Mon Jul 27, 2020 7:19 pm
The woman rubbed her drippy nose on the back of her sleeve and glared at him. Facial expressions were no longer a problem. This face expressed whether the occupant wanted it to or not. It seemed to be part of the complete package: if you had a mouth, it was going to frown; if you had hands, you would, instantly and instinctively, feel the urge to slap someone with them. From the inside, it felt like going through an elaborate and formalized series of convulsions. The gods alone knew if any of them translated to decipherable emotions.
“To clarify,” the woman replied, with the same slowness and a decided lack of humor, “yes. Someone wanted to make sure they weren’t stickin’ needles under your fingernails or something.”
Glam or not, the heat caused her hair to slowly unravel, sticky strands clinging to her hot face. She gave them a quick shake, flicking sweat drops, and huffed in frustration. Her hands cut through the air. “I am not in the mood for your shit right now, wanker. Got it? Apparently I know a lot more about what’s goin’ on here than you do, so you can either help me out or go sit somewhere with your thumb up your arse and stay out of the way.”
She shook her head again, then brushed at something that clung to her eyelash. The wind had shifted. Fat flakes of ash drifted toward the ground. The summer heat evaporated them before they could land. She twisted her head upward. Smoke turned the evening sky ashen, and the raging fire glowed like an endless sunset. In its reddish light, snowflakes swarmed like clouds of moths.
Tue Jul 28, 2020 4:49 am
The woman-bird-thing had stopped falling apart, though Glenn did not discard the notion that it might still be falling in some other way, together perhaps? He refused to look at Benedict dead on. Either it was easier not to see him as what the glamourie wanted to see him this way (there was no mole to focus on here) or he wanted to be exposed to the glamourie as little as possible for the sake of his own inhibitions.
He was neither admonished by the words about needles and fingernails nor overmuch moved by them. "I suppose you'd make a suitable decoy." The idea that she might have been so interested in securing him due to what he knew and what he could potentially share never crossed his mind either. Where Gloria was correct, and perhaps the only place where she was correct, was that the fairy queen was his friend. That might not blind him to certain broader notions of what she might or might not do to the people of Myrken Wood to get her way or even on a whim, but it did muddy the waters when it came to how they might be expected and inclined to treat one another.
"Benedict," Burnie exhaled ever so slightly up into the air, his mouth a small oval. There was a danger of looking up given the scorched precipitation dusting down upon the town, but it did not quite match the danger of actually looking at his other friend in its current condition. "We all have our pride and I was going to say my piece, just as you always, and I do mean always, say yours, but if you're done grousing, I did just ask you to tell me what you think is going on. Tell me what you know and tell me what you think and then we'll decide the best course together," which, speaking of one's pride, seemed to indicate Burnie valued both the bird's opinions (and not just his facts) and would welcome his input on their mutual decisions to come. It wasn't as if Benedict had under his belt (and closer was he now, than ever before, to actually wearing a belt) the learned experience of three dozen conversations with the man to teach him where good intentions ended and where Glenn Burnie began.
Wed Jul 29, 2020 3:44 pm
Between the warmth of the ground and the chill in the air, the snow whisked itself into white cyclones that spouted up higher than a man, then evaporated in the heat. Folks gasped in surprise. Some of them were even laughing, a sound of stunned horror. Snow, falling in the double-heat of a raging fire at the summer’s zenith.
“This shit’s for real,” the woman muttered. “It’s not a glam. Either it’s her and something’s gone really, really wrong, or it ain’t her and something’s gone really, really wrong.”
The man was infuriating. He kept trying to look anywhere but straight at her—the one time they could have matched eyes, and he evaded her. Her jaw trembled under the force of a question unspoken, the one that would give away too much. Did you tell them where to look, Glenn? Did you tell them?
Red boots set in a fencer’s stance, the woman dipped, swerved, and planted herself right in front of him, all but thrusting her face into his. “What I know is that not too long after I showed up, that bloke who arrested you, Corm McKinnon, set out with nine-ten folk all heading for the wall. What I think is that your lass Gloria got you safe out of the way because she knew it’d get our attention, and then she sent a posse to smoke out the Lady but forgot to tell ’em that trees are flammable and it got away from them. That little thundercrack a while back was her. I know that much. You can decide if you want to help me or you can go sit somewhere with your thumb up your arse. That’s the decision you get to make today.”
Lacking the intimacy of reams of conversation, the woman—who in her way was wiser than the one she resembled—knew the only real way of ending an argument with Glenn Burnie: she turned her back to him and started off through the crowd toward the glimmering false edge of the Woods.
Thu Jul 30, 2020 2:04 am
As his companion started forth, Glenn, played, if only for a moment, with possibilities. Supposition was a luxury they did not currently have. The simplest path was the only viable one currently. "The entire point of glamourie is that you don't think it's glamourie, Benedict." If the other thought that Glenn might be shaken by the first quick swerve and the forceful words, well, perhaps it was enough to assuage concerns about guilt? Probably not. Anyway, Glenn had felt the tug, the dropping out of the ground beneath him, but the apparently erstwhile raven wasn't the only stimulus at play. The forest, past being on fire, seemed to almost throb. Even a few years away, he knew where it ought to begin and where it ought to end and the beginning seemed to outstretch the ending unnaturally. An unreality like that, married to the harsh reality of conflagration, could quickly lead to an even higher level of misery than could be prepared for or expected.
Burnie followed. "Can you still travel wherever you must to deliver messages? That would be just like her to forsake perfectly practical utility and lean into a wasteful frivolity. It's not as if you hadn't warned me plenty of times." The exasperation did not wrap itself around his gait but it certainly draped itself entirely over his tone. "It's different with the letters obviously, but it's even different when it's just she and I. Then, there's a chance to redirect her. When I'm not there, it's all things like this, or Gloria ending up in a pit, or the death of a perfectly charming minor crimelord." Yes, no apparently guilt except for the fact he hadn't been there to stop the fairy queen from making fool decisions (again). The words of a wanker, but not the words of someone who had given her up.
He began to fill in gaps as they moved. "Gloria had some sort of assassin she gobbled up from somewhere, a charity case, I think. A project. Because she can't ever do just one thing, and when she does, it's the wrong thing. I refused to play along. Gloria refused to have me tortured. It all amounted to a lot of nothing, which does make me think that she just wanted me out of the way or to serve as bait. I tried to explain the Catch situation to her but she's obsessed with her, which, from the three examples I just gave, is probably warranted but misunderstands the situation entirely, misunderstands her entirely," and what? Did Benedict expect that Glenn wouldn't spit out a mouthful of affection for the queen even in the midst of all this bemusement and exasperation and criticism? This may have not been a severe case but it was a case nonetheless, which meant that his heart was far more unveil than normal. How many times had Benedict seen it?
"No," and this wasn't affectionate at all, but harsh. "No person that would go into that Wood for this purpose doesn't understand the danger of it setting aflame. McKinnon less than most. Likewise, She, capital S," for he was being careful about names for once, "would not risk it lightly, so if they forgot it our themselves, it wasn't because of her. There are two rules about fire here, Bendict: Burn your dead. Don't burn the wood." Which meant that things were somehow even worse than they seemed. Up until now, maybe Burnie had followed along just to get his words in, but there was perhaps a bit more fervor in his steps now. "What else aren't you telling me then?"
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