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“An archive of things that never happened”. An in-character forum for fanfiction and roleplaying. Beware - spoilers abound!

A Love That Dares Not Remember Its Name Messages in this topic - RSS

Shadowcthuhlu
Shadowcthuhlu
Posts: 1424

7/29/2016
Be careful - some of us Great Game players may be called in

--
http://fallenlondon.storynexus.com/Profile/Dirae~Erinyes
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Vavakx Nonexus
Vavakx Nonexus
Posts: 783

7/29/2016
Let's hope we all are just found on the other side of the Game and avoid getting chopped up.

--
Vavakx Nonexus, the Deranged Solicitor: Black-and-Gold. and a Particularly Fancy Dress.

Blabbing, the Hobo Everyone Knows: The One Who Pulls The Strings. Someday.

Hear the Deranged Solicitor's story along with several others at The Tower of Mind and Law: Tales from 'Euphemia'
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Passionario
Passionario
Posts: 721

8/22/2016
Passionario wrote:
Story to follow.

Story can now be found here and here.

--
This is my profile and this is my light.
These are my words to the merciful night.
+2 link
Passionario
Passionario
Posts: 721

2/13/2017
This winter, I've been looking for her everywhere: in the stalls at Mahogany Hall, among the watching crowds at Hangman's Arch, within the beating heart of Veilgarden and across the rooftops of the Flit. My elusive muse in lilac, refined by the Game's fire and reshaped to serve the Bazaar. (As you were, once.) Among all the insects and giants of the world, she was the only one I truly consider to be my equal. Her absence speaks like thunder, and as urchins and zailors can attest, the voice of thunder often drives men mad. (Even more so, in your case.)

In the end, I find her leaving the Panopticon through a side entrance, accompanied by her Burly Assistant. She must have been giving 'interviews' again, I think, and jealosy wraps around my shrivelled hollow heart like a fiery mirror-serpent. I call out her name. She turns around and looks me straight in the eye. Her own eyes are violet once again, and there is not a trace of recognition in them.

"There is no need to make arrangements," she says. "I have sufficient proof that you are not desired."

--
This is my profile and this is my light.
These are my words to the merciful night.
+7 link
Passionario
Passionario
Posts: 721

2/18/2017
"That's not what you said last time, when we spoke of Love. Or, rather, shown it."

She does not laugh this time, but she does smile, and the sight of it sears my heart like a devil's claw: "Oh, there was always one, and sometimes more than one. And why not? Ah, but they all had a reputation, sir, while you are remarkably... obscure."

A whirlwind of rage sweeps through my skull, and not all of it is mine. (She left both of us behind!) I take a step forward and Millicent's beautiful features harden:

"Sir, I already have one pathetic obsessed man stalking me all over London. I have no need or desire for another."

I take another step and the Burly Assistant moves to block my path. His hand falls onto my shoulder, as heavy as Jasper's or Frank's - yet compared to the weight on my stained soul, it is as light as a feather. I ignore him, focusing the full force of my gaze on Millicent. She does not yet remember me (us!), but she will yet.

My lips part and out comes a question in a language long devoured:



No one hears it. No one answers. No one comes forth. No one places her tattooed fingers over the Burly Assistant's face, causing him to collapse on the pavement, his strong hands clawing soundlessly at his suddenly useless eyes. No one steps back gracefully into my head. (You're welcome.)


.
edited by Passionario on 2/20/2017

--
This is my profile and this is my light.
These are my words to the merciful night.
+6 link
Passionario
Passionario
Posts: 721

3/20/2017
I realize that I have forgotten many things indeed. Some I've lost to irrigo, others to Lethean Tea and Bottled Oblivion, but most to the inexorable passage of time. And despite the boasts that I've made to my new protege, I have not been able to recover them all. I have forgotten the sense of kinship that I've felt every time I looked at Millicent, whose life has also been shaped by both the Game and the Bazaar. I have forgotten the burning jealousy towards the Courier that her violet eyes inspired in me.

And most importantly, I have forgotten just how inhumanly fast she could move.

A flicker of recognition graces her alluring face. A split-second later, she is next to me, standing on her tiptoes and reaching upwards. Then her lips are upon mine and they taste like sunlight and second chances. My hands entwine her in an embrace, while hers are pressed against my chest, tapping on it with skillful fingers.

