Concessions

Re: Concessions

Postby catch » Mon Oct 19, 2020 7:40 am

Sometimes I go inside my head.

It was an innocent little phrase, was it not? Understandable. How else can a madman explain what happens when catatonia overtakes? A convenient excuse for the inexcusable, when viscera and brains and Red runs down too-big hands and freckles across shocked eyes and stuttering lips.

It wasn't me, It wasn't me; I was inside my head.



She has lived such a long time.

He has lived even longer.

He had no control over this, once, this thing that Myrkeners had mistaken for Catatonia, and he himself could only describe as going Inside His Head. And when someone like Glenn asked him his age, asked him the Time, the Month, the Year, his only answers were a frustrating mixture of blank looks and telling the mapmaker what he thought Glenn might like to hear.

Even now, partially put-together, Catch is not quite certain why no-one really understands how they cannot look right and see themselves, look up and see themselves, look left, look down -

flick upwards


he is speaking to a man in a dingy bar, the lights low, the feeling uncertain

flight right


he is creeping along the path towards the Tavern. Behind him there are more of him, further and further down the line, and he could take each step if he needed but he was looking for -

flickforward


he casts himself out into Nothing, where he Knows he is not, because he Knows he is Not where Fionn is Not. His hooves strike into smoke and into glass, shattering callously through obstacles, stricken by wave after wave of Wrongness, Outrage at his audacity -

yes, I am Wrong, and you can do nothing.


He slithers between the Cracks Between Spaces when they thicken them against him, turning to silver smoke and curls of light. They cannot do it all. Every attempt is met with flexible adaptation on his part. And his nostrils flare; his eyes seek; and first he finds One of her. And then Another.

He is no gentle weaver like his Mother. He has not the hands for it. And there is not Time for gentle explanations.

So he Grasps. And he Pulls. And he exerts unfathomable, unimaginable pressures upon her, pressing, and pressing, and pressing -

Until it all pushes back into place. Until her she is no longer conscious that she can exist like this, can see all Multitudes. Until she is rightfully ignorant of how Time works.

_______

There are hands to grasp her. Black tar grips a human jaw, set so tight that teeth creak, that muscles jump and twitch. Catch is naked, but he doesn't care, has never cared, and he carefully takes Fionn's battered body into his strong arms, heedless of the horrors of her burns, of the writhing mass that seeks to Rejoin with him.

Mismatched eyes flash, animal-like, in the reflection of falling embers, jabbing at Glenn Burnie. They are full of unspoken accusations, and of Rage.

Because why wouldn't this be his fault?
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Re: Concessions

Postby Niabh » Wed Oct 21, 2020 4:48 pm

She cannot go inside her head. For her, all paths begin at her feet. Everything radiates outward and she stands blithe and unchanged in the center.

Her heart softened, just a little, for Glenn. He was trying, and he never failed to move her when he was trying, only he was just so bad at it. Long ago she made herself a promise that she would never shut him out entirely if he was trying, even when he got it all wrong, else he might never try again. Better he go on trying poorly than not at all.

She rather hoped he wasn’t hearing her think all this, though.

One black eye pried itself open. Her arm shifted so that she could reach his hand.

Can you still hear me, my sionnach?

He could not fail to feel her gathering her strength, doubling herself like a fist as she braced herself to move the world one more time.


But the world moved first.

But the world moved fast.



Glenn’s hand whisked out of her own, the ground yanked itself out from under her like a magician’s trick, and she screamed, silent, in terror that this was the final step that could not be undone: that she had done something without even realizing she was doing it. That she had undone something and couldn’t stop its unraveling and that there would be nothing left when it finished. Nothing and nothing, forever and forever.

And then there came substance and heat, her whole skin yowling in protest as she was shaken, scraped, manhandled, as giant hands compressed her skull until it felt it would collapse like a sugar cube. Every joining a door banging shut, trapping her back in herself. As much as anything could fight against His force, she pushed away from Him with all the sincerity and futility of a toddler in the full storm of a tantrum. Let me go, let me go! I can fix it! The black vines lashed at his face, sought purchase in his eyes. Please let me fix it, it will work, I can show you—

The last door slammed with a thud and the beautiful world, where everything was together and nothing was separated and everything was set right, fell apart like a dream she had just missed remembering.

