To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Tolleson » Mon Jul 30, 2018 12:17 pm

‘Gloria?’ she had asked, surprised, confused. The creature kept talking with her and that alone was amazing enough. Elliot and Genny were anomalies, broken people, who had adapted to inhabit tumultuous and changing landscapes, contorting themselves into minds and dream; how Gloria coped so well with her simple questions and seemingly unphased reaction to the most fantastic circumstances was astounding. A strong and stubborn woman, admirable and unfathomable. Oddly the more she considered Gloria’s plight and resilience, the more determined she was to rise and prove herself equal. A curious cycle between two women who found strength in one another, and miraculously able to overlook it within themselves.

Again

The word, like an echo, like a clock bell in the distance struck her and, as Elliot fought to speak over it, she wrinkled her face against the cacophony. The sensation was like being knee deep in unfamiliar water while the word crashed against her legs and pulled when the wave went rushing back from the beach, out to the sea. It pulled at her, in a hollow version of her own voice.

Again

Everytime he spoke it was circles upon circles, a puzzle of finding where a thought began and where it ended and with the added noise, it seemed impossible to understand. The thought of a retort formed in her throat, of course she had no desire to see the young man naked. But then it struck, just as the wave swelled and battered her again. How could the bird be the piece of her she’d left attached to Tennant? If anyone was capable of capturing it, surely it was Elliot. But if he hadn’t.

Her eyes grew wide, snapping to where the bird had been in her hands only to find the cage empty. And then a frightened shout to mingle with the thunderous echo, “Gloria!”

Aga

At first her feet slipped, or perhaps the ground had? Had she lunged for Gloria in realizing something was dangerously amiss? Had she lost traction as she leapt? The swirling paint pattern of her ball gown tossed and turned as she tumbled head over heel, until the garment was thoroughly mixed to a flat and motionless, nothing gray. Simultaneously her falling from the floor was arrested too, by a ceiling support beam that caught her right in the gut. It had knocked the air out of her, followed by an unpleasant, “hhng,” of surprise before she managed to drop, perhaps several feet, her back impacting the hard and uneven ground. Her hair, still somewhat luminous, splayed out in a disheveled mess as she had quite literally fallen from whatever grace she'd possessed.

Even accustomed to morphing memory-scapes and the dangerous distortions of dream worlds, this had caught her off guard. But then, this didn’t seem to be by choice. Elliot had been struggling for normalcy and lost the battle.
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Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Rance » Mon Jul 30, 2018 3:00 pm

"You aren't allowed to eat her," Gloria told Thousand-Eyes, her brow flattening with stern reprimand. "Try, it, and whether or not you are real or false, or whether or not I've a blade at my disposal, I will cut you..."

A whipcrack memory, snapping out, striking her with almost physical force in this place of tangled recollections.

Ariane leaning over her, face pressed almost into Gloria's own. Her eyes were dark gems. Dissatisfied with Gloria Wynsee's continued meddling, Ariane had changed in soft, subtle ways. So fine, so precise had her true self been curtained that she was not comprised of just a new, clumsy love for divine lace, but a deeper and more insidious alteration. A zealotry, almost: unseen, intangible, but ever-present under the surface. Even Ariane Carnath-Emory had been susceptible. Even Ariane.

"I will cut you from crotch to throat," Ariane threatened, her voice carrying New Dauntless ice, "and leave you to die."


And Gloria was about to repeat it to Thousand-Eyes, not with force or fervor, but with frank honesty. She was halfway through the statement, too, when Genny's voice cut through the fog of thought and dream and sound — Gloria! — and she turned toward its frantic call.

The world folded in on itself before she ever saw Genny. The blackness rose up to engulf her. In the next moment, keeling forward into the unknown, she was falling, twisting, her body in a blind and relentless tumble. The bonnet whipped off the top of her head. A streak of black, snapping hair fluttered behind her, the tail of a falling comet in indigo skirts. Up and down spiraled around her, changing places with each moment. What she wondered at, as she fell, was the remarkably famliar odor that assaulted her: the scent of overcooked and underspiced fowl; a bubbling vegetable broth (leeks; it must be leeks!) belching its odor into the air as lazy bubbles burst on its surface; the damp stink of sweating wood and stale beer and, somewhere under it all, just the faintest, steely hint of blood...

She hit the slant like a poorly-angled arrow, her body deflating, a gust of air blowing itself violently out of her lungs.

All a blur of blue skirts, dull knickers, and flailing boots, she rolled down the slanted inner ceiling, bringing a tumbling trail of loose thatch with her. She came skidding to a halt, face-down, only a few feet away from Genny.

She did not know how long she lay there, swimming in and out of consciousness. Her tongue jabbed ruthlessly at a pair of front teeth that leaned, now, precariously forward. Her lone fist clutched a handful of moldering thatch. The canopy of the inverted world above them seemed to sway and hang on an invisible string. The torhces burned downward. The stools, the chairs, the tables, they all were so worn and splintered, wearing their age like a fine finish. And any minute, they could have fallen too, and crushed them without ceremony.

