Author Topic: Exegesis - Rosaria Vescovi  (Read 442 times)

emptyanima

  • Making & Breaking Characters Since May 2013
  • Church of Ezra - Refuge of Fifth Light
  • Dark Power
  • ******
  • Posts: 3557
  • She Who Slays Dragons
    • Emptyanima Portrait Pack
Exegesis - Rosaria Vescovi
« on: November 01, 2020, 08:01:51 AM »
Rosaria Vescovi
Click image for files.



Name: Rosaria Vescovi
Age: 45 Yrs.
Race: Human, Borcan
Religion: Ezra, Her First Revelation
tabula rasa
Origin: Lechberg, Borca (Ravenloft Native)



Quote
exegesis
/ˌɛksɪˈdʒiːsɪs/
noun
critical explanation or interpretation of a text, especially of scripture.

 1. Edited (hapharzardly!) by me, artwork by miguelregodon
« Last Edit: December 23, 2020, 06:18:46 PM by emptyanima »

emptyanima

  • Making & Breaking Characters Since May 2013
  • Church of Ezra - Refuge of Fifth Light
  • Dark Power
  • ******
  • Posts: 3557
  • She Who Slays Dragons
    • Emptyanima Portrait Pack
REVELATION
« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2020, 09:50:38 AM »
Her feet ached. Her throat scratched with each breath she gasped, each one more difficult than the last. Every part of the woman begged her to cease her flight, but her mind denied all other parts the relief they sought.

She did not know how long and how far she had run. The Borcan sky was dark and hopeless, and pelted her with heavy rain. The road was like mud beneath her, and she feared to slip. And yet ceaseless did the footsteps of her pursuers press on. Their blades cut through the woodland brush. Their hounds bayed, her scent their focus and target.

Heaviness pressed against her heart, a deep dread brought on by her looming demise. In an instant, her mind's eye turned its gaze across the expanse of time; the clock turned back thirty years. She saw herself, a girl of fourteen. She saw the wine goblets strewn across the floor, their dark red content hissing softly with the remnants of the poison that had sealed her parents' throats shut. The large home she had known, befitting its noble inhabitants, became at once a labyrinth of unknown horrors, for their killers could yet linger in the many corners and shadows. She had felt that dread for the first time, then, but her death had not come. She fled then, as she fled now.

To what had she fled? Fleeting refuge and false hope gave way to a debt she could never repay, stretching further away the harder she tried to pay it. The contract was simple.
An exchange of flesh for a roof over her head. But no matter how many men she took into her bed, or how well she pleased them, the debt was ever out of reach. The worth of her innocence, and the possession of her youth, was weighed, measured, and found wanting by her creditors.

The years rolled on without mercy. Ten years before this moment of flight, the youthful beauty she possessed began to fade. In time, the sorts of patrons who paid her a visit were not interested in the pleasures she had been trained to provide. They were hateful men, who saw in her visage the image of their own despised mothers, and this did not inspire familial love in them. Her makeup thickened, her smile clownesque as she sought to cover the marks their beatings left. Though her creditors eventually saw the bruises healed, they had already taken their toll. The woman was given to involuntary shakes and spasms. Her balance faltered. Her hands trembled.

Yet more they had taken. The cries of new life. Save one. A pang of guilt filled her heart as she remembered once more that she did not know where he was.

A rumble of thunder drew her hurtling back to the present. Lightning streaked the oppressive black sky, for a moment illuminating the rusted necklace that usually hid beneath the woman's dress, but had won free as she fled. The blade was broken. The belladonna twisted. The shield bent. The necklace had been a gift from her mother, so long ago that it felt like an inheritance from another life. It had rusted as her faith had done. Seeing the necklace now, the woman thought of how she had passed the Church during her first flight. At fourteen, she feared that it was too open, too obvious a destination in which to hide. How different would her life have been, had she held to faith then?

The hounds bayed again. They were closer, and her own steps slowed. She trembled with the onset of another fit, and she fell upon her knees in the mud.

She gripped the rusted Ezrite necklace in one hand, trying to still the trembling in the other. Tears filled her weary gaze, and in pained breaths, she gasped a desperate prayer.

"Blessed Ezra, I have not been faithful. I do not expect an answer to my prayer. Prayers ought not to be lifted from lips like mine." Another streak of lightning broke the sky. Steel flashed nearby, and the teeth of the dogs glimmered in anticipation. She wept, seeking in vain to lift her voice above the storm. Her heart swelled, and what began in desperation became clearer, more purposeful. "Ezra, preserve me! Spare me now, and I shall give all that remains of my life, pitiful as it is, to your service!"

