Solo Summer Wine

Lhavit Weekend Challenge

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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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Summer Wine

Postby Madeira Craven on August 10th, 2020, 11:43 pm

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    15th of Summer, 520
Tiptoeing around the prestigious amount of pigeon droppings, Madeira opened the door of the Dovecote Tower and arrived back in Lhavit a little sweatier than when she left. For a trip to the infamous Outpost, the Spiritist was traveling surprisingly light, returning with only an envelope of expensive, creamy black paper crumpled carelessly in her fist and a bottle of almost equally dark wine under her arm.

Altaira was there to greet Madeira, holding a large notepad shyly out in front of her.

Welcome back. Did you enjoy yourself?

"Yes, thank you", Madeira smiled tepidly and shut the door behind her. The Outpost was a miraculous discovery when she had first found it and discovered all the things one could buy and people one could meet from all around the world. But since she realized that letters could be sent in a matter of bells rather than seasons, it had rather soured her experience. "I received a letter from my family."

The dove keeper lit up to read the answer on her lips. She turned the notepad back towards her and scribbled frantically for a moment before showing it to her guest.

That is so nice! I hope you received good news.

"Me too. Have a good day, Altaira."

The deaf woman waved goodbye and went back to her task of caring for the Dovecote, and Madeira wandered into the city. Tenten was one of the quietest peaks, its population consisting mostly of scholars, doctors and students. And these days its streets were nearly empty, as the seasonal heat drove everyone inside. This serenity of the peak meant there was nothing to distract her from the unopened letter. She could feel the wax seal softening in her hand. The letter felt strangely hot. She knew it was just the arid Outpost where it was stored and the heat of her body that was making it feel this way. But another less rational part of her was wondering if the incendiary words were leaking out.

She had sent her last letter in the Spring. It was one she had agonized over for over a year before finally sitting down at her small writing desk to announcing the birth of her children, Moritz and Amelie Craven, born Spring first, 519 to an unwed mother and her crazed bondmate. She was glad she wasn't there to witness the fallout that letter would have caused. The Craven line was meticulously and religiously kept, dating all the way back to Deshira Craven herself. And after five hundred years, Madeira was the failure who had introduced kelvic into their pristine Craven blood.

She had bought the wine on a whim but she knew it wasn't going to help. She just had to take courage in the fact that these people were several thousand kilometers away and read it.

Madeira's wandering had taken her to the Syna temple, a gloriously opulent building flanked by pools of golden fish. She perched herself on the wall of the pond, took a deep breath, and broke the seal.

She had thought that the letter was several pages long, but was actually several different letters signed by different members of the family. The personal touch both surprised her and dropped lead into her stomach. Usually the scribe, her uncle Rune, was the one to respond to her letters, acting as the speaker for the entire family. His letter was still in there, short, direct and dry. She registered his disappointment in how she conducted herself and a wish for her and her children's health in their 'time of need' and moved on. Minvera, the second eldest, was next. Her letter was brutal in its delivery, somehow insinuating both that she was a whore and her children abominations without ever losing that perfectly civil word and tone. But it was Madara's letter, the cool-eyed matriarch and Madeira's namesake, that hit hardest.

As you seem to be unable to conduct yourself in a way that befits your name, we will be sending someone to do so for you. As such we may yet salvage your reputation. Conduct yourself with dignity and respect in regards to our decision moving forward or we may rethink your position as our presence in Lhavit.

Madeira read that first line, aloud and in her head, and stared at it for several long ticks before the subtext finally clicked. She couldn't be serious. That was just a threat, surely. They wouldn't actually send her a husband, would they? The thought dawned black and thunderous in her head. Because of course they would. Two birds with one stone: legitimatize their wayward daughter and give her a babysitter to keep her out of further trouble.

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Summer Wine

Postby Madeira Craven on August 10th, 2020, 11:45 pm

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She was right, wine wouldn't be enough. Madeira stood, brushing off the skirt of her simple cotton dress, and turned into the long pillared walkway into Syna's Temple.

Madeira had never visited the Temple outside of Syna's holidays. During the rest of the year it was no less magnificent, with its decedent statues and mosaics in warm hues of red, gold and white. But Madeira didn't register any of it, blowing past the flickering ponds and lofty pillars and into the main sanctum.