(no no no no make it stop please make it stop no no no)

For a moment, I uneasily wonder if I am in the Chambers of the Heart again. The combination of exquisite joy and a quiet voice begging me to stop is a familiar territory to me, although one that I have not walked for some time, and certainly not with this particular partner. Yet I cannot be complacent, not after what I have lived through.

Even though every fibre of my being compels me to lose myself in this perfect moment, I manage to to extricate a sliver of my attention through sheer willpower and bloody-minded determination. From this hard-won vantage point of supreme paranoia, I survey the environment for telltale signs of false reality. The sights (insofar as my peripheral vision permits), the sounds, the sensations, the scents...

(No No No Make It Stop Please Make It Stop No No No)

The scents! Beneath Millicent's intoxicating perfume and London's customary pastiche of fragnances, I recognize a cloying undertone of rot and honey. It calls up images of red water, of a dark cave in a gleaming slope, of a charred man attended by a court of bees, and of a dark secret...

(NO NO NO MAKE IT STOP PLEASE MAKE HER STOP NO NO NO)

Realization finally descends upon me like a battlefield looter - too late to prevent my defeat, but just in time to ransack what remains of my hope. I recognize the pleading voice, which is now screaming like thunder, as my own. And I remember the dark secret that I've learned in that forsaken cave: the seven-times-seven rhythm that can shatter the icy gates of the horizon. The same rhythm that Millicent's implacable fingers are tapping on my chest. And I still cannot move.

Like a ramming lifeberg capsizing a doomed steamer, the final chord of the Seven-Fold Knock slams into my heart. All goes dark.

--
This is my profile and this is my light.
These are my words to the merciful night.
+6 link
Kukapetal
Kukapetal
Posts: 1292

3/20/2017
Serves you right :P
+1 link
Passionario
Passionario
Posts: 721

5/29/2017
The emptiness around me is like the zee: cold, dark, timeless and ever-hungry. I cannot fight it, for I am fallen, shattered, dispersed, lost, adrift, unmade and gone. Only the Question remains, shining defiantly like a glim-beacon.



In response, a tidal tide of memories begins to roll in slowly yet inexorably to drown its light in an abyss of revelations.

The first wave brings sounds. The whinnying of horses outside our little house. The voice of my mother, wise and caring, yet tinged with an undercurrent of fear, telling me to hide. The hammering of fists and feet on the door. Cold and vicious voices of men: they have come to take archduke's bastard to Vienna. A brief scuffle. A single gunshot, its voice like thunder. Hours of silence that stretch like years. My own breath and heartbeat, so treacherously loud...

The second wave brings tastes. The sweet warmth of my bride's lips as we exchange rings and vows. The joyful savouriness of the feast at our daughter's seventh birthday. The heady crispness of London beer, still made of hops and barley rather than mushrooms, on the week after the Fall. The welcome bitterness of the Lethean Tea pouring down my throat as Poor Edward tells me that 'Scathewick' is no more - and that my new code name from that point on is 'Passionario'...

The third wave brings movements. The motions of the waltz that I dance with the Duke and his vengeful daughter, a deadly dilemma pulsating in my heart. The stealthy glide through a bedroom window, left carelessly open in the summer night's heat, as I retrieve the knife and crawl towards the sleeping figure. The frenzied struggle of a young woman's body in my grasp as I drag her ever closer towards the well's edge...

The fourth wave brings words. The secrets and revelations that I retrieve from the dead Duke's eye. The unsigned note that I deliver to a young tattoo artist in Ladybones Road, instructing her to come to the Paper Gate of the Bazaar at midnight. The crumpled scroll with my codename, the location on the Surface and names of my targets; now that my mission is complete, I toss it into the flames of the burning house behind me...

All around me, the waves become a raging maelstrom of images, voices, sensations and realizations. The tattoo artist's mind and soul enslaved by the worship of an inhuman uncaring being. The Waltzing Duke's features, so similar to the portrait above my mother's bed - and the resemblance to the image that I've seen in my own mirror once, back before I met the Face-Tailor. The day I returned home to find it burned to ashes, my whole family murdered, and the only clue being a scorched scrap of paper with the name 'Scathewick' on it...

