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.

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Strings

Postby Madeira Craven on November 22nd, 2019, 8:16 pm

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10th Bell, Fall 90th, 519
Dear Lhelie Dawn

I have admired you from afar for a long time. I have no business even speaking to a Dawn woman, much less expressing my admiration for her, so I have kept silent. I know my place. But before I move on, can I ask a favour from you? A simple conversation, that would be enough. Then I can move on knowing you know my name.


"And what have you been scribbling away at?", Chiona asked from across the classroom, putting down her book with a yawn. Her tawny eyes were bright with sunshine and curiosity as she turned her gaze to Madeira. "Finally writing a letter home?"

It was a hot, dry morning, and class was about to start. The tall windows of Madeira's classroom high atop the Dusk Tower were open in an attempt to coax in a breeze that wouldn't come. But even sweaty and uncomfortable the Dusk heir was resplendent in her summer gown and draped saree. Madeira looked up from her letter, her eyes greedily following the long line of her legs that the thin dress did nothing to conceal.

"This is my home", Madeira smiled, surprised to realize she meant it. It wasn't Alvadas, but it was home. It just needed a few tweaks to make it worth raising her family in. She blew on the drying ink and folded the letter as the Dusk heir came to join her. Chiona lifted herself to sit on the edge of the desk, her slippered feet dangling above the stone floor.

"I seem to remember a girl a year ago who would disagree."

Madeira laughed, the sound bright and airy, while in her heart there was a spark of something much darker. "That girl didn't know what she was getting into. But I have a hundred and more reasons to make this place my home."

"So it's a love letter, then?"

"Wow, you are nosy."

"So it is!"

"Says the woman who has not even looked at a suitor's letter since I arrived."

Chiona tossed her mane of chestnut curls behind her head with a dramatic haughtiness she couldn't quite pull off. "I would, if a single one was worth looking at. Honestly, Madeira, when you get to be my age they expect a women to be so ready to settle down she'll take anyone willing to get on his knees. I have no interest in any of it."

Liar, Madeira's mind purred. She knew exactly why she hadn't had any interest in her many suitors, why she was unmarried and seemed determined to stay that way. She already had a lover and a secret, scandalous affair.

Madeira had known of this forbidden affair for a long, long time. Lhelie Dawn and Chiona Dusk, two heirs from rival families. Two female heirs. Not only was their love doomed under the social pressure, it would be unfruitful. Chiona had a laundry list of suitors vying for her attention, but she had to choose the only one she couldn't have.

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Strings

Postby Madeira Craven on November 22nd, 2019, 8:17 pm

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"You say that now, but love has a way of sneaking up on you. Perhaps there's someone close who could carry away the heart of this old spinster..." Madeira fluttered her lashes and laughed as Chiona playfully swatted her.

"How dare you, I'm barely thirty!"

"All that potential, wasted..."

There was a brief struggle as Chiona attempted to pinch Madeira's mouth closed. Madeira knew she would be the better choice for Chiona. Anyone could see it, plain as day. She came from an equally powerful family, but one already aligned with Dusk, and she already had children of her own to carry on the name. She was a wealthy, powerful mage in her own right, upstanding in the community. Both families would rejoice if they were known as lovers.

And for Madeira... To marry Chiona would be to inherit a name that mattered. That was all she needed, that name. With it she would have the backing of recognition, power and five hundred years of history that would make her unstoppable in Lhavit. She would no longer be a guest of the Tower, but one of them, sharing in their success. Her children would be no longer be the bastards of a beast and a failure but heirs of a formidable mage and her lauded wife. She could demolish Rothsam and his reputation with a flick of the wrist. She would be the Spiritist of Lhavit.

And wouldn't she take good care of Chiona? Wouldn't she be a better lover, a better wife? She would take much better care of her than Lhelie ever could. Mrs Craven-Dusk, as she would be called, would want for nothing. She would be given every luxury and kept safe in her home. And Madeira would love her forever, like a treasured pet.

"I should get going before my father gets here", Chiona's tawny eyes sparkled mischievously as she gave up the fight and stood to stretch. "He seems to think all we do is train, and I'd hate to disappoint him with all this slacking we do instead." Her arms were strong and toned from her work with the dao sword, and stretching did interesting things to the shape of them. Madeira fixed the perch of the glasses on her nose.

