ever after

Jan. 31st, 2014 06:12 pm
[identity profile] fairy-fiona.livejournal.com
[In a fairy mound]

"You'll be safe here," said Dana.

And we were.

The second the fairy mound closed over us, the sound of the thunderstorm stopped. We couldn't even hear the rain pounding on the roof anymore.

I'm glad Dana was here to help, and I'm even more glad that Daddy was inside with us when it happened.

Dana and I had fun decorating the rooms - changing the color of the furniture, making things sparkle, adding new pictures on the walls. Horses and cats. And then horses and cats with wings!

Daddy mostly watched.

We could leave any time we want, Dana said - we had little wooden charms that acted as keys. "And by the time we come out, it will all be over. Long over.".

"Wait, what?"

Of course. Fairy time. Dana's explained it to me over and over - time runs differently in Fae. You spend an evening there and come out ten years later, or you spend ten years there and come out an hour later. There's no telling which way it will go.

So we might come out ten years later. Or a hundred years later.

And maybe it would be better if we did? We'd be safe then, and so what if everyone we knew was gone? We could just go live in Fae instead, and I could learn even more about my powers, and learn magic from even more experts, and meet my mother. Dana keeps saying that she wants to take me there, to learn more about that side of my family, and that side of my nature. And I wanted to, but now that it's here…I don't.

I've loved learning real magic, and maybe I never got the wings that I wanted when I was little, but it's amazing to be able to shape the world and see the true forms of things around me. I want to learn more about that. Dana is amazing and I'm so glad I got to know her.

And I want to meet my mother. I always have. Desperately.

But if I went to Fae I'd never see anyone else I knew, ever again. Not Miao or anyone from the Boy, not anyone from school. Ever.

And what about Daddy? I guess he could still work if we went to Fae, but it would be really different for him.

So I talked to Daddy for a long time. Talked and talked and talked, almost all night, and the morning, we went to Dana and said we were leaving.

We'll wait three days to give the storm a chance to blow over - or end, or…whatever is happening. And then we'll go out.

Dana was scared, and we didn't blame her, and we promised that if things were really bad we'd come back, because here we are safe. But if things are all right outside, then we're going to stay. If there's anything of Excolo left, we want to be there with it.

I want to see what the world is like! I want to see if Daniel will ever ask me to a dance - or if maybe I'll ask him. I want to see if I can ever write for the newspaper - or if there isn't a newspaper anymore, if I can make a new one. I want to see what will happen, and I want to be there to do things in the world. The human world.

Maybe I won't ever fit, but I don't think I'll ever fit in Fae, either. In Excolo, at least I know the rules, and the rules I don't like I can try to change.

So three days later, we say goodbye.

I hug Dana tight, and I tell her she's done a good job watching over me.

We stand where the door would be, if a fairy mound had a door. I feel the magic running through the key as I hold it in my hand. Then I take hold of Daddy's hand, and we turn our keys, and we step out into the world.
[identity profile] tezcatl-ipoca.livejournal.com
{{Placeholder for Carnival farewells}}
[identity profile] mistresswanda.livejournal.com
Place holder for a report of better days to come...
[identity profile] pirate-mystic.livejournal.com
Moments after the apocalypse fails

So many things I meant to do, these past years. Maybe leave Excolo, go find my sister and my baby, who'll have babies of her own now, she survived. Never happened. Seems like I can't leave this land, with my goddess gone into it.

Can feel her in the rain, turn my face up to it. Know this's what I've been kept alive for, all these times. Fightin' I could always do.

All them things come crawlin' up like from nightmares, but the folks're worst, folks who've gave 'emselves over to him like I nearly did back then, by mistake. Killin' folk I've known, it just cuts me up inside, makes me sick. Ain't nothin' I can do, tho, save keep shootin' an then cuttin', with my goddess in the rain soakin' all through everythin', until the tide turns.

Oh m'lady. Deep well, sweet water, like we used t'sing. Always held me up, kept me from sinkin', even after you gone.

