Solo Stage Fright

Part 1

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Considered one of the most mysterious cities in Mizahar, Alvadas is called The City of Illusions. It is the home of Ionu and the notorious Inverted. This city sits on one of the main crossroads through The Region of Kalea.

Stage Fright

Postby Madeira Craven on November 5th, 2016, 6:18 am

Stage Fright
90th of Fall
19th Bell

Madeira sat high in the crooked playhouse amphitheatre in a private little bench with a padded seat. It was one of the most expensive seats in the house, but still she fidgeted uncomfortably. The scene played out on stage was made of glitter and light, and the crowd was bathed in tiny kaleidoscopes of reflected colours as the actors and dancers moved gracefully across the stage. It was a good crowd. They made the appropriate noises at the appropriate times. The death of a character was met with an undulation of dismay, the japes with chuckles and laughter, and every eye was fixed to the stage to better soak up the wonder. All except for a young Spiritualist, who's eyes roamed the painted ceiling and dark curtained corners; who’s ears were more tuned to the cooing of doves in the alcoves than the dialogue of heroes.
 
When the play came to its climactic end, Madeira stood to clap a second behind everyone else. After a hearty round of applause the patrons began to file out through the exit tunnel. Madeira waited until almost everyone had left, and then made her way to the curtained stage. A man came out from behind the heavy curtain to meet her.
 
"Miss Craven. It's a pleasure." Fabel took her offered hand and pulled her onto stage with surprising strength. He was dressed in a dark jacket and simple linen pants, but madeira could not have rightly said if the famous actor had changed since his performance. His smile was cryptic as he looked her up and down, taking in her faded blue dress and the leather rucksack over her shoulder.
 
“Mr Fabel. It was a wonderful play. Please thank the boss for offering me the seat." Madeira's own smile was polite and shallow. The Playhouse had offered the Craven name a seat, not herself truth be told. The name was infamous, but the girl was unknown.
 
"What makes you think the Crooked Playhouse has a boss?" That smile was back, both cryptic and searching. But he didn't presume to explain himself. Instead he took her by the arm and steered her towards the dark curtain. "I can assume your family got our request, then.” The heavy velvet was pulled back, and the young Spiritualist was assaulted with colour and smell. Where the stage seemed like an island of sanity amid the chaotic playhouse, the backstage was awash in disarray. Backgrounds leaned drunkenly against the walls, depicting deep sea caves, castle balconies and fantastic beasts. Actors moved franticly among discarded props, wiping away makeup, calling out for each other. One actress squeezed by Madeira wearing nothing but blue body paint and glitter, leaving a smear of paint across the front of her dress and her face flush with embarrassment.
 
Madeira tried to talk over the babble. "Yes, it said you have a haunt on the stage. Multiple incidents of possession, and violent telekinesis. I didn't see anything out in the crowd, though. Does this ghost only show itself during rehearsals, or perhaps backstage?"
 
Fabel shook his head. "My dear Miss Craven, tell me what you hear. Or more specifically, what you don’t hear." He came to a halt in the middle of the tide of people, and put his hand to his ear in an exaggerated, almost mocking gesture. Madeira did as she was told, and listened to the madness about her. Snippets of arguments and conversation could be heard, along with the clamour of props and beads and lights being dropped, thrown and moved about. But under it all Madeira began to sense something was missing. The conversations were light, but the voices were tense, and a kind of stillness hung in the air above it all.
 
"You're all performers, but no one is singing", Madeira said more to herself than to him, her voice soft and confused. She suddenly realized that while there was music in the play she just watched, some light melody and a deep, bone-shaking drum, there was no singing on stage either. Not a single note.
 
"Very good", he patronized her with a pat on the arm. "Our ghost doesn't seem to like our singing. There have been four... incidents. Three of our number are in the care of Alvad's esteemed healers. And one is dead." His tone was nonchalant, like he was talking about the weather somewhere else. But Madeira was shocked. The letter said nothing about a death.
 
