Original title Face of the Past.
Caroleen Xavier was the fourth daughter of the village silversmith. Always a petite brunette with hazel eyes, she didn’t consider herself a beauty because of the smattering of freckles across her nose. She was a sturdy young thing and enjoyed working with her hands. She was given to the town’s blacksmith to wife when she was barely 19. Theirs wasn’t a love match, but a business arrangement to pay off her father’s debt for a horse. Gustav had come to love her and called her his little French wren. It sounded so elegant in her native tongue. Peu roitelet français. He said it with such pride and such adoration. She worked hard to please her husband and he lovingly cited her for being jaunty and jolly.
Caroleen was not educated, nor was she fancy. She was not a demanding woman, although she had high personal standards. The men of the village knew that she would have become a nun had not her father intervened. She was not the woman to trifle with other men, certainly. She became a central part of their small town as the wife of the blacksmith. She was often found carrying food or clothing to the poor. Others came to her for her wisdom even though she was quite young.
Although young, she was a devoted mother to her two children and was happily preparing for this third. Keeping her house immaculate and baking bread with two little boys running under her feet were taking a toll on her for in her pregnancy she was as big as the smithy yard. Her feet and fingers would swell somedays making walking and working painful. She was glad when her water broke three weeks earlier than the midwife expected for soon she could return to normal.
The last thing Caroleen remembered was the midwife’s voice,
“There is so much blood.”
Opening her eyes in the dark had been frightening at first, but soon she was floating on a dark cloud and rather enjoying the peace and quiet. Something was wrong, though, She didn’t hear the crying of a newborn and there was no light anywhere. Something was incredibly wrong. Suddenly she felt a sucking sensation, pulling her body down at a rapid speed, putting her in mind of water being poured from a bucket and she was the water.
Falling in a rush, cold liquid and then a new sensation, warmth. Then light. Then a man’s voice making a decree but in a language that she didn’t know. She listened with the sense that she should understand and this feeling of frustration, of inadequacy. She moved her finger, noticing that the sheet surrounding her was soft and her roughened fingers did not snag in the fabric. The man’s voice was pleading and more insistent. Caroleen felt sorrow for the tones of that voice and opened her eyes to see…
A strange man running his hands over her body, crying and pleading!
Caroleen sat bolt upright and screamed, covering her breasts with her arms. His face went pale and he jabbered at her and tried to embrace her. She struck out at him. Where was Gustav? She looked around the unfamiliar room frantically. No midwife, No children. What was going on? Where was she?
A voice inside her head said,
“You are dead. We both are dead and Ivan has made a mess of it.”
Caroleen stopped and looked around,
"Qu'est-ce qu'il y'a?
She inquired but it came out all strange,
“What is it?”
She shook her head, expecting to see her dark curls flying around her face, instead, she was shocked to see long wavy strands of strawberry blonde.
“I told you,” said the voice in her head, “You are dead and I am dead and Ivan has made a terrible mess of it.”
“Who, who are you?” she stammered in French.
“Where are you?” she stammered in French yet again.
“I’m trapped in here with you. Get used to it.”
Surprised to find that she could walk without a pregnant waddle, Caroleen stared in surprise at the silk gown she was wearing. A smith’s wife would never have any reason to dress so fine. She frowned in concentration at the length of her legs as well. A small squeak of shock escaped when she walked by a mirror to see that she was tall, willowy and blonde! She closed her eyes tightly and the voice said,
“I look pretty good for a dead woman.”
“I will be more than glad to return your body and be about my business,” Caroleen answered tartly.
“Not going to happen yet. My Ivan will continue until he frees me but until then, you are what is keeping me alive.” The voice answered sternly. “Be sure of one thing, he is MY Ivan so you keep our hands off him while you are in charge. Got that?”
“Mon Dieu!.” Caroleen shouted at the voice. “I want no man but Gustav and YOUR Ivan holds no appeal to me. Fine, we will keep our distance.”
The voice in her head was crying now. “What now?” Caroleen snapped.
“Poor Ivan. I love him so and he loves me. What a brave heart he has and how powerful he is to have conjured you. Just a boost is all he needs to banish you and release me to live forever in his arms.”
“Kind of inconvenient for living life, wouldn’t you say?” Caroleen replied wryly.
Ivan burst into the room and rushed about, packing his/their things. Caroleen stood quietly watching. When he grabbed her by the arm to usher her forth, she balked,
“Where are we going?” she demanded.
“We’re leaving,” was his terse reply.
Caroleen had no choice but to be led along like some errant child. They joined a young man in the taproom. Without a by your leave, she was stuffed into a public carriage and away they jostled.
Caroleen sat erect in the carriage next to the older man. She tried to keep a proprietary distance between them for he was a stranger. The voice in her head kept taunting her.
“You will not reject him or be vile to him.” The voice instructed, “but you will not enjoy his caresses in this fleshy temple either. Once he was young and handsome and oh so strong. It looks as if time has been long and unkind to him.”
“Make up your mind,” Caroleen muttered aloud.
“Ivan,” snapped the voice.
Caroleen squinted her eyes and looked out the window,
Ivan took her hand and gently gave it a loving squeeze. Tears welled in her eyes at the human touch. Caroleen had been married to a man old enough to be her father and she had learned to love him. The grey hair and the lines carved by time were not a deterrent to her forming a favorable opinion of the man, she decided. For her there was no longing for the companionship of a callow lad but she appreciated his mature looks.
“If you respond to him with our flesh, I swear I will make you fart.” Came the petulant voice.
“What is the date?” Caroleen ask, withdrawing her hand and placing it in her lap.
She could tell that her language, although English, was not the same as had been Teresa’s by the wry look on Ivan’s face. Rather, he was looking at her as if she had been a talking donkey. The carriage rocked along, a gentle sway marked by quick jerks and a bump or two.
Caroleen frowned at the gawking boy who was talking strategies and messages with Ivan. His eyes were much too obvious in their appraisal of Teresa’s body. Caroleen glanced down. Mother of God! In her life, her breasts never looked like that, especially after nursing her children.
“So you and Ivan never had children?” she asked the voice in her head.
“No, never did and never wanted any. I only wanted Ivan and he wanted me. No distractions and nothing to bind us to one place.” The voice snapped as if Caroleen were the stupidest creature on Earth. “You better help Ivan figure out a way to bring me to the forefront! I want to live again. You are worthless, nothing but a useless slug of a being. Why should you get to inhabit my beautiful body and be with my beloved Ivan. Although, he does look a little worse for wear. But if he can make me live and banish you to outer darkness, we can make him young and virile once more.”\
Some snippets of my part of the old rp. that is the character that I would play, but Caroleen desperately needs an alchemist to make her story come to life.