Closed I'm a Real Girl (pt. 1)

Autumn tries her first taste of Borrowed Life and tries to make sure she hasn't wounded others by doing so (Madeira)

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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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I'm a Real Girl (pt. 1)

Postby Autumn Rose on February 21st, 2020, 4:47 pm

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Winter the 90th, 519 AV

Hidden away in a closet in a side room off Gweneveh’s, Autumn stared at the jar that sat between her legs. She had been too afraid to use it yesterday. The possibilities were endless, but the possible repercussions were infinite as well. She read the label again.

Borrowed Life

Life. Could it really be? Could the dead be brought back? Outside the realm of reincarnation, could the dead begin life anew? If it could happen, how would it? Would she be brought back as she was now, with all her memories and experience? Would she come back as a child or even a baby, begin life truly anew? Would it just be reincarnation, just at the time of her choosing?

She didn’t know, and that made this jar and its contents terrifying. Even more frightening was the unanswered question that the second half of that title brought.

Borrowed. Borrowed from who? For how long? Did her life mean their death? Did it sap it slowly? Did it take it all at once? Could she choose who it came from?

A thought entered her mind at that final question, an evil thought, one that filled her with shame, but it had come. Maybe she could select, and maybe she could choose Madeira. As soon as the thought came to her mind, Autumn tried to push it away. Sure, she might not have liked Madeira. She may have even hated her. But that was through no fault of either of theirs. It was a matter of circumstances. It could have been any other spiritist. Madeira just happened to be the one who kept crossing autumn’s path. Or perhaps Autumn was crossing hers. It didn’t matter. They disliked each other, for no good reason in particular. It was the way it was, but that was no reason to wish ill on the other.

Another thought, perhaps as evil as the first, came next, but it was one she was more comfortable with. Perhaps it could come from an absolute stranger, someone she’d never meet, and somehow, Autumn was alright with that. If she never met the person, then she’d never know the damage done. It seemed simpler this way, neater.

But she couldn’t know who it came from, so she was still frightened to use it. The more she thought, the more questions she had. More questions just meant she had more thinking to do, but she had done enough thinking. She’d spent the entire night and day and another night doing nothing but thinking since she had received the jar from the bottom of the mysterious cauldron from Curiosities and Lost Things.

She was decided. She was going to try it. Deep down, she knew the gems inside the glass jar wouldn’t work. Gripping the lid, she pulled against it until it popped free with a rush of air that disturbed her mists, rustled them like the rush of wind through the autumn leaves barely clinging to their branches. A breath of wonder, a physical action made real by force of habit, escaped her lips, or at least the vague vicinity of her lips. Wind and air and the physical world never affected her, not like this. Maybe there was some hope in these stones. Maybe it was just Deshira’s doom and desperation reaching out to destroy one last thing.

Greedily, she held up the first jewel her hand touched. Just like the soulmist beads on her necklace, she could touch these gemstones. They were as tangible as anything she had held in life. Quickly, she pushed the lid back on firmly. Then, holding the jewel up, she inspected it more closely. It was a dark red, so dark it was almost black, and inside she swore she saw lights. It took several moments for them to come into focus, and when they did, Autumn saw the familiar constellation of Zintilla’s Fall. It had been a part of the mask she had tossed into Curiosities and Lost Things’ cauldron.

It lay there in her palm, and she considered it again. There was so much potential for good, but there was so much potential for damage. Autumn sighed. She could hesitate for eternity if she didn’t make a choice. If she kept this up, she’d outlast the gemstones themselves. If she-

Autumn tossed the gemstones into her mouth. Hesitation lost this day. For a moment, perhaps for a dozen moments, there was nothing, and the hope that had built in her sputtered and died. The part of her that had doubted the stones, the smart and clever Autumn, wasn’t disappointed. She had expected this, and that part of her tried to comfort and console the part of her that had believed. She was so busy consoling and being consoled that she missed the beginnings of it. It grew slowly, only for a moment, and then it flared, the way lightning isn’t there one moment but dominates the world the next. It was flavor, and taste wasn’t something ghosts got to encounter every day or any day, if at all.

