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Autumn goes dancing with strangers.

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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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Love Me Not

Postby Autumn Rose on March 30th, 2020, 3:30 am

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22nd of Spring, 520 AV

“Autumn?”

Gweneveh’s voice was alight with excitement, like the bright of dawn as it broke the horizon. Deep in thought about Maro and how she could reach him and his memories from another lifetime, Autumn wasn’t eager to respond. The truth of it was Gweneveh was often in an excited mood, even if there was nothing to be excited over. She found joy in little things and many of them. Perhaps impolite of someone living rent free in another’s home, Autumn was often unimpressed with whatever Gweneveh had to show her. Today, like most days, Gweneveh was insistent. Those who came to her were usually already wrapped around her finger or quickly got there, so she was unused to being told no or made to wait.

Her voice came again, this one carrying a tone that matched the melodramatic pout she wore. “Autumn, come on.”

Ignoring her friend’s playful pestering, Autumn dug through what little she knew. Luthisa, the woman who had brought Maro here, had done something to him, not just to him but to every single child whose services she pawned on those who had the money to spend. They were children but only in appearance. The things that made children children were missing, things like wonder and curiosity, devious excitement and destructive mischief. Something was wrong, and Autumn didn’t want any more children to end up like Maro. She had a soft spot for kids and looked after those who didn’t belong to her as if they were her own. That Luthisa was reaching out and taking orphans under her wings like stray pups worried Autumn. The mysterious woman played concerned helper very well.

“Autumn.” This time, there was a different tone in Gweneveh’s voice, one she had never used with Autumn. It was sultry, dropping lower and drawing on Gweneveh’s most provocative self. This was how she spoke to only her most cherished lovers.

Recognizing this, Autumn’s concentration on her problems was shattered. She materialized in a fluster but even with her lack of concentration on it, it came in full color from the white and floral greens of her dress to the bright blue of her eyes. As soon as she was materialized, Autumn caught Gweneveh’s eyes as the woman waited patiently for her materialization to take hold.

The smile on her face wore the same tone her voice had. “That got your attention pretty quick. Do you like it when I talk to you like that?”

Partly because Gweneveh deserved the reaction and partly to show her fluster at having been caught, Autumn materialized a deep blush in her cheeks with a rush of soulmist and looked away in embarrassment.

Gweneveh laughed. “I’m only giving you a hard time.”

It wasn’t until now that Autumn noticed the difference in their room. Flowers were strewn everywhere, some in baskets, some in bouquets, some in wreaths, and some just sitting free. There was a plethora of colors among them, but yellow, red, and white dominated the color scheme. “What’s this for?”

“That’s what I wanted you for. It’s the Heart Festival.”

She said that as if Autumn should know what it was. Autumn’s face said otherwise.

“Sorry. I forget you’re not from here,” Gweneveh apologized. “It’s one of my favorite festivals of the year. It celebrates spring and new life, but more importantly, it celebrates love.”

Autumn narrowed her eyes. “I thought you didn’t believe in love.”

“Only romance, but even it’s fun to play at. I was hoping you’d spend some of the day with me.”

Laughing, Autumn dropped the blush. “Doing what? Terrifying young couples out of their wits?”

Gweneveh laughed with her at the thought of Autumn popping up between a couple at the height of a romantic moment. “No. No. I want you to join me to celebrate, celebrate exactly what this festival was meant to celebrate. Life. And love, too.”

“Life?” Autumn gave a meaningful gesture to herself.

Bashful was a look Gweneveh wore well, though she rarely ever used it to get what she wanted. To be fair, any look suited the woman, but that was one she could play particularly well, and play it she did. Her eyes went to the floor, and one bare foot kicked at the flowers beneath her.

“I was hoping you could do that thing again.”

“That thing?” Autumn knew what Gweneveh wanted, but she wanted Gweneveh to say it, if only to watch her bashful act a little longer. Having watched Gweneveh work, Autumn knew the farce would fall away as soon as she had what she wanted.

“The one where you’re living again. Something tells me that wasn’t a one trick pony. I want you to spend a day with me living.”

Autumn acted as if she was thinking about it. In all honesty, she trusted her friend with the information she was about to divulge. “Can you keep a secret?”

That was what Gweneveh had been waiting for. Bashfulness retired to its place in her store of deceits to be called on again whenever she needed it, and a victorious smile replaced it. She spread her hands. “Keeping secrets is what I do.”

“No. Men are what you do.”

Gweneveh pondered that a moment, shrugged, and smiled again. “And women, too. My point was you can trust me. I keep theirs. I can keep yours.”

In an instant, Autumn was gone, having blinked away to where she had hidden her jaw of Borrow Life. She returned with it and the glass jar full of multi-colored gems in front of her friend. “This is it. The secret to my life.”

“Borrowed Life. Borrowed from who?” Gweneveh shrugged at her own question. “It doesn’t matter. Whoever it comes from, it’s worth it have you living.” Considering the jar a moment, Gweneveh’s face fell, and Autumn could tell this wasn’t an act. “It’s a limited supply. I feel bad asking you to spend even one on me.”

Autumn unscrewed the lid on the jar. “You are worth every single one of these.”

Compliments didn’t go unnoticed with Gweneveh. Pride and gratitude in equal measure was a look she wore well. “I’ll only ask you for one. May I choose it?”

Autumn nodded, so Gweneveh pointed to a small one on the side near the top. After digging it out, Autumn inspected it. It was a dark purple, different from the red one she’d first used, but it still contained a glimmer of Zintila’s Fall in it. Popping it into her mouth, Autumn waited for the taste she knew but didn’t know, that of starsong and light.
Last edited by Autumn Rose on April 1st, 2020, 12:40 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Love Me Not

Postby Autumn Rose on March 31st, 2020, 3:11 am

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It was an experience she had only been through once. She hadn’t been able to describe it then, and she definitely couldn’t describe it now. There was one point she was certain she was dead and another in which she finally realized she was alive, but she couldn’t say at what point between the living came to be or if it was a gradual shift between the first point and the second. All she could say for certain was that the knowledge of living came with the overwhelming rush of the physical sensations of smell, taste, and touch.

Slightly before the rush, Gweneveh had breathed an exclamation of wonder, and Autumn could only assume that was the time when her friend realized she was now alive. It might have happened before that, but there was something that made it more certain in that moment.

The flood of sensations was truly overwhelming. Despite having always considered herself unfaltering, Autumn had to wait several chimes for the whirl of her senses to subside to something manageable. It was nearly there when a gentle touch on her arm sent a fresh storm of sensation that ran from the point of contact to the core of her and then back out again to what felt like everywhere. Opening her eyes, Autumn saw Gweneveh waiting eagerly for her, eyes expecting and full of wonder. It was Gweneveh’s hand on her arm, her touch featherlight yet more powerful than anything Autumn had ever felt.

“What’s it like?”

