Notices


Wonderland, Scene VII (Erin, Underwood)

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

Erin was bowled head over heels, having ignored her own advice on the seatbelts. The slim girl picked herself back up off the controls, running back to the open window. With one hand, she reached out, summoning the familiar silver threads from the air around Sergei's head. When she pulled back, the threads began to coalesce into a sword, the shining metal weaving itself into reality just an inch from Sergei's eyes. It was a huge thing, and even half formed, it slipped through Erin's grip and on to the helicopter floor. "Sis!" she called, over the dying wail of the siren. "Tell it to chop through the vine!"

Assuming Heather doesn't botch the roll, The sword has a 4L damage modifier, a strength of 7, and a weaponry skill of 4 to go hit that vine.

Underwood, to his own mild surprise, had instinctively buckled himself up -- universal vehicle safety standards not having been a thing until the '50's. Well, he was in a helicopter, in Arcadia, with a not-insignificant risk of being brainwashed by a crazy scissor-hands dame and pitching himself straight into the firmament. One made allowances.

Of course, this just meant that he got thrown against the seatbelt, instead of the floor, when the helicopter decelerated. There was an emphatic "whoomph" as the air was forced out of his lungs (Which he had, presumably? Maybe they were pneumatic?), and a barely audible "clink" as Erin's disguise muted his bell. The reporter grunted colorfully and popped one of his shoulders back into alignment, then flashed a dramatic smile at the newest escapees. "All part of the plan, kids! Now watch, as Sitcom Dad and Psychic Sword Girl do a little light gardening."

With that, Underwood banged his fist on the inside of the hull and kept it there, closing his eyes and concentrating. Nearly inaudible under the siren and the whump-whump of the rotors, he was muttering something under his breath:

All right, beautiful, you're a damn good flyer and one heck of a machine, but right now, some overgrown flytrap with an anger problem is trying to yank you out of the sky. You don't want that. I don't want that. So how about you grab hold of your inner lawnmower, beautiful, and show that piece of topiary which one of you is meant to be in the air.

…There's a good kid.

The helicopter bucked precipitously, and there was a sound uncommonly like the sound of outer hull plating turning into several hundred tiny sharp serrated edges at once and shredding a significant amount of animated pricker-vine into festive organic confetti. You wondered what it could be.

Underwood threw back his head and laughed. "It worked!" A lightning glance at Heather. "Swing that thing, kid, and bring us home!"

4 successes to resist the song, bringing me to 7! 5 successes on Elements 3, doing 3 damage to the vine!

"Chop through the vine, right, right." Heather said, closing her eyes and trying not to think that her neck felt bad. "Sword, make with the chopping!"

Whatever one said about Heather's approach to magic (it involved yelling at things till they worked), it got you results. The sword levitated up from the floor of the helicopter and exited the helicopter by way of the window. This, unfortunately, was not the window which Erin had just opened, which meant that there was a sudden shower of glass.

"Ooops." Heather colored, and then before she could say another word, the helicopter lurched forward. The sword must have done the trick, because the helicopter rushed forward willy-nilly, gaining altitude above the Hedge. "It worked." Heather sounded unduly surprised by this.

The helicopter picked up speed, and you were now in the Hedge, not in Arcadia. The sky was now a proper greyish twilight, and the too-rich colors of Arcadia were receding in the background. You looked back...

And the Shear-Fingered Mistress of Twilight and Fate's Kingdom was gone. There was nothing there, just an endless expanse of Thorns.

"It worked," Erin echoed, with a sound of dull surprise. She pushed herself up from where the lurch had flung her, looking out the window back the way they'd came. Only the place they'd come from wasn't there, anymore. Erin stared at for a long while, waiting for the next challenge to come. It didn't.

"She cannot be gone," Erin said, even as events seemed to make a liar out of her. The girl stayed crouched, tense and at the ready, waiting for their victory to be yanked away from them. She stared blankly ahead as every passing moment ticked by, growing more tense and more lost with every passing moment. You didn't beat the Mistress. You might sneak away when she was gone, but you didn't come face to face with her and win. Erin suddenly didn't seem to know what to do in a world where this was wrong.

"I... I wonder if the Queens ever called Mr. Morgan," she said, distantly. "I... Beat, maybe you could look for him, if he's... here." She looked at the screen to see if Beat could point an arrow towards a friend, and thus, home. "Is... everyone okay?"

"She's not gone." Horus said softly, his voice faint and weak. For one who had only just escaped from Arcadia, he was not celebrating. He was old and he was tired, and this was all he had known for a very long time. "She is never gone. But she isn't here just now, which will have to be enough."

