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PostSubject: The Evolution   Sun Feb 22, 2009 2:41 am

"I have a very bad feeling about this," Chantilly mused, staring out at the sea from the balcony of the ship.

"Another vision?" Marcus asked, concerned.

"No..." Chantilly sighed. "Just... unsettled is all."

"Maybe just the unfamiliarity of the ship. Perhaps you'll get used to it," he replied reassuringly, placing a hand on her arm as if to steady her.

"Maybe..." she responded.

There was likely a bit of truth to his assessment. They'd never had a port of call that felt like home due to the constant stream of activities. If it wasn't the Custodes Fidelis that needed them in New Orleans, it was von Lubeck calling them back for Compagnie des Iles Occidentales work in Pointe-a-Pitre, which usually ended in chasing down one of their wayward captains whose expense reports were conspicuously behind schedule yet again.

It had been a hectic life, devoid of any security or stability, but it had suited them both well enough for the moment. Still, there was always their ships, the captain's cabins a rudimentary attempt at a home away from home - until now.

The Custodes had been infiltrated and betrayed, and the Umbra had finally gained the upper hand. The Council in New Orleans had been shattered, and all their agents across the entire Caribbean were in crisis mode. Some had been told to ready the fleets for a proper resistance, others to lay their lives on the line as spies from the shadows, but under no circumstances could they risk the Visionary's capture.

Their contact had told Marcus to take Chantilly and flee as far as they could go. They'd secured an unmarked ship, taken their most trusted crew, and never looked back, heading north up the coastline as fast as the wind would allow.

Though, Chantilly noted to herself, they hadn't seen the coastline in days. "Where are we now?" Chantilly wondered aloud.

"Why, you don't trust my sense of direction?" Marcus joked.

"Surely you know it's not that," she replied in a slightly pained voice. "Not after everything..."

His lighthearted demeanor faded. "Chantilly, what is it? All of this worry, all of the sudden?"

She shook her head. "It's just... I feel like I've seen this place before..."

Marcus gave her a bemused look. "Water on all sides looks about the same everywhere you go."

"I know that." One corner of her mouth turned up into a half-smile. "Forget I said anything. I'm delusional." As usual, she thought. The visions had made her even more sensitive, so that every little turn of the wind seemed to carry signs and portents - when in reality very little actually did.

"True, but we can never be too careful," Marcus reminded her soberly. "I'm going to check if we're still on course." Marcus squeezed Chantilly's arm in muted affection and prepared to go, until he caught sight of her face. Her eyes were wide and as he followed her line of sight out to the water, where three ships were on a fast intercept course.

"Damn it!" Marcus yelled, whipping around to bark at the crew. "How did no one spot them?"

"They came out of nowhere!" one of the crewman yelled. "I've never seen a ship move so fast!"

"I have," Chantilly whispered. She knew now from whence her deja vu had come. The lead ship looked identical to the one they'd fought at Port Royal. The Umbra had finally found them.

Marcus finished yelling orders to prepare for battle and turned his attention back to Chantilly. "I won't let them take you," he promised, "not as long as I live."


Last edited by Chantilly on Sun Feb 22, 2009 10:41 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: ((immediately following))   Sun Feb 22, 2009 2:46 am

The crew had fought valiantly, honorably, but one by one the good men fell. She hadn't even seen the Umbra soldier that grabbed her from behind, not realizing in time that another man had been slain and her back was exposed. The Umbra soldier immediately clamped a hand over her mouth and began dragging her towards their ship. Another soldier quickly came to assist, rags in his hand, and began the task of blindfolding, binding and gagging her.

The Umbra were careful not to give anything away as they shoved her into the cargo hold. "Who knows what magical powers the bitch has," Chantilly overheard one say to the other. "Better safe than sorry."

As their footsteps faded, Chantilly began to struggle to get free. They couldn't take her alive. She'd seen what they'd done to Josie, to Marcus, in the past, but they were only accessories when Chantilly had been the goal all along. And now, they had her. Surely a worse fate awaited her, wherever they were going. Her binding was tight, however, and she was only able to make marginal progress even after what felt like a week's worth of sailing.

A few days into the journey, a soldier untied her mouth and began to jam food and water inside. She sputtered, resisting, choking and drowning. She hadn't expected this. Why force-feed a captive? And why did they not question her about the sword? The questions burned at her mind, but she did not ask, only worked as hard as she could to make the soldier's task hell. He eventually gave up, muttering and swearing, his uniform covered in mess. They did not try to feed her again, and as far as she could tell while blindfolded, rarely came to even check on her.

