All I Want

In the wake of the latest murder Madeira fights to keep her job.

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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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All I Want

Postby Madeira Craven on September 7th, 2019, 3:00 am

    55th of Fall, 519
The halls of the Dusk Tower were quiet that morning. Madeira’s footsteps echoed hollowly in the Tower's twisting marble staircase. The classroom that branched to either side were whisper quiet, if they were occupied at all. Attendance had been dropping since the mage symbol appeared on every magic users door in the spring, but the Crone's murder had been the final push. They no longer felt safe leaving their homes.

Madeira stopped for a moment at one of the tall crystal windows to dab at her forehead with a handkerchief. The window was cracked open to try and coax in some cooler air, but all that came was the scorched smell of the dying garden far below.

What a mess.

Madeira sighed through her nose, a sound equally frustrated and defeated. It felt like this perfect, shining city has been falling apart since the moment she arrived a year ago. The diamond surface was cracking to show something ugly and diseased beneath. First the Penrose attack, then the marks, now the murders. The city was running on paranoia and suspicion, with a neat line down the middle that separated the civilians and the elites. She didn't know the Dawn woman who had died last season. She couldn't even remember her name; she only remembered the thrill of fear hearing the news, and realizing that the killer had penetrated the impenetrable towers. The Crone, however, she had met once. Met and immediately disliked, but she knew someone who will have felt this development much more deeply. Her thoughts turned to the gentle, pure Dev'ania before she shook them off.

If the Tower's here impenetrable, then the Crone could have been on the moon for how accessible she was. That old witch knew things she most certainly shouldn't, and had insights that had rattled the Spiritist like a maraca. More than that, her very house could vanish on command. She only had to let people inside if she wanted to speak to them, and she only spoke to them after vetting them in some mysterious, magical way. Who was this murderer, who could overcome all that?

The question unsettled her more than she was willing to admit. Eleana, Dawn and The Crone were all big names in the community. Big names like she hoped to have soon. And if this killer could get into the Lonely Shack, could they get into the Infinity Manor? Was her family safe here?

Madeira's head snapped up and she slapped colour back into her cheeks. No, it was fine. Everything was going to be okay. She was one of hundreds investigating these murders. And right now she had a job to do.

Full of new fire Madeira stomped up the last few flights of stairs, to one of the last classrooms at the very top. Her classroom, where she met with her small group of six Dusk alumni.

She threw the door open with dramatic flare and breezed inside in a swirl of blue cotton and flashing jewels. Her smile was a bright, welcoming thing that always seemed to make her students nervous.

"Good morning class!"

But that smile died on her lips as soon as it was born, and her expressively extended arms fell back to her side. The classroom was empty.

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Madeira Craven
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All I Want

Postby Madeira Craven on September 7th, 2019, 3:15 am

Or, almost empty.

"I do enjoy that energy of yours first thing in the morning. Good day, miss Madeira."

Madeira turned around to find Aldgare Dusk, her student, her employer, and the patriarch of the Dusk Tower, sitting behind her desk. There was a short stack of papers in front of him and an inkwell beside him as he drafted one of what looked to be many letters. He was smiling enigmatically for her, but there was no spark in his tired, bagged
eyes.

A prickle of unease surfaced behind her neck. Aldgare always made a point to call her professor during class. For him to switch back to her given name in her classroom, even when they were alone, felt somehow ominous. Something was wrong here.

"Sir?", she glanced behind her, as if to check that the rest of the class hadn't materialized while her back was turned. "Where is everyone? Forgive my presumption, but shouldn't we show a stronger front? This isn't the time to cower at home." She watched Aldgare’s dark eyes for some flicker of admiration at her outward show of loyalty, but they were almost unreadable. With a sigh he put down his quill and steepled his hands before him.

"Do not think poorly of them, my dear, I've canceled your class today. It is wholly my fault that they are not here for your to bestow your valuable teachings upon”, his eyes seemed to be trying to regain that lighthearted, enigmatic glint that he liked to take with her, but the effort was too much. “Please, Madeira, have a seat. I must speak with you."

The prickle of unease was growing, raising gooseflesh all down her arms even in the heat. This was wrong. Something was wrong. She did not like the way he was looking at her, his expression always fronted and unreadable. There was a kind twist to his lips as he motioned to a chair he had pulled to the corner of the desk for her, but that meant nothing.

"Is everything okay, sir? If someone is complaining about my methods again I hope you've reminded them we've had no injuries at all this season, beyond the usual bumps and bruises and soul trauma."

