To the Music

Dance the night away

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To the Music

Postby Madeira Craven on June 14th, 2018, 5:51 am

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    15th of Summer, 518
It was their fifteenth day at sea when someone broke out a fiddle.

One thing about living on a ship for an entire season was that there wasn't much to do. Madeira was bored. Bored with being cooped up in her cabin, bored with whittling away endless bells staring off to sea. She was bored with the seafarers diet of salted and pickled everything. She was bored with pacing the same space of deck.

So when one of the burnished seamen sat on the railing, conjuring a small wooden instrument and a frayed horsehair bow, her eyes followed it like she had never seen anything so mesmerizing. She herself was leaning against the railing a couple meters away, arms crossed over her white blouse and hair loose in the buffeting sea wind as she watched Emma play with a coiled length of rope at her feet.

"Do you play?" Madeira asked the sailor, squinting into the glow of the night crew lamps.

The sailor only cocked a brow, smiling a yellow smile as he asked: "why, do you want to listen?"

Yes, she did.

The music summoned the rest of the crew like flies to honey. As soon as the jaunty tune started to play they rumbled up from bellow, dropped from the rigging above, or materialized on the deck like ghosts. She began to realize it wasn't just the passengers who got bored on the long journeys. One of the men, a swarthy-skinned, grey-haired beast of a man with lungs like bellows and a voice that shook the earth, picked up the tune and started to sing.

"Our packet is the Island Lass
Lowlands, lowlands, lowlands, low

There's a laddie howlin' at the main topmast
Lowlands, lowlands, lowlands, low"


Madeira recognized it as one of the handful of songs the crew would sing as they worked. A smile curled her lips and she tapped her foot despite herself as one by one the crew took up the song in the same dissonant way dogs howl at the moon. Even shy little Emma was on her feet, singing loud and unselfconscious under their braying. The ghost motioned for the Spiritist to join them, her arms up and jumping on the spot like she expected to launch into space. Madeira, laughing and unspooling herself from her crossed arms and sour heart, did as she was told and joined for the next verse.

"He feeds us bread as hard as brass
Lowlands, lowlands, lowlands, low

Our junk's as salt as a bailer's arse
Lowlands, lowlands, lowlands, low"


Madeira winced at the crassness of it, but the little girl squealed with laughter at the naughty words. Buoyed by the ghost's delight, the Spiritist caught her hands and spun the girl in a crazy dance. The ghost's soulmist was prickling and uncomfortably cold, but in Madeira's hands the ethereal shroud was almost solid, so she held on tight and swept them up in a tide of mirth.

"The monkey wears a sailor's clothes
Lowlands, lowlands, lowlands, low

Now, where he got 'em from, God only knows
Lowlands, lowlands, lowlands, low"


Madeira had led them almost to the middle of the deck, not having to worry about the people or rigging or tripping hazards in the ghost’s way as she led Emma into silly little pirouettes and dips. The crew, especially the more superstitious of them, avoided the ghost. But the dancing inspired their own festivities as a rough stomping space was cleared for the boldest or perhaps drunkest of them to show off.
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To the Music

Postby Jomi on June 19th, 2018, 11:57 pm

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"Come on just- no, stop struggling and chew. Petch you're heavy." Jomi whispered through gritted teeth.

A swirl of dust molts caught in the agitated ghosts unmaterialized mist danced lazily at the foot of a crews quarters hammock. Jomi had spent the day trying in vain to saw through the thick hemp ropes that supported one of the young burly night shift sailors. But the ghost couldn't generate enough force to saw at the rope with the dull pairing knife he had pilthfred from the kitchen. So in a frustrated fit had chased down his next best option.

The rat squeaked indignantly and raked its tiny claws over the incorporeal mists that held it pressed against the rope.

"Come on you little basterd. EAT IT."

