Author Topic: A Decaying Journal Bound With a White Ribbon  (Read 2244 times)

Mordalynne

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Re: A Decaying Journal Bound With a White Ribbon
« Reply #25 on: March 09, 2023, 09:06:24 AM »
====================================

I have spent the most hideous wonderful day with Alice!

Lately my pessimism has borne through my mind as a rusted needle and filled it with poison but... It delights me that I still possess the capacity for comforting warmth, no matter how cold and apathetic I feel I have become. Perhaps there exists hope still, for not only am I loved as for who I am but I hold on to rational thought, clarity of mind and purpose. How unlike my father I am, how far removed from his singular path of self-destruction, delusion and paranoia. These steps are but little and yet they are gigantic strides for me.

She unveiled her mystery upon the tops of the cliffs and as I watched the rug laid out before me, the hamper filled with delicacies from Port-a-Lucine, fragrant meats, delicious cheeses, I felt a tremendous sadnes well up inside, a bittersweet moment. I had always dreamed that I should share these moments with company in a lush green field or next to a meandering stream, far away from walled gardens, enclosed libraries or rooms in which I had been kept. It had almost occurred once by accident, when mother had prepared a small basket with what breads she could muster for a small excursion next to a waterwheel barely away from shadow of the estate. Father proclaimed it however a 'dangerous nuisance' and that we were not to realise whatever fictional danger he was infused with that day. Our trip together was abandoned and I ate alone in my room with Thistle, my patchwork bear, dreaming that it would happen for the next day instead. Always dreaming upon my next day.

So we gazed out over the bay below, gulls screeching around us as they hungered for our supper, the salted breeze dryly clinging to the skin, watching the sunset together as the light faded, dreaming upon the next day. Always dreaming upon our next day.





They must have thought that I had lost my sanity within the encampment that very morning, for it was with a spring in my step that I lightly floated above the ground, as though my head were still upon that cliff and that our evening had never ended. For Madamoiselle Striga, a proclamation that although she was diminuitive she was a veritable giant of kindness and compassion; Monsier Hale and Madamoiselle Lyra, the promise that whilst my spirits were lifted I would commission myself to compose a poem of their love; Nebet Neferet, the adoration of her radiance of that day... And for Madamoiselle Vela, the apology that my heart owed her as penance for my cruel words.

Upon my hill I lit the fires not as one who performed ritual or travesty, but to match the intense passionate fervour I felt, fires that upon Alice's return we would dance around and once again share each other in elation, drunk on love.

How remiss of my memory that I had forgotten so quickly an indiscretion from a previous evening two days whence, and that this 'Monsieur Dirge', an interfering, stubborn zealot, issued warning that should I disregard his second warning of lighting fires that he would not issue a third. He had discovered me at my practice as I sought to glance upon the void and peer into whatever secrets I may garner within. A perversion only in that his mind be so closed to learn of them himself and instead chide me for my curiosity.

I stood there, denied, as he kicked the fires apart and smothered their flame... And within my mind I pictured him in shackles, beaten and bloodied, as he fled from my packmasters on horseback, nipped upon his heels by their hounds; That either he would succumb and be torn apart by their vicious hunger or become enveloped slowly to darkness, slipping into the callous watery embrace of the bog to be forgotten.

Either would have garnered much satisfaction.



Appendix 12: The Gifts of the Guilty

As each year marched relentlessly to the next, so to came with it the pomp and ceremony of the annual celebration of birth, an occasion which at first brought great joy but, as time passed, a day that I began to dread. It reminded me of the passage of time as a pocketwatch or hourglass, creeping onwards whether we wished it regardless.

I may recall that in my youth I was in attendence to a toy emporium within Glenwich, a town that overlooked the Bay of Avalon on Mordent's Western coast. My eyes lit up at the wonder of dolls houses, exotic marionettes and models, too many to choose from one who wished them all but barely understood the concept of payment. I had chosen the patchwork bear that sat upon a thatched chair in the corner but it was explained to my father that it was an item not for sale as it belonged to the proprietor's daughter, her bedtime companion, her pride and joy.

The next day I received my gift, the patchwork bear, and I named him ‘Thistle'. I would never let him go and we would sit together and read in the glow of a flickering candle often and regale each other on the happenings of the day. The toymaker's emporium never re-opened, for when my mother returned with me for my eighth year the establishment had been razed to the ground leaving nothing but a scorched scar in it's place, the family displaced in the process, disappeared.

On my twentieth birthday, the year in which I was to be traded as cattle to an odious man as the payment for betrothal, I was gifted my spectacles; Wrought of ornate ivory and silver, my father explained that as I wore them, I would eventually come to see things as through his eyes with the same lucidity that he possessed. Now I regard them as not only a tool of considerable practicality given eyesight worn through years of reading by candlelight but as a mask to hide my eyes, that I may never glance at others with the guilt that consumes me.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2023, 07:25:56 AM by Mordalynne »

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In the darkest corners of the mind, Where shadows writhe and demons dwell, The wretched embodiment of Hell you'll find, In the abyss where silent reason fell

Mordalynne

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Re: A Decaying Journal Bound With a White Ribbon
« Reply #26 on: March 14, 2023, 09:40:36 AM »

It has been but two hours. Two hours. My return was never to be sounded by fanfare though I had at least some degree of hope that it should not have turned as it did. Can I not relish a moment of respite, for it appears someone does not wish me to?

Alice has spurned my love, accused me of the most monstrous things, committed acts that I do not recall nor have the inclination to believe, that I have endangered her and that of Madamoiselle Thera through incessant gossip and rumour and their associaton to me... And she has struck me yet again like I am but a common lout. But inside I feel no anger or hate towards her, for whatever love my heart may have bled for her runs dry, empty. I now stand in her presence a desiccated husk that crawls upon a desert sand, possessing no tears within me to express my sadness, no heart left within me to shatter as glass upon a marble floor before her. And as she spat and seethed at me through venomous words I felt calm waters flow over me, that she was deep down still mine. Still perfect. That when we were to return to my Estate she would make a fine Lady of the house in her willingness to admonish others for their weakness.

I have taken to the advice and guidance of a Brother Lucian of the Temple of the Morninglord where I take my nightly penance; Praying for answers that I shall never receive to a deity that I do not believe in. The Brother stands as a pillar of his faith; An ear quick to listen, a mouth that speaks serenity and sagacity, his belief a shield to shelter the misguided and weary, a mind that lusts over me as I pray vulnerable below him for forgiveness. He has offered me sanctuary within the Temple walls and I am all too aware as to the true nature of his intent. I wonder should his God, his wisdom, save him if he succumbs to his baser urges like any of the men of cloth before him.


I recall conversation some two days whence, the topic of which has spurred within a fierce desperation and anxiety, the words spoken from a Brother Nishan of the Ilmatari. Word reaches him of dark associations between one that I know, an associate, and a creature of considerable power that had traded it's life for death in the pursuit of power. I had not believed this to be true but as he spoke of their abhorrent wickedness, of dark pacts borne of revenge, the clarity that I had been remiss of these past weeks would find me once again if only to express my horror. Should the Brother's word ring true then I had become manipulated as but a piece upon a board to satisfy the amusement of the hands that coldly held me. I felt a passive displeasure rise to this news, one that had not escaped the attentions of this Nishan; He knows that I suffer deeply, how easily I should pass my burden to him should he offer  to receive it and suffer in my place.

He is sent as emissary from a force that gathers comprised of commoner and professional alike, a might that would see both of these fiends struck down; The Ilmatari, The Wayfarer Kinship, The Christ Children, groups of the Elves, Dwarves. This is no unmotivated rabble but a highly driven band of zealots who enforce their purity on the world as they would see it.. and along with them are coupled both Thera and my darling Alice, almost as sacrificial lambs to their slaughter.

Tonight I but seek for the last time this monster who calls himself Monsieur Agony, this Gareth Rex, and learn of his involvement by his own admission, to know of his destiny so that he may not eagerly steal mine without my knowledge. I shall wander to this Demon's lair and command truth from his mouth and chart my course... Whether to atone for his misdeeds or to take his hand and plummet from the chasm into the abyss with him willingly.

« Last Edit: April 16, 2023, 05:21:57 PM by Mordalynne »

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In the darkest corners of the mind, Where shadows writhe and demons dwell, The wretched embodiment of Hell you'll find, In the abyss where silent reason fell

Mordalynne

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Re: A Decaying Journal Bound With a White Ribbon
« Reply #27 on: April 16, 2023, 04:32:27 PM »
{A page had been torn out, the tear slashing raggedly downwards, replaced instead with the below}

====================================

I had written of what I had witnessed, written that I may never forget... But what would it have achieved other that to serve as terrible reminder of a life that I had now left behind. There will remain with me forever that which will haunt me until memory fades, an optimism that it be replaced by more joyous one; His dead, emotionless eyes as he spoke, hands that invisibly grasped at my throat as I begged, choking the life from me as the last shred of sanity within him faded with each stifled breath I took. Then as light and hope within died I recalled kindness, the magnanimous eyes of those I had called friend and yet who remained strangers to me.... My past just as I had now perished and, as Mademoiselle Thera had driven into my mind as a nail within a casket, I was now truly mistress of my own destiny, the captain upon a vessel now on unchartered course into the unknown.