Tossing the little gemstone around in her mouth so that it met every part of her tongue, she let the flavor overwhelm her. It tasted of starsong and light. Though these were things she’d never encountered, Autumn somehow knew that this was what that flavor was. Savoring it for several chimes more, Autumn finally decided it was time to swallow. With a gulp, the stone slid down her throat, scraping against its lining in an almost painful manner.

And then it happened, in a rush of sensation. She was suddenly made aware of the weight of her body, not that she had been large in life. In fact, she had been lithe and delicate, but compared to her ghostly form, she was infinitely heavier. She could feel her body pressed against the coarse grain of the wooden floor, the fabric of her dress against her skin. Air moved through her nose as she drew breath, bringing with it the heavily perfumed scent of the Lantern’s denizens. Textures and scents and tastes flooded her as if she had never encountered them before. In that overwhelming flood, Autumn became aware of one undeniable fact.

She was alive!

She was alive. It had worked! That thought cascaded through her head in joy, only to tumble through once more but this time in absolute terror. She was alive, but it was Borrowed Life. Borrowed from who?

Gweneveh!

Autumn didn’t know if that was the case, but she was for damned sure going to find out. Her legs shoved upward to make her stand, but they had forgotten what living was like. They had forgotten the weight of her body. As she stood, one leg faltered, and she careened sideways, crashing into the side of the closet before tumbling out and landing on her hands and knees. This room wasn’t finished like the others. Gweneveh had assumed no one else would ever see it, so the wooden floor was made of rough wood planks. As her hands caught her, splinters from the wood dug deep into her skin. Too surprised by life, Autumn had been unable to mutter an expletive at the fall or the sudden pain in her hands. Sitting up, Autumn looked at her palms and the many brown specks embedded in them. There was a moment in which she couldn’t decide what to do.

Then, she laughed. She laughed, because she felt pain. It wasn’t so much the pain as it was the feeling. She physically felt something with the flesh of her body, not just the vague torment of her soul, so she laughed. Air rushed out of her mouth and over her lips and vibrated against her throat, and she laughed at this, too. Autumn sat for several chimes as the overwhelming cascade of each new yet familiar sensation drowned her. There were so many, so many of which had gone ignored when she had first lived. She sat for several chimes and laughed until finally her body grew used to them.

Carefully and slowly this time, Autumn stood, placing her feet wide and rising in a prolonged, halting motion to keep her balance. This time, she managed to rise and stay risen, the knowledge of how to balance coming back to her almost as suddenly as life itself had. Stumbling, tripping, walking up to the door, she flung the door open only to find Gweneveh straddling a client.

She stood there several moments, stunned, then, “Gweneveh?”

For a moment, Gweneveh froze, then glared over her shoulder. “Autumn, what the petch?” Then, Autumn’s roommate realized what she was looking at. A flesh and blood human being. Where the first exclamation came in anger, the second was heavy with wonder. “What the petch?”

Gweneveh smiled and looked back at the man beneath her. “I’m so sorry. She’s a friend I haven’t been able to hug in a long time. I promise you I’ll be back in a moment.”

The man smiled and nodded, then looked around Gweneveh, smiling at Autumn with a brief wave. Autumn recognized him as one of Gweneveh’s most recent catches, and she knew he was completely smitten with Gweneveh and her seductions. Despite the many times she’d seen him recently, Autumn hadn’t realized just how good of taste Gweneveh had. He was handsome.

Dipping in close to him, Gweneveh repeated herself. “Be back in a moment, love.”

She kissed him and stood, wrapping herself in the sheets of the bed and leaving her lover lying naked in full view of Autumn. The once-ghost, living girl couldn’t stifle the blush that rushed to her cheeks as she looked away.

“See if you can’t convince her to come back to bed with you,” he called after her.