"I appreciate you keeping our secret. Besides, I can't have you here out staging me in my own class."

Chiona snorted, fixing the lay of her saree as she wove her way through the forest of desks to the door. "See you tomorrow? I'll be having a midday rest before I start work this evening."

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Strings

Postby Madeira Craven on November 22nd, 2019, 8:20 pm

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"Actually...", Madeira called as her hand was on the door. "Do you want to grab a drink this evening? The heat is killing me, I'd be nice to cool off. Besides, I've already been here for a year and you have yet to buy me a celebratory drink."

The heat in the room suddenly felt a little heavier as the laughter died. Madeira watched as Chiona's knuckles went white around the door knob, but when she turned back to her her face was carefully composed.

"You're right, we've never gone for a drink, have we? I'd love to go, but lets wait for another time. I've been tired lately, I'd rather just stay in the Tower. Perhaps we could have our own private lesson? For real this time? I can teach you how to perceive physical properties in an aura", she offered, and thought she was smiling there was something terribly desperate behind the expression. An old pain was lying just below the surface.

"Chiona..." There was a killer loose in Lhavit. And thanks to Kasha Ruhi many desperate fingers were pointing at Chiona as the murderer. She would be watched wherever she went, and met with open suspicion. But not without reason. A year ago, after a team of people unknowingly brought a cursed malediction fetish into Lhavit, Chiona was cursed. In her madness she killed a precious Eth in cold blood. She was a killer, and the memory of what she did still haunted her.

Madeira's voice lowered, rounding off at the edges as she pleaded. "Don't let them win. You need to go out there with your head held high, show them you've nothing to hide. Soon this... person, will be found, and they will be begging for your forgiveness. In the meantime you need to show a strong front. You are going out for a drink with your friend, and people pointing fingers mean nothing to you."

Chiona wavered. "Madeira, it's dangerous..."

"More dangerous than the Mhakula Teahouse's best student? Don't make me laugh."

There were not many people in the world who had ever seen the Dusk heir scared before, but Madeira saw it then as the woman dropped her gaze and stared out the window like the world out there terrified her. Madeira pushed away from her desk and got to her feet.

"Everything is going to be okay. It's only a matter of time. But hiding in here, suffocating in the heat, is no way to wait for it. Chiona..." she grabbed the woman by the upper arms, and stared daggers until she looked her in the eye. "You are coming for a drink with me, and we're going to have a fabulous night. If anybody has anything to say about it they can petch off, because we don't give a shyke."

Maybe it was hearing the prim Miss Craven curse in front of her for the first time that shocked her back to reality, or the collective use of 'we' that made her feel less alone. For one reason or another, Chiona finally relented, giving a faint nod.

"Okay, okay, I'll go. I never did buy you a celebratory drink when you arrived last year, did I?", she smiled wanly.

Madeira's eyes spark fire, her determination simmering just below the surface. "Damn right you didn't. Meet me after work. Scholars Demise, twenty fourth bell on the dot."

"I'll be there."

"You'd better."

The two women said goodbye, and Chiona slipped out of the room. Madeira listened to her footsteps fade as her slippered feet tapped down the endless winding staircase of the tower. Once they disappeared under the white noise of the busy school she bent back to her letter.


So it would be an honour, Miss Dawn, to meet you tonight at the Scholars Demise just before the midnight rest.

With respect and love,

Your Admirer


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Strings

Postby Madeira Craven on November 24th, 2019, 7:23 pm

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Night crept slow into Lhavit. Syna had set long ago but the heat never followed. It rose thick as fog from the cobblestone and leaked in through the cracks under doors and collected under every source of light. In the Scholar's Demise the skyglass ceiling sparkled, reflecting the blue alcohol flame candles that burned on each table until it looked like the top of the bar opened to the sky. The room was busy but felt empty, as people did not look up from their own groups, doing their own things. The atmosphere of suspicion of the recent months were made thick in this social place. These days the Demise was not a place to make new friends or get accosted by friendly strangers. Here the talk was loud and the drinks were smooth, and everybody minded their own business.