Aldagre chuckled amusedly. "No, no, everyone agrees that your methods are a great benefit to us. From what I hear the teachers of our beginners class use your offered remedial classes you to... er, motivate the unruly ones. You're not on trial, my dear. Please, sit."

So, she wasn't being fired. That realization should have relieved some of her anxiety, but peeling it away just revealed more underneath. She sat in the offered chair, her back straight and tall and her gloved hands folded in her lap, waiting for the axe to fall.

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All I Want

Postby Madeira Craven on September 7th, 2019, 3:23 am

"Madeira, I need you to understand that you are not being punished, nor are we backing out of the alliance of our families. You have been nothing but exemplary in your services to this Tower. The Craven’s did us a great honour in sending you to us, and I have every intention of fulfilling our half of the exchange of trust."

Madeira's mouth was running dry. She swallowed hard, trying desperately to speak. She had to interrupt, intercede, do anything to stop what she realized what he was about to say next.

"But we cannot in good conscious keep you in our employ. It pains me to say it aloud, but the fact is that our Tower is no longer safe, nor the haven for mages it once was. You are a clever, industrious and talented woman. If you choose to stay in Lhavit I would be happy and able to secure work for you anywhere you please. If you choose to leave, I will of course charter you a ship back to your family in Alvadas with all my blessings. The decision is yours."

It was happening all over again. She watched as her career crumbled in front of her eyes, blasted apart by every word out of Aldgare's mouth. The last time the destruction came in a black envelope with her family's crest in shiny red wax. It took her years to recover from what that letter said. She had to find her footing in a new city, with a new career, a new young family and a new purpose. It took almost two years but now she was just setting foot into prominence, ready to scheme her way into wealth and power. Then just as she was starting to get comfortable, the universe has conspired to rip it all away from her again.

No, this was not happening. She wouldn't let it. She rallied herself, pushing aside the shock to find something more useful. She had to change his mind.

"I can't- Sir, I am a Spiritist. This is more than what I do, this is what I am." She licked her lips, her voice raising with passion and a quaver of emotion. "And- and I know the risks of working for you and I accept them, wholeheartedly. My pride as a Craven demands I serve your family in every way I can. Please, sir, I need to stay."

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All I Want

Postby Madeira Craven on September 7th, 2019, 3:29 am

Aldgare looked at this perfect picture of an earnest young woman, sitting straight and tall, looking him dead in the eye with cold fire, and shook his head.

"I have made my decision. Your loyalty is commendable, but I am not willing to let you risk yourself for the sake of your pride. I know what it means to love this city. If it truly pains you to leave Lhavit, perhaps a career in the Constellations will suit you." He smiled from under his tired eyes. "The Seiza in particular could make fine use of your talent for arguing. It's a noble calling. If you must continue to practice spiritism on your own I can only hope you use caution in this unstable situation."

"Petch this city", she spat, anger flaring cat-like across her shoulders. Aldgare was taken aback by the ferocity of it, and of hearing this prim young mother curse in front of him for the first time.

Passion didn't work. Madeira had to change track quickly, showing sincerity with a spout of venom to knock him off his feet. An impulse for hypnotism itched in her throat, but she ignored it. Aldgare was an aurist, and would know the instant she used it. She had to do this the old fashioned way and convince him with the power of her performance.

"I'm not staying here for this city, I'm staying here for the Dusk's! You could never abandon this family and set up as some clerk somewhere, and neither could I. This is not some flare up of idealistic youth! This loyalty isn't pride, it runs deeper than that. My work with the alumni, my time with... with Chiona... living in this-“

"Madeira", Aldgare cut her off. "We are not going anywhere. Though I’m tempted to cut contact for your well-being, I know Chiona will miss you terribly. You can rely on us if you ever need anything."

This still wasn't working. He was wavering, making concession, but it wasn’t enough. She needed one more big push. Something to really knock him back a step. What was more, she knew exactly what could do it. She bit her lip, her mind running in frantic circles. It was a risk, but it was do or die now. She had to put all her cards down right now or the opportunity would be lost.

"I know... I know she would miss me. But for me it-it's more than that." this time there was no need to fake the stutter. Every word was tripping over it's own weight as it left her mouth. "I... Sir, I'm in love with your daughter. I'm in love with Chiona. I know... I know it doesn't mean much, but I want to be here for her. For this family that has given me so much. I can't turn my back on this tower and wash myself of all of this. I can't. Sir, please, don't send me away."