"Nothing injured but my pride." Sasha said, rubbing his chest. These seat belts were really tight. Nearby, Mary Mack was whispering underneath her breath, and no one felt the need to ask just what she was whispering in that damaged, hoarse voice of hers.

"So this is my tattered fate." Cinder said, her voice very quiet. She didn't look at Othello. "I wonder what will happen next."

Beat pointed out the path, and Heather directed the helicopter onward.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NeoTiamat View Post
"She's not gone." Horus said softly, his voice faint and weak. "She is never gone. But she isn't here just now, which will have to be enough."
"Why did she let us go...?" Erin asked, distantly. Victory seemed beyond credibility, to her. "Why did she leave us? Why did she come back?"

Erin staggered over to her seat, flopping down in it, and after a moment of thought, buckling her seatbelt. Then she sighed, and her shoulders slumped. The Contracts that had changed her flesh shuddered, and melted away. Her wings came first, the tattered and wounded things springing forth to be bruised against the seat - though they were slowly shifting into something new and whole. Then her face shifted back to her own, and she was Erin Lamothe once more.

She reached out, so much as the seatbelt would let her, and grabbed Alek and Sergei's hands, wrapping her slender fingers around them. Then she looked up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NeoTiamat View Post
"So this is my tattered fate." Cinder said, her voice very quiet. She didn't look at Othello. "I wonder what will happen next."
Dice Roll: 11d10s8e
d10 Results: 6, 5, 9, 9, 7, 4, 7, 3, 8, 10, 4, 3 (Total Successes = 4)
Reading the Portents

"Is it so bad?" Erin asked. She scoured any sign of Cinder's soul for her death, or that of her father, and found none. "You're free from it, now. Live." Her antennae surreptitiously jerked towards Underwood.

Dice Roll: 7d10s8e
d10 Results: 1, 8, 5, 2, 9, 6, 7 (Total Successes = 2)
Surreptitious Antennae Jerking

"I don't suppose anyone knows a Hedge Gate big enough for our transport," she sighed, patting the helicopter on the side. "I suppose we'll have to leave her behind. I'm sorry, my faithful lady. I know a woman who would have treated you right."

Erin watched as Beat formed an arrow on her screen. "He is here..." This seemed to perk her up a bit. "I wonder if Whim and Seventeen..." She shook her head. Instead she turned to look out the unbroken window, staring at the Thorns below. She recalled the last time she'd come this way, broken and lost, tearing and cutting herself on the terrible labyrinth.

Underwood was silent for a few moments after the castle vanished. Then, he laughed. It was a mildly hysterical laugh, certainly, but quite legitimate. Joyous, even. By the time he was done, he was in monochrome and pinstripes again, which meant that he had a hat to take off and fan himself with as he laid back in his chair, smiling. Today was not a bad day at all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Miss Lamothe
"Why did she let us go...? Why did she leave us? Why did she come back?"
"Oh, kid. Oh, the why does not even enter into it. You realize what we've done? We built a helicopter. And we flew it out of Arcadia. With four people -- four swell, deserving people, and I want to make friends with each and every one of you --" (he looked at Horace and the girls appreciatively) "-- that we did not come in with. And us?"

Underwood gave Sergei and Alek a pat on the back each, his glance encompassing the two of them, Heather, and Erin. And sure, maybe Othello, too. "We got out again. Again."

He shook his head incredulously, leaning back. "They are going to write stories about us. I know a guy back in Manhattan -- good guy -- who can…oh, we need is cigars, is what we need. Anyone here besides me like a celebratory cigar? Sparky, do us a favor and dig up a couple -- that's the ticket, Sparky."

Sparky had plunged back into Underwood's pocket and come up with a small case of (apparent) Havanas. (Success on Discreet Conjuration!) The reporter passed them around to any interested parties before lighting up himself, patting his phone on the head. "Thanks, kid. Couldn't have asked for a better partner, back there when the chips were down. Same goes for all of you. Couldn't ask for a better team."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Miss Lamothe
"Is it so bad? You're free from it, now. Live."
"Kid's got it in one." Underwood gave Cinder a small smile. "Three years ago, I was fifty years chained to a desk. Couple days ago, and here I am in a candy store singing Sinatra, and getting recruited by a red haired gal to go have adventures. Destiny, Miss Pleasant, is a tricky pitcher -- and he's always ready with a curveball."

"Don't question it, Erin." Othello said quietly. The cat's features shifted like water, and suddenly Othello himself was sitting on the dashboard, trying not to take up too much space. He looked quiet and he looked meek, or at least he tried to. The manic energy of getting away from Arcadia was draining away now, and Othello now faced the fact that he and his daughter were still in the same small space. This was a situation that wouldn't change. Cinder -- Alice Pleasant -- wouldn't disappear from his life.

