Chapter V - Brimstone

This is what you came here for. Adventure, intrigue, murder, mystery and action - plus a healthy dose of boring everyday stuff. One continuous story-line, broken up into smaller themes for easier consumption.

Re: Chapter V - Brimstone

Postby IamLEAM1983 » Wed May 16, 2018 11:31 am

Vernon shrugged. "Whether or not our friend speaks is of little concern to me; what matters more is that Sharpe realizes that if he intends to preen and parade his way around the rest of us while the world is falling apart, he'll find our patience capital greatly diminished. Neither Hope, yourself or indeed myself and Eirean have time to spare for plotting landowners from some sun-baked corner of Alabama. If he's smart, Sharpe will call off his dogs and retreat to his estate. He'll wait for his turn to make a bid for this world's throne, after Pride's inevitable failure."

Bucky grunted thoughtfully. "I wasn't around, back when Ness and her friends invaded Pride's Spire. I saw the numbers, though - I read the sit-reps everyone posted. What makes ya think Pride's gonna bust it?"

Vernon grinned sharkishly as they rounded a corner and left the seemingly unused dining hall for a more ornately-furnished one. It was a smaller wing of the mansion, half a solarium and half a salon and dining space, with a complete half-dome in reinforced wrought iron and glass, here left clear of Vernon's protective frost. Instead, thick ivy vines of a rather insolent shade of green stretched out and partially covered the glass, giving Faerie's pooling sunlight a vaguely greenish-golden cast. Vibrant flowers grew on both sides of the glass, sending a vaguely familiar sweetness in the air. Something like jasmine and roses balanced with a bit of earthen musk. Mistletoe that looked like a mad botanist had crossed it with slime mold reached down from a dangling chandelier's chain and clung to every rivet and whorl of copper, forming complex geometric patterns between the individual candelabras. Sussex Carol, as it turns out, had sounded from a rather simple-looking gramophone in a corner of the room. Vernon paused long enough to replace his foil on hooks on a display that hung above the room's single fireplace, another large affair you could've used to roast a small ox or a calf whole. Eirean was seated at the round table, casually ignoring the king's spread of various foodstuffs that covered it, head bowed over an e-reader and stylus pen pinched between two fingers.

"Pride goeth before the Fall, mister Wallace," replied Haskill. "Pride cannot and will not sustain its efforts for long. We will face their full fury in the coming days, but they will ultimately fall before the city's true defenders. People do not take kindly to bullies who push for sympathy after defeating an even bigger foe - restoring Riona's primacy over the anomaly in the Buck estate will only convince those most addled of Infernalists out there. With mister Quint having vacated the premises and mister Magnus being rather lucid about things, they won't find much here to capitalize on. We might be in for a few years under Mayor Black Goat, but he'll follow the same route Gawain Machae ultimately did. He'll throw in the towel or botch things spectacularly a few months into his reign."

He headed for a drinks cabinet that stood nearby. "I've already begun talks with the City Council, concerning an interim position. The Goat will want all of the glory and none of the obligation, which will require an administrator to manage things here. The faster we appease and mollify him after his victory - if he wins - the faster we will be able to chip away at his agenda. I was thinking that your Melmoth could make a decent fit - he happens to be of demonic descent, yet packs that humane garrulousness his creditor no doubt loathes."

Bucky looked around. "Where's Sharpe's goon?
- Oh, I suppose mister Atticus McKinley is only just rousing from sleep," shrugged the Winter Lord.

Eir smirked at that. "I haven't left him with much to do; I forced him to swear an Oath of Hospitality to me. He can't leave the premises without my say-so, and apart from indulging Vernon here in everything from chess to stick-fighting, there's not much to do. I'm letting him stew until he tells us why Sharpe is so willing to bring his cards to the table while we're so close to world-changing events... I have a few hunches, though."

Vernon nodded. "It could be that mister McKinley is looking to be there in time for the invasion, in order for his offer of a collaboration between Morgana's Summer clans and the Pit to be brought to the table. I tend to think Sharpe is hoping to orchestrate something unfortunate regarding Eirean, and to send one of his own as an incumbent Summer Lord."