She twisted and contorted and ultimately subsided to fluttering exhaustion, like a dying butterfly. The tendrils went limp, slapping wetly against the back of her palm and dripping down her wrist.

She crumpled against Him, sudden dead weight. If He dropped her, He dropped her. It didn’t matter now. Grey Myrken was a poor prize for one who had seen the world made green and gold. Her ear leaning against the vast volume of his heart, she was a sullen, leaden lump, too numb from the enormity of the robbery even to feel pain.
Anything can be magic if you're gullible enough.
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Re: Concessions

Postby Glenn » Thu Oct 22, 2020 9:01 am

There had been three options. Each was more potent than the last. Each was more dangerous than the last. The first was most inclined towards her and her nature. The second was most inclined towards him and his. The third was something for a queen more mad than she and a Glenn that was empty instead of full.

He had tried to appeal to her first, appeal to her mind and her heart, her heart most of all. He used honest words. He showed vulnerability. As her thoughts told him and anyone else who was listening, he tried. Except for that trying never made this sort of thing work. You just had to let go and do it. He could mean every word and it wouldn't be the same as what he might have managed to say with no words at all, if he only knew how to let himself. He was not unaware of this, and for the cause before them, he tried nonetheless, despite the futility of it, despite the embarrassment of his wretchedness. He may not have known about her promise, but he did know what might move her, and he would bear his vulnerability to the world for her sake.

Would it have worked? Likely not, but it might have bought them time, knowledge, a chance for a unified effort. The cost was little more than his pride.

If it failed (and it likely would have), then would have come playing upon her nature. She was a queen. She was of her people. She was of glamourie and awash in it like never before, despite Benedict's qualifications. Or awash in something more primal but that likely follow the same broadly thematic rules and limitations, seen to them as strengths, of course. She was bound to him and he to her over agreements they had, some more tacit than others. He would call upon all of them, and all between her and Benedict and try to ground her within obligation. She would resent him for it, if not worse, but it might well work

If it did not, then there was the matter of names, and Benedict would stop him, as he asked his friend to, and Catch would arrive, and that would be that. This third option was the only one wherein Glenn Burnie might do something which could not be taken back, and he would do it for her, to prevent her from her doing it to herself. It would have been the end of them and maybe the end of him, but therefore not the end of her, and that was a price he would have been willing to pay. If Benedict did not stop him.

Catch arrived earlier than Glenn had expected, an expectation predicated on the thought that Catch would be fascinated by what she was doing and wish to be with her alone for long moments more. It wouldn't have changed his planning though. He did the best he could in the time he had.

She was gone from his side. It was done. What was it? He couldn't be sure, but it was not far from what he had expected.

The once mapmaker and once governor and once worm-trodden and once many-a-thing rose to his feet. It wasn't a graceful motion, but it wasn't a labored one as well. It was as simple as sitting up, of planting his heels, of shifting his weight forward, of pulling the rest of him skywards. He didn't get off the ground, but he was no longer prone. Catch wasn't quite tall enough that Glenn would be speaking directly to anything untoward, but it was a nearer thing than a man might like in more favorable circumstances.

Still, he looked up to meet Catch's eyes. "This has been the longest day. Too long. Too much," the things he had learned from the being before him had been in the morning. He hadn't been able to talk to them, not even with Benedict, before Gloria had snatched him away through her agents, and things had only went stranger and more sideways from there. "And now you and here and this."

He took a step forward. It might have been to put himself between the immortal and the raven just a tiny bit more. It might have been to inspect Fionn more closely. It might have been because proximity was a language the larger being was fluent in. "This is interesting, this, you. How you act and how you react, and what you want. I know what I want. I know what I'm trying to do. I know who I was becoming again, at the end, after Rhaena died." He let that sit there for a moment. Years ago now, Glenn Burnie faced off against the mob to protect a woman who was a sister to him, a sister-in-law as well, maybe the last bit of family he had left, and Catch walked forth in his moment of triumph to strike him down, to end him, long, long after it had mattered, maybe even long after it was warranted. "I know who I've become now, fostered by the woman you hold so roughly. But that's not what you want. Because it's hard. Because it doesn't match you. You're trapped in your cycle and that's terrible but it has its joys, great joys, for a time, and none more than the familiarity of it all. It's not the adulation. It's the misery. You're safe in your misery, whole, broken, aware, scattered; it doesn't matter. You're safe in your cycle of certainty, of creation and destruction. And if I'm who I was, who you want me to be so you can stare at me with all that love and all that hate, you know ultimately that it won't matter how hard I try to say no. Time's on your side and desperation's on his. He already started down that path and would accept you in the end. Anyone in Myrken could do it, but best to be someone you love, to open the door for the gold to flow in so that it can drown them all."

Another step forward, eyes met if Catch would allow it. "I'm sorry, Catch," his voice was soft, weary, but full of resolve, "but no. That's not who I am and it's not what I want. I want to help you break this cycle and find a new path. I want to help her find herself again and to save the people she cares about so dearly. I want Gloria to find something to truly love within herself and not just in Genevieve. I want Benedict to have a moment's peace. I want all of these things that you, with all of your power and all of your glory can't provide, but that you can help us all worth towards if you're just willing to try something new."

There weren't many steps forward to go, but he'd take another one. He was close now. Catch could smash him if he wanted, but that would neither break the cycle nor perpetuate it. It would merely break Glenn Burnie. Again.
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Re: Concessions

Postby catch » Fri Oct 23, 2020 7:45 am

Whatever they were, whatever they had come from within him, now the black tendrils struck at him with full certainty, obeying Fionn's commands - her wishes - in full. Their effect is there upon his face, streaking, welted red and silver and rotted black, eye twisted closed against the stream. He would not drop her. Perhaps it would be kinder if he did. His heart was a whale's song. It thrummed, far too large for the cage that held it, blood rushing in and out in a veritable stream, waves beating against a rocky shore. Could she, would she look, under the pale expanse of his skin, each beat brought with it a wild scattering of silver-blue, a veritable explosion of blood from his very core.

Glenn speaks. He moves. And -

"What more do you have to say to me, Glenn Burnie?" He does not meet his gaze. His gaze moves to Fionn. His fingers touch her hair, gently, fingerpads rubbing ash-gummed locks between them in an effort to clean it away. "I leave you alone to run Myrkenwood. Its on fire, now. It. Is. On. Fire."

The anguish, the rage, is unmistakable. "Misery? Misery. The only source of my misery right now is standing in front of me. Go save your town."


"Raven." A softer tone. "Do you know what we can do for her."
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Re: Concessions

Postby Niabh » Thu Oct 29, 2020 4:27 pm

The raven did not expect to be spoken to. The raven, in fact, lived in hope that most of the time, Catch would not remember he existed. It just seemed safer to stay low. However, he was also a raven, and his rapid interior calculations of how in hell he was supposed to ferry his lady out of this situation all came up short; to be frank, it was down to either Glenn or the Big Guy and considering the lady had a good head and maybe two stone over Glenn, the logistics there were sketchy. There was, as the Tuatha put it, not much choice between a tame wolf and a wild dog here.

“Keep that torc on her,” he said, low and rapid. Catch he could look at directly, even when he didn’t want to. “Don’t mess with it. I don’t know what it’d do to you but it’d wipe the wanker here out. It’s probably all that’s keepin’ her, ah, conscious.”

No sooner than he spoke the word than her head lifted from Catch’s chest. Her one good eye opened, fixing him with a piercing look he could not translate. He went with the only interpretation he could think of. “Look, I’m tellin’ them not to mess with it. Do you want to tell them what you want? This would all be a lot easier if you did.”

Her brows drew together, forehead strained in pain. Plainly she very much would like to speak for herself, but all that came out of her cracked black lips was a dry creak, like a dying fledgling. Her fingers drifted up to touch her torc, establishing her claim on it, then floated higher, coming to rest on Catch’s chin, where one of the lashmarks glistened with gilded slime. The projection was weaker now: a wince, an uneasy sense of shame. You did not hurt Catch.

Her hand fell away; her face lifted. Her lips touched his as though they were a snowflake she did not wish to melt, or a petal that must not be bruised.


If there was glamourie, it was here in her kiss: an untamed magic like roses run riot, allowed to interbreed until their perfume turned soporific. One could wallow in it, or drown in it.

Do not let them take me. Anything but that. Hide me. Anywhere.



Very faintly, the raven mumbled, “Ah shit,” scuffing the grass in embarrassment before he looked away and up to Glenn. “Look, I don’t know what is goin’ on between you two but we’re about to have a whole new set of problems cos it sounds like half the town is on its way to join us. You might be better off talkin’ them down than talkin’ him down. They’re gonner want to know why the hell you’re here—why all of us are here—and I dunno, I got the feelin’ maybe the big guy’s not got the greatest reputation?”
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Re: Concessions

Postby Glenn » Fri Oct 30, 2020 6:09 am

Paper was always in short supply. This was more true in Myrken Wood than in many other places. There were whole systems of shorthand created for the Inquisitory to balance the need to document information and the lack of resources to do so. Generating a proper list of things that Glenn Burnie could be rightfully blamed for would be an unconscionable act. He was not blind to this fact. He'd spent years in a room far away for a reason. Now, however, he looked to Catch with real exasperation. "I just returned yesterday. A night with Finn. A nap. Some time with you. The rest of it as a captive. Whatever this is and whatever this was, I simply haven't had the time to move its actuality one way or another. Not yet."

That did not make him blameless. He rejected the basic causality. Glenn Burnie arrives. Fire breaks out. He knew too much about Myrken for that. Whatever this was, and he refused to believe it was something as simple was Gloria's crusade getting out of hand (there had been worse zealots reacting to worse threats in worse times), it had been in motion long before he returned. If anything, he was a stone to strike a spark. Not the spark. Not the kindling. Not the hand. Not the fire. This was all set up before his return. Stones were easy to find. Still, maybe he was that stone.

Nor did it shield him from failure. He had come to this moment with a very specific goal in mind: neither Catch nor Finn were to do anything of permanence. The stakes were different with each. With Finn, anything might happen, up to and including war. Most likely, however, the costs would be more personal. With Catch, they would have been more apocalyptic, though, of course, Burnie was inwardly careful about not driving Catch to the very thing he was trying to avoid. He had learned so much in the last day and he was still processing all of it and trying to understand what the best, least dangerous answer might be.

Failure was before them in the form of the fairy queen. He had come to prevent such power and finality and he had arrived too late with Gloria the one to blame as much as anyone else.

There was more to say, more to do. Moments such as this were fluid. Things were not yet sealed. There was still room to take a step back and find a path forward. But then Myrken, more than anything or anyone else, would take that from him as well. Of those assembled, he was most likely to listen to the raven, and listen he did. "Benedict," there was an element of pleading in Burnie's voice, a rare thing indeed. He just needed a little more time, a few more words, to map a path through this mess and restore them all to what they ought to be. He just needed a way to refract Catch's light through the prism of Finn's being without it shining on any of them truly. All he needed was the perception of it and he wouldn't have another chance. But if he had wanted time so badly, he could have accepted her offer. If you listened to her, it didn't truly matter that he refused it. She'd seen the result either way. That was a matter for another day though.

Everything was a matter for another day.

There was a matter at hand that couldn't be avoided. "I'll talk them away, take them away. Stay with her," he said sharply to his avian friend. "Remember, no matter what Catch might think or Catch might want, she is strong and she is independent and she belongs to no one but herself and her duty. There is no true recovery for her if that is not of the utmost primacy. Find me when it's safe to."

The woods were safe, sound, whole, but they had been changed by this. Her kind did not simply restore or rebuild. They transformed. That would be a matter for another day as well.

"Catch," he'd turned now, for there wasn't time to linger. "Think of what you want of this, of us. We can work towards it but not if you're so fully set against it."

And he was gone, off to buy them all time by telling his people a truth so outlandish that they would believe it from his mouth once and only once even in this moment that they did not want to, that he did not (yet, for he was Glenn Burnie regardless of all else) know what had happened to cause the hardship and danger of this day.
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