Wonderland, Scene V (Daphne, Erin, Underwood)

   
Quote:
Originally Posted by Underwood
"Also…he says can he say hi to Miss Pleasant, because she looks nice." This was possibly a charitable paraphrase of what Sparky had said, but the phone was clearly enthusiastic about it, jumping in Underwood's hand and beeping happily. The reporter looked at Cinder. "Miss Pleasant?"
Cinder gave Underwood an exceedingly dubious sort of look. Whatever affection she may have felt towards the elemental reporter did not extend to Sparky, who looked rather like the kind of spirit-possessed monster she tended to kill. Her nostrils flared, scenting for the smell of the spiritual, but other than the cloak of pain that trailed behind her, there was nothing there.

"What is he?" Cinder said, in lieu of an answer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erin
"I am... trying to accept what you two say," she said, giving a brittle smile. "To willingly ask you to share in my dangers, my pain... but I don't have to like it, do I?" she asked, plaintively.
"To be honest, I don't like it either." Sasha said with a smirk. Nevertheless, he rolled up his sleeves, and headed for the scales. "Pain isn't something I enjoy, but under the circumstances..."

"You first, and then I." Sergei said. He ran a hand along the side of Erin's face, caressing her cheek. "It will not be so bad."

Sasha prepared the coins, and then he carried out the first weighing. There was a brief flash of light, and Mary Mack scooted backwards a dozen yards, hackles rising. Sasha regarded the first scar on his hand, pale and white and long. "It doesn't actually hurt. You just feel... weak."

"I somehow am more worried than if it had been just pain." Sergei said with a smile, and carried out the last two weighings. He yelped, and for a moment he seemed to sway, then shook his head. "Strange."

"We've got the coin at least." Sasha said, picking up one of the coins. It looked quite identical to the others. "To the castle and to madness then, I suppose. Have I mentioned that this is a bad idea?"

Erin grabbed around Sergei's middle, as if hoping to keep him steady. "I was going to weigh the last," she wailed pitifully, kissing his cheek over and over. He'd been too fast for her. Eventually she just hugged him and held him in place, nuzzled up against his unshaven cheek and staring balefully at him.

"My poor leveret... Catch your breath," she mumbled, still nuzzling his cheek. She smelled of warm nights, and rain, and honey and peaches in the sun. An intoxicating smell... "Oh, my poor, poor leveret..."

Dice Roll: 11d10s8e
d10 Results: 8, 8, 4, 1, 4, 5, 2, 5, 1, 2, 3 (Total Successes = 2)
Warmth of the Blood attempts because the catch is there so why not try
Dice Roll: 11d10s8e
d10 Results: 4, 2, 7, 4, 6, 7, 6, 4, 7, 6, 5 (Total Successes = 0)

Dice Roll: 11d10s8e
d10 Results: 7, 8, 4, 1, 3, 6, 4, 5, 10, 6, 7, 7 (Total Successes = 2)


Quote:
Originally Posted by NeoTiamat View Post
"We've got the coin at least." Sasha said, picking up one of the coins. It looked quite identical to the others. "To the castle and to madness then, I suppose. Have I mentioned that this is a bad idea?"
"I know, Sasha," she said, letting go of Sergei to examine the coin. She traced the scar on his palm, exhaling warm scented breath. "I hope that heals."

Dice Roll: 11d10s8e
d10 Results: 2, 2, 8, 7, 4, 9, 6, 3, 2, 8, 5 (Total Successes = 3)


"I am sorry," Erin smiled. "I do not feel very glib. I feel.... cold, stonehearted. I am remembering things, I'd forgotten, the girls, the old man's name..." She picked up the coin, staring at the beyond perfect face on it. "I wonder if She was Othello's Mistress as well. The thought does not seem so wrong."

"I am sorry. I know I have been rough on all of you," Erin continued, smiling faintly. "I expect us to die. We all should, going in there. And I can't promise not to go mad when setting foot in that world again. But, so long as my family is alright... It will hurt, but I'll recover, I think. Just so long as you are all here. So... let us all try our best to get out of this, with body and mind and soul intact."

Erin turned and bowed to the Horseman. "Thank you."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Miss Pleasant
"What is he?"
"He's a Blackberry 8800," Underwood deadpanned. Sparky nodded, and trilled a sequence of notes.

