Closed Finding the Woman in Blue

in which Ennisa asks Madeira to relieve her of lovely Emma

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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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Finding the Woman in Blue

Postby Ennisa on November 25th, 2019, 10:52 pm

12th Autumn 519 AV
"speech"
"others"


Morning dawned bright. Ennisa was now on her second night of sleeplessness, and she was grouchy as all hell. The sweetness of Emma's innocence had worn off sometime during the night, halfway between the delirium of almost-sleep and the irritation of a ghost's finger between one's ribs. Vaguely she remembered shouting at the ghost girl in a string of incoherent swears and jibes, which explained Emma's forlorn expression. Good, she thought. Yours and Madeira's game is not quite so much fun any more. Serves you right.

Ennisa had been stewing over her ploy all night, and now that the dawn rest was over, she figured there was no time like the present to confront the Spiritist. She gently pushed herself from the wall where she had been leaning, looking out of the window, and scooped her bag from the floor. She shoved her notebook inside and strapped her dagger to her waist like she always did. "Come along, dear, we're off to see your mistress!" The grin she showed Emma lasted for less than a tick before her features dropped back to the sarcastic and annoyed expression she had been wearing most of the night, and she pushed the door open with an almighty heave. Petch the neighbours.

She strode down the stairs, taking two steps at a time. It was in this same hurried, oblivious manner that she made her way to Infinity Manor. It was another beautiful day, but she was so petching tired that she couldn't appreciate the glory as Syna's rays cast beams of honeyed light across the softly scudding skies. She was on a mission, and that mission was the pursuit of sleep. She would get her sleep, one way or another.

As she had only recently been outside the Manor, she remembered the way fairly well, and she only had to stop and look at her notes once in the journey. Once she reached the final few chimes, the going was easy. Infinity Manor appeared in front of her like a looming embodiment of everything that she was coming to hate about the Spiritist who'd cursed her. Pretty, mysterious, and unmoving. Imposing, even, in a softly shabby way. She remembered Rostam's words, that the house was alive, and wondered how.

However, she wasn't there to theorise. Now was the time for action, not daydreaming. She'd done enough of that already the past few bells. She strode up to the boundary that fenced the building off from the rest of Lhavit, and pushed open the gate. She took a deep breath, and pushed forwards.

As she walked up the smooth cobbled path, she slowed as she composed herself. As best she could, she eased the lines from her forehead and tamed the pissed-off look down to something a little softer. She would be contrite... mixed with a little bit of mystery. Never mind the dark circles under her eyes, or the frazzled knots in her long ashy hair, or indeed her scruffy boots and overall dishevelled appearance.

There was a small set of stairs in front of her, and she calmly walked up them, thinking about the living nature of the house and how that might manifest. The stairs led up to a neat balcony that hugged the curved exterior walls. The front door was right there. Her eyes were drawn to two plaques placed on the door. She read them both, and narrowed her eyes, before raising her head to look around warily. Ghosts. Plural. How many did this woman have?

There was a handily-presented okomo-shaped door knocker, and so Ennisa steeled herself and knocked. Rat-tat-tat. Three firm, sharp knocks. She waited for Madeira, or someone, to open the door.

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Last edited by Ennisa on December 8th, 2019, 12:43 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Finding the Woman in Blue

Postby Madeira Craven on November 25th, 2019, 10:56 pm

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    Emma has returned. She brings a stranger with her.

    "Thank you", Madeira acknowledged the silent voice of the Architectrix, not lifting her eyes from the skull in her lap. "Have her meet me here, please. Quick as she can."

    She stared into the black pits of the skulls empty eyes, half believing she could divine where its soul was if she just stared hard enough. The texture of the bleached bone was greasy under her uncovered hands, but she still traced patterns into its dome and ran the pad of her thumb over its sharp, familiar smile. Jomi's cruel grin hadn't changed much in death.

    It had been two weeks, and she was no closer to finding an answer to the mystery that spanned centuries: where does a ghost go once it is dusted? The Bharani Library was woefully underequipped to help her. What dismal witness accounts of resurrected spirits they had were second or even third hand, and contained nothing concrete. Spiritism wasn't as developed in this city as it was in Alvadas. There were only two people even capable of dusting in Lhavit, herself and another man, and both of them were foreigners. Dusk couldn't help her. She was truly on her own.

    "Raj!"

    Emma blinked through the wall of the ground floor common room, buzzing straight past her master who sat in a winged backed chair before the empty fireplace. Instead she ran up and kissed the taxidermy tiger head that sat above the hearth with a pantomimed smacking sound and a childish peal of ghostly laughter. "I'm home!"