"When did this happen?" she asked as they started moving again. Large vanity mirrors on either side of the long room reflected the actor and his young companion infinitely, a thousand conversations on a thousand lips.
 
"A few days ago. Poor lass was just a cleaner. She was sweeping the stage, then suddenly she threw herself onto the gears of our mechanical stage pulley. We had to hire an extra cleaner just to wash out all the blood."
 
"And her death can’t be ruled a suicide?"
 
"Nobody sings 'little bunny Floo' if they mean to kill themselves", he laughed, naming a popular children's rhyme.
 
"So there has been no pattern to the songs? Or perhaps someone was present during all these incidents?"
 
"No, not a bit. The only constant is the singing."
 
"And the letter stated that nobody has actually seen this ghost, and it hasn't tried to communicate. is that still true?"
 
"Oh yes. Our phantom is very shy."
 
They had come to the end of the room, and Fabel spun Madeira around so she was facing him. His blue eyes had some secret laughter in them, and his mouth was curved into a grin. "That was our last play of the night. The next will start at the eighth bell tomorrow. Hopefully or problem will be solved by then. "Death of the Maiden" is just not the same without the fated maid’s dying song."
 
With a laugh Fabel spun her around again in a crazy and unexpected pirouette. By the time she righted herself, holding her dizzy head, the man was gone. And so was everyone else. The long room, covered in makeup and mirrors and paint, was completely empty. Confused, Madeira checked her dress where the woman brushed against her with her painted body. There was no stain on her clothes.
 
But a lifelong Alavad learns to take the strange and absurd in stride. Madeira readjusted her pack and her skirts, and made the long, empty walk back to the stage.
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Last edited by Madeira Craven on November 5th, 2016, 11:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Stage Fright

Postby Madeira Craven on November 5th, 2016, 6:19 am

Stage Fright
90th of Fall
19th Bell

Someone had dimmed the lights, but the stage lamps had been kept on for her benefit. Madeira sat cross-legged in the centre of the stage and swung her pack onto her lap. From inside she removed the tools she would need: two jars, one empty, one containing four balls of sticky black dough, and a long, heavy circle of jade beads. Putting the bag aside, she popped the top of the dough jar and fumbled out two of the sticky balls. She popped them into her mouth and chewed with deliberate concentration. The coppery taste of blood mixed with the sharp tang of goat cheese, the sliminess of raw egg and the grittiness of rye was never pleasant, but also not nearly as bad as people tended to think. She watched the shadows in the high seats as she concentrated on pulling soulmist from her body. The long string of streamers fluttered in a breeze she could not feel, and the coo of doves and pigeons hinted at an audience she couldn't see. But there was no unusual smell in the air, and no unnatural coldness in the cavernous room. The ghost was shy after all.
 
The Spiritualist knew the process was a success when the texture of the dough began to dissolve and a strange coolness invaded her mouth. Madeira brought the empty jar to her lips as soulmist began to flow from her mouth. The finished product was somewhere between a gas and a liquid. It swirled languidly in the bottom of the jar, glowing softly with an etherial white light.  
 
Putting the two jars aside, she pulled the bright green soulbeads into her lap. A jade shell with an iron core, tied together with woven human hair. It was a beautiful and beastly thing. Firstly she checked for cracks in the jade, and fraying in the hair, before she began to imbued it with fresh soulmist. She reached into the jar and took fingerfulls of soulmist at a time, and carefully rubbed the substance into the beads one at a time. The coating leeched slowly into the beads, leaving behind no trace. Once all fifty beads had been given this gentle treatment, she spread them out evenly behind her to make a perfect circle. Inside she placed her bag and both jars, and still had plenty of room for herself, if she ended up needing a safe zone.
 
The Spiritualist then got to her feet then, and cracked her knuckles. It was time she met the ghost.
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Last edited by Madeira Craven on November 5th, 2016, 11:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Madeira Craven
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Stage Fright

Postby Madeira Craven on November 5th, 2016, 6:21 am

Stage Fright
90th of Fall
19th Bell

Even though she was facing an audience of rats and doves, it was a strangely uncomfortable experience to sing on a stage. Since this ghost didn't seem to be especially choosy, Madeira chose an old nursery rhyme to sing. It had a simple melody, which was good, since she sang like a child. Her voice cracked with the effort to project her voice into every corner of the gloomy theatre, and her voice wavered drunkenly from note to note.
 