Content upon the dock I write this entry, thankful to have been afforded the second opportunity I had been provided, thankful that I had not slipped and fallen so low that I may not have ever stood once again; Left to wallow upon some gutter, sliding unavoidably into blackened water to disappear within the drain. Now I was surrounded by those whom I loved and to whom gave me their love without condition nor selfish intent, and I would ask no more of them as they commanded of me. It is a bittersweet emotion that floods my memory, to leak as a lonely tear to warm my face as I look upon them all, of how close I came to become lost.

My wage is one hundred and thirty seven per month, enough that I may keep meagre lodging away from the bustle, a crust of bread supplemented by a treat of andouillette. It is the life of a faceless ghost and yet... one who breathes with mended heart filled with elation. My name now means 'Fortune', 'The Fortunate', for I bear it with the responsibility to endure, forget as to whom I once was, wipe clean the slate of any stain, and proudly write a book of my new existence.



====================================


Quote
"... And there I walked once again into the City of Light, where all hide bathed in shadow..."


The life of an Ouvrier, 'Worker', is a persistent struggle as labour is transformed into coin, transformed into food and lodging, to allow the prescription of more labour... a relentless cycle of cruelty where there is no escape, where one crack within the chain starts a cascade that sees this carefully constructed house made of cards quickly collapse. Charity exists from unknown benefactor, support from the Government in food packages, but it feels as though that the Ouvrier may escape this punishing existence of manual duty is but an illusion only. I have claimed this support and though it provides the needs for basic subsistence... It is a degrading ritual, to be looked down upon this way… as vermin but with less ambition.

It is with considerable discomfort that whilst I am placed here of my own will that I observe those less fortunate around me to whom have only ever known of hardship and suffering as if it were natural, expected. Whilst I wear these rags by choice, theirs is made of them by the merciless hand of fate and it cares not as to whether they twist the thread and escape or are consigned to the unmarked grave of a pauper, unremembered.

The days have passed to weeks and those in attendence at the Grand Bibliotheque must think me deranged, filled with a contagion of happiness as I perform my chores in merriment. To them they see only someone naive enough to accept their place unquestionably but for me this is another day that I may smell the fresh, salted air of the sea, sing as I sweep the cobblestones knowing that I still possess breath with which to perform, savour the taste of luncheon. Above all, the library, my workplace, contains a vast array of literature that I may choose at leisure and, whilst I may regrettably not purchase them for myself, as I stack them in preparation for replacement upon their dusty shelves I may quickly steal a giddy chapter or two. I have almost forgotten of the peril that I am still invested upon but here I am a nobody and with these forgotten books we make for amicable company who understand each other well.

Upon break I have discovered the local marché, the Grand Bazaar, and have rationed my wage to afford a small wheel of cheese as a luxury for my hard work. Diminished is this confused disposition of mine, I believe that I am almost restored fully both from any physical or mental ailment.

« Last Edit: May 10, 2023, 07:56:58 AM by Mordalynne »

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In the darkest corners of the mind, Where shadows writhe and demons dwell, The wretched embodiment of Hell you'll find, In the abyss where silent reason fell

Mordalynne

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Re: A Decaying Journal Bound With a White Ribbon
« Reply #28 on: April 16, 2023, 05:02:07 PM »

A quick luncheon beside the docks; borrowed literature, cheese, watered wine


====================================

I have met with Alice and we attended cabaret and gambling at a venue named 'Les Fantaisies Luciniennes'... and for the first time in weeks I have felt alive with excitement at something new, if not also terribly under-dressed for the occasion with an outfit purchased second-hand. It is managed by one Ophelie Escoffier; A pale-skinned, ethereal beauty of a woman whose warm smile infected those who sat around her, immersed with her hospitality, whilst the eyes of her guards drifted from patron to patron, keenly observing them as a hawk if not occasionally darting between them as the shuttle on a loom. There was a calmness about her as coin upon coin was invested into the establishment's coffers, lost to the vain hope of a win against odds stacked in the favour of the house.

Fulfilled with fine wines, delicacies and cigarettes, Alice had proposed that we should gamble, a habit I have never taken interest upon owing to the lack of funds to throw away in the name of 'entertainment' now that I had to remain frugal. She was generous in gifting me the solars however to relax, gratefully accepted, partake in this new experience.

We chose the 'Loup Garou', a dice-based escape game of chance, in which the player with the lowest number became meat for the pursuing 'beast' behind. It was as Alice was devoured by the technicalities of the game that my temperament became sullied and I felt the flame of annoyance grow to an inferno of rage; That the Croupier and his dice had taken her from me, fate cheating me once again through his hand. Whilst he pompously described vividly her loss my mind drifted, clouded in a shadowy haze, as though a darkened veil had fallen over my eyes. I pictured my slippered foot pressed upon his head, pushing it down into a puddle thickened with mud as his arms flailed, begging for forgiveness; As I would not hear his imagination play out the game's outcome, so too would my fantasy not hear his pleas for mercy as the liquid stole breath from his lying lungs".
« Last Edit: April 16, 2023, 07:13:14 PM by Mordalynne »

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In the darkest corners of the mind, Where shadows writhe and demons dwell, The wretched embodiment of Hell you'll find, In the abyss where silent reason fell

Mordalynne

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Re: A Decaying Journal Bound With a White Ribbon
« Reply #29 on: April 17, 2023, 01:35:20 PM »
====================================

Alice's business in Barovia takes her away from me, for days at first but now for what seems an eternity; Without word nor warning, to leave me to my own devices. The worst of it is that she refuses to inform me of the nature of her new ventures, escapades, as though it were some clandestine project that does not include me but I know deep within what keeps her so... and it stabs into my heart as though to reopen an old, wicked wound. Perhaps she now hates this weak, demure persona that I now possess? I know that as the weeks have drifted past I have come to at first regard it as a new, joyful friend but I am quickly finding it's meek, grovelling demeanour nauseating and insulting to my intellect. I had saved what I could afford to purchase a gift upon her return this time but why should she disappear with it and leave me once again alone, pawning it in some distant land. I had decided to spend it elsewhere, on myself instead as reward for my tolerance and patience, and 'Le Palais Rouge' beckoned with it's printed flyers and promise of hedonism at their tables.

Éléonore Ambroiseux, was her name, the establishment's manager who greeted her guests with the silken growl of a wolf about to leap upon a fattened lamb. Dressed in her fineries, she was surrounded by opulence and abandon, familiar with all she met, a mask of affability upon her face and I wondered as to what she concealed behind it. It was as I lingered amongst them all that I began to feel the terrible pang of discomfiture, for as each arrived it became evident of their ostentation, power, and affluence the likes of which my time in Dementlieu I had not witnessed in close-proximity. There I stood in attire that barely amounted to the price of their handkerchiefs or that which they threw at beggars to sate their fleeting consciences; That which I had scrimped and saved as I forewent meals was but their pocket change and it was a terrible ignominy. Father wished to emulate these and as I hated him for what he was I hated them for what they were; Parasites.

Five hundred solars was the stake to buy into the table and I listened as the croupier announced winnings of three thousand solars as quickly as they scoffed their wine and fumbled around their purses like pigs hungrily feeding at a trough. I offered all that I had on one round, one hundred and eight solars, but the offer was rejected, not even seen as worthy in their eyes of even contemplation, not even that should I lose they would be in possession of all that I had. They treated me as a curio at first, Mademoiselle Ambroiseux claiming that it was in my interest to keep the coin to myself for the necessity of food, then as I pleaded for an opportunity the looks of disdain spread between sneering faces... And it was this denial that wounded me deeply. I had earned my solars with what energy I could spare, slept upon a cold library floor shivering, ate cheapened scraps whilst their only concern was with what bottle of wine to consume that evening... Why would my solar be worth any less to them? Why should they receive enjoyment when that is all they experienced with every breath of their privilged lives?

They had turned me from the table and commanded that I leave for my own good... And as a wounded animal the predators circled, scenting the smell of desperation with eager claws. I know not of how it came into my ownership but the entry fee to the table was thrust into a hand that should have refused it... and yet took it greedily without consideration or consequence, too eager that my dispossessed voice be heard finally by those around me.

No sooner than it was gained... it was lost upon the dice throw and as my head spun with disbelief the world began to dissolve into the crumbling darkness of unsteady faintness, my body now a stunned automaton over which I had lost control. It was upon the streets moments later in my daze that the loanshark in the bowler hat gave me ultimatum for his repayment... But I could not hear him through the laughter of a scolding voice, hysterical at my loss, echoing from both everywhere and nowhere.

