Feathers

Re: Feathers

Postby Glenn » Tue Apr 27, 2021 8:51 am

She was making a great many reactions, quite the physical performance, except for it wasn't a performance at all. He had approached and never withdrawn, though he never quite reached her either. She was between moments, a tame parody of how Catch lived his life. The glamourie version of it, perhaps. That thought brought him no joy, clever as it might have been. Might. His response was cool. Whether it was clever or not would be up to her. "The tears aren't the curse. They're nothing. They're a sign, a symbol. A reaction. A physical representation of the specific grief that comes with the understanding of finality, of mortal limits." It's not the tears. It's not even the grief. It's the finality. "Your people aren't meant to experience it so it has to be all the worse for you and I am sorry for that, but not that you've enjoyed our time together enough that you'll lament its eventual passing."

Which was one bit of what was going on here.

There was, of course, the other.

"So, you are speaking to some boy you know, about me, which is the sort of thing you hate the most, save for, perhaps, two people conspiring to do something for you behind your back. That's fine. I don't mind it as much. Except for that you're talking about a her, that is not you, that is not even the she that I thought she was, that this boy would recognize, and perhaps value in a way that you would object to, so," when his smile came, it was a tad put upon, bemused and amused and impatient and tolerant, yet still fond, "it's only right that you would explain that."
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Re: Feathers

Postby Niabh » Wed Apr 28, 2021 3:56 am

She ceased scrubbing at her eye and stared at him, head cocked, temporarily baffled into lucidity. Either Glenn was making less sense than usual, or she was more addled than she thought. Being tugged back and forth, constantly waking to realize she was not where she thought she was, and the effort of trying to moor herself in one spot long enough to keep up with a conversation, left her frayed enough to weep from simple exhaustion, something she had not even suspected was an option. It felt as if now that she could cry, she was going to cry over everything, forever. How was that any different from a curse?

It wasn’t the finality. She’d understood finality from the start, and been fine with it—understood it better than him, really. It was tultharian who up and died right in the messy middle of their lives and left everyone else to sweep up the pieces. The words swelled up in her throat, choking her.

Trembling, she sank back into the chair, leaning so far forward her chin nearly rested on her knees. It took a long time, a lot of kneading the knot in her throat and swallowing, to make the words come, dry and harsh as a raven’s croak. “I wasn’t speaking to anyone. I was mistaken. You don’t understand, Glenn. Something is wrong, and it is all tangled in this place. I did not weep before I came Here. I did not dream before I came Here. Now…”

She swallowed hard, wishing badly for water, before she looked up at Glenn, utterly broken. “When your people dream, is it always the same thing? Hok…my gentleman, he used to have all manner of dreams, he said. Ones about things that really happened, only they came out differently, and things that weren’t real at all. Like little glam-plays, only all in his own head. But I have only one, really. Always the same little boy.” Another tear overflowed the rim of her lashes. “I thought I made him up, but then I found out he is real. Or he was real, before. Your wife…I think she killed him.”

Her fingers dug into her shins, and her voice strengthened again. Wherever she was, Glenn was no longer there. “Which is why I don’t understand why he still wants her about. I know I can’t be there always, but I’m better company than she is. I must be. She’s nothing as she is now. She’s just…a wrath, some empty thing made of old memories, but she’s still here. I don’t know why anyone went to the trouble of killing her when everyone’s keeping her alive anyway. That’s not how it’s meant to be, it’s not.”

She leaned further forward, burying her fingers in her hair. “You kill the queen, she’s dead,” she mumbled. “She doesn’t get to rule anymore. She’s dead.”
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Re: Feathers

Postby Glenn » Mon May 03, 2021 12:35 am

Oh, it wasn't as if he was completely devoid of sympathy. It was hard. This was hard. All of it was hard. Myrken was hard. Just getting through the day was hard. Survival was hard. And all too often, understanding made it even harder, not easier. He could be sympathetic to those who put their heads down and dismissed all around them, that only cared to rebuild instead of comprehend and prevent. This moment illuminated that urge so clearly. Here she was, a fairy queen, full of song and story and tale, and to overburden her with the truth of things, with Holbrook and the Four and the One and the Chimera and the bones, or with Galacia and the Baie. "There are stories I haven't told," he said finally. "And some I have but that have been quite a while," of the strange, dying visitor that taught Glenn those things he knew that were closest to actual magic, except for that dreaming was as natural as breathing for humans, so how could be that? How could it not?

"Dreams are different in Myrken," he said simply, instead of explaining it all. Though could he really go so far in the other direction. "There are reasons for that. An outside hand." A hand, his hand, reached up to rub at his collarbone, his touchpoint, old memories of old horrors seeping back.