Abruptly, I awaken in my lodgings. My bed is thoroughly drenched in blood. A quick survey indicates that the damage inflicted by the Seven-Fold Knock on my body can only be described as 'catastrophic', although 'irreversible' is also technically correct. Without the changes brought on by red honey, I would be permanently dead by now. Yet the wounds and agonies of the flesh are nothing compared to the pain of my mind and spirit.

The Masters. The Bazaar. The Game.

They have taken everyone and everything from me. They turned me into a killer of my loved ones. My whole life was built on violence and lies. For decades, they have coldly and systematically hollowed me out to the breaking point. And now, there is nothing left of me except a shadow waiting to die.

(Oh, dear candle, I wouldn't say that. A rag, a bone, a hank of hair is all we need and all you are. Granted, that's not a very kind thing to say, but it's true, isn't it?)

...Yes. Yes, I suppose it is. Even in my wretched state, I still have my illicit wealth, my troves of forbidden knowledge and plundered secrets, a lifetime's worth of tricks and skills that are as vile as they are cunning, just enough time left for one last desperate gambit... and above all, I have a new Question to be my beacon-flame in the endless night to come:



--
This is my profile and this is my light.
These are my words to the merciful night.
+4 link
Passionario
Passionario
Posts: 721

5/29/2017

edited by Passionario on 5/29/2017

--
This is my profile and this is my light.
These are my words to the merciful night.
+1 link
Kukapetal
Kukapetal
Posts: 1292

5/29/2017
This is so beautifully tragic
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Passionario
Passionario
Posts: 721

6/2/2017
"You are such a disappointment, Passionario."

The Republic's official gestures to the seven scrolls scattered across the table between us:

"When you'd brought us these, we expected some cunning fraud. Possibly even a trap of sorts. We were looking forward to learning your preferred methods of forgery... and, of course, to invoking the appropriate penalty. Instead, we discovered that the fabled schemer and arch-traitor had, for once, fully delivered on his promises! How scandalous!"

His grin shines dimly through the oily smoke writhing noisily through the small harbourside office room. Even outside the Iron Republic proper, one can't escape the constant reminders of its proximity.

"Seven hidden lairs. Seven once-time princes of Hell. A full dynasty." A wicked brass claw points to one of the scrolls. "Albeit this one was technically illegitimate."

I tilt my head to one side: "Technically, aren't they all, these days?" A hearty laugh indicates his agreement, so I press on: "Besides, one dismisses the bastards at one's own peril. Even the runts have their agendas."

The devil stops laughing and winks: "I'll defer to your superior expertise on the subject." I do not rise to the bait. Once, I would have, but there is no pride left in me, only hatred and grief ("and me").

After an awkward pause, the infernal representative puts away the scrolls and retrieves a folder with engineering drawings: "Now for the matter of your compensation. In accordance with the specifications you provided, we have forged a..."

I raise my hand in protest: "No. Don't tell me about it, what it is or what it does. Just have it loaded onto my ship. Per my orders, I am not permitted to know what I've asked you to make."

His fiery eyes widen in surprise: "Whose orders?"

"Mine, I've just told you. Try to keep up."

Silence hangs in the air, disturbed only by wet ripping noises from outside the window and a voice inside my head. ("Are you keeping secrets from me, my dear? I don't remember us coming here.") I do my best to ignore both.

The devil is the first to break the eye contact: "Very well, if you insist. I'll have it loaded onto your ship right away. Oh, and before you leave, there's one thing that we would like to know." He leans forward. "Namely, how did you find out about our fallen ex-tyrants' hiding places?"
edited by Passionario on 6/2/2017

--
This is my profile and this is my light.
These are my words to the merciful night.
+5 link
Passionario
Passionario
Posts: 721

6/2/2017
I smile wryly: "Obviously, I abused my position as the agent of the Bazaar and high-ranking official of the Ministry of Public Decency."

My interlocutor's face is the icon of doubt: "Come on, you can do better than that. Are you telling me that this information was locked away in some dusty Ministry library?"

I shake my head: "The previous Fist of the Bazaar, Poor Edward, kept a well-stocked supply of the substance commonly known as Lethean Tea Leaves for use as a deterrent against would-be saboteurs and enemies of the status quo. When I succeeded him, I reqisitioned these supplies for my personal use."

The devil's lips instinctively smile at my confession, but his eyes betray the lack of understanding of where I'm going with this.