Here a fire that had supposedly been burning since the dawn of Lhavit rose to a spectacular height in a bronze bowl. It and the alter it sat upon were the only things in the cavernous space. Daytime worshipers were kneeling in silent prayer all around the sacred fire, but kept at a distance by a tile marker on the floor. Acolytes tended to the fire itself, and guards posted unobtrusively to the side made sure they did so undisturbed.

Madeira stood at the tile border, evaluating the distance between her and the bowl and making a rough guess at her throwing power when a familiar voice whispered from behind her.

"Madeira? I thought I saw you. I didn't take you for the praying type."

Chiona Dusk was circling from the other side of the temple to meet her, a welcoming smile on her face. Like Madeira, she was dressed lightly to combat the dry summer weather. Unlike Madeira, that lightness left her arms and a sliver of her midriff exposed. The Spiritist automatically opened her arms and the two briefly embraced.

"The praying type?" Madeira blinked at her for a moment. "Oh, no, I'm not here to pray, I'm here to burn this. Holy fire seemed like a more satisfying solution than throwing it off the mountain." She motioned vaguely with her occupied fist.

Chiona watched her for a mystified tick before gently tugging the crumbled letter out of Madeira's fist. Madeira made only a token effort to resist her, and then stared into the fire as she read. After several chimes Chiona looked up, her dark brows having travelled to meet above her grimacing eyes.

"Wow."

"Wow, indeed."

"Are you okay?"

"What gives you that impression?"

Chiona smiled with sympathy and wrapped a sisterly arm around the smaller woman's shoulder. She didn't offer her indignation or any words of sympathy, for which Madeira was grateful.

"Want to get out of here?"

"Absolutely."

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Madeira Craven
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Joined roleplay: October 11th, 2016, 7:45 pm
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Summer Wine

Postby Madeira Craven on August 11th, 2020, 12:20 am

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Madeira didn't pay attention to where they were going, letting Chiona lead the way. The two talked about the Tower, the students and the events around the city before the conversation cautiously circled back to family.

"Don't let this taint your idea of the Craven's", Madeira defended her family as the pair stepped into a lush, forested path. "People misunderstand them. They're ruthless, yes, but that's not about being mean. It's about... perfection. Its about that straight, clean line moving forward. I strayed and was cut down, that's just how it works."

"Mh-hm," Chiona intoned. "I get it. Our family is not all roses either. Have you heard about the Day of Discord?"

"...Only in passing", Madeira looked away tactfully. She didn't know the whole story, but she knew the power of the Towers were overthrown in the riots. She also knew that the head of Dusk was executed in the aftermath.

"Well, I'm not going to get into it, but just know that I'm not a stranger to the more brutal side of distinguished families. But tell me, do you regret 'straying' from the path?"

Madeira bit back her yes. It was the truth, that one slip in composure had consequences she would feel for the rest of her life. But she couldn't find it in herself to regret her children. More importantly, she couldn't let Chiona think she was so heartless.

"No."

"I didn't think so. Don't worry. If they do send someone out for you, I'll give them a warm Lhavitian welcome."

Madeira's lips twisted at the telling tone of her voice. "With the business end of your Dao sword?"

"With the business end of my Dao sword", Chiona confirmed.

"Where are we?" Madeira finally asked. The cobblestone had turned to wooden boards beneath her feet, and the stone walls and blue sky had become tree trunks and a canopy of leaves. She hadn't quite noticed the change, and she realized then that she was more affected by the letter than she had thought. The air on the trail was fresh and cool. The Spiritist breathed deep and let out a cleansing breath.

"Its the Trail of Waterfalls", Chiona explained. "I like to come here to think sometimes. Oh, this is a good spot."

She steered the both of them off the side of the trail, stopping at a stone bench facing a small waterfall. The bench was dusted with mist and pine needles, but Chiona sat and pulled Madeira down beside her. The bubbling of the waterfall and the density of the trees offered a small measure of privacy.

"Now, are we going to drink that wine, or..." Chiona smirked as Madeira glanced at her elbow where the bottle was still tucked like she had forgotten it was there.

"I don't have any glasses."

Chiona rolled her eyes and slid the bottle out from around Madeira's body. Then with some masterful negotiating with a pocketknife she decanted the dark green bottle and tipped her head back to drink straight from the neck. Madeira looked on with wonder.

