Solo Haunted pt 2

Madeira comes to an alarming realization during an exorcism

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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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Haunted pt 2

Postby Madeira Craven on January 14th, 2021, 1:13 am

Haunted
21st of Winter, 520
13th bell

In the private quarters of the Dusk Tower, sixteen-year-old Adrian Lumin was strapped to the family's dinning room table. The boy, possessed and naked but for a blanket, was struggling to keep his exhausted body awake while on the other side of the room his exorcists spoke in hushed voices.

"I don't want to sound unprofessional", Chiona Dusk hissed, "but what the petch was that?!"

Though she was speaking to both people present, Madeira, as her teacher and the master in this situation, felt compelled to be the one to answer.

"I don't know. I've never seen something like that before." That rang sharp in all their minds, and all three pondered the image it conjured of the frightfully human-looking skin Adrian had stitched over his belly with embroidery thread that they had just seen. "I did hear him right, that some hooded man stopped him on the street and told him to put the medicine inside his body to cure him of his 'passenger'?"

Chiona's father, Aldgare Dusk, looked uncommonly grave as he answered. "Do you think he stuck this... medicine, underneath the skin?"

"Even for a mad person that's an enormous leap in logic", Chiona whispered back. "Stitching god-knows-what into your body because someone on the street told you to."

"Is it?" Madeira raised her brow. Chiona opened her mouth to rebut, but thought better of it. "I thought I taught you better than this. Ghosts are unpredictable, and nothing is ever simple. This is actually a good opportunity to see it in action. Have either of you done an exorcism before?

"Not like this", the brunette shook her head, her father shook his head too.

"Which means you have done an exorcism, just not like this one. Okay, excellent. This will get messy but we're going to cure this boy. Follow my lead but be ready to improvise. There is no operators manual for this."

Mumbled assent from the group. Madeira rubbed her gloved hands together. The challenge and the mystery was putting a spark in her eye. She turned and tapped across the room back to Adrian.

"Adrian? Are you-" She stopped herself short as she looked down on him.

"Is he actually asleep?" Chiona asked in disbelief as she came up behind her.

"Passed out, more like", Madeira watched the slow rise of his belly as he breathed calm and even for the first time since he arrived. "Possession is very stressful. We should remove that skin while we have the chance. I don't think we'll catch both Adrian and the ghost inert at the same time again."

"Agreed. And he needs medical attention", Aldgare swept into quick action. "Chiona, find some scissors and sterilize them."

"We don't have time for that", Chiona cut in. "Who knows how long they'll both be out?"

"She's right", Madeira agreed. "Send for the Catholicon and hand me a knife. I'll cut it off."

Aldgare hesitated for half a tick before doing as she asked, pulling the smallest, sharpest knife he could find from the cutlery drawer. From the look on both their faces it was clear they were glad she had volunteered for the task.
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Haunted pt 2

Postby Madeira Craven on January 14th, 2021, 1:14 am




Tucking her skirt beneath her legs, Madeira kneeled on the floor beside Adrian and rolled up his blanket to expose his side. The sight was just as grisly the second time. Very carefully, so as not to do more damage, she began to saw at the string, cutting the stitches away one by one. The boy's eyelids fluttered, but he didn't wake up.

As she sawed gently through the string, a grey, powdery substance began to trickle over her fingers, startling her. Ash? No, not ash. Dust. She came to the same conclusion as the aurists behind her did, and there was a collective breath through the room.

"How the did we not see that?" Chiona hissed at her father, both of them staring wide-eyed as the remains of a dusted second ghost as it pooled on their dining room floor. "We're aurists, for gods sake, how did we miss this?"

Madeira thought she might know how. As she plucked away the last of the string she peeled the foreign skin off his belly. Thankfully, his real skin beneath looked unharmed. Between the two something small but heavier than the dust fell out and made a wooden sound as it hit the floor, but Madeira was too focused on the outer skin to care. She turned the underside to face the Dusks. The surface was covered in malediction circles.

Chiona made a strangled sound and knocked into a table as she cringed away from the fetish, though she bravely didn't leave the room. The last time she had encountered a fetish it had cursed her, turning her into a murderer.

"I don't think it's dangerous", Madeira reassured the room at large, though she turned her body to hide it from Chiona's direct line of sight. "Otherwise it would have hurt the kid. He's the one wearing it." She didn't like to talk about her malediction, but both people in the room knew about it, thanks to Aldgare's worrying knack for discovering secrets. They seemed to expect more, so she cleared her throat and went on. "I'm not proficient enough in the study to know for certain, but the intent seems to be... to conceal or maybe to distract. See the eyes, and how they peer from the trees?" Even Aldgare looked faintly nauseous as she went almost nose-to-nose with the fetish, trying to read the crude, spiky drawing. It wasn't tattooed or carved, it was painted. So it wasn't meant to last long. She thought she might recognize the hand that painted it, like a signature. This wasn't the work of a possessed man. What did it mean?

"And what is this?" Aldgare kept his hands wisely behind his back as he stepped closer and bent over the Dust on the floor. Directly on top was a ring, a dull gold gleam peeking out of the layer of ghost corpse.

