Solo Strings

Cordas DATS thread

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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.

Moderator: Luminescence

Strings

Postby Madeira Craven on February 26th, 2020, 10:10 pm

Image
She watched Chiona go. The proud, strong Dusk heir looked broken; head bent under the weight of grief, her steps short and hurrying. She disappeared into the midnight gloom that hung between the streetlamps, whisking away like a ghost into the night. Madeira waited until the sound of her soft shoes scuffing against the stones faded into the night, then all at once she let her composure break.

Her eyes dried up instantly, and a smile cracked wide and wild across her face. Her eyes burned with blue fire, a deep surprise and wild elation. She had won. She had won. She had pulled all her resources, made use of every item, skill, and contact at her disposal, and it worked. She was one rung higher, one step closer, to her ultimate goal. She was getting there. She was going to make it!

Madeira lifted her arms, clasping hands with an invisible partner, and began to waltz to music only she could hear. She had to study harder with Madame Belladonna, had to apply everything she learned to seduce the fragile, heartsick Chiona. And then... She imagined her invisible partner turning beneath her upraised arm, and caught them by the waist, lowing them into a dip. This is how they'd dance on their wedding day. Chiona would be dressed all in white, and she would be happy in her wife's arms. All of Lhavit would be there to witness the union of the richest, most powerful Tower and the capable, beloved foreigner. Aldgare would be pleased, and watch them with his trademarked enigmatic smile. And why wouldn't he be? Wouldn't she be a worthy daughter in law? Wouldn't she be a credit to the his Tower? To Lhavit? And once the old man retired, perhaps with some illness of the body or mind (and if it was induced, so what? Who would suspect, when mages have such notoriously frail constitutions) wouldn't she be the perfect partner to help her wife run the city's richest, most powerful Tower? 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 they understand? She wasn't Dusk's little pet foreigner anymore; some gift all wrapped up and pawned off by the Cravens in exchange for Dusk knowledge. She was the one in control now.

"Hullo Miss, are you ready to play my game?"

Madeira gasped, tripping over her own feet as she startled out of her waltz. The old man from the tavern was there beneath the shadow of one of the decorative trees that dotted the park. He was seated at a rickety folding table it appeared he brought himself. Across from him was one empty chair.

He patted the heavy square bag on the ground beside him, and smiled his crooked, oblivious smile. "You promised. So, are you ready?" He motioned her over, and to her surprise she felt her body obeying him. Before the conscious thought had even reached her mind she found herself sitting on the empty folding chair. "Wonderful. Okay, lets see... You're not the dice type, are you? Too much chance involved. Checkers? No, no, too simple. Cards? Ah, yes, I sense a talented bluffer in you for certain. But no, I think your game must be... Chess?" He took out a heavy and shockingly pristine chessboard. The base was a solid lacquered wood, inlaid with alternating white and black marble. "Yes, yes, we shall set up our soldiers on the battlefield." From a drawer built into the base he took out two marble chess sets, passing her the white pieces.
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Strings

Postby Madeira Craven on February 26th, 2020, 10:15 pm

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Madeira stared in confused silence as the man hummed away, setting up his own midnight black pieces. Something about this scene was making her uncomfortable, though she couldn't put her finger on why. The man was old and skinny, with sagging skin and rheumy eyes, clearing not all there in his mind. Strange, but harmless. He just wanted to play a game. She ran all the way here, so it was almost impossible that he followed her. But she had been here long enough that he could have bumbled his way here by coincidence. But even through all the reasoning she couldn't shake that there was something... off. She could taste it on the air, like a change in pressure.

Without a word she started setting up her own pieces. Still riding the high of her victory, she had enough good humour in her to indulge this weird old man with a game. If he turned out to be a creep she still had her bracer beneath her sleeve.

"Yes, yes, white gets the first move", he inclined his head to her, his hands knotted eagerly beneath his chin.

Madeira nodded. She knew the game. She moved a pawn forward two squares. "What are you doing out at this time of night, sir? It's dangerous to be out in the dark these days."