Madeira was sitting towards the back of the room, in a shadowy corner facing the narrow hall that opened into the large sitting area. Starlight dabbled off of a blue cotton dress and the velvet choker around her neck. She was rather soberly dressed, at least by her usual standards. And most unusual of all was the unravelling tendrils that frayed off of her prim scraped back hair, and how loose, liquid and constantly moving her posture had become. Those that noticed also noticed the drink in her hand she was using to gesticulate to her partner with, and figured there must be some connection.

"You're so funny" Madeira was tittering drunkenly, spilling a drop of tequila on the table between them. "I bet-" she leaned forward conspiratorially, "I bet you could have your pick of any lady here".

Bronson Telliger, young, clean cut and rather red in the cheeks, smiled crookedly. She had met the boy less than thirty chimes ago but he was already taken with every word she said. Especially since it was mostly about him. He swept back his tousled brown hair in a move he must have practised in the mirror a hundred times.

"Do you think so?", he dropped his voice to sound deeper than his barely seventeen year old self could manage naturally, but his voice slurred over the soft consonants.

Madeira hid her face behind her hand so only her eyes, their shine reflecting the blue of the candle, peered over the top. "Don't you dare, I'm a married woman!" The boy blushed hard and red, but the quirk in his lips was pleased. It had taken her half a bell to work up this boy's confidence. He was the youngest at the bar by at least five years, and had a soft, unthreatening air of the sheltered and completely naive. She had lucked out with this one.

A secret admirer... he fit the part. A shy, nervous teen with a crush on a twenty year old rich girl. He could have written that letter Lhelie received that morning.
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Strings

Postby Madeira Craven on November 24th, 2019, 7:24 pm

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A group of boisterous students squeezed through the hall and piled into the room, and Madeira's eyes flicked up automatically. But the youngest Dawn girl hadn't arrived yet. The slow crawl of Leth across the many mirrors was making Madeira nervous. She was running out of time.

"I'll tell you... I'll tell you what", Madeira winked from over her glass. "Lets find you a girlfriend tonight. I have a trick that never fails. But first, more drinks! What'll you have, another ale? Okay. Stay right there." She got up from her seat, banging her knee on the underside of the table and giggling as she stumbled.

But as she wound through the tight knots of patrons and out of sight of her corner table the smile dried up, and her posture straightened. By the time she laid Bronson's empty glass on the bar she was tall and ridged, with her expression sobered and controlled. She beat out the lines of her skirt, her eyes never long away from the narrow hall.

"I'll have another Ale, please, Ahlea."

"And another Cheva's Kiss?" the Ethafael bartender nodded to the drink in her hand.

"No, I'm still working on this one." Madeira had been working on it for half a bell, not that Bronson seemed to notice.

The bartender nodded mutely and grabbed a fresh glass from under the counter. As she tapped the ale keg Madeira slipped her hand into her pocket, feeling the sharp edges of the folded square in her pocket.

"Four jade, dear."

Madeira slid the coins across the bar, and received a frothy glass of golden ale in return. But she didn't take it right away. In her pocket her finger traced the edges of the square, and a bead of blood soaked into paper. What if Lhelie never arrived? She had counted on the impulsive hot headed woman to come out of curiosity, perhaps to loudly tell this mystery man to take a hike. But what if Madeira read her wrong, what if she went against her reckless ways and just ignored the letter?

Madeira had made sure the place she asked to meet was busy and public. A woman would never meet a strange man alone. She had timed the letter so it arrived that day, giving Lhelie no opportunity for her blood to settle and properly think it over, or for her sisters to catch wind of it and intercede. But there were so many unknowns in this plan, so many things she didn't have perfect control over.

No, she couldn't doubt herself now. She withdrew the folded paper from her pocket hidden between her fingers, and grabbed the ale. In the bumpy chaos of people as she wound her way back to her seat she opened the packet one handed, and over the lip of the glass a fine yellow powder dissolved into the liquid.

"I'm back!" She bubbled her way to Bronson's table, a drink in each hand and a smile on her face. "Hey, how about another song? I bet You haven't heard this one!"

