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LaLaurie

LaLaurie Stranding
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  • OOC Name: Soupi
  • Posts: 10 (Find All Posts)
  • Rank: Eng Commoner
  • Age & Season: 7 (Autumn ☁)
  • Species Equine
  • Lineage:
  • Height: 15.3hh
  • Sex: Mare
  • Mate: Jakob Stranding
  • Crystals: 90
  • Tag: @[LaLaurie]

Introduction


give me your hand in love
LaLaurie Stranding
(la-lou-ree / strand-ing)

Atticus x Delphine - - | - - Mikhail x Katilynn
|| - - - - - - - - - - ||
LaLaurie - - & - - Jakob
Scent: Orchids, Moors, and a faint trail of ink
Sexuality: Bisexual
Voice Claim: tbd

Outpost Items



OOC & Character(s)

Appearance


give me your hand in flesh

Her confirmation is enchanting; fine dips and curvatures resemble that of an Akhal Teke and Arabian cross, with nimble, lithe legs and an overall upright carriage. The cloth she's wrapped in is best described as a menagerie of umber. It ranges from the soft caramel of treats to the deep ecru of fertile loam. It's gleam almost emulates iridescence: the golden sheen spans alongside a rivaling black of her base coat. Irregular, jagged marks stretch along her shoulders, lacerate the molten amber of his hide.

Minimal alabaster paints the left side of her visage, and mottles the throat latch of the same side. Peach claims her nostrils, which which are encompassed by the ivory stains upon her muzzle. Black eyeshadow lines her hazel eyes, tapering into points in a way most feminine. Furthermore, strokes of obsidian her lips and along the sides of her visage with a vague resemblance of stitching. Her audits rest on a crown of such deep cocoa they appear almost black.

Curiously, russet paints her knees and hocks, striped with airy marks of alabaster that stretch into the blur of colors upon her legs from four white socks. Apricot hooves, unblemished with any other color, are small but suitable for her confirmation. Within the weightless, ethereal strokes of white upon her legs are black etchings not unlike dun barring. It is the most complicated point of her pelt, and makes for fascinating study if one wants a maze to navigate.

There is no mane to be found, nor does she have the keep it shaved. It simply does not grow. A streaming banner of obsidian lined with faint dusty streaks, however, compensates for any beauty lost with her lack of mane. It is luxurious, thick, and toils in large, glistening waves. The length drags the ground easily, and it is not uncommon for her to draw it up quite intricately to buns, braids, and all sorts of fanciful applications.

LaLaurie is never seen without the gilt necklace her husband gave her, no matter it's dented and scratched exterior. Equal to it is the soft shawl, sheer and tattered, too bestowed upon her by the one who'd stolen her heart.

Personality


give me your hand in spirit
Morally Ambiguous

LaLaurie had been, and is now, so many things. Perhaps her most striking personality quirk is her aversion to touch. To attempt to brush against her, or offer any sort of sympathies with a meeting of the flesh will be met with immediate and stentorian protest. Fortunately for those who venture to such interactions, she is not of the violent sort. More lightly to flee than fight, it would take great provocation even with her aversion for her to physically lash out upon another with the intent to harm. Harming is not something she wishes on others. Harm she wishes upon no one.

Secondly she is tenacious, though this drives from several points. It feeds hand in hand with her defiance against those with conflicting views, beliefs, or treatment of others. There is always a better place, a better situation, especially now after its all been taken back away. She'd been to the point of happiness, sheer and unbridled, before, and she will refuse to give up until she's once again acquired whatever emulates that sensation. Though she cannot fight, her tongue is quick to lash and her refusals to inadequate requests come faster. Directly called out, she will rarely run from a challenge. It's just how the fire in her belly works.

Loyal to a fault, LaLaurie's heart has numbed with the death of her Jakob. Though the phantom of admiration and affection resides within her and is projected upon the presence of his spirit, LaLaurie refuses any form of fondness from another. She's constructed a crust of stone about her heart, so that the inside may burn with the fires of her past passions, undisturbed and in its purest forms.

As you may very well see, her largest fault lies in her dependence upon Jakob. Although she'd like to paint herself a woman who doesn't need a stallion to achieve her goals, she is very much a wife who will not proceed without her husband. If she were to lose her connection with her ghostly spouse, it is quite unfortunate what may happen to the fragile state of mind she's nursing.

History

give me your hand in life

If I told you about her, would you believe me? If I told you that she had not always been the broken image of a woman she once had been, not could have been, would anyone consider it? She is a product of her own misfortunes, calloused by tragedy in her life that has painted her world black. LaLaurie once loved unconditionally and without refrain and rose from the ditches to a better life than one she’d been born into. Yes, it is true. There was a smile on her face, a sparkle in her eye, a salvation found in the image of Jakob Stranding. He’d uprooted her from filth and she cooled his burning fires of resentment. Life had once been good… once.

LaLaurie was born into poverty. Squalor was their home, mud their companion, and scrimping their only means of survival. Her sire worked on the docks for meager income to help buy them purchase to the verdant fields monopolized by the local merchants of Riftmarch while her mother passed not long after LaLaurie was weaned from her milk (an illness took her, one luckily not spread to the rest of the family). Surviving simply on what her father could bring home the young girl knew that her days running the mires without responsibility were short. When she came of age she took to the only work that ensured her any coin and means for their sustainability: service the lords (and sometimes ladies) who came to the poor district for nightly pleasures in the brothels.

Her career started early, but the young woman was determined to acquire whatever means she needed to escape their life of destitution. It was tiring work, one that drained her perhaps more mentally and emotionally. Though she loathe to admit it, the work did aid her to become strong of body; tight muscles laced her thin skeletal structure and a trim, athletic build bolstered her resilience. The physically strong, especially in the squalors, were more apt for survival. She could at least thank them for that. And, of course it was the wealthy who came to see them, and her vernacular and discourse soon mirrored their own. At times, she was even inquired why “someone of her standing would work in such a filthy place?”. And to it she could only smile wearily and divert their attentions.

