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[Open] [CW] Penance
Junior Member

28 Posts
4 Threads

Pronouns: She, Her
Age: 39
Occupation: Author
Height: 5'7"
Registered: Feb 2023

#1
CW - Some adult content.
____________________

She sat at the very back of the chapel that happened to be on the grounds she now owned. It was a ruined building, still bearing the scars of the fire that destroyed it long before her time. Despite it being part of the property, people were allowed to come and see the building, to look at it and how nature had taken back over. Trees hugged the walls, vines crept upward, and only small gaps could be seen where the charred stone was not overtaken.

Hortencia was there alone. It hadn't been a long trek to get there from the house she resided in, the outbuilding that lay on the property that would one day belong to Pearl.

She was reading a letter that had been sent to her old residence. Tilly, Pearl's maid, had sent the letter just after Hortencia made her journey back to Whitby. It was time, she thought. Pearl had gotten married to a young man who, by all accounts, was a good young fellow, and they didn't deserve to be cut off considering it was her own family that pushed her into the act of desperation. Tilly explained that she would no longer be part of the Carrington Employ as soon as she could find a replacement job.

This was the fifth time she had read the letter that day. She had already sent word to Tilly that she was now welcome to be part of this new chapter, and explained to her what she wished for the near future.

She smiled and folded the already worn looking page, tucking it into a tattered looking journal tome that began the story she wanted to tell Pearl. It was time for things to progress, and for Pearl to learn her true identity... But she wanted to ease it onto her, she didn't want to make it worse by her sudden appearance. It was a difficult task regardless of how she chose to proceed. 

Hortencia sighed and tucked the journal into the bag it usually resided in. Then she set it down and closed her eyes, tilting her head up to the rays of sun that filtered into the shell of the old. She wouldn't change the grounds, that would be up to Pearl and her new family to decide. She, herself, would not be around long enough to see it through anyways, but she did hope that a new chapel would be built and this one remain as it was, a landmark.

She was so very tired. The walk might not have been a long one, she could see her house off in the distance through the broken window if she looked. It was just that she couldn't make it that far at the moment, for her body hurt and was weary.

In that moment, the frail woman did not weep, for even though she was in a predicament, the excitement of revealing herself to her beloved child... well... it kept her going.

For now, she would sit on the broken stone floor on a blanket, enjoying the warmth of the sunlight as she thought about Pearl.
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Administrator

768 Posts
58 Threads
Registered: Jun 2019

#2
There was a noise outside, the snapping of a twig. Then light, even footfalls on the path outside. The creaking of the remainder of a door, as it was pushed to give easier access. A dark robed figure entered, its face hidden under a hood, and Hortencia could be forgiven if for a moment she thought the grim reaper had come for her. But the figure seemed not to mind her, perhaps not even notice her, and instead, with the click-clack of hard heels on paved floor, made its way to the middle of the transept and turned to face the cracked altar.

Here, rays of sunlight hit the creature, and the ‘dark robe’ was transformed into an elegant black silk dress and a black, tight-patterned mantilla over black hair. The lace fabric moved as the woman looked up to inspect the remains of the dome. “What an excellent place to revisit the ruins of the past,” her soft but clear voice echoed off the walls of the apse. The woman turned around, reached up, and pulled the mantilla down to her shoulders. Anne Carrington beheld the slender form of her past nemesis. “I was told I could find you here.”
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Junior Member

28 Posts
4 Threads

Pronouns: She, Her
Age: 39
Occupation: Author
Height: 5'7"
Registered: Feb 2023

#3
"Indeed, you're here. Unexpected yet not. You never were one for skulking. I did so admire you for that when I was... what I ought not to have been." She sighed and slowly stood, her form shaky with the effort it took to move. Hortencia, or Merrin, as the Carrington matriarch knew her, watched with calm eyes as the woman made her normal show. "Did you retrieve the jewelry your husband thought to give me? I never wore it and should never have held onto it for so long, but I wasn't sure how to... approach you, given the delicate nature of the situation." There was only honesty in her voice, which was soft and weak sounding. Anne would have no hard time discerning for herself that Merrin was a dying woman.

"I know you've gotten the hush money back. You might wish to hide it before Magnus drinks it away." She rolled her eyes upward, clearly loathing the man who had given her a precious child only to take her away. The anger of it started to show in her eyes but she, ever dignified even now in her older age.

Merrin was still beautiful, her beauty seemed timeless and she had not one wrinkle, nor gray hair in her own dark locks. She did look more mature from the mere slip of a woman she had been.

Then she moved to approach, her breaths starting to sound labored. She stopped, perhaps, halfway between Anne and the back of the church where she had been sitting. "I know I've done you a disservice, but you have to know that I was only one in a long string of women... Maids... Abigails.... whores... I saw the high turnover of the staff in the house and no doubt it was from him sticking his prig wherever he damn well pleased. Even now..." she trailed off... "It was said by the cook... Mary James... The woman you hand picked and has never made you displeased... that he entertained a whore just a few nights prior. I'd say I am surprised but why? He's not been faithful and he's probably got bastards scattered through the countryside." She snorted. She was exactly where Pearl got her talkative streak from. Especially when passionate.

