Dead Man's Party

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Lady Entropy
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Re: Dead Man's Party

Postby Lady Entropy » 04 Apr 2011 12:11

Chapter 23

Voices overlapped each other, not allowing full sentences to be heard from one side of the table to the other. But it didn’t really matter because we all were too busy chatting to the person next to us, commenting and making educated guesses about the whys and hows and now whats. This was an absolutely unexpected and unexplained turn of events and, secretly, I was happy to a certain degree. It was possibly one of the few things that could distract me from my grief and allow me to focus on something else. I don’t like to wallow in self-pity, and so, I threw myself into this matter. Marcus was here, but he was, despite everything still a good co-worker, a competent Hunter and a trusted friend. Despite the fact that my heart was contracted with sorrow for having found out about me being just a mission, I still cared for him, and I wouldn’t try to make his life hard out of spite. I wasn’t sure if I’d manage to continue to share a house with him, still. My passions tend to run quiet and deep, and I was having still trouble in changing gears where he was concerned, even if our relationship was the ‘now on, now off” variety. I did find myself looking at him in a different light, and, for the first time, I noticed his aura. Human bright, but with specks of gold flaring to life in the edges. Like the contact whose name I hadn’t even learned of. Both were Earthbound Host. A slow smile drifted to my face: indeed, love had made me blind. I had had all the clues I needed for the truth about Marcus, but I hadn’t bothered to notice because I was too busy with other things.
I focused on the red folder lying on top of the table, open and showing a few loose sheets, the sole survivors of the multiple reports that had been confiscated, as well as some remaining scribbled notes from personal pads.

“They took everything?” someone voiced my thoughts.

“Yes. They had a court-issued warrant; I brought a copy, but I believe it’s very legal. They claimed something about being distressful for the Presidential family and\or no need to continue the investigation.” Marcus eyed me. “I think Ms. Montenegro still has the early copies of most of the reports, however. The ones she took for personal analysis.”

I nodded “They could get another warrant to search our premises in a few days, to assure we have nothing, seeing they were so desperate to shut everything down and take all proof. I’ll send a scanned copy to the secure server so the IT people can update the database, and I’ll put the paper copies in one of the bank boxes until this dies out and we can file it.” We were holders of a whole many secrets. We wouldn’t lose this one, no matter what the government said.

“Have any justifications been issued to why the Red File was shut down?”

Marcus shook his head “None.”

It was my turn to chime in again. “What are our odds in court to extract compensation?”

“No need. They have paid in full the rescinding clause, even before we addressed the matter.” Drat. No chance of getting them to relent under the threat of a public trial.

That, however, also opened a new can of worms for me. I now sat almost completely on the solution to this case. I was contract-bound to let it drop, and it would be seriously frowned upon if I insisted on investigating the matter. This had become yet another of the government’s many secrets, the ones that were fiercely guarded and would cause a whole lot of trouble to those foolish enough to pursue them. They could do a whole lot of things to make our life hell if they wanted, and so, we had to tread lightly. But, at the same time, something very bad was about to happen. Something that had united both Heaven and Hell in a quest to prevent it. And I had the knowledge of how to possibly stop it. If I involved everyone else, my friends, my allies, I would be endangering them. So I’d have to take it on alone.
This went against all of my instincts; me, who always had been a team player, now was going to fly solo. Trapped in my own thoughts, I had stopped listening to the discussion in the room, but my eyes met Marcus’s that very moment, and I realized that I did have a team of sorts. Heaven and Hell were on my side and, by god, I hated their guts, but they were better than taking it on alone. I wouldn’t feel bad about involving them, because they really were not part of this world and the threat of human authorities was pitiful to them; but also because they were both jerks and totally had coming whatever trouble this could cause them. And because I trusted them both with my life. I was starting to think that my life is so complicated that would put any cheesy urban fantasy book heroine’s to shame.
I remained silent, keeping what I knew to myself. If things went sour, they wouldn’t turn them into targets. I carried already a lot of secrets with me. A few more wouldn’t hurt. At times, it became hard to hold my peace, feeling as if I was betraying my closest friends, but it was for their own safety, and that was a comforting thought.
My lack of reaction probably surprised them, because I was one not to like to be pulled out of an investigation, and then given no reason for it. But they asked no questions, other than a few curious glances, so I suppose that they assumed that I was just glad of getting out of this Red File without all my limbs attached. There were a lot of debates on whether or not we should continue under the radar, should this prove to be a threat that could affect the general public. But since nothing from the tests they had achieved confirmed such a possibility, the consensus was that risking an investigation of our own would not compensate. That is the problem with being part of a company with a public face – we’re public and we’re scrutinizeable and we have a lot to lose. My line of thought lead me to ways of covering my tracks should it turn out that I was carrying on an investigation that had been given as closed. Even thought I worked for the proverbial “Man”, I still couldn’t resist giving Him the finger.
But this was not only a matter involving the US Government. This was a matter of the Weres too. And unlike the previous, the latter would not stop until they had the matter solved and the responsible punished. As I had referred before, I wasn’t exactly on talking terms with my father, but I was fairly sure he’d cover for me if the government came knocking. This is more than just blood ties; this was the us against the them. Of course, I did not want to have to resort to my father’s help. If I did, if I had him cover for me, I would be admitting I was Wolf and that he had jurisdiction over me as my alpha. Which would probably also mean a certain eager dark-haired Wolf with overly roaming hands in my immediate future.
Therefore, I promised myself I wouldn’t get caught investigating this matter.
When the meeting was finally over and the Red File was officially given as closed, I decided to decline the invitations for an after-work drink and instead take the chance that I was at HQ to use the safe room to work with the name I acquired. It wasn’t just something I could google for knowledge. It was a True Name. It held power, a lot of it, and it also held information, which was something I needed to get ready to tackle whatever faced me.
I made my way towards the elevators, and after I reached the sub-basement, I continued by stair, until the lower levels, where very few had access. There were locks and card accesses at first, but after a while, the defences became more… subtle and almost unnoticeable for someone without a knowledge of the Art. The safe room wasn’t used much, especially since we had grown more savoury, being hired less as magical mercenaries, and more as supernatural trouble-shooters.
The room was a reinforced vault that had more magic woven into it than the entire Old Quarter of New Orleans. We had used all of our very considerable skills, and then some, hiring whatever specialists Dee didn’t have on his pay roll. In result, we had a reinforced room which could take the worst a few battlemages could throw at it. I wasn’t going to blow things up, but I was going to learn things that I shouldn’t be learning, and there was no way of knowing what would come out of it.
I locked the heavy door behind me, feeling strangely alone. I had grown so used to Valen being constantly close to me that now, it felt almost lonely. But working on my own was going to be for the best.
Kneeling on the centre of the room, and began preparations. I wanted to know who – or what was Kroat’Tohan. I would catch glimpses of who sat behind the name, and hopefully, achieve a divination that would give me more clues.
I retrieved a small box I had brought with me, and picked up a tiny piece of chalk that rested inside in a bed of red silk. Closing my eyes, I let my mind guide the chalk, writing down on the cold granite of the floor the thought of the name in my mind. I had to struggle to keep my handwriting steady, as I felt the power behind the True Name flaring to life, as if resenting being seen and recorded. I steadied myself, expecting the usual resistance. Instead, I got knocked off my feet and crashed painfully on my back, as the force of merely writing it down backlashed in a way I had never seen before. I was about to try to catch my breath when the world around me went silent and dark. I wondered for a moment if I was fainting, but no, I realized I was quite aware and self conscious – the world was simply just… an immensity of nothing. No sound, no taste, no sense of touch, as if I was cased in an immense sensorial deprivation tank.
There was no warning when I saw It.
Huge. Immense. It was a god, and I was a spec of dust next to It, my human mind screaming at the sight of It, It having been created in ways that my consciousness could not fathom or comprehend, all lumps of matter, and eternal existence, with multiple mouths one mile wide. I reeled in horror, but in the vast emptiness, my screams went unheard. It was immense. It was impossible. It shouldn’t, couldn’t exist. My self floated nearby to It, flying in a huge sea of void.