Others fightin' on our side, Her side, the blue city dream's side. See a woman in armour go by fast in the smoke an' rain on a pale horse, face like somethin' come apart. Lookin' like she oughta be on the other side, but she's on ours, an ain't we learned in the last years that beauty ain't goodness ain't beauty. Fine lady upon a white horse. Raise a hand to her as she goes.

I ain't gonna last much longer. Bleedin' from my side and shoulder, all red salt into the rain. Ready, though. I am.

Cut takes me to the back of the thighs, hamstringin'. Gut wound after, an they move on, know I ain't a threat now. 'M on my back, an the rain's fillin' up my mouth. Feels like the river risin'. The mountain rising from the water is the city whose powers are apparent, old old words to Her. I done good in the end, I know. I done good.

Closed
[identity profile] hermia-sophia.livejournal.com
Placeholder, for after the apocalypse
[identity profile] hopenotfaith.livejournal.com
Two years later
At The Dormouse


Bin a busy day 'ere. Sunshiney sort o'day, so we put out tables an' chairs on the street. Really drew people in, so we'll prob'ly keep doin' it.

"Might need a permit," grumbled Faith, an' I smiled.

"Good thing'm married to the mayor, then," I said.

Still enjoyin' runnin' the tea shop. Feels like ours, now, not Miss Wanda's. Got a letter from 'er a while back. 'Ad a postcard of the new place she's livin'. Card took ages to get 'ere, think she sent it months ago. Ain't like there's a regular system. But it reached us, an' Faith 'eld my 'and so I could see it. The coast. Stroke a picture of the wave with my finger an' smile. Glad she's 'appy an' safe. Wonder what our Genny's up to, an' all the rest. 'Ear from them from time to time, but don't reckon the carnival'll ever be back 'ere, an' I don't blame 'em. 'Ope Nu's growin' up strong. So strange to think she was born jus' six months before my little girl.

Joy's such a good little thing. Toddles about in the shop, but 'ardly ever cries or frets. She is a joy to all of us, an' with me an' Faith's names, seemed good to 'ave another virtue. 'Cept to me she feels more like a blessin'.

Gettin' ready to close up now. Faith clears up, then kisses me goodbye cos she's off on a date. Been on a few dates with the same person. Might even be serious. I'd like that for 'er, though I don't dare bring it up. Use my cane to tap my way over to the door, then feel for the sign an' turn it over t'CLOSED. Sit down at a table to drink a cup o'tea before 'eadin' 'ome. Joy clambers up into my lap an' starts describin' 'er cookie t'me. Learned early that she's got to tell me 'ow things look, an' she's already talkin' a lot. Kiss the top of 'er 'ead an' smile. 'S good to feel at 'ome. Edmund should be leavin' the office soon to walk me back, an' I've got some news for 'im.

[Open to Edmund]
[identity profile] marbasthefallen.livejournal.com
In an empty field, twilight
A fortnight later


I sat there and started at the space that once held a dilapidated water tower for a very long time. It seems almost inconceivable that it's gone...

almost as inconceivable as what befell Iblis.

Oh, I will admit I felt a moment of prideful satisfaction; let us see how you enjoy being trapped in a flesh suit!, but no... what those creatures did to him was much more than that. More fulsome. The did not trap him, they remade him.

And then the horror replaced the amusement.

Not him. Never him. He should not be so reduced; diminished. The brightest, the most beloved...
And I wept.

And then... the world stopped. Time stopped. And I was no longer alone.

لدي اقتراح بالنسبة لك، معالج ....

And I wept at the sound of his voice, for I had not heard it since before recorded time began.

*************************************

It may have been centuries we talked, or a fraction of a second. I could never gauge time within The Presence of Ahura Mazda.

And I have been called upon to serve man once again; but as a necessary evil. To fill a void that Iblis left.

تفهم الحاجة إلى كل من الظلام والضوء، وكنت أفهم أنه أفضل من جميع أولادي.

I pinch the bridge of my nose and take a deep breath.

"Lilith..." I breathe into the air. We have much to discuss.

(Open to Lilith)
[identity profile] tezcatl-ipoca.livejournal.com
After the end, time unknown

And the wire snaps.

