[The Twuele] A Macabre Waltz (Madeira)

Savis Maren and Madeira Craven engage in the Rituals of Transference in the Twuele.

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The Diamond of Kalea is located on Kalea's extreme west coast and called as such because its completely made of a crystalline substance called Skyglass. Home of the Alvina of the Stars, cultural mecca of knowledge seekers, and rife with Ethaefal, this remote city shimmers with its own unique light.

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[The Twuele] A Macabre Waltz (Madeira)

Postby Savis Maren on October 29th, 2018, 6:01 pm

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74th of Autumn, 518

The letter.

The note was passed to her by a Shinya acolyte, so young and with a whole life of servitude ahead of him. Savis Maren nodded politely and opened the sealed envelope. The Nuit had her suspicions, but there was really no way of knowing who sent for her until she read the neatly written script that Talora possessed.

Savis,

It is with great regret that I must inform you of a very recent death in the city. However, this presents us with an opportunity to enact your change. Please be mindful of the needs of others as you wear a face born in the city,

Talora


The note was short and to the point. However, there were other matters to attend to as well. On the back of the note addressed to her, she wrote a letter addressed to Madeira Craven.

Madeira,

I've been summoned to the Twuele to enact my change. It's, perhaps, a bit earlier than I hoped, but for the rituals to work properly, I must capitalize on the opportunity given. If you can, bring with you a tool to carry the abandoned shell and our plans can proceed as previously mentioned,

Your friend, Savis Maren

PS: Please bring 'Sil', my courier, with you.


The Nuit felt odd, ending the letter with such an informal tone, but it was the one Madeira Craven encouraged. The two of them understood each other fully, it seemed, though that understanding brought a great deal of conflict into the Animator's mind. She knew some of Craven's capabilities and circumstances, but still, the Spiritist was an entity she could not control. The Nuit shrugged off the thought, and instead moved towards the stand that the miniature construct.

"Sil!" she shouted out. Immediately, the automaton came to life. It sprang from its stand and stood at attention, waiting for orders from Savis Maren. The Nuit took to a somewhat calculated expression when looking at the construct, quite intrigued to see how it might respond to a challenge such as this one.

"I have a parcel for you to deliver. There is a large manor set on the peaks of Zintilia. I'd have you send this note to a woman that lives there. It should be obvious enough to you when you see it. Do this, Sil, and you'll have my favor again."

The automaton seemed to understand, its arms reaching towards Savis for the parcel to be delivered. Savis provided Sil with his objective, then hissed quietly before pointing at the door.

"Go," she'd tell it, stepping forward to open the door for the tiny automaton. Sil ran forth, scaling the staircase with some difficulty before vanishing from the Nuit's sight. With her summons sent, she simply had to trust that Sil would accomplish the task at hand. The Nuit assembled her things, slinging her satchel over her shoulder before she scaled the staircase herself. Savis Maren proceeded towards the place.

Long, light strides took Savis Maren to the fifth floor of the Twuele. The reception saw the familiar, ghastly visage of the Nuit, visibly relieved to see the unearthly creature walking normally without the presence of rotting parasites infesting her shell. The Nuit cut it far too close with her previous change, and even now her change was set to happen the next day. Savis Maren received summons of an unfortunate passing, one with a body well suited to transference.

The nuit couldn't help the smile cast upon her visage. It was always a joy for her to receive such summons, for she need take no measures to ensure her survival. The life of comforts suited Savis Maren greatly, and she relished in the opportunity to make her change in the sterile, prepared sanctum within the Twuele. Talora did not fetch Savis herself this time. Rather, the attendant guided the Nuit towards the familiar room. Perhaps the scars of her last transference bore visible teeth, for the room this time was dressed in film and paper set on the floor to preserve the lovely room from the rot and decay.

Savis Maren looked over the body she was provided with. It was a woman just past the prime of her life. There seemed to be no visible wounds upon the corpse, and Savis Maren wondered to herself how she died. To answer her question, the Nuit took to the practice of magic. First, Savis took to the mirror and her paints. As Savis devised the familiar Glyphs that aided in the effort of invoking the Sight, the automaton, Sil, arrived within Infinity Manor.

Sil's journey was long and arduous, but the descriptions given by Savis were sufficient, given that it was the only building in the vicinity. Sil slid between the iron bars of the fence, its pace taken to a quick run. The automaton would find Madeira Craven, its wide, quartz eyes cast about in search of the only woman that lived in Infinity Manor.

Savis Maren dressed her features with aesthetically pleasing Glyphs. There was no particular word chosen for the focus, but rather, she dressed her eyes with dark paint, staining her deep bags with an even coat of paint as her other hand carried a mirror. She inspected the job, satisfied with the foci she created. When she was done, she invoked the Sight in earnest.

Savis Maren delved into the practice of Auristics, her silver, piercing gaze ablaze with djed. The corpse before her was so very recently dead. The systems hidden beneath the skin became visible to the Nuit, whose chest swelled with unnecessary breath. The motion was taken solely when practicing the use of the Sight, for the rise and fall provided her with a sense of calm. The djed swelled within the foci, which set upon her face with a faint glow. Beneath the skin, the body was torn apart.

The stomach and lungs were obliterated by what Savis Maren could only assume was disease or poison (likely the former). She narrowed her eyes, and raised her hands to take a scalpel from the surgery kit she brought with her. The tools were splayed next to the corpse as she began the work of pulling the skin away sufficiently so to expose the ruined internal organs. Savis took her time hollowing out the corpse, taking out its heart, lungs, intestines and stomach. She filled the hollow flesh with mixtures of formaldehyde and preservation salts, with metal plates set against the spine and filled with salts all the same. Once the effort was completed, Savis Maren threw the useless organic matter into a receptacle, musing aloud with incoherent thoughts as how to proceed with the matter ahead of her. Sterilized but disgusting, the corpse bore signs of age that the Nuit didn't quite like on it.