The Summer Lady smirked meanly at that. "I'm older than the Jacobite son of a bitch, I just don't let it show. You'd need to get up early in the morning to kill me - and our friend, Mr. McKinley, reminds me exactly why the only relation in the South I ever nurtured involved my contacts with the Underground Railroad. He's been fatuous, pompous, arrogant and disrespectful since setting his foot here - albeit in the exceedingly polite way we Fae have pioneered. This spread might not be for you, Bucky, but I figure seeing you work your magic might help with the usual passive intimidation tactics."

Shamus parted with a mean chuckle. "Yeah, I can have that effect on people, once they see me chow down for the first time. I promise, though - I'll do your cooks right."

Eir chuckled at that, the sound more mirthful than Bucky's. "Oh, I don't doubt that for a second, old friend. We've cleared a corner over there - come sit down."

Bucky took the offered seat, which was more of a cleared space than an actual chair. As big and tall as he was, however, sitting down on the floor didn't hamper his ability to reach the table. More than likely intending to wait for the guest of honor to arrive before unleashing the brunt of his appetite, Shamus settled with the rather comical sight of his sedately noshing on a single croissant, his big fingers daintily spreading strawberry jam onto a torn half with a knife. Neasa's seat was right next to his, the Summer Lady nodding in admission. McConmara could choose to settle for a coffee cup, just as she might go for something with a little more heft, like cloudlike omelet puffs, impeccable hash-browns or what had to be the best-looking fruit salad presentation she'd have seen in a while.

"Aren't you supposed to say no, when one of the Fae gives you food?" asked Anjali. "Some of Grandma's books say that they can turn you into a dog or a cat if you eat their food willingly."

Vernon poured himself a coffee cup. "Nonsense, my girl - why, I've been known to cry when my youngest guests don't finish their plates."

The girl chuckled. "Yeah, right."

Vernon winked in response and then set his cup down. "Why don't you go see what Mayhew can find for you, hm? We've had to keep a few four or five year-old Changelings during meetings; maybe there's a decent card game or coloring book for you to find, somewhere...
- I'd like books on the Fae, please," politely replied the girl. "The real stuff, if what I've read in Celtic mythology is wrong."

Vernon widened his eyes. "A scholar, eh? At such a young age, too! Well, you find me delighted, Anjali."

* * *

"Maybe the mayor would get a decent read of the situation if he actually read our reports, but I'm thinking someone in City Council has more of a Populist bent," noted Three. "There's still a fair few voices around that say we're a waste of taxpayer money - even though things have dialed down to Hope paying our salaries and practically nothing else. After the raid on Mammon's vault, both Tom and Archie turned richer than they'd like to admit. They're funding everything on their own and they gouged their respective pays out. Archie's basically working for free. I can't afford to, and Bagley says our being paid from Holden Hall's coffers would send the wrong message. We're not a superpowered militia or a private military contractor - we're the local good guys."

Meris' arrival forced Drake to switch gears. "Hi, M. Anton's here with what I'd only hazard to call Newborn Squid Brain Juice and he wants to stab me full of it. There's that, and I needed to run an idea by you, concerning Nereus and what's going on lately."

Azardad rolled his eyes. "It's a designer nootropic drug, Aidan. If I shot you full of my rachidian fluid, you'd enter anaphylactic shock. Our being a marine species means we don't carry the same microbial life you do. We share enough to avoid our living on the surface being grounds for an epidemic, but there's stuff in my blood that hasn't seen the light of day since the Architect designed us."
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Re: Chapter V - Brimstone

Postby TennyoCeres84 » Wed May 16, 2018 11:57 pm

Neasa seated herself in the offered chair and opted to satisfy her fast-burning selkie metabolism by getting some of everything. "Atticus McKinley sounds like a real delight," she muttered, cutting a piece of omelet with a fork.

She then smiled at Anjali's quest for truth. "I imagine some of the info you read your Grandma's books have a kernel of accuracy, Anjali. They might've been accounts written by frumpy folklorists during the day, but I bet some of those stories were written about the ilk from Mab and Morgana's respective Courts. So the authors of those books might have had an axe to grind when they wrote them. Both of them are the Fae equivalent of "the squeaky wheel gets the grease", what with their overly dramatic grudges and chest-beating."