I scream, thin human sound, and start to run, barefoot and right now entirely mortal.  I'd know if he was gone.  I'd know it.  He must be here somewhere.  He must.

I look for him and look for him.  There is dust, smoke, blood, things and people fighting.  I go through it all blindly, again and again, like running my hands through loose grain over and over, everything slipping through my fingers.  I can't find him.  I can't find him.  I search until my feet start bleeding again, from grit and broken glass in the once-clean streets.

In the dawn there is an explosion, and I go out to the tower on bloody feet and it's a dead and broken shell, hollow, only the smell of cordite and a fading illusion-magic still trying to make me see what it thinks I want to see.  There's nothing in it.  He's not there.

He's not here.

Things are dying down.  Dying.

I go to Management in the end.  I'm not afraid.  I'm too tired to be afraid.  I know they fought.  I know he was - protective of me, in the way someone else would have been scared of me going near them.  I don't care any more.

It should be different in there with them.  But everything's the same, except even the hairs on my arms are too tired to rise.  I don't think they're very interested in me any more.  I know the smell of triumph, can hear it in their dry, haha, yes and, run along, dear boy, run along and play.  As they tell me what they did.

I look harder.  He'll be in danger now.  He's human, as I've been when I've been human and stupid and he's - loved me anyway.  The town is trying to put itself back together as it shook itself apart, Nanshe-saturated, people helping one another through the ruin.  Kindness to kindness.  I'll find him, I will.  I will.

I don't.

Closed
[identity profile] mistresswanda.livejournal.com
After the dust has settled.
Outside the water tower


Yesterday

I came out, as the sun started to set. He's not here. I hadn't realized how much He had permeated this town until He no longer did. All I could compare it to was... breathing freely after some great weight had been lifted from your chest. I could suddenly breathe again. But still, I had to be sure. I had to see for myself.

I ascended the stairs without fear. After what I had endured, survived, what had I to fear of heights? I pushed open the door with my sword blade, not knowing what to expect---

but somehow, I did not expect this. And yet, I should have, for it was all a grand production, wasn't it? I wandered amongst the discarded furniture, a stack of little girl's dresses I will not weep! and a rack of dresses that might have resembled a red wedding gown I wore in a former life. Books and bottles, tea cups and trinkets; a space filled with things that meant something to someone, I suppose. Things to tempt, things to tease, things best forgotten. A oaken cabinet I recognized, a bed of twisted vines, a tea table I saw in a book of Miao's once... And in the middle, a throne. A throne a prince might have sat on, now forgotten and worn. I sank down in it, and sat there alone in the gathering gloom for a very long time, feeling very much like the cat that cared not that she gazed upon a king; slouched to one side, leg thrown casually over a arm rest. Sat and thought and replayed everything in my mind...

And then I rose. I placed a necklace with a stone as dark as a starless night and a ring with a black heart on the threadbare cushioned seat, and I left with them a thousand memories, and then I turned away. Went back down the stairs, and told the two I trusted with this task they could start whenever they were ready. But not to take anything out. Leave it all there.

Today

I stand alone on a bluff overlooking the tower. There are only about two dozen people here to witness what is to be done. I doubt it is really necessary, but I think this is important. Symbolic. It is also my last official act as Mayor. Edmund White will be sworn in tomorrow. I can think of no one better to lead Excolo into the future as I shut the door on the past.

I watch as Kent and Ares make a sweep of the area one last time, to make sure everyone is back far enough. The all clear is given, and they look back to me, waiting on my signal. Ares' looks like this is the world's best party and Kent looks... determined. I take a breath, raise my arm....

then drop it. The fuse is lit, and I watch it snake and flare through the tall grass as my husband and my friend run----

The explosion is loud, and the force of it knocks a few people off their feet.

But not I.

I stand my ground, and watch the past go up in flames.

closed
[identity profile] gaueko-erebus.livejournal.com
Before Dawn
The fields and woods


Of course I went to him, kneeling before him, and he blessed me with his touch and his essence. He said that I could stay if I wished, but I said no, I would run with his fire, perhaps draw them away, but I also knew that he would want to do this alone. I understand that. He kissed me, then, and told me we would go together, even if he fell, we would go together into the shadow. And I took that knowledge, that comfort, with me as I vanished into the woods.