There was another wonder, too: one of the sheer mystery of anatomy. Gloria wiped dust and bristles of thatch from her lips, from her nose, only to find one of her dull teeth hanging loosely from her nostril. Driven there, no doubt, by the jarring impact, sucked up an unsuspecting nasal passage, and dislodged in some feat of spectacle and surprise. She swiped it away, then spit the loose teeth into her palm, and watched them disintegrate into dust in her dirty hand.

To her amazement, as awareness flooded back to her, she was missing no more teeth than before.

"Genny," Gloria gasped, and reached out to pat briskly at the pale woman's cheek. Gloria's face, obscured mostly behind the wild slashes of her unruly black hair, had gone relatively unharmed by the wild fall. The bonnet, fluttering like a whimsical dove, swayed back and forth in the air like a falling leaf, then alighted quietly on one of the ceiling beams. "Tell me you are not broken; I'd have a hellacious time putting all your pieces back together."

Trying to will her limbs to functionality, she slumped against Genny's side, and stared at the inverted ceiling of furniture, stoneware, and tavern accoutrements. She traced invisible patterns between each piece, building a makeshift starmap.

She had never seen it from this angle before.

A noise of utter contempt rumbled in her throat. "Elliot Brown," she said, a curse-word all its own.
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Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Glenn » Tue Jul 31, 2018 1:09 am

Coping. It was all they ever did really. It was all they could do. Look at how Gloria was presenting it? If he was to do something more than cope, if he was to try to take his fate, broken and mottled and rent, and act in any way at all, he'd be a monster. She demanded stillness and surrender. She may not have put it in those terms, but there it was. He knew it well. Keep your head down. Live your life. Don't bother anyone. Endure. Cope. That's what they wanted the farmfolk to do. Myrken Endures. How often had one Governor or another said that? If Elliot Brown so much as sneezed, dream dust rose up and magic, yes, magic happened.

She wanted him to just watch people suffer. She wanted him to be still and silent, to let them work to save him, so that he could wake up and act through the exact same impulses that she wanted to destroy him for here. That's how it looked at least. He wasn't no genius, Elliot Brown, not gifted like she was, not clever like she was, not learned like Genny, none of that. He was a bloodhound when it came to one thing though, the longest, most fancy word he knew: hypocrisy. It was the one thing he couldn't abide, not waking, not sleeping, not dreaming, not even dead and buried.

It was the word he used to shout down Rhaena Olwak. It had led to his destruction once, and if it led to it again as he shouted down Gloria Wynsee, so be it. To do anything else would hypocritical, wouldn't it?

She didn't want him to do as much as sneeze? Well, he sneezed, and here was the result of that. When the dream dust settled, they were in an upside down Dagger, home turned upside-down, an octopus over their heads threatening to drop bottles this way and that.

"Oh, shut up." He had landed, if not gracefully, than without real incident. This sort of thing happened all the time, even if this specific one was fairly new. He was the first back to his feet. Then, with an idle hint of mischief. "I could put it right. Would you like me to?" That would mean that both ladies would have to brace for another impact.

The floor of the Broken Dagger had known many things: it had been laid upon and trod upon. Tables and chairs had been scraped across it. Canes tapped maddeningly upon its surface. It sustained Tredwellian girth on a near nightly basis, creaking and moaning, but never having relief or mercy, never even sympathy. Then there was the blood. Teahouse girls, mapmakers, false and true seamstresses. Councilors, bartenders, brigands, and drow. The octopus turned its head at the soft squelching noise nearby. Here, outside the fantastical sea, it was able to use senses that had been long dormant. There was the sound of it, the picture of massing red, but it was the smell that drew its attention most of all, the sickly sweet smell of decades of welling blood finally harnessing the inverted force of gravity at its very first opportunity.
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Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Tolleson » Tue Jul 31, 2018 10:00 am

It smelled like pie, saccharine and safe, like the excitement of spring with the fresh, green grass and the sea breeze summoning, like sand between toes and sunny afternoons. It felt like laughter and ease. A gaggle of running children, all red hair and bare feet. Laughing and tumbling down small hills near the beach.


“I am most certainly broken,” her voice was a strained whisper as she smiled wearily, joking? Maybe she had hit her head too. Blinking to clear bleary eyes she looked up at Gloria’s brown, blood smeared face haloed by a thicket of blackberry hair. Fingers began to explore the surface of where she’d landed, instinctively searching to find sense or reason despite the reality that it could have been anything.

It felt like grass. Sticky and damp. Windblown and full of sand. Looking up the hill, red haired boys grinned and laughed. All but one, who began to run, stumbling and recovering, tearing through the vibrant berry patches and briars through which she'd fallen.


