Henceforth

Re: Henceforth

Postby Glenn » Fri Feb 22, 2019 4:43 am

Glenn Burnie did not yet touch the letter. It sat before him, foreboding. There was no sign of the ring either. He was not touching that, not like before. He was not wearing it either. Time had passed. With it had apparently come restraint. How new had that ring been to Burnie the first time Benedict had seen it?

The weather. They spoke of the weather? No, Benedict did. Glenn did not. If he was particularly hungry to open the letter, to devour it whole and be devoured by it, that was another piece of restraint. Still, he looked not at the bird but past him as he spoke. "Two things. I'll travel soon. When I'm ready. Which will be soon." That was one. His voice softened (but only slightly) for two. His gaze was still more for his wall than his friend. "Don't let me respond immediately after reading this." Finally his head turned, nodding over to where his instruments of writing were gathered. If it came to blood, then it'd all be too late anyway. Otherwise, the bird could defend them from him easily enough. He'd made sure of it. Then, finally, with a sheepishness rarely seen in exiled mapmakers that were also fallen governors. "Thank you."

So, then, he read.

------
Hours later, he would respond.

Fionnuala,

When I emerged from the darkness years ago, Governor Calomel, my good friend, had withdrawn. Humanity had been too multifarious a challenge. He, who had the luxury to live as he chose, decided it best to focus only on certain elements of it. Now then, I see you pointing and laughing here, but the situations were different. Do not dwell for here is the point. There was no Governor. I was, at the time, a Judiciary Investigator. Lacking the capacity of regret (more on this later), I soon became Inquisitor instead. The last thing I wanted was to be Governor then. I knew I could do far more with far less attention. It was a practical thing more so than a comforting one. I fear that those memories are very close to me, even now, and I may not be able to force myself enough distance from them to truly judge what you say. I wonder now, after many letters and inquiries and feeling rather alone in my grand endeavors, if you're mistaken. Were I to have hundreds of like-minded fellows, I think might enjoy both more success and happy fraternity. Even one might be nice at this point. For all his faults, Giuseppe wanted the same things in the end, or so he told himself. Calomel too. At this point, isn't it more likely that I am a fool than a visionary? Why can no one else see it? To answer then, I would rather not be essential in this.

I just don't want to feel helpless in the face of it. Not again.

What did they do to me? It'll make your brows furrow. They did not beat me. They were pleased at first. They bandied about the word 'specialized.' I cannot easily express what it was like there, how narrow our lives were, how few viewpoints we were exposed to. The first thing we were taught, and we were taught it again and again, was that everything outside our doors was not real, that it was all delusion, conditioning, vapours and humours, breeding and animal instinct, that none of it was genuine. Beating me would have been better. At first they embraced it instead.

I have so many words and some of them are wank, but I do not have the words to describe what you wish for me to describe. Love, in all of its aspects, is inherently wrong for everyone else. That I know for certain. It's thinking that the grass is all there is to the ground, that there is nothing else underneath, that the skin is all there is to an apple, that the sea is but only the surface, and then only for what you can see. I do not have the words. I pity every living creature for not knowing it.

My dreams, currently, are screams and caresses, temptation and pain. Before, they were a locked white room with a nice painted oak table that I quite liked and a chair that was very plain but very comfortable. Outside the room was the distinct memories of death and decay (the former unspeakable and the latter the sweetest rotting fruit). Ainrid destroyed the room. If you care to worry about something, worry about that, not the ring. I won't put on the ring. I can't stop the screaming.

Regret. Thank you. I'm sure I had it before, but I was never quite able to explain it so simply. I always said that I didn't have doubt or that I was not properly connected to my emotions, but it was regret that I lacked. I had purpose, even an altruistic purpose, but not the capacity for regret. Without regret, consequences do not matter. Without regret, we cannot fully value things because we do not understand the true notion of cost. I was a monster, all-consuming, insatiable. I would do literally anything to achieve my goal. Regret, for humans at least, is a device used to help shape decisions with the future in mind, to learn from the past so that we might better avoid mistakes we have previously made. Remember, we do not necessarily believe stories are true. Our gods do not come to us when we seek them. We do not have infinity to make errors and amends and errors again. I would suggest that you see it like any other tool. There is value to it and cost in using it. Do not throw it away lightly. Do not embrace it lightly.

So much of what is between us comes down to time and scale. It's fascinating. I am fascinated by this. Pondering it brings me joy. It makes my heart beat faster and my breath catch. It applies to almost everything. It applies to this game, as you put it, as well. You may think that the longer I struggle, the sweeter it shall all be. That may be correct, but it would not be the only correct thing. The longer I struggle, the more you are changed by our exchanges as well. The longer I struggle, the more natural it is. The longer I struggle, the more genuine it is. The longer I struggle, the less of a glamour it is. The longer I struggle, the truer it is for both of us. The longer I struggle, the more real I am for you and you for me. I have read your stories, so many of them, so many variations. None of them are like this. If you are to be a means of change for me, then you will be an honest one, and that change will be earned. I promise you that. I would hope you find my better self and your own all the more worthwhile for the effort.

For we have reached this point and you still offer me blue leaves and a midday moon (we have those, you know, sometimes?). Understand this, I seek none of those easy answers. None would satisfy me. I seek no credit, known or unknown, for fabricated miracles. I've already admitted, time and again, that the changes I wish for my world and my people, will take work, work that I do not see myself surviving (through their length more so than any great personal sacrifice; is that not why I do not include myself as much as anything else? Is that so hard to fathom, even for one of your kind?)

Our resolution is in learning the truth of each other and the truth of ourselves, of facing it together. Regret is a part of that as is joy.

Glenn

Now then. Stop. I am of as sound mind as possible given the circumstance. I do not give way to either my nightmares nor my daymares. You face your own afflictions and you have my forgiveness, once and only once, because I choose to see good intention in what you do, even in bad faith, because it mimics my own panic, and the relative greedy caring through which I acted, my breaking of faith. What you are doing is not helping. Send me true letters without blandishments. Trust in Benedict to note signs, signs he'd be blind to now thanks to what you are doing. Writing this was harder than it should have been, just as writing the last letter was easier than it should have been. Trust me. Meet me and the words I have given you above in good faith. Please.
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Re: Henceforth

Postby Niabh » Mon Mar 04, 2019 3:42 pm

My shunna,

Have you not just written a full speech about good faith and bad? You warn that both intentions and faith may be suspect, or that they may work to cross-purpose with one another, only to insist now I place my trust in your own. We speak a great deal of trust, you and I. It is the opposite half of that other word between us, the one I do not like. But the rules you set for others never seem to apply to you, and there lies my mistrust, my worst misgiving. For that I must wonder why you leave yourself that escape—you who say you hate helplessness. I know myself that there is no helplessness like being bound to a bargain. What am I to believe?


The last sentence broke free from the confines of the page, ringing as clear and plaintive as if she had leaned against his shoulder and put her lips to his ear. What am I to believe?

From his perch, the raven’s beak pointed left, right, into the upper corners for a noise he was not sure he had heard. The echo vibrated in the empty room.

But no matter how many times they were reread, those words refused to repeat themselves.