"I thought you were going to show me a trick", the boy pouted even as she took the ale from her and drank deep. Madeira watched the jump of his adam's apple.

"I will, I will, hold your horses. But A song first, for luck! Then I'll show you something amazing."

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Strings

Postby Madeira Craven on January 23rd, 2020, 8:19 pm

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She started slow, her voice quiet between them, before she hit a comfortable stride. It was a song she knew very well. She had used it before.

"Lavender blue, Rosemary green,
When I am king you shall be queen"

Heat pulsed in her tongue as the dijed leaked steadily from her soul. When she opened her mouth her voice was rough, but steady and rhythmic with it. The beat was carefully measured, already pleasantly hypnotic in a pedestrian kind of way. But now it turned, twisting in the air and weaving through with an unobtrusive hypnotic suggestion. Obedience, she pressed into the boy in front of her, willing the feeling to simmer away in the lining of his thoughts and run electric across his lips and the wet surface of his wide eyes.

"Rosemary green, Lavender blue
You must love me, cause I love you,
I heard it say, since I came hither,
That you and I, must lie together"

She sang again, pressing feeling into the words until she could almost see them shimmer in the air between them like a physical thing. This was a gentle attack, a soft invasion. Obey me, it demanded in the quietest voice. Do as you are told.

This wouldn't take long. Though there was no outward way to tell if a suggestion has taken hold, she had spent the better part of the night inebriating him and setting herself up as his kindly, wiser older sister. Hypnotism was delicate, almost absurdly fragile, but she was confident enough in her wielding of it to make this little boy bend underneath it.

"Lavender blue, rosemary green
You're the prettiest lass that I've ever seen
Let the men stay, out in the storm
Whilst you and I, keep ourselves warm."

Bronson was listening raptly as she continued, possibly trying to commit it to memory to break out to woo a special girl. But he was also beginning to fidgeting uncomfortably, his weight shifting in his seat and his hands clasping his tankard, the table and each other. There was a flush in his skin that had nothing to do with alcohol. He took another swig of his ale.

The bar door swung open again, and Madeira glanced up. Suddenly the song and the dijed stuttered on her lips. Small and dark haired, dressed in a tough but well made Lhavitian style tunic, was Lheilie Dawn. The young woman scanned the barroom warily, and Madeira hastily bent her head to fix the lay of her skirt upon her lap. Ice ran down her spine as Lhelie's eyes passed over her, before the Dawn woman made her way to sit at a stool along the bar.

The sound of the song Madeira sang trailed away, unable to recover the rush of dijed. But the feeling lingered in the air around them. Madeira tore her eyes away from Lhelie and smiled for Bronson, wetting her lips with her forgotten drink.

"That was beautiful", the boy nodded. He was looking more sober by the tick

"Thank you for indulging me. For your patience, here is my secret to finding you a lover. Ta-da!"

She surfaced with a little blue velvet box from the pocket of her dress. Inside was a beautiful gold ring carved into interlocking hearts. She laughed at the boy's baffled expression. "What, did you think I could snap my fingers and one would fall into your lap? No, this requires more effort, but you would be shocked to see how a simple thoughtful gift will melt a girl. I guarantee if you have this, and do exactly as I say, you will be lucky in love for the rest of your life." Madeira reached over and touched the boy's fidgeting hands. "Trust me."

There where only two people in the world who knew the ring was not solid gold. She was one, and the jeweler Master Li was the other. The base was bone, and it was simply gilded with endless sheets of fine gold leave. But of them both, she was the only one who knew it was cursed. Malediction had a reputation, and it was not entirely undeserved. This fetish was the result of neglect and a terrible mistake. Madeira glanced at Bronson's half empty tankard, where the Love Dust drug she dosed it with was no doubt swirling. The drug and the ring worked in wildly different way, both internal and externally, but with roughly the same effect. Both were meant to destroy reason and replace it with lust.

"Would it work on you?" Bronson's voice deepened and he tried to charm her with a smile, catching her comforting hand in both of his. If she looked deeper, behind his ineffectual flirting, she thought she could see just the burgeoning hint of desperation. He was feeling the drugs affects. She met his smile and removed her hand, patting his maternally on the top of the head.