    "Welcome home, kitten!", Madeira worked to bend her lips into a smile. "We've missed you. Raj is quite upset with me."

    "Hi Maddy! Don't be mad, Raj, we we're just playing a game." Emma bounced on her toes as she pleaded jovially with what was left of her beheaded bondmate. "And I won us lots of soulmist! Didn't I, Maddy?"

    "Of course you did, you've been so good. Was Miss Sky good to you?"

    "I don't think she liked the game."

    Madeira dipped her head and pretended to fix the lay of her skirt over her lap to hide the vindictive little smile on her lips. Served her right. Madeira typically wasn't one to lash out like that, but it gave her a sort of purring satisfaction to know the woman who tried to make a fool of her was getting her harsh comeuppance. "That's too bad. Did she take you back to her place?"

    "Yep!"

    "Could you find it again if I asked you too?"

    "Sure."

    "That's good. How did she find me?"

    "She asked a lot of people."

    "Which people?"

    The girl shrugged and looked away, turning back to Raj and trying to project her soulmist enough to pick the dust out of his fur. Her shroud kicked up anxiously.

    Madeira's eyes narrowed. "Which people, Emma?"

    The stranger is here. The house silently voiced. From the front door came the rattle of the knocker followed by three solid taps.

    She can wait, Madeira cut in quickly, as the house was preparing to open the door. The woman had been awake for three days, what was another few chimes?

    "Um", the ghost stuttered, her back still to Madeira. "The pretty man with the eyepatch, Roric?... A desk lady, an old lady... and, um... um, Rot-sam."

    Madeira's finger slipped, catching the tip of the Kelvic skull's long incisor. A bead of blood bloomed on her molted skin.

    That name elicited a hot, rolling rage and a sharp spike of fear. And now, under the surface, she could feel a hum of panic. What the hai lead Sky to Rothsam? If there was anything she wanted to avoid, it was someone with a grievance against her finding that petcher. After a year of spying on her through the eyes of a trusted servant, he had the unique advantage of knowing all her secrets. What would he tell this annoying little con artist, if he told her anything at all? Petch! Emma wouldn't know. She was deathly afraid of the man and wouldn't willingly go near him.

    Well, there was no helping it now. Madeira took a moment to inhale deeply through her nose, rallying herself and neutralizing the scary expression on her face. Even if Sky knew something important, what danger was she, really? She was some nobody with too much charming confidence and not enough brains, conning people at bars with some magic rock schemes. She had come here to beg for Madeira to remove her curse, for gods sake. Everything was fine.

    Except there was a little voice in the back of her head, small but insistent, telling her that perhaps she was underestimating Miss Sky.

    "Thank you, sweetheart. Why don't you go find Spooks? I'm going to talk with Miss Sky, and once I'm done you can come back and tell Raj all about your adventure."

    "And we'll get soulmist, right?", the girl finally turned back to her, her eyes wide and hungry.

    "As much as you'd like." Madeira stood and slammed Jomi's skull down on the mantelpiece a little harder than necessary, leaving a bloody smear across his teeth.

    Emma said a last goodbye to Raj, kissing him tenderly on his bristly nose, before vanishing through the back of the house. Madeira remained standing before the cold fireplace, sprucing herself and pulling her silvery gloves and many rings over her hideous hands. She was much less impressive to behold than when she had first met Sky, since she was wearing only a modest blue cotton dress and a velvet choker in her own home, but you'd never guess she knew by the way she held herself. She smoothed back the last few pieces of her chignon and faced the door.

    "Come in."

    The house, taking its cue, opened the front doors with a slow creak.
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    Finding the Woman in Blue

    Postby Ennisa on January 13th, 2020, 3:46 pm

    "speech"
    "others"


    The answer, how the house could possibly be alive, manifested in the ominous creak of the door as it opened, all by itself. Within the entrance stood Madeira, the Spiritist, the woman she'd come to see. Ennisa kept her face carefully calm as she gazed steadfastly at the lady. She stepped into the house at her invitation.

    "Hello." Ennisa loosely clasped her hands in front of her as she drew her eyes away from Madeira's steely look. She turned her head briefly to each side, and surveyed the room. "You have a lovely house, Madeira." Her voice was normal - there was none of the ridiculous, semi-alcohol-induced accent of a few days ago. There was no buoyant, over-exuberant inflection. Ennisa was, and would be, contrite and nothing else.

