To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Tolleson » Wed Jul 25, 2018 7:49 am

Gloria was not alone in her opinion, Elliot was a force; he was carefree chaos that occasionally did a nice thing or two. Otherwise he was a rather petulant, little shit. If he was told to leave something alone, he bothered it, to sit still, he ran with reckless abandon. Flying in the face of authority and doing things just to prove he could, at least, that had been her impression. And even though it frustrated Genny to no end, there was an appreciation for the outright disregard for rules and doubt when it served being true to one’s self.

And of being true to one’s self, Gloria seemed to be struggling at every turn. She hid her wound, the action entirely unnoticed given the scope of events and the rather personal address of Elliot at that exact moment. Was blood real here? Surely it hurt, or it could, in the waking mind. But produce actual physical wounds? That would involve an entirely different level of mastery not to mention no small amount of magic.

“Antler?” The repeated word a whisper as she turned back around, perhaps expecting to see actual antlers, the innuendo was clearly lost on her. Maybe she even caught the last few seconds of the naked boy and the antlered cephlobeast.

“I am not your keeper,” she offered flatly to Gloria, granting permission for her to give Elliot whatever beating she felt he deserved. “Landing a hit may be another matter entirely,” her tone now slightly more amused. After all, here she faced a rather large disadvantage compared to the physical fighting pits in Razasan.

Self-reflection seemed to invite retrospective embarrassment, and while it was human and inevitable, it needn’t linger. Either Genny was truly so mature, or so practiced, that a mere wave of her hand could dismiss a memory or Gloria was giving her too much credit. Not a moment later and Genny was facing a semblance of her brother with a tightened jaw.

“Four I think. It was a lovely dream,” distracted, she couldn’t seem to match the prattling excitement of the young man whose appearance was continually shifting.

The entire line of questioning and reasoning, or incitements for argument about whether a woman could or would pee standing was entirely lost, as she watched the canary tattoo come to life and fly away. Seemingly in awe of the small bird, her mouth fell agape. She didn’t even bother, or was too taken by what she’d witnessed to interject on Gloria’s behalf. Though, clearly, if Elliot knew a damn thing about women he would not have even hinted that menstruation was the cause of Gloria’s reaction, let alone to her face.

She stood her ground, even with the impressive explosion of glowing ice so near to her person. As Elliot delivered a tirade she gently swiped away pieces that blocked her vision and listened. “Then I do apologize for endangering you, but what proof have you, that you know any better?”

Elliot had lived and breathed dreams, literally, for several years now. But immersion was not synonymous with understanding, let alone wielding. Contrary to the words themselves, she spoke plainly with a genuine curiosity.

“If the creature you speak of inhabits the space between, how did it get into a dream?” Perhaps no where was truly safe and the creature could come and go as it pleased, or perhaps it was because of the holes Elliot was unintentionally punching the dreamscape. And on that note, how had her brother managed to share a dream? The common link between both Zilliah and Gloria was Genny, who had an aptitude for traversing mindspaces, but the ability wasn’t genetic. There were enough questions on the table, not to mention concerning possibilities, so for the time the Tennant tangent was left unmentioned.

“You must know that we are here with hopes of bringing you back,” genuine and plain; wasn’t the admission, the request, just as she had explained her plan Gloria?
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Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Rance » Wed Jul 25, 2018 4:12 pm

Genny had at her disposal both logic and reason, two qualities that often fled Gloria, and rarely existed in concert. The Jerno, with her stubborn shoulders squared like those of a willing combatant, fought desperately against a knot of emotions: anger, that he should show up this way, speak down to her — and to Genny — as if they were a pair of common fools, as if he knew the way a woman worked; frustration, that his invasion could not be anticipated, and that he'd brought beauty crashing down with him; relief, that he still was.

Her fist gripped with fury against the side of her dress, crushing and squeezing the indigo fabric in a repetitive knead.

Could have said something, could have lashed at him with her tongue, surged forward and jabbed a finger at his nose and told him how she felt. That he was an ignorant boy, and a crude one. That he had no right to speak of Genny as if she was a clumsy neophyte fiddling about with powers beyond her understanding, and certainly no right to care what may or may not have been happening under the privacy of Gloria's skirts.

Fury. Fury, like hot, white fire, that he would aim to both predict and deflect Gloria Wynsee's weapon-like rage by raising up the shield of their previous conversation.

This is impulse, Glour'eya. This want to pummel him. That is impulse; that is why you were born again out of the husk of a More Stupid Girl. To deny it. To swallow it like bile, j'uk'ad. So make it all more simple. See it for its pieces.

Genny had better and quicker words. Genny was smart. Genny was fire. Genny, in this place of flat floor and nearby shadow, seemed taller than she had ever been. Older. Chiseled out of a stone that could, without disturbance, ignore the flickering counterfeit of her brother before her. The Black Oil drummed against the inside of one of Gloria's broken teeth. Elliot was words. Questions and their answers. False wisdom. Why be furious at him. Why be angry at inevitability: Elliot was, and therefore would seek to infuriate and enrage. That is how he managed to remind himself he was alive. That was his palmful of blood.

You must know that we are here with hopes of bringing you back.

That was a Tolleson gift: to neither waste time, nor seek to mislead.

