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Madeira has a question for Aldgare Dusk

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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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Postby Madeira Craven on February 20th, 2021, 12:57 am

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"Aldgare, sir, I would like to- no, I need to speak with you."

Madeira's brows were pulled severely over her pale eyes, her posture stiff and determined as she menaced the potted plant in the corner of her empty classroom. Catching her reflection in the shine of one of the tall window, she smoothed down her bodice and the lay of the diamonds around her neck.

"Mister Dusk", she began again, softening her tone, her posture melting into something gentle and demure. "I need to speak with you, please."

Too demanding, now too permissive. She scowled at the tips of her shoes visible beneath her skirt. She should be beyond practicing her lines before meeting people. Especially someone she's known for several years. But this was important. She needed everything to be perfect.

Turning back to the reflection in the window, she pulled a handkerchief out of her pocket and used it to sharpen the line of her painted lips. The perfect combination of looks and tone wouldn't make the master aurist less perceptive, or stop him from somehow knowing all her secrets, but it made her feel just a bit more in control. Aldgare the patriarch was a clever man and a fascinating conversationalist, but Aldgare the politician scared her. There was no other way to put it.

She frowned and shifted her hands, holding them primly at her waist. Perking up slightly, her mouth moved into an elastic smile. "Hello, Aldgare, sir! Can I have a moment to speak with you?"

"Miss Madeira, you may have any of my moments you please. Though I don't think that fern is going to be able to take the message."

Madeira spun to face the unexpectedly open door, where Aldgare Dusk, her boss and the patriarch of the Tower, was casually standing with a sheaf of papers and an enigmatic smile. The sounds of the school echoed up the twisted stairs behind him, the jostle of students and slamming doors and the sound of stone being worn away by hundreds of footsteps. Madeira cleared her throat.

"Oh, sir!", she laughed, leaning into the embarrassment and letting it colour her cheeks. "I'm sorry, I didn't-"

"Good thing I intervened." He stepped inside, laying the sheaf on her desk. "We can't have people know the potted plants run a tighter ship than me. What can I do for you, my dear?"

And just like that, her embarrassment was disarmed. The man did have a way of turning a conversation. With a flutter of her hand she indicated he should sit, and surprisingly he chose a rickety students desk rather than her teacher's chair. Madeira followed suit, pulling around a second student's chair to sit at the same desk.

"Alright, sir", she covered her nerves with a charming smile. "I have two things to ask you, so where would you like to start? Would you like the good news or the really good news?"

"Ah, such marvelous choices. Lets start with good news and slowly work our way up. I'm an old man, you know, can't take that much excitement all at once."

Madeira stared into the whorls of the desk in front of her, working herself up, before looking up and beaming him her best smile.

"Do you remember our conversation a few days ago, sir, outside the dining room doors?"

"Ah yes, who could forget", his lips twisted in an amused smile. "I seem to remember there was a possessed madman on the other side."

"That's the one", Madeira perked up, pleased he remembered. "So, I have to ask, what do you think about graveyards?"
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Last edited by Madeira Craven on February 20th, 2021, 1:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Madeira Craven on February 20th, 2021, 12:58 am

For the first time in a long time, it appeared she had surprised the man. Her stroked the stubble on his chin thoughtfully. "I've never seen one myself", he admitted, "but I'm told they're popular in the lowlands. Our custom is to burn our dead. There are wonderful scattering ceremonies to celebrate their lives"

"I'm aware. Its a wonderful tradition, but imagine this", with a flourish of her silver gloves she set the scene, enclosing it to the desk between them. "You, bereaved and devastated, bury your deceased loved one in the earth and erect a beautiful headstone where they rest. You weep, you mourn, and you leave. Then, when the loss weighs too heavy again, you come back. You stand at their headstone and tell them how much you miss them, how their family is fairing, everything you wished they knew, and it relieves the burden on your soul." Her fingers traced a hypnotic patterns on the desk, shapes that seemed to suggest carved stone and the laying of flowers before spreading out as if in offering. "You are given a real, tangible place to remember and mourn them. You don't need to carry the grief with you, because it stays there in the earth, not forgotten, but remembered eternally in the carved stone and the flowers that grow around it. Graveyards are sacred places. Holy places. The very air is different there. Its a place of meditation, contemplation. It's a record of love and loss and comfort that will endure forever."