And to my great horror, I realized It had taken notice of me.

It roared silently in the vast emptiness but I could hear Its cry in each cell of my body, all of them screaming in chorus, ringing in my mind, the same word again and again.

Croatoan Croatoan Croatoan Croatoan Croatoan Croatoan Croatoan Croatoan

The sudden and unexpected light was like a stab of pain, but I felt such relief I wanted to cry, when I returned to my own body and realized that I was lying in the centre of a circle of smeared chalk. Its name was Anathema because a name was something that existed, for good or evil or something in between, and It was the antithesis of being. It didn’t exist, It was, and It dwelled between realities, in the mirror image of our own, a total opposite of existence.
I coughed, feeling my limbs stiff, which made me wonder if I had gone into a seizure; I was pretty sure too that I had just stirred something that was definitely going to be bad for me. So, I was running out of time. Taking the chalk again, I went for something less dangerous, and jotted down the bastardized version of Its name. I inhaled as I placed it in the centre of a web of lives and existences, and let the chalk find the truth, dragging my hand along for the ride. Names began to appear, names of dead people, in many places, Russia, Aspen, other countries and other times. But those were layers not directly connected to what I sought; they were civilian casualties, it could have been this person or the next. It wasn’t important. I forced myself to focus and see beyond the first layers, guessing until I got certainties. And so I found names, old names. Names of people gone – and then, name of a person born when others died at the beginning of this all.

Virginia Dare.

Touched by the nothingness, by the Great Beast.

The first white person born on American soil had a seed of nothingness breeding inside her – in the names was truth, and I caught glimpses of what had happened, how the Beast had briefly touched our reality, Its mouth leaving an imprint of death, many dead settlers and a young girl who lost her mind, but begot a son, even without knowing the touch of a human lover. And this son of all and nothing was alive still, and I tracked his name through ages, and false names, but I knew him now, and so I could find him all over history, never participating directly, but always there, using many names he had given himself – underneath them all I found the one he had. And that lead me to the name he wore now: Mathewson Ashley-Croft.
I felt my mouth go dry as I pulled out the fancy invitation I had been given by the demon wearing Jordan’s face. It bore the exact same name, and I didn’t need any background check to know who it was: the owner of the ski lodge, who obviously had a steel-clad alibi. He was also one of the wealthiest philanthropist in the country, above any reproach. He dined with presidents and danced with movie stars – or would if he could move from his wheelchair. I didn’t know yet why he wanted to destroy us all, but I guess he wanted more power, or to be reunited with his father. Or maybe he was just insane.
I didn’t keep up with society media, but I had heard that his Yule party would be his farewell to life. The doctors kept finding more and more troubles with his health, and he was more dead than alive, according to them, and wouldn’t make it past the winter. They were actually surprised he had made it this far.
It seemed I was going to attend a dead man’s party. I would have to put on my best finery, then. There was a tiny vial in an unmarked strong box in my bank, waiting to be used should the world be in danger of coming to an end.

It was time to bring it out.
"I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles."

— Audrey Hepburn

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Lady Entropy
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Re: Dead Man's Party

Postby Lady Entropy » 11 Apr 2011 13:09

Chapter 24

My fingers caressed the hard and cool surface of the tiny vial. It seemed something so harmless, rather looking like a perfume sample, and not for a moment hinting at the true nature of what was within. Pure energy turned into matter – the essence of a ley-line contained in few drops of crystal clear liquid. I was not a physics master, but I knew enough to know it took at whole lot of energy to become matter, even if it was just a tiny vial like the one in my pocket. I had been saving it for years now, the payment for one of the more difficult and complex things I had ever done. And now, I was going to do something absolutely crazy with it.
I had found my way to the Bronx, and was now walking through not too friendly backstreets and alleyways. I wasn’t sure I’d still find the shop I was looking for, but places like the one I was going to were part of the magic pulse of the city. They didn’t vanish, they didn’t get old; they simply continued to exist there, as long as magic and people were around. And since the two were bound eternally, neither would vanish naturally. I had only been here once, with my Magister, and I wasn’t even sure the same owner was here. If he wasn’t, I hoped his heir would be as skilled as he predecessor. I turned around a corner and found myself in front of the old door and the dirty window with the “Tattoo” sign. After running my fingers through the vial one last time, I pushed the door in, causing a faint tinkling to come from the inside. Charming. I didn’t know shops still had old-fashioned bells like that. I stepped into a surprisingly well-lit and large room, where the paraphernalia usually involved with tattooing and piercing lay side by side with shelves of old books and cases filled with strange objects. Examples of the art being peddled there hung in the form of glossy prints on the walls, and the only two people in the room rose their head to look at me: one of them was clearly a costumer, lying on a medical table, as the other man used a tattooing machine with visible skill, tracing the contours of what seemed to be a skull on the costumer’s shoulder. He calmly finished the line he had started and then turned the machine off, looking at me. “How can I help you, miss?”

I strolled closer, looking around to the tattoos on display. “I’ve come to get some ink done. I need it for today, please.”

The artist nodded to the guy on the table “Go clean up, Morris. We’ll continue later.” The other man nodded and begun to get up; I was going to tell them I’d be happy to wait until they were done, but when the tatooee grabbed his shirt, I caught a glimpse of a nametag that was similar to the owner’s. Ah, doing work on the staff while the costumers didn’t show up. “Do you have something in mind or you’d like some suggestions? Where are you having it done?”

“I have a photo for you to look at.” I said, as I pulled a folded square of glossy paper from my pocket. He nodded and grabbed it, and I waited for him to recognize it. It took no more than a second, I could tell, from the sharp intake of his breath.

“You want a drawing like this?” he said, carefully wording his sentence. The photo was of a man’s back, tattooed with a thin line forming a pair of stylized wings. My Magister’s back.

I put my hand in my pocket, and pulled it out, bringing the tiny vial with it. “No. I want you to give me my wings.” Yes, corny, but my mentor had used the exact same words during my first and only visit here. I held the vial to him, holding it between my index and my thumb.

“All of it?”

“Yes.”

“There is way too much here for a linework alone.” I could sense in his voice the unspoken statement that he probably had never seen so much on an individual’s possession. Usually, such amounts were the property of entire cabals and circles, used as coin to barter between them. After all, what better currency for magic than pure magical energy?

“Then fill the linework. Make it solid.”

“In a single sitting?” I wondered if he was impressed at my insanity or my bravado. “Do you have any ink on you?”

“No, but I need this done now. And this isn’t a matter of aesthetics or a desire to be trendy.” I waved the vial under his nose, to cut short any ‘maybe you should think this one better’ speeches he might have lined up. The ball was going to be tomorrow night, so time was not a commodity I had.

He relented and picked the vial, carefully “It’s going to be long, and it’s going to be painful, you know?”

I pulled a bottle of a nice 10-year Arbelour scotch from the paper bag. “Give me twenty minutes.”

He grinned. “You got it. I’ll start getting everything ready.”

