Author Topic: Tabitha's Tales  (Read 1272 times)

DarnPiper

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Tabitha's Tales
« on: May 06, 2014, 01:54:09 AM »
Events beyond the mists

-Wing

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Memories of Fredek and Magic
« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2014, 02:00:35 AM »
The sun was shining.  She sat at the base of a sprawling oak, face towards the warmth and a simple set of panpipes at her lips.  It was a rare respite from the gloom.  

It was the first day she had the heart to truly play since she arrived.  Her thoughts drifted inward as the melody filled the glade, blending in the distance with the trill of a small brook.  It was nearly two years ago that she had first been shown how she could touch the weave with her song.  It still fascinated her, a whole new realm of complexity to the music that was as much feeling as sound.  She ran to the end of her current song, shifting automatically to another.  She drew the lines of magic around her notes, entwined enough she could feel them vibrate with each embellishment.  More stood gathered than she had ever managed to draw before.  Deeply satisfied, she gradually shifted her focus from the weave to song once more.  

Abruptly, she realized she was playing his waltz.  Sound silenced as her throat closed around the memory and the gloom took hold again, despite the sun.

There was a ballroom - and they waltzed for what seemed like a whole evening.  The masqueraded revelers parted one by one to watch their dance.  They were surrounded in admiration, until only the two of them remained spinning across the floor. The dance was exhilarating.

Her thoughts burned.  The memory was still more vivid than the moment she saw past the illusion to sewers and stench and fear.  A single moment before the violent truth of Fredek's fangs.

There hadn't even been time to scream.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2014, 09:13:52 AM by -Wing »

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Re: Tabitha's Tales
« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2014, 11:40:23 PM »
She gasped in a sudden breath, as if she had just surfaced after too long underwater.  Her eyes flashed open.  Stonework on the ceiling above flickered in the shadow of torchlight.  The confines of shallow walls rose on either side of her face, smooth and white and satin.  She was in a coffin.  A wave of nausea stirred in her stomach, and her heart yammered as memories throbbed back.

    A few coins to earn, and an early start.  It had been a simple plan.  Until the warehouse had no work.  Until she had refused to hunt a bounty on someone without knowing the crime.  Instead, they had agreed on looting the crypts.  She knew he hunted there.  But she had seen him slip into the sewers the moment before daybreak.  This once, it would be safe.  They had time.

A rustle and tapping interrupted the otherwise silent room as Fredek's quill moved across a page.   "Ah, you're awake."  The voice was outside the coffin, out of her sight but near.  Her hands crept slowly towards her pockets, digging for anything.  Garlic.  Holy water.  His quill never paused, "If you go down those stairs, my minions will murder you before you take another step."

Her hand closed around a scroll as he stood, laying his quill neatly across the page.  It was not unnoticed.  "If you try anything stupid, you'll just make this more difficult.  And more painful."  His voice came nearer, then the familiar, twisted face came into view.  She sat up slowly, as if a sudden motion would impel him to pounce.  His gaze settled heavily on her, "You are mine.  The sooner you understand that..."  

    Too slow.  They were out of time.  She knew it, in her gut - even cut off from the light outside.  Yet she had refused the bounty.  Should she cut this trip short now, or play the odds?  But it was too late to decide, and the odds had resolved against them.  Appearing from a bank of mist, Fredek welcomed them to his home.

"Was my coffin comfortable enough for you?" Fredek advanced smoothly a few steps.  She scrambled from the coffin, straightening her spine.  "Stay away from me," she stated coldly, summoning the hauteur of long experience.  Her fingers closed on the clove of garlic in her pocket, and she crushed it beneath her fingers there.

    Her hand closed on the potion of invisibility Fox had given her.  As Fredek toyed with the others, his magic turning their minds against one another, she inched towards the door.  She was halfway down the hallway when she heard Fox's strangled dismay as he collapsed.  


"You almost got away," Fredek mused.  "But you had to come back to save your friend.  Tell me. If you had known I was going to capture you, would you have done it anyway? Or would you have left him there to die, my love?" He was close enough now that she could smell the decay which clung to him, but it was the use of 'my love' which drained the blood from her face anew, She bolted, making a break for the door.