The footsteps did not cease. The gnashing of teeth continued. The woman closed her eyes, as she became sure that she had been abandoned to her fate. As she should have expected, she thought. On her unworthiness, she continued to dwell. She continued to think, to breathe. Death had not come. But the air was colder, now, and brought with it another sort of damp. She lifted her gaze, eyes widening at the rising mist that swirled in tbe woodland. The gnashing of the dogs turned to puzzled whines. Their keepers did not dare to tread into the twisting vapour. They stepped back, wary, eyes darting as they wrestled with existential doubt. And then, they were gone. All that sounded was the howling of the wind and rain upon the world, and the slow swirling dance of the mist.

The woman lifted her eyes to the heavens and wept anew, this time for joy. She raised many, many grateful prayers, the vow she had uttered in the face of death coalescing into righteous purpose.

The woman did her utmost to leave the noble orphan and the fallen woman she had become behind her on that muddy road. Ezra, she believed, would save all who sought her in faith and conviction, but she did not wish to sully Her name by association with what came before. Hence, she resolved that to fulfil this role, she must do so under a new name.

Fiametta Scavo was the name and woman she sought to leave behind. The name she chose?

Rosaria Vescovi.

« Last Edit: December 17, 2020, 07:50:50 PM by emptyanima »

emptyanima

  • Making & Breaking Characters Since May 2013
  • Church of Ezra - Refuge of Fifth Light
  • Dark Power
  • ******
  • Posts: 3557
  • She Who Slays Dragons
    • Emptyanima Portrait Pack
ORDINATION, MISSION, ADMISSION
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2021, 05:53:20 PM »
The Rite of Ordination, otherwise called the Trial, is never easy, as Rosaria came to know. The Mists of Death are ever deceptive and often cruel. They confronted her with the violent passing of her parents, never avenged, never granted earthly justice. "Surely, were Ezra worthy of worship, she would have interceded then, or seen their murderers pay?"

"Were they truly faithful, they shall join Her in the shelter of peace. That is what matters," came Rosaria's reply.

She pressed on. Then, she saw herself, limp and submissive upon a large bed. Her double's eyes were glassy, her features strangely serene, an ecstatic smile on her painted face.

In the forceful, fondling grip of the passionflesh, no doubt. That was how I endured. Her thoughts echoed in her mind as it were an empty room. She looked on in horror as men appeared in their dozens of dozens around her double, a pang of guilt beginning and growing as it moved through her. Again, those who would question her faith spoke.

"Surely, were Ezra worthy of worship, she would not see fit to name a woman who has lost count of her companions one of Her Anchorites?" She tore her gaze from the sight, drawing a breath.

"She does not look for worthiness, but for faith," came Rosaria's reply.

Again, the acolyte pressed on. Then she saw him. The guilt came not in a growing pang, but a crashing wave. She saw his little dirty hands, the holes in his shoes, the sadness in his eyes. A little boy, lost and pleading.

Federico...

Her son.

What sort of mother had she been? Foolish. Distant. Worthless.

"Surely, were Ezra worthy of worship," came the voice anew, "she would punish your abandonment of your son by abandoning you. You do not deserve anything. How could you be one of her chosen?"

Though her voice was heavy with emotion, Rosaria replied. "It is not for you to decide my worthiness. It is for Her. Whether I pass or fail, whether I live or die, it is in the Grand Scheme, and you are bound by it also."

When she emerged from the Mists, Toret Serafim Zusto beheld her with religious severity, his expression expectant.

"Show me Her shield."

Soon, Rosaria was surrounded by that most holy aura, that which Her First Revelation recognised as the first form of Her Shield.

"Then from hence you are named Warden Vescovi."


When Rosaria first heard Ezra's call to go to Barovia, scarcely more than a month later, she could not have imagined what lay in wait for her there.
To her relief and joy, many of Her faithful had also felt called to Barovia at that time. Divine providence, surely, for much of the established local church was away on pilgrimage to Levkarest at the time. Thus, it fell to a small number of Her Anchorites to guide the would-be Acolytes and Initiates, and to protect them from the myriad threats which abounded there. So many had she met that she could call friends. Warden Isabeau Gatteux of Her Third Revelation. Warden Delilah Meadows of Her Second Revelation. Acolytes Lynette Midwinter, Remus Stoica, and later Initiate Andrei. The remaining sisters Gatteux; Phillberte, who struggled with much responsibility and pain, and Aidelina, whose unwavering faith had been a light to Her Anchorites in the dark days they faced together.

