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[January] Education

[A/N: So, I'm starting new characters for the new chronicle. This is an excerpt of the longform background for my new mage.]

Apparently, my childhood dream of growing up to be like Grandmama Winship was to be, at least in part, a reality. Grandmama Winship, a mage for sixty years, was an institution in her own right. It seemed she knew everyone, everyone knew her or knew of her, and she was entirely thrilled that finally one of her line Awakened. For a week she questioned me at length while I tried not to hear the maid’s plot to steal the third best silver, or Osgood the driver’s grumping about his bum knee, or the butler’s frustrations. For another week, Grandmama filled my ears and mind with the vocabulary of my new existence. And for the third week, I was left to fend for myself, stopped the maid from stealing the silver, kept ibuprofen on hand to offer to Osgood, and tried to stay out from under the butler’s feet. Where my college roommates’ pencils scratching was merely an irritation, I discovered true horror in hearing thoughts and emotions everywhere. Read more...Collapse )

[MASS] Faith

Annabelle’s words resonate in the back of my mind while I work in the terreiro, the courtyard that is surrounded on all sides by my haven. The gods require more.

More, ever more. That is the way of gods. I understand Kincaid and her beliefs a bit more. I understand why Felipe became as he did, and what Akuete was. And yet, I cannot conceive of a place where I do not serve.

I dig my hands into the earth, turning it over in my fingers. Above me is the alcove with my ancestors’ shrine, and the statue looks down on me with what I fancy is amused pity.

When I was young, I served my brother. I cleaned up after his messes, found money where none was to be had, shared his bed.

I served my ancestors. They spoke in my mind, told me what they wished. I killed and created in equal measure.

When I was a bit older, I served my family, those who created me with their blood. I could not hear my ancestors, but Josephine’s needs were enough to fill lifetimes.

Did my ancestors leave me then? I don’t know. One night, I realized I no longer could hear them. I searched for them, for their words. Perhaps I could never hear them. Perhaps they never existed.

But is that not what faith is? To believe in the absence of proof?

This shrine is where I keep to this day the pipe my grandfather favored, a handful of the tobacco he enjoyed though it is all but impossible to find. My grandmother’s cowrie necklace. My mother’s gold locket. The carving my father did as a boy.

I know that the loa are real. There is no faith needed. But my ancestors...

I bleed into the earth below the alcove.

[Drabble] White

It begins with a chunk of marble that we had imported ages ago when I first installed the crypt. I ordered too much, far too much, and the leftover marble I left in a spare room in Josephine's wing. When Simon broaches his idea, I'm suddenly taken with the idea.

Now, I run my hands over it, seeking the shape within. It's there if I can find it, if I have enough skill. I don't entirely know that I do; it's been years since I last put chisel to stone.

I pick up my tools, seeking the white creature hiding within.

[MASS] Hours

It's quiet in the early hours before dawn when Etienne comes to bed. He doesn't stretch himself along the line of my body as he usually does, but rather keeps a healthy distance between us. Neither of us breathe; if it weren't for the shifting of my mattress, I'd never know he was here.

And that's when the fight starts.

It's irritatingly civil. He questions me, my intentions and my loyalties. I keep my temper and my beast in check through a strong act of will, and it's only in the end that I truly understand the importance of Fools.

[MASS] Air

Cities have distinct scents, sounds, sights. Their very air feels different on the skin, and Rio is no different. The man who chased the other Kindred off the balcony we now share leans against the rail, his pale linen suit is well pressed and with none of the usual wrinkles that a living man who has sweated in it all evening would have. He is old, having lost the ticks of humanity, and while I can't imagine losing so much of it, I see in him one of many possible futures, where I have lost the trick of simply joys.

[Judith] Earth

The weather is growing cold even as tempers grow heated. I leave the meeting where the shouting started and go to the mausoleum where none can remember who is buried and whose torpid bodies they have been tasked to keep. Where the records are missing, I have given myself the task of cataloging the niches and creating a new necrology.

I blow the dust away from the carved letters, and when that is insufficient, I wipe it away with one hand while I hold the lantern in another. I'm surprised when I see a name I had thought lost: AURELIVS MARIVS

(Author's note: Clearly I was on auto-pilot when I tagged this yesterday. Judith's history, not MASS's. Oops.)

[MASS] And

Our conversation is fueled by our host's excellent bar, which he left shockingly unattended. It's a game of cat and mouse where I feel uncomfortably like the mouse, and the Haunt (Phineas, I remind myself) eyes me like I'm his next meal, all the while being scrupulously polite. I bait him and he responds only occasionally in kind. Terror wars with desire, setting the memory of my heart to pounding.

I can't help myself; I fall a little bit in love.

And so, it is little wonder that the inevitable happens.

It's my destiny to fuck the most terrifying Nosferatu I can.

[Judith] Heart

It's an odd hobby: difficult to transport and hell to store. And yet, I'd never have acquired it had it not been for Marius. Where once I drew careful illustrations of my cadavers and their organs, I now carve them in wood, each detail of their gross anatomy as true to death as I can make them. I used to just carry a few of the wooden models, but now I make molds and recreate them in poured resin. Their finest features, however, are their tactile detail, entirely made so a blind man might know the pleasure of my fascination.