She pointedly sipped some coffee and explained to the girl, "You'll find similar types when you start attending junior and senior high school. Vain, superficial types who can gossip all day long to give poor students trouble. The only difference between them and Fae is the fact they have Oaths and magic on their side."

*~*~*

Meris looked between Azardad and Aidan, intrigued by both topics. "I imagine his nootropic drug will allow the burgeoning Void Weaver mind prove to be more flexible and permit you to access and grasp things that you haven't before. As for your idea, is it related to that, Aidan?"
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Re: Chapter V - Brimstone

Postby IamLEAM1983 » Thu May 17, 2018 11:26 am

Anjali nodded as she also sat down. "I know. Dad was a bit surprised to hear it, but there's a few mean people in Heaven, too. You can have your heart in the right place and be set on the right goals while still being a jerk," she said. "I found a few angels I ended up calling madarchod behind their backs," she said, as if calling a member of Heaven's Host an asshole in Punjabi wasn't a bit out of the ordinary.

"Some of them don't like us mortals organizing Heaven, maintaining posts or jobs. Most angels understand we need some sense of normalcy when we die, but some of them still think Heaven is supposed to be run by angels, for angels."

She shrugged. "I've been nine and a half years old for two hundred years, now. I'm no threat to anyone - I never got their thinking."

Eir smiled knowingly, and a bit sadly. "Most people in charge don't like it when their authority's challenged, sweetheart. Going up in the Fae's ranks means finding polite ways to indispose rivals and to move on up in the ranks, if you want any real power. I've had to fight and work hard for what I have. For the Unseelie, it means scaring mortals with those stories you heard. Mab and Morgana - they follow the Old Ways, but they don't play fair. That's actually one reason why they called us Seelie the Fair Folk - not because we're prettier than the rest, but because we follow the rules we set for ourselves when we first gained freedom."

Vernon nodded. "We honor our guests, give thanks to our hosts and try and give back to those communities that shelter us. In the old days, we watched over Britain's clans just as their hunters and wayfarers marked our Gates and passageways where they found them. Those who crossed into the Other World were met with gentility and care, and then safely shepherded back home."

The girl nodded. "What's the difference with Sharpe's people?"

Vernon tsked. "Some of the Southern Fae are ideological conservatives to a fault. I'm still digging through American history as a recent immigrant, mind you, but I've seen enough to know some of Sharpe's cohorts believe this continent's Faerie analog to stand as a land of plenty, an unending cornucopia for crops, arable land, potable water - to the point where the mortal plane can be relentlessly pillaged without care. It is true that Faerie is not limited to the globe's dimensions, but an infinite land mass requires an infinite workforce to till and exploit - which no country on this plane or race among the Wyldfae has. On the long term, depending on Faerie's haul of riches for economic stability is no viable proposition. Championing social and political regression in the name of landowners of generations past who failed to pass their torch on to a descendant by virtue of being immortal is just as antiquated. Mississippi's prison workforce is but an institutionalized form of slavery, put forth by Caucasian Fae, anthros, humans and immortals of European descent with little care for the fact that Black America has had centuries to define itself as a valid cultural basin. For all of President Jones' efforts, one cannot reason with centuries of financial and political clout, not when their shared goal was to turn human suffering into a trade-worthy merchandise."

Anjali seemed a bit crestfallen. "People believe that?!"

Eir pursed her lips together. "Looks like Archie was right - you died too young to have clear memories of things like the British Raj, Anjali - or even the milder decades that preceded it. Your adoptive father cares so much because the people who sent him to your birth parents' native land only saw it as an opportunity for industry and trade. He saw your people suffering, he felt responsible, and took to Sleeman's brigade because they were tasked with keeping you safe, instead of trying to further colonize you. Add to that what he and Sargent Arvinder King saw in Kerala, and you have all the reasons in the world for him to risk his sanity to try and save you from the Void Weavers."

