It's a muggy night and perhaps not one of the best for street theatre. Etalarche intends to leave the Old District swiftly behind after dealing with Vane, an appointment in the Cove firing his treads, but a gay divertissement in the form of an impromptu stage nigh the lambent fountain, half a dozen players, and small crowd of late night revellers redirects his ambition and very briefly entrances him.
It's not a bad show. The audience is loving it. When Pantalone trips over the jester's discreetly jutted foot and flies into the glowing water, Bastion can barely make out the splash for the roar of laughter. Ten minutes later the mood has shifted and Leandro is embracing his darling servant girl and a hack off-stage is sawing passionately away at a fiddle-- Ah, but the strings change their mind, shrieking as Pantalone returns, incensed, dripping, and puts a wooden sword at Leandro's pale throat. Bastion finds himself settling more comfortably against a fishfrier's shuttered cart, grinning and digging a penny out of his anorexic purse. Two wee girl children - twins, he thinks distractedly, and no older than five, surely - rise and flee his proximity.
Does he cut such a terrifying figure? He'd regretted once how the children always found him so distasteful. Lyris loved children so, and she'd been anchored to a boogeyman. How often he'd had to watch the disappointment make her lips into strange shapes.
A figure parts from the merry throng and ambles lazily towards the ‘mancer. A young gentleman by the nice-cut tails on his dinner jacket. He must have lately come from some rich party. Sporting black silk cummerbund, cravat, and cufflinks of gold, he is quite the figure. His shirt glows white in the uncertain lambence. His clicking shoes mirror the sky. The only departure is his pale hair which spikes outwards and down like feathers. The wind ruffles it and a portion falls suggestively over his eyes. In one hand he balances a plate of steaming delicacies, in another a goblet of wine.
He draws near the man, but instead of continuing, he props his back against the same cart. “Snack?” he asks companionably. There is something odd about his voice. He must still be in puberty. A turned profile shows a long straight nose and smoothly planed cheeks. The boy’s mouth is pretty and full, and rather feminine. “I couldn’t eat it all by myself. I thought I’d take some with me, but now I find I’m full. Take the plate, if you want it.”
The necromancer resents the stranger's intrusion upon his delicate balancing act. He'd quite enjoyed alternating amusement at the play and loneliness over a lost love. It's doubly annoying that the tray smells so good and yet is far, far too suspicious to possibly be sampled.
"Thank you, sir, but no," he replies, watching. And he does watch the beautiful youth, leaving the climax of the show to the rest of the crowd and trading that performance for this other, more dangerous one. "If you are an assassin," he hears himself decide suddenly, softly, and yet unmistakeably irritated, "I am really not in the mood. Try again come morn and be more discreet. Again and again you lot disappoint me."
"Mmhmmhmm." The low ripple of his laugh is muted behind closed lips, so sweetly curved. “If I were your assassin, I would not speak. Long before now you would have showered the pavement with your life’s blood. And I would look quite different to you.”
The platter is set upon a barrel along with the untouched wine. The glass is brimming. The tower of food is beautifully constructed out of a variety of good things all fully enticing.
“I know you are hungry. You don’t trust me? I have eaten your food.”
Gloved hands come together to clap gently for the play. It is the polite thing to do.
...does he know this whelp? The whelp's scrutinized. It could be an illusion of the strange, incandescent fountain waters, but there seems for a heartbeat to be a patina of silver over the necromancer's black eyes, like glimmering lambence tears. He blinks it away and with it goes his sour expression, settling instead into a calculated apathy.
"My familiar was lax in its duties," he murmurs mostly to himself, trying to ignore the food. It feels like he's being instructed to eat it and he hates being told what to do. "Hello, Sheila." The necromancer claps too, save only his fingers come together. "You had such lovely breasts. The world is a little dimmer now that those two pale orbs have set."
“I’m not going to flash you to prove you wrong, but they are there.” The youth stretches languidly, folding her arms to make a cushion behind her head and crossing her legs at the ankle. They are miles long, those legs, sheathed in straight black pants with a sharp crease. Her waistline is low and slinky to. But the cut of the jacket makes it seem higher. It conceals other things too.
She does not say anything else about the food, nor does she cease to smirk. She is quite enjoying her little joke.
“Ratcatcher, why are you afraid of poison? I thought that was your tool. Did someone steal it from you? What happened to your chaperones?”
That's right. Their little game comes back into focus. It has been a few weeks, after all. He was playing a character for her and she for him, and what a pleasant distraction it had been back when he could afford to be distracted. She's inconvenient now but he still has no desire to be more cross with her than she deserves. The bold dreamling is likeable.
He creeps closer. Yes, the line of her breasts is evident. He remembers awakening in his bed at the inn and finding her asleep at his elbow, her chest crushed into his bicep, warm and moist and redolent. Ah, he'd nearly kissed her mouth then just because the crime would have gone undetected. Now though..?
Mm, the memory is shaken off quickly and he scowls. Of late he has been so unnaturally and uncharacteristically salacious of thought. "Poison is not my tool, my dearest joy," he answers at last, "Your insinuation wounds me. Rather it is the tool of my enemies and frequently of late is it wielded against me - or those around me. My dear chaperones are dead. Apercu and Olive? Slain. Lady Rebecca endures, thank the stars. Do you miss her so? Have you returned to his unfashionable plane to take tea with her? She may find you more interesting in that attire, sir, if you plan to woo her. She is quite wealthy. I'd have her for myself but I've other obligations."
She hears him but not so much the words he speaks. Her thoughts circle like vultures around something else.
“You’re not glad to see me. I should have brought pipe weed and a bottle of brandy. But I will leave you with these and go, if you like. If you like, I’ll take them too.” She puts her knuckle in her mouth and bites through to the skin. Bastion must realize then the food was not an attempt to fatten him up or mock him, she was being thoughtful. Now that she’s seen his mood, she would ease it if she could. Although, he is still a liar in the middle of it. “There’s a great party I just came from. If you like, I’ll take you there. You might meet someone you know.”
“It’s normal for women to dress like this in some places. Did you not know? It’s considered classy, for food workers, for entertainment sometimes and for show. Bring Rebecca, if you wish. You know I hate her, though.”
His head strikes the cart with a resigned thud and he squeezes his eyes shut. "At'gweeee," he moans, "I see now. You have fallen in love with me. I cannot blame you. I am spectacular. But please, strange one, I will only hurt you. It is best that you do what you can to quash these great emotions you have for me. Do not invite me to a party. Do not be kind to me. Do not love me, Sheila! I am a cad!"
A few harsh ssshs! sound from the back row of the rivetted audience. Up on stage the exact opposite of Bastion's plea is being recited by a smitten Leandro.
The woman says nothing for a moment. She takes her hand out of her mouth and brushes the hair from her eyes. Their color in this light is uncertain. They are perhaps blue, with a hint of green. She regards the blackguard very seriously with them and comes off the wall to murmur low in his ear. White gloved fingers splay prettily across his bony shoulder. The audience must not be disturbed.
“Your profession defaults you as one of the worst individuals I have ever met. You are crude, impatient, imperious, selfish, lying, substance-dependent, foully irreverent, a dabbler with demons, half insane, skinny as an old crow and shabbily dressed.” The smile returns accented by an arched brow. “I do not love you. I have my own reasons for being kind to you.”
She removes herself a hand’s breadth. “There, are you happy?”
"Yes," he replies, breaking into a smile, "I like that much better. What has a man save his reputation and the weight of his bad name? Though I say, this coat was seven fucking squares of gold." Eight years ago. He bats at his lapel half-heartedly.
"You must have great need, then, to bear my unacceptable presence. Thank you for diminishing yourself before doing so, then. I otherwise might have actually felt some disappointment or sense of loss upon learning of your dislike. This boy I see before me however - this exciteable milksop who melts like butter beneath the warmth of others' awareness - his loathing does not distress." He inclines his head just so, lowers his smooth chin, and snaps at her splayed hand, teeth audibly clacking but eyes alight with merry fire. He suddenly looks more alive.
A delicacy is plucked from the tray and sniffed at.
What flowery poetry the necromancer spouts. He is a strange being to require gaping pot shots taken at his ego before being able to behave normally. Perhaps it is because he is used to it. She cannot come up with any other reasons besides acclimation, for the other option would be he has a monstrous bad opinion of himself and his ego says nay to that.
The offending hand is removed. She hides it behind her back with its fellow. A shifting of stance and she is once again leaning indolently, but with one foot stood upon the other. Slight nervousness, perhaps?
”I couldn’t find anything wrong with the food.” She shrugs. “Ate like a pig for I don’t know how long, but then you know my makeup and what it does.”
“Do you know of a man named Draygothe? A princely exile of advancing years? He gets well about the planarverse, from what I hear.”
"Alas, I do not," says he around a mouthful of what tastes like very salty sausage but is probably ground chimera and leeches and the gods know what else. He licks his lips and grabs another tasty amuse bouche anyway. The wine is claimed too and he quaffs like a camel. "While I have knowledge of planewalking, my dear, I am yet mortal and it would be folly to spend my short lifetime spreading my attention too thinly about the multiverse. It is all we unfortunate bastards can do to master our home plane before our patron god or goddess has lovingly embraced us to their bosom again. Therefore I only travel the planes when I have some specific need, and am rarely in the right place at the right time to hear all the juiciest planar gossip and meet all the most important planarversal figures. My. This is chocolate, I think." He takes two more.
"Is that where you have been? With this Draygothe? I don't blame you for abandoning me then. Playing consort to a prince is a step up in the world. This..." He waves a gloved hand over the tray indicatively. "All I could give you was stale pastry."
“It came free with the party. You should look for it sometime before your death, which I’m sure will be untimely and warranted. So, all the better to skip out right before.”
There, now she has done her part to proselytize for the show.
“That is only where I have been recently. I couldn’t name to you the other places I have been since leaving. I don’t remember them all. Draygothe, though, yanked me straight out of oblivion and smack into Out of Time with free food. I wish I knew how he did it, or how he knew the things he knew. It rattled my cage. A lot. So I am here. I’m going to try to be human for a little while, and see how long I can make it last. Are you still in that stuffy inn?”
"No. I'm now in a stuffy mansion. The food is better but the company has deteriorated. No one will speak to me civilly save the servants and the local paladins keep trying to assassinate me. I am not bored at least."
As she expounds upon Draygothe, Etalarche really does wrack his swiss cheese memory and try to locate some stray mention of the man. He's a little more planar than he claims to be, having a number of useful connections in the Cage, the knowledge bank of the Ilganyag 'round his throat, and the months he'd spent scouring the multiverse for Lyris' cure, but the name eludes him. Still, this 'prince' sounds extremely knowledgeable and knowledge will always be something that the necromancer covets.
"I think I have heard of this place... It operates on an isolate timeline and it is full of food and erudite individuals? Aye, it is storied among my kind, but I would not know how to locate it. I haven't your intuitive ability with planeshifting, my love. I use base portals and trinkets. Prince Draygothe sounds as though he is fond of you. I would not squander the attention and good will of such a powerful being. Appreciate it, take adventage of it, or give it to me."
At'gwe, why would she be human? Humans are arguably the most dynamic, versatile race and yet its lows are so low they quite overcrow the highs. "Better that you should be a dreamwalker again," he opines, "Basking in all those things we mortals dream of but never attain. Better those illusions than this reality of failures and disappointments."
“You are welcome to his attentions,” she says quietly. “They scare me.” They even scare her more than Etalarche’s, which is saying something. Knowledge is power. With Bastion’s rudimentary understanding of her workings, he is dangerous, but Draygothe’s understanding is more complete than her own. How could she begin to defend herself? She can only hope that the aims both men have are for her good and not her downfall.
“I will never cease to be a dreamwalker. But you of all people know what unhappy things can be found on that sea’s other side.”
“At least if I stay, you will have someone to talk to. I do, or do not have to be Miss White. You will have trouble explaining me either way. I could live apart from you in the city, but I would change. It’s up to you.”
"You can be whomever you wish, Sheila. Remain in that ridiculous outfit and play my catamite, if it will amuse you. I care not." With Apercu and Olive dead, the only watchdog in immediate proximity is Lady Rebecca - and try as he might, Etalarche cannot make himself fear that woman's presence.
Sheila could be convenient. He'd sought her out that night because he'd been certain she could prove very useful to him. When he'd lost her he had lost enthusiasm for the plan as well, and decided to focus on more manageable tools. If she's come back to him on her own however, and has concocted her very own reason to remain... Why, it's almost suspiciously convenient. The possibilities, now, are positively intriguing, and he'll not chase her away. He can't afford to dispose of anything or anyone that might benefit him at a crucial moment.
"You want to be more human, Sheila, and though I don't like the notion I can support it for your sake. Stay with me a while and I will make a woman of you. Perhaps you will find my present endeavours entertaining."
She is relieved. Her chin tips up, washing her face in lambence and starlight. How could skin be so perfect?
“Good. I will stay as I am for now. You will call me Sheila Winter. I will come and go as I please at all hours of the day and night. You can explain me as a tawdry starlet who is paying you a percentage of her nightly take in exchange for the relative safety of your borrowed roof. I amuse you, do I not?” There it is again, the smile, although now it has lost some brio. “If Rebecca recognizes me, say whatever you like. A catamite I refuse to be, because it would make you even more hated.”
“What is it you are doing now?”
He pushes off the cart and offers his arm. Mostly out of habit.
"I gather hatred like lint!" he snarls happily and it doesn't matter now if he raises his voice for the play is over and the crowd is applauding and shouting joyous obscenities up at the rickety stage. Bastion finally has the opportunity to toss his penny and does so with gusto. "Hatred is a valuable asset for we are always most reckless against those enemies of ours we most loathe. But have it your way, Miss Winter." Of course she amuses him but she doesn't need to know that.
