The Chase Begins

Madeira gets a private pupil, and its not who she expects

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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 Chase Begins

Postby Madeira Craven on April 12th, 2019, 11:13 pm

    25th of Spring, 519
"Aldgare, sir? Can I speak with you a moment?"

The inner sanctum of the Dusk Tower was beautiful and airy, with windows open to the night sky. It was a rare few bells of clear sky in this rainy Spring, and starlight was poking through. Aldgare Dusk, patriarch of the Dusk Tower, turned away from the window to bless Madeira with a smile just as bright.

"Madeira, my dear. It's good to see you up and about."

The Craven Spiritist curtsied, holding out the skirt of her white lace dress and letting starlight shatter against the diamonds around her throat. Her answering smile was a small, blushing thing that disguised the agony in the movement.

"I'm sorry to disturb you. Alexander let me in."

"You are always welcome under my roof, Madeira. Please, have a seat. Are you feeling quite alright?" He motioned her to a low seating area, and took her hand like a gentleman as she lowered herself to a comfortable settee. She tried not to show how much she was relying on his support to remain graceful. Though she did notice that though he was closer to her right side, he reached for her left hand.

"According to my doctors I'm recovering fantastically." Madeira smooth her skirt over her flat belly, but moved her hands back to her lap when she saw Aldgare's eye's linger on the movement. "I've been on my feet for weeks. The truth of the matter is I'm terribly bored, being stuck at home. I'm here to ask to be put back into rotation here at the Tower."

"I appreciate your devotion to your work", Aldgare chuckled good naturedly, "but in these quiet rest hours we can let business take the back seat. You haven't even let me offer you my congratulations yet."

"Oh, yes." Madeira licked her dry lips. "I received the flowers, that was very kind of you."

There was a silence after that dry platitude, as Aldgare waited for the social addendum that was suppose to follow it. But nothing came. Madeira wished she had a teacup or pipe or something else with which to hide behind. Once the silence grew too uncomfortable Aldgare stubbornly uprooted her with a more pointed question:

"How are the babes, Madeira?"

"Oh, ah, healthy and happy and growing like weeds." The Spiritist laughed, and it was a bubbling, happy sound, though a keen ear might detect the current of agitation that ran beneath it. "We call them Amelie and Moritz Craven."

"Noble names, indeed. I'm glad to hear they're doing well."

"Thank you."

The quiet continued. And it was with a quiet kind of exasperation that Aldgare spoke next.

"Madeira, are you sure you are ready to come back to work? After what happened-"

"With all due respect", Madeira cut the patriarch off, and for the first time something dark flickered through her genial tone. "I understand my body and my situation better than anyone. Trust me, I'm ready to return to work."

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The Chase Begins

Postby Madeira Craven on April 12th, 2019, 11:15 pm

Perhaps trust wasn't the best word to use. She suffered the scrutiny of his brown eyes with a smile, knowing he was seeing more than just the clothes she was wearing. He could see the grinding of her broken ribs, the trauma in her leg muscles and pelvis, and her flayed right hand wrapped neatly under linen wraps and a silk glove.

"I'd have thought you'd relish the chance to stay home with your family. Why are you so eager to return?"

Because I've run out of time, her mind whispered. She had promised Allister on the ship that took them here that she would make a name for herself in Lhavit. She wanted to raise their children under the kind of power and resources she once had. She wanted them to have a name that would unlock every door for them. But now Amelie and Moritz Craven had been born, and the name still meant nothing here. For all her hard work, all her plotting with Savis and Jomi and Zintila herself, she was still nothing but a signature at the bottom of the Craven and Dusk contract. Her body was broken, her house destroyed, Dira and Uldr's priest showed up uproot her life, and then her children arrived early, to fan the flames of chaos that still smoldered to this day. She couldn't afford to wait, she had to rebuild now if she ever wanted to raise these children the way they deserved.

"Is it so hard to believe that one gets restless stuck at home? My children are under their fathers care, and I'm well enough for the not-so-demanding rigors of teaching. I appreciate the concern, but really, sir, I'm fine."

Madeira had always had a sneaking suspicion that the master Aurist could read her thoughts, that maybe he could see the desperation bubbling away inside her. She waited for him to pick her apart as he had done many times before, but instead he held out his hand for hers.

"May I see it?"