Then, because that was clearly not what Cinder was looking for, Underwood went on, more casually. "Seriously. Some guy probably with connections in the PDA line must've dropped him in the Hedge a while back -- I found him a year ago, and we brought each other out. He grew a personality in the meantime."

Sparky beeped. "…Also the Internet, yes. The Hedge does that to things, when they're there long enough. Any rate, he's helpful as you'd like, darn good company, and saved my bacon more than once: doesn't have a violent circuit in his body, either."

Beep! "…Aw, and I'm proud to have you as my friend too, kid." Underwood rubbed him on the top of his casing with a finger, looking up at Cinder with a shrug and a smile. "He likes people."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Miss Lamothe
"So... let us all try our best to get out of this, with body and mind and soul intact."
"Amen to that, sister." Underwood had been distracted talking to Cinder while the weighing was going on -- shame, too, as he too had been planning to volunteer. As it was, he cast a regretful look at the scales, and patted Erin's shoulder reassuringly. "We all have each others' backs on this, and don't any of us forget it. And we're going to be okay."

A bow and a hat-tip to the Horseman, in concert. "And thank you, Your Majesty."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erin
"My poor leveret... Catch your breath," she mumbled, still nuzzling his cheek. She smelled of warm nights, and rain, and honey and peaches in the sun. An intoxicating smell... "Oh, my poor, poor leveret..."
"I've had worse. It is no great tragedy." Sergei said, smiling as he surreptitiously hid his burned hand from view. Under the circumstances, it was impolitic to show it. He leaned in and kissed Erin, enjoying her scent.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erin
"I am sorry," Erin smiled. "I do not feel very glib. I feel.... cold, stonehearted. I am remembering things, I'd forgotten, the girls, the old man's name..." She picked up the coin, staring at the beyond perfect face on it. "I wonder if She was Othello's Mistress as well. The thought does not seem so wrong."
"A pet moth, why not a pet cat." Sasha said darkly. He sighed, recognizing a lost battle when he saw one. "Then let's get this over with, and quickly."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erin
Erin turned and bowed to the Horseman. "Thank you."
The Horseman nodded, and from another pocket of his inside jacket, cast three small goblin fruits to Erin. They were pears, but with a reddish tinge that was not found in nature. This was significant in some fashion, but before he could be interrogated further, the Horseman turned the ignition of his hedge-cycle, and he was gone. All that was left behind him was a bank of knee-high mist and the smell of incense.

"Someone knows how to make an exit." Heather muttered.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Underwood
"Seriously. Some guy probably with connections in the PDA line must've dropped him in the Hedge a while back -- I found him a year ago, and we brought each other out. He grew a personality in the meantime."
"Curious." Cinder said quietly, regarding the little Blackberry-crab-thing with a certain level of suspicion. After a moment, she held out a palm, as though to let Sparky sniff her like a dog. Cinder was a little fuzzy as to how one interacted with a self-aware computer. Instead, she watched the Horseman depart. "Let us be off then."

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

You walked for hours more, and it was with trepidation that you noticed the path growing darker, and yet broader. There were footprints in the Hedge-soil, and there were sharp brambles on every side, the cruelly hooked Thorns just waiting for an opportunity to sting and to bite. Then you realized that the path, broadening as it was, nevertheless was now angling downwards, and soon you were moving through a trench, the Thorns interwoven with the dirt.

At great length, you came to a door.

The door was a small, round thing in the side of the trench, not more than three feet across, and it was locked with twelve keys around its perimeter. It had been rough-hewn wood once, but something had polished most of it to a mirror sheen. There was no doorknob upon it, nor, for that matter, did it have hinges. What it did have however was a large door-knocker shaped like the grasping claw of some serpentine beast, onto which someone had put a single, small, yellow Post-It note. Knock, it said.

Sparky had no nose to speak of, so he did not sniff. However, being a phone, he did like human contact: making an :-o emoticon, he tapped one metal leg on Cinder's palm, testing for balance, then tiptoed onto her hand. There was some tapping around in circles to locate a good position, before Sparky laid down decisively on his back, a :-) on his screen. Underwood grinned appreciatively. Then, as if the phone had just had a brainstorm, he popped up vertically again and alternated quickly between two pictures and a large, blinking "?" mark, leaning his screen towards Cinder as if intensely concerned with her input. Underwood snorted. "He wants to know whether…aah, skip it."