"Spoken like a true Eiyon."

"Am I wrong though?"

Well aware he was being sold something, Aldgare laughed. "You weave a beautiful picture. I'm sure some people here would feel the same way. But, as I'm sure you've noticed, there is limited space atop the mountains. The arable land you would need to bury bodies is the same land that could be used for farming."

"That's why I plan to make that purchased land worthwhile." Her voice broadened as she spoke, switching from gently painting the scene to presenting the whole picture. "I proposed a new business. One that would bring a new spiritual revolution to Lhavit, while also catapulting the Dusk Tower from just teaching Spiritism and into actually practicing it."

The patriarch sat back in his seat, charmed by the effort she was putting into the pitch. "I'm listening."

"I'll build a church on Sharai", she announced, leaning forward in her excitement. "Dira has no house of worship here, so that's what I'll do. And this church will serve every facet of death: it'll be a house of the worship of Dira and her domain, with funerary services to bury or cremate the bodies of the decease, and a spiritism office for the souls left behind."

"We don't have a church to Dira, no, but we do have a spiritism business in Lhavit", Aldgare pointed out reasonably. "The Den of the Lost has a trusted reputation."

"Then I'll just have to be better." Madeira's eyes sparked dangerously. The church would be for Dira, but she had a feeling Sagallius would also welcome the evolution of it would bring to his game he had set up between the two spiritists. "This will change Lhavit, I know it."

Aldgare nodded slowly, a chuckle in his voice. "Far be it for me to stand between our Miss Craven and whatever she wants. I would regret losing our teacher, but if you really think you can do this I'll support you."

"But," he continued apologetically before her relief could bubble over. "You'll need city approval first, and if that goes through I will help you acquire a loan. We cannot fund it ourselves, you understand. If you want this business it must be all yours. Tying Dusk up in it will just muddy the waters."

She was disappointed to hear that, but there would be other ways to legitimize the business without the name. Madeira nodded eagerly. "Thank you sir."

"If that's the good news, I'm very interested to hear the better news." He waved a gentle hand, prompting her to continue.
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Postby Madeira Craven on February 20th, 2021, 12:58 am

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Okay, this was the big one. She cleared her throat, her eyes dropping back to the whorls of the desk before snapping up to meet Aldgare in the eye. She sat tall in her chair, a statue of the perfect aristocrat daughter.

"Sir Dusk, I happily announce my intentions to marry your daughter. I formally ask for your permission, and your blessing, for Chiona's hand."

She expected him to be surprised, or at least taken aback, but Aldgare Dusk met her gaze steadily, folding his hands over each other. He sighed heavily.

"I'm not sure that's my decision to make."

His tone had dropped into something deeper and immovable. Madeira's instinct was to lighten the mood but she dared not fall back on banter. Instead her lips twisted into a knowing smile and her posture, while still proper, lost its formal edge. "Chiona said much the same thing, sir. But ours are old families. I think it's important to do this properly."

She breathed deep and evenly, mastering herself and her nerves. She couldn't feel it, but she knew his auristic magic was crawling over her, turning her inside out, and her entire body tingled like a phantom itch. Now that she had been inducted into the magic she didn't fear it as the mind-reading superpower she had thought it was when she first met him, but the way he wielded it still turned her legs to water.

"If you insist, my dear. But I'm not sure I'm prepared to give it." He held up a hand as if to stop an expected exclamation, though Madeira was making no such move. "This is nothing against you. You're a remarkable woman, our best teacher and an invaluable asset to this Tower. I am merely looking out for my only child."

Now Madeira did chuckle. "Invaluable asset? Sir, we've known each other for years."

"Those years have solidified how indispensable you are."

"I was just hoping to be something more at this point."

The conversation lapped into silence. Madeira was expecting Aldgare to pick it back up and try to patch her bruised feelings, but he merely watched her, a frown forming between his brows. When he did speak it almost sounded like a continuation of a conversation he had been having with himself.

"You are a self-serving person", he stated, as if this is a fact he were reading out of a book. "But I think your idea of self includes more than just you. Your family is lucky enough to count ourselves part of your whole. I hope Chiona is, too."

Madeira was taken aback. It mirrored what Rotsam once said: this selfishness is the closest you'll ever get to love. Maybe they were right. She didn't bother to argue, but pressed on.

