Solo Just Pretending

Madeira gives Chiona acting lessons

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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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Just Pretending

Postby Madeira Craven on December 1st, 2020, 7:19 am

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    15th of Fall, 520
"I beg your pardon?" Chiona stood over Madeira in the inner sanctum of the Dusk Tower, dumbfounded, while her teacher was on her knees rooting around in a dusty chest. "What are we doing?”

"Roleplaying", Madeira repeated, and not for the first time. She pulled out a crumpled large-brim hat, a holdover of some old Lhavitian fashion craze, and dropped it on the floor.

"Alright, I appreciate that you're the expert here, but when we set up this private spiritism lesson I didn't expect we'd be doing something so... childish."

"Roleplaying is a legitimate form of art", Madeira sniffed haughtily. "Just because it's amateur does not mean its childish." She wrapped a wildly printed scarf over her hair and tied it under her chin like someone's doting grandmother.

Chiona pinched the bridge of her nose and breathed through her mouth. Madeira laughed at the pained expression on her face. Holding up her hand she had the older woman help her to her feet.

"Don't be like that! Acting is a very real part of Spiritism. And you, my darling, are a decent Liar but an atrocious liar. You need both to sell it an illusion to a ghost." She scooped the hat off the floor and plopped it smartly on Chiona's head. "So listen to your teacher and lose the stage fright. Curtains in five." She pecked Chiona's lips and spun away.

"You're enjoying this, aren't you", Chiona accused, pulling the hat off her head.

"Immensely", Madeira smiled cheekily. "Should I evoke Emma to assist?"

Latching on to the change of subject, Chiona's brows lowered over her narrowed eyes and she poked an accusing finger at Madeira. "When will you teach me some thing cool like evocation? Instead of playing dress up."

Madeira waved her off with a flap of her gloved hand. "Lets master the basics before we try something as advanced as evocation."

"How long did it take you to learn it?"

Madeira put her finger to her chin as she ran through the mental math. If she started training at five, and she started evoking Jomi at nineteen, it would have been… "Fourteen years", she answered.

Chiona's face fell.

"Relax. We'll get there. You have the best teacher this side of the Suvan, remember", she came up behind her and pulled the hat out of her hand, planting a chaste kiss on her cheek.

"Oh really?" her tawny eyes flashed impishly. "I hear you can evoke more than just ghosts, Madeira. Will you teach me that too?”

Madeira held up a finger to stop the thought, opened her mouth, closed it, worked her tongue over her teeth and tried again.

"Firstly, I’ve only ever done it three times and of those only two were successful. Secondly, you're knocking on the god's back door with that one. That is the last option and the last thing you should be worried about.” She replaced the hat on Chiona's head and pulled it down over her eyes.

"I thought Dusting was the last option!" the woman laughed, struggling to pull the hat back up over her ears.

”Alright, second to last option. Guess it depends on which god you’re willing to draw attention from. Now, do you want Emma or not?"

"No, no, lets not have anybody else see this", Chiona finally worked off the hat and groaned.
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Just Pretending

Postby Madeira Craven on December 1st, 2020, 7:21 am

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"Okay, in that case this is how it'll work." Madeira pulled a flask from the pocket of her dress and held it out to Chiona, who dutifully took it and poured a small measure of soulmist from inside onto her hands. "I'm going to have you give me the Lie, and we're going to run through a few scenarios. You'll have to maintain the magic of the Lie at the same time you're giving the most convincing performance you can deliver. Without Emma I won't be able to see the Lie, so if it starts to flicker you're just going to have to be honest and let me know. Clear?”

"Crystal", Chiona was smearing the soulmist on her face, shivering at the contact.

"Excellent. Okay, let's see..." Madeira pulled the knot tighter under her chin, her eyes roaming some invisible line around the room. "I'm a fisherman's wife who has been waiting on the shore for my husband to come home for a hundred and fifty years. You're my husband who died at sea." She backed up a couple of steps and clapped her hands. "And, action!"

Chiona just stood there, twirling the flask in her hands. "Madeira, I feel ridiculous."

"It's just us", Madeira smiled reassuringly. She knew the feeling. Both of them came from proud, public families. They had been conditioned since childhood to never do anything to embarrass themselves. "Did you ever play pretend as a child? Or better yet,
imagine you're an actress learning a part. It's as simple as that. Start with just talking as this character and we'll work up to the emotions. Here, I'll start."