After what I believed were only a few mouthfuls of the heady stuff, I found myself already lying on a wooden floor, on top of a thin woollen blanket. We were deep inside the shop, in a room that seemed to fit more in a magus lair than a modern tattoo parlour, with piles of papers and old books everywhere, wooden boxes and charts, and a large protective circle etched on the floor, surrounding me. I had a hazy idea of how I had wound up there, but my thoughts were more or less clouded by the mighty liquor. Lying on my stomach and with my head on my arms, I had an unimpeded view of his tattooing instruments, set outside the circle. Just old fashioned materials – it’s not as if magic could be denied by machines (Richard being an awesome example of it) but doing it in the old ways always drew more power. Instead of the typical tattoo machine, he was going old school with a thin cane, keeping together a dozen thin needles side by side. He took long minutes preparing the ink, mixing it with blood he drew from my thumb via a medical piercing stick, then adding the drops of the liquid from my vial.

“Are you ready?” He set a surprisingly cold hand on the small of my back.

“Mmm.” I looked back over my shoulder. We were both naked now, and he had a wiry, almost lean frame, but when he moved, his muscles became taut, visible. He reminded me of most enforcer mages I knew, myself included, – all stubborn strength and hidden might underneath a deceptively slender body. He sat on one of my thighs and ran his hands a few times over my back, which soon would be his canvas. He assessed and appreciated each curve, perhaps taking mental notes of what he’d have to do to make sure that the drawing would set perfectly. Then, I felt the soft scratching of a pen on my skin, as he drew the guidelines for the art. He didn’t ask again if I was ready. Instead, I felt a sting and a faint sensation, which I couldn’t be sure if it was pain or not. The alcohol in my system coupled with the endorphins that were being released into my bloodstream to bring me into a strange state of numbness and giddiness, between pleasure and pain, the weight of his body on my thigh comforting. Time stopped having meaning after a while, but I could tell, from his laboured breath that it had been a while now; the stinging gradually began begetting more pain than pleasure, even it was mostly still muted and subdued. I realized that we were both running cold, even thought we were also both sweating profusely, which told me that a few hours had gone by at the very least. The sweat stung on the thousand tiny wounds breathing on my back, and I realized I was numb from lying prone for so long.
Zip, zip, zip, the needles sung as they stitched magic to my back, and I felt a little like Peter Pan having his shadow sown back. I didn’t know if this would work at all, but I was going to step into a very tense situation, and I needed to do all I could to compensate for my present shortcomings. The effect of the alcohol was starting to run off, and I was becoming truly uncomfortable. My back begun to itch faintly, a herald of the pain that would hit me soon. I was beginning to feel light-headed, and had started to wince whenever the needle dipped into my skin. I had considered finishing off the bottle, but I was feeling slightly nauseous, and wasn’t sure how well I’d handle strong booze on an empty stomach and while dazed and tired. The discomfort turned to pain, and it was a long time – or perhaps it felt like a long time – before I suddenly felt icy relief on my battered skin. Fearful this was just a brief respite, I didn’t dare to jinx my hopes that it was over, so I said nothing

“We’re done. How are you faring?” I felt him getting up, his weight no longer resting on me.

“I don’t know. Light-headed.” I set my weight on my elbows, testing my strength, to see if I could get up on my own. I seemed steady enough, and as I slowly got up, I stumbled slightly. He steadied me by hastily grabbing my elbow, and I murmured a thank you. He released me as I slowly reacquainted myself with verticality and gravity, and he begun to get dressed, groaning as he straightened his back. I slowly moved my shoulders and arms, testing how painful it would become when the effect of the drink faded completely.

“Wait, let me get that covered for you.” He said gruffly as he pulled his shirt on, and then limped out, returning a few moments later with a roll of transparent kitchen film. He cut a large piece and pressed it against my back with considerable experience, grabbing a few pieces of medical adhesive, and using it to stick the film to my shoulders and ribs. “How’s it working?”

For a moment, I didn’t understand what he meant. Then, I realized he wanted me to test if I could summon the magic now etched on my back. I closed my eyes, inhaled, and suddenly, it was as if I had spent an entire day with my eyes closed, and had finally opened them again. I blinked as the teensiest amount of the energy stored in the tattoo brought online a multitude of spells that had lay dormant until then, companion spells that before I had used to keep me aware and forewarned and protected. How had I grown used to living without them? I knew of the people that surrounded me in the immediate vicinity, their basic emotions and whether or not they held threatening thoughts towards me. I could catch tiny glimpses of the future, letting me know what I had in store, warning me of possible danger. I could feel the peeks of energy guarding me, waiting for a threat to discharge a lightning bolt from the skies to whoever tried to sneak on and\or attack me.
I was so unused to walking around with extra senses other than the 5 I had grown accustomed to, that I stumbled and nearly fell on my face. He hastily steadied me, preventing me effectively from falling into the ground. “I’m calling you a cab. You’re in no state to drive home.”

“I’ll call someone to pick me up.” I agreed weakly, as I deactivated again my magical defences, deciding to use them when I was less light-headed and grown more accustomed to it. Carefully, I pulled my trousers on, and slipped on my jumper, wisely deciding not to even try to put my bra on.

He held out the almost empty vial, a few remaining drops on the bottom. “I am taking the remainder as payment.” I nodded in agreement, and turned in surprise when I heard the chiming of my cellphone. With unsteady fingers, I fished it out of my pocket – unidentified number “Hello.”

“I brought your car outside.” Valen. “If you’re done, let’s go.” I wasn’t expecting to see him so soon after him opening my mind to a demon, him destroying my hopes of romance, and me invading his mind to read his thoughts.

“I wasn’t expecting to hear about you again.”

“I’m your familiar. This was ugly for the both of us but I’m still bound to you.”

This was not a conversation I was going to have in public. “We’ll talk back at the house.” I closed my cellphone, slipped it into my pocket, and put the half-empty bottle of scotch on top of the counter. “Here, a little token of my appreciation. Be good.”

“Yeah, you too.” He tossed me a packet with something soft inside: “Use these to wipe your back at night. They’ll promote healing.”

“Thanks. Take care.”

The doorbell jingled as I stepped out, and a car screeched to a halt right in front of me. I opened the door, slipped inside, and sat back, yelping as I forgot about the fresh tattoo. This time, I sat more carefully, resting my shoulder against the seat, so I wouldn’t accidentally press my back against it. Finally, my eyes met Valen’s, who silently looked away and started the car. I wasn’t sure of what to say. I wasn’t going to apologize for what I had done, even if I had done it in anger.

“I’m sorry.”

That was so unexpected, I stammered “W-what?”

“I’m sorry.”

“No, you’re not. It was your mission.”

“Yes. And I wouldn’t have done it any other way. But I do regret that you had to go through that. I didn’t know about your mot—”

“Don’t. Just… don’t.”

“Sorry again.” Silence settled between the two of us once more, as if we sought to say words that stubbornly insisted on eluding us. I didn’t know why I was so upset. I had known from the start that Valen had second intentions. I think what upset me most was losing Marcus. And I was lonely, so it had been easy to grow accustomed to his company. He was comfortable. Likeable. “I know that your magic…” I clenched my teeth, and he caught it, but apparently didn’t care. “… I can help you, you know? I can be your channel and store energy for you.”

Of course he could. That was the role of a familiar, after all.

“Why?”

“Why what?”

“Why are you still here? You have a promotion, a title…”

Valen gave me a faint smile “You’ve never been in the Underworld, have you?”

“No.”

“Yeah, it shows. If you had been, you’d do _anything_ to escape it. And so, I have a very good excuse not to hang there more than short periods of time.”

“Me.”

“You.”

“You want my soul?” Stupid question, but I had to say it.

“You want to give it to me?”

“No.”

“Then you should be okay.”

“You’re an Other. And now you’re a Demon Lord.”

“So I am. And for that I thank you. You gave me power and riches, and the access to the very exclusive club of hellish VIPs.”

“But not free will. You belong to me.”

“I’ve yet to see you have me do something I don’t want to do.”

“I might.”

“Yes, you might.” He finally agreed. “But it’s a risk I’m willing to take.”