"You barbarian", she laughed, delighted.

"Now you", the heiress offered her the bottle.

Madeira obediently took a slow sip. Then something sour and a touch vinegary hit her tongue and her whole face scrunched up. She pulled away and stopped breathing to keep from coughing.

"Gods, that's terrible", she finally wheezed.

"Oh sweet summer wine", Chiona laughed, taking the bottle from her for another sip.

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Madeira Craven
long may she reign
 
Posts: 1708
Words: 1526898
Joined roleplay: October 11th, 2016, 7:45 pm
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Medals: 11
Featured Contributor (1) Featured Thread (3)
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Summer Wine

Postby Madeira Craven on August 11th, 2020, 1:21 am

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It was nice, this place. Madeira leaned back on her seat as Chiona drank and listened to the rush of the water. She wasn't a big fan of nature, or of being alone, but this was different. This just felt like space, like breathing room, like maybe the world didn't move as fast as she thought it did. She was glad Chiona was there. Sharing this space with another person felt special, somehow.

A thought struck Madeira, and her eyes slid sideways to the woman beside her.

"Is this a date?"

She did not miss the way Chiona's eyes flicked to the trail behind them at the words, as if worried someone might overhear. But in a tick her eyes were back on her, and there was an amused twist to her mouth. "You think taking me out into the woods to drink cheap wine straight from the bottle is a date?"

That glance tasted more sour than the wine. Madeira leaned in closer, her voice slipping under the rush of the waterfall as if imparting a secret. "No, not yet. It's missing something."

"What, fancy straws?"

"No, this."

She pulled herself onto the bench, kneeling to get that few extra centimeters of height, and kissed her. This was their second kiss, and there was something sweet there under the sour wine. Madeira tilted her head just how Belladonna taught her and the kiss deepened, Chiona's mouth opening at the persistence of her tongue. Humans didn't taste the same as Kelvics or Dhani or Symenestra, but this time Madeira was ready for the disappointment. Humans were safe and steady. This human more than most. But she didn't want her body, she wanted her, and the name an prestige that followed her. She let that desperation be the catalyst, let it be the force that wound her fingers in the woman's thick hair and pulled her closer by the waist. Chiona was responding hesitantly, her fingers cupping her face and the back of her neck before finally pulling away.

"Hey, stop, someone might see", she gasped.

"So? Let them", Madeira whispered back, sinking down again to try and shut her up.

"Madeira, please", Chiona mumbled against her lips, putting a hand on her chest to gently push her away.

The Spiritist sighed, her forehead resting a moment on Chiona's before pulling back to her end of the bench. "Got to keep up appearances, huh."

"You of all people should understand", Chiona huffed hotly, sitting up and straightening the collar of her dress.

She did, but that was harder to keep in focus when the countdown was on. Whoever was sent from Alvadas would take less than three seasons to get there. If her suspicions were true and it was her keeper/husband, she had that long to figure out how to get Chiona to the altar first. Her impatience warred with her senses before she calmed down.

"Yes, I'm sorry. I'm just a little worked up."

Chiona softened under the genuine note in her apology. She reached out and touched her hand, their fingers entwined on top of the bench, out of sight of the trail. "I know. Please be patient with me a little longer, okay? I'm just... not ready."

Then when? When will you be ready? Madeira wanted to rattle the answers out of her, but she smiled instead.

"I love you", she whispered.

Chiona smiled sadly. "I know."

"Good. Now give me that wine you're hogging. We're not done our date."

"Again, you think this is a date?" Chiona laughed as Madeira swiped the wine from her.

"This is absolutely a date."

"We're not even dating and I want to break up with you."

"Then we better start dating so you can give it a go."

"You're terrible."

Madeira smiled, but in her head all she could hear was the ticking of the clock. "I know."

WC:647
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User avatar
Madeira Craven
long may she reign
 
Posts: 1708
Words: 1526898
Joined roleplay: October 11th, 2016, 7:45 pm
Race: Human
Character sheet
Storyteller secrets
Journal
Plotnotes
Medals: 11
Featured Contributor (1) Featured Thread (3)
Mizahar Grader (1) Overlored (1)
Donor (1) One Thousand Posts! (1)
One Million Words! (1) Lhavit Seasonal Challenge (1)
2018 Mizahar NaNo Winner (1)


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