"Then I would like to include your family as well. This would mean the Dusk and Craven alliance would be tied not just with promises but with blood. I assure you, I'm not running into this blindly. I love Chiona in a way that matters."

"What do you mean by that?"

"I mean I know love doesn't conquer all. My devotion would make her happy, but this match would guarantee she's safe and comfortable the rest of her life."

That seemed to be the correct thing to say. He nodded slowly, looking suddenly tired.

"I'm a political man, Madeira. In that sense I know you're a good match. But is this really what's best for Chiona? You're have a habit of getting caught up in... everything."
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Postby Madeira Craven on February 20th, 2021, 12:59 am

"You mean the whole magekiller incident", she guessed. The magekiller was a political plot that stretched seasons and involved at least three notable murders, almost induced a class war, and she suspected had ties to the Inverted and Ionu. Madeira was there for the inciting incident and had been publicly bounced around in its inner workings ever since.

Aldgare's stare hardened. "I mean the magekiller, the smuggling ring, whatever happened to make a Desolate One attack your home and whatever is happening between you and Rotsam. If there is something mysterious or dangerous going on in this city you will find a way to trip over it. My daughter has been through enough."

Madeira folded her hands in her lap to disguise the nervous tapping of her fingers. She let the accusation sit for a moment before she spoke.

"This city keeps putting strange things in my path. I can't guarantee nothing will happen, but I can promise that my first priority will always be Chiona. These are just political and social struggles seen in every city, the rest is being in the wrong place at the wrong time."

"Do not downplay this, or presume I have not noticed." He smiled sadly, almost disappointed. "I'm not so arrogant as to think I know all the city's secrets, but I know enough. The worst of it you bring upon yourself, and I need to know my daughter ranks higher than this game you're playing."

Madeira's tongue suddenly felt heavy in her mouth. For a wild moment she imagined his keen eyes could see right past her lips to what was hiding behind her teeth. "Sir, that's not-"

No, don't hide, she told herself. Don't bury this. Face it and leave it behind. This felt like her first encounter with Aldgare all over again.

She cleared her throat, centering herself, and started again. "Chiona knows this. Not all of it, but as much as I am able to tell. I am not deceiving her, or you. But if she wanted safety she would love a baker, or a farmer. Instead she wants to be my partner. I trust her, and she trusts me."

A quiet descended over them. A seasonally-confused wasp buzzed against the window as Madeira studied her hands in her lap. She hated her hands. She hated the lopsided way they moved, how they clumsy and ugly and frail they were. But inside her spidersilk gloves they almost looked graceful, elegant. She twisted the smallest finger of her left hand through the thin material, past the point where grown men would be screaming. It wouldn't take much to snap it. She wouldn't even feel it.

How would her lovers have reacted to her destroying her own hands? Ssanya would have darkly threatened the impulse out of her. Allister might have broken his own hands in a fit of penance for not being there to stop her. But Chiona... Chiona would bandage her up, ask her what was wrong, and fix her.

She didn't love Chiona they way she had loved them. She remembered the shape of Sanya's poisonous fangs pressed against her lips. She remembered Allister's bristling fur and black eyes. She remembered the thrill of holding them between her fragile hands and knowing with such complete certainty that they could hurt her, but that they never would, that they belonged to her in every way that mattered. Chiona was different. Chiona was safe and so predictably human. But it wasn't about what she wanted anymore, it was about what she needed. And she needed this powerful, wealthy woman and her family. She needed her name and her support and to be bandaged when she was broken. She needed a predictable, human kind of love.

"I trust her too", Aldgare spoke slowly, surfacing from his thoughts. "I said before, it's not my decision to make. If this is what she wants, knowing what it may mean, then of course I would welcome you with great pride as a second daughter." Aldgare stood unexpectedly, and Madeira scrambled to rise as well. He stood there a moment, uncertain, before opening his arms. "May I?"

Madeira was not a great lover of physical affection, but she at once walked into the embrace, reaching up to wrap her arms around his shoulders. As his arms closed carefully around her back, she felt something momentous shift beneath her.

"You must forgive an old man his anxieties", he whispered, like the empty room might be listening. "I simply want what's best for my daughter."

"I understand, sir." Madeira smiled over his shoulder, something triumphant and hungry behind the empathetic curve of her lips. "I am what's best, and I promise to always take care of her."
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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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