"Remember how I told you that I am to perform extermination duties for his Majesty (I am, by the way, flattered that you remembered our little adventure while forgetting so many others)? I must daily travel beneath this city we are now in - it has the ludicrous name of Hanghorse - and endure a vast, frightful cavern of undead creatures that imagine themselves civilised. I am to report to his Majesty methods that may be used to eradicate these monsters and reasons why this should or should not be done. I am like a researcher, my pet. It would be a posh appointment save I wronged the police of this city not very long ago and they hate me - they hate me so much that they are reckless, in fact, and their attempts to undo me have consistently failed. They cannot overtly slaughter or detain me because I have his Majesty's temporary pardon. They are positively constipated with fury. I adore it. Come."
The words roll out of him enthusiastically and she has little to say in their wake. She thinks if there is one rotten thing she can’t say about him, it is that he’s stingy. Only paupers can be so magnanimous. She threads her arm with his and offers no complaint. Wherever they are going she is content, but a bed to sleep in would not go amiss with her now. She can feel her body beginning to tire.
“I think they fail because you are paranoid. I will likely remember you for a few years, if nothing else. You say you must travel underground?” Yes, there is something down there far away. She can hear an echo of the undead things beneath once she knows to listen for it. Ugh! This is no good. When the earth is rotten, it can only bode ill. “Have you been down before? I have visited some places maybe similar.”
He's not stingy? He hangs on to the empty goblet and tray because they look valuable, pocketting the former and swinging the latter lightly in his free hand. Sheila is a welcome warmth against his ribs and he can't be sorry for her reappearance.
His appointment in the Cove is going to hate her though. They'll have to wait until he's shown her up to his room and tucked her in and told the staff she's not to be molested. Oh, well. At least he is not bored.
"I was underground earlier today as a matter of fact. There dwells a powerful wraith named Palon who is causing trouble in that city and in this one and nigh everywhere, really. He endures me and I enjoy him though he is so stiff and joyless and tense I doubt one could have slipped a coin between the cheeks of his arse when he yet possessed solid buttocks. Ah, I hope you do not mind that I am so vulgar now, Miss Winter. These larger cities do nothing at all for my sense of propriety."
A few dirty looks are shot the pair from the women. The men studiously ignore them as they leave the square. For all appearances Sheila was a male prostitute who had approached and successfully been accepted by an unsavory looking man. Now they were off to do bad things. Eeeew. What is society coming to?
Of course, as they enter the street they do not look so much like that as a slightly drunken pair of young fellows taking a jaunt to another inn. The way the elder waves his empty tray is evidence enough.
“You get your point across,” says the younger. “I am far more concerned with the company you keep. I don’t think I have ever met a wraith, or at least I do not remember it. I have met plenty of ghosts and other undead. I don’t keep track of the distinctions between them. So perhaps I have, I simply didn’t care at the time except it was one more thing to cross blades with.” _________________ "You push me, I push back. He pushed me into real world, so I brought him down here." ~Master Control Program~ Tron
Sun Dec 03, 2006 7:17 pm
GlassShard By the Hoary Hosts!
When Bastion starts caring what other people think about whatever it is he's doing, he'll have to change professions. Until then the staring plebeians of this shitstain of a township may all hang themselves.
"Do you attack the undead by default?" he wonders, pursing his lips, "Aye, aye, you probably do at that. Daughter of a god if not something of a divinity yourself... Unfortunate either way. Death is a great devourer of power and of knowledge; some men would work to preserve both, borrowing it from the dead and putting it towards their own endeavours. Their endeavours are not always so wholesome of course, but every now and then you'll find a necromancer with a good head on his shoulders and life goals that delve a little deeper than the mere subordination of the nearest land mass. In any event, it isn't wise to destroy the undead merely for being undead. You never know under whose directives they are acting. Of course, defending yourself against an assault upon your lovely flesh is a matter of course. Even then, though, I prefer to subvert rather than to destroy."
Sheila's arm is hugged closer. They progress rapidly over the quickly deteriorating cobblestones of the fountain courtyard until the necromancer leads them through a fancy granite arch and down a very nice street lined with dark, pretty cottages. A few blocks to the north lies the ruins of his and Lyris' last domicile. He really ought to go and survey it, but no doubt the ruins were long ago swept up and confiscated by the Eye. He'd find nothing there save memories he would rather keep at arm's length for now.
"Sheila, I suspect that learning 'distinctions' might be very healthy for you; not only the distinctions between the disembodied and the decaying, but between living men, too. Do you remember Apercu? It disturbed me very much when you left with him, and were then so pliable (literally and figuratively) to his whims. I do not think you recognised what he was. You did not... understand the distinction between myself and him."
Sun Dec 03, 2006 7:58 pm
Biorach Coffee Sprite
Is that a blush painted delicately across porcelain cheeks and the bridge of her nose? Close as he is, he can feel the heat radiating off her skin. She had begun to lean into him as was natural, one drunk leaning against another. Their hips brushed and briefly joined. Their shoulders converged and her long shanks lock-stepped with his. But when Bastion brings up the topic of her bad behavior she corrects her posture and detaches from his side. He is left with only the loose contact of a casual arm.
Her embarrassment runs very deep. She had forgotten until now. “I saw you as different but I mistook the manner in which that difference would manifest. Apercu had things hidden in his heart that made his face a deception. You have something in your character which belies your public show.”
“Yet there is no excuse,” she bows her head. Her hair makes a screen for her eyes. “Draygothe rebuked me for the same thing. Only, he had other more recent incidents in mind.” She cannot believe she is speaking thus. To admit her vulnerabilities to two men, mages no less, in one day is incomprehensible and dangerous. But how can she cover what has already been exposed? To evade this issue will continue her misery and end eventually in death. “I have been foolish.”
Several streets pass and she is quiet. Stumbling on a broken cobble reminds her to keep aware. She picks her head up and forces herself to take note of their surroundings. She is disinterested in the neighborhood's change. But when the way is smooth she speaks again.
"You must understand, I am a creature of instinct. I must act quickly in order to win and live. Tolerating the undead in the past has proven a fatal mistake. If there is not a confrontation now, there will always be one later. I do not like those kinds of surprises. I'd rather shut them down while I'm thinking about it, and not get caught unawares." _________________ "You push me, I push back. He pushed me into real world, so I brought him down here." ~Master Control Program~ Tron
Sun Dec 03, 2006 9:21 pm
GlassShard By the Hoary Hosts!
"Creature of instinct," he repeats thoughtfully, enjoying the echo of his voice in this lonely night air, "You are of an age, I think, where it was necessary to cling very fervently to conceptions limned in black and in white. You destroy or you succour. You gorge or you starve. And yet it seems that you are very transient, hopping spryly from world to world the moment that your black and white conceptions are challenged. This is a way of preserving yourself of course, as you said, but do you wish merely to survive or do you want to evolve? You must stop forgetting, Sheila. Knowledge is power and yet you allow all of your vast immortal knowledge to fall away from you like shed skin. Cling to it however, and allow layers to build, and soon you will have an armour like none other, impenetrable, keeping others out and you well and safe inside."
It's horrifying, really, how careless she is with her experiences. He wants to shake her fiercely. Doesn't she realise how precious all of it is?
"You remind me of the very old vampires," he continues, grumbling a little, "Many of them succumb to ennui or stagnation, ending themselves because they have become so intractable. Successful immortals are not afraid of change.
"A change in perceptions and values and culture, of course," he interrupts himself, laughing a little, "You enact physical changes readily but how often is that reflected here?" Her forehead's flicked sharply. "Oh, your Draygothe does sound clever. Perhaps he is a future version of myself gone quite philanthropic. How dull."
Sun Dec 03, 2006 10:27 pm
Biorach Coffee Sprite
The girl appears very sorrowful as she listens to this lecture, until he gets to the part about vampires and then she looks indignant. Of all the insults she heard in her life, this is the worst! Her lips press together tightly and her frown is severe. But the man adds injury to insult by flicking her forehead and there she pulls up short.
“Stop it. Do you hear yourself? You are so condescending!” Her arm is retrieved from his. She crosses her two arms across her breast and stares the man in the face. Except, the eye contact only lasts two seconds. Her gaze slides down his mouth and chin to plant itself in his chest.
“What do you know of successful immortals? And how could you say any version of yourself is capable of being dull?”
She could burn a hole in him with her resentment. Not that he deserves it all. There are things she has not said that have been building for years. But he is very convenient right now. She resorts to womanish disclaimers.
“You don’t know what goes on in my head. You barely know me at all. The only reason you do know me is pure coercion and you are not being fair at all.” _________________ "You push me, I push back. He pushed me into real world, so I brought him down here." ~Master Control Program~ Tron
Sun Dec 03, 2006 11:29 pm
GlassShard By the Hoary Hosts!
"You are an explosive, instinct-driven creature." He touches her face hesitantly, as though stroking a stray dog with an uncertain temperament. "Didn't you come back for this? My condescension? My capacity to occupy your mind; to challenge you? I can go back to playing the charming courtier, darling, but then I think you would run away again, bored."
It's almost aggravating. She barges back into his life and then condemns him for being himself? Fie. Somehow he thinks she should have a better understanding of what and who he is, nevermind the role he'd played for her in Usther or the role he'd so quickly devised for her there-- he is Etalarche! She saw the beast in the dreamworld. Doesn't she see the beast here in the waking world? Why act so offended? So surprised?
He sighs, massaging his wrist absently and continuing on at a quick clip without looking back. She'll follow. "You are not so innocent, Miss Winter, that such offense should be taken at the suggestion that you are reminiscent of an ancient vampire. Where did the gold and the jewels come from that night at the inn? Did you kill for them or merely lie and steal? I don't care which, but I will like you less if you are a hypocrite - and that would be a shame for I do like you. You brought me food and company. Come now, don't be so cross with me." He pauses and turns quickly back to face her, his fingers rising to trace the smoothness of her cheek. His hand smells of its leather glove and of blood, and the glow of a streetlamp sits like a rakish cap on his head of dishevelled black hair.
"I've known many immortals," he adds, suddenly almost tender of tone, "Too many. So many that I begin to think immortality is wasted on the wrong individuals. Do not misuse nor squander these endless days you are given, little lost goddess. Such waste moves we mortals to despair."
They are a strange pair to so boldly brave the broad courtyard that sits before the governor's mansion. Neither of the guards at the front gate have moved to accost the gentlemen yet but there are two sets of eyes fixed unflinchingly upon them.
Mon Dec 04, 2006 1:24 am
Biorach Coffee Sprite
“I came because you are flexible and completely fearless. You remember me and you have a sharp mind.”
“Still, you don’t have to talk about me as if I were some primitive life form below you on the evolutionary scale. I don’t know how you can do that and call me a goddess at the same time.”
She did not smell the blood on him as much as she felt its uncleaness in his touch. A muscle moved in her cheek.
“Yes, I steal. No, I do not want you to pretend.”
Her impulse is to tell him it wasn’t her he saw that night. It was another skin with a different mind. But to try and think of her other selves with all their contradictions, and at the same time keep the mind of the one she is, is hopelessly confusing. She is not ready for that.
Her arms unfold with a sigh and she looks to the mansion. “Is this formidable thing where they’ve put you?” The guards at the gate do not make her easy. She does not worry so much about them as wonder if this architectural monstrosity is haunted. She will not say anything about it lest the necromancer accuse her of whining. _________________ "You push me, I push back. He pushed me into real world, so I brought him down here." ~Master Control Program~ Tron
Mon Dec 04, 2006 3:17 pm
GlassShard By the Hoary Hosts!
"Perhaps, poppet, I can do it because I do not think much of gods or goddesses." He looks irritated. So does she. Neither are likely to back down from the other and one of the gate guards wonders if there'll be a fistfight before this mad argument is finished. More like a hair-pulling match, probably, considering the looks of these waifish fops. "Gods are some of the most destructive things man has crafted for himself; fantastic inventions that hinder and harm rather than help. If you be a goddess truly, it explains why you are-- hmm. Actually, nevermind."
"Nevermind is right," snaps one of the guards at last, "I'll thank you not to blaspheme on the streets of my city, skull pilot. Get inside if you be gettin'; elsewise kindly move along."
"Must I do it kindly?" Etalarche puckers his lips as though tasting lemon. Now that they are upon it, the mansion looks as inviting as the chopping block. What he wouldn't give for a holiday - however brief - from this wretched city. "Precious," he hears himself exclaim against his better judgment, "Take me to this party you had mentioned. Let me speak with your clever prince. Let me eat from a buffet of which mine enemies have never conceived and drink and drink and talk and drink. Indulge me, goddess, and I will worship you."
"Fuckin' poofs," complains the guard beneath his breath.
Mon Dec 04, 2006 10:49 pm
Biorach Coffee Sprite
The fader wonders if she has yet told the necromancer her theory on mages. She doubts it would faze him much. She would like to push the mage to finish his sentence about goddesses and tell her exactly what it is he thinks, even though wisdom counseled silence. The remark about blasphemy stops her from picking that up. Better to avoid outside trouble now. She doesn’t yet understand this city. It’s grey without trees. There is no spicy scent of wood, only the dust of rocks and the reek of fish. The lambent fountain had been pretty but she has seen glowing water before.
At Etalarche’s suggestion, something shifts subtly in her manner. “I’m loth to take you anywhere in your present mood. Come inside. Let’s put a chill on our tempers and then we’ll go.”
Her words are still a reprimand but her eyes pat down ruffled feathers, sweet and cajoling. She ignores the glowering doormen as they let the two miscreants in. As the heavy doors close, her fingers wander and lightly take hold of Bastion’s sleeve. She draws him after her, not up the grand marble stair to splendid rooms above, not down the corridor to dining hall and rooms of state, neither to the gilded parlors and receiving rooms on either side, but straight into the coat closet.
There are several stuffy fur coats, woolen coats, cloaks, and umbrellas hanging there. Sheila closes the door behind them for there is a lambence globe set into the ceiling that sheds enough light to see by. And now, if the man did not already think her mad, she takes his hands and pulls him down on the floor, under the coats. A stray garter belonging to one of the maids is already there, a testimony that this site’s been put to good use before. But Sheila does not have necking or anything of the sort in mind.
