Closed Cutting Class

Autumn attends a spiritism lesson

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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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Cutting Class

Postby Madeira Craven on July 2nd, 2020, 7:34 pm

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40th of Summer, 520


Madeira frowned into the thick, warped glass of her classroom windows. Her reflection frowned back. It was pushed and pulled in funhouse proportions by the distorted glass, her voluminous yellow dress pulled out like taffy, her severe bun concave like someone had taken a bite out of it, the shine of her gloves and jewels turned into dangerous spikes of light. But even after everything had been twisted and stretched and squashed, it still looked tired. She leaned in, studying the purple bags beneath her eyes that were getting darker by the day. Fine lines were carving themselves between her sickly pale brow.

Madeira slapped colour into her cheeks and pulled her mouth into a charming smile. Her reflection turned it into a hideous snarl.

"See something interesting?"

Chiona Dusk backed into the room carrying a tray full of rather miscellaneous food or food-adjacent items. A pot of honey, a vase of dandelions, a jar of caramel, several bricks of tea various other things she added to the already impressive spread on Madeira's desk.

"Other than this tired hag in the mirror? No."

Chiona checked the door before joining Madeira at the window, snaking a hand around her waist and resting her cheek on the side of the shorter woman's head. "Really? And here I thought I'd never seen anything so lovely." Madeira leaned in as she kissed her chastely on the brow.

But that little piece of stolen affection evaporated as footsteps rang up the tall, twisting stairs. Chiona stepped away a chime before Rathford stomped into the room. His nose immediately wrinkled at the miasma of smells.

"Good morning! Take you seat", Madeira spun to face him, her tone changing to her confident and projecting Teacher Voice. Both Chiona and Rathford sat, and soon the rest of her class trickled in. They were older than the other students, ranging in age from thirty to nearly sixty, and there were only six in a class made for twenty. They grouped together at the font, leaving the back of the room empty. Aldgare Dusk was the last in attendance. He greeted the room with a polite 'good morning' before finding a seat beside his daughter. If she wasn't mistaken, everybody looked rough and tired.

"Is that everybody? Good." Standing in front of her desk, she presented the smorgasbord behind her. "Through a raiding of my own pantry and the generous donation of the Dusk kitchen, we've got a wide spread to use today. You're all familiar with how to make soulmist; the basic recipe of three ingredients of different sources. But! There is a wide variety of customization to it. What works best for each spiritist can vary wildly from one person to the next. So today I will have you experiment with different ingredients to find out what works best for you. So, one at a time, come to the front and collect what interests you."

She stepped aside to stand beside the door and motioned the first student to rise.
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Cutting Class

Postby Autumn Rose on July 22nd, 2020, 4:55 am

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Though she had spoken to Madeira about this before, Autumn was pretty sure this wasn’t the plan. Still, some time had passed since their last discussion on how to make Autumn more useful to the both of them, and they hadn’t pursued anything yet. This might not have been what Madeira had in mind, but Autumn’s purpose was two-fold. She’d be of more use to both of them this way, but the more she knew about spiritism, the better she could defend herself from Madeira whenever the spiritist’s intentions became… opposed to her own.

This was why Autumn had snuck into the Dusk Tower the evening before, clutching one of her gems of Borrowed Life to her chest. She had learned some names while she had. The Dusks were the ones in charge. Ald’gare seemed to be the head, but a lovely young woman by the name of Chiona was his daughter and one of their most sought-after teachers. There were others, but they were all less important.

So she had waited through the night for class to begin anew, and eventually, the students- and teachers- began to arrive. As soon as she saw Madeira coming, Autumn ingested her gem; she didn’t want the spiritist knowing she was here, not yet. The return to life was a sensation she didn’t think she’d ever get used to. There was a sense of imbalance at the sudden return of weight to her body, and a flood of the intricate, exquisite senses of life returning to nerves as they sprang to life. Too many ticks passed by before she could remember how to breathe, and by the time she did, the class was already in session. Pressing her ear to the door, Autumn heard Madeira giving instructions.

“Is that everyone?”

Not quite, but Autumn didn’t want to interrupt Madeira. She was already uncertain as to how cold of a reception she would garner for herself for showing up uninvited. To make it as goo as possible, she would wait for a lull in activity.

