Let's call the whole thing off

Re: Let's call the whole thing off

Postby Niabh » Sun Jul 08, 2018 3:53 pm

“And good neighbor for convincing me of something I just said I didn’t want to do, Glenn.” This would be the new paradigm, she suspected; now that he had two names, he was Sionnach when she felt fond of him and Glenn when he was being Glenn. “Where would I be without you to repeat what I just said in just the right way to make me sound like an idiot?” Her fist propped on a hipbone, and she rolled her eyes, a gesture which for once was clearly visible. “Mayhap it’s worth the one or two generations of glory. The gods know I haven’t many better prospects. But Herself wouldn't care. She'd be glad to let the trees whisper her name for all time.”

It was meant as an arrogant joke, but it wasn’t funny, really. The corkscrew twisted in her chest, practically in her throat, as if trying to choke her for even making light of it. She tried to swallow it back to its proper place. It was like she had somehow gotten a wooden spoon stuck in her throat. Unfortunately it came at the very moment he gave her his sardonic little bow, and all she could do was glare at him.

By far the best way she had found to shut him up when he was busy burrowing up his own arse was to put him to the question—either he’d answer it, and she’d learn something, or he’d break his own neck trying to avoid it, which solved the problem of him nattering. “For so much certainty, you are very vague when you voice these opinions. How do you feel we need you? What service can you provide? And while you’re answering that, do a lady a good turn and give me a few hints how to convince this pack of stout hearts to yield enough even to consider accepting aid from the tultharian? I have my own schemes but I should like to hear yours first, to see how they compare. And so that you can’t just do the thing you just did and restate my own plan for me as if you’d come up with it.”

She did not, in fact, stab him—did not even feel like it—but the pause went long enough for her to wonder how far up the street she could tiptoe before he opened his eyes again and found himself alone and having a personal discussion with thin air. She had been blunt in part to see if it embarrassed him to silence, for once, and in part because she truly did feel he might be the one in ten who would actually take such a bold statement in the spirit she intended it.

“Sionnach,” she said finally, gently, and not quite interrupting the last part of the sentence except that Lugh’us Danaan, the point had been made, “that wasn’t to put you on the defensive. You don’t have to explain your reasons for it. I was asking for myself. I’ve gotten myself into some tight corners in the past so I wanted to be clear. I would not have things be awkward between us.”

And that much said, the matter settled so far as she was concerned, she walked on, adding lightly over her shoulder, “More awkward. Awkwarder. Whatever this great messy thing we have going.” And then, because she couldn’t resist it, “Besides, you probably never shut up in bed, either…”
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Re: Let's call the whole thing off

Postby Glenn » Mon Jul 09, 2018 12:33 am

His eyes shot up from the (truly quite nice) bow as if he could feel her glare upon him. They had yet to reach the privacy of his domicile but it kept coming back to this, hardly surprising given the weight of it all. "You'll forgive me, or you won't, for deeply and thoroughly wishing to punctuate your thoughts with my own. It's the future of my entire race at stake, that's all." That he could manage to shrug while in the bow without toppling entirely made everything somehow worse.

Her dragging his feet into the coals was well deserved and he was surprisingly (maybe relatively would be more accurate) humble in his response. "Honestly, I don't yet know enough. It's all feelings for now. Glimpses. Did your people decline all the more swiftly in your time away from us? Was that natural attrition or was it actually hastened by the lack of contact? So isolated, were you suddenly without purpose? Without pleasure and entertainment? I personally believe, and this has been seen multiple times in history, that peoples that isolate themselves cease to grow. They no longer have external conflict and a need for new ideas, and as such, they simple spiral around and around, each rotation less than the last." Had she asked the other half of this question a few months before, maybe even a few weeks before, his answer would have been different and far more personal. As it was and as he was currently, he had good reason to think her people would devour him whole. "You bring new and differing ideas back. That's the best I have for now. You're not bringing back tultharian aid. You're bringing back the intellectual spoils of your tultharian conquest."