« Last Edit: April 20, 2023, 06:53:54 AM by Mordalynne »

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In the darkest corners of the mind, Where shadows writhe and demons dwell, The wretched embodiment of Hell you'll find, In the abyss where silent reason fell

Mordalynne

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Re: A Decaying Journal Bound With a White Ribbon
« Reply #30 on: April 17, 2023, 05:07:31 PM »
====================================

Life is full of irony... For it takes sadness to truly appreciate happiness, silence to value the noise, and absence to cherish presence. The lessons of life are learned fast in the City of Light and those who are unable to adapt are immolated within it's radiance. Life was far simpler in Barovia, for at least there your enemy should have the good grace to look within your eye as they pierced your heart, not drive the dagger between your shoulderblades when your back was turned.

I have considered the financial implications of my lack of foresight and at my current employment wage I would become indebted to this leech almost indefinitely, chasing a raincloud beyond the horizon that lies forever out of my reach. All opportunity upon the noticeboard is but temporary or inappropriate for my stature... But then I am reminded that beggars may not be choosers though ordinary beggars may not also consume a room full of snivelling weasels into a raging conflagration.

Fortuitousness would perhaps have my answer, for as I remonstrated with the Head Librarian as to an advancement upon wage (at a loss to myself in the short term but fulfilling my commitments to the long-term and ensuring I did not end in a debtor cell), I was disturbed by that of a young man of exotic origin dressed in what only may be described as a... gown or loose-fitting robe. The blade at his side was a curved, single-edged instrument, immensely sharp, deadly one would imagine to whatever opponent would dare speak against him. His hair was pulled almost tightly behind his head accentuating eyes as sharp as his weapon. His rambling was clear enough to warrant intelligence but his intent was... disturbing. He wished witnesses to observe a duel he wished to enact upon another, though whether to resolve a slight against a noble or impress upon the attentions of a beau was unclear. I declined his offer politely, that is until he offered the sum of five thousand Solars to oblige him in this undertaking; To simply watch, without trickery or impediment, upon his honour as a duelist. The shawl was around my shoulders before he could finish. He named himself as Samurai Katayama of the Katayama family, a powerful businessman from the distant land of Rokushima, beyond even the limits of my knowledge.

It was the outdoor theatre across from the Grand Bibliotheque that he laid down his challenge to his opponent, his other witness the Dame Enora de Courcillon, too polite to refuse I had theorised as the prospect of payment would have meant little other than a mercenary's stain upon her name. His dueling partner was ever a dandy should ever I have seen one in the flesh, his page ripped straight from a book of romance; A wide-brimmed hat from under which cascaded dark-blonde hair tied back with crimson ribbons, a well-maintained beard, the impish grin of a rascal as he discussed his martial credential, the physique of one versed in the gentlemanly pursuit of fencing. He proclaimed himself as an instructor in the noble art of swordplay, a trainer of militiamen, and Katayama saw it as challenge to test himself against his prowess.. to indulge his ego no doubt, for he had little to prove in my eye other than the promised recompense.

Their sparring was complex but brief; The blade of this 'Samurai' weaving intricate patterns before him, his opponent riposting as the clatter of steel upon steel pierced the air around them, myself watching quietly. Katayama claimed his victory and I was compelled to race to his contender's aid as he lay bested. True to Katayama's word I received the promissory note for my participation and with it the hope I needed to liberate myself. He required a worker of which would manage the affairs of one of his employees, an intrepid explorer by the name of Vesnia Endymion, and I accepted his surprising, unexpected offer with accompanying substantial wage with aplomb (if not haste).

... As for the defeated, to whom I bandaged as he laid his head upon my lap, he introduced himself as Xelvos Silverkin and I knew that I would remember his name as I felt a creeping, cold spark enflame me once more from my solitude.

« Last Edit: April 19, 2023, 03:45:06 PM by Mordalynne »

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In the darkest corners of the mind, Where shadows writhe and demons dwell, The wretched embodiment of Hell you'll find, In the abyss where silent reason fell

Mordalynne

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Re: A Decaying Journal Bound With a White Ribbon
« Reply #31 on: April 19, 2023, 02:34:35 PM »
====================================

What would anyone else have considered in my situation? Why should I be held to higher authority than other who see my status as nothing of worth when it should suit them, then elevates me to an impossible goal as if to wish to see me tumble?

From the service of intrepid Vesnia Endymion I had found myself in favour with the Katayama Family, brought to the attentions of Yasutsugi Katayama himself who positioned me as his personal assistant to oversee the contractual obligations of his employees and business associates. To stand at his side and see his perspicacious, ruthless conduct as he held others to account was wonderfully joyful unnerving... Even moreso that I had become embroiled within his bargains as they bound others to his needs as he saw fit. I imagined that he would see others as simple commodities, nothing more than a means to his end, and that this was the beginning of his Empire. His legacy: Written upon paper in ink or blood, it mattered little, only so long as the signature was legible and the reward significantly in his favour. His eye was prone to wander upon the ladies that passed whilst deep in thought, I wondered as to how powerful we could become together if he were only to ask. Still, I prospered at my employment, and I enjoyed that it should keep my thoughts from wandering idly, even if I perform these tasks asked of Fausta who insufferably claims the credit... and who does not possess the stomach for it anyway.

It was as I returned from market that I was approached that day; A cheerful young man who caroused the streets with the swagger of a braggart, resplendent in a pristine, well-maintained, blue frock coat, his exaggerated arm movements demanding the attentions of those around him. As with any that I had come to expect of those with wealth he was well-groomed, his glabrous face shaved to within an inch of its life, repugnantly cheerful. I had observed him before, this bachelor, as he made it his aim to enthusiastically coverse with everyone, doubtless about how he had consumed five quarts of wine or notched another mark in his bedpost of the previous evening. Today it was to be my turn and as I vacantly gave him the fleeting semblance of attention, considering in my mind instead as to how I may politely leave him to his boasts, he had already offered his name. Sieur Romeo Lascaris. My interest in him quickly faded... until he lowered his voice. Until he mentioned this 'Vallaki Review'... and until he addressed me directly.

To a small coffee shop named "Cezars" I was led, an anxiousness exacerbated with every step that I took towards it, uncertain of what I may find, all the while this Romeo engaged in small talk; Of how he had recognised the eight-fingered pianist who had regaled the terrace in impromptu performance months ago, and how my lax attention to the detail of my anonymity had roused his suspicions. He would not hear of my ignorance and nor would I continue to play his game.

Within the coffee shop I searched for this 'Review' whilst he quietly voiced his sympathy and informed me of it's content; Of someone within Vallaki that had professed that I survived in hiding and that I was complicit in the death of... 'Him', this Monster that for me refused to die even now. For these quiet months where I had begun to settle into a new life free of the old, the cracks within this carefully constructed wall now begun to appear, threatening to collapse everything upon me once again. As this Romeo spoke searching my mind raced with complications, theories, eventualities, propositions, for I could see them all at once and yet not one of them offered finality... But as I snapped back to thought and reason, I saw myself concealed to Romeo's eye and with his back turned I could feel my arms outstretched, hoisted before me on strings as though I had lost control, to choke the life from him unaware so that he would speak no more, forever hold his silence... And a suffocating horror overtook me; That as far as I had travelled away from that which I was, my journey was to fearfully return to where it had begun.

That there truly was no escape.   



Quote
"... And in my panic I took the first dye that I could find for my hair. As it bled over my hands I felt it should never come off, that I was forever stained with deeds no matter how much I should attempt to atone for them.
« Last Edit: April 20, 2023, 11:06:40 AM by Mordalynne »

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In the darkest corners of the mind, Where shadows writhe and demons dwell, The wretched embodiment of Hell you'll find, In the abyss where silent reason fell

Mordalynne

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Re: A Decaying Journal Bound With a White Ribbon
« Reply #32 on: April 22, 2023, 07:05:31 AM »
An almost constant paranoia now grips me, clouds my mind and distracts me from my tasks daily which inflicts upon me great irritation. So desperate am I to ensure that I do not repeat these mistakes I have immersed myself completely in this 'Fausta'; Gone is the noble, blackened hair tied upon my head that I once had, now replaced with crimson that flows beyond my shoulders, unfurled and unrestrained, common and lurid. I find that I stumble upon my words as she begins to speak instead to answer questions or to offer her inept, misunderstandings of the world to any unfortunate who should listen. She ruins my name behind her affable smile, and I am powerless but to accept that it is her who should live and not me, for both our sakes. I cling to the aching hope that my life should return to normality, away from this drudging despondency that drains dry my spirit.  