They could talk. Gloria could not, for fear of betraying the meeting's whole purpose. Instead, she found her gaze drawn toward the other figure present with them: the Creature, sitting like a deflated water-bladder only a few meters away. Its blank, red eyes seemed to stare in every direction, and simultaneously at her. Its damp flesh, likely vibrant in its home water, looked black and mottled, its every protrusion clinging wetly to itself. The incongruous, asymmetrical form bloated and flattened, swelled and compressed, like a dying bellows. Tentacles and their throbbing suckers lashed and whipped harmlessly at what floor remained beneath them all, and while it may have been massive and monstrous...

She wandered to it, just beyond the circumference of its reach, and squatted. She glanced down at the sloppy gash in her palm, then worried at the wax-dipped strings of her bonnet with a thumb and forefinger.

Wherever their conversation led them, she didn't hear.

"Put it back," the Jerno said, her voice as strained as an old lutestring. "Put it back where it belongs."
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Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Glenn » Thu Jul 26, 2018 5:36 am

The questions and requests ranged from gallant to goofus. They all came at him at once, but then he was used to this, far more used to it than they were. He saw the pair of them, their motions and musings, through massed reflections in the spinning, swirling, shattered ice. He rolled his eyes and the ice shifted to rotate in a vertical instead of horizontal direction.

Still, despite growing exasperation, he tried to deal with all of this in turn. "Proof," the word seemed to echo between a cave of ice all his own making (or unmaking), "is dumb," which might be the single most foolish thing he'd ever uttered. Even he seemed to realize it, for once, which was saying something. "In dreams, proof is dumb, because it's all about how we see things. I could give you proof to me and it wouldn't be proof to you. It's not about knowing. I don't know why things do what they do and I don't need to. We don't need to know why the sun goes up and down, right? Or why plants grow better in sunlight. We just need to make sure we don't block the sun. You don't mess with the space between dreams. If you do, bad things happen. That's not knowing better but it's sure as heck knowing good enough!"

When he looked at her, even through the spiraling of ice, it was with very serious eyes. "And it could do it because it wanted to, because it wanted to do bad things. It was the bad things." And that's where she might be confused. By this point, Elliot didn't wield dreams. He was them.

"It's not that I don't appreciate the notion, Genny, but where are you going to put me." By then, however, the pressure from Gloria's mad request had caught up to the nice conversation he was trying to have with the fire-tressed, more sensible one of the pair. Ice turned once again to water and now rushed past Gloria, soaking her but not drowning her, before enveloping the creature in a large liquid bubble. "And how do you know I'd even fit?" That was a mumble, as his attention was already turning.

Serious eyes turned to near-furious ones. "I don't think that's what she wants at all." This to Genny, about Gloria, for he was starting to advance. "What is it Gloria, huh? Are you trying to prove that any life is worthwhile, or is it to make me say that thing isn't real so that you can say I'm not real either? Or do you just sympathize with that thing, huh? No control over anything. Just part of someone's dream, not even a main part, just a bit of scenery, forgotten and unloved and whatever. I don't know what goes through your thick head anyway!"

Everything froze with his final exclamation. Genny. Gloria. The creature. The bubbles in the water. Elliot was beside them now and as they were frozen, his head turned to stare. "I know what goes through his head though." He snapped out his hand, fingers extended, and lucidity entered the creatures eyes. Motion returned to it though it was confined in the large globule of water. "Hear for yourself."

When it spoke, it was with a reserved, quiet voice that was very much the opposite of its visage, simple and straight forward. "I was chasing you, prey." the octopus pointed out reasonably. "You didn't know I was there. I was almost upon you."

Elliot ignored the other two and nodded quietly to the beast. "I knew you were there. You wouldn't have caught me, but you can keep thinking you would, if it helps. She wants me to bring you back there." He nodded to Gloria, and she found herself able to move once again, as did Genny. "We were going to have a big argument about it, how it probably wasn't worth the damage it'd do, so I made it worth the damage, so that she can win the argument."

"Can I eat her?" The creature's strange eyes were bearing down upon Gloria and Genny now.

He just shook his head. "I'd rather you didn't. She tastes like black slime. You probably have enough of that; the other one tastes of fire and you don't want any of that either." He sighed, drawing back away from the water. Fire and black slime. Not like he could get Niall or Galacia or Solena or even stupid Cherny. It's always fire and black slime. "Plus, she thinks you're worth saving, me too I guess, so it'd be a shame to eat all that good thinking."
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Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Tolleson » Thu Jul 26, 2018 5:11 pm

Her words had been better than no words, and more coherent, she thought, than Elliot’s. He seemed to spout off whatever came to mind, matters of proof, and plants, long-winded explanations trying to describe common sense. Patiently, she crossed her arms and watched as the words fell out of him.

“Knowing well enough,” she corrected, idly. Not that she was particularly good at grammar, her speaking stammer had been so bad at one time that she could hardly get a whole word out, let alone half-formed sentences, mashed together. But that, if little else, was the benefit of being in one’s head, here she could speak as she intended.

Her companion wandered away, but Genny remained impassively still, her eyes following Elliot. He was more fascinating than the dying dreamthing, with his angry explosion of words, explanations, and flawed reasoning. Paying little mind to it she seemed to assume the poor, beached animal was of Elliot’s making.