“Good. Through a raiding of my own pantry and the generous donation of the Dusk kitchen, we've got a wide spread to use today. You're all familiar with how to make soulmist; the basic recipe of three ingredients of different sources. But! There is a wide variety of customization to it.”

Mist! This was exactly what had brought Autumn here in the first place. When she was living, just before she had died, she had learned the art of making mist, but when she had tried while she was living last season, her efforts had been unproductive. If there was anyone who could direct her to do it again, it was Madeira Craven.

“What works best for each spiritist can vary wildly from one person to the next. So today I will have you experiment with different ingredients to find out what works best for you.”

If Autumn wasn’t mistaken, Madeira almost sounded excited, giddy even, to share the knowledge she had become a master of. “So, one at a time, come to the front and collect what interests you."

That seemed as good of a time as any. It was practically an invitation. Autumn opened the door as quietly as she could, but it wasn’t enough. Madeira was standing right there next to the door, and every head turned to look at the newcomer.

Autumn gave them a bashful smile. She had to admit she liked the way a smile felt on her lips, the way living tissue stretching into a smile felt beneath her skin, on her skin. “Sorry I’m late.” Bobbing a quick curtsey to Madeira as way of an apology, she introduced herself awkwardly. “Miss Craven? I’m your new student. Autumn. Sorry again for being late. I was a teacher once, and I understand the frustrations tardiness causes. It just feels like a lifetime since I’ve been in Lhavit.”

The eyes on her seemed heavy with judgment, so she curtseyed once more. “I’ll stop talking and wasting everyone’s time now. I believe someone was about to choose the makings for their dough.”

Gesturing politely to let one of Madeira’s regular students go first, Autumn skirted around the group until she was standing next to Ald’gare, Chiona on his other side. She nodded as politely as she could. “Mr. Dusk, it’s an honor.”

“Who’s this?” a voice from Ald’gare’s shoulder piped up.

Autumn had missed the third entity in the Dusk trio, but now that she saw the fluid being hovering over the man, the once-ghost could do nothing but stare.

“It’s impolite to stare,” Ald’gare chastised her before introducing her to the creature. “This is Autumn. She just introduced herself. Do try to pay attention.”

“Who are you?” Autumn asked the floating, crystalline cloud of water on the Dusk patriarch’s shoulder.

“This is my familiar, a Sarawanki.”

“I didn’t ask what. I said who.”

The cloud burst into crystalline laughter. Its voice had a pitch and intonation that hovered somewhere between feminine and masculine, an indeterminant thing, though perhaps it didn’t exist with any identity in that sense. “I think I like her.”

“Hmm” was Ald’gare’s only response as he considered Autumn for several moments. His eyes narrowed as if he remembered something, and Autumn had to wonder if she had crossed paths with the man. One place she knew she’d never seen him was the Red Lantern, and that was where she spent most of her time. Bit there was the occasional jaunts around the city. Recognition almost seemed to be surfacing, so Autumn interrupted his searching.

Tilting her head, she smiled. “I thought it was impolite to stare.”

The cloud laughed again. “Oh, I definitely like her. I’m Popa.”

Popa began to banter, and whatever hint of familiarity that was in Ald’gare’s eyes before was gone. For now, for a short while, Autumn’s secret was safe. It didn’t take long for though for the three of them to be the last ones left. Once again, Autumn offered to let the Dusks go first, if they were participating in the lesson, but eventually, it was her turn.

Wandering up to the table, she flashed Madeira a smile as she approached. It wasn’t a cruel smile, gloating and conniving. Instead, it was a warm smile, the kind that said she was here to learn and not to cause mischief.

Autumn’s blue eyes perused what was left. There was a bowl of flour, the source of which she wasn’t cultured enough to determine, but that had always been the base for her dough. She took that and placed a collection of eggs on top of her mound of flour. The jar of honey had already been claimed, but she was certain if she asked she could use some. There were other things she found interesting, like the dandelions and a couple other flowers, and sitting tucked between several remaining ingredients were two small bottles. Popping the corks, she found one to be vanilla and the other, liquor. Recorking them both and putting them in with her other ingredients, she set them down on a desk and looked to Madeira for instruction.
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Cutting Class

Postby Madeira Craven on August 7th, 2020, 2:12 am

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The door creaked open behind her and Madeira turned, her mouth already twisting with annoyance. She hated being interrupted in the middle of class. But one look at who it was washed her face of expression completely.