“Relax, please,” she says. “I’m not good at taking people with me. I’ve only done it once or twice before. It would help if you were sleepy or delirious.” It sounds funny, but her face is serious. “I came out in an antechamber, last time. But there was a coat closet nearby. I’m aiming for that now.” _________________ "You push me, I push back. He pushed me into real world, so I brought him down here." ~Master Control Program~ Tron
Tue Dec 05, 2006 5:26 pm
Biorach Coffee Sprite
"Your lack of confidence in your abilities is not conducive to my relaxing." All the same he doesn't yank his sleeve from her grasp nor object to this marvellously dramatic cloakroom. It reminds him of younger days and curvier women and whiter magick and bright stars, he can almost taste the wine. A furtive kiss is put on her knuckles, but he's grinning so fiercely there's more teeth than lips in the gesture.
"Such a practical creature to beeline for the cloak room when teleporting into a party. Most would have to put themselves in a position to be announced. I like your approach. It's more fun to crash."
But even fun and games are no reason to be completely ill-prepared for disaster. Etalarche pulls his collar back and tickles the silver torque beneath, finding minute glyptic indentations with practised fingernails. The band, then the insides of his cheeks smoulder scarlet, each pore popping red than extinguishing. He blows a ring of smoke in Sheila's face. It smells like woodsmoke and cloves and mouthwash. "If you are leading me to my demise, I forgive you. I would lose an arm for the opportunity to leave this city for an hour. I would lose an eye. Let us fly before someone notices I'm going. Come, come!"
She might as well have commanded a scrappy eight-year-old to tuck himself in as ask this man to nod off. “Incorrigible,” she sighs. Her angelic nose twitches as she inhales his smoky breath. She can’t put her finger on it but for some reason the combination of smells make her hungry.
“Hold on to me.” She frees one of her hands from his grasp and removes a glove with her teeth. Cool fingers caress his eyes closed. And then she cheats. Bastion’s mind spins as if she’d taken his brain out and whirled it like a top. She does not change anything or take anything so much as cause him some disorientation and blur his sharpest perceptions. It makes him giddy as if he were both sleeping and awake.
The sensation only lasts a few seconds. When it ceases, everything is same…almost. The coats are there, and the woolly smells. It is darker. But Sheila has not moved. Low and mostly muffled by the clothes there is music leaking under the door. The fader takes her hand from Bastion’s eyes. It is difficult to see, but her garments shimmer faintly in the dark.
Sleep is something best avoided lately. The nightmare creature is petty and Bastion doesn't care as much as he once did about making it behave. When his eyes are made to close he nearly snarls a protest, half-raising a hand to crack Sheila across the jaw - the casting of unasked for spells upon his personage is an offense he finds particularly insulting. The vertiginous sensation that follows isn't a magickal soporific however and he's suddenly too occupied with mad-nothing-somethingness-- falling backwards but there's no painful thunk of panelling against his crown-- are his knees locked or unlocked or above his head or in his other coat?
Someone laughs merrily but very secretively. Ahh? Ah... that would be one of his drunken post-coital noises; a sound he's not heard his larynx produce in nearly a decade. The chuckle rises out of him like another ring of smoke and he frowns at it, opening his eyes to the darkness.
Instinct and practise delve backwards through his thoughts. The old name, sisters, favourite colour questions are asked of his memory, answered to his satisfaction, and Bastion decides he is still Bastion.
"What have you done to yourself?" he whispers, licking his lips. He brushes a shadowed, shimmering breast with the back of his knuckles, cocking his head. Yes, there's music. It's too good to belong to any Hanghorse musicians. She was successful. "I should have changed into something less pedestrian. I am not dressed for controversy-- where's the bloody-- ah." Breast is abandoned for doorknob and he wrenches it and pushes outwards.
Yes, it tickles. A giggle doesn’t surprise her, although she doesn’t know what else it might mean. The door falls open on oiled hinges. Light pours in. They have come out in the same paneled hallway Sheila came upon before. Ornate double doors are propped open on the ballroom. An announcer in velvet coat stands at attention, ready to herald each new arrival. Out on the floor couples spin. The party has progressed after its own fashion. The orchestra is in full swing. Sheila slinks out of the closet after Bastion.
What has she done? She has done what has been asked of her. She has also discarded her tuxedo in favor of an evening gown. It’s not according to the death mage’s tastes, but her own. The fabric is a glittering emerald hue. Silver beadwork sprays the breast and makes tendrils down the whole. Draped moderately across the front, it dives low in the back, criss crossed with spaghettis. The sleeves are also mere strings of beads. Rather than a belling skirt, front and back are each a straight panel with the slides slit alarmingly. She wears with it crisscrossing silver heels and to accommodate her companion, has moderated her own height to be nice. More curves are evident under the fabric as well.
“Buffet tables are to the right.” She points him hither and guesses she will be left in the stampede.
The bull isn't stampeding yet - he's distracted by the cow.
What a cow. A shapely cow. A shapely cow with an active imagination who has done the impossible and conjured a garment even more ridiculous than the black and white penguin suit she'd been wearing before. Aye, it is so absolutely ludicrous that he can't take his eyes off it, lured and captured by the scintillating green before the fine corridor has registered or the double doors or the fragrance of food being very warm and very near and very free. Etalarche stares at the evening gown the way primitive man must have stared at rainbows, realising suddenly that colours could come in intensities he'd never before imagined.
"Is this..." He clears his throat and gathers a grimace on one side of his face, looking momentarily like a stroke victim, "The fashion here? Were a woman to walk into royal ballroom in Valyne wearing that she'd be burned alive whether on my arm or no. Actually, they'd be leaping for her while letting the death mage escape through the window. Yyalfhe'le ssek ik me."
He's wearing a black broadcloth suit that was adequate enough to visit a vassalich or a secretary back in Hanghorse but feels thin at the elbows and dusty at the skirts here against this shimmering glamour of a dress that Sheila has magicked. At least he gets to be taller. His arm's offered when the steward is sighted for they have arrived as a couple, damnit, and he wants for his own whatever prestige Sheila commands here. They'll be announced as one.
"We should make love before we part ways," he suggests very quietly in her ear, "For your sake. I'm embarassed for you - going to such lengths to seduce me. We can go back in the cloakroom now, if you like."
Not even the barest hint of a blush touches the polished features of this girl, or woman as is evident enough. “It’s a dress.” Her bare shoulders shrug, causing the fabric to twinkle like stars. Coming closer to the doors, he can see that even her skin is suffused with a warm twinkling, as if the sun had kissed her milky skin. “You should get out more. The mode of dress you favor is out of fashion in many of the worlds I travel and have my being. Can you understand why I hate the clothing of Sharteshane now? Heavy skirts remind me of my childhood, but I can hardly move in them.” She shakes a leg and demonstrates the exquisite freedom risqué fabric slashes give.
“Don’t worry.” Her arm is threaded through his. Her lips twitch in what’s almost a wicked smile. “There are other yokels here. Shie'lieah Ruskolan and Etalarche.”
The last is for the announcer. He turns stiffly and bellows their names to the assembly. Hardly any heads turn when he does. So much for fame.
That's just disappointing. Someone should at least gasp! What is wrong with these people?
"Fashion," he scoffs, shaking his head violently and setting his disarrayed mop into even more of a tangled mess. "Fashion fades, Miss Ruskolan-Winter-White. Style is eternal."
He hasn't sparkling beads nor skin that looks like milk glistening with specks of creamy butter, but he has a smile that can knock doors down and two dazzling eyes that charm and mock all at once. About as well-dressed as most of the attendees' butlers, he still manages to glide into the room as though he owns the place and holds a majority of stock in the affairs of everyone dancing inside.
"The problem with this 'dress' as you call it, and I only use this term of yours to be polite, is that it relies too much on the skin beneath. Where is the artistry? It's a drape with some glass sewn into it. The Cove whores wear more beneath their dresses than you have presently on your entire malleable body. Besides, you're distracting. All I want to do is squeeze is your ass and stick my tongue down your throat. If women in Sharteshane dressed like this civilization would lurch backwards a thousand years. At'gwe, these are terrestrian swallow eggs! Bloody fifteen silver apiece. I've not had them in twenty-five years." Exactly eighteen of them are removed from their platter and stuffed in his pocket. They require a special instrument to crack. They'll be safe. "Where is the wine?"
“Snag a waiter for the wine.” Those penguin suits he mocked are the bearers of good things. Bastion does not have to run in search of one. There is a fellow at his elbow now with white napkin on his forearm and slim-necked bottles in his hand. The disappearance of certain valuable eggs is studiously ignored. Afterall, most of the guests are present because they’re fearfully powerful, amazingly lucky, or terrifyingly influential in the planar streams of time. Shabby mages are not to be despised, but endowed with crystal goblet and liquid libations. Sheila accepts a slender flute of white. She tips her chin with some satisfaction at an aging broad in slinky hot pink sequins. Here and there in the crowd are others with her fashion sense. But they are rare.
“Plumage is the focus of fashion in your world. Showcasing the flesh is the focus of mine. Whereas your culture applauds grandiose underwear, mine celebrates going without. And this is because in certain civilizations it as easy to alter the body as it is a cloth. In an aging society, youth is the god of all and what better way to worship youth than to show it off?”
The comparison might be unconscious or perhaps he remembers when she climbed through his window one night bedecked as a whore. She lowers her lashes and meets Etalarche’s frenzy with off-putting coolness. “Points for leaving my ass alone. Let me know when you repent of your low opinions on goddesses.”
"Oh, you are not truly a goddess," he laughs, teeth flashing merrily, "You cannot be. You are not tedious enough. You are not duplicitous enough. And I may leave bruises on your derriere before we are through--
"Penguin!" Snap snap snap until a waiter looks 'round, "I want a goblet carved of ice and I want my name carved upon it in an elegant script, easy on the curlicues. One flourish at the end. Within should be Sevencrow aged at least thirty years. And an olive, I think. Get to it."
He turns back to his companion. A dainty plate is found and the buffet is ravaged in place of Sheila's pert behind. What a depressingly dainty plate it is. "I think," he begins thoughtfully, making a little pile of stuffed pastries, "That I would hate to spend too much time in your culture." This talk of worshipping the youthful strikes a bit too close to home. He's fifty-two with the face of a man in his mid-twenties. This isn't merely the result of avoiding the sun all his life. "Where is the insightful prince? Do you see him?"
“Thankyou!” she exclaims, not because he promises bruises but because he is finally leaving the whole goddess bit behind. It bothers her to be put on any kind of a pedestal. Honest compliments are preferable any day. Although, Bastion is still obnoxious and overbearing. She bristles on the garcon’s behalf even as he scampers to find what his patron needs.
Mention of Draygothe diverts her attention. She scans the crowd. “I don’t see him here. He said something about going to bed.” A porcelain cup of spumoni and tiny silver spoon is lifted from the buffet. Mmmm, chocolate cherry and pistachio. “We can look for him if you like, but he also said something about only being allowed to come here once. That must have been a lie because I’m back with you. Maybe since the time mechanisms are dismantled they can’t actually catch you coming a number of times.”
She licks the icecream off her silver spoon and considers Etalarche with her eyes. “Necromancer, what is your name?
"Etalarche of Winalils," he replies matter-of-fact, "Winalils is both my family name and the name of the land from which I hail. We are very rich."
No prince then. How disappointing. If the fellow is half as knowledgeable as Sheila had intimated he might have possibly provided much needed insight into a few matters that currently have the necromancer's ability with creative problem-solving baffled. Of course, extracting that insight without carefully detailing things he is both logically and magickally prevented from revealing would have been difficult but 'twould have been the price he was willing to pay. Ah, well. At least he is not bored.
"Seems a strange rule to have, if it is true. Time truly does not pass here then?" He pops a pastry and closes his eyes, trying to feel the immense boundary walls that must exist here; the interwoven strands of greasy nullification, worming around the insuperable current of Time itself.
It does nothing but give him a headache and make the pastry taste of nausea. He desists and watches Sheila eat her flavoured ice, or whatever it is. "This place is immortality then, but with a price. Why is that..? Immortality always has a price. Va-- creatures which subsist on blood and persist indefinitely, they are slaves to their hunger. Liches endure but are mad and abhorrent. Wraiths cannot make love. There must exist somewhere a way into immortality that does not cripple and does not bind one to the whims of a deity."
Her eye glints. He is learning. “Tell me if you find the answer. I’d be interested to know. Although, I don’t think I can count myself immortal. Eternally mortal might be a better name for it.”
The cast of characters in here would make her nervous if she were alone. An auburn headed man standing by the mantelpiece seems familiar. Perhaps he killed her on another plane.
But back to Etalarche. Sheila doubts the name the monster gave her is the same name the man in front of her has always carried. He has given her a small concession at least, and has stopped threatening her behind. She counts two small victories for herself.
“I think it may pass on its own stream separate from all the others, but you cannot measure it here. If no one notes the passing of time, what’s to say it isn’t all one long present?” She shrugs. “It’s beyond me but I love thinking about it anyway.” A cherry is dug from the spumoni and devoured.
"You love thinking about a concept that is inherently abmortal," he laughs, but not meanly, "And yet you call yourself eternally mortal. All right, and I am Saint Iocus." The last pastry's devoured and he decides he feels full and warm enough about the middle. That wine would be appreciated. Until then, it is time to make the best of what Shiela's given him - a reprieve from the hell of Hanghorse. "What is your favourite music, m'Lady?" he asks, smiling boyishly, "I will make the musicians play it and you will suffer me as your dance partner."
He can be as prim as a courtier when he decides that will get him what he wants. He thinks Sheila is exactly the same. Rigid and yet fluid with princely practise, he bows to her after tabling his empty plate. His frock coat flares nicely from his waist. His rapid rising does not chin anyone in the vicinity. "Pray would you give me the honour of a dance? I know I am not so fine as these other gentlemen, in attire or countenance, but I am more interesting and I make better threats."
"Though..." He does catch her glancing at the man near the mantle and thinks there is dislike there. "Need he be disposed of instead?"
“Most days I can’t remember my own name and you ask me about songs.” The fader spreads her hands in dismay. “No, don’t worry about him. If he doesn’t seem to know me, it should be O.K. Sir, I think you are looking for a way to show off. I will certainly dance with you.”