"After partaking of the tea, I proceeded to inflitrate the ranks of Marvellous players. With the help of a particularly industrious monkey, I located a prominent bishop who instructed me on further steps. Since I already had a sizeable collection of First City coins that I've embezzled from the Ministry's vaults over the years, these steps were quite easy to follow. To begin with, I staged a performance of the Bell and Candle in a seedy Veilgarden joint to secure the assistance of a certain Mr. Bagley, retrieved a singular key from a well at Hunter's Keep, delivered it to the Manager of the Royal Bethelem Hotel and fed a monkey."

The smile fades from the devil's lips.

"Afterwards, I visited Polytheme a few times, tracked down a runaway Unfinished Man, infiltrated a citadel of urchins and showed the King of a Hundred Hearts a shard of his curiosity." I spread my hands apologetically. "I convinced him to let me give it back to the urchins, but alas, I never got around to actually doing it."

A claw impatiently taps on the table. I hurry to finish my story:

"Anyway, the next player would have been Virginia - yes, the one from your Brass Embassy - but she wouldn't have anything to do with me or the Marvellous. So I collated the information from Church archives and compromised colleagues of yours to determine the location of her ex-lover, the one she betrayed during the Season of Revolutions. I wrote it down, and then..." I grin broadly. "...then I drank the tea again and repeated all of this six more times."

He pauses to absorb this: "Virginia's... lover? But none of these targets were even remotedly related to him!"

I shrug: "Maybe, maybe not. Either way, my final spoils at the end of this long and strange trip were seven scrolls with seven different locations." And seven shards of the King, not that I'm telling the devils that. "And as you've verified yourself, all of them turned out to be correct."

His face becomes a stony mask:

"So let me get this straight. Our best investigators have been tracking down these elusive monsters for decades, and now you're claiming that you managed to find them by going on a vision quest from drinking copious amounts of stale tea?"

I nod innocently: "Yes, that's exactly what happened. I'm glad we're on the same page here."

The devil shakes his head with a mixture of disgust, disbelief and pity:

"Londoners."



--
This is my profile and this is my light.
These are my words to the merciful night.
+11 link
Passionario
Passionario
Posts: 721

6/2/2017
They come for me in the darkness, shortly after midnight. As my doors are kicked down and a tide of black-clad thugs begins to pour into the house from all sides, an unbidden thought flashes through my mind. This is how Eli Lowe must have felt when we came for him at the Gallery.

The men and women coming for me are no neddies, though. Although some of them bear sticks, they are outnumbered by those bearing knives, guns and other lethal implements. A few are clutching dynamite sticks, the signature weapon of their Cause. Their choice of weaponry is irrelevant, given their numbers. A fight between a single wounded old man and several dozen armed people in their prime can only end one way.

So I choose not to fight. Nor do I run, or even hide. Instead, I retrieve a small jet-black candle from my sleeve and bite down on it as hard as I can. Instantly, the room erupts into a pandemonium. My attackers turn onto each other, punching, clawing, stabbing and biting whoever happens to be the closest. Within scant seconds, a coordinated assault has turned into a bestial bloodbath.

A bullet grazes my shoulder. I whirl around and see their leader, trying to aim at me through the chaotic melee. She does not understand what has happened to her footsoldiers, but to her credit, she has never been the one to let her lack of understanding deter her from decisive actions. I dodge to the side and the next bullet finds a new home in the throat of a knife-wielding lad that was about to leap at me.

I am not surprised to see that my dirty little trick had no effect upon her. Like others of her ilk, she has taken great pains to hide her origins, but her features betray her as someone who's joined the Cause for ideological reasons rather than lack of choice. This cannot be said about many of her followers, however. Far too many of them have embraced radicalism out of poverty, despair and hunger. And as it happens, me and hunger happen to share a certain connection these days.

She takes aim at my head again, and this time, there is no one to block the shot. Her finger curls around the trigger...

(BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM)

One of the makeshift bombs goes off and the others instantly follow. The world becomes very bright, loud and painful for a while. When my eyes and ears recover, I find myself in a puddle of blood next to the wall. A quick examination of the bodies strewn around our battlefield reveals that I got off lucky. Nearly all of them are either already on the slow boat or about to embark on it. Over half of them will likely never make it back.

I spot their leader pinned down under a pile of debris from the collapsed ceiling. She is sporting a bleeding gash on her face and her right arm appears to have been dislocated by a falling girder, but it is evident she will live. Unless I do something about it, of course.