"The sea calls ‘away with me,
says leave your hearth and stone
The sea calls away with me,
says leave your lass at home"...
 
When the ghost slammed into her, there was no warning. No breath of cold air against her skin, no smell, but the violence of the attack took the breath out of her. The grasping soul soul forced its way inside, invading fingers slipping into her muscle and bone. Her body screamed silently against the invasion, and threw up mental blocks to keep it out. It took all her concentration simply to lower her own instinctive barriers and let the ghost into her unwilling body. She fought the trauma and tried to relax. Suddenly someone else was moving her eyes, and her her chest compressed of its own accord. Air seeped out of her lungs with a wheeze, and did not refill.
 
Oh gods, its' trying to suffocate me.
 
She fought to control the panic. She acknowledged it briefly, before trying to put it aside. She had work to do.
 
While the ghost focused on her body, managing to take a small, shaky step forward, Madeira was focused on its mind. She rifled through its memories, looking for any hint about why it was here. Without the skill to dig deep into its memories, she is reduced to skimming through the memories in the forefront of its mind. She saw the stage they were standing on, but bright and full of people. A sound, crisp and clear and full of light emanating from the most beautiful vessel in the world. The smell of copper and paint and flowers on large, calloused hands. There was a bitter taste to all the memories. They were not happy, but they were powerful and almost desperate.
 
The snippets were confusing and incomplete. A maelstrom of colour and sound and touch. She felt her body lurch forward another step, and her chest screamed for air. Another step. She was making her slow, ponderous way to the edge of the stage.
The ghost’s control over her body was lacking. It was moving her clumsily. Using force of will rather than any real skill. But that will was powerful.
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Last edited by Madeira Craven on November 5th, 2016, 11:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Madeira Craven
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Stage Fright

Postby Madeira Craven on November 5th, 2016, 6:23 am

Stage Fright
90th of Fall
19th Bell

Running out of time, she riffled through it's mind again, searching for some hint of logic behind the madness. She figured out the ghost was male from the colour of its thoughts, and slowly she started to see a pattern linking the images together. The colour red ran like a thread through each scene. His mind's eye was focused on a red-haired woman in the crowded stage. That same red haired woman was the vessel for that beautiful sound. Roses dripped red onto his hands, filling his head with confusing smells.
 
Madeira was standing on the edge of the stage now, rocking back on her heels. She couldn't wait any longer. She threw herself back into the battle for her body.
 
I am stone She roared into her crowded mind. You cannot bend a stone.
 
She repeated this mantra over and over as her body stiffened to resist his possession. Cords stood hard against her neck, and her knees popped as she locked her legs. Even throwing everything she had at him, she could not push him out fully, only resist him. Sweat beaded on her brow, and her fingers twitched. He was so strong. Perhaps the strongest she had ever faced.
 
She could feel his confusion and his anger. It's likely that nobody had put up so much of a fight before. After so long possessing the unpractised, dealing with a trained Spiritualist left him wrong footed. The silent battle lasted another silent thirty second before the ghost let go, defeated. The sudden release of pressure and the body trauma of the violent possession proved to be to much for her, and she sucked in a greedy lungful of air before leaning over and retching over the side of the stage. Sweat soaked through the back of her dress, and her breathing was deep and ragged.
 