====================================

The Detectives Masquerade Ball was a grand affair, one that I had yearned to attend upon learning of it but I had neither the supposed 'status' nor accompaniment to vindicate my attendance and my mood sank at opportunity lost. I had purchased a gown for the occasion now that the Solars from Samurai Katayama's employment began to mount, lost in the daydream of hopeful expectation of waltzing finally around the Grand Ballroom, maybe in the thought that I should not deny myself my hard-earned amusement simply because they should arrogantly command otherwise, for they were never my betters nor ever would they be.

It was by fortune that I should see him there, the Dandy from the Duel, Monsieur Xelvos, himself unaccompanied and I proffered that he would accept invitation from myself for mutual benefit, as we each sought companionship for the evening, and it would be less of a scandal than to arrive alone. We were to wear the guise of pirates amongst the other guests, both resplendent in black, to don the persona of artful buccaneer and his equally artful pirate bride, hiding my face again as but a set of nested dolls, now fourfold in their number.    

There was the 'investigative component of the affair but neither of us were to care for it, for I were to finally have my desire to dance and lose myself once more to my own revels. As we spun around, he spoke; His conversation confident, charming, filled with talk of a life that he had served in the presence of one he cared for deeply, one who Fate had wrenched cruelly from his embrace. His words were warm and sincere, nothing but a longing for his past but wise enough to know that it should not consign him to a pitiful future. I became lost within his tale, my dusty heart skipping many a worn beat, paying little attention to how we were entangled already within each other in our similarities. It was to be the first time that he should catch me as I fell, tumbling over in my clumsiness, safe within the comfort of his arms... And in his eyes, as he gazed upon me with concern, I felt his longing ache for tenderness, of desire, a sickening growing flame of love for me.

====================================


I had seen him upon the terrace some weeks prior, this 'Lanval Ancieux', as he peddled his game and took interest in participation, to throw the dice of fate again to see whether they should look favourably upon me, if not simply to spend my twenty Solars as abstract diversion. I recalled that I should point out the rules were skewed to his favour and that I would happily place my wager should be amend his stakes to reflect this but he spoke to me as if I were a child, lacked the respect that my custom should have been offered. Upon my loss he was all too keen to lay his thieving hands upon what he had cheated me out of... and I would not forget his face so readily.

I met him some weeks after, once again at his swindle but now I had a growing affluence and the means by which to exert it and as he humiliated me so I would reciprocate in kind. I placed his twenty Solars down and he would not accept. Fifty, one hundred, five hundred, one thousand... his answer always the same; And as the stakes increased, he taunted me with his denial over and over, refused me. Why should my hard-earned coin be worth any less than that of the Parasites? What made him so great as to turn me away? I fled in frustration before I should cause upset, before I became irrational, and it was to the tranquillity of the library I returned in order for calm. Part of me begged that I should leave this candle of upset burn itself to nothingness, part of me wished to fuel it with more oil and watch it consume everything around it. The rest of me coldy ambivalent as to the outcome.

Of course he should disturb me with his presence later that day in order to 'study'; A hopeful applicant for the Universite, engineering or... I did not care for his detail or as to what he may read, only that I found his worthless ambition pointless, wasted on his small mind. If he wanted this so much, I would have happily torn the pages from their spines and had him devour each learned word and the paper they were written upon until he could ingest no more. That he would be so full of what he sought that he should choke upon it happily. I thrust the apple on the table towards him and commanded him to eat, again for him to refuse thrice, and it was by this gesture that I knew I would meet him again in very different circumstance, one that he would find so difficult to readily dismiss. After all, he should want it thus and gladly suffer for his curiosity... and that he would suffer well.



Quote
He graced me with an impromptu picnic, both of us enveloped in the cooling breeze of the waters... and as we sat there I looked upon him in admiration; That he would either sink or swim on the ocean of my endearment. A comfort that were he to drown within it that I would be the last thought upon his mind
« Last Edit: April 24, 2023, 04:35:02 AM by Mordalynne »

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Re: A Decaying Journal Bound With a White Ribbon
« Reply #33 on: April 25, 2023, 09:53:00 AM »
I so desperately need help...

I am beginning to suffer periods of time where I may not account for my action, where the line between dream and reality becomes blurred or... that I become infused with a terrible, vengeful temperament, possessive, which sparks outburst and disconcerts those around me. I am terribly frightened, terribly afraid that I should suddenly snap and there would be no one that I may turn to for aid or calm, none that would understand; To label me instead of unsound mind, deranged, an untameable danger. From what I had known of the Institutions in Dementlieu that 'resolved' supposed issues such as this, they were unforgiving places where the problem, the person, disappeared forever, unwritten from history, but that you were finally at silenced peace.

====================================

Katayama's first warning came as no surprise as I had vague recollection of what had transpired. His submission for recognition of his title within Dementlieuese society was of great importance to him, to me, but no matter how much I attempted to prevent myself from tarnishing his image with my deeds the more it became impossible to resist. His patience was exhausted finally upon incident at a gathering of patrons for an inaugural tournament of chess, a game that I excelled upon in my youth, owing partly that I was to become my own opposition, not permitted the company of another to compete against me. My opponent was fierce; A diminuitive man, Lieutenant Delmar of the Red Vardo made for a challenging opponent and whose strategic thinking and guilewas a delight to pit myself against until... I may not recollect as to what exactly, only that something had irked me, a move that he had made to which I had taken offence to and subsequently accused him that his cheating hands had taken a piece and that I disapproved greatly. My next memory is wandering the darkened streets of the Ouvrier district, fearful and confused. Life would make for a cruel tutor, for the lesson was learned after you were tested, and the lessons are harsh.

It was the next morning as I wandered disorientated upon the seafront that Katayama notified me that my employment was to be terminated with immediate effect and as he did so I felt numb with anguish. To him I was a disgrace, someone who threatened everything that he had strived for with my rashness. I begged his forgiveness, unsure of what travesty I had committed to be treated thus, claimed that I was suffering from exhaustion and that I needed temporary respite to alleviate myself of whatever impediment had ailed me. He would hear none of it. He left me there as the rain began to weep from blackened stormclouds above, drenching me in its tears, the dye running red from within my hair down upon my face as I stood frozen as a statue in shock.   

My life unravelled before my eyes as fast as it had been woven. Within that afternoon Sieur Romeo delivered news that I had become forbidden to show myself at La Dama di Porcellana under instruction of the Dame Enora de Courcillon; The very establishment which espoused free thought, expression, intellectal pursuit now excluded me from attendence and though he was sorrowful I knew within his eyes that it was for him a blessed relief. Enquiry as to employment and prospect faded as whispers mockingly branded me less than perfect of mind and what little I possessed I once again pawned to prepare for an uncertain future. That evening, as I peered into the gloom of the water next to the bay, pondering whether stones within my pocket should give me the weight enough to disappear under the waves and find release, wracked by resignation but prevented by cowardice, the 'Noble' Baudouin de Courcillon choked what little hope I held on to with his abrasive, velveteen address; His imposing frame loomed over me and sneered that should I be seen in his presence or that of his Family he would inform the Gendarmerie of my state and have me committed. There was no way out.

With the remaining solars I possessed I booked passage abroad, far from the woe and stigma, glares of contempt and derision, to make acquaintance with two that Sieur Romeo had given me knowledge of at our last meeting, who would treat me fairly with patience, understanding and not as an impetuous, delinquent girl. To whom the rigid convention of status enforced by Port-a-Lucine meant nothing and to whom all were equal in their eyes.

My journey was to meet with these Crones of the Desert, these sand-soaked sorceresses, the powerful Marcelia and Solana of the arid, inhospitable land of Har'Akir. 



(Image courtesy of Enora de Courcillon)

Quote
I thought it a lesson for him; That the Pawns upon the board were rarely victims by accident; That their life would be given for the triumph of others... but it was the hand that manipulated them all which ultimately claimed victory.


« Last Edit: April 25, 2023, 03:08:09 PM by Mordalynne »

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Mordalynne

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A Decaying Journal Bound With a White Ribbon
« Reply #34 on: May 10, 2023, 08:55:34 AM »
The lush green fields of Dementlieu faded, replaced instead by a bleached sea of sand that shimmered upon a barren horizon, stretching endlessly. This desolate landscape was devoid of life, empty of feeling, that would envelop the foolish within its burning ground as if consumed by the very fires of Hell itself. It was a merciless judge to the unprepared and there was no love to exist here, no pity; The sheer will to survive against this unforgiving sun ensured that these were a rugged people who knew that any mistake would set their name upon a tombstone... and this fear hardened their hearts as one in return.

Sieur Romeo's instructions led me to a desert Oasis located just outside of Muhar, a small, hamlet settlement consisting of decrepit mud brick structures baked under the searing sky. What scant population called this their home, whether by their will or not, scuttled from shade to shade about their business, conducted under the softly undulating canvas covers of their stands from which they peddled all manner of trinkets, cloths and unusual edibles. Water was revered here as much as any deity, it had to be; Without its ability to sustain life here it would have quickly become a crumbled, buried graveyard. Were I in any doubt of this, I was swiftly reminded by the reprimands of armed men as I prepared to bathe myself in the cool waters outside of town, an error I was warned never to repeat. 