"Hmmmm..." she continued, tilting her head as she allowed her Sight to absorb the qualities of the corpse in front of her.
Last edited by Savis Maren on November 2nd, 2018, 6:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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[The Twuele] A Macabre Waltz (Madeira)

Postby Madeira Craven on October 30th, 2018, 11:52 pm

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    The morning found Madeira in the workshop, leaning over a worktable with a comically small seven centimeter trimming knife in hand. She breathed shallowly through her mouth, careful not to let the air disturb her project. And that project was a beetle, pinned to the table by its many brittle legs. Its insides were gutted and cleaned, leaving only its hard exoskeleton. It shone bottle green in the light of the windows behind her, a speck of luminescent color no bigger than the first joint of her thumb. Her hand trembled minutely, and the blade wavered over the tiny working space of the creatures shell casing. Madeira breathed in, centering herself, and held her breath before continuing.

    With the most delicate of touches from a blade she had sharpened like a fine surgeons scalpel, Madeira drew the outer edge of her malediction circle. A fine powder lifted off the shell, but the carving was so shallow as to be invisible. She dusted the beetle with a pot of rouge for just this purpose, and only then could she see the design in red relief.

    This would be the simplest of circles, with only a single one with a simple concept: strength. She glanced up at her red notebook as she worked, referencing the circle she had decided upon among the nest of scrapped circles around it. It was a simple design of interlocking links around straight, long lines that met in the middle. It was embarrassingly straight forward, with no complexity behind it. But a beetle was not a complex creature. Yet in its body she thought the concept suited it well. The tiny creature was armored like a knight of old with jointed armor of glittering plate mail. Hopefully some of its fortitude could be transferred to who wore it. And wouldn't it be easy to wear in a pin, a hat, incased in a locket?

    Sweat was staring to bead on her brow as she made the final incisions of the long, absurdly delicate process. The carving was as straight and perfect as her untested hands could manage. Its delicate shell still whole and perfect, with intersecting lines of red. Madeira wanted to cry with relief. The last step was the simplest. She shook back her sleeve and worked the tip of her tiny blade into the pad of her thumb. A bead of blood worked lazily from the wound, and Madeira moved to activate the malediction circle with a tap of her bloodied finger.

    CRACK

    The workshop door flew open and Madeira rocked on her stool in alarm. With a crackle and a groan of despair, the beetle was smashed to fine powder beneath her thumb as the pregnant woman struggled to save herself. In her head, the Architectrix manor was bubbling with curious excitement.

    "I'm was in the middle of something, house." Madeira pinched the bridge of her nose between thumb and forefinger, struggling to keep an even tone with her mute house as it tried to understand her through the hazy cloud of emotions. "What could you possibly-"

    Tock-tock-tock-tock-tock...

    A little mannequin, like a student might use for art class, bumbled into the room with a small black tom hot on its heels. The cat pounced as it crossed the threshold, and both went down in a tangle of fur and wooden limbs. Leaping to her feet, Madeira pulled the cat off by the scruff of the neck and the doll away by one of its dangling legs. Spooks, cross-eyed and twitchy, batted his paw at the doll, which kicked feebly in return as they faced each other an arms length away.

    Poking her head around the door, Madeira noticed that both the workshop and front doors were wide open. Apparently the house decided to invite the curious little doll inside. She was going to have to have a nice long chat with her home about what it lets in.

    Throwing the cat into the common room, she shut the door firmly against his plaintive meows and set the doll onto the workshop table.

    "Now, what the hai are you?"

    As if in answer, the thing lifted its unjointed arms, and a square of folded paper fell out of the tight space that would have been its armpit. Task done, it stopped moving entirely and seemed to become inert. Already suspecting who the note might be from, Madeira unrolled the paper and had her suspicions confirmed. Her blue eyes grew wide as marbles as she snatched 'Sil' from the table and dashed for the stairs to prepare.

    Half a bell later a thoroughly winded Madeira was standing in front of the first-floor reception in the Twuele, holding an empty chest in front of her bunging belly and a wooden doll under her arms. Her hair had been scarped back into a tight bun, the sleeves of her linen dress pushed past the elbow and protected by an apron under a plain black cloak. She would look much different than the first time Savis saw her, devoid as she was of all jewelry, fine clothing and makeup. But today the spiritist prioritized practicality over illustrious illusions. She smiled for the young secretary.

    "Is there a Nuit here, undergoing its scheduled transference?" she asked sweetly. "I'm expected."

    She was directed to the fifth floor, and given an attendant to take her there. Though she expected the young man that graciously took her burdens was more to keep her from poking around where she wasn't wanted than to simply guide her. When they finally reached the room she thanked the man kindly and dismissed him bluntly, and entered alone pushing the door in with her back and carrying the chest and inert Sil.

    The sanctum had been properly prepared. An acidic chemical stench permeated the room, choked as it was with burning salts and embalming fluid. And underneath that was the sweet, gummy reek of raw meat. Paper was laid out, as was a long line of surgical tools and receptacles. A bucket off to the side was filled with a congealing assortment of bloodied offal. Frankly, it was a much better place and state than Madeira typically found a body. Still her tender mother's stomach rolled at the overstimulation, but she swallowed hard and ignored it.

    Savis, her face painted to be even more ghoulish, was considering a pale female body flayed open and laid out on a metal table. Madeira put down her supplies and went to wash her hands as she greeted her.

    "Good morning, Savis. I hadn't expected to hear from you quite so soon. Who is this poor woman?"
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    [The Twuele] A Macabre Waltz (Madeira)

    Postby Savis Maren on October 31st, 2018, 12:37 am

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    Savis Maren wore thick, leather gloves that stemmed over her sleeves. Within moments of her efforts to remove the corpse of its destroyed organs, the brown leather was stained crimson. Blood dripped from the material and onto the floor. The sleeves of her shirt flecked with black, polluted blood and the Nuit knew she must take precautions before she continued in her efforts. When Madeira Craven entered, she was glad to see that the woman moved immediately to wash her hands first. When she vacated the station, Savis threw off her gloves, throwing them into a different receptacle meant for bloodied equipment. Savis rolled up her sleeves before scrubbing her hands anew. The greeting Madeira offered her was crisp, spoken with a measured quality about it but it was rather apparent, if the Nuit looked closely, that the Spiritist was nauseated by what had transpired.