Jomi's mists were wound tight around the rodent. Each strand woven together into a semi solid barrier that encased the rat and pushed it upwards. Allowing it to seemingly float in mid air. And the rat was having none of it. The animal contorted itself in its effort to free itself from the ghosts frigid mist, and sank it’s teeth into everything but the rope.

"What in Lavikus scraggly beard."

With his concentration broken Jomi's projection faltered and the startled rat was dropped on the scrubbed floors next to the equally startled ghost. Jomi's head snapped around, wide eyed and panicked to the scruffy, bearded sailor that had just walked in on him and his filthy co-conspirator. The sailors wide body tilted expertly to counter the pitch and fall of the ship, his eyes stared unseeingly through the unmatirialized ghost and his brows knitted in confusion as his hazy, rum addled mind tried to make sense of what he was seeing.

A mental sigh of relief rolled through the ghosts form. It seemed that he was about to walk away from this unnoticed.

"Is that a gh-"

Jomi's thin unmaterialezed vapours blinked upwards onto the deck.

The world exploded into brightness as the clear sky and endless sun filled his vision. In his second of blindness the ghost could hear the telltale whine of a stringed instrument and a child’s laughter.

Madeira had cleared herself a circle amid the rest of the crew as she swung the squealing ghost girl by the hands. Several of the sailors sung along to the shanty or clapped along to the rhythm, but they all made sure to keep the witch at arms length.

Jomi blinked his mists forward and caught Madeira mid pirouette. If the stronger soul allowed it Jomi would wind himself around the bones and muscle fibres of the tiny woman. Filling out her form with his essence and making himself at home in the possession trained body.

I thought upperclass poofs were taught how to dance? Or maybe they saw your skinny boy hips and figured you weren't worth the effort.
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To the Music

Postby Madeira Craven on June 27th, 2018, 7:55 pm

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Madeira didn't even miss a step as Jomi assaulted her soul. She had long ago learned the taste of his possession and developed the body to handle it. She simply let his shroud reach into her and settle to his comfort long her bones even as she was holding Emma's hand above her head to prompt her to spin. The Spiritist was impressed with how much her servant's possession control had improved, but at the same time was confident her motor control was still safely out of his reach.

"The monkey wears a sailor's clothes
Lowlands, lowlands, lowlands low"


From the other side of the deck the stomping rhythm was exploding with cheers and whistles as one of the more nimbler sailors was showing how his muscles were made for more than climbing ropes. Emma gasped in wonder as she peeked around Madeira's elbow and saw the wiry man dancing on his hands.

"Maddy, look! He's like an acrobat!" Emma was whispering loudly, only to glance up at Madeira and the smile to melt off her face as she saw her mistress grimacing at the ground. "What's wrong?"

Madeira snapped out of it and chuckled, lifting the weightless girl into the air from under her arms like a ballerina and back to her feet. "Nothing, kitten. Jomi is just being rude."

"Oh."

"Why don't you go watch the men while I have words with him?"

In an instant Madeira's body solidified against the possessing ghost. With a mental effort and minimal concentration her soulmist-infused astral body latched onto the invading soul, preventing him from leaving until she saw fit to release him. This invisible battle of wills didn't show itself on Madeira's gentle smile as she ushered Emma along. The little girl was happy to go and watch and did so without hesitation, and was soon hovering a safe distance away from the cheering group.

As soon as she was gone Madeira sighed and focused inward at the squirming soul. From the mind so inadvisably aligned with hers she reaped shallowly for its surface memories. Immediately her mind filled with rats and ropes and the impishness of a callous prankster.

"Jomi, for the love of the gods", she sighed, inwardly rolling her eyes. "If you think I'll be your hiding spot think again."

Gathering herself, her soul found the edges of her servant and ejected him from her body with one colossal push. Instantly the ghost appeared blinking in the starlight. And Madeira, with her dancing partner gone and the music still in her ears, held out her hands to the aggressive spirit.