I knew the moment the battle began, between Sugaar and the cunt from the Carnival, the miserable piece of godspawn their leaders shat out. I knew, and I gnashed my teeth and howled and gnawed at my own legs at Sugaar's pain, but I wouldn't interfere. I understand the need to fight your own battles.

But if he had died, if he had died, you fucking rancid piece of spirit-scum, you would have found me in the shadows, all teeth and rage, oh yes you would

But he didn't die. He didn't win, but he didn't die, and I stayed away when they came to him again, because I knew that he wouldn't want me witnessing his humiliation. I lay and I moaned as the fuckers came to him, and then...

He isn't dead. I would know the very moment he died, because my heart would shatter. But he is...diminished. The feel of him in this world and the next has faded, his star has winked out, leaving nothing but the flickering candleglow that the rest of the meat-beings in this world give off. And I knew. Of course. Under other circumstances I'd admire the fucking sadism.

Your soul stays with you... until the end of things. And then you can come with me into the dark.

But now the end of things had come, and there is no dark to follow my master into...there is only a dimness, a flickering flame that could be snuffed out at any time. And I am still here.

I rage in the last hours of the night. Most of the beasts have already fled, but I find the stupid, the blind, the young and the old that were left behind. I paint the forest in blood as I howl, froth dripping from my jaws, the darkness shuddering around me. Perhaps I should weep, but instead there is fury, and there is blood, and there is the dark.

Dawn is streaking the sky when I come back to myself, my fur matted with blood, strings of meat tangling between my teeth. I should take man again, but for once I see little point. It would be going into that same, crippled, half-existence no matter what form I took, and that makes me gnash my teeth and wish for more small creatures to rend and tear.

But it's then that I think. Sugaar was forced from his bright star-body into this meat form, stripped and reduced and diminished. And I can't change that, no matter how hard I wish, no matter what sacrifice I made. But perhaps there's another sacrifice I can make. A choice. It would be just like sliding into the shadow, shedding this body as a snake sheds its skin...but this time the dark would take more, as it has always wanted. And I would let it.

I remember Aatxe, lying in the mud and his own filth, staring at me with stupid cow's eyes. I remember how I hated him.

Forgive me, old friend. I understand you better now. I think, raising my head to meet the dawn for the last time.

****

And so it is, several hours later, that a great black dog with a tangled, muddy coat found the boy who wept and raged against the earth. The boy, wracked with sobs, and with furrows down his cheeks. And the dog, wagging his tail with dumb, animal hope, pressed his nose against the boy's hand and began to lick the blood from his fingers.

[OPEN to IBLIS]
[identity profile] kent-whitman.livejournal.com
“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next." Gilda Radner

Mayor's residence, after
Mid afternoon


The house is quiet now, thank god. The last several day have gone by almost in a blur with all the people coming to mayor, of all the things that needed to be attended to, arrangements to be made... and add a God of War showing up and bellowing about why no one invited him to the apocalypse, well, it's been no less than a zoo.

Of course, the quiet that has now settled over the house serves as a reminder that it is bereft of a very vital life that once raced down the halls, laughing and causing mischief. One that we laid to rest at dawn this morning in a far corner of the cemetery at the Abbey. One that, if it is to be believed; will be back with us in some form in nine months. After the small service this morning, Wanda came home to get some much needed rest while I went with Tony... Ares. He said he knew the perfect place for us to relocate to. I told him I did not wish to risk moving my pregnant wife to god knows where without some more information. So, he showed me. It made me dizzy, the way he managed to take us from one place to the next in a manner of moments, but then I was able to see...

I think Wanda and I will be very happy there; in that little house on the edge of dunes.

I let myself in, and find Wanda lying down. One hand is on her abdomen, and in the other is clutched a very well loved purple bunny. She looks very lost in thought. I cross the room and sit beside her on the bed. I can tell by her eyes she had ben crying, but my wife manages to give me a smile in spite of the sorrow.

"Can you hear her... them? Is it like before?" I ask as I lay my hand over hers.