So he explained nothing, not really. Instead Glenn Burnie did what Glenn Burnie was want to do; he asked questions, cold and clinical, no matter the subject matter, no matter the proximity of her and her glamourie. Deal with the matter at hand and feel the unveiling of it later. "How often have you seen him? How often do you dream? Not every night certainly? You've have mentioned it before, would have hinted at it at least," even if the specifics were something she'd want to keep from him for one reason or another (and one reason most of all that he could guess). "A little of you is worth a lot, Fionn, but I imagine, as someone who can speak first hand of this, that then the absence of you just makes the loneliness all the worse."
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Re: Feathers

Postby Niabh » Mon May 03, 2021 2:28 pm

“I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know, Glenn.” She sat up sharply, pounding her fists on her lap in frustration. “I don’t always remember. Betimes I do not remember the last time until the next one. Right now I can’t remember…anything.”

Her voice broke. She shrank against the back of the chair, fingers pressed to her temples as she tried to massage even a single memory out of the fragments. It was a perilous enterprise. One misstep could send her sliding back into the maelstrom. She needed to keep herself here.

“Not every night.” She could answer that question if no other. “Nor even twice in one moon. I always wake feeling terrible after. As though I’d not slept a wink.”

As she said it, she frowned, then blinked, then reached a hand to the heavy torc, rubbing the round stone. That was not quite right. Not tired, but…used up. Overextended. But in a way that felt familiar. Like putting too much into a glam. It took a lot of effort to reach that threshold; even the trick with spreading the Woods had only brushed her outermost limits. But no one could glam in their sleep.

Ruminating sent her sliding right back down again, without realizing. She came up again with a quick start, finding her own hand echoing the position of Glenn’s, poised on a collarbone. Lest he think she was mocking, she put her hands down and wiped her palms slowly up and down her thighs.

“You did tell me some of it. Back in Razasan. The second day. I remember that.” But not all. He never told her everything. Rather, he told only as much as he thought anyone needed to know, which was not the same as everything.

The chair’s bottom creaked in its frame as she got to her feet again. With hesitant steps, as though the loose floorboards might have nothing solid beneath them, she crept her way toward him. A hand reached cautiously for his shoulder.
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Re: Feathers

Postby Glenn » Fri May 14, 2021 8:17 am

In the end, he didn't particularly care for the exact reason behind her sudden burst of proximity. Was it support? Was it support over the shared chimera dream, a dream from ten years past? Had that scarred him, literally and otherwise? Yes. Of course it had. It had been a step upon the road that led him to the darkness (again literal). It seemed small and far away now though, another person, two people back now, whether or not Catch, who saw a person for all he had been and all he would ever be, but never who he currently was, might have thought. Was it that? Was it that she understood now, or realized she understood, on a level she hadn't before? Understood that helplessness, that loss of control? She always had though, and he would do well to remember it. He knew how she, herself, had been preyed upon by glamourie before her arrival to Myrken. She'd framed that as weakness though, poor judgment, lack of skill, betrayal. It was a battle that she could have well won if she had been better prepared, more sensible. It wasn't really the same at all then, was it?

It might well have been that, or it might have been anything else, something within her, something she saw in him. He didn't matter. He was just glad for it. He let her get close. He let her touch. "There's so much to work out there, Fionn. And that's just one thing out of many. I'll help though. I just don't know how much time we have. And you'll help me too? And we'll stumble through it as imperfectly as we do. Even if we never get to the point we should have gotten to if none of what happened in the woods happened, we'll still be better off than we are now, no?"
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Re: Feathers

Postby Niabh » Tue May 18, 2021 1:42 am

Her hand stroked his upper arm, then moved higher to knead the joint of his shoulder with a musing quality, as though curious how the muscle hinged to the bone—but gently, all the same. Had he put her to the question, she could not have told him whether she came to him for his sake or her own. Closeness was a comfort; it always had been. Yet even now she felt she may as well be on the other side of the room, out in the hall, out on the street with a door still between them. This had all started because he was lonely—because he said he was lonely, which might not be the same thing. How many times had she told him that she could bear almost anything Here, even the iron, but not the loneliness? The one thing he knew she would understand at once, the one plea to which she could not close her ears. The one thing. It ached like a dull bruise in her chest. Unfair. Underhanded.

“You’ve knots in your neck like stones,” she chided quietly, before her hand, still resting on his shoulder, ceased kneading. Somewhere along the line, the glam shifted; her solemn eyes were level now with his. “Whenever I have offered my help, you sidestep the matter entire. I might never have asked the question at all. Again and again, and I’ve even told you how it frustrates me but you act as though it means nothing. You act as though I am meant to accept it means nothing. Can I but be wary when you ask me outright? All of this—”

She gestured to the whole room and all the work he had put in it, and with a twist of the wrist, with a small wry shake of her head, whisked every bit of effort and meaning from it. All pretenses laid bare. A brightly painted box with nothing inside but contrivance. If he was in the habit of cataloguing her glams, this was a new one, as though she had dispelled not appearance but intention, and left the world a little shabbier even after she dropped it.