Though at first she had been frustrated by the blindfold, it did not take long she felt a sense of peace toward it. It allowed her a certain amount of false privacy and the ability to suffer the visions without the notice of the soldiers. In between dreams and visions, she tried her best to focus on the brief moments of happiness she'd had in her life. In her darkness, there was some light, as she thanked the heavens for having found a purpose, however brief and frustrating it had been.

The visions and her involvement with the Custodes had been both a blessing and a curse. They had brought her Marcus and many friends, though it was also true that they had also taken them away. She mourned for them all, taking the time to cry now. She wanted to finish it before the Umbra were ready to torment her. She didn't want to give them anything. They would get no satisfaction when they killed her.

Finally the ship pulled into a port, and the soldiers came back to take her off the ship. She heard them coming and began to yell in the hope that they'd been stupid enough to stop someplace public. Perhaps someone would hear her. "Help! I've been kidnapped! I need assistance!" she hollered, repeating the phrase over and over as they hustled her onto and over land. None of the soldiers seemed the slightest bit concerned with forcing her silence, and after awhile she fell silent in frustration.

Chantilly could hear a door open. Her boots came into contact with a wooden floor. Wherever they were, she had apparently arrived at the end of her journey. They walked a bit longer, the building eerily quiet, as if she and the soldiers escorting her were the only people around, until she heard another door open and they walked though. She felt a rough shove from behind, pushing her into the room, as the door closed behind them. The soldiers made quick work of attaching chains to her wrists, ankles, and even her waist, pinning her to the ground.

Finally the blindfold was removed. The room was dark, lacking any windows and having only the lamps of the soldiers to see by. Still, even the soft light made her blink painfully as she adjusted to her vision and sized up her prison. The only way in or out would be through the door though which she'd come, she noted glumly, and if no-one could hear her yell, the port was a private one. She was trapped here. The first of what would be many waves of panic and despair caught up with her and she had to stifle a rising sob.

The soldiers, finished with the transport of their prisoner, all left the room save one, who was apparently to be her guard that night. He stared at her with unflinching attention. She sighed. Escape tonight would be an impossibility.
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PostSubject: ((a few weeks later))   Sun Feb 22, 2009 2:48 am

The door opened and the tall, thin, dark-haired man entered the room, accompanied by an extra guard. Chantilly looked at him warily. He was fidgeting idly with his elegant dagger today, casually, as if he wasn't handling a weapon at all. She imagined this little routine was intended to intimidate. She knew the man surely was a Deuce from her previous encounters with the Umbra, though of which suit of cards she could not be certain. It didn't matter; all Deuces were proven masters of torture, as evidenced by their rank within the suit.

"We're going to try something a little different, Celestine," the deuce announced, smiling at Chantilly.

This simple statement brought a chill down Chantilly's spine. This deuce was particularly menacing to Chantilly, especially in that he had not yet touched her. She had been in this room for days on end now, but the most he had done was refuse her food, deny her sleep, mock her, play mind games, and ruthlessly question her about the sword. This had not been what she expected. The knowledge that something was awry unsettled her greatly. Still, the lack of serious pain had allowed her to keep her presence of mind and her pride. "Different" could easily mean that her painless days were nearing an end.

Still, she was unwilling to let him frighten her, and she spit at his feet. "Unless you're about to let me go, I'd say it's the same ##$@, just a different day," she seethed defiantly at the deuce.

"You're not even going to hear our little proposition?" the deuce chuckled. "I think you'll find it quite fair."

"I will never make any deal with you. Rot in hell."

"Now now, let's not be hasty. You aren't going to be making any deals with me..." the deuce paused. "Frankly, I think it's a waste of perfectly good information, but my superiors have decided to make an exchange."

Chantilly's mind raced. Information. They wouldn't possibly tell her... "Tell me where Marcus is," she demanded.

The deuce smiled. "You're not in any position to ask that."

"Then I'm not interested." Chantilly twisted her neck to the side, trying to look away, but the guard nearest to her pressed his foot against her face, smashing it back to the ground.

"Yes, you are. You just don't know it yet."

The deuce motioned to the Umbra guards at the room's entrance, one of which opened the door to usher in a short woman, dressed in a dark robe that Chantilly did not recognize as being like any of the Umbra uniforms she had seen so far. The woman shuffled to the deuce's side.

"She will handle the exchange with you," the deuce instructed sharply. "As an act of good faith, she will share her information first. And then you will tell us what we want to know." He turned to the robed woman. "Is there anything you require to facilitate the exchange?"

The woman nodded. "Remove your foot and sit her upright," she snapped at the guard pinning Chantilly to the floor. "I can't speak to her properly with her lying on the ground like a wounded animal. And then, all of you, get out."

The deuce frowned. "Are you sure that's wise?" he asked in a low voice.