    Of course, Savis anticipated such a thing. If the Nuit hadn't undergone dozens upon dozens of changes, she might've had a similar reaction. Fortunately, her condition deprived her of the acute sense of smell humans possessed. Hers was muted and thankfully so, for living in the midst of such carnage might prove... awkward. Savis washed her own hands, then replaced the long, leather gloves with a second pair, passing Madeira a third. There was a single pair left to their use, but the Nuit didn't anticipate them being necessary, given that the greatest of the carnage was dealt with. Savis Maren shrugged her shoulders at the question, a click of her tongue the most extreme reaction. She considered the corpse with a shrug,

    "I never ask. Providing an identity to a shell to be inhabited isn't a habit I consider in good taste. Now, she is a shell to be worn, and eventually, discarded like the rest," she mused as the Sight flickered within her silver eyes once again. The rise of Savis' chest was met with a second chuckle. The Nuit hollowed out the corpse to her satisfaction, and what followed next was cleaning the innards. She'd already placed formaldehyde in layers, topping it with preservation salts, but there was more to be done before they underwent the rituals of transference.

    "If you would, Madeira, could you assist me? I'll continue my efforts with filling out the innards with preservatives, then proceeding with sutures to close out the shell. If you'd check the face and arms for visible wounds, it'd be appreciated," she instructed. Savis knew they had time for their undertaking, with the room isolated enough that it remained insulated to the foreign, warm bodies that lingered within the Twuele.

    Once she issued her instructions, she allowed herself to peruse along the length of the spine. The Sight offered her insights, feeding her information in regards to the problems this shell might have suffered in life. Savis was certainly no medic and the symptoms that Auristics provided her gave her few insights into what disease might have claimed her. What it did provide her, however, was a host of effects that had no bearing on the corpse's utility as a shell. Savis felt a broken body beneath her fingertips, ravaged by disease and sickness. There was swelling in the neck and along the abdomen, warped beyond recognition by incisions and the removal of bloated, destroyed organs.

    "I apologize if this is somewhat... unsettling for you, Madeira. But, this is what I've done for nearly a century of undeath," she informed her. It occurred to the Nuit that she'd never told Madeira of her age, the tidbit of information never breaking into their introduction, nor their long lesson in the basics of Animation. Idly, the Nuit wondered if Madeira would ever make use of that knowledge. But, in truth, it hardly mattered. The lesson served the purpose of connecting two like-minded beings together.

    The Nuit hummed as she worked, clearly perfectly at ease in the midst of the utter carnage she created. The undead replaced the skin once she'd poured sufficient salts into the gaping holes she'd created. The body corpse was thinner now, and Savis took a moment to calculate the cut she needed to make. She peeled an inch of skin away, a long, straight line of flesh placed in the receptacle before she produced her needles from the surgery kit. Slowly, Savis Maren stitched the hole shut, doubling up her efforts before sealing the outline with preservation salts. The Nuit reached for her mixture of ethanol-formaldehyde, touched with the slightest amount of acid. The flesh melted on the contact, a brief sizzle audible as the cauterized flesh was left alone.

    Savis Maren took her opportunity, once the brunt of the work was completed, to properly observe the corpse she was to inhabit. The woman was past the prime of youth, blonde hair cut just above her shoulders. Her eyes were wide open, light blue orbs featuring a void stare towards the ceiling as Savis and Madeira worked to make the body suitable for undead habitation.

    "Not many have stood as both witness and assistant to Nuit transference rituals," she mused aloud, a chuckle parting her lips before she added,

    "But, it is what you asked for. Were there any problems I should be made aware of?" she asked.
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    [The Twuele] A Macabre Waltz (Madeira)

    Postby Madeira Craven on November 3rd, 2018, 2:57 am

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      The soap was a hard red square that lathered pink and had a strong, astringent smell to it. It made the skin of Madeira's hands as tight and dry as the leather Savis gave her to protect them. Hanging her black coat by the door above the other supplies, the spiritist pulled on the long gloves and rolled back her sleeves, grimly determined to watched everything and learn all she could about the race of Nuit and its rituals. Nuit, that illusive, deathless creature unbeloved of Dira and distrusted by the world.

      But her determination to observe and understand was sorely tested when, in answer to her question, Savis chuckled like what she said was funny.

      "I never ask." the Nuit shrugged flippantly. "Providing an identity to a shell to be inhabited isn't a habit I consider in good taste. Now, she is a shell to be worn, and eventually, discarded like the rest,"

      Madeira closed her eyes and exhaled hard through her nose, her throat holding tight to the righteous smiting she was prepared to rain down on the callous Nuit. This creature doesn't understand the sanctity of a body anymore, she reminded herself. No doubt she just sees it as the vehicle that carries the soul. Centering herself, she returned to Savis's side.

      "Check the face and arms for visible damages. Okay." Madeira reiterated and nodded curtly. That was something she could manage. Gods knew she didn't want to ruin Savis's new body with amateur mistakes.

      Walking around to the head of the corpse, she brushed back its hair to study its face. She was an older woman, possibly late thirties she guessed. Madeira saw no signs of trauma, but could see the laugh lines around her mouth and creases of stress or worry between her brows. Her neck was somewhat lumpy, with spongy tissue over the lymph nodes. Madeira combed her fingers through the shoulder length hair along the scalp, and the skull seemed whole and undamaged under her fingers.

      "I apologize if this is somewhat... unsettling for you, Madeira." Savis continued as she worked over the abdomen with salts and a burning liquid with fumes so thick it made madeira's head spin. "But, this is what I've done for nearly a century of undeath."