Following Aldgare's line of sight, Madeira stared at the ring. Perhaps it was that she never expected to see it again, or at least not like this, that it took her a long moment to recognize it, but when she did her entire body went cold.

That was her ring. There was a tingling in her her mutilated fingers as blood fled deeper into her body. That was her ring. A cursed bone fetish dressed to look like a golden ring. She had last seen it on Lehlie Dawn's finger, on the day Madeira had secretly ruined Chiona's life.
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Haunted pt 2

Postby Madeira Craven on January 14th, 2021, 1:15 am




Suddenly she understood that this was meant for her. This whole production was meant for her, as some kind of message. Rotsam sent this boy. Of course he did. The Spritist-Maledictor had him delivered to her stitched together in a way the aurists in the tower wouldn't intercept, all in the hopes that she would get this message, probably surrounded by Dusks as she did. But if the ring was hers, what was the dust?

The realization dawned on her, and she snatched her silver flask off the table and threw it across the room. The Dusks startled at the sound, Chiona stifling a yelp.

"Get rid of it, all your soulmist, every last drop, now!" she demanded, her voice breaking with panic at the end. She ripped off Jomi and Emma's evocation rings and threw them as well, and they clattered on the other side of the cavernous room.

The genuine panic in her voice didn't give itself to explanations. Aldgare and Chiona followed suit, the older man collecting his and his daughters vials calmly and transporting them to the other side of the room. A cold sweat was eating though the powder on Madeira's face, her teeth were cutting perfect crescents into her bottom lip. She shakily removed a silk handkerchief from her pocket and draped it carefully over the ring, making sure it didn't make any contact with her skin as she folded it carefully and tucked it away inside her dress, aware all the while of Chiona watching her.

"Madeira, what the petch is happening. You're freaking us out."

Madeira shook her head but didn't answer. "I need a brush and a container with a lid."

"Madeira, please, what is this? Why are you so scared!"

Aldgare returned with a short handled broom and a sugar pot he had found in the room. The sugar it had once contained had been dumped in a neat little pile on a tea trolley.

They knew a dusted ghost could be resurrected with a drop of soulmist, and they knew that a resurrection had a chance of bringing back something worse, but as they watched Madeira get down on her hands and knees to scrape the remains of the ghost off the floor they both understood that there was something here she wasn't telling them. Chiona hovered, wanting to get closer but unsure how. Aldgare stood back, his hands in a thoughtful steeple as he observed everything in his careful way.

Getting laboriously to her feet, Madeira held the sugar jar in both hands like it was a bomb. "I have to go", she stated, but the effect of her well-practiced leader voice was lost as her mind turned distractedly. "I have to check on something. Leave Adrian right where he is. I'll come back for him."

"I'm coming with you. Father can look after the boy." Chiona stepped forward.

"No. Stay here."

"Something is wrong. I'm coming with you", Chiona stated again, looking almost wrathful in her determination.

Unwilling to argue the point, Madeira turned and left without another word. Chiona jogged a few steps to keep up.
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Haunted pt 2

Postby Madeira Craven on January 14th, 2021, 1:15 am




They were silent as they raced out into the streets.

"I need to go home. Do you know how to get there?"

Chiona considered for a moment before nodding. She had been to the Infinity Manor a few times before, and she knew of Madeira's crippling lack of spacial skills. Taking her arm gently she led the way.

"This has to do with the flowers, doesn't it", Chiona asked, though the tone in her voice meant she knew she was right. A season ago someone had filled Madeira's classroom with vase after vase of beautiful, spiny red roses. In one of those vases someone had secretly hid a maledicted fetish that over the course of the day had slowly driven her mad. It wasn't until Chiona, an accomplished aurist, had come to check on the commotion did they realize what was happening.

Madeira wasn't surprised she tied the two together. She was definitely her father's daughter.

"I think so", she conceded. She could point to exactly who was trying to ruin her life. Rothsam the Curse Eater. She was tethered to the Myrian by their twin Cordas marks. Sagallius had locked them into a game with power and success on the line, the loser would be punished accordingly. "It's Rotsam. He's sending me these."

Chiona's steps missed a beat and she stumbled, but she didn't question if it was true, or ask for proof. Not for the first time Madeira realized the depths to which this woman trusted her.

"Why? Why is he doing this?"

"There's a lot of bad blood between us." It wasn't a lie, but it was a laughably shallow version of the truth. "Your father is aware", because of course he was. "It was just rivalry, at first. Competition. I'm part of the Towers and he's an independent mage. I'm an outsider and he's been a spiritist here for years. He's an asshole and I'm not an angel myself. We're constantly stepping on each others toes in this city. But it's gotten... out of hand. I'm scared, Chiona. I'm scared that one of these days he's really going to hurt me." She glanced at the little sugar pot in her hands and felt bile pooling in her gut. Perhaps he already had.

"That will never happen", Chiona shot back forcefully. "Never. We'll start check everything that comes within six meters of you. He'll never get close enough to try."

Madeira smiled thinly, thinking of the maledicted skin that had walked right past their front door, in full view of several dozen of Lhavits' best aurists.