Unwilling to try her luck with another possession, Madeira stumbled back to the safety of her ghost beads, and sat heavy on the floor. Both ghost and human took a second to recover, and the theatre was quiet for a blessed second.
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Last edited by Madeira Craven on November 5th, 2016, 11:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Madeira Craven
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Stage Fright

Postby Madeira Craven on November 5th, 2016, 6:24 am

Stage Fright
90th of Fall
19th Bell

Wiping her mouth with the corner of her sleeve, Madeira began to take stock while the ghost was absent. She was unsure about what to do with the memories she had gathered. She was no closer to knowing what the man wanted, how he died, or who the red-haired woman was. What else could she do? Draw him out and talk to him? He might be more willing, seeing as how he couldn't best her with possession. She remembered the taste of his memories then, and shuddered. She wasn’t sure if he was the kind of ghost who was fit to be reasoned with. She picked up her soulmist jar and jostled the contests. There was still enough to imbued her arrows. If she could make him manifest, she might be able to shoot him down. The arrows were not as powerful as souldarts, but she should be able to do some damage. Problem was, she knew she was a lousy shot. With only ten arrows, and a creature who didn't like to show itself... the implications were bad.
 
Alright, plan A. She told herself.
 
"My name's Madeira, whats yours?", she asked into empty space. Nobody answered. "I'm a Spiritualist. Do you know what that is? It means I help ghosts like you move on to their next life." Doves fluttered in the alcoves, and painted stars glimmered metallically on the ceiling. "Why are you hurting people? Are you angry? Who is the woman with the red hair?"
 
The last question got a response, but not the one she was expecting. A presence slammed into the ghostbeads around her, denting her perfect circle by several centimetres. Gooseflesh prickled up her arms. She could almost feel those reaching fingers of his soul searching for her body. Still, it was a response. She steeled herself to exploit it, ignoring the bad feeling boiling in her gut.
 
"Who is the woman with the red hair!" she yelled at him, attempting to rile him into showing himself "Who is the woman with the red hair! Who is the woman with the red hair!”

A roar echoed into every corner of the theatre. The ceiling was suddenly flecked with white as the doves took wing in a panic. Even the trained Spiritualist cowered at such a noise. The sound was full of malice and pain.
 
And suddenly, he was there.
 
The man was huge. Over six feet tall and thick through the shoulders, with a gut hung over his trousers. His wide face was ugly and disfigured in a complete, consuming insanity. In one hand he held a bouquet of roses, the other a wooden tool with a long handle and bristles at one end, like something you'd use to paint. Both hands were covered in blood. Madeira's breath caught in her throat, and she pulled herself into a tighter ball. Suddenly those beads on the ground looked very flimsy. In all her years in the presence of ghost, she's never seen one so lost to madness. The sudden fear made her slow, and by the time she thought to reach behind her and fumble for her bow, he was gone.
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Last edited by Madeira Craven on November 5th, 2016, 11:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Madeira Craven
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Stage Fright

Postby Madeira Craven on November 5th, 2016, 6:26 am

Stage Fright
90th of Fall
19th Bell

The silence after his roar dissipated into the darkness was a threat worse than his presence. Madeira grabbed the soulmist jar and dumped all of the remaining soulmist into her shaking hands. She dropped the empty jar and the thing hit her knee and skittered out of the circle, and the sound was like a crack of thunder in the silence. She pulled out the bundle of arrows and smeared the soulmist through them gracelessly. “Fast, fast, oh gods.” she mumbled to herself as she fumbled with her weapon. It took her several shaky tries to insert her foot into the stirrup and draw back the string.  
 
Then she waited, with her slick hands white around her armed crossbow. Her breath came out in pathetic little whimpers as she reacted to every noise and shadow. The minutes crept by in agonizing slowness. But the ghost never reappeared. She had to draw him back out. She licked her lips and tried to ask him about the woman again, but she couldn't make her tongue form the sounds. She swallowed hard and tried to sing again instead.
 
“Th-the sea calls away with me,
says… leave your h-hearth and stone
The sea calls away with me,
says leave your la-lass at home"...
 
A dove exited sharply out of the cloud of its confused brethren and dived at her. Madeira threw a hand over her face just as the bird hit her with a sickening crunch of blood and broken bones. Before the creature had even stopped twitching another hit her in the chest. Once the bird was past the narrow circle of protection the ghost was forced out of its possessed body, and the creature came back to itself screaming in confusion and pain. But it was diving too fast to pull up, and instead caught her with a sharp beak and panicked talons. More and more came to screaming suicide. Dead birds started piling onto her lap broken and bleeding, the ones who survived attacked her in panic and tried to flee with shattered wings.
 