“You think you know me that well?”

“I do know you that well.” He corrected me gently. “Me binding myself to you was a calculated risk at first, but I’m a good judge of character. Women especially. And I now know my risk paid off. If I thought I was going to be in danger of you using me for things I didn’t want, I would have broken the contract as soon as you started to bitch about it.”

I was left to digest that. “You’ll try to get me indebted to you?”

He hesitated a moment, then confessed. “Yes. As much as possible. At the moment, you hold the power in our relationship, and I want that to shift.”

“We don’t have a ‘relationship’.”

A smirk swam to his lips. “Really? I thought I was the perfect husband, a demon in a 16-year old body, the proof of God’s sense of humour.”

I choked. It was going to be very awkward to have someone who constantly knew my mood and could catch my stray thoughts.

“You don’t look 16 right now.”

He shrugged: “I didn’t want to intimidate you before. However, I had been ready to change at a moment’s notice. I was counting on the Elohim dropping by sooner or later, so this form was more convenient for combat.” I couldn’t avoid an admiring glance at his broad shoulders. “And to subdue you. You’re stronger than you look.”

Ah, yes. Story of my life. “Next time, keep your hands to yourself.”

“If you let me show you what I can do with them you wouldn’t say that.” He blew me a kiss.

“Now you’re just playing the bad cliché.” I couldn’t help grinning.

He laughed and I noticed he had dimples. Yes. I’m an idiot. “I made you smile, didn’t I?”

“Nice lines, buster. I see you’re going to try and seduce me to shift power to you or something?”

“Every moment of your waking life, and maybe some of your sleeping ones.”

“Smooth.”
"I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles."

— Audrey Hepburn

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Lady Entropy
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Re: Dead Man's Party

Postby Lady Entropy » 14 Jun 2011 11:03

Chapter 25

I lay on my stomach, my back stinging slightly under the cool air. We were currently in one of the safe houses we had scattered around the city, the central heat taking a while to warm the tiny apartment. It actually felt quite pleasant against my bruised skin, even though the rest of my torso was breaking into goosebumps.
I had sent Valen into a series of errands, namely to acquire clothes and shoes for the party, knowing I had to dress my part. While he was out, I decided to do some electronic legwork and finish preparing my weapons – knowledge is power, and now that I knew the face of my enemy – or, at least, its general’s, it was time I learned about the terrain, and his goals. I rested my weight on my elbows, rising myself slightly, then I pulled my laptop to me and turned it on.
Kroat’Tohan was something I couldn’t explain or find too much information about, but it did confirm a few theories I had heard. Existence as we know it is comprised of a multitude of Realms that in some cases are interconnected between them. At the centre of it all seems to be this universe of ours, where physical beings exist, like humans and Weres and yours truly – there is a reason why it was called Midgaard by the Norse cultures; the middle kingdom. Then you have adjacent Realms, like the Underworld (aka Hell) and the Lands of the Unliving. The Dream Realms are also directly accessible from here, and the thing is, a lot of the Realms overlap with their Middle Realm counterparts, and things existing here, also manifest there. This is rather true with the Dead Realms which tend to be, surprisingly a lot like the “real” world. Except with worse lighting, more dust and a whole lot of more dead people. Now, between the Sunless Realms of the Fae, the Hellish regions, and the Dream Realms, one could figure we’d have enough ghastly beasts to go around, and more or less cover every bad thing in existence. However, some theorized about the space between. What lies between Realms? The instinctive reaction is to say ‘nothing’, that Realms exist next to one another, direct (or distorted) reflexes of each other. But I found myself reading about that space between realms, an even more direct reflex of our reality. The total opposite of existence, the anti-matter to our matter – two aspects of creation that should they come into contact would annihilate each other. If we accepted that theory as at least plausible, then we’d have to ask: what inhabits that void of existence?
There were tale of the creatures of entropy and denial of existence, old lords that had never changed since their creation. Or uncreation. It followed the theory that there is no action without reaction, no light without shadow. Of course, I could spend an entire day debating quantum physics and boxes with dead cats, which are actually alive, and still would have not broached the matter properly, so I decided not to go there. But from the descriptions I was reading, I was suspecting that that could very well be the case in point. One of these creatures brushing against our realm did certainly explain the so swift and clean termination of life in those one-mile circles – the only reason matter hadn’t been annihilated too was because it was the natural state of things, and the status quo would keep it thus. Life wasn’t a priority for reality, it seemed. I didn’t have time to investigate and search for other attacks to confirm my theory, but, from what I could determine, the two that I knew of had happened in areas with powerful energies, ‘lines crossing them and converging into each other. Any apprentice knew that, in those areas, the walls between Realms were weaker; they were often used to create the very rare portals that gave passage from one Realm to another. Then maybe the same existed in the “space between”. Not great rivers of energy, but rather of non-energy. This would, incidentally make the area weaker between not only Realms, but also between creation and anti-creation. This explained why the attacks seemed to consistently occur in such powerful areas. I didn’t have much faith in coincidences, and this seemed to prove my point.
I had all the clues I could want to be sure that, whatever was going down, would be going down at the party. My own clumsy and crude attempts at divination had shown me the fate of what was to come was jumbled and confused, more so than it normally was, and that a lot of troubles awaited me ahead. This meant that the place where the party was located was probably an area of immense power.
I padded barefoot to my jacket so I could retrieve the invitation. I had a good idea of where the major known areas of power were located, and I had a few maps to compare. If the area belonged to a coven or a cabal, I could always try to call them for backup, and I’d be surprised there was a powerful area in civilized United States that hadn’t been claimed yet. The party would be in Dare Country, North Carolina, and, after a few minutes of rather bland work, I was hit by a realization so sudden and outrageous that it left me slack-jawed and wide-eyed.
The bad news were that area had never been claimed by a cabal, because it had been bought and kept in the possession of a rather wealthy family, which meant I was going to have trouble finding backup. The good news was I now knew exactly why that exact spot had been chosen. The party was at Roanoke Island. The exact place where it all had begun.
The attacks on Aspen and Siberia had displayed mere destruction, but the original one in Roanoke had produced something – a child. There was something about that area that had made it possible for a seed of entropy to slip through the cracks and impregnate a human girl. Could it be… that the area was so weak that, given enough force, it could crack, letting that monstrosity invade us?
I was unable of being adequately horrified at the prospect because my cellphone chose that exact moment to ring. I fumbled a bit until I managed to find it and answer it. No caller ID on the screen.

“Hello?”

“Are you inside the safe house?”

The voice seemed familiar, but I couldn’t place it exactly. “Who is this?”

“Open the door, now.”

“Who are you?” And how do you know about the safe house, I wanted to add.

“If you don’t open this damn door right now, woman, I’m kicking it in.”

“What the hell do you want?”

“You’re in danger. Now let me in.”

“Pull another one… in danger of what? And exactly who the hell are you?”

There was a silence and, a second later, the front door of the apartment flew off its hinges, and landed more or less broken in two a few feet away from the couch where I was sitting. Several men in military gear rushed in, training weapons on me. I was so outraged that, for a moment, I froze, as I pondered exactly what I was going to do to them and what would be the most painful way for them to do it.

“Your father is right. You waste too much time talking.” One of the men approached and it was then I recognized the voice: my previous contact with the government. At the same time, I recognized the person: my wolfen admirer. “Give me your cellphone.”

“Wha-?” He yanked it out of my hand before I could react and threw it against the wall, where it shattered into a pile of colourful electronics and plastic parts.