“It’s like nothing you’ve ever experienced before or like everything you’ve ever experienced but rolled up into a short few moments. Every sense is amplified.”

“Every one?” Gweneveh’s finger traced a line down from Autumn’s elbow down to her wrist.

Like a million sparks exploding to life in the dark of night, the sense of feeling shot up her arm, followed by a wave of goosebumps that chased a shiver down her spine. Autumn caught Gweneveh’s hand, forcing her friend to stop, but flesh against flesh was a sensation Autumn had forgotten, forgotten how exquisite it was, forgotten how much she relished the feeling. It took her a moment to gather her thoughts.

One thing that didn’t surprise her was how smooth and soft the skin of the hand beneath hers was. It wasn’t just Gweneveh’s ability to make people believe that drew them to her. Her physical assets worked wonders on the senses, and Autumn hadn’t missed that fact.

To save herself from another relentless tide of sensation, Autumn pushed Gweneveh’s hand away. “Every one. I’d forgotten how powerful smell can be, and you brought me back to a room full of flowers.” Those scents had hit her all at once. At the same time, the once-dead alive girl experienced each individual one from roses and lilies to dandelions and grass as well as the combined scent as a whole, floral and green. “The taste of the Life is still in my mouth. Those two senses have a way of lingering, unlike touch. Touch is fleeting, but it’s still a bit too much. Every touch is electric. Even the simple touch of fabric is overwhelming. My own clothes are too much.”

Gweneveh shrugged and offered helpfully, “We could always get you out of them.”

“Gweneveh!” Autumn was shocked at the suggestion and caught completely off guard. The disadvantage to living was that she didn’t get to choose how her body reacted to things. The blush that rushed to her cheeks was for nobody’s benefit, just her natural response. Arousal came, too, and Autumn’s blush deepened. Autumn needed something to distract her from it all, so she changed the subject rather inelegantly. “So tell me about this festival.”

Gweneveh laughed, not letting her off the hook just yet. “Oh, Autumn, you’re fun. I don’t remember the last time it was this easy to make someone blush.”

It had been just last week, if Autumn recalled correctly, when a virgin had come to Gweneveh for her services. She had toyed with him but gently, breaking him softly until his confidence finally took over. Gweneveh had a way of changing people, usually for the better.

Seeing that Autumn was feeling exposed, Gweneveh back off her teasing and answered Autumn’s question. “The best way to celebrate the Heart Festival is just to love. Be with those you love, and remind them that you love them. That’s what the flowers are for.”

“Indeed?”

Gweneveh nodded. “I’ll explain, but first you need this.”

Swiping a small crown of flowers off a nearby table, Gweneveh draped it in an elegant fashion over Autumn’s head. Stealing a glance at herself in a mirror, Autumn had to admit she approved. It added a whimsical quality to her, and the greens accented the floral patterns in her dress.

“What’s this for?”

“Just to dress you up for the occasion. It matches your dress nicely. It’s the flowers that have meaning.”
Last edited by Autumn Rose on April 1st, 2020, 12:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Love Me Not

Postby Autumn Rose on March 31st, 2020, 3:30 am

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Organizing a clearing in the middle of the flowers, Gweneveh sat Autumn in it, then kneeled in front of her. “The most important thing to remember about the festival is to have fun. It’s a celebration. Spring is here, and winter’s behind us. Plants are bursting to life. Be happy.”

Autumn smiled. It was a simple rule but oh so important.

Gweneveh smiled in return. “Just like that, Autumn. Now, the second most important thing to remember is that colors have meaning. You want to be sure you don’t give the wrong color flower to the wrong person. The last thing you need is an unwanted stalker.

“White-” she held up a white daisy and tucked it behind Autumn’s right ear- “is for family.”

“I’d hardly say I’m family.”

Gweneveh shrugged. “You’re like the sister I never had.”

“You have two sisters,” Autumn corrected.

“Fine. You’re like the third sister I never had. Do you want me to take the flower back? Should we just forget it?”

Autumn shook her head and protected her coveted flower from Gweneveh’s reach. “No, no. I love it. Anyone would be lucky to call you their sister.”

Gweneveh glared a moment. Then, a smile burst across her face. “Damn right, you’re lucky.” Pulling a yellow pansy from a pile by her right knee, she tucked it behind Autumn’s other ear. “Yellow is friends. This one is my favorite.”

Autumn had noticed a collection of dried, pressed yellow flowers posed in a series around the room, and she mentioned them now. “Is the festival where all these yellow flowers come from?”

It was rare to see Gweneveh give a smile that outshone all her others, but this one did. “There’s one from every year, at least every year since I’ve known Bee. These are all from her.”

“She means a lot to you, huh?”

“Almost everything. I’ve got room in my heart for others though.” Holding up a red rose, Gweneveh placed it in Autumn’s hand. “This is for you. From me. Specially.”

“What’s red for?”

“Red is the color you give to your lovers.” Gweneveh winked playfully.

Autumn hated that she blushed so easily. Her cheeks were burning. “That’s gross. I thought you just said I was your sister.”

“We can definitely forget about that daisy.”

Gweneveh made another grab for the flower behind Autumn’s right ear, causing Autumn to shriek and dive backwards in a mad scramble through flowers to get away from her friend. There were a few more attempts, and in the end, the two sat in the middle of the floor, laughing at the mess around them. Petals from trampled flowers littered the scene like some floral massacre, body ground into body, the floral stench heavier than rot on a several day-old battlefield.

“Ooh.” Gweneveh pulled up a blue flower that had been missed by their stampeding feet and began to wrap its slender stem around the sleeve of Autumn’s dress at her shoulder.

Dipping her head to that side to see what Gweneveh was doing, Autumn smelled the weaker scent of this flower wafting up to her nose. “What’s blue for?”

“Misdirection.”

Gweneveh’s whispered word tickled against her ear, and it was only then that Autumn realized how close Gweneveh was. She started, fell over backward, then began to laugh. Smiling, Gweneveh joined her.

“You’re fun,” Gweneveh stated again. Autumn had to admit this was the most fun she had remembered having since… ever. Even living the first time around had not been this fun. A part of her wished she had Maro to share this moment with.

“What’s going on in here?”

The voice from the doorway brought both women’s attention to the owner of the Lantern. Bee raised an eyebrow at the two.
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Love Me Not

Postby Madeira Craven on April 21st, 2020, 7:45 pm

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A few chimes before, the brothel’s Madame was in her own opulent room at the end of the hall. And while Gweneveh was teaching Autumn all about flowers, she was teaching her own student a different lesson.

“You are magnificent, darling” Madame Belladonna purred, her manicured hands on Madeira’s shoulders as they both studied her reflection in the vanity.

The spiritist smiled, knowing it was true.