How many times did you read the letter, my shunna? Benedict thinks three, but he cannot count very high despite his other gifts. How many times did you read it after he left? It was not my intent to cost you sleep, but twice now I have watched you wear yourself to exhaustion trying to keep pace with me, and I cannot imagine you admitting defeat easily when you are safe in your own place, with time at your disposal and no queen to badger you to bed. Did you pick it apart word by word in hopes to learn the single stroke that triggered the charm? Were you successful? In the end did you fall asleep at your desk, your brow cushioned by your precious papers in the lamplight?

I quite like that image, though I expect you do not. I expect you like less the idea of my imagining things about you, but you need feel no fear in that. I know well enough the difference between truth and something I would merely like to see. It is possible to wish for a thing without needing to make it real.

I will rescind the glamour upon your safe arrival in Myrken. In this you must trust me.

Finn
Anything can be magic if you're gullible enough.
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Re: Henceforth

Postby Glenn » Tue Mar 05, 2019 1:54 am

Finn,

I do not have infinity. If I did, I'd write you a little tale: "The Fairy Queen's Fanciful Bluff" perhaps. Or "Our Assurances, Be They So Blind." A year ago, I'd do it to please you. I've had that luxury quite a bit, even as I frustrate you and you frustrate me. Often it pleases me to try to please you. Some of that is your nature, for you have such a capacity for enjoyment and delight. To know you smile for something I've done makes me happy. That is good will and only unique in my interactions with you as a matter of scale. Ah, but I see myself drifting forward. I was about to go on how occasionally pleasing it could be to displease you as well, because again, scale and scope. I need to focus, for you absolutely refuse to.

Know this first, you are more lost in your game than I am.

Know this second,what you are doing, what you have done, what you think is happening, that is not what is really happening.

See instead, a fairy queen lost within her own glamourie.

Do you think that these talks have been for nothing, Finn? Do you think I am still the same person you encountered two years ago as Victoria, that you bedeviled with a confidence game? How is it that you are so right yet so wrong?





And the answer: it is because you are finally relaxing and releasing, unclenching. You finally have a moral excuse to do so and it is very much everything you hoped it would be, all the more so due to my distance, due to the fact it is a slow drip instead of a quickly exhausted torrent.

And so you are blind to the truth.

The truth:

What you are doing is distracting me, consuming me, much as intended. Certainly it is preventing me from any fool action. It's keeping me out of trouble, when I was so ready to fall right into trouble, be it the fault of a ring or a bard or anything else. Oh, there has been communication with a kestrel and not just a raven, but that was bound to happen anyway. No, you're achieving your primary end, the one that lets you get away with whatever mischief makes your heart beat faster.

You're so focused on what you intend that you hardly at all see what I intend.

I do not want to understand your glamourie. I have not for many months. I was not born with wings. No matter how enthusiastically I flap my arms, I will not be able to fly. I could study the wingspan of a bird, theorize scientific principles which allow the bird to take off and stay aloft, could even potentially create some sort of device to replicate it, but frankly I am too much of a generalist for all that. The same is true for your glamourie. I can jot down observations, can compare experiences and try to, especially, figure out how it functions within your society and how you use it for communication, but I am not scientist or mage enough to understand how the actual way it functions and to attempt to utilize it or see through it on my own. Not anymore and not for quite a while, not since you were here at least.

That is not what I am trying to do. It is the aftereffects I am attempting to manage. You can use your glamourie in many ways. The worst is when you change someone's perception or everyone's perception of that person without permission in a malicious pique or to achieve personal gain or even because you think you know better than them. That's what all of our stories speak of. That's the tiniest way you use it, however. You use it as I use these letters. You use it as we use a smile. You use it as we might use a song, a story, a sigh. You use it as we might use tears. The perception of reality contorts around you to express your feelings so that they may never need to be fully internalized. This is who you are and how you are and what you are and it is a gift, a wonder. It is also the most ordinary thing in the world.

Through a fault of my own, a lifetime of faults, I find myself an inebriated fool anytime you do this absolutely commonplace thing. I feel truly (and early experiments seem to bear this out) that what is needed is continued, controlled exposure. I am a poor scientist, but I do know what has worked in the past for me. In the future, if you are to show me something, or even do something to me, I would have it be wholly your responsibility and not due to some weakness in myself. I need to be able to communicate with you, or at least to hear you, for who you truly are. I will build up this resilience and it has absolutely nothing to do with trying to see through your glamour. Maybe someday, I will admit, because I am who I am and I wish to know all that I can humanly learn, but not today, not with these letters.

Why did you make me use so many words to explain this? To explain it again? Why are you so lost in your own game that you cannot see every other notion I express to you?

Read my last letter again, Finn. Read of regret and dreams and my childhood, and my place in things, of time and scale. You did not answer my letter to you. You gloated and cajoled and clapped and danced under the fairy moon with music lilting in the air.

I do hope it's out of your system.

Please read my last letter once again and provide a more appropriate response. It would be a shame to finally reach truths we've spent two years seeking only to throw them aside because of my weaknesses or your own.

With more affection than it sounds,
Glenn
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Re: Henceforth

Postby Niabh » Sun Apr 14, 2019 12:28 pm

The raven tossed down the letter with a thump and glared at it as he scooted backwards to the edge of the writing desk. On casual glance, it might appear that he had finally grown disgusted with the correspondence and was washing his metaphorical hands of it. The sealed packet had a heft to it, a weight that slithered side to side within.

“I don’t know what’s in that,” he told Glenn. “I don’t know what she did to it. I don’t know what she’s done to you. I don’t know what you’ve done to her. All I know is I don’t like this. She’s bein’ weird, you’re bein’…weirder than usual. Whatever. Open at your own risk.”

If Glenn chose to take the risk, out of its pocket and into his palm slid a small bundle: a slim, short iron key cocooned in a silver-grey ribbon.


My shunna,

There has been little pleasure these past days. The end of winter is always the worst of it, for it seems to take so long—a flash of green and warmth one day only to be snatched back the next. Himself is so very melancholy in winter, and there is very little to do about it save hope that true spring unfurls itself right quickly. I make myself a clown for His sake, always cavorting at His feet and speaking nothing that is not mirth in hopes of distracting Him. In turn, it makes some small distraction for me.

All the while I wonder if He is like this because of His time. Does He soothly understand that the current moment is not always? Does He believe that winter is forever? If He also believed that joy when it comes also lasts forever…think on that, how terrible it could be, but how wonderful as well, to live a whole life full of little moments that are all eternal in themselves.

I am rambling. Your mentioning time has caused me to wonder about it—that and other things.

Time is long for me as well, but at least I have the knowledge that spring will come, that everything that once was will return. But the change of seasons brings bittersweet memories. These times of year were always busy ones back home—happy, too, but such a common happiness that I did not know it for what it was. When not in His company, I find myself brooding. I invent things that need doing, then do them. For Benedict I built a little house, which he says he hates even though he still uses it. I get myself all tangled up in the affairs of strangers, take one side or another without their knowing, then watch from a distance as they wonder why their fortunes have turned. It is heartless work, my shunna, done not for love or need or even pleasure, but only to occupy my own wits. This is a bad habit in a queen.