All else being equal, Othello could be forgiven for half-wishing he'd stayed in Arcadia. Admittedly, Cinder seemed hardly pleased with the situation either, but neither was trying to kill the other just now.

"I learned everything I knew there." Othello said, and the ends of his whiskers drooped. "For better and for worse."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Underwood
"They are going to write stories about us. I know a guy back in Manhattan -- good guy -- who can…oh, we need is cigars, is what we need. Anyone here besides me like a celebratory cigar? Sparky, do us a favor and dig up a couple -- that's the ticket, Sparky."
"I am almost certain that stories would not be appreciated, J.T." Sasha said, though he accepted a cigar for the sake of the special occasion. Sergei, a recovered smoker, did not. But the lankier Russian did grin, and put an arm around Erin's shoulder.

"Sez you, Sashka. I want stories!" Heather rubbed her hands together with unseemly glee.

"Does he write poems?" Mary Mack asked softly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erin
Then her face shifted back to her own, and she was Erin Lamothe once more.
"Erin." The old master said after a moment of thought, as the three other changelings started at Erin. There really wasn't any doubting it -- Erin was one of the Mistress's slaves as well, and where Othello had been a creature of the private chambers, far above and long ago, Erin was something they could grasp. More than that, they could remember her. It had not been so many years ago that Erin had fled Arcadia herself.

"Moth?" Bat squeaked, staring at her with great, large eyes. The tips of her ears quivered.

"You got out." Glow said with a placid smile.

"And came back for us." Form finished, staring at Erin with a fixed expression on her face.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erin
"Is it so bad?" Erin asked. She scoured any sign of Cinder's soul for her death, or that of her father, and found none. "You're free from it, now. Live."
Quote:
Originally Posted by Underwood
"Kid's got it in one." Underwood gave Cinder a small smile. "Three years ago, I was fifty years chained to a desk. Couple days ago, and here I am in a candy store singing Sinatra, and getting recruited by a red haired gal to go have adventures. Destiny, Miss Pleasant, is a tricky pitcher -- and he's always ready with a curveball."
"J.T., stop preaching destiny to a prophet." Cinder said absently. But there wasn't really any fire in her words. The hungry wolf was held at bay, and Alice Pleasant was quiet and pensive. This was not who she'd meant for this journey to end. She sighed and looked up at Othello. Othello looked back at her, and tried to smile -- it came out uneven and half-terrified, but it was recognizeably a smile.

"Do you want... to talk? Later?" Othello offered diffidently. At the end of the day, Cinder was a practical woman, and nothing could keep Othello broken forever. Cinder sighed, and nodded. Another small step...

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

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erin
"He is here..." This seemed to perk her up a bit. "I wonder if Whim and Seventeen..."
An hour or so later, the helicopter came down in a small trod -- much further away from the borders of Arcadia. There were thorns here, and it was a grievous challenge to land the helicopter, but somehow it did land. It was on this little trod that you found Rakesh Morgan, and the rest of the crew that Aurora had sent onward.

First and foremost was Morgan, who's gaze grew steely when Cinder emerged from the helicopter. Seventeen was there as well, and you saw Dana the Tall, clad in plate armor and with a sword that was not significantly smaller than Erin. There were others as well, changeling fighters -- you glimpsed Cheshire there, and Heinzelmaul.

"You're safe." Dana spoke first, and she tensed as Cinder appeared. "And... you've found Othello." This was unexpected.

"Whim and Rook are a few hours behind us bringing up the cavalry." Seventeen said absently. You knew what this meant. The Guardians of the Veil were headquartered in a cemetery and had their share of necromancers, which meant that there was a shambling zombie horde somewhere back further along. "Is everyone alright?"

Quote:
Originally Posted by NeoTiamat View Post
"Don't question it, Erin." Othello said quietly.
Erin blinked once or twice. "You beat her," she said, after a moment. "You escaped, when she was still there. Twice, now. How did you escape...?"

Quote:
Originally Posted by NeoTiamat View Post
"Erin." The old master said after a moment of thought, as the three other changelings started at Erin.
"Moth?" Bat squeaked, staring at her with great, large eyes. The tips of her ears quivered.
"You got out." Glow said with a placid smile.
"And came back for us." Form finished, staring at Erin with a fixed expression on her face.
"I... I got out," Erin said. She looked up, tragically, to deny that she'd come back for them. She'd never even thought of it, she'd barely even recalled their names and faces, her memories in tatters from her flight through the Hedge. She'd hoped to never see anything from the Castle again. Even when she'd thought the Mistress gone, she'd never intended to go back, not until this madness dragged her all the way to Arcadia's doorstep.

