To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Tolleson » Sat Jul 21, 2018 6:30 am

Logic did serve Glenn well, at least in so much as he wielded it to match wits, infuriating his correspondents. Conversations with him had taught her well. Though, if one were to document his actual application of the subject, Genny thought they might find the man far more susceptible to gut reactions and emotionally driven response. Then again, perhaps it was hints of Rhaena’s perception, embedded within her, influencing the assessment.

“In fairness, I wager the method of diplomacy you have pursued, in logic’s stead, is vastly more effective.”

With one foot upon the first rung and Gloria at her sleeve, Genny turned to face the other woman. Pausing long and still, she eventually cocked her head to the side ever so slightly, holding her inquisitive and listening gaze with the intensity of a raven.

Even after Gloria drew up the fabric of her nightgown, Genny stood still as a statue. Her flame hair, undulating upon a breeze that didn’t exist, was the only evidence that she had not entirely frozen in place. Here, at the base of a great, impossible tree, in a fantastic realm that pulsed with warmth and light, that felt like the safety of a warm bed on a winter morning, Genny’s pale and impassive face stared with a flat line upon her lips.


...protect Elliot Brown from me, Genny

“No.”

Although her tone was flat and lacked any of the gentle comfort of the place where they stood, her left hand lifted from the rung and reached out to gently clap the other woman’s shoulder.

“We are not so different, you know. You came once, ready to ‘eliminate’ me too, I think. Because of impulses I had yet to learn to control.” She sighed deeply and offered a weak smile that betrayed the truth of the conflict in her eyes, the cool darkness of moonlight on one side and the red and gold of the fire shimmering against the other. It wasn’t that she was unwilling, or even unable, but that she had come to know her limits.

“I, too, am fighting with every breath.”

If her hand had been flat upon Gloria’s shoulder, her fingers now curled, pulling the fabric and sifting it through her fingers like sand, before tracing the woman’s neck to lovingly touch her cheek.

“I will help, as best I can. Restrain you if I must. But know that I have no intention of harming you or Elliot,” and without saying it directly, she had tasked Gloria with learning to control her own impulses. Because if Genny could learn to do it, then the Jerno who mended trousers and tempered men’s faces, could fix and fight her own demons.
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Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Rance » Sat Jul 21, 2018 9:04 am

No.

The word bore a subtle violence. Not a cold-hearted violence, nor a dangerous violence, but a violence of conviction and temperance. The kind that could both command and empower. It was a simple answer. And from anyone else, it would have been met with a swath of Jernoan bravado and fury. Had it been Glenn Burnie, his refusal would have struck her as disinterest; had it been Cherny, perhaps moral condescension. But when Genny Tolleson said it, she spoke the word with a touch that instantly dissolved the constant, coiled tension underneath the skin of her jaw.

Genny's was a
no that believed in Gloria Wynsee's capacity for resilience, strength, and control. Only one other — Ariane Carnath-Emory — had trusted that such a thing could exist, but that was a thousand years ago...

"When I killed the Storyteller," she said, "and Giuseppe with her, it was — was awful. And wonderful. And frightening." Her brown face twisted into a grimace. "I'd barely ever held a knife. Such things, they terrified me; I saw knives do horrid things to men and women in Jernoah, and vowed to never touch one. Cherny, he — he sought to learn the blade, and I told him how it would change him—" The words fell out of her like hot sand through fingertips, rapid and necessary, reverting to their clumsy stutter, intent on filling the space between them. She stared at Genny, unblinking, her eyes darting left, right, forwards, looking for an answer in those freckles across from her. "I killed them, and it was effortless. And easy. And they just fell apart like wet paper.

"If those two taught me anything, it's that all the fears," she said, "just go away with a hard-enough push. And sometimes —
sometimes — I yearn so much for the relief of that push, to put all that fright to bed, that I can forget there are people I cherish on the other end of that blade."

Genny's hand was as warm as fire. It touched her cheek. Gloria, her digits callus-ridden and hard as stones, came up to brush the knuckles, to cradle them, with all the forgotten softness of a seamstress' gentle precision. For some reason, the smell of damp books and scorched wood and ash came over her, the vestiges of a memory that neither existed in this tiny world nor was too far removed from it.


We're not so different...I, too, am fighting with every breath.

For a brief fraction of time, theirs was not a conversation about Elliot Brown. He was and always would be, if he'd had his way; he was a dream that would not simply up and vanish, no matter how much Gloria feared it. But before her now was this fire-clad woman alongside whom she'd challenge the dream that Elliot had become, and Genny Tolleson, High Inquisitor, mattered. Awaken in Gloria Wynsee a flicker of knowledge and agency, and it was a bud that would bloom with stunning velocity. The scabs on her knuckles fell away like bits of dust. The bruises Twice-Marked Kualdin had given her were wiped away like grime. The darkness of her skin became darker still, a well-burnished copper set to temper under a Glass Sun.

Do you not imagine yourself different from how you are?

"Fighting alone," Gloria said, "is unnecessary. So don't. I certainly won't let you."
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Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Tolleson » Sat Jul 21, 2018 12:51 pm

As Gloria explained the ease of her actions and lessons learned along the quest to destroy the Storyteller, Genny became lost in the recollection. She knew the memory well, down to the very rage and desire that had been felt. When Gloria and Genny had last been in one another’s head, the impression had been so fresh that it oozed into the broken mentalist and became a small reality of her own.