Gweneveh turned back to him, shock and consternation on her face. “Ethan! I thought you only had eyes for me?”

“I do. I do.” He held up his hands to show he jested. “I was only kidding. Come back soon.”

In a moment, Gweneveh had crossed the room. Autumn couldn’t comprehend how, but even completely covered, Gweneveh managed to make the motion seductive.

When Gweneveh reached Autumn, the prostitute’s eyes swept over her newly-living friend, and Autumn could feel Gweneveh undressing her with her eyes. Surprisingly, it wasn’t an uncomfortable feeling. Though sensual, somehow Autumn felt she was safe.

One of Gweneveh’s hands emerged from the sheet she was wrapped in, found Autumn’s hip, and slid around the back of it. “You must have broken so many hearts.”

Autumn smiled and blushed deeper at the compliment. “Far less than you think.”

Gweveneh laughed. “And far more than you’d admit to, far more than you know. I bet.” The hand at the small of Autumn’s back pulled her in close, and Autumn felt the other wrap around her in an embrace. “How is this happening?”

Autumn didn’t answer for a moment, reveling in the warmth that a hug was. Heat poured off Gweneveh and into herself, and where cheek met cheek and flesh met flesh, there was the most exquisite sensation. She shrugged. “I’m not sure. There was a jar labeled Borrowed Life. I tried it, and I was this way. I had to find you and make sure it wasn’t borrowed from you. You don’t feel any different, do you?”

Gweneveh’s lips tickled at Autumn’s neck as she spoke. “I feel like I haven’t slept for days.”

Autumn tensed at that but relaxed at her friend’s explanation.

“That’s probably because I haven’t. Ethan has barely given me a moment of free time in the last week. If he’s not careful, he’ll end up broke.”

“You wouldn’t let that happen.”

“You’re right.”

Autumn squeezed even tighter. “I’m just glad you’re alright.” She let go as her previous thoughts about Madeira came to mind. “I have to go check on a few other people.”

Gweneveh let Autumn go after another prolonged embrace. “We’re gonna have to… talk some more, when you’re like this.” Her head flicked toward the door. “Go check on whoever you need to. I have work to do.”

Slipping out of the room quickly before Gweneveh could resume her seductions, Autumn scampered out of the room and out of the Lantern. As soon as the cold air of winter hit her skin and the cold snow touched her feet, she yelped, then laughed, then decided she needed to get out of the cold and to her destination as quickly as possible. Fortunately, the Infinity Manor was on the same peak as the Red Lantern, but her feet were still going numb by the time the hexagonal house came into view.

Stepping forward, she ran into the wrought-iron gate which refused to give and tumbled over backward, landing in the snow. She laughed again. In her rush to get out of the cold, she’d forgotten she could no longer walk through walls and doors. Standing, Autumn unlatched the gate and scampered through the front yard whose snow was dotted with shoeprints and hoofprints and pawprints.

Infinity loomed in front of her. She and the house had not started off on the right foot. A small part of her hoped the manor could sense who she was and that her living nature confused and terrified the Hai out of it. Stepping up to the door, she kissed the dark wooden door.

“Hello again, Infinity. Did you miss me?”

Before the house could decide to keep her out, Autumn tried the front door and found it unlocked. Quickly she stepped inside and made her way to the fire, holding her feet dangerously close to the flames. In the cacophony of senses that was her feet regaining feeling, Autumn almost forgot why it was she had come, but footsteps approaching the room reminded her. She was back on her feet by the time the person entered the doorway.

It was Madeira, and she looked healthy. Well, as healthy as the young woman could look. She had always been a bit on the scrawny side, though entering motherhood since she had left Alvadas had managed to fill her out a little more. Scampering across the room, Autumn hoped to every Goddess that the spiritist didn’t have her crossbow on her. She caught Madeira up in a hug as soon as she was at the spiritist’s side.

“Madeira, you’re alright. I had thought the worst.”