It is at this point that the wait staff are elbowing each other in the kitchen, each one damnably determined not to be the one to bring Etalarche his drink. It was hard enough to do the thing he asked, even with magical cookery. But they are not sure how to spell his name. Finally, three of the cumerbunned gents push Lolita out the door with his ice goblet. She has lost the battle and been chosen as envoy, solely because the sorcerer might be too busy staring at her shiny boobs to look carefully at his drink. She clicks out on spike heels and presents it on a tray. The frost letters say ‘ETALARK’ with great flourish. Lolita smiles sexily and then flees.
"I've seen worse butcheries," he decides and quaffs the wine. It's impressive enough that they located Sevencrow, a Winalils label and hard enough to procure when one is in Alderode much less in the land that time forgot. Five stars for service! The precious goblet is left on a handy footman's tray with instructions to stay in view. Then he's fitting his hands to Sheila's hand and waist and sweeping them into the whirling maelstrom of finery and fancy footwork on the dance floor.
"Names come and names go," he sighs, leading her into a quick compromise of half-steps and spins that seems to suit what's being played, "But to forget your favourite music? M'Lady, I could drop a tear for you. Think back, think back, and pluck a few notes from a dusty lifetime. A woman with no passion for music is like a piano in a land of musicians with no hands."
“I wonder how it is to work a party which never ends,” she muses. “I hope they get paid well.”
And then they’re off! Sheila’s forces herself to forget the warm bulge within the center of Etalarche’s palms. She is glad for his gloves all the same. Dancing is something she hasn’t done in an age. It’s not something she has to remember well. Her muscles and her bones know the places to go and how to move. She is an expert follower, light of foot and graceful in all her lines. The curve of Sheila’s hip fits the shape of Bastion’s hand like no woman’s ever has. Of course, this could be due to the lack of whalebone stays and armoring usually found on the waists of Sharteshane femmes.
“I don’t always hear sound,” she explains. “Just as I don’t always smell or taste. I have a way of knowing what things are without experiencing them the same way others do. But sometimes…Sometimes as now I experience all things.” She wets her lips with the tip of her tongue after a stop-and-go loop turn. “Sometimes I hear music in the Dreaming that is different from anything I’ve heard on the ground. Simple tunes can’t compare. But I can never remember it afterwards, not for long.”
Her slotted skirt flares frightenteningly as she reels out and then in. She lowers the seams with a thought. “I play and sing a little, piano, harpsichord and a rude violin. I think there is nothing like good piano, though.”
"The piano is a monster that screams when you touch its teeth," he agrees in his own way, squeezing her hand in approval. My, it's like dancing with a fey creature. He is at that, really. A tension he hadn't known was there uncoils between his shoulderblades. Sheila's challenged-- three steps back, sharp and elegant flexing then releasing of the knees-- a violent revolution that would look prettier if she had more skirts-- and a sidestep, hip to hip, that coincides with a screech of strings from the orchestra. "The piano's full of... suppressed desires, recalcitrance, inhibition, and conflict. I used to play. I would love to hear you. I know a man of two centuries who has played since he was five. All of that experience - I'll unashamedly admit I weep when he lets his hands fly."
Most of the couples seem to know the proper steps for this piece of music. Etalarche can feel unapproving eyes on them, but there are plenty of eyes that don't give a damn either and he feels bolstered. Which is aggravating in a way. It is so often pleasant to refuse to conform only for the sake of contrariness.
But who cares. Sheila dances wonderfully. The admiration is plain on him. "You are fascinating," he beams, "I'm so glad I swallowed you that time."
How disappointed he would be if he heard her! Like Viscolli, he would weep for a different reason. But then, Viscolli had made her play his music and perform like a trained monkey. He had not asked her for any sound that was actually hers. Etalarche would not be satisfied by anything less, she suspects. He speaks about an instrument as a mythic beast. He used to play? She would rather hear him. But she will not ask him until after they have danced.
The wonderful thing about dancing is that you have to be completely in the present to do it right. If you are a follower, this is even more true. A woman who tries to outguess her partner will run ahead of him and resist his cues. A woman who is busy cursing her latest mistake will stumble over the next move. Sheila does none of this. She is neither dead nor overbearing in her response. Her body is neither limp nor stiff. She keeps a flexible, workable frame for Bastion to bend, manipulate and send wherever he pleases. As long as he knows what he’s doing, she makes him look absolutely fabulous by flashing around him like a hummingbird. What her dress lacks in skirts it makes up in dazzlement. Though he is a dark and shabby crow to her nectar loving sprite, if nothing else they are a striking pair. A few couples stop to watch.
And then tells her something she’s forgotten. The fader’s limbs turn wooden. She stumbles badly and must be caught if she’s not to go completely off her treacherous silver-shod feet.
“You what? Heaven and hell!”
The old experience is relived in her mind. Quick as a wink, her glorious color goes from gold to grey. She feels herself about to faint, or worse, fall all to pieces on the dancefloor. _________________ "You push me, I push back. He pushed me into real world, so I brought him down here." ~Master Control Program~ Tron
Wed Dec 06, 2006 12:47 am
GlassShard By the Hoary Hosts!
He catches her as required but not without first solicitation, and then frustration crowding his eyes and looking down on her demandingly. Behind them all the while he's hollering: Damn, damn, damn.
She danced so well he forgot himself. She danced so well he forgot that she forgets. She danced so well and he felt so fine he'd forgotten that things were anything but what he'd momentarily imagined they were. Outside this timeless, endless party the world is still bristling with inconvenient reality. Those bristles broke this floating soap bubble. The skull pilot is a self-defeating ass.
"I thought you remembered," he protests quietly, holding her tightly but not so tightly she couldn't break away if she wished it. "You remember Usther; recalled it well enough to decide to seek me out again and so I... Well, it doesn't matter. Every now and again these bolts of irreverence I fire catch a stray draught and double-back to stick me in the ribs."
Her colour isn't auspicious and he tugs her towards the tables while she can still stand. Should he have to carry her she might try that goo trick she'd used on Apercu and, though it may look shabby to everyone else, this is still one of his better suits and he'd rather it not be ruined by Sheila juice. "Hate me now that you more clearly recall me," he sighs, "That is your right. I can explain things but the explanation will not necessarily make me more attractive to you - unless you wish a creative lie, which can always be arranged."
Wed Dec 06, 2006 1:09 am
Biorach Coffee Sprite
She does not take off running, nor slap him as he deserves. Instead, she clutches his arm tightly while he half drags, half supports her to a chair. There she slumps over a table and hides her face in her hands. A murmuring starts in the curious crowd. Etalarche recieves a few angry looks; but no one intervenes on what appears to be a private affair. The grand exception is Lolita, who hurries thither with two tumblers. One is of water and one is spirits. She sets them both by the head of dumbfounded woman.
"Sir? Madame? Is everything alright?"
Sheila ignores Lolita and the liquor. She is reliving horror in her head, the horror of being eaten, then of being spat out and abused. There had been no escape down in his workshop. She had been afraid. She is afraid of him now. The mage had pummelled her, changed her, and mocked her too! The apology Etalarche offers now clashes with the things he said on that day. They clash with Usther. How stupid she had been.
"If I had remembered, there never would have been Usther." Her shoulders twitch. This time she is not going to fall apart. "Explain. Say something." She picks her head up and looks at him. Her pupils fluctuate and her corneas are rimmed red. _________________ "You push me, I push back. He pushed me into real world, so I brought him down here." ~Master Control Program~ Tron
Wed Dec 06, 2006 12:43 pm
GlassShard By the Hoary Hosts!
He doesn't feel he has a place at her table and so remains standing, hands overlapped atop a chair back. If she's not going to drink the liquor, he will. The glass is drained neatly and set back down. 100 proof, he thinks. Tastes a little like brandy and liquid smoke. It would be nice if the maid with the sweaty breasts brought more.
"You know, you were trying to destroy me," he blurts when she shoots him that womanly weeping look. Oh-ho, he is not so easily manipulated. "She was, you know," he tells the rest of the room, challenging a few of the eyes before returning his own to her and lowering his voice. "I was acting in self-defense. I have a curse on me that I cannot break. The story behind it is long and ugly and not one of my favourites, but I don't automatically lose my sense of self-preservation when I am that beast, even if it is vile and a blight on the nocturnal dreamscape. I do not like it. I wish I was not shackled to it. Nevertheless, when it is attacked, I am attacked, and I will not stand there and be destroyed. So yes, I-- well, I struck back at you in a way at which the beast excels. I had thought you were still a threat to me when I awakened but you slowly proved me wrong. I am sorry for my behaviour that morning but it is not in my nature to dismiss potential threats to my well-being."
She acts as if he'd swallow her again now. Well, he can't! Why does she cringe?
"Don't be afraid of me," he demands, sounding more blustery than he likes, "I wanted us to be friends. I-- well, I sought you out the second time because the entire initial encounter had been haunting me. I desired reconcilliation but I... well, I suppose I should have realised that you did not even remember the initial encounter. I apologise. If you want me to leave now, I shall."
Wed Dec 06, 2006 2:50 pm
Biorach Coffee Sprite
She listens. She forces herself to look at him and not dissolve. So much running. She can hear Draygothe’s voice repeating itself in her head. It straightens her back. How could she abandon her push for change so easily? Etalarche is her foot in the door of reality. It could be some time, perhaps years before she finds a better one. The Party Out of Time is not in the fickle dreaming where one moment brings sunshine and the next brings a deluge of blood. Almost all magic is strong here. She is stronger here than almost any place she’s been before. And although the mage is trying to throw his abominable behavior all back on her, she tries to hear past the panic to the bits of reason in his words. There is some comfort in the fact that if she says the word, he will go away. It is hard to send away the man as long as she can remember Usther, though.
The woman gestures for him to sit so he won’t be standing there like a whipped schoolboy by his mommy’s chair. There are no tears on her face, though she looks terrible. She can feel her pounding pulse begin to slow and her stomach begin to settle. Some of it might be attributed to his command not to fear. But the images of the cottage are fading, not replacing the present, as they were a few moments before.
“Etalarche,” she says slowly, “there are depths of cruelty in your character you can’t put off on me. You are violent by nature. But I accept your apology.”
She finger combs frazzled whititsh hair from her eyes and looks ashamed. “I ruined the dance.” _________________ "You push me, I push back. He pushed me into real world, so I brought him down here." ~Master Control Program~ Tron
Wed Dec 06, 2006 5:22 pm
GlassShard By the Hoary Hosts!
"It is just as well. We were making the others feel inadequate."
He sits as directed but judges the chair more uncomfortable than it really is. Poor, maligned chair. He gives her a while longer to compose herself, watching her steadily. What an ocean she is; quick to change, capricious, so achingly susceptible to the whims of the wind and sky. It's the counterbalance to her tremendous power. Were she not so crippled by amnesia and this... this vulnerability to the words and thoughts and expectations of others, she might truly be a force to be reckoned with.
And she still is, to some. There are those she'll judge enemies immediately and pursue them without mercy. Vampires, of course, but also beasts such as he appeared to be that strange night they encountered each other in the dream place. So much power here - he's certain of it. The question is how to direct it and whether or not he should.
"I am not violent by nature. I am not violent by nature any more than you have always, by nature, been this emotional cripple. We are what experience makes us - but the best of us rise to the demands of our present situations before we must be beat into more accomodating shapes." His voice is carefully modulated and his movements are measured and deliberate, as though the lady were a skittish hart. "Thank you for accepting my apology.
"And honestly, there is something pleasureable in sitting at the periphery of a gathering such as this and merely watching the people pass. Pox on dancing." He's still not in Hanghorse. And at least he's not bored. There's no reason to be irritated.
"We can ask each other questions however, Sheila, if silence is too dull. I'm curious as to your endeavours."
Wed Dec 06, 2006 7:06 pm
Biorach Coffee Sprite
He would still manage to insult her even while trying to make her feel better. She sniffs. He is like an obnoxious teenager who always must point out other’s faults to make themselves feel better. He can’t accept criticism gracefully.
If it weren’t for the wretched immodesty of her dress, she would pull her long legs up in her chair and hug her knees. It’s just as well she can’t, since she’d sooner shrink that way. One thing is certain. She doesn’t want to talk right now. Her eye follows the whirling dancers with limp envy.
“You talk. I’ll listen.” _________________ "You push me, I push back. He pushed me into real world, so I brought him down here." ~Master Control Program~ Tron
Wed Dec 06, 2006 7:46 pm
GlassShard By the Hoary Hosts!
Maybe he can accept criticism gracefully when he thinks it's deserved!
"I've no idea what you would have me talk about," he replies, following her eyes and blowing air through his nose like an aggravated horse, "You are very sensitive. I am afraid to speak of most things lest they make of you a puddle on the floor."
Ah, Lolita! He snaps until she looks his way - he must snap very loudly as the girl seems loathe to approach - and orders a large tumbler of whatever spirit it was she'd brought out for his swooning companion. "This one needs something to calm her but short of a blow to the head, no brilliant solutions are coming to me. What is it, Sheila? Do you wish to dance again? You did me the favour of bringing me here and so I feel compelled to keep you entertained. Shall we resume our dance?"
Wed Dec 06, 2006 7:54 pm
Biorach Coffee Sprite
“You don’t have to do the things I want to do, or follow my every whim to keep me from melting,” she says quietly. She lowers her eyes to her lap and folds her hands there until Lolita returns with spirits.
“I brought you here as a holiday. There are venerable scholars and dangerous opponents surrounding you. There are women more beautiful, manageable, and more to your tastes than I. Don’t be chained to me. Wander, mingle, taste and laugh if you like. There are gardens. There is a secret piano. Who knows what else this place has hidden in other rooms.”
White fingers curl about the fresh tumbler. She lifts the glass to her lips and sips. Little swallows of heat roll down inside of her to warm her belly. _________________ "You push me, I push back. He pushed me into real world, so I brought him down here." ~Master Control Program~ Tron
Wed Dec 06, 2006 8:08 pm
GlassShard By the Hoary Hosts!