How does he know?, she wondered, not for the first time. Though by now she should not be surprised. She removed the silk glove of her right hand, and unwound the tightly bound bandage. Beneath her flesh was crusted and molted in a half healed burn scar that covered her entire hand to her wrist. She had stretched and flexed her fingers and the doctors had told her, so she still had all her mobility, but her sense of touch was severely deadened and would not return. She extended her hand, palm up, for his inspection. His fingertips barely touched her ruined skin, but brushed with reverent gentleness over the black sythe branded deep into her flesh.

"They say Dira kisses you to bestow the mark. Is that true?"

"...Yes", she whispered, a self conscious blush rising to her cheeks. She hoped he did not ask for more. That experience was intensely personal, she did not want to share it with anybody. And perhaps he sensed this, for he gave her back her hand without another word.

"Does this mean I can start class again?" She prodded, rewrapping her hand and sliding it into its silken sheath. Her palm burned where he had touched it. Her mark throbbed like a second heartbeat.

Aldgare sighed and leaned back in his seat.

"No."



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The Chase Begins

Postby Madeira Craven on April 12th, 2019, 11:20 pm

Perhaps reading the indignity on her face, he raised a hand for patience while he explained himself.

"You are a capable instructor and the finest Spiritist we have, I'd hate to overtax you. You say teaching is not a rigorous activity, and typically I'd agree, but not with the way you teach. But", he raised a second hand, cutting her off as she was about to retort. "While I don't judge you yet fit enough to teach a class, I just so happen to have a student not yet ready to rejoin class either. Perhaps a smaller, more private setting would serve both of you for now. Is that reasonable?"

Madeira opened her mouth, then closed it again. That was the same non-question her aunt Minerva liked to use. One with an obvious right answer, that was merely meant to display how little power the other had to dictate the situation. It seemed like no matter what she did, in every interaction she had ever had with Aldgare Dusk she was one step behind. She scowled inwardly, but nodded graciously all the same.

"Yes, sir."

"Excellent. Would you be willing to start now?"

He waited for her rather bemused nod before rising from his seat and excusing himself to fetch them. This was not going as she expected, and nowhere like she had hoped. She had to return to work to be seen, to demonstrate herself for a wider audience. What could she possibly she accomplish in private lessons?

She was still running the conversation over in her head, trying to figure out where she went wrong, when she heard the sound of footsteps approaching. Two, to be precise. The Spiritist struggled to her feet and beat out her skirt, arranging a thin smile upon her face. But when the door opened, and she saw her the patriarch had brought with him, her smile dropped, and something much more genuine and confused took its place.

"Chiona?"

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Madeira Craven
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Joined roleplay: October 11th, 2016, 7:45 pm
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The Chase Begins

Postby Madeira Craven on April 13th, 2019, 6:06 pm

"Madeira?"

Aldgare's daughter, the beautiful, talented bachelorette of Lhavit,
looked just as shocked to see her. She was dressed in casual indoor
clothes, her long brown hair loose and brushed out around her
shoulders. She was obviously not planning for company.

They only knew each other a day before the events of the Fall, when a
malediction curse overtook the Dusk woman and she butchered a precious
Eth in front of witnesses. Of which Madeira was one. The madness had
passed a season ago, but she was not yet the same woman Madeira met
that first day. She was thinner than before, with dark shadows beneath
her eyes that spoke of nightmares and lack of sleep.

Not that she was one to talk. The last time Chiona had saw her she was
pregnant and healthy. Now she was wrapped and bandaged and had eyes
just as exhausted. Shaking herself out of her stupor, Madeira was
about to offer a proper greeting when Chiona turned away from her to
hiss at Aldgare.

"Father..."

"This will be best for both of you", Aldgare spoke to his daughter
with the same finality he did with Madeira. "Chiona, please, you must
face these things to move on. Now both of you, please have a seat.
Perhaps a refresher on the Lie technique would be a good place to
start, Madeira? I quite enjoyed that lesson myself." The man was
backing towards the door as he spoke, leaving the two women standing
dumbfounded as they watched him go. "You two have a lot of missed
classes to catch up on, so you'd better start. I'll send refreshment
up shortly."

There was a bang of a closing door, and silence as he left.

Thoughts of going back to the wide audience of her typical classes
flew right from her head as Madeira watched the older Dusk woman
fidget in the sanctum. This was trading a hundred common stones for a
diamond, and that was fine with her. But how could she use this
opportunity to her benefit? Thoughts of her children, still small in
their cradles but not for long, filled her head. Whatever she did she
had to do it soon. She was out of time.

"I'm sorry about him", Chiona spoke nervously into the silence.
"Perhaps we can come back to this later..."

"No! No, it's completely fine. I'm just happy to be back at work."
I'm not letting you slip away that easy. "But he's an enigmatic
one, that's for sure. It's... It's good to meet you again, Chiona."

She could tell their last meeting was replaying in both their minds.
Madeira wasn't sure how much Chiona remembered, but the she saw of the
woman she was soaked in blood and tied to a chair, screaming and
thrashing against her bonds.

"It's- It's good to meet you again too, of course. I hear
congratulations are in order?" Chiona's façade was paper thin as she
slid into the seat opposite Madeira, as far away as she could
conceivably get while still being in her presence. Agitation ran
through the fingers that were absently playing with the ends of her
hair and the foot that traced circles into the carpet beneath her
skirt. This was not the self confident woman she had met.

"Thank you. I have twins, Amelie and Moritz. Born on the first." It was getting easier to mask the fear those words still shot to her core. Her poor children. "Your students miss you, Chiona. they'll be glad to know you're recovering."

Madeira saw some of her own pain mirrored back at her in Chiona's eyes. "Yes, I don't know how soon I'll be... Well, I can't disappoint my students, can I?"

"We can't", Madeira pointed out with a gentle smile. "I'm in the same boat as you, and still recovering. Well, lets do as Sir Dusk asked. I don't actually know what kind of education you have had. Can you bring me up to speed?"

Chiona began to rattle off techniques she had heard of and people she hadn't, as well as a basic recap of the Lhavitians extensive education system and all the privileges she had access too as a Dusk. It was mind boggling, especially considering that if an Avalad ever learned to read it was at home.

"Okay", Madeira nodded like she knew half of what Chiona was talking about. "How about your Spiritism experience?"

"I learned here, under my father."

"Field experience?"

"Some, yes."

As they moved further and further from the personal questions Chiona was growing calmer, but more wooden with it. She was arming herself in practicalities, Madeira suspected. She was being the good girl, the good daughter, she was expected to be because the reality of it hurt too much.

That used to be me. Back before she was strong enough to burden her responsibilities. Back before she really knew what her name meant. Suddenly she was angry. Angry at the strange turns her life had taken, that led her farther and farther from what Chiona didn't even know she had. She wanted those resources, that key to every door, the voice to be obeyed. She wanted a history to be respected and the kind of wealth that changed cities. She wanted to be her. She wanted her name.

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The Chase Begins

Postby Madeira Craven on April 13th, 2019, 6:07 pm

"Madeira? Are you okay?" Chiona was leaning forward, watching as Madeira's wide blue eyes grew even wider.

But there is more than one way to get a name, though, isn't there. Thoughts ran wild back to that day in the Fall. Chiona was captured and lashed to a chair in Zintila's quarters. She was mad and screaming, still soaked in an Eth's blood. And by her side the whole time, weeping and gentling her, was Lheili Dawn.

A secret affair with a rival Tower member. A woman. How bad for business that must be. How shameful for both women. But what if it were someone else? What if it were a talented, capable person born into the upper class? Someone with ties to a powerful, allied family? Someone who could conceivably be used to spread their influence across half of Kalea? What if it was me?

Could she marry Chiona? Was that possible? Was she capable of seducing her away from Lheili? She was younger than the Dawn woman, and a decade younger than Chiona. But she knew she liked women, and suspected her family would support a Craven over a Dawn. She could do this. She had to. She was out of time. Images of her babes, swaddled in their cradles, flashed in her mind. She shook it away and smiled.

"Sorry, I must have drifted off there. It's getting late. See, Syna is about to rise." She pointed out the window, where a haze of green was outlining the peaks of the mountains.

"Hey, Chiona. I know your father is insisting with these private lessons. And really, I myself cant wait to continue. But I need to say something first. Can you bear with me? Just for a moment." She reached across the table, and though the older Dusk woman fliched away, Madeira caught her hand and held it tight. Chiona fidgeted anxiously, and wouldn't look her in the eye. She was confused and that was the only reason she wasn't pulling away. Madeira took a deep breath, recalling every Lie she had ever given to the regretful dead. The right words were in there somewhere. She pretended Chiona herself was a ghost, and this was her last chance to move on.

"Chiona, it was not your fault. It was never your fault. The curse killed that man, not you. And if you really must hear it... I forgive you. I forgive you for what you couldn't control. And I think no less of you because of it. Please, Chiona... you can trust me." Her face was a mask of earnest seriousness she had learned in all her practice of acting under a Lie.

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Madeira Craven
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The Chase Begins

Postby Madeira Craven on May 19th, 2019, 12:36 am

Madeira watched anxiously as Chiona's slim white throat swallowed hard
around words that couldn't quite make it to her mouth. A spiders web
of red snaked across her eyes as the older woman fought tears. With
those words Madeira had flayed her bare, exposing the raw nerves
beneath a kaleidoscope of horrific memories. Chiona's hand flexed in
hers, fighting the urge to pull away. The Spiritist
was one of the only people there to witness the full extent of the
horror of what Chiona did. Her forgiveness would have a weight her
father, her family and her peers wouldn't.

Madeira didn't move, but looked Chiona unflinchingly in the eye. Her
dijed rolled forward on the bridge of that contact, reaching out
towards the wounded mind behind her brown eyes. Madeira's own mind
bent and twisted and forced itself into impossible shapes to wring
what she needed from her own shivering soul.

Trust me, it pleaded. That was the base of everything she
needed from her. Trust my word, trust my actions, trust who I say I
am. Every word out of my mouth is a lie, my ambition burns brighter
than my loyalty and my desperation is blacker than sin, but trust me
all the same.

The suggestion wove into the cracks of her broken mind, pulling it
apart like weeds under cobblestone. Maybe this was why every person
Madeira managed to get close to was damaged in some way- they we
easier to manipulate. She wondered if she was truly cruel or just an
unlovable human being.

I mean Chiona no harm, she assured herself, armoring herself in
the thin justification of the truly desperate. But my children and
myself come first.


After a moment she was forced to let go, before her dijed could be
drained too completely. Chiona took back her hand and dropped her eyes
to stare at the coffee table between them. From under her thick lashes
Madeira could see her blinking back tears. Suddenly the older woman got to her feet.

"It- It's getting late. I shouldn't keep you." Chiona's voice was composed but tremulous as she fought whatever devastating emotion Madeira triggered. She turned away and walked for the door, as fast as she could without actually running, and Madeira wallowed in her failure. Chiona felt no warmer towards her. She couldn't even stand being in the same room with her. Perhaps she would always be an unwelcome reminder of her crime. That small spark of hope in Madeira shriveled and blackened with the thought.

"Madeira?"

Chiona was halfway through the door to the solar, her voice soft and unsure. Startled, Madeira stood to face her. There was a long moment where the two just looked at each other, before Chiona could bring herself to speak.

"...Thank you."

Then she left, sliding through the crack in the door and vanishing into the long hall. From the solar Madeira could hear the tap of her feet turn from a fast walk to a sprint as she fled. But the Spiritist smiled all the same. The hope in her chest reignited, burning with the fuel from those two simple words.
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Madeira Craven
long may she reign
 
Posts: 1311
Words: 1103279
Joined roleplay: October 11th, 2016, 7:45 pm
Race: Human
Character sheet
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Medals: 8
Featured Contributor (1) Featured Thread (1)
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Donor (1) One Thousand Posts! (1)
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The Chase Begins

Postby Madeira Craven on June 6th, 2019, 12:04 am

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Madeira Craven

Skills
  • Subterfuge: 2xp
  • Planning: 3xp
  • Politics: 2xp
  • Acting: 3xp
  • Hypnotism: 2xp

Lores
  • Subterfuge: lie by omission
  • Lore of desperation
  • Planning: planning for the future
  • Poltics: see and be seen
  • Acting: lying with your body
  • Politics: a subtle show of influence
  • Politics: the power of a political marriage
  • Acting: choosing the right words to evoke the right emotion
  • Subterfuge: fake forgiveness

Awards & Retribution


Notes
User avatar
Madeira Craven
long may she reign
 
Posts: 1311
Words: 1103279
Joined roleplay: October 11th, 2016, 7:45 pm
Race: Human
Character sheet
Storyteller secrets
Journal
Plotnotes
Medals: 8
Featured Contributor (1) Featured Thread (1)
Mizahar Grader (1) Overlored (1)
Donor (1) One Thousand Posts! (1)
One Million Words! (1) 2018 Mizahar NaNo Winner (1)


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