“Put your shirt on. You’re coming with me.” He tossed me my clothes and only then did I realize I had been naked from the waist up the whole time. I’d be flushing if I hadn’t been too confused. When I finally managed to recover my wits enough to tell him to go to hell, he had his gun pointing at me. “Don’t even argue, because I WILL shoot you in the leg.” I could tell he meant it, so I swallowed back my argument. I couldn’t afford to be injured before I headed to the party. And I wasn’t sure I could conjure something before he shot. With my spells offline, his Were reflexes were far better than mine. “Torch the place.” He gave a brisk nod to another of the military-types that had accompanied him in.

“Sir.” A handful of them immediately jogged out of the room, and he yanked me by the arm, while I struggled to get my clothes on. He pulled me with him and I barely had time to snag the invitation in passage, having to give my laptop a sorrowful look, as it got left behind. Judging from the noises coming from the kitchen, I had very little hope that it would survive.

“Wait; there is someone I’m waiting for—”

“If you mean the blondie hellspawn crawling all over you, pray for his sake that he thinks you’re dead.” He growled as he unceremoniously lead me down the stairs. There was an unmarked car waiting for us in the garage. After all but tossing me inside, he took the driver’s seat and hit the pedal. I knew that Valen would know I wasn’t dead, but this was costing me my only backup.

“Look, something bad is going to happen. And I need him because he’s my only backup. Well, he and someone else I need to call.”

“Not going to happen. You’re working for the Wolves now.”

“Excuse me? I don’t remember saying I accepted any contract with you.”

He speeded downtown. “Frankly, how stupid can you be? The government wants you stopped, and, instead of continuing the investigation discretely, you start snooping around, drawing all kinds of attention to you. Small wonder they sent us to take care of you.”

I choked “What? You were there to kill me?”

“Yes. Although not officially. Officially we were here to capture you. Of course, they knew you are magus, which they neglected to tell us, and they figured you’d fight, and we’d have to put a bullet in you. But sending us to murder could leave trails… but self-defence is quite acceptable. Guess what, we get used and lied to by Uncle Sam too.”

“Wait, you’re US military?”

“See? I knew you were smart. You just take a while to warm up”

I could only think of one person who would want to stop me. “That Ashley-Croft guy? He’s behind this all, you know? But how does he have influence enough to sick you guys on me?” My companion was silent, and I turned to see him chew on his lower lip. He hadn’t known who was causing this all.

“You mean the Deadman?” He sounded disbelieving.

“Deadman?”

“Yeah, old coot, more dead than alive. There are waging pools to guess when he’ll snuff it.”

Gods, these people could really disgust me at times. “Yes. And it’s a long story. But he’s behind it all. And something bad is happening tomorrow night, and I need to be there. And I also need my backup.”

He shook his head “I’ll be your backup. I’m not stopping for anything shorter than Armageddon. If the Deadman, who everyone thinks is a swell guy, moved his influences to get you killed, then I’m not risking letting people know you are in the area. If you were being kept under surveillance, then I’m sure your allies were being watched too. You really have to learn to turn your cellphone off as much as possible.”

“Was it my cellphone, then?”

“Yes.”

“The attack on the Geneva hotel?”

“Deadman probably had nothing to do with it. Our superiors wanted your little friend to see if they could study it and isolate the elements that made it so powerful.”

“I can’t believe the government really pursues the whole ‘super soldier’ thing.”

“Believe what you want. We have been keeping tags on you since this entire mess begun. Also, you owe Gagnier big now. He was the one who managed to set things for me to be your handler.”

“I’ll make sure to send him a fruit basket.” I replied, indignantly. I knew I was getting upset at stupid things, but I had spent my life running from the Wolves, and I had thought I had managed to elude that part of my life. But it seems that the past does indeed catch up with you, because even almost ten years later and half a world across, I still had it nipping at my heels.

He ignored my impertinent remark. “I’m taking you to a private aerodrome, and we’re flying straight to North Carolina. Anything you need to be there waiting for us?”

A big rocket launcher would be nice.

“A toothbrush; a decent dress and shoes. And some underwear too, since part of mine is now currently going up in flames.” I could see him grinning as he picked up a phone, and made a few quick calls, giving me some appreciating looks when he was informing whoever was on the other side of my sizes. He managed to actually get my cup right, but I had to correct his generosity where bust size was concerned.

We made the rest of the way to the aerodrome in silence, as I glumly reflected on what was about to happen. I could die, but I really didn’t want to linger on that, because worrying about the inevitable was a fool’s game.
We all have to go some day, and I had had a good run until now. No regrets.

Life manages to be a bigger bitch than death, anyway.
"I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles."

— Audrey Hepburn

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Lady Entropy
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Re: Dead Man's Party

Postby Lady Entropy » 25 Nov 2011 17:02

Porque me apercebi que nunca mais tinha postado nada, aqui fica, que rajada, os três últimos capítulos do meu primeiro NaNo


*********

Chapter 26

The Spring, from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, has to be the most overrated and overplayed music in any party with intellectual pretentiousness. I personally prefer any of his other oeuvres; hell, even any other season would be preferable. But no. It’s always Spring. I wondered for a moment if Mr. Ashley-Croft chose the soundtrack to his parties, or if he paid someone to do it. If he did pay for it, then he was seriously getting ripped off. Or perhaps I was being bitchty about it because the prospect of dying to the sound of the very annoying Allegro of the first movement was just too painful for me to consider without a grimace.
I slowly moved among the in-crowd, and, at the moment, nothing showed that this was anything more than a normal party. The rich and powerful were rubbing elbows with their peers, and exchanging hollow compliments and veiled insults in the same breath. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – it actually demands quite some skill. The guest of honour hadn’t showed up yet, which was a relief for me, because I didn’t know exactly what powers he had, and I had feared for a while I’d be stopped at the entrance. However, the invitation I bore had the name of the president’s son on it, and that ensured me a very fast way in. Furthermore, the Deadman probably was expecting me to be dead, and, should I be alive, to be standing anywhere but his own doorstep. Walking carefully, so I wouldn’t step on the hem of my dress, I let my senses spread over the area. I was still having some trouble getting used to having all my spells working and feeding my poor unsuspecting brain with information from every side. After these years relying on nothing but human cunning, and some pre-prepared artefacts and rituals, it felt overwhelming to be aware of so much with so little effort. I could tell where the Weres were, their life-force glowing red among the far more muted and serene presence of their human cousins. I think I also caught glimpses of other Denizens, but I really wasn’t here to investigate the partying habits of the non-humans, so I pushed it to the back of my mind. The area was amazingly powerful, but not the exact place where we were, rather the surrounding areas. I could count at least a major Dragon Artery, and three Veins. But they never penetrated the house, oh, no. They skirted it, in a rather abnormal formation, surrounding it like a moat of pure energy, before resuming their normal course. Of course, it hadn’t been like that before. I could find the vestiges of the beds where the ley-lines had run previously. Any stronghold built here would be a very literal magical fortress.
The counter-side to this was that the walls between Realms in this zone were incredibly brittle; it would be very easy to raise portals here, and even maintain some working on a constant basis. This would be a hotbed of the paranormal under the normal circumstances, putting some of the locations in the Old Country to shame. But… it wasn’t. It was still and empty. As if something was keeping any phenomena away. Not a single ghost, stray spirit or nature elemental. The influence of Kroat’Tohan certainly kept the stage clean. It was a few hours to midnight and my educated guess was that if my worse fears came to fruition, it would happen then. Yule at midnight. It didn’t have the same ring as Samhain, but I was guessing its connotations with life (despite it being the Eve of the Day of the Dead) would make it hard for the bastard to break inside. So, I had until midnight to solve this. And I had to find out a few things first – namely how he was going to summon It to us. This sort of thing usually resorted to chanting and sacrifices to draw the attention of the being in question. And unless he was planning on putting us all karaoking a version of Dancing Queen with the lyrics replaced by the name of the Kroat’Tohan, I wasn’t seeing how he was planning on doing it.
I rubbed the bridge of my nose. Shit. I had jumped into this without time to do a better research, and I totally didn’t know what to expect. Maybe I could hit him with a fireball. If I killed him, the ritual or whatever he had planned would be interrupted, right? Except this was a man with centuries of experience. Getting killed probably wouldn’t interfere in his plans. He certainly had back-up plans and contingency resources should he snuff it or a bunch of meddling kids and their dog dropped by to ruin his plans.
I think I might have referred my strange sense of humour before.
I glanced around, and a familiar figure drew my attention – my Wolf backup – accompanied by another familiar figure – Tim. The two were talking in hushed tones, next to a cocktail counter, where a bartender was handing them drinks. I had to admit that Tim was the last person I was expecting to see here, but I was glad, at the same time. I hadn’t been left alone for a moment, which meant that nobody knew where I was now – any familiar backup was, then, welcome. If HQ had been informed of the fire at the safe house, they’d worry and think me dead. There was always the chance that, seeing it was a secure, and, hence, secret location, they hadn’t even realized it yet. Just another fire in a city so prone to disaster.
I could also feel a faint, distant connection to Valen. Too far away to reach, but I knew he was there, probably frantically looking for me. This mean he also could feel me and knew I was alive. For some reason, I found myself wondering what he had thought when he arrived to our safe haven and found it ablaze. Was he worried that he lost his connection to this Realm, now that he had been promoted out of being a skinwalker and to full demonhood? Or had humanity rubbed enough on him for him to worry and grief for me? You know there is something wrong with your life when the only person who you think will worry about you is a demon.
The two men didn’t talk for long, and their mannerisms struck me as odd, almost as if they didn’t want to be seen together or associated with each other. So, after they parted ways, I took the chance that Tim was alone and I came to stand beside him.