Despite the strained, almost meek quality to the sound of Gloria's voice, it cut through pretense and stole Genny's attention. And it was a fine interruption too, because the answers to Elliot's questions were things Genny didn’t want to say. The truth was that they didn’t have the answer. Summoning Elliot had been an accident. And though she had been wondering the same thing for a very long time, she didn’t want to admit that she didn’t know; that the Elliot of the waking world was missing, and even if they found him she had only the slightest of ideas on how to cram him back into corporeal form. All of these things brought only a burdened sigh and a too readily distracted glance; but the more crushing of these unspoken answers was that despite a promise to bring him back, she might simply incapable of doing so.

And then, very quickly, whatever sympathy or guilt she had felt for Elliot, drained.

“You frighten her,” the words were launched with ferocity over the rant, as if to valiantly defend Gloria from this bully. Her hand shot out that she might restrain him from advancing further. And then it stuck, mid-air, without purchase.

Gloria had shown an impressive amount of restraint; though her now thoroughly rumpled skirt might disagree, kneaded with such ferocity she might might find her nightgown in tatters when she woke. But she also awarded far too much credit to the seemingly cool and composed Genny. If ever there was something to illustrate that Elliot embodied dreams as opposed to wielding them, it was this, his action of freezing them. Not things, not memories, but their presence in this place. It took only a moment, one seemingly small action from Elliot, asserting his control, before she could no longer play at the diplomat she hoped to be.

Once released from Elliot’s invisible web the fire of her luminous hair flared to life and sparks flashed in furious eyes. She stepped only once, a forceful, angry movement, that was more for leverage than traversing distance, her hand raised that she might deliver a full-handed slap squarely upon his cheek. Her arm shook with restrained rage, fingers curling into a white knuckled fist, still raised in frustration.

Her anger was arrested by the wandering eye of the creature as it begged to eat them, though her words were punctuated venom. “Do not jest and toy with me,” glancing away from the target of her wrath and staring rather murderously at the creature.
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Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Rance » Fri Jul 27, 2018 1:39 am

Is that what this was? Fright? This tiny diamond of doubt and mistrust that winked in the pit of her stomach?

Am I afraid? Is she right? Does he frighten me?

A moment of forced stillness, while still dripping from Elliot Brown's redirection of the water, provided her nothing but time and opportunity for reflection, even as she stared down into the many eyes of the Creature before her. How susceptible was she to fear, she wondered, that it skulked behind the veil of other emotions and reactions?

As a child in Jernoah, still a devout sand-eater, still a good choirgirl, sneaking into older girls' chambers to bloody their noses and levy empty threats on their lives in whispered tones — and for what? To smother the rumor they shared about polluted bedding, that she was afraid they might infect others with such a thought? And now, older, more wise: a flight to Razasan performed under the shadow of her Ruanno proof, that she'd some business there, only to find herself breaking men and boys like glass against her fist in some effort to stave off her loneliness — and for what, that she was afraid she'd shattered something in Myrken Wood that she could not repair?

To ricochet from one extreme to the next: that they must be Elliot Brown's saviors, or they must find a way to destroy him — and for what, that she was afraid of the complexity and margin of failure presented by other solutions?

In her stillness, even her lungs strained to fill. The moment was too brief to instill panic, but for thought?

For thought, for confirmation, it was more than enough.

Can I eat her?

When the mechanics of her body were hers again, Gloria pressed her palm to the floor and unfurled to her full height. When she looked upon the monstrosity, the gem of fear crumbled. Beasts and their natural proclivities — perhaps with the exception of jawing wolves — rarely stirred her anymore, especially not when suspended in a fluid, bubbling prison. Here, it held no power; it, too, was subject to another, its instincts forced into publicity, its very presence and breath permitted at the behest of another. "No," she said, simply, then turned back toward the knot of tension strung between Genny and Elliot.

Whether or not the strike found its mark, her presence at the mentalist's side sought to calm, because Genny was afraid, too. Wasn't she? Afraid enough to lash out, to turn her rage into something physical—

Do not jest and toy with me.

Dark fingers rolled across the top of of Genny's trembling fist, providing soft, warm weight. Where she trembled like a strung catapult, the seamstress was newly eased. She would never deny another their rightful fury — to break away would have been effortless on Genny's part — but that touch meant to soothe, to remind. The first fulfillment of a promise made in the heart of the tome-tree.

"It wants to fill the world with itself," Gloria Wynsee said, her lips twitching against the placid realization. "It wants to remind itself and — and a very small world how much power it possesses. It wants to create something beautiful and force everyone and everything to know its poise and strength and influence over them. Because without those things, it is nothing. This is all it has.

"What else is there to be, when it's frightened of being forgotten, but bold, and loud, and dangerous," Gloria asked, "just like the Creature it brought here?"
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Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Glenn » Fri Jul 27, 2018 2:28 am

Elliot was ever bound by his own mortal limitations, by his own sense of perception. So long as he still remembered who he was, so long as he still fought to remain who he had been, his true mastery over dreams would never be fulfilled. In this case, the last thing he expected was Genny's burst of physicality. Open palm struck surprised cheek and the dream itself rippled in response, waves of dissonance emanating outward from the blow. Whatever retorts he might have had for either of their earlier comments were lost in the moment, which then fell not to silence, but instead to quick, pointed words from Genny and sharp but less focused ones from Gloria.

Oh, and this from the creature, "Eat them now?" though it's quite reasonable tone now had a good deal of alarm in it.