Gloria, pressed beside her, distracted, admiring the universe that threatened to fall, the uncovered tresses a protective curtain. Genny’s hand lifted slowly, fighting thick air and leaving an echo of after images as it plunged into Gloria’s hair, her fingers searching over the back of Gloria’s head, brushing her ears, and gently combing until from somewhere within the cascade of black, a small fruit was plucked. It wasn’t a blackberry though. A red and ripe, bulbous strawberry was brought to her nose, her head lifting off the floor to close the distance. As if it were the most obvious thing she snorted, “certainly not what it seems.”

Just a drop and then another, like the slow build to a summer deluge, with a soft pitter patter on her bare shoulder and then her arm. It drained and dripped and stained. Red drops on her face and neck, small globules that drifted down, towards the ceiling-floor drawing lines like small cuts.

Small arms were scratched in a million places, dashed red lines with tiny bubbles of blood. Tennant’s worried face and words, “Ge-


‘Elliot Brown.’ The curse, the accusation, harsh and demanding, slammed into her. Pressing out the echoes and half memories that pulled her away. Pushing her back to the floor and into herself.
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Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Rance » Tue Jul 31, 2018 11:50 am

I am most certainly broken.

Was there laughter in her voice, like some long-forgotten bliss brought back to the surface by the tumble, the fall from that reality into this one? For a moment, Gloria lapsed into a surge of true terror — not the distant echo of it that cut through the conscience of a sleeping mind, but the crippling, harrowing plague of waking fear. That Genny had been hurt, or broken like stoneware by her fall. Of all her minimal prides, Gloria Wynsee held one in such high regard: that pain was a lesser factor to her, that she could be beaten, shredded, or torn, and yet grin with a vicious, bloody, animal desire for more, and still stand. Hers was no uncanny resilience; it was a marriage of sheer Jerno stubborness and granite will.

But others were not often built of such solid stuff. They had finer bodies, and better bodies; they piloted objects of soft beauty and significance through the world around them. They were frail; Genny, however powerful, was fragile, too, and what if the fall had split her under the skin in unseen places? What if it had shaken her brain too violently inside its cage, or torn an organ which could, no matter the talent of the tending hand, never be sewn back to health?

(She is hearty here, trilled her conscience. In this place, she is hale. More hale than you.

Could his presence change the rules?

Rules are law, Glour'eya.

But rules—

Rules are law, Glour'eya. And these are hers.

But what if he—

Stop.)

Genny's hands began their vigorous search through her hair. The fingers pressed against her scalp, sifted through the ragged curtain of bristling, black wire, and Gloria did not understand, not for the first few seconds — what was the nature of the sudden search? Was it to ensure her wholeness? To seek out splits in the skin? The strange, circuitous touch, the examination, stirred awake a strange tumble of complex curiosities. But when Genny's hand withdrew, pinching a peculiar fruit — certainly not what it seems — the Jerno promptly ran her fingers through her own hair, violently tossing the toussled mess, fearing the appearance of any other fruit or ill-placed surprise.

Droplets of rain, dark and leaden, began to strike her hand. She saw it first on Genny's face, on the smooth skin of her arms: blotches of red that quickly grew more frequent, that fell with greater force, until there was a torrent rushing around them, hissing like steam. Blood. She sucked in a stuttering breath—

Red, red wax pulsed out of the swollen floorboards far above. Secrets come to call. Long-hidden violence overturned into the world.

The warm, lively stuff fell into her mouth and stung her eyes. She cradled Genny's head as the woman slumped back, and tried to lean her own aching form over her like a protective parasol. Blood, she realized, did not run like water. It hadn't in Golben, when it was all over her hands; it didn't here, either. Instead, it found all the creases in the skin, filled them up, and rolled in runnels and rivers. It became a muck between the toes, a congealed vinegar-heart between the knuckles, like choking oil.

What was it he'd said the last time...

I want you to sew something—

Something beautiful.

He appeared, and with blood running in her eyes, she could barely register the pocket of inexplicable anger that began to swell so greatly in her. When he told her to shut up, she wondered how she'd even any room left for her innards. So she sewed, but wholly without her hand: she imagined the stitches, knew the feel of them, the way her wrists turned over and over on one another, the tug and tension of the thread, the pinch of the needle chewing a gap between cross-hatches of beautiful fiber. The control it provided her! To watch as one color became another, or as thread formed tiny figures, vines, and flowers. The switfness with which the doubts and aching words and criticisms and black, rock-heavy thoughts and volleys of rage slung at her and thrown by her all melted away when all that she had in front of her were the squares and stitches and seams...

A canopy came to life above them, a canvas shelter-half to protect them from the wild onslaught of red. The tightly-woven fabric drowned out the dull light, but sheltered them from the violent downpour. Underneath it, amid the silence of dryness, the air stank of metal and heat. The bloody rain struck the fabric, rolled off to the sides, and fell to the thatch and slate.

She and Genny, underneath it, were the blood-soaked silhouettes of some invisible massacre.