Underwood'll let Sparky hang around Cinder as long or as short a time as she'd like, on the ensuing walk -- her just giving him back is fine, too.

-----------

Underwood trudged up the path with a decisive air, and peered closely at the Post-It -- a certain degree of casual bravado seemed appropriate, given that he could be mercilessly slaughtered without warning any moment now.

"Well." He looked back at the party, giving a bleak smirk. "If I get atomized by doing this, bury me somewhere fun, will you?"

He straightened, took a deep breath, and knocked. "Anyone home?"

Quote:
Originally Posted by NeoTiamat View Post
"I've had worse. It is no great tragedy." Sergei said, smiling as he surreptitiously hid his burned hand from view. Under the circumstances, it was impolitic to show it. He leaned in and kissed Erin, enjoying her scent.
"I do not know that I trust you," Erin replied, pulling away from the kiss. She examined the odd pears, antennae tapping about the body of one, and hmmed. "These might do you some good," she replied. Oddly enough, she passed the third fruit to Heather to give to Sasha, instead of just giving it to Sasha herself.

Fishing around for her pocket knife, Erin slipped an arm around Sergei's shoulders, holding him as she sliced the fruit into pieces. Keeping the arm wrapped around him, she started trying to feed him the slices, piece by piece, letting her fingers trail against his lips and tongue while she was at it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NeoTiamat View Post
"Someone knows how to make an exit." Heather muttered.
"Do you want a motorcycle?" Erin asked, cheerfully.

----------------------------------------------

Erin regarded the door warily. Underwood had rather handily covered the door's knocking needs, and so Erin had little more to do than coo over her Russians, and wait unhappily.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Underwood
"He wants to know whether…aah, skip it."
"If I like cats or dogs more?" Cinder asked, arching a brow at this strange little phone. It didn't look venomous, and Cinder had gotten reasonably good at figuring out Underwood's motivations, so after a moment's thought, Cinder carefully shifted the phone onto her shoulder. "I'm more of a cat person myself -- and yes, I know that's strange."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erin
"These might do you some good,"
"Yes angel." Sergei said, obeying meekly. He ate the goblin fruit, and if he took the opportunity to work a few small kisses into the feeding, no one criticized. Heather and Sasha were enjoying themselves as well, Heather feeding her own lover the bits of goblin fruit. Mack regarded this scene for a moment and then went off to scout ahead. And so you proceeded to Arcadia.

---------------------------------------------

"We'll put your ashes into a jar behind the Cat's Cradle." Sasha said with a deadpan expression on his face. "Best offer you'll get."

"Good luck." Mary Mack said quietly, watching as Underwood knocked on the entrance to Arcadia. Somehow, it seemed both very appropriate, and yet abysmally inadequate.

The locks, meanwhile, were opening one by one. Click, they went, and whirrrrr, as a veritably assemblage of mechanical noises played out behind the door. Then it opened, splitting lengthwise down the center, the bottom and top halves coming apart. What you saw inside was an eye.

Not just any eye. A monstrous eye. An eye that was, by conservative estimates, four feet across, with a pupil the size of a trash-can lid, and a dirt-brown iris, with bloodshot sclera. Aside from the scale, it was a human eye. And it was looking at Underwood.

Erin - who, after Mary had slunk off, had meekly relegated herself to simply holding hands with her fiancé - shared a glance with Underwood. She then quietly cleared her throat. "Ahem. Good morning... sir, madam?" she tried. The gender of the something-or-other with a giant eyeball proved difficult to discern at this point in time. Erin felt reminded of the starting scenes in Return of the Jedi for some reason.

"We have business in the castle beyond this door. May we pass through?" Erin asked. For good measure, she held up the gold coin for the eye to see - not that this was a terribly difficult prospect.

The gargantuan eye blinked -- this involved rapidly closing and opening the door, with the two flats of wood working as eyelids -- and then regarded Erin for a long moment. That sort of gaze was positively unnerving, given that the eye alone was not significantly smaller than Erin.

Heather was making a squeaking noise in the back of her throat and having Godzilla flashbacks herself. Even the two Russians were looking uneasy. Mack, on the other hand, was fiddling with her scissors and whispering under her breath. Miss Mary Mack / All Dressed in Black / She's got a knife... Everyone dealt with stress in their own way.

