Re: Concessions

Postby Niabh » Thu Sep 03, 2020 9:08 am

In the end, she thudded to her knees. Corm McKinnon—what remained of him—rolled off her back and bumped into the soft muck. The relief of his weight from her sore shoulders was keen as a second scalding and she shook her head, trying to remember why she had carried him so far.

An anything in him can still speak, he will answer me.

If anyone awaits at the end of this path, they’ll know I tried to save the wretch.

Over her shoulder, she could still see where her shuffling path began—not far at all. When she tried to look ahead, her eyes swam over, no longer able to see through the smoke. When at last they refocused, they honed on a faint shifting in the snow. A cluster of green spears broke through the crust, unfolding themselves into white flowers that promptly drooped their sorrowful heads at the shambles in which they’d found themselves. The blossoms trembled.

Under her folded legs, the earth thrummed.

He comes.

Silently, she struggled up from her knees, hitched the torn shoulder of her tunic from where it threatened to slip down her chest, and with very tender fingertips touched the stubble above her ear where her hair had been, the spongy blister beneath. Then the cold, reassuring gold of her torc. She inflated her lungs as best she could, lips parting to Sing back to Him—joyful, the old glad delight of last summer on those lucky days when she could coax Him to visit her—but her limp tongue was too heavy to lift. The Words beat against her soft palate, choking her like smoke, but she wasn’t the right shape to Sing them.

Her teeth clenched, jaw tight with frustration and defeat. Unfair. To have a Song, and unable to Sing it…

It feels tight in my chest, he said once, when she had asked him about tears. I don’t know what it’s called. It makes my eyes burn, and I have to scream to make it all come out. If it’s bad, sometimes you have to do both.

And in perfect innocence she had replied, Is that what that is, then? I know that feeling. It swells up in your chest, and it’s too big to fit, and it hasn't anywhere else to go. Like a black thunderhead. Mostly it comes out through my finger-ends.

Her left hand, which had gone blessedly numb, awoke and pulsed sluggishly, shooting bolts behind her eyes. Black droplets welled from her fingertips.

Mayhap she could not Sing, but her glam never left her: glamourie, which could stretch a night into a hundred years and condense all summer into a single day; glamourie, which turned the short trek from the Dagger to her den into an impossible journey. A very simple thought, one which had never occurred to her, but which seemed obvious and eternal in its very simplicity, sprang to mind:

Why bother glamming anything to look real when I could just glam it to Be real?

Then I could…

I could
Fix everything.

Her gaze traveled from her dripping fingertips, upward and upward, to where the tops of the trees flamed like torches and the smoke towered in the sky.

All she need do was glam them to not be on fire, and…

And now they were whole and green, thick as all midsummer, without even a final puff of vile-smelling smoke to show they had been otherwise, and she, fixed to her spot with wonder, too full of utter delight in her accomplishment to realize her heart was hammering twice its speed or feel the tiny snaps in the backs of her eyes as the delicate capillaries ruptured, or the trickle seeping cold from her nostril.

The glamourie spread outward, effortless and inexhaustible as it always was, not in discrete tendrils but in a wide and growing net. It cast out for Catch and tugged him toward her, time dwindled along with the distance between them, while its far-most corners fumbled still further, seeking an edge she could sense but not see.
Anything can be magic if you're gullible enough.
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Re: Concessions

Postby catch » Thu Sep 10, 2020 9:39 am

In truth, he does not know if they are still on his back. He cannot feel them except as a thrum, twin heart-pulsings somewhere in his ears, fluttering against his heart. But that means only that he is alive. They are present. He does not know their state. Glenn would be bitter-sweet. Benedict, at this point, would be more regrettable. The raven was hers. His ear flicked back to them, and he felt that they were still There, at least, their bodies were. The sheer effort it took to keep himself Present, keep them Safe, was exhausting.

And She was there.

And there were things, suddenly, that were not.

Corpses vanished, flames vanished, oranges and reds curled into themselves, rimming greens in the promise of autumn. The frosted rime of snow dissipates into the sudden green. There is no bloody, charred morass where hundreds of frantic hooves and paws have churned the water and mud in a frantic effort to soothe burns and escape the Fire. Oh, he could hear her Sing. Her Song - her Glam - was all around him, around them.