"If you're going to insult me about it, why not show me how it's done?" she challenged, raising a brow. "Come on, dance with me." She wove a hypnotic suggestion in the last words, bringing the dijed forward clumsily from the bed of her tongue and pushing it forward with the words. Willing it to sink into his mind and be heard above the noise of his own thoughts.

"Now, where he got 'em from, God only knows
Lowlands, lowlands, lowlands low"
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To the Music

Postby Allister on June 27th, 2018, 10:07 pm

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Allister scurried up the rigging on the foremast. He had a bundle of rope draped over his head and under one arm so that it laid across his chest. His muscles tightened and reacted as he moved hand over hand and foot after bare foot. The task of sailing was so broad that the kelvic found himself always learning something new. It was exciting, challenging and quite a bit of fun, too.

There was something very satisfying about making a living with sweat, strain and a little bit of swearing. The hyena took to the pursuits, especially those high above the waves, with zeal and determination. He felt stronger every day and he felt more confident in the basic abilities he already had simply because he was getting to use his talents. The muscles in his legs burned and his arms bulged as he pulled himself higher and higher along the shroud. Once he reached the fore top, he leveled off and remained in a crouch as a way to allow his body time to accommodate the sway of the ship at this height.

“Bout time, Thrall!” A gruff voice called over the wind. The narrowed gaze of a man in his fifties loomed across the small bit of decking high above the sails called a top. His name was Egrew and he had been sailing his whole life. He was suspicious, shifty, tough as nails and as grumpy as anyone Allister had ever met but he knew his ships. Thrall was the name given to the kelvic by the older part of the crew. So named since Madeira had been dubbed a witch and the hyena did her bidding. The younger lad didn’t care in the least. He simply wanted to do his job, survive the journey and make his lady as comfortable as possible in such dismal conditions. “The clouds are huffin’ up and gettin’ misty on us. This extra rope is what we’ll string down to the jibs and shore up the bowsprit.”


Allister stood slowly and used his abdomen and legs along with his back to control his body as it waved with the movements of the ship. Egrew scowled and slapped his hand against the weathered wood. The kelvic startled and had to grab the mast to regain his balance. His eyes looked at the old sea dog with as much cognition as the birds that coasted in the updrafts created by the sails. “Get movin’, ya bum! I’ll petchin’ drown ya if’n ye don’t!” The growl was noted but the former slave had no idea what such an order meant.

“What do I do?” The black eyes peered down as bodies gathered on the deck and a merry little tune rose up. The billowing long skirts of his bondmate made beautiful pictures from above. A second thrashing of the mast caught the hyena on his hand. He withdrew and shook out the stinging feeling but crouched back down to keep from toppling off his perch.

“Ya pay attention, lad! That’s the first lesson.” The older sailor made two quick steps around the mast and snatched the coil of rope right off of his pupil’s shoulder. He then proceeded to shake it in the man’s face as he gave instructions like one would to a small child. “We make a noose in the middle o’ this here rope, shimmy down to the top sail’s yard then string the ends out and catch the jibbooms where the pulley rests.” He dropped the braided line in Allister’s lap who nodded. He was learning.

“Why do we do that?” The kelvic asked. It sounded logical in the how part of things but there had to a be a reason other than ‘just for fun’. He smirked at the thought and then shook the grin away which he replaced with a scowl to match Egrew’s expression.

“The water’s gettin’ choppier, boy.” Tan, wrinkled fingers pointed into the ocean. “The bigger waves are gonna bounce our bow all over da place. This line you’re fixin’ to run will open the foremast a bit and help force the nose of me ship down.” His hands illustrated everything. Sailors used their hands alot- Svefra, especially. “It makes da whole thing easier ta steer.”

