Adventuring through twisted time.
“Feed us, feed us. Please, we are hungry, Shadow. Ever so hungry.”
The eerie hauntings of the Elders whined within each nook and cranny of her mind in a series of screams which beckoned her from her slumber; striking features crunched together as the morning light broke through the barrier of her eyelashes. With cupped fists, she rubbed her eyes with the back of her hands before sitting up and on the edge of her bed; the sounds of her sisters on the other side of the door caused her to shake her head. Yet, it was not her sisters that got her to get ready quickly, it was her. - Matron, they called her; nothing more, nothing less. The name haunted the hallways of Hallows Hill Manor, echoed round spacious rooms and more importantly, it etched itself to the back of every young banshee’s throat. “Yes Matron, No Matron” Robotic, monotonic and lifeless; character, personality and individuality all relentlessly stripped from her children, plucked with precision and ease.They are one of the same; they are a moulding of her. Those that dared to defy her would be punished in the most undesirable of ways; as Ciara found out.
Beneath the deafening silence of the many footsteps coming to a halt and the sounds of girls holding their breath; Ciara could hear the faint ticking of the Matron’s shoes, causing her to make her bed as quickly as possible only to stand beside it with a childlike grin upon her features. Without a knock and without warning, The Matron barged into her room, her own mist covered gaze roaming around the state of the room before falling upon Ciara, she took one step closer. She smiled, a wicked curvature possessed aging lips, crows feet appeared at the edges of each eye and the back of bony fingers ran the length of Ciara’s flushed cheek. “If you do not feed them well today, it will not be you we will punish” The Matron cooed close to her ear, chilling breath freezing the lobe that it brushed over whilst a sinister laugh escaped her lips. “The Scream Chamber will reopen but, this time, the girl will be forced to swallow her scream" The air around the two women became palpable, so much so that Ciara began to hum a cheery tune, with a slight sway of her head. “Good girl, now go.” A kiss as sickly as nectar was placed upon her cheek, her tone ominous as it departed the tip of her tongue. Ciara gave her a child like smile with an agreeable nod.
Hallows Hill Manor stood tall, dying wisteria climbed the aged building as a permanent coating of mist painted the buildings bricks. Overindulging shrubbery nipped eagerly at passing ankles, whilst the distant whispers of the deceased echoed from the woodland’s deep belly. Skeletal branches waved in the breeze, beckoning anyone in who crosses it's path; wanting to swallow an individual whole within its shadows. Ciara found herself staring into the temptress for a few moments before setting off to find her prey this evening. The preselected male was not hard to find, he was a predictable creature and would be found in The Crowhurst bar, once again, cheating on his wife. The bitter taste of alcohol tickled hungry taste buds, the distant screams of her sisters screams rang in the distant air as she made her way towards his table; sitting opposite him with a wide grin.
“Shadow! Pleasure to meet ya!” Her Irish accent rolled effortlessly from her tongue; a wide grin on her features created dimples within her cheeks. The evening continued, a constant flow of conversations, laughter and flirtatious touching; of course, she had no intention of following through with her suggestive ways - it had been many, many years since she allowed a man to touch her or for her to touch him in that way. Ciara slithered her fingers through the gaps that his provided, there was a skip in her step as they left the bar and the man followed her eagerly. “Your name surely isn't Shhhadow" He slurred his repeated words as she guided him into one of the darkened alleys which looked as if it had fallen victim to an apocalypse; rubbish littered the floor and a singular rat scurried along the obstacles. Ciara grimaced internally at the scene, the screams in head growing in volume, in eagerness but also in sinister delight.
“Shatter every bone in him"
They taunted her, urged her on as if they could control the very muscles in her body; she pressed the male against the wall, his hands found her waist much to her dismay before he leaned in to kiss her. Ciara allowed one kiss; the literal kiss of death before pulling her head back. “Say hello to Mister Devil for me when you get there! His dark magic gave me a second life” A light, teasing giggle bypassed her lips as he looked down at her in confusion and in silence. “Nooo, this is when you say, Yes Ciara, I will say hello to him for you. Go on, say it.” She pouted and prodded his shoulder.
