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 Waiting on the Sun

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PostSubject: Waiting on the Sun   Thu Mar 26, 2009 11:28 am

It was nights like this that she really and truly missed the laudanum, the ones where she found herself still pacing about at some time when morning was nearer than dusk. She'd been laying for hours, her mind never approaching sleep for more than a few drifting seconds, the short gap between one line of thought jumping to the next. Restlessly, she sighed and heaved her tired body up and off of her bed. She slipped her arms through her jacket and unceremoniously made her way outside of the inn in Biloxi.

The springtime air was chillier than Chantilly had expected, and she shivered, crossing her arms to keep out the wind. The sudden change in temperature made her mind involuntarily wander again, longing for close company and a warm fire in earlier days. She chastised herself for the emotional slip. She'd become too nostalgic as of late, soft and vulnerable. But despite herself, her thoughts floated backwards, irresistibly pulling her towards those old memories. It wasn't so long ago that they were living and breathing moments, was it? Only a year or so, really. Chantilly closed her eyes, envisioning it. Only a year ago.

Not so different than now, really. The dualism of her life paralleled the old days in oddly circular ways. Back then, even during the best moments, the triumphant victories in battle or the Compagnie dinners at Pointe-a-Pitre or mingling in Rio de la Hacha with the Fourth Fleet, even then they'd always been looking over their shoulders, waiting for that ever-present sense of palpable danger to finally manifest in an Umbra attack. If they'd only truly known that those were the last days, would they have danced and drunk more, living while they were still young and relatively unmarred by the past?

And here she was again, a chance to do just that, to dance and drink and laugh in the face of the Umbra ringleader, despite the danger that Chantilly's mere presence would make every attendee a target of sorts. This upcoming social event felt as an anachronism, a throwback to that moment just before it all went terribly awry and the agents of God's chaos killed all they'd built and scattered the survivors. It was, in some way, a symbol in her mind for a chance to make a different choice, if just for one night. Maybe a herald to a more normal life, if it was possible for her to lead such a thing with the queen always one step ahead and trouble seeming to follow.

Still, since Seamus was insistent on her own existence, Chantilly was resolved to making the most of this ball, even if she'd spend most of it subconsciously searching the crowd for the queen's likely spy. It had been too long since she had a reason to truly pretend that everything would be okay. It never would, but that was beside the point. The point was to wear a pretty dress and be a gracious, if slightly reluctant and suspicious, hostess.

It would be difficult, though. Marcus' absence at her side would be the most noticeable part of the ball for her. She smiled faintly, remembering how handsome the man had looked, his dress and mannerisms finally matching the true nobility and honor that he bore inside. Chantilly knew that she would not have been nearly as beautiful without him; certainly he'd provided the motivation and the glow, and internally she'd always attributed winning the "best dressed" prize to his presence. She sighed.

The memory of him had been terribly strong as of late. Perhaps it was all the old faces come back again, slightly more weathered than when they'd left, but with smiles, relieved to finally be home again. And new faces too, still bright with potential and purpose. There was a part of her that often envisioned that one day she'd pull into port after a long journey and there he'd be, standing on the dock with open arms, as if none of it had happened at all, as if it had all been a bad dream from which they'd finally woken after so long.

An idle wish, and impossible as well. Chantilly reached up and pressed lightly against her own face, tracing the thin, white, puffy scar leading from above her eyebrow across her eye and down her cheek with her finger. It was a cold reminder to her subconscious, the physical manifestation of the stark contrast between fantastical visions and what was real. Keeping that in mind was paramount now, as the brief foray into the past had sent sentimentality nipping at her heels once again.

Chantilly noticed that she'd been ambling about, and found herself down near the docks now - a natural path, well followed by her feet, even without explicit direction. The sleepy town was just starting to buzz again as color was appearing on the horizon. She knew it would be pointless to try and sleep now.

She pulled her patch out of her pocket and tied it over her scar, then climbed onto a nearby dust and mud-caked crate. Pulling her knees to her chest and wrapping her arms around tight, she held herself still there, motionless, and looked out to sea. There was nothing left to do now but wait on the sun.
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PostSubject: Another sleepless night.   Fri Mar 27, 2009 11:44 pm

At least Marcus had been buried.

It was more than she could have hoped for. Chantilly didn't know who this mysterious man was, but it was enough to make her regret her previous harshness to him for his insistance on anonymity. He had brought her a sense of peace to tell her that at least someone had provided for Marcus what she could not. The news did not assauge her guilt; that would be impossible. But perhaps this much would be enough to let her finally move on.