Madeira cleared her throat. She clasped her hands over her breast, and her eyes widening with slow dawning shock. She felt acting was easier when she understood what her character was meant to be beyond what they said. This woman she was playing had been waiting in one spot for over a century. Not even death could stop her. This woman was strong and loyal and determined, and above all things she had an unshakable hope. She was a bear of a woman with a secret childish heart that still believed love conquers all. She tried to wear the expression on her on her face, the way it would break to see her hope rewarded, but she knew the woman's body would remain tall and strong.

Madeira's voice shook as she spoke. "I knew you would come back for me. I always knew. My darling, my love, I've grown old waiting for you. My bones are brittle and my feet are weary, but your love has kept me strong all these years."

Chiona was staring at her like she'd never seen her before. "How are you so good at this?"

Madeira raised a disapproving brow. Chiona coughed sheepishly and stepped forward. "Sorry, sorry, I'm taking this seriously. Ahem. Hello, wife. I'm so sorry to make you wait." she stilted through the words like each one had to be pulled out of her with pliers.

Madeira was laughing on the inside, and was definitely going to bring up her line 'Hello, wife', later. But she didn't let the mirth show on her face. "Come closer, please, let me hold you. Prove you aren't a phantom conjured from my dreams."

"Um, wait! My love. If- If this is a dream do not touch me yet. I don't want you to wake up." Chiona neatly sidestepped Madeira's first trick. Remembering that Madeira was playing a ghost, she didn't let her touch her. She took one step back, to hoover just out of arms reach. Not only would the ghost pass through her if she didn't prep, having direct physical contact with a spirit could be hazardous to her health.
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Just Pretending

Postby Madeira Craven on December 1st, 2020, 7:23 am

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Madeira broke character just enough to give an approving nod before diving back in. That was a good excuse Chiona gave her. How would her character respond? Would she insist? No, hopeful people were rarely suspicious.

There was a trick to working up tears. Madeira pulled in tight breaths and lowered her eyes to hide the fact that she wasn't blinking. She recalled the first time her father ever called her useless, and let the hurt well up in her eyes. When she looked up again tears were sparking under her eyes.

"If this is a dream let it last forever." She raised her hands to skim over the shape of Chiona's face, her eyes bright with tears and joy as she looked like she was memorizing every line. Chiona, wisely, didn't attempt to put more space between them or cover her face. She was trusting both her lie and her Lie. That was good.

Chiona too was softening into the play. Her posture was slowly relaxing as she shook off the embarrassment. Madeira thought perhaps seeing her teacher put so much effort in was making her feel less silly about it.

"If this is all my patience has earned it is enough", Madeira whispered, and this time she was saying it not to her husband but to
Chiona. "I would wait forever and a day just to hear you say the words."

But what were the words? She expected Chiona to trip on this personal detail, but the older woman only smiled. Her hand lifted to mirror Madeira's and trace the shape of her cheek.

"I love you", she whispered.

Ah, yes. Chiona knew they were the words everyone wanted to hear. The ones you'd wait centuries for. Madeira had never heard Chiona say them to anyone, and though she knew she was talking to her 'wife' and not herself, she still felt the sound reverberate like an echo in her ribs.

They stood there in silence for a moment, reveling in the sudden and strange tension. But as the ticks wore on and Madeira's arms became sore the tension had fizzled away awkwardly.

"You uh, look as beautiful as the day I left you", Chiona continued carefully. Her brow was starting to beetle in confusion.

"Psst, stop dancing around. Get me to move on", Madeira hissed a laugh from behind her hand, like she was trying to hide the words from an invisible audience.

"I was getting to it", Chiona whispered back, before reverting to her stage voice. "You've been waiting so long, wife. You can rest now."

"It's been so long, I've forgotten where our home is. I've forgotten what it means to rest."

This could happen with ghosts, occasionally. They lived for so long in a single moment that the rest of their life fades away from their memory. She wondered how Chiona would handle it.

"That is why", the older woman paused, buying time. "I'll show you, my darling. Come with me to... the great beyond?" Chiona stopped uncertainly at the very real flinch that shivered in Madeira's face. "What?"

"The great beyond? The great beyond? Stop the Gazette, we have a story: local woman kills ghost with explosive cliché"

"Oh I'm sorry", Chiona dropped her hands from Madeira's face and crossed them defensively across her chest. "It's hard to come up with poetry on the spot when I'm doing it to a dork in a babushka scarf."
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Just Pretending

Postby Madeira Craven on December 4th, 2020, 4:30 am

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"Which is why practice is important!" Madeira chuckled, trying to balm the woman's hemorrhaging embarrassment. "We're going for theatrics. The ghost is your audience, make them feel!"