Her hand slid down the outside of his arm, lingering above his elbow as she took a half-step back. “Right now you are wondering what you can tell me to convince me I’m wrong. Right now you are thinking that if you agree I’m right, there might be a way to move forward, and you can always go back on it later. You think that if only you can convince me to go on listening, you’ll eventually stumble onto the word that will make me agree. I tell you that if there is such a word, there is no way you’ll ever bring yourself to say it. It is not in you.”
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Re: Feathers

Postby Glenn » Tue Jun 01, 2021 2:51 am

Contact remained. It was a mere hand upon an awkward arm. What was the distance between them? Two paces? An unbridgeable difference in upbringing, in experiences, in worldview? A hundred years? Likely not the last, no matter what she might say. The others, however... well, Burnie didn't like the notion of things being unbridgeable. There was a certainty to it that he defied just as he defied every other certainty and thus found himself on ever unsteady ground, even as he complained, in a sociological sense, that no civilization could ever truly grow in such an environment. What was good for Glenn Burnie and what was good for others, what was the greater good as he defined it, were ever two different things.

Still, he smiled at her, though it was tired and wry. "Were we to have the luxury of thinking that long ahead, as I had hoped to do with this work," a path to him, a destination that would be safe, safer than he himself, once she arrived as only a mushy, frameless armchair might be, all of which she had made equally frameless and flimsy with her own efforts, "but it's the moment we have to deal with, the now." Even if he could say the right thing, she'd poisoned the well with her machinations and it was only the cascading failure of his perfectly flawed nature that shielded them from the the glaring, merciless, stifling sun of her plots and plans and avarice. It was not the first time he'd used his failings as a shield; at some point, one had to admit that the inherent nobility in such a feint was far overshadowed by the failings themselves. Maybe that was just Myrken though, a land that would ever hunger for all that a person was, the full excesses of good qualities and bad.

"I've no new secret to reveal, no skin to shed to show you a new, hidden me, one that was there underneath all along. Were I to employ all of the art of glamourie, I might be able to change a color or the slant of my nose, but not what is underneath. If we can't find a solution for either you or I, before you go back to Him with nothing decided, we should at least let our third half have his say to both of us, no?"
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Re: Feathers

Postby Niabh » Sun Jun 13, 2021 4:11 pm

She cocked her head quizzically. When she caught his meaning, the bridge of her nose wrinkled in a flash of annoyance. Her hand remained tethered to his shoulder, but her arm stiffened, as if she would like to shove him. “Two halves is a whole. A third half throws the equation askew. This is between you and I now.”

Her voice took on a darker, musing quality, as though she spoke as much to herself as to him. Slowly her hand withdrew to fiddle with the stone of her torc, her chin lowering.

“What it comes to is that I do not much care for being hurt, my sionnach. You could not but know that this would hurt me. You counted on it. Else you considered it acceptable—like my father and his acceptable losses. I do not consider it acceptable. And now I have things to lose.”

Now things must be weighed, one against the other. The child was a heavy stone tipping one end of the balance. Hers in all but the having. Only Catch might have counterbalanced that desire, and Glenn…her clever, clever sionnach. Who always knew a bit more than was good for him.

She stood studying him, thoughtfully, with her arms across her chest. “Do you remember how I wrote to you before I came to Rasazan? Do you remember how I wrote that just this once, I would behave myself as a friend and not as a queen? For a queen would have kept your name for herself. Do you remember? Because I think…this must be the opposite of that. If you cannot treat me as a friend, then I must behave myself as a Queen. And a Queen…protects what is her own.”
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Re: Feathers

Postby Glenn » Mon Jun 14, 2021 12:35 am

"The equation was askew before you arrived then. Else you would not have arrived at all." He oscillated. Hot and cold. Passionate and calm. One might attribute that to his 'allergy' as it was, but that seemed to be less of a factor than in meetings (few, scant) past. "Else you would not have been sent for. Else the price would not have been paid. What do you think drove my hand? What do you think made me think I need cut off my own to save the body? Lest you think I am simply attributing blame, know that everything I see and everything I hear has shown that this was not an incorrect notion, even if I may lack the delicacy to actually make the sacrifice matter. More the reason to call in a third party that is no third party at all."

Hot again, or if not hot, then warm. There was life in his words now, some passion even. He was offended, though not for himself, just as she had been offended so thoroughly for herself. "He is a translator between us. He is an observer of both of us. He is the bridge and the rope and the balm and the succor. He brings message but he also carries meaning and he cares. This is between us but he is a part of us, and if that rankles your sense of independence and your sense of hierarchy, know also that he is better than either of us and that he makes us both better as well."

