Solo Lone Survivor

Madeira questions Rotsam about the Magekiller

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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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Lone Survivor

Postby Madeira Craven on January 28th, 2020, 11:19 pm


1st of Winter, 519

Madeira took a moment to compose herself, straightening out her plain cotton dress and the lay of her many ugly rings on her fingers, and smoothing back the severe bun on the back of her head and the velvet around her throat. Around her the Catholicon continued its bustling, moving around her like a river around a rock. Its herbal, harshly alcoholic smell was becoming disturbingly familiar to her over the seasons. The death that hung about it, pushing gently against her, was almost friendly.

She steeled herself with this gentle comfort and crossed the circular hall, where two armed Shinya guards stood on either end of a partitioned sickroom. The man and woman, tall in their long flowing robes, eyed her impassively as she approached.

"I'm here to see Rothsam", Madeira declared.

"What is your name?" the woman spoke first. She had a wickedly curved sword hanging from her sash.

"Madeira Craven. I work for the Dusk family."

"What's your relationship with the Curse Eater?"

Madeira's mouth twisted sardonically. "We're old friends."

The guard studied her for a long moment. "Are you armed?"

"Of course."

"Then you must leave your weapons with my companion, and submit to a pat down."

Madeira wrinkled her nose but quickly agreed, removing her bracer crossbow and looking determinedly skyward as the woman knelt in front of her and felt the shape of her legs through her skirt. Once it was clear she had no concealed weapons, the guard thanked her for her cooperation and held the curtain aside to let her through.

Madeira breathed deep, centering herself, and entered.

"Hello Princess. Come to finish me off?"

Rotsam the Curse Eater was sitting up in his cot like he was waiting for her. His black eyes were clear and watchful, though his face had that slightly molted look of fading swelling. His chest was uncovered, as was usual, but his harsh black tattoos were covered with thick bleached bandages.

"They took away my bow", Madeira shrugged her shoulders.

"Shame." He licked his teeth. "I'd always figured you'd want to get those frigid little hands around my throat."

Madeira met his eyes and looked away, her arms folded across her breasts. Acting nonchalant was not much of a challenge anymore for the accomplished liar. But acting like she was acting nonchalant was. Rotsam still thought Jomi was dead. He wouldn't consider her much of a problem anymore, now that her pet monster had been destroyed. And she liked it that way. She had to act beaten and cowed to keep the illusion up, but if she made it too transparent he would sniff it out like a bloodhound. He knew her arrogance too well. It was a fine line to tread.

"No, I can guess why you're here to cry over my battered body", he continued. "You want to know about the Magekiller, don't you?" His wounds had changed his laugh. It was a shallow, gasping thing. Halfway between a snarl and a caw. "Never could resist sticking your nose in anything, could you?"

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Lone Survivor

Postby Madeira Craven on January 28th, 2020, 11:30 pm




On the eighty first of Fall, Rotsam the Curse Eater was attacked by the so called Magekiller. To date he was the only target to have ever survive. It was the worst kept secret in all of Lhavit. Madeira tried to keep the hunger out of her eyes.

"I'm one of the people investigating the murders, if that's what you mean. I have some questions, that's all."

"Ha! Of course you are. Ask the Shinya, princess. They've been by half a dozen times while you've been cowering in your den."

"They didn't see the killer, you did." Madeira shifted her weight, her eyes alighting on him, but never for long. This new Madeira was going to have a hollow kind of force behind her, she had decided. She was going to be nervous, but trying to keep up pretenses. Pushy but fragile.

"That's true, I did. Want to know what I saw?" his dark eyes were fathomless, but deep in their depths she could she a little spark of glee. He had something she wanted, and he knew it. Madeira's blood boiled, but she tapped down her pride.

"Yes, please."

"Yah, you and half of Lhavit. Petch off. Let the other leeches in their dens know they can shove their paranoid gossip up their asses."

Madeira wavered where she stood, unsure how she was going to get around this. She knew coming in he wasn't going to be prepared to talk, not to her at least. But she had yet to meet a mind she couldn't sway. Rallying herself, she pushed forward.

"Not half. All of Lhavit is talking about this. And they all want to know who could get the jump on the Spiritist of Lhavit."

"Is that so?" his purple lip peeled up in a snarl.