This hug was different than Gweneveh’s. For one, Autumn was certain the participant wasn’t willing, but also the two bodies she had held were different as well. Gweneveh’s seemed to give off more heat. Madeira’s felt a little harder, bonier. It wasn’t her fault, and the warmth that did come off her gave Autumn the same sense of comfort Gweneveh’s had given. Autumn hugged a little tighter and let go, holding Madeira at arm’s length, hoping not to find cold judgment in the other woman’s eyes.
Last edited by Autumn Rose on May 3rd, 2020, 2:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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I'm a Real Girl (pt. 1)

Postby Madeira Craven on February 25th, 2020, 5:48 pm

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"Father, father, build me a boat
Out on the ocean I will float
There I'll hail each ship as I pass by
There I'll enquire for my true sailor boy"

Madeira sang under her breath an old song she had heard a dozen times on the Bellipotent as she bent over her task. Her workshop on the other side of the only wall on the ground floor was thick with the smell of leather and dust. Her hands, gruesome and uncovered, struggled through their deadened sensations to wield a short wood handled brush with an equally short and fine tip. She hummed her way through the next few lines before her voice became audible again.

"Captain, captain, tell me true
Do my sweet William sail with you", she sang the lady's dialogue high and sweet in her untested voice, and dropped it shakily as the second character added his words.
"Oh, no fair maid he don't sail here
He's drowned in the Gulf my dear"

Pinned to the worktable beneath her hands was a flayed snakeskin; small and the deceptively venomous green of a garden snake. The skin was pinned down inside out, so the silvery sheen of its skin could be seen from the inside. Even after several through rinses the lingering scent of preserving fluid was making her eyes water. With her brush Madeira traced a large circle, keeping her hands as steady as she could. Then she paused and pulled her notebook closer, committing the finalized malediction circle to memory before continuing.

"She ran her boat up against a rock
Thought to all her soul she'd broke her heart
She wrung her hands and tore her hair
Just like some lady in despair"

It was an abstract design, a particular style that was burgeoning into her style. She dipped the brush back into the little pot of red paint and traced along the short, jagged lines in an intricate spiral pattern that made up the majority of the design. Her hands worked in small, precise movements and her mind bent wholly to the task. Her entire focus narrowed down to that flayed bit of skin and the very concept of swiftness she was trying to convey into it.

"Father, father, dig my grave", she continued to sing. But her voice had lost any tune it might have had, instead moving into a dry, lifeless recital as it became a kind of mindless mantra to keep her mind from wandering.
" Place a marble stone at my head and feet
Upon my breast a turtle dove
To show to the world that I died for love"

She was finishing the circle, pressing through the beginnings of a cramp in her right hand, when she felt the Manor fluttering anxiously in the back of her mind. She gritted her teeth and ignored it. She couldn't lose her focus now or she was going to poison the entire project.

Just a few more lines. Focus. Swift.

The Infinity Manor only grew louder and more insistent, clanging like a bell in a way that shot electric through every nerve. The cramp flared hot and bright, sending fire down to meet it. And through it all Madeira kept her mind as closed and tight as she possibly could, breathing through it, keeping her hand steady through force of will. Until finally, blissfully, she was done. The circle was complete, whole and finished and glimmering with wet paint. Madeira slammed the paintbrush down on the table.

"Someone better be dead Infinity", she growled to thin air.

She's alive, it blew back at her as her with force as her mental barriers collapsed exhausted around her mind. She's back and she's alive.

Madeira flinched at the tidal wave of mental noise blasted through her. "Woah, gently, gently", she stood from the bench, hands flat to the table like she could sooth the sentient creature around her with the pressure. "I need more than words. Who's alive, and why is this exciting you? The alive ones typically aren't the problem."

A tangled thread of thought ran through her, jumping madly from note to note like streams of consciousness often do. And through it...

"What."

The consciousness around her only continued silently tying itself in knots as the logic of the capricious house was tested to its limits. But between them both a darker idea was starting to take shape. The house opened the workroom door for her, and Madeira, shoving her simple doeskin gloves back onto her hands, followed its lead to face what was in her greatroom.