"Sorry I'm late", the living ghost of Autumn stood in the door and curtsied.

The thought that Autumn could sneak up on a master Spiritist like herself was an uncomfortable one. What was worse was for her to sneak up on her here, in front of her master and her future wife. This was not good. She couldn't quite articulate why, but having these two purposefully separate parts of her life rubbing shoulders was sending up all kinds of red flags.

But there was no way to tell Autumn to leave without questions. The woman quickly made her contrite excuses and slipped by, and something in Madeira lurched to see Chiona and Aldgare make room for her at the back of the group. But years of training kept the smile on her face.

"Hello, Autumn. Find yourself a seat and I will catch you up after everyone has their ingredients."

Madeira was distracted as she watched the first few students pick their ingredients and file past. She kept glancing back at Autumn, who seemed to be having a lively discussion with Aldgare and Poppa. Chiona preceded them, and the heiress managed to wink and motion her head over her shoulder as if to ask who's that? Madeira rolled her eyes and waved her off, as if the answer was too boring or too complicated to get into. When Aldgare stepped up Madeira was ready for more direct questions.

"I appreciate the initiative, but new students go through a vetting process before attending the Tower, you know. I'm an old man, but I would recognize a beauty like that." Aldgare didn't sound angry or even disappointed as he leaned in to whisper, bent over the supplies laid out on the desk. If anything he sounded amused. Despite being the head of the entire institution, the man took great pains not to question Madeira in front of her students.

"I know, sir", Madeira matched his volume and did her best to sound properly cowed. "I would never presume to bring new students into your alumni class. We didn't mean to deceive you. She's an acquaintance of mine and is curious about the craft, and as I owe her a favour, I thought I'd let her listen in just this once."

"Just this once", the man echoed, and laid a finger alongside his nose in a cheeky, almost grandfatherly way that coming from the enigmatic man caught Madeira completely off guard. "She's quite the character, your friend."

She caught herself smiling despite herself. "Thank you, sir."

It was only as he turned and left that she struck with his use of the word 'friend' when neither her or Autumn indicated they were anything of the sort. She wondered if he meant anything by that, if it even mattered that their relationship was more complicated than they were projecting, or if she was just being paranoid. Gods, she was tired.

Then it was Autumn's turn at the table. The smile melted off Madeira's face even as the ghost flashed her a genuinely warm expression. They were going to have A Talk about this later. But right now she settled with leaning into Autumn just as she did with Aldgare, letting Autumn's back block the class's view.

"Do you have any idea how much trouble you could get me in? Could get yourself in?" she hissed low under her breath. This was a Tower full of Spiritists and Autumn was a type of undead they had never seen. She shook her head minutely. "Honestly, Autumn. What the hai were you thinking? If you wanted me to teach you you could have just asked. Never mind. If you're going to be here just be careful around Aldgare. He's trouble."

Not trouble in the usual sense, or even in the unusual sense. Aldgare Dusk was trouble because he was charismatic and astute and way too intelligent. He had a way of ferreting out secrets and If Autumn was going to let something slip about herself (or gods forbid, Madeira) it would be to him.

Autumn was the last to her seat. Once she was settled Madeira stood in front of the class and made a quick note of what everyone was working with. She was surprised to see that Autumn had gotten flour and eggs for her base. Had she done this before, or did she learn from watching Spiritist's make soulmist on Black Rock?

"Excellent. I see some of you have taken some very bold ingredients. That's good. This is all down to what works for you, and that's something you can only figure out through trial and error. Though I noticed nobody took this. Do you know what it is?"

From the tray on the table behind her Madeira held up a greenish, the corner had been shaved off with a paring knife and it was stamped with a strange logo. But the most notable thing about it was it's strange composition. Something about it seemed insubstantial, as if it were made of something thin and fragile, though the obvious weight of it in Madeira's hand seemed to indicate it was solid and very heavy.