"Feel what? What am I supposed to do!" Chiona threw up her hands in frustration. "Do I whisper sweet nothing to her until she commits suicide? What!"

"No, no, no, you had a good idea. That kind of... soft goodnight, was wonderful. If this woman is willing to wait for you for hundreds of years she would follow you anywhere. You're wearing the face of her most dearly beloved, use it. Use her emotions to steer her without being too... egregious about it. No clichés. Do it with feeling. She is laying down for an eternal rest with you, her lover."

"Fine", Chiona stalked back to her with a frightful steeliness in her eyes. She stood so close she could feel the heat rising from the embarrassed red of her chest, as stooped close enough to kiss. "My wife, my love, I have come home to you. Rest now. The twilight bell has sound, and after that the dark. And may there be no sadness or farewell tonight. One short sleep past, my dear, and we wake eternally. Rest now."

Madeira blinked slowly. "Where did that come from?"

"I read it in a book somewhere", Chiona's tawny eyes crinkled mischievously.

"Good! Outside sources are perfectly valid." Clearing her throat, Madeira pushed herself back into character. "I've been here so long. How do I..." Madeira trailed off, her gaze turning glazed and vacant. She had seen the expression on the undead before, confused and standing at the very edge of their reason.

It took a lot of effort to exist as a spirit. That was why not everyone could come back as ghost. It required a tremendous effort of will to resist the flow of life and death, and to relax for even a moment would wash the soul away. It was the reason why, after decades or centuries or thousands of years, they all eventually break under the pressure, and go mad.

Thankfully Chiona remembered this, and the woman smiled as she traced the edges of Madeira's face again.

"Just let go. Let sleep come to you, and I'll be waiting on the other side."

"I'm scared."

"The dark is nothing to fear."

"Then come with me."

"I already have", she whispered, and suddenly it didn't sound like she was talking to Madeira's character, either. And somewhere between one beat and the next, while their breath was still lingering between them, Chiona's lips pressed to hers. And there was something about it, about the pressure and the tilt of her head and the way her palm fit so perfectly against her cheek, that made Madeira feel for the first time that this woman might be in love with her.
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Madeira Craven
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Posts: 1708
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Just Pretending

Postby Madeira Craven on December 4th, 2020, 4:33 am

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Madeira wanted to throw herself into the kiss, to respond with enthusiasm, but she forced herself to slow down. Don't petch this up, she demanded of herself, as her own hands crawled into the woman's thick dark hair. She wasn't sure how long they were there, buts she desperately wished someone would walk in on them. She needed someone else to know that Chiona Dusk loved her, or else it didn't matter.

When they finally broke apart both of them were gasping. Chiona brushed a lock of hair out of Madeira's eyes.

"You pass", Madeira rasped. The little shot of levity gently relieved the pressure between them, and the mood lightened.

"Oh good", Chiona laughed. "Have you ever kissed a ghost before? In the name of science, naturally."

'I guess?"

"Wait, have you?" this pulled the other woman up short. "That was very clearly a yes or no question."

"Well, then yes, technically, but he was possessing a Symenestra at the time. So maybe it's more accurate to say I've kissed a Symenestra before, not a ghost."

"Symenestra? As in the... spider people? The extremely venomous spider people? With the teeth?" She curled her index fingers under her lips to mimic fangs.

"That's the one."

"Wow."

"Yep."

They were silent for a moment as they both independently pondered that mental image.

"Well", Chiona plopped down on the nearest chaise and stretched like a satisfied cat. "I'd kiss more ghosts if they felt like that."

"Please don't."

"Miss Craven, is that jealousy I hear?"

"Perhaps." Madeira followed her to the chaise and kneeled on top of her in a mostly smooth motion, straddling Chiona's hips. It was a bold move, one she learned from Belladonna, and Madeira purred with satisfaction to see the surprise on the older woman's face. "Perhaps I might even do something about it."

"Could you at least take off the babushka scarf first? You're killing this for me" Chiona was trying to look unruffled as her hands fell naturally to Madeira's thighs, but something about the movement of her throat betrayed her. She really was a terrible liar.

"You know what really does it for me?", Madeira went on mercilessly. Chiona just laid there, obviously uncomfortable and completely lost for words at the moment. The spiritist smiled wickedly. "Roleplay. Stop slacking off, Miss Dusk. We're not done."

"Oh my gods. Why do I put up with you." Chiona sat up and pushed the laughing spiritist off of her, but she couldn't hide the amused twist of her lips.
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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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