I was to first meet Marcelia and Solana after what had appeared to be a day of exhaustion for them both, for they bathed together in a wooden tub just outside of their camp, on the periphery of the settlement, as if a steadfast buffer against whatever should wander in from the wastes at night. As I stood there before them, lost, they did not cast me to judgement, nor were they to be austere critics but rather treat me as though I were a long-departed friend returned home. Marcelia was the sterner of the two, someone to whom respect was earned through loyalty, diligence and honour but to whom exuded a aura of amiability, if not impatience. Her companion, Solana, was more reserved, more thoughtful in her diction, her response, an underlying flash of insight within her eyes as they studied me closely. Both bore an unbreakable countenance similar to Muhar's mud brick residences, and both were similarly, mysteriously captivating. Their purpose was that of undertaking a great pilgrimage or rite of passage to one of the furthest corners of this forsaken land and their preparations had begun, whether the gathering of provision or pilgrim alike.

It was to be that night, bathed in the flickering light of a dancing candle in a nearby drinking tent, together alone, that I told Solana of everything I had achieved, everything I had sought, everything that I feared I should lose. For there was no greater possession for any, no greater gnawing terror, than to forever lose one's mind. As she spoke her wisdom to me, I could not feel the candle's flame as I passed my finger through it as I wondered upon her words; As if she were the only one that understood the nature of my plight, understood what it should be to be possessed of power but to lack the competence to wield it. My mind wandered as I felt an admiration for her experience and lessons... and as I listened, I fantasized how delightful it would be to see this arrogant owl pushed out of her nest, chastised and anguished as her heart was cast to the sands where it would wander in solitude until it withered to dust. Marcelia had but one heart to give... and it could not belong to us both. ... and I felt a calming connection between us.

====================================

I left little behind of worth when I took flight from Port-á-Lucine; What wealth I had accumulated had vanished, what networks I had built had crumbled, friendships evaporated as each now thought me unstable or a danger to be in the company of. To be ostracized as such was to suffer death before even His bony hand had touched you upon your shoulder. None should look at me, for status and wealth meant everything to the Dementlieuese and I now possessed neither. None however but Xelvos Silverkin...

In my fragility he had offered strength, in my distraction he had provided lucidity, and that when I was lost, he should once again discover me, as he had promised those distant weeks ago at the Grand Ball. It was there, together upon the dunes overlooking the encampment beneath the silver of the moon's mantle, distant, dizzying pipes softly drifting over the desert to us as a serenade, that he confessed his love for me. He would repair what fractured, porcelain doll I had become, and that he would take my hand in marriage should I allow him such so that I would never become lost again from him, from myself... And even in the sultry heat of the night I could feel my blisteringly cold hands wrap around his heart, now mine forever, as I gave him my answer, enthusiastically nodding as a giddy child once again as he embraced me.

Upon the arrival of the dawn, we had both booked passage to Dementlieu; Him to return to his business and myself to deposit a sizeable, generous gift from Mademoiselle Marcelia in the vaults of the Banque de Lucine. Our lives would start anew, though not even I may have imagined what was to occur upon my return.

Not even in the darkest corner of my mind would I have imagined what horrors awaited me.

« Last Edit: May 10, 2023, 11:06:27 AM by Mordalynne »

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Mordalynne

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« Reply #35 on: May 15, 2023, 12:11:30 PM »
It was with a great degree of consternation that I was unable to recall exactly of what may have occurred, what had transpired; For whilst I had come to realise that my memory was not infallible... this was a matter altogether different. More confused, irrational. As I write these notes within this journal, I have set beside me notice from others; Notes, testimony from witnesses, vivid nightmares, the words of the Halan sisters within the Ouvrier where as a patient I currently reside. What follows may not be without fault, but it is what I have pieced together from these sources, to make sense of the senseless.

I distinctly remember the disinterested face of the clerk at the Banque Publique as I hastily made the deposit, with the same impassive, forced smile that I had come to expect from any of the public servants. With such a large sum I had felt unsafe upon the streets even under the watchful gaze of the Gendarmerie, so as it left my hands it was a blessed relief, a weight of worry shifted from my mind. The time was just after dusk and the sun had barely set upon the horizon as I left the Quartier Publique, East, towards the Vardo and onward journey back to Marcelia and Solana in Muhar. The streets had begun to clear, the lamplighters having already performed their tasks the cobblestones were bathed in a warm, flickering orange glow, still damp, glistening in reply to the light. The city had faded behind me as I passed beyond the gates, now enveloped by darkness, nothing but the soft crunch of the path below my feet to sound around me. I had made this journey many times before and with each passing step the lanterns of the Vardo became brighter, beckoning, as if it were a lighthouse calling safely to a lost ship as she tip-toed upon a perilous sea. The air was calm and were it not for the fluttering overhead of bird or bat it would have been silent also.

I recall the sudden bitterness that grew around me as the air became frozen and uninviting, stinging at even the coldness of my skin. A gentle wind had arisen from nowhere as it tickled the tops of the reeds and brush that grew around the pathway and yet the mist that now rose around my feet remained softly swirling, immovable, as if anchored in place against the breeze. I had sparked the flint to light the lantern, wrapping my shawl tighter around me, peering within the gloom... and that is when the disembodied footsteps revealed themselves, close to the wooded outcrop, as they too crunched upon the grass. My mind had screamed, yelled at me to retreat, to dismiss this and leave before curiosity transformed to greater threat... and yet I did not listen. Onwards, certain that this trickery was from performed from one of my companions of whom wished to terrify me as some childish lark after being absent from them for so long. The side of the hill trickled with loose rock and my nerve finally saw sense... but as I turned to depart I heard the soft whisper drift over me, wrap itself around my thoughts so as to keep me firmly in place; "The cold, cold woman... alone in the dark", it exhaled, as though it were the final, drawn out breath of a dying man, how well he should know me... and just beyond the light from my lantern as it strained to illuminate the dark I should see him finally, this unholy monster.

It is at this point my mind became fragmented and blurred, and it was through the Halans that I had reconstructed my memory; That in my panic I had threatened that I possessed a loaded firearm with which to defend myself... that he had casually pointed to his chest in mockery of my proclamation, boldly pointing as to where I should carefully aim my shot... for I only had one opportunity and that I should not miss. But I had no such weapon on my person and as my hand trembled within the insides of my cloak, clutching at this non-existent bluff, I felt that he should know this... staring deeply within me with eyes as cold as ice... the fresh fragrance of lavender about him... features that snarled as a savage beast... the mouth that grinned with sharpened fangs that lunged towards me as I sank into unconsciousness.

It was some nine hours later they had told me that I had been found, pallid and weak, outside of the Grand Bibliotheque where I had miraculously found the strength to crawl to; A place of safety, one I knew too well, whilst those who walked around me as they went about their day should look upon as if were some crazed drunkard or inconvenient obstacle to step over. None of these 'civilised' citizens would offer their aid and I knew that I would never forget or forgive their indifference to my plight.

====================================

They would not inform me of my state at first, not that I had it within myself to listen let alone comprehend of what they should speak of. Sister Marissa would later reluctantly tell me of how dangerously impaired I was, how close to the threshold of death, when I was delivered to them and their care and that they had feared the worse. I had suffered from an incredible loss of blood, taken from me by almost pinpoint wounds carefully inflicted upon my neck and by their account, and by token of professionalism in their craft, I was fortunate to still breathe. I was to remain at the Hospice until my recuperation was complete and they would take no refusal otherwise, they would ask for no coin in return.

It would only over a week later when I had finally regained my strength that I would sit at the table and share tea with Sister Marissa, one who had faithfully remained by my side to ensure that I would want for nothing in my recovery. I had made immense progress; From being able to barely hold my frame upright in bed without support, to small steps across to a burlap bunk opposite, to finally taking in the freshness of the air outside. My thirst was unquenchable; No matter how much water passed my lips they remained dry, never sated, and my appetite had not returned. Indeed, to look at the meals that they generously placed before me to regain my strength merely turned upon me, nauseated me, as though I no longer possessed the will to eat. 'In time it will return', Sister Marissa told me as I sat opposite her, a newly brewed chamomile and honey tea warming my hands, as she had previously witnessed me push the cooling food upon the plate from one side to the other. She was one of Halan's faithful; A woman of considerable benevolence who wore the pure white robes of the sisterhood, knowledgeable in the mysteries of the Weave to which she owed her divine working, the power in which she could assist the sick and administer mercy to the suffering. As long as I remained within the confines of the Hospice, she said, the safer I would be from this creature that had set upon me as its prey. The creature she named as 'Vampire'. I had met their kind once before, at Vallaki in the dead of night upon a hill outside of the city walls, and I did not have the courage to admit to her that it was a similar creature that I had attempted to strike a bargain with now so many months ago. Perhaps it was a profane justice wrought against me, or perhaps the fiend had found enjoyment in hunting me down from Barovia as sport. Neither brought me any relief.