So her appreciation for the small things acquired from her line of work did exist. And of course, she was grateful for the income as well. Advice was given to her in the voices of the mares her senior working beneath their matron, but LaLaurie didn’t pay them much mind. Though she held no qualms against her peers, she chose to not befriend them. None of them seemed the sort that she’d ideally mingle with once her dreams were acquired. Most of them could spy a way to get a few extra silver or gold pieces and weaseled their way into the deal some way or another, always with friendly and warm faces. But in her line of work? There weren’t many friendships that outlast jealousy or rivalry.

One day, she hoped to escape the private, red light lit thickets of that horrid place and leave all of them behind. So, she drew no attention to herself. She did as she was instructed and no more. Little small talk, no introductions, nothing that could root her deeper into the hovels of the impoverished outskirts of Riftmarch.

Then Jakob visited her. She’d seen him there before, because, well… it was difficult to miss someone plagued with dwarfism. Jakob Stranding was not a pony, nor was he a “small” stallion. His legs were knobbish and odd, everything about his confirmation stunted save a somehow salvaged, regal visage (though even it betrayed his loss in the genetic roulette). His coat was jet, like fabled gatorglass or quality obsidian, and finely kempt save the dirt at his feathered hooves and trailing banner. Whenever he frequented the working women he came with alcohol on his lips and steam betwixt his ears. LaLaurie always thought him an angry man, and at times attributed it to his genetic short comings. But she tried not to linger on such painful accusations. It wasn’t her place, nor was it the stallion’s decision to be birthed the way he had.

Whether it was sheer luck or a random act that had him look to her upon entry one day is a mystery. Locking eyes down the road as he approached, he came to a halt at the matron of their undercover brothel, and eyed her. It wasn’t uncommon for them to be examined beforehand. They were there to suit the fancies of the clients, of course. So she matched the hard stare, and if her eyes could have burned holes through the refined garments he’d adorned surely they would have singed. Her patience with her work, of late, had been lacking. And she didn’t know if she’d be prepared to deal with his rumored anger.

Tossing a purse of coin to the matron, he gestured towards LaLaurie and simply stated, “That one”.

It was enough, those two words. It lit a fiery in her belly, one that had been burning in the coals since she’d sacrificed her body to this line of work. Without further instruction, word, or sweet nothings the lords sometimes whispered to them as they approached, Jakob hobbled down the beaten path, towards a thin wood with numerous glades (it worked well for the matron’s desires, and apparently had been her place of employment as a lady of the night, if chatter was true).

Into the midnight bathed clearing they entered, her trailing behind him quite silent, watching the odd gait of his walk, but mostly distracted by the fine craftsmanship of his strappings and cloak. She halted at one side of their destination and he stomped to the other. Unwavering in her gaze she watched him, and the first time he glanced back to her since coin had been passed he spit to the ground. “Get on with it then.”

Her audits flicked back and a twitch played at the corner of her sharp eyes. “No,” her tongue lashed back. Heat rose to her cheeks; one was never to raise their voices, or undermine requests, of clients. “I’m not paid to make the decisions.”

Jakob snapped his visage over to her, dark chocolate eyes narrow slits. His breath steadied minutely from the drunken labor. Lifting his head, his crown cocked and he gawked at her. Even at its erect height it just met her withers.

“No one’s ever stood up to me before,” He laughed, it spilling out like hot water left too long to boil, before fading to a low growl.

LaLaurie scoffed. “Like we have the ability to do so.”

“No,” he corrected, sternly but with debate, the heat dissipating, again but not peaking at the previous hilarity, “they always pitied me.” She fell silent, the rose in her cheek’s fading but a small knot in her stomach replaced it. Somewhere around them, a stallion exclaimed pleasure, and she was reminded that though privacy was advertised it was a false promise. If she didn’t choose her words carefully, the wrong person could hear her.

“Everyone just did what they thought I wanted because they felt bad for me. You’re the first person to ever remotely push back,” he explained, his tone slurred as it ebbed and flowed between ire and melancholy.

Shifting with unease and glancing into the shadowed woods around them, anxious that the matron may hear their exchange, LaLaurie lowered her voice. “It is against our proto-“

“You’re not hearing me,” he interjected, a flare of temper rising but dispersing just as quickly. “No one has stood up to me.” He paused again, waiting for the cogs in her head to whir enough for the message to translate. After an inpatient moment he sighed, casting a glower to the forest floor. “They just see a poor man and the misfortunes he couldn’t control. Rather than make my life any harder, they just go along with it. Pity me.”

LaLaurie thought long and hard before her next comment. It was a delicate moment. Everything about her life spent in the brothel told her to traipse up, offer a soft and warm touch, and coo away the dark clouds. That’s how she’d deal with any other client. But she could tell it’d do no good here. He didn’t want that. “I don’t want anyone else’s pity, so I don’t pity others,” she spat it without realizing, her voice low, almost a whisper. Her gaze had fallen, but those hazel eyes of hers snapped back up to him – he was looking at her again – and asked, “Unless you came here to spend your coin out of pity.”

Another pause.

“Perhaps I had… but not out of pity for you.”

There was no contact of the flesh that night. Their time – taking her entire night, and any potential earnings she might have wished to make – was spent in conversation. Their report spanned a many thing; from family, relatives, their personal strife that led to their resentments, and of course, about each other. when the first light of dawn brightened the horizon, she escorted him back through the woods once he’d all but sobered, both still chatting lowly so others may not hear them.

Curious eyes flocked to them as they reemerged. Some of her fellow mares snickered and grinned, other orbs burned with green jealousy (there was always petty resentment when the wealthy came in). Jakob faltered in his course before he turned to her.

“May I see you again tomorrow?”

“If you have the appropriate coin, sir,” the matron infiltrated, her stone hardened stare leaching the gentle simper on LaLaurie’s face. His visage turned to the roan faced hag, one well passed her years of working like her employees, and nodded absently.

“As you wish,” he declared, every ounce of nobility the wealthy acquired through their privilege commanding his voice to appear civil. He turned back to the young woman he’d spent the night with, offered her a bow (some of the other women giggled at its quirk), and brushed his muzzle against her cheek (which she lowered to him quite expectantly). He bid them all goodnight, and tottered off down the muddy road back towards the docks of Riftmarch.