Somehow that led to touching and somehow touching led to her questioning. At least that one followed logically. His explanation, awkward as it was, likely did not. He wasn't embarrassed in the telling, but her response slowed him a bit. He, trailing behind, gave no indication of enjoying any views even as his eyes sank. "It wasn't about being defensive. I was just trying to be honest." Speaking of honest, there was an unquestionable lack of playfulness in his response to her quip. "I'm not sure. It was never an issue before." Then, finally, almost desperately. "Should we invite the raven down, do you think? What did you even tell him about last night?"
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Re: Let's call the whole thing off

Postby Niabh » Mon Jul 09, 2018 4:49 am

She was perfectly capable of responding to courtesy with courtesy when it suited her. As long as she could wrest a resemblance of earnest humbleness out of him, she was prepared to let the finer points go and answer his questions more seriously. “When or how quickly it began, I couldn’t tell you. Not without the Histories spread out before me. I’ve near wished I could get you a copy of the Histories—you’d be fascinated, except they are all in Tuathailli and I don’t know them an fhaid yet.” Now, too late, she realized the full frustration of being an indifferent scholar. “Sionnach, are you really suggesting we stopped having babies because we were bored? I hate to keep harping on the subject, but bored people fuck more, not less.”

She bowed her head, frowning so hard a furrow appeared on her brow, and tucked her hands behind her back. She was earnestly trying to think for once, which often proved difficult while she was moving. “There’s two answers most obvious. Really just one. Either we’ve bred together so much that something’s gone wrong, or else…well. There used to be children. Human children. To bring in new blood. And now there’s not.”

She glanced up long enough to give him a worried look, to see how he was going to accept that suggestion. It certainly made a good deal more sense than that they had bored themselves to near-extinction.

“Your plan is something less than my plan,” she admitted, with a small shrug of one shoulder. “Mine was a bit more underhanded. Remember how I told you that at first Father was for me coming directly to your tultharian court and simply presenting myself as a diplomat? And we rather dismissed the whole notion because it seemed a very great breach of secrecy for what we hoped would be only a temporary arrangement? I’ve been thinking. Actually, you inspired me to it—that little bit of plotting we did last night. I am sure your tultharian king would be very interested in knowing of a real, credible threat against his people. Against all your people, really. And that there might be a very noble and honorable young queen, not to mention one extraordinarily clever and good-looking, who of course would want to stop such a thing from happening if only someone would fund her campaign.”

She sighed and shook her head. “It was a thought, anyway. It would never work. For the same reason you would never work.”

Finally she noticed he was lagging behind and paused, looking expectantly behind for him to catch up. She wasn’t sure if it was from awkwardness or because she really was outpacing him. She could quite get used to Glenn Burnie being well and truly discomfited, for once; it made her want to needle him all the more. But he was already having a rough morning of it. Instead, mercifully, she took up his question about the raven instead. “I told him that we never quite made it to the ball and that we had a nice talk instead. I am not sure that he believed me. He insisted on coming with this morning to make certain you were in one piece.”

It took her a moment of looking around above their heads to spy where the raven had gotten off. Perched upon some pigeon-smeared and noseless stone head above an office’s stately doorway, he almost seemed part of the statuary—polished black marble instead of granite. Casually she brushed the backs of her knuckles across her brow, miming wiping away sweat. The raven read the signal and spread his wings, dropping down to a windowsill just above eyelevel.

“Tell him what you said about my raping and then murdering him,” she prompted.

“Oh, you told him about that, huh?” The black bird fluffed himself. He glared suspiciously at Glenn, as if the man might be a facsimile his lady had whipped up for his benefit. “Did she also tell about me asking if she ate you?”

“I did not,” she replied, “because you didn’t ask me that. I said that after you’d already suggested I raped and murdered him.”

“Rape and murder ain’t funny.” A steel-grey eye fixed on Fionn. “Neither is eatin’ people. Some folks forget as how other folks have natural predators.”

“You ate those little sparrows right out of their nest,” she countered. “Gobbled them up like dumplings. I saw you.”

He let forth one of his watery, exasperated crrls. “Whatever. He’s alive. I believe you. Where we goin’?”
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Re: Let's call the whole thing off

Postby Glenn » Mon Jul 09, 2018 5:27 am

He seemed quite willing to follow this path until the very bottom, no matter how barren it might seem. "There are songs and stories about ennui. Do you know that word? Of immortals who have seen so much and done so much that nothing matters anymore, that find life a burden no longer worth living. I've met a few creatures," and here he'd scrunch up his face ever so slightly at that particular word. It was not the correct one but not so incorrect and offensive that he'd point it out by doubling back. "To them, the notion of bringing another such life into the world seems immoral or at least not worth the effort." He didn't jump at her offer of histories, which might have seemed odd. "I'll hear every story you have to tell me though." It was the other side to the coin of his promise to tell her such things from his own life and home. "In the mean time, how many of you are even left?" He asked that as if he was trying to get some sense of breeding potential, but it was a bit like giving an enemy general your position, especially considering how she punctuated her people's tale of woe and the potential causality thereof.

