[Featured thread] Life in Pieces

Madeira and Allister come to grips with parenthood and each other.

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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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Life in Pieces

Postby Madeira Craven on April 8th, 2019, 11:17 pm

1st of Spring, 519
When Madeira woke, she didn't know where she was. She was laying back on a narrow cot, in a private room sectioned off by heavy drapes. Beyond them people spoke in soft voices and tapped about in soft soled shoes, someone to the left of her partition coughed softly. Everything here was heavy and quiet, even her body moved in agonizing slowness as she tried to raise her head, and let it fall back to the bed with a quiet, muffled thump.

This was the Catholicon, she realized. She must have fallen asleep beside Gemma, on the wagon that brought her here. There was no sign of the healer now. She raised her right hand, and saw the image of the clean white bandage shimmer before her eyes.

Did they drug her? They must have. She could barely think straight, and the pain moved in lazy currents far below her. Her breath was coming in slow, quiet pulls, and she could feel her eyelids falling shut again.

No! She had to stay awake. It was too quiet here. Quiet. Where was Allister? Where was her loud, abrasive hyena? She searched the bond, tugging and pulling at her connection with her bondmate. He needed to stay away from the danger, but the danger was over now. We won. Find me, she begged. She needed her bondmate.

A lot of people had died in this hospital. She could probably counted them, if she had wanted to. She wondered how she knew this.

Someone coughed again, they were muffling the soft sound with a pillow. Madeira wanted to scream. Goddess help her, it was too quiet. After bells of fear and pain this softness was too much. Don't fall asleep. Can't fall asleep. There was something she had to do!

Suddenly the quiet was punctured by a piercing cry. A noise agonizingly abrasive against the ears but more full of life than the most beautiful song. That's right, a piece of Allister was here after all.

"My baby", Madeira mumbled as a healer slipped through the parting of the curtain. They had put some sort of wax over her blistered lips, they felt hard and cakey. The healer jumped in surprise to see the Spiritist awake.

"Oh! Goodness. I'm sorry, perhaps the dosage was too mild. We were hoping you would sleep through the day." There was cot beside her bed. The healer reached into it and pulled out a screaming bundle of linen, with a shock of black hair poking out the top.

"Baby", Madeira demanded again, spitting bits of wax and trying to raise her head.

"That might not be a good idea, Miss Craven, we've bandaged your ribs nice and tight but there's always a risk of-"

"Let her hold him." Another woman pushed though the curtain. Madeira recognized Alessia Amaryllis, the half Symentarian doctor. Cool and cold and composed, she was none the less gentle as she took the boy from the other healer. She looked so comfortable holding the child that Madeira had to wonder if she had had many of her own.

The healer helped her open her linen hospital gown and piled pillows behind her back and across her lap so she could hold him supported. Then Alessia laid the babe so his head was supported across Madeira's chest and quickly got him to latch. In ticks the oppressive silence was back.

"Aww, he was just hungry! I'll leave you two alone. Call if you need anything." The unnamed healer smiled and left, tapping away across the tiled flood. Madeira expected the half-breed doctor to leave as well, but she lingered by the bed, looking down at the Spiritist and the babies with those unsettling red eyes.

"You've banged yourself up very badly", she finally spoke, taciturn and brief. "There will be scarring, but you will recover in time. The children will also be okay, by some miracle. You owe Herbalist Parker and Doctor Yonatan a great debt." She did not flinch as she looked the Spiritist directly in the eye, like she was looking for more than the colour blue in there. "The Shinya will be by to talk to you soon. We've put them off, as you were too drugged to be of much use to them. But that excuse won't last much longer. What happened, Madeira Craven. Why are there five broken bodies in my morgue."

Madeira never knew baby hair was so soft. Like chick down. She wanted to press her cheek against it, but worried she wouldn't be able to keep holding her head up if she did. She hadn't seen him open his eyes yet. Perhaps he had the pale blue eyes of her family. That would be striking with black hair. Or maybe he inherited Allister's black eyes. He definitely looked more like his father.

"Miss Craven."

Madeira laughed, a dry wheeze of a laugh that rattled her broken ribs. "You'll never believe me, doctor." She slapped her free hand across her face, scrapping the wax away with her nails and breaking her lips anew.

"Don't play games, Craven", the healer looked on impassively. "Five good people are dead."

It was funny, though. Her head was swimming, and it was funny. Everybody in this hospital thought she was mad. On more than one occasion she had dragged herself to them beaten half to death, rambling about being pushed off a skybridge, or being decapitated by a rainbow, or half eaten by a bear. The popular theory was that she was on some hard WindReach drugs, and it was agreed she was not to be trusted. She had to try, though. The doctor was right, people were dead, and she had to explain herself.