"Will you stop." Elliot muttered, even as he rubbed his cheek, almost certainly to all three of them at once. Rubbing wasn't doing the trick, apparently. Genny did not know her own strength. He placed two hands upon his jaw and with a crack that seemed to split the dream in half, he reset the thing. Elliot then opened and shut his mouth a few times, bringing his tongue in and out, as if trying to expel the bitter taste of pain.

By the time he was done, they were done as well. He pressed that tongue against the side of his cheek, expanding it out. This was him thinking, a rare enough sight. The temperature around them might have raised a degree or two at the effort. "Genny," just saying her name caused him to flex that jaw once more, to twist his head and let loose a completely dry spit, "do you even talk like that in real life? Like to a fishmonger who's trying to haggle? Maybe you do. I've done it before. Maybe not to a fish monger. I'm not toying or jesting. I don't even know how to jest. Wait, did you say jest or joust?" He could probably joust if he had to. Instead he shook his head. "Have you ever tried to get an octopus to talk? I just needed to concentrate for a minute. Sometimes I just need a second, ok?" It wasn't them that had paused, not specifically, but the dream. "Most of the time people don't even notice. You're just not "people," I guess. I mean you're people, not like an octopus, but not regular people. I'm not trying to jest or play or whatever you said." Then, deciding that he needed to rub his cheek once more. "Stop being so angry, ok? You brought us here. Maybe you didn't mean to, or maybe you meant to do so for good reasons, and maybe it means you get to be mean or cruel or whatever, but I don't think you get to be angry for the results of what you did or didn't mean to do but did anyway."

There were other ways this could have gone. The ripples could have shattered the dream. The crack could have truly split it in two. He could have rewound things, shattered her hand or moved Gloria into her place. He could have split in two and spoken to them individually. Instead, he was trying to force a level of normalcy on all of this.

"So that's you." He rolled his head over to Gloria, more than ready for her to try to strike him. "Do you even hear yourself? Do you ever hear yourself, huh? Let me see, because I hear you. you said," and he repeated with her tone but his own voice, or perhaps it was the other way around. Could she even tell? "I want to remind myself, and a very small world, how much power I have, to create something beautiful, to know whatever poise is, and strength and influence, because otherwise, I'm nothing? I'm afraid of being forgotten? So I'm bold, and loud, and dangerous? Just like the creature that GENNY brought with me by accident from the other dream? That right?"

He was tapping his foot now, and the sound echoed down the cavernous hall of their ill regard. Again, trying to force not wildness and boundless creativity, but normalcy on this, he stopped, forced himself to stop, and it was just silence again. "Yeah, no, look. That sounds like me, sure, but it sounds like the me you knew back in Myrken. Small world. Afraid to be forgotten. Be daring, and loud, and bold, and dangerous. And a beautiful posey or whatever else you said, though I don't quite get how I'm a flower." He'd shrug there but she was smarter and better read than him, despite what he was about to say. She probably was just being poetic or something. "That was me back in Myrken, because I saw everyone die around me and I felt small and like I'd just be a dirt farmer forever, just a burden for my family or later on for Niall. I'm the same. Just here and not there and bolder for all the more that I don't have. The only one who's trying to make me something other than the same is you, Gloria, because you are too dunkheaded to do anything but put things in big stupid little boxes, so that you don't have to be as afraid."
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Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Tolleson » Fri Jul 27, 2018 4:25 pm

Something happened then, suddenly, as the dreams and minds collided. As they touched in that violent outburst. While the shockwave of surprise and dissonance that emanated from Elliot didn’t tear the dream apart, when it crashed into Genny it left in it’s wake the same sort of vibrating tessellation of Genny’s image as her separation from the last dream. Like a struck tuning fork over time or a seemingly failed mitosis, for a moment she was several instances of herself that shuddered and eventually converged, returning fidelity into the single solid figure whose eyes had gone wide in matching shock.

Simultaneously, the two women had traded the role of being reason, sense, balance and balm. Gloria was a quarrelsome fighter bound by impulse, but found control in directing that attention away from herself. Perhaps some misshapen maternal instinct, or a coping mechanism wherein tackling the problems of someone else was a means to distract her from her own.

That was easier, wasn’t it? It was easier to hold someone’s hand, to fight for them, to do the hard things on their behalf, to do the exhausting things, the chores and battles, to forget your problems or belittle them. It is so much easier to be good for someone else, than for ourselves.

Genny’s eyes snapped to her hand where dark fingers, warm as the sand, found a stinging palm. The tender touch did assuage the muscles to stillness, if only briefly. The moment lasted two or three breaths at most, as she gaped at her own hand, the seemingly foreign limb, then to Elliot, and back. And when that moment passed her hand was snapped away, recoiling to some safer place, captured by her free hand and held protectively against her chest. Knowing he could have dodged, put literally anything in his place, or made it seem her hand no longer existed was reason enough to be surprised at the landed slap. She had even said as much when Gloria had inquired about pummeling him.

He said her name, and wide doe eyes watched him horrified.

The expression mellowed as he said his piece, or part of it, and turned to Gloria. Clearly there was some history from their previous interaction that was unknown to her. Either that, or more likely, the concern and perception from Gloria had been exaggerated. That did seem more like her.