The bright colours and harsh lines the Avalad usually styled herself in had been brushed out and softened by the talented workers of the brothel. Her lips and cheeks were flushed a delicate pink, the purple rings around her eyes smoothed into a creamy white. Her hair was loose across her shoulders, a curl coaxed from the lank blonde locks. There was a glow about her she had never seen before. It was there in the pale blue eyes that stared back at her. She looked young and healthy. She looked beautiful.

“I like the way those eyes linger”, the Madame’s long nails traced a dangerous arch across the soft tissue beneath her jaw. “Keep that intensity. Remember that the eyes speak long before the mouth. Now, lets get you dressed”, the Madame beckoned Madeira to her feet with a salaciously curled finger and crossed to the enormous satin bed, where a tower of purple silk disguised as a dress had been laid out.

“You do realize this is a festival of love, don’t you”, the Madame held up the confection of silk by the tips of her fingers like the glitziness was contagious. “Not a circus.”

“Yes, Ma’am”, Madeira laughed as she circled her corseted waist with her hands and checked the clasp of the stockings on her garter. “I’m sure it’ll be fine.”

Belladonna laid the dress on the floor and held it open for Madeira to step into. And somewhere in the time it took to pull it up to her shoulders the garment had changed completely. The Madame stepped back, shocked to find a floaty dress of sheer red gossamer where the piles of purple silk used to be. Leaving Madeira to struggle alone with the bared shoulders that were circled with what looked to be fresh red flowers.

“I told you it would be fine”, Madeira hid her amused smile behind a curtain of blonde hair. “Will you lace me up?”

“My my, aren’t you full of surprises”, Belladonna raised a brow but didn’t question it, only shaking her head as she took the laces from behind her back and pulled them punishingly tight. “I suppose you had better be”, she leaned over the smaller woman, her breath ghosting behind the shell of her ear, “if tonight is going to be your big night.”

Madeira nodded, suddenly sober. As soon as she heard about this annual festival several weeks ago she had immediately gone to the Madame with pleas for help. It had been a season since she had been the secret instrument in Chiona’s and Lheili’s separation, and she had been cautious with her interactions with the Dawn woman since to keep from seeming predatory. Now that Chiona had her time to heal, it was high time she made the leap to take Lheili’s place. Tonight, while the entire city of Lhavit was drunk on romance, she was going to make the heiress of the Dawn Tower her lover.

“Oh my, your heart rate just picked up. Don’t tell me Miss Craven is nervous?”, Belladonna purred as she tied the ribbon at the small of her back.

“Just excited”, Madeira lied smoothly, dropping her gaze to pick at her silvery gloves. “Thank you for coaching me. I never would have gotten this woman to look at me otherwise.”

“It has been my… pleasure.”

Madeira wondered how it was that the Madame could sound like she was making love to the words that passed her lips. As the woman circled in front of her Madeira smiled from under her lashes, feeling more than seeing her eyes following and judging every line and curve of her body. The dress that had manifested on her was much lower cut than she ever wore, revealing the luminescent tiger skull tattooed on the plane of her chest, the luminescent badger skull on her shoulder, and the beginnings of the hyena splayed across her back. She felt exposed with so much skin showing, but seasons of working with Belladonna had taught her that such vulnerability could be endearing, if she played it right. She turned slightly at the waist, holding her hands across her bodice, like an actress in a play she pretended to hide while truly concealing nothing.

The Madame chuckled throatily. “The ‘wilting flower’ works for debutantes and the younger whores, but for you I want something different. Open up your posture. You are here to sweep this woman off her feet, not hang off her arm.”

Madeira’s posture shifted subtly, holding her hands lower across her waist and her chin lifting. She gave the Madame her best smile, not demure but fresh and joyful, while still slightly turned away. She let the nerves translate to a shy excitement.

The Madame’s eyes gleamed with hungry approval. “Ah, there she is.”

From a table by the door she returned with a small box with a long red ribbon that she tied to Madeira’s left wrist. Inside was a flower crown of red roses Madeira had picked up from the florist that afternoon. Both were symbolic, as the Madame had explained. And both would be needed that night.

“You are ready, my dear. Keep those eyes on her, and make this mystery woman realize how lucky she could be to make this beautiful creature hers.” Belladonna pulled on the ribbon like a leash as she backed out the door, towing the flustered Madeira down the hall like a puppy.

“Stop it!” Madeira hissed, trying to keep her dignity as she hopped along after her, pulling on the ribbon. “That’s not what this-!”

They passed an ajar door just as peals of girlish laughter burst through. The Madame stopped her little game as her curiosity piqued, and she palmed open the door.

“What do we have here?” she raised her sculpted eyebrow as the door slowly opened, revealing the scene to Madeira as well.

Amid a mess of crushed flowers and chaos two grown women looked to be wrestling on the floor, faces flushed with laughter. She recognized both of them, but one made her do a double take. She had never seen Autumn breathless with laughter, so alive and alight and beautiful with her dark hair spilling across the wooden floor. The sight rose conflicting feelings in the Spiritist. The human in her felt a smouldering joy just to be in the presence of such vibrant life, while the Eiyon in her was fighting an unease and creeping dread beholding the same scene.

“Gweneveh. Autumn. I thought this was suppose to happen after the festival”, she smiled good naturally while trying discreetly but desperately to pull the ribbon from Belladonna’s grip. She didn’t realize Autumn was here. This disturbing, living Autumn didn’t pull on her gnosis like her ghost version did. And she wasn’t sure she wanted her ambivalent ghost companion to know about her romantic designs on Chiona.

“And here I thought such services should be paid for. Are you going to the festival, Gwen, or are you going to comfort those unlucky in love in the showroom?” Belladonna’s eye’s narrowed critically. “Who is this?”

That’s right, Belladonna had never seen Autumn’s living body. Madeira’s mouth opened, intending to speak out for Autumn, but let it fall closed again. Perhaps it would be best for the two of them to explain themselves.
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Love Me Not

Postby Autumn Rose on April 26th, 2020, 11:02 pm

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As Autumn’s gaze swept to Belladonna, the woman behind the Lantern’s owner spoke, drawing the former ghost’s attention to her. Whoever she was, she was breathtaking, dressed to kill in a scarlet dress with a similar red ribbon attaching her at the wrist to the Madame while a fresh smile alive with the light of joy, excitement, and anticipation danced on her lips.

“Gweneveh. Autumn. I thought this was supposed to happen after the festival.”

Warm and exquisite and infinitely embarrassing, a blush rushed to Autumn Rose’s cheeks at the playful accusation. “That’s not what this is. It’s not what it looks like. I-”

Still flustered, Autumn froze, trying to explain whatever this was when she realized the woman had called them by name. She knew both of them. There were plenty in the city who knew Gweneveh, but only a few who knew Autumn. Autumn looked at the woman, really looked, took in her face, and stared at her, mouth agape in wonder when recognition finally set in. Several more moments passed while Autumn tried to find her voice.