"Drink up, boy, and listen very closely."
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Strings

Postby Madeira Craven on January 23rd, 2020, 8:22 pm

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She could feel the boy straining to see between the buttons of her prim high dress as she was leaned over to whisper in his ear. She didn't mind. She liked him distracted. Her instructions were simple, pointed, and easy. She pressed the little velvet box into his hands. But as she told him who he should give it too his compulsion to obey showed a little crack.

"Her?", nerves cracked in his voice as he glanced at the woman sitting along at the bar. "But isn't she one of the Dawn girls?"

"But isn't she beautiful?" Madeira pressed, her voice a soft, seductive hiss. "Wouldn't you like to know her better?"

Tapping down once more, she rallied her dijed from her soul. She pulled back, making sure he met her eyes. His eyes were a muddy, uninteresting brown, but they were kind and gentle. Now they were almost eclipsed by the black of his pupil. Whether that was the drug or the low light it was hard to tell.

There was an old fable somewhere, about a frog and a pot of boiling water. The story rose unbidden from her mind as her hypnotism reached out to push him just a little harder. An emotional surge was not like a suggestion. It was dangerously noticeable and hellishly taxing, but when the frog was already cooking it rarely noticed the change. She twisted her dijed not as a trickle but as a rush, blasting him hard and short with what she wanted him to feel.

"You're so confident, so handsome, so charming. Talk to her. She wants to talk to you. She wants to know you better. Why won't you let her? Look at how the candlelight shines in her hair. Have you ever seen anyone so beautiful?"

Bronson fumbled with the velvet box and rose to his feet like he was being dragged. "I need to talk to her. You're right."

"You need to give her the ring. It would look so beautiful on her hand, don't you think?"

He smiled down at her, flushed with drink and something stronger. "Yes I do."

He turned and walked away without another word. Deep within the city came the doleful toll of a bell carefully measuring out twenty four peals. Madeira sipped nervously at her drink. Whatever happened next would be completely out of her hands. If this went perfectly, it could remove a rival and catapult her up the ladder to success. If it went poorly, she was far enough removed to slip out unscathed. In theory. She had orchestrated this exact scene to set her up with plausible deniability, but there was always a chance it could be traced back to her. The ring, the drugs, Yantavi, Master Li, even her presence in the bar left fingerprints her unavoidable fingerprints all over it. Bowing her head, Madeira prayed to whatever god would listen that her long, long plan, that started over a year ago, would at last take its fist big step.
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Strings

Postby Madeira Craven on January 23rd, 2020, 11:15 pm

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"Hullo Miss, do you enjoy games?"

Madeira's eyes startled open. An old man with creaky joints was trying to maneuver his bony hips into the chair Bronson had just vacated. He was blocking her view of the bar. The Spiritist leaned on her elbow, trying to discreetly see around him.

"I've got many here... poker, backgammon, dice... Would you like to play my games?" he had long crooked teeth and a slightly oblivious smile. Across his shoulder was a large square back that indeed seem to be full to bursting with various game boards.

"I'd love to, but I'm meeting a friend, so I'll have to pass", Madeira patiently returned the smile, not really seeing him as every fiber of her being was watching what was happening at the bar. "Some other time."

"Do you promise?"

"What?" Bronson had taken out the ring and was showing it to a somewhat annoyed Lhelie. Madeira could see her waving it away, her lips making gently refusing shapes.

"Do you promise to play my games some other time?"

Bronson had his back to the Spiritist, but she could see his hands were still out with gentle persistence. She hopped he wasn't too drugged to remember what she had said.

"Of course", Madeira agreed quickly, her heart beginning to beating hard and erratic, her focus halved between the door and the bar. Lhelie had taken the box from Bronson's hands with a patient smile. She turned the thing this way and that while the boy talked, and just to amuse him took the gold ring out and slipped it onto her finger. Almost as soon it touched her skin something passed over her face, but it was gone just as fast. She admired how it looked, and then turned her attention back to the boy. But the attention was keener. Almost hungry. She was leaning in as he spoke as if to better hear.

"Then you've gotta shake on it." The man held out his hand to seal the promise.