"Autumn?" Madeira's greeting sounded like a question as she beheld the woman warming herself by the fireplace. The woman spun to face her, smiling like a little girl, and scampered across the room with her arms out. And it was Autumn. In fact it was more of Autumn than Madeira had ever seen. This wasn't the ghost that was all that was left of Autumn; the shadow of a soul she was used to seeing. This wasn't even the Autumn she would have seen had the woman possessed Jomi's power and the Dira stone. This was Autumn, and she was completely, unquestioningly whole.

“Madeira, you’re alright. I had thought the worst.”

The former ghost wrapped the Spiritist in her arms, and her entire body went rigid. Not an affectionate person at the best of times, being embraced by the human woman that was dead the last time she saw her didn't do much to ease her. She could feel the woman's heartbeat beneath the softness of her breast, and the whisper of breath on her ear. What was more, her eiyon gnosis was completely, unnervingly, silent.

Nobody circumvented death. Nobody. But there were ways to prolong it, and there was one way to stay in permanent limbo. Her blood turned cold. Why did Autumn sound so relieved to see her? What was 'the worst' she was speaking of? Thoughts of Uldr and his hideous unlife ram rampant through her and Infinity's thoughts as the woman held her at arms length. But Autumn wouldn't do that, would she? Would she really be so desperate?

"Autumn", she fought to keep her voice even as she looked her directly in the eye. She didn't try to remove herself from the woman's embrace, but her eyes were wide and tight and her face was ghostly white. "What have you done? If you've made some kind of deal, tell me. We can still fix this."
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I'm a Real Girl (pt. 1)

Postby Autumn Rose on April 24th, 2020, 11:51 pm

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A Cold Welcome

Madeira had tensed in Autumn’s arms, but the discomfort in that was nothing in comparison to the abject horror written on her face now. The woman had always been pale, but she was verging on colorless now. Autumn was certain her skin nearly matched the white of her widened eyes. She was terrified. Those wide eyes locked with Autumn’s, and Madeira spoke to her in even, measured tones, as if any other delivery might break her.

“Autumn, what have you done? If you’ve made some kind of deal, tell me. We can still fix this.”

Autumn tried humor to diffuse the tension. “By the Goddess, Madeira, you look worse than I do when I’m dead.” When that didn’t bring even a hint of a smile to the spiritist’s face, Autumn stepped back, smiled, and spread her arms as if to gesture to herself. “What have I done? I’m alive. Do you have any idea how good it feels to be alive?”

She twirled, watching the hem of her dress flare out from her ankles as she did. This was her favorite dress she remembered from life, and it amazed her that the life she had been given also gave her dress form. The details were exact, at least to the way her dress was in its early years when it was broken in but still new. If she was honest with herself, she had over worn the poor thing to the point the color had started to fade and the fabric was becoming threadbare. Autumn was so lost in studying it for a moment that she nearly missed the implications of what Madeira had said.

Anger, an emotion that did unpleasant things to her face, flashed in the narrowing of her eyes and the tightening of her lips. Her hands curled into fists, and it took everything in her to not leapt forward and strike the spiritist full across the face. Indeed, her legs were coiled and ready for the deed. “Deal? What do you take me for, Madeira?”

And then, all at once, the emotion had passed like the dying of a breeze, and the wind seemed to go out of her sails. Her coiled muscles relaxed, and her spine straightened, holding her head high and proud. Her fists uncurled, and as she stepped back toward Madeira, Autumn took the Eiyon’s hands gently in her own. Autumn was taller than Madeira, not by much, but it was enough. She took the opportunity to look down on the much younger woman.

“You don’t know me, so I’ll let you make that mistake once. Before I died, I walked the streets of Black Rock. I called Her home my own. I met our Goddess and was offered Her mark. I refused, not to slight Her but because I knew I was not long for that life. And when I stayed, that was not to slight Her either. I stayed to find whatever it was I had been missing in life, because I found, when I tried to let go, I couldn’t.”