So I move across the destroyed room towards her position, taking care not to stray too close. This is not our first meeting, and I'm well aware of how deadly and treacherous she can be. Almost as nasty as myself, in fact. As I approach, she twists her gaze towards me, and if hateful stares could kill, I would be transported to the far country in that instant.

I respond with the warmest smile I can muster under the circumstance:

"Hello, February. How fortuitious of you to come to visit me. As it happens, I need your help."

--
This is my profile and this is my light.
These are my words to the merciful night.
+6 link
Passionario
Passionario
Posts: 721

6/2/2017
"Go to Hell," she tells me.

I shake my head: "Just got back from the place. No, my business tonight is here, with you."

The next part is going to be hard for both of us, so I take a deep and painful breath before continuing:

"I want to join the Calendar Council, and I'd like you to sponsor me."

Despite the obvious discomfort it's causing her, she gives out an incredulous laugh:

"I've heard rumours that you've gone off the deep end after the bats threw you out with the garbage, but I didn't imagine you were that delirious."

I purse my lips: "Why not?"

In lieu of responding, she casts a pointed look at the carnage around us. I roll my eyes:

"Yes, I have a lot of blood on my hands. So do you. So does December. In fact, so does pretty much everyone in your circle, apart from the witless ditzes and mealy-mouthed cowards. So would you want your vacant seats filled by some vaporhead afraid of the light going out, or would you prefer someone who can actually get things done?"

A flicker of resonance with my words momentarily appears on her face before being replaced with disdain:

"We don't have any vacant seats. Try the Mayor's school if you're so desperate for acceptance."

I scowl disapprovingly: "We both know that is not entirely true. July is pretty much written off, after that business with the mirror..."

She cuts me off. "Her body is still around, and she has too many loyal followers."

I smile: "March, then. He was removed sufficiently long ago for it not to matter."

To her credit, she doesn't question how I know these things. She knows who I am and what I can do. Likewise, I enough about her to recognize the look of ruthless pragmatism in her eyes. That's the thing I've been trying to bring forth and that may yet save both of our lives.

--
This is my profile and this is my light.
These are my words to the merciful night.
+7 link
Passionario
Passionario
Posts: 721

6/2/2017
She sighs: "All right, I'll humour you for a moment. What happens in this delusion of yours if I agree?"

Time for the carrot. Fortunately, I've brought a really sweet one for the occasion: "The Liberation of Night, of course."

Her pupils, dilated from shock, suddenly widen and I know that I've struck a chord. Still, she pretends otherwise: "Pfft. You're either delusional or lying."

I raise my hands: "Oh ye of small faith. For all practical purposes, I've been a high-ranking sleeper agent operating within the spires of the Bazaar for over a decade. With my knowledge and your resources, we can bring them down before Christmas. Before Hallowmas, even."

She remains visibly skeptical, so I go all-in: "Tell you what: if the Bazaar and the Masters are still alive and in power by the time Huffam releases the Hallowmas edition of his rag, you can have me killed."

A smirk graces her bloodied lips: "I can have you killed anytime I want. You just got lucky tonight."

I respond with a smirk of my own: "That wasn't luck, that was preparation. The informer who tipped you off about this place was one of mine."

She sighs deeper this time. Pain and fatigue are clearly taking their toll.

"What happens if I refuse?"

Time for the stick. I reach underneath my torn robes, bring out a bundle of cloth and begin to slowly unwrap it under February's scorching stare. When the contents are revealed, she gasps involuntarily, confronted with a perfect wax replica of her own head.

"I really need that seat, February," I say with perfect sincerity, "I would prefer to take the place of March or July, but if all else fails..."

The wax head's eyes suddenly snap open.

"...I would be perfectly happy to take yours instead."

She continues to stare at the head for a minute, then looks at the crimson scar going all the way around my neck. The message is not lost on her. Finally, she meets my gaze again:

"You have three months. No more."

That is more than enough. I toss the false head into the flames and begin to clear away the rubble from my newfound colleague's body.