My visitors were numerous, bearing gifts and words of concern, sympathy for the ordeal that I had suffered; Sieur Romeo would lighten the mood with his humour, kind words, from Monsieur Dupin of 'La Cause' I received a wheel of cheese and 'The Hounds of Leveringham Hall' to pass the hours, if not to increase his readership by one from his insistence that I look over his own publication also. Then there should be Monsieur Xelvos, faithfully at my side with affection and fuss, and as I took my first steps from the bed to feel the energy within numb legs once more, he should catch me from falling a second time.

And then there should be the officials from the Gendarmerie, those whose interest in what had occurred and my recounting of it could be no more tedious to them than if they had watched the paint upon a wall slowly dry. Sieur Romeo had versed me in what I should say to avoid them thinking that I had lost my mind for to them this man was a lunatic, nothing more, a depraved individual who stalked the night in search of his quarry... and I had learned to my horror that there had been several incidents of mutilations involving lone women... of which I was to be the only survivor, the only one to bear witness and live to tell. I spoke to Sister Marissa after they had vacated of my reaction to their news, and I knew that something was amiss as her eyes widened as I did so; I had expected survivor's guilt or an extreme thankfulness that I had not suffered the same horrible fate... But instead, I felt anger, a jealous rage. That whilst I had lived, he had gifted death to the others, had considered me not worthy to receive the same, that he loved them more than I.

Enough to beautifully butcher them with his loving hands after his passionate kiss delivered them from this world, writhing in ecstasy as they expired.


====================================


I had thought that Monsieur Xelvos had been careless at first, as for several days upon my waking the door to his suite he had returned me to convalesce had drifted open during the night. At first I considered that we had been the victims of thievery but there was nothing of note taken and everything of value remained, then I theorised that in his morning haste he had left it off the latch in accident. I noticed that the soles of my feet were covered in dirt, loose flecks of grass and gravel, always in the morning, without explanation. My sleep had been plagued with vivid nightmares where I had found myself alone within a great, ancient library whose rotting shelves collapsed around me under the weight of the tomes they struggled to hold... and through the miasma of hanging dust it stalked me silently; A great, black wolf whose crimson eyes burned through the murk, and my escape was always futile as my legs fled across the floor as though through thickened treacle. My end was always the same, agonising repetition.  It was on the fourth night when I was rudely roused from a deep slumber by hands unknown, just as this intangible wolf once again had lunged for my throat, that I had discovered why.

It was the hand of Katayama that shook me awake that night. He had followed me as I had drifted deep within my slumber back to the Suite, returning from some nightly wander alone. Vulnerable. As I contemplated what was happening with disbelief, he informed me that he was soon to be recognised as a member of the nobility and that for him his dream was finally coming to fruition... and lost deep within my thoughts I knew that this black wolf would come for me once more and that my nightmare too would finally be realised. 


Quote
"I had theorised that in my slumber I would walk to the same, terrible spot upon the Eastern outskirts where I had been assaulted in the dreadful hope that this evil monster would return to love me once again... and that we would belong to each other once more""
« Last Edit: May 30, 2023, 04:50:14 AM by Mordalynne »

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Mordalynne

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A Decaying Journal Bound With a White Ribbon
« Reply #36 on: May 21, 2023, 11:49:15 AM »
Appendix 12: The Scourge of Noblesse

Father wished to emulate the Noble classes of Dementlieu, fixated that he was upon them. He should call himself one without qualification or through deed, hidden behind an unwritten history of lies fabricated for the mantle of moral superiority or simply that he viewed them as infallible, above challenge or accountability. Their power was almost absolute in a society that relied upon their ostensible intellect to cement diplomatic ties and agreement across borders, relied upon their 'goodwill' to provide employment with wage no matter how poor it was through factories that maimed infants; Slavery in all but name that would permit mothers to place meagre scraps of rotten food into the mouths of their children and to prevent fathers from falling into the escape of drunken idleness. He saw himself, similarly, bestowing his benevolence upon his 'subjects'; Servant and maid, governess and gamekeeper, all would call him Master, and all would obey without recourse should their loyalty prove otherwise. He would view Dementlieu as a favoured fantasy. I would come to see it as naught but some frightful farmyard... and flitting above it all, quaffing the life from the city, were these bloated parasites. I am not my father.

Strutting upon this field as a bull was the Baron Baudouin de Courcillon; An intimidating brute whose martial exploits were whispered in whichever corner of the city one should wander into for his involvement with the Campagne des Champs Silencieux. War hero that he was, it was not above him to lower himself to bully the less fortunate with his threatening brawn, brain however lacking as it would appear, a pompous buffoon. Next to him his faithful cow, his sister, the Dame Enora de Courcillon; She appeared to be the drain into which the intelligence of the family had spiralled into, knowledgeable as she was and yet to look upon her eyes was to stare into the vacant husk of a woman whose soul the city had torn from her. The donkey that muled in some faraway barn, the Mademoiselle Larissa Vouivre; An ambivalent, stubborn animal whose only thought was of where she would secure the most profit, unrelentingly steering herself toward it no matter the consequence. She was a member of a household whose rise to the nobility had been recent and she was yet to cut her teeth upon the practiced decadence so synonymous with her peers.


Quote
All of these animals however would eventually outlive their usefulness and it was to be the decision of the farmer as to how they were removed from the farm, to be made useful once more.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2023, 03:33:12 AM by Mordalynne »

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In the darkest corners of the mind, Where shadows writhe and demons dwell, The wretched embodiment of Hell you'll find, In the abyss where silent reason fell

Mordalynne

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Re: A Decaying Journal Bound With a White Ribbon
« Reply #37 on: May 30, 2023, 02:02:16 PM »
Monsieur Xelvos should not let me leave his sight, an insistence instead that for my safety I remain at his Suite during the night hours and that during the day I confine myself to the area immediately surrounding the Governor’s Hotel, which regrettably has put paid to any excursion on the outskirts to calm my mind. I confess that I do not fully comprehend as to whose benefit this should be for, as it is my understanding that as long as the sun remains within the sky, the creature is powerless to act, it’s abhorrent deeds committed only under cover of darkness at a time when I am safely within my bed. There is part of me which sees his concern as the endearing, protective instinct of a fiancé, but then when we are apart, I see it more that he simply wishes to keep me under control, caged as some animal for his own gratification, selfishly kept apart from others as his own hoarded, treasure with a firm, selfish hand. I may see it within his eyes on occasion; The flickering sense of greed at how much of my wealth he may snatch from me before I am discarded as another of his conquests, no doubt. Perhaps he knew of my worth and saw me as Wallis Pomery-Dumont, that odious philanderer, had some years prior; As voiceless decoration upon his arm, to be seen and not heard. He has been absent upon his business with the Katayama as I write this, no doubt settled in the arms of some paramour in some distant land, cackling at my misfortune but how little he should know of me. For I have many willing admirers already, ones who shun me in the company of others and yet covet me when we are alone and I will pre-emptively shatter his heart to pieces should I feel he betray me. Stop this! Why can’t you just be happy and accept his love for the wonderful gift that it is?

Though ‘Xel’ assures me that we are stable financially for the moment, I cannot help but feel redundant, useless, unable to contribute to our success, and whilst I suffer still from minor exhaustion, I must put my mind to good use lest I lose it completely. I have therefore placed my application in for employment as “Valet Personel”, a secretarial role that offers an admirable remuneration package, for a new enterprise, and this very evening I meet with the proprietor of the Blackburn Fur Trading Company, ‘Roderick Blacksdale’. I shall not be bled dry of coin whilst I have strength enough within my bones to earn it, to work as any other, to simply be ‘normal’. Is it so much to ask for one who tries so much, tries so hard? And fails are every turn. Just take it. Take it all from them, both peasant and parasite alike, name it as a reward.

====================================

Blacksdale was committed to his business ventures elsewhere during the daytime when offices were staffed and the machinery of bureaucracy ran unhindered, though even these soulless bureaucratic cogs would need to oil themselves at a tavern at the close of the day. I had not informed Xel of the interview as it was to be held just after dusk, mercifully at a nearby tavern in the Quartier Savant, as I knew that he would fret and panic needlessly for my safety, and this overbearing coddling could see my chances scuppered from the outset. As quickly as this vampire ‘Claude’ had begun his reign of terror he had now curiously ceased, and speculation was that he had satiated himself enough for the time and would vanish into obscurity, to move onwards to evade capture or destruction now that he had been identified. It in no way diminished his murderous acts however that had seen a total of six slain individuals, found either inside the city boundaries, to Val de Luxemont to the immediate South or to the agricultural community of Edrigan further still [Addendum: A full collated, investigative document is forthcoming owing to evidence gathered thusfar - MdW.] , and it was the unknowing, prevalent danger which still haunted me, struck me momentarily with fear that the shadows still watched, waiting.