Her eyes grew hard as she drew on the challenging power she had seen in Madeira’s eyes at the beginning of the last season. “So do not think, not for one petching tick… that I would seek some twisted God’s aid or some new form of unlife to replace this one. I have made peace with the fact that this is my existence, at least until I find that missing thing.”

Another deep breath made Autumn’s chest rise and fall, and with it came more calm while more of her rage left. It wasn’t the calming nature of breathing deep but the fact that she had breath to draw. She breathed once more, then put a purpose behind her words. “I can’t explain it, just like I can’t explain Maro. All I know is I found a jar, one made specifically for me. I know, because I gave a cauldron some of my most valued things, and the jar was left in return, a jar of Borrowed Life. Borrowed Life, Madeira. That was why I had thought the worst.”

Autumn paused. She really didn’t want to admit the next part, but she knew she had to for any of this to make sense. “Before I took it, part of me wished it was you the life was borrowed from. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I did. I’m glad it wasn’t, because as much as we might butt heads, you have been a blessing to me time and time again since I arrived in Lhavit. I would have broken completely without you there when Maro returned. And Candace? Sweet Candace is getting close to taking her first steps. She would be dead if not for you.”

Autumn let Madeira go and made her way back to the fire, sitting with her legs straight out in front of her so her bare feet could be warmed by the flames. The skin of them was bright red now from the cold. “I can’t explain Maro, and I can’t explain this. I can’t even tell you whether each was meant t be a blessing or a curse. I can only tell you that I will make them blessing, even if I have to fight Gods and Goddesses to make it so.”

For the first time since she had encountered the Infinity Manor, Autumn noticed how pleasant of a surrounding this waiting room made. It felt like… home. It startled her that she would feel suddenly so different about it, but she realized that her lack of ghostly senses made for a lack of conscious connection to the Architectrix home. Without death, she had no sense of the animosity, the oppressive will to kick her out, that always seemed to exist between her and him. She wasn’t sure why she had decided to label it a man, but it felt right to her.

She spoke up as she extended tingling fingers toward the fire. “How is House taking this all?”
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I'm a Real Girl (pt. 1)

Postby Madeira Craven on April 26th, 2020, 9:33 pm

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"Speech"


Madeira's mind was still spinning as Autumn took her hand in her own. The former ghost was furious with the vile implications of what she had said, but was hiding it behind a gentle touch and hard sapphire eyes. The inexpertly wielded intimidation didn't pull much of a reaction out of the Spiritist. She stared blankly at her through it all with pale eyes like a dead fish, seeing without really seeing. Autumn could have picked her up and thrown her and she wasn't sure she would have it in her to put up a fight. Every fibre of her being was turned inward as she struggled to digest what she was saying.

Madeira was an Avalad, and knew that the laws of nature, the concept of time and even identity of self were not immune to change. She did not expect Syna to rise in the morning just because it always had before. She didn't consider herself wholly female because she had once briefly been male. And a rock she threw was just as likely to float away than fall to the ground, as far as she was concerned. But the one unshakable constant in her life was the idea that life moved only in one direction. It was the foundation of her belief in the subject of death, a study she had dedicated her life to. Life could be prolonged and distorted through drastic means and with dire consequences, but it couldn't be reclaimed. For the first time in her life Madeira found herself face to face with the one thing she had ever thought to be impossible.

But through the thick fog of a lost mind one thing registered loud and clear. Borrowed Life. Light snapped back into Madeira's eyes with the word, and she held on to it as one dim point of sanity in this situation. Maybe life doesn't run backwards after all, maybe instead the forward momentum of life could be transferred. This isn't really Autumn's life the ghost was living, she had stolen it from someone else.

Autumn returned to the hearth, sitting on the floor with her skirt spread around her and her red, swollen feet held close to the warmth of the flames. She looked so young and small, sitting on the floor like a little girl, professing she would fight the gods to turn fate around. Madeira knew the sentiment, and shared it. It was perhaps the most human thing they shared.