The old man rubbed his hands together and moved his corresponding pawn forward. "Looking for people to play in my games, didn't I tell you?" He waved her question away with an irritated flap of his boney hand. "And you look like a worthy one. Tell me, what's your favorite chess piece?"

"The player", she answered immediately. The man wasn't as simple as he first appeared, it seemed. He was actually a decent player. She was forced to sit up and pay attention as they moved their pieces quickly in turn. When she looked up there was a dark spark in his brown eyes.

"What a novel answer. How come?"

"The player is still a piece in the game, they're just the one that utilizes that abilities of the others." She snatched her first victory, an undefended bishop. The conquered piece was laid on the side of the table with a satisfyingly heavy thud. "You cannot win without one."

"You mean you cannot play without one. My poor bishop needn't have died had we never played." The old man was on the defensive, pulling back and layering his protection around his yet unmoved king.

Madeira chuckled deep in her throat. "Then what's their purpose? It's a game, they're meant to be played." She mapped out her path, mentally picking off two pawns and a rook she would capture within the next two turns. She moved her own bishop out into the open, as bait.

"I see..." The old man fell for it, as she knew he would. She effortlessly took his three pieces, and he was forced to move a strategic block to head her off. She was winning. "I like your attitude, Madeira."

Madeira, having eagerly pushed her knight into another aggressive move, felt her blood go cold.

"How do you know my name?"
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Madeira Craven
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Strings

Postby Madeira Craven on February 27th, 2020, 5:03 am

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“That attitude is how you’ve managed to have a neat little game board of your own set up", the old man went on heedlessly, as Madeira face paled with every word. "First your pawns. Little Emma, a useful piece, but ultimately disposable. And kind, gentle Zach: loyal, gainful, uncorrupted. Your rook... vicious Jomi, a simple but powerful pieces. Then there's Lani Stranger, your knight in more ways than one, capable of more complicated, scheming moves. Allister and Dev'ania, your bishops, both vulnerable, but able to move in unpredictable ways. Who is your queen? Oh yes, Savis. Removed some time ago in a freak accident. You've lost quite a few pieces over the years, haven't you? Ssanya, Hurik, Dex…"

“What do you want?” Madeira interrupted, her voice tight and strangled. Her mouth was dry, and the fresh park air was becoming hot and stifling. That sense of wrongness was pushing at her, begging her to listen.

“I told you, I want you to play my game.”

Run, her senses begged. This is wrong, you have to leave. The old man wasn’t an old man anymore. His posture had righted and his movements were smaller and tighter, with no wasted effort. There was a neurotic lilt to his voice and his suddenly clear eyes were sharp and cunning. He wasn’t what he seemed, her body roared. That was not his real face.

“I don’t want to play anymore”, she whispered, her voice failing her.

“Oh, no, it’s not chess. It’ll be something far more interesting. Besides, you don’t even know what you’re playing for.”

They stared at each other from across the small table. Time slowed and stretched, dripping away. Shakily, Madeira pushed away from the table and made to rise to her feet, but her body wouldn’t obey. There was no force behind it, no malignant power pushing her down, it felt like it was simply that her mind wanted to go but her body had decided to stay.

The old man fiddled with his fallen bishop. “It’s your move, miss Craven.”

Just play, she told herself. Just play and see what he really wants. She steadied herself with a breath, willing stillness into her fingers. There was a way out of this, she just had to find it. Studying the board carefully, aware more than ever of the old man watching her, she began to play. But almost immediately the dynamic of the game changed. Madeira was pushed back, routed, suddenly on the defensive as he picked her apart with the few pieces he had left. As her numbers dwindled Madeira realized that he had been playing her from the very beginning. She was never winning, he was always two steps ahead, and he had her exactly where he wanted her.

The rest of the game happened fast. Madeira's pieces were swept from the board one by one, and it was all she could do to hobble her king from danger. Until finally, inevitably, he was captured. The old man reached across the board and plucked it from its tile. "Check mate", he crowed.
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Madeira Craven
long may she reign
 
Posts: 1601
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Strings

Postby Madeira Craven on February 27th, 2020, 5:06 am

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“Good game”, she smiled through the thrill of fear. “You had me from the first move.”