The Legion walked blatantly, and at times was even embraced by many of the unfaithful. There was no greater example of this than the terror of the Revel - the cult of Shivvox. Rosaria recalled those not of the faith who had rendered aid to them in this matter; chief among them, Valerie Vomn, who risked her own sanity and peace of mind for precious knowledge to defeat the cult. The cult had appeared on the surface to be one of sensation and excess. But they concealed a darker truth. They encouraged their followers to give of their own flesh, preparing them for an ultimate sacrifice, that they might be persuaded to give up their entire bodies to bring forth a demon from the darkness.

She recalled the Revel they had attended to gather intelligence. How she had offered herself as a distraction to the vampire, Lorenzo, speaking of herself to keep him from the investigation. She recalled the guilt as he drew secrets from her that she'd never breathed to any of her brothers and sisters in faith. She recalled her horror, and the shame of her past, as he had offered her use of him, that he might atone for the men of Borca, he said. To worship her body as it had been in youth. This, she refused. She already felt that she gave too much by remaining at his side, and in dancing with him to keep others from falling into the blood drinker's embrace. But through it, she had learned of the Lorenzo that was, the young man betrayed by those of his own family. A particularly Borcan tale. Yet she knew that would never excuse his monstrosity. She knew that just because there were those who found comfort in his need of them, of the blood in their veins, it did not make sin clean. With the aid of the Inquisitor Carus Vonn in their task, the cult of Shivvox, at least in its current form, had been destroyed. Rosaria kept Deviant's Bane, the blade that the Inquisitor had left as a parting gift on his return to Borca, close to her side.

But Rosaria was not so blind as to ignore the darkness that lingers in the hearts of mankind. She recalled the news of Misha's vengeance upon the spider woman Tephysea's newborns, and the cruelty that she showed in strewing their corpses about in morbid display. For evil is evil, whether committed by mortals or Legion alike, and it is such evil that draws the mortal into the Legion's ranks.

But there were those of the Legion who could be saved. She recalled finally of that wretched week the tale of Elena Colonna, a faithful Warden of Ezra in life whose terrible death had made her like one of the Legion. Twisted and maddened by years of torture at the hands of necromancer, Elena had arisen as one of the breathless, and confusing her faith in this state, had believed she was Ezra herself. She had concerned Her Anchorites and faithful, for she could yet call upon Ezra's blessings and manifest Her shield. But this had its explanation in faith, and in Her. For Warden Elena Colonna had not become one of the Legion by choice. She had never surrendered her faith. She had never forsaken her duty to Her. And unlike the unfit mothers of the world, of which Rosaria was one, Ezra did not abandon those who loved her. At the last, through faith, the scales fell from Elena's eyes, and she atoned for her sins, embracing the final, true death that came, for it would free her at last from the twisted machinations of dark magicians. She could now be ushered into Her shelter of peace.

--

The shelter of peace remained in Rosaria's mind as she dwelled upon all that had followed. All those she had come to know following that baptismal Barovian week. Torets Matthew Garrett and Vaeldian Melthar of Her Second and Her First. Wardens Anton Durand and Charity Fletcher of Her Second, later joined by Lynette as she passed her trial, and Remus with her. Warden Owen Laydon and Valeria Longinus of Her Fourth. The former Warden of Her Third, that Monsieur le Baron Jacinth d'Esperance. Templar Ranata Draghici and Templar Commander Mihriban. And even now, in these dark days, yet more Acolytes and Initiates trained. Danika, Marius, Servillius and more.

But where all these were closely associated with the local Barovian congregations of Raduta and the Refuge of the Fifth Light, there was one who belonged to neither, yet lingered in both.

The former Sentire and Toret of The Last Redoubt, Warden Xanthus Creek of Her Fourth Revelation.

Where some might hear the ravings of a madman, Rosaria heard the faithful preaching of a devout man. Where some might see a worn, world-weary man, Rosaria saw enduring faith and devotion. And for all that she had done, for who she had been, Warden Creek had shown her patience, kindness and friendship. When she told him of her youth, and the guilt she carried, what did he say?

"Ezra has already pardoned thee."