It's strange and unexpected, but her words wound him. They really are nothing more than a dismissal. He touches the top button of his waistcoat, over his sternum, and is surprised by the warm pressure there. It isn't just the liquor, or indigestion from pastries that mayn't have been thoroughly cooked. No, she has hurt his feelings. He's flabberghasted by it.
And carefully dismissive. And perfectly composed.
"Thank you for guiding me here, Sheila," he says stiffly, standing from his seat, "I will burden you with my presence no longer if that is your wish. Know though that I was remaining with you because I wanted to - I enjoy your company and for a few happy minutes thought that you enjoyed mine."
There. That is appropriately dramatic. It's dignified and marks him as the wounded party despite the entirety of the room having watched her treat him like a... well, like a man who sometimes is an animal that swallows people whole. He turns abruptly and walks quickly away before she can spoil his quiet hurt with an apology, an accusation, or a dirty limerick.
The little pain in his ass is right of course. She brought him here but it doesn't mean he's bound to her, or that their having arrived together marks this excursion as anything so pedestrian as a date. He should be free to explore! To take advantage! This is the infamous Party Out of Time, an event that is a place that is an impossible, wonderful phenomenon. It's something he had only ever half-believed existed, and then never with the sort of confidence that had made him wish to seek it out for himself. It's fantastic that he's here at last, in the flesh, able to interview at will more erudite mages and planewalkers than exist in Sigil at one time. And best of all? Not one jot of time will pass in Hanghorse while he's here. He'll not age a second. Lord Nihil will not return and miss him nor will Bizet have time to turn all his carefully laid plans on their ear. Yes. For the first time in too long, the necromancer is free to do precisely as he wishes.
Yet... what is there to do.
He sighs and, rather than feeling light and unanchored, he feels heavy with purposelessness. There are no great endeavours left. There is...
It is of no consequence. It is all very easily aped. What Etalarche should do and what Etalarche once would have wanted to do are both as near at hand as some old cloak, easily pulled off its hook and thrown over his shoulders. He is not that man anymore but lies are pleasant. Lies are simple.
And yet... and yet. Rather than immediately turn and act in the pursuit of knowledge as Etalarche ever was wont to... rather than seek out Jhul the Unreal or the renowned Sorceress Evelyn Five-eyes whom he saw when they first came in, Bastion merely vectors back towards the buffet table, sipping liquor and shiftily returning the shifty gazes of those that find his passing remarkable. Perhaps he is not the social creature he once was. It's entirely possible. It would even be natural. Milian had accused him of growing old and perhaps he is indeed losing his tolerance for social niceities and his ability to enjoy the simpler things. He'd once adored a good party.
Now he can't quite remember why he'd asked Sheila to bring him here in the first place. He doesn't want to escape his schemes in Sharteshane. Without that constant occupation of his mind he must think on things that threaten to drive him insane.
"Ilganyag insect," someone says in his ear as he's absently stacking a wafer with thin squares of cheese. He glances to his left, his throat prickling with gooseflesh. The unmistakeable sensation of a moist, warm tongue touches behind his left ear, rasping ticklishly into the fine hairs at the nape of his neck.
"How do I taste?" he asks and crunches down a cheesy cracker. Sorceress Evelyn Five-eyes (whom he thought he'd seen disappear in the opposite direction) sucks her long, wedge-shaped tongue back into her mouth and smacks her black lips.
"You taste like cheap magick," she replies with a hissing laugh.
"The bottle promised apple-cinnamon."
"Detergent? It wasn't potent enough to wash off the grease," retorts Evelyn pleasantly. Bastion hopes she is troping because he really did wash his hair last night and the thought that he might look dirty to this roomful of tyrants and monsters is distressing. "I'd heard you were killed in pursuit of a senet beast, Steward Winalils. Did it spit you back out?"
"Evelyn," chortles the necromancer, turning and regarding the strange woman fully, "If you want to sleep with me you needn't play these games. Say the word and we'll leave this noise and this light for a dark, secluded place so you may decide if you wish to spit me out too."
Evelyn Five-eyes is a Eufhoby and a particularly ugly one at that. Though she has no legs, she looms two heads taller than the death mage, supported by a serpentine body ringed with poisonous red and black scales. From the waist up she's a humanoid, dark-skinned succubus clad in emerald chiffon, spirals of bright, fiery hair cascading down her bare shoulders and over her full breasts. Her features are narrow to match her face but her two eyes are huge and staring and blood-red. The five eyes of her title are in truth five beautiful, circular patterns that run down the back of her serpentine body. They swim and shimmer if one stares at them too long but Bastion long ago learned not to do that.
She smiles as though presenting knives. Her teeth are white and pointed. The canines are particularly prominent, each a two inch fang. "I don't think I would spit you out," she purrs, "You are thin and unctuous. You would go down easy." She flicks her tail, bringing attention to a bulge in her midsection - the slowly digesting evidence of her last meal. There is no way in hell she could swallow a man whole, he knows, but decides all the same that he's flirted enough for one night with the evil snake woman.
"Well," he sighs, popping another wafer, "I am glad to see you are keeping yourself fed. I had heard you were here, Evelyn. Hiding from your mistress?"
"Not hiding," she hisses dangerously.
Bastion acquiesces the point and asks, "You do find this timeless place a convenient base of operations, however, hmm?"
She flicks her tail impatiently. "It suits my purposes, insect. Why are you here? Hiding from your end?"
"Alas. Ends are attached to middles which are attached to beginnings, and the lot tend to roam in packs. Nay, I came here looking for someone with whom I might discuss my present situation, but he had flown by the time I arrived and I have since offended she who brought me. Now I think I will drink myself into a stupor - or try to. Liquor mayn't work here as it should."
"What is your present situation, friend of vermin?"
Oh, he is not about to tell Evelyn Five-eyes of Hanghorse or Tawhoque or the Eye of Redemption or how he has become bound to the masters of each. No, no, no. He is not that depressed.
His silence causes the Eufhoby's upper lip to tremble over her fangs. He follows her slitted eyes over the heads of dancing couples and hurrying waiters, back towards the sea of tables and the fantastic figures seated there. Her gaze comes to rest on modest Sheila. She smiles. "Ahh, you are lovelorn, small wizard? She is very pretty. I think, too, she is very powerful. Earlier she sat with two others in her thrall but she was a man then in a tailored tuxedo."
Etalarche sighs. "Would that my dilemma were so simple as unrequited love for a shapeshifting demigoddess. Have her if you want her." With that, he retrieves his icy goblet from the servant that's been shadowing him, lifts a bottle of brandy from the back edge of the buffet table, and vanishes quite unspectacularly.
Mon Dec 11, 2006 4:36 pm
Biorach Coffee Sprite
Sheila drums her pretty white nails on the table top. She cannot believe she has been snubbed, after all that. She knows he snubbed her because he himself felt snubbed. The idea fills her with dismay. But she cannot run after him stammering apologies and soothing his ego. She is not that kind of woman, and she needs time to herself. Tonight may be an utter failure. This could be the hand of fate answering her attempt to break away from her bonds of need. Or maybe it’s only in line with her other self-destructive habits. She is sad that she cannot make it through a single night without conflict. Were they happy for a few moments together? The idea prompts her to philosophize on the supreme transience of everything she considers Nice.
Sheila orders a mohito to comfort herself with. The sour minty rum flavour keeps her sensitized while she ponders her present situation. It is a relief to get some distance from Etalarche and ever other human being or non in the place. With all the eyes on her she was starting to feel crowded and bruised. Now as she is studiously ignored she can be calm and rational again.
The monster swallowed her and spat her out. She was roundly abused and humiliated. Then he returned with pretty words and drew her into his kingdom, his little fish-smelling world of intrigue and became a mage. The mage is a monster and a man, insidiously dangerous, inherently cruel, but human in a way that keeps her from being able to let him go.
Or perhaps it is a spell that brought her back and kept her from walking away. He poisoned her. Perhaps he enchanted her as well. But she is very doubtful that any weaving or enchantment would survive the Nothing Place and the way she unmakes herself, even her very core.
Sheila puts a mint leaf between her teeth and chews. She leans her chin in one elbow and slouches gracelessly in her chair.
It must be something else. It must be need and desperation, drawing her the way rotten meat draws flies. Etalarche does not need her, but there must be a sucking emptiness somewhere in him. It makes him more open to her existence and tugs at the roots of her reason for being. She knows she can use this. She can use the momentum to carve another niche in reality. If only he wasn’t such a brute.
Five-eyes breaks into her thoughts with a look. The huntress’ head cocks but does not turn. She does not look at the naga-witch with her eyes, neither can she hear the conversation between mage and myth. But the fader can feel herself in their words. It unsettles her. She does not like the snake-thing and likes it even less in Etalarche’s personal space. A prickle of possessiveness crawls up the base of her spine. The Naga is one of those very old, very powerful creatures rooted in myth. Sheila must be very sure of herself to take one on. Once she killed a woman-headed snake but it was nothing like Five-eyes who glistens with enchantment. It is only after Bastion makes his escape that the faderling lifts her eyes and turns her face, making the snake-thing aware she is watched and disapproved of. It is not something she has to put in words or gestures to communicate. Her eyes are hostility. Her mouth is a sheathed blade. _________________ "You push me, I push back. He pushed me into real world, so I brought him down here." ~Master Control Program~ Tron
Tue Dec 12, 2006 9:42 pm
GlassShard By the Hoary Hosts!
Evelyn rarely sheathes hers.
"My dear," she slithers, no longer the object of Sheila's ferocious attention but now, suddenly, silkily in her shadow, a cold presence radiating malice and the sort of insincerity present in the clinically arrogant, "What have I done to deserve your displeasure?" Her tongue flicks in the dreamwalker's ear, wet with sibillance and spellwork still unsaid.
Then she's sitting in Etalarche's abandoned seat, moving less like a serpent than like a coil of smoke. Her transitions aren't friendly to the human eye. Her bizarre body seems only half-native to the physical world, ready at any moment to disperse into atoms of magick and dust. Yet once she's seated and her serpentine moiety is hidden beneath the table, she's almost a woman. She clasps her clawed hands and leans forward onto her elbows, blood-red lips thinned in a smile. "Do you rage with jealousy? You know that I have bedded that death mage before but this does not bother you, I think. Is the Ilganyag worm your paramour? When asked, he denied it. Leave him be and be with me. You are very important, I think, to hold the attention of these gentlemen as you do. Are you Arvul? No, you are not. Are you one of the old Caste come into our endless party to rebuke and give scorn? The Lady of Pain does not suffer deities in her city and often have I suggested we make a similiar law for this land, yet restricting the guest list in any way limits possibilities, I am told." Her eyebrows are as fiery red as her luscious locks and when they arch in anger they look like bloody gashes in her brow.
"Who are you?" she hisses, jolting the table as she lunges forward, "Who are you that the Ilganyag gives a damn and the old Prince dotes?"
Tue Dec 12, 2006 11:20 pm
Biorach Coffee Sprite
Evelyn's vital presence washes over and through the fader like oily water, making her skin crawl. Her fingers snap shut on the empty air where the serpentine tongue had been, late by a fraction of a second. The dreamling stares at Evey as she takes the chair opposite. Her eyes are open all the way, enormous and disquietingly hungry as they take in the snake. An observer might make comparison to the look of a cat when it sees a mouse run heedlessly in its way. She does not answer any of Evelyn's questions. They come too fast. Jealousy? Of what could she be jealous? She forgets the death mage. He's not important. She forgets the party and all her problems. Every particle of her being focuses on the vipress, her enemy, taunting her boldly and without fear. She is within arm's reach.
The lunge, perhaps meant only to intimidate, is enough of an excuse. This time, the dreamling moves much faster than her reflex snatch at the tongue. She comes up out of her chair, arcs around Evelyn in the air, and drives a sword down at her shoulder blades. The sword comes from nowhere. It is not hard steel, but made of something else clear as glass and misty at the edges. There is no way she could have hid it in her slinky dress. It must have come from somewhere inside herself. Whatever it's made of, she expects it to pin Five-eyes to the table like a biological specimen on display. _________________ "You push me, I push back. He pushed me into real world, so I brought him down here." ~Master Control Program~ Tron
Wed Dec 13, 2006 2:56 pm
GlassShard By the Hoary Hosts!
Shrieking so that goblets explode on tabletops and serving bowls shatter and fall, Evelyn writhes beneath her attacker, twisting so that her unnatural heart is removed from the strange sword's path and yet unable to avoid its hungry plunge through her lung. Her left hand, each finger twice as long as a normal human's with an extra joint and two inches of pointed nail, rakes deeply across Sheila's face. Her other hand is cupped and vectored sharply out from her shoulder. A viscous black substance quickly fills her palm from a gland hidden on the underside of her wrist.
"Feral harpy!" she screams, "Friends! Aid me against this abomination!"
Other screams erupt from the diners and the dancers. There is a mad scramble by several patrons to get out, while others turn elaborately coiffed heads and press to see. Fantastic weapons shimmer into hands and slide out of the sleeves of some. Wards pop up like toadstools around couples and singles just in case something really nasty happens. But it is like any fight breaking out in the halls of your average public high school in that no one interferes right away. A tight ring of rubberneckers forms at a ‘safe’ distance from the grisly struggle, and this makes it even more difficult for anyone more than ten feet away to know what’s going on. Even more bizarrely, the music plays on as the band is located on the other side of the large room.
Sheila grinds her blade through Evelyn’s back until it bites deep into the wood of the table beneath. One foot stays planted in the air, and the other comes down on the snake woman’s neck, with the toe of the shoe digging into the base of her skull. This is awkward, but rather painful for Evey since the slutty dream-thing still wears spike heels. Her cheek is flayed and the skin even hangs in one place, but the blood does not well up. The open muscle is red like raw meat, but lined with silver.
Sheila thinks the vipress’ nails are tinged with poison but it’s too early to tell. Whatever’s forming in her hand looks nasty though. Best if it were pointing away from fader’s face. She keeps one hand on the misty hilt of her blade and makes a snatch for the wrist oozing the bad stuffs.