Autumn suddenly asked how the Manor felt about all of this. Surprised by the question, Madeira reached out for its consciousness and found herself met by a kind of whirling white noise.

Is she dead?, it asked as she brushed against it's mind.

No, Madeira replied, her right hand flexing in her soft leather glove. Not anymore.

What does that mean?

I'm not sure, she admitted. But now that the shock was wearing off, a much more familiar sensation of curiosity was burning deep in her belly. This was death as she had never seen it, she wanted to know more. We'll just have to watch and listen.

The manor hummed its assent and pulled away, it's fragile mind quietly turning frantic circles somewhere she could barely hear it.

"It doesn't know what to make of this, and neither do I", Madeira replied to Autumn aloud, joining her on the floor. She watched the simple pleasure of the comforting heat from the fire completely transform Autumn's face. She had never seen someone revel so deeply in such simple pleasures before. "It worries me that you don't know the consequences of this... life you're using. We should look into it, figure out more about it. Who is this life 'borrowed' from? Can you die in this state? How was this replica of your original body made?" The curiosity was burning brighter, reflecting like the hearthfire in her glassy eyes. "If you are living, you must possess active djed. But is it yours, or was that too taken from someone else?" Madeira leaned in closer, her voice dropping to a secretive whisper, as if fate was something that could listen in. "If you want to make blessings out of curses we should know more about it, don't you agree?"

She wanted to ask right then for a piece of this new body. Nothing drastic. A tooth, perhaps. An unnecessary one, from the back of the mouth. What a prize that could prove to be. What kind of secrets could a bone from not just a reanimated but a resurrected creature have? This was both more terrifying and more exciting than that transference ritual she participated in, with her holding the black, oily remnants of that Nuit's soul in her hands. This was undeath like she had never seen before and likely would never see again. Both the Craven and the Eiyon in her were starting to pant like excited dogs, drooling at the thought of seizing this new entity in their maws.

"I forgive you for hoping my life was the one you were taking" she shrugged, straightening her legs out beside Autumn's and leaning back on her hands, trying to see the simple act of warming her feet the way the dead girl did. "I've been very rough with you, so it's not very unexpected. But maybe its time to put that... unfortunate start behind us. I've been helpful to you, right? And I'll continue to aid you in whatever you need. This game of cat and mouse doesn't have to go on forever. We do butt heads, and I do want you dead, but that's also true of Jomi and sweet little Emma and every other ghost I've met. But until I find a way to kill you, maybe in the mean time we can be... if not friends, partners. I think perhaps deep down we want the same thing, to rearrange fate into our favour."
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I'm a Real Girl (pt. 1)

Postby Autumn Rose on May 7th, 2020, 1:25 am

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too many questions

“It doesn’t know what to make of this, and neither do I.”

Autumn smirked. That made everybody. Nobody knew what to think of living Autumn, what to do with this new revelation. Autumn certainly didn’t. Borrowed. The implications of that alone still terrified her. If House and Madeira didn’t know what to do with such a happening, Autumn didn’t think anyone would. Perhaps Gweneveh was the only one who did. Autumn was fairly certain her friend wanted to bed her.

As the spiritist went on, she did so to voice her concerns. There were too many unanswered questions, many of them the same ones Autumn had already asked herself. There was no way to know without taking the risk, but whether or not the risk was worth it was the question. Autumn’s circle was small. There wasn’t a single one among them that she would happily take the life from. There were, of course, questions Madeira thought of that Autumn had not, would not have, as she didn’t know to ask them, questions of djed and how her body was made, how pure soul had become flesh.

“If you want to make blessings out of curses, we should know more about it, don’t you agree?”

“Mm-hmm.” Autumn’s response was quiet as she considered the little crackle of the fire. The two lapsed into silence for a short while, Autumn wondering what it was that Madeira wondered at. The once dead girl was about to ask when the spiritist spoke again, speaking of forgiveness and letting the past be past. There was a lot in what Madeira said, and Autumn smiled gently at how easily Madeira admitted she wanted to kill Autumn.