--
This is my profile and this is my light.
These are my words to the merciful night.
+8 link
Passionario
Passionario
Posts: 721

7/14/2017
As we disembark from the ship and step onto the babbling stones of an empty shore, I can almost feel my minders' gazes burning my back. Over the last several weeks, they haven't let me out of their sight for more than a scant few moments. Between their constant vigilance and the formiddable arsenal of weaponry, one could mistake them for bodyguards. Yet they are less concerned with preventing harm to my body and more with ensuring that, when said harm comes to pass, it is inflicted by their own hands. Unlike other rank-and-file revolutionaries who have accepted my defection into their ranks as a monumental victory for the Cause, these hardened killers never considered me to be anything other than a mortal enemy. The Calendar Council has chosen its watchdogs well; yet one way or another, their watch would end tonight.

Unfortunately, the searing heat of their stares is purely metaphorical and does little to dispel the cold of the Polythreme evening that creeps through the rags upon my body. Of course, my choice of attire tonight is not driven by considerations of comfort, attractiveness or even personal protection. The only thing that matters is whether I would be able to best my own outfit in a fight when things go wrong - and they inevitably will, given the nature of our expedition.

Some claim that the Clay Men are born out of dreams of the King with a Hundred Hearts, and that Unfinished ones are the product of the King's nightmares. Whether that is merely a poetic metaphor or an accurate description of the process, my actions tonight will make the dreaming King mad, and when kings go mad, it is the commoners who end up losing their heads. That is why we skirted around the beaten coast, out of sight of the bustling port and the palace, and made our landing here.

After a few minutes, we find a clearing that is suitable for my purposes. I instruct my rag-tag followers (zailors, hired mercenaries and the accursed Calendar minders) to take positions on the perimeter and be prepared to bring down anyone and anything that tries to stop us. They are not happy about the vagueness, but they obey. In Polythreme, one can hardly ask for more, whether from humans or from clay. Besides, their designated role is neither to be happy nor to win any battles, but to provide a suitable distraction for what is coming.

I retrieve the seven shards of the King's crystal and bury them in a circle around me. Then I draw my knife and wait. For several minutes, nothing happens, and I uneasily wonder whether I've miscalculated.

Then the screaming begins and I smile. The game is on.

--
This is my profile and this is my light.
These are my words to the merciful night.
+9 link
Passionario
Passionario
Posts: 721

7/14/2017
The first heart-rending scream comes from far away, from the direction of the King's palace. It doesn't accomplish much apart from getting everyone to snap to attention. The next thirteen come in quick succession from all directions around us, each more inhuman and pained that the previous one. The ground itself begins to wail and quiver, and shortly after that, the cacophony is joined by the screams and shouts of those who followed me here.

It is the ground that attacks them first. All around us, massive half-formed hands, claws, tentacles and spikes erupt from the dirt to assault the invaders. Almost a third of my force are taken out of the fight immediately due to torn off limbs, shattered spines or ribcages turned inside out. The remainder attempt a valiant counterattack against this supernatural onslaught. For a few moments, they even appear to succeed... until their own clothing and equipment come to life and turn against them.

My own rags also come alive, but unlike my hapless army, I am prepared for this eventuality. With my left hand, I rip the writhing garment off and use the other to pin it to the ground with my trusted knife. The blade itself remains thankfully dormant. It has known the touch of the Wax-Wind and, like any other survivor of that ordeal, can never be fully alive again.

Suddenly, one of my minders manages to break free of the frenzied melee and stumbles towards me, his bloody hands clutching a rifle. At this distance, there's no way he can miss, even with one half of his face being a ruined mess:

"See you in Hell, you... oh G-d!"

I do not know whether he is referring to the unhealing scars that criss-cross my body, or to the changes that consumption of red honey has wrought on certain aspects of my anatomy. Whatever the reason, the sight of me in all of my naked glory has distracted him for a split second. Unfortunately for him, that is enough time for his weapon to become animated. The trigger bites off his trigger finger. The stock kicks him in the chest. The barrel turns around and spits out a screaming bullet into his face. I cease paying attention to this dead man, and come to realize that I will be joining him in a moment, for I remain the only person still standing in the clearing.

And then, with one final deafening shriek, the clay all around me explodes as seven forms rise from the spots where I buried the shards of the King's curiosity. They resemble the Clay Men, and yet they couldn't be more different. While they are distinctly humanoid and are made of clay, their texture is that of smooth steel plate. In place of crude thick fingers, there are mailed fists; instead of misshapen feet, there are sculpted sabatons. And where one would expect to see faces, I see only closed visors.

