight. The two of them clutched together in the darkness of the alleyway. Tears streaming down their faces.

It was a sight not often seen in the Gutters. One of mutual compassion, caring, kindness. Apologies were rare, and regret even more so. "It's not your fault."

He told her softly.

"It was my call." Lileas had brought the information, but Aleric had acted on it. Neither of them had betrayed the other. That crime belonged to someone else.

For a few seconds longer he simply held her. Fingers softly stroking through her hair as the tears continued to flow. He knew that anyone looking at them would be puzzled, confused, or make the assumption that most did when they saw two people tucked close together in an alleyway in the Gutters.

But he didn't care.

A small chuckle escaped his throat through the tears. "A sorry sight we are."

He whispered to her.
Once again he distracted her from the danger they were in, and once again she laughed quietly. It was reassuring to know that he didn't blame her, since she'd believed he'd gone to his death knowing it'd been her who'd put him in a noose.. But she'd never not feel responsible for it.

She sniffled and smirked, wiping at her tears. "Speak for yourself.."

"Do you have coin, to pay for some place to stay? I can give you something.." she looked down, opening her collar carefully, not wishing him to see any tendrils of dark veins as she fingered through the dozen or so necklaces and pendants she wore around her neck. The one she snapped from her neck was a gold locket.

"Don't take it to Alfie, he sells information for a higher price than his trinkets. There's an old woman down on the corner of Ash, a white cross on her door, she won't know you and she'll give you a fairer price for it." she offered the small treasure.

"But please don't let anyone else see you."
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There was a part of him that wanted to deny her, that wanted to tell her he didn't need anything and would make a way for himself. But he knew doing so would be foolish.

Stealing something here would just catch attention, draw an eye, and the more people saw him the more likely it was to get back to someone. Aleric knew the first instance that someone recognized him they would go running to the Robber.

The man wanted him dead. "I..."

A frown touched his face, but he wrapped his fingers around the golden trinket and nodded.

"I won't." He still remembered how to move without being seen. It was a skill that had served him well in Harrowgate. The only way that he had managed to survive for the first year. "But I'm not leaving."

He told her firmly. "This is my home, Lileas."

As shit as it was. "I won't let anyone take it from me."

Not even him.
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She felt a little better when he took the trinket, knowing that at least he'd have coin to eat and sleep without having to find it for himself, but she stared up at him with worry as he insisted upon staying in the Gutters..

"Aleric, you're supposed to be dead, you escaped prison, it's not just the Robber you need to worry about. If you stay here you'll be killed - how long before someone sees you and rats you out to the highest bidder. There's nothing left for you here, everyone's gone.."

"Please.. You have a second chance - you can go anywhere you want. Why would you want to stay in this shit hole?"
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For what seemed like a long while Aleric just stood there.

In a way he knew that she was right. The Gutters would be his end, one way or another. Either the Robber would get him or the Guard would figure out that he hadn't died during the Revolution. Staying was a fools choice.

But he'd always been something of a fool. "Because it's home."

Aleric said softly.

"Because you're here." His fingers furled into fists. "Because for six years all I thought about was getting back."

He looked down at the floor. The dirty, greasy cobbles and the knife that lay there. "How can I go now that I'm here."

A pause, and slowly he looked up at her.

"This place doesn't belong to him. To them." He said bitterly. "It belongs to us."
Her heart was breaking all over again as she watched him struggle with the prospect of leaving. That she was one of the reasons he was choosing to stay. If he was caught again, if anything happened to him, she'd feel responsible all over again too.

"If I could go with you, I would... I wish I could.. But you can't stay here, not on your own." her head shook, and a scuffling at the other end of the alleyway caused her to flinch.
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A frown touched his face. She couldn't go with? What did that mean? "Wh-"

Before he could even get the words out a noise caught his attention at the end of the alleyway. Almost immediately his head turned, whipping to the side as he half stepped back into the darknes of the alleyway. A small boy stood at the entrance, his head half cocked as he peered at the two figures.

"I'm not leaving, Lil." Fingers reached out, squeezing her hand softly as he drew the hood over his face and drew back further into the dark. "Not again."

"Ey! Lileas! Robbers lookin fa ya!"​

Aleric's lips turned to a scowl, but he bit back the bile in his throat. "You remember where Tristan used to meet that Noble girl of his?"