“I knew you were too good to be normal” The male stammered and attempted to get away from his space between her and the wall; he only got so far before she channelled the scream which had been clawing at her lungs. Within seconds, his bones were licked with lightning as they cracked within his body and he dropped like thunder to the ground. Ciara managed to stand before him - her mouth wide as the scream erupted from her, windows cracking in the nearby radius as blood soon trickled from his ears, eyes and mouth. He looked up at her, pleading for her to stop but little did he know that her Elders were already feasting upon his soul. Her eyes had fully succumbed to the mist as the scream possessed her briefly, her fingers gave him a little wriggle of a goodbye before he fully crumbled into a mess on the floor. Once she was sure he was gone, Ciara let out a prolonged exhale and leaned her hands on her thighs to catch her breath once again, wincing somewhat as her lungs cracked themselves ever so slightly at the pressure.
Fingers ran through her sun kissed locks vigorously as she composed herself. “Cor Blimey Cici, that was a good one. Good job" She grinned to herself before giving herself a pat on the back and going on her merry way. Just as she was about to reach the entrance of the alleyway, the moonlight rested against another man on his way home; she caught his profile and frowned. His hair, how he carried himself - Ciara tilted her head to the side like a confused puppy. “It couldn't be…. Dimitri?”
“It's him, look at him walking without a worry. As if your death didn't affect him”
Curiosity and a forgotten anger carried her forwards, remaining in the comfort of the shadows as she followed him.
Sleep. It never came easy through the years, growing worse as those years passed and when sleep would, at last, come to cradle his mind it was haunting or restless. He longed for a peace that would never come and what plagued him further was one of his affinities was peace but he could not help himself. Then he met Ciara and at first, his sleeplessness grew even worse because now he had to be sure she would not try something had he fallen asleep while locked away with her. She had to earn his trust and eventually, she won his heart so sleep, at last, came easy and the god of Peace and Joy finally found his tranquillity and ebullience. When he lost her he lost that too and as sad as it is to say, Madeline did not help in that regard, she was not his peace, though she desperately tried. She went through incredible lengths and drastic measures just do have her father look at her and be at peace or see a shimmer of delight in his gaze but nothing ever brought it. He felt bad too, believing something had to be wrong with him because how could someone look at their own child and not be happy?
I stirred into a half-awake state feeling at a touch on my cheek, had I slept? I could not recall the last time I slept so well I did not even realise I had fallen asleep. A took a deep breath and melted farther into my bed, her scent swirling into my breath as the memory of last night rewound in my mind. I could feel a faint smile grow at the edges of my lips as I began to slowly wake fully. I blinked a few times as my vision cleared and the fullness of the actual rest I had achieved registered within me. I jumped when I did not see her there with me however and for the quickest of moments, I questioned my sanity until I caught her and her gaze as she peered back at me. My eyes dropped from hers as I processed this and forced myself from the bed, I grabbed something to put on and once I was descent approached her to say something, but nothing came.
He forwarded his brow with his mouth a gap, the intent to speak at the tip of his tongue. He chose not to instead, humming his thoughts away as he closed his mouth as walked passed her and out the room. He froze at the moment he did not see their daughter, the emptiness of his home is evident, there is no delightful smell of breakfast or fresh coffee, no bouncy happy dog coming to greet him, Madeline is not there to wish him good morning with a bright smile despite either they went to bed angry with each other. He takes a heavily burdened breath as he very quickly realises the blessing he had but also what it must have been like for Madeline waking up to not have her father there. He groaned as he rubbed his eyes and headed to the kitchen to brew a fresh batch of coffee, his eyes quickly glance to Ciara as she emerges from the room. He honestly does not know what to do he wants to say good morning but is still hurt by her trying to sneak out. "I hope you slept well enough." He, at last, says not wanting to be spiteful or petty towards her despite his own feelings. He poured his coffee and got a mug out for her just in case, trotting to catch her right as she reached the front door and blocking her from leaving. He cupped the side of her face trying to look into her eyes with a forward brow, his left hand reaching for hers to play with the wedding ring still on her finger. "Stay for breakfast at least? After that, you can leave and never have to see me again if that is what you want, though I really can not promise that." He spoke softly and with a glint of hope in his voice.