Closed
[identity profile] al-shairan.livejournal.com
I hear the Rapture's coming;
They say He'll be here soon.
Right now there's demons crawling all around my room.
[x]

Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.
(Rev. 2:4-5)

Before dawn

The death of their child draws Management's attention, as I had hoped. For even in their ancient, strange heart they have room for affection, and for rage. In their fury they let their attention fall from the river, and I could see clearly my opponents. Mere humans, most of them!

I sent out what followers I have, in this place. Men, and beasts, and god-things; crawling and walking, they went out with my power in their mouths and hands, so that they breathed blood and flame. I intended them as distraction, mainly, to stop the goddess's work being done. If they were delayed long enough in their magics, the tear in the world would be too far gone to be mended. So the sky rained not just with Nanshe, but with fire and with plague, and I saw men strangle their neighbours on the banks of the Pontarlier. Gaueko came out to me, and I thanked him, and said I would take him with me when I fall for the very last time; but my immediate business could be done by me alone. He would be welcome to wait. I think a part of me is glad that though I may burn myself out of existence alone, he may follow me into the dark.

Meanwhile, Management came for me.

I knew that they would challenge me; but it seems my pride had not let me realise how very much of a challenge they are. We moved between worlds and times as we struggled, and there was a strange fierce pleasure in it, the difficulty of it. Have I ever been so pressed? Not since I wrestled with my brother and he flung me down. It took a century, our struggle, in the places between moments, and in the end I had them by the throat (figuratively, for they have never had throats) and could have cast them beyond this world for always...

And I saw Tezcatlipoca die. My Night Wind. Not dying as a god, but as a boy, as stupid simple Micah, falling crumpled to his knees, and although I know the end is coming for us all I still cried out, a high keening sound that broke the windows of the abbey one by one.

Management had me under them, then, their fist curled into the heart of me, the spark of creation in the palm of their not-hand, ready to be blinked out

My dear, he told you he would betray you, they said, all laughter...and I realised they had deceived me. It was a cheap ruse, a false vision. And so Tez has betrayed me again, though not by his action, no. It is my feelings for him that have betrayed me, and if I have ever been a fool in my thousand thousand years on this earth it is overshadowed by this moment.

"That seems to be stretching a technicality," I say coolly, and their laughter is broken glass and bells. I am thinking of how to free myself, for surely I can; I am al-Shairan, إبليس, Iblis, He who Brings Despair; I have thrown over civilisations. I was most Beloved, and now I am most Feared.

But I feel that the tide of the battle has turned, and the moment has been lost. There will not be another moment aligned like this for centuries, perhaps millennia, and all these weary years I have waited have been for nothing.

"Do it, then," I say, with the weight of my despair behind me. "You have won. Crush me and be done." Part of me is relieved, that I can be done, even if I have failed. For I have always known in my secret heart, have I not, that I would fail? That I am Despair, and I can have no success, not in the end.

Kill you? Blot you out? Our dear friend, whatever makes you think we are merciful?

It takes a long time, what they are doing, and it is very terrible. But I am used to pain, and if they want to torture me before they kill me, I can endure.

And then I realise what it is they have done to me. I feel nothing beyond the boundaries of my own flesh; I can hear nothing but with my ears, and my sight is clear and small. I feel the press of flesh around me like a prison.

We bless you, they say, still laughing, with long life, and a natural death.

I scream, then, until my throat is torn, and I have scratched my face open with my nails. But it is not a scream that breaks glass, and my skin does not heal when I will it. I am just this. Only this. Man.
[identity profile] danashee.livejournal.com
I have not the gift of seeing what might be. And for that I am glad; for every seer I have ever known has always has a bit of a haunted look to their eyes, even that generally cheerful girl who Wanda found to help run the tea shoppe after she became mayor. Still, if one can see something coming then one can then prepare for it.

If I had known this storm was coming I would have been better prepared. As it was, this storm caught me and many others by surprise.  The sun was setting, and all was calm and then nothing was. The earth shook and the air screamed. Clouds darkened the sky and so did the rain and I would have sworn that the Wild Hunt was riding somewhere out there. It felt like the endless minutes before two armies come to blows.