But she couldn't say it. She didn't have the strength. All she could do was wordlessly shake her head at Form, and wish she could still cry.

"You were right. It was out there," she told them. She'd been so young when taken, she'd almost not believed their stories of the other world, where the Gentry couldn't tread. "It's good, there. It's good."

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

Quote:
Originally Posted by NeoTiamat View Post
"Whim and Rook are a few hours behind us bringing up the cavalry." Seventeen said absently. You knew what this meant. The Guardians of the Veil were headquartered in a cemetery and had their share of necromancers, which meant that there was a shambling zombie horde somewhere back further along. "Is everyone alright?"
Erin blinked at the crowd as if she wasn't sure they were real. "You're here," she said, a little confused. "I... the Old Master is very sick. He needs a hospice..." She went to try and get Mary to help Horus out. She causally touched her chest, hearing a soft crinkle of paper, and then went to help the Library girls out of the helicopter seats.

That done, she paused, then darted in and hugged Seventeen, right around the middle. "You're here..." she echoed, squeezing him. "No one was here before. I fought my way back through the Thorns, but no one was waiting for me..."

She let go of Seventeen and ran to Rakesh, throwing herself around him and hugging him tight. "I... I went home, but it wasn't my home any more," she said, starting to sniff and shake, even though her eyes remained dry. "But you're here. You came... for me?"

She buried her head in Morgan's shoulder, her tattered wings spreading and flapping. "I'm finally home..." she sobbed, into his awful tweed suit. "I'm finally free...!"

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

Afterword

Othello and Cinder did not make a full peace, but they made an armistice of sorts. There was just too much bad blood, guilt, and rage for them to become close. Forgiveness was neither given nor expected. Yet Cinder no longer threatened to kill her father, and Othello no longer ran away from his daughter, so perhaps it was an improvement of sorts. They stayed in contact, driven on by a sense of guilt or a masochistic ideal of duty, and perhaps time would yet heal this wound.

Othello resumed his duties as the Seneschal of the Seelie Court, though he was a much twitchier cat for some time to come. His deepest, darkest secret had been revealed, and it came with both fear and a strange sort of relief. The worst was over. He spent more time at the Cat's Cradle, and in his own inimitable way, tried to make amends.

Cinder lost a bit of her fire in Arcadia, and a bit of her faith in prophecy. The driving rage that had guided her life for so long had been splashed with cold water, and it left the werewolf adrift. She cut ties with the Pure Tribes that had been her fellows in hate, and became a Ghost Wolf. Most of her pack came with her, though not all, and Revelation became one more idiosyncratic London group.

Horus was put into a hospice affiliated with Guy's Hospital upon his emergence from Arcadia. The man wasn't at death's door -- time and the Wyrd made a mockery of time -- but he was old even for the fey, and he was tired, and a lifetime of dust had done nothing good for his lungs. The hospice also made for a convenient place to put Professor Horace Murthwaite, as though Horus was less emotionally damaged than the other escapees (not quite the same as 'undamaged', one should note), he had also been taken in 1909, and thus needed to be acquainted with everything from televisions and computers up to common cars and phones.

Bat, Form, and Glow took up residence in the Cat's Cradle, while Erin and the rest of the Harbingers went to work on them. They didn't have the future shock which Horus had to deal with (not to the same extent at least), but they did have a great deal of psychological trauma to work through. It would take a while, but with Erin to show the way, (and Sasha, Hammond, and Othello all possessed of some experience now), it would be easier.

Heather, Sergei, and Sasha made it through Arcadia and back again. They understood Erin better now, and they understood Othello much better now. Now they'd been in Arcadia, they were honorary Lost in all but the reality of the supernatural. They understood it... even if Heather still had a rather cavalier approach to it.

Mary Mack seemed to shrug off the entire incident, though her mood swings came fast and furious after coming back from Arcadia. Already insane, the vampiress became only a little more demented from the shadows of the Mistress's Castle. She still spent a lot of time in Othello's Hollow, and still no one asked her about it.

The Venatores saw the helicopter as it dashed across the twilit sky of the Hedge, and took that as a cue to slink away. They'd been paid up front, in any case. They did, however, learn what had happened later.

The Freehold of New Jerusalem was in ecstasy when the group returned, with four newly freed changelings. The party lasted for a day and a night, though many of the details were fuzzy, such as why Cinder had wanted Othello in the first place. But that was their secret, and the Lost could respect that.

And somewhere, the Mistress waited. Watched, waited, and smiled.





 

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Myth-Weavers Status