Solo Problem Child

Madeira meets her family for the first time in years

(This is a thread from Mizahar's fantasy roleplay forum. Why don't you register today? This message is not shown when you are logged in. Come roleplay with us, it's fun!)

Herein lies Xyna's Outpost, and her gift to Mizahar's people. It is a magical place full of potential and possibility where all can gather and exchange ideas and commerce.

Moderator: Gossamer

Problem Child

Postby Madeira Dusk on December 5th, 2020, 8:25 pm

Image
Date, Season, Year
"Speech"


"Have I ever told you about the time I was pushed off the Skybridge and died?"

It was Winter, but every centimeter of the Outpost burned with summer heat. Madeira's eyes were narrowed against the glare off the tinted glass and sandstone buildings as she skirted the bazar, a sleek shadow at her heel.

"I beg your pardon?" Spooks' armored head turned to stare incredulously up at his master. The problem with someone knowing you were a liar was that they never believed you when you spoke the truth.

"Hitting the ground is bad, don't get me wrong", Madeira assured, her eyes not lifting from the path in front of them, "but the worst part is right before you're even falling in the first place. It's the moment right before your balance is tipped past the point of no return." If she concentrated she could still feel the bite of the ghost's manifested fingers in her shoulders, feel the unforgivingpress of the railing against the small of her back. But the memory had lost the power to scare her anymore. "Your body knows you're petched the second before your mind does, and it just kind of... leaves without you. Abandons ship", she sighed. That was the only way she could explain it.

"I'd like to remind you you're having lunch, not riding into battle."

"All aboard", Madeira muttered under her breath.

The Bazaar was packed, but people seemed to be able to find a little extra room to give Madeira and her hai beast as they passed. Spook's fur was silky and brushed, his claws and teeth and bone plates gleaming and polished like oiled stone in the harsh desert light. He always looked dangerous, but something about him being so carefully tended put an edge on it, like a whetstone. Madeira was equally tended, straight and proper in dress and jewels. But if Spooks' polished gleam was an unsheathed knife, Madeira's careful beauty and colourful attire warned that her species was poisonous.

If they were not riding into battle, why all this armor?

She could see a break in the dense market where the tents stopped and the arched doorways of the restaurant began. They were almost there.

"Don't speak, even if you're asked a question" Madeira warned. "Actually, It might be better if you're just not there. Go wander around. I'll buy you some food when I'm done, so try to stay away from the cats and pigeons."

Spooks just eyed her with a single lamp-like eye. She never let him wander the Outpost, thick as it was with religiously significant and fanatically protected small animals, unsupervised.

"My time is limited and you are too much to explain", Madeira answered the stare curtly. "I'll call if I need you."

He was dismissed. The beast didn't waste time questioning this sudden freedom. With a slightly worrying gleam in his eye, Spooks vanished in a curl of soulmist. Madeira waved the gust of licorice scented mist away from her face and finally broke out of the market. In ticks she had crossed under the gates of The Courtyard Cantina.
[/color]
User avatar
Madeira Dusk
long may she reign
 
Posts: 1775
Words: 1599245
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)

Problem Child

Postby Madeira Dusk on December 6th, 2020, 12:12 am

Image

"Speech"


She found her where she said she would be, in the courtyard of the canteen, at a small table. There was a glass of iced tea sweating in front of her, but the woman herself was cool and composed in the desert heat. Her dust coloured hair was pulled back in an elegant and utilitarian knot, her pant suit was dark and stylishly cut; and her only adornment was a blood red brooch through her collar. Madeira swallowed, gathered herself, and smiled.

"Madara Craven, Ma'am. It's been a long time."

Madara Craven, Madeira's namesake, her aunt, and the undisputed matriarch of the powerful Craven line. They hadn't seen each other in over three years, and as she turned to face her both of them took the opportunity to look over one another. The woman's gaze was sharp. Once upon a time Madeira would have flinch under that gaze, sure she was going to cut herself on it. But for the first time in her life, she found herself meeting it. Their shared blood gave them the same unfortunate eyes; colourless and flat, like a fish before it knows it's dead. She wondered how she never noticed.