Both Fiona and Adonis felt it too, though not nearly so strongly and I had to do some convincing to get  him to stay here at the house with us. I got up afterwards and worked a charm or three to protect us all. None would find their way to this house that did not have the proper counter charm. And I only made three of those. Three little rounds of wood with a complicated knot gently burned on one side. Three keys to my private little realm. Three keys to protect my heart. Briefly I wished that dared make one more. Or that it was not too late to venture out and find my little mage. I am sure that she is out there in the midst of this. And it would have pleased me greatly to able to offer her sanctuary here; even as I know that she would not be able to accept. Still, it would have comforted me to know that if she needed me, Silence could  have used that charm to come here.


We work with what we have, and there was not much time to act. So I did what I could and my heart is as safe as it will ever be. I will open the way back for us all when I think it likely to be safe.  Until then I shall keep us here in the space between the worlds. I can even use this as an opportunity to teach my god daughter how to do the same. She may need it someday.

[closed]
[identity profile] mister-foxton.livejournal.com
I took Mrs Betton to the Abbey first, of course. They will care for her, for the time that's left. She complained the whole way, as the young man I'd hired carried her. But she should not be here.

I started the fire in the basement. Destroy everything, he said. Make it into nothing. Fall down into nothing, the wheel turning down to the bottom: entropy. What will the phoenix world be like, rising from the ashes?

I am in the Middle Room. I can smell the smoke quite strongly now. I think of the books burning downstairs, and it hurts, a gentle necessary sort of pain. I think of what he said about Westin Sagert, who was a friend and perhaps might have been more: there were books he never saw, that he would have liked very much to see. That is part of the power of this, of course, I think: the destruction of possibilities, as well as what is.

The floors will collapse, I think. Not too soon, I hope. The skulls that have been silent are chattering on the shelves, jaws moving senselessly. Yes, I say to them, father and mother and grandfather and all of them all the way back. Yes, it is Time. Finally, Time.

There is smoke coming under the door. So I pour the lamp oil out in the center of the circle and light it from one of the tallow-fat candles, greasy and yellow. All in this together, a family affair. The flames lick up and the smoke too is greasy, foul-smelling. The floorboards are burning. Bone is charring. I feel my coat catch fire, a low smouldering. I can see them in the smoke, familiar shapes. Oh, I've missed you. The room is a thick haze. I'm burning inwards, and it's a relief, though it is starting to hurt. I won't care about pain.

I feel my skin crackling as it always does under my clothes, this dry dead skin that I was born with, mummified skin, dead thing's skin stretched thin over strange bones: the last of us, born beyond dead, and only my father and mother's death to give face and hands at least a semblance of life. When it is burned, it will look no different from any other man's who died of fire, and I smile.

Her arm is round my shoulders, in the smoke. It damps some of the flames. Don't be foolish, boy, the familiar querulous voice. I'd thought she'd gone too far, but she's here too, my Grandmama. I wonder if the little cat ghost is here somewhere too, twining round her ankles. She's steering me, and I'm in too much pain to know where. "The end, now," I say hoarsely, and she says, Silly boy. The others swirl round, making space in the smoke.

Go, I tell them, go, begone, go and turn the Wheel to the end, lend yourself to Him. They won't. Not our End says an ancient voice, far older than grandmama, and I'm stumbling through a door. How did I get here? Where am I? Is it just a door, or the final Door? Why are they rebelling? I should be on properly on fire by now, I should be dead, and all the weight of all the years leaning behind His Work. But there are more of them than me.

Not our Work, says another voice, more fiercely. My skin is crackling differently now, with heat. No, no, it's not meant to end like this. It's not. I'm sorry, I say voicelessly, I'm sorry. Am I wrong, or are they? I was so sure. I fumble my spectacles off, feel them crunch accidentally underfoot. I still can't see, though. I can't see anything. One way or another, this has to be the end.

Closed
[identity profile] tezcatl-ipoca.livejournal.com
I felt her die, the girl. Beginning.