His skin under their legs twitches and ripples, a smattering of colors as iridescent and warning as any venomous creature. A small eye blips into being, rotating furiously to find Glenn before it quickly smooths away.

Catch bends again, his bony knees thrusting deep roots into the earth, and finally, finally, the World was close enough for Benedict and Glenn to scramble off if they so chose. Catch bowed before the Queen, his neck outstretched, his long lips twisted and curled, but not quite touching burned skin.


Again, Bell-like. And he cannot be Gentle. There is no time. Before she can find those edges in her delirium, he shatters the Glam with that Bell's peal.
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Re: Concessions

Postby Glenn » Fri Sep 11, 2020 5:55 am

In the tangled and twisted story of Myrken Wood, there have been three separate chapters detailing the relationship between Glenn Burnie and Catch. The first had Burnie as healthy and hale as he might be expected to be, full of kindness and curiosity. This chapter contained the first clues and a Catch that seemed not much more than anyone else. There were still plausible explanations then, though even with all the time in the world, Glenn would, of course, never find them. This more idyllic chapter was relatively short, for old wounds and inescapable grudges proved to be far too tempting for young Burnie. His doom and his ruin both were to be found underground. The second chapter was cold and empty and bitter, longer, though still but a blink for Catch and more of a beady stare for the mapmaker who fell and the Governor that rose in his place. It was a continuous decline, though always outside of the Circle that was Catch's existence. It was more personal, more prodding, and the cost compounded accordingly. At the end was the loss of everything and a salvation that came far too late.

Even in this current chapter, where eyes are opened as they never were before, there were certain limits. Burnie had used Catch to heal Rhaena, to heal himself, to expand his consciousness, to survive Golben (though in that case, if not the others, the agency of it all had been reversed), and he (and she) had been forever changed because of it. Never, though, did he use the grandness of such ancient power to frivolously ensure his own sobriety.

That was what happened now, albeit indirectly.

As the glam fell, as Catch leaned down, Burnie stumbled and fell. Instinctually, he reached for the woman he had rode with, for she might be able to steady him, slow the descent, perhaps prevent it altogether. There was very little a raven's mass could do in this situation though, and all he did was take Benedict down with him.

As such, several pertinent questions came to mind. When had he last eaten? He had partaken in Fionn's food, though they'd made a game of it, multiple games. Was there anything with Catch? No bread and water at the Inquisitory? How long exactly then? Long enough, he decided as if he had a choice in the matter, as he rolled away from Catch, from the bird, best he could (though that might be harder if they were intertwined) and heaved out little more than spit and air and hacking, coughing fury. The world spun, but it least it was the world and at least he traveled through it clear-headed for now.

It was over as quickly as it began, for there was nothing meaningful within him to retch. His heart? His soul? His mind? The first two were packed in tightly and the third reeled back in thanks to Catch's actions. Just bile then and he didn't need that anyway. That was what had ended the first chapter and what a terrible ending that had been.

There was nothing to do then but to shift around on his hands and knees so he could face the King and the queen. Rising to his feet wasn't an option. Staying on his knees before them was absolutely not an option. So he rolled to his back instead and looked at them upsidedown. His allergic reaction to glamourie (and that was a kind way of putting it and only half clinical) was a binary thing. Yes or no. Inhibitions or not. It wasn't a matter of scope or intensity, only duration, the thing he had been working on for the last many months to pitiable returns. Somewhere deep inside, he knew that if Catch had not stopped her, it would have escalate to a matter of intensity.

That was not, not entirely at least, why when he opened his mouth next, he voiced so simple, so direct an agreement. But it was probably part of it. "Yeah," he uttered with volume and exhausted force, but also the raspy, prickly tone of a man who had just hacked up a whole lot of nothing. "The answer's no. Nothing that can't be undone or come back from. That goes for both of you." He'd just lay there for a few moments. That's what he'd do. Fionn and Catch were both apt to live for millennia. They had the time to wait.
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