    She stopped dead in her tracks as Fox fell, then thinned her lips and quaffed the potion as she raced back.  They had no other healer.  She would swear Fredek smiled to himself as Fox's stirring marked her return as she healed him.  With a single gesture from the vampire, tentacles sprung from the ground around Fox, slamming into them both and knocking her to the ground.  Everything went black ...

He stood aside, simply watching.  "Go right ahead.  Run away and face a gruesome death - my minions aren't as forgiving as I."  She needed no second invitation.  Better a clean death, than whatever he had in mind.  Better yet to live.  With a desperate humming, she keyed the weave and vanished into invisibility as she fled down the stairs.  She was halfway across the grand room below when Fredek dispelled her protection from his place on the stairs.  His minions closed in, and everything went black...

    Fox and Tabitha lay dead.  The others had fled, and Isabeau was brought to her knees.  She spit to one side, "You have me beaten.  I accept defeat."  

     "Of course you do," Fredek purred.   He touched her cheek lightly."You were dead the moment you stepped into my home."  His fingernail slipped from her chin, and he pointed towards the Fox.  "Take the man's corpse. Tell your friends never to step foot here again.  The woman is mine."


She became aware again slowly.  A distant pain, a distant delight.  She watched the back of Fredek's cloak vanish from the hem up to his hair into mist.  The mist rolled its way backward up the stairs and out the door of the mausoleum.  Her neck throbbed in pain and her head spun with familiar dizziness.

    He lifted Tabitha's body up carefully, and looked down at the woman in his arms.   "Now go.  I want to be left alone.  With my family."  

« Last Edit: May 09, 2014, 12:20:22 AM by -Wing »

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Re: Tabitha's Tales
« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2014, 05:55:11 PM »
The women, she decided, were some kind of force of nature.  They had been quick to laughter, quick to a fight, and together with Seal had taken her on a wild tour of places she had never been.  Her coinpurse hung fat at her waist after the dust had settled, in the Vistani camp in the mists.  With sudden merry words they had all dispersed, and she found herself alone for the first time in days.  In the hours before dawn, she haggled idly with Mister Fairbanks.  

The camp was a safe haven, she had been told - but she hadn't thought of Fredek in days.  Her companions had chuckled at the idea of him.  A local tough, a big fish only in his small pond.  And it seemed their advice had been sound.  She had left Barovia and seen no sign of him in the days since.  Her heart was light.

Of course this tale would not exist if that had been the end of it.  

"Pitic!"  A small, dirty creature interrupted her haggling.  It hastened towards them, his gait lurching under the weight of a large sack.

Tabitha wondered vaguely what the word meant as she shook her head in regret to the merchant. "I believe I will have to pass, Mister Fairbanks."  The items were a fair price, but it would leave her coinless.

"Of course.  Do come back," he replied politely, ignoring the creature.  The little gremishka began to tug on Griswold's sleeve, determined. "Pitic!"

"Oh, and also... I'll give some gold to whoever chases off this... thing." Griswold pointed down to the Gremishka.  It let go of his sleeve immediately and dropped the sack onto the ground between them.  Gold glittered as he opened it, enough to tempt a man to all kinds of ills.  

Tabitha blinked in surprise, then smiled inwardly.  If that didn't change a merchants tune, she didn't know what would.  "Do you still feel that way?" she inquired with light humor to Griswold.  

"Hm, indeed..." the merchant replied - but the tone sounded dry to Tabitha's ear.

"The master will buy the fancy sword and both rings for the lady," the gremishka announced, having gained their attention.  

All of the contentment of the last few days deflated, like someone had crushed her chest between stones.  There was no doubt as to its meaning.  He was watching.  She had not escaped.  He knew she was here.  Somewhere in her panic, Griswold walked away wordlessly from the situation.  Tabitha's estimation of him rose.

The gremishka shouldered its bag again and walked away, disappointed.  "Master is not going to like this ... ," it muttered as it headed into the mists.