Jakob did return the next night. And the night after. Every time he increased his purse to appease the matron’s glaring disapproval and frustrations, but it tickled LaLaurie. A glimmer of hope, those silver linings everyone always talked about, finally shown on her rather than others. She began to look forward to Jakob’s visits, eventually falling into bed together born from passion rather than business.

One early evening one of the mares her senior sidled to LaLaurie’s side, her judgmental but empathetic stare garnishing the bald woman’s immediate attention. “Can I help you?” LaLaurie’s tone was gentle, cooing, as incoming clients were well within ear shot.

“Take it from experience, love, don’t fall for the nobles.” There was a drone to the chestnut harlot’s voice that surely had never been attractive, even in her youth. “You’re just a warm body to them.”

LaLaurie’s harks fell against her sleek, hairless nape and her fake smile pulled taught along her muzzle. It hardly was any of her concern, but she’d have lied if she denied thinking the same herself when she returned home in the morning. Not that I have feelings, her mind corrected. What courtesan stoops so low to falling in love with a paying client? Because was what they were after all. Clients. “Thank you for your wisdom.”

Could it even be called that? Wisdom. But it didn’t stop her eyes from flashing down the road, looking for Jakob’s tell tale gait in the shadows. A knot developed in her chest, one that wrangled the undiagnosed denial in her mind’s eye. He always came. Sometimes fancies were found and girls could be claimed for months at a time before being dropped for a new, untested model. It was a hazard of the job. Intimate acts of the flesh performed without the intimacy of the emotion that usually spurred it. I’d be a fool to think anything else.

It grew later than Jaokb’s typical arrival, and the other clients were already filling the matron’s pockets. Every one that passed her up, she silently found herself thanking whatever fate had writ her night, but scorning herself immediately after. The chestnut mare’s words echoed in her mind, distracting her when clients did try and garner her attention. But her aloofness disinterested them, and they moved onto the next smiling face.

But a new stranger came from in town tonight. It was another woman, her gait commanding and deliberate, her carriage high. Her grey pelt reminded LaLaurie of pewter. The salt and pepper of her mane cast a wizened appearance despite the ease of her gait and sharpness of her eye. Her mane had been cropped, and crudely. Even her tail seemed freshly lopped and it hardly passed the slop of her hindquarters to her limbs. Piercing green eyes watched LaLaurie from beneath blackened lids.

“I like your hair.” The stranger said.

LaLaurie glanced to the matron, whose ire was insurmountable at the courtesan’s pause. Batting her lashes, she turned back. “Thank you, miss. Seems we have the same taste.”

The pewter woman roared with laughter, before leaning towards the matron. “How much for her?”

Out of spite LaLaurie was sold for meager coin that night, but she obliged. As she fell in line behind the other femme’s trimmed banner she cast one more glance to the road, the word of her compatriot echoing twixt her ears.

“You’re just a warm body to them.”

The nameless grey didn’t keep LaLaurie for long, but made swift work of her skills. Panting with sweat beading her chest she shook at the tail end of their allotted time. “Thanks, baldie,” she chuckled, “ain’t half bad.”

LaLaurie mustered a fake smile that hid her reproach. “You’re very welcome.”

The grey tossed a glance over the leather pauldon on her shoulder, a smirk upon her muzzle. “Maybe next time I’m in town I’ll come find you again.”

“I look forward to it.”

Before the grey woman left she brought a wrapped package from one of her armor’s sleeves (telekinesis was not a common attribute, but prevalent enough to note strike LaLaurie off guard). Pulling the tawny fabric back a cluster of lustrous stone gleamed in the moonlight. This, however, did bring a constricted gasp from the courtesan.

The stranger bred a devilish smile. “Do you know what this is?”

“How couldn’t I?” LaLaurie never turned away from the stone. Though its color was deep emerald, almost eldritch, the core seemed to glow – so very softly, so very barely – with a warm orange heart. It cast an almost iridescence across the polished surface. It was a rare, some thought fabled, commodity. The old wives’ tales said that such a stone could only be procured from Riftgators, an ancient predator of the swamps and flood plains of Riftmarch. They’d long been hunted and slain for these gemstones that solidified in their bellies and those stones’ supernatural qualities. It was said to have potent side effects to those who crushed the soft stones and inhaled the powder – but to inhale too much? Why, it was always cautioned but never described. But if you were brave enough, it amplified magic users power exponentially, according to legend. “Gatorglass.” The stories had faded with the long-lost generations that had revered it, and the riftgators who bore them. It may have lost its mantle for worship, but here in a brothel? It seemed all to fitting to be handled like explicit goods.

The grey stranger’s grin widened. “More educated than you look.” Dropping it before armored legs, a slate hoof slammed down upon the small but still impressive amount of gatorglass. It burst like freshly cooled glass, and a plum of black dust erupted around the hoof. Quickly the grey dove her mug into the small black plume, took a quick draw, and exhaled deeply. “Aaaaaah…” She sighed, tossing one last glance back to LaLaurie. Was there a brightness to the green of her eyes that hadn’t been there before? “Goodnight, baldie.”

Tolerating another night that emulated all her others prior to Jakob’s materialization into her life, LaLaurie was left with a sour taste on her tongue and an empty, consuming knot in her stomach. The image of gatorglass seemed burned in her mind, and she hardly found the ability to focus. The chestnut mare who’d approached her at the start of their night offered her silent glances whenever LaLaurie returned from client’s, shaking her head with mock sympathy. Her mind stewed, raging inwardly towards the pity – even misplaced – that met her. She left without word to return to her sire as quickly as she could. She’d have to make sure he ate before he left for a long day’s work, and she wanted nothing more to do with the glades, with gatorglass, or grey strangers.

Let us take a moment to speak on the woman and her father. Their relationship is best described as close, though her father does not inquire about her day. She knows It is not out of disinterest, but a silent desire to not picture the state of his daughter’s employment. Of course, he was thankful of the coin (Jakob’s coin, up until now) that she’d brought home, but he didn’t want to see, even in his mind, his baby girl in such a way. She took care of the old stallion like any doting daughter would, offering a quick smile and farewell as he left on his stiff legs and back for the docks.