...palms covered in black, black blood, staring into the cavern she'd torn in the Storyteller's gaping chest; Giuseppe, too, she had slaughtered, and his flesh splashed down to the ground like spilled ashes

It was fear and rage, and although the memory was not as viceral as it had once been, she could see echoes of that same fear, the anger, and the desire for resolution that lead to violent plots. Fear was the true danger, not the Storyteller or Rhaena, or any of the dangers Myrken had faced. It was difficult to defeat and harder yet, to understand. The thin line of her lips parted and fell into a pained expression and for a moment the night grew darker. Ominous clouds passed over the moon and the wind whispered in the branches above, blowing out the light of several floating lanterns.

Focus was regained at Gloria’s touch, the lanterns swelled with warm light, adding to the glorious, warm glow on the changed and radiant skin of the woman at Genny’s side. She smiled then, saying nothing of the obvious transformation.

“Good.”

Retrieving her hand she turned and began ascending the ladder which felt very unlike any ladder of the waking world. There was no rocking back and forth or instability, each rung felt as if it were a wide and solid stair step. In fact, if Gloria followed, after two or three steps she would find it became a staircase spiraling up around the massive trunk. Tree branches twisted together to become a soft, sanded, and gleaming banister upon which the lanterns were hung, while the inner wall of the trunk housed shelves of books.

“Elliot and I were never close before, but there are a few memories here,” she called back, continuing the upward climb with or without Gloira. Her left hand's index finger traced the spines of the books, each a different size and color, some with dates, names, or places in gold and silver along the spine, many of them entirely blank and unassuming.

“Perhaps there is something of value we can learn, before we seek him out.” Understanding who he had been before becoming Elliot the Dreamthief, and what might change his mind about coming back and living a life again. Though objects had been proven capable of housing him, when she woke she would still have to investigate if a body could.
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Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Rance » Sat Jul 21, 2018 1:55 pm

And then it was gone. That moment.

In a place like this, so near to the shores of memory and recollection, pasts and history and time were less a bank of sequences and order and more a knotted tangle, one that threatened all too quickly to reach over the threshhold of a sleeping mind and dip itself into this counterfeit of reality. She, too, remembered the fierceness of those old deeds as though they'd only just occurred—

—and there was the dilapidated library, too, where they'd said so much to one another, and buoyed one another's fractured minds. That had been a more complex time, with the Crown's soldiers at Myrken's borders and the shadow of the Missing Hour still stretching across the populous. The sentiments, though, had never faded; instead, they'd been crushed like a skirt into the bottom of a knapsack, hidden away from the world, from sight of her mind, but never discarded.

Then lanterns winked to sleep. The clouds kicked through the moonlight like vapor.


Good, Genny said.

A promise made on that word. They were simpler beings now. They didn't need so many words.

The ladder proved only a minor impediment: the first few rungs were a challenge for her lone hand, but when her bare foot alighted the fourth, the stairs reached up toward the pinnacle of the trunk. She broke the silence of the night with a gracious laugh. "I love this wondrous place." Genny molded it to her needs, and to Gloria's, too, offering no unnecessary challenge where ease, instead, could prevail.

By the time she ascended into the cupela at the heart of the tree, her alteration had been wholly complete: where once she'd worn a ragged, graying nightgown, a bold Razasani dress had taken shape, its skirt a fine indigo bell that snapped around the ankles of her boots. Along the lower hem, black-and-white embroideries of the moon's various cycles swayed with her every step. Between her collar and shoulder, an anvil-shaped silhouette had been patched to the fabric, and a pewter charm of the same shape lay in the crease of her collarbone. The knotted sea of black-and-ash hair was gone, stuffed by invisible hands into the bulb of a winged bonnet. A wooden hand, carved into a perpetual fist, rested against her thigh.

"Closeness," she admitted, "was never a quality Elliot and I shared, either. I'd sooner break his lip than break bread with him. I reflected, only after our numerous clashes, how — how similar we could be. Willful, arrogant, and altogether obsessed with our own rightness. Like the children we were." She paced at a distance behind Genny, gazing with awe upon the categorized tomes and volumes. Winking torchlight grew in her path.

She came to Genny's side, analyzing the dates. But the Jerno saw nothing. Instead, her head canted in wonder. It had been...different before, she realized—

The last time she'd ventured within the confines of Genny Tolleson's mind, what she discovered had been a terrifying Golben all its own: paths, prisons, and doors that led everywhere and nowhere at once. A confusing prism of damaged physics and loops and studious dens far better suited to locking away a too-busy, too-fragile mind, keeping it adrift in a webwork of contingencies meant to entrap it, snare it, arrest it.

Genny had been afraid of herself.

Gloria's broad elbow very briefly nudged Genny's own, and she looked at her out of the corner of her eye and said, with an undercurrent of warmth:

"I am proud of you."

This was a far better alternative.

This was the—

Focus

—of which they'd spoken years ago, like a mantra meant to contain the ebbs and flows of their impulsive minds: to encourage Genny to marshall her budding prowess; to inspire Gloria to grit her teeth and tear away from the dangers of instinct.

She reached forward, then, and slanted one of the many tomes off the shelf.