She put two and two together. "My father feels guilty?
- Not personally, I'd wager," offered Vernon as a nuance. "Archibald really is a model gentleman for any era, gaslight or Wi-Fi, but he knows what his native culture is complicit of. Child labor, exploitation, racism, colonialism - these horrors were the bread and butter of my family's crusade in those days. We worked tirelessly to eradicate them and hopefully educate the average lordling or factory boss. We encouraged the early buddings of women's social justice movements and did what we could to give a voice to the voiceless in London's greater metropolitan area."

He sniffed. "Sharpe's sycophants? They miss the old sweat boxes to trap belligerent workers in under baking sunlight, the whips and cotton-field chants; the decayed Creole spoken by firelight and the sight of assumed primitives attempting to curse their masters with a chicken offered to Baron Samedi as sacrifice... They won't own up to it, of course - appearances and whatnot - but that is the extent of their beliefs."

* * *

Three licked his lips. "I wanted to try and piggyback between you and Sir Cuthbert, some time after Anton'll be done upgrading me. I'll be a novice when it comes to dreaming like a Void Weaver, but I've heard about Cuthbert and Lucian's people sharing dream-spaces after exchanging consent. I want to know if I couldn't use Cuthbert as my sort of rendering engine," he explained, gesturing, "and your memories of Nereus as some sort of packet-sniffer - a sort of trail I'd be able to pick on to zero onto him from the Darkhallow. If he decides to join us, we'll at least be able to speak face-to-face - sort of - and to see how well he's doing. We'll be able to agree on a temporary strategy until we actually can move ahead to try and extract him from Renewal - and you'll get to see him for a while."

He hesitated. "I just figured he deserves to be more involved, now he knows we're out there. If we can establish a sort of night-time and dream-based support structure, he'll have something to lean on until we actually can act. The better the rest of us Shieldies get to know him, the more efficient we'll be on D-Day."
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Re: Chapter V - Brimstone

Postby TennyoCeres84 » Thu May 17, 2018 5:17 pm

Neasa added to their explanation, "And they don't consider the Blue and Red Chimeras to even be technically Wyldfae, despite their efforts to reconnect with their ancestral heritage. If someone doesn't fit into some neat little category of theirs, they look down on those different from them and only seek to use them. "

*~*~*

Meris nodded approvingly and replied with a mixture of happiness and trepidation, "I think it could potentially work. Using the both of us to reach the Dream hallow would be feasible. If things proceed well, you might even get to meet Delmar. However, I don't know how our created dreamscape will look after all this time. I imagine it has downgraded since I was last there, so it could prove difficult to rouse Nereus to speak with us."
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Re: Chapter V - Brimstone

Postby IamLEAM1983 » Tue May 22, 2018 11:30 am

"How could anyone be so mean?" asked Anjali, which left Bucky to try for a half-decent frown.

"When ya believe somethin' like the Dixies do, like some Evangelicals or fire-and-brimstone types, everythin' else ends up being an inconvenience. Your Dad an' I - we weren't welcomed with strictly open arms, back in the day. There'd been Clanks for decades, sure - centuries if y'go by what Japan produced - but we weren't seen as human by everyone in Hope. Some people, they only saw machines. Machines foolish t'think that runnin' on mortal souls made them mortal."

Anjali looked indignant. "But you're real! You even snored, last night!"

Bucky shrugged. "For some folks, honey, y'ain't worth squat if y'ain't flesh-and-blood. You technically aren't, and if word got out a sweet little girl skipped outta Heaven and just kept on goin' without the Vienna Council t'take the hit, we'd be lookin' at incensed religious types usin' you to prop up their end of the world. Folks used Clanks before, and vampires before that - an' even the Fae."

Eirean nodded. "Salem was hard on the East Coast's Fae populace. The entire Puritan movement and Europe's focus on witch hunts didn't just affect practitioners; it scarred communities based in Faerie that depended on or perpetuated ancient pagan traditions. While the colonists took land, we brokered deals and cohabitation agreements with the New World's native Wyldfae, with the spiritual roots for several Theriomorph communities."

Footsteps sounded, a slightly hoarse and smoky voice wrapping itself in South Carolina twangs coming closer.

