The Tale of Magda
Notes: This is an immediate continuation of Seeking Night, a co-written RP between Deamhan and Cordir and Nyx. Time frame wise, this was written in approximately 1997/1998, and is prior to Cordir’s Ascension to Immortality. In this segment, Deamhan learns of the history of his mother, Magda of the Half-Elf Camp. A line of asterisks denotes a change of authorship, whereas a pair of asterisks denotes mind-to-mind speech. - Cordir 15:19, 17 June 2011 (MST)
Cordir smiles, clearly moved, and nods her acceptance. "Then let that be enough for now," she says. "I am glad to have found you again. In the days ahead we will learn more of what is to come."
Deamhan sits forward a little and clears his throat. You are somewhat surprised to see that he looks...hesitant? He glances at Cordir and lifts an eyebrow. Her face is blank for a moment, then she smiles and nods at him. "Go on, love, you've waited your turn long enough."
He turns to you. "There is more to be learned of the past as well, at least for me. I...have a favor to ask of you, if you are willing."
You nod slowly, sensing that it is something serious. "Ask, then, and I will grant it if I can."
"You knew my ... I think you knew my mother." You blink; he sees it, and the ghost of a smile drifts over his face. "Magda, of Half-Elf Camp."
You blink again, and are sure despite your relative control over your expression that Deamhan is well aware of your astonishment. "_Magda_ was your mother? How...er...unexpected."
Deamhan takes a breath as if to explain, then pauses and lets it out again. Cordir glances at him - you wonder if their communication is at the level of words anymore or if they know each other well enough to not even need that - then he smiles gratefully at her and squeezes her hand, leaning back in his seat and resettling her against his shoulder.
"Deamhan's father is Vil, son of Ebencaleneezer," Cordir says. Though Deamhan's face doesn't change at the name, nor a muscle in his body move, you sense something ugly, angry, and dangerous coiling below the surface, and are reminded once again that this is a vampire, a predator, no matter how deep the honor and manners run. Cordir is obviously even more aware of it than you are; she interlaces her fingers in Deamhan's, and continues what is clearly the bare-bones version of events. "They had two sons, twins, Deamhan and his brother Diabhail. It - " she glances briefly at Deamhan " - wasn't rape, but beyond that, we don't really know much."
"We know _enough_," Deamhan growls shortly. 'Enough to hate him,' he doesn't say, but you can hear it just the same.
"In the dream that I had of you, Nyx, there was a childhood memory that had to do with Magda - a little carving of hers that you -"
Your eyes light up. "_That_ carving!" you exclaim, interrupting her. "I remember it quite well, yes." You grin a little at Deamhan, not quite sure how to treat a clearly perturbed vampire. "It was the first thing I ever stole...she was very kind to me, always."
Deamhan leans forward eagerly, seemingly trying to lay aside thoughts of his father. "That is the favor I want of you, Nyx. Tell me about my mother. I never knew her before she - well - you know how she has been for a long time, now. My brother and I were raised by Jacek; we did not even know who our parents were for most of our youth. Tell me about my mother."
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
A small frown creases your forehead, as you ponder what to say, and how. "Well… Magda was a renowned beauty. Admired by the men, envied by the women. Jacek always told me that old Pavel loved her from the day he noticed she was a girl - but she simply treated him with the same detached courtesy as everyone. Even when he sang that song about her eyes outside her tent, she never treated him poorly. She seemed unaware of how others perceived her, or what part they wanted her to play in their lives. All she was interested in was her herbs - the ones she culled in the forest to the south of the Camp. She could always be found basket in hand, wandering the deep of the woods looking for a medicinal or a flavor-enhancement. You could invariably tell when you were near her tent, just from the scent of them." You breathe deeply, as if you could still smell the savory smell of her gathering basket, but inhale only the jungle air of the Temple, hot and stifling. "Valdek was one of her prime customers, since she was the only one who could find the herbs he needed, no matter the season."