“I think perhaps deep down we want the same thing, to rearrange fate in our favor.”

There it was. There she was, the Madeira Autumn had come to expect, with the presence of mind to see the opportunity in everything, and opportunity was only pursued if it could benefit Madeira. Still, Autumn had to admit she wasn’t any different. Opportunity was opportunity, and only fools didn’t embrace it when it came.

“Maybe you’re right. The past should be the past, not forgotten but left where it is. After all, ours has character. It’s… spirited. We’ve had the potential to do great harm to each other, but I won’t forget all the things you’ve already done for me. I owe you a life, Madeira, not mine but a life all the same. I’ve not forgotten that. Mark my words, one day, I will make us even.”

Autumn shrugged and pulled her feet a little farther from the fire as feeling began to creep into them and discomfort started to spread through them with the needle prickle fading of numbness. As it was, right now, she was insignificant. Her offer meant little.

“I’m not there yet by any means, and I’ll need more of your help before I get there. But don’t underestimate me, Madeira. I’m patient, and I’ve survived a good many things. If you ever run up against something you can’t handle, tell me. I’ll do what I can.”

The once living girl paused and shrugged again, enjoying the feeling of the fabric of her dress as it slid across her skin. She tried it again, then shivered as the material found a more sensitive patch of skin. Like the delicate breath of a lover, the sensation swept first up her spine, then back down to end at her tailbone. She smiled, not so much at what she said but at the intimacy of feeling.

“I have some ideas on that end, ideas to help make me a more potent ally, a better advantage. Right now, I’m no more than a pawn, but if we play this right, I could be a queen.”

She hoped Madeira had played chess at some point in her life. Otherwise, the comparison would be lost on the other woman. Either way, Autumn went on.

“There are many ways I can be useful, but we can make me make us almost invulnerable. I’ll need a lot of help along the way. Don’t get me wrong, Madeira. This won’t all be for you. Not even half of what I do will be for you.” A part of Autumn knew that was a lie. A very real and very powerful part of her remembered her first encounter with Madeira in the Diamond of Kalea. In a tense encounter, Autumn had looked into Madeira’s eyes and had thought she had seen a glimpse of child who had never known a parent, an orphan of a twisted sort searching for the love a mother. Cruelly, Autumn had used that against Madeira then, but since, she had felt a need to protect the child in Madeira, the one that was perhaps on the verge of nonexistence as the child-like qualities had never been fostered, never been nurtured. Madeira, through no fault of her own, had done little or nothing to raise that fragile being inside of herself, and her graceful scramble for power left her little time to even consider it. Autumn meant to protect that child, to protect Madeira. “But I will make us even.”

The no-longer-dead ghost laughed at a thought. “Well, I will if you let me.” Autumn wondered if Madeira hadn’t already considered the obvious opportunity before her. She voiced it now. “Do you think that maybe this is your chance? To kill me, I mean? You said you wanted me dead. If you were to point your crossbow at my chest right now and pull the trigger, would I be dead dead or would I just be me again?”

She shrugged, half to herself, half to Madeira, half to the question, and half to the fire, then smiled at the thought because that made more than a whole. While that made little sense, it seemed right to her. There was often more to something than surface appearances belied, and she knew too well that the whole was greater than the sum of the parts. Thus far, Madeira didn’t seem keen on killing her just yet. Both living and dead like few creatures could be, Autumn presented a tempting opportunity for the spiritist.

Curling her toes tight, Autumn relaxed and wiggled them, amazed at how they responded to her whim even though she could barely feel them. It was easier to think about nothing or at least things that seemed like nothing. The things she had to think about were too heavy, but here she was in Madeira’s House. Some things had to be addressed.

“So how do we go about it? Manipulating fate? How do we even begin to understand me?”
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Autumn Rose
Even weightless, I'm a burden.
 
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