Madeira stepped closer, right to the side of his cot, and knelt under the guise of speaking more privately. But there was much more significance in the position. Even beaten and in bed, in this pose he towered over her. She looked up at him with her voice whisper soft and unthreatening. Beaten and cowed, she reminded herself. The act of acting.

"This killer has gotten Elena and Dawn and the god damned Crone, and still you're the only one to have survived. If they get away with it it's just miraculous. Lucky, even. But if they're caught and tried by the lone survivor? Then its something totally different. Then we've won. But as long as they've got the run of Lhavit we've all been beaten. Please, I know you want this answered as much as I do. As we all do. The Shinya know Lhavit, but you know the real Lhavit, the one under the pretty lights. Tell us what you saw there."

It was simple. Remove herself from the equation with colloquial use of 'we', and to imply that his dignity is on the line. He wouldn't be helping her, he would be helping himself. Kneeling beside him, she waited for him to make a decision.

"Greedy as ever" he laughed his pained laugh. "I'm a good little citizen. There's not a single shred of information in me that I haven't told the Shinya first."

"I know, but we need to hear it from you."

She let the silence stretch on, until finally, frustrated and hissing but without preamble, Rotsam moved to fill it.

"I was walking home just before the midnight rest, and it happened in an alley."

"Walking home from where?"

"A romantic moonlit stroll", he rolled his eyes sardonically, "what's it to you?"

"This person probably followed you from wherever you were. This wasn't random, they targeted you. They might even have known you'd be there."

Stony silence.

"I'll have the Shinya tell me if it'll make you feel better", Madeira pushed, annoyed.

"They set up a memorial at Elena's Studio. I was just passing by", he relented, his eyes narrowed and guarded. That was not what Madeira was expecting him to say. Did he an Elena have some kind of personal relationship before she died? She kept the questions top herself. Now that he was on a roll again she wasn't going to derail him.

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Last edited by Madeira Craven on January 31st, 2020, 10:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Lone Survivor

Postby Madeira Craven on January 29th, 2020, 12:07 am




"Like I said, it was near the rest. Nobody was out. I made a shortcut to the bridge through an alley when I heard footsteps coming up behind me."

Madeira's eye's half closed as she imagined it. A dark alley, alone, but for the steady cant of footsteps sneaking up behind him. Rotsam was not a terribly large man, he was even short by human standards. But the man was dangerous. Densely packed with muscle and cruel, rippling tattoo's, his blood running with a strange powerful magic he managed to teach Jomi in the seasons before he killed him. If someone was going to attack him they would have had to try to catch him off guard.

"I turned, but nobody was there. Then someone petching stabbed me from behind. I reached back, thinking it was an arrow or a knife, but it was stone."

"Stone?" Madeira's eyes popped open and the half formed question left her mouth before she could stop herself.

"I know you're not deaf, princess. Petching stone. A spike of it, like reimancers use."

The Magekiller was a mage? She wasn't sure why she was so surprised. It would take dijed or divine power or something to kill the laundry list of powerful, borderline untouchable people this person attacked. But still, the knowledge sat strangely in her mind. This person was killing their own people. But that was assuming what Rotsam was telling her was accurate.

"The spike was never found, so believe whatever your little heart desires, but I know what I saw. A crack shot they were not, though. They hit my shoulder, but I know they were aiming for something more critical. By then I was fully turned around, and they took the opportunity to gank me in the stomach with some kind of knife or dagger. After that things get hazy. I didn't get a good look at whoever this was. They were dressed in all black, and had a cap pulled down over their face. I think they had dark eyes though. Other than that all I can say is that they were shorter than me, and thinner."

"A woman?" Again, she mused that Myrian men were not especially tall. On their feet her and Rotsam almost saw eye to eye.

"Possibly", he pondered. "I put up as much fight as I could, but they took my by surprise and I was unarmed. They got me in the chest, and once more in the gut. After that I thought for sure they were going to finish me off right there and cut my throat, but they must have been spooked off by a noise. Or maybe they just figured I wouldn't survive anyway. Whatever happened, they didn't bother to do the job properly. I saw them leave as I passed out."