When the darkness began to fall, and Rosaria's grief swelled for the son she had left behind, and she begged in prayerful whispers for forgiveness, what did he tell her?

"Ezra already has forgiven thee, Warden. She has always known this. Yet She granted thee Her shield regardless. Thou know that She knows all of thy failings, all of thy secrets, all of thy most selfish thoughts. Yet still She chose thee, to be Her anchorite. Thou have nothing to beg forgiveness for. Ezra sees in thee strength, not weakness. And so do I."

He had promised to go with her to Borca to find Federico. Yet, through what was surely Her mercy, they did not need to go very far at all. For seemingly unrelated reasons, her son had also been brought to Barovia. After years apart, she embraced him. They spoke freely, one with another. Her boy was close by. She would continue to pray for him, as she had. And so would he.

The darkness had not abated. The late Bastion of Her Third, Joan Secousse, had succumbed to death while pleading before the Window for Ezra's healing touch. Her final words held some prophecy that had not been fully interpreted. At her funeral, the late Praesidius, Levin Postoya, had also died very suddenly, but its cause did not seem natural. And now, as they elected another Praesidius, for he had not named a successor, Toret Grassi had also fallen in suspicious circumstances. Calamities and catastrophes swept across the lands of the Core and beyond.

Warden Xanthus Creek had lost hope. He barely maintained himself. He barely ate. He scarcely slept. He believed that now was the Time of Unparalleled Darkness, the time foretold by Bastion Raines, and that all who had not accepted Her now were doomed. Rosaria saw all that occured, and she also believed that these were the prophesied days. Yet despite this, she continued to pray for her son. What had he said to her, at their second meeting?

"Ezra's disappointed me more than you ever could have."

When she took Warden Creek to the Rectory to speak with him, to ensure he ate, they came back to the subject of her son. Once more, she wept. Was it really too late for him? Had she condemned him to a life without Her understanding, and a death without the shelter of peace?

Xanthus brought his arm around her, letting his hand rest upon her shoulder, and spoke into her ear. 

"He made his choices. As have thee. As have I. We are all responsible for our own decisions."

"She has forgiven me of my sins," Rosaria replied. "He doesn't need to carry them. I pray that he sees that." As she spoke, she drew her hand across her chest to place on Xanthus's, seeking his comfort.

"There are consequences to our decisions," he replied, with a grunt. "But we are responsible for them." Rosaria felt his hand clasp hers.

"We are," she spoke softly in reply, "If we were not responsible, there would be no sin." Xanthus emitted a grunt, shaking his head.

"Perhaps I should return to Darkon. My presence here shall only cause friction." Rosaria's lips quirked.

"No, Warden Creek."

"I did not mean to argue with Laydon. But he has a habit of attempting to hurt people with harmful words. I was not going to accept it."

"Harmful words are no reply. But... I think you should stay."

"I would be alone. And to see others, carrying on like nothing has changed. I cannot just watch that happen. I would be driven to speak up, to act."

"It is the time to speak and act."

Xanthus grunted. "Only when people want to hear what thou have to say, it seems."

"You are not alone," Rosaria replied. "I know we do not always agree, but I shall always listen, though I may offer my own reply."

"I appreciate that. I am not a perfect man. I have made many mistakes. I have done things I am not proud of. But everything I have done I have done because I know in my heart it is right."

"We are joined by faith, Warden Creek. You are important to me and you are dear to me. No one is perfect. We are all mortal. We must hold to faith."

Xanthus grunted. "Thou do not need me here. Making life difficult for thee. Making thee cry. The torets and sentire I am certain would rather see me gone. Especially now."

"You may make me cry, Xanthus, but you also offer a cure for my tears, or at least remain with me until they are stopped. You have been a great help and support to me." Rosaria paused, considering her words carefully for a moment, before nodding. "When I weep, it is because I am confronted with my own failings, as I should be."

"Thou are a credit to this congregation," Xanthus replied, "thou are an example of what one of the Home Faith should be."

"You are kind to say so. What blessings I have, the words I speak. they are Hers imparted to me, not mine."

Xanthus patted her hand gently. Rosaria continued, very softly, lifting her gaze to look at him. "Through faith."

"Through faith," he replied, looking back at her. Rosaria regarded him for a moment, considering. When she spoke again, she held his gaze.

