Interlude

Interlude

Postby Glenn » Wed Jan 23, 2019 5:58 am

"Benedict."

Names were important. You needed something to connect you with someone else. Names or roles. There were so few roles. Master and servant. Patron and supplicant. Vendor and Purchaser. Familial ones, maybe? Husband and wife? He didn't want to think about that. Names were different. So long as you had names, you could be a thousand different things to someone else. You could connect through any of those strands, through all of them, not just through one or two. Benedict served people who didn't need names for that purpose, who had other ways to express who they were. At one point, Glenn hadn't needed at least one name. It had been the happiest, most secure thing he ever experienced.

He stared down at the three letters before him. There was a fourth but it had been put away, placed elsewhere, put somewhere safe. The gift that came along with it, however? That was in his hand, that was something to fidget with, to busy a body with so that he did not busy a mind with it, the small sparkling sort of thing that the his friend would sometimes swoop down and snatch at. In this case, Glenn was ready for it, prepared. A swift rebuke would come if need be. He needed a swift rebuke.

He needed a great many things.

"This letter is..." which was as far as he got before fading off and looking from the newest letter, from Fionn's, to the first of the three. "They're all useless. I can't do a damned thing with any of them, Benedict. Listen to this. Just listen to it. This would all be easier if you could read. Just listen:

For one, it will be admired by them;
For two, it will be yearned for by them;
For three, it will be frightening to them;
For forth, it will be threatening to them.

She's doing this just to be difficult." The ring was pressed into his right palm, pressed hard enough to leave an imprint, and as he leaned his face upon that hand, it pressed lightly into his right eye socket. It revealed no secrets. "If someone sneezes three times in a row, they think it's some sort of curse. Of course it's going to be all those things to them! Your queen's been living among them for years and she's all those things to them. I know the story of Catch. I've seen it first hand and I've damn well hallucinated the rest, thank you very much. The trick is to take small steps and not to tell them even a tenth of what's going on, Benedict. Whatever gains they see have to be mundane gains. They never know entirely what's going on but if it's a benefit to everyone, it doesn't matter. She won't hear that. She'll never hear that."

There was wank and then there was ranting. Ranting was easier to just ignore if the individual doing it didn't keep bringing your name into the middle of it. "And she thinks that I'm going to bring Finn's people blood and strife? They have blood and strife. Maybe if they had a different sort of blood and strife, maybe strife and blood, some of ours, they'd find the time to rut each other and have more children."

This would be a good point for the raven to stop him, to actually talk about whatever it was Glenn was saying, but there was no stopping him now. "And Genny. She writes like she has something to prove. Gloria has something to prove. Finn has something to prove. Neither of them write like they have anything to prove. Genny doesn't have a damned thing to prove and it's all she does. She's carrying around power and unconscious horrors, and she's fucking about in dreams. I'm going to bring her nothing but pain, but she's the only one offering me anything in this. It's all backwards. She's the one that scares me. The only one. I'm afraid to see her. I'm afraid what will happen, how bad it'll get."

He swallowed, because that was difficult, thinking through the entirety of that statement was difficult. His heart throbbed more quickly and he squeezed the right more tightly. "Because she's human. Despite the powers and the horrors, she's just human. I have to step back out that door, Benedict, and it's not all going to be queens and monsters and oozing Wynsees. I'm ready for all of them. I could go off tomorrow to your lands and it'd be a fucking disaster but it'd be one that I could navigate. Maybe I could go out and deal with a thousand starving kids, too. It's the one that'll be the problem. The one mundane, normal kid bleeding out of his pores because of some stupid disease we should have come up with a cure with two hundred years ago."