“Pay the lady a drink, sir?” I said quietly at his back. He turned, dazzling in his impeccable white tuxedo, not showing the least surprise to see me there.

“And what drink would the lady want?” He asked seriously. There was a concern in him that made me feel uncomfortable, and he must have realized it, because he took my hand and squeezed it comfortingly before taking it to his lips, but not letting go afterwards.

“Maybe something without alcohol. I do need my guard up, after all.”

“Around me? I’m hurt.” His attempt at humour fell flat, because I could see the steel in his eyes. He was tense, just as me. Despite the contempt his race held for ours, this was the Middle Kingdom. They did see it just as a playground, but it was theirs. And if it was destroyed, it would be taken from them. And they never took kindly on sharing their toys. He presented me with the freshly mixed cocktail, and I took a sip, just to keep myself occupied. This was what I hated most: the waiting. I had combed the area multiple times, in all sorts of ways I could, but I couldn’t see a thing that hinted at his plans, or his backup resources. Nothing was out of the ordinary, except for the misplaced Veins, and I had a good guess at why they had been diverted like that: the ley-lines flowed with the building blocks of reality; creation in its purest form, so to speak, hence, they were anathema to whatever the Kroat’Tohan represented, which meant they were an amazing protection against It. However, like the rivers they were, they eroded the walls between realities in the areas where they ran through. So, by diverting them, weaker spots in reality were exposed.
I frankly didn’t know what was going to happen. I suspected a sacrifice, and I had taken some precautions to put as many of the people there in safety. If I had to resort to what I was going to do, I would give Inês the ultimate nightmare in cover-up. Unless people would assume it had been a freaky earthquake. As much as I had looked, I saw nothing that would indicate a way to kill people en masse.

“Lord Tymmaneth'wardwyn,” I leaned to whisper softly in his ear “if you had to kill a whole lot of people here at the same time, in a way that a talented magus couldn’t detect, how would you do it?”

“Well, the traditional methods involve locking the building's entrances and setting fire to the outside walls. There was some Transylvanian prince who did it for his coronation, I seem to recall." He tilted his head quietly. "And there's always the tested and true method of poisons within the food and drink. That was favorite of the Borgias, you know. Really, your modern conveniences have made the whole process much easier than it used to be. Central air and some nerve gas are so much easier than having to rely on everyone partaking of a particular dish. And there's always cruise missiles, or artillery strikes, if you don't care about damage done to the structure.” He paused, as if only then considering the motives behind my question to be more than simply small chat. “Why, do you think someone is going to try such a thing?”

“Have you ever sat on a trap, feel it was ready to close on you, even if you couldn’t see anything to confirm your feeling?” He clearly understood it to be a rhetorical question and so, did not answer. “Well, I see this to be the exact perfect place to put a trap. I don’t have any proof of it, nothing is out of the ordinary to confirm my hunch, but I am sure it’s going to happen because it would be the most adequate thing to do. If it was me, this was where I’d spring a trap of my own.” I watched the slim glass of champagne on his hand and then the drink on my hand, and then hastily set it down. “Maybe we should consider not drinking or eating anything.” His words had left an impression on me, even though I could see nothing out of the ordinary with my drink.

He abandoned his glass next to mine, and took my elbow so we could walk away. Truth be told, I felt comforted by his presence. The Wolves were fearsome warriors, but I knew that magic would be needed to solve this matter, and few could rival Tim in that field, him, an embodiment of pure wild magic. We sat at opposing spectrums of the Arts, with him being almost breathing, living magic, and me metaphorically enslaving it for my own goals, imposing my will on it; however, there was a unity, a communion of sorts that only magic users could understand, and trying to explain it to someone who has never used the Arts is like trying to describe the colour red to a man born blind.

“I thought you couldn’t interfere in this matter.” I told him as we walked, hoping he’d tell me he had been joking, or that he had managed to find a loophole in the ancient rules that said that he couldn’t help. The Lords and Ladies had a knack to find flaws in contracts or badly-worded agreements that put the Others to shame. Some theorized that the two groups actually had a common origin, or that they had mingled their blood somewhere along the line. Having him by my side would make my life easier.

“I can’t. And I’m not here to interfere.” He answered, distractedly. “But, like I had said before, I can and will assist you. Only you. And that is what I’m here to do.”

Okay. That didn’t make much sense. He couldn’t interfere, but he could help me. Perhaps he could protect me, or heal my wounds, and that wouldn’t be exactly interfering because I really wasn’t fated to play a role in this mess, so it wouldn’t count as interference.

I could only hope.
"I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles."

