Solo Haunted pt3

Madeira performs 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 pt3

Postby Madeira Craven on January 16th, 2021, 1:01 am

Haunted
21st of Winter, 520
14th bell

Madeira and Chiona raced back up the lawn of the Dusk Tower, dodging chatting students and faculty as the bustled about the school. The older woman kept casting worried glances at the blonde at her side, but they didn't speak until they had entered the quiet corridors of the Dusk's private quarters.

"Madeira. Madeira, wait." Unable to take it any longer, Chiona seized her by the elbow and towed her to a stop. "You're being so cagey. Talk to me. What is going on?"

Madeira let herself be manhandled. Without the rapid tap of their footsteps the hall felt unnaturally silent. "I don't know", she admitted into the quiet.

Less than a bell ago Adrian Lumin had been brought to the Dusk's in the grips of violent possession. Since then they'd learned that he had sewn a dusted corpse and a maledicted fetish into himself, as a message to her, at the behest of who she knew to be Rotsam the Curse Eater. She thought the message meant the Myrian had stolen the corpse of Uldr's Priest that she kept hidden in the walls of her house, but having just confirmed that that wasn't true, she didn't know what to think anymore.

She indulged in the uncertainty a moment longer before mentally shaking herself. "But Adrian needs our help. Lets hurry."

Without another word she turned and hurried forward to the dining room. Chiona seemed to battle with herself for several ticks before following after her.

They found Adrian right where they left him, strapped at four points to the Dusk's dining room table, naked but for a blanket, being tended by the master of the Tower himself. Aldgare and Adrian both looked up as the women entered and closed the door behind them. Madeira retrieved her flask and Chiona's vials of soulmist before meeting them.

"Adrian! I'm glad you're awake", Madeira dodged Aldgare's inevitable questions and floated to the boy's side. "Have you had anything to drink? Eat? It's important you keep you strength up."

The boy's chocolate eyes rolled to meet her. "Why am I still tied up?", he croaked.

"Because you're dangerous to yourself, and us." Madeira's mouth made sympathetic shapes as she brushed his hair back from his sticky forehead. "I need you to bear with it just a little longer."

The boy was making a valiant effort not to cry, but the hard, thin line of his lips and the tremble in his chin was giving him away. He sucked in a breath as if to speak. The first syllable came out in a dangerously shattered, and his betraying voice fell into frustrated silence. He was holding up better than half the grown men she had done this to. To be laid out like this, hurt and vulnerable, alone with strangers, was terrifying no matter who you were.

"This young man is made of sturdier stuff", Aldgare cut in, his tone fatherly and dignified. "He will be fine."

And just because Aldgare said it, it seemed to make it so. Adrian soaked up the quiet certainty seeping out of the patriarch. The boy was at once calmer, his expression firmly composed. It reminded Madeira of the way Alvadas would favour her aunt, literally changing to fit her. This wasn't supernatural, but it was close. Even Madeira felt less scattered in the presence of the Dusk Tower's leader.

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Haunted pt3

Postby Madeira Craven on January 16th, 2021, 1:03 am

"What are you going to do to me?" Adrian was looking at Aldgare, but it was Madeira who spoke.

"Exorcise you. We are going to remove your... passenger, and make sure he never comes back."

All the fight left the boy at the words. The shadow over his face looks hundreds of years old as he mumbled: "good."

The feeling in the room changed as everyone present all at once understood that it was about to start. Both Chiona and Aldgare looked to their teacher for guidance.

"We need to start with some questions about the hooded man", Madeira met their eyes and nodded. She unraveled her artful chigon and scraped her hair back into a tight utilitarian knot, then rolled up the sleeves of her fancy dress and removed her sink gloves. "That seems like the catalyst before everything went very downhill."

"I told you everything", Adrian was staring at the ceiling, his expression resigned. "I don't know who it was that gave me the medicine."

"Actually, it's not you I want to talk to." Madeira cocked her head, staring into Adrian's eyes like she was trying to see behind them. "Knock knock, you awake?"

"Wait, what are you doing?" the boy gasped, his knees drawing up as he tried to pull away from her.

"Still under the weather?" Madeira cooed, still looking somehow into and past the boy. "Come on, wakey wakey."

The boy's breath was coming in strained pants, his face and body turned completely away, and the crazy bend in his shoulder socket suggested he was willing to go farther. With a huff from Madeira and startled noises from those present she climbed onto the table with him. With a knee planted on his hip and a hand on his shoulder she pinned him back to the table, her dress pooled around them.