“I had you from the moment I sat at your table in that tavern”, the man corrected, his ego showing through the cracks. “Look at your hands.”

He waved his own knurled hand over her eyes, and the world changed. The old man was still there, whatever he was beneath still disguised, but he was surrounded by a corona of light. But it was not an aura. Pieces of glowing filament surrounded him, reaching around corners and out of sight and way into the distance. The entire world was wrapped in his threads, and down in her hands…

Madeira’s breath caught in a panting whimper. There was a thread through the back of each hand, in both knees, in both feet. They sprouted from her shoulders and elbows and the hinge of her jaw. The fine strands wove together and lead right back to him, to join in the glowing halo of threads he wore.

This was power like she had never seen. This was something ancient and divine and suddenly she was a child, lost and scared in the face of something she couldn’t understand. “Who are you?”, she breathed.

"I am Sagallius Hrinn", said the God, and with a snap the sight was removed, and her hands were her own again. Or at least they looked liked it, but she knew those strings were there, burrowing into her body, controlling her from the inside. "I am the player, the puppet master, and I want you, Madeira Craven. I've watched your scheming, watched you collect wealth and attract friends, and used them to further your own goals. You are ambitious and cunning, ruthless and charismatic. And most of all you’re hungry. That's good. I like them motivated. I will give you something to help you achieve everything you want."

She wanted to run, to crawl away and hide. She couldn't do this again. She couldn't. The last time she met a god she almost didn't survive. Dira and Uldr fought over her like a scrap of meat and she came out the other side bruised and bloody and holding a piece of divinity in one hand and what was left of a monstrous priest in the other. The gods were something one worshiped from afar, served faithfully and thanked for the boon of their domains. The reality of their presence was overwhelming and brutal and cold. To touch one was to know what it meant to be mortal.

“I touched you”, she blurted suddenly, the realization coming hard and half delirious. “At the bar, I shook your hand. You did this to me when I shook your hand.”

“Will you play my game?” Sagallius pressed, his dark eyes burning into hers.

“What am I playing for?”

“Power. Power over people, the power to construct, deceive, manipulate. To pull strings from the shadows and build empires on the power of your words. Follow me and I’ll give you the tools you need to make all of it yours.”

She shouldn't trust him. He was tricking her. But at the same time she remembered that first taste of divine power, and how sweet and strong it was. If he was offering it to her... Her right hand flexed beneath her glove. “And if I lose this game?”

“Then you’ll be given to the winner, to do with as they please. I have no use for failures.”
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Madeira Craven
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Strings

Postby Madeira Craven on February 27th, 2020, 5:09 am

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Win, and win everything. Lose, and lose everything. Or walk away, leave that offer of power behind and scrape by with what she could scratch out of this immovable city that never loved her. There was the smart option, the safe option, and the one that would actually mean something. Fear stayed her hand, but her mouth was watering with his promise. He was right, she was hungry. So, so hungry. She had been starving for so long.

What if she could do more than scrounge for scraps of power in the shadows of other people? What if she really could wrap Lhavit in her own threads, weaving her own spiders web over the hearts and lives of everyone she touched. She would never be left behind, never defenceless, ever again. She could hold the city in her hands and know she was worthy of it.

“What would I have to do?”

Sagallius smiled, greedy and cruel, and there was something so human in the expression that she was taken aback. “Another will receive the twin to this mark I will bestow. Defeat them, and you will be granted more power, and more yet. Until you will pull the strings of the entire world."

Defeat, not kill. No, that wouldn’t be challenging enough. Or perhaps not entertaining enough. She was small and weak, he wouldn’t waste the effort on her if he did not think she had a chance at winning. What would the god of manipulation want in a winner? But she already knew the answer, because she was at heart a manipulator too. He didn’t want the other dead, he wanted them beaten, fooled, kited like he had her in their chess game. He had even named the pieces she would be playing with.

Could she do this? Could she play this game, be a pawn of a god? Everyone was a slave to something. She supposed the question was whether she wanted to be the pawn of God or of her family.

“I’ll do it”, she announced, her voice so tight it shook. “I’ll follow you, and I’ll play your game.”