[MASS] Shapes

I often close my eyes when I am with Marius, let myself be guided by my other senses. I smell him and his scent of laundry detergent, wood, and sometimes, bizarrely, formaldehyde. I hear his voice, beautiful and unsettling as it wraps around me. And I touch him, feel the strength of sinewy muscle, trace the shape of his arms, and draw lines down his scars, connecting those strangely perfect circles with my fingertips. I touch the V of his chest and the curve of his shoulders, reveling in the gentle parabola of his hairline, the squareness of his jaw.

[MASS] Dinner

Etienne is over for dinner again. Roberto has made an excellent chicken stuffed with mushrooms and laden with tropical fruit, served over a bed of rice. A bottle of wine nearly empty, and Etienne lingers over his meal, holding his glass aloft as he makes his point with graceful fingers.

I'm struck with a sudden pang of guilt, so rare that I must pause to identify the emotion. Etienne should be courting mortal women, eating their food, making a life for himself with someone who isn't half dead.

But then he smiles roguishly and I can't remember why I ever felt guilty.

[Penelope] How?

It was never a question of what I should do, or why I should do it, but rather one of when, and most importantly, how.

As ever, it was a matter of timing, of opportunity. Of taking the initiative when I saw my enemy falter when I met his eyes. Alone, I'd never make it. With someone else, with him... I might be able to.

All of my carefully laid plans and pieces of plans are immediately discarded as I dare him to follow me, to chase me off the battlefield and find a world outside this beautifully wrought hell.

[Penelope] Triangle

Brutus sits across the table from where I have laid out the tools of my trade: clamps and clips, knives and razors, arrowheads and a pile of feathers we've acquired through collection and patient industry. I have him sort through the feathers after I show him how to judge the strength of the vane, and he divides them into neat stacks: usable, unusable, and questionable. He frowns over his work, furrowing his brow as he inspects each one while I take his "good" pile and start stripping and clipping feathers into the right shape to be fletched to deadly shafts.

[MASS] Light

I designed the safehouse's interior to be navigable with minimal visual input and installed furniture that was tactilely interesting; unusual brocades that alternate smooth and rough patterns and raised stripes. The floors are bare except for rugs that designate the spaces where furniture starts. Each one feels different against the foot than every other. I've put potted plants in every free corner to freshen the air, their scents all subtly distinct. The effect, with the lights on, is jarring: not a single stick of furniture matches, brilliant colors giving way to muddled, but this is not a house for light.

[Judith] When?

I gave Charles the key to the front door when I first moved to my little cottage with its embalming room. Still, he always knocks before letting himself and his master in, and Loula Mae always greets them both before she takes Charles to the kitchen and leaves Marius to me.

"Will you be coming to another mass soon?" Marius asks after the pleasantries are done.

"Did I miss another one?" I ask, cutting through my newest corpse's subcutaneous fat.

"Again. And with some regularity, yes," he says, faintly amused.

"Hell. I'll go to the next one, whenever that is."

[MASS] Years

If it is possible to carry one's age like a weight, then surely Marius does. Days pass like nothing at all, but years hang from his sleeves and centuries like a yoke across his shoulders. I've given up trying to guess his age, although he gives me tantalizing clues which I keep tucked away against my curiosity.

My own years seem meager in comparison to his and I delight in being young once more. I wonder, sometimes, if I bring to him the same joy, or if the span of centuries between us makes him feel all the more ancient.

[MASS] Spring

"Will you join us for our equinox celebration?" I ask Alexis without looking up from my book.

She hesitates. I knew when I took her that she did not precisely share faith; of all my childer, Etienne is the only one who does. However, she is political and beautiful, and we are Ventrue even when we are not Acolytes.

"'No' is an acceptable answer, child," I say mildly, glancing up, catching her in a rare moment when she is not perfectly poised. It's these moments when I love her best.

But then, she surprises me. "I think I'd like that."

[MASS] Food

"There's a bit of an art to it, really," I tell her as I neatly spear a piece of porkloin and chew it thoughtfully. Alexis still hasn't quite grasped the art of keeping food down long enough to enjoy it. Of all the things I thought I would teach my childe, my daughter, I never imagined this.

"The key is to leave the table towards the end of the meal, but before the rush to the ladies room has begun. Then, you may vomit in peace, check your teeth for loose lettuce, and return in time to politely decline dessert."

[MASS] Death

In the lapis-tiled bathroom, the water has cooled and we've drained the tub and filled it again, steaming and smelling of flowers.

I whisper sweet words and ask her one final time as she drowses against my breast.

When she nods her assent, I sink my teeth into her neck. She jerks once, towards the end, signaling that it's time to leave off, to give as much of myself to her as she has given to me.

I wonder if Maman felt this way, and sadly know the answer even as I press my wrist to her mouth and she suckles greedily.

[MASS] Sound

I would be lying if I said that it was his voice I noticed first.

Instead, I saw him from the corner of my eye, a blind Nosferatu at once like and unlike others I have known, tapping across a floor. I watched him from a low sofa, wondering how long it would take anyone else to guide him, to make introductions. Finally, it required that I send someone to him until he found his way to me.

Then I heard his voice, an instrument in itself, confident and sure, startling in range.

It's his voice that charms me now.

[Housekeeping] Drabble Bump

Instructions: Instructions: Go check out the Drabble Chart here.

Then, in a comment (there or here), give me three unused prompts and a character you would like to have me write about. 100 words will be posted in this LJ for each prompt.