      "Mmmm", Madeira hummed in response, moving down the woman's arm. "I've never preserved a corpse before, but I've seen plenty of... unpreserved corpses, in my line of work." Some of her previous anger at Savis's callousness came crawling back, and Madeira found herself continuing.

      "There was one time almost two years ago, when I still lived in Alvadas, that I was hunting down this ghost near the port with this Kelvic, Maro. See, this ghost was possessing people near the beach, and forcing them to stuff their mouths and eyes and ears with clay until they suffocated, and nobody knew why." Madeira frowned at the memory, remembering the confusion when these bodies were showing up at the Divine Legacy, every cavity packed with the slimy substance. "But then we found her. Her name was Djamila, and she had died in this cave that had a big collapse. She hung on to life for so long that even death couldn't stop her, and she came back."

      As her fingers moving deftly down the corpse's arms, Madeira noted they were whole and clean. Though she noticed that the tips of her fingers had lost their fingerprints, and her nails were shaved very short. She must have been a glassworker. The realization made her smile.

      "Djamila waited for someone to find her, give her a proper burial, but they never did. This woman, not fully internalizing that she was dead, had to watch her body rot. The sand lice found her first. They laid eggs on her and the larva ate through her skin. The flies were attracted by the smell, and crawled over her sucking at the liquefying fat, buzzing endlessly in that tiny enclosed space. These little crabs made their homes in the warm, moist hollows they made in her thighs.... Gods, she was there for seasons, sleepless, helpless, watching as her body was corrupted and defiled. It drove her mad.

      "When she was killing those people on the beach", Madeira sighed, "she was doing it out of a twisted kind of kindness. She was trying to protect them from the rot that had entered her body. In the end we had to drag what was left of her onto the beach and cleanse it with fire before she could move on."

      Finishing her story, Madeira looked up at Savis, and her eyes flashed cold. "You've been doing this over a century, and you've been discarding these bodies one by one, so maybe you don't empathize anymore. But this woman we have flayed open in front of us took care of this body for decades, probably had children with it, has loved it and experienced the world in it. And she is giving up its sanctity to you, to this variation of Djamila's nightmare, so you can live a couple more seasons. So yes, this is unsettling. But not for the reason you think. Have some gods damned respect for this woman who is saving your life" She snorted like an angry bull, inhaling the open fumes and immediately turning purple as she stifled her coughing. Through the sounds of her choking, angry mutterings of 'shell', 'discard', and 'petch' were evident.

      Once she had recovered her breath she had finished her careful investigation of the corpse. She set the woman's neck straight and brushed her mused hair back into a neat arrangement with her fingers as she reported what she found.

      "Her head and arms don't have any abrasions. Her mouth and tongue are blue, but that just might be her lack of blood. And she's a tradesman, look." she held up her hand, showing Savis the callouses and melted fingertips. "She must be strong. There's also some kind of growth on either side of her neck that makes me think she was fighting some kind of disease. I can't imagine you're affected by disease. But will we need to remove the growth?" she chewed her lip, thinking.

      "Well, whatever we need to do isn't so urgent that we can't bless this body with a prayer first." Madeira's smile was soft, but her eyes dared Savis to contradict her. Holding one gloved hand over the corpses sightless eyes, and holding her calloused hand in the other, Madeira cleared her throat, closed her eyes, and began to pray.

      "Blessed Dira, beloved goddess, warden of death. We pray you see this woman's immortal soul safely to your embrace. Let her going be gentle, and give her peace in her next life. Her selfishness lives on in the body she leaves behind. I honour you in her passing, and pray for the preservation of Savis who will continue in her vessel. In your service, amen."

      She held herself still for a moment, letting the peace wash through her as she spoke directly to the goddess of death. When she opened her eyes again any resentment towards Savis had vanished, now that someone had given the corpse its proper respects. Pulling the gloves taunt over her hands again, she faced the Nuit.

      "Okay, what's next?"

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      [The Twuele] A Macabre Waltz (Madeira)

      Postby Savis Maren on November 3rd, 2018, 4:53 am

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      The techniques that Savis Maren employed were third-rate at best. The efforts she made required constant maintainence to reinforce and even then, the inadequacy of her preparations made it that she needed to change more often than some other Nuit who took greater considerations. While in Lhavit, Savis also lacked in the opportunity to hone her craft. The wilds of the mountain were treacherous for someone like her to even traverse, and she opted to very rarely leave the safety of Lhavit. Perhaps, if she took someone like Raeyn with her on an excursion she'd consider the matter.

      When Madeira returned to Savis' side there was a distinct air about her, and it certainly prompted the apology when she issued it. Savis kept an eye on Madeira, curious to see the care with which she took. She brushed the woman's hair with a slow movement. Then, the Spiritist began to study her, eyes carrying along the corpse's features. When Savis listened to Madeira speak, she didn't quite expect a story to come of this.

      The Nuit heeded Madeira Craven as she spoke, but she kept to her task. She no longer looked at the Spiritist, but instead placed another layer of stitching. She wove the threads into a pattern of X's that ran along the length of the gash. The needle tread deep, blood coalescing at the face of the gash, which puckered with the pressure applied. Savis filled the corpse to her satisfaction, preservatives bound to do their part, however, there was more to consider, as well. Savis reached into her surgery kit and pulled from it both filtered, tasteless firewater and gauze. She dabbed the gauze in the liquid before setting it on the other side for Madeira Craven to use as well when her story and her task was done.

      The tale Madeira shared, one of murder at the hands of a being who couldn't be murdered in turn. The Nuit thought briefly on the distinctions between Nuit and Ghosts from the standpoint of perception and their unyielding defiance of death. However, the Nuit were lucid, calculating, clearly the very opposite of this maniacal specter. But, in the midst of her tale, Savis Maren felt a measure of not-quite-compassion. Empathy was rife within the Nuit, who experienced the very same rotting of a corpse... But her difference was that she experienced it from the inside. As Madeira continued to recount her table, she wondered what the point of it all was.