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Lone Survivor

Postby Madeira Craven on January 29th, 2020, 12:59 am




Madeira's knees were cramping. She pulled herself to her feet with the edge of Rotsam's bed and then sat on it, so lost in thought she didn't notice the Myrian hiss with pain as the cot jostled under her weight.

The Magekiller was a mage, a reimancer, and a woman. Or a teenager, accounting for size, but that seemed too unlikely. Or, if she was being honest with herself, too barbaric. But they couldn't have been a very talented Reimancer, or else they would have killed Rotsam with their first shot. And even if they didn't, they wouldn't have fallen back on knives when their first shot didn't finish him. Madeira put her head in her hands and sighed. She wished she had brought Dev'ania with her. Her Konti cohort would have helped her make sense of this mess of new information.

"So, any insights from your highness or did I just waste my petching time?"

"They found Ponrose at the Catholicon", Madeira spoke slowly, as if voicing thoughts as they were being made. "People think she's been slipping her captors and committing the murders."

"I thought you were smarter than that, princess."

"Then you don't think it could be her?"

Rotsam's black eyes fixed on hers. "It's not impossible. But whoever jumped me was in control even in their panic. Not to mention they were much stronger and more hale than that nutcase aught to be. This person was fast and very lucky. Does that sound like Ponrose to you?"

"No", Madeira admitted. Though his reveal that they were any kind of panicked interested her. This person must not be making a career out of their killing. The missed stone shard and the frantic hand-to-hand knife fight didn't make them sound like a professional. Which made her wonder how in gods name they managed to kill two powerful and very public mages, as well as a legendarily foresighted Dhani. It made no sense. And was it just coincidence that Rotsam was the one person they didn't kill?

She eyed the Myrian from between the fingers.

"Has anybody ever told you that you have the eyes of a dead fish?" Rotsam glared back. He sounded so much like Jomi at that moment that she almost laughed. Maybe those two had rubbed off on each other in the year they were conspiring behind her back. But the comment reminded her that she was not coming off as very subtle. This new, beaten Madeira wouldn't be so brazen in his presence. She dropped her gaze to her slippered feet.

The biggest lead she got from this tale was the stone spike. If this person was a reimancer that could change everything. Suddenly she knew exactly where she had to go next. She jumped to her feet.

"There's somewhere I have to be. Thank you for telling me all this."

Even pained and molted with blood and bruises the Myrian's sickle smile managed to be vaguely threatening. "My pleasure, princess." His soft voice lingered about her as she pushed past the dividing curtain and into the Catholicon's bustling loft.

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Lone Survivor

Postby Madeira Craven on February 1st, 2020, 2:31 am




The Dawn Tower was less than half a bell's walk away, but Madeira still needed help finding it. She had called Emma to escort her, and then left the girl to play in the Towers expansive and manicured lawns as she entered the south wing. Though referred to as one of the three Towers, in reality the ancestral home of the Dawn family was an estate with many wings. Madeira had heard the original building had burned down several decades ago. What stood in its place was gleaming and modern, making thematic use of its mastery of elemental magic by prominently featuring fire, rivers, open windows and intricately carved stone walls in every room. It was larger than Dusk, it's grounds being connected to the Basilika's, and a wonder to behold.

It was also the only institution where Lhavitian's could learn Reimancy. If the magekiller was really a reimancer like she suspected, they had to have learned it here, or from someone who first learned it here. It wasn't much, but it was the best lead she had.

Madeira had worn her simplest dress and none of her jewels in order to come off as modest and unimposing as possible when speaking with Rotsam. Now she was coming to regret that choice as her footsteps echoed off of Dawn's elaborate entrance hall. Without the finery she felt dwarfed and out of place amid the opulence. At the far end a young man not much older than her was bent over his reception desk, scratching away at a letter in flawless cursive. When he didn't look up at her approach Madeira cleared her throat. Still no reaction.

A twinge of annoyance jumped in her blonde brow. "Excuse me, I need your help."

The man finally glanced up. He was the kind of carelessly handsome and impeccably groomed type that denoted a great amount of inherited wealth. He rather looked like a blonder version her cousin Everard; the one responsible for having her banished to Lhavit in the first place. The resemblance did not endear her.

The secretary's clear blue eyes looked right through her. "Yes?"

It was funny how a single word could immediately make rouse ones dislike. Madeira folded her arms.