    Figuring it would be better to start off in control as much as she could, Ennisa sharply drew breath and continued. "Madeira, it took me a while to find where you lived, but I got here in the end. I can only say sorry for the crap I tried on you. That was unfair of me. Stupid, too. I can see now that you are a woman of intelligence, intellect even. You're a Spiritist. An educator. I'm nothing but a fool." A bitter feeling settled deep in her stomach as she began to apologise; the act of grovelling grated her, but it was necessary to soothe any harsh feelings. Let Madeira think she cared only about herself. Let her be blind to the resentful feelings curling like rotten leaves within her.

    "Can you forgive me? I can tell you, your lesson has taught me. Taught me good and proper. I won't be bothering you again, I can promise you that." She tried for the sad and sorry smile she had been practising in the window's reflection. "Only, I learnt something interesting about you, Madeira. Something which fascinates me."

    She smoothed her fingers through her hair, and at that moment raised her dull blue eyes to Madeira's. She wondered what her reaction would be, to the bit of information she chose to dangle in front of her, the knowledge Rostam had given her. "I heard you practice a magic called malediction. It sounds faintly dangerous." She raised her hands in a way as if to say, 'not my problem!' "I'm sure you have your reasons, and I certainly won't be telling anyone. Lhavit needn't know, and why would they listen to a little liar like me?"

    She smiled disarmingly, and thoughtfully scuffed her toe a couple of times on the floor. "I would be interested in that magic, though. What did it involve again, blood, bone and body parts? I think that's what he said. Sounds bloodthirsty. What kind of things do you do with that magic, Madeira?" She pushed the shudder down, and ignored the sudden remembrance of the mention of ghosts, plural, and the house's living status. Ennisa could only hope that Madeira wasn't quite brazen enough to murder her in her own house, but the heckles were raised and her heart began to beat just a tiny bit faster.

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    Finding the Woman in Blue

    Postby Madeira Craven on January 21st, 2020, 11:11 pm

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      Madeira didn't even try to hide the roll of her eyes as Sky shuffled in and apologized, looking cowed and contrite. She was starting to recognize that the woman had a bit of a habit of pushing things too far. She was surprised Sky didn't end the groveling with a hearty 'aw geez, mister!' It was hard to see past the fakeness of the thickly applied apology to notice much else.

      But she did notice the change of tone, as Sky finally looked her in the eye. "I learnt something interesting about you, Madeira"

      The Spiritist felt her blood chill as her worst fear was confirmed. Rotsam. Petching Rotsam.

      Sky went on to dangle the word Malediction in front of her like a corpse on a gibbet. And certainly Sky wouldn't tell anyone, she assured her. All Lhavit needn't know. But still, she was interested in this bloodthirsty magic. What could Madeira possibly do with such a thing?

      The blatant threat, holding her dirty little secret high over her head like that... Madeira could feel a tide of black fury rising in her chest. She was backed against the wall, because knowledge was power, and she had none. She knew nothing about Sky. Worse, she didn't know everything Sky knew about her. The position set an almost irrational fear in her. Something deep in her subconscious was roaring, her need for control demanding that she rip apart what she couldn't overcome.

      Madeira breathed deep, mastered herself, and sighed. "Would you like a cup of tea?"

      She was not going to make the same mistake she did in the bar. That night she was willing to blame her exhaustion, alcohol and crushing disappointment for the loss of her precious self control. Lashing out in her fury was what got her into this mess in the first place. If Ennisa wanted to play this game with her, fine. She would play.

      "Have a seat", Madeira lead the way to the kitchen half of the open floor and pulled out a chair at the long scrubbed table. "Is pekoe okay?"

      Water was pulling from the pump on its own, splashing nosily into the sink. Madeira filled the kettle and set it atop the stove, which lit with a greedy womph. She did nothing to block Sky's view of the pantry as she searched for her tin of tea. Half a dozen jars with a centimeter or two of blood congealing in the bottom lined the top shelf, labeled in neat cursive: cat, chicken, Madeira, drugs, Amelie.

      What should she do about this, she wondered. Without the proper information there were only two options, really. She could either threaten the girl to keep her mouth shut, or negotiate with her. And the latter left a bad taste in her mouth. Intimidate, then. Moving her dijed forward, Madeira was about to speak before she choked on the sound. No, she couldn't use hypnotism to scare her! Gods, what if Rotsam told her about that too? That magic was powerful but absurdly delicate. Just her knowing she had it could detonate her susceptibility to it. And being caught would compound all her problems. Petch. She would have to do this the old fashioned way.