Bow forgotten, Madeira could do nothing but curl into a ball, protecting her face with her arms. She sobbed with helpless fright as the confusion of feathers and claws and dying shrieks grew around her. There were no arms she could take up, no magic that could save her. She was no longer a Spiritualist, just a frightened little girl.
 
Before she was even aware of what she was doing, she found herself on her feet and sprinting for the exit. The pack was left behind under a mound of screaming white feathers, as were her beads. Her crossbow was still clutched in her hand, cocked with one flimsy arrow. Once she left her sphere of protection she heard that man again, and his eco filled the theatre. And he was laughing. Oh gods, he was laughing. The eco reverberated a thousand times, until it seemed he was all around her with searching, grasping fingers and a madness she couldn't comprehend. The abandoned soulmist jar was suddenly smashed into the back of her head, thrown with the ghost’s projection. The blow pitched her forward and she tumbled off the stage. The ground rushed up to meet her, and she landed hard on her hands and knees. Something sticky and hot was running through her hair, and pain lanced through her skinned hands. But the panic gave her speed, and she scrambled to her feet.
 
Dress torn, skin bloody with a thousand shallow cuts and sobbing like a child, Madeira fled the theatre.
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User avatar
Madeira Craven
long may she reign
 
Posts: 1380
Words: 1171136
Joined roleplay: October 11th, 2016, 7:45 pm
Race: Human
Character sheet
Storyteller secrets
Journal
Plotnotes
Medals: 8
Featured Contributor (1) Featured Thread (1)
Mizahar Grader (1) Overlored (1)
Donor (1) One Thousand Posts! (1)
One Million Words! (1) 2018 Mizahar NaNo Winner (1)

Stage Fright

Postby Kaleidoscope on November 15th, 2016, 9:14 pm

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Madeira
Skills
  • Observation: +2
  • Socialisation: +2
  • Investigation: +1
  • Planning: +1
  • Spiritism: +4
  • Singing: +2
  • Meditation: +1
  • Intimidation: +1
  • Running: +1
Lores
  • Alvadas Location: The Crooked Playhouse
  • Lore: Playhouse Etiquette
  • Fabel: Famous Actor of the Crooked Playhouse, but Not a Boss
  • Socialisation: Offering Smalltalk
  • Craven: A Famous Name in Alvadas
  • The Crooked Playhouse: Backstage
  • Lore: Symptoms of the Haunting at the Crooked Playhouse
  • Singing: ‘Little Bunny Floo’
  • Spiritism: Making Soulmist Internally
  • Spiritism: Properties of Own Soulmist
  • Spiritism: Imbuing Soulbeads with Soulmist
  • Lore: Singing on Stage is an Odd Experience
  • Spiritism: Reading Basic Memories
  • Spiritism: Using Mantras to Regain Control
  • The Crooked Playhouse Ghost: Incredibly Strong
  • Spiritism: Creating Souldarts
  • Lore: Working Under Pressure
  • Ghosts Can Possess Creatures, Too
Comments & Penalties
Madeira will have an assorted mess of cuts and bruises on her arms, face, and upper body. Her clothes will have a few tears in them, as well as some small blood stains that can be removed with successive washes. Madeira’s cuts and bruises will heal with time. About 15 days without medicine, and about 7 days with.

I also just wanted to point out that in Mizahar, minutes are called chimes, and seconds are called ticks. It's an easy thing to miss though, so no worries. :)


Comments: Hi Madeira! First off, this was a wonderful first thread to grade of yours. I have been reading your threads with much interest, and have been thoroughly enjoying them. Maddy's a brilliant character. I love her strength yet also her flaws, and I look forward to reading more! :)

Enjoy your grade, and please don't forget to delete/edit out your grade request, and keep your ledger up to date! If you have any questions, don't hesitate to send me a PM.
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