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Wonderland, Scene III (Daphne, Erin, Underwood)

   
Daphne awoke and shifted to her side.

She recalled the terror Erin had just suffered, the knowledge that your Master is nearby, that every sight and smell is Her workings...

Daphne buried her toes in the dark soil. It was so cold, but it was her only comfort when the dim, viscous light had faded. The night was when She came.

In the day Daphne stood in the warmth, unmoving, but it was a false warmth. Because She always returned, and all warmth was sucked out of her limbs.


Daphne curled her fingers in the Hedge-dirt. This was Othello's place, it was different dirt. She could feel it. She didn't blink or shut her eyes. If she did, Daphne would see Her again.

She sat up, forcing it back from her mind. Daphne was the one in control of her life now, and she would do as she pleased. And right now that meant working with the others.

"Erin..." Daphne began, but Sergei was speaking in Russian to her. "Erin, you better explain your lover's head; how does this connect to anything? Erin?"

She didn't really care if the other changeling wasn't listening. Her own head was splitting apart.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NeoTiamat View Post
"<He's fifty-one years old, he once told me.>" Sergei said, talking for the sake of talking. He breathed out, and then said the question that was preying on him. "<What do you think?>"
"<The way he reacted to her... does it matter, do you think? Most of us don't have children, but some can. It is so rare...>" Erin slid into his half-embrace, and then clung to him, sliding down to rest her head in his lap. "<He could have had her before he was taken. But... not from the sound of what she said. She... said her mother had died fifteen years ago, and she looked thirteen or so, at the time. That would make him twenty-three. That's older than Sasha was, when Lena was born.>"

"<He is... my oldest friend, out here. Almost a father. But in the end, I know so little about him.>" Erin took one of Sergei's hands and stroked it, running soft fingers down the moonlight simulacrum on his left hand. Even today there were many things she didn't know about her own lover - that he'd once smoked, how he'd lost his finger. She'd never asked. Othello had been the same, and Othello didn't volunteer. He always spoke about everything but himself. "<I know he was once an Autumn Courtier. A creature who spread fear, and was afraid... I don't know why he changed.>"

"<Do I think he abandoned his own child, only to dote on every other young girl he met like a father?>" Erin shook her head. "<This story is missing too many parts. He said he loved her. I don't think he'd ever say such words in jest.>"

Quote:
Originally Posted by earthsprite View Post
"Erin..." Daphne began, but Sergei was speaking in Russian to her. "Erin, you better explain your lover's head; how does this connect to anything? Erin?"
"It means Cinder died because she went to My Mistress' castle," Erin replied, not looking up from where she was lying limply, in Sergei's lap. "And she went to My Mistress' castle because Othello was there."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Miss Pleasant
"Care for company?"
"Buh."

As a rule, Underwood expected the worst possible circumstance to befall him at any given time. It tended to steel one against the unexpected and unfortunate, and was a long-standing Winter Court tradition, besides. However, it is significantly less useful when one is mostly asleep, and has accordingly shut down the part of one's brain used for expecting things and talking coherently to werewolves.

"…Easy, there." Amazing how one's faculties simply rushed back, with the proper impetus. Underwood gently moved his head back and away from Cinder's hand, levering himself up on his elbows. If she had one set of clothes, he had thought to pack pajamas: grey flannels, over an undershirt. A bit of plating was just visible at his neckline, under the collar.

The reporter spoke softly, and in measured tones: not impolite, but careful to make clear how he wanted this encounter to go. "Lady, right now, I mostly care for a good night's sleep. But sure, I can talk. Talk." He paused on the repetition. "'All I can do right now, no disrespect. But looks like you might need to talk, all the same."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erin
"<Do I think he abandoned his own child, only to dote on every other young girl he met like a father?>" Erin shook her head. "<This story is missing too many parts. He said he loved her. I don't think he'd ever say such words in jest.>"
"<And the only people who can tell us the missing parts are Othello and Cinder.>" Sergei said, falling momentarily silent. When he spoke next, he spoke in English, to let Daphne participate in the conversation as well. "I understand what is happening. But I do not know why it is happening."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erin
"It means Cinder died because she went to My Mistress' castle," Erin replied, not looking up from where she was lying limply, in Sergei's lap. "And she went to My Mistress' castle because Othello was there."
"And that means if we are to break this prophecy, we need to go there as well." Sergei said quietly. And perhaps in the process, exorcise some of Erin's old ghosts.

******************************************************************************

Quote:
Originally Posted by Underwood
"Lady, right now, I mostly care for a good night's sleep. But sure, I can talk. Talk." He paused on the repetition. "'All I can do right now, no disrespect. But looks like you might need to talk, all the same."
The little smile on Cinder's face fell away, and the werewolf shrugged. It didn't seem that she was going to get what she wanted tonight, and she accepted this loss with equanimity. Cinder was not the sort to take this personally.

"Too bad." She smirked for a moment, still crouched down on her heels. She shifted, sitting down on the grass, and tucked her legs under herself. A more comfortable position now. "Why do I need to talk?"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Miss Pleasant
"Why do I need to talk?"
Underwood shrugged, levering himself into a sitting position as well. A polite distance separated him and Cinder -- still a short enough space to be sympathetic, though.

"Get family troubles off your chest? I dunno. You strike me as the kind of gal takes quick action when she gets into bad circumstances -- which is good, you know. Can't say I much like the action this time around, sure, but good as a general thing. A principle. I know guys who get in a fix and worry themselves into a hole in the ground, and it's no way to be."

He shifted slightly. "But if all you do is act… Nuh-uh. Doesn't work. Gotta get your thoughts out in the open, to someone. Otherwise they go sour, and they eat you up inside. Take it from a guy who talks to people for a living: I've seen it happen."