      "You asked me what kind of things I do with Malediction?" She smiled charmingly as the kettle started to whistle. "I study it, of course. Death and it's many facets are my area of expertise. It's fascinating, truly. There's such power in a corpse. You can learn to listen for it, hear it rattling around in people's teeth. I can hear yours, incidentally. You would make a beautiful corpse. Sugar?" She placed the sugar bowl in the center of the table.

      "People like to believe death is sleep, but it's actually much more physical than that. You can even move it from one person to another, like a disease. You can learn to pluck the connecting threads between someone's body and soul... separate them into ghost and corpse. Spiritism and Malediction." Looking at Sky her hands moved liquidly in front of her, like she was playing a harp. "The... what did you call it? Bone and body part magic may sound bloodthristy to someone like you, but that's just because you don't know better. I am nothing more than an... academic of death."

      She set the steaming cup of black tea down in front of Sky, and sat opposite with her own. "That apology was sweet as summer wine, Miss Sky. I hope I'll have an opportunity to taste it again. Now, what can I possibly do for you?"
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      Finding the Woman in Blue

      Postby Ennisa on January 25th, 2020, 8:48 pm


      "speech"
      "others"


      Ennisa was thrown by Madiera's benign response to her questions. She went along with the flow, as she was guided into the kitchen, and offered a seat at the battered table that resided there. All the while, her mind ticked over the strange response. At least she wasn't half-way to joining Madeira's ghosts. Begrudgingly, she conceded that was a small mercy. Now that she thought about it, Ennisa began to covertly scan the house from her seated position. She was looking for the presence of the other ghosts the door sign seemed to mention, which she had yet to meet, and breathed a tiny sigh of relief that she could see nothing materialised.

      Instead, she looked at the various items that stocked the Spiritist's house. She realised there was something strangely personal about being within the space. The strange jars full of gods-knew what, and the warm, homely air gave off a vibe of comfort. Ennisa, the stranger in the room, felt totally and completely excluded from that comfort. She drew her eyes to seek Madeira's icy blues, but the other woman was busying herself preparing the offered tea. "Yes, pekoe is fine." The response was a little late, but she was mulling, and didn't care.

      The kettle began to whistle, and Madeira spoke in dulcet tones over the rising warble. Somehow, the overlay of her sinister speech, and the slowly rising tone sent intense shivers up her spine. She gritted her teeth. Her tooth caught the inside of her mouth, and she stifled a wince.

      "You would make a beautiful corpse." She said it as if describing a piece of conceptual art; something removed from the here and now. Something easy to say, like talking about a favourite hobby, which Ennisa supposed she was. She stiffened slightly at the thinly veiled threat, and tried not to let it spook her.

      It didn't really work.

      In a way, Madeira's speech worked so well, because she managed to turn the tables. Ennisa had thought she held all the cards, or at least the ones which she thought she could wield effectively to get her way. Now, the Spiritist, who'd come to sit opposite her, leant over and adeptly knocked those self-same cards straight out of her hand with all her talk of death and the ease with which she could bring it upon her.

      Even so, Ennisa was controlled enough not to run like a coward from the house. She folded one foot over the other underneath the table, and carefully held the tea cup up to her lips. The black liquid was fiendishly hot, but she took a calm sip anyway, burning the roof of her mouth in the process. Petch.

      She pretended to savour the tea for a moment as she gathered her run-away thoughts. You're not scared. She's not scaring you. She can't hurt you. She drummed those words into her head. There wasn't much strength of belief behind the thoughts, but it did her good anyway.

      "What can I possibly do for you?"

      Ennisa grabbed the last sentence and went with it, as best she could. She'd gone with the angle of wanting to learn more about malediction, and by the gods she would have to run with it now, no matter how alarmed she was. "I..." She cleared her throat and started again, more precisely this time. "I want to learn malediction, Madeira. I want to learn about death." Her eyes danced down to the cup, where the steaming black tea lay, perfectly still. She saw a brief glimpse of her shaking reflection within the bottomless cup, and steeled herself to speak again. "I went about this all the wrong way..." She murmured.

      She lifted her face to regard Madeira's. A flicker of confidence stirred within her. A frown began to form across her pale forehead. A wash of tiredness leant a certain creakiness to her voice. "This is wrong. There's no point in idle, vague threats. I don't want to be haunted by Emma. I want to learn about death... From you. I've heard so many interesting things about you." Another scalding sip. "Let's just stop with this... whatever it is." She gestured at the two of them, desperate to grab some remnants of control from their interaction. "Would you teach me? If not, why not?"