"If you were to convince a boy who loved Myrken so much," she said, considering the book, "and yet loved himself even more, to come back to a home that offers him nothing, Genny, how would you? How would you ask him to abandon his newfound talents, and — and squander all the extraordinary adventures he can conjure for himself at the snap of a finger?

"And if you couldn't, how would you convince yourself to let go of him?"
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Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Tolleson » Sat Jul 21, 2018 7:06 pm

The dilapidated library had been formative to this dreamspace and was therefore not an entirely dissimilar as a sanctuary. Up until their encounter in that place, the labyrinth of halls, doors, and hedges that had formed her mindspace had been an extrapolation of what she had witnessed in Catch’s mind. With Rhaena gone, lacking an instructor to help her categorize and contain the influx of memories and feelings pressed upon her, it had been the only template for her to follow. And it had become a sprawling, haphazard failure of an oubliette that stretched the containing membrane of her mind to exhaustion.

Gloria had helped more than she’d known in forming this change, and Zilliah too, who could be thanked for the wondrous and imaginative comforts which Gloria now admired.

“He was rather petulant,” her tone was smiling, even if Gloria could not see the expression on her face. Elliot was not the worst of the pre-teens she had encountered in Myrken, but given Gloria’s self-admitted similarity the assessment seemed more of a light-hearted jab at them both. But Gloria was older, wiser, and more humbled now; would Elliot be as well? It struck her then to slow and stop on the steps.

Would he have grown as they had? Would Elliot have aged?

Wide enough to accommodate both of the women comfortably, Genny looked back at her emboldened and beautiful companion. The combination of the sentiment and the stunning dress reminded her of the older version Elliot had made of himself, a handsome young man who had danced with her. Not at the original event, in the time and physical space of the memory’s first formation; but within the re-created dream of Descant’s ball.

Gloria slid up beside her and as she did Genny stared at the anvil charm, blinking and looking up with sudden surprise at the sentiment. The truth was that the Golben of her mind was not entirely gone, perhaps Gloria could see it still if she looked out from high up in the canopy. It was certainly smaller now, condensed, organized in it’s own way, and somewhat distant from this place, in the darkness of a slumbering mind it lay obscured and inaccessible in a shadow covered field. The dreaming and waking mind had differences and limitations, even for Genny.

Her cheeks flushed momentarily at the praise, of all the compliments it had been pride in the accomplishment that struck her. “So many questions,” she offered taking a deep breath and fixing her focus on the book Gloria held.

As if to match her companion, Genny’s nightgown swayed, colors shifted through the spectrum until the memory held fast and the others washed away. The dress was pure white, with bold, colorful flowers embroidered along the hem and at the small of her back a tidy bow with long tails, the neckline was perfectly horizontal and left her collarbones exposed. Over bare shoulders a cascade of red curls fell, half of her hair, her real hair, was braided into a crown in which wildflowers had been neatly tucked. She was younger too, the difference was subtle, but there was a more youthful plumpness to her cheeks and creases that come from furrowed brows of worry, were now erased.

“I would start with what he loved; Myrken is not home because of houses or hills,” people made home feel like home, and there were people Elliot loved. “I am certain there is something the world can offer Elliot.”

As to how she could ask him to give up his newfound talents, that seemed simple. If they could find what mattered to Elliot in his memories and past, perhaps they need only remind him and ask plainly. She didn’t answer this or the final question, either because she didn’t have the answer yet, or couldn’t bring herself to speak it.

“Perhaps not this one. Not yet,” she offered somewhat cautiously, reaching for and attempting to guide Gloria’s hand to reshelve the idly pulled book. From several shelves up Genny plucked another small volume, bound in brilliant green, the spine of which was comfortable and didn’t creak, and whose pages were well worn.

“We are already dressed for this one,” she smiled. Though it was questionable whether or not the mind of the Dreamthief Elliot would leave the same sort of impression as a waking mind. The book was opened and inside was a sort of drawing of Elliot, it’s detail rich and colors life-like. A few notes seemed to have been sprawled in the margins, but the information was minimal.

Offering her free hand, palm up, in invitation, she looked to Gloria expectantly, “come with me?”
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Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Rance » Sun Jul 22, 2018 12:52 am

"I don't know what Elliot loved. Loves," she corrected herself, the muscles of her face twitching in reaction to the lapse. "He never let open the doors wide enough to admit me."

But to believe that, fully, would have been to put faith in a lie.

"I never stopped beating at the doors long enough for him to trust me with his vulnerability."

Gloria surveyed the book in her hand with a careful reverence. It was not hers, its bound spine stitched and woven from recollections that would never be her own. These memories would prove a foreign object. When Genny took the book from her, the once-seamstress exhaled a breath that she did not realize she'd been holding so long. Genny knew better, here; she knew the right ways, the correct approaches, and the darker girl was all too relieved to follow the other woman's guidance. Instead, she took another, preferring it. A good place to start. An inroad to potential answers that would not so unsteady their feet.

We are already dressed for this one.

Genny Tolleson seemed more real, now. More tangible. She wore a skin from when they were both more clumsy and innocent, when it was quite-so-nice to weave flowers in the hair and worry desperately over the tightness of a braid. When they could adorn embroideries on their clothes and not worry over whether they'd get blood on the hems. The other woman's hair, in its tumbling twist, was itself like some artifact of grand power. Never before Myrken Wood had Gloria Wynsee ever thought such a wonder as red hair could exist, and even now found herself enspelled by it, the ease with which it could be tamed, and its companionship with skin so fair that she feared the Glass Sun would burn it all away—

She jabbed at the rim of her bonnet with a thumb, wholly unconscious of the motion. She stuffed stray, escaped curls of dull, black hair back underneath, hiding them from the world.