"I was attacked", she rasped, struggling to move her arms enough to adjust her son against her breast.

"By what?"

"A priest of undeath."

"If you knew you would be attacked, why did you not warn the authorities?"

"I never knew. I was warned by- I was warned less than a bell before it arrived."

"You mean to tell me you dug a spiked moat seven meters deep around your entire house, and you weren't expecting an attack?"

"My house... My house built it. My house is magic."

"What kind of magic. Would the Shinya be able to prove... anything you say?"

"It's called Architectrix."

"I've never heard of it."

Madeira pressed her bleeding lips together, feeling the noose closing around her. Alessia's red eyes were watching her every move, noting every twitch, every flush of colour.

"Where is this undead priest" the healer asked. "Is it dead?"

"Yes, it's gone."

"Where do we find the body."

On my kitchen floor, but you'll never know its there. The body had turned to dust when she exorcised it, but it wasn't dead, not really. It could be revived with a single drop of soulmist. She couldn't let the Shinya have it. She couldn't trust them to keep it. Nobody could know it was still alive. Unable to pull herself together enough to lie, Madeira stayed quiet. Everything was too slow, too quiet, she was too scatters and couldn't keep her head above the heaviness that was trying to drown her mind.

"Did your magic house eat it?" Alessia prompted when she didn't answer. Madeira couldn't decide if the healer was mocking her or not. "Miss Craven, of everybody who entered your property, you're the only one still alive. I've been told even the Nuit who lived there can't be found. You'd best have some better answers when the Shinya arrive, or think up some better lies, because whatever game you're playing ends now."

After a long, tense silence, the half-breed moved to leave. She paused at the curtain and looked back at the cot and the baby pressed against the Spiritist's chest, and something flashed in her red eyes. Madeira saw in her expression a deep sadness that was quickly buried, boiling away into something that looked a lot like hate.

"You don't deserve to be a mother."

Then she left, pulling the curtain closed behind her.

Madeira watched the curtain swing closed, running her fingers over the boy's soft head in long, repetitive strokes. Holding him as tight against her as she dared, she wondered what colour his eyes were. He really did look like his father.
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Life in Pieces

Postby Allister on April 16th, 2019, 4:30 am

Allister grunted.

This was harder than he had anticipated. His muscles screamed at him, particularly those along his core as well as the ones which shivered up and down his right leg. One loosely tied boot was balanced upon a small stump of a tree while the left leg hung like a lifeless corpse as it dangled from the noose of granadile pants. Black eyes bored ahead through a mist that rose from the nearby cliff. Several yards out from solid ground, a swirl or the fog could plainly be seen. The novice mage was testing his limits with the magic he was most familiar with- projection.

Clearly, spending so much time with menial things had bolstered his endurance but it wasn’t often where the former slave pressed his luck in both the arcane and physical realms at the same time. The difficulty of either; balancing upon one foot or projecting and controlling a single limb was well within his skill set. However, the combination of these two tasks was proving to be a rather stout trial.

Sweat latched onto the brown and black streaks of hair which had grown long in recent months. It allowed the deathly white hand to easily compress the locks down and pull them back to a place where they would stay. Those same droplets of salt and water ran down from his eyebrows, each pitched at a slightly different angle, and into his eyes. The burn of the mineral produced by his exertion spurred the kelvic onward despite the desire to take a break. The shouting pins and needles of his right foot as the adding began to numb out was ignored. Even the incessant tickling of beaded sweat which trickled down his nose to hand upon the nostrils was compartmentalized as the main task was elevated above all else.

The astral leg kicked and danced in the air miles above the water below. The strong currents never let the artist rest but the flashes of success were reflected in the emptiness of the onyx globes. A giant ‘M’ and a leaning ‘C’ were repeatedly carved into the mists. To aid in his maddening jig, the scratchy voice kicked out random thoughts and phrases that Allisterviewed as paltry sacrifices to the altar of what Madeira deserved. It rose and fell at random but the pitch stayed true. The inflections and sudden shifts were merely a result of his physical body moving and wriggling under the pressure of his exercise.

“She's in my head again.
She knows where I have been.
I'm going down that road again.”

Allister closed his eyes for a moment and made humming sounds like a man savoring the smells of a delicious feast. It quickly escalated into panting laughter that was reminiscent of an out of breath lover but the entire heaving of his chest was entirely under his control. Sensing this strange command over his voice, he continued with the rant as more air filled his lungs and the notes became more powerful and eerily melodic.

“She's in my bed again.
She marks her fingerprints
In my skin.
I breathe her perfume in
And it burns like...”