Rarely did he blame those who came before him. Sometimes, Savoy. Sometimes, but that had been years ago. He'd grown out of that. IT had never been rational. Right now, though, he was tempted. Right now, this felt rational. "Even with her, with Finn, it's because of other people. If it's just the two of us and the idea of her people and mine, it's okay, but first Gloria and now Ainrid, and pretty soon all of Myrken. It shatters the illusion and we're using the illusion as a bridge to meet halfway." One more swallow for good measure; his throat was dry. How much had he said? How long had he been talking? Instead, he gave the ring one last squeeze and looked down at the three letters. "I don't know if I can fix this, Benedict. Any of it."
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Re: Interlude

Postby Niabh » Tue Jan 29, 2019 8:02 am

Some habits are hard to break. The raven liked shiny things. He didn't understand why. Ravens are intelligent creatures, and like children, they bore easily. Shiny things made for good distractions: you could line them up by size or color or luster; you could arrange them in interesting patterns, like a man setting up a display of dominoes; you could hide them someplace clever and occupy yourself trying to remember where they were. The Tuatha, in general, were pretty sparkly, and they were nothing if not distracting. Insofar as the raven was given to philosophy, he had wondered if that might be all there ever was to it: not a Tuatha queen who laid a magical egg, but only some forgotten raven attracted to a bright flash that had led to a long, loyal partnership.

In any case, it was hard to keep his focus on Glenn when there was something shiny in play. Every time he fidgeted with the ring, the raven--balanced as he was on the high back of a chair--began to unconsciously sway along, riveted to the sparkle, before he caught himself and snapped to attention again. Even when it was clenched in the man's palm, he knew it was there, and the knowledge nibbled at him worse than lice.

"So don't answer any of 'em," he said at last. "Who says you have to do anything? Is anyone gonner die or go hungry if you don't reply in the next ten heartbeats? Ignore 'em. Get your own shit together first." And then he reflected upon the vast amount of shit Glen had amassed, and how long it might take getting it all together, and of his own lady and what she might do should she take it into her head to worry over what was keeping him. "Or write back and tell 'em to hold their feckin' water."

Still, he listened when asked, focusing on the words rather than the shiny. "It would be a big help if I had some, y'know, context," he admitted, with a skeptical flip of his tail. "Who is sayin' this? What is it? It-it-it. Sounds like a personal problem, you ask me. You can't help what people are gonner think. It's a good day when you can even guess."

Glenn's use of his name barely registered. One secret he kept was that he had a real name, one only useful to and pronounceable by other ravens. If Glenn ever found out it existed, he would never rest until he knew what it was, and the thought of the human trying to squawk it out made him cringe with secondhand embarrassment of the sort he reserved for those who offered him biscuits and called him "nice birdie." Benedict was just a pleasant combination of sounds he'd picked up somewhere. He wasn't attached to it. What kept catching the raven's attention was the way Glenn flung around the Lady's name.

"Hey," he said, in a lower, more alarmed tone, "no one needs any more blood or strife, what? They got plenty. You're gonner have to back up a bit, mate. I don't know who the hell you're talkin' about or what the hell they're tellin' you's got you all worked up. You're worryin' me here. What is all this? What do they want you to do?"
Anything can be magic if you're gullible enough.
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Re: Interlude

Postby Glenn » Tue Jan 29, 2019 12:54 pm

"Context." Burnie played with the word, once, the way a child might throw a ball and then watch it roll away, or, more topically, how he might squeeze the ring so hard that he could not possibly see it, only feel it, could almost feel another soul through it, almost. Speaking of almost, his gaze was almost storm, his tone almost impatient. Almost, almost, but not quite. Not quite. "You've been right at the heart of it for how long now? Has it been years? Two, maybe? How long have we been at this? You age normally, don't you, Benedict? Even if she doesn't. Or do you?" Was she more attached because he was her only conduit to home? Were the ravens usually far more disposable? Thoughts and words intermixed. "I'd take your counsel over Ainrid's. She has no context at all, but it is the very last thing she asks for. It's the first that you do."

One could not answer a practical concern with bitter praise, praise that tears down another, and hope for results. Practical measures lead to practical counsel and that's what he needed now. "Genevieve. When your Lady first came to me, it was with some fool name. She remained Victoria. When I first met Genevieve, she was a Victoria. But with a brain. Myrken chewed her up, because that's what it does to Victorias. It left something tougher, tough against what might menace her, tough against what might threaten that which she cares about, tough on herself. She has power not unlike the dead wife. She's younger. Out of everyone in this entire endeavor, she's the only one who I'd keep out of it, but that'd cause her hurt more than anything else. I know something she did that she doesn't know. I just learned it. I don't know what to do with that. There's no good answer and many bad ones."