"Miss Craven, is this wise?" Aldgare finally spoke up, wearing none of the alarm his daughter was showing. His voice was cool and firm. "There must be a better way."

"Gentler way, maybe", she grunted, the head of her flask between her teeth as she struggled to open the lid. The flask itself was tarnished silver and badly dented, but in a way that suggested love rather than neglect. In a woman dressed head to toe in flawless stones it was definitely incongruous. "But you either pull the plaster off all at once, or you agonize over every uprooted hair."

Spitting away the lid, she upended the soulmist inside over the boy's panicked face.

The effect was instantaneous. The boy's eyes rolled up and away, and every muscle in his body tightened like an overwound guitar string. She was nearly thrown off the table as the body bucked beneath her. It was fascinating to watch a ghost take over a body. The face was still the same, the same skin over the same bone structure, same eyes peering out from the same lashes, but there was still something fundamentally different about how it was worn. There was something off about the switch, and it lingered right at the edge of perception. As the boy's eyes swiveled back to meet her, she knew at once that there was something in there that she had not seen before.

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Madeira Craven
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Haunted pt3

Postby Madeira Craven on January 17th, 2021, 11:13 pm




"Ah, there you are", Madeira sang sweetly as the temperature in the room dropped perceptively, and a smell like heated metal rolled in like a thunderstorm. Turning to her students, her voice dropped into lecture mode, like what they were doing was nothing more interesting than a typical class session. "You know, of course, that a manifested ghost can drain heat from a room and produce a unique smell?" The two Dusk's nodded apprehensively. "It's only really detectable in small, closed spaces, as the effect tends to dissipate. The fact that its still noticeable in a place like this", she gestured one handedly to the room at large, "makes me think this ghost is very old and very strong."

The boy's eyes followed her gesticulations, his gaze stony and watchful, but he was not otherwise reacting.

Madeira turned her attention back to him and smiled like they were friends, like she wasn't holding him down ropes and a hundred pounds of wrathful spiritist. "Well, you're a lot less rabid than I was expecting, given your grand entrance." She sat back on her hips, keeping a knee dug into his pelvis but releasing his shoulder. "Tell me your name."

The boy smiled back. "No."

There was a creak of stressed rope as he tested the restraints around his wrists and ankles. He lifted his head and let it fall back to the mahogany with a crack. His hands were twisting above his head as he tested for weaknesses in his bindings.

"That's all you've got? Not even a fake name? Come on, if you're going to be a nuisance you could at least be entertaining. Lets try again", she cleared her throat. "You've beaten this poor boy half to hai", she murmured, pulling the corner of his blanket aside, displaying the flushing start of a bruise, probably acquired from one of the three grown men that had to restrain him. "Why the sudden change of heart? You're being awfully tame now."

"Madness runs hot and close to the surface", he answered slyly, a touch of life alighting in his expression. The ghost had taken the boy's voice and twisted it. It came out deeper and somehow hollow, like the sound was vibrating up from underground.

Chiona grabbed Madeira's upper arm as if she were trying to drag her off the table. Madeira snatched her sleeve away and glared at the woman. "What?"

Chiona grabbed her again, this time yanking her down to eye level so she could hiss in her ear. "You just gave it your soulmist you idiot! Why didn't you give him mine?!"

Madeira understood. Soulmist from someone who had mastered the craft had more dangerously potent effects than someone still on their journey. But she waved her off with a showy roll of her eyes. "I know, it's rather like wasting a fine vintage. But don't worry, if he was actually dangerous he wouldn't have been hiding in this boy for years like a coward."

"Well, let's not get nasty now", the boy's lips pulled back in a parody of a smile, "princess."

Madeira's gaze sharpened, her attention snapping back to the boy. "What did you call me?"

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Madeira Craven
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Joined roleplay: October 11th, 2016, 7:45 pm
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Haunted pt3

Postby Madeira Craven on January 17th, 2021, 11:14 pm




At her visceral reaction, his expression turned almost gleeful. The stoniness was chipping away, and beneath it she could see just a hint of madness. "How rude of me. Only your beloved calls you that, doesn't he? And I was sent all the way here to deliver his little love note."

She already knew Rotsam gave the boy the powder and the fetish and sent him to her, what she didn't know was that the ghost was well aware of what was going on. Was Adrian not a random target? The Dusk's seemed to be coming the same conclusion, the two of them sharing a wordless glance.