Then she reached out to the offered hand, but paused just before touching.

She'd almost forgotten something.

The dreaming mind was a creature of habit, sometimes wholly unbound, other times completely obedient to the insecurities of waking thoughts. The heaviness at her hip nearly dragged her down, right back down the stairs, right back into the sand. Hanging from a loose belt at her hip was an occupied sheath. The handle, jutting forward, had been tarred with her black sweat.

Gloria removed the dwarven longknife from its sheath and dropped it to the floor between her feet.

Then she kicked up the edge of her skirt and withdrew Liam — a name granted because of its engraving along the blade's steel — from its place in her boot. The needle-fine knife, barely longer than her hand, had been a stolen victory, and as of late, a sworn secrecy. A contingency. A
just-in-case. She discarded it on the cupela's floor. While the blades would still be hers when she woke, to be rid of them here was a sensation of complete exposure. A mouthful of spit in the eye of impulse.

Elliot's drawn face looked up from the page, framed by notes, scrawlings, and secrets.

She placed her hand in Genny's, the broad palm bearing all the heat of a midday star, and waited for the world to change.
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Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Tolleson » Sun Jul 22, 2018 6:37 pm

The small awe that Gloria held for Genny’s hair, which was plain and common to her, was almost antithetical to the raised brow of curiosity as Gloria tucked away her hair. It was such a small action, but seemed to surprise her. If Gloria felt most comfortable wearing the bonnet, as she must, to have materialized it here, then who was Genny to question it? But it seemed imply that the Jerno woman felt the need to hide her own hair, that it was somehow any less spectacular. When in truth, it was equally exotic and delightful.

“We spoke of love, once,” Genny's voice trailed off a bit as Gloria offered, and then hesitated, her hand.

Only momentarily released, a crease of concern returned to the red-haired brow and she watched the blades drop to the floor. While it seemed clear that Gloria had come with an intention, it was foolish to think anyone, who had spent any amount of time in Myrken, traveled anywhere completely unarmed. Even to dreams.

When she was ready, Genny took Gloria’s hand. But there was no immediate magic that consumed them. No brilliant light or total darkness, no floor that dropped out from beneath them. For a moment, she simply held the other woman’s hand.

Did Genny know what Elliot had loved? What he might still love? To say they spoke of it seemed disingenuous to some extent; it had been a passionate tirade from the thief, after which he had, in fact, stolen her heart. He had been the catalyst that gave her confidence, that ended her exile, and that dared her to hope. He was everything he claimed, at least, he had been to her then. But there was no need to explain or recount the complex tale to Gloria. Genny would show her, or at least try.

This time it was Genny who hesitated, hand in hand with Gloria, her face turned and her eyes searched the other woman’s, sharing openly some small fear and uncertainty for what they were about to do. “I shall try to make it as though you are there, rather than seeing as me,” though she didn’t sound entirely confident in capacity to do this. After all, she would be creating a dream for Gloria, from the archived memory of another dream that she had experienced first hand. In the waking world she might have captured more than words, the imprint of Elliot in her mind might be a time capsule of his thoughts and feelings, of his true experience, but who was to say that his dream self had similar such footprints?

“Just remember, I am with you,” with a deep breath Genny squeezed Gloria’s hand and for a moment they were like children under a blanket. Immediately, light could be seen through woven fibers, in small squares, winking and illuminating the other side of a green fabric sheet, as if they merely hid behind a large curtain. And there was music, faintly at first as if listened through a wall or with plugged ears, followed by the din of clinking mugs, cheerful, easy chatting, music, and feet moving swiftly. Dancing.

Whether the cover had been torn free or fell away, around them the memory had formed almost fully. There were small details, that had Gloria been there she might know where off; had it been quite so dark outside? Was the ceiling truly so tall? Or the lights so cheerfully colorful? But the scene was complete and spectacular.
They had arrived within the dream she had shared with Elliot years ago, the altered memory of Descant’s ball.

But Genny was no longer at Gloria’s side. She stood in her white dress, across the room with an entirely too handsome partner, in a dark suit. Her voice echoed into the grand space, ‘you’re a keen and clever dancer, Elliot.’
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Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Rance » Mon Jul 23, 2018 5:51 am

And such was the danger with dreams: they were never concrete, neither predictable nor reliable in their occurence. A mind could go devoid of dreaming for a lifetime; other minds, however, could dream awake and asleep, build castles out of sand, entrap, ensnare, and enchant.

In dreams, there was power without balance and order, a capacity for complete and unbridled chaos that few could coerce to do their bidding. When Genny Tolleson looked into Gloria's eyes and said
, I shall try to make it as though you are there, rather than seeing as me, a bounty of tension rolled like liquid steel through the girl's bones and muscles. Genny knew, both with practice and instinct, how to navigate these foggy waters; Gloria, meanwhile, would be at the mercy of the waves, and the discomfort etched itself as creases in the corners of her eyes. These darted with a silent, frantic fear, trying to find an answer of comfort in that Tolleson visage. Hers was a fear that the Jerno tongue would scarcely speak, but could instantly belie itself in the way her body tightened, as if preparing for an unseen blow—

In dreams, the young woman knew she was utterly, wholly powerless, and that defenselessness set her ablaze with discomfort.