After he’d departed, leaving LaLaurie to their small hovel alone, her anger quickly resurfaced. Frustration bred from a sense of abandonment from Jakob, though she grew more frustrated in herself for having allowed herself to become foolishly invested in a client. Her scorn only grew as she slept, dreaming of gator’s with blackened, starry eyes that seemed to peer into her very soul, and of black clouds and weightless cinders. Lurching awake after a fitful night’s sleep, LaLaurie set her father to bed and left for another night’s work.

From down the road she could see Jakob already there waiting and she was reminded of her fury. Tail lashing as she came up, the matron informed her flatly that he’d already paid, and she turned into the dark wood without a glance in the dwarf’s direction. He chased after her, trying to garner her attention, until they came to one of the glades. She whirled around, fire in her hazel eyes, and she stared at him.

“Laurie, please,” he pleaded, a cocktail of confusion and exasperation intoxicating his tone.

“Let’s just get this over with,” she growled, traipsing up to him in the moonlight, hovering over him as she lowered to nuzzle his neck (he liked nips behind the ears).

“Whoa-wait-stop,” he stammered, drawing away from her with short, tripping steps backwards.

“Is this not what you paid for?,” she hissed, recoiling back like an agitated viper, “Isn’t that why you came here?”

“I-no!” He scoffs in disbelief, shaking his head, “No, I came to see you – I enjoy our time together.” LaLaurie only glared at him, the anger transforming into watery eyes whom she dared them to fall from her lids. “Please, Laurie, is this because I couldn’t visit yesterday?” He paused, expecting an answer again but receiving nothing. She only stared at him, slipping into murky shadow as a cloud slipped over the waning moon. “I… it’s difficult to explain. I tried to come, I did, and that is all you need to know. It was not because I did not care that-… I hadn’t forgotten, not for a second, I just couldn’t come.”

Finally, she draws a deep breath, at first unable to look at him while the words mulled around inside her head. “Can you really care when you buy my time?” the words, articulated the best she was able in the whirlwind of her mind, left her seeking a truth she was afraid to hear. When she braves a look, Jakob’s lost for air. Incredulous, his mouth hangs, small gasps of air gathering to speak but so rattled he cannot navigate the whirring storm of thoughts. A single tear falls from her eyes, staining the alabaster of her face a dull grey; pewter.

“I would have thought,” he finally said, shaking his head as he stared down at his hooves, before looking back up, “you had known. This is the only place I can see you, and I do have to buy your time. To keep you from the rest of them. It makes me sick that there was even a chance someone else touched you last night.”

Her face is stoic. She reveals nothing. It isn’t necessary.

“And I know they did,” his voice cracks, his ecru eyes boring into her soul like the gator in her dreams. “And I don’t want to think about it. I wanted to get back here as soon as I could. I-”, he laughs, an exasperated sound betraying his fraying edges, “I don’t know where you live. I know your father’s name is Atticus, that he’s a tired old man who works too hard down at the docks. I know that your mother’s name was Delphine, and that you hardly remember her because she died when you were young. I know that you’re here because there’s nothing else for you to do. I know you have a scar on your right front cornet because you tripped over clay pottery once at market when you were a filly and were cut.” He pauses again, his breath animated despite his sobriety. “But you won’t let me know where I can find you outside of his place. You think I like coming here?”

“What is-“

“No, do not start without understanding!” His voice is hoarse not with volume but emotion. “I do not like buying your time because it reminds me of the state you are in. It’s a dirty, vulgar reminder of the life you’ve lived. But you guard yourself still, even though I’ve nothing but affection for you.”

Pants rise and lower his sides after he said it, she recalls them even today, so jagged and tremoring. Maybe he had feared truth too. Another tear rolls down her cheek, and she unconsciously looks over her shoulders for eavesdropping harks or peering eyes.

“Do you not feel the same for me?” he asks, voice cracking.

“Of course I do,” her response is quick, thoughtless, almost surprising even to her own ears as she snaps it back to him.

Relief invokes a smile on Jakob’s face, and he takes a few absent strides as he stifles a bit of manic laughter. He takes several deep breaths, and LaLaurie finds it difficult to breathe at all. He turns back to her. “Why don’t you just leave here? Why do you let that woman control you?”

“I have to help my father. I can’t leave him penniless.” Leave him? What in the name of Fate was that supposed to mean? A fear settled along her spine. The truth, even when good, was unsettling to release. A third tear fell down her face.

She could see that he was thinking, working out some sort of puzzle she wasn’t privy too. He was calculative, intelligent. She liked it about him. Made him different than the rest of the them. “Well… It’d be easier to explain where my portion of gold went if – ahem – it wasn’t spent on some underground brothel.”

She swallowed and found it difficult. “What are you saying?”

“I think you know what I’m saying.” Another pause fell, but wordless conversation continued in their eyes.

Swallowing, LaLauie nodded her head in affirmation, and Jakob led their swift retreat from the glades.

As they emerged from the brambles and took to the road, the matron jolted after them with harsh words and harsher tongue, “What do you think you’re doing?!”

“I quit!” LaLaurie called back, never stopping her dash away at Jakob’s heels. In her chest, her heart thundered madly. ‘This is happening. This is really happening’.

Finally Jakob relented the lead and the two lovers jogged through the filth of the squalors until they reached the shoddly erected structure that served as her and her father’s home. She woke Atticus with a coo, soothing his confusion at the sight of Jakob (and snapping at his “What’s wrong wit yer legs, boy?”), before they departed again with her bay sire in tow.

Jakob led them into those verdant meadows on the outskirts of Riftmarch. In the pastel light of early morning the dew sparkled, and the stone arches and architecture. Here the fabric curtains used to separate one from the outside were not tattered and moth bitten linens but fine fabrics that wafted in the gales not with lazy ire but whimsy. The perimeters were vastly larger than what LaLaurie and her sire had been vacating previously despite Jakob’s insistence that they were “still small”. Fronting the needed coin to acquire them a home away from the ratholes, Jakob retired after an evening spent ensuring that the father and daughter were comfortable.