Allister got up and leaned a shoulder into the mast, his arms wrapping around it as he started shifting the ends of the line out on each side searching for the middle. The song caught his ears and he hummed along. His mind focused on the task at hand but his heart and soul thumped against a black wall created by Madeira against the bond. The kelvic tried to break through with apologies, love and gratitude but nothing worked. He was used to being hated and held responsible for bad luck but not from her. The vacancy created by a sealed off bond left him in a place that felt so alone, it almost made him wish he still lived in a cage...almost.

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To the Music

Postby Jomi on June 29th, 2018, 6:19 am

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Jomi stared out helplessly from behind Madeiras eyes as she locked down her body. Her astral body pressed down on the invading ghost from all sides, locking him in place as she sent the tiny ghost away. He could feel the spiritist poking around in his memories, although used to the sensation the ghosts soul still squirmed. He had always been unable to put to words just how wrong that felt.

"If you think I'll be your hiding spot think again."

Thinking back, it certainly wasn't one of my best ideas. The ghost muttered, bitterly.

The spiritist astral body switched directions then. Once holding him down, Madeiras soul lifted off of the invading soul and proceeded to push it out. Throwing Jomi out the front of Madeiras body as a stream of soulmist.

Jomi took his time piecing himself back together. Starting from the bottom up the spirit pulled his mists inward towards his core and condensed them into human shape. His mists twisted tightly around each other to form fingers and legs and a cascade of long black hair. Finally his mists fitted together into a crooked grin as he looked back at Madeira.

"If you're going to insult me about it, why not show me how it's done?"

"Insult you? No dear, I was describing you."

Dance with me.

The ghosts translucent eyebrows knitted together as the thought jumped unbidden to his mind.

He didn't want to stay and dance. The badger wasn't fond of crowds or people, and his perpetually sour mood typically prevented him from deriving pleasure from such simple things as dancing. But that thought was louder than all the others, egging him on. Maybe just this once it would be nice…

“Alright, Titless."

Jomi cracked his first genuine smile in days, even if it was a bit malicious, as he reached out and took the smaller woman’s hands in his cold etherial ones. He condensed the mists on his hands out of sheer habit. Weaving them into a tight makeshift barrier to give the spiritist something to hold on to, well aware that she was the one person who didn’t need it.

“Prepare yourself."

And hand in hand, they began to dance.

Jomi, having a body that's lighter than air and physically incapable of tripping over his own feet or stepping on hers, could dance more graceful than he ever did in life. He guided Madeira along to a partnered dance he remembered seeing at the fancy Keneshian parties as a boy. He had practiced with his bonded as they peered through the open windows, imagining they were there among the revellers. It was very much a spectacle dance and a way for dynasty brats to out do each other. The ghost guided Madeira around the many gliding steps and spinning moves. He didn't have the strength or enough solidity to lead her with his body so he relied on subtle pulls and her own intuition to transition into the next step.

As he was gearing up to pull Madeira down into a shallow dip a pale flash caught in the corner of the ghosts eye. Allister, dutifully manning the sails, had paused to look wistfully down at the merriment below. His pain was almost palatable as his eyes passed over his bonded. The opportunity was too much for the sadistic badger to pass up.

Guiding Madeira back up the ghost paused their step and instead moved into her embrace. One hand holding hers up the shoulder level and the other firmly on the small of her back pulling her closer. Jomi coaxed her into a slow two step unsuited to the raunchy sailor shanty that surrounded them.

"Lets take it slow for a tick." The ghosts purred into her ear. His eyes were fixed on the pale man as he pressed his lips into her soft straw coloured hair. His face split into a malicious grin. "So you can catch your breath."
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To the Music

Postby Madeira Craven on June 30th, 2018, 2:14 am

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"It's up aloft that yard must go
Lowland, lowlands, lowlands low"


The two of them were strangely suited to dancing together, she was surprised to notice. They were both awful dancers, but awful dancers in a uniquely compatible way. Occasionally he would step on her foot, or they would bump hips, but he was so insubstantial and she was using so little force that they barely felt it. And a decade of trying to predict the actions of unstable ghosts had given her an incredible insight into their body language. She let him lead, turning as he wanted her to turn and stepping as he wanted her to step, with an ease she would be hard pressed to find in a human partner.