When she mentioned stolen children, he ran cold, not hot, saying only "probably best not to destroy all of my people then. You'd destroy both the children and the means to make new ones."

She then began to recount her plan, and he raised his palm at the end, trying to stop her. She was already well beyond that point, sighing and shaking her head, when he managed to get a word in though. "Wait, wait, what is it that you even need? Funds? Soldiers? Arms? Iron? I'm not at all clear on this? Do you mean to invite in four thousand well-armed soldiers?" From his tone, he did not think that was the best solution at all.

Not long after, he was behind her and joined by a friend. "In reverse order," said Burnie, trying to find his way back into the exchange. "my room, where she left her things; not at all eaten but she did make me feel things with her evil magic and I still feel them; and," here his voice would fade off a bit. For one, he was already out of order. This was something more though. He sped up, pushing right on past her with those deceptively strong legs of his. "You know this, I'm sure, but she's my people's natural predator."
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Re: Let's call the whole thing off

Postby Niabh » Mon Jul 09, 2018 7:15 am

“‘Creatures’? Really, Sionnach?” Her eyebrow went up skeptically. “They’re fools, then, or obviously not trying hard enough. At any rate, that we’re actively worried about the problem, that we actually know it is a problem, should be proof enough that we are not ennweed. Ennween?” She looked aslant at him, then sighed gently. “It really is irksome when you go on about how we’re supposed to be all bored and listless and unimaginative when we’re not. If anything, you’re the one being hidebound and unimaginative. You can’t even entertain the notion that things might be otherwise.”

He had predicted correctly. The question about population left her caught out, reluctant, scraping her bottom lip with her teeth as she tried to determine whether it was worth it. “You should well know that’s not one of the things I’m not given to speak on,” she said. Finally she added, quieter, “I…I reckon my clan alone is little better than…mayhap half as big again as Myrkentown? Just more spread out. Not all in one spot all the time.”

Mostly she was wishing she had held off even mentioning any plan until she’d had a chance to work it out a little more, except that the only reason she mentioned it at all was that he hoped he might give her a direction to move in. He would know the likelihood better than she did. From the expression on her face, she didn’t think it was the best idea either. “I don’t even know if we could feed four thousand tultharian if we had them. More than that, people would be furious; it would end with my having to account for where five hundred of them vanished to. But it’s something. It’s an idea. Anything. It would break the—” dash it all, she’d just use the word “—the stalemate.

Frustration plus an unexpected and violent burst of homesickness made her drawn and exhausted. She wanted to be anywhere else, having this conversation with anyone else. Father would do, even. She wanted to be home and knowing everything that was going on, rather than a whole ocean away and stabbing wildly in the dark. She bit her lip and looked at him. “I don’t know. Iron. Maybe.”

Even to say it made her feel sick. Could she do that to her own people? Even against the High Queen? Even if it meant an ending?

The late morning sun was suddenly too hot, too glaring. Her brain felt like an egg tossed in a fire, sizzling on the inside, in danger of bursting.

His remarks to the raven didn’t help matters. Her head shot up as if he had betrayed her. “Oh, we are not your natural predators.” She stomped after him—them, rather, as he and the raven were so plainly chummy now—adding, “Or maybe we are, I don’t know, that would certainly explain why you’re all so bloated and overcrowded now that there’s no one left to thin the herd…”

The raven left off skimming just ahead of them, dropping heavily on the iron-tipped railing of a fence just at the level of his lady’s head. “You said you didn’t do anything to him!” he cried, in a hoarse, anguished croak. In the small area below the fence, a woman hanging wash glanced up in concern, seeing only a large black bird and the bright red-gold glint from a tall girl’s crown.

Fionn looked anxiously down to the unwitting eavesdropper, then shot a hot glance back to the raven, hissing, “And you said you weren’t going to talk.” As if doing a balancing act, she crooked her elbow and gingerly raised it to the fence, high enough that the raven could step onto her forearm. “I didn’t do anything to him. I did things at him. Around him.”
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Re: Let's call the whole thing off

Postby Glenn » Mon Jul 09, 2018 1:53 pm

Somewhere between her butchering the word ennui and her being irked at him, Glenn Burnie started to smile. By the time she outright called him hidebound and unimaginative, he seemed to be thoroughly enjoying himself. It was only the destruction of her people or maybe the destruction of his, but the back and forth felt free and airy and vibrant. There was a bounce to his step.