But Evelyn is already snatching for that snatching hand and the two come together in a strange handshake of comraderie, thick black spattering. Sheila's hand roars with agony. Evelyn wrenches the smaller woman's limb upwards so the black trickles down her forearm, searing deeply.
Evelyn is a Eufhoby - a breed of senet beast - which means she was crafted specifically to act as a living weapon by the ancient Mmatont mages. Those mages are all dead now but their legacy remains in the form of the Kildean magicks of Alderode, and creatures like Evelyn who have taken their destinies into their own claws and turned against the descendants of the magick-wielding mortals that made them.
Though Evelyn has mastered the very magicks of her making and is now one of the most knowledgeable Kildean sorceresses in existence, often her natural defense mechanisms are more useful and more ready than any spellwork. Her poison eats at flesh and soul alike. What it does to strange Sheila is anyone's guess.
The sword is unbearable though and she can't endure it long enough to wait and see if the venom will destroy her attacker. Gagging on shoe, she whips her thick and scaly tail up from under the table (inadvertantly chinning two onlookers) then lashing Sheila's back with it. Her tail's not as prehensile as a monkey's but there's a lot of length to work with. She manages a loop around the woman's midsection and, striking again at Sheila's gory face with her hooked claws, begins to constrict.
The dream woman’s mouth opens and contorts, but she does not cry out. She can feel the poison seep through skin and flesh, settling into the bones of her wrist and creeping up the marrow to her arm. Her flesh closes over it seamlessly because she needs her hand in working order. Underneath, the venom is like a ball of fire and sickening pain creeping slowly to the elbow. Her ribs groan. The coil about her waist threatens to squeeze her in twain. It is not supposed to be happening at this party, but the battle has a time limit for both of them.
The fader drops to her knees, one bony joint taking the place of her shoe on Evelyn’s face, the other spreading across the shimmering back. She drops against her sword so that the edge might slice shallowly along the outside of Evey’s coil. She will hug the blade if Evey lets her, and make it worse. On the other hand, Sheila’s grasp on the poisoned palm, shifts, and tightens with fresh agony. She twists Evelyn’s arm half a turn. She plans to wind the limb like a clock key until the tendons scream and the joints pop.
There's a time limit indeed and the Eufhoby can feel it ticking away in her chest. She coughs bright crimson blood over Sheila's thigh and gurgles unhappily as the blade slides through scale and meat. Weakening, she's susceptable to the twisting of her envenomed arm. Her shoulder pops and her thin, reptilian bones creak and bend like balsa strips. Her grip 'round the woman's middle doesn't relent but with her capacity to speak hindered by the sword in her lung and the knee in her throat, she's running out of offensive options.
"Quarter," she manages, her red eyes shifting between rage and desperation, "Guh-give... quarter..!"
“TAKE IT OUTSIDE.” The booming masculine voice cuts through the music, the shrieking, the desperation and the mayhem like the crack of a whip. A strong ward roars around the table and its drama, effectively isolating both fader and Five-eyes from interference or aid. Sheila at once understands they have offended one of the masters of the feast. She knows too, it’s not the violence which endangers them but rather the unorthodox measuring of time. The entire party is threatened by the shedding of blood in this way. It was never meant to sustain the unraveling of a life thread, or two, and carry on endless and meaningless.
But Sheila doesn’t want to leave! This is her kill! This is her right! She gives no quarter, but throws herself against the blade, pushing the coil against the edge again, but also scissoring the sword foreward to cleave along Eufhoby’s spine. The broken arm is dropped so both hands can be used for this, even though it speeds the poison. She can feel it in her shoulder now and she knows what will happen when it reaches her heart.
But the more she feels her mortality and the slippage of time in that fatal creeping, the stronger the tidal rush of the room to expel her back into the flow of Universal Time. It tears at her and Evelyn too, threatening to rip them both into their prospective dimensional streams. The fader fights back. But she can’t fight it and the Eufhoby too.
Xalgnar knows he's too late when he hears Evelyn's scream cut off by the ward's rising. He's no less desperate as he reaches the globe of magick and smashes his meaty palms into it uselessly. His mistress' name is shouted, then shouted again, and Evelyn can see her companion's features through the scrim of magick, distraught, his eyes black smudges, his lips achingly shaping the syllables of her name over and over again.
What IS this creature? She gazes into the unfeeling depths of Sheila's eyes, tearing savagely at her face and throat. Her claw-hand's slippery with the black venom, its secretion quickened by adrenalin and fear. It is not an all-consuming fear however. The woman-thing may kill her but it will not be permanent for, as with any senet beast, the only way to destroy Evelyn Five-eyes is to take her head. It would be damaging to her reputation to be defeated by such a ludicrous creature however, and if she's ejected from the party and back into her own dimension her mistress will find her and there will be hell to pay. She's not hiding here because the buffet is so good.
There is nothing to be done however. She cannot breathe and her vision is darkening. Everywhere is pain and the rage of this unprovoked monster who does not bleed as it should and will not be dissuaded, even as the snake's contracting tail shatters a rib.
Pain is added to pain for Sheila too. Her fingertips are turning grey as her flesh seeks to shed the poison. The venom of the senet beast clings to even the wisps of her essence, though. It would be alarming if she were in a reasonable frame of mind. As it is, the fader shakes off these thoughts like drops of water. Her side aches and each breath is a stabbing pain. The room tears at her frame. She presses anyway, but with little strength and to no effect.
In the end, the room wins. It takes Evelyn as her clock winds down to be reset. The chandelier vibrates and a rumble passes through the floor. Sheila falls on top of her sword and takes the table with her and the remaining upright chair. The clattering furniture is met with a string of oaths as she realizes what happened to her prey. The fader pushes herself up on one elbow (the non poisoned one) and stares balefully at the wards. In a direct act of rebellion, she refuses to leave.
"Infidel!" bellows Xalgnar, pounding his fist on the shimmering walls. He's twice the height of a normal man, bulging and yellowish-orange with a minimum of clothing and black, black hair streaming over his shoulders. A thin, scaled, snakelike tail extends from his spine and lashes the air furiously but he stands on two normal legs. "I will hunt you down and devour your eyes if you've harmed her!"
The eye-devouring will have to wait however, for Xalgnar's first priority is rescuing Evelyn from the wrath of her enigmatic mistress. A fob watch is snatched from the nearest silk pocket and he fumbles with the catch. When there's a measured face to glare at he does so, vanishing from the imbroglio. The crowd left behind is glad to have him gone but, for the most part, dubious about Sheila's continuing presence. Whispers of menace and criminal and lunatic flit here and there like hummingbirds.
Wed Dec 13, 2006 11:46 pm
Biorach Coffee Sprite
The girl looks up from her curiously shining blade to Xalgnar. She marks him in case he keeps his promises, but also because he is another monster. She can't believe what he says. 'If you've harmed her?' "Huff!" She staggers from the floor. Her throat is criss-crossed with red slashes. Her face should be a horror; but it already begins to heal, if you could call it that. Not one drop of blood coalesces on her wounds. The gashes do not shrink or close in a natural way. It is more as if the cuts are fading. Smooth white flesh is already beneath, only waiting to be made evident. Also strange, none of Evelyn's blood can be found on the sword. It's as clean and unblemished as if it has never been used.
"So..." Sheila looks at the ward-wall but doesn't touch it. There are hostile faces on the other side, as well as the morbidly curious. The company is a mixture, but it does not look so grand to her now. She sees too many vampires, too many monsters, too many cowards and people who would be more comfortable if she would simply go away.
Her left arm hangs limp at her side. She leaves the sword on the floor where it is and cradles her broken ribs. The poison, is dangerously close to her chest. She concentrates on it now, focuses on blocking it and staying its advance. As she slows it's progress, the exit enchantment on the room backs down. If she can hold Time at bay, she can stay a little longer. She needs to stay. There is someone she must wait for. For, with Evelyn Five-eyes gone, she can remember Etalarche. He may know how to deal with the poison. He must find her before they leave. To go back without him would be a death sentence as she would be all too mortal. The grapes told her that.
So she keeps to her isolating bubble and licks her wounds, a tamed lioness.
"Has the world becomes too civilized for heros? Or are they too good to be found at parties?" Sheila asks the questions softly. She hears the rumors. They hurt her. They fill her with dismay. She decides they come from representatives of societies gone soft. These are not only powerful people and magical people, they are playboys and given to excess. The party animals of the planarverse are here. Why leave when you can stay for eons without ever skipping a beat? She begins to pace inside her magical cage.
"You eat the bread of compromise," she accuses the murmurers. "Now your belly is rotten with corruption." She circles and begins pacing in the opposite direction. "You sit cheek by jowl with your enemy and share each other's food. I see what you are! Now leave me alone." _________________ "You push me, I push back. He pushed me into real world, so I brought him down here." ~Master Control Program~ Tron
Thu Dec 14, 2006 8:00 pm
GlassShard By the Hoary Hosts!
Elsewhere, Sheila's absentee escort finds himself lost in the winding corridors of this timeless Otherland and not caring very much about it.
There are secret rooms, just as she said. He's stumbled upon them in his search for a private place to settle down with his bottle. Some played host to the grunt and grind of couples having a much better time than he is having. He watched a very lovely pair of humans for a little while, leaning in the shadows and observing their mating with the blind detachment of a hatrack. He's still not certain why he watched for so long; if he'd been trying to torture himself or remind himself how ridiculous it all is and claim sour grapes or if he'd simply been so overcome by ennui that turning around and resuming his trek down the hallway had been beyond him.
Another room had a piano but no players. He'd stood in the dim half-light of the empty chamber and looked at the polished instrument with the same expression of longing and uncertain scorn he'd had for the rutting couple. To think he'd told the dreamthing that he'd like to see her play... Perhaps she will forget that, too, and he shan't have to be jealous of her.
"Jealous..." he snarls two hours or two year or two weeks later, after he's found a comfortable divan in a firelit room and a pair of dozing creatures that would look like sheepdogs if they weren't large as baby elephants and each five-headed. "Jealous," he mutters again, staring at nothing, smirking, grimacing, burying hooked fingers in his sweaty hair. One of the doggish creatures twitches a rear leg, chasing five-headed rabbits in its sleep.
Startled by the barking laugh, it jerks awake and regards the necromancer with five sets of sad, bleary black eyes. Etalarche jiggles an empty decanter at it. "There are no words," he laughs weakly. The heavy bottle clunks to the carpetted floor. He drops his head against the back of the couch and lets his kohl-darkened lashes come together wearily.
Stars above, he sickens himself.
Etalarche, says a voice in his head, very clear and very irate. It's followed by the feeling that there is something he's forgotten to do, and Bastion recognises it as a summons via the torque and he opens his mind to it because anything else will give him a headache.
You're drunk, says Drask right away. This has become Drask's greeting of choice lately which would bother Bastion if he gave a fuck.
"Not hunting anymore rings for you doddering geezers," he laughs breathily. The toe of his boot's extended and he massages one of the dog thing's rumps, coaxing its heads back towards the floor. Its bushy tail wags once or thrice. "No. Now that Master Stern has gone to crochet skullcaps with his ancestors I think that I am a little less concerned with the... the goings-on of you bastards in black. Go... go raise a corpse and converse with it, Drask. Actually... let it lie so it will not run away. But leave me be."
Drask's reply is just uninflected enough to be irritating. There is serious discussion now of evicting you from the coven, Etalarche.
"Don't make me cry. My eyeblack will run."
You do not take this warning seriously?
"May I keep the tattoos?"
I tell you these things because I care about you, Etalarche.
"And the small matter of my balls? I wrote my name on them before putting them in the big jar. I want the same ones back. Don't give me Milian's. I'll know."
Drask sounds dismayed next but Bastion knows what a crocodile the old man really is. He chuckles soundlessly and scratches at the torque's runes with a manicured nail. Evelyn Five-eyes just contacted us and demanded your skull.
"I wouldn't sleep with her," Bastion explains. Drask passes along the telepathic equivalent of choking on a gulp of jasmine tea.
I know nothing of THAT. She claims to have been attacked and seriously injured by a creature in your care. You know that we are forbidden from harming the senet beasts. They are sacred and, more importantly, they are very useful from time to time.
"Save when they make off with relics that hold the potential to annihilate all of Alderode, mm? At'gwe, it is a damned fortunate thing that fine, witty Etalarche of Winalils was able to destroy that beastly Varch before he really had the opportunity to make a mess of the country. I say, have they yet had a dinner in that man's honour? Engraved him a pocketwatch? Put his name in the newsletter?"
"I'm tired of it!" Bastion snaps, whipping his head up and opening his eyes, "I AM TIRED OF IT!" Raising his voice makes the room spin crazily. His brain's been replaced with metal shavings and gelatin. Whatever was in that bottle ought to be given a medal. "I am in the Party Out of Time!" he crows, gesturing grandly though only the dogs can appreciate it, "Have you ever been here? No? But you've heard of it. I can report that it is less spectacular than lore has told us. Really, it is little different from one of Duke Faulks's affairs save the wine hasn't been watered down and the women are prettier."
"Go to hell!"
Etalarche, you are doing precisely what you did the last time you--
"GO TO HELL!"
A few choice words are muttered - not further vituperations against Drask and the Ilganyag but the words that expand the damned torque enough that he can tear it off his throat. This he does and quite savagely too, barely refraining from hurling the heavy silver band into the fire. It's piquishly pressed into the cushion at his side instead. He sits and breathes fiercely through his nose for a long time.
Then he gives it up and laughs and laughs. He laughs because the Ilganyag mean less than they ever have; because his entire life has come to resemble one intricately interwoven catastrophe masquerading as a gag, the punchline of which he's only recently figured out. He laughs until one of the dogs turns and very distinctly growls, "Noisy and ill-mannered, you are."
He's given a withering look over one furry shoulder. Another head starts licking one of its paws earnestly and Bastion decides he's had enough.
It's more difficult to find his way back to the ballroom than he'd anticipated. There's no particular hurry of course but he wants off his feet. The hallways in this damned mansion or palace or whatever it is don't like to keep properly firm beneath a gentleman's treads. He trips twice on a carpet runner, then again while rounding the corner into the ballroom. He's kept from tumbling to the floor by skillfully latching on to a very fat woman's breast which is not quite worth the slap to the face that comes afterwards.