She could shove him all she liked. She could knock him down again and again, with words or fists or truths or glamourie. He would get up and be ready for more. If he could do nothing else, he could do that. He couldn't not do it. "It was his concern that moved my hand, when I would have rather waited and let things play out, would have rather respected your wishes and been your muse. I couldn't face the risk of losing you altogether, of events overtaking you and not giving us that time. Don't you dare say that it wasn't his place to be concerned, that it wasn't my place to act, that it wasn't our place to speak behind your back when we saw you unwell, because what is friendship other than caring about someone when it is both easy and when it is hard? The equation isn't askew, Finn. It's richer and more vibrant for it's added complexity."
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Re: Feathers

Postby Niabh » Wed Jun 16, 2021 3:43 am

Glenn blew hot and cold while she smoldered like a well-banked bed of embers. One strong puff and she might flare. A good feeling, though. Keen-edged as it was, the sharpness gave her focus—as fierce a feeling as she had felt since that day in the Woods, when she had slipped out of Catch’s arms and wandered into the trees.

(then what happened?)

And then it didn’t matter what had happened. Clearly, she had made her way back, because here she was.

(and where are you?)

Her chest tightened, and her heart began to drum with panic. She had known where she was right until the moment the question was asked. The sharp safe feeling of purpose, of knowing what she must do, began to soften and melt away.

(no no no no no…)

Halfway through his speech, she began shaking her head, ever so slightly. Her lips rounded around barely audible words. Her fingers pressed against her temple. “No no no no no…Stop it. Stop it, Glenn! For once, just…shut up!

She shook, glaring at him. Her chest felt too tight to breathe. “I’m leaving. This is…nonsense; this is madness. If this is your idea of friendship, you may keep it. I want no part. But I must know, Glenn, ere I go—how much further than this room will any of what you know this night travel? I could make my own assumptions and take the measures without asking, but for all we have been…I ask.”
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Re: Feathers

Postby Glenn » Wed Jun 16, 2021 4:45 am

He pressed two fingers up and down the bridge of his nose, finally back towards his eyes as he shut them. "Benedict's apt to curse my friendship too, if this is the result of it." To a degree, he knew this was his own fault. A slow approach with letters. That would have been idea. She'd slowly pull herself back to reality and then they could reason with one another. The bird wasn't wrong to panic, not with plots and plans in motion, but just because there is a need to act does not mean that there was an action that could accomplish what was good and necessary. "With your people coming, with the kidnapping having begun, with you having lost your sense of time so that you could not properly react to other eventuality, I had to do something. I had hoped being a caring friend might outweigh being a good neighbor, but hope is not assurance. It's quite the opposite." And she had made it quite clear that it had been ill-placed.

Which left her question and his answer. "I don't know what I'll do." There were lines one would not cross. There were things one could not endure. "Hope is a stubborn thing. So long as I have it, I need not act further. After that, maybe I do? I don't know, Finn. What would you have me do?"
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Re: Feathers

Postby Niabh » Wed Jun 16, 2021 7:07 am

“I don’t know either, my sionnach. It is unfair to ask of you what you cannot give, what goes against your nature. Yet I fear that if I do not ask, all too soon you will stand in my path and I cannot have that.” She plucked his hand away from his eyes and rubbed her thumb along his knuckles, thoughtfully. “It’s no good bribing you since you can’t be bought, no good threatening you since you can’t be put off by threats, so one might as well go carry out the threats and save one’s breath. No good swearing you because you’ll never agree. No good in lying because you’ll know the truth soon enough, and no good telling the truth because that’s what’s put us here deciding what’s to be done about it. You make it constantly impossible to be Tuatha around you, do you know that?”

Having only just acquired the knack for crying, she had not yet learned how to hold back tears, or to conceal them, as a proper human of her age would know. They came when they would, and were a nuisance. She let go his hand to swipe with aggravation at the corner of her eye.

“Stay out of it. All of it. Know that whatever happens, there will be no trouble for Myrken. I never intended any, and there is no need for it. Should any of that change, you’ll be told.” That much might mean something to him, she knew.

The mention of her people caused her to look away from him and sigh. “No one is coming. I will put a stop to that straight away. If you need hope, know that that would have been the worst possible outcome for everyone. Now that you’ve told me, I can prevent it.”

She could not keep herself from looking miserable as she said it. Once it would have been the only thing she could have asked for—she there, or they Here. Now she couldn’t possibly allow it. Not after what happened in the Woods. What Queen brought her people to a land where they would be hunted? If they came—

They are coming to take me away from him. I’ll not have it.

The words fled again. Not that she had lost them, but that she could think of nothing more to say.
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