Then he asked about numbers and that all ended quickly. It was easier when she was insulting him. "And how many clans are there?" It was hard to say if he was fully allowing himself to understood the tactical value of what she was giving him, as he was so thoroughly full of himself when it came to his capacity to help. This seemed more than matter-of-fact, because he knew his intention and, in this moment, he knew no small affection as well.

By the time she agreed to the idea of iron, he was outright frowning. "I think we'll find another way." That would almost certainly be pure sentiment getting in the way of reason. Maybe he had been more useful to her without his feelings unleashed. "There are many ways to break stalemates that don't cross such lines. Unless you think me too unimaginative to find them with you?" A bit of the playfulness slipped back in there.

Then came a touch, and her questions, and a raven.

Then came a Burnie all too chummily talking to his (one?) true friend. "She had my name and I had her name. Now neither of us have either. Did she mention that? Don't tell her father or her baird, alright? For me." Confidences were being shattered left and right. Gambits were being lost on the field of battle. Always bet on a mapmaker and a raven to say far too much to one another. "Really," this to the bird, completely deadpan, "you should have warned me that the names were a bad idea."

Speaking of bad ideas, here was another one. "She thought that I'd stop coming between the two of you if I was more like her and less like you." He would use that moment of potential confusion to dash back up to Fionn. "Might I just add that it says something about the hardiness of your people if the only way to stay vibrant is to steal other people's children? There's something innately broken about that, right? Is that an unfair notion?"
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Re: Let's call the whole thing off

Postby Niabh » Tue Jul 10, 2018 5:05 am

Confessing to her own clan left a bitter mineral taste in her mouth, a heavy residue in her stomach. When he asked for the others, she looked at him, faintly pleading, and nearly shook her head. “Last time Ainrid wrote, there were sixteen clans at the last Samhain. There were only nine when I left. By now there might be twenty, or twelve, depending on who’s speaking to one another. What you’re asking for is a census. I can’t give you that. We don’t…”

She floundered again, less reluctant than frustrated. She could run through the clans in her head, recognize more than or less than, but the masses in her mind wouldn’t form into neat ranks or numbers. He may as well have asked her to estimate how many pails to drain the sea: other, larger problems arose before she could even get to the matter of numbers. How big the pails? Where did he plan to empty them without he make another sea to account for?

Bobbing upon her arm, the raven peered into his lady’s face. Tuatha expressions, which tended to strike human beings as stoic, were simple to him. He gave her a brief purr of sympathy before his sleek violet beak turned toward Glenn. “You want a headcount, is that the deal? I’d say maybe around the same number of folks in this city. Maybe a few more. It’s a bit harder to get an idea for Herself’s end; she’s shady.”

Fionn’s expression swapped instantly from stony frustration to easily-read anger. “You don’t answer for your queen! Did he need to know that? Whose side are you even on?”

“Yours,” said the raven, unruffled. “But I think he is, too. It just doesn’t come across too good sometimes because he’s a wanker.” Glenn’s odd bursts of energy, the sudden almost vicious good-humor, were evident and alarming to the raven, but all amounted to the same. “Whatever you’ve done to him, he’s still a wanker. This is just a new slant of wank.”

Holding herself back from full explosion, she began through clenched teeth: “I didn’t do—”

“Yeah,” said the raven curtly, “you keep tellin’ yourself that. You just didn’t do anything last night, is all.” And then he snapped his beak tight as a man passing by gave the trio a strange look: a flame-haired giantess in disheveled evening garb, a ferociously cheerful man who looked as if he was going to bite through someone’s neck with his grin, and an enormous talking black bird. Taken together they probably looked like a street magician show waiting to happen.

She, too, was quiet until the fellow passed by, which gave her a chance to calm down. Glenn’s playfulness further defused some of the frustration. Keenly aware of the raven’s rebuke, she managed a weak smile in return. “I think it says something about our relative imaginations that I brooked the idea and you didn’t,” she told Glenn, a touch sheepishly.

A pity it couldn’t last.

At Glenn’s final bombshell, the raven predictably shrieked. “You gave him your name?!” He shifted on her arm and stabbed his beak in Glenn’s direction. “After I told you not to do the name thing?”