Madeira needed him to keep his talkative ball rolling. She played into the reaction he liked so much, parting her lips as if she were trying to speak, her hands spidering across her arms as if taking a chill. Feigning distress, she swallowed twice before speaking. "Don't call me that."

"Why not? I rather like it. Prin-cess. Cess. Cesspit. I was warned about you, you know. I don't know if I should be offended or not. First taking the boy had been a piece of cake, and now you feeble jokes don't look up to snuff either. Does he really think so little of me?"

Out of the verbal deluge pouring from his mouth Madeira latched onto the one thing that mattered.

"Rotsam told you to take the boy", she realized belatedly, the words coming out tinged with dawning certainty. "You're not the passenger."

This was not the same creature that had been surviving almost symbiotically with this broken boy for years, the one he called his passenger. That ghost never snapped, the whispers never changed. Adrian had suddenly wanted to get rid of it only because something new and darker had had taken its place. Rotsam had sent this ghost to possess him, and probably promised him a reward for the favour. He had this mapped out from start to finish.

Adrian's eyes fixed on her, wide and wicked. "The boy never even noticed the difference. Poor little petcher."

Chiona, aghast, wove a fist in his hair and turned his face towards her so she could look him in the eye. "Then the Dust stitched into the wound was-?"

"A tragedy. Rule of the beasts, darling."

Madeira removed an arrow from her wrist bracer. The thing wasn't much longer than her finger, made of ebony and fletched with small grey goose feathers. With careful precision, she balanced the fine, sharp tip on the cartilage of his throat, holding it in place with the one movable finger of her left hand. She silently coached Chiona to hold his head still.

"Did you know, back in my home city, the healing center came to you?" she began conversationally. "If you got hurt, you'd just have to turn around and bang, the entirety of Ionu's Mercy was right behind you, ready to help. I have to admit, that made doing something like this a lot easier." Finally, she managed to find a balance with the arrow that she could maintain. She turned to Aldgare. "Sir, how long do you expect it will take the Catholicon doctor to get here?"

The man glanced out the window like he was expecting to see the runner he sent or the healers they were bringing back. "Half a bell, maybe less."

"Well, isn't that a pain." She met Chiona's suddenly distressed expression with a smile. "Remember how I told you a possessing ghost cannot have their host commit suicide? The human will is an amazing thing. So if you push the threat..." she tapped the butt of the arrow with her finger, and it sunk several millimeters into his throat. "They can rid themselves of the invading spirit for you."

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Madeira Craven
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Haunted pt3

Postby Madeira Craven on January 17th, 2021, 11:16 pm




"You're forgetting something," Adrian laughed. His arms shook on the table, drawing their attention towards them. Against his white northern skin the angry pink of scar tissue pulsed like a still-open wound. "The boy wants to die."

"Then I will indulge him", Madeira hissed, doubling down. "He's either strong enough to force you out or he'll die, and you'll be forced out anyway. You cannot possess a corpse."

"You're right. Then you'd better do it." He tipped back his head, pushing his throat into the arrow. A bead of blood dewed on the arrowhead. His eyes shone with pleasure. "Do it, coward!"

He'd called her bluff. Madeira snatched the arrow away before it could lodge itself more firmly into his trembling throat.

"Is that all you got?" There was real disappointment in his voice as his arched neck flattened out on the table. "You're a coward, just like him."

Madeira breathed deep, tapping down the frustration. This wasn't working. But if they couldn't force him out, maybe they could convince him. Madeira changed tracks with the ease of someone who had tread this path before. She pressed the arrow in her hand to Adrian's hollow cheek instead.

"Are you threatening me again?" The ghost was almost beside himself, his eyes wild with savage pleasure as he watched each of them, soaking up the atmosphere he created. "Shoot me a hundred times with your little arrows, I won't feel it."

"These aren't arrows." Madeira tapped the souldart hard with the butt of the flask.

The point ripped through his taut cheek, and his eyes shot wide. A sound of shocked pain bounced off the cavernous room, and Chiona let go with a gasp and held her hands over her ears to block the sound. The aurist couldn't seem to tear her eyes away from the bright red trickle of blood leaking from the wound.

"You're pissing me off, so I'll start with bridling you", Madeira spoke under his pained grunting, her voice as sharp as broken glass. "Then I'll crucify him to this table with an arrow through each palm. If you still insist on chattering I'll get a nail in there and staple his tongue to the roof of his mouth. Then I'll move on to the fleshy parts of his arms, torso, legs. Then down and down and down. You don't want to leave this body? Fine. You never will."