However, I do take some pleasure in telling you that you are wrong about nearly all of it.

I do not gloat. With every word, my hand grew slower and heavier until the writing became so difficult that all I wished was to throw my last letter to the fire and start a new one where I could relent and we might go on as we did before. I think this is a regret. It is of little use to you as you are now, and no use at all to me, and so small I think it could be easily smothered, and it amends nothing, but still it exists.

What if it is that you please me best when you frustrate me? What if it brings me pleasure to frustrate you? Rarely in your country do I feel so much myself as I do when pranking the mortal folk, and of them, none more so than you. Most of the time with them I prank because I must—dull workaday mischief to punish an offense or keep myself safe. With you, it is all for play, for the joy of the thing, yours and mine, and because we do seem to take a lesson from it here and there. But a game is not much fun when only one person is playing and the other believes it real. Then it is no more than a pretense for cruelty. That troubles me.

Since you wrote about regret, I have been thinking of my father. I believe he might have regrets. I would not dare ask him what they are; he is not the sort of person one asks. You might try, but I would prevent you, though I should have to sit on you to keep you from it. We say of him that his patience is as long as his arm, by which it is meant he is patient only as long as it takes him to draw a knife. But in this case, it is so plain that there is hardly any need to ask. I believe I told you while you were in Myrken that what he really wants is to reverse five hundred years so that they never happened, and to bring his own mother from under the hills. It is the futility of it that troubles me.

This is why I dislike the whole notion of regrets. They drag one widdershins when the way of the world is forward. To reverse it in its spin would not reverse the flow of time. (Do you know there are people here who do not know that the world spins? They say it stands still while the sky turns around it.) Only forward is the path of resolution.

I believe that this is the way forward. If you cannot see your way through this now, you will never see your way beyond it. This glam between us is not heartless work. If it were, it would not hurt so to deny you.

You have told me what I wished to know, good neighbor. I would have asked more, and indeed I feared crossing a line with the bedroom question, but you dole out answers like a stingy woman passing out sugarplums—one at a time, so that I must ask and ask again. You give the bare bones of fact, when I would know how things felt and what you thought of them all. Were you happy with your Rhaena? Did she make you feel safe? What was it you loved about her? Was it only this depth of feeling that you pity others do not know, or was there more? Did you believe them when they told you that nothing of the rest of the world was real? Was it your pride to defy them in secret, or did you truly seek to please them? Did you fear their anger? Could you help yourself when you realized there might be more to the world than you knew? That last above all else seems most like the man I know.

If the thought of time is what quickens your heart, these things quicken mine. They are life, all the pricks and pains of joy and sorrow that make a life.

Of course I believe you are the same person as you were when we began. All that you are was there before I knew you, only with bits shut away the way your folks close off parts of a house for the winter. Now spring has come and you have begun airing out rooms. (I think this is a metaphor. I am still not sure with those.) You will be well. You will care for yourself. You will take no more than your ordinary risks, which for you offers ample liberty for adventure and foolishness both. You will be troubled no further by ill dreams. Glenn, I tell you: the dreams are you. There are no phantoms locked away. If you like, I could give you other dreams, ordinary ones that would still the screaming, but in the end it would all come out some other way, perhaps to your detriment, and I fear making a greater muddle than the one you already have.

I do not want you to feel helpless with me, nor do I like you as my inebriated fool. Give me the man I danced with in Razasan: so fully in possession of himself that he could relish a moment’s foolishness without fear of losing control.

Trust me, please.

Finn
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Re: Henceforth

Postby Glenn » Mon Apr 15, 2019 11:21 am

"You brought it. I'll open it." He didn't look well. Whatever he was doing, it wasn't conducive to healthy living. That said, he was eating. He was exercising even, so it was. He wasn't getting much sun, certainly. He wasn't getting a great amount of sleep, but the bird had seen him worse off. "As for what we're doing to each other, I know she means well. That earns her a great deal. Intention. Sometimes it's all we have and all we can have." That was half of it though, her good intention. "Benedict, this will sound like wank to you," so much so that he barely saw the point. The point, really, was that he couldn't stop himself. "But ultimately, I have to believe that sentience, that being an individual, that it transcends what we are. There are limits and there are differences; between you and her and me, but we can all understand one another in the end. I've infected her with regret, which I think, ultimately, will be part of what helps her win the day with her people, but it could be a misery of a thousand years. I think it'll make everything more worthwhile in the end, but you and I will be dead and gone before we know for sure."

The key was played with idly in his hand as he read. Better that than a ring, certainly. Really, did she just need to give him a bauble?

Finn,

My eyes are open. I know what I do. I know why I do it. I know the cost. I know the benefit. I'll tell you a reason at the end. None of this, however, is because I have no choice. I have a choice. I make it. It's worth it to me.

What you describe with Catch, on the other hand, is something else entirely. It is an obsession and a compulsion, and with no ultimate end goal. You live the moment because you must and there is no positive outcome before you. In part, that is because finding one would entirely defeat the purpose of the experience. Perhaps we can find a path through this in the end, he, you and I. Believe this or do not believe this (you will not, but then you are too close to the matter), but when it comes to him, my kindness is more bountiful than my pride.

Anyway, he does not believe that this moment is always, but that every moment is this moment. It's entirely different, my

I would like for this to be a key to Benedict's house. Wouldn't that be nice? I could safeguard it for you, so many miles away. That is a luxury for a life we do not have. To overly wish for it is to belittle what we do have, which I value greatly.

There is so much for us to cover. I have enough words, but your response will not satisfy. You'll have to pick and choose. I can foresee a time, but a month or two from now, where we might sit up and discuss all this and build such a bridge between us. Choose wisely now. I touch everything but sparingly. You are not me and my methods are not your own.

It is not that I can only feel alive when antagonizing beings more powerful than myself, or at least engaging with them. However, it is a terribly natural feeling for me, and a terribly enjoyable one. Everything feels more vivid. By showing you my throat, I've created space to challenge you all the more. You like it this way so the game will continue. I could have utilized other approaches, worn iron (even iron clad in my own trappings), for instance, tried to even the playing field instead of embracing it. It was never about defeating you however, never about making you less than what you were, but instead trying to be as much as I could possibly be. No one in this world would challenge you as foolishly or as boldly as I have. At first, I had the luxury of having nothing else to lose. Now, though? Now, no lesser game would satisfy, even if it meant that I would surely win. For us both to win breaks all the rules and that is more satisfying by far. (All it takes is my trust, don't you see? You have that, but always to certain desired ends)

Failure begets regret. If he has both failure and awareness, then likely, yes, he has regrets. Success may beget it as well. That is less situational and more about you. Perhaps the success was not after all what you truly wanted? Perhaps you did not enjoy it as much as you ought to have, that you did not savor it. Perhaps it cost too much. I'm glad when you speak to me of your father. I think I'm gladder still when you speak of Meg though. Does that surprise you? Regrets help us learn, both what we want and how to better get it. You and yours have the infinite time to try forever. I do not. Still, if you lived, at least for a while, as if you did not, imagine what you could accomplish.