“Baird is plural!” Fionn in turn snapped at Glenn in the absence of any really reasonable argument. “What does that even mean, that I want you to be more like you? More like him, rather. Paugh!” If she didn’t have to take care with her movements for fear of dislodging the raven, she might have been more vehement. As it was, it was like trying to argue with both hands tied behind her back, and her tongue twisted in knots along with them. She was reduced to speaking between clenched teeth. “I told you I didn’t have anything to with this. I swore it on my torc. If anything, you’re a damn sight more agreeable as you are now, even when you’re picking fights for what I can only imagine must be the benefit of your raven friend, and incidentally you are nothing like me because I am naught but charming and you’re still an arse, but if I had done on purpose, I’d still undo it, more agreeable or not, because it’s wrong to do something like that!”

The raven’s ebon claws snagged frail crepe and scratched skin in his flight, leaving her alone when Glenn abruptly confronted her. She drew back from him in a slither of silk against the pavement, hands rising and drawing up as if she might grab him by the shoulders and shove. The accusation was so abrupt it felt like a punch; her lips fell open in astonishment, a silent gasp for wind.

It passed quickly, Her hands went back to her sides; she drew herself to her full height—considerably above him—and gave a sharp, proud toss of her head. “I’d say there’s something innately broken about letting them be beaten to death in the streets. Or sold in the womb.”
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Re: Let's call the whole thing off

Postby Glenn » Wed Jul 11, 2018 12:34 am

Obviously, there was a certain benefit to having the raven there. Burnie received more information than he would otherwise. There was a buffer of sorts between Niall and man to relax the mood before things like books and glamourie started to fly about. The raven was willing to argue for both of their good intentions (when applicable, of course). There were downsides as well though. One of which was that it was harder to get a word in edgewise. He would have said something about why he wanted these specific numbers as she was straining for them. It might have softened the blow a bit.

Instead, the raven charged forth and both gave a number to him and argued a case (though not necessarily his preferred case) for him. Then she contested and the raven pushed and it wasn't until an onlooker was trying to make sense of it all that Burnie was able to get a word in edgewise. His smile, though present was bemused. "If you're going to hold more than last night against her, then it gets held against you too. I've wrote to her. I've spoken with you. It all played a part. Let's say that all of it weakened the wall, even if she charged headlong through it last night." That may have been willful blindness. Still the point remained: they were all on each other's side but that didn't mean that it would be capitulation all around. "Finn," he added, interrupting himself in a mad attempt to double back. "If I have an accurate sense of how many..." but it was futile now, far too late. "Oh, we'll talk more about it once we get there."

Instead, he'd shake his head. "I don't think we need to get in the distinction of different sorts of wank, different slants? Wanking with a smile." He would lean that head a bit towards the raven as if its fairy queen could not hear them. "I'm not sure that particular line of reasoning is particularly productive right now. Good neighbor for the effort though."

Then the onlooker had passed them and Glenn was shifting the subject, explosively, to names. He hadn't even gotten to dancing yet when Finn snapped at him.

"I would pick fights for you too." He answered, far too quickly (and maybe a bit too fondly), immediately after she indicated that it was, in fact wrong. That had turned his head, actually, for he had been about to say something (probably picking even more of a fight) to the raven. As conciliatory gestures went, it was both disproportionate and inappropriate. Entirely earnest too, though maybe meant to drive her further up whatever wall she had already shattered.

It was a shame that things escalated even further from there.

She was before him, above him even, and he looked up to her, staring directly up her nostrils once again. This wasn't the first time he was in a position such as this. "And if we were to look back through the Chronicles and note every human child taken, every human granted pointy ears and long life, glamourie and fealty, every human that was human no more, I am sure we will find that they were all ones who were ill-treated, abandoned, or sold? Not simply the shiniest or the prettiest or the ones easiest to snatch?"
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Re: Let's call the whole thing off

Postby Niabh » Wed Jul 11, 2018 3:28 am

At the moment Glenn was being far more optimistic than she was about ever “getting there,” since she was considering sacrificing the satchel and leaving his arse on the sidewalk—aye, and the raven, an he would keep blethering his big black mouth about her business. If they enjoyed one another’s company all that much, they would enjoy it just as well without her, and there was nothing in her bag she couldn’t replace. Save that he would probably go snooping and there were a few letters, half-begun or complete, that she didn’t want him reading.