Still holding her hand to her chest as if it were the wounded thing, she sighed. “Clearly, you are well equipped and do not require the desperate assistance I was lead to believe,” there was still some heat in the words directed at Elliot, but for the most part at least a measure of civility had returned. With little regard for the conversation he was having with Gloria about, well honestly, she wasn’t sure, she bobbed her head quickly and turned. She might even have started to walk, as if somehow excusing herself.
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Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Rance » Fri Jul 27, 2018 6:22 pm

It was too late, wasn't it; a touch, however gentle, could not soothe the afterpain of impulse. Gloria Wynsee had found a certain measure of joy in bloodying her knuckles, in making the problems of the world small enough that she could hit them, break them, cause them to bleed. Genny Tolleson, however, was a soul of more humane composition: she held her offending hand like an artifact of sin against her. A body could be a spark; it could ignite, in a flash, the noxious smoke of a brooding mind.

Then, Genny's rage fell away, crumbled like paper, and her words rang with finality. Genny's diminished fury left a space to be filled in the triangle between them, a void where Elliot's words hung like drapery. He could bloviate all he desired, but to the one-handed seamstress, one fact was dreadfully clear: in only the span of a few fleeting moments, he had wrestled their agency from them, and rendered them weak.

Gloria had chosen not to speak directly to him, but that was a fragile conceit. This time, she did speak to him, though her eyes never left the hem of her own skirt, or the tips of her own boots.

"Genny is right," she said—

and you shouldn't speak these things aloud, Glour'eya; expose a wound, reveal a weakness, the world will know, and it will plant a poison in it—

—while gripping so violently at her skirts that the smooth fabric nearly tore from her. The words spilled out from between her clenched teeth, her jaw so tight that it nearly cracked under its own pressure. "I am frightened of you, however much I want to bury that knowledge. Whether or not you realize it, Elliot Brown, you are my most frequent nightmare. One sliver of you could fall out of balance, and we would be tasked with doing what we always must: employing our full measure of survival against something which shreds us into madness as we slept in our beds.

"And what do you do, here? In action, you demand our obedience. You — you hold us still when it suits you. You remind us that, if you chose it, you could break us with a sweep of your hand. Have you forgotten so quickly what horror it inspires, to watch someone so flagrantly abuse the power they possess?"

Her voice softened to a near-whisper, her marbled eyes now staring at him, unblinking, from over the hawkish arch of her nose.

"Genny Tolleson cares greatly enough for you that she risks her own wellness, mettle, and integrity to seek out a solution to your circumstance. She helped remind me that you are not a thing which should be destroyed, and as it stands, she is one of only two very desperate women seeking to tiptoe through the broken shards of themselves to offer you a second chance at — at the life that was taken from you."

At the end of her thick arm, an extended finger, demanding his silence, until:

"Ask her," Gloria said. "Ask her what drove her to hit you, before the chance is lost. You know why I care. Ask her why she does."
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Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Glenn » Sat Jul 28, 2018 7:23 am

Elliot Brown groaned. He could always choose not to feel the pain in his jaw, but to do so would make it matter less, would make it not matter at all. It would make him matter less. It would make him less real. That wasn't why he was groaning though. He was groaning at Gloria, and all of her words. "Why are you being like this, Gloria? You have a choice. We all do. I know what it's like not to have one. You may be afraid, sure, but you're choosing to let that fear be in charge, with your attitude. I wouldn't choose that with you."

He stared at the retreating Genny though, not at Gloria. "And it's not like I'm better than you either, Gloria. She's better than us. I'm not all that different than I was. I just explained that and you didn't even bother to listen!" There was another groan. She only ever heard what she wanted to hear. That was a difference between them because he generally didn't used to hear anything at all. "I wasn't all that great then either. You're not either, though. You're mean and judgey, and you jump to conclusions, right? I think you're afraid a lot, so it makes sense you're afraid of me. I was afraid at first and then I just plugged up my ears and decided to be loud instead. It was an either or thing for me, but with you it's both and that makes it way worse."

That just drew a sigh though. "Look, if I keep talking to you, you're going to keep calling me a nightmare and talking about how you have to save me or destroy me, and I'd much rather talk about what you ate for dinner last night or how Cherny or Catch is doing. Even the weather. It's summer right? Most people are dreaming about summer. Look, I don't think we can even have the same conversation right now." That made him snort a little through his nose, just to think about. She was so close, someone who was his friend, and it was like she wasn't there at all. "I'm going to try to go talk to Genny for a bit, ok? She probably feels bad because she's a good person," not like them.

He took a few steps and suddenly wasn't near Gloria at all, but was instead right by where Genny was walking. "Dammit it," another groan. "I'm sorry. I meant to walk here, but sometimes you really have to focus on things not happening in a dream, not happening." More frustration and another half groan, this time due to what he said and not what he did. "I mean, that you have to focus on them not happening instead of happening. Instead." There, that was the right word. Hopefully, she understood. "I'm not trying to scare you guys. I don't think Gloria gets it, but you do. It's not me that has power. The dream has power, but none of it is real. I just move around stuff that isn't real." He was going out of his way not doing that now, not giving her any example, not flaunting it or showing off. "You said it's been four years? How long have I been here? Five then? It feels like a lot more. Most times people wake up and they don't even remember their dreams, you know? In those five years I only ever encountered something like I did with your brother twice, and that's including that time. I'm not going around saving people or anything. Most of the time I'm just trying not to lose myself or break anything."