"That we did, miss McHale - and it didn't stop the Natives from being pushed back to reservations, didn't it? It didn't stop us from takin' land - from buildin' this great country of ours. Collaboration's got its virtues, I'll give you that - but only to a fault."

Eir lightly grunted. "Mr. McKinley. I trust you slept well?
- Another night under your spell," replied the man, as he turned the corner. He looked thin, excesses of his last mortal years focused in a tiny paunch around his waist. His cream-colored cotton suit would've been more fitting in June than December, his necktie patterned in steel-colored floral whorls over black silk. The brim of a light fedora hooded his more delicately pointed ears, and he shared Eirean's shyly-suggested parentage with dragons. From a distance, it looked like he sported dark bags under his eyes, only for closer scrutiny to reveal that faint patches of charcoal scales glinted underneath a fine layer of human skin. With silver hair slicked back and carefully air-fluffed with a brush, he looked a bit like a modern and air-conditioned version of the old idea of the Southern gentleman, sweat replaced with a carefully selected musk that smelled too expensive to be your typical Perfumes aisle cruft. Vetiver, lilac and brown sugar - a starkly masculine base lifted with floral accents.

"I wanted to discuss one o' said collaborations," he said, as he approached the group, "an' then take my leave. We've all got quite a bit to plan, over the comin' days. Still, far be it from me t' offend my hostess..."

Eir stood up and they embraced and kissed one another passionlessly, in the starkly European and businesslike fashion you didn't seen often on the East Coast. Short, tight squeezes and pecks on cheekbones, the whole of it done out of apparent contrition. Eir was the first to return to her calculated smile.

"You've been a gracious guest, Mr. McKinley," she said. "I felt the need to sample the South's charms without packing for a Gate or a plane - I trust you'll forgive the indulgence, as well as the Oath."

Atticus eyed the spread on the table and then selected a chair and tablecloth, next to Eir. He sat down and rested the cloth in his lap, as you'd expect.

"Forgiven and forgotten," he replied, his tone breezily casual even as his eyes glinted with a bit of steel. "Add a few biscuits and you'd turn my own cooks green with envy. My stars, that's one Hell of a table, isn't it? Say what you will about the Old Country, the locals know how to host!"

Eir smiled sharkishly. "Seelie prides itself on that, Milord Summer.
- Not that it's given to everyone, though. Your beau's turned out to be more of a maverick than a conversation-starter," he said, eyeing Vernon. "I was kinda surprised, honestly. I figured the great Lord Haskill wouldn't have been so... provincial."

Vernon didn't miss the insult, but merely narrowed his eyes over a tight smile. "Ah, but the world shifts," he said. "America now stands as the gateway to the wider world, England's had more than its fair share of time in the limelight. One would be ill-advised to hold grudges. I like to leave visionaries to their windmills and feel more at ease when focusing on my Lordship's welfare."

McKinley also managed to wince by not wincing at all. A quirk of the eyebrows, and little else. "Oh, but I ain't no Don Quixote, Lord Winter. That's Phineas' description, more likely - envoys an' collaborators like me, we're the Sancho Panza types. His first idea was of forgin' Oberon's Mantle an' sendin' a Bean your way just before the rifts would've opened. He figured the Yule King might've been more receptive. I told him I knew better than to insult your intelligence, Vernon."

Vernon nodded, the gesture like steel under velvet. "How gracious of you, good sir. A pity Titania will never benefit from your wisdom."

Atticus was about to reply, when the first of the louder of Bucky's slavering noises were heard - half a slurp and half a smacking sound - as a metallic mitt gripped a jar of jam, the other one a tablespoon, and hurriedly shoved strawberry jam down his faintly steaming gullet. As per usual, Bucky's eyes were half-lidded, his gaze seemingly unfocused, as he now took to chasing whatever passed for satiation for his kitaiteki's armature. McKinley briefly looked troubled, Eir and Vernon exchanging a calculated gaze: boredom and a hint of amusement - been there, done that.

"It'll get worse before it gets better, Atticus," reassuringly added the Summer Lady. "This is Shamus Wallace, one of the local luminaries. His friend, Neasa McConmara, manages a sewing needle as well as she does punches strong enough to shatter concrete walls. Tell me, why did you turn coat? You used to serve Titania, back during the Texian Wars."