The possibilities of how The Matron would torture her for spending more than one night away from the Manor were endless; yet, Ciara always believed that the damage was already done and there was very little that the woman could do to her. With that, and the fact she had very little in the world to care for and about, it left The Matron with very little options other than to try and torture more of her Children in front of Ciara’s eyes which would consequently put her in the bad books of many of her sisters. At this moment in time, Ciara had managed to obtain the balance of them being fearful of her and thus respected by them; if that were to change into something focused on anger and hatred, she would be overrun and bullied herself which was something she could not have. And so, when Dimitri had caught her trying to sneak on some clothes and leave the room, her stomach dropped and she swallowed back the frustration of being caught.
Yet the frustration continued to turn in her stomach as he remained silent, silent in his anger towards her in fear of her response; which was necessary as she had always been some form of ticking time bomb. Ciara bit down upon her tongue and forced on the high heels once more and despite the very welcoming aromas coming from the kitchen, she attempted to head straight to the door, without a second glance or even a utterance of a goodbye. Yet, when he forced himself between her and the door, her lips formed a straight line and her eyes narrowed into slim slits; despite her look trying to look menacing, and perhaps it would have done to the mundane eye, to Dimitri, she probably looked like a child, or maybe a teenager being refused what they desired.
Ciara let out a steadying breath as his touch continued to calm her, yet the touch itself almost seemed to act as an alarm bell for the Elders within her mind. Their headache growing from a dull ache to a slight hum behind her eyes; she couldn’t deny him breakfast, could she?
Trying to silence us, Petal?
The words sounded as if she had her head underwater, and because of that, she couldn’t even try to make head or tail of what they said but she knew the tone all too well and because of that; Ciara flipped. Her arms violently swung his gentle touches away from her and she backed up - her stance being like that of an animal ready to pounce. “You don’t understand! I have every capability of killing you or making your life an absolute living nightmare!” She hissed at the stubborn man before her. “You think I won’t because you think past Ciara still lives in here?” She roughly prodded at her temples as a slight delusional laugh left her. “If I don’t leave now, or kill or hurt you in some way, The Matron will be here herself” She glanced over his shoulder to the closed door just to make sure she couldn’t hear any footsteps coming towards them.
Dimitri had lived through so much pain you would think he would numb to it by now and yet feeling her violently swing his touch away hurt more than anything else. He stayed quiet as she spat her words at him and eventually a pained closed mouth smile while his eyes never broke contact with hers and without hesitation he stepped out of her way. The only reason he stopped her again was to simply remove the wedding ring from her finger from the night before and he let her go as quickly as he was able to get it off. He turned his attention towards his coffee and stirred it keeping his back to her, he was tired of fighting for everything, for peace and some sense of love. Dimitri stilled a moment and closed his eyes as he took deep breaths slowly coming to certain terms in his life he had been fighting for so long.
"You are mad at the wrong people... Or... Woman rather." I took a sip of my coffee and let its warmth soothe me as it went down and its aroma wafted in my face and helped me settle further. I knew she was still there, she was quiet but my stairs would give her up, her heels would click and the stairs would creak no matter how light-footed or gentle you stepped. I took a deep breath and opened my eyes as I held my mug close to my chest. "You are mad at me, fine. Hate me. Hate me for not saving you as I said I would, I know I do. To hate Madeline though..." I dropped my head and tsked my tongue. "... Both of you are victims to the matron and her "master plan"." I set my mug down as I turned around and looked at her finally before walking towards my front door and leaned on it. "You are mad at someone who should be a banshee just like you when really it is all the matrons doing and it is with her you should be mad with." I shrugged and my painful smile was now just a scowl and I could no longer hide how truly tired of all of this I was, not from her. I rubbed my eyes and them the bridge of my nose with my thumb and forefinger and huffed. "Tell the matron Madeline is somewhere safe, she will never have her and I do not care any longer if she comes to kill me."