Meanwhile, the octopus would look to Gloria, and in that nice, peaceful voice, would utter. "This is all very strange, slime-taste. Don't you think?"
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Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Tolleson » Sat Jul 28, 2018 7:59 pm

Gloria conceded and it gave Genny pause, in turning, but not in wanting to leave. Gloria claimed that Genny was right, regarding something Genny didn’t want to be right about. Correct in an accusatory outburst that had been as much instinct as Genny's assault on Elliot. Surely it had just been a guess or context, rather than a blatantly read mind, considering that Gloria was physically so far away. But now there was uncertainty where once there had been confidence and focus.

Walking, face turned, she worried her lip and kneaded the offending hand, still held close to her chest. Elliot was not her nightmare.

You brought us here.

The reckless collision had been her fault, from wielding some power she hardly understood. Lacking control was an all too familiar and terrifying feeling. It begged the question, how much of a person’s conscious mind had control in a lucid dream? How much could she focus? In truth she had so very little, actual power, only focus, restraint; learned control over some mutated aspect of her mind. But dreams, no, that was Elliot's domain. While Gloria spoke of risking wellness she screwed her eyes tight and walked on with determination to put distance between her and the people she endangered. She hadn’t just gambled with her own wellness.

Elliot appeared near her, in front of her really, and she stopped just before him. Her face down with eyes now open, staring at the ground while her squeezed hands remained tight at her chest. Four years ago there would have been tears welling in her eyes, maybe streaming down her cheeks as she wrestled with what she’d heard and how she felt. Gloria’s brave admission, Elliot’s earnest defense. None of them truly knew what they were doing and she wanted it to be good enough. For honorable intentions to prevail. But so much had changed. Instead of yet another emotional reaction, she glanced back to Gloria sympathetically. She listened too, her eyes, shifting with her lifted head, rose to meet Elliot’s with a serious intensity. Behind her eyes there wasn’t anger or even apology, which he probably deserved, just a long stare into the dream, the illusion of Elliot's eyes.

Most of the time I'm just trying not to lose myself or break anything.

“Me too. But it is very real, what I do, what you do,” her tone was low, addressing Elliot in such a way that Gloria might not hear. It seemed cruel, given how honest the Jerno had been only moments before. Given that they had come to do this task together. But wouldn’t this just frighten her more? She sighed heavily, the gravity of the admission and implications pressing her lungs to release.

“You woke my brother’s sentry,” she offered more flatly as her hands finally released from where she’d held them against her chest, fingers unfurling slowly to reveal a tiny bird in the palm of her hands. It wasn’t her dream anymore, but still she conjured the once tattooed canary with it’s fire tipped wings. The small creature preened it’s feathers and then glanced about, with the nervous, stuccato actions of any true-to-life bird.

“Which means you are touching people’s minds, not just their dreams. You could be changing who they are.” She already knew this, she herself had changed from their last visit. But wouldn’t it have been nice to believe that change was something she had been capable of herself? The statement of accusation, or realization, was almost whispered but thick with worry. The nuance of the tone was a worry not based in fear, but instead one of understanding. The sort of worry from an older sibling, out of concern; from having taken some similar path and knowing the edge to walk was thin.
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Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Rance » Sun Jul 29, 2018 12:21 am

Why are you being like this, Gloria? You have a choice. We all do.

She gave no words to him in response; she'd spoken her piece and now stood stern as stone, breathing down against the stitches of her collar, never looking at him. That she was afraid a lot; that Genny was the best of them; that she would keep calling him a nightmare — but to her, he was. He'd slipped through the cracks of reality like a shilling dropped from a pocket; he came crashing back to her at unexpected times, exposing flaws, weaknesses, winking up at them from between the floorboards and wrestling control from her until all she could do was ball her fist and swing—

When he went to Genny, relief flooded her. So she reached up, her broad back hiding the act, and dug her fingernails into the sleeve of her upper arm. Until their edges bit down through the fabric and dared to scrape at skin.

A memory—

Mothersister Aubergine had a face as emotive as a washrag and she was as dark as the underside of a stonebear's paw. She sat across from the child, both of them staring down at the face of a playing-board chiseled out of uneven glass. On it stood a tiny army of sentires, soldiers, and assassins formed from bits of rubberwood. This had become their nightly pact, this game of duromek: when the girl could not sleep, or did not wish to sleep, Aubergine would drag her from bed and they would play by the light of a fat, flickering candle.

Glour'eya used her thumb to shove one of the pieces forward. Mothersister reached across the board, a tiny leather switch in her hand — a necessary tool for a seamhouse overseer — and struck the girl across the broad forearm. With a hiss of pain, the young seamstress drew back, rubbing her bicep. "That piece," Mothersister told her, "cannot move there. Rules are meant to be obeyed. They are not for ignoring as you see fit."


She could hear them speak, sometimes in murmurs, sometimes more clearly. In this place, for all its nothingness, senses bore a greater burden: slivers of their words crashed against the darkness, like arrows glancing off the stones of a citadel, seeking new direction.

"That piece, the aruban, can only move so far," Aubergine explained, as she'd explained a thousand times. "Its broadsword swings far and wide, clearing the battlefield, buying time for its compatriots and their more precise movements. Now this one, the duako, " the woman said, flicking at the head of a tinier piece, its carved hand holding a tiny dagger, "can move to more advantageous areas of the board, and with greater swiftness. Its knife does valiant work: it can kill my queen, should you be clever enough to move beside her."