“Madeira? Madeira Craven?” Blush still burning bright as ever, Autumn stared more, even mor flustered than she was before. She could only imagine this was how Madeira had felt at the advent of living Autumn. This was Madeira as Autumn had never seen her before. Though she was more exposed than Autumn had ever seen, her skin and intricate ink on full display for anyone and everyone, she seemed less vulnerable and more powerful and in control than ever. Gone was the tired appearance in her eyes always marked by purple rings. Gone were the harsher lines, softened by the makeup that was likely the handiwork of Aurelie. Gone was the no nonsense, business-like attitude of the spiritist, replaced by a gentler, more seductive soul, and yet, underneath it all, Autumn was certain she still sensed the same Madeira she had always known where everything was done with intent to serve some greater purpose only Madeira could divine.

“By the Goddess, you are beautiful,” Autumn finally managed to breathe. “I have never seen you like this.”

She couldn’t help but continue to stare, guilty eyes tracing lines and curves and drawn to plunging neckline of Madeira’s dress. Autumn had never considered herself attracted to women, but here in the presence of these three dressed to elicit just such responses, other hungers arose.

Thankfully, Bee’s voice distracted her, giving her roving eyes a different focus.

“And here I thought such services should be paid for. Are you going to the festival, Gwen, or are you going to comfort those unlucky in love in the showroom?” Bee’s eyes turned on Autumn. “Who’s this?”

Though Belladonna was still Gweneveh’s superior, the younger woman hardly ever rushed to give an explanation of herself to her friend. Lazily, Gweneveh spun to her feet, scooping two handfuls of flowers into her hands as she did. “Bee, you know I’m always at the Festival. You had better be going, too. You missed last year, and you promised me you were coming this year.”

“I had some very influential clients to see to,” Belladonna reminded her. “But I’ll do my best. Speaking of clients, who’s this?” she asked again.

Crushing several flowers in one hand, Gweneveh sprinkled the petals over Autumn’s head as she introduced her. “This is Autumn. She’s a friend from Alvadas. She’s new to town, and I wanted to make sure she had the best first experience with the Festival. You’ll like her. She’s fun.”

“From Alvadas? A friend of Rhiannon’s?”

Gweneveh shook her head. “No. My sisters never introduce their friends to me.”

Autumn wasn’t sure where it came from, but Belladonna produced a yellow rose and presented it to Gweneveh. Any seductive influence that usually rested in her smile disappeared, and it became sisterly. “For you.”

Gweneveh always smiled brightest for Bee, and today was no exception. Taking the rose, she held it close to her, breathing its scent in deep. “Don’t go anywhere. I’ve got something for you, too.”

She breezed over to the desk, the sway of her hips seductive even though she put no effort into her stride to make it so, returning with a rose of her won. It was yellow, too, but the edges of the petals faded into scarlet. Around the stem, a yellow ribbon was tied in a bow, its knot sealed with red wax.

Belladonna didn’t miss the subtle hints the colors of her gifted rose implied, and her smiled picked back up its seduction as if it was second nature. Her fingers trailed along the red edge of one petal as she replied to Gweneveh while gazing down at the tightly budded flower. “Maybe if you’re lucky, tonight…”

The way the two could give a single word so much meaning still amazed Autumn. Bee spoke it as if its meanings were endless, the possibilities infinite and exhilarating. With the two occupied with each other, Autumn’s eyes wandered back to Madeira. Standing was harder to do while living than I had been when she was dead, but it also gave her a moment to think. Against her better judgment, Autumn swept up several flowers.

She considered the two flowers in her hand, one a red carnation and the other a yellow daisy, and, a for moment, thought of giving both of them to Madeira. They had agreed at the end of winter to put past grudges behind them. Perhaps it was friendship, but-

Of course, with Madeira looking the way she did now, something red wouldn’t be unreasonable.

Autumn reined in her thoughts, held out the daisy, and gestured to all of Madeira. “What’s this for?” She shook her head. “I guess the more important question is ‘Who is this for?’”

Belladonna and Gweneveh broke away from whatever it was they were talking about. Shaking her head, the Madame sounded disappointed. “A yellow daisy is all you could coax out of her? Have I taught you nothing?”

“I considered giving her this one,” Autumn admitted sheepishly, holding up the carnation, but her face brightened with a smile at the memory she recalled. “She’s come a long way since I first met her in Alvadas. She was practically feral back then in comparison.”

Indeed, Madeira was a farcry from the half-naked, sand-smeared woman she and Maro had encountered on the beach near the Patchwork Port.

“Then, there’s hope for you yet.” Belladonna pulled at the ribbon, towing Madeira Craven behind her like an unwilling puppy on a leash, an image Autumn had to admit she didn’t enjoy. It was discomforting to see someone as powerful as Madeira being played this way, but before Autumn could say anything, Belladonna spoke up again. “Gwen suggested we get out to the streets, get among the people, enjoy the celebration.”

“I can’t forget the flowers.” Autumn shoved a basket into Madeira’s hands, hoping the chore would give the spiritist a chance to get the ribbon out of the Madame’s hand. She began laying flowers in the basket, red ones with their stems facing one direction and yellow ones facing opposite.

Kneeling next to her, Belladonna began to help her with the flowers, then asked an unexpected question. “Are you stealing Gweneveh for the night?”

“I would never dream of stealing her from you.”

“Oh, but she dreams of it. I have to admit, it’s nice to imagine. I’d dream of it, too.”

Autumn froze, with no idea how to respond, as her blush returned with a vengeance.

Belladonna smiled victoriously as she stood, her attention turning to Gweneveh. “You’re right. She is fun.”
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Love Me Not

Postby Madeira Craven on May 3rd, 2020, 8:04 pm

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Gweneveh and Belladonna were playing their usual game, loaded banter and sexual tension flying unfettered between them with their exchange of flowers. It was like they were the only two people in the room, and in a sense they were. Because while they were absorbed in their own little world, Madeira and Autumn's attention were focused on each other.

"Thank you", Madeira smiled to see the wide eyed wonder in Autumn's eyes. She had never elicited any reaction like that before. It hit her like a drug, saturating into her confidence and suddenly she was standing a little taller, and her nerves became a buzzing background noise. She could see how a person could become addicted to that kind of attention.

Struggling to her feet, Autumn seemed to ponder for a moment before offering her a pretty yellow daisy, like a peace offering. “What’s this for?” the woman asked, a flush still fading from her cheeks. “I guess the more important question is ‘Who is this for?"

Madeira almost missed the question, focused as she was on the hand held out to her. She could see the tiny little fissures in her knuckles, and the small dented callous of a woman who does a lot of writing. She supposed she wouldn't have noticed in anybody else, but in the former ghost it was hard not to be sidetracked by how much life she exuded. Snapping to, she took the delicate flower from her warm hands and held it up to her nose, breathing in the fresh, green scent.