"The goblet was supposed to be of unmelting ice," he complains in a servant's ear once he's cornered one of the little penguins and convinced him not to flee to the kitchen, "It melted! In the room with the fireplace and the hellhounds! It melted and one of the dogs was very sarcastic with me!"
"Enchanted fire, m'Lord!" the poor waiter defends, "Enchanted fire will always destroy enchanted ice!"
"Bah!" is the necromancer's educated response. Damnation, where is Sheila? It is time to leave this place. He will return again when he cares more about it. He'll have to strongarm the coordinates from her. "Sheila!" he demands of the waiter, who looks like he may burst into tears, "Where is Sheila?"
"I'm sorry, m'Lord?"
"I am looking for the demigoddess of... the demigoddess of dreams. She is of an uncertain consistancy." He works his right hand indicatively, as though kneading spectral dough. The woman whose breast he manhandled shrieks and scuttles quickly away from the dangerous apendage. She's smirked at but not pursued. "Sheila!" Bastion repeats louder because speaking louder will make the stupid servant understand him. "SHEE. Laaaah."
"Lord Etalarche's party awaits in the dining area," interrupts one of those deep, booming voices that can only belong to a bouncer. Bastion turns unsteadily to confront it but gets only an eyefull of cumberbundt. He'd have to tilt his head back for a more complete view and there is no colossus in the multiverse worthy of such thorough scrutinty right now. The cumberbundt is enough.
"Well," he slurs, "That is more like it. Take me to her, good man."
"There," says the cumberbundt, and steps aside. Etalarche is afforded a very good view of the shimmering ward and the dark female smudge inside of it.
"Oh, look at that," he murmurs, carefully navigating the room and the crowd and stumbling towards the barrier, "Look at that. I have missed the hair pulling and the name calling. And now I must give to the victor her prize. Why must they fight o'er me? There is enough for all. Poor Evelyn!"
Fri Dec 15, 2006 2:32 am
Biorach Coffee Sprite
Outside the barrier there is laugher, clinking of glasses and the eating of food. Waiters coast by with drink orders. Whatever grisly scene had progressed earlier has not dampened the overall mood of the party. What’s one fight in a party? Or one small death?
Inside the barrier all is still. The table lies where it was overturned. The nappe is bloodstained and pierced. The shattered glasses remain where they were thrown. Mohito has left a wet stain on the floor. And Sheila is propped, still and smooth-skinned as a mannequin, with her back against the ward. Her head is tilted back and her eyes are closed as if she were at rest. A naked blade lies parallel to her on the floor.
Outside the barrier a short dark-haired man circles the perimeter like a hungry hound. He is sleek with scented oils, in a fine tailored suit. “Doll-baby,” he wheedles. “I feel you. I know where you’re comin’ from. You’re a real hero. A princess from a fairy tale. An’ I got just the place for you. You can come and kill the monsters, all the monsters you like. Look ‘n listen! I know you’re awake, darlin’. I know you—“
Sheila’s fist swings into the wall. It bows outward, crackling, volatile but steady, stretched but not to the limit. It’s elastic. It slams into her whining admirer and throws him into a neighboring table, before snapping back into place. The fader ignores the squeals of the bejewled emperial heiress adjacent and her overstuffed mother. Her eyes slide open and she gives the brawny bouncer such a look. Where was he when she needed him? Ah. He has brought Etalarche. And he is drunk.
“Evelyn?” _________________ "You push me, I push back. He pushed me into real world, so I brought him down here." ~Master Control Program~ Tron
Fri Dec 15, 2006 9:51 pm
GlassShard By the Hoary Hosts!
"Evelyn Five-eyes," concludes the necromancer gravely. He starts to nod and then changes his mind. "Sorceress Evelyn Five-eyes as she often insists, as though she had achieved such... such perfection of craft that only she deserves the title. I am glad that you defeated her, Sheila. I much prefer blondes. And the last time Evelyn and I were together I had such trouble locating her-- well, nevermind."
His torque is burning alarmingly hot in his hand. It's stuffed in a pocket, leaving him free to lay the flat of his palm against the stretchy side of Sheila's strange prison. It gives such a sproing! His thumbnail's flicked against it and it's like assaulting an inflated pig's bladder. Great tensility in a ward denotes very great strength. He's momentarily impressed.
"She's envenomed you!" he decides, pressing his brow to the barrier and grinning at her, "My poor dear. Poor, poor dear." Of course immortal Sheila could ignore the poison and either die or diffuse but then she would lose again the humanity that seems to be her new obsession, and he might never see her again. That would never do. He's not even sure why he cares but he's certain it would never do. Nothing for it then. He will have to administer the antivenom and hope that her mad biology works itself out.
"Right, then. I say, unless this is some environmental reaction to the Lady's assumed mortality, could whatever well-meaning chap that erected this ward please dispel it?" He rolls his eyes unsteadily over the largely disinterested crowd and picks out the bouncer's cumberbundt again. It's whapped companionably with the back of his knuckles. "You seem officious. Why--"
"M'Lord," says cumberbundt, "There is the matter of the bill."
"This is a party!" disagrees the death mage, sobering marginally at the thought of money, "If you are charging for this affair I... I must complain then that the cheese was too hard, the servants was too timorous, the air temperature is a smidge cooler than--"
"M'Lord, Miss Ruskolan and Sorceress Evelyn ruined a tablesheet, a table, a number of chairs, dishes, crystal drinkware, and necessitated costly cleaning of the floor beneath your feet. Sorceress Evelyn also dislocated Archduke Sudjet's jaw."
Etalarche regards Sheila out of the side of his eye sadly, as though disappointed that she hadn't broken anyone's jaw.
"Well," he murmurs, and produces a small grey card from his lapel pocket. Being a pimp daddy isn't all fun and games, you know. "I would apologise but the affair was probably more entertaining than the string quartet. In any event... please do draw up an itemized bill and send it along to the address here. My majordomo will be in contact with your accounting offices shortly. I will make mention of it to him as soon as we have returned to my lonely but palatial estate atop the desolate mountain of pain in the centre of the lake of the dead 'neath a leaden sky etc., etc. Of course you know that a gentleman never has any money."
"Gentlemen, no," replies cumberbundt in a tone of voice that normally would require decisive action on Etalarche's part. Right now he may snark as much as he wishes.
Sat Dec 16, 2006 1:01 pm
Biorach Coffee Sprite
The fader absorbs this information about the snake. Her eyes flicker but her expression remains cool. Bastion talks and talks with so many words. She is becoming weary of words the way a pebble in a stream becomes weary of water constantly running over it. The more words there are, the less sharp she feels and the more worn down. The snake talked too much. The ferret-suit-man (now fleeing the room) slimed his words on her. Now the muscle is impertinent and unhelpful. Everyone in the hall is a babble of buzzing, harrying, unnecessary words.
Sheila slips her skinny shoes off and pushes unsteadily to her feet. Shoes and sword are gathered into her good hand. “Etalarche is my guest, not my billpay. He is neither liable, nor responsible for any complaint or charges from the house.” Her voice is low and not unpleasant. But her tone is such that the giant should not be surprised if frost were to form on his eyebrows and nose from the moment she opens her mouth. “This is so even if he were at fault in this case. But he was not present when the incident occurred. You deal with him to no purpose.”
The top of her head does not reach this man’s elbow. But unlike the drunk beside her, she does look the giant in his face. She is not impressed by him. All of this is meaningless. Money is no object here. This is not even a matter of protocol. The unpleasant man has been sent to intimidate the fearsome pair and make them feel unwelcome. The managers cannot kick her out, neither can they harm her so they will be rude to Etalarche instead. Afterall, the greatest weapon anyone can use against the dreamling is to ignore her and make her feel little. In talking over her head to her escort, isolating her from the other guests, embarrassing her arm candy, and scolding them for spilt Mohito—she senses a subtle plan. Was Evelyn Five-eyes a plant? The poison has weakened her. Were it to reach her center and kill her outside of time, could she ever come back? Or would she be dead forever, cutoff from the rest of time? Was this invitation to the party a trap or some bizarre test? She has seen both before. And she is heartily paranoid because of it.
“I am the guest of another who extended an invitation to me with every projected instance in mind.” Her eyes lose some of their focus as she searches the ether and her gut leanings for answers. “If you go and check his tab, you will find that every expense is pre-paid on my behalf, as well as those of any additional guests I have brought.” Her pupils snap back into focus. Now she has said it, the taste of the words tell her they are true. She gestures for the cummerbund-man to go. “You know who it is. He is one of the Masters of Feast.” _________________ "You push me, I push back. He pushed me into real world, so I brought him down here." ~Master Control Program~ Tron
Sun Dec 17, 2006 12:09 am
GlassShard By the Hoary Hosts!
She's so capable. Bastion's not even going to try and figure out what it is she just figured out. He's content enough when the bouncer, after a long and challenging glare at the woman behind the ward, emits a strange, displeased clicking noise, bows his head, and turns away with a barely audible murmur of apology.
No one wants money out of him! The evening is successful.
Brute is walking away with one of his cards however. The damned things are not printed for free. Should never have given it up. He scowls and collapses into a chair, muttering a need for pancakes. Pancakes do sound very good all of a sudden. Hot, hot pancakes and hot gsetberry syrup and walnuts.
It's tempting to sit and sulk about the lack of pancakes but Sheila is still poisoned.
"I will never learn the secret of time travel," he mussitates deliberately, staring through her, "When I was a boy I told myself that if I ever did I would travel back to that very moment and flick myself in the head. My skull remained unassaulted all that day and thus I learned at a very young age how easy it could be to predict the future. Parts of it, anyway. Bollocks. If you-- if you... you are so clever, clever your way out from behind that barrier before Evelyn's venom rots your heart. Then clever me a way out of here for I've had my fill of this place--
"No, sir, I am not addressing you," he feels he must tell the man who has been staring at him from the next table. He leans forward and spears a finger his way. "When I am addressing you you will know it because I will preface the statement with 'Oi, goat-face,' because your face looks like a goat's face, sir."
"Imbecile!" goat-face tells his date hotly, glaring at the necromancer with slitted eyes, "Would-be Eurotrash from a medieval-minded mess of a half-world; go back to your hobbits and your elves and your feudal system, peasant."
"Go back to your paddock, goat-face!"
Sun Dec 17, 2006 12:45 am
Biorach Coffee Sprite
The fader looks unhappy. She doesn't clever her way out of walls and wards. She bursts through them in a blaze of phoenix fire and glory, if the circumstances are right. When the circumstances are not right, she waits in lassitude until either the wards weaken or she is let out. Bastion would not be so sanguine about it if he knew the months she's languished because she couldn't break a will-force wall.
She could tell him his way out is at his tongue tip but then he might leave her, either on purpose or by accident because he's drunk. Normally, it would not be a bad thing if he left, but now she realizes she needs him in order to get out. If she tries to break the ward, she will fall down dead possibly before the wall does. If she waits it out, the venom will kill her slowly instead. This is an evil, EVIL trap!
“Goat face? Etalarche...” She winces. Because Goatface is right. Disenchanted as she is with the death mage, she couldn’t agree more with the hot-headed stranger.
His date, on the other hand, looks amused. She chuckles low and fruity into a gloved hand. Veonice Trillup can give these sorts of chuckles at the drop of a hat because she is a dish. It doesn’t matter what setting you put her in, she may laugh at anyone she likes. Men will forgive her for the berry-red lips and violet-tinged black hair.
“I think,” she drawls deliberately, as if drawing a ribbon of caramel from her mouth, “they are both alike.” She exchanges a meaningful smile with Sheila and bats her shadowy lashes indulgently at the two men. In case Goatface takes any offense at that, her hand drapes itself on his forearm. _________________ "You push me, I push back. He pushed me into real world, so I brought him down here." ~Master Control Program~ Tron
Tue Dec 19, 2006 7:16 pm
GlassShard By the Hoary Hosts!
"Oh, 'Nice," chuckles goat-face, sneering at the necromancer with some of the whitest, straightest, most artificial looking teeth Bastion's ever seen, "You'll take anyone's side but mine." He kisses her hand but the action smacks of mocking self-deprecation.
"Sides, sides," mutters Etalarche, turning his chair away from the couple. The chair legs scrape conspicuously against the floor, producing a rude and obnoxious noise that he finds very pleasing. Everything else is irritating him. He doesn't like the way that goat-faced stranger lays his lips on that woman's knuckles. He doesn't like the way the bouncer is staring at Sheila from across the ballroom. He doesn't like the look on his face nor the fleeting, scornful glances she attracts from diners, dancers, and passers-by. He does, however, enjoy it when the same flavour of attention is heaped upon him and he wants to earn some more, even if it's just by loudly scraping his chair across the floor again. This plane-- this party and the company make him feel inadequate and inadequacy breeds contempt and contempt necessitates feats of obnoxiousness.
He's tempted to hurl paralysis at goat-face. Stab him in the throat. Raise his corpse and make it kiss his ass. Oh, the mayhem he could cause this place would be glorious before he got himself warded or ejected. There are plenty of party guests here he could murder in good conscience.
Sheila looks small and suffering though. Her distress is distracting.
Shutting his eyes, he passes a gloved hand over his face as though he could smear the hatred from his expression. Of course he can't, but he looks a little less ready to kill when he bends over his knees, leaning close to the ward surrounding the scantily clad little goddess and more thoroughly examining it. "...you alternate 'tween firebreathing and helpless vulnerability," he murmurs of her, swaying a little in his seat. Even when his black eyes have momentarily vanished behind a silver glow he manages to look unfocused and bleary. "I don't bloody understand it."
Sheila, that is. The ward makes sense with a bit of fourth dimensional thinking.
His long white fingers flex and feel along the shimmering bubble of her cage. He licks his lips, then lets his silvery vision fade. "Spatially you are here, my dear," he decides, then snickers. "Never fear. Though you may disappear... I believe you'll persevere. Mainly because I'm here to combat this queer sphere. Dare me to keep going? I can. Dare me! At'gwe, why is Timofey not here to bear witness to this-- damnation, I've broken the rhythm of it! I should quit before my wit is forfeit."