"Anyway. I think you're an okay kid. And I'm listening. That's my two cents, anyway."

"Or perhaps help it to come to pass," Erin said softly, lying in her lover's lap.

She stood up suddenly, walking through the campsite, searching for a telltale searing glow. She found it, floating about the clearing, free of its normal host. She approached it, tilting her head slightly to the side in pain, but walking unerringly.

"You," she said, her voice low. "You did this. You chose us. Why? You have Venatores, you did not need other guides."

"Why did you choose us?" she demanded, knowing it might not even be able to respond. "Why us, amoung all the others? Why did you choose me? Why?"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erin
"You," she said, her voice low. "You did this. You chose us. Why? You have Venatores, you did not need other guides."

"Why did you choose us?" she demanded, knowing it might not even be able to respond. "Why us, amoung all the others? Why did you choose me? Why?"
The spirit pulsed, sending little jagged spikes of pain through Erin's vision. It was a strange feeling, because it was impossible to get used to. It wasn't very bad, especially now that the spirit was quiescent. But it was a constant, agonizing ache. Ceaseless and neverending.

"You know him best." The voice spoke in a buzzing, whining timbre, as though a multitude of mosquitos hovered next to Erin's ear. "You. The dryad. The reporter. You are the ones closest to him. You carry his pain."

*****************************************************************************

Quote:
Originally Posted by Underwood
"But if all you do is act… Nuh-uh. Doesn't work. Gotta get your thoughts out in the open, to someone. Otherwise they go sour, and they eat you up inside. Take it from a guy who talks to people for a living: I've seen it happen."

"Anyway. I think you're an okay kid. And I'm listening. That's my two cents, anyway."
"I somehow don't think I need to worry about being eaten up inside." Cinder said dryly. She looked skyward, searching for something -- a star, perhaps -- and not finding it. There were no stars in the Hedge. "I planned this out for months. Years, I guess."

"I supose it doesn't matter what I tell you. You're pledge-bound, and I won't care either way, soon enough. He killed my mother, you know." Alice said with a quiet sigh. She snipped away a piece of the hedge-grass and held it up to her eye, trying to figure out what this bizarre world of Othello's she was in. "He turned me into this monster. I mean it literally. I'm a werewolf because of him. Because he wanted to help."

Erin was silent for a moment, and then nodded. "Then know this," she said.

"Her father is as good as dead. Her father is worse than dead. He has gone to hide in a castle that once stood empty, but the Mistress has returned, and she remembers him. And all he has now to look forward to, is an eternity of pain and torture and slavery, hating himself and loving his Master, in his own personal hell. Forever. Without even the hope that death will end the pain."

"Tell your partner to go home," she said, quietly. "Go home and bury him."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Miss Pleasant
"I planned this out for months. Years, I guess."
"You ever let anyone know about it?" Underwood raised his eyebrows. "Before this week, I mean. This sort of thing…it can be like a comeback that sounds better in your head. Bad simile. You know what I'm talking about."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Miss Pleasant
"I supose it doesn't matter what I tell you. You're pledge-bound, and I won't care either way, soon enough. He killed my mother, you know. He turned me into this monster. I mean it literally. I'm a werewolf because of him. Because he wanted to help."
"You're right, I'm pledge-bound." He didn't comment on the back end of that sentence. "And you can tell me. …But that's an awful fraught bunch of statements. Have pity on an old guy and fill me in?"

Underwood leaned in slightly, concern on his face. "I promise, I'm a good listener."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erin
"Tell your partner to go home," she said, quietly. "Go home and bury him."
The spirit floated on the air, not moving aside from the slow and steady change of light and color, the pulsating intensity that was its very being. It didn't say anything, but then it hardly could answer that. Instead, it waited and thought, through whatever alien processes passed for the mind of a spirit of pain.

"How are you knowing of this?" The spirit whispered. Nearby, Erin heard the crunching footsteps of Reynarde, coming to investigate.

***************************************************************************

Quote:
Originally Posted by Underwood
"You ever let anyone know about it?"
"No." Cinder said, her voice oddly quiet. She stared off into the distance, listening to the thoughts echoing in her own head. "Who would I tell?"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Underwood
"And you can tell me. …But that's an awful fraught bunch of statements. Have pity on an old guy and fill me in?"
"You're not old." Cinder said with a gentle smile, even as she gathered her thoughts together. "I was born in '79. My parents were supposed to be Thomas and Phoebe Pleasant. But they weren't. My mother met a man, a strange young man who said beautiful words, and who knew magic. Who was magic. His name was Felix March. Now his name is Othello. One is as real as another, I think. My mother loved him. She never stopped loving him. After the divorce, she had a picture of him framed on her night-stand."

Cinder shifted and reached into her jeans pocket, and took out a faded, much-folded photograph. Despite the poor quality, it showed a whimsical young man, dusky-skinned and dark haired, with green eyes. He wasn't necessarily handsome, but he looked like fun, with his outsized bowtie and his outsized grin, and laughing, bright eyes.

"I took after my mother completely when I was born." Cinder said, shrugging. "I don't know why. I'm not sure how she knew I was his. Magic, I suppose. Or maybe he told her. I don't know. She'd talk about it later, you see. When she was alone, and thought I was asleep or not paying attention. But Felix took me when I was just born, and he gave me my Curse. Then he left."

"When I changed... it was some stupid argument with my mother. My stepfather had long since left. I think he knew, in the end, I wasn't his." Cinder sighed. "I Changed, and I was a monster... I have her blood in my throat."

"I never saw him again till today."




 

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