It was, she noted as she stared blankly into her rum, an odd ending to what had been a most unpleasant gathering. What could have possessed Emile to torment her about their awkward relationship in such a way? Sending his brother to make unequivocal professions of love and devotion... hah. A sick joke when Emile himself could barely look her in the eye with a sincere expression. She knew that he was practically incapable of expressing any care for her at all, to the point that she wasn't even sure she could call him a friend.

But she had been so certain they'd turned a corner. "Forgive me..." he'd said one night not long ago. "I... sometimes do not think what I say out thouroughly. Especially when you are involved." It had been a simple admission, and between two different people, it might have been nothing. But for Emile, it had been something. Or so she'd thought. Now? She wasn't sure at all.

And he'd been so completely nasty to Langford afterwards. Sure, Langford probably rubbed the Marquis the wrong way with his ideas, but insulting him at a clearly drunk and vulnerable time, then laughing at him as he stumbled about... It didn't befit either one of them, and the thought of the verbal altercation made Chantilly's blood boil. She'd even had to give up her room here at the tavern just to ensure that Langford wouldn't just lay there to be a constant target for Emile's witticisms all night long. It would have been unfair. Practically inhumane.

She took a long drink of her rum, then sighed. It had been such an unpleasant evening.
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PostSubject: Finally, rest...   Mon Mar 30, 2009 1:14 pm

Chantilly pulled the stranger's map taut, and crudely she hammered a thin nail through each corner to pin it to the wall. She stepped back to look at it, then laughed at herself for a moment for caring how straight it was. Considering the state of the dusty room, which might have been a small parlor had she ever bothered to furnish and upkeep it, even a crookedly-hung map was an improvement on her Pensacola home.

The mark on the map was, unfortunately, rather far up the coast from Florida. She wasn't aware of what had happened to the ship off of which the Umbra had stolen her, and at the time she'd only been trusting Marcus' innate sense of navigation as to where they were. They'd been talking about it, she recalled, just before the attack. There was no way to know for sure if the wreckage the stranger truly had been theirs.

A feeling of unease came over Chantilly as she realized she'd need to open her mind to the visions again if she wanted any certainty at all. She'd been repressing all of them since the debacle at Orleans with Emile. What good were visions if they were confusing, misleading, even false? And even when she had been suffering each one as it came, she'd never once seen anything about Marcus, no matter how much she tried.

But maybe she would try, just once more. Maybe the map would trigger something, anything to bring it the final closure she felt herself wanting, to bring that chapter to an end.

The thought was tinged with a lick of guilt. Moving on so soon, she chastised herself. But there was no denying that she had mourned Marcus too long already, and although the hurt never really faded, she could feel her heart pulling in directions that betrayed its healing properties. It was time to put it all to rest.

Even if that meant having to do this. Chantilly breathed deeply, and let the mental defenses holding back the visions fall.

They hit quickly and violently, overwhelming her in a deluge of pain and confusion, and she staggered backwards as if she'd been shoved, crumpling to the ground. She gasped, her breaths unpredictable, shuddering as they came. Struggling for focus, she grasped at thin memories... the map, the guns, the ship. Marcus. Slowly she began to regain rudimentary control of her sensibilities, the shock of it having worn off, and she searched her aching mind properly for some sign...

There! For a flickering moment, she could sense something - but it was unclear, and faded again amongst the noise and confusion before she could truly fathom what she might have seen. Was it even real? Just a possibility? Or her mind playing tricks again?

It didn't matter. It would have to be enough. Her head was searing and she couldn't bear it any longer. Slowly and deliberately she closed her eyes and focused, pushing the visions away again, until it had all faded to a faint, nearly ignorable buzz in the back of her mind.

This, she noted resignedly while cradling her head in her hands, must be why the queen doesn't repress it. This set of visions had hurt more than any other Chantilly had ever experienced, and they'd also been more fleeting, unclear and disjointed as well. She could only assume her choice to hold back was the cause. If it continued that way, the visions' coherency might disappear entirely, should she continue to repress them. Would that be so bad? What if she needed them again?

Chantilly shrugged to herself, answering her own question with indifference, and picked herself up off the ground. She plodded into her room and flopped onto the bed in exhaustion. She'd need to make plans for a departure after the Easter festivities, to see what might be out there at the marked location... but now would not be the time, as she slipped into unconsciousness. It was the first sleep that she hadn't forced onto herself with alcohol in a week.
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