Stop it! Goat-face will be rude again and necessitate murdering.
He clears his throat and scratches his forehead on his shoulder. "Spatially you are here but you are in temporal flux. That's a good thing. My knowledge of chronomancy is not profound but I... I teleport better'n most men breathe. Lay your hand against mine, darling." His glove's stripped and his naked palm pressed flat to the side of the ward. The lids protecting the eye on his hand snap violently open as it comes into contact with the fierce energy, and discomfort furrows the death mage's smooth brow. Glistening scarlet, the unnatural orb stares unblinking at Sheila. There's no mind behind the eye; no emotional response to whatever it fixes upon, and yet its gaze is as sharp as a blade. It's a nearly tangible attention. It burrows into thought and soul, body and blood, seeing beneath the surface of flesh, illusion, and lies.
Etalarche's other hand is suddenly holding a small green phial stoppered with a glistening wad of sinew. "Don't be afraid," he tells her, "I teleport flesh best. There's a cure in this phial. I'll slide the dust of it through our bodies and it will come out whole in your opposite hand."
"The 'dust' of it?" asks goat-face, intrigued by the display, "Do you mean its atoms, Gawain?"
"Sssh," whispers Etalarche without turning, "I find thee an emasculated mass of inanity. Get thee to a tin can and put it promptly in thy mouth for thy resemblance to a goat does make me itch to slay thee in sacrifice. Sheila. Your hand."
Wed Dec 20, 2006 12:13 am
Biorach Coffee Sprite
Veonice subjects Goat-face to a long sultry look under her lashes. The side of her foot ghosts chillingly over his ankle and up the side of his leg. The tablecloth hides it, of course.
“You know I enjoy this cloak-and-dagger stuff,” she purrs. “Look at him. With his brooding eyes and pale skin he’s positively Gothic, and so romantic. I think I’ll make him a character in my next book. With a torch in one hand and a rapier in the other, don’t you think?”
But the object of his attention shrinks from him. She cannot handle the unlidded malevolent eye. She remembers it vaguely, and also remembers she had forgotten it earlier in hopes it would go away. For the fader, its gaze IS tangible. She is more exquisitely sensitive to the probing of its invisible rays than she would be if Bastion were to run his blackened tongue the length of her entire body. The sensation would produce the same awkard horror she experiences now. When her back touches the nether wall, Sheila seriously considers taking cover under a chair.
In the rummaging of her mind, the necromancer does not encounter the same crowded, fluttering, yammering thoughts most women have. Her thoughts are single and amorphous. Their shapes emerge slowly out of a great deep place, fascinate powerfully for a time, and resubmerge without a trace. Looking at her with his other eye will either mesmerize him or give him a migraine after too long. It’s like staring at a lava lamp. Watching her opinion of him slide from drunken fool to a demon wearing a man’s countenance is quite interesting. She would rather sear herself with a hot iron than touch his feverish fingertips even through the ward.
In this, the trap is even more well-laid than the girl had previously thought. Even her help is a stumbling block.
“No good,” she says after forcing herself to look at his other eyes. To converse with him is laborious. Ignoring the eye-palm is like trying to ignore Evelyn. The wrongness of its existence demands some kind of response. “Put the cure in my hand and it will do no good. If I eat it, it will not reach my heart before the poison does.”
“You must inject it under the skin. Instead of moving the dust, or molecules,” she adds with a sideways look to Goat, “to my hand, can you move them through me to the center and sublimate them without the glass?”
It is a lot to ask of a drunk man.
“Ooo!” squeals Veonice. “This is better than ER!”
Sheila’s sword clatters to the floor. She pushes foreward with a determined set of her jaw. She presses her fingertips against Etalarche’s on the other side of the wall, but keeps her hand arched so the eye does not touch her.
“Wait until I am gone, and then find the Time,” she whispers. _________________ "You push me, I push back. He pushed me into real world, so I brought him down here." ~Master Control Program~ Tron
Wed Dec 20, 2006 10:52 pm
GlassShard By the Hoary Hosts!
"The Time?" he echoes weakly, still trying to understand what it was she asked him to do. Between the drink, loathing the smug prick at the next table, and these oozing, entrancing thoughts of Sheila's, he is having a hard time mustering concentration for the task at hand. If anyone wanted an account of how fabulous a mage he normally is he'd give it with gusto, detailing battles in Cresce where he'd controlled armies of skeletons and constructs in the name of the Queen, battling back hoardes while demolirs exploded above his head. He managed to make magick while Hanghorse's leys lay shredded and bleeding around him. He excelled while Magloire was trying to burn him alive and afterwards when he was short one arm and coughing smoke while trapped inside a necromancer's staff. He is very good, he'll insist, at casting with a handicap!
Yes. Yes, he is very good! He's very, very good. The best the Ilganyag have ever known. The best worker of gruftgramary and Book'Vokk alive today. And teleportation? Who was it that proved as tangible as smoke while Varch struck and struck and struck? Etalarche, that's who! Fuck the liquor.
The pep talk helps. He gets his lower lip between his teeth and stares at Sheila's hand fixedly. It's the one in the middle.
Goat-face's little black eyes are thinned meanly, watching them. "I've seen this episode before," he remarks, snickering thickly, "Surgeon operated drunk. I don't think the patient made it... and any moment now a helicopter is going to crash dramatically through the skylight."
Etalarche squeezes the eyes in his head shut so hard that stars explode, but still the thing in his hand sets Sheila's thoughts oozing down the walls of his skull. He doesn't want them - doesn't need them! Yet there's no way he knows of to shut them off so long as the damned eye is focused.
Her fear is so opaque and then less so. It fascinates him, then blinds him. He tilts off the chair and winds up on his knees, nearly fumbling the phial. "Not had them long," he explains, "The eyes, that is. They are powerful and I've not had the opportunity to explore their... their intricacies. But I will do this, Sheila." He had planned to put the phial in her hand and then instruct her to slice her wrist and smear the antivenom into her blood. Dispersing it directly though, that is a better idea. Yes. And he can do it.
Here is Sheila, human enough at a glance. The chambers of her human heart contract as they should. Her veins are warm and routinely aligned. The tributaries of Life are bright and expected within her.
And here is the phial. It is cold to the touch. The organic antivenom is a potent wetness against the cool, hard crystal.
And here is the path between she and it: the scarlet glimmer of his own blood, the ways of which he knows so well.
So. Bid it to she via he. His hand flexes against hers self-consciously. The orb within rolls backwards.
Goat-face finds lovely Veonice's literary endeavours endearing but ultimately derivative. He is about to recommend an inspirational jaunt to sixteenth century Florence when the melodramatic wizard on the floor makes a noise like a man with a cramp and flinches violently away from the glowing bubble. His hands are empty. The one he'd had pressed to the side of the ward is faintly smoking.
"Flatline!"exclaims goat-face dryly. Etalarche stares at the now unoccupied, rapidly dissipating ward, his face grey.
It's actually very, very grey, though it's the back of his hands and the peculiar swelling of the veins there that make him decide very grey is too grey.
He bungled it. He couldn't keep the antivenom entirely separated from himself. He just put an unhealthy glut of his own blood into that capricious little hobgoblin-- no. No, not blood. No, could he have spread the curse? No. Maybe. He did something wrong!
"Time," he groans from the floor, cupping his forehead. As though he'd muttered some politically incorrect vituperation against the serving staff, a hush descends on the dining area immediately followed by a stentorian renewal of the string quartet to drown out the necromancer's verboten plea. The whining violin makes his head ache. Before he has the opportunity to vomit in his lap however, a helpful someone whose name he'll never know has put an opened pocketwatch in his face. Eleven twenty-eight? he thinks faintly, and then the prettily painted party is dashed with fetid turpentine.
Thu Dec 21, 2006 1:15 am
Biorach Coffee Sprite
Sheila had felt so patient and solid in his mind while he looked at her. Her fear had been a great rock he could have stood on. Could he have weighed her mistrust, it would have out-massed the fattest donna at the party. He had even savored the rising hunger asserting she had to end his strangeness by stabbing. But instead of fleeing, instead of wrapping the ward around his seeing palm, crushing it and ending herself, she faced off with the demon-tainted mage the way a sheep faces its shearer. The other emotions morphed and subsumed into all-encompassing fatalism and desperate hope. Together the two produce the kind of patience that makes four-footed fluffy animals approach a proffered knife from the butcher the same as when a crunchy apple is offered instead.
Maaa-aa-aaa. She lets Time back into her body and the Party does the rest. The ejected Miss stumbles out of a stuffy coat-closet with her heels still in hand, looks groggily around at the lambence lighted furnishings, and then examines her hands. The digits are pink and tumescent. Her whole body feels flushed and rosy in a manner any footman or clever maid would take completely the wrong way. But even as she struggles to comprehend why this is so, her chest combusts internally. She spasms. Clutching at her heart, she collapses into a twitching heap on the floor.
If having a higher alcohol to blood ratio than he’s ever had before doesn’t fell the mighty Bastion, he will find his pretty escort to be in shock-induced coma. _________________ "You push me, I push back. He pushed me into real world, so I brought him down here." ~Master Control Program~ Tron
Thu Dec 21, 2006 7:12 am
GlassShard By the Hoary Hosts!
"Lady Loraine is simply beyond reproach!" chortles Interim-Governor Roald Luthi an hour later, his jovial voice ricocheting down the marble hall like a pink rubber ball, "Did you see the condition of her cuticles? I would eat off of those cuticles."
The governor's companion, a thin young nobleman in town from the country, can be heard clearing his throat in the classic manner of a man stalling for time. "Er," he decides before the pause can grow too awkward, "Aye, Luthi. Admittedly my eyes were wandering elsewhere."
"Well, she was very pretty," Luthi replies, "And cut-in in all the right places. I must confess a keen appreciation, however, for a nicely arranged pair of feminine hands. I will wager you six gold she waxes the backs of her fingers."
"No? Well, it is a sucker's bet, I suppose."
These are good days for the Interim-Governor. City affairs have been placid and predictable since the Rachshanians cleared out. There has, as of yet, been no word from the capitol on replacing him with another of his Majesty's poker buddies or one of the Chancellor's more troublesome political rivals. The undead are quiet. The budget is sound. The Redemption is behaving itself. Hanghorse is in the black and fancy-free! And Luthi has a plethora of free time on his hands to pay social calls to dowagers with fine cuticles, and to oversee the redecoration of the manse's main halls. His position requires little else. Vane, Silva, and Aldobrandi are too happy to run the city for him.
Every now and again, though, one comes upon a surprise. When Luthi and his companion turn the corner on their way to the kitchen for a midnight snack and espy the limp and scintillating Sheila unconscious on the floor, the Interim-Governor is fairly certain she is not one of the new sculptures he had commissioned for the foyer last week. "My word," he remarks, stopping just short of treading on her, "Who is this?"
"I haven't the foggiest. Perhaps an errant musician from last night's fete? Her costume is very... mm, artistic."
"Yes, I like the slits up the sides. Daring."
"Is she dead, do you suppose?"
"A sensible query." Luthi nudges the woman gently in the belly, his hands in his pockets. Her lack of response precipitates a perplexed twisting of his lips. "She looks rather flushed, I think. I suspect intoxication."
The pair gaze down at her a while longer. Neither make a move to replace the rear of her gown over her slightly hiked derriere. It's a nice derriere. Nearly as nice as Lady Loraine's cuticles.
"There is a hand protuding from the cloakroom, I think."
Luthi manages to remove his eyes from Sheila's exposed ass and allow them to drift southerly, towards the open doorway of the closet. There are a few articles, in fact, spilled free from the little room. Galoshes are scattered across the marble floor and a frilly parasol and a gentleman's greatcoat, the elbows patched and probably belonging to one of the staff. There is also a hand, very pale, its fingers curled over an angry slice across the palm. It's attached to a sleeve and if that sleeve is attached to anything else it disappears into the dark cloakroom. Luthi suspects he knows the hand's owner. He's disappointed to be proven correct when he swings the door the rest of the way open, finding that nasty skull pilot from Alderode passed out amidst the shoes.
"It's vile Etalarche," he sighs.
"Yes. His Majesty insists I extend the city's hospitality to him so long as he remains under his aegis. He has the Redemption throwing fits which, I admit, is amusing, but it bothers the staff and the city counsel to have a necromancer traipsing about so flagrantly."
"I do like his shoes."
"Yes. The red stitching against the black dragonskin is striking. He smells rather strongly of liquor. I suppose someone should be summoned to put him in his room, the wicked blighter."
"What of the girl?"
The pair's attention returns to Sheila. She looks so waifish and vulnerable; a soft, warm girl-thing against the cold grey of the marble flooring, her delicate features half-obscured by hair so thick and golden it's all the Interim-Governor can do not to dip his fingers in it. Her bizarre attire is mysterious and alluring. Luthi wishes she was awake so he might ask after her tailor. As it is, all he can do is sigh and cast envious eyes back into the cloak room.
"It is shocking that she is in his company," he finally blusters, "Yet it is obvious they are together. Why do women perpetually gravitate towards cads and blackguards?"
His companion shrugs philosophically. "My sister claims she does so for the challenge of attempting their reformation. Personally, I think a woman can only be happy with a man of whom she may endlessly complain."
Luthi snorts bitterly and turns away from the profligate pair to summon the servants. "Well," he mussitates on the way, "If nothing else, I am certainly reporting this shameless behaviour to the Chancellor."
Not very long afterwards, the necromancer has been unceremoniously tossed into his bed in the north corridor, and lays atop the sheets like an unpopular corpse at a lonely wake. Across the hall and three doors down Sheila's recumbent form has been shown a fair bit more respect. Chambermaids have bathed her, washed her hair, combed it out, and pinned it upon her head. Her strange gown hangs respectfully in an otherwise empty wardrobe, replaced by a white flannel nightie and lovely pink silk slippers. The fader's very lucky she's tumbled into the manse of a notorious lover of women.
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