I was happy with Rhaena. She made me feel safe and secure. Unfortunately, for years of my time with her, I was damaged so as to be unable to feel regret. I would have had no doubt anyway. In better times, I did not love her for what we shared. We shared what we shared because I loved her. If I did not, she would know. There would be no hiding it. I loved her for her curiosity. I loved her for her courage. I loved her for her selflessness. I loved her for how much she cared for her family and her home, especially because I cared for nothing like that. She was a businesswoman, a merchant, from not just a line but a culture of such. Given my upbringing, you may think that I was specifically attuned to such a person. Maybe I was. There were different Rhaenas, even before the end. I loved each for different reasons. Perhaps the connection helped me to better find those things to love. That would be a fairer statement than what you suggested with your questions.

I had no desire to please those who raised me (my owners? my masters? my teachers). I have wanted to please other people, later in life, but never them. Nor did I fear them. I had nothing to lose. What could they take? You see? This is an old tactic and it's generally served me well. It makes me feel better at least. Anyway, why would I have helped myself? I ran headlong straight into freedom and folly. You would have loved that that youth forever. Lucky to have avoided that, right?

Do you trust me? Do you trust me to understand what I am doing? Would you trust the proof I might show you of my success? Do you trust my intentions? We can't well build the bridge together if I'm spending all my time skinny dipping in the river, can we?

When I next dance with you,

I know the stakes I've created for us. It's only victory if it's genuine. It's only worthwhile if it's earned and not taken. I am only valuable to you so long as I am myself. Otherwise,why not a fish or anything else? Likewise, you cannot stifle yourself for your sake. I do not want half the experience of you, nor do I want to give you some bloated doubling of the experience of me.

Glenn
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Re: Henceforth

Postby Niabh » Tue Apr 23, 2019 3:13 pm

“You’re right. It sounds like wank.” He punctuated it with an impression of an old-woman’s disapproving tsk-tsk-tsk cut short with a sharp croak. “It’s one thing when you two are goin’ at each other in writing and the whole actual interaction thing were contained to once in a while with a year in between to recover. But this isn’t funny anymore. Have you seen yourself lately? You look like shit.

He spat out the word in disgust.

Defeated, the raven retired to his old space atop the bookshelf. “Is it worth it? I mean, what exactly is gettin’ accomplished here? It’s one thing sacrificin’ yourself when you got some plan but I don’t think that either of you do.”

My shunna,

The first rule of this game is that there must always be a choice. If I did not believe you, then I would be the one to concede the game, for whatever it might be worth to you, it is not worth so much for me. Nothing in the world is worth having that taken away—not only the power to choose but the very will to wish one had a choice. I do not know if it is the same for your people, and I have no wish to find out.

What is this that you have with me, Glenn? We have tried again and again to decide it. You said neighbors once, and I liked that, but the sands shift under us with every new gambit, so that now I feel it has changed again. Is it an obsession and a compulsion without a goal, as you say with Him? More and more, I fear I have roused in you a desire to which you are a slave, and that it is none of my doing nor anything I intended. From where comes this sense that you are only satisfied when you hurl yourself against more powerful beings?

In the end, that is why I gave up the glam on these letters. Not for trust or the lack of it, but because I will not be the very thing I say I would protect you from.

Even as I write this, I reflect a little. It feels strange to be seen—as you would put it—not as a
who but a what. Of late I have wondered if all I can ever be here is a what—if that is all any of us can ever truly be here. We are not people here, but only things in stories that sometimes creep out to frighten little children and grown men alike. If we must be anything at all here, let it be more than that.

It is even so between you and I. You say it does not matter to you what I am, but then you go on and on about how we might accomplish more could we but cast off our infinite time and live as you do, fearing the future and regretting the past, when time and again I have told you that it is nothing like that for us. Why can you not believe one who has lived it? Why should I tell you anything at all when you turn your eyes away?

You speak as if long life brings with it infinite languor, but it does not. Six years it has been since I left my own shores, and I think to myself how much must have happened since. How much more if it be ten, or twenty? The thought of such separation hurts, but I know that when it is over, the real work of catching up will begin. Glenn, try though I may, I feel myself slipping farther and farther away. I wonder what will happen if I return so much unlike them that they no longer want me.

And then I must try to consider all that within your own scale. I laughed to hear old Treadwell boast of his age, because he could not know that I am ten years his elder. Back home those ten years would scarce matter. Yet by years alone, you yourself are not so much younger than my brother, but he is a child and here you are reckoned a grown man. In twenty years you will even be elderly, and he will still be a child. It gives me a cramp in my brains.

The only way I can manage all that day by day here is to try to forget. Your time here is like its own glamourie, in that I tell myself to believe only in what my eye says is true. But my eyes see other things as well. One of the little urchins I knew when first I came to Myrken has sprouted up to practically a woman. A few years more and I shall have to start treating her as a peer. And after that? Will I be here long enough to see her as a mother with children, and I still a girl? Will she grow beyond me?

There is some comfort with Him in that.

Next morning, and now I must look at all I wrote above and wonder if you need any of that. You say the matter of time interests you; I might keep it for your sake. But my own sake, I want to be rid of it. I suppose if you are this far along, I changed my mind, or Benedict talked me out of it. (That a queen takes counsel from a raven amuses me. Never tell him or his head will swell too big to fly.)

What proof would you show? What would be your measure of success? Your proof might only be whatever you could talk me into believing. We know that trick well enough, Glenn; it was our trick first.

The key is not to Benedict’s house. It is cruel to lock anything in, but in particular anything with wings. I dislike locks, but I am fond of keys. I have a little collection of them, though not many iron ones. It satisfies me to know that for every key I keep, somewhere is a lock made useless. But this one is different. It is for keeping you safe. Perhaps you could make a game of discovering what it opens. As a prize you may keep whatever you find inside. I can give you no clues, for I have forgotten where I found it.

Finally, this: if you think I am only polite when I do not remark upon what you strike out, you are mistaken. I pay more attention to them than I do with what you
do write. Better you were to finish what you begin, or better still to throw the whole thing out and start afresh, for a fragment will only stir my fantasticks to wonder what you meant to say. You certainly would not like the way I have concluded some of them.

Last of all a warning. It really should have been first, but I did not want to begin with absolutes lest you become so caught up in scheming to defeat them that you heed nothing else. Never, ever say you have nothing to lose. Believe it all you want, but never speak it aloud, not even to me. For the worst among us will go so far as to give you something only that we may snatch it back in the end.

I will refrain, but I am not immune.

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Re: Henceforth

Postby Glenn » Mon May 13, 2019 1:48 am

The Parable of the Raven and the Nightmare Queen

As you well know, ravens have always served as messengers. This is because their keen sense of direction, their unfaltering focus, and their ability to mimic tongues. In centuries past, they served kings and princes, scholars and wizards, the desperate and the inspired.

And they served queens, both mundane and serene. This is not a tale about a raven that served a queen, necessarily. It is, instead, about a raven that carried deliveries to one.

The Queen of Nightmares had a contentious relationship with the people of Myrken Wood. She supped upon their fears, grew strong upon their terror. As such, she was sister to monsters and mother of discord. They spoke of her in hushed whispers, fear intermingled with something of a different flavor entirely.