— Audrey Hepburn

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Re: Dead Man's Party

Postby Lady Entropy » 25 Nov 2011 17:02

Chapter 27

As the hours went by, my discomfort was growing. Something bad was going to happen and I could feel it. I couldn’t put my finger on it but I felt watched, unsettled, restless. I found myself staring at the ground, wondering if a horrible creature would suddenly jump out of it and eat me, but all I could see was a trampled and manicured lawn. The stillness and tranquillity of the scene only worried me even more. Mr. Ashley-Croft had finally found strength to come meet his guests, but I was carefully avoiding him. I didn’t want him to see me here, even thought I wasn’t sure he’d recognize me to begin with, with him being older than dirt. Wait, what was I thinking? He was something more than human, why was I underestimating him just because his body was old and wrinkled?
There were only a few minutes to midnight, and I was frantically looking for Tim, who had wandered off for a while to talk to some acquaintance of his, and had promised to find me before the witching hour. However, the old man had just invited a series of very important and very boring people to make speeches about the importance of this or that charity, now that Christmas was arriving, and the season to be jolly, and holly, and a whole lot of other shiny words ending in –olly, was upon us – therefore, a whole lot of guests were congregating in the winter garden. Not for a moment did I think this was a coincidence. It also made my task of finding Tim so much harder. I discretely checked the programme the staff had recently delivered: at midnight there would be Yule fireworks, followed by a lot of screaming and death ‘en masse’. So I had just made up that last part in my mind, but I was pretty sure it would be happening. But I had absolutely no idea how, which meant I also did not know how to prevent it. I realized then that I could very well die in a few moments, but I couldn’t feel any directs threats aimed at me. If the explosives or fire Tim had suggested were going to be used, I should have been getting glimpse of danger to my person. Maybe it was the poison he had also suggested; since I had consumed nothing, I wasn’t going to die, and therefore, not endangered. I had checked again and again to find any potential threats in the food, but none was to be found. I had checked the candles and napkins and the plates and glasses themselves, just in case it was a contact poison instead of an ingestible one. Still nothing.
A fanfare announced midnight, and a salvo of fireworks lighted the sky, followed by the sound of fans being turned on, and several movie-like machines started to spew forth mist to add, I suspected, a the magical ambiance to the entire procedures. My eyes had been on Ashley-Croft the whole time, since I was certain he was going to do something, only to find him quietly sitting on his chair, gracefully bowing his head in agreement to the words being said right before everyone turned their eyes to the sky; this caused me not to notice when the first people started to fall. I didn’t hear the screams of the surprise of the others around them because of the noise of the fireworks, but I did notice the commotion and, after glancing around, I noticed it was happening in the areas where the smoke was hitting people. Curiously, one or two didn’t fall, and I felt no threat from the smoke, it wasn’t poisonous, although its chemical composition was quite odd, designed to be barely lighter than air – it took me a moment to realize that it was a piece of a vaster trap. A poison delivered in separated parts – it wouldn’t climb as fast as normal gases, and would instead linger and kill!
Cussing under my breath, I reacted by instinct, pulling on the energies at my disposal. My thoughts were clear, precise, and my skill was as good as it had ever been. Analogies about riding a bicycle would have certainly come to my mind if I wasn’t so busy saving the dozens of people who weren’t dead yet. A gesture, and a multitude of ancient letters flared to life surrounding me in a circle of flaming words. I pulled on the electromagnetic field of the earth, and redirected it into a magnetic pulse that fried anything electronic in a one-hundred yard radius. The sound of the fans immediately stopped, but that was unnoticeable to everyone else except me because the fireworks deafened all other sounds. I looked around to see where the smoke was being lead by the breeze, and it was then my eyes met the Deadman’s. He was staring straight at me, in disbelief. At first, I thought he had recognized me, and was surprised to see me, but as I conjured the strongest gale I could muster, rewriting reality to change high and low pressures and suck the gas upwards at a far too fast speed to continue to spread over the ground, I saw him screaming straight at me. He wasn’t surprised at me being there. He was not expecting me being capable of doing what I was doing. Unfortunately, I shouldn’t have lost my focus, because the next thing I knew it, a tornado had formed on top of the cocktail stand crashing anything it its path to smithereens; while it accomplishing my immediate the goal of sucking the gas away from the people, it was also creating a stampede of panicked guests.
The power at my disposal made me heady, and I caught a glimpse of the floor beneath his feet, willing it to dissolve. He fell with a scream into the chasm I had opened, but his plight went unnoticed in the panic. I closed my hands, mimicking what I wanted the earth around him to do. But to my surprise, nothing happened. I frowned, wondering if he had countered me somehow, but that moment, I saw him crawl out of the hole with an agility and energy that didn’t fit a man his age. I didn’t hesitate, and a willed a torrent of earth and debris to rise and engulf him. He vanished from sight for a moment – and then I could see him again, unfazed, not a spec of dust on him. I tried again, and the same thing happened. His father had given him apparently an uncanny resistance to anything created being thrown at him, and his smug smile, as he carefully walked away, seemed to confirm my guess.
In that case, I had a little thing to give him. I screamed my rage, and a might wave of pure energy left me, aiming at him. If any of the mundanes wasn’t too busy running for their life, and was instead looking at us, they would have seen nothing. But he felt it. Oh, yes, he did. I could hear his scream over the noise of the fireworks and the rumbling of the tornado, rampaging but a few dozen yards away from us, its mighty winds making debris bounce off my shields, before their kinetic energy was drowned and they remained immobilized where they were.
Pure, raw, unfiltered energy. The building blocks of reality. The essence of the Dragon Veins he had diverted because they were anathema to his father. He rolled on the ground, like an ant caught under a lens focusing the sun right on it. I was about to finish my job, when I heard it, felt it and knew it.

It was coming.

I had saved most, but many had died. Enough to draw it to us, it seemed, and I looked up, stupefied. I thought I had managed to save us all. I thought I had won. For a moment, victory had been in my grasp.

Croatoan. Croatoan. Croatoan.

I heard the song of Its name in every fibre of my body.

Croatoan. Croatoan. Croatoan.

The Deadman was getting up, laughing, and in the midst of the madness and the chaos, I saw him mouth something at me.
It took me a moment to decipher his words, but my heart stopped when I realized what he had just said and what it meant “It’s coming for you.”
It had been a trap all along. But I hadn’t been the prey. I had been the bait. It was then I knew a terror I had never known before. It had seen me and It had followed me all this time. Until I had lead It into a place where It could break free when a proper sacrifice would be given to further weaken the flimsy walls that kept It away. I had caused this. I had doomed us all. The Deadman had wanted me to come to his party all along; he had wanted me to find the truth, the name –

And draw Its attention.

I could hear the triumphant laughter of my enemy, and rage filled me to the point I thought my heart would stop. I unleashed hell on him, throwing so much of the energy in me at him that for a moment, it flickered into the visual spectrum. I was doomed, but I would take him with me. He screamed and cringed to protect himself, but something diverted the stream. That moment, I could hear reality scream and the world beginning to unravel under my feet.
It was not going to allow Its vessel to be hurt. The vessel was important, the stepping stone, the key.
I don’t know how I knew this, but I knew, a painful knowledge etched suddenly deep into the core of my self. I screamed again, in anger, in frustration, and this time, I channelled my rage and my energy at the creature that swam under me, like a shark, poised mere moments away from breaking the surface of the water. I could feel the breach in reality, and so I let reality pour into its opposite, wishing nothing more than to make It scream for me, one last victory I’d take to the grave with me. I would not have such victory, for my will alone could change the world but could not be. And that what was not, belonged to It and was Its to control. It was mocking me, I realized, as it was about to come to me, and It was letting me know.
I let out a howl of fury, seeing the world swimming in shades of red, not fearful but angry that my will was such a flimsy conduit for the universal energy that was and could destroy what was not. Will was not palpable, will was not physical and they had set the lines aside so they wouldn’t lock this world to It. I could hear the faint thundering of the Veins in the distance; had they been closer maybe I could divert them enough to crisscross over the weakened reality – a net to trap It where It belonged.
But they were distant and physically away. If only I could bring them…
I once had brought a Vein to a foe, to protect me. I had channelled a ley-line; I had become its living conduit. And unlike my will… I was real. I was physical.
I don’t know where I had so much strength to summon, but despair lent me power, and time seemed to grow slow as I rewrote reality to divert the might of the great Artery into me. I could feel the incredible amount of energy that had been etched into my back being drained to alter the world around me, writing a direct channel to the nearby river of creation. Slowly, way too slowly, I felt reality change and shift in its axis. I felt a distant connection. And then silence.
A few more unnerving moments of stillness… and I heard a rumble, far away, distant, too distant to realize what it was. Then, it become louder, and louder, faster and faster…

The impact brought me to my knees. I attempted to hastily use my own energy to funnel the incoming wave into something I could manage, but I could feel the raw and unfettered power eroding easily the flimsy shields I was putting up. I screamed without a voice, and with my last conscious effort, I directed it to the area where once the ley-lines had converged into each other, the weakest spot in reality. But my body was betraying me, and I could feel it unravel, struggling to stop being matter and becoming energy as well. I wasn’t managing to focus it; the power was seeping through me, escaping in all directions as my cells began to split.
All was lost. I was a cracked vessel, incapable of containing so much energy. Defeat was upon us.
It was then I felt a crushing presence all around me, as if it was about to smother me. I struggled in panic for a moment; then I felt whole. I was no longer coming apart at the seams. I had felt the presence first, and then, came the physical contact. Strong arms enveloped me, drawing me into a lover’s embrace, tighter than any I had ever felt, as if it could, with its tenderness alone to prevent me from becoming undone.