McKinley hid his growing unease behind his coffee cup. "The Queen wanted us Fae to act as moderatin' instances in the Confederates' ranks, and the same went for America's brushes 'gainst Mexico an' Spain. I spent enough time around Sharpe to see how he was right - and how some o' what he believes needs moderation. I've only ever paid lip service to the Summer Hag. Morgana makes the wisteria problem back home look like a buncha New York weeds in Central Park," he said, scoffing.

Vernon eyed Neasa. They'd made their guest uncomfortable enough to start opening up. Now was the time to try and make some in-roads.

* * *

Three nodded. "Which is why I need Cuthbert here. I can't focus on a neutral enough space on my own; I'd end up infecting your corner of the Darkhallow and Nereus' with chunks of Camp Performance, Twentynine Palms or Najeeban. Neither of you wants to handle my trauma on top of your own problems. If Nereus is already torturing himself with an inaccurate shade of you, I don't want to add an inaccurate shade of Carrie to the mix."

He felt Meris was owed some precision. "Carrie Silva's the woman I fell for, back in the Middle East. We were... pretty close, before Najeeban happened."
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Re: Chapter V - Brimstone

Postby TennyoCeres84 » Tue May 22, 2018 3:55 pm

"So, what are those points of moderation you think need to be applied to Mr. Sharpe's beliefs, then?" Neasa asked, taking a pointed bite of her hashbrowns.

*~*~*

Meris' lips flattened a bit, and she shook her head. "The Darkhallow can be an unpredictable place. It can offer hope, but it can lead one to despair. It can be anything from a library to a torture chamber. It's what you put into it that can most directly affect what you see and experience there. Cuthbert and I can help you focus, but if you let your fear guide you, you may still end up seein some altered figment of your lover. I've even seen a Meris-duplicate version of Amaxi stemming from Nereus' doubts," she explained.
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Re: Chapter V - Brimstone

Postby IamLEAM1983 » Tue May 22, 2018 10:24 pm

Atticus collected himself. "As much as I'm allowed to say's that Sharpe thinks we haven't done enough to claim what's ours. On that, I'm inclined to agree. As soon as some mortal initiative needs some space, out we go from Alabama, Georgia and Florida's plantations. Out we go from the historical centers as soon as political correctness rears its head. People forget we have Negro Faes in our ranks, people what who'd be slaves back on Earth and royalty or noblemen back here. We had Black slave-owners, and they did right by their people. All you ever hear is from folks from my blood, them pale masters who'd rule with whips and chains!"

Vernon followed Atticus' logic. "And you did not, I take it.
- As little as I could," admitted McKinley. "It's hard to stick to an agenda like yours, Haskill, when you don't got the Queen's ear anymore. Morgana's not one to tolerate weakness. What I'd like is for people to remember, is all. What Phineas wants is some say in how things get done. To that end, he's bought out TV broadcast networks, specialized channels, Internet platforms, what have you. I'm guessin' you know 'bout his little crusade, back in the day. The one Holden stopped."

Bucky paused, giving McKinley a pointed glance, even as a bit of mashed potatoes fell from his hanging hinged lip. He'd just polished off a bowl of potato salad and still had something of that look of sheer, absolute hunger to him. A little more and you'd swear he saw the Fae as some juicy hock of meat to grasp for. Still, despite appearances, he proved his cylinders were still firing.

"I guess this is the part where you tell us the Shadow Wars were justified. That about right?"

McKinley smiled as he recognized Bucky's burr. "That's a country boy's twang, isn't it? Schoolmarm Era, pot-bellied stoves and Bibles... Sounds like home, it does! Where you from, mister Wallace? Kentucky?
- Oklahoma, an' I don't miss it for the world," growled the Clank. "Answer the question."