The end of worlds. Part of me knows this. But there's always been another after, and this time there won't be. And I should be glad. But the part of me that's young and saw some of the world with the Carnival and had that day with Brant and loves - too many people - I don't know. But I am tired. So tired, since that day. And this was what Management brought me back for, and what I was meant for from the beginning.

All of the parts of me, thought - the old god, the man who was Tez, and the me that's Micah - know where I belong, though. He always said that I'd betray him. I always thought I'd have a plan. Instead there's just rain, and me wondering whether, if we'd had a child, if would have been that one that'd died to begin this.

I wonder what Management will do. I can feel them in the night, as I can feel the dead goddess in the rain. None of this is very well organised. I wonder where Genny is, and Valmont.

I could make the earth shake again under my feet as I go, if I wanted. I could be the spaces beneath the earth and between the stars. I'm not. I'm just getting wet. But I know where he is. I always know.
[identity profile] managexcolo.livejournal.com
In the darkest part of the night

Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.
Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.
LUKE 17:33

I have more than enough of burnt offerings,
of rams and the fat of fattened animals;
I have no pleasure
in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.
ISAIAH 1:11

The cry is silent, but if we had ears, oh, they would bleed from the sound she makes as she goes like a sacrificial lamb. But she is Abraham too, is she not? Wielding her own knife, the lamb-child of her father, haha. Our old friend uses it to break open the world, for a sacrifice is like a key in a lock; her blood makes the thirsty throat of the earth open, and tremble, and quake.

We were surprised - and we are so rarely surprised, it was quite delicious, a taste like piquant cheese and aged olives - when Nu found a way home for the lamb, bringing her back to the fold. We should expect no less from the father of our own precious darling.

And if the lamb is not dead, then the door she opened can be closed...

We gather ourselves, and go out into the night. There will be much played out in these hours that we would watch.

[Closed]
[identity profile] hermia-sophia.livejournal.com
We knew it would come.

For four years, ever since the dream of the red city and the blue, we knew it would come. For three months, ever since the dream of Nanshe telling me what we must do.

And yet we always thought we would have more time before we had to be ready.

We very nearly were ready, that night that the earth shook.

I gathered up everything that I had been crafting and collecting, and went to find my family. I hugged Marie and Luc very tightly, and told them that I loved them. And then I told Valmont, and held him for as long as I could. We were both so full of fear and hope and love that we could barely find words, but we did not need to speak to know how the other was feeling. "I love you," I said once more, and kissed all of my family.

I dared not think of what might happen if I did not come back, what might happen if I failed. I could not think of that.

And then I ran.

Down to the river I speed, between the crashes of thunder and tremors of the earth. 'It is already raining,' I think, with a giddy, hysterical gasp of laughter. Do the Adversaries know that they have done some of the work for us? Do they care?

I know that I do not need to send word to Syl or Chester or any of the others who have been working on this great spell. Our magic has been twined so closely together over the last few months that I can sense them all, if I listen hard enough, and I know that they are all coming.

One by one we arrive at the banks of the river, just as we have planned to do for so many months. A little thrill still runs through me when I see everyone gathered. There are so many! So many who have come together for this cause, who never might have even spoken to each other were it not for their love of Excolo, and desire to keep it safe. Even if we are not all friends with each other - for Syl and I still are not, even though our respect for each other has grown as we worked together - we all love Excolo, and that is enough.

I have brought silver and mistletoe for protection - the same things that Chester taught me about in my very first lessons with him! I spread them in a wide circle around us to shield us from as much harm as possible while we work.

Our magic winds together, and we start to draw Nanshe's essence out of the earth, out of the water…

The instant that my magic touches the river, I can tell that there is something different. Not just Nanshe's essence that we have been concentrating in the water - there is something else. More divinity, more power. Something new and fresh, something that feels like spring and growth and fertility. I do not know its source, but I know at once that it is good. The new power flows into our spell, filling it with new life.

I am so deep into the spell that I do not even notice the thunder anymore. I see nothing but our threads of Power; I feel nothing except the growing magic and the rising tide of Nanshe's essence, each of us adding our own strand to the spell. Water and earth and fire and air and divinity, all coming together as one.

