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PostSubject: Heading North   Sun May 03, 2009 11:47 pm

It was a close call. Too close for her liking.

Chantilly was looking through some fresh produce in the St. Augustine market when a familiar man arrived at the stall next to hers. A surge of panic surged through her when she realized where she knew him from. He was one of the Marquis' trusted men, the very same one that had helped her smuggle the crate containing Reynaud out of the city and onto the ship. She pulled her hat low and subtly turned her back toward him, and she waited, wondering if she'd been noticed.

But she hadn't. He'd apparently only been browsing the goods for a second, as he seemed to disappear down the corridor as suddenly as he'd appeared.

She gave a sigh of relief. She didn't want the Marquis to know where she was, or that she was still alive, not now... She cringed at that thought, remembering the last words they'd said to one another, how cold and distracted he'd been with her, even knowing what danger in which she was about to place herself. And how much it seemed to contrast with Seamus' description... "I've never seen so much fire behind so much ice... I think he really cared there for awhile." The man seemed to send out conflicting signals, always giving the opposite of what she expected him to do. He didn't care that she was about to die, but cared when he thought she was already gone? Did that even make sense?

Even worse, she didn't know how to face him now, much less ask for an explanation. She didn't even know how he'd react to seeing her, and she was afraid of what he'd say. What his answers might be, the reasoning he'd give, if there even was a reason. If he would give anything beyond that stoic, placid expression that he always wore in front of her.

She could envision it now, her standing before him, apologizing all over herself for unknowingly allying against him, for her minor role in that failed revolution, for ever even asking him to be involved in saving that damned Langford. She would be burning with shame and fear for how stupid she'd been yet again, and he would be... disinterested in her remorse and regret. Probably busy thinking about something else, annoyed she'd even interrupted him. Distant, untouchable Emile as always.

No, she didn't want to see him. He was owed an apology and an explanation, at minimum the courtesy of being told that she was alive and well, but she couldn't do it. Not... not yet. She had someplace to be, and he wouldn't care if he found out about her after her trip as opposed to doing it before she left. Emile probably wouldn't even notice she'd put him off until later; likely he had a hundred backlogged duties, meetings and paperwork to be sorted through from before Reynaud's attempted insurgency detoured his attentions.

She berated herself for her cowardice for a moment before putting it out of her mind. Her usual routines of self-hatred, along with seeing Emile, would have to wait until after her trip north was finished.
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PostSubject: Re: Heading North   Tue May 05, 2009 11:15 pm

Chantilly had often been asked why she was always so quick to throw her life away. It was a fair question, one she'd always dismissed before in the heat of usually emotional discussions, but that now seemed so important. The same old desire to go ahead and end what had been a long series of mistakes and self-destruction with the ultimate act had flared again, to avoid facing up to what she'd done wrong this time.

But a long-neglected realization finally hit her at full force: She'd done nothing but run for weeks, months. Years, even. Run from the convent, run from the pain of Armand, of childish desires and violent impulses. Run from the Custodes, the Umbra, the gift and the sin of her family's legacy. From all the death of her parents, her lovers, her friends. Try to put so much distance between herself and her past, and seek to destroy it, to wash it clean... only to heap more iniquities onto her own head every time she'd stopped to catch her breath.

Where would it end? Chantilly looked down at her pistol on her hip wistfully. She'd realized that if she ended her life now, it'd be the same mistake over again. Only final, and without any hope... for redemption. For something better, for the kind of life she'd wanted, to be more than what she'd allowed herself to become.

It was time to finally do something differently, to face down these demons before they destroyed her completely. No more lost causes, no more looking the other way when part of her knew better.

No more putting off that which needed to be done.

"Captain? We're prepared to depart at your word."

She looked at her navigator with strange eyes and nodded, clutching the map Mr. M had given her in her hand. The Nemo Malus Felix left St. Augustine, following the coast northward and out of sight.
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PostSubject: Re: Heading North   Fri May 08, 2009 7:43 pm

"Are you sure this is the right place?" Chantilly's eyes scanned the coastline feverishly.

"Aye, Captain, this is it," the crewman replied.

She let out a heavy sigh. "Pull us close to the shore and ready a longboat... I'll be taking a party ashore to search."

Chantilly sighed and unrolled the map in her hand and stared at it, anxiously, as if to glean some sort of answer as to where she should be looking. It was far from detailed instructions, though, and while she'd hoped to get a sense of familiarity as they traveled north, none had come. Moreover, Mr. M had warned that there might not be anything left to see; the natives might have already stripped and carried away most, if not all, of the wreckage.

Still, she had to try. She rounded up some of her most able fighters, in case of trouble, and they rowed to the beach and began walking along, keeping their eyes peeled for anything out of the ordinary.