Madeira considered herself a master in the art of conversation; able to steer opinions and talk anyone into anything. But her flirting had always been dismal. She didn't have the easy sexuality or shameless wit that Gweneveh and the Madame had, which was why she had hired the most expensive whore in all of Lhavit to teach her. Now presented with such a blatant opportunity to test out her new skill, her mind stalled. Her eyes flicked to Belladonna for half a tick, wanting to impress her teacher.

"It's for whomever I wish", she dragged the soft petals of the daisy over her collarbone and smiled playfully. "Maybe tonight it will be for you."

The cheesiness of the line caught up to her the second it left her lips, and Madeira's smile became a touch more strained as the confidence Autumn had given her broke with an almost audible snap. The Madame spied the exchange and took the opportunity to tease both her student and Gewn's guest before turning to leave, again towing Madeira along like she was on a leash.

Thankfully this time Autumn was there to save her, thrusting a basket in her hands she and Belladonna were forced to stop while the woman began loading flowers into it. But it seemed the Madame wasn't about to let them go that easily. When Autumn assured her she was not about to seal Gwen from her, her smile curved in a way Madeira recognized and had come to behold warily.

“Oh, but she dreams of it. I have to admit, it’s nice to imagine. I’d dream of it, too", she breathed, and her low, husky voice sex personified. And Autumn, having taken the full brunt of her attention, lit up like a Cordas in Priskil's church. Thankfully this new plaything Belladonna had found distracted her just enough for Madeira to casually tug the ribbon from her grip. And as the madame stood and turned to Gweneveh the spiritist helped Autumn to her feet as well.

"These two are a bit of a handful, aren't they?", Madeira laughed, holding tight to Autumn's elbow and steering her out of the room, basket in tow. "If we don't leave now we never will."

They tapped down the long hall ahead of the two prostitutes, who continued to flirt and rib each other just out of earshot. As they reached the stairs leading down to the showroom floor, where echoes of laughter and stringed instruments seemed to reach up invitingly, Madeira patted down her pockets and surfaced with three small triangle shaped blue pills. She hesitated for a brief moment before offering them to Autumn.

"Since you're living now, would you like one? This is the real deal, all the way from Alvadas", she leaned in conspiratorially, her eyes bright. "Azura makes you quick and bright, and and conjures some of the most beautiful hallucinations you will ever see." A festival was not a festival for the native Avalad without a dose of hallucinogenics to replace the illusions she no longer saw. But while she had been getting by so far with Yanntavi and his second rate Wind Reach drivel, this was her first festival with real, Unnamye drugs. She was excited for the taste of home.

As was proper, she pinched one between her gloved fingers and popped it into her mouth, swallowing theatrically and sticking out her blue-streaked tongue to prove it was safe. Forgetting, in her excitement, the other blue mark embedded in her tongue. The gnosis she received from Sagallius was out for only a moment before she held the back of her hand to her mouth to laugh. "And hey, if you'll be dead in a few bells you wont have to worry about the withdrawal, will you?" Wether Autumn decided to partake or not, Madeira pocketed the remaining pills as they stepped through the heavy curtain that to the showroom.

The mood in the room was surprisingly sedate, as those without a lover in their life, or who had struck out in their search, turned to the paid comfort of the brothel workers to help them forget. Madeira lead Autumn through, spending none of her precious time on sympathy for the fools sprawled around them. She had no intentions of being among them tonight. Only taking the time to wave demurely to Hassin, the dark, oiled worker with a handsome drunk sprawled across his lap, who lifted his brow at Autumn and smiled tenderly back.

When they finally cracked open the round door that led outside, the smokey atmosphere was pulled almost violently from their lungs and replaced with crisp spring air. Madeira had never been to a festival of romance before, and the experience was both novel and overwhelming.

The street was wrapped in ribbons and enormous stands of the first spring flowers in a way that was both festive and absurdly frilly and feminine. As day had slowly turned to dusk a thousand coloured lanterns added a sultry glow, softening the sharp edges and cold shine of the Diamond of Kalea and turning the entire city to something intimate and soft. The air was thick with the smell of chocolate, wine, and breathless expectations.

Drug details! :
Small blue triangle shaped pills that grant feelings of lightheadedness, euphoria, enhanced reflexes and fantastically beautiful hallucinations followed by an overwhelming depressive state.

More details: Often marketed as Ionu’s blessing and chosen narcotic, reports of being particularly prone to illusion-related incidents while on the drug are widely spread but not proven. Side effects are commonly glossed over, which causes the dangerous belief that the drug is perfectly safe. The more pills that are consumed, the greater the high, but also the greater chance of overdosing. Withdrawal symptoms are uncommonly mild with general use (thus the continued stigma of the drug being a string-free gift from Ionu), resulting in users consuming copious amounts of pills, to the point of lethality. Overdoses are sudden and often deadly; the most common overdose being a sudden onset of a state of depressive catatonia and eventual suicide. Highly addictive.
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Love Me Not

Postby Autumn Rose on May 17th, 2020, 3:55 am

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“It’s for whomever I wish.” Flower petals danced and glided across the harder line of her collarbone that dipped playfully and ever so slightly to flirt with the softer curves below. “Maybe tonight it will be for you.”

A little bubble of laughter erupted from Autumn’s throat, not because she thought the line was bad but because, “We both know that’ll never happen.”

It was true. No matter what Autumn could offer, that would never happen. Even if Autumn could fulfill every sexual desire of Madeira’s and, more importantly, make all her greatest fantasies of power and control come true, that would never happen. Autumn was what she was, and no matter what she could give Madeira, she could not un-be that thing that went against every fiber of Madeira’s beliefs. Dead was dead, and Autumn was not, and that was not right.

On their way down the hall of the Lantern, Madeira produced three triangular blue pills, boasting about their origins and authenticity. If Madeira was to be believed, these would make Autumn’s senses feel sharper. That had Autumn intrigued, but the latter part, illusions, conjured bad memories for her. They were just reminders of the time she had lost Maro. She shook her head. All of that had been temporary. She had him back now, half of him, at least, and for once, she could sit back and enjoy herself without worrying what trouble he’d find himself in. He’d already found his trouble, and getting him out of it was Autumn’s problem for another day.

She took the offered Azura, but cringed as Madeira swallowed it unassisted. The few times she had experimented with tablet drugs in Kenash, she had needed the help of liquid courage to get it down. She waited until they were in the open front room of the Red Lantern where those searching for love were shopping for who they wanted that from and browsing the available lovers. There, she swiped a wineglass from a familiar face, popped the pill in her mouth, and chased it with a swig of the wine that was as sweet as the prostitute she had stolen it from.

Passing the cup back, she beamed a smile at Aurelie with an apology. “Sorry, Aurelie. I promise I’ll make it up to you some time.”

Aurelie just used the situation to her advantage, further ensnaring the customer who was already wrapped around her finger with a quick taste of the wine and some comment about “the taste of her lips.”