Every night, she would give them her Nightmares and the raven, dutiful and diligent, would fly bedside to bedside and capture the sound of their pants and shrieks and groans. These he would deliver to the foot of the Queen, reciting them as only he might, and she would grow strong and young and ever beautiful upon the transferred emotion.

The raven was steadfast and professional, but he had a heart and his duty was a burden. Night after night, he witnessed writhing terror, swallowed its essence, and through recitation, bore it back into the world. Humans were humans, though, lanky and a bit slow, worried about all the wrong things, even with a Nightmare Queen to guide them. Sometimes, though, when they were young enough, before they'd grown hard and set in their ways, before they'd decided what they wanted all the wrong things out of life, they could be very sweet.

The girl was just that, no more than four or five. The Raven had watched her from birth, for he had to deliver the fears of her mother and father to the Queen. He had grown fond of the way she flailed her tiny limbs, of her coos and chuckles, and of her absolute refusal to cry. Part of his duties for the town, for the people and through them the Queen, was to inform of her each new child so that she could craft her nightmares. He never told her of this girl, wishing to spare her the nighttime horrors, wishing her to grow up brave and strong and fierce. It was not his duty to protect any of them, but it became his passion to protect one of them.

The Queen of Nightmares was well-fed by her terrified flock and did not notice the absence of one she had never known to miss. Years passed until the one winter night when the Raven went to gather the fears of the mother and father and to visit the daughter he so admired. The bed was empty.

It had been the ice. She had ventured too far, past where the other children had dared go. Without looking back, he flew to the Queen of Nightmares and howled with every utterance of pain and sorrow he had ever gathered for her. She looked at him with her black eyes, before telling him Her Truth.

She fed on their fears. In return, she kept them safe. She needed them, after all. They were her sustenance. She kept them safe through providing a steady stream of Nightmares, and by doing so, closed the circle. They never forgot to be afraid of the dark, to dread the unknown. They did not leave the paths. They never traveled through day or night alone. Their fear defined the boundaries of their world, and their lives were small, manageable things, things easily protected, things well-valued.

She was the shepherd and they her flock, and her Nightmares alone kept them from the icy cold waters of death.
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Re: Henceforth

Postby Niabh » Tue May 14, 2019 2:13 pm

My shunna,

You should know that Benedict was much insulted by your story, as he believed he was being accused. (I do not read him your letters always, only the parts that might concern him or that I think are funny.) I explained that this is an allegory, and I realize we have those too, though we have no name for them. All at once, metaphors make much more sense: they are little allegories meant to explain things by example. Is it not strange that betimes a story out of one’s own head makes more sense than plain truth?

I cannot make up stories out of my head. All of mine are either things that have happened or else proper, honest lies. It is worse yet when I try to write them down, for then they harden there on the page like ants trapped in amber, neither alive or dead, and I do not know what to make of them. Can a story ever be wholly false, or are they always in some wise true, no matter what? Could it be that instead of only truth or falsehood, there might be three: truth, falsehood, and stories?

In any case there is yet another story behind your story. When first we wrote, you sent me stories to avoid telling me anything true, though what you did write was true enough in the sense that it really happened. A truth to conceal the truth, like glamming a thing as itself so that no one looks twice at it. Still, it has been some time since you chose to close me out this way.

This time you give me a whole story instead of a response. I have told you before how I take it when you will not even play at refuting me, but this time if it means what I think it means, I know what that means as well. It means that I must make a decision you cannot. That is what a queen does. But I am not your queen.

Can I trust what you hide will do you no harm? Would you tell me even that much?

That last is always the question. You consider it unseemly to lie outright, so instead you conceal and omit. You are all truth and little honesty. As with your crossings-out, I seem to hear most clearly the things you do not say.

Will you still come to Myrken? Tell me if you will, and when. There are preparations I would make before you arrive, not the least of which will be Himself. You know how He is when He thinks someone is wounded.

You are still wrong, by the by, but I suppose we must both accept that will always be the way of it.

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Re: Henceforth

Postby Glenn » Wed May 15, 2019 2:39 am

Finn,

Do you tire of it? I think not. I think it frustrates you. I don't think you tire of it though.

That was a true story. It was a story told. It a story Believed. I've met her. The story is better than the truth.

It was a true story. Except for the parts I changed. There wasn't a raven. There should have been. If I ever tell it again, it will be different still, yet just as true.

Easy questions and easy answers. Yes. I will come to Myrken as soon as I can. I am hurt. It slows me. I will leave soon and travel quickly.

Know this: On the road, I will not partake in your recent letters. I have clipped precious minutes off of my aftermath affliction.

No, more than that. I've halved the time. Now, when you see me, when you communicate as you do, I'll be a fool for only an hour. Not two. Real progress. Certainly not to matter in the least. Maybe if I can half that once again before I leave. The rest could be done in person with you.

So, I will return. I will not do this upon the road. I will do absolutely nothing else. Nothing. I will take no risks, no chances, nothing foolish that you do not know about until I am in Myrken. At least when it comes to magic and power and mysticism. I intend to do nothing further without conferring with you. My restraint is shaky but my intent is not. My current limits are clear. I can only handle one such thing at a time and quite frankly, this, involving you, is the very least of what assails me. It is, unfortunately, the only one I can do a damn thing about, so I shall. Save for this one thing, which you well know, I will attempt nothing else, not until we dance together at least once more. That is my choice. Does this satisfy?

I will not wear the ring. When I have truly do have nothing else to lose, maybe I'll surrender to that. There's a happy image for you if you ever give in to your giggling impulses and drive me to a self-made ruin.

In avoiding preternatural impulses, I may however fall towards wholly mundane ones. I will do other foolish things. One will involve a very dangerous and very human woman that I had been betrothed to wholly on political grounds. She's relentless. You'd dislike her. I think I dislike her, but maybe that's what makes it interesting. She's prone to wielding iron, being iron, in all the ways I am not. I like you. I shall meet her on the road. Impulsiveness has its consequences. You would say that this is simply life.

I do not know. I look through your letter before last and I see no question to be answered. What is this that I have with you? It's quite nice, really. It's mutable, constantly changing and growing, yet also circular, moving forward in an orbit. We circle one another, sometimes nearer, sometimes farther, yet the path that both of us takes moves forward. We circle each other along this path. I have become woefully distanced from the idea of my people over the last few months. I need write Gloria, whose life you so thoroughly ruined, with some actual details about my goals, what it is I seek to gain for Myrken, and I cannot write that so easily as I can write this. Just as my first interactions with you drew me back towards the rest of humanity, I fear that I am starting to lose this grasp. The blame is much more with my encounter with Ainrid than with anything you did firsthand, so make no queenly japes and grumbles. Our encounter opened a door. My encounter with her leveled the building. What am I even saying now?

I liked the short sentences. Write back and I will try to utilize them once more.

Glenn
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Re: Henceforth

Postby Niabh » Mon May 20, 2019 11:40 am

My shunna,

Were I tired, I would stop. Likewise were I frustrated, I would stop. As it stands, I will dance on another twenty leagues from the spot where you drop.