"My Questing Knights." I smile through my bloodied teeth. "I am going to the ends of the earth, to the rim of the zee and into the farthest reaches of the sky. Will you follow? Will you accept your names?"

They regard me with stony silence. Then, as one, they get down on one knee and bow their heads. I reach out and touch their helmets:

"Agravain. Bedivere. Caradoc. Daniel. Ector. Feirefiz. Galahad."

There is nothing else to be said, so we head back to the ship. The air of Polythreme behind us fills with wails and screams once again, as the blood and viscera of the fallen come back to life and awareness.

--
This is my profile and this is my light.
These are my words to the merciful night.
+7 link
Passionario
Passionario
Posts: 721

7/14/2017
Our voyage back is shaping up to be uneventful. There are few crew members left, but each of the Knights can do the work of a dozen humans. Which is a good thing, because once we get to London, they will have to. Before we can leave for the Gate, we will first have to retrieve our prize, and its guardians will not reliquish it willingly. Even its location was a closely guarded secret, only revealed to those directly involved in its creation - and, of course, sitting members of the Calendar Council.

Apart from that, I have one more piece of unfinished business in London. Yet once we're done with our heist, there will be no time to attend to it - only to flee. Because of that, my only recourse is to attend to it here and now. So I lock myself in my cabin, put up the mirrors, light the candles and say the words. A few months ago, a rite such as this one would tax me to my limits, but I have changed since then, in more ways than one. What I have lost in health and wisdom, I have gained in insight and understanding.

A jaunty piano tune comes from behind me, followed by a lighthearted laugh. I turn around and see a familiar smile (one that has broken a hundred hearts and mended a thousand more) below a pair of eyes shining with mirth. Their owner is dressed for an exciting night out in Veilgarden, trailing a fine line between elegance and scandal. Their fingers, which ran across my piano's keys a second ago, are tipped with nevercold brass.

"Hello!" exclaims Eglantine, "What's up with the mirrors and candles? And the ship, for that matter?"

Except that they're (or, rather, "it is") not Eglantine. Oh, it is very good at mimicking their appearance, their choice of dress and their voice. When I motion to have a seat and begin my lesson, it does a pitch perfect impersonation of their mannerisms, speech and gestures. It nods, smiles, frowns and asks the right questions, as I explain the details of the Tragedy Procedures, the Seven Treacheries that guard the Bazaar and its Masters - and how to bypass these defenses.

As I finish and turn towards the door, I hear the piano play again. I recognize the melody as the opening from "The Tales from the Woods of Vienna" waltz, and my entire body freezes. My legs turn to water, my heart stands still and my mind is gripped with terror. It knows. It knows that I know, and it wants me to know that it does, too. All the better to eat me, of course.

"My family is obsessed with candles, as you probably know." Its voice is no longer Eglantine's. Instead, it sounds like the old woman that I've met (or dreamed of) upon a dead lifeberg, so many nights ago. "I generally do not approve, but now that I've met you, I can see why they bother." It pauses and draws closer. "And yet, you have been useful. I'll give you a head start while I put your secrets to use. Run."

I turn around. There is no one in the cabin with me. I wish I could believe that it was all just a nightmare, but I'm way beyond the point of such comforting self-delusions. Instead, I do as it said. I run out, towards the upper deck, just in time to see the fires of Wolfstack Docks ahead.

London seems... different. There is more smoke in the air, more broken windows and street lamps. The crowds are more unruly and the atmosphere seethes with latent violence. I wonder what happened here during my absence. A riot? A clash between the neddy men and the workers? ("The Liberation of Night?") Moments later, I hear a shout that explains it all:

"Glory to Mayor Feducci! Fair play and fair game!"

My lips curl into a vicious smile. Close enough. That distraction should be as good as any. I motion to the Knights to follow.

*****

Two hours later, we depart, leaving a trail of bodies, a burning warehouse and the city of London forever behind us.



--
This is my profile and this is my light.
These are my words to the merciful night.
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Teaspoon
Teaspoon
Posts: 752

7/14/2017
o

o

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--
Truth lies at the bottom of a well.

http://fallenlondon.storynexus.com/profile/Alt%20Ern
-1 link
Passionario
Passionario
Posts: 721

7/18/2017
And now his waltz is ended.

--
This is my profile and this is my light.
These are my words to the merciful night.
+5 link




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