In another few moments, they were stepping out into the fresh, open mountain air, only to find the city had been completely transformed. Sure, the skyglass structures were still there, but the streets were lined with decorations, colored ribbons draped extravagantly between skyglass poles that hung multicolored lanterns. Flower baskets also hung from the poles, and bouquets and baskets lined the street’s edge. More miraculous than these things, the main thoroughfares were covered in petals, creating paths of white, yellow, and red that wound around and wove between each other. As she meandered down the street and as her mood changed, she shifted between the colored paths. Here, in the open air, the scent of crushed flowers held a different power and took on a different meaning.

About half a bell in, the drugs hit Autumn hard, and the city transformed again. Light and color, both real and unreal, became more vibrant. Little, darting motes of light danced between the hanging baskets, reminiscent of butterflies and hummingbirds and bees.

People, too, took on a different appearance, some beautiful, some not, some haunting. A gentleman passing by had an active thunderstorm beneath his skin, his clothes backlit by unseen flashes of lightning. A young woman’s skirt waist turned into a mouth that slowly worked its way upward, devouring her blouse and her body and finally her head until it disappeared and became a regular skirt again. Skipping down the street, hand in hand, a boy and a girl evaporated into a cloud that hovered head height above the ground until it rained them back down, water taking body shape from the feet up and details filling in after they were fully formed again.

Looking behind her, Autumn found Gweneveh largely unchanged except that she watched Madeira and Autumn with Autumn’s eyes. It was like looking in a mirror, one that looked past the color of her eyes and into the depths of her, and finding it disturbing, Autumn shifted her gaze to the woman walking next to her, only to laugh at what she saw.

“Bees!” Autumn giggled at the sight. “They’re all over you.”

Sure enough, what Autumn saw was bees crawling out of and into the flowers at the top of Madeira’s dress, buzzing lazily around her head, and wandering over the bared skin of the spiritist’s shoulders. Brushing at them, Atuumn would have thought she had become a ghost again with the way her fingers passed through them if it hadn’t been for the soft contact with the same skin Madeira had teased her with earlier. As her hands passed them, half of the bees rose up in a delighted swarm around Madeira but settled quickly back down. Autumn’s fingers leapt back at the contact, hoping she hadn’t overstepped.

As her eyes leapt away from Madeira and returned to the path ahead, something else attracted her gaze. She couldn’t really tell what it was at first, because it was shadowed in an aura of light and color. Autumn altered their course, taking their path toward this new phenomenon. Hallucinations seemed to feed on contrast, and that was perhaps what made her so appealing. She was a young girl. The pale skin of her face stood out against her dark, almost-black hair and the dark of her midnight blue dress. That all of this was framed by the bright background of a glittering skyglass wall made her stand out even more. It was as if her face was ringed in a halo of light, as if she was some star that had stumbled and plummeted to Mizahar, only to find herself whole and alive after having struck the earth.

Eventually, Autumn drew close enough to see what the girl was doing. She had a daisy and was plucking the petals off one by one with a “He loves me. He loves me not. He loves me. He loves me not…”

It was a dangerous game to play, Autumn knew, rife with the possibility of disappointment. Quickly, Autumn counted the remaining petals, and the result wasn’t good. As fast as her hands would move, which wasn’t at all with her clumsy return to a body, Autumn pulled another daisy from her basket and held it at the ready. If she could, Autumn would stave off every disappointment for every child she could.

The girl’s face fell as she plucked the last petal with a “He loves me not.”

Before the girl could drop the empty stem, Autumn held out the new daisy to her. “Keep going.”

Shaking her head, the girl frowned at Autumn’s offering. “That isn’t how it works.”

“It works however we say it works.” Autumn smiled and pressed the flower into the girl’s hands. “We bend fate to our will. We make it what we want it to be. Keep going.”

There was doubt in her eyes and hesitation in her pace, but the girl took the flower and did as Autumn had suggested. “He loves me. He loves me not. He loves me…”

In watchful anticipation, Autumn readied another flower, but it was unnecessary.

The final petal came off, and the girl’s eyes brightened at the result. “He loves me!”

Autumn smiled knowingly and winked at the girl. “I thought so.” Swapping the daisy for the single blue flower that had snuck its way into the basket, Autumn held it out to her new friend. “This one is for you, darling.”

Though she accepted it, the girl didn’t know what to think of it. Blue had no place in the traditions of the Heart Festival, at least not any traditions she had ever heard. “Thanks, but what’s a blue flower mean?”

“Blue,” Autumn bullshat, “is the most coveted flower, the one considered most special. Most reserve this for if they run into Zintila during the Festival, because the blue flower is the one you give to the person you think is the most beautiful person of the night.”

The girl beamed a smile at the immense compliment she’d just received but became suddenly bashful afterward. “I don’t have two blue flowers. I don’t even have one. I wish I had two though, because I’d give one to both of you.”

Blush burning bright across her cheeks, it was Autumn’s turn to be bashful. “That you said it is enough. Now, don’t you think it’s time you went and found the lucky boy.”

Autumn wasn’t sure the girl could smile any bigger than she did in that moment. With a curtsey and a quick goodbye, she was off down the road and gone in ticks.

“Kids.” Autumn shook her head at how easily joyful the young girl had been. “They are our…”

Our what? Autumn couldn’t decide. Our legacy? Our future? Our hope?

“They’re ours,” she decided. “And it’s up to use to give them the world we want for them. Now, I think we need to go find the lucky boy that your getup is meant for.”

Madeira and Autumn were only walking for another few chimes, enjoying the sights and the people and the song and music, when a familiar face crossed their path.

“Dev’Ania?”

There was no mistaking a Konti, even in the lessened light of night, but Lhavit had a way of remaining just as brilliant in the usual hours of darkness. Without a doubt, it was her.

“Dev’Ania, it’s me. Autumn.” The once-ghost wasn’t sure if the fortuneteller would make the connection to the ghost whose fate she had read the season before. Pulling Madeira forward, she introduced the two. “Madeira, this is Dev’Ania. She’s a fortuneteller. You might not believe it, but she predicted this would happen, this new life of mine and Maro, too. Maybe not exactly and the details were vague, but it all makes sense now. Dev’Ania, this is Madeira. She’s an old friend-” maybe that wasn’t true, not entirely, but it was the closest Autumn could come up with for a pleasant introduction- “from back when I used to haunt Alvadas.”

With introductions out of the way, Autumn moved to more important questions. “So, Dev’Ania, what brings you out tonight? Are you here with anyone?”
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Love Me Not

Postby Dev'Ania on May 24th, 2020, 4:58 am

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Dev’Ania lifted up her small chair and placed it in front of her open window. She sat down in the chair and crossed her legs as she gazed out into the streets. The peak’s paths were full of colorful flora and people dressed up more than usual. Today was the Heart’s Festival - a day full of joy and happiness and love.