Genny knew, too.

Just remember, I am with you.

This reality fell away like crumbling parchment, and revealed another in its stead. Holes of light and sound punched their way through the draping fabric until the suffocating canopy was no more...

A party. Dancing. The faint odor of long-fermented wine. The tinny chime of glasses touching. The scuffle of wooden-soled feet sweeping in circles. The rustle of finery: men's sleeves flapping, women's dresses flaring. Laughter, too, and whispers muttered against shoulders. Gossip and joy and all manners of interactions in varying degrees of tension and relief. The chalky odor of burnt wax. Bodies crushed together in joy and pleasure, everyone dancing, dancing, dancing, not in that violent, guttural, and crashing way that Jernos danced, but stiff and statuesque, as if dodging the sensual impropriety that might come if the hip touched too quickly, or if the lips came too near.

And Gloria Wynsee was there but yet not. She drifted like a spectre in the crowds, her body bending and twisting to avoid the errant elbows. Everything, though, was dim, unclear. Those morsels of Genny's memory that had been misshapen with time and a lack of memory disintegrated in her peripheral vision, like figures behind a smoky veil. What was prominent, bright, and magnetic, though, was the couple dancing: Genny in that soft, bleached dress; and Elliot, stark and black, the every thread and purl of their clothes remembered with perfect accuracy.

A dream to be dreamed within another.

"It's all going to go so poorly," Gloria said, though perhaps nobody heard her but Genny Tolleson, and she found herself twisting, turning, mimicking the dance with an invisible partner. "This moment. Isn't it? This place. This beautiful place. It's in the bloodstream of Myrken Wood, that what seems so ideal is — is but a propechy of heartbreak to come."

She watched them both, her smile threatening to break too widely, to be too happy.

"When does it go wrong?"
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Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Glenn » Mon Jul 23, 2018 6:16 am

‘You’re a keen and clever dancer, Elliot.’ Her voice echoed, memory merging with power, distance traversed over dreams for not the first time recently.

In return a sizzling sound emerged from the darkness. Stained glass windows began to creek and crack in the face of an unseen external pressure. Overtaking laughter, whispers, chimes, the sound rose rapidly before shallow foam-fingered wavelets boiled through to fill and smooth the slowly shattered ripples and imperfections.

The rivulets joined into a flat sheet of sea that rolled down the walls and towards their toes before it somehow drew back, ebbed, hissing as if cheated of a prize, leaving behind oozy silt among their toes. For the briefest of moments, patterns would appear, before a second press of water would fill them and melt them away, leaving instead delicate pastel crustaceans creeping forth on dancers' feet, assaying their new domain.

The whole room so quickly came to smell like not like burnt wax, but instead a tidal flat, fresh and clear and full of infinite subtlety.


'It's all going to go so poorly.' There was always a cost, not a moral thing but a practical one. What magic was in the air to draw upon? What magic was in the air when one was so far from home, from any home? If not a stump covered in blood and meaning, then what?

The pressure built. The windows creaked and cracked. The water, green-white when it ought to be green-black, pressed hard upon them. The dancing Elliot Brown faded like a shadow.

---------------------------------------------
Myrkeners knew many things about many things. They knew about farming the dirt. They knew about withstanding the cold. They knew about the Wood, when to avoid it, how to live off of it. They did not know the first thing about the sea. Old Pan Dundalk was a farmer, though he owned no farm of his own. He was a drunkard, though spirits were sometimes hard to come by. He was no better and no worse than any other man. He knew nothing of the sea. He dreamed of it nonetheless. He didn't dream of it in principle. He didn't dream of it directly. He dreamed of his fields, of a harvest, or toil and work, but this harvest was by a beach. Why? Because a story he heard, because a misspoken word, because how the rain had made him feel last Tuesday. It didn't matter why. He wasn't going to go near the beach.

Elliot Brown wasn't going to go near the field, not when there was a beach. He'd never been in this particular dream, but he knew how it worked for most Myrkeners. The sea was mysterious, warm and wild and full of treasure and danger. It beat the toil of the land which he knew all too well. He'd stripped bare and dove in, hoping for mermaids but expecting monsters. He'd learned to expect what he got the most. Anything else made you a fool.
---------------------------------------------

'When does it go wrong?' A hundred compliments, taken from memory and mirth, could not summon him half as well as a statement so dire and true.

The windows burst. The water came, with it came a young man, wholly naked, and a globular purple creature the size of a small tree, with one glaring red eye, five tentacles covered in prickly thorns, a large gaping mouth full of rows of teeth, and a hanging tongue that flailed this way and that. Almost instantly, the water began to recede. The boy landed on his feet, paying very little heed to the monster of Dundalk's dream, for everyone knew such things needed water to survive. Instead, he became aware of a ballroom, and women, familiar women. With a rise of his hand, the remaining water rose up in a thin but all encompassing wall of ice. Wholly bare boything was on one side, and the women, the other dancers if they still remained, and the quickly dying monster were on the other. The ice was not entirely opaque, but it left just a bit less to the imagination than anyone, he most especially, would prefer.
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Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Tolleson » Mon Jul 23, 2018 7:59 am

It’s all going to go so poorly

Perhaps Genny had not heard her, and didn’t, or couldn’t respond from where she was behind the eyes of the memory she played.