“No, but you would find that whatever we took, we did our best to tend. Unlike some folk.” Oh, this was a subject he didn’t want to start her on, particularly just now. “We didn’t dray them about like little pack-horses as soon as they could walk, or hit them, or leave them cold and dirty and wolfing down everything you give them until they’re sick because they don’t know when they’ll have another bit of bread again. There aren’t little girls offering themselves to grown men just to have a bed to sleep in. You didn’t seem to care much for them, so we took what you didn’t want. You deserved it.

And in her voice and her lovely face there was enough rage and despair and blind, inhuman greed to turn the summer air cold.

The raven had taken refuge atop the fence again, not very far away but far enough to stay clear of a swinging match. Now he murmured, as if embarrassed for her, “M’lady, maybe this ain’t really a good—”

“Oh, don’t even talk to me.” She whisked herself away from them both, thumping down on a convenient stumpy brick wall bordering a collection of variegated orange-and-pink begonias half-dead from heat. Even now one had to wonder if she’d chosen that spot for the flowers’ contrast with her hair, since both she and the plants looked equally weary and slumped. “Talk to him.” She waved a hand wearily at Glenn. “Might as well; you’re telling him all our business anyway.”
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Re: Let's call the whole thing off

Postby Glenn » Wed Jul 11, 2018 4:13 am

He listened. That wasn't entirely fair. More accurately, he watched. She was fascinating to watch, often literally, and he couldn't help but take her in there at the height of fury and avarice. It was not all that different from when she twirled, the other side of a coin, and Burnie was one who had lived through so much and seen so much that he could well appreciate it as such.

She plopped down and said what she had to say. He took it in (watching so much as listening) and did not immediately snipe back at her (some of that was the watching, yes, but some the raven). Then, however, instead of talking to the bird, he'd walk towards her. He was never one to just let things be, even though that would so often resolve whatever problems he faced. She had left him words and he would have words for her in return.

He slipped down then, beneath her, new clothes and all (he didn't much like them anyway). He'd lay on the ground and stare up at her, and if she wished to step on his throat or any other part of him, there'd be little he could do about it in time. "Finn," his voice was soft, soft enough that the raven might not hear, but he knew she could. "I do not find many things irreconcilable between us, between you and I, between queen and governor, between my people and yours. I worry about this though, and let me tell you why. It is one thing for you to do as you say, for you to take our young and make them your own, to do this because we mistreat them, because you give them a better opportunity, even because you want them. That is one thing.

"Wholly another," and there was the usual ease to him as he laid prone beneath her perch, no smile, but no angst as well. "Is your current problem and my current intention. Maybe we could come up with a system where unwanted babies or small children who were in need could be channeled to your people. The numbers might not even be so necessarily large. It's my every intention to make all of the things you mentioned less commonplace though. If I make my people better then the moral advantage you just presented no longer applies. If things are you say, the morality behind it all ceases to matter anyway. If this is what you need, this is what you need, no matter whether or not we improve as a people. You see the problem?" It was such a crazy notion, that he could actually improve his people over time. What was time to her though? Oh, it mattered to a degree, but he always spoke of his work as one of generations.
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Re: Let's call the whole thing off

Postby Niabh » Wed Jul 11, 2018 5:10 am

“What the hell is he doing?” asked the raven, utterly baffled.

“I don’t know; he does this.” She had been somewhat charmed by the gesture yesternight. Then it had made him seemed humble and vulnerable. Now it was just embarrassing and affected. She draped one arm limply across her knees and gave his shoulder jab with the toe of her satin slipper. “Oh, do get up. You’ll get worms or something. The gods alone know how many people have pissed on that patch of pavement.”

“Glenn,” she said coolly, “you are one man. One. You have no power, no influence anymore. You gave that up. You have ideals and dreams and those are nothing without power and action applied. You have no allies of note. The ones you had once are either dead or have forsaken you, and you have spent all this intervening time avoiding gathering new ones.” To her own surprise, she actually laughed as a bitter thought occurred to her. “In truth, the greatest ally you have is me and the larger portion of my advantage lies about three months that way.” She pointed vaguely northward. “In short, what you propose hinges on the very thin premise of you getting anyone to listen to you. Well. I’m sure you can get them to listen; you never shut up. But getting them to heed you is a whole other matter. They haven’t yet. What will you do, Sionnach? Will you make them Believe? Force them to Believe? And you will grow old in this sour world and die with all your dreams still on your lips.”

This time the laugh was short, scoffing, contemptuous, like a door slamming shut.