"Why don't you go to the Shinya about this?" Chiona went on.

Madeira had considered this too. What better way to dethrone someone than with an actual throne? If Rotsam did something egregiously stupid she would have no problem sicing Lhavit's trusted guards on him. But besides not wanting the Shinya breathing down her own neck, Rotsam was not that stupid.

"Its not that simple. I have no proof. Besides, he's the Spirritist of Lhavit, a trusted public figure. I'm an outsider with a funny accent on loan from half a world away."

"Maybe at first, but not anymore. You're one of us now."

Madeira smiled at that, because that was what Chiona wanted to see. But inside all she could feel was Alvadas, her real home, getting farther away.
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Haunted pt 2

Postby Madeira Craven on January 14th, 2021, 1:16 am




The tall Infinity Manor rose like a spear out of the smattering of trees that surrounded it. It took all she had for Madeira not to sprint the last few paces as it opened its wrought iron gate for them.

Chiona smiled, charmed as always by Madeira's strange magic house. The house, which enjoyed being charming, had only warm thoughts for the woman its master was bringing with her. But as it moved its attention to her it could feel the apprehension that was lancing through her heart. A question that was not her own rose in her head, but she pushed it aside for the moment.

They passed Jomi's roaming chickens, Moritz's excitable dog, and Spooks stalking a lurking crow before Madeira shouldered open the front door.

"Welcome home." Maro was standing in the common room half of the open first floor, wielding a feather duster.

"Hello, Maro. Make Chiona a cup of tea, will you?"

"Wait", Chiona turned on her while Maro immediately bustled off to the kitchen, "where are you going?"

"Nowhere. Upstairs. Just... I need you to wait here."

Chiona wavered for a bit, but nodded once, sharply.

Madeira squeezed her hand reassuringly, then ascended the floating stairs in the middle of the room to the second floor. She checked that nobody was following her, and that no one was on the floor with her, before speaking aloud to Infinity.

"Where's the Priest?"

Only three people knew about the dusted corpse of the priest of Uldr that her and the manor had hidden away two years ago. The Desolate One had attacked them and they survived, but an undead thing can never truly die. Unable to stomach the thought of trusting the Shinya with something so dangerous, and fearing Uldr himself finding his priest, the two had hidden it away. Only her, Jomi and Infinity, the people who were there, knew about it. Except that wasn't quite true. Not long after that Jomi had betrayed them, and he had told Rotsam everything he knew.

But the only thing Jomi never knew was where Infinity had hidden the creature.

The house didn't answer her question. Good. It wouldn't be much of a hiding place if it did. Madeira covered her eyes with her hand and spun three times.

"I once knew a man who lived in a jar.
For a stranger sight you'd have to go far.
I asked him once why he lived in a jar.
He grimaced and said, how bizarre you are!"

The password was meant to be another layer of protection, in case Madeira was possessed, or in an emergency if she needed someone else to relocate the apoplectically dangerous Priest.

The point was there was no way Rotsam could have found it, not if he didn't know where to look, not if he didn't know the trick to getting it, not if her house was magic. But still the thought ate at her. Because what if he did? What if he could walk undetected through her home like the magekiller did? She didn't want to believe it, but the Dust she was toting around in the sugar jar made no sense otherwise.

On the third rotation she lifted her hand, slightly dizzy, and saw on the wall between two of the four bedrooms a cupboard that had not been there before. She pulled hard at the handle and the thing clicked open. Inside, just where she had left it, was a small black metal box. Madeira reached in and pulled it out. The box and the lock attached were the most expensive, thief proof things money could buy. From the coating of very mundane dust on top she knew it had never been touched since she put it down. But just to check she pressed her ear to the seal. Inside, just below audible, were dark whispers of something that wanted nothing more than to watch her suffer eternally.

Madeira was so relieved she wanted to cry. Everything was fine. The priest was safe tucked away in the walls.

But if it was still here, what was the point of that showy and transparent threat? The malediction made it clear it was from Rotsam, the ring made it clear it was for her, then what was the dust? Some random ghost? If it was just to scare her he had to know that as soon as she checked on the Priest the impact would be lost. Without it whatever he was trying to say suddenly made no sense, once it was clear the dust was nothing to do with her.

Madeira frowned down at the box, then lifted her head as if something in the hall could explain this to her. But it was empty but for the crow on the windowsill. It cocked its head inquisitively at her and she glared at it. Something about its beady little eyes made her uncomfortable. She put the box back into the cupboard and closed it firmly.

"Spooks! Your meal is getting away."

The scent of licorice manifested out of nowhere, and from the other side of the window came an explosion of yowling and startled squawks. The bird managed to get away, with a few less fathers than before, flying away lopsidedly back to the city. By the time Madeira turned back to the wall the cupboard, and the Priest, was safely gone.
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Madeira Craven
long may she reign
 
Posts: 1703
Words: 1519298
Joined roleplay: October 11th, 2016, 7:45 pm
Race: Human
Character sheet
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Medals: 11
Featured Contributor (1) Featured Thread (3)
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Donor (1) One Thousand Posts! (1)
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