"Good morning. I need you to look up a student file for me. Has anyone with the last name Rhui ever studied here?" Her investigations with Dev'ania and the general chatter of the population seemed to, for once, agree on something as they both pointed right to the two sisters. Ponrose Rhui was the broken, overgiving-strained younger sister who dipped too far into magic and lost her leg and her mind in the process. Kasha Rhui was the older, more responsible caretaker of her younger sister, but she too had dipped her toe into the study of magic. What kind of magic, Madeira wasn't sure. Hypnotism and Auristics were the only ones she recognized from the mess of notes she found in the woman's closet, but there could be others.

It was the only recognizable name she had at the moment. She had a bad feeling about Sapphire too, but the Inverted cultist was shrouded in divinely aided mystery and would be impossible to investigate.

The young man blinked at her for a long moment, then made an annoyed production of putting away his pen and inkwell. "And who, may I ask, are you?"

"Madeira Craven, a Dusk professor."

"Pleasure, Miss-"

"-Professor"

"Indeed", he sniffed disdainfully. "Why would that be of relevance to you, professor Craven?"

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Lone Survivor

Postby Madeira Craven on February 1st, 2020, 3:25 am




Should she tell him she suspected the Magekiller was once a student here? She pondered it for a moment. The Rhui surname had become it's own flavor of infamous. Ponrose and Magekiller would almost be synonymous in the public mind, if it weren't for the few vocal fingers pointed Chiona Dusk's way. Would it be possible to even pretend she wasn't looking into the murders? No, and to try would just make her look shady. Madeira sighed.

"What's your name?"

"Artin Seder."

"Alright, Seder, I'm looking in to Ponrose Rhui and her family. She is suspected of murder. Multiple murders. Dawn murders. Now her sister is pointing to one of the Dusk family in her desperation. I'm just making sure none of the Towers are affiliated with any of the family for the sake of damage control. Having some random outsider throwing stones at the institution is weatherable. A Tower mage throwing stones from the inside is just that much more damaging. Politics and public face, that's all it is. Now, how about that file?

"Student information is not public."

"I'm asking if a Rhui ever studied here. I don't want a biography of their private information, just a yes or no answer would do."

"Not. Public."

"It is for your sister institution and in regards to a murder investigation. Make an exception."

"The Dawn Tower respects the privacy of its students and faculty, not just anybody can flounce in here and demand to see their information." He raised a sculpted eyebrow, and somehow managed to look down his nose at her while still seated at his desk. "Now, if you would like to pass that information on to your superiors, they may make an appointment to talk to a suitable Dawn and make their case. But that is family business, and you, Professor Craven, are not family. Good day."

He wouldn't be quite so pretty if she reached across that desk and throttled him, she caught herself thinking. Now what? She couldn't leave without that information. Was there a way she could reach past this uppity little clerk?

Well, there was one way, but she loathed to call on it. She wavered for a moment, arguing with herself, before she made her decision.

"Send for Lhelie Dawn."

"I beg your pardon?"

"Are you a secretary or not? Send for Lhelie Dawn, if you please."

Seder narrowed his eyes suspisiously, but finally did as she asked. Pulling out a small, fresh sheet of rough paper used for in-Tower memos, he wrote a note with clear, impeccable writing, threw salt on the fresh ink, and pulled a cord from under his desk. Somewhere further down the hall, muffled by closed doors and distance, a bell chimed.

Understanding herself to be dismissed, Madeira turned on her heel and sat on one of the plush waiting chairs that dotted the hall. A maid appeared behind Seder's desk, summoned by the bell, and bustled off with the note. Madeira had a sudden mad desire to slap it out of her hands.

Ages ago Madeira had done Lhelie a favour and exorcised a troublesome ghost from the Dawn Tower. She found the woman was strong-headed and clever, a carefree and spirited soul. They were the same age, with the same career and ran in similar circles. Madeira remembered thinking they would have been friends, if not for one thing.

Lhelie and Chiona were lovers. It was a secret, forbidden relationship Madeira had discovered almost completely by accident. Ever since then she had plotted to pry the two apart. Madeira wanted Chiona too, and in that ambition Lhelie was just a rival. Last season she had finally succeeded in detonating the lover's relationship in a way it could never recover from, and as far as either of them were aware she still had no clue they were even together. But she had to curse Lhelie to do it, and her greatest fear was that the smart, adaptable reimancer would somehow connect the dots to her involvement. It could just be paranoia, but she had tried to avoid Lhelie ever since, just in case.