Life grew easy for them after that. LaLaurie’s father no longer worked himself to the bones on the docks for the merchants and she never returned to the thickets outside of town. Jakob visited frequently, coming now during the daylight hours rather than when twilight bloomed. Adjusting to normal waking hours proved a difficult task for the woman, but some weeks past and her biological clock was set straight.

They needed for nothing, because Jakob found a way to provide them anything they needed. At times the Stranding son would bring LaLaurie gifts, “trinkets to blend them in”, as he called them. The first was a fine sheer fabric, brilliantly white and intricately embroidered at the ends, one that he wrapped around her shoulders himself as she lounged in the sun one dusky afternoon with the smell of sea salt in the air. Another time he returned with a gilt necklace, one that wrapped her slender neck twice, which he also insisted on placing himself. At the same time, be brought Atticus fine steel shoes, as he “remembered he’d been complaining about the rocks as of late”.

Their life grew soft. LaLaurie appreciated nothing more than watching her father talk with Jakob on his (still) daily visits. Despite their class differences, the two shared numerous topics with one another, spanning on items she’d never thought either of them would have shared interests. LaLaurie could see some admiration between them, and it brought her heart great joy to see.

Of course, Atticus was old. An evening not long after their first two seasons spent in their new comfortable life, the old bay stallion grew sick and weak. A persistent cough kept his lungs raw and his energy low. Each raking breath he took his daughter knew that it was only a matter of time. Jakob’s time sent in the verdant meadows increased with Atticus’ decreasing health.

“I’d have very much liked to have met your father,” the old stud chuckled through gasped breaths. He’d hardly the energy to lift his head now, having fought the plague in his chest for just over six days. “Tell him what a good man he raised.”

“I’m sure you’ll have time to meet him later, old man.” Jakob kept the air light around Atticus during the time, and LaLaurie was grateful for it. Her own melancholy, the rapidly approaching dark reality of what was likely in her close future clouding her usual crude humor and idle chatter. Someone had to keep her father laughing, and it seemed only right it was the only other equine she’d ever come to trust so unconditionally.

Though she still debates whether it was unexpected or not, Jakob did in fact bring his father to meet Atticus the day following. The merchant Mikail Stranding was a commanding presence. Everything that Jakob’s confirmation lacked Mikail compensated. LaLaurie had to look up to the gentleman, and would have found his shadow daunting as it loomed over her if she’d been of weak resolve. But LaLaurie was no such thing. Rather the bald woman met the Stranding gentleman before they’d approached within Atticus’ earshot. Introductions bid, LaLaurie had bowed low to the eldest Stranding male, but he simply shook his head.

“No need for that.” Was all he said, before the group moved into the small abode. Atticus passed into the night after pleasantries, good tidings, and blessings passed betwixt the refined and collected Mikail and the sputtering, week old timer.

Mikail did not tarry long after Atticus’ passing. He could see that the woman his son had come to care for was stealing herself with strength, trying to showcase her fortitude. With a quick embrace he retired, saying simply to Jakob that, “both of you can come home when you’re ready”. But they did not leave the home. Grave keepers came and took Atticus away, and his pyre was set the next day. Mikail Stranding was in attendance, at his side a quite lovely chestnut mare whose roaned face betrayed her age as had the matron’s own. Her bright chocolate eyes, so like Jaokb’s, hardly left LaLaurie as the flames grew high into swamp sunset.

Electing for privacy, LaLaurie remained still in the home she shared with her father for some time following his passing. Jakob all but never left her side until pressing matters or business drew him away. Eventually the numbness in her heart warmed and their days turned quite domestic. Eventually, LaLaurie was persuaded to leave behind the home and begin their time spent at the Stranding Estate within Riftmarch.

The dock city was overwhelming for her. The culture shock she had survived from the squalors to the middle class meadows had been daunting, but nothing had quite prepared her for the cobblestone of Riftmarch’s roads. The arch buildings didn’t stand apart, and of course they weren’t held together by strips of bark and spit for luck, all feeding off of one another. Actual limestone, marble, and other various masonry walls simply marked the end of properties as others continued off of them. There were even second stories, with gardened balconies that overlooked the shipyard and market. The hustle and bustle was almost strangling, but everyone moved with such precise fluidity there were little to no accidents.

Her eyes greedily ate the scenery before her, her steps close to Jakob’s hips as he escorted her through the Rift’s Road, the primary and central location of the city. Ladies adorned in layers of fanciful fabrics and divine jewelry eyed her (none were bald, she noted, somewhat sourly) from their corners. Armored or stately gentlemen making those ladies acquaintances followed their glance, eyeing first LaLaurie – whom knew she appeared out of place – then Jakob. Rude grins spread on their faces as they turned back to gossip. There were some whose lips didn’t share trivial chatter but their disapproval or comedic relief was spelled across their faces.

For all the years she’d painted this place a paradise, with it’s greenery, fine masonry, and beautiful people, it took only minutes of exposure to realize that it’s jealousies were just as prevalent here as they’d been in the brothels and shack towns. Debauchery may have been expected, and not hidden, back in the squalors. But she was sure that the faces she spied now had their own secrets hidden behind the quality of their clothes.

Jakob Stranding brought LaLaurie to his family estates, leaving behind a world of riches that hid the corruptness of the characters who adorned them, and relief finally washed over her. Beautiful gardens swelled around their home, overflowing with flowers of red, black, and white. This district was unlike the others, as all the structures stood separate, though still almost on top of one another. Katilynn Stranding’s gardens offered a buffer between her and their neighbors, and she of course was at the front archway waiting for them. Lady Stranding (whose title were simply born from their coin and not their political standing) and Jakob’s eldest sister welcomed her warmly. Overwhelmed by their open heart and hospitality, LaLaurie’s life began to blur. But this whirlwind was filled with pleasantries, love, and a need for nothing. The once impoverished prostitute grew close to Jakob’s sister, Aerin, and mother, Katilynn.