"Up aloft from down below
Lowlands, lowlands, lowlands low"


And she was almost happy. With a salt breeze in her hair and jaunty music in her ear she could pretend that this ship was something other than a prison. Pretend they were going home.

A sudden image of a much different dance partner, one in a short orange dress that flared as she spinned, and a crooked velvet mask, exploded behind her eyes. Hands solid and warm under hers, stumbling into each other, drunk on wine and celebration. An illusion festival full of light, celebrated with Ssanya.

"We'll haul 'em high and let 'em dry
Lowlands, lowlands, lowlands low"


Madeira stumbled, saving herself with the cold ripple of soulmist under her hands. That memory brought her nothing but joy, but that joy was a sword to the gut, cutting her open to see just how thin that veneer of stability really was. Ssanya was gone. Walked out one morning days before they left and never came home. She was dead, or lost, or she had simply had enough. Madeira didn't know and now she never would.

There was a scratching on the other side of her closed bond, but she ignored it. Exposing the already fragile Allister to her dark thoughts would just hurt them both. It was best that she removed him from the black pit of her grief.

"We'll trice 'em up into the sky
Lowlands, lowlands, lowlands low"


Jomi moved them into a dip, and Madeira found herself being held up by nothing but soulmist and fervent prayers. And when he pulled her back up he seemed to catch on to her rattled state, for he slowed down and moved in a much less strenuous pie-plate dance. But dancing had lost it's fun, and that warm southern wind was suddenly biting and cold.

"Nope, too close. You're going to give me frostbite." She stepped out of his arms, cupping her hands around her mouth to blow warm air into her frosted fingers. "You're a good dancer, Jomi. Thanks." she tried to soften him with a smile and a not-quite-genuine compliment.

'Why don't you stay? When was the last time we talked" she reached into herself again, feeling the heaviness of the dijed on her tongue like a physical weight. It was stupid to exercise her hypnotism so consecutively, especially as unskilled as she was at the personal magic, but she couldn't find the willpower to stop herself. "I would like you to stay here with me." The suggestion was woven through the words like barbed wire. She was losing her distractions. She needed him to stay.

"Lowlands, me boys, and up she goes!
Lowlands, lowlands, lowlands low"


The tune ended with a great cheer and a demand for more.

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To the Music

Postby Jomi on July 17th, 2018, 10:13 pm

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"Nope, too close. You're going to give me frostbite."

She stepped out of his arms with a sheepish smile, leaving the ghosts arms empty and hanging. A single eyebrow raised as he regarded the spiritist as she blew into her fingers. She was smiling, but she had that hitch in her voice she got when she was on the verge of tears. Jomi was normally clueless when it came to subtle body language, but he had been with his mistress for years now, and he was starting to get the hang of watching for her moods.

Ever since the black envelope arrived on her doorstep Madeira had been quiet and standoffish, or at least more so than usual. Madeira was more fragile than she ever let on and Jomi was just starting to realize that. There was a lot of things he didn’t understand about her actually, like her attachment to Alvadas or the Craven family. Jomi had never built any attachments and was always keeping people at arms length while he was alive. So her insistence to go above and beyond for people she didn’t even like was something completely alien to the Kelvic ghost. Which is why he had been avoiding her since they boarded, he hadn’t a clue how to address this. Even something as simple as empathizing with how she felt was completely out of his realm of experience.

“Why don't you stay? When was the last time we talked"

Again a sharp intruding thought pushed itself into the forefront of his mind, ‘stay here and talk’. Talking did seem nice, it was a beautiful clear night, there was music and dancing, it wouldn’t be so bad to stay.