Gloria Wynsee's breath filtered in and out, in and out of her with rapid succession.

I want you to sew something, something that the world's never imagined before.

A place the blood couldn't reach.

The anger trickled away. She held Genny's head like a precious jewel in her lap. She watched Elliot Brown from their quiet oasis in the storm and wiped fallen blood from her lips.

"We have refused," the seamstress said, "to speak the same language, Elliot. The words are here, and they come from us, but we wield them like blades given to fools and idiots who have no understanding of how to employ them. I grow weary of swinging, as do you, and whether or not you may believe it, I am trying — desperately trying — to understand. For your sake. For her’s. And for mine."

It was a question that she meant to ask earlier, far earlier, and it echoed in her chest and belly with a note of sympathy.

"How important do you think dreams truly are, Elliot Brown, to those who dream them?"
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Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Glenn » Wed Aug 01, 2018 12:57 pm

"Genny," said Elliot Brown, even as he planted his hands upon the ceiling-that-was-a-ground and kicked his feet up, holding a handstand which was flawless, effortless, and made him feel a little better, even for the illusion of being right side up (even if, were that the case, he'd fall towards the bar and the Octopus that was trying hard to open some bottle or another to add to its bubble of liquid. If it gained just a bit more mass to it, it might be able to reach some of the falling blood. "You've got no real horse in this race, right? You like me fine. You like Gloria fine. You like lots of people fine, don't you? Good person, just like I said."

The blood ran down off his face as he spoke, none of it getting into his mouth. The two of them may have been protected, but he, handstand or no, was not. He didn't seem the least bit bothered, however. Gloria's words bothered him. Being naked in front of Genny bothered him. Horrors? Those he saw almost every night. "What Gloria doesn't want to admit is that we're not speaking different words. She's speaking her words. I understand them. I'm speaking mine. She doesn't understand mine. I was willing to meet her halfway before, and look how she repaid me? She got afraid. I get it. When I was a little kid, I would have gotten afraid too."

Elliot stared down at the ceiling, which was a notion that might have amused him to say aloud five years ago. Now it was just rote. "She's supposed to be the big thinker. Studied under Duck Noose. Studied under, I don't even know who else, people to study under! I think sometimes the bigger the thoughts you have, the less room you have for anything else. I guess you wouldn't understand either, Genny, then. So maybe you do have a horse in the race. A big, smart horse named Gloria."

With a long-lingering thuck, the Octopus finally dislodged itself. The bottles wouldn't open (not having hands was a hindrance in that), so it was time to test the bubble, to brave gravity itself, so that it could reap the benefits of the ever-increasing trickle of sweat, tears, and blood. It fell not towards the canopy but instead towards the acrobatic showoff Brown.
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Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Tolleson » Wed Aug 01, 2018 6:44 pm

A strong wind could have knocked Genny over, and probably had at some point, in the waking world. But she was healthier here, or had been in the forest of periodicals and pages. Healthier at least than Gloria might have ever known her to be during sleepless nights with ink covered fingers in the Inquisitory or the ghost she had been in the library. Heartier but no less thin or long, as if her limbs had been racked. Lean, disproportioned, and fairly flat-chested, Genny was the more, obviously, fragile of the two women. But rather than broken bones jutting out at odd angles, shattered and impaling delicate flesh, or her own blood contributing to the spray, she simply lay dazed by the swift transition. Sometimes clever, but rarely quick, she blinked with the strawberry held to her chest.

Gloria’s hair was very likely true to form, no more full of snack-worthy surprises than it ought to be. Perhaps she hid berries there normally? While unlikely, if there were some unrelenting, besieged blueberries or straggler strawberries, they refused release, caught in the locks, and nothing more escaped the vigorous search. Looming like a glorious tree, whose canopy now shielded the onslaught, Genny looked up as if waking, watching her protector with renewed awe as Gloria began to stake a claim in the dream.

It was an impressive feat, not for Elliot, to be sure. But this was well beyond what she had expected of Gloria. Lovely stitches so tight and even they kept the hot fluid at bay, it thumped deep and hearty sounds, a heavy summer storm against a canvas awning. Even the blood and the inn were impressive, yet in all this majesty they hurled hot words and fluids, accusations and insults, which all made so little sense.

“Am I only brought to bear witness to such feuding?” still held by Gloria, but recovered from whatever wind had been knocked out of her she spoke with mild exasperation. Around her reclined form pooled blood began to froth and bubble and change. Around her, and part of Gloria, the blood became clearer, thinner, salty instead of metallic.

She had no horse in this race.

“In fairness…”

Lifting her head and torso she placed the free hand against Gloria’s shoulder, in part for leverage to help her rise, though she hardly pulled. In part as a gesture of gratitude or apology too, though she didn’t say which. The other hand held the luscious fruit.

“I understand the both of you only half the time. And I have no intention of siding with either”

Swelling to the size of a butcher’s fist the strawberry in her hand became heart-shaped and heavy, smothered in the gooey life-giving syrup. And like some half famous farmboy, ignoring their chore for a game of catch, she pitched, hurling the small organ with precision and speed, aimed the Octopus falling towards Elliot.
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Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Rance » Thu Aug 02, 2018 1:50 am

What Elliot Brown had never learned, for however many words he had, was the use of them. He had them; he flung them, threw them, filled the air with them. He bombarded, and like any onslaught, it lost both purpose and use after long, like volleys upon volleys of arrows loosed at stone citadel walls. If his boyish expectation was to disturb her, anger her, jar her, he'd find her unmoved. Gloria Wynsee, all too often, was quick to fire and fury. But the words needed to be correct; they needed to be aimed right, angled true, and driven deep. His glanced off without so much as a flinch. One-hundred-forty-seven words (she counted them like stitches as they passed by her), each as powerless and puerile as those that came before.

Blood, fading to thinness and dilution, began to roll away from her fingertips. It cleansed itself around Genny, like a pink foam broken up and cleansed by shoreline rocks. That was the mentalist's doing; Genny's influence in this place was a quieter and less bombastic presence, a soft nudge compared to the hammer of Elliot Brown. She gave her body to Genny as the woman sat up, staying steady as a stone. The seamstress' stare drifted off toward some unimportant corner.

Retreating. Choosing to retreat. Back, back, into some half-waking semblance of exhaustion. Into herself.

(Do you still think him a danger? In this place, her conscience had a voice; it turned a sharp bit of bloody mirrorglass toward her, and demanded she look into her distorted self.)

"I have no answer," she shot back, aloud, to a question only she heard—

(Boys are just boys, Glour'eya. Elliot's grown no older, no wiser, if ever he was in the first place.

I grow tired. Even here.

Tired is far better than afraid.

I'm still afraid, but of something different—

Of what? Tell me true.)

Genny said only thirty-one words (she counted those, too, like stitches; she'd never been agile with mathematics, save those that accompanied thread), but they swayed her; they'd success the way they ought to, and were heard and heeded, with unspoken obeisance toward the implicit command — to stop this. A fight was never about blows striking home or fists meeting flesh. Two combatants could trade swing after swing, each meeting, each pummeling, until exhaustion pulled them both to the floor. Conflicts were, instead, all about balance: take the other's, and it ended quickly.

In her new silence toward Elliot, Gloria Wynsee found hers.

The fruit grew and swelled, and Gloria watched with disconnected amusement as Genny pitched it with precision and fervor, a wad of sap and flesh, aimed right for Thousand-Eyes.

"If ever you thought there were sides to take," she said to Genny, "then I hope you will forgive me for misleading you."

(You never told me, Glour'eya

I'm afraid of how easy it is to stop caring.)

"Can we go back, Genny?"
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Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Glenn » Thu Aug 02, 2018 1:59 pm

There was Elliot affecting things. There were both Gloria and Genny doing the same, or at least something similar. Then there was the dream itself. This was no normal dream, of course, not made simply from the subconscious wishes and desires of one dreamer. It was a far more artificial thing, one bridged by power and distance, one that had devoured a chunk of someone else's dream. The normal rules did not quite apply.

That chunk was falling straight towards Elliot now, intending to take a large bite out of his extended leg. Things like gravity and the proper positioning of the floor did not matter to the creature. Its desires were more simple by far. Maybe, just maybe, it could have accepted more nice conversation with the slimebeing, but she had retreated. There were better uses for its mouth anyway. The teeth-filled maw widened, water intermixing with aquatic saliva and wonderfully trickling blood.

With a strange sound, not quite a thud, more of a slurp, the enlarged fruit hit the octopus right upon that unhinged gape, disrupting the water bubble and sending it into a corner of the ceiling-that-was-a-floor. "Huh?" Elliot turned his head to look, only to tumble back to his feet. "What was that?" Had he really been that oblivious? Was it just his power or the mutable nature of dreams? To be fair, he hadn't been much different in real life, had he? That was how he ended up like this, not just in a dream but a dream himself, in clothes drowned with blood.

Wasn't that so much of the point he had tried to make to Gloria, not that anyone seemed to be picking up on him or any of his points here?

Gloria Wynsee said her words. Was his gaze in response one of satisfaction or defiance? If it was a staring contest instead of persecution or war, he would have won it. Was that why? You couldn't wait out someone who was eternal, who would life an unlife forever, just at the cost of everything that was left when he had already lost everything that had mattered. Not even she was that stubborn.

That wasn't it at all, though, not really. All he wanted was to mean something, but meaning nothing to Gloria was the ultimate sign of normalcy. He was just Elliot Brown and why was she wasting her time and effort upon him?

Why, it was like he was actually alive and ignorable, not some sort of dream monstrosity.