      Is she making some sort of parallel? she asked herself as the woman continued to speak. She'd very shortly receive the answer when Madeira Craven's eyes turned cold. The Sight flickered from her gaze, the last insights she received was the vestiges of wrinkles on the flesh. She fell into those craters briefly, narrowing her eyes for a moment as the Spiritist went off on her. In the brief time Nuit and Spiritist had known each other, Savis Maren only heard respect and poise from the woman. Even in the midst of Savis' initial verbal fire upon her, she was nothing but compassionate and understanding.

      "Have some gods damned respect for this woman who is saving your life."

      First, if occurred to Savis Maren to correct the Spiritist. If it wasn't this one... it'd be another one. Learning who the woman was has no bearing on what she will become, she thought as she mused on The woman's outburst as she took a great inhale of astringent alcohol and formaldehyde. Savis Maren kept busy as she coughed and choked, her angry mutterings left ignored for the brifest moment. Savis used her alcohol-drenched gauze to wipe away the blackened, congealed blood that dwelled in between the stitches. She purified the sutures before throwing the gauze away and addressing Madeira at last. By the time Savis spoke, the Spiritist had just finished pointing out facts and then the surmising that she was some sort of tradesman. The Nuit couldn't come to such conclusions on her own, but she did note the calloused digits and ruined fingerprints. While the latter was no problem, the former certainly was.

      "Allow me a moment to answer that. After your... proceedings," she allowed with a great measure of reluctance. Savis was godless by nature. Of course, the Nuit didn't know much of the varied pantheon. She knew of Laviku from her life in Zeltiva. She understood the name Tanroa and knew very little about her. Syna and Leth were household names in Lhavit, of course. The destruction of the world was caused primarily by some God of Eruptions. Ovek? Iven? She didn't really know, or care.

      But Dira was a name she'd heard many times over on Sahova. A name spoken with fear rather than reverence or indifference. The Nuit on the citadel spoke of the Goddess of Death and the irony wasn't lost on her that Savis' very first friend in Lhavit revered a deity that'd have her death if the woman was truly reverent. It took Savis a great deal of self-control to not roll her eyes at the very idea of this prayer, but she tolerated it for the sake of not unleashing more of the Spiritist's seething bickering. It took every bit of her self-control to hold back a 'Praised be her name' in the most sarcastic tone imaginable.

      Savis Maren invoked the Sight yet again, breaching into the depths of her djed and focusing her gaze on the swollen neck once again. She allowed herself to slide her silver gaze along the breadth of the woman's body. But she wasn't to be distracted by the fine lines of age, the mutilated fingertips, nor the ruined abdomen. She breached through the skin and deeper into the flesh. The Nuit focused on the swelling and found, to her distaste, the sensation of twitching as a ghost of a sensation on her own flesh. A gasp of horror escaped the Nuit as she nodded again and again.

      "Make the cut. There's a... thing crawling in there. Get it out. Get it out!" she shouted out, her hand reaching up to her own neck as she shook her head. If Savis Maren's cheeks could flush or pale, it'd be white as a sheet. Instead, her silver eyes dulled from the lack of magic before widening to the size of moons. Flashes of memory took over the Nuit's mind. It seeped into her skin, illusory twitching and crawling along her flesh. She stepped back in horror, closing her eyes as she set against the wall and fell to the floor.

      "S-scars... Make a small... cut... and get... it out..." she muttered. This time wasn't like the last. There was no great peril and Savis Maren didn't need have the desperation of survival to shield herself from the deepest scars of the experience. Preservation of self, it seemed, had the effect of rendering one resistant to the effects of trauma.

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      [The Twuele] A Macabre Waltz (Madeira)

      Postby Madeira Craven on November 5th, 2018, 8:14 pm

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        Madeira stood back to give Savis more room as she looked over the neck herself. She suspected the Nuit was utilizing auristics, but it was impossible to know for sure. The woman's gaze was only more intense and sweeping than normal, as silvery eyes examined the growth at the side of the corpse's throat.

        The Nuit was not an expressive creature, so to hear her gasp in horror was itself a horrible thing. And with that gasp of frightened air she began to shout.

        "Make the cut", she demanded, her hands crawling to her own throat, her mouth working and her eyes wide in her bloodless face. "There's a... thing crawling in there. Get it out. Get it out!"

        She had backed away against the wall, as if to put as much distance as she could between herself and whatever was inside the body. Madeira snatched up the discarded scalpel and leaned over the corpse, a sudden sweat springing up between her shoulders. What had Savis, prickly, unflappable Savis, so scared?

        She felt around the lump on the right side of the neck, and the mass moved loosely beneath her fingers. Unable to even guess what was underneath, the Spiritist touched the scalpel to the top of the mass and made a straight cut over top, pressing as lightly as she could.

        The taught skin split like a juicy peach, and beneath the metallic smelling coagulating blood, something wet and lumpy and white was pushing through. Not wanting the skin to tear under the pressure, Madeira widened the incision incrementally until something heavy finally slithered out.

        A lump of flesh a little over two centimeters long fell out and dangled from the cut on a short, fleshy root. It was not crawling, or twitching, or moving at all. It was dead tissue, like the rest of her. Madeira had no medical knowledge, but she could make a guess that this was only some kind of tumor. She breathed a sigh of relief, certain as she was in Savi's magic, she had assumed she was going to find some monstrous parasite in there.

        Praying fervently that she wasn't cutting anything important, Madeira cut the tumor out at its fleshy stem. Now knowing what to expect, the other side was easier. She made a cut just wide enough for the pressure the tumor was exerting on the skin to push it out, and then remove it by its root.

        "Savis, it's fine. Its just a tumor", she explained gently, crouching in front of the panicked Nuit with the two hard white scar-like lumps in her gloved hands. "Come see for yourself, there is nothing else in there." Her smile was small and reassuring as she stood, ready to dispose of the flesh in its receptacle. But before she left the spiritist paused, and looked down at the Nuit. Making a sudden decision she pulled her dijed forward and let it sit prettily on her tongue and in the corners of her lips. Her voice was even and soft as she spoke, and an emotional response of calm floated out with the words to work themselves into the woman's distressed mind.