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      Finding the Woman in Blue

      Postby Madeira Craven on January 30th, 2020, 8:18 pm

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        Madeira picked up her teacup, paused, and set it down again. She folded her hands primly on the table and made as if to speak. When no sound came out she cleared her throat and tried again.

        "What?"

        Sky wanted to learn malediction? Where the hai did that come from?! This was not anywhere near where she expected this confrontation to go. She also didn't believe a word of it. If this woman could even explain what malediction was beyond the campfire story version Madeira would be surprised. She called it bloodthirsty a moment ago, and made it abundantly clear that she was aware what a blow it would deal to the Craven's reputation if it got out. She claimed she wanted to know more about death? Please. That was a transparent lie.

        "Why wouldn't I teach you? Well, to start, because I don't know you!" Madeira exploded, throwing her hands up in exasperation. The teacups on the table rattled as the house reacted to her outburst. "Worse, I don't trust you. You're giving me absolutely no reason to. Why would you even want to learn such a 'bloodthirsty' magic?" she challenged.

        Lhavit was a melting pot of magic. There were things here that boggled the sheltered Avalad's mind and even more that scared her senseless. If Sky was as smart and resourceful as she thought she was, she would be capable of getting into any of the multiple institutions that taught the many multitude of crafts. As far as Madeira was aware, every magic known in the world was in this city. And for her part Madeira was content to stay in her niche. But she wasn't alone in there. Malediction was rare in Lhavit, but there was at least one other person who knew the craft.

        Petching Rotsam.

        It all came back to him. Would Sky go back to Curse Eater if Madeira refused her? If she was serious about learning she might. Madeira wasn't sure what kind of mastery the other Spiritist had over the craft, but it was almost certainly better than hers, as she had only just moved on from the basics. That made her nervous in some nebulous way. Anybody in Rotsam's orbit made her nervous. If nothing else she had to admit that it would be better for Sky to learn to sow curses where she could see her, rather than where she can't.

        Madeira simmered down, massaging the bridge of her nose as she gathered herself. Sky was showing a talent for keeping her off balance.

        "I learned from a woman I hardly knew at the time too", the memory twisted her lips into a pained smile. "It was also very illegal where we were at the time. Fine, if you're serious about learning I'll teach you. With conditions." Anticipating a reply, she held up a finger to hold her place while she gathered her thoughts. "If you're going to experiment you'll do it here. Here I have the lab and carving equipment necessary, and I have a trusted hunter who supplies the corpses. Not to mention privacy."

        A second finger joined the first. "You'll be my apprentice, not my student. Two pairs of hands go a long way with world magic, and whatever anyone told you I am not a master of it. We'll learn together or not at all."

        "Lastly, gods forgive me, I need your word. This is what people consider dark magic, though you'll find out very fast that it's nothing of the sort. If you prance around with it both of our reputations will go up in smoke. I need your word that this will be kept between us. I'm trusting you with this."

        Bad idea. Bad bad bad idea. Giving Sky a run of the place was a bad idea. Teaching her to curse objects was a bad idea. Trusting her to keep it to herself was a bad idea. But she was locked into a corner. Sky already knew her dirty little secret, so what was a few hundred more? Mischief abound, that's what. Her hand went back to pinch the bridge of her nose. A headache was starting to brew behind her eyes.

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        Finding the Woman in Blue

        Postby Ennisa on February 2nd, 2020, 6:03 pm

        "speech"
        "others"


        Her madcap idea worked - in a way. Madeira's reaction made Ennisa startle, and she spilt a little of the black tea on the saucer as she hastily placed the cup down. A shiver ran down her spine as the woman exploded in frustration, and the teacups rattled on the scrubbed wooden table. Ennisa, through the midst of trying to keep ahold of herself, could wryly see where the Spiritist was coming from. If Ennisa placed herself in Madeira's shoes, her gut reaction would be to reject the liar outright. She begrudgingly conceded that it was a testament to Madeira's patience that she was even been given the time of day.

        Ennisa was also glad to hear that the Spiritist knew nothing about her. That little fact built a little of her confidence back. "As I said Madeira, I've gone about this all the wrong way." She breathed deep, and sighed in a slow exhalation. Concentrate. "In truth, I had no idea who you were when we first met. I have a habit of trying things, things which I probably shouldn't. Tricks, light-hearted scams." She shrugged. "Most of the time, I manage to get away with it, but you... I overstepped by boundaries with you."