“And I? I am going to go home and win a war and put this place behind me and never tell anyone save perhaps my bard that we were outmatched from the start. That we were always outmatched. I’m going to pretend I never saw any of this. I’m going to let my people keep their hope that one day we will come back and all of this—” She gestured broadly at the street around them, not even looking at it. “—will be swept away and things will be as they were in the First Days, before you were ever here. And meanwhile I am going to be a good queen and perhaps there will be some measure of peace and comfort in the meanwhile. An I am going to be the last Lady Niall, I shall resolve to be the best Lady Niall, and if I fail at it, then at least there will be no future generations to hold me accountable.”

Lugh’us Danaan,” spat the raven, “both of you. You’re feckin’ hopeless. You don’t believe any of that. You sound like His Lordship.” That would rattle her self-pity tree faster than anything else might.

He swooped down from the iron spikes, landing beside Glenn’s ear. Most people who saw a raven’s sharp beak looming over them so might feel an instinctive concern for their eyeballs. “Get up off the feckin’ ground! Any more dramatic posing around here and the pigeons will mistake you both for statuary and crap all over you.”

With a sudden dart, the raven’s head flashed forward, snapping at Glenn’s throat. When he hopped out of reach, the silver ribbon dangled from his beak.
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Re: Let's call the whole thing off

Postby Glenn » Wed Jul 11, 2018 5:34 am

The difference between the raven and the fairy queen is that one was more apt to threaten physical violence. It's not entirely what happened, but Eyoo had his ribbon, and Burnie was rolling back to his feet. He did it with, if not grace, than efficient alacrity. "Hey!" He griped (for that was the best word for it), but then wasn't sure what to complain about. The entire point to the ribbon was that she cared about it and the point there was well made. He had no actual attachment to it. His throat? Well, that he was attached to. He'd give the raven his prize, but then, as punishment or just because he didn't yet have anything to say in response to her words, he'd deflect.

Brushing himself off, more perturbed for effort of it all than anything else, he looked to the bird. "I think well down there. Plus it let her lord over me physically, so that I got my words in when she didn't want to talk to me at all. It confused you and made you do something distracting, which if I was trying to get some sort of advantage might have been useful. It's just cooler down there, okay? I'm not so high and mighty that I can't lay down sometimes," then, almost as an after thought. "I don't think this color works at all." If he had been wearing brown, he would have been able to blend in maybe?

"He took my ribbon." He was on his feet now, but still beneath her. He glanced at her perch wondering if he could fit up there too. It didn't seem like it'd help things. "How is it that my imagination is suddenly better than yours?" He didn't seem entirely sure what to do with her. "Barring old debts and old enemies, I've got thirty, maybe forty years left. That's plenty of time to get someone to heed me. I was making progress in Myrken," and all it cost him was his soul and his wife's soul and then his wife and then everything, including his progress. "I maybe agree with His Lordship that it's likely best to find something worth doing and achievable both, but I'm absolutely certain that it's better to try to find something worth doing than to not do anything at all."

He'd had enough room to press his hands upon the wall, and he did just that in order to push himself upwards, feet dangling, so he could be just a little nearer to her, at least. "You've the easier task by far. Practical concerns. I have to move hearts and minds. Every heart and mind. At least we can work through yours together. Once we exhaust all the reasonable options, which we've not even begun doing, I'll consider letting you give up. I'll have a bard, the dumb, addled human sort with plumed hats and lutes and swooning onlookers and syphilis, write a song about you so that you can live on even after your people are dust. For now, though, I think we can do a damn sight better than that together."
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Re: Let's call the whole thing off

Postby Niabh » Wed Jul 11, 2018 7:23 am

Fionn sighed, barely paying attention to the drama playing out at her feet. “Give him back his ribbon.”

The raven took another step back and shook his head fiercely. The ribbon wriggled like a dying snake. “Fiffers keefers.” At a running start he took off for a door ledge high above both their heads, prize safe so that he could gloat over it.

When he joined her on the ledge she shot him a hard look and considered getting up and moving, if only to further emphasis her petulance. Then she decided be damned if she would: it was her ledge; she’d claimed it first. If she was a statue as the raven claimed, she was cast of solid bronze and immoveable. But she pushed her own toes against the ground and still refused to look at him. “If the gods so will, I’ll be gone well before then,” she said. “I don’t care how much you contradict it—twenty years is still a long, long time to be away. I keep hoping it will be sooner. I hope it will be tomorrow, an I had to pick a day, but that isn’t very likely. And your way leaves me with a lot of hearts and minds to move as well. I don’t think you quite understand so much. No one there is going to be much in favor of negotiating with tultharian on anything. They’ll take me for a traitor for even considering it. Unless they think I’m going to backstab you all at the end of it. You don’t know them. You know only me.”