"You should not dare question a queen," the woman growled, turning her steely gaze on the deuce. "Your failures are being watched."

The deuce gave no reply, but simply motioned at the guards in an unspoken command to clear the room. Chantilly felt herself roughly dragged from the floor and slammed against the wall. Her eyes crossed as her head made impact with the wall, and the blinding pain overtook her, forcing an involuntary whimper from her lips.

"Careful, you fool!" the woman yelled at the guard, who had smiled upon hearing Chantilly's pain. The expression quickly fell from his face as he crossed the room and closed the door behind him.

Chantilly eyes began to focus again as she struggled to observe her newest tormentor. She could see that the woman was elderly, wrinkles crossing her face in the permanent shape of a serious frown. Her robes seemed equally old, with faded dye and frayed edges betraying their age. The woman's pale eyes and white hair gave her an otherworldly appearance as she peered back at Chantilly with a furrowed brow.

"Do you know who I am?" the woman asked, her voice firm, yet lacking the sharpness of before.

"No, and I don't care." Chantilly replied. It was a lie. Chantilly knew that a queen was not a term of royalty for the Umbra, but a rank within the suit. A very powerful rank, in fact. This was a serious meeting.

"Shall I call back in the guards, then? You don't seem at all appreciative for what I am offering you, freely, without asking for anything first."

Chantilly huffed and looked away, attempting to seem as resolutely uncooperative as possible. In truth, she felt a creeping sense of gratitude for the woman's chasing away for the guards, but she knew to let it show would be weakness. It would be what they wanted. "You bring nothing to offer that I want," Chantilly snapped.

The woman looked pained. "You are assuming that my goals and those of the others are the same. That would be a grave mistake."

"Then tell me where you took Marcus. Is he alive?"

"I can't tell you that."

"Then get out!" Chantilly yelled.

"I can't tell you what I don't know, Celestine." The woman sighed. "You have no reason to believe me, but it's true. He was not the responsibility of my suit."

Chantilly leaned back against the wall sullenly, the irony taking the fight out of her. The heavy chains around her wrists and waist pulled her downwards. "What information could you possibly offer me, then," she whispered, the awkward position pushing the breath out of her.

"I can tell you about your mother." The woman spoke seriously, in a tone so low that Chantilly strained to hear.

"What good does that do me? There's nothing to know. She's dead," Chantilly stated, emotionless.

"She also grew up alone, just as you did. She grew up with questions. Wondering why..." the woman trailed off, looking into Chantilly's eyes. "Born into circumstances that shaped her fate, setting her path without ever truly having a choice."

Chantilly stared back. "And how would you know about my mother," she said, a hint of curiosity lining her voice.

The queen sighed heavily.
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PostSubject: ((many weeks later))   Sun Feb 22, 2009 2:53 am

"It's that time again, Celestine. Have you decided to cooperate?"

Chantilly laid motionlessly, giving no response. Perhaps they'd think she was dead and throw her overboard. Besides, there was little she could do to assess the speaker anyway. Her eyes were swollen shut from blood and tears, rendering her functionally blind. Her muscles were weak from starvation, purple bruises lining her arms, her back, her jaw, so that movement was impossible without excruciating pain.

She heard boots approach, as they always did now. It was the same every day - if it really was a day. She couldn't tell. After the meeting with the Umbra queen, the deuce's former restraint had evaporated with a vengeance. At first she had attempted to track the days, guessing at the intervals, but hunger and despair had clouded her thoughts too much to make any semblance of a logical estimate now. It could have been weeks, months, years. She faded in and out of consciousness, unaware of the passing of time. But it didn't matter how long it had been since the last beating... it was time for the next.

"You aren't going to tell us?" the deuce's voice snarled. "You know the punishment for your insolence."

A boot connected with her chest, knocking the wind out of her heaving chest. She felt and heard a crack as a rib finally broke under the pressure. She gasped from the shock of it more than the pain. Until now, they'd been careful not to break her bones or open her flesh - they'd kept her intact, for reasons Chantilly could hardly begin to fathom. Apparently those days had ended now as well. A wave of despair coursed through her.

A new voice, one of the guards most likely. "Sir, I mean no disrespect, but the queen said - "

"&%!# the queen! She's keeping me from finding the sword with all her rules of how to treat our little guest. She thinks I don't know, but I know. I know why," the deuce said menacingly. Her head lifted off the ground, pulled up by the strands of her matted hair. "You see this face? This pretty, pretty face..."

Her hair yanked hard, straining her neck as her head bobbled helplessly side to side. "Don't you recognize it? We've all been taken for fools!" The deuce again, his voice rising. The point of a blade pressed into her forehead. Chantilly could feel the warm blood trickling down the left side of her face.