“When’s the last time we had anything to talk about? You already know how to read my mind.” Jomi quipped as he floated over to a large pile of coiled rope, letting himself settle down on the bristly hemp and patting the space beside him, inviting Madeira to join. His grin had softened, it was more pleasant than impish, a sure sign that her magic was working wonders on the weak minded ghost.
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To the Music

Postby Madeira Craven on August 5th, 2018, 5:38 am

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Madeira took his offer and sat next to the ghost. On the other side of the deck the men had lit lanterns to brighten their festivities. Some now deep into their cups of rum and sugar, they leaned into the rocking of the ship like a forest of windblown birch. With voices coming deep from their chests they sang loudly into the night, arms around each other’s shoulders like brothers. The the lone fiddle became a bastion of all things good as they sang:

Now we are ready to head for the Horn,
Way, ay, roll an' go!
Our boots an' our clothes boys are all in the pawn,
Timme rollickin' randy dandy O!

Heave a pawl, oh, heave away,
Way, ay, roll an' go!
The anchor's on board an' the cable's all stored,
Timme rollickin' randy dandy O!

How sad, Madeira mused, that she must coerce her servant into keeping her company with underhand magic. It didn’t make her feel guilty, or even dirty. It just made her sad. She knew less about him than he thought, or that she cared to admit. The reaping of his memories had been situational and shallow. She reached for what she needed and ignored the rest, having not the time, nor the skill at the time to probe further. Her understanding of the skeleton of his wants, dressed in her understanding of ghosts and educated guesses, was all it took to manipulate him.

She looked up at the spirit beside her. The darkening night and his own efforts to be seen made his soulmist shroud as striking as an oil painting. Dark hair, dark eyes, cinnamon skin and sharp little teeth over bitter words. He was older than he looked, she knew. But by how much? She knew how he died with a knife to the chest, but why? And most of all, she knew his reason for existing long past his death: he was looking for Edith, his beloved bondmate.

“You flatter me, Jomi. I can’t read your mind. If I could I would be able to stop you before you pull your dumb stunts.” She pointed out reasonably.

Soon we'll be warping her out through the locks,
Way, ay, roll an' go!
Where the pretty young gals all come down in their flocks,
Timme rollickin' randy dandy O!

Heave a pawl, oh, heave away,
Way, ay, roll an' go!
The anchor's on board an' the cable's all stored,
Timme rollickin' randy dandy O!

Emma was standing an awkward distance away from the men, swaying in time to the music. She wanted dancing and thats exactly what she got. She clapped her hands soundlessly, experimented with moving her body in the seamen’s unique, bombastic way. When she caught Madeira staring she gave a bright smile and a shy little wave.

“Jomi…” Madeira began delicately, her tongue moistening her lips from the salty wind. “There is something I’d like to talk about.” The sailors let up a great cheer, and the spiritist used the excuse to watch them and give the ghost some measure of privacy as she asked the question only Jomi would have the answer to. “Why did you stay? You could have gone back to Alvadas to look for Edith after I had summoned you. But you never did. Now we are traveling to the other side of the world, and you’re still here.”

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To the Music

Postby Jomi on August 6th, 2018, 12:11 am

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The night was alive with the sound of music and dance. The floor vibrated with the force of their steps as the large men stomped out a tempo to the fiddles tune. The oceans warm tropical breeze soothed the sweat off their brows, the taste of sat in the air came wth the promise of calm nights and smooth sailing. And Jomi could experience none of it.

The magic was wearing off and the ghost was getting antsy. This was the reason he stayed away from parties, dances and festivals, they highlighted everything the ghost was missing out on, and everything he could no longer experience. Ghosts were never truly happy, they could be distracted from their grief, but it was always there, burrowing in the back of their minds. Jomi was just now starting to taste the madness that so often consumed ghosts. The longer they stay, the harder it gets to stay above the rising tide of hopelessness and lose that threatens to consume them.