Finally she turned her head in his direction, begrudgingly, and taking great pains to make sure the sentiment showed. “Thirty or forty years is a long time, too. Mayhap you’d be better off devoting that to your own folk and leaving me to mine. We each seem to do well enough when we stick to what we know, Sionnach. Everything else just leads to more trouble.”

The bronze softened, enough that one hand could leave the ledge and brush black grit from his back and across his shoulders. The touch was surprisingly tender. “Just for the coat,” she grumbled, not looking at him. “If you keep it clean maybe you can pawn it.”
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Re: Let's call the whole thing off

Postby Glenn » Wed Jul 11, 2018 8:22 am

The raven chose his prize over the ability to further affect the conversation. He had made his waves and they had used him to make more but now it was back to the two of them once again.

"Finn." He dropped back down, never having fully lodged himself there next to her. It was almost as if he had allowed her to propel him with her kind gesture. He took one step back and held out a hand, much as he had done back during the end of the carriage ride (which, of course never really happened, other than the fact it did). "I understand. Your people have been set on an eventuality for generations." His eyes were bright, sparkling once more. There was no wild smile, no manic affection, save an outstretched hand. The words were crisp and authoritative. He was certain. "Your queen is so broken that she defines herself with it. My own are scared and superstitious. It is a long, shaky bridge to cross. I think it is the only way though."

A smile tugged at his eyes but not his lips. All was steady. "You're wrong," as if he took some pleasure in those two and a half words for their own sake. "We don't do best with our own people, not at all. Look at what I did. Look at where you ended up. Our people don't do best with our own people. We have much to offer one another. Trade. You've been here long enough to find some things to enjoy and appreciate. Your people know things we do not, know how to do things, even to feel things. That could be the foundation to larger exchanges. If we could break down old hatred and old fear, maybe we could find the solutions for one another. It need not start big, not with the King at Razasan. It could start smaller, maybe with Myrken?"

Maybe she could save her people without stealing babies. Maybe he could help his find a better way through changing his people's perception instead of its Belief.
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Re: Let's call the whole thing off

Postby Niabh » Wed Jul 11, 2018 11:48 am

With wry resignation, she accepted his hand and allowed him to tug her down from her perch, landing graceful and cat-light upon the pavement. “And your people have not? Your generations are a fraction of ours. You don’t get to see the eventuality compounding. No one lives long enough to remember any other way. Everyone only wants to maintain a single course long enough for their own to live and die and let the next lot answer for the consequences.” Her skepticism was more than a match for his certainty; there was a tingling in her stomach that warned that this might be exactly how he’d talked the unwary into Belief well before her time. She sighed in frustration, then acquiesced, just a fraction. “I’m not opposed. I just don’t see any way it could end well for anyone. Particularly for—”

At his next statement, though, she paused, utterly baffled at his logic. “Myrken?” Her eyebrow skewed quizzically upward. “I hate to be the one to break it to you, but for all your affection, Myrken is not the center of the world. In truth it is something of a pit. The worst possible place to attempt anything diplomatic—they’re afraid of everything there. Unless you are now trying to backstab me and talk me straight into a massacre.”

She smiled slightly, to let him know she wasn’t serious. The stiffening of her shoulders, the faint twist of distaste at the corner of her mouth, spoke otherwise. “Moreover, it wouldn’t even be up to only me. It would be something to take before the queens and it’s bad enough just trying to get them to agree to pass felonies to me because they think I’m letting Father set the fines. The gods alone know what they’re doing now that he really is setting them. I am not the High Queen.” She bit down the dark little voice that almost whispered yet. “We left because things were different. Now they are more different yet. Different in ways we couldn’t even imagine. I spent my first year afraid of everything. Hiding in the woods half the time, and whenever I did have to venture amongst people…well.” She bowed her head in embarrassment. “You saw it. In the carriage. But worse then, for I did not understand it was happening or what had caused it or…that anything had caused it, really. I thought it was just something that happened to me now, that I was going mad.”

Quite suddenly she bit her lip. She’d almost said again.
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