"Too long, Madeira. You look well." Unexpectedly. The word hung in the air, just solid enough for Madeira to stub her feelings on.

The older woman didn't smile when she offered her niece her hand, nor did she rise from her chair to do so, but Madeira didn't expect her to. She could count on one hand the number of times she'd witnessed her aunt smile. None of them had been for her.

Madeira knew she had changed dramatically over the years, but nothing about Madara's expression gave away just how much she saw, or if she was pleased by the difference. Time seemed to avoid Madara herself. The woman was virtually untouched. Though nearly fifty her finely lined face and fading hair came off as proud rather than old. She even moved like the world was going to step out of her way; and in a sense, it did. She was the only person Madeira had ever seen Alvadas favour.

"How is the family?" Madeira beamed a smile as she offered her hand, trying to melt her icy gaze with the power of familial bonding, but the power fizzled and died long before it touched her aunt

"Very well. Frode sends his regards, and regrets he couldn't come himself. I myself cannot stay long. You wanted to speak to me?" She offered the wicker seat across from her. There were vases of flowers on every table but this one. Madara must have sent them away. The hum of the conversations around them buzzed like irritating flies.

"Yes." Down to business. Craven's were never the type for sentimentality. "I have some very serious concerns about your last letter."

"Then I will do my best to clarify."

Madeira licked her teeth behind her lips. She received that letter in the late summer and had burned it after reading it, but the words were embossed in her memory. It was a reply to her announcement (a year late) of the birth of her children, Amelie and Moritz, born Spring first, 519 to an unwed mother and her crazed bondmate. She wasn't there to see the uproar that letter caused, and she was glad of that. 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.

As you seem to be unable to conduct yourself in a way that befits your name, Madara's letter had read in her perfect cursive, 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.

There were cold fingers in her shoulders, and Madeira could feel herself tipping over the edge. Hitting the ground is bad, but that first push is worse. Say it, she begged herself. This one time in your miserable life, tell them no.
[/color]
User avatar
Madeira Dusk
long may she reign
 
Posts: 1775
Words: 1599245
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)

Problem Child

Postby Madeira Dusk on December 6th, 2020, 2:01 am

Image

"Speech"


"You said you were sending someone here, to Lhavit", Madeira began, the silver tongued spiritist already stumbling on her words. "Who, and for what purpose?"

The Craven Matriarch leaned back in her chair, crossed her legs, and took her time in answering.

"Roland Eyler is a man with strong moral character. He's an artist, I'm told. And if it will put your mind at ease, he is considered quite handsome. He has agreed to marry you."

Madeira knew it was coming. She nodded, smoothed her skirt across her lap, and worked to keep her expression clear. Only once she was sure she wouldn't betray herself could she bring herself to speak.

"I understand why you thought this was necessary, but I never consented to a marriage. I have-"

"We never needed it."

The words struck clear as a bell, ringing and final. Madeira's body sucked in a breath like she had been hit.

"We are far past the point of consent, Madeira. I don't think you understand just what it is you've done", Madara went on. "You've embarrassed us. All of us. You've sullied our name in a way that will never recover."

"Ma'am, I-"

"We were human", Madara's clear tone sliced through Madeira's protest like tissue paper. "I won't pretend that there were never people in our line who had... unconventional appetites. But the difference is that your mingling became fruitful. Now we Cravens are no longer human. We are less."

It was getting colder in the desert courtyard. The voices around them melded into a static hum that danced across Madeira's exposed nerves.

"No, listen-"

"No. You have had your chance to speak. You were the mouthpiece of our entire family. We trusted you to take that responsibility seriously, to be the dignified, loyal daughter we thought you were. And you failed us before you had even opened your mouth. Now one day there will be dogs and pigs and birds who will call themselves Craven, who will carry Deshira Craven's blood, and our damaged dignity will be well and truly lost. Because of you. So you will take this kindness we have bestowed upon you, this dutiful husband willing to look past your disgrace, and be grateful."