And to my unending surprise, it was.

I noticed I was on my feet now, and I blinked to see a cloud of blond hair floating around me. Behind me, Tymmaneth'wardwyn held me for dear life. And he was taking on all the extra energy I couldn’t handle. He would die if he kept this up. His body couldn’t take so much energy, could it? I felt him falter, and sensed rather then heard him screaming. “Do it!!!”

And so I did.

A whole river of possibility, existence, good and evil, reality, creation and destruction poured through me into that tiny spot, where once a little girl had stood innocently to become the carrier of something terrible. I stood anchored, unmoving, held fast by the Fae lord that I feared, but who, at that glorious moment, was my mate, my lover, my other half, and together we birthed something never felt, never known to the things on the other side of the mirror.

Alice had been right in wondering if the milk on the other side of the mirror was good to drink: matter has its direct counterpart. And when the two meet…

… They annihilate each other.

The mighty wave of universal energy was nothing but a pinprick to the immensity that was the Kroat’Tohan. But it was. It was something, no matter how small.

And being was anathema to It.

There was a howl that I knew rather than listen, as It screamed knowing pain, knowing… something for the first time. And then I hear it too, as Its son learns that with flesh comes pain, and having one’s fleshy heart ripped out by a 10ft, extremely pissed off werewolf is as painful as it comes.

Then, silence. Perfect, absolute silence. Tim has not let go of me yet. I hear his breath weakening, and I feel him falling. I want to scream, to tell him to stay awake, to stave off the temptation to give in to sleep because he would not wake up; then, I realize that I am too silent. I am fully quietness.

I have no breath to scream

My heart no longer beats.

As we fall together, I can no longer keep a hold on the Dragon Artery, and it spurts free. I hear a growing pulse in the distance, coming closer, louder, and perhaps it is my heart that is beating again.

No.

It’s the sound of the Veins. With the Deadman finally truly dead, the ley-lines can run back to their course. It was him who kept them diverted, away from their proper course. They are free to run again, weaving a net of protection that cannot be breached. Their regular thumping is a welcome sound, like a slow beating heart. The heart of the world.

And it’s the heartbeat of reality that lulls me to my final sleep.
"I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles."

— Audrey Hepburn

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Lady Entropy
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Re: Dead Man's Party

Postby Lady Entropy » 25 Nov 2011 17:03

Prologue:

Satre once said that Hell is other people, and despite me thinking he was quite full of it, I think he was right in this count at least.
He had probably had friends like mine.
Also, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. And my friends are extremely solicitous and generous with theirs.
I lie in bed, unmoving, and listen to the steady thump, thump, thump of my heart. One of those things I had so often taken for granted and now – now it means the world to me.
There isn’t much to do as I wait until my friends decide that I have rested enough and they allow the doctors to pull out the cocktail of drugs that keep me subdued and unconscious. I need to rest, they say. I nearly died, and had to be brought back, thanks to the quick reaction and leet CPR skills of my Were childhood crush whose name, I realize with great shame, I do not yet know.
I am stubborn and stupid and I would hurt myself if I was allowed to be conscious, because I would force my body to get up and use magic to reinforce my strength. Unlike Tim, I’m not made of magic, they say. I should let nature run its course every now and them.
And Tim almost perished as well, they told me, but his recovery was made alone and away from all of us. It was faster than mine because, two days later, he sat at my side, and told me about the first time he walked on the world of men, when he grew enamoured of the sun, and stole a kiss from a milkmaid’s daughter, and the garter of a countess who was well over her forties but still had most of her own teeth.

Valen didn’t come with the others, but waited until I was alone, and instead snuck in under the cover of the night, slipping inside through the window, and keep me company – if any nurse caught us, I’m sure he could charm her into serving us tea and crumpets. He is still angry at me for having left him behind. No matter that I try to show him with my thoughts that I hadn’t had a choice, he is determined to show me his displeasure.

So, he sits next to me, and quietly reads me Kafka all night long.

I am a prisoner in my own body, drugged to the gills. All I can do is tell myself stories, while I wait for my friends to decide I can go home, and try to shut my senses down from the literary torture my familiar is subjecting me to.

And revenge. I also plot revenge.

At the moment, I’m considering binding him to my toilette seat.

That way, I’ll have a matched set.
"I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles."

— Audrey Hepburn

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Lady Entropy
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Re: Dead Man's Party

Postby Lady Entropy » 25 Nov 2011 17:03

DI ENDI
"I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles."

— Audrey Hepburn

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Re: Dead Man's Party

Postby Samwise » 25 Nov 2011 17:22

Quando tiver o e-reader hei-de te pedir um ficheiro com isto compilado. Ainda cheguei a ler uma boa parte, mas é muito texto e torna-se cansativo para a vista num monitor de PC. :bye:
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My taste is only personal, but it's all I have. - Roger Ebert

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Re: Dead Man's Party

Postby Thanatos » 25 Nov 2011 17:29

São 3 páginas impressas.
Não importa como, não importa quando, não importa onde, a culpa será sempre do T!

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Re: Dead Man's Party

Postby Samwise » 25 Nov 2011 17:37

3, não. 30. ;)

Mas já que vou arranjar um e-reader, para quê estar a gastar papel? E mais o incómodo de andar com as folhas atrás?
Guido: "A felicidade consiste em conseguir dizer a verdade sem magoar ninguém." -

Nemo vir est qui mundum non reddat meliorem?

My taste is only personal, but it's all I have. - Roger Ebert

- Monturo Fotográfico - Câmara Subjectiva -

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Re: Dead Man's Party

Postby Thanatos » 25 Nov 2011 18:37

Se a Lady me desse um ficheiro limpinho e sem gralhas até se convertia isto para epub.
Não importa como, não importa quando, não importa onde, a culpa será sempre do T!

-- um membro qualquer do BBdE!

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Lady Entropy
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Re: Dead Man's Party

Postby Lady Entropy » 25 Nov 2011 18:53

Tenho um desses. Em PDF e tudo :P Tenho é que vos apanhar num meio que dê para mandar ficheiros.
"I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles."

— Audrey Hepburn

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Re: Dead Man's Party

Postby Thanatos » 25 Nov 2011 19:04

Então se tens em pdf ele (o Sam) já tem a questão resolvida.
Não importa como, não importa quando, não importa onde, a culpa será sempre do T!

-- um membro qualquer do BBdE!

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Re: Dead Man's Party

Postby Samwise » 25 Nov 2011 19:07

Um meio que dê para mandar ficheiros pode ser mesmo o e-mail, a não ser que o .pdf seja muito grande e então arranja-se outra forma (yousendit, dropbox, etc).
Guido: "A felicidade consiste em conseguir dizer a verdade sem magoar ninguém." -

Nemo vir est qui mundum non reddat meliorem?

My taste is only personal, but it's all I have. - Roger Ebert

- Monturo Fotográfico - Câmara Subjectiva -

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Lady Entropy
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Re: Dead Man's Party

Postby Lady Entropy » 25 Nov 2011 19:25

Ou messanger, skype...
"I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles."

— Audrey Hepburn


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