She did square her shoulders, "I only want to right some wrongs before I find my last sleep. You did not deserve him, you deserved a man who could handle you being the lady that you are. Magnus is no gentleman."
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Victim

57 Posts
2 Threads

Age: 48
Height: 5'4''
Registered: May 2021

#4
The woman didn’t seem impressed. No shock. No surprise. No fear. Anne had carefully planned out and staged this dramatic entrance and… nothing? Her smug face soured.

Mary asked her about the jewellery, a subject that already irritated her – she had been seething with rage when she had found her suspicions confirmed in writing – but didn’t give her a chance to reply before she continued.

Oh didn’t this just take her right back to the days when this woman – girl, then – had lived with them? Anne had despised her, first for how her children had seemed more attached to this servant girl than to herself, and then for every other reason she could find, and especially this: her inability to hold her tongue. So often Anne had scolded and criticized the girl to the point of crying, threatened her with turning her out, belittled her in front of the children, for her inability to stop talking.

Pearl had the same aggravating habit. Anne had often thought it came from her father. Magnus would never shut up, especially after a few drinks. But now she remembered it was probably yet another vice passed down via her mother’s blood. Anne observed the woman. How she did resemble Pearl, even now that she was a woman fully grown. And Anne hated her.

She hated her for advising her on how to deal with the money and Magnus, as if she was the expert on living the every day hell with him. She hated her for approaching uninvited, apparently without the trepidation Anne had been able to inspire in her as a child. Anne hated her for telling her what Magnus had been up to as if Anne did not know what was going on in her own house. As if the further humiliation of other people knowing and telling her was a kindness. Anne hated her even more for the way the woman told her she hadn’t deserved Magnus. As if Anne needed to be told that she was too good for him. As if coming from this nobody, this whore, that was anything other than a condescension! Anne hated her because she was younger and more beautiful, even more so now that nearly twenty years had aged them both. All those feelings of jealousy, apprehension and resentment returned as the younger woman spoke and approached.

Perhaps it showed in her eyes, but Anne managed to get it under control and forced a smile, not a kind one, but a civil one at least. She lifted her chin so as to create some kind of illusion of looking down at the younger woman. “My dear, I don’t need you to tell me what goes on in my own home. You did always underestimate me. I knew then and I know now. But I assure you I have no interest in hearing the details of my husband’s debauchery so I’ll thank you to keep them to yourself. Now…” She walked over to a low window sill and after looking for a relatively clean spot, she sat down and gestured at the space next to her. If Mary insisted on crossing the distance between them, Anne rather made sure she invited her to do so first. “Why are you here?”
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Junior Member

28 Posts
4 Threads

Pronouns: She, Her
Age: 39
Occupation: Author
Height: 5'7"
Registered: Feb 2023

#5
She did not cross that much distance, preferring not to touch or be too close to the older woman. She sighed, knowing she had talked a great deal, but things had a way of bubbling forth when she was nervous. She moved to walk, her hand gripping as if for dear life on the cane that supported her. The woman stopped midway between where she had been and where Anne now sat. She was pale and clearly tired. When asked the million quid question, she straightened as best as she could and said, "I never wanted Magnus to begin with," she started cooly, her anger sounding directed at him, not Anne. "He cornered me in the garden and you know the rest of what happened from there. And then he paid me for my daughter. I never wanted that money. He took my choices away from me at every opportunity." She looked away. "I wanted to give you back what belonged to you and take back what is mine. My daughter. And I want Magnus to fall from his lofty throne." That was it. That was all there was to it. "What else am I here for? It's certainly not to lay claim on that man you are stuck with for a husband." She curled her lip and shuddered at the very thought, so disgusted and full of anger she seemed to be toward Magnus.
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Victim

57 Posts
2 Threads

Age: 48
Height: 5'4''
Registered: May 2021

#6
[CW: reference to assumed rape; victim blaming]

Anne tilted her head as she listened. Had Magnus forced himself upon her? Was that what she meant? Hard to believe Mary hadn't wanted it. Anne had seen how that girl had walked around the house as she grew up into a young woman, flicking her dark hair, swaying her hips to show off her graceful form, coy looks and blushes, clearly always trying to turn heads. She had been beautiful and she had missed no opportunity to show it off. But as for Magnus, Anne wouldn't put it past him. A shadow of disgust passed over her face as unwelcome images of him and her, images she had always tried to block as soon as they appeared, flashed before her mind's eye anyway.

But when Mary mentioned never having wanted the money, Anne managed to regain control over her mind through bitterness. She had taken the money all the same, hadn't she?! She had done a lot of things she now claimed not to have wanted. Anne was dying to point that out to the younger woman, but she bit her tongue. There was too much in the game to give in to the spiteful urges the other woman evoked. Indeed, although she felt the last comment like a slap, she grimaced through it.