“Jomi…”

The soft, tentative whisper broke the ghosts train of thought, bringing him back to the present and sparing him from the dark hole he had been spiralling towards. Shocked the ghost looked down to discover his hand had grown claws. Wicked curved spikes protruded from his digits, similar to the claws he wore in his badger form. The ghosts glanced at the tiny woman seated next to him as he focused his mists on his hands, pulling them together and shaping them back to their human shape. The border around him became more defined as he focused on maintaining the image.

“Why did you stay? You could have gone back to Alvadas to look for Edith after I had summoned you. But you never did. Now we are traveling to the other side of the world, and you’re still here.”

A small, startled choking should escaped the ghost. His materialization dropped as his broken mind abandoned his concentration in order to throw up barriers and defences to the uncomfortable truth. His body faded in the lamplight as his mists whipped around his body like a stormcloud and his face twisted into a painful grimace. Why didn't he leave? Why did he choose to follow Madeira? Has he abandoned his bonded? His mind skipped over those questions and fought to formulate a plausible reason for him to cling to.

"B-because she's not there..."

His voice was tight, as if the sounds themselves were being painfully torn from his body.

"I searched for years...the underground, the giblets. Everywhere we use to go, all our secret hiding places. She's not there.

As the excuses solidified in his mind, the mists around his body relaxed, as did his voice. His voice was still soft and pained but the word came out stronger as he bought into his own lie.

"I never found any clues, no one had seen her, theres no record of her body having been brought to the Divine Legacy. That means she must have left, maybe there were too many painful memories for her."

Jomi lifted his head, a soft, sad smile tugged at the corner of his mouth as he watched the lamps sway in the breeze.

"So I need to look elsewhere, every city, every village. She's still alive I know it. I won't stop looking."

Suddenly his face darkened as he turned to Madeira with hard, cruel eyes. She had poked her nose where it didn't belong and stirred up horrible, painful memories, and now it was time for him to return the favour.

"Why are you avoiding Allister? I know what it feels like to be bonded, you are his entire world, his only source of purpose and happiness is serving at your feet. He'd slit his own throat for you, and smile as he bed out. But you turn to ice whenever he's in the room, like his presence if a burden."

There was no hint of humour in his smile as he leaned into Madeira's space to whisper in her ear his final cutting words.

"But I'm sure you have a good reason."
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Jomi
One more day would have been nice
 
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To the Music

Postby Madeira Craven on August 6th, 2018, 2:27 am

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Madeira could spot a certain type of liar when she saw one. She had seen enough madness to know when someone was lying to themselves.

As he spoke she watched Emma dance. The little girl had that same delusion, but in a different way. She found her bondmate after her death, in the hold of the Golden Hand. Her beautiful Raj had been skinned and stuffed, packed into a seal skin for shipping to a wealthy Alvadas home. Driven mad with grief the girl couldn't wrap her broken mind around the thought of his mutilated corpse, so she never did. Madeira kept Raj's severed head beneath her bunk. Emma would speak to him for hours every day.

"I know she is", she soothed the riled Jomi, laying a sisterly hand on his shoulder. It felt solid under her touch. "We'll find her."

And if she had to dig up Edith's body so he could play pretend with her skull, she would do that too. Her poor, broken ghosts deserved their rest.

Then Jomi turned to her, and all traces of his inner torment vanished as he focused on hers. With a barbed tongue he knowingly poked at her twisted thoughts. It was within his rights, she felt, to ask why she was so withdrawn. Especially after she had asked such a searching question. But when he drag the private sanctity of her bond into the conversation she bristled like a cat. Allister's name was ugly on his lips as he spat it at her like a curse.

She matched his humorless grin with cold eyes, the grip on his shoulder tightened and twisted, and she made sure he knew he had gone
too far.

"Just because you had a bond does not mean you can meddle with mine", she hissed. "My reasons are not your concern. Allister is not your concern. Stay out of our business."

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Madeira Craven
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