"That's nonsensical. Why can't the
aruban's broadsword swing at her from afar?"

"Because any fool who strides into court bearing a broadsword thirsty for royal blood gets the arrows first. It's the knives, Glour'eya, that you have to watch out for."

"I dislike this game," Glour'eya said.

"Because you are bad at it. As you are most things. But that, little
aruban, is your place.”

She sat upon the floor of the dream, anchoring herself with the tiny pinpricks of pain. Forgetting about the blood on her palm. Forgetting that even now, it left blossoms of red on her dark sleeve. Crashing against Elliot Brown would only accomplish so much, and Nameless!, could they crash. That had always been their way, hadn't it? Just blows glancing off the armor, sometimes staggering, sometimes unsteadying, but never striking true.

The Creature spoke, then, with a simple question. She turned her head. A wax-dipped bonnet-string whipped against her cheek.

"No part of this is strange," she told it. "This is what is meant to be done for — for those who require it."

This. Amorphous, that word. Senseless and shapeless. Nebulous enough that perhaps even Gloria Wynsee did not know what this was.

The iron in her face persisted only for seconds. She hid its disappearance by swiping her sweeping hand down across her forehead, over her nose, and finally along her mouth. The blood met black sweat and beaded away.

"Repairing broken things," she admitted, "was never something I had a talent for."
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Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Glenn » Sun Jul 29, 2018 1:38 pm

Could Genny sense it? What Elliot was doing now. It was so simple for them to see the octopus, to remember the ice, and think that those things were Elliot stretching his power. It was true, to a degree, but only a degree. That was the natural shape of dreams, the natural direction. Dreams leaned towards a fullness, towards action, towards impulse. This, however? This relative emptiness, relative normalcy? That took effort. That took all he had, just to maintain a canvass for them to write their thoughts together without their subconscious ruling all around them.

"The dream with Tennant was different. There was something else there, like I said. That was a while ago anyway, and what's a sentry anyway? What do you think I woke?" He had shared an adventure with her brother, but didn't remember any of that. "I could be doing lots of things, but I think I'd know what that looked like," she'd raised doubt, but only a little. "Most of it is just being me and that's not changing anyone any more than if I was out there, awake, yelling at them. Did I just change Gloria by telling her a bunch of stuff anyone who was awake could tell her? Did I change you four years ago but telling you that you didn't have to whisper and hide? Any idiot could have told you that if they just had their eyes open and see that you were worth more than what you were giving yourself."

He sighed just a little at the bird. That'd come from him stealing Tennant's clothes, as if it was part of them, but it was making it harder to keep things normal. The bird wanted to grow giant and peck out their eyes. The bird wanted to sing a beautiful song. The bird wanted to set the world aflame and return it to life anew like a phoenix ought to. He was keeping things clear and level, but it couldn't last. "I asked her a bunch of questions. She didn't answer. I like her, maybe even love her, like I would any friend or family or any part of me that I lost, but Genny, sometimes I think she's the monster, not me."

The octopus didn't help either. It was still talking to Gloria. "Why doesn't he eat you? He's lying about you not tasting good. I have black ink too. Things want to eat me. I'm in here. He's out there. If I was him, I'd eat you."
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Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Tolleson » Sun Jul 29, 2018 6:05 pm

Sharing a dream with Elliot, in the relative emptiness he maintained, felt strange. It was harder than she remembered. There was at least some sense of what Elliot did, and continued doing. Having to relinquish control was a very active endeavor and, given how long she had trained herself against it, unnatural state to be in. While her domain was far more the waking mind, even her dreams were built spaces, plush prisons she had constructed with Zilliah’s help.

For once, Genny didn’t sigh or groan at the mention of her brother. “Something else? The creature, from the space between.” It was a statement, as if to prove she had been listening earlier and yet almost spoken like a question to confirm she had heard it right. “A sentry is like a guard.”

She tried to close her cupped hands, to smother or extinguish the bird. That was the problem really, she might be able to create some things, change some things, recall them from when Elliot had summoned them, but it wasn’t her dream alone. “I tasked this little bird to protect my brother, from anything that might try to take his mind again.”

Not that it mattered here and now, but that she’d bothered placing the sentinel within her brother’s mind in the first place was either proof of unspoken concern and affection for the man she claimed to loathe, or she was truly afraid of something, or someone, like Rhaena. “It would only take this form if his mind was in danger. Therefore, it was either you, or whatever you woke,” and whichever was the culprit, it likely had the potential to be far more influential on Tennant's waking mind than a mere nightmare.

As for what had awoken, she shook her head, and with a pained expression turned again to watch Gloria, now sitting and, as Gloria managed to do no matter the surroundings, began making a mess of her dress. “I would need more information.” The statement was true, and certainly a more delicate way of saying she had no idea. It also promised something of a willingness to investigate.

“And if it is a threat, I will help however I’m able,” though in this particular moment, having put distance between her and the person she had already hurt, Genny clearly thought herself to be causing more damage than good. In this dreamspace it seemed she was in the way, pushing and stretching the seams of the dream, like a child struggling to escape a sweater they felt was too itchy or tight. And it was ever a risk for her to relinquish control, especially with a link to Gloria regardless of how tenuous of a connection it actually was. Which, given the mysterious properties of the bark, was anyone’s guess.

you were worth more than you were giving yourself.