Though it seemed Gloria was right. Water pressed the windows until they buckled and shattered, a shimmering rainbow of stained glass exploded into the room as the ocean poured into the large chamber of Myrken merrymakers. The dream was then a shattered fishbowl, where upon breaking water poured into it, instead of out. At the sight of the creature several of the dancers sped up as the scene glitched and skipped. As if trying to make sense of the new information the memory progressed to where Catch had unleashed silver tendrils into the crowd. Real real panic followed, just as it had when the original memory was formed. Ball attendees fled, trampling one another, in cacophonous chaos; either from him or the purple invader. They ran and then they vanished into the periphery.

And it all stopped.

Every piece of the memory, if not the colliding dreams, froze in place. Flames on candles, droplets mid-air, shattering glass, and even the partnerless Genny, mid-waltz, tendril impaled, with her now gradient gown; it was all captured and still as stone.

After a moment the whole of her body twitched, her skin seemed to ripple and tear against the fabric of the dream. Vibrating, the image of her tessellated violently until from one of the after images the flame-haired woman emerged to stand beside the frozen memory of herself. There was a frantic glance for Gloria, as from the previous perspective she might not have seen her.

“Elliot?!”

Her voice boomed, through demanding and fierce in tone it also suggested exhaustion and even fear. There was sweat on her brow as she panted, winded by an unseen sprint. The once lovely ballgown had become similar to the gradient dress the memory wore, except that it swirled and spiraled like mixing paint. She took an uneasy step away from her memory self toward the ice, her eyes wandering over the sudden structure. It had to be him, who else could it be.

"Elliot?"
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Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Rance » Mon Jul 23, 2018 3:54 pm

It was all measured in mere seconds.

One.

In the first, despite being only a half-presence in this tangled braid of dream and memory, there was the smell: the overwhelming odor of salt and shore expressing its damp power over the aromatic scent of candles and finery.

Two.

In the second, a curious inquiry never spoken, and never given voice: Am I the only one who thinks this place reeks of the sea?

Three.

In the third, the realization of a pounding, suffocating pressure drumming against the membranes of her inner ear. Like two unseen palms pressing into the sides of her skull. She worked her jaw, as she watched Elliot and Genny dance, they way a cow chews upon its own tongue. The pressure scattered her equilibrium; it turned over-and-over the contents of her sleeping stomach until she thought she was about to be quite ill. Her heartbeat started to race, and her mouth to salivate.

Four.

In the fourth, the popping of glass. The rushing howl of water. Men and women, then, engaged in their own panic, began to flee and scatter. Shards of stained glass slashed across the floor, only to be swept up into the foamy tide of dirty seawater. She did not see the beast so much as she witnessed evidence of it: the sucking rings of its tentacles, the flicker of its desperate, watering eyes, the bulbous swell and deflation of its crude, moist body as it flailed and thrashed.

Five.

In the fifth second, Gloria Wynsee remembered that there was always a knife nearby, if one was flexible enough of mind and so willing to look. Her lone hand retrieved a sliver of glass from the wet floor and clutched it, elbow bent, against the folds of her skirt. Her body had more quickly responded than her mind: her thoughts were still several meters away, stuck in place over confusion and surprise. But her instinct had forced her to assess and conform to the necessities of the moment, like any good fight in the heart of the Gruelmaster. She crouched low, wove her way through the gaggle of fleeing partygoers, waded through the water, her whole body a coil of vigorous, combative attention.

"Genny," she called, looking for the woman, until—

Six.

Everything stopped.

The world went both silent and still.

Gloria found her.

Genny Tolleson was two: the memory, already compromised, only half-real. But the other seemed to coalesce from within a torn stitch in the world itself, her hair a fiery veil and her garments a swirling hurricane of color and form. Gloria did not question why the effects of physics, time, and panic had suddenly been subverted, but knew only that she was not subject to it: she ducked, bobbed, and slipped between men and women frozen in fear, used her elbows to nudge aside upset candles, even batted away bits of glass and debris still suspended in the air. She formed a path for herself that led straight to Genny.

Elliot's name was in the air. Spoken by Genny's voice. Shouted by it.

"Is it him," Gloria said, suddenly beside her friend, her improvised weapon poised not at the ice, but at the suffering monstrosity stilled in time only several feet away. She squatted low enough that her skirts all but swallowed view of her feet. She stared down the sharp tongue of stained glass at it, her hand trembling, but prepared to strike if she must. Her brow, streaked with black sweat, adopted a permanent wrinkle of confusion.

The clean and orderly confines of the dream had been altogether ruined, and that Gloria Wynsee could move throughout it, touch it, and influence it provided her the only answer she needed—

The memory had been Genny's, but the world belonged to Elliot Brown, now, and they were trespassers in it.

Her wooden fist, as if capable of grabbing or truly touching, shot out to press itself against one of Genny's own. To pause her advance. A tactile reminder that Gloria was still present and near, if the words she spoke next did not pierce through the burdened mechanisms of Genny Tolleson's mind. "It is theatrics to him. It is amusement. This crashing, this breaking, this destruction? Just a loud boy making loud noises to satisfy his own boredom.