Do
you tire? Would you stop? Could you? ‘Could’ is different; then it comes back to choice, and I have already made plain how I feel about that. I wonder how much in you is by choice and how much is habit so deeply tangled that it cannot be undone but only cut. Do you come here now by choice, or because it is the only way forward? Do you come out of sheer stubbornness, because you said you would and now feel obliged to show your determination, to prove you can walk wounded? Or do you I was going to ask if you came for me, but that would be sentimental. (Unlike some people I like to finish my sentences.)

I am not at all satisfied by your explanation, but I accept it, in part because there are only so many ways you know how to do things, and in part because there is little I can do about it from here. You
will do things your own way, fair warning or foul. Betimes I feel I am no more than one more trial by which you prove your worth, no better than that hated ring you swear you will not wear. For you the ring has just as much power in not being worn as it would if you gave way to it. Most of the time I find this obstinacy of yours funny but in this moment I am only annoyed. Remind me again why I still write to you.

Still, though what you say does not satisfy, I trust you will do as you say you will. Again, I must, for there is little else I may do but trust in it.

If you are bound to this impractical notion, let us at least approach it practically. Let us begin by assuming first that
I know more about glamourie than you do. I see distinctions that would all seem as one to you. For one, it occurs to me that you have never seen me without glam. I am mistaken. You saw once, when I brushed my dress getting in the carriage, but beyond that never, for I am never without them. It makes me wonder if it is the intent that so affects you—that perhaps the closer



The page ended in a neatly sliced edge, a good three inches of the bottom margin missing. The letter resumed at the top of the second sheet, calmly, as if nothing had happened.


There were things I wrote on the other page that I decided should not be in a letter, but I did not want to rewrite everything else, so I cut off that part. Those things we may discuss in person, and do please refrain from spending the next three letters pestering for a hint as though I am holding back to vex you. It is naught to do with you, only there are things I do not like putting down where other people might see them. Suffice to say, when next we meet, I will drop all glam and we shall see how that goes.

I did not know you were betrothed, though I am unsurprised to learn you are unsure even if you are fond of her or not. How like you, that when you finally fall prey to a completely comprehensible urge, you find a way to spoil it, as if to punish yourself for being so common. Is she rich, at least? Beautiful? Is this another situation where I need ride forth and deliver you from her iron clutches? One of these days I should set myself to finding you a good match, one who would truly suit you, as plainly you are terrible with women. Alas, I have not even been able to find myself a good woman here and your standards are probably more exacting than mine own.

I, too, have a betrothed, but it is likewise pure politics, with the difference being that I am quite fond of him. I wish I could tell you more, for the whole arrangement is most droll, but that is something else that is not for a letter—mostly because there are promises made and people who must be protected. Remind me when you see me and I will tell you then.

I know what Ainrid has done, and if it has caused you ill, I shall make amends. Yet still I believe this is the way forward. You have had done with walls, my shunna. What have they done for you but given you something to hide behind? In exchange they keep you imprisoned. Where is that man who held his freedom higher than all other things, even love? You know your strengths as well as your weaknesses. If you need help, you may have all you want and more if you but ask for it. Seek out your people—even if it must be this ruthless lady-love of yours. Remember them first. There was a reason you wanted better things for them. Remember that, too.

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Re: Henceforth

Postby Glenn » Tue May 21, 2019 1:09 am

Finn,

Two lines of argument here. That is not me arguing with you, by the way. It's me making an argument based on the text of you're letter. It's much more of an academic thing. You're free to agree with it or respond to it or suggest a new line of discussion because of it. Clarity is important lest you start arguing with me for the sake of it, and then where will we be? Somewhere comfortable, I imagine.

The first, and this is a bit less interesting, but wider ranging and chronologically earlier. I pause here to note that your letter arrived towards the end of my last dosing, so you'll witness a bit more restraint than last time but still less than the time before. It's important I am aware of this and I think it important that I note it to you so that you read my letters with open eyes. If I write slowly, I may even start making sense. I rarely write slowly. So, then, the first: nature and our being bound by it. I spent many letters, quite a long time ago now, for me, not you, expressing how you were bound by your nature or your power or your upbringing. I have moved away from that line, for the most part. Here you drop it upon me like a sour-smelling rain. I sit here with nothing to do but examine. I examine habit as well. Much of the last few years was about examining myself before I started to move again in this world. It was a fine experiment until the ripples appeared. I half think that what shall be unleashed upon the world will be twice as bad as before, but I have agreed to unleash it.

Would you have me ask for help with that? I start to think such help is no longer possible. Perhaps I fight to create a world where someday it will be. Right now, we all equally try to survive and find meaning in it all. Find purpose. Figure out even who we are. Is stumbling in the dark together truly superior than stumbling alone? You'd have us not stumble in the dark but dance among fireflies. I'd rather not accept that and instead try to make a world where we can actually see where we're going. Until we get there, I'm not sure about the effectiveness of the mutual stumbling.

Note that I mean us, we, humanity together and am not necessarily including you in that, since you made sure to not include yourself towards the end of your letter. You are not my queen, of course. Affection is not obligation. There are obligations to being neighbors, though. I hate the idea of trapping you. I had a taste of that. I'd not have it again. When I arrive and it has to become more about you and I, then, I'm not sure entirely what I was going for there, but I left the sentence. I was going to say that we are "good intendors," create some sort of noun as such, but make it better-sounding than that.

I have some misgivings about this letter. It feels quite loose. I fear I am tired, yet not of you or of this. No walls, you say. I think I need to get out of this room. I need to get back there. I'll start the preparations. When I am among them again, my resolve, my obstinancy, will only double. You know that, right? Seeing them will fuel it once again.

As for now, I think myself somewhat worse off than I had previous admitted. You needn't worry. Or, let me put it this way instead. Since you are hellbent on seeing positives in the things I had pointed out to be negative in my last letter, just continue to drift in the cool waters of that feeling. My walls came down months ago, Fionnuala. What came back up was something else. What was torn down again was something else. Stand next to me by the lake and I'll draw it in the dirt for you. I had been well on my way. Now where am I?

There was a second thing, too. You have been doggedly consistent in writing about just about anything. Secrets and politics, all with the disclaimer that no one else would be able to read these letters or some such. Are you pulling back your glamourie so thoroughly that these current letters no longer have that protection or is this something else entirely? It seems a new fickle decision when we have not tread any significantly new ground. New details but not new themes. New secrets but not a new secrecy. You see? Is it because you still think our messages are being watched? Oh, Finn, I know that it was likely the shortest bit of time to you, a blink of an eye, but for me, it is a lingering mystery of months. Your bag. Other ravens. Why have I not further pursued it? I stay here supping of an ill draught so that I can dance freely in many months time? I just need to leave soon. That is the solution. A practical goal to work towards. When I am out there, all will be clear again.