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Lone Survivor

Postby Madeira Craven on February 3rd, 2020, 11:05 pm

Title
Date
hour

"Madeira?"

The Spiritist, lost in thought, startled in her chair. Lhelie Dawn was crossing the hall to greet her, passing the incredulously staring Seder's desk. The brunette wore flawless traditional robes that swept the floor and existed in a subtle cloud of mesmerizing and no doubt expensive perfume. But was she imagining it, or did the Dawn woman look thinner than before? Certainly those dark circles hadn't been there the last time she saw her, and that vivacious spark that had burned so bright in her eyes was absent. She looked ten years older.

"Lhelie, It's good to see you again", Madeira recovered her composure and rose with a smile, hands out to receive one of Lhelie's with a companionable shake. "Sorry to drop by unannounced, but I need your help."

"It's good to see you too", the reimancer responded robotically. "What's this about?"

"I need to know if anybody from the Rhui family ever studied here."

Finally some life returned to Lhelie's eyes as she processed what Madeira was asking. The spiritist could almost see the words rattling around her hollow interest.

"As in Ponrose Rhui?"

"Or her sister, Kasha Rhui. Please, its important."

Lhelie thought for a moment, and then nodded. "We don't make a habit of giving out student information, but I'll make an exception", she smiled wanly. "It's about the Magekiller, isn't it? My sisters want us to keep us out of it. They're afraid, and it's no wonder. But they're wrong to pull back like this. I want that... thing, dead. I'll help any way I can."

Seder was doing nothing to hide his shock as Lhelie swept by him, motioning for Madeira to follow as she made for a tall door directly off the entrance way. Madeira lingered only long enough to shoot the secretary a withering look before she followed. Stepping through after the Dawn woman Madeira found herself in an expansive library. While modest compared to the Bharani Library, its every shelf was packed with scrolls and books and journals. The spines were carefully inked, and ranged in topic from travel to science, magic and art. Madeira's deadened fingers itched, wanting to reach out and pull down some of these fascinating tomes, but Lhelie didn't stop. She passed row upon row until she came to a partitioned area simply labeled restricted. She held the dividing curtain aside and Madeira squeezed past.

The tantalizing sign, invoking images of dangerous or forbidden knowledge, did not at all reflect the reality. This small branch of the private library had no fascinating subjects or secret arts, but legions upon legions of dry ledgers and what looked like genealogical records of the kind her uncle Rune, the Craven Scribe, would have approved of.

"I don't remember a Rhui ever studying here, but I only started teaching a couple years ago, so it could have been before my time..." Lhelie explained as her finger skimmed the dusty plaques below the shelves. "Lets see... R..." She stopped at the appropriate shelf and began flicking through by year, looking for the elusive Rhui. Madeira, for her part, hovered behind Lhelie, trying to respect the rules the Dawn woman was breaking by not looking too closely at anything.

"Thank you for your help, Lhelie. I really appreciate what you're doing."

"You're welcome. I still owe you for the haunting. I haven't forgotten."

There was a moment of silence, punctuated by the thin sound of ruffling papers, before Madeira could bring herself to speak. "How have you been, Lhelie?

"I'm fine." she abruptly shut down that line of conversation, for which Madeira was privately grateful. But to her surprise the girl went on, her voice affecting an almost forcefully casual tone. "...How about you? How have you been?"

"Couldn't be better", Madeira smiled, and meant it. She was perhaps in more danger than ever, with the Cordas on the back of her neck, the murderer about, the worrying amount of undead she'd seen and the fragile control she had over her returned Jomi, but she had never felt more content. Everything she wanted in life was finally within sight.

"And the Dusk's?" Lhelie's back was still to her, but her careful words felt like they were feeling around in the air, looking for something. "Have they been well?"

Translation: how was Chiona? It was plain to see what she was groping for. Madeira scrutinized the back of her head as she answered. "They're doing very well too. I've really admired their strength during these times. Aldgare and his daughter have been especially resilient."

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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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