Her voice never raised above conversational, yet Madeira's ears were ringing as if she had shouted. She looked inside herself, cataloging the damage, ready to stem the flow of shame and regret she expected to be pouring from the wounds inflicted by her words, but she didn't find any. Instead she found something molten and rising, and she realized she was angry.

Her mouth was salivating like she was about to vomit, and her knuckles pushed up against the delicate fabric of her gloves. Kindness, she said? They were sending her a babysitter. Giving her a muzzle and calling it a wedding ring. The audacity of it was running hot through her veins, and years of frustration and timidness began flaking off her soul and burning away. There were gods out there who knew her name. There were monsters buried under her floorboards. She was tangled up in so many lives, and so many were tangled up in hers. She had been tested and tried again and again and again and her family still thought of her as the screwed-up daughter of a failure.

She didn't speak for several ticks, her jaw working soundlessly while the older woman stirred another sugar cube into her drink. And it was the dismissiveness of the gesture, the way her eyes slid off of her niece, that finally loosened Madeira's tongue.

"I tore open Deshira's watered-down blood and gave it claws", she finally spat, looking half-animal herself as she leaned in, eyes alight and speaking in the kind of hissing whisper that started in one throat and ended in someone else's. "My descendants will have wings and fangs and they will tell stories of me."
User avatar
Madeira Dusk
long may she reign
 
Posts: 1775
Words: 1599245
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)

Problem Child

Postby Madeira Dusk on January 10th, 2021, 1:56 am

Image

"Speech"


The outburst surprised them both. The older woman looked up from her drink, her expression as cold as carved marble. She was still stirring her drink, though the sugar had long dissolved.

"Deshira Craven has been dead for five hundred years and you talk like she's rolling in her grave”, Madeira continued, mastering herself. Her teeth retreated back behind her painted lips, but the words that slipped between them still had every ounce of the bite she was no longer showing. "I do not consent to your kindness. I have my own plans for my future.”

Something in Madeira's soul felt savage and glad. She had been pushed off the skybridge, but instead of falling, she was flying.

The silence that followed was impenetrable.

"You are so loud, Madeira”, her aunt waved a fine fingered hand at the eclectic and ostentatious finery that covered every inch of her niece. "Look at you. You're like a child, demanding attention, collecting endless amusements, and acting out when you don't get your way. You are not the center of the world.”

Every jewel Madeira wore seemed to double in weight as she became overly aware of them, but she held the older woman's gaze. She was not ashamed of the looks she got. The attention of others is what kept her safe, after all. It would be hard for anyone to harm or exploit Madeira Craven when all eyes were on her.

“If you mean my ghosts, and the people that come and go in my life, they are not amusements. They are not distractions, either. They are precious to me. And that attention is the reason the Craven name will still be spoken when I'm gone. They look at me because of how I dress, but they talk about me because I am the best spiritist you ever produced. I am not a problem, I do not need your misguided solution.”

Madara was quiet for a moment, her long finger traced the edge of her glass as she seemed to consider her niece. Her sleeve shifted on her wrist, and beneath Madeira could see the thatched scars that mirrored her own.

"What do you know of Sunberth?" Madara finally spoke.

Nothing, as it happened. Thrown by the sudden shift in conversation, Madeira stayed silent, folded her arms, and waited for her aunt to speak. Better to appear uncooperative than ignorant.

"There are mausoleums and crypts in the hills of that city with our names on them. The records of the people they belonged to were lost in a great catastrophe that wiped all memory of magic out of the city. Why do you suppose that is?"

There were Cravens in Sunberth? Madeira never knew their family had reached that far out of Kalea. The thought of her ancestors rotting away in some forgotten crypt somewhere, their deeds erased, their name nothing but a notch on a worn stone, was disturbing. But you don't build crypts for one generation.