Direct hit. For the first time in their impassioned arguing his professional composure cracked, and behind it she saw for just a tick an old man, scared for his daughter. Aldagre would be studying her with auristics, of course he would. But for the first time she wasn’t scared about what he'd see. She could count all the people she had ever loved on one hand, and Chiona certainly wasn't among them, but her passion for her was apocalyptic. She wanted her, she needed her, because she was the gate to the power Madeira would do anything to obtain.

Aldgare had a disturbing habit of knowing all her secrets before even she did. It satisfied her to the very core to see the Dusk patriarch shocked for the first time, even when she wasn't sure how he would react once he recovered.

She was sweating under her high collar, watching as he processed this new information.

"I see", he cleared his throat, shifting uncomfortably in his chair. "Well, my dear, it's becoming clear that I am outmatched by your will. Is there no way I can change your mind? Please understand that as my guest I am responsible for you, and only want you to be safe and happy."

"I know sir", she smiled, relief washing through every tight muscle in her body until it felt like her very soul was unspooling. The patriarch did not mention his daughter, or give her his blessing to pursue her. But he did not deny it to her either. It was a very fine distinction, but Madeira found it a comfortable space to be, for now. "But I belong here."

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Madeira Craven
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Posts: 1311
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All I Want

Postby Madeira Craven on September 7th, 2019, 3:36 am

They both felt that small shift in their dynamic, as Madeira for the first time managed to wrestle the upper hand from the patriarch. They acknowledged it with nothing but the contact of their eyes, before Madeira spoke up into the quiet.

"Sir, if this conversation had to happen, I would have expected it when one the Dawn sisters was murdered last season. What made you decide that now was the time? What changed? Does it have to do with the death of the Crone?"

"Yes, and no", the skin around Aldgare's eyes tensed with stress. "This is not a secret, and I suppose you will hear it eventually. So I will explain. You know, of course, that both Dawn and Twilight have rescinded their stance on civilian mages."

"Yes, sir"

At the beginning of Spring, after the independent magic teacher Elena Lariet mismanaged a student, resulting in a deadly overgiving voider being set loose on busy Tenten, the towers came together to support a change to the magic landscape of the city. They proposed that to make all potential teachers accountable and their students safe, they will make it a law that all mages must be registered and therefore under
direct control of one of the three Towers. The blowback of that controversial move was immense, with all sides going up in arms over questions of freedom, elitism, monopoly and protection. But for the first time in a very long time, the rival towers were aligned together in the cause, and their combined power was immense.

That changed last season, with the murders. Dawn reversed their stance when one of their own was killed, and Twilight, feeling threatened, followed suit. Dusk was the last one still pushing for reform.

"Rumours have been swirling that Penrose is the killer” Aldager continued robotically. “Her sister, no doubt stressed by the attention on her family, has now tried to deflect suspicion of these murders on to us. She's mad, clearly, but you knowhow the public can be. Our position on this political issue has not endeared us to the masses. They are using our long history of rivalry with the Dawn Tower as evidence, and they... they have been casting suspicion on my daughter."

That wasn't surprising, Madeira supposed, watching the stress move in the tight tendons in the back of his ink stained hands. In their eyes Chiona had proved herself capable of murder once already. Madeira absorbed this revelation for a long moment.

"You're worried that Dusk will be the target for another attack."

"I am. And I must protect who I can. You're a victim in all this, your only crime is being associated with us."

"Not a victim, no", she asserted firmly. "I will take this warning to heart and take every precaution. I'll do what I can to help protect your family."

"Politics and the tide of public opinion are dangerous things to play with, my dear Madeira." Aldgare passed his hand over his face and leaned back in his chair. "I will have your classes resumed immediately. I hope you understand what you're getting into."

"I do, sir."

Understanding she was being dismissed, Madeira stood to leave. She smiled down on Aldgare Dusk, that same bright smile she wore walking in. She was not scared of what this city had; not its murderer, not its public, certainly not its politics. Her mouth watered at the thought of sinking her teeth into the ripe throat of this city’s controlling head, and turning it any way she pleased. Didn't he understand? She wasn't scared of this city; this city should be scared of her.

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Madeira Craven
long may she reign
 
Posts: 1311
Words: 1103279
Joined roleplay: October 11th, 2016, 7:45 pm
Race: Human
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Medals: 8
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All I Want

Postby Madeira Craven on September 11th, 2019, 7:40 pm

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Madeira Craven

Skills
  • Politics: 4xp

Lores
  • Politics: cause and effect
  • Lore of paranoia
  • Politics: a show of loyalty
  • Aldgare: knows Madeira is pursuing Chiona
  • Politics: the plight of the ruling class
  • Dusk Tower: no longer safe
  • Chiona: suspected of murder

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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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