He was even now, steady and even. The clenched hand had let up a bit. "Gloria. Gloria would likely spell Victoria with a k. With a q, just to be obnoxious. With a raven maybe. A shoe. You don't spell things with a shoe, but she might, and then she'd feign ignorance but she's five years off from the last time she could do that." There was a method to this, a logic, a reason, even if it came fast and frenetic. It might be the last time the bird asked for context. "She wants to beat me to Myrken, to salt the earth for my arrival, to make sure what I try to achieve with your Lady won't be easy, because in her mind, if it's easy then it's wrong. She questions and ignores my answers. She misses the point like one might miss a chamberpot, all to make a nuisance and cause a lasting smell. She claims purpose but ignores her own obstinace. She accuses of hypocrisy but..." but his voice faded, but his head shook in precise, sharp lines. "But she means well, as best she can. I will continue to endure her. I must."

"Ainrid found me in a dream. I lost myself, obstinate but also denied. She denied me things that I did not want, but in doing so, claimed that I did not deserve that which I did, that which I took for granted and that which I valued when I value very little that I could currently, possibly possess. She claimed that which I valued was not something I could possess at all. She spoke falsehood without context and I claimed a great many things indeed, most of them true, dream true, real true." Disdain dripped from his mouth. The raven was a master of tone and inflection. He'd never heard Burnie quite like this. "She struck out at me, harmed me deeply, broke me in the only way I can still be broken. If the ring had not arrived to remind me of myself, I likely be gone now. So," he swallowed once, squeezed said ring harder, regained his composure and swallowed again, this time swallowing down that disdain, "I shall write to her with an apology. And we will go from there." There was composure but there was not calm. Instead, there was a sharp focus. One should not stare a raven in the eye. He did. "Benedict, if you ever see me wearing this ring, go straight to Finn and tell her she can no longer trust me, not even as a salmon. Otherwise, don't bother her with it. Only if you see me wearing it."

That brought him to the Lady, and now he was all the more exhausted. Somewhere in there had been answers but none of them satisfied. "She could only partially know it, but here, now, more than before, I needed succor from her, reassurance. That is, I think, exactly why she did not provide it. She acted the queen, and I am proud of her for it." Truly, even with all the context in the world, what would the raven be able to tell him that he did not already know. "What does she want of me? She wants me to do better, to be better, so I shall, even though Ainrid has left me wholly undone and Gloria stands ready to pick at the bones. What else would you have me do, Benedict? I understand better than before what she is up against. I'm not going to forsake her just because it is impossibly hard." When had Glenn Burnie, stubborn, defiant madman that he was, ever let a thing like the impossible dissuade him. When had he ever even had a choice?
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Re: Interlude

Postby Niabh » Tue Jan 29, 2019 4:43 pm

"I dunno what you mean by 'normal.'" Glenn was being weird again. He didn't know if encouraging these manic digressions might calm him down or lead to even wilder tangents.

"What would I have you do?" The raven let out one of his small sighs, like the last trickle of water gurgling out of a cistern. "Look, mate, I'll be honest. You need to get out of all this Tuatha business. Stay out of the Courts. No mortal man has ever come out of the Courts the same person as went in. You've got all these other people to deal with, your own people, your own business to resolve. If you can do somethin' for them, do it."

His head drooped on his neck, a limp and frost-nipped plant abandoned upon a windowsill. "That's the best advice I got and neither of you are gonner listen to it. If neither of you're gonner listen to the best advice, you may as well just come up with an alternative now and give up on 'best.' Best ain't very reliable, even in the best of circumstances. Deal with the imperfection you got and work from there."

So far as there were winners in a staring contest, Glenn won. Indeed, there was scarcely any contest; the raven's head twisted away almost immediately, flicking left, right, and up until he found something safer to look at. He directed his next statement to the glint of lamplight on a book's hubbed spine.