The door closed again, quite suddenly, and when it opened again it was in a different way. Instead of splitting lengthwise, it hinged open from one end, opening up onto a black tunnel, which angled downwards into some unseen abyss. Gazing into the darkness, Erin could realize that on either side of the path were not walls, but a bottomless drop. Only the slender steps, like a bridge in the darkness, provided safety.

Erin took a deep breath, antenna feeling the darkness, as if it were a palpable thing. There was something about it, movement, like dust floating in a beam of sunlight, but in reverse... dust, darkness, the knowledge that something was lurking in there, waiting. Creatures with bat wings, the servants whispered, or the books themselves, hungry for knowledge, or the tools and slaves the mistress had thrown down here, unable to die... "Lights," Erin whispered harshly, pulling out her own keychain flashlight, praying that it worked in Arcadia. "Everyone find lights."

She took one step, her shoe echoing as it scraped across the stone step. Welcome home, Moth.

Erin coughed.

She coughed again, a deep, heavy cough, from the bottom of her lungs. Gears spilled from her mouth, tiny, gold, powdery gears. Were they illusions? Hallucinations? Did it matter, was there a difference, in this place? She was home. Home, home!

They had strapped her down and were slicing into her shoulders, and it was nothing but horrible, transcendent pain - not the worst pain she'd ever felt, but that didn't lessen the agony - there were wings on her back, now. There were days of agony as new muscles grew into and through them, nights of sleeplessness as she tried to lay without crushing them, but oh, they were pretty... Erin frowned, and tugged at her wing. There was a split in it. That damn Crocodile had ruined her beautiful wing. Erin tugged at it, in anger, and it only tore further. In a bout of sudden fury, Erin ripped the wing straight up to her shoulder. It was oozing blood, and gold, and blackbird feathers and old book dust. Tentatively, the two torn wings flapped, the blood evaporating in a puff of butterfly scales.

"Do you not look much more suitable, Moth?" the Mistress whispered in her ear, turning her head left and right with shear-fingered hands. "You will never be pretty enough to be worth looking at, but now you do not offend the eyes."

Erin took another step. She coughed again, golden gears bouncing off the steps, falling into the endless darkness.

There were girls strapped on the tables, each one caught in silent sobbing as Erin carved into them. She remembered their faces now. One with legs like a cricket. One with wings like a sparrow. One with ears like a mouse. And the beautiful, golden knives... Erin frowned more as she flapped her wings. Three on one side. Two on the other. She looked ridiculous. Faster than one could blink, she flipped open her pocket knife, sliding it through her other wing, ripping it straight in two. It was like cutting through wrapping paper. She flapped her wings again, the blood evaporating into gold once more. They didn't even look torn, now, the jagged edges merely resembling moth scales and fuzz.

"Who would ever want such a monstrous child?" the Mistress shamed, shaking her head with pity. "What kind of daughter would forget her own parents?"

Erin took a third step. She was home. Home!

"Moth," the name echoed in her ears. But it wasn't the Mistress, it was an handsome man with white teeth, and an infuriating grin, and sometimes, just sometimes, kind eyes...

“You’re like the sister I wish I had. I wish we could’ve grown up together.” A different memory, this one unbidden, and it made Erin pause upon the steps.

"It's Horace, not Horus," the old man was saying. He had antennae like hers, but they were rubbery where hers were soft. He'd smiled at her, and given her a name of her own, and promised so long as she never told a living soul, she could keep it forever, 'til the day she left the Castle... and he'd told her a poem, and even when she'd forgotten his name, she still knew the poem by heart.

There was something pressing into her fingers, the pain cutting through her head, piercing through the memories. Erin looked down to see the butterfly ring, her fingers twisted backward and gripped around it. "You are my angel, and my nightmare is over, for you are my dawn."

Erin coughed a fourth time, but there were no gears this time, only dust.

"I'm alright," she said, hoarsely. Her hand reached back, grasping for someone's, something to anchor her.

"I bid you welcome, to my Mistress' castle," Erin said, turning slightly to those behind her. Her face shifted to that of another woman, and a moment later, her more mystic features followed suit. Her wings vanished, and she grew pale, looking like a portrait from a cameo. "Move with stealth, and hide your face however you may. The Mistress remembers her servants, and she will know instantly that you-" her eyes fell on Cinder's burned face "-are not one of her slaves."





 

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.1
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Blog   Myth-Weavers Status