        It was the truth, and surprisingly she realised Madeira was only the second person she'd admitted it to. The first to know was Itzi, who was often her main partner in their trickeries anyway. There wasn't anyone else she could think of that knew about her devious hobby. That was the way she liked it. Ideally, it would only be Itzi who knew, and Ennisa hated that she had to tell Madeira at all. Her hand had been forced as soon as she'd first met the charismatic Spiritist. She didn't want to share out of fear of repercussion from the Shinya, yet with the things Ennisa knew about the mage, she doubted she would get ratted out. If she did, that would give her ample opportunity to shed some light on Madeira's secrets. Something told her that the woman wouldn't appreciate that.

        "I've learnt a lot about you over the past day or so. It's true, I haven't done much to convince you to trust me, except offer my apology. Whether you believe that or not, I would argue that trust isn't necessary. Not really. Not for this." She gestured with a circular hand movement their tenuous relationship. "I will offer you my word, and... my silence. Perhaps we can trust each other at a later date."

        She leant forwards and rested her elbows on the table as she listened to Madeira's proposition. To her amazement, the mage seemed to have agreed to her hare-brained idea. This immediately prickled the back of her neck, because if she would agree to teach her, what other motive did she have? It was clear neither of them trusted the other. Why would she agree? However, she relaxed a little as she listened to Madeira's caveats for teaching her. The fact that she wanted to place restrictions on her in such a cagey kind of way strangely set her at ease, as it gave the impression of no other motives for teaching.

        Firstly, she would not be a student but an apprentice. She was not a learned woman anyway, and couldn't see the difference between the two, but this would be an easy rule to follow. Secondly, she would practice here, at the living house, in Madeira's own lab. With gods-knew how many ghosts, ghouls, and other such things lurking around. And she would keep it secret. Considering she knew virtually nothing about malediction apart from what she had already said, and already firmly disliked the woman she was sat opposite, it was a funny kind of victory. It had solved the problem of the haunting, and replaced it with something neither worse nor better, but different.

        Had she ever wanted to learn magic? Yes. When they were younger, almost all of Ennisa's friends dreamt about joining the Towers. The fame, prestige and influence that came when one lived within those noble towers was a childhood aspiration for them all, Ennisa very much included within that group. Over time, Ennisa's thoughts had drifted away from learning magic and more towards trickery and misbehaving, perhaps because of the unobtainable nature of said fame and prestige. She hadn't had much of a desire to work her way up the academic ladder.

        Nevertheless, she would never ordinarily have wanted to learn about malediction. Ennisa knew about death; everyone in Mizahar was familiar with the concept, for one reason or another. But her soul wasn't drawn to it, like Madeira's. She loved to evade death, not meddle with it. Malediction seemed to be a meddler's sort of magic.

        But, as she started to explain to Madeira, she began to understand the reason for wanting to learn, which even surprised herself. "I want to learn malediction because I want to get an edge in this world. I don't know much about it, but that's why I want to learn. It is a secret. I... enjoy secrets." Gods, that was true. She blinked a couple of times, wondering why the petch she'd never realised before. "I want to learn this magic, from you, because of its clandestine nature. Because once I have learnt it, I will be holding this precious secret knowledge within myself and..."

        She was saying too much. She stopped herself. "I know very little about it, and I would like to learn more. If you don't trust me - fine. But trust that I will carefully guard this secret, unless you refuse, unless you disregard me. But you've already agreed that I am to be your apprentice, have you not? So there's nothing to be concerned about." She rested her chin on her palm, tilted her head cutely, and smiled vapidly. She practised sarcasm like a religion, so she didn't even notice that her last sentence had quite the sarcastic sting to it. "When will we start?"

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        Finding the Woman in Blue

        Postby Madeira Craven on February 17th, 2020, 12:39 am

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        "I want to learn malediction because I want to get an edge in this world", Sky proclaimed, and Madeira shifted uncomfortably in her seat. That was all she ever wanted, too. Not for the same reasons, and certainly not in the same way, but for years she too had been harbouring that secret desire. It was too disarmingly honest, and too painfully familiar, especially from someone she didn't expect honesty from.

        Sky went on to explain that beyond even her proclivity for mischief, she enjoyed secrets. That made the knot in Madeira's belly uncoil at least a little bit. That would mean she was nosy as hell, granted, but those that enjoyed learning secrets also tended to be the kind that kept them safe. A told secret isn't a secret anymore, after all.