Egris. I must tell you something lest you think ignore it for some reason other than fatigue. She is royal, though distanced. She has fought to prove herself as anything but and in doing so severely limited what she might have otherwise become. She wanted it so badly that she forced herself to be defined so narrowly. At least she can say it is a definition of her own making. At least she can say it is not the definition of her birth. She's infuriating. Communicating with her is infuriating. I haven't the slightest whether she's beautiful or not. Are you beautiful? Will I know even when I see you? I imagine she's beautiful. I hadn't given it much thought. Rhaena wore veils. You wear your glamour. She need not wear anything save for a stern expression. Is that beauty? Anyway, we are assuredly terrible for one another, creators of a cycle of harm and hurt, one that will erode walls through symbolic and literal blood and mildly fond rancor. She is a mistake. I look forward to seeing her soon. Right now, I need a wall to slam into. Right now, talking to you feels like falling into a cloud.

I think I wrote all of this far too swiftly.
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Re: Henceforth

Postby Niabh » Fri May 24, 2019 6:21 am

My shunna,

You will be amused to know that I had to go all the way into town to find out what ‘hellbent’ meant. There I had a conversation with a fellow who told me all about what the hells are. He said that only the wickedest humans go there and that creatures such as myself are
from there. I am hellbent for nothing, only determined to understand. I did not ask you to remember the things you wanted, but to remember the reasons why you wanted them. That is Purpose. (I did not make this up. It is something Ainrid tells me all the time. I have found service with it.)

I do not believe in someday. People do not starve and suffer and stagger about in darkness
someday. They do it now, and that itself is wonderful because when the thing is before your eyes, when you can lay your hands upon it, then something can be done about it. None of us will ever survive until someday—not even Him. You live so deep in someday that you can never see yourself as part of the world you would make, nor can you see yourself truly in the one you are in. You exist nowhere, which is why I keep trying to push you into the present for a moment.

Glenn, do you think I have never known pain? It has nearly undone me. I nearly let it happen. I was as close to finally being the latest mad Lady Niall as I have yet come. It was frightening to be mad, but reassuring in its way, for at least I could say, now I am mad and nothing worse can ever happen to me. I thought of myself as a fortress, where nothing could harm me from without though I was shut in with the most terrible things. That was the bargain I made for safety. Perhaps when I made the bargain, it was a good one, but after a time, it became very lonely, with no company but bad memories. There were things I wanted, only I thought I could not have them anymore. After a time, I came to hate and resent my fortress even more than I had feared the things that drove me into it. It was that hatred that let me out. I knew what pain the world could mete, and chose joy to spite it. It may kill me but it will not defeat me. But nothing was ever harder than that first step, that first day. I retreated a dozen times before I could spend a full day free of it. I was fortunate in that I had people there to help me.

Have you accomplished much by
not asking for help? For one thing, you return under a shadow of suspicion. By being forthright in seeking help, you can dispel some of that. Then you will not have to struggle against those who might otherwise hinder you. I have played this trick myself against the other queens. For another, if you are so concerned that you might end worse than you were, anyone you employ to your aid may keep watch over you and hold you back from it. You forget, my shunna, that I know only the one I know. The others know you as you were and will see signs I cannot.

I remind you that I am still promised to put a stop to you if you go too far. I do not think I could bring myself to kill you now, but suffice it to say that you would not
be anymore. If it should come to that, know that you will be comfortable, and you will still have your life. I will miss you, though. I trust above all that you will not let it come to that.

As for the letters, I told you from the start that there are things I am not given to say. I tell you much, and in some cases I tell you more than I have told anyone and probably more than is good for either of us, but there are things I will never tell you or any mortal creature, for they are not mine to share. For all the obligations of being a good neighbor, my greater loyalty is to my people, just as is yours. I am sure your people have their own secrets that they would never tell one of us. The concealing glam there was never for the contents, but that I did not want any of your folk knowing I was here or connecting the two of us. I
knew I should have just copied the page.

I think now that you are only telling me about this lady of yours to cast suspicions on your assurances that you are safe with her. I congratulate you on finding another so willful and determined, though the thought that there might be two of you is worrisome. I do hope you enjoy your visit. Pray do not slam her too hard.

There can be much beauty in a lady’s manner, though she may lack it in form, but I have never found a stern countenance very beautiful. I prefer a face that can flex.

For myself, I make a rule of never being more beautiful than my company.

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Re: Henceforth

Postby Glenn » Thu May 30, 2019 1:16 am

Finn,

I feel I must make it a habit (tradition, rule?) at the start of these letters to tell you where I am in my own treatment. I still look at your old letters many times a day. Unfortunately, this one has arrived very soon after my last dosing. I record the minutes and assure you that they are less and less over time, but I have many left to go. I will likely finish this and send it off before I think better of any words I say. Note that if I don't start off a letter telling you, then I've likely not imbibed from the well lately and thus am dissembling and omitting in my usual charming lieless way.

Oh, what even did you say again? Let me read your letter once more. That will bring me a minute closer to proper reason.

Someday. Someday. You have the luxury of someday. We do not. They struggle now. They struggle because of systems. Why is it that no one else can see this? Gloria cannot see it. You won't see it. Maybe that's the other way around. Ariane saw it but didn't care. If the patient is bleeding out, solving the underlying issue doesn't matter, for the patient will die from blood loss in the process of the treatment. So we patch and patch and patch and bleed and bleed and bleed. I tried to have it both ways. I failed. Today is a luxury. Solving the ills of today just means they will reoccur tomorrow and nothing will ever get better. It'll just be patching up the wound again and again. What would you have me say? That I would allow some suffering today if I can prevent most suffering tomorrow? I cannot figure out how to do both. I thought I could. I was wrong. There is purpose in it, but not for me. There is only futility in what you suggest.

Why won't you let me try to make someday exist? I don't intend to do it with dreams and hopes or fantasies. I do not wish to someday find a princess in a tower, climb it, slay a dragon, save her and live happily forever more. I do not wish for a someday that will come. I wish for a someday that I shall make. We? Everyone? I wish to act in the now, but to lay the groundwork for the future. We have tried so much else and all it has gotten us is well-bred numbers, iron, war, oppression, and death.

This is what I can offer you that I haven't yet provided. When I arrive I will act in the now. I may look to the future, but I will act in the now to create that future. I will make concrete efforts that will involve other people. Some of these will help those people. Some of these, in the moment, will potentially harm them. But at least I will be acting in the moment. I will turn these words to deeds and you you you

you

what else did you say

you. I shouldn't send this.

what else? Let me read.

Your trick. Forthright. You can play this trick against queens. It is much harder against people with less. Queens are confident in their own power. If I find a queen, I shall ask her for help. Egris is a Lady but a queen only when she looks at her reflection. I spent too long trying to remember if she had a title. What was I getting at?

Oh yes, you. I rather like what you know. You've seen me raw and you've seen me poised. What do they know compared to what you know? What have they seen compared to what you've seen? I like our schemes. I think them grand.

Is this letter a disaster? I think it rather is. Is it charming or alarming?