Tabitha dashed after it impulsively, "You!" She halted at the edge of the mists themselves.  "How did you find me here?" she demanded, her tone even.  She hid her trembling hand beneath her cloak.

"Nobody escapes the Master, domna," it replied simply.  "You should know that by now.  At least he buys you nice things."

Tabitha moved a step closer, hands balling into fists beneath her cloak.  Her voice dropped to a low hiss. "I want nothing from him.  And tell him -"  She stopped abruptly.  What was she doing?  Buying into the idea there was something between them to discuss?  She didn't want to tell him anything.  She backed away slowly, voice shakier now "... tell him nothing."

"You speak like you had a say on the matter.  The Master takes what he wants.  If he says you belong to him... then that's that."

She shuddered and turned her back, walking swiftly towards the camp, and the creature disappeared into the mists.  As dawn rose, she slumped back against a tree.  Distance could not help her - he had found her even here.  Surrounding herself with others could not save her - he simply waited until she was alone.  Her sense of peace was shattered.  He was watching.  Waiting for her to make another mistake.  All she could do was hide from the night.  
« Last Edit: May 12, 2014, 05:57:57 PM by -Wing »

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Re: Tabitha's Tales
« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2014, 08:16:56 PM »
It was a dance of mirrors.

No matter how much she denied it, she was bound to him.  Not in the way he wished - but she was bound as fully to the patterns of his existence as he was. 

The deep of night.  In the sanctuary, she waited for the release of day.  She knew somewhere in the darkness, he was moving.  Free, as she was trapped.  Her restless foot tapped, marking the tempo of their dance.  Waiting.  She could feel the tug of its beat.  She had felt it since the day she woke in his coffin.

The waning hours.  He would be planning now, as she was planning.  How much time would it take him to reach his resting place for the night?  The anticpation of daybreak.  How far could she travel while he slumbered?  It filled every conversation, every choice.  She would not make a mistake and be caught again.  Too much was at stake. 

The dawn.  Was he even now hurrying, outracing the sun?  As he slipped away from the sky, she stepped into his place.  Advance and retreat, never touching.  He led the pace, but she was determined to lead the distance.

The bright of day. Somewhere, he waited for the release of night. She moved alone, but to the rhythm of his patterns.  He had proven he watched.

The waning hours.  The pace of the dance grew, as the arrival of dark pressed urgently on her.  There was no time to linger.  Conversations cut short.  Companions on the road abandoned for swift flight to hallowed ground.  Anticipation of the nights arrival.  Their song was the same.

The dusk.  It was sweet for both of them, in its way.  A shared breath, that they were stepping in the place they ought to be.  Stepping out into the night which he claimed.  Stepping in to safety, another day won.  She circled; he led.

The music was insidious - a thing felt more than heard. It was the smell of that coffin, the dizziness of the waltz.  The dizziness after his feeding.   More than analogy, it tangled in her own song, smothering it.  It was so subtle, she was barely aware it was playing her.  She was barely aware - until the beat stopped.

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Re: Tabitha's Tales
« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2019, 01:22:07 PM »
Everything is ash.  The smell of lye overtop the graves when the plague has swept through, too many dying every day for the clerics to do more than weep.
Four deep breaths.

Itís been four months since Elias died.  Shattered glass scattered in every direction.  Those who cared swept up the jagged remains to form me back into the shape of who I was.  Every movement threatening to undo the careful tower of shards and send me crashing to the ground once more.

     Three months, trapped in hiding.  Uncaring if I ever saw the sky.  Trying to survive.  Nurtured, like a calf brought into the world too early, sure to wither on itís own.

          Two months, since the creature in the mists came to Calehan.  Since she twisted him, drove him into his own personal hell of compulsion.

               One month since laughter ended.

Four deep breaths.

Four days since I let him go, believing he could control it.  Four days since I followed him and saw.  He was losing the fight.

     Three days since he betrayed us, slaughter staining the grass.  Three twisted and bloody forms.  Three left to carry them.

          Two flowers. Too much; too little.  Too late.

               One more betrayal.  One man, drowning in blackness.

Then nothing. Not even breath.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2019, 01:47:20 PM by -Wing »