An old rickety 'chapel', if there was such a thing in Vel Anir, in another part of the Slums called the Towers. Only place with buildings over a story tall outside the cities walls. "I'll be there."

The Hanged Man said as he took slow steps back into the darkness.
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She didn't know how to feel about that. Relieved that she'd see him again, or frightened that his decision would lead him to harm. She decided that it was alright to feel both of those things, because the thought of him leaving for good opened old wounds and poured salt in them.

Lil winced at the boy, yelling what he did so loudly. "Ey - keep it down Fin!" she called back in exclaimed whisper. "Gimme a minute!"

She tried to keep hold of Aleric's hand but it slipped away and she watched him step back, nodding quickly at his instruction on how to find him. "Tomorrow." she told him as she crouched to pick up her fallen knife and the sack she'd dropped.

"Watch your back.." she sighed and turned to shuffle on down the alley, shoving at the waiting boy.

"A loud thief is a stupid thief. What're you playing at?" she muttered at the boy as they rounded the corner toward home, but not before glancing back into the darkness.
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For a few seconds Aleric stood in the darkness of the alleyway. He watched her go, an ache within his heart as he couldn't help but feel doubt creep into his heart.

Not that she would betray him. He knew that Lileas would never do such a thing, but the thought that somehow he would be taken once again. That somehow the Robber would find out he was here. That somehow it would all go to shit before he ever got a chance to make things right.

A long breath filled his lungs.

No. He thought to himself, turning on his heel as he began to stalk away.

It wouldn't be like that. Not this time. Aleric wouldn't let it be. This time things would be different. This time he wouldn't let someone else take away what was his.

He never would again.
The Old Chapel, as it was called, had never once been a church. The building was named that because of it's appearance, resembling the cathedrals of other nations with its great spire. What it was used for or why it had been built, no one in the Towers quite remembered.

It was surrounded by a few dozen other buildings, all standing taller than most outside of Vel Anir though none rising higher than five stories.

Six years later, the Chapel was just as Aleric remembered. Decrepit, rotten, and entirely abandoned. The superstition around it still keeping even the most desperate at bay. Aleric pushed aside one of the old rotten boards covering the window, pulling himself into the ancient building.

His boots clattered onto the wooden floors as he stepped inside, eyes flickering over the old and forgotten inside. "Good enough."

Aleric said to himself. "For now."
She had been late back, and the Robber had made his displeasure known, despite the haul she had dropped at his feet. He simply enjoyed the control, and she was too proud to beg for the tincture that he refused her. She was tired, her body ached and her skin flushed hot and cold, but she had withstood her symptoms for longer before. It'd taken a little over two weeks for her to collapse last time. Another day perhaps, and she'd have been dead. He liked to remind her that her life was no longer her own.

Lileas apologised. She plied the vile bastard with everything she'd brought back from her week of work, she poured him a drink and she kissed his cheek before taking herself off to bed.
Her mind was still very much in the alleyway, and sleep didn't come easily as emotion rolled over emotion for hours before she finally drifted off.

She woke early the next morning, dressing and slipping out before any others had woken. She had an early start, she'd told them the night before, and nobody had questioned it. Her pale grey cloak was pulled up over her hair as she wove through the labyrinth of streets, checking each corner until she arrived at the towers and looked up at the Old Chapel.

"Aleric?" she called quietly from outside as she pushed against the boards nailed across the door, before moving to the window. "Are you here?"
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The sound of someone rapping at the door sent a quick spike of fear through his heart.

It was a reminder of Harrowgate. The guards lingering at the door, watching, waiting to dole out whatever punishment they had dreamed up in their nights. It was there for a flash, flickering through his mind only long enough until he heard Lileas voice echoing through the empty halls of the Old Chapel.

A long breath filled his lungs, a hand wiping across his face as he shook the plague haunting his mind.

Quickly Aleric hopped down off his perch. Slowly he made his way towards the window where he could see her shadow. Gently knocking his fist against the other side of where Lileas had called out to him. "One window down, Lil. On the left."

He called through the rotted wood.

"Don't tear that pretty dress of yours." Aleric jested, smiling as he moved down and shifted the cabinet he had placed over the makeshift entrance.
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