"Refuse to meet any of his power with your own, Genny."

I want only for you, your mind, and your conscience, to be safe.
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Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Glenn » Tue Jul 24, 2018 2:02 am

It wasn't so much that Elliot Brown came to dreams. It was more that they came to him. It often happened in an instant. One moment, he was in the midst of some pastoral scene, the next awash in nothingness, an absence to existence itself, then consciousness anew and an entirely different world. People would wake suddenly and he would simply be gone. Rarely did a dream shift so thoroughly midstream though. While it was true that certain people had multiple dreams a night, there was generally a shift in sleep patterns to herald the change and that shift shook Elliot to the next dreamer. Once a dream had begun, it generally followed it's own progression, it's own logic. Sometimes that could be manic or wild, sometimes utterly mundane. Sometimes it was madness itself, but it all made sense to the young dreamthief.

Whatever it generally did, it was not this.

"Genny, Gloria?" He had but a glimpse of them before raising the ice. That had been pure reflex. Naked dreams happened more often than one might like, but he was usually on the other, wholly unpleasant side of them. Generally it was someone working in the fields who didn't realize. Though not the case here specifically, that was absolutely the sort of thing to drive a young man to go swimming instead of interacting with the primary dreamer. Elliot often had to make his own entertainment. This was not his idea of it though.

"Hey," he could hear them fine. They could see hear him fairly easily as well. The ice wasn't really ice, no more than the water was really water, or the spasming octopus creature was really a spasming octopus creature. It was the functional perception of ice, meant to obscure vision, necessarily cold to the touch, or else it'd all fall apart without belief to underpin it, but it primarily did only what it was supposed to do. "Can you two see me as well as I can see Genny's hair? I mean, that's bright red, and I'm not bright red," said as he looked down to double check. Despite the confirmation of that fact, he still half-turned sideways self-consciously. "I'm trying to get clothes on but sometimes it's hard to do things when," when what? When he was nervous? The manchild (dreamchild?) was entirely unable to admit that. "when people are staring at me, ok? Like how you can't pee sometimes when you're standing next to someone else trying to pee, right? How about the two of you turn around for a minute and I'll try to manage it!"

Then he turned back fully, looking around them to the dying monstrous cephalopod. "That's a weird one. You wouldn't think a farmer would have such a big imagination, but there you go. Hey, don't eat it or anything." With that he put one hand over his face, covering up everything but his left eye and peered at them as if that would somehow block their vision as well. "Genny, will you get Gloria to turn around for a minute already!"
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Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Tolleson » Tue Jul 24, 2018 8:48 am

Even broken the scene was beautiful. Somewhere between memory and dream, stolen or shared, the suspension and chaos of it was breathtaking. A half frozen vignette inside a snowglobe. The glimmering glass parting at Gloria’s touch as she approached, rather than feld, was enough to help Genny find her in the sea of fleeing people, and the literal sea, through which she waded.

At first it was surprise and relief washed away the frantic expression, the mere seconds of exertion and panic passed so that her breathing began to slow. How quickly it had all changed. While Genny had been prepared for many things, she hadn’t intended to summon Elliot with a mere memory. Of course they meant to call to him, eventually, but only once they had done their research and were better prepared. How it had happened, what had they done, why it had happened so swiftly, and in a manner that had clashed so violently with the memory? These were the silent questions that left her staggering to regain balance with a pensive expression prevailing. Elliot was far more the master of the dream domain, but at this sudden collision even he seemed surprised. In addition to confusion and surprise, the dagger wielding Gloria that slid beside her, nudging her, arresting her advance, seemed to have a very different and instinctive reaction.

Refuse to meet his power

“I do not think…” She had begun to address Gloria, the furrow in her brow growing deeper as her eyes darted away from the Elliot shape, distorted behind the uneven topography of the ice. The gleaming dagger, not her friend’s eyes, stole her attention and offered proof of the fear that possessed Gloria.

“Yes,” was the answer as he called their names, and very soon after, an indignant shout of, “NO!” Though the tone of her shout might have implied she had seen more than Elliot would have prefered. She grabbed for Gloria’s elbow to stay the blade as she turned, her back to the ice.

The clone, with her normal hair and empty eyes, was a precarious statue. Lovely and capturing a more elegant and graceful pose than the real world and physics would ever permit.

Facing herself brought a sharp, startled breath to her lips before she backhanded the core of her mirror self, her fingers flowing through as if the replica were made of smoke. Rather than coming to life or shattering in some violent explosion, the memory seemed to lose structural integrity and began to fall away. First at the site of the impact, a hole formed in the stomach and her dress showed seams that grew as her body became a collapsing house of cards. All of the people and decorations, all of the candles and cakes, and mugs, were but cards that eventually lost their dimension, rigidity, shape, and color. It all became little more than drifting parchment; pages torn out of a book. And even these fell away to nothing.

“Neither of us pee standing up,” she argued plainly, as if the nuances in his explanation were relevant at all.

And what was left? Perhaps a floor whose edges drifted into shadow, some distant lights like the hanging lanterns in the forest library. And of course the foreign elements of water and ice, and a suffocating sea monster.
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Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Rance » Tue Jul 24, 2018 2:32 pm

To be near Elliot Brown was to be leashed to a damning constant: that if your body, mind, instinct, and disposition wrenched you in one direction, his would yank you back in another, leave you smarting and cursing at both the reins and your own proclivity for stupidity.