He was to arrive a little later after dusk as I waited at the ‘Blooming Rose’, an archaic, dimly-lit tavern almost devoid of patrons where our meeting had been arranged. It was a rarity indeed, that in this city of progress that there should be an establishment that felt more dusty museum than vivacious place of merriment yet, I was discover, this is where he should find his evenings with a quiet, succulent supper or agreeable refreshment to while away his hours. He was a rugged, imposing man who would have made for a fearful interrogator; Well-built with the lean of a gentleman who had spent his life upon some vast estate as gamekeeper or warden, however his blue eyes had a cold warmth about them that felt… irresistible, charming, demanding of attention which I so readily gave to him, complimented by a curled, soporific smile, a presence that should calm the most sullied of nerves. His silken introduction ran from his tongue and in that moment, I felt as though I had met him before or had known him forever, amicable, genuine as he was.  [Addendum: Why am I so fascinated with him? – FL.)

We took refreshment together as he outlined further his requirements and the subsequent difficulty he had encountered with the city administration on the acquisition of a trades licence, one that was necessary if he wished to give his business the legitimacy to operate. His enterprise was Mordentish, headquartered in the Arden Bay, and it was upon this revelation that I became distracted, uncomfortable enough to begin to stumble over my words as though they flailed upon icy waters in the vain hope of remaining afloat; Arden was a city to the not too distant North to Glenwich, the city that I had taken flight from on the wings of anonymity, and it was with a tangible sense of anxiousness that I feared he would raise my father’s name and that of his impetuous, missing daughter. But he did not see or recognise me, nor had the intention to delve further into the myriad of fabrications I had spun to explain where I had come from. I clattered my glass clumsily upon the table between us and rapidly changed topic, lest his suspicion uncover me. and I would be forced to pierce his throat with his own splintered glass to silence him.   

My ‘competition’ for the role was anything but a challenge to my credentials and he recounted amusedly how the two previous applicants had been less than satisfactory in his eyes; A clockwork Lamordian man, he recounted through sips of wine that never seemed to diminish, that spoke in monotone and seemed more disinterested in the position than enthused. The second, a silver haired Elven woman who had since disappeared, therefore casting her opportunity to the wind. It was not arrogance in which I celebrated my success before it was announced, only that I knew deep within that he loved me more than he loved them and that he would gift me what I so deserved. 

At the close of the evening, I explained my apprehension to him as a woman walking alone upon the city’s rues and he willingly walked me to my lodging as a gentleman would, honourably without question nor fear of the burden of imposition. Claude, I explained, ‘The Lavender Leech’, still stalked the night and I would take no risk to let the opportunity for this new employment slip through my fingers by his hand… and Roderick Blacksdale agreed, smiling. 



« Last Edit: June 01, 2023, 04:25:59 AM by Mordalynne »

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In the darkest corners of the mind, Where shadows writhe and demons dwell, The wretched embodiment of Hell you'll find, In the abyss where silent reason fell

Mordalynne

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Re: A Decaying Journal Bound With a White Ribbon
« Reply #38 on: June 01, 2023, 06:21:46 AM »
The evil of the land does not distinguish between young or old, for it cares little for who should suffer only that they should suffer.
For those who should find this journal after I am gone, be warned upon the content below.





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Monsters are not born, they are created… and Port-á-Lucine is the oppressive, uncaring factory that readily moulds their casts.


To my knowledge he was the first. The first of many. 

I was to see the child lying in the street at first as nothing more than a willing participant in a game or prank as I passed quickly about my business in my capacity as the newly appointed Valet of Monsieur Blacksdale. Such was life in the Quartier Ouvrier that the young would find respite from their arduous toil within the workhouses, no matter how brief, in whatever time for amusement they could afford; I had often seen them chase each other wearily upon the cobbles or discover one, finger drawn across their lips slyly in a darkened corner, hidden from another in a game of Seek. It was a tragedy to see, bittersweet, how the innocence of their youth had been stolen from them, and that the city would continue to steal from them until it could take no more; Until they lay broken within a cold, unfeeling grave, their dignity the final possession pilfered callously even in death. Life was cheap enough; it could take little else. As I neared to assumed expectant shouts of mirth the air instead was filled with hysterical screams, urgent, distressed mutterings as the scene was swarmed with passers who gathered around, myself amongst them as curiosity turned to consternation and dread.

He lay motionless, the air about him still save for the thin, grey, wispy plumes of acrid smoke that drifted gently upwards about where his feet should have been. He was no more than seven, perhaps eight, though his unwashed face bore the hardened scars of labour that saw him look far older. His clothing was unkempt, pieced together through whatever scraps the love of a parent could muster and yet, beneath his knee, the fabric was shredded, torn to ragged strands stained black and crimson that flapped helplessly in the cold breeze that wandered briskly through the street. The air hung heavy, the sharp smell of gunpowder entwined with burnt flesh, and I realised to my horror that whatever life this boy once possessed had been savagely snatched by the indifference of the contorted, spent, incendiary device beside him upon the floor. It was through the cries, the pleading, the shouts for the attendance of a Gendarme, anyone, that I heard the laughter; A malevolent, child-like, solitary snickering, barely audible from one of the darkened alleys just beyond the periphery of the crowd…. And lured by ire and inquisition I followed it, with a mind clouded by a trembling, uncertain vengeance.   

In that darkened, abandoned lodging, desecrated by dust, wracked by rot, that I made an acquaintance of anarchy. She wore the outward visage of a young woman, though one ravaged by the decay of death; Her whitened, decomposing skin was pulled tightly over a skull whose jaw twisted into a toothy, sneering, grin, sunken, hollow eyes that lacked life or emotion and yet shone with an unnatural spark within their blackened void, animated in excitement by its actions outside. I had stared into similar eyes months before, when they were driven by desperation and overcome by an insanity that shunned rational discourse…. But I would be no victor here and the unpredictability of this new evil was treacherous to assume otherwise.

She demanded coin at first, the demands of a petty criminal, and I had intended to willingly oblige to draw our meeting to a close without incident and beat a hasty retreat to the street… but as I reached for my coin purse the caveat was added; That as I was so ready to pay for my freedom she would quite as happily take my life instead. Now my grasp loosened around the coin purse and instead snatched the mirror within my cloak, which I thrust towards the creature as if to show it the true reflection of what it was. “Tell me who you are!”, I demanded, as at first it recoiled, allowing a rasping, low growl escape from a lipless mouth, a growl that seethed into a hiss of annoyance, evaporating into a nonchalant, menacing smirk. With a gloved hand she pointed a talon-like finger accusingly before me and named herself as ‘La Flambeuse’, ‘The One Who Burns’, and I knew then that it would be by her hand that the city would be set alight with the flame of disorder, to be consumed by chaos. As I pondered her in that second, that fraction of time, that same, shrivelled hand lashed out with a burning, intense, wrath, a touch that scolded with a frigid apathy that froze the very life from within and swatted me away to the ground, to hit my head hard upon the rotting, wooden floorboards.

It was through blurred vision that I saw her approach the glowing embers of the fireplace as she gave her lesson to me; That the child outside was seen as fair for the trap that was intended for any unfortunate enough to stumble upon it, she cared not who, and that everyone within the city deserved to burn in the fire of her callous retribution. She looked in fascination as she removed a smouldering log from the hearth, caressing it gently across a nearby bookcase as the books upon it began to cough blackened smoke before they crackled alive with flame, the resultant smog flooding the room in choking blackness. I scrambled for the door and my escape, the manic laughter behind me as her form disappeared, swallowed within the smoke, and a chilling, final reminder of her intention was shouted after.

Everything burns.   


« Last Edit: June 01, 2023, 06:54:53 AM by Mordalynne »

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In the darkest corners of the mind, Where shadows writhe and demons dwell, The wretched embodiment of Hell you'll find, In the abyss where silent reason fell

Mordalynne

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Re: A Decaying Journal Bound With a White Ribbon
« Reply #39 on: June 17, 2023, 01:06:04 PM »
{Some pages follow, tucked in between entries and in several different ink colours, added to frequently, updated as memory consigned itself to paper}

The Halan considers it a worthwhile endeavour to note instances where I have faltered, moments where I have felt my mind drifting, ostensibly in the hope that she may better determine a course of action... But I have heard from another that this is for the Halan's own benefit, not mine, and what she does is instead to influence me for on her own whim like a marionette for her 'Cult'. I am pulled in opposite directions, and I fear I may be torn in twain should I not possess direction for one way or the other.