Love is what Dev’Ania enjoyed most. The young, innocent Konti longed to feel the sensation of what it felt like for someone who loved you to hold her - whether it be a loving parent or an intimate lover. She reminisced of how comforting the embrace of her mother was and the way it relaxed her, wanting to feel it one more time. But what she yearned for, even more, was to feel the embrace of a lover. After all, it was her dream. She wanted to meet the perfect person and live happily with them and have children. It was a dream she thought she was so close to fulfilling with Zach before he seemingly vanished from her life. Even with him, she had not experienced the real feeling of intimacy.

The Konti held a brush in one hand, running it through the long strands of blonde hair that fell down over her shoulders. Her other hand followed behind the brush, with her fingers running through her hair. As she brushed her hair, she admired the view of the city down below, and the warm dusk sky above. All she could do was smile at the view. A true gift from Syna.

Seeking attention, as usual, Ember leaped onto the window ledge with a purr, blocking the view of the sun. Dev smiled at the sight of the cat. The sun was positioned just right behind her small feline head and encased her dark furry body with its soft glow.

“How do I look Emmy?” Her head tilted as she looked at the black cat with a chuckle. The cat yawned and curled up into a ball, her eyes still on Dev’Ania. Dev shook her head, smirking. “I’ll take that as a beautiful.”

Dev stood up and wandered over to her desk and placed the brush down before looking at her self in the mirror. Her hands ran through her hair and down to her dresses to smooth it out. She wore a pink tulle dress with a lace-trimmed corset bodice that framed her body. It was a dress she saw in the Market one day. The shop’s owner talked her into buying it just for the festival, even though Dev’Ania didn’t plan on joining in on the festivities. Especially not wearing that dress. It felt too revealing for the Konti. Despite her weariness, she decided to wear it but covered her exposed shoulders with the purple scarf given to her by Cala.

After taking a couple of chimes to look herself over, she left her apartment. The scent of flowers flooded her nostrils. They were everywhere.

“Dev’Ania?”

Dev heard her name called from behind her. She stopped puzzled and turned around. The voice was familiar, but upon finding the source, it was not whom she expected.

Autumn? The ghost? But how was that possible? The Autumn in front of her was no longer a ghost; she was living.

“Autumn...wow, amazing.” Her puzzled expression grew into a smile as Autumn introduced her to Madeira. “No introduction needed. Mads and I are...well-acquainted, I would say. We’ve had some...adventures...together.” The young Konti giggled.

“So, Dev’Ania, what brings you out tonight? Are you here with anyone?”

Dev’s smile turned into a slight frown as she replied. “No, no, I’m here alone. I was just curious about the festivities and never pass on a good chance to get dressed up. Admittedly, this is my first time, so I am not all too sure of what everything means. I just know that there is a lot of flirting going on around here!” She giggled again and gazed at the people surrounding them.

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Pink tulle dress with lace-trimmed corset bodice = 3 Kina, 6tk
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Love Me Not

Postby Madeira Craven on June 3rd, 2020, 12:40 am

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Half a bell in, the veil of reality pulled back, and Madeira smiled as she saw a familiar glint of madness hiding in the corners of the world. It felt like coming home.

The euphoria hit her hard, and soon she was standing tall in her too-revealing dress, certain the night would bend the way she wanted just because she was there to make it. The hallucinations creeped forward slower, glimpsed first from the corner of her eye in mad flashes of light and sound, until soon her whole perception was a riot of impossible things. She laughed loud and bright, letting it wash over her. Welcome back, she wanted to shout. I've missed you!

"Bees", she heard her friend giggle beside her. "They're all over you."

Autumn's pupils were blown wide as wishing wells as the former ghost turned to her and brushed cool fingers against her shoulders. Madeira could only laugh. Bees, huh? Back in her old life, that was one of the illusions Alvadas tormented her with. During one memorable afternoon stuck in a looping bar with an Eth, a ghost, a Symenestra and the most cheerful bartender in the world, her clothing would routinely dissolve into bees. It was an old memory, and hearing it from Autumn, even if she couldn't see it herself, almost felt like that illusion was nodding hello to an old friend.

Something seemed to catch Autumn's attention, and with their arms looped together Madeira was simply pulled along in the draft of the ex-ghost's interest. Madeira could see a little girl, too young to be participating in the nightlife, standing alone with a flower in her hand as they approached. Despite being a mother, Madeira had very little interest in children that weren't hers. She let Autumn talk as her own gaze roamed the crowd, following a narrative of hallucinations as they unfolded in front of her.

that was until she caught sight of a face in the crowd on the other side of the street, darker than the rest. The euphoria in Madeira wavered and pitched as she recognized those black eyes and sharp, cruel mouth. The hallucinations seemed to keep back from him, leaving him in a dark, cold slice of reality sitting like a knife in her pretty fantasy. What the petch was Rotsam doing in a place like this?! And why, when it was clear he could see her, was he looking instead at Autumn?

No, wait, not looking. Starring. Rotsam the Curse Eater was starring at Autumn like he had never seen a creature quite like her before, his brows meeting in a dark line of concentration. Ice trickled down Madeira's spine. She didn't know what this was, but she didn't like it.

“Kids”, Autumn suddenly spoke, shaking her head mistily as the young girl scampered away. “They are our…They’re ours. And it’s up to use to give them the world we want for them. Now, I think we need to go find the lucky boy that your getup is meant for.”

"What?" Madeira's attention was pulled away by the ghost, but once she glanced back up to where she had seen the rival Spiritist, he was already gone, melting back into the colourful crowd. Madeira worked a smile back onto her face. "Oh, yes, yes, you're right."

She pulled Autumn back into the fray, moving with purpose, intending to put space between Rotsam and themselves. But they didn't get very far before another familiar face materialized.

The Spiritist found herself once again floored by seeing another friend wearing their finest. Autumn greeted Dev'ania by name, and introduced them to each other. Madeira didn't get a chance to correct her as she took the time to admire the fortune teller, who was wearing a frothy pink skirt under a shapely corset. Her Konti beauty put every human around her to shame.

"You're here alone?" Madeira finally clued into the conversation. "Well, that won't be for long, will it, looking like that!" she cajoled, a wolfish smile on her lips as she folded the Konti into a rare and exuberant hug. From somewhere down the street a jaunty beat was picked up by a band of buskers. The music infected the air, Madeira could see it moving in clouds through the partygoers like a disease. As it spread people began pairing off, and in moments a street-wide dance was started.

Rotsam and whatever was up his sleeve evaporated from Madeira's mind in ticks. The Azura bubbled through her system, reacting to the pull of the music. She was light on her feet, suddenly spinning with a dramatic flourish as the cobblestones all down the street seemed to dissolve into a crystal clear pool, reflecting the stars above her and rippling in time to the music. And in its reflection she was the first to see some masked stranger approaching Autumn.