“Of course you will. You promised, didn’t you?” He laughed, and Madeira felt a sudden burning in the soft tissue of her tongue. Her hands clamped over her mouth, but before a gasp of pain could pass her fingers it was over. Warily she felt around the pad of her tongue, but could feel nothing there.

“You are now a Cordas user, given limited control over people and objects”, Sagallius’ spoke softly, no pomp or ceremony in the giving of his gnosis. “For the duration of the challenge you will have this. Win, and you will be given more power. Lose, and be discarded.”
He rose from the table, and turned to leave.

“Wait!” Madeira jumped to her feet, knocking over her chair in her panic. “You never explained who the other marked was, and how we’ll play!”

“Oh, they’re not far. In fact you’ve already been playing this game together for a long time. I’ve merely upped the stakes. Your opponent is Rotsam the Curse Eater.” And it was there in his smile that she knew he was aware exactly what he was doing.

Then the god was gone, the pack and table disappearing too, and it felt like he was never there. But Madeira could feel still feel the phantom burning on her tongue and feel the weight of his words in her soul. She was left alone in that green space, reeling as she came to terms with everything that had happened that night, and exactly what she had done.
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Madeira Craven
long may she reign
 
Posts: 1601
Words: 1402855
Joined roleplay: October 11th, 2016, 7:45 pm
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Medals: 10
Featured Contributor (1) Featured Thread (2)
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Donor (1) One Thousand Posts! (1)
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Strings

Postby Luminescence on March 26th, 2020, 4:48 pm

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Far out, you've received your grades!

✧・゚: *✧・゚:* *:・゚✧*:・゚✧✧・゚: *✧・゚:* *:・゚✧*:・゚✧


Madeira

Skills

✦Subterfuge +3
✦Politics +3
✦Planning +5
✦Intimidation +1
✦Acting +2
✦Seduction +2
✦Stealth +1
✦Singing +1
✦Hypnotism +2
✦Running +1
✦Endurance +1
✦Storytelling +1
✦Dancing +1
✦Logic +2
✦Philosophy +1


Lores

✦Madeira: Considers Lhavit home
✦Lhavit: Just needs a few tweaks
✦Subterfuge: Avoiding the subject
✦Chiona: Disinterested in suitors
✦Chiona: In a secret relationship with Lheili Dawn
✦Politics: Madeira would make a better match for Chiona
✦Planning: Making a name and taking down Rostam
✦Chiona: Blamed for the murders in Lhavit
✦Acting: Playing the drunken flirt
✦Politics: Finding a pawn
✦Politics: Luring Lheili Dawn
✦Stealth: Slipping something in someone's drink
✦Hypnotism: Weaving commands into a song
✦Planning: Getting someone drunk
✦Politics: Getting rid of a rival
✦Acting: Pretending it's someone else
✦Subterfuge: Playing dumb
✦Politics: Breaking a heart
✦Subterfuge: Lying about lovers
✦Madeira: Lover of monsters, because humans are dull
✦Lore of dancing with an invisible partner
✦Planning: Seducing the heartbroken
✦Madeira: Favours the player in chess
✦Lore of a dangerous game of chess
✦Madeira: A puppet of Sagallius Hrinn
✦Sagallius Hrinn: God of manipulation and puppetry
✦Gods: Best worshiped from afar, dangerous up close
✦Lore of playing Sagallius' game
✦Rostam: Madeira's opponent in Sagallius' game


Other

✦-1 cursed maledicted ring
✦+1 mark of Cordas from Sagallius


Notes

A wonderful read as always, Madeira. I'm normally not one for political threads myself, but this had me on the edge of my seat. Poor Chiona! I look forward to seeing you resolve this thread in the future with the game you'll have to play with Rostam. ;) As always, let me know if you have any issues with the grades.

✧・゚: *✧・゚:* *:・゚✧*:・゚✧✧・゚: *✧・゚:* *:・゚✧*:・゚✧


As always, please don't forget to edit or delete your grading request in the queue! If you have any questions or concerns regarding your grades, don't hesitate to shoot me a PM; I'll do what I can to fix whatever the issue may be!
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