        "Everything is okay."

        Madeira dropped the tumors into the bucket already bulging with offal. Most of the bodies she sees are typically rotting, and she didn't have the medical knowledge to know what healthy organs were suppose to look like, but she could guess it was not like that. Whatever was in that bucket was dark and diseased and truly revolting to have come from a woman who couldn't have been dead for more than twenty four bells. Whoever was on that table had been truly ill.

        Returning to the slab, Madeira continued the process she had seen Savis preform. The small incisions she had made were packed with salt and the foul smelling formaldehyde in layers. When she was sure there was no moisture left, she held the incision closed with her thumb and forefinger and sutured it closed with thick silk thread. The stitches were uneven and the cut amateurish, but while the wound was immensely ugly, at least she was sure it was clean. Not bad for her first foray into surgery, she mused, strangely proud, as she carefully dabbed the burning liquid Savis had used to the surface of the wound.

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        [The Twuele] A Macabre Waltz (Madeira)

        Postby Savis Maren on November 6th, 2018, 12:25 am

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        Scars are not so easily healed, the Nuit heard, a voice from a past when Savis Maren possessed a beating heart. A childish curiosity arose from those words, a child's wonder placing in her stare a plea to a familiar face. That questioned wasn't answered then, but dozens of years answered so very many things. Savis' arms were limp at her sides as she forced herself to re-live the experience, the maggots that lived within flesh. She shook her head, intent to scatter those thoughts but to no avail. Savis Maren felt the all-too-mortal struggle, a sickness even that welled within and ready to lash at the surface. Moments passed in the hollows of the mind before wide silver eyes laid upon the sweating, pregnant woman who took over the effort of cleaning the corpse for hospitable use.

        When Madeira moved and crouched in front of her, the reassurances caused her head to tilt, frustrated and confused. Had she hallucinated it? Savis Maren couldn't begin to fathom the nature of her condition, the strange emotions stirred at the surface. The Nuit's fists were clenched, then unfurled as she sought to collect herself. The idea of hallucinating such a thing... disturbed her. It wasn't until the Spiritist addressed her again that she began to wade through the mess. Her panic felt muted as a forced measure of calm flushed her senses. She looked up at Craven again, her eyes narrowed as she realized just how much she'd revealed of herself.

        Quickly, Savis Maren forced herself to her feet, her pallid expression caught in a conflict as she looked between the corpse and Madeira. The woman moved with an ungraceful heave, she dropped the flesh she'd mistaken for parasites into the bucket and the Nuit realized there was nothing real to fear.

        Aside from that outburst... How.. what... The experience was surreal, the severity of her outburst paired with the fact that she had no idea what to blame. Was she acting with too much haste? Did the presence of another person in what was normally a private matter twisting her? The Nuit had no clue what to make of this, but watching Madeira Craven work with fingers that were even clumsier than hers. The inferior sutures grounded her in reality as she at last allowed a somewhat unnerved chuckle escape her lips.

        "Thank you for taking over, Madeira," she offered to the Spiritist before she allowed her gaze to scatter along the table. Savis Maren found that their job was partway complete. They'd rid the body of its infested qualities but there was more to consider. The undead moved to the other side of the table, allowing her fingertips to trace a path along the corpse's forearm. There was much of her that was preserved quite well, the aspects that'd be most visible to passerby.

        Even in her state of undeath, or especially in that state, vanity was of tantamount importance. She'd purchased a great number of scarves, and was satisfied to use some of them for her purposes and others to cover the hideous burns on the corpse's neck. More and more, she distracted herself from that atrocious experience and instead mused on the future, what was to come. The next step served as an appropriate motivator, and the Nuit unfurled bandages, doing so in a flourish of movement as she looked to Madeira.

        "After we inspect the body, it's been my habit to reinforce the sterilization of the body by applying bandages, layers of protection. Clothes do their part, of course, but there's also bandages that I place on sutures and parts of the body that are most commonly exposed to the elements," she specified. The Nuit began at the feet, twisting bandages along the ankles and up to midway along the calf. She applied both legs with similar wrappings before she moved to the abdomen.

        "With parts exposed by sutures, another layer of that solution is applied, then allowed to dry with the use of salts." She demonstrated her point by applying the formaldehyde in small dabbing motions with a piece of gauze. Following that, she applied a section of salts to the wound, clearly nonplussed by the quantity employed. She'd pass her bag of salts to Madeira before saying, "If you want, you can do the same to the forearms. I'll likely purchase a few pairs of gloves soon, so don't bother with that just yet." she'd instruct Craven. Distraction aided tremendously, and as more time passed she felt more in control of herself. Perhaps busying herself with speech had something to do with it.

        "I've heard the phrase 'less is more' applied to cosmetics... It's simply not the case here," she added, a smirk cast upon the Nuit's features before she lifted part of the corpse to allow bandages to slide around its waist. She placed a section of gauze directly above the treated flesh, then threw layers of bandages around the abdomen until three layers of white hid the wounds away entirely from view. Once satisfied with her efforts, she stepped back and allowed herself to look over her work. She made small adjustments, but overall felt satisfied with her efforts.

        "Once everything is in its proper place... The transference can begin."

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        [The Twuele] A Macabre Waltz (Madeira)

        Postby Madeira Craven on November 8th, 2018, 9:43 pm

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          "Thank you for taking over, Madeira," Savis approached from behind on shuffling feet. Madeira nodded but did not look up as she cleaned off the last of the fluid.

          "I'm glad you're feeling better", she smiled. Psychosis was not unusual among ghosts. Her own young servant had be entertaining the same delusion for at least two straight years, and the missing Hurik was by turns amnesiatic and hysterical, regularly having full blown hallucinations of his brutal past. Savis's breakdown was nothing she hadn't seen before and did not worry her terribly, though it made her suspect that Nuits were not immune to the same mental strain as their incorporeal cousins. Perhaps all undead suffered for their flouting of the natural law.