But to be honest most of her time was spent in Jakob’s quarters, where they flourished in their affections for one another, or in the gardens within the magnificent estate. There were times the entirety of the family (LaLaurie included) went to the docks on business. While Mikhail handled most of the affairs, LaLaurie was surprised at the functionality of all parties. Everyone had an option to interject, all were asked their opinions, and Mikhail seemed to hear them. LaLaurie got to see first hand what Jakob had meant when he’d said “no one has ever stood up to me” all those moons ago, for surely, whenever he questioned anything in negotiations their fellows were apt to bend to his wishes. Once, or twice, she murmured a question or comment to Jakob that ultimately helped negotiations, and for it the family was proud.

Fully integrated into the Stranding’s life and introduced to their life in the commerce business, LaLaurie seemed to dream for nothing more. All that she wanted she had. Just under a year spent in the Estates, Jakob and LaLaurie were wed in a private, intimate ceremony with just the immediate family in the central gardens of the property. Like any couple, they honeymooned afterwards. Travelling the shores and skipping along by the fuel of their overwhelming love and nothing more, Jakob and LaLaurie explored the regions to the north. Their compatibility was undeniable, and commented on by those who met them along the path. Eventually though, as the weeks grew long, they knew they must return home.

But they would have been better to continue, to leave Riftmarch behind them, and never look back. But they did return. She bares the marks to prove it.

Riding the secret of her pregnancy back home, and eager to share it with the family (and Jakob), the husband and wife halted along their homeward path. Dark clouds of black smoke rose on the horizon, darkening the skies for miles. Fear gripped their hearts as they bolted forward, worried for their family and their home. But they should have stayed away.

Intersected on their path, a group ambushed them along the road. Poor Jakob fought valiantly against them to protect his LaLaurie, but was struck hard and overwhelmed. His name screaming from her lips, she was drug down to the shore while he was forced back to Riftmarch, his legs flailing and teeth bared in frivolous attempts at escape. She didn’t count how many times they beat her and took advantage of her. She didn’t want to know, doesn’t want to remember. But there was a moment when she feared she couldn’t stand it any longer, that she wanted one of them to hit her just right; just right, just enough to end it all. But that didn’t happen, and she too was drug back to the city.

Thrown into guarded camps, like a discarded ragdoll, she was fortunately reunited with the Strandings. Jakob, a bruise swelling his right eye shut and dried blood on the cracks of his lips, limped to her as she collapsed into the camp, tears unconsciously streaming from her face. The Strandings hovelled themselves in the mud at the back of the allotted space. Eyeing them, Katilynn and Aerin’s tear stained faces bore back at her. Mikhail was missing, but she couldn’t find the strength or courage to ask his whereabouts. She didn’t think she needed to.

Riftmarch had been ransacked. Most of the buildings had collapsed, a good portion still burning with raging and roaring flames that the pirates – that was all she could think to call them – hollered and celebrated at the coals of the once manicured city. The camps they had erected in the very impoverished alleys LaLaurie had escaped filled her heart with defeat. Aerin recanted the pirates attack on the docks with vivid clarity, and the sheer terror in Katilynn’s eyes silenced LaLaurie’s many inquiries.

Nights passed where they were denied sustainable amount of food, and many had to drink from the stagnant pools of muddy water that collected in their shuffling tracks. As rain poured upon the prison camps, dousing the last of the house fires, Jakob inquired, “You said you had wanted to tell the family something on our way home.”

Having dozed, LaLaurie blinked away the haze of her mind. “I did,” she murmured. In her mind’s eye she saw the beach, saw the faces of the men, and saw the blood on the sand. “I don’t remember now.”

Whether it was the fourth or fifth day LaLaurie wasn’t sure, but commotion infected their guards. Usually quiet, they all stood at attention, forging a path betwixt their seemingly multiplying numbers. One of guards at the ramshackle gait commented “survivors”, but the rest was undistinguishable. The gaits opened, and the same guard rose his volume to call for the Riftmarch prisoners’ attention. LaLaurie fought to stand, and turned to take her place besides her husband-

The grey stranger from nearly a year ago stood besides the stallion, her emerald gaze scanning the dwindling group. She commented how she’d thought they would have been more, to which the guard responded, “they’re dropping like flies”.

Ice seemed to swell in her chest, and as the grey mare’s gaze swept over their direction, LaLaurie prayed hopelessly to be forgotten. But those emerald eyes shot back in recognition, and a grin rose on those pewter lips. “Baldie!”

Jakob took a step in front of LaLaurie, and while she appreciated the defiance and protectiveness of his heart she knew there would be no opposing them.

“Bring her to me, wouldn’t mind a little catching up.”

While LaLaurie had internally decided to obey to protect the family, The Strandings protested long enough for Jakob to take another hoof to his underjaw. As he reeled back, one of the thugs sank their teeth into LaLaurie and threw her away. They couldn’t fight them. It was foolish. With brimming eyes she watched her family disappear into the masses of thugs, following behind the leather armor adorned grey. They took her to the docks, then to a ship settled there that the woman did not recognize. The grey led them onto it’s gently swaying deck, then led LaLaurie into the captain’s chambers, leaving behind the guards.

The grey stood at the other length of the room. A map of the known seas painted on the floor was etched with daggers and swords. Small ports she’d never heard of seemed scratched away entirely, while others – like Riftmarch – had a single knife glinting in the low candlelight. “I told you I’d see you again.” The grey woman said.

“Who are you?” LaLaurie inquired through a pinched brow, acutely aware of her stench now that she’d been drawn into a room with incense burning, leaving a thin film of smoke in the air.

The grey woman smiled. “Benezia.”

Pirates, bandits, and mercenaries were a constant threat to the imports and exports of Riftmarch, but the name was unfamiliar. “And what is it you want, Benezia?”

“Well, I thought we had hit it off pretty well the last time. Could always use more womanly perspective on the fleet.”

Fleet. That’s where they kept coming from. “Where’s Mikhail Stranding?”

“So quick with the questions, baldie.” Benezia grinned, chuckling as she traipsed the map with false interest. “Anyone who had information was dealt with accordingly. We’ve got what we wanted here. Just waiting until the men are bored to continue on.”