"Her daughter?" the new voice asked, disbelievingly.

"Mon Dieu, could you be any more dense?" the deuce hissed. "Her granddaughter. The queen's older than both of us put together."

"So you're going to kill her then? The girl, I mean."

"Non. I value my life. As do you. It's likely not a secret at the top of the hierarchy. We'd be dead before we left the compound." The blade swiftly moved down Chantilly's face, cutting her badly, as if to illustrate the point. She tried to cry out, but her voice was nowhere to be found.

"Then... what?"

The deuce paused. "She'll talk." He smiled. "She'll talk."
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PostSubject: ((months later))   Sun Feb 22, 2009 2:55 am

The screaming stopped.

The guards kept Chantilly's tired, swollen eyes pried open, intending to make her watch as they dragged the body of the tortured Custodes soldier across and out of the room, but whether her eyes were blind from grief or trauma she could not tell. Sometimes she would recognize the victim by their pleading, agonized voices before they were cut silent. Mentors, protectors, all people she'd met during her time with the Custodes Fidelis. By her own count, over a hundred had died so far. She sometimes wondered whether she should pray for their souls, but what was the point of a prayer by the damned?

Her own beatings had long given way to one-sided swordplay, the deuce's new favorite game, where he would line her unexposed skin with fresh blood. It seemed to give him a sick pleasure to disfigure her, punishing her for the trouble he was enduring from his superiors. His inability to extract the location of the sword was making his life difficult, a fact that he often raged about while he cut her.

Chantilly desperately wished perhaps she could enjoy that his life was as miserable because of her, but she could not. There was no joy left in her. Too many dead because of her. She wished instead she just knew the answers. Perhaps then they would kill her, and all of it could end.

But she didn't know. The Custodes often spoke of the sword. They, too, had expected her to know its location. They'd encouraged her visions and dreams, hoping that it would reveal some clue, but nothing had ever been clear about the visions. They'd only shown suffering and death, in disjointed and hazy waves.

She hadn't been able to put it together in time.

She blamed herself.

The screaming began again.
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PostSubject: ((broken after many months of torture))   Sun Feb 22, 2009 2:56 am

Left foot. Right foot. Chantilly stumbled.

"Damn it, try, Celestine, try." The queen's voice.

"How much..." It hurts.

"Not far. Try."

Why bother. "I can't."

"The Umbra is... let me just say I can't guarantee your safety any longer. You have to do what I say." Confusion.

"Let me die."

"No. You can't. Give an old woman some peace, that at least I'm able to save you." Remorse? Pity? Who knows.

A dock, a small boat, a single sail. "Go east."

"Where..."

"Nevermind that. Bon voyage, child. Put this nightmare behind you."

A breeze, the familiar movement of the ocean. An explosion on the western horizon. Silence.


Last edited by Chantilly on Sun Feb 22, 2009 3:33 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: The Evolution   Sun Feb 22, 2009 3:29 am

((I wrote this because there was quite a bit left hanging from the end of CdIO, and absolutely no written explanation for the personality shift that Chantilly experienced from the time she left HC to the time she appeared back on their radar.

The Cliff's Notes is thus: CdIO was somewhat of a cover organization for Ordo Custodes Fidelis, whose purpose revolved around seeking out artifacts to restore France to former glory. They were relying on Chantilly's visions to lead them to a sword of particular power - an endeavor that largely failed.

Their rivals, Ordo Umbra, sought the same artifact, only for their own nefarious purposes. After the Custodes' destruction, Chantilly was captured by the Ordo Umbra for the purpose of securing her visions for themselves, who then proceded to torture her, also to no avail.

After she recovers, Emile's character later established that the Knights Templar were also seeking the sword, and are the reason the Umbra began to fight internally and eventually faltered, which was the reason for Chantilly's assisted escape.

I've tried to stay true to many of the storytelling aspects that were established from CdIO lore - the way the Umbra organizes their units, the cities of power for the Custodes, etc - in order to pay homage to that tradition. Other things, such as an alternate family history that was established for her by another player, has been abandoned and replaced. None of these things are really important to understanding Chantilly's character as it exists now though, so I'll leave it at that.

There are likely lots of parts that are still very unclear. But in all truthfulness it would take a very, very long time to try and extract something vaguely resembling a full explanation of CdIO or the two Orders from memory, and I'd do it a great injustice. The database that originally contained these founding documents is long gone.

So if it doesn't make any sense to you, or if you don't care because it's supernatural junk and you aren't into that, that's okay, I don't mind. You can come up with some reason why Chantilly is crazy other than torture at the hands of religious fanatics over creepy visions. ))
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