Case in point: "Eat slime! Eat fire!" Apparently, when one's head was primarily made out of a giant strawberry, the need to breathe water was mitigated. That could be Genny's third or fourth academic paper if she ever made it to the Academy. For now, there was a seed-filled, teeth-laden beast, with tentacles made of congealed blood, rushing towards the two ladies and their all-too-delicate encampment.
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Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Tolleson » Fri Aug 10, 2018 7:47 am

Hitting her mark due to physical prowess was certainly nothing she could have done in the waking world. So, Elliot’s surprise at the strange sound was almost delightful.

“Not siding between you or Elliot,” she said as her smile weakened, sharing some of the growing exhaustion Gloria exhibited. “You both argue as statues,” unyielding, with their perspectives carved out and limited, and opinions set in stone. Genny’s lips parted and her breath prepared that she might say more on the matter, but the words were arrested before they could form.

Can we go back

‘I don’t know,’ wasn’t something she wanted to say. Not knowing was ever her weakness and it seemed no matter the effort there was always something unknown that endangered her or the people she cared about. Even as the blood became seawater in a small perimeter around them, it remained near, a narrow and perilously thin foothold in the dream.

The grotesque creature launched from the corner with a battle cry. For a second the area of clear water expanded in a small wave that rippled outward from the two women. Genny had continued rising and now stood, stepping forward, widening her stance. As if drawing on what little hold she had in the world the clear water collapsed, sucked back into her, the blood quickly rushed in to fill the vacuum and splashed up against her skirts. And in her hand a sword grew, a purely utilitarian thing similar to hundreds of sparring blades throughout Myrken, held at a defensive angle that she might protect herself and Gloria.
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Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Rance » Fri Aug 10, 2018 12:59 pm

What Gloria wanted, more than anything, was not to prove Elliot Brown's wrongness, nor establish some semblance of influence upon this world around her. What she wanted was base mathematics: to subtract the complexities of worlds that chose to move too quickly for her, and replace them all with a simple wall. And when the noise became too great for her head, like a burlap sack grown too heavy for resilient shoulders, she grabbed it up in her fist and beat it against the wall, over and over, until — with knuckles bruised and hand bloody — the din quieted, and she could breathe, and—

And the whole time she hit the wall, whether in her room at the Piggsowen or inside the cage of her mind, she said Look at me to a world where she was nothing. Look at me, look at me, I am here, I am—

But there were no walls here to be bludgeoned, not in this place of intangibles and tangents and unmeasurables; not here, where blood came down like rain; not here, where other dreams regurgitated horrors like the one rushing them now (and Nameless, what was it? Was it some true beast, or just some misshapen shadow from a half-waking world). Not here, where Genny Tolleson surged forward and struck a stance of a warrior's fashion, where a blade-formed-from-nothing found her fingers as if she'd been born to hold it. Thousand-Eyes rushed, thirsty for blood, fire, and slime.

Gloria's limbs refused to work, lacking their signature immediacy. Instead, still kneeling, she watched with whimsical disconnection, from the tip of the sword up the length of Genny's arm, and beyond, toward where Thousand-Eyes grew closer, closer...

(She's become something better than she was even before, and you never stopped to look...)

Not a twitch. Not a flinch.

Gloria tucked her chin down against the collar of her dress, and sought neither to speak nor to move.

The noise was there; the noise was there, rushing like a violent wave through her mind, a thousand contemplations flashing like sparks in the span of a half-second—

(no i always knew always knew and do not tell me otherwise do you know what myrken does it
eats up girls like her and me and spits out women and it demands a price higher
even higher than bold boys and stupid men and if ever there were cracks
in genny tolleson she grew a steel from them and i knew i know i saw
they never listened to her never listened to me never never never
and why fear the jaws when she has got a blade and i
the good sense to know that when a woman has
got a handful of power let her brandish it
with reason and purpose when she
must for if the world tells her
no you are far too young
and far too frail and
far too dull she
will spend
life

creating
Their
truth
around her
)

If Genny's Tolleson's blade was neither true nor effective, then at least Thousand-Eyes would have them both in those jaws.

And in trusting a friend before trusting herself, she would not go afraid.
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Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Glenn » Mon Aug 13, 2018 12:26 am

A sword. A fist. Elliot Brown was prone. When had that happened? He laid upon the ceiling of the Dagger on his side. He watched. They just didn't understand. He found himself resentful of that. It was a taste in his mouth more than anything else, a weight in his stomach. Bile and iron. He knew he shouldn't blame them. He shouldn't do a lot of things though. Then, there were the things that he couldn't not do.

This could end a hundred ways, in a hundred different heartbeats. He could end it in a moment or prolong it for a century. They spent a third of their lives asleep, some less, some more. It wasn't the flipped side of a coin, but it wasn't as inconsequential as she'd made it either. The copper coin appeared in his hand. He couldn't create something from nothing, but he could palm coins. Three heads upon it, Elliot, Gloria, Genny. Maybe it should have been tarot cards instead, but he didn't know anything about that. Coins? Coins he knew about.