"I am sure that you have prayed, and will pray upon your place here. I value your wisdom, your support, and admire the sincerity of your faith. I am sure I am not alone in this." She took a breath, a hint of emotion in her voice. "And while I know my own personal feelings carry far less weight than my appreciation of your fulfilment of your office, I would miss you if you left, but you would ever be in my prayers."

Xanthus did not turn from her gaze, meeting it with his own.

"Should I leave, I know we will meet again. I am certain. When the final sunset sets on this world."

A moment of silence passed between them, which Rosaria hesitated to break.

"And should you stay?"

"If I stay..." Xanthus's gaze lingered upon hers still as he spoke.  "If I stay then at least I know that thee will be here." Rosaria affirmed her grip on his hand at that, nodding.

"I will."

Another moment of silence passed between them, yet their gaze did not move from the other.

Rosaria leaned forward, upward, steady and purposeful. Xanthus did not withdraw, his gaze now searching her face. Before she could discourage herself from her intent, her mouth was upon his, her kiss gentle, chaste but heartfelt.

She was not prepared for his reply. Soon, his hand caressed her cheek, his own kiss forceful, rough. She gasped in surprise, but she was not dissuaded, embracing him. He all but crushed himself against her as he continued to press the forceful kiss, his intensity unabating, even strengthening. For a long while, their wordless exchange of kisses continued. This man, and this woman, in their middle age, standing upon the end of the world, forgot for a moment the darkness around them, the guilt within them. Perhaps, having been brought together by faith, despite the lives they had led, and the differing revelations to which they held, they found companionship and contentment that others may not understand. But was it meant for them?

Xanthus dropped his hand from her cheek and pulled back, his lips parted. He stared at her for a moment, then ran a hand over his face, and briskly rose from the bed upon which they'd been sitting.

"Xanthus..." Rosaria gasped in a breath. He looked at the door.

"I think thou should let me out."

--

Rosaria had feared that Xanthus might depart for Darkon straightaway after their heady embrace, so she was relieved when, after much prayer and agonising, she found him walking to the Refuge. In whispers she urged him to speak with her, that they might set straight the youthful outburst of the previous night. Leaving together to gather provisions for the coming battle against the Legions of the Night, they found their opportunity to speak.

They spoke of the coming darkness. They spoke of faith and its sacrifices. They spoke of Xanthus's old friends. Then, Rosaria drew a breath, finding her opportunity.

"I hope that we may remain... friends, Warden Creek, at the very least."

"As we said," Creek replied, "There are things we must sacrifice. that we cannot have. I do not regret what happened between us."

"Nor I," she interjected quickly, watching him closely.

"But I cannot give thee what thou want. What thou need.  I am not that man. I hope thou understand." He punctuated his statement with a signature grunt, lowering his head a touch.

"I cannot give much," Rosaria replied, still watching him. "My youth has faded. My womb is closed up. But if there are only days left, what do these things matter?"

"Perhaps in time. When all this is done. But I am not a man who can give thee everything."

"I do not ask everything of you. You are.. more than sufficient."

Xanthus looked away. Rosaria pressed on.

"You are the only man I have ever wished to be near to, Warden Creek."

"Don't do this."

"Why not?" There was a hint of pleading in her voice, now. "Why may we not approach these final days side by side?"

"We will be side by side. Feelings and emotions are a weakness the Legion will use to exploit thee."

It is easier to fight when you have nothing to lose, Rosaria said inwardly, but these are the final days. We shall all soon come to the shelter of peace. These thoughts, wisely or no, remained unsaid. Instead, she spoke thus.

"Xanthus, I think very much of you. I confess it approaches distraction. But.. there is a cure for this, isn't there? If you feel the same."

"There is only duty. This is why I cannot be the man thou wish me to be." A signature Xanthus grunt followed.

"We both know and accept that faith and duty comes before all things."

"It is the only thing. It is the only thing I ever knew for many, many years. I am never going to be able to have what others have. I understand this. We must make sacrifices."

"We must, and we have. But I will care for you regardless of whether I may act upon what is in my heart, or not."

"I will say no more of it now."

"I understand, and I thank you, for your openness of heart. For listening-"

"No. Do not thank me."

Rosaria closed her eyes briefly, a sheen beneath them briefly visible. She voiced her incomplete thought within.

Thank you for allowing me to know how it feels to love a man, Warden Creek. I thought such a feeling forever denied me.

Rosaria opened her eyes, looking at him with a resolute nod.

"Let us see to our duty, Warden Creek."
« Last Edit: January 05, 2021, 06:25:54 PM by emptyanima »