She looked up at the former maid with a glimmer in her dark eyes. "Well then..." she spoke quietly. "It would seem that we want the same thing. Now, I will not insult your intelligence by pretending to like you. And you certainly have no reason to like me given how I treated you then. In my defense, Magnus made me miserable every day and I lashed out at many people as a result. As for your own mistakes, you were hardly more than a child who didn't know anything, and he was a grown man and he preyed on you. You didn't stand a chance. I do not hold what happened against you. Perhaps if you too can bury the past between us, you'll let me help you?"
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Junior Member

28 Posts
4 Threads

Pronouns: She, Her
Age: 39
Occupation: Author
Height: 5'7"
Registered: Feb 2023

#7
<cw> Victimized feelings, self-blame, self-degradation, heavy emotion.

"It isn't so much your help I've come for as to give you mine. I'm dying, I have no use for the income I've earned except to give my daughter a chance to do better for herself. It isn't her fault she was born." She paused and then looked at the woman who was once her nemesis thanks to her no-good husband. She said, "I was sick the day she was born, and he took her and just left the money like I was his whore. I deserved to be treated like that." She curled her lip, "He has a devil for a tongue. I couldn't even look at another man after him, I felt so ashamed." She shook her head and then cleared her throat.

"The money he gave me went to my career. I decided if I would take the money, I would give it back someday. I thought I'd give it to you instead, to give you power over him." She lifted her chin, her eyes glittering with deep anger and resentment toward Magnus, "I want to see him beg you for forgiveness before I die, that is how you can help me. I want you to take that idea of his when he gets it, and crush it for the bastard he is." She then closed her eyes and panted some, her heart fluttering heavily with tachycardia. It was making her feel lightheaded. She forced herself to calm down.

"I'm sorry," she said, then, and it was clearly meant, for her jaw was working and there were tears gathering in her eyes, though she fought to keep them in check.
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Victim

57 Posts
2 Threads

Age: 48
Height: 5'4''
Registered: May 2021

#8
Anne stood up and gestured at where she had sat. "Please sit down, Mary. You don't look well." And if the other woman allowed, Anne would help her sit down, before sitting down next to her, hand still on her shoulder. She squeezed it gently. "I'm so sorry to hear all that has Magnus inflicted on you. I knew he preyed on you, but I had no idea of how he treated you after. Of course he refused to say anything about it, and I was too afraid of him to press him. He just told me to raise poor Pearl as my own and would hear no more about it." She shook her head sadly and sighed. "I always assumed you had abandoned her. That was of course what he wanted. I should have seen through it. He's an animal. He's treated me worse than an animal would. I should have known he was cruel to you, that you were the victim, rather than let him play us out against each other... He will rue it."
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Junior Member

28 Posts
4 Threads

Pronouns: She, Her
Age: 39
Occupation: Author
Height: 5'7"
Registered: Feb 2023

#9
She didn't bother to correct on her name, Mary was acceptable enough anyway since it sounded a lot like her real name. She wasn't sure how to handle the hand on her shoulder, the compassion that came from the other woman after all the animosity that had led them to this point in time. Magnus deserved to be punished and having Anne on her side would help make that happen. She did sit down, she did rest. She really was tired and looked as if she had lived more than enough life for her lifetime. She might be lovely, but her eyes spoke of being older than she was at this point. Living a life of regret had done that to her and she wanted to make sure Pearl didn't have to live regretfully because of her parentage. She bit her lip and looked Anne in the eye, not crying but kind of letting her see she was truly remorseful for that part of their lives. She had never wanted this hell, nor the loss of the years with her daughter. She wished she had fought sooner, to be honest. "I don't want Pearl to know of me just yet, not as her mother. But that doesn't mean I won't facilitate Magnus' downfall." She paused for a moment, "I hope the sum I gave you is sufficient to facilitate as well." It was four times the amount that Magnus had dropped all those years ago. "It will not make up for the past, but it surely will go a long way to making some things right."
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Victim

57 Posts
2 Threads

Age: 48
Height: 5'4''
Registered: May 2021

#10
[CW: alleged domestic abuse]

Pearl... Pearl would be a tricky piece in this game. It was lucky that Mary did not want to reveal herself to the girl yet. It gave Anne some time to think about how to approach that difficulty.

Whether the sum was sufficient? Was it more than Magnus had given Mary at the time? Instinctively, Anne withdrew her hand. She didn't need this woman's pity. She didn't need her support. Not even to bring down Magnus. A shadow of anger passed over her face. Then it was gone. She could take the money for now, use it. Then when she had Magnus out of the way, she wouldn't need it anymore and would give it away as if she had never touched it.

"The problem is not money..." Anne downplayed the contribution. In reality it played a role, what with Magnus controlling the finances, even her private expenses these days. It had been her friends who had paid for her to see the lawyer so that her husband wouldn't find out. Having a hidden supply of money would give her more flexibility. "It's that he's a man, and the head of the Carrington family, of the business... People are afraid of him. I..." she paused for a second and closed her eyes. "Recently he hurt me real bad in a drunken fit. I was afraid." Her voice was a little higher and weaker than before. Her hands balled to fists in her lap. "I went to the police and they did nothing." She opened her eyes. A tear rolled down her cheek. She quickly took a handkerchief from her pocket and dabbed her eyes. Then she held it over her mouth. "I want him to pay, but he has so much support..."
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