“This is some sort of game for you?” LaLaurie hissed, her head shaking with disgust. “Is that why you’re toying with me like a cat? I’m just part of the game?”

Benezia’s grin widened again, the emerald of her eyes flourishing with a brightness that was unnatural. Just like the night she’d first seen her. “Life’s a game, sweetheart. I thought you were smart.”

“I just don’t see why you’d mindlessly destroy our lives, for what? Some coin?”

“Did you not sell your body for some coin, hmmm?” Benezia shot back at her, “Was that not some sort of game?” LaLaurie refrained from retort. “That’s what I thought. I knew you had fire in you. You’re a fighter, maybe not in the physical sense, but you’ve got the gals to stand up to anyone. It’s not necessarily a wise perk.” Benezia sighed with exaggeration, drawing to a cabinet carved into the ship. The doors opened, and stacks of gatorglass lay within the wrought iron hinges.

“This is why, baldie.” She explained needlessly, “This is why I destroy your cities.”

LaLaurie squinted into the dim cabinet, eyeing the countless pale, orange glows within the gemstones. “Why not just take it and leave?”

“And give reason for bands of cities and states to hunt me down over a power they’ve worked so hard to make a myth? Hardly.”

LaLaurie eyed Benezia as the woman admired her collection. The obsession in her emerald eyes was almost manic, and not the kind she’d experienced with Jakob in the glades True mania. Deranged. “Then what now? Once you’re done conquering, who will be left to use that power on?”

Benezia’s head shook in laughter. It was a chilling sound. A crawl ran down LaLaurie’s spine, and for the first moment since she’d been drug away she believed she wouldn’t be returning to her family. “Here I thought you knew what gatorglass was…. I guess I was wrong.”

A piece lifted from the center of the cabinet, dropping onto the counter, and bursting into a black cloud. Slowly, the collection of smoke from the candles began to turn black. “It is so much more than what grandmother’s shared… so much more… those damned gators – unfortunately dumb creatures – had no idea what kind of power they could tap into, what kind of tears in the fabric of our very world they could sew – or unravel – at their claws.” The black brume swept into Benezia’s nostrils, and she let out a contented breath, cinders billowing from her mouth. LaLaurie backed away as it inched closer and closer to her. The black smoke curled at her hooves, as if some sort of sentience controlled its movement.

Chest fluttering and the white crescents of her eyes bore, she took a frightful breath and trapped it in her lungs in an attempt to escape the gatorglass’ dust. But it swept in, just as it had curled around her legs. Her nostrils and throat suddenly burned, as if a thousand white hot needles drove into her from the inside. She could hardly hear Benezia's manic laughter over her coughing fit. The burning radiated into her lungs, where it collected, until finally she felt she may suffocate.

“What do you see, baldie?!” Benezia yelled through the smoke, through the pounding in LaLaurie’s head. Fighting the crippling fires within, LaLaurie tripped and collapsed into a support beam. Another gust of breath shot from her mouth, black particles spiraling weightlessly from her mouth. As her hazel eyes opened, the copper, green, and rust of her orbs molten with brightness, LaLaurie’s chest ran suddenly cold. Figures formed from black particles surrounding her. Those abyssal flecks buzzed and moved in synchronized, intelligent motions, emulating the slow approach; two were adult sized equine, another was a gator whose mouth opened with a deafening buzz that shook betwixt her ears.

LaLaurie jolted backwards, slamming into a cabinet as she scrambled away from the figures, whose attention all snapped to her in unison. “You see them!” Benezia cackled, “oh, you do!” The grey mare walked through one of the figures, bursting it into an ambiguous shape that buzzed around her neck so tightly at times it appeared a black noose tried to strangle her. “You can see them!?” her tone turned demanding.

“You can’t?” she finally quipped back, choking on her own voice.

“No,” Benezia hissed, her smile upturning to a frown. “No, I can’t see them. But I will.”

Benezia lurched forward, teeth bared, and sank her bite into LaLaurie’s shoulder before she had ample time to react. A scream burst from the bald woman’s lips, he forelegs instinctively churning to try and get the larger mare away from her. Of all things she should have learned as a lady of the night, she never learned to appropriately defend herself.

The figures, however, quaked with her yell. Their shapes jittered, disintegrating into shapes unrecognizable in comparison to their original forms. This time, they descended on Benezia, wrapping themselves around her hind legs and pulled the woman back. Teeth ripped away from the meat of LaLaurie’s neck, Benezia lost her footing to the invisible attack and fell into the gatorglass cabinet. The eldritch stones all collapsed onto the grey mare, who hid her visage from their shares. The particle figures snapped back to shape, staring at the grey mare on the floor then snapping their attention back to LaLaurie. One snapped in front of her, moving so quickly it left hardly a trail, before it did the same again to the door. LaLaurie at first watched in disbelief, confusion, her head pounding and her focus obliterated. Then the other equine figure appeared next to the door, then the gator.

LaLaurie spared only one glance to the all consuming black cloud that rose at the far corner of the room before burst through the doors. Outside, there was just as much chaos as there had been within the quarters. Somehow, the Riftmarch collective were fighting back the thugs. Antoher ship had come to port, and now that she was free of the deafening hum of the particle… creatures? Beings? She didn’t know, she could hear the orders to prepare the cannons.

As quickly as she’d seen it, it fell behind a veil of black. More gatorglass dust burned in her throat, and her coughing threatened to ground her again. But the black particles, so much darker now, swept past her – so close she was perplexed why she could not feel them. But she didn’t stop to think.

LaLaurie shot off the deck, the black particles forging her a clear path through the chaos. It led her to the ship’s edge, where she made a leap of faith after the strange, weightless motes of black that led her, and clamored down the dock.

Behind her, Benezia bellowed with rage, and as LaLaurie threw every last inch of her being into a mad man’s sprint, she heard Benezia’s weight crash onto the dock. Her tail emulating the strings of black she followed, they led her through the discord; Riftmarch merchants, impoverished, and customers fought against Benezia’s mercenaries despite their hunger and thirst. The first dull booms of canon fire warned the oncoming barrage, and seconds later the first of Benezia’s ships blew boards and rope onto the dock. LaLaurie still followed the shadow figures, whose own movements seemed to grow sporadic with her rising fear.