Atticus looked ill at ease. "Well, I do represent people who wish we'd had more, erm, primacy in the formation o' this great country. We missed Democracy's onset by decades, we did, and ain't none of us who so much had a shot for a seat in Congress before the Accords got signed. Mind you, most of us here were American citizens if not from birth, then from initial immigration. I know sons o' the Mayflower, for starters, 'long with folks who had the honor to sail with the man himself, Christopher Columbus. We seen everythin' from New France to the Louisiana Purchase - an' some of us still take to the ol' French, from time to time."

Bucky glowered. "Lincoln woulda died earlier, if not for Archie. He stopped Fae assassins an' paid-for vampire throat-cuts, only for his best friend to die at the hands o' some two-bit fanatical actor. A man like Archie, undone by a neurotic Art school reject. I'd watch your goddamn tone if you're traipsin' 'round History. My friend still feels raw about it."

* * *

Three seemed to understand Meris' point. "That's the idea: I don't want to be afraid. It'll be a new experience, I don't know where my mind's going to want to go, and I figure half of the process is stuff you can't consciously control. I need pros to initiate me before I go tackling Nereus' own psyche - and you're one of the pros."
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Re: Chapter V - Brimstone

Postby TennyoCeres84 » Wed May 23, 2018 12:27 am

Neasa's gaze resembled that of a leopard seal sizing up potential prey, while her tone was silk hiding steel. "Mr. McKinley, I'm the youngest one in this room, and this Rhode Island girl is calling bullshit on your perspective and how messed up it is."

She quirked a brow and narrowed her eyes. "Oh, and I will do you one better. You might know sons of the Mayflower and that murderer Christopher Columbus' former shipmates, but I know someone older than them from the Old Country. She knows all about the gussied up lies said by the men in charge of those days was a crock of shit. She saw the heart of the Atlantic slave trade, and by her claim, it was nothing more than butchery and the selling of humans as commodities. That goes for White, Black, and Native slave owners, so I'm not leaving anybody out."

"And I can relay that to you in ol' French," she noted sardonically.

***

"And I will be there for you every step of the day. Here's my first bot of advice; start with a small objective and build upon it. That's how I was able to manually begin learning the Black Speech and expose my mind to the Darkhallow and allow my corner of it to grow with Nereus'."
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Re: Chapter V - Brimstone

Postby IamLEAM1983 » Thu May 24, 2018 12:22 am

The silver-haired Fae scoffed, in what probably was intended to look like a brushing off of Neasa's comment. "Well, I can't help that some of the decisions that were taken along the way weren't exactly stellar, but then again, accountability's been a fairly recent addition to sociopolitics. Ask mister Haskill - not every son or daughter of Winter's fine with obeying this country's laws. Heck, there's Little People here in Evergloam that are honestly chompin' at the bit for a nice spot of Iron Age clan warfare! Can you imagine - broadswords, kilts and breeches an' war paint out on the streets, here an' now, in 2025!"

Vernon wasn't about to let it slide, though. "True enough, but we weren't addressing the Tir Na Nog's issue of unspent energy. They were the first group I attempted to bring up to task, by asking an acquaintance of mine to turn their back-alley five-inch drunken brawls and somersaults into a local martial arts federation. You'll find Hope's jail cells mercifully devoid of boisterous hellions the size of Lego men booked in for having suplexed a fully grown mortal man over their head by the pinky finger."

Atticus affected surprise. "Then you'll have to tell me how you've done it, old man - my Lordship's packed with pint-sized goofballs shirkin' their work duties for the sake o' right crosses and uppercuts to swing!"

Eirean quirked an eyebrow. "I'd rather go back to Neasa's point, honestly. Your creditor seeks to glorify aspects of this country's history even a four-year-old knows of as being regrettable. You'll probably bump into the occasional noble immortal slave master, of course - the trope has to originate from somewhere - but the fact is, it isn't common in our history, mister McKinley. Not by a long shot."

She paused for effect. "Wizened conquerors, kindly warlords, despots with hearts of gold... They're bastardizations of the suffering endured by untold millions. The days that saw us Sidhe claim overt superiority over mortals are long past - we aren't much more than mundanes with a conditional switch to overclock ourselves from time to time. Even then, that's not most of us. Our Commoners are born carrying a Mantle, a supernatural grace, they'll almost never tap into, through no fault of their own."