Madeira's focus flicked to the old man. Annoyed but hiding it with a smile, she gamely pumped his hand twice. At that moment the bar door opened, and Madeira's heart both roared and shuddered.

Chiona had changed out of her flashy sari for something more common, supposedly to attract less attention. But even so she looked anything but common. She was holding her cloak closed like it could block out the suspicious stares that cropped up near the door. It looked like she was taking Madeira's cheerleading to heart; she stood tall and dignified, weathering the looks as she scanned the room for her friend.

But something else caught her eye first.

Lhelie and Bronson were crushed together, in front of an uncomfortable bartender and within view of the entire bar. Who made the first move Madeira never saw, and it didn't matter, neither of them were capable of saying no at that moment. Her hands were tangled in his hair, crushing his mouth to hers, and his were wandering inexpertly around the front of her tunic. They were too absorbed in what they were doing to notice the woman standing on the other side of the narrow room, blanching under the blue glow of the candle flames.

Madeira watched as Chiona's expression cracked like plaster off a mold. Already so fragile these days, the cool composure collapsed inward under the weight of what she was seeing. Without anything to cover it Madeira could see straight through to the pain howling behind her eyes. She gasped, stumbled, her hand clutching even tighter at her cloak. Pressure was building in her. The Spiritist could almost see it straining at her soul.

Blinded by tears, the Dusk woman groped for the door and fled, leaving confused and startled whispers behind her.

"Chiona!"

Knocking the old man's hand aside, Madeira jumped to her feet and ran after her. Behind her she heard the old man's wheezy chuckle.
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Strings

Postby Madeira Craven on February 20th, 2020, 3:45 am

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Madeira hit the door as it was still swinging closed and crashed her way out into the night. Bars of light lit the streets from the candles burning in every window, and through them the Spiritist saw the hem of a blue robe whipping out of sight around a corner.

"Chiona, wait!"

The sleepless city was quiet that night. Those who were out walked in pairs or close to the gaslights that dotted the cobble streets, and weapons flashed on every hip, shoulder or thigh. Madeira blew by them all, not caring as startled hands hovered over hilts and wary eyes pressed close to walls and doorways. She was focused only on the hem of that robe, and the slippered feet that darted in and out of her line of sight.

Her breath came in winded pants before long, and her breath tasted metallic. A stitch was tying her middle into knots even as she begged her frail body to keep going. She couldn't lose her now.

The Sundial Circle, a park-like green space facing Syna's Temple, was never busy at night. These nights it was almost completely empty. Except for the figure sitting hunched on the edge of the massive sundial that gave the park its name, in the shadow of the tall gnomon that stuck spear like from its face. Madeira slowed to a stop, hand to her thundering heart and gasping for breath. The Dusk woman was bent almost double, head in her hands and pressed to her knees.

"What the hai was that!" Madeira sputtered, letting her eyes she couldn't see widen in alarm. But just the physical act lent a authenticity to her voice of barely contained panic. "Chiona, you're scaring me, what's wrong?"

Chiona never raised her head, but Madeira could hear her try to speak between wet, choking sobs. Long strings of saliva were dripping from her open mouth. The sounds coming from her were sharp and wild, a keening undulation of grief and the pressure of a broken heart. If she was trying to tell Madeira to petch off she never got the chance. Pulling a handkerchief from her pocket Madeira pressed it to the woman's face sat beside her, wrapping both her arms around her. One hand pressed hard into the small of her back, the other fisted in her hair, pulling the taller woman off her own lap and down into her shoulder.

The Dusk woman only cried louder in the embrace, the sobs becoming howls when faced with this simple human touch. They stayed like that for what might have been bells. Madeira simply stroking Chiona's back and hair, saying nothing, letting the flood run its course.

Finally, little by little, the Dusk woman stopped shaking. Her hitched breathing became more even, and her weight sagged into Madeira's shoulder. The Spiritist kept up that steady pressure of her hands, but risked the chance to speak.

"Chiona, for gods sake, talk to me. Please, please..." she whispered, whittling the panic away to a more desperate edge. In her mind it was Amelie in her arms, and she lost and anguished trying to figure out what had done this to her little girl.