He flipped it idly, but then had to force it with his stare not to fall all the way to the bar. When it landed upwards, it landed as Genny. He turned a lazy left eye to her, watching tentacles of blood smack hard into the blade. They'd come apart only to recoagulate, one becoming two, two becoming four, and so on. He flipped it again and there was Gloria. His right eye took her in. The creature rushed forth, as if a strawberry head was some sort of useful bludgeon for a monster with a thousand teeth. It had gotten its sentience from Elliot and it made sense then that the fruit would be as rotten as the tree. It recoiled from the impact but threatened to rush in with more fury by far.

He flipped the coin one last time, and of course it landed on his own face. With an aggravated teenage groan, he sat up. "Fine."

Genny would find him behind her, his hands around her own and thus the sword. There was no motion of grabbing or grasping. Between one moment and the next, he had gone from not being there to having been there all along. He was older now, a quiet presence instead of a wild one, and if one were to squint, she might see the afterimage of his younger self back where he had been laying. If he was a teenager still, he was at the very end of the contentious and dubious right to call himself that. "Forget the sea monster. We're going to cut the wall, really, the dream itself. Slow, steady. Gloria will buy us a moment. That's all we need. We'll send it home together, like she wanted. Let me guide your hand, Genny."

Of course, as always, all of this was predicated on the idea that she hadn't sent a foot up between his legs at his first instance behind her.
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Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Tolleson » Wed Aug 29, 2018 6:38 pm

If Gloria wished for simplicity she had an awfully terrible approach to it. The solution to this, it seemed, was far more plain; to make the world less complex you just needed to care less. And that was not what Gloria wanted, not really. Not if anything Genny knew of stubborn and unrelenting woman’s past was any indication. After all, they were here, together, at her behest, supposedly on Elliot’s behalf.

But in this moment she couldn’t argue, the beast was real and Genny’s eyes were fixed forward, her grip firm as the creature charged. The sword alone was now her only real foothold; the thin, gleaming blade, like a single thread in the grand scheme of things, a visual representation of her tenuous grasp in this place.

A coin flipped and blood splashed, wicked up into the fabric of her altered but once pristine ball gown, creating an ombre effect of grey to deep red if only for a moment before Thousand-Eyes became Thousand-Arms upon her steel. Red soaked, stained, and matted her hair, dousing the flames and subduing the luminance it radiated. And yet she stood firm as the illusions, which were really just a costume spun together from collected recollections, melted away and what was left was a plain, thin girl with no business fighting, mimicking Ariane, Agnieszka, or some other swordswoman more skilled and experienced.

A coin flipped and she struggled against the tentacles, barely able to see the ripened and seedy body throwing itself toward the stunned former seamstress. Genny had brought Gloria into her mind and then to a ball that was more memory than dream. With the explosion of glass and Elliot’s entrance much of the recollection shattered too. But now, with the last piece of her conscious mind, the last measure of control, slicing through the creature’s body she was afraid. Unyielding, but afraid.

A coin flipped and her eyes could not be torn away from the alien creature she hacked with vigor. So, she didn’t see the currency tossing boy or the young after image that was left. Her entire body stiffened when Elliot touched her. She might have turned then suddenly and kneed him, or punched him, or taken that sword and driven him through. Luckily, Elliot was a talker and with each word spoken her muscles gave way.

Trust can be dangerous and terrifying. Embodied by many things, it can be an agreement, a handshake, a meal made by someone else; it is being able to fall when someone says they will catch you. Sometimes it was deeper still, like knowing with certainty and never questioning. And whether or not it made any good sense for someone who constantly questioned, Genny trusted Elliot.

The space between is dangerous


“What is behind the dream?” It was the final question she posed as his hands closed over hers and began to guide the blade. A sudden wave of panic shot through her, and if Elliot had grown older and taller, and happened to have his face immediately behind hers, he might get a broken nose.

“Keep her safe,” it was a demand, now that he had essentially arrested control of her body and prevented her from the, albeit useless, task that had been intended to protect Gloria.
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Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Rance » Thu Aug 30, 2018 9:58 am

Gloria will buy us a moment. That's all we need.

The words, a spear driven into her, could have been heard from across valleys and hills. Two pairs of thoughts flashed rapidly through her spinning mind, flashes of thought that wove in and out of one another, sharing the same wavelength echoing in opposite directions like the ripples from two thrown stones. The first—

You are necessary. They could not be
safe here without you. You are essential.
They rely upon you to fill this role, to
perform a task for which neither of them
are suited. You are necessary. Corner
of a triangle. They need you to do this.


And the second, overlapping—

You are disposable. Neither worthwhile
nor valuable. He believes you a brute; he
is right. You are a sack of grain to toss
like a bothersome distraction. What role
you fill could be done by anyone. You are
disposable. Convenient and commodious.