After a few hours, though, the sun beating down on her had begun to take its toll on her will, and even more so on the crew's, lacking nothing but loyalty to bother continuing on. Chantilly was well aware that many of them thought this a fool's errand, a woman's desperate sentimentality masquerading under a sense of duty. They'd been patient with her, she knew, and had showed remarkable restraint in dealing with her odd orders, but she knew that they wouldn't bother with this beach for much longer before becoming completely restless, possibly mutinous, for what they'd likely perceive to be their own self-preservative good. Her frustration multiplied simply thinking about it.

Suddenly she heard a shout coming from behind her, close to the the line of trees heading inland. "Captain! Over here!" Her thoughts cleared and she headed straight for the group of men who had huddled around a reasonably small patch of earth. It was a series of what looked to be series of shallowly-dug graves, marked with lines of small stones in the shape of a cross. She gulped and her eyes filled with tears. She instinctively knew that this the right place.

"Captain? What now?" one of the crew asked Chantilly as she sank to her knees, overwhelmed. "We're not... going to dig them up, are we?"

"No..." she whispered.

"Then we came out here for... what, exactly?" another one questioned with annoyance in his voice.

"Because a good man died here, and he deserved better than this. If it's the least I can do to mourn him, then I will." Chantilly's head snapped around, violence in her eyes, as she stared the questioner down. "Now why don't you take a walk and reconsider your tone." She looked at the rest of them. "Leave me for a little bit. I won't be too long."

The crew all looked at each other, shrugging, and walked a distance off, the sound of Chantilly faintly crying on the ground behind them.
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PostSubject: Re: Heading North   Mon May 11, 2009 4:36 pm

The trip back south seemed to fight Chantilly the entire way. There was a constant threat of storms on the horizon, the wind blowing unpredictably over the deck, where the disgruntled sailors grumbled to themselves about their crazy lady captain as they went about their duties.

Chantilly hardly noticed, though, as she sat inside her cabin, staring down at a blank page in frustration. She'd done this same action not too long ago, fussing over a love letter of a completely different sort. The memory of it made her scowl, and in hindsight she was glad that she'd given up on the effort in the end. This, however, was not something that she could easily choose to quit trying to accomplish.

She held a small vial tightly in her left hand as she wrote, filled with sand from the beach they'd left behind. It wasn't a body, but then again, she wasn't sure it mattered. The queen lacked a body as well. Seemed every family member she'd ever had was lost to the waves. She wondered if she would meet the same fate someday, and meet them in their watery graves. If she was lucky, perhaps someone would think to put a marker for her next to theirs when she died. She didn't know who would - maybe Seamus, if she outlived him. He was the closest she had to family now; it was a brotherly relationship that she'd only just begun to recognize and understand. But even he had a real clan out there somewhere, and seemed to be on a quest to form his own family through the pursuit of Cathern Flowers.

Chantilly sighed a little with a hint of bitterness at the thought of someone else's happiness when she'd had so much poor luck - or poor decisions, as the case might have been - in finding some sort of interpersonal success. Marcus was the closest she'd ever come to having a positive and stable relationship, but even the memory of that was fading fast these days. It had been a long time since she'd lost him now. If he had been here, maybe things would be different for her... so different. But he wasn't. Hadn't been for a long while, and it was long past time that she should accept it and move on.

She put the quill to the page.

as your spirit treads in places unknown,
pray for me, and all your beloved on earth,
that we might find also find peace.
until the day we walk together once more,
I will carry your memory on the sea,
our home, where we will always be free.

~ your visionary


Last edited by Chantilly on Tue May 12, 2009 1:31 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Heading North   Tue May 12, 2009 1:29 am

It had been... a difficult trip. The time alone had done some good, as Chantilly finally felt prepared to say goodbye to Marcus as she should have so long ago. But at the same time, the sound of her own voice in her head echoed from one side to the next, whispered worried words overlapping in an acrimonious symphony of fear, growing louder with each wave that crashed along the docks in St. Augustine.

She'd disembarked some time ago, paid the crew from deep out of her pockets and told them to have at the port's best wine and wenches. "What about you, Captain?" they'd asked her as they left. "You look like you could use a drink."

"Non... I have someone I have to see," she'd quietly declined.

But here she was, pacing back and forth on the old wooden planks as the sun was sinking deep below the horizon, and so far, she'd barely willed herself to even look in the direction of Emile's office. She knew she needed to talk to him, but...

She stifled a rising panic. What would he say? Anything? Nothing? She couldn't stand... if that cold, careless expression... what if she just secured passage on the first ship out to Pensacola in the morning, and... she just... didn't...

She didn't know.
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