"Goodbye Miss Devlin." I shut the door and walked away.
It was hard these days to be able to direct her anger, her frustration and her sense of being a victim to the right person; these days, her prey were the ones to feel her wrath. It was not unknown in the Banshee community, and that of the Reapers, that Ciara Devlin, The Lady of The Shadows to prolong the death in a slow and painful matter. These days, and in recent years, that was the only release Ciara could ever feel - and she flourished in their cries; it gave her a sense of adrenaline like no other. Yes, the buzz was brief but it also kept The Matron off her back because she was doing what she was told to do. Yet, it had been so long that Ciara had almost forgotten the anger, and the hatred she felt for The Matron; it was almost like she suffered from Stockholm Syndrome where she began to like the elder Banshee; after all, despite her very backward, and questionable methods - the woman was like a Mother to her.
Yet, when Dimitri stepped up and began telling her she was redirecting her hatred towards the wrong person and reading behind the lines - he meant himself, Ciara pouted her lips. “I am mad at her, I’m mad at everyone.. Including myself so that emotion isn’t specifically for your nor Madeline.” She counteracted - hell, if it were easy, she probably would have tried to take her own undead life from the moment she was reanimated into the world but alas. Ciara waited until Dimitri had finished his final speech before granting her access to the front door; she noted his message, and bobbed her head slightly as she repeated it a few times so she did not forget. After all, The Matron would require, and demand answers from her when she returned; and really, she didn’t know how she would deal with such a conversation as the poor girl was incredibly conflicted. Her loyalty and love with Dimitri to the fear and somewhat blurred respect she held for The Matron.
Ciara took a steadying breath, nodded to herself and left the apartment; she dared to look back at The Eternal Being as she descended down the stairs. At the door, she stole the umbrella once again to shield her from the sun as she made her way back to Hallows Hill Manor. Upon arrival, it was not surprising that The Matron was there, waiting for her; her body leaning against the door frame and the ball of her foot tapping against the wooden floorboards.
Ciara sat down. “I tried, bloody hell did I try but it appears my scream isn’t strong enough. It only gives an Eternal a migraine!” She explained, she was probably giving too much away but not the fact that even if she tried with all her might, she simply couldn’t bring herself to kill him. The Matron sat on the other side of the table and rolled her lips in thought.
“I can smell him all over you. Clearly you didn’t even try and kill him with mundane efforts. My Little Petal, you could have done so much better. You had the upper hand when you seduced him to kill him” The woman tsk’ed under her breath, and Ciara could see the evilness develop within her mind, particularly when she was informed that Madeline was now out of the City and somewhere, where she could never find her. “Get some rest. It appears we will have to pay him a visit.”
The hours of rest that Ciara managed to get were restless, she didn’t know what The Matron was planning when the two of them went together to visit Dimitri. Yet, somehow, Ciara felt like a small child as the two women wandered through his art shop together; Ciara, to almost hide herself, and her shame wore a larger hat and kept her face down so that she would not be immediately noticeable to him when he appeared.