Up, then. Crawling to her feet. Watching as that blade bit through tentacles and waterlogged skin, saw as they fell apart like wet sand and formed anew. This place, like a hot brand underneath her skin, infuriated her; it hardly possessed any rules of which to speak, and Elliot Brown certainly followed none — which only fanned this new ember of rancor behind her sternum. Thousand-Eyes did not listen. And Elliot, he'd taken it upon himself to diminish Genny, hadn't he; it was her blade, her choice to wield it as she desired, whether in effect or futility. But he had to taken it upon himself to guide her, form her motions and actions, manipulate her like a little fragile plaything who hadn't any sense of agency at all over her own actions and direction—

She jabbed her thumbs against her eyes. Underneath her, the Broken Dagger's floor was sloppy, tacky, like the odorous mire of Threepoints Marsh. Sucking her skirts into it, making her tread through a slurry of dark, stinking mud.

(Men do it all the time, Glour'eya — they wield the women around them as weapons, hide behind them...

...and stand tall on the victories bought for them by a woman's pain.

Like Golben.

I despise Golben.

But it gave you affection for the blade.

At the Black Man's behest. To do his bidding.

You destroyed a terrible creature.

I destroyed myself.

Why?

Because he expected me to.)

Down. Chin jerking down. Body as stiff as petrified bark. Her fingers quaking. Spasming. Flaring out, bending in, almost enough to betray the physics of the bone. Blood pooled in her palm, welling up from nothing to overflow the gutters of her skin. A flicker of glass winked into being, a shard of silvered mirror clutched like a makeshift knife in all five of her fingers. She stared into it. Into herself.

Let me guide your hand, Genny.

Gloria Wynsee's teeth clenched with such violence and power that they splintered in her mouth and shredded her gums to ribbons.

He was older, now. New. Something else. Fluid and trickery and a thousand faces and this wasn't right. None of it was right.

She went for Elliot, like a wild and unfettered beast, mirror-tongue leading her way. Trying to swipe at him, grab at him, wrench him away, pull him away from Genny Tolleson. Convinced the other woman was suffocating, because she had suffocated. The place brushed across the fragile edges of Gloria Wynsee's subconscious, awakened the thorns and teeth of long-buried agonies and traumas. Visions she never wanted to relive. Memories she tried to hide. Terrors she dreaded to exhume — and that she now reflected onto the world, outraged and uncontrolled.

"She is not yours to use," Gloria hissed, over and over again, until the words crescendoed into a shrill, piercing roar, tuned to sharpness and weaponized on a comma of broken glass. "She is not yours to use!"
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Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Glenn » Thu Sep 06, 2018 5:19 am

Keep her safe.

It was Genny's one request, a deal. A spit-in-the-hand-and-shake deal. No spitting was required. No shaking was necessary. No words even need be spoken. He trusted Gloria to keep them safe, but he'd do his part to keep her safe as well. They were in much more danger, Elliot Brown and Genny Tolleson, the boy a boy-no-longer and the girl long having left behind juvenile trappings. They tampered with the fabric of reality, the space in between, with naught but imagination, concentration, stubbornness to guide them.

What was a macabre tentacled beast in the face of that?

As it turned out, quite little compared to Gloria Wynsee herself.

He knew that, though. The alchemy of trust and absolute assurance meant that while he had agreed to such a deal, he knew it was unnecessary.

And it was, right until the moment that Gloria broke it, until she charged at him, leaving the creature to continue it's charge towards Genny.

The sword faded, and in its place was a furious stare. He released Genny and he instead called forth something else.

Glass shards.

Mirrored tongues.

Thorned memories.

And then there were thorns that were more than memories, vines and thorns and blossoms twisting and writhing and growing and glowing with an eerie blue light, the same light that illuminated the scarred figure that was abruptly between Gloria and Elliot. Or perhaps it did not simply illuminate her - it WAS her. A twist of tattooed hands sent the thorned vines to wrap around the one who would attack Elliot.

Gloria. Interfering as always.

But it wasn't just Gloria, it was also the teethed, tentacled, berry-headed monstrosity...but that was nothing for the violence inherent in the young woman's figure. Tentacles could be easily met with more of those writhing vines of blue roses. The vines were ice-cold, more than ice cold. Cold enough to burn and shatter, but not cold enough to mask the bite of thorns in numbness.

The figure faded. The vines remained. The thorns remained. One creature, the octopus, had been torn asunder by the assault. It would not return home. Whatever life and sentience it had possessed was gone, now more splatter than flesh. As for the other creature, the Wynsee? Was she torn apart as well? Suffocated? Bleeding out from head to toe? With her betrayal now past them, Elliot Brown would pay her no heed. Nor did Genny, though he would speak towards her, around her, above and beneath her, tone deadly serious. "You should wake up now." His gaze? That belonged solely to the space where the figure had been. The entire world save for that one space could fade away for all he cared, and gradually, the setting around them began to do just that.
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