You search for words to convey to her son what the mother he never knew was like. "She always had a friendly word for everyone, and took no action against those who wronged her. The boys that stole from her - she did nothing against them. When someone poured boiling salt water on her garden, she just replanted somewhere else. After I returned her carving, a few days later, she brought me a loaf of fresh rosemary bread - it rivaled Helena's - and some peppermint for my cough. There were even rumors that the Unicorn of the wood spent time with her, guarding her as she gathered her flowers and roots.
"I suppose her herb-craft was what really got her in trouble at first. People began to whisper that perhaps it was sorcery, not skill in plant-tending that brought such results, and influenced the Unicorn's friendship. Pavel's wife spoke out a lot, but everyone knew at first that it was simply envy, for Gethel's looks would curdle milk, and those who remembered knew that she was her mate's second choice. But then folks died, or moved out of the camp, and those who knew the whys and hows of Gethel's hate grew fewer in number. Or maybe they just stopped speaking up and denying. That's probably when Gethel started the rumors about that little carving - that it granted wishes and brought luck, that it was a witch's talisman and powerful. The boys stole it shortly thereafter." Your tone grows soft, remembering. "That was the first time we really met, though I had seen her around the Camp for a long time. She was very kind."
Your voice drops into a more quiet, even tone as you note the tiny signs of the vampire's growing irritation with the souls in your tale; the tightness around his eyes, the thin line of his lips. "The tale I heard from Jacek was this: As Magda's beauty and good fortune continued and Gethel's hatred of her grew, Gethel had a curse laid on your mother. Some spoke of a pact with the Evil One of the islands to the south, some of dark herbs purchased from the witch of the wood, some of a deal made with…" Not wishing to draw undo attention, even here, even now, you barely whisper the name. "King Ebencaleneezer."
Standing, you begin pacing the room for just a few steps, unnerved by naming that entity and thus the risk of garnering its notice. A prickling on the back of your neck forces you to stop, as you realize your abrupt movement has sparked the Hunter in Deamhan, in reaction to his emotional response to your words. His eyes are narrow, his entire being tensed and ready to pounce like a cat upon a mouse. Being far from rodent-like in your intellect, you carefully lean back against the wall, your hands open. Your posture is carefully neutral as you continue.
"It was the dark of the moon. Valdek always says that when he tells the story. I don't know why or if it's just for flavor or actually important. But the whole of the camp was buried in darkness. The fires wouldn't stay lit, the sky was dark. The wind howled. Several tents were blown away, including mine. Only the fire at Magda's tent stayed lit, her shadow on its silent, still walls. She just sat there, not moving. Then…."
Your brow furrows, trying to recollect exactly. "I… I remember seeing it. Not just from Valdek's tale, but being there. I … heard a scream … she'd always been nice to me, so I ran over. The wind was so strong, it beat at me, almost like it was trying to keep me away. The branches lashed like whips, and I could barely see." Unbidden, your hand reaches up and touches the thin, scarcely visible scar that tracks across one eye, a delicate reminder of that night. "I could see her start struggling - her shadow anyway - with something… but I couldn't see what. Then her silhouette was blocked out by .... I tried…" Here your voice breaks slightly, the fears and terrors of a young boy fresh in your mind, even after all this time. "I tried to enter, to help… I had a broken-off branch in my hand… I lifted the flap and saw …"
Shaking your head, you try and form words. "I saw… something…. Wings, I think. Great, black wings... or maybe it was a cloak - I couldn't be sure - and long flowing hair. Then a hand came at me, and tumbled me out and away like I was an insignificant bug. My head hit the rowan tree outside, and I went unconscious, with her cries in my ears."