Lost in his words, the man almost fell from his perch. The song abruptly stopped while arms flailed within his leather duster- a flash of faded purple display that would make even butterflies stop and take notice. In a few ticks, he had righted himself but suddenly found that the sweat had pooled along his hairline and the spasm allowed it to run into his eyes with reckless abandon. The result was a word which meant something like a curse in Fratava. Sailor was a part of the slave turned entertainer. With no regard for his surroundings, the hyena flung his body backward with a sharp yank against the muscles that bound his spine. Allister’s back slammed into the grassy earth with a thud that stole his breath.

Wheezing, he took a few moments to wipe the sweat from his eyes -stinging little devil’s spit. The projectionist took a moment and pulled his leg back to himself- the astral trunk seemed defiant at first but that was merely a lack of focus. Pain has a way of clouding the mind. Allister huffed and put his mind to the chore. Within a chime, he was whole again. Past experienced had taut the hyena to take his time when realigning the spiritual parts of his body to the physical. He started to get up when something unexpected and wholly terrifying took hold of his life.

The bond he shared with the blue-eyed goddess, Madeira Craven, ignited with pain. Something was wrong. Allister first instinct was to run home. On his feet in a single motion, legs coiled then unleashed in a leap that brought a prone body into a dead sprint. The trail back to the mansion was not a tricky path but it was long. The hyena felt another wave of pain and fear rattle the bond which caused him to roar in a sickly kind of way. Wounded animal, haunted mind- these are some ways one might try to describe the sound should they hear it but the truth is that it was rather unique and hard to put into words.

Some chimes later, the kelvic burst through the thicket and saw the road leading up to Infinity Manor. Laughter ripped from his throat as he sought ways to deal with the waves of brokenness, anger, fear, and pain that Madeira flooded into their shared bond. Allister was chiding himself as fatigue and sour cramps tried to cave his body into a heap. Stubborn as he was naive, the hyena pushed forward until there was nothing between him and his love but the wrought iron gate. A nervous chuckle caught in his throat and he felt like his eyes might bulge from his skull as they took in the scene around his home.
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Life in Pieces

Postby Allister on April 16th, 2019, 4:31 am

“What have I done?” He stammered behind the out of breath cadence that whispered air in and out of his lungs. Bony fingers wrapped in tacky white skin clutched the bars as he watched several Shinya walk back and forth around a moat that was too deep to see the bottom. It cut right through their yard and was filled with wicked looking spikes. The spectacle actually reminded the former slave of something he had heard as a rumor back in Kenash. He did not have time to think on such things, however, for the law keepers had spotted him and made their way over to the oddity at the gate.

“What business do you have here, uhm..sir?” The shorter one asked. He was a powerful looking fellow with muscles like an Akalak but a face that looked as calm as the Suvan at sunrise. His tanned skin was common among those here in the peaks and Allister assumed him to be a born and bred Lhavitan. His partner was taller, thinner but walked with a grace that made the ghastly performer jealous. The skin matched as did the eyes but the muscles were tight cords wound around a fine bone structure. He said nothing and simply toyed with the hilt of his sword.

The hyena’s hackles raised as it crossed his feeble mind that they might have harmed Madeira. He bared his teeth and rattled the cage as more pain filled his soul from the one he treasured. “Where is she?!” He demanded. The black eyes took on an unholy light like immolation as the kelvic’s own soreness disappeared amidst a growing desire to slaughter the two men before him. “Where is my Madeira?!!” He shook the gate again. This time, the latch bounced hard enough from the hinges’ strain that it nearly opened. His knuckles were white from the pressure and the leather sleeves of his jacket stretched over the hard-fought muscles beneath.

“Don’t do anything stupid, whelp.” The taller one leveled as he took a practical grip on his weapon. “If you’re talking about the woman who owns this place-” He was interrupted by his partner.

“The crazy spiritist-”

“She’s at the Catholicon being treated for wounds received in some kind of battle.” When the warrior saw the face the kelvic change from rage to concern, he relaxed and took a step back from the gate. “If you really cared so much about her, you would’ve been here for the battle.” He made an open gesture to the property.

Allister followed the direction and was suddenly overwhelmed by the smells of violence, death, and blood. It made him ill as it blended with the brokenness of Madeira which rang like a bell against his spirit. “No..” he whispered as he stumbled backward. “No, no, no!” Hands clutched at his hair and face as he twisted around in entranceway to their home.

Find me!

Stillness.