          For now Savis seemed to have recovered from her panic and was thinking straight. Madeira cursed herself for chewing the Nuit out earlier for her disrespect. This situation, even if she had been through it hundreds of times, was probably extremely taxing. Indifference could be a coping mechanism. As an outsider the Spiritist reaffirmed her goal to observe and understand. They could argue semantics later.

          "After we inspect the body, it's been my habit to reinforce the sterilization of the body by applying bandages, layers of protection", she was explaining, bringing out rolls of bleached and sterile white linen.

          Taking her cue, Madeira took a roll herself and started around the corpses throat and arms. Gauze and formaldehyde and a second layer of bandages did seem like good protection, though the joints had to remain exposed.

          "I suppose the coming winter will help keep you preserved", she mused allowed as she worked with a steady rhythm. "You don't feel the cold, do you? A possessing ghost cannot use the senses of its host. It sees and hears with its own senses, but touch, smell, taste? That's beyond them. Are you similar in construction, where your astral body puppets the dead flesh bust isn't truly connected?"

          The corpse was rubbery beneath her gloves. She could almost imagine she could see the dried up veins and stiff muscle beneath. Jomi couldn't puppet this, she thought. He needed living flesh for that. Her mind tumbled through questions as she continued her repetitive task. What was the fundamental, physical differences between ghosts and Nuit that made that possible? Nuit couldn't possess the living, just as ghosts couldn't possess the dead.

          "Savis, what does your soul look like?" she asked suddenly, a point blank question that demanded an answer. Surely, after all these years of hoping from one body to the other, she had seen it?

          When the two were done with the bandages the woman on the table looked almost whole. Or at least not so disturbingly deflated, as the added padding did much to obscure her disease wracked and dissected body. Madeira held her leather armored hands in front of her chest like a surgeon as the two looked over what they had done.

          "A little cosmetics could never hurt", she continued the Nuit's joke blithely. "A little blush, a rosy lip, a little imagination, she'll be good as new. Maybe some perfume. Gods above, it smells atrocious in here."

          Madeira removed her gloves at the sink and washed her hands again, feeling the skin dry and flake as the harsh soap sucked all bacteria and moisture from her skin. Little flyaway hairs were sticking to her damp forehead, and she was pretty sure she would set the apron on fire later, as it was spotted with black congealing blood and a splash of formaldehyde. She wiped her brow with her elbow and shrugged back into the gloves.

          "Explain to me how the transference works. How do we get your soul from point A to point B?" This was what she had been waiting for. There was an almost childish wonder set against her professional curiosity. How many humans had ever assisted a transference from this side of the table?

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          [The Twuele] A Macabre Waltz (Madeira)

          Postby Savis Maren on November 9th, 2018, 12:34 am

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          Though Savis Maren began to hold a certain fondness for the Spiritist before her, there were parts of the mind that might never be revealed to the other. Deep trauma tore through the psyche, severing one's hold over reality for a time. The Nuit felt the grip rise within her, compelling fire to spew from her throat and repel those that might grow close to her. How unfortunate that Madeira Craven's curiosity surpassed Savis' ability to demoralize her attempts at conversation.

          The Nuit lingered on the thought for but a moment, watching the Spiritist offer a smile before the both of them split their attention and imposed their treatment on the corpse. The undead mage didn't look back to Madeira for a time, preferring to cast away the dreadful turn of events and complete the work needed to make the corpse hospitable to Savis' soul. Madeira seemed to understand the instructions well enough, performing the task as she asked questions anew.

          The fact that ghosts did not employ the senses of their host was curious enough to the Nuit, and listening to the technicalities of how a ghost operated their manipulations was a tidbit that Savis Maren kept catalogged within the framework of her thoughts. It was good to know more of the spectral beings, particularly if she was to continue making nice with one whose existence was so closely bound to a number of them.

          "Correct. I use given terminology for a reason, Madeira. The body I wear and the one in front of us is just that: a shell. The body holds ichor within it. The silver liquid that I allowed drop into the Animation circles back at Infinity Manor. This ichor spreads into the corpse but does not flow through the body as a mortal's blood does. Once ichor is introduced into the physical shell, the soul is moved from one body to the next. Once the soul is in place, the astral body seeps throughout the physical and the connection to the body is complete," she answered, completing her task.

          What does your soul look like?

          The question was so short, succinctly worded. It was the childish musings of a girl brought to wonder by a matter she didn't understand. Savis Maren found a chuckle bubbling from her lips, shaking her head as she looked over the mortal coil she was to inhabit. This one was uglier than the last, surely a decade or two older and plagued with disease.

          How ugly. At least the previous shell choked to death... stayed pretty, she mused before she removed her own set of gloves, placing the bloodied mess into the sink and ignoring them for the moment before, at last, she answered Madeira's question.

          "The masterwork of Animation is the ability to manipulate actual souls and bypass the entire process of creating facsimiles. It is beyond me to do so, though the day will come that it is not. I've wondered how the soul changes when manipulated by an Animator, but... in truth, I've never seen the thing itself. My guess is that it's bound fully into the ichor... But that reasoning is hollow when one considers the ramification of replenishing ichor, a task I've needed to perform several times. If I had to guess, I'd say it looks very much like yours, Madeira," she reasoned.

          The Nuit chuckled, amusement worn readily upon her hard features as her black tongue traced her upper and lower lips. Savis Maren, of course, did venture into cosmetics, if only briefly, and found their assistance in rendering a corpse into a facsimile of a living body wasn't terribly difficult... At least if one ignored the smell.

          When Madeira moved to wash her hands yet again, Savis scrubbed her own to a reasonable amount of cleanliness. It seemed foolish to work tirelessly on purifying this shell when she wasn't meant to linger in it for much longer.