Atticus looked perplexed. "So you're tellin' me you can't see anythin' special about us. About yourselves - even in relation to your friends, here."

A look at Bucky made him add a vaguely worried and equally disgusted "No offense," to which Wallace replied with a grunt. He tore into a stack of French crèpes as though they'd personally offended him.

To that, Vernon rolled his eyes. "My batman is a magic horse, mister McKinley. I've consorted with demons, angels, Warlocks and Archmages, had luncheons with Automatons and mortals endowed with regenerative abilities that outweigh our own. Holden Hall is collegiate to aliens, cyborgs and things from beyond the veil of our perceptions. Dear Anjali, whom you've noticeably ignored, is a mortal soul arriving directly from Heaven, with no mortal coil to contain her. None of us still know what this implies for the whole of Creation. Oh, and obviously, Shamus here is an American man in a Japanese mechanical construct, while miss McConmara is a selkie who could quite reliably tow small boats out of the local harbor, while wearing her seal pelt."

He gave McKinley the sort of gaze you would've given a truant student. "If all of us are special, then none of us are. My Mantle is by no means more impressive than Eirean's, or more effective than Lord Holden's command of the social graces."

* * *

Three nodded. "So everyone could technically safely learn the Black Speech. The Void Weavers just don't bother, on the whole."

Anton seemed vaguely annoyed. "It's not just that; the dialectal portion of the idiom is harmless but still difficult to handle for your average humanoid throat and lips. My wife was conversational by the time I had to flee, but that required several adaptations and linguistic compromises. Even Meris isn't except from that, Aidan. She'd only ever be truly fluent if she sprouted facial tentacles. Where she blows you out of the water is how she can use the creative and destructive aspects of the Black Speech just as equally, and without tearing her own mind apart."

Three had to frown at that. "How'd you manage that, anyway?"

Anton cut in. "The cute answer is probably along the lines of practice, practice, practice, but the fact is she had more than just the best tutor in Dalarath. As soon as I heard about the Consort of the Depths and how she'd almost thrown the city into revolution, I hoped I'd get to meet her. Preferably while she'd be unconscious."

Drake coughed uneasily and gestured to Meris. She was, after all, right there in the room. Anton shrugged at that. "What? It's not like Dalarath's only non-Weaver Speaker of the Endless Tongue is someone you'd want to strap to an EEG while conscious, in my position! I'm a neurosurgeon, not some hotshot Arbiter born and trained to kneecap Merises and defecting Augurs with a few words! The fact is, there has to be some sort of brain defect or abnormality to account for one of Humanity's saviors not being a deathless vegetable by now," he said, gesturing to the Archmage.
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Re: Chapter V - Brimstone

Postby TennyoCeres84 » Thu May 24, 2018 1:08 am

Neasa lightly snorted. "If you want to compare it to nature, a leaf or a snowflake is a highly individualized unit, but each one is no more important than its counterparts and is part of an interconnected and interworking whole. We all have our special talents and gifts, but that doesn't give us the right to lord it over everyone else."

***

Meris waved the matter away with a dismissive gesture and rolled her eyes. "That's tilting at windmills, lad. Explicit consent and permission are only vagaries to him, if they get him what he wants. You're lucky he's this "cordial", as Dalarath's Prelacy aren't known for their social skills."

She then shrugged at the Void Weaver. "You might be looking at a tangled mess of causes, Azardad. The initial kidnapping and haul down to Dalarath might've tweaked my brain just enough to get it flexible enough for the Black Speech. As for the creative and destructive aspects, I would imagine it could be from my arcane training under both a bard and an apothecary. Seraphic magic deals heavily in creative effects, while curative magic teaches you about both elixirs and poisons. All it takes is a shift in thinking, at least from my standpoint."

The roane shook her head at Anton. "Even if you looked at my brain, all you could do is speculate. There's no consistent way to repeat the process that tempered my mind to have the capability it does. Plus, you have the whole nuture versus nature ordeal, with how Lucian, Delmar, and Nereus taught me. And I was barely out of my teens when I started learning, so my brain might have had a little more development to do. After all, humans aren't done with it until they're 25."
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