“Simple things can change someone quite a lot,” she confirmed with an easy smile that broke through the lingering concern as she turned again, to face him. He had changed her, regardless of how simple or dumb he thought his words or actions.

“Gloria?” She asked Elliot in confusion, or surprise. Probably both. Because there were a lot of questions contained in the one word, the name. Elliot loved her? He thought her a monster? Had she misunderstood?
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Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Rance » Mon Jul 30, 2018 12:54 am

"He does not eat me, or even seek to eat me, because no matter how large his j'uk'ol mouth may be, he knows better. He knows the satisfaction of the act would not be worth the agony.

"By nature of who I am," Gloria continued, only occasionally daring a glance at the creature as she draped her elbows over her knees, "I would poison him. A Jerno might be a hearty meal, but she is a foul one. Predators learn quickly when their numbers dwindle without a blade ever flashing in front of them.

"But should he withstand my black ink, he would then need to deal with my claws. And whether or not your eyes see them, Creature, they exist." She lifted her remaining hand, her callused fingers contracting into a stony fist. Not one of threat, but of simple demonstration. "I would not be devoured without it being remembered. Satisfy the belly, but risk the scars from prey that will be happy to fight. And should he, or anything else, get me far enough down its gullet to be successful? Then I would choke it," she reasoned, "simply to spite it.

"Things want to eat us all, Thousand-Eyes. Ninenty-nine out of a hundred times, they're successful," Gloria said, raising her other arm — the blunted one, where a wooden fist, sloppily carved, stuck from the sleeve of her dress.

"But the thing you eat needs only be successful once."

They were still talking. She heard their words sometimes, like murmurs lost in a crowd. Snippets and slivers of words here-and-there, shared at a distance, dancing in the air. A bird of curious light fluttered between them, until Genny closed her hands around it and it seemed, like a wisp, to disappear. Surely, they were talking about this problem — Elliot's problem, his marooning, his imprisonment here — and Genny, in her coolness and clarity, was having greater success. Of the woman's many gifts, she was possessed of a more bountiful ration patience, sympathy, and capacity to understand than Gloria Wynsee ever would be.

Genny Tolleson was one of the anchors of the ship of the world. She had her layers of rust, as everyone did, but her presence, Gloria imagined, spoke balms to the waves and ensured a ship's mooring, even on tumultuous shores. And Elliot, he was capable of reason, still, wasn't he? Wasn't he? Somewhere in there, hidden under bravado and arrogance and all his words, there was a mechanical mind whipping its way through logic and reason.

Or maybe they weren't discussing Elliot's circumstance at all. Maybe over there, they were talking about her.

A knot of hot discontent tightened up like a fistful of coal in her abdomen.

(This is not about you, Glour'eya.

But the things I said—

This is not about you.

How can I be sure?

This is about Elliot. That is why you've come. Elliot.

But what if—)

"Stop," she sharply whispered, hiding the command under a breath before striking herself harmlessly against the forehead with the edges of her fingers, a meager smack meant to scare those worms of doubt back into their burrows. If they lingered too long, she might eavesdrop; she might turn her head and listen, but—

Deny impulse. Refuse to be afraid.

"If you want to confound him," Gloria said to Thousand-Eyes, "then cease being simple. Elliot expects you to give chase, and he will evade you every time. Bombard him with words. He despises that. There is nothing more defeating to a loud-mouthed boy than someone who talks."
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Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Glenn » Mon Jul 30, 2018 4:09 am

Again

The word echoed. Elliot had tried to stop it, but to do so was like trying to catch a greased pig while you were holding up a tent. It was a pure logistical impossibility, even for a former farmboy with deft hands who was uniquely talented with such things.

Again

The word echoed again, hanging between them. It was his fate, clear and obvious. Tennant had been protected, and maybe that protection had saved them both years later, when they were contesting that dream creature's supremacy.

It had already been too late for Elliot Brown, however.

He tried to respond to her, tried to shout out the noise with loud words, too many of them. "I don't think that's his, though, his sentry, is what I'm saying. I took a copy of his clothes, because I didn't have any and I didn't want to be naked by you though I don't care as much about being naked around Gloria, but it's different with you." He wouldn't necessarily blush there, but he'd turn away. "It's hard, because it's been so long, to remember why it's different, why it matters, and look, this is just a sign of how I am now, but it matters to me because it matters to you. Or maybe it doesn't matter to me with Gloria because it doesn't matter with you."

Aga

He had tried to maintain normalcy for their sake, so that they could all talk through this, but despite Genny's best efforts and Gloria's worst ones, neither woman had met him far enough down the road. The third echo, even as he was trying to drown it out with words, was all he could take. Gloria was only half right. Sometimes, one word was enough to send the whole thing into a spiral. The world inverted. Up became down and down up. They fell and they landed onto a hard, uneven ground that wasn't a ground at all, but at least the echoing had stopped. Above them now were tables, bottles, a bar, floorboards that had become ceiling planks.

The 'Dagger was broken anew, and they were on the wrong side of it.

The octopus and its orb of water, had not made it all the way with them. It had been mid-sentence indicating that it was not going to use words but instead teeth and tentacles to eat Genny, since the other two weren't suitable and she didn't look very fast. When the world turned, it clung to the closest thing, and was now hanging quite deftly from the bar, and was staring down at the lot of them from behind it.
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