Your head drops, one dark lock hiding your face. Even still, the quiet shame of your failed rescue sends a single rare, silent tear of rage scalding down your cheek. "When I woke, she was like… like now. Still. Quiet. Not really moving. Not really speaking. Valdek and Jacek took care of her after that, even more so when we realized she was… _ enciente _ ." Tiptoeing around the delicate subject, you use the formal elvish term. "Sometimes I would creep into her tent, and talk to her, try and get her to eat more. She had been so good-hearted, the few times we crossed paths before… then. I felt badly for her. I… left the camp shortly after the… you… twins were born. It just seemed to be a place of misery after that, like there was a curse on the place. Most of the younger folk moved out, leaving just the oldsters and their tales. I don't go there much any more. Too many memories."
Tucking an errant lock behind one ear, you meet Deamhan's gaze. His cheeks are wet, and a distant, angry expression tightens his eyes. He swallows hard, nods, then looks away, if trying to find an appropriate response…
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Deamhan is silent for a moment, then makes as if to speak, stops, and finally says, "Forgive me...I must...go out for a bit." He stands and crosses swiftly to the door, not pausing to grab a cloak. He stops again with his hand on the knob and says to Nyx, "Thank you. It is better to know," then disappears silently into the night.
Nyx glances after him, then looks at you and says somewhat hesitantly, "Perhaps we should go after him?" You can hear the rest of the thought unspoken: 'after an upset predator, in thick woods...er...maybe not...' He looks relieved when you shake your head.
"No," you say, "He's going to hunt. It's either that or stay cooped up here and pace and try not to rend things, and he's never been one to sit on his anger unless he had to." You can feel the roiling emotions in your love's mind, and if you close your eyes and concentrate, can dimly see dark woods sliding by as Deamhan slips through the trees, flexing his hands, almost feeling claws...You open your eyes and smile ruefully at Nyx. "Most of the time, being so closely linked to one another is our greatest joy, but it does mean that if one of us gets agitated, the other is bound to as well...He left as much for my sake, to try to give me a little space so I wouldn't get a headache from him." You frown and rub one temple. "Not that I'm not upset on my own."
Nyx looks a little puzzled. "I understand being...well...not exactly happy, hearing that story, but why is he that upset? Surely it's not news to him...he's known who his father is for a while, or at least that's the impression I got."
You nod. "That, he's known, yes. But Jacek - and Vil himself, come to think of it - had given him the impression that it wasn't rape. Not that it was the world's greatest love story either, obviously, but that there might have been something there...certainly on Magda's part, and possibly on Vil's...though of course Vil gave that impression more in the strength of his denial...Any rate, no, neither of us knew it happened that way. Deamhan's not angry at Vil, or no angrier than he already was; it's Jacek he's...well...Jacek was a father figure to him, but it seems Jacek's been lying to him all his life."
Nyx nods, then looks alarmed and swallows. "Er...he's not going to think it was me who was lying, is he?"
The look you give him is only slightly humorous. "No. He would have known. So would I. And he would not have left the cabin to Hunt."
Nyx blinks. "I see."
You snort, not unkindly. "Forgive my bluntness, Nyx. This news is difficult for me to hear as well. Vil has much to answer for, and Jacek too."
Nyx nods, and looks around the cabin, seeming somewhat at a loss. "Should we wait for him here, then? Or..." He shrugs. "I don't know what else I can do...I hardly know him..."
You nod. "I will go to him after awhile." You shake your head to clear it briefly of your own and Deamhan's concerns, and return to courtesy.
"Do you need a place to rest tonight? You may stay here, if you like, or I can return you to-"
Nyx groans. "Not the jungle, please! I think I've had all the heat and humidity I need for awhile. Not to mention mosquitoes. I need to get back to Safehaven anyway. There is...business awaiting me."
You nod. "There, then." You smile at him. "Thank you, Nyx. I will be glad and honored to have you by my side when my Ascension is complete."
Nyx bows. "It will be good, as I said, to have some purpose beyond my own. If you need to speak to me again..." He grins wryly. "...you seem to know how to find me."
You return his bow, and weave a small portal to a deserted alley in Safehaven. Nyx smiles his thanks, steps through, and vanishes soundlessly into the shadows. You let the portal fade away, then summon calm and reach out, searching for your husband.