A calm like that seen before a violent storm took hold of Allister. He stood straight and stared at the ground between his boots. He didn’t sway in the breeze nor did he allow his shoulders to rise and fall with is breathing. Shallow breaths might have made it seem like he had given up or gone into shock but the truth was much simpler. The carnivore had been given direction. As always, Madeira was a weathervane atop the shambled chateau of her kelvic. A beautiful goddess cast in bronze with her graceful finger indicating the way he should go, the spiritist’s voice beckoned her champion hither.

In his earlier days, Allister would have taken off at a full sprint but he knew better than to waste time. Getting lost would not serve his lady- only his madness. Without looking to the Shinya, he asked a simple question in abrupt but even words. “Which way to the Catholoicon?” Expecting an answer, he stripped down from his clothes and shoved them into a pile next to the gate. The servants of Lhavit provided all that would be needed and in a flash of light they watched as the man was replaced by a massive dog.

Allister now used his canine form to cover farm more ground than he ever could on two legs. The shark tooth necklace bounced around his neck as he plowed through any obstacle in his way. One bridge down, one peak crossed and now the target was in sight. His nostrils flared with the smells of a hospital. Herbs, illness, blood and a myriad of pheromones clogged his ability to directly track Madeira but with the solid directions he’d been gifted, it was easy to acquire the structure.

He did not bother to stop at the door nor the front desk. Allister charged right through into a processing area where several Shinya were carting bodies draped in cloth -corpses. One drew his weapon and shouted at his partner. They eyed the scavenger like a nuisance to be discarded and the mane upon the hyena’s back rose into a plume that doubled his size. For a moment, the maw hung slack while saliva pooled and dripped from teeth prime for ripping flesh from bone. He panted and heaved for a few ticks but felt a moment of panic from his lover’s side of the bond and all of his animosity fled. A twinkle of lights spiraled upward as the kelvic took his upright form once more.
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Life in Pieces

Postby Allister on April 16th, 2019, 4:33 am

“Madeira Craven. Where is she?” He stood naked, unashamed and unphased by the exposure. He stared at the Shinya for a moment as they exchanged glances.

“Who are you?” The older one asked. He seemed tired and overworked. Mostly, he seemed out of shape. His comrade was the opposite, on the contrary. Young, handsome and vibrant, she looked like she could handle an entire pack of hyenas without breaking a sweat. The muscles on her body were so unlike Madeira that the magnificent women barely registered to Allister as he waited for an answer.

“I’m her kelvic and she’s my master.” Allister said coldly. He knew they were more than that to one another but the sterility of this place gave him the same feeling as the tower. In places like this- places like Craven Manor- Madeira was to be distinguished above the former slave. He never had an issue with it despite her secret bitterness at having to play detached from the dog.

“She’s back in the hall to my right. I don’t know which room.” The woman spoke. Her voice was much higher than Allister would have expected and it struck a nerve in his groin as it brought to his attention her femininity. He grinned with a wide smile of malicious lust as her sex filled his lungs. The woman shifted under this scrutiny and added a warning as if to reassure herself of the status she held above normal citizens. “She’s needed to answer some questions so don’t you dare try to take her from this place, kelvic.”

Allister flicked his tongue against the back of his canines with an audible click. “I don’t make those decisions, split tail.” His words dripped with song and filthy thoughts. Not breaking eye contact, he moved to the hall as he was directed and paused near the woman to take another deep breath. Under the sharp inhale, he uttered his own warning. “I love the smell of you-” His eyes locked on with hers. “But if you upset my mistress, I’ll be forced to wear it in your memory.”

He never gave her a chance to respond. Allister sprinted down the hallway and exhaled. This allowed him to absorb the wing’s new scents and it was easy to sort out the blessed blend of soulmist, fine garments and the unmistakable silver that hid in Madeira’s blood. He bolted with aching muscles, a thumping heart and heaving lungs to a curtain where a polite woman who looked as peaceful as any exited.

“Ooh, you startled me- uh me. You startled me, sir.” She said with a hand over her gentle heart. Her voice was sweet like honey poured over warm milk. “Are you here to see someone?” Despite her stature and demeanor, the woman was blocking Allister’s way.

Be nice… behave… be nice… don’t bite her… He shoved these things into the mouth of his inner beast until it was full enough to remain silent. “Madeira Craven. I need to see her.” His eyes held a commanding emptiness. His shoulders glistened in sweat as did the lines and words on his naked torso. Muscles were outlined in veins and his lower half was much the same. The delicate healer glanced down and blushed then looked back to the two spheres which seemed to be made of the void and shuddered. “She’s in this room.” Hurriedly, she stepped aside and went on about her business.

Allister shimmied in a weird dance through the curtain and ended up having to fend it off at arm’s reach before he could freely step inside the tiny space. The smells overwhelmed him for a moment and he closed his eyes. So much was here and he had no way to process it- that is until the nurse made her statement of judgment.