"You won't do it", the boy's teeth gnashed at the arrow, but there was panic in his eyes. "You won't let him die like that."

"He'll survive just fine. That's all that matters", she held her left hand over his face for him to see. It was strangely lopsided, half of it withered in atrophy, with a bright white starburst of scar tissue through the palm. "I know how it works because someone has done it to me. Want to know how it tastes?" She gave the arrow another hard tap with the butt of the flask. With a spray of blood and saliva the metal head burst out through his other cheek.

"Dira, goddess of death, comfort and claim this your servant and save them through your kindness", Madeira prayed under the renewed roar of pain. "Deliver them from their anguish and distress, release them in your grace, and deliver them through the ending of their life." She chose another arrow and leaned over the boy, grasping his twisting wrist in her leathery right hand.

"Father", Chiona hissed, nearly in tears as Aldgare moved to help Madeira, prying open the boy's struggling white-knuckle fist and laying it flat against the table. "Father, stop. This isn't right! We can't do this to Adrian! Don't do this!"

Aldgare ignored his daughter. His eyes found Madeira's instead. "Are you sure?" he asked, low and sincere. "You might cripple him."

"I know." Madeira pressed the sharpened head of the arrow hard against Adrian's palm. She raised the flask high over her head, the scythe embossed on its tarnished surface glinting in the gaslight.

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Madeira Craven
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Posts: 1703
Words: 1519298
Joined roleplay: October 11th, 2016, 7:45 pm
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Haunted pt3

Postby Madeira Craven on January 17th, 2021, 11:16 pm




It happened all at once. Suddenly Madeira was lifted off her knees and thrown off the table by a ghostly apparition that wasn't there the tick before. She was catapulted directly into Chiona, and as the women collapsed Madeira shot her one loaded souldart wildly into the air, and it quivered high on the wall on the other side of the room. Spitting and gasping every Fratavian curse Jomi ever taught her, when Madeira hit the ground she clutched her chest but didn't stand.

"Maddy!", Chiona pulled herself out from under the quivering spiritist and turned her over. "Petch, Madeira, are you okay?!"

"I'm fine", she gasped through purpling lips. This was not the first time she'd been on the receiving end of a materialization attack, and frankly she'd had worse, but it was bad enough that her battered soul was still reeling. "Where is it?"

"Gone", Aldgare answered sadly from the other side of the room. He'd pulled the souldart from the wallpaper and was tapping it on the back of his wrist. "I'm sorry, miss Craven, I wasn't fast enough."

Chiona was running her hands along Madeira's body, trying to harmonize the dissonance between it and her astral body with physical sensation. The spiritist managed to pull in a full breath as things starting to fall back into alignment. She sat up and caught Chiona's hand as it skated across her abdomen, kissing its knuckles tenderly before hauling herself up by the edge of the table.

"It wasn't your fault. I thought I would have more time to react." The gnosis on her palm itched. She could probably track the ghost if she tried, but she already knew it would lead her straight to the Den of the Lost. She would be getting no more information out of the creature now.

"You were never going to stab the boy through the hand, were you?" Chiona asked anxiously as she checked on Adrian. The arrow was still stuck through his cheeks. He would forever have two matching starburst scars on his face. "You and father were bluffing, right?"

"I was hoping it would evict before it came to that, but it wouldn't have worked if we hadn't meant it", Madeira admitted gently. "Exorcisms are not gentle things."

"Help has arrived", Aldgare announced, looking out the window towards the courtyard. He pulled the wrinkles out of his suit and smiled reassuringly at the two women. "I'll head them off and explain the situation. If Adrian regains consciousness try to keep him calm. Wouldn't want to strain those injuries."

With that he was off, the door swinging closed behind his as the heels of his shoes clicking down the hallway.

There was silence for a moment as both women listened to Adrian's stuttering breath. "What will you do now?" Chiona finally asked, not meeting Madeira's eye as she smoothed the hair back from Adrian's sticky forehead. "If this really is just some grudge between you and Rotsam, he's willing to hurt other people to satisfy it. What is going on?"

Madeira thought of the dusted ghost in the sugar jar, the elaborate maledicted fetish and the cursed ring tucked away in her dress, and wondered that herself. There was a reason for all of this, she knew it, but she just couldn't see it. More than anything, it was the uncertainty that made her gut clench and her mind turn in anxious circles.

"I don't know", she answered.

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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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