He (or was it a she?) was tall and beautiful, holding themselves with a refined, romantic grace as they offered their hand to Autumn. "Would you dance with me?" They asked, and just the sound itself was a romantic sigh. There was an aura about them that had nothing to do with the literal glow the drugs gave them. It was an almost magnetic pull that even from the sidelines made Madeira's heart skip a beat.

Startled, and immediately recognizing that the situation would not be helped by the presence of two gawkers, Madeira grabbed Dev'ania's hand. "Lets dance, Dev!", she announced, dragging the Konti deeper into the crowd.

Pulling the taller woman in by the waist, Madeira laughed as she awkwardly started to dance. "Sorry! I think that's something Autumn needs to figure out for herself." Lifting her arms, she spun the Konti beneath them before catching her again by the waist. She wasn't a good dancer, at all, but the Azure seemed to smooth out the rougher edges of her technique, her reflexes suddenly sharper and her confidence sky high. Taken by a sudden idea, Madeira released one hand to dig around in her pocket.

"Want it? It will make your night amazing, romance or no", her eyes sparkled as she offered Dev the last Azure pill from between her gloved fingers. "Come on, I need you to celebrate with me. Tonight I'm going to ask Chiona to be mine!" she roared in delight. Dev'ania was one of the people who had helped her with that certain romantic conquest, it seemed only right for her to get a little something back.
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Love Me Not

Postby Autumn Rose on July 5th, 2020, 6:40 pm

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Autumn was still caught in the wonder of a world dissolving out of reality. Colors had forgotten themselves, melting from one to the next with only memory to tell her which was correct. More often than not, she remembered wrong, but none of that mattered. Tonight was amazing, and she was spending it with friends, or at least the closest things she had to friends. Madeira was a tentative ally, and Dev’Ania was a one-time acquaintance. Somewhere slightly back among the celebrants was her closest living connection. Gweneveh was following them, Autumn was sure.

She was so caught up in the calamity of the hallucinations brought on by the drug that she didn’t realize she was being approached by a stranger until they were holding out their hand to her. She couldn’t be sure if it was the hallucinations or the stranger’s attire, but Autumn couldn’t tell if they were a man or a woman. Everything about the individual was ambiguous. Except their interest in her. She had to admit she was flattered. Man or woman, it didn’t matter. The person was charming and beautiful in a way Autumn couldn’t describe.

“Would you dance with me?”

So used to being ignored or disdained, the sudden interest in her, genuine interest, caught her off guard. Furthermore, that the request carried the kind of interest it did threw her even more. Though the voice was light and gentle, it made her feel sluggish with its romantic intonations. Her mind wandered, wondering what could be if she went with this stranger, and its wandering slowed her, further deepening the intoxicating effects of the stranger’s voice.

At a loss for how to respond, autumn looked to her friends for help, only to find Madeira pulling Dev’Ania away to dance by themselves. Silently, autumn cursed them both before the stranger brought her attention back to them, repeating the request.

“Would you care to dance?”

Would she? With an absolute stranger? Her first instinct was no, but that was the re-newness of life speaking, the awkward reclaiming of her body and her balance. The more Autumn thought about it though, the more she remembered how much she had loved to dance when she was first living. Not to mention, the stranger had a charm to them, a sort of building sway that entranced those watching demanding that they join in.

An idea came to her, and she looked down into the basket of flowers hanging off her elbow and the myriad of colors that spun out of it. Nothing was the color it was supposed to be, and Autumn had to try to remember on what side she had laid which color flowers. She looked to Madeira, noticed that her dress seemed to take on hues that matched those of one side of the basket, and handed the stranger a flower from the opposite side.

She chose right.

The stranger’s face fell but brightened in curiosity as laughter bubbled up out of Autumn.

“I’m sorry, child. It really has nothing to do with you. It’s just that if I still had a heart to give, it would already belong to someone else.” Autumn forgot that she indeed did have a heart now, but that made her statement no less true. Her heart belonged to another, though that other was hardly themselves and didn’t remember anything of the connection they’d once shared. A rueful smile, somehow still charming and endearing, swept over the stranger’s face.

“I understand. I wouldn’t want to come between two hearts already bonded. If only I had found you sooner.”

Autumn blushed at that, and not liking the disappointment she saw in their eyes, she reached out and caught their arm before they could walk away. “I said my heart belonged to another. I didn’t say I wouldn’t dance. Your charm has earned you that much.”

The smile in the stranger’s eyes said that that was al they would ever need from Autumn and that just the offering of it was more than anything else she could ever give. Somehow, in that smile existed a force and a notion that made Autumn feel more important than she had felt in a long time.

Taking his hand, the once dead woman let herself be guided up the street to where they could hear the music better, to where the musicians at hand were playing a slower, softer piece that brought a blush to cheeks as they met the cheeks of strangers or lovers, sometimes one and the same.

“You’ll have to forgive me,” she apologized to her new dance partner. “It’s been such a long time since I’ve been living that I’ve forgotten what my feet feel like. I might step on your toes.”

Her hand found one of the stranger’s, but she stopped them before they could pull her close. “I’m not dancing with a stranger. What’s your name?”

Considering her curiously, the stranger smiled. “You can call me Briar.”

“I can call you that, but is it your real name?”

The stranger smiled again, leaving her question unanswered.

Unable to read the stranger’s strange charm, Autumn smiled in return. “You can call me Windy.”

“Is that your real name?”

“Is Briar yours?”

The stranger laughed, and Autumn laughed with. They were now no longer strangers. They had something to call each other.

Her hand found their shoulder, and she pressed into them, once again cherishing the contact of flesh against flesh, body against body. Together, they began to sway to the slow steady rhythm set by the small group of buskers and soon their feet began to move.

Out of practice with dancing, out of practice with having a body, Autumn followed Briar’s lead. She wished her feet felt lighter. They weren’t as light as she remembered, and they definitely weren’t as light as what she had grown accustomed to this last half century. Despite her growing self-consciousness, Autumn missed this, even if it was someone else’s arms she wished she was in.

The song was an old one, and Autumn knew it well. She had danced to it many times before. She began to hum the song, so softly her partner could barely hear it. She’d never been great at singing.

“Are you sure you belong to another?” Briar asked.

Autumn smiled. “You’re persistent, but trust me. You don’t want me.”

“Why not?”

“Because life is short.” Distracted by their conversation, Autumn stepped on Briar’s feet. She laughed into her dancing partner’s shoulder. “And because I’ll step on your toes.”

Taking a moment to find the rhythm again, Autumn looked around the crowd to see if she could find anyone familiar. Gweneveh, Madeira, Dev’Ania, Belladonna. She didn’t need any of them. She was safe where she was, in Briar’s arms. She just hoped they were having as good of a time as she was. One glance around was enough to tell her that most eyes were on herself and Briar.
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Autumn Rose
Even weightless, I'm a burden.
 
Posts: 137
Words: 203856
Joined roleplay: July 20th, 2019, 12:12 am
Race: Ghost
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