Madeira was confident Autumn knew what it was, even if she might not have seen it in this form. Wraithmint was almost impossible to get anywhere but Blackrock. The leafy herb was semi transparent and had the very, very unique quality of having a detectable odor to ghosts. The brick itself was worth several hundred kina, and was made of many mulched, dried and pressed leaves.

Nobody raised their hands. Even Aldgare seemed perplexed. Reluctantly, Madeira turned to the ghost.

"Autumn?"
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Cutting Class

Postby Autumn Rose on September 7th, 2020, 2:00 pm

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“Do you know what this is?”

Chills swept up Autumn’s spine as Madeira held up the brick of pressed, dried leaves. She wasn’t sure if it was just familiarity with it or if the leaves called to her somehow knowing she was still a ghost, but she knew exactly what it was. Wraithmint. Autumn didn’t know how she had missed it.

No one else spoke up, because no one else know. Autumn hadn’t answered, because she couldn’t find her breath. That had to have costed Madeira a fortune.

“Autumn?”

Now, with all eyes on her, Autumn had no choice but to find her voice. “In the name of the Goddess, how did you get a hold of wraithmint?” Realizing that answered the question but didn’t, she continued. “Sorry. Yes, I recognize it. It’s wraithmint. I recognize it from my time teaching in the schoolhouse on Black Rock. I didn’t think anyone knew about it outside of the Isle though.”

Waves of nostalgia threatened to drown her, and Autumn rambled to stay afloat. “It’s the most amazing plant. Imagine it. You’re walking the marsh’s edge on a moonlit night when suddenly you find yourself in the middle of a glowing, off-green patch of plants, the scent of mint filling the air around you. Only, you’ve been dead for decades and even the memory of smell has left you. It’s a rush, the way it brings back lost senses. Even taste comes back, without soulmist made by a spiritist, and it is the closest you will ever feel to life again until you let go and are brought back to the cycle.”

Blushing as she realized the way she was talking might be taken as personal experience, Autumn quickly made up an excuse. “Or at least, that’s what one ghost told me.”

“But from everything I’ve seen, it’s true.” Autumn had taken her seat next to the Dusk’s again, and she turned her eyes to Chiona to make it feel like there were less eyes on her. When she met Chiona’s eyes, the other woman gave her a warm smile, and Autumn felt what it must have felt like all the times she’d given comforting smiles to her own students. The once-ghost didn’t doubt those who said Chiona was an accomplished instructor. “It’s like catnip for cats, just for the dead. Have you ever seen a ghost frolic?”

Though she was speaking to everyone, she was still facing Chiona, and Ald’gare directly beyond her. A gentle, nearly imperceptible shake of both their heads said no, but a hint of the recognition returned to Ald’gare’s eyes at that. Autumn felt certain she had never frolicked in Lhavit. She wasn’t in the habit of frolicking much of anywhere. Perhaps that came with being a ghost. Still, any recognition was dangerous, so Autumn went on in hopes of distracting the Dusk patron once again. “It’s as beautiful as it is heartbreaking. All you can do is appreciate it and fear its end. Joy is a rare and delicate thing when life has been stolen away. I wouldn’t steal that opportunity from any spirit, but the hostile emotions are magnified a hundred-fold it seems when they come back to the here and the now. Grief, rage, bitterness. All of it builds. It takes a seasoned spiritist, a person with much experience in life with their own grief and joy to know when to appropriately apply the mint. Still, if you find yourself in need of a moment to think and gather your strength and wits against a ghost, it can be a handy thing to have around.”

Autumn laughed. She wondered at how gravelly her voice felt and sounded to her, so used it being something that flowed with no effort whatsoever. It felt strange to have a voice, for it to come from the physical thing that was her throat. She returned her gaze to the rest of the class. “I’ve rolled in a patch of wraithmint before, and I can tell you, it cleanses the soul. I’ve rarely felt so calm than I did in that experience. If you ever find yourself in Black Rock, you should try it. Just be sure to take an Omen with you. The marsh can be a dangerous place.”

When her eyes returned to Madeira, she found a slight hint of displeasure in her tutor’s eyes, probably because she had sat back with the Dusk’s again. Wanting the focus to be off of her for a while, she pointed to the brick. “Do you think we could use some of that today? I’d love to see what the mist would come out like with a little wraithmint. Spiritists in Black Rock swear by the stuff.”
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