“The petch did you just say, bitch?” Allister voiced clearly as he turned to see a monstrous woman. She was small and pretty in a creepy kind of way. The crimson stare fell into the obsidian wastes and for a moment, nothing happened. He could smell her arrogance and she could see his resolve. Another tick passed but then a tiny coo from the bed melted the apparition from the kelvic’s sight. He walked right through the doctor without any thought. His arm and hip nearly leveled the tiny figure to which she nearly spat on him but he paid no mind.

Allister sailed across the floor to be next to Madeira and the bundle which she held. He was instantly jealous of the small life which clung to Madeira’s swollen breast but the beauty of the baby stifled any negative feelings. It was then, as a tear stung his eyes, that he looked away and noticed a second child. Without even thinking about it, Allister forced djed into his face and allowed it to engage his sense of smell. Madeira consumed him, as always, but it was more complex now. Two more signatures invaded the kelvic an with his eyes closed, he fell to his knees against the bed and the crib. Like snakes made of pure bone, his hands found the body of his beloved and he wept inside the bond for failing to keep her safe.

“Forgive me, lady…” Shattered pieces of glass were cast into the air as Allister continued to absorb the smell of the children along with their auras. So fragile- animals like him but blessed with the presence of their mother, they filled his heart in the same way that Madeira did but this was far different. This was pure. The kelvic worshipped his bondmate with a greedy desire for rewards and a sense of duty. The emotions he had for the two infants was something he did not recognize nor understand but he savored it all the same.

Finally, he opened his eyes and rose to see the face of Madeira within his reach. “I’m here.” he pressed his nose to hers, the sweat of his journey now cooled. “You truly are a goddess to have achieved these miracles,” his hands divided to touch each child while his eyes combed the dressed wounds of his partner, “with such painful injuries.” He pressed his lips to her eyebrow and held them there as more tears streamed unchecked from his tired eyes. “How can I serve you?”
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Life in Pieces

Postby Madeira Craven on April 23rd, 2019, 1:11 am

"Allister."

The word held so much emotion in those three syllables; everything from relief, happiness, exacerbation, excitement and contentment. She let herself sag against the pillow as he fought his way through the curtain. She felt like she should tell him off for speaking to doctor Alessia like that, but she couldn't remember why. The doctor was right, she did not deserve to be a mother. But she was. The woman's hatred changed nothing.

“Forgive me, lady…”

Finally they were alone, and her bondmate knelt by the cot to wrap his arms around her. Inside the bond he was alight with regret and pain, it leaked through to her in a kind of hopeless pain much more intense than she had ever felt for another human being. That was unsurprising. He was the only one between them with a heat big enough to bear it. She stroked back the hair sticking to his forehead with her bandaged hand.

Then he stood, bending over her cot to press his forehead to hers, as if his words alone were too heavy to cross that distance. He spoke directly into her mouth, praising what she had accomplished. She smiled as his tears dripped onto her cheeks.

"You were with me. You've always been with me." she soothed him, reaching into their bond to detangle the messy knot of feeling he had tied himself with. She never would have survived without the bond, she would have given up long before Dira bent her knees and kissed her.

“How can I serve you?” he asked.

"This is your son." The boy had stopped nursing, so she held him weakly down near her hips, allowing her bonded pick him up. He needs a name, she realized. What should they call him? Something noble. An old name. She fought the drugs and tired stupor to think back to her lessons of family history, and the long list of meticulous genealogical records. "He's... He's Moritz. Yes. Moritz Craven." She smiled at the sound.

She did not ask the father his opinion on the name, nor did she ask before she went back on tradition to give the boy her maiden name. The nurses passing their partition glanced at each other with raised brows before hurrying off. Madeira didn't notice, and wouldn't care if she did. She did not need them to understand, only Allister.

"Do you hear that? Motitz. Moritz. That's your name", she cooed in her burnt, raspy voice. This was it, then. Their family was more than just the two of them now. Her heart tore just to think about it.

As if responding to her voice, the boy squirmed in his blankets, nuzzling into her, and opened his eyes.

Madeira's blood froze, and suddenly she began to laugh.

There's no such think as a lost Craven, she heard her uncle Rune repeat in her memories. Her son was Kelvic, like his father. He would be recorded in her family history under her name, he had to be. Five hundred years of purity and she was the screw up who had introduced Kelvic blood into the Craven line.

"He doesn't have your eyes", she said with a kind of wild, heartbroken amusement. Tilting the baby to his father she showed him the boy's long, horizontal pupils of a goat.
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