"I'll warn her about the ring if it comes up." He risked a hasty look back to Glenn's stormy eyes. "Look, Glenn--what exactly do you expect her to do if I have to warn her? Do you think she'd stay away? Really?"
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Re: Interlude

Postby Glenn » Wed Jan 30, 2019 2:50 am

"My people." Burnie's eyes fell back upon the letters. "My people. They're all just people, Benedict. Is Gloria all that different from Finn? Is Genevieve? Gloria sweats darkness and carries something within her. I've never really cared enough to find out what. Maybe that ought to change. Genevieve can read minds. They've both been traipsing around in dreams with a boy without a body. Who's my people? The governor who was really a dragon? The woman whose skin became metal? The wretch who gave up her soul for the king? Dulcie Miller maybe? As human as could be. Except for who she would say were her people and except for what was done to her." The bird had asked for this, really. He had gotten some context and then muttered a phrase so generalized that it let Burnie burst forward with a slew of new, entirely vague, information. "Your Lady isn't all that more special or outlandish than my people, Benedict. Not even all that more dangerous. I just happen to like her more right now. We're all people. We're all in this together. That's what I'm choosing to believe right now. It warms my heart."

He shook his head finally, voice softening. "Is it really that mad a notion? You and me, here now, talking like this. Maybe they don't need our blood and strife, but they need to not be alone with themselves. That's pretty obvious. I think even she sees it now, even if she doesn't like it or want it."

He had almost forgotten the ring was in his hand. His grip upon it had softened with his inflection. The raven's question was valid enough. "She'll act either way. At least this way, she'd be forewarned." The fight left him, a long escalation snuffing out into nothing at all. "It shouldn't be a concern anyway. I'm not putting it on."

Then, with a real disconnect, save for the fact he had other things to do with his hands. "I have letters to write anyway, don't I?"
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Re: Interlude

Postby Niabh » Wed Jan 30, 2019 8:50 am

"Hell yes, they're different." The raven lunged forward, rocking on the seat's narrow perch. His beak closed with a snap as though he had just missed an invisible insect. "She's queen. You go out of your way to prove that don't mean anything to you but there's a whole lot of people that it does mean something to and you try to pretend that doesn't matter. She's queen like a bee's queen. It does matter. You just happen to like her more right now...what the hell does that even mean? That's a shitty thing to say. For her and for them. Things don't stop existin' just because you care about them or not."

He didn't mean to fight the queen's battles. He was a raven, his jurisdiction limited to letters. Now he had the feeling of being a very bad raven. It all came of talking to the delivery. Once you started talking to them, you started getting invested at the expense of more important things. The queen had gotten herself invested in a human. The human got himself invested in the queen. And here was the raven, somehow caught in the same slippery pitcher plant even though he knew better.

The raven responded to Glenn's softening tone by relocating to the far side of the man's desk. He sank upon his perch, neck slowly deflating into his puffy breast until he became a sharp triangular head balanced between what passed for shoulders. But his gaze remained riveted on Glenn's clenched fist, on the loosening fingers. "Go on," he muttered, "write your letters. But write to these others first. She's got time to wait. They maybe don't."
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Re: Interlude

Postby Glenn » Thu Jan 31, 2019 4:06 am

"I've spent too much time with her." That was an admission, yes, but it wasn't at all admitting to anything that Benedict was talking about. Burnie seemed to continuously take prompts from the bird in entirely different directions than they were intended. Without them, however, he would have remained stuck. If anyone was ill-treated in this exercise, it was obviously the raven. They all knew that though. "I filter too much through her reactions. It's not her fault, no matter if she takes credit for it or not. I juts wasn't really communicating with anyone else. Plus you're so fast, Benedict. I have to wait longer for more conventional letters."

Then, and only then, did he place the ring upon the table. "Obviously Ainrid isn't going to react the same way. Finn is not my audience. I'm not doing all this for her sake." It was still on the opposite side of Benedict making any sort of daring swipe at it a dangerous proposition. His tone had gotten softer but now it was strained. "I understand what's going on. I'm aware of it now, more so, but I'm not sure I can explain it well. It shouldn't be as much of an issue moving forward."

Then, suddenly, a certain aggravated bass sneaking into his voice. "It's Ainrid, I need to write first to anyway."
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