        But those feelings of relief and uncomfortable sympathy burned away instantly the moment Sky propped her elbow on the table and gave her a simpering smile. Then she merely felt the urge to reach over and wipe that smile off her face with the back of her ring studded hand, and with force. The spiritist glanced at her hand and frowned. She had used the affiliation ring on the woman once before, the first time they touched. But she had been bafflingly blank. She was owned by nothing; no religion, business, family, anything. She was completely free. A wildcard. And now, even under that insufferable stare, she knew that card had been stacked against her. She thought she had the upper hand when she ripped the woman's lie apart and cursed her for trying. Three days later this woman with no strings had slipped around her and somehow came out on top. Who even was she?

        She could almost feel the empty eyes of the skull across the room boring into her back. She could feel him laughing at her.

        "We will start now." Madeira stood from the table in one fluid motion and swept angrily across the room, expecting Sky to follow.

        In the center of the hexagonal room stood a black iron staircase that wound in tight circles, disappearing into the ceiling and floor. It ran like a corkscrew through the entire house, reaching all four levels. Skimming her hand over the railing, Madeira descended to the basement floor. There the staircase ended in a dark landing bereft of natural light containing only a very unwelcoming iron studded door. Madeira used to have the only key to the basement, but she had long since destroyed it. What use was a key in a house like this? The only key she wore anymore was the starfire key on its long chain inside her dress. She expected the door to open as she approached, but even as she grasped the handle she found it firmly locked.

        Let me in, she prodded the Architectrix with a mental nudge.

        The consciousness moved in sullen drifts inside her head, holding hard in the walls of the stone basement, but didn't answer.

        Infinity, let me in, she pressed, uncomfortably aware that Sky might be watching. We will talk about this later. Trust me, I know what I'm doing. Open the door.

        The house had become suspicious since Jomi's betrayal. It could read her mistrust and reluctance with Sky, and it lingered in it's own mercurial temperament. This was not the first time it had dug in its metaphorical heels and made its own decisions about who and what was allowed in and out of its grounds and where they went. It made her nervous to see a powerful magical object like the Infinity Manor taking that kind of control. She was the one that made those kinds of decisions here.

        The door didn't open, but she heard the reluctant metallic scrape of the various locks releasing. Madeira let go of the breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding.

        Inside the laboratory the farthest wall was dominated by an enormous fireplace, holding a caldron big enough to sit in. Ringing the rest of the walls were shelves packed with odds and ends over scuffed and worn worktables, various cupboards, a single enormous sink and a bookshelf with a paltry handful of scruffy tomes. A sixteen point star was scratched into stone floor, in the center of which was a drain. Above everything was a rudimentarily animated shelf that held several gallons of emergency dousing water.

        "Malediction, also known as Legacy", Madeira began, slipping into her Teaching Voice, "is a branch of world magic. It is concerned with making talismans, fetishes, charms... out of body parts of both the living and the dead." She stood aside and swept her arm at the breadth of the lab, giving Sky permission to explore. Not that she was the type of person to need one. There were more jars of meticulously labeled blood and soulmist, as well as carving and taxidermy tools. Small bundles of animal parts, feathers and bones and skin and teeth, were dotted across the shelves. In a wooden box on a table was what looked like a jumbled human skeleton with a missing skull.

        "These fetishes are able to bestow some of the power of the creature they were made from onto the wielder. Whether that power is a blessing or a curse depends solely on the skill of the maledictor and the accuracy of their malediction circles." Madeira crossed her arms and raised a brow at Sky. "Pick something organic from here, and I'll demonstrate how it works." Or what little she knew, anyhow. This was not like her Spiritism class, where she was confident she had all the answers. Malediction was a much different beast, and she had barely mastered the basics.
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        Finding the Woman in Blue

        Postby Ennisa on March 1st, 2020, 4:13 pm

        "speech"
        "others"


        Ennisa was coming to learn that Madeira had a direct way of being. Perhaps it was because she was a teacher. There was something forthright about her. Ennisa stood and followed the woman as she walked purposefully through the house. As they progressed down the spiralling iron staircase, Ennisa took the time to look around curiously. Her eyes drifted to each corner, expecting ghosts, but it was the eerie sense of the sentient house that prickled her skin. She didn't have very long to study the nooks and crannies; they arrived at the forebodingly studded door, and she stood impatiently behind Madeira as the other woman fiddled with the door handle.

        After a brief period of time, the door unlocked itself (eliciting a quirked eyebrow from the waiting Ennisa), and the two women entered into the underbelly of the Infinity Manor. She took a few steps into the centre of the room as she scanned the contents of the laboratory with guarded yet wildly curious eyes. Her attention, out of all the things in that strange room, had been attracted to the cauldron. Something niggled in the back of her head, something achingly familiar about the large, blackened shape... She frowned slightly, but had no time to question further. Madeira had told her they were going to start now, and apparently she truly meant that.