Whatever course I may choose, I have to remind myself that these feelings, they are not mine... They are something alien, insidious... Vindictive. As if I should gaze into a darkened mirror and see a reflection of myself I do not recognise, nor understand.


I shall add to these notes as my memories return to me, adding them below; A litany of shame


Avril 778

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The night at the Casino... They were like corpulent pigs at a trough, snuffling the coin from the table with their grubby trotters. Such was the way of the Republique but I hated them for it regardless. They possessed more than I and would not share.

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I had seen Monsieur Ancieux on several occasions as he peddled his cup game, this time was no different from any other, but something did not feel the same, something felt divergent. In his wisdom he did not allow me opportunity to gamble my wage against this game of chance but as he denied me, I became frustrated with his refusal to take what I had offered. I felt as though he thought himself above me, that my coin was in some way tainted or unacceptable, unworthy. I saw him later within the library at the Grand Bibliotheque as he studied diligently and the most horrid thought took my mind, that as he had humiliated me, I would similarly show him humiliation also, and when he refused to take the apple I offered I imagined myself forcing it within his mouth, tearing the pages from his textbook so that he might choke upon them. There was no mercy I would afford him in my contemptible imagination.


Mai 778

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Monsieur Coltan Viris had heard concerned whispers from those upon the streets that someone had entered the sewers in search of something, of what precisely I know not, and that they had failed to return in good time. Viris is man of honour, one I count amongst the closest of acquaintances, and one whose nature would have him answer the call to aid of any. I had accompanied him, Moreso out of curiosity than duty owing to the foul miasma that had emanated from the sluice and sludge below the city. With the enveloping blackness Viris located the broken corpse of the woman but was himself ambushed by her attackers, several horrifically disfigured individuals. As they struck him down before he had the opportunity to retreat, his last words were that I run, flee in self-preservation. I panicked.

There are two indisputable observations from what I recall next. The first was that I found myself back within that darkened corridor, the slain bodies of Viris' assailants at my feet and I had made them suffer terribly for their insolence. It had been unbearably drawn out. Slow. Methodical. 

The second was that as I stood above Viris' vulnerable form my hand stopped from applying the bandages from within my satchel, watching him instead as he struggled to breathe, struggled to retain whatever life remained within him as he fought against the rising void of death. In that moment I felt as though I held power over him, over his life, and as to how it would feel to watch the light disappear from his eyes as I caressed his forehead. Each laboured breath was a gift I allowed him, and I became intensely jealous that he stole this generosity without asking, that he was now mine to do with as I pleased. My arms felt stiff at first as I forced my fingers to tear the binding to staunch the bleeding... But with each turn of the bandage around him the movement became easier. 

I did not mention this to him, he would never understand.


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Monsieur Vanlow offered to read the Tarokka to determine my future, something he sincerely considered a reliable source of divination but of which I regarded as little more than a parlour game for curious minds. His reading of my past resonated greatly, even though I had learned of the tricks performed by street performers to surreptitiously pry coin from purses of the gullible. He drew the Raven and said that I had upset my father, and my mind began to whirl with feelings of detestation and abhorrence. I called him a despicable liar.

The next I should recall was that I was stood alone upon the gloomy, night-covered streets of the Marchand, my own seething voice still ringing in my ears. 


Juin 778

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The Halan had visited me further to my correspondence in which I had outlined my distress and that I was slowly losing control. I met Sister Marissa within Vallaki and together we walked to Degannwy where she felt the tranquillity may at least bring some respite.

The girl approached us upon the cusp of the paths of the Southern Forest and asked for our aid, that she needed someone to turn to... And as she spoke, I felt my senses dull, as though I could hear her words echo in the darkened room of my mind, that her cry for aid was meaningless, unearned, expected to be given without reimbursement, thieved from me. If she had desired company then I would have given it to her as she had demanded, like-minded company with creatures of similar flapping tongues.

Sister Marissa snapped me from my preoccupation by shouting my name, roused from my trance, as I stopped the incantation immediately and the girl ran away in fright. There would be no other toad in the swamp that evening.

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The Dwarf had been left to fester under the rain-soaked branches of the trees on the outskirts of Vallaki. He was terribly inebriated and the stench of sweat and stale ale pervaded the air around him, emanating from every pore on his body. He had fallen on foul times, for the Garda had gouged the eyes from his head and left them as bloodied, hollow holes within his skull, leaving him to perish. None should come to his aid, should even take the time to offer him even the opportunity to be taken indoors and given shelter, a warm meal to soak up the poison that slurred his words. It was in that moment I felt a great pity for him for he reminded myself of what I had nearly succumbed to many months before and my conscience would not let him suffer as I.

I purchased for him a meal, some water and a warm space by the fire whilst I listened to his sombre tale; He was a merchant who had stumbled across a tome that was considered valuable and which he had unwittingly attempted to sell within a town to whom knowledge was as inconvenient as a mosquito or inaccessible itch. One of his customers had betrayed him to the Garda and he had promptly seen himself in shackles, his permanent mutilation swiftly inflicted afterwards. There was nothing left for him and I told him that whilst he vision may be restored with the skill of one from the Camp of the Dyad, Barovia would never accept Rugnar Devek again as the sighted individual he once was. He would come with me to the Dyad, his new home. For my altruism he offered me coin, an abundant amount, far more than the meal and company I had provided was worth, laying it on the table before me. I would never forget, even as I retired for the evening to prepare for the journey ahead, the amount so nonchalantly displayed.

The next day we reached the Svalich Pass just outside of Midway Haven, fresh from the ferry... and as I escorted him gently, my hand guiding him onwards as he fumbled blindly over the uneven roadway, I knew that he owed me everything in his possession for my kindness, kindness that I knew he now took for granted. What he would not give to me willingly the Ogres along the road would take, and I would cast him to the sweet oblivion to sleep and leave him to his fate at their hands... The rest of him picked clean by beast and bird alike, and I like a magpie would relieve him of his coinpurse.

I felt a horrid shame when we both reached our destination and he smiled in relief... as I did alongside him, for he would never know how close to death he had come.
 

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I met Belias on the outskirts of the city, upon the Baie de Sable, where he found me upon my daily routine of scrutinising the local flora for practicable ingredients. He had been searching for me for some time since my banishment was lifted and I had left the solitude of the Dyad for the solitude instead of Lucine's verdant periphery, for I had come to learn that whilst alone I remained only a danger to myself and to no other. He was cordial, concerned for my well-being, informative in that he had news of nefarious creatures that stoked terror within the hearts of those in Barovia. We spoke as we walked, the dusk drawing in overhead, usurping the sun from the sky, and it was then we noticed the gallows standing silently shrouded in a rising mist, almost lost in the silhouette of the surrounding woodland.

The instrument was merciful or sadistic, all owing to the skill of the artist who operated it; Should the drop be too short then the condemned would languish slowly as the breath was slowly starved from their lungs, too long and their head would be removed from their body. The calculations were precise to snap the neck as a rotten twig and this skill was honed from many failed attempts that struggled against the inevitable. I had only witnessed one such manner of punishment and my father had hated the thief enough that the rope was woefully miscalculated, woefully short, that his demise was sickeningly drawn out as he kicked and spasmed. I instructed Belias to place the noose around his neck, a shiver of curiosity as to how it might feel to fantasize of instructing the hangman to carry out his gruesome task, and Belias complied with humour.

But it was only when I told him to tighten it that he knew the situation was growing beyond my control... and he hastily roused me from my growing daze by an echo of my name in calm whisper, removing the rope before I could kick the legs out from underneath him.

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It was another market day upon the street leading to the gates of Vallaki, and amongst the throng of the crowd I took notice of the potion seller. She was an acquaintance I would see on occasion for exchange of words both pleasant and unpleasant, crafts and herbs, many of which I had freely given to her in the aid of the Elven settlement of Degannwy some months prior. The horror of the Blightwood had passed and she filled her time instead from curatives and tonics to eager buyers, honest coin for honest work. It was upon passing that I greeted her and asked that I may peruse her wares... and as she spoke I saw her like a duck sat upon nests made of baskets that held inside them golden eggs, the fruits of my labour which saw her enterprise blossom and mine wither. This was my toil she profiteered upon; I had never requested any coin for the knowledge on the Spuma Vitae I supplied Degannwy, never claimed glory nor recognition which was stolen by others, yet here she stood to deny me recompense for everything I had done for her, for them, in arrogance. Before I could prevent myself, I simply named her 'Thief', my hand covering my mouth too late to prevent the proclamation from being heard, as I made my excuses and fled before I defeathered Penelope de Vos where she stood.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2023, 11:44:13 AM by Mordalynne »

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In the darkest corners of the mind, Where shadows writhe and demons dwell, The wretched embodiment of Hell you'll find, In the abyss where silent reason fell