          Then, Madeira asked one final question. Instead of answering immediately, Savis Maren shifted, making her way to her satchel and producing from it her bottles of black paint. She then reached for the long, jet-black brush. She moved to the sink, operating the hand-pump and allowing water to slosh into the surface of the bristles. She combed them into a thin point before bathing the hairs in black paint. She'd place the paints beside the corpse's head, leaning the tube on its shoulder. She began at the head first, painting runes and connecting them with long, intricate lines. They set beneath the eyes and up the crest of the nose before dipping lower.

          Savis tipped up the corpse's head, painting lines along the throat, dodging the bandages they'd placed on the body. She painted over the corpse's breasts, along her collarbones and forged connections between the circular runes as she spoke,

          "I've no idea if there were directives placed into my consciousness by the Animator who performed my Daek-Nuit. If he did though, then surely I'd have perished long before him. My will seems untouched, but deep within the mind, there is something that was not there before. The image of runes and symbols devoid of definition carved into the mind. These runes are painted over the corpse and then... the ritual can begin in earnest. Watch, Madeira Craven, and ready yourself to store this body away. I'll be quite drained when this is over... an exhaustion that comes about only when these rituals are enacted. Or, of course, when I've pushed personal magic to the very limits of my djed," she mused.

          Savis' brush painted along the abdomen, the Nuit adjusting the runes to fit the condition of the corpse before moving on to the legs and arms. When the body was properly marked in black, Savis Maren set the brush down, placing her hands on both sides of the corpse's jawline before propping her head back.

          "You need not know more. It'll be very clear to you in a moment," she assured the Spiritst. The motions opened the corpse's mouth wide, and Savis Maren bent low, letting her lips part, her own jaw somewhat unhinged as silvery ichor began to fall from her lips and poured down the corpse's throat.

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          [The Twuele] A Macabre Waltz (Madeira)

          Postby Madeira Craven on November 12th, 2018, 1:44 am

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            More symbols in black paint, much like the one Savis's current corpse wore, was spread across the new one. The symbols and their meanings were steeped in Animation, a magic the Spiritist had precious little working knowledge of. She couldn't interpret them, but did her best to memorize their shape anyway. If anything she might be able to recognize them if she saw it again.

            Madeira kept her distance during the process, having nothing useful to offer the Nuit at this point of the process. And even if she did she realized she'd be loathed to interrupt her as she dragged the brush across her new body. There was something so appallingly intimate about it. A hundred years old and gone hard and callous with time, she wasn't sure Savis was even aware of how it felt to witness it. Yet young an mortal that Madeira was, she did, and did her best not to impose while she watched the shapes bloom in black across the white skin.

            As she waited she considered what Savis mentioned about icor. A substance she said was completely melded to her soul. She remembered the drops Savis placed around the animation circle and marveled. That was Savis's soul bound in that substance. For all intents and purposes, Nuits were liquid. They passed from one body to another in liquid form, taking all their skills and memories with them. Yet they replenished their icor if they lost too much, and it sounded like the soul lost nothing in the process.

            Fascinating, her mind purred, all the information Savis revealed about animation and icor and the creation of Nuits squirrelled away in her mind. She would have to get Savis's consent soon, for an experiment to see if Jomi could possess her 'shell' while she was still inside. That would reveal volumes about that nature of her soul and its relationship with the body.

            "Watch, Madeira Craven", Savis prompted when she was done, "and ready yourself to store this body away. I'll be quite drained when this is over..." she began to explain, only to tell her pointedly ticks later that no more information was required. "It'll be very clear to you in a moment", she assured the Spiritist, who disagreed rather strongly. Not one to jump into anything blindly, she opened her mouth to demand answers to her questions, only to choke on the words.

            Savis was leaning over the corpse, their mouths open and aligned, and that silvery icor was dripping steadily into its mouth.

            The sight brought a burn of acid to her throat as her pregnancy-tender stomach reacted strongly to the sight. She turned away, the rot and blood and disease and horrible, wretched smell finally getting to her. Spiritists don't recoil from blood, she told herself desperately, shaking off the gloves and covering her mouth. Maledictors don't flinch at the sight of corpses and by the gods a Craven does not vomit at the sight of a transference.

            Her hands were clammy against her lips as she couldn't help but imagine the slimy silver icor slithering down that throat. That body was being entered, desecrated, and for the first time since entering the room she was truly revolted. The child in her belly was kicking up a fuss as if sensing her distress, agitating her already sensitively held composure. No, no, no, don't do this here, she snarled at herself, swallowing hard. She could not be sick in front of Savis. That woman might tolerate her presence but her respect was already a hard won commodity. She would lose it immediately if she appeared weak.

            She straightened up, breathing shallowly as she centered herself. She was missing the witnessing of the most interesting, misunderstood ritual in the world because she couldn't handle a little gore. How pathetic. She was a decedent of Deshira Craven, and she will watch.

            Teeth grinding together and lips set in a thin, hard line, Madeira turned and approached the two corpses. She suppressed all tactile sensations and made herself watch with objectivity. The icor was dripping painfully slowly, coating the blond corpses mouth with reflective silvery liquid. She reached around Savis and opened a single eye on the blonde corpse. Did she just imagine that it was already looking a little paler?

            And if the icor is bound to Savis's soul, does that mean it is in transition? Halved, incomplete? No, surely not. Nobody could survive that, not even the dead. Curiosity peaked, she was able to suppress her visceral reaction and settle herself to observe.

            The process seemed to take bells, though perhaps it was only two. At one point she imagine Savis was looking weak and seemed to wane. She wrapped her arm around the woman's waist and held her up with a hand on her chest. It was not long after that that the icor began to drip slower and slower, until finally there seemed to be nothing left. The corpse in her arms sagged and went still. The corpse on the table didn't stir.

            "Savis?" the word echoed in the empty room, and it felt for all the world like she was alone. "Savis?!" She shook the body in her arms, jostled the shoulder of the one on the table, unsure where the Nuit was. Did something go wrong? Was there a problem with the body, or the ritual? Where was she? Why did she not answer? "Savis!"

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