The Matron walked up to the kiosk and rang the little bell, notifying she wished to be served. “Customer service is incredibly poor these days”
The silence that encased him should not have been nee to him but this was deafening and as he stood in his home alone for the first time in decades that silence began to drown him. Dimitri had grown used to the sounds of joy Ciara brought into his life, with her laughter and terrible jokes or stories either true or myths she heard from the ladies at the pleasure house to the clients she took. When she was gone she left behind the mini her whose screams and cries for her mother replaced the sounds Ciara left behind and as Madeline grew the sounds in the home changed too. She very quickly filled the space with music, the sounds of her humming and light singing, the rare occurrence of her laughter that sounded so much like her mothers, and her gentle voice after some time that soothed Dimitri on a bad day. Now as he stood here completely alone there was nothing but a deafening silence and numbing sense of loneliness.
I swallowed the lump in my throat as I scanned around and saw nothing but the signs of my family having been together in one room like a dream I always prayed for. Yet the truth behind our reunion and the turbulence that laid between Ciara and Madeline was something I wish I could have accounted for and I wish I could jave. I wish I had known Ciara was alive, what she was now and more about the Banshee's as a whole to understand her better if only to prepare her for the introduction to the darker featured spitting image of her. I ran my hands over my face and back and forth through my hair before finishing my coffee washing off the traces of yesterday and heading downstairs to keep the shop closed. I started for a moment at the patrons waiting to enter all upset to see my face and not another very quickly realising whom they had come to see. Those old rumours of the painter's wife echoing in my ears and making me realise first-hand how big of an issue this rumour was now that I was faced with it. I should have listened to Maddie when she first presented this as a problem but instead of heeding her words however here I was caught dumbfounded by the disappointed tiny crowd outside as I shooed them off, all because I was not "The elusive painter's wife" But just the painter.
Silence returned to encase him again once the crowd was gone and he was in his shop below his home alone, all the times he had come down to find his daughter smiling despite the rumours, creeps, and perverts she faced every morning played in his head. He turned to look around let his memories play out before him before he approached the painting Ciara stopped to admire just yesterday. Dimitri let his hand rest upon the unsmooth paint on the rough canvas as he heard Madeline's raspy voice nervously try to talk to her mother about it. He huffed and walked to the back of the shop hoping to get some paperwork done since Madeline was not here to do it before he heard the fateful ring of the bell. He took his time coming back because he knew who it was already, no one threatens The Matron expecting to just not show up.
"Mmm yes well that is what happens when you throw the customer service representative out of the second-floor window." I snarled as I approached with my eyes locked on The Matron; I would never forgive her for that. "I should have told you she died but then that is what you wanted out of the moment and you would have known it was a lie." I spat my words out at first until they turned into a huff. My eyes avoided Ciara, out of spite, anger but mostly heartbreak as I took a breath and stepped to the side gesturing for them to head up the steps; welcoming them into my home even though neither of them deserved the courtesy. I followed after them trying to figure out where I wanted this to go and what I wanted out of this interaction, maybe The Matron would be me to it and fight but I know that is not what I wanted. I wanted the truth and I wanted Ciara to hear it from the Matron's mouth though I don't she would ever give me that closure willing. I waited for a response from The Matron when we arrived upstairs, waiting to see what she would think of Madeline's handiwork with the window she was thrown out of. Turning the shattered glass and traumatic experience into something beautiful; the stained glass window in the middle of my windows was not there for just show. Madeline insisted on fixing it herself and when I came home that day there it was filling the room with vivid colours as the warm sun hit for the first time. I walked off and grabbed something from a nearby shelf. "I can not tell you why but Madeline was very insistent on you getting this." I scoffed handing off the item to The Matron. I had seen Madeline work on this piece using the large shard of glass that nearly killed her and turning into a very macabre inspired art piece almost as if she knew The Matron would love it as much as she could love anything.
Ciara couldn’t get her head round why The Matron had insisted that she came along to the shop; all Ciara would do would be to prevent any understanding between Dimitri and the Queen bee. All she would do was pose as a treasure, a trophy and a means of The Matron showing off that Ciara belonged to her and no one else. In truth, Ciara belonged to no-one, at least in her denial she did - but the truth is, Ciara had always and always will belong to someone else; it is all she had ever known. Firstly there was Quinn, and then to every man and even the women that would frequent her rooms; for the time they paid for, she was theres and now, even in death, she belonged to not just The Matron, but also The Elders. It was truly a morbid thought to know she was nothing more than a possession to be shown off to others but the power of dissociation Ciara had made the thought, the reality so much easier to deal with. And so, it was with that she came obediently to the shop.