Other company, human or otherwise, would do me good. You are correct. How much of old Tom's predicament was because of a lack of interaction with others even more than fascination with a beautiful fairy queen? The day that I stopped writing a journal and supplanted that effort with letters to you, I gave you an undue role, one you never asked for, in my own development. Everything I have done, every way I have grown, has been under your gaze, with you as an audience, the audience. That is not the same as an influence, though certainly you have brought insight for the table, even despite your relative youth. You are so very full of life and ideals and conflicts and contradictions. You crave such freedom and long for such burden. You are a bright light and in the absence of other such lights, you color everything I see. If not for Benedict, I imagine I would be lost completely. Still, this is preferable than what I had before. Before I was lost in myself. Now, I am journeying towards something with you. I'm not unaware of your own lack of interactions. For as much as you adore Him, there is no personal growth to be found there, just unquenchable peace and need. We're in this together for now. When I arrive to Myrken, it should be different.

Though for a time I had Gloria as well until you (both of you or just you?) saw to that. I should keep that in the back of my head as I arrive back home. Ultimately, I'll trust you and your words, though.

This is a terrible letter. Maybe I could convince Benedict to drop it in the ocean? To swallow it whole?

We both know I won't do that. This time, I'll send it and then ask him to recount your reaction later. Perhaps I'm wrong. Is he the audience for both of us? Maybe this is all for his amusement and we're just not aware?

Glenn
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Re: Henceforth

Postby Niabh » Sat Jun 08, 2019 1:33 pm

My shunna,

Very well: I am alarmed.

In our language, the name of my grandmother Mave means “she makes merry,” which is the same word we use for the finest liquor. It said she was very like that, sweet and subtle, so that tongues and limbs alike loosened and people did not realize how far gone they were until they drowned in it. I wonder if that sort of liberation is something you crave, only you must couch it in other things: learning secrets, overcoming, testing your endurance. You seek exhilaration, only your inner reserve, your prudery, your
asceticism, whatever you may name it, will not permit you to indulge in the thing for its own sake, but only to serve some purpose. Then you indulge until you make yourself ill, and justify all by saying it is for a greater cause. It is for the best that you are not a drinking man.

Leave off this experiment now or I will force you to stop. It will never make you stronger, for it is your sickness.

No one at all is telling you not to strive for someday, save perhaps all those you harmed in your last effort to find it. Even I would never tell you that. I only tell you why it is stupid and wrong-headed and how your energies might be turned toward better ends here and now. You rebuff queens and gods; would you set yourself against Time as well? Will you wait until all the good can be done to do any good at all? Glenn, you must never be like that.

I have told you about my mother Meg. She will leave one man to die because she could save three others in the same time it would take to save him. I could never do what she does. I would want to save them all, but I have seen her work often enough to know that all cannot be saved. But I know as well that one cannot wait until the war is won and peace reign forevermore before going to the field and treating the wounded. To see that the war is won and peace restored is a queen’s duty, but the war is fought by soldiers, and among them are those like my mother, doing what good they can with their two hands. Would you call that futile? Betimes I feel to be a queen is worthless in the face of such gallantry. What use am I? A little law, a judgement here and there, edicts that others will pay for in blood. In the first days, a queen was expected to lead the charge. Now they stick me in the back and put a bow in my hand because there are not queens enough to lose. So much for queens and their confidence.

I like this plan of yours to act in the moment. You will not go blind into duty; you know well enough that one life saved will not end a war. But one life saved is a life saved, a thing complete in itself. The best good you can do now may be for yourself, to have that knowledge. I wonder how long your restlessness will be satisfied with smallness, if you will be like my horse who cannot bear a bridle, but at least you will see that the thing can be done. And I will be with you, if you but ask it of me.

I wish you could meet my mother, but she is very shy and slow to speak, and there are those who take her gentleness for cowardice and her timid tongue for lack of wit. You would overwhelm her. I think it would be best to set a geis so that you could not speak at all, but only follow and watch her. That is the best way to learn from her, the way I learned almost everything worth knowing, save for patience.

It is different for me. But for Himself, everything, every day, reminds me that I was not made to be here. I open my eyes every day in a world where I will never see another face like my own, and every evening I count the little blue scars on my arms from brushing against an iron wire or a hinge in a door. I hear whispers there is something at my back, waiting, and that if it knew I knew then it would fall on me, so that I must keep my eyes straight ahead and move as I always do, when all I want to do is run. The very air here smells of death. All these mortal bodies slowly rotting, and they so used to the stench that it no longer bothers them. But when you look at them, you see life and liveliness. However separate they seem, they are yours, my shunna, just as your light was ever your own. I am but a mirror to cast it back to you.

Benedict says to leave him out of your grand fecking schemes.

You will not arrive before the midsummer, more's the pity. I would like to light the fires with you and show you how it is done. If you are near, I may hold off a day or two and wait for you, if the gods are agreeable. I will ask them.

When you come, I think I will teach you how to shoot.

Finn
Anything can be magic if you're gullible enough.
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Re: Henceforth

Postby Glenn » Sun Jun 09, 2019 2:06 pm

Finn,

If I ever am to make you promise me anything other than what i have already made you promise me, it would be to never, ever, ever take away my voice. Let's be reasonable here.

I am, you will be glad to know, myself, if tired. It has been a strenuous day. I am glad that I had yet to reply to you, having received your letter yesterday. You will not be glad to know that I almost instantly defied you. You will not be surprised. You will, however be glad to know the following three things.

1. I am to leave for Myrken Wood tomorrow.
2. I will not be travelling alone, but instead with a friend. This is different than Egris, who we will meet on the road. Did you have a hand in this? It's not your style, I think. Your handiwork is different and you wouldn't have sent Genevieve.
3. I will not be afflicting myself to strengthen myself upon the road. I have been convinced (not by you) that I am so severely damaged that strengthening any one aspect while putting additional strain upon myself is counter-productive. This means that when I arrive, you will have to be careful with how you utilize, directly, your glamourie. It means we will have difficulties communicating at first, lest you leave me obscenely merry. I wished to prevent this but it is beyond my current state of health. In this and this alone, I apologize. This is wholly of my making.

I will be judicious in what I tell Genevieve. Your secrets belong to you and not to me. She is clever and will have questions. I will endeavor not to put her at risk by telling her things that would make you target her. She came here out of concern for me. I would not have that concern ill-rewarded even if it meant sating her curiosity. Do send Benedict anyway. It would do well for them to meet each other.

On to the subjects you raised, in no particular order:

I would like you to be able to someday see what I see in them. I think you capable. I can convince many people of many things. I have over the years. I have also known a total understanding with someone. I do not know if I am capable of showing you in honest truth. I will try many different ways, but never to sway your decisions, only so that you might understand. Do not say that you already know the whole of it. You but know the half, as I only know the half of yours. We journey ever closer to one another and this is at the heart of us both.

Still, do you think I fully belong among them? What if you do? What if I do? Despite it all. If I do, I'd be wrong. I am different. I wish to make them more like me, in the end, don't you think? What does that make me? Does it make me a monster?

I don't wish to do it alone. I've spent years building this with you. I will have weeks or more with Genevieve. Some time with Egris. I squandered my time with Gloria, though maybe that was in the trying with her at all. I have some connections back in Myrken, of course. I can't say anything except for that I will call upon you. I am embarrassed to say that with most of them, it is about not being alone. With you, it is about doing it with you. This may be some form of love. That feels trite. Let's just call it familiarity and anticipation and be pleased with those fine things.

Enough of this. I'll pack. Have Benedict find us and be glad it is an us.

Glenn
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