A fist inside her chest, her heartbeat punched like an angry drunkard. Her knees, bent and tense, had strung themselves like the anchor of trebuchet, quite prepared to throw her like a wild projectile should such a brutality be necessary. So tight she clutched the jagged spur of glass, and so clean had been its teeth, that tiny rivulets of blood (was it real here — blood? Could it be shed or spilled? Did a body possess it, or did her sleeping mind only presume one must?) beaded from between her knuckles, like red, red wax lapping down the edge of a sagging candle.

Genny's words and Elliot's were but muffled, throbbing murmurs against the deafening sound of blood rushing in her ears. Only when Genny touched her, right in the crook of the elbow, did the absurdity of it all crash into her and wrestle impulse, cursed impulse from her mind.

She spun at Genny's insistent touch, still gasping for breath. This, too, was absurd: two women, backs turned to a young man in order to shield him from his discomfort and embarassment should they see—

"Your—" her lips smacked, desperate to find an appropriate word, "—antler is hardly worth mentioning, let alone presuming it's — it's a distraction worthy enough of anyone's attention, Elliot Brown." Her cheeks darkened, and her steel eyes darted up to Genny from underneath the rim of her bonnet as, for them alone, she said, "With your permission, I request the opportunity to punch him at least once. Twice, if you would be kind enough to allow me the freedom."

Genny cast away the final vestiges of the half-memory, cutting first at the image of herself with the back of a furious hand, as if the image had no longer pleased her, nor satisfied her. As if embarassed by it. Enraged at it. That kind of ember-hot fury — the breed kept inside, suffocated beneath smiles and masks — uniquely reserved for the self, and the self alone. A pinpoint of disgust flared to life in the pit of Gloria Wynsee's stomach for a world that might dare infect Genny Tolleson with so unfair a feeling.

One the Jerno knew intimately.

The ballroom melted away. It was just them. Them. The deflated monstrosity. And darkness.

Neither of us pee standing up.

She did not try to stifle the laugh. It came out of her in a harsh, vibrant bark. The levity of humor and laughter, rarely afforded chance, gave her shoulders a moment to fall. "For — for a boy who spends his every moment in a world of dreams, he must not be spending his time in the correct ones. He is woefully uneducated about women and their bodies."

The shard of glass had vanished from her hand, too. Like smoke. She promptly crammed the palm against her skirts to hide the blood.

"What have you come for, Elliot," she asked, "with this company you bring?"
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Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Glenn » Wed Jul 25, 2018 12:55 am

"Look, Genny!" Wielding the full force of his non-existent attention span, Elliot took half a step closer to the ice. His voice emanated through the wall still between them, carried with visible, slightly luminescent breath vapor, as when one exhales in the dead of winter. The ice itself was taking on a slight glow, as was Genny's hair and the writhing, dying octopus creature, or at least the two protruding antlers starting to form upon its head. "I've seen some things, ok? I have Gloria." He had completely forgotten about his own need for clothing in the midst of this. "If some lady stands with their her spread apart and maybe squatting a bit, I'm sure she can pee standing up. Maybe if she really tries? I bet Solena could do it," but then he thought Solena could do most things that involved physical prowess.

Then, shifting the subject entirely. "That was the dance from your dream? Or was it Zill's? How many years ago was that?" It wasn't a wistful question, jollying about old times. He honestly had no idea. Time had passed him by a few decades-long dreams ago. "I saw your brother not too long ago. Maybe. Finally, clothing appeared upon him, the black of Tennant's secondary profession. For a moment, his hair matched Genny's but with a tight squeezing of his eyes, that righted itself. He snatched off the canary tattoo that had appeared upon his arm and it turned into a real bird. He tossed it over his shoulder like salt and it flew away behind him, a quickly fading light in the darkness. "It was bad. We were stuck in some girl's dream. Drawn in by a creature. He did well though. He's not as good as me, but he's pretty good."

He tapped at the ice with a finger, once, twice, thrice, and it started to crack. Then, with reluctance, he looked over to Gloria. She was in rare form, wasn't she? "I know plenty of women things, thank you very much. Like the once a month moon thing. Is that's what's going on? Is that why you're so mad? I thought we had a pretty good talk at the stump! We shook on it and everything."

Then something else entered his eyes, a flash of anger that lit up their surroundings all the more. One last poke shattered the ice, but once shattered, it hovered between them in a thousand, beautiful glowing pieces. "I can't move between dreams, Gloria. I can't pick dreams. I don't even exist when I'm not in a dream, I don't think! I end up where I end up, got it?" He crossed his arms, switching his gaze between the two of them; it was no longer glowing, though perhaps was still simmering. "If I ended up here, it's because the two of you are dreaming together. Genny, it's because you were dreaming the memory of a dream on purpose and somehow have Gloria with you. You brought me here from some dumb farmer's dream. The space between is dangerous! That's where that creature Tennant and I faced came from." Anticipating their reaction. he snatched up a handful of hovering ice, causing his hand to glow as he brandished it about. "Not the stupid octopus," with its now glorious, discongruous illuminated antlers, "this was like a fairy thing. A sucking bust. The point is," and all power to him for finding any point in the midst of this. "if you don't know what you're doing, don't mess with dreams!"
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