In her time, she had thought many times of leaving The Matron and doing her own thing but the pull to The Elders Remains was at all time high and the tug they had on her would be too much to ignore; after all, Ciara, and her Sisters all needed The Elders for survival. She kept her head down low, and out of what she could only describe as unconscious comfort, went to stand opposite the painting which she was admiring only a few hours ago. And although her eyes were completely and utterly focused on the painting her ears were elsewhere as the two others in the room conversed.
The Matron snorted and actually let out a laugh which was an unusual occurrence. “Oh yes! I had completely forgotten about that day. Oh what a marvellous time that was even though the outcome had I truly desired never came” The woman clicked her fingers in a ‘darn it’ motion before snorting somewhat. “Although, I can’t say that is truly the reason why she isn’t here today, firing off her such sweet smile as customers swarm into the place. She isn’t here because hasn’t wanted to be here, and my dear Petal over there gave her the ignition to finally get up and leave this place… To leave you”
“Petal, dear. Time to go upstairs”
And off the three of them went, up the creaky wooden floorboards to the now very empty and rather sad home; even Ciara could feel the difference in the room from when she first entered it yesterday morning with the welcoming aroma of breakfast. The blonde child-like Banshee sat on the sofa where her and Madeline had shared an experience which ultimately created an understanding between the two; she had no idea why The Matron wanted to be here, but alas, there was always some method to her very own madness.
The Matron placed a hand upon her very still albeit somewhat beating heart as Dimitri handed her a piece of Madeline’s artwork. “My dear Sunflower has always had such an eye of making Death beautiful” She spoke with such admiration as she examined the piece; her tone, her comment would make anyone question her love for the young girl who was by no means related to her nor truly had a relationship with. “I’m glad she thought of me, although it saddens me that it has taken this long for this to find my hands” She placed the art piece into the inside pocket of her blazer before taking a few steps around the apartment to familiarise herself with the building she had not seen in a very long time. “The reason for our visit is to discuss this” She pointed between both Dimitri and Ciara.
“It is clear that Ciara has the incapability to kill you. And in fact, it was probably dumb of me to even consider one to kill an Eternal - you probably have one weapon that could do such a thing” It was no lie that The Matron had considered this long ago, and she kicked herself for not sending Ciara out to find it sooner. “So, we have to live in harmony together and I suppose I can share my child with you” The Matron sounded reluctant and anyone who knew her, knew there would be some ulterior motive. “Ciara can freely roam between here and Hallows Hill Manor on the condition you do not, for any reason, prevent her from killing with motive. We have to feed our Elders to remain alive” She took a seat. “Please tell me you have champagne in the house, I’m incredibly dehydrated… Do be a dear”
Ciara shook her head as Dimitri too, offered her a glass as her eyebrows were furrowed in The Matron’s direction; although as she waited for Dimitri’s response, she could feel the anger for him too - for him to agree to such a decision. As the two continued to converse and The Matron continuing to tell him the conditions of this… Arrangement, Ciara was about to burst and rightly so - The Banshee stood, and almost with it a scream as her words left her. “I am NOT some toy you can share between you! For hundreds of years, I have always been a possession to someone but fuck this, you two can have each other a-a-nd share the struggles of finding Madeline” Ciara was turning red, and one could imagine the steam coming out of her ears.
She had nowhere to go, but that vampire Dimitri took her too… She was sure he would have plenty of rooms to offer once he could forgive her for shattering every piece of glass and mirror in his mansion. Ciara stood there, pouting in anger at the two of them and her fingers curled into a fist as she considered her options.