Air is mine - as we draw Nanshe's essence into the sky, I send out more and more threads of my own Power. We bind our Power together to make a bridge between the earth and the heavens, between the water and the sky.

The bridge is Nanshe, and the rain is Nanshe, and the earth is Nanshe. And now we are Nanshe too, as her divinity washes over us in the rain. I smile as the rain touches my skin, for now I know that we will succeed.

We have helped Nanshe give the gift that she wished to give to the people of Excolo: herself.

Est deus in nobis.

[Open to anyone working to stop the apocalypse]
[identity profile] mistresswanda.livejournal.com
"Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned
."

A heartbeat too late

The plate I was drying slips from my hands when I hear Rose in my head.

I'm sorry, Mama. I spin around, for it's so clear that she must be right there. "What are you sorry for bab---"

I double over, gasping, unable to draw air into my lungs. Rose? Rose! ROSE!!! ROSE!!!! My mind is screaming because I cannot form words. Her heartbeat is so fast it's near bursting then it's slowing and then--- OhgodpleasenoRosedontpleasepleasePLEASENONONONOROSEDONTGODONTLEAVEUSNONONONONO

"Wanda, what's---" Kent has run in, hearing the plates shatter, but the sky rumbles and the earth shakes and the lights go out all at once. I hear him say her name, then go running for her room.

"She's---- not-----there---" I try to wheeze out. She's not there, I know she's not. She's gone. Oh God, my baby, no, not her...

"Wanda---!" I hear his panicked voice from down the hall, and finally I can suck air into my lungs. "Rose!" I scream, unable to hear her. I can't hear her thoughts, I can't hear her heartbeat I can't I can't I can't---

Part of my mind registers that the world has gone quite insane as I run blindly into the night. It's raining, and I think hail is pelting me and scratching across my skin as I tear down Main, then Silk. I see lights flashing, and I think Kent is somewhere behind me, and I hear people screaming. I think I am one of them. I can't hear my daughter!

I don't know how I know where to go; I just do. She's knit into me so tightly, I can find her even if I can't hear her. I can't hear her! Just over the bridge---

It's gone. There's no way across the river, but just on the other side I can see the outline of the carnival when the lightning flashes, and just on the other side---

For a moment, I think it can't be her. That girl is too big, but I also know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is Rose. That pale, lovely, unmoving slip of a young woman is--- my Rose is---

My scream pierces the night. A long, keening wail that can be heard over everything else. Kent finally catches up, and when he see's what I do, he sinks to his knees, weeping. The earth shakes again, and this is what He always planned. This... our daughter's dea--- it was always planned. It is the beginning of the end, and he used His own---

I lean down and kiss my husband; fast and fierce. I murmur a 'I love you' against his ear... then I jump into the river and try to make my way to the other side. I will not be kept from my baby, my own heart I can't hear her!... even if it may very well be the last thing I do.

(Closed)
[identity profile] atrarosa.livejournal.com
The time we have been waiting for. After sunset.

I put on a purple dress, to help me be brave. I grew out of my favourite one - I grow out of everything so fast - but Mama got me a new one. It's meant to be for going to parties, but I won't be going to any more of them. But I don't want to think about that right now. It makes my stomach hurt.

Mama made me go to bed not too long ago. She says that even though I'm a big girl now, I still need lots of sleep. I always argue with Mama about bed time, so I made sure to argue this time too, so she wouldn't think anything was strange. And I made my mind quieten down when I was lying in bed, so she'd think I was falling asleep. Mama's clever. But I know lots of tricks now. I can hide my thoughts, if I want. So I got up, and I got dressed, and I snuck out. Father told me I would know how to, when I needed to, and he was right.

So I go out of the house, and I go towards the tower. I have to walk through the field to get there, and the grass is so high. It looks creepy in the dark. But I know nothing will happen to me, because Father is watching. He wouldn't let anything happen, not before I do what he wants me to do. But I'm still scared, all the same.

[Open to Iblis]
[closed]
[identity profile] hermia-sophia.livejournal.com
[The morning after the dream of Nanshe]

Dear Ms. Thorn,

I apologize for the suddenness of this letter, and hope