"I- I love her", Chiona finally spoke, her voice crackling like tinder, muffled by tears and Madeira's shoulder. "Madeira I love her. I love her why did this happen why did she-"

"Who?" Madeira paused for a long moment, playing into the realization. "The Dawn girl? Lheili? Oh gods, Chiona, I'm so sorry. I never should have brought you there."

Her secret revealed, Chiona was wracked with another wave of tears. Perhaps it was the sudden release of pressure that dirty little secret conjured that made the rest spill, but once it fell from her lips the rest followed in a sputtering, almost indecipherable stream. In a broken voice, in nearly broken common, Chiona laid the rest out at Madeira's feet. Her and Lheili fell in love years ago, when the girl was only eighteen. Their tryst had been thrilling at first, until their relationship deepened and they realized the extent of the familiar obligations that kept them apart. Lheili was there for her while she was recovering from the curse and she had been there for Lheili when Hitori was murdered. Now she didn't know what to do, or what was even happening.
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Madeira Craven
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Strings

Postby Madeira Craven on February 20th, 2020, 3:45 am

Image
Madeira listened to all of it, filling in the rest of the story she only knew the beats of. Maybe the story was being divulged in trust, or maybe it was just desperation. But the Spiritist wanted this to go deeper. She remembered Belladonna's lesson on intimacy. Vulnerability was a main ingredient to establishing intimacy, she had explained, using Madeira's embarrassment as an example. At the time the prostitute had been talking about physical intimacy, and had stripped her naked to hammer that idea of vulnerability home, but Madeira saw another opening as Chiona spilled her secrets. She was so vulnerable at that moment, emotionally. Perhaps Madeira could join her. Perhaps she could manufacture intimacy with shared vulnerability.

Taking a deep breath, Madeira launched into her own story.

"I had a lover once, Ambrosia. Gods, you would never have believed the smile on that girl. I love her so much. But then I found out I wasn't the only one, that other people, that other men had more than just her smile. I made a long list of bad decisions after that. I had a Dhani, Kelvic, a Symenstra... All sorts of monsters, because at least then I knew they were monsters. I never wanted to look at another human woman again. But now..." Madeira stared into the nearest streetlamp, blinking moisture into her eyes and closing her throat until her voice cracked. "Chiona, don't let this break you like it broke me. I'm your friend. Let me help you."

What a lie. Ambrosia... She hadn't thought of that girl in a long time. She picked that name from thin air. Just one of many friends she left behind in Alvadas. They were never lovers. She had tasted the Dhani, the Symenestra and the Kelvic, the father of her children, not to rinse the human from her mouth but because she never craved it in the first place. When you've had creatures with fangs and poison and crushing coils melting under your hands the human touch was so... insipid.

"Listen, don't go back to her. Never go back. They all have sweet words and promises but once they break your trust they'll only break it again" she went on, her voice hardening, almost commanding. Lheili would certainly have an interesting story to tell if she ever managed to get that ring off her finger. "I'm here for you, okay? I've always been here, even during..." she let her voice trail off, letting the unspoken words conjure images of every insane event that had befallen her and her family in the year she'd been under their care. "Everything will be okay. We'll keep this between us, and you can talk to me about... anything. Everything."

She finally pulled away, but only enough to look the Dusk woman in the eye. Chiona was a mess, red-faced and swollen, awash in tears, but her expression dead and leaden. She nodded mutely not quite looking her in the eye. Madeira smiled, discreetly dabbing at the corner of her own eyes with the corner of her sleeve.

"Let me walk you home."

"No... I want- I want to be alone right now", Chiona sniffed mightily and got shakily to her feet. "But thank you Madeira. For... for everything."

Madeira stood too, and taking her head in her hands rose to her toes and kissed Chiona chastely on the forehead, though she let the contact linger just a little bit too long, and let her fingers trail lightly across her cheeks as she let go. "Okay. If you ever need to talk, you know where I am."
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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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Character sheet
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Medals: 10
Featured Contributor (1) Featured Thread (2)
Mizahar Grader (1) Overlored (1)
Donor (1) One Thousand Posts! (1)
One Million Words! (1) Lhavit Seasonal Challenge (1)
2018 Mizahar NaNo Winner (1)

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