“JAKOB!” she screamed, tripping over her own hooves, as she pushed herself back towards the camps.

“Laurie!” she heard him call back, distant over the roar of the conflict and the bombardments of cannon fire. The black particles drew back as she halted, spinning around frantically looking for him, his name falling from her lips repeatedly despite the raw ache. The particles swept back to her, swimming round her hooves in jagged hives, before darting off through an alley. “Laurie!”, she heard echo down it.

She jolted forward, but was clipped and collided with the debris of an arch. Scrambling back to her hooves she cast one look over her shoulder, and Benezia too was clamoring to her hooves. “LOOK AT WHAT YOU DID!” she bellowed. Green fire burned form her eyes, and the cinders and black that fell from her lips had grown exponentially and also glowed with the same viridian of what had been her eyes.

Another scream ripped through her, and another jettison of black particles came tearing through the crowds. It drove like an arrow into the side of Benezia, knocking her back to her side with a plume of weightless black motes. LaLaurie stole the advantage, throwing herself down the alley where the other silhouette figures stood. Somehow she knew they watched her with impatience. Jakob appeared at the other end of the alley.

“Jakob!” she croaked, her strength waning as she tripped down the alley.

Her bones shook with the next loose of cannon fire, and for a moment everything around her came into sickening clarity, as if time stood still. Jakob’s face had been so relieved. But it transformed into terror. She saw his brows first pinch then raise, the whites of his eyes grow as the fear plunged it’s icy cold fingers into his heart. LaLaurie would have continued to run to him, and may have too been caught in the debris. But the black mote figures shot towards her like they had Benezia, crashing into her chest and halting her immediately. The red glow of an oncoming cannon lit the alley, and as Jakob’s name roared from her bloodied lips he too was lined in those same black motes. The blast knocked her back, and above her chunks of masonry began to plunge.

The black motes tried to drag her away but she fought them, willing to dive into the destruction, to get taken away too. But more black motes of light slid from the collapsing arching, and drove at her, again colliding with her chest. Breathless, it pushed her from the alley, where she collapsed back into the chaos. Air rasping back into her lungs, a black mote silhouette stood over her in the very familiar image of her husband. His head dipped frantically down at her, silently but anxiously assessing her injuries. A dull ring in her ears deafened her to the next cannon fire, but she could feel them let loose again. Jacob’s motes of black spiraled around her, weaving around her chest and legs, pulling her intangibly away.

Climbing first to her feet, then over the tattered body of Benezia, she followed Jakob’s image through the fray and out of the once again burning Riftmarch.

She finally collapsed to her knees when the black smoke of Riftmarch were left in the far distance. Jakob’s ghostly presence returned to her, buzzing around her cheek, her shoulder, forming into an image of him nudging her to keep going, before bursting into another frantic hive of particles. Her lids fluttered, watching him – what was left of him – buzz around her in fear.

Then everything went black.

Spirit Channeler

Apprentice

give me your hand in death

Spirit Channeler: Very literal to the common jest "I see dead people", LaLaurie truly does see the presence left behind by those who have passed. There are no white, spectral images that float weightlessly through the world in an ethereal beauty, but black particles much the opposite of motes of light. They cumulate like hives, crafting ambiguous shapes or the silhouette of those they once belonged too. While they primarily act on their own accord, separate entities from the woman who admires them, at times she may invoke their energy to do as she pleases (or they may offer her aid without provocation). At their least, they are simple and silent company (save for the shudder of their movements keen to those who hear it), or an incredible ally to a mare who otherwise cannot defend herself. She is never without an apparition, as her beloved Jakob lingers with her, haunting her waking hours and twilit nights.

-- Apprentice: At this stage, LaLaurie has simply retapped into the ability given to her by the gatorglass to bare witness to the dead. She can only see those within a small radius (two to three yards) of her or they become hazy (four to five) before disappearing entirely. They move on their own free will, do as they please, and act as they please. She has no control over them, but they are very much aware of her ability to see them. Jakob lingers close, and often acts as a guide for her. Others cannot see the spirits within her channeling presence, nor can they hear the shudder of their spectral energy.

-- Adept: The radius increases, her scope sharpening (up to seven or eight yards with clarity). Those whom she touches may share a glimpse through a window of her sight, and bear witness to the ethereal obsidian motes that showcase the specters living among them. Jakob at times may flash into others visions fleetingly (to the discretion of the other player, must be within the radius of LaLaurie's channel), shimmering seconds of a shadow that seems all too odd. At this stage, if required, she can offer them the necessary strength to act upon others. Trip them, ensnare their legs, or deter their path, but she has no control over them.

--Master Returning to the level at which she entered this realm, LaLaurie now can claim autonomy over the specters of the realm and beckon them to her silent call. When she invokes them to her command, their blackened motes/ambiguous shapes materialize for others to bare witness without the need of contact. She can harness their spirits for projectile weapons or a resisting force. When her powers manifest in any form, others may too hear the auditory shudder or buzz of the motes as they move (or the quite hum as they remain mostly static). She may also, however, dampen this connection, hiding them from view. Or vice versa.

--Vituoso: Whether they wish too or not, LaLaurie can compel the energy of the dead into an elaborate display or to flock to her in outstanding numbers. While they may still choose to act on their own accord, they cannot escape her lasso of abilities that bends their will to hers. It is quite tragic, sad really, for her sympathies for them are quite unending. Furthermore, those who will die within several minutes will radiate with black motes of life, offering her a fleeting glimpse into ones' tragic future. Her radius of sight - for others to see, for she sees them all eternally - can expand or contract to her desires. Where she had once been at the mercy of the powers imprinted upon her by the gatorglass, she now controls the supernatural connection she harvests with the afterlife.

Additional

Credits

Manipulation by aliyaahgrl
Pixel 1 by Kiwi/disgusted-noise
Pixel 2 by Kiwi/disgusted-noise
Reference by CasDean/teamsalvatore122
Manipulation by lupen-studios
Reference/Design by elegant--tragedy