        She absorbed what the woman had to say about malediction with eager ears. Ennisa, woefully unprepared, didn't even truly know the difference between world magic and any other kind of magic, but she didn't let this on. If it was important, she'd have to figure it out on her own somehow. She began to walk slowly around the room, her feet padding down on the stone floor softly as she peered at the shelves, the tables, the pointed star, the jars of blood... everything, truly. Her fingers strayed over the animal matter, the dusty feathers, the greasy bundles of little bones. It was impressive, she had to admit that. Creepy as petch, but impressive nonetheless.

        Ennisa had never known a mage before. The secrecy of their activities, and the clandestine nature of the laboratory, ran a little thrill down her spine. Her eyes raised when Madeira told her to pick something for a demonstration. So far, she'd been silent. Let the mage read into that what she liked. Now, she let out a soft 'hmm' of thought, and brought her attention back down to the selection of body bits available to her.

        She thought about what the woman had said. Fetishes are able to bestow some of the power of the creature they were made from onto the wielder. That being the case, what powers would she want, and from what? She drew a blank, but she would take her time, gods-dammit. A cluster of glossy magpie feathers drew her eye, but she could see no easy way for circles to be drawn on the fragmentary surface. A dish full of little teeth made her nose wrinkle in disgust. Her eyes skimmed past, and landed on a tiny little skull, with a poking beak. She couldn't tell which species of bird it came from, but she remembered once studying a crow up close, and the shape looked a little similar. Those were clever birds.

        She picked the item up, and ran her thumb over the beak. "This is the one." She approached the Spiritist, and put the little skull gently down on the adjacent work surface. "Looks like a crow to me, though I suppose you'd know." She began to roll up her sleeves. "Right. What do I do?" There were no sappy smiles now, only a sharp kind of awareness about her as she focussed on the task at hand, distrust of the mage still close to the forefront of her mind.

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        Finding the Woman in Blue

        Postby Madeira Craven on March 10th, 2020, 7:50 pm

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        A bird skull? Madeira raised her brow slightly as the woman returned with the fragile item, placing it in the center of the scuffed worktable. She pondered what that choice said about the woman.

        "It's a crow" Madeira nodded in confirmation. "From that huge murder that lives in Ahleas park." Though she was far from certain, since that's where Laird said it was from. Knowing him it could have just as easily been found in some gutter somewhere, which would skew the magic they were going to preform on it. It was one of the last items she wrung from the unreliable hunter before replacing him with the more loyal Grasswind.

        Sky was rolling up her sleeves, looking determined and eager as she asked what she was to do next.

        "Sit", Madeira commanded, pulling up a chair. She crossed the room and from her miniscule bookcase she returned with a two thin journals, one with a red leather cover that looked much worse for wear, and another much fresher one in blue. "This is yours now", she moved the skull aside and slid the blue book to Sky with a nub of charcoal. "Malediction requires planning and forethought to get the desired outcome. We're going to map out our circles."

        Madeira had a very small pool of working knowledge about the craft, but she did at one point have a teacher. Without the mastery she had in her other disciplines she would have to rely heavily on the process Ssanya once taught her with. "When I first learned the art, the woman who taught me had us combine our circles. I was too inexperienced to get a reaction on my own at the time, so that was probably the only reason my first fetish was a success. We'll do the same."

        Standing behind Sky, she reached over her shoulder and flipped open the blue book. It was blank inside. "With these circles we're going to extract djed from our little friend here." she traced a closed circle in the middle of the fresh page, and then circled it with another. "A body is djed, or energy, too, of course. But a soul is the most purest form. A soul's power is truly incredible, and that's why we use corpses. You can imagine, when something is in contact with something so powerful for so long..." She tapped Sky on the forehead. "It tends to absorb some of that power. Like how wine will stain the barrel. The circles act as... a spile, or drill, reaching through the remains to tap into the djed it holds."

        Opening her red book, Madeira flipped through her own many, many attempted Malediction circles. Some she used, some she didn't, some were hypothetical and some were hastily scribbled out. All of hers had a kind of signature look to them, a kind of abstract quality with no real words or pictures to be seen. She showed them to Sky.

        "A malediction circle is completely unique to the mage using it. No two will look the same. And no two will function the same. Take your charcoal and make an image in the first circle, and imagine you're pulling that image from the skull before you. Put intent and meaning behind it. Tell the dijed your pulling from the bird what qualities you want from it with that image." Madeira took a step back, and lent on the basement wall beside the worktable. "Show me when you're done."
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