"You are attracting a lot of attention. The wrong kind. The kind that breeds catastrophe. We've had correspondence from someone calling himself the Curse Eater. He requested an audience with us. He had some interesting things to say about Lhavit and your involvement there, and he had promised us more.”
User avatar
Madeira Dusk
long may she reign
 
Posts: 1775
Words: 1599245
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)

Problem Child

Postby Madeira Dusk on January 10th, 2021, 2:15 am

Image

"Speech"


Madeira watched the shape of her aunts mouth around the words, the tap of her tongue across the hard t, the way her r's slipped past the sliver of her lips like a forked tongue. She didn’t know what Rotsam wanted from her family, but she could guess.

“Ma’am”, her rage shattered on the word like a breakwater. Her arms unspooled, and her hand reached halfway across the table before rethinking the gesture. "That man is dangerous. Burn everything he sends you. Please, this is important. Do not meet him.”

Madara raised a sculpted brow. "We had no intention to. You seemed to have forgotten, between your own insecurities and resentment, that we are on the same side.”

“I- I have not forgotten.”

"I think you have. I think you have spent so much time trying to stand out that you've forgotten who you are standing with. You are a Craven. One of a whole. You are raw and arrogant but you are ours. We never abandoned you.”

Madeira didn't know what to say. “You sent me away. Alvadas is my home.”

“You were wasted in Alvadas. I will not accept that Lhavit has proved too much for you”, she said shortly, clearly done with the question.
“This is your chance to speak, for one last time, and explain yourself. Why are you trying to refuse our generosity.”

This, finally, Madeira could do. Given room to speak, she could turn this back to her favor. She cleared her throat.

"My children and I will be part of the Dusk family by the end of the year.”

Finally, she had Madara's attention. The matriarch’s gaze sharpened, and her fingers steepled on the table.

Understanding how tenuous that attention was, Madeira spoke low and fast. "You're sending me a match which offers us nothing we don't already have. I can do better. I am doing better. The Towers used to run the city. They still have the resources and the history, as well as the respect. That's a good foundation to build something on. Dusk and Craven.” she said the names with a slow, savory tongue, lingering over every syllable, letting the sound of them sink into the older woman. "That's all of Kalea in three words.”

Madara paused, digesting the words, calculating the merit, considering the idea for what might have been for bells or a single tick.

"And who is this match?” the older woman asked, prudent and wary.

"Dusk is the richest and most influential of the three Towers. Chiona Dusk is their only heir.”

"A woman”, Madara caught the implication, "which means-“

"No children.” Madeira smiled. "Then isn't it such good fortune that I already have a son? A son with Craven blood, who just happens to be a holy creature that this city worships.”

Madara leaned back in her chair. "The boy…”

“Moritz”, Madeira nearly snarled again.

"Yes, Moritz…” Madara tapped her nails against her glass. Madeira licked her teeth nervously, but the thought didn’t complete. The track changed. "I take it you're not yet engaged, Madeira.”

“No, I need more time.”

"Then this is all just speculation, or worse. But, if you are confident you can make the match, we will of course support your efforts.”

“I am”, Madeira shot back immediately, holding Madara’s gaze.

“It is far too late to call back your betrothed, he should be passed Falyndar by now, but he and his family have already been compensated. If you happen to be married before he arrives, there is legally nothing we or they can do to change it”, Madara explained pointedly as she gathered her things. The conversation was coming to a close. “If that were the case I would personally inform his family of the sudden change in circumstance, and he can do what he likes when he arrives. Out of courtesy you will be expected to accommodate him until he can find his own lodging, of course. If not”, now her voice darkened, and the bloody brooch flashed as she stood from her seat as looked down on her niece, “if this is you stalling for time or reaching above yourself, then you will take him as your husband. You have been indulged far too long, and I do not give second chances. Legitimize yourself and salvage what you can of our reputation, or be grateful when we do it for you.”

The conversation was over. Madeira stood from her chair. “Ma’am”, she recited robotically. “Give my best to the family.”

“You have ninety days, possibly less. Do not disappoint us again, Madeira.”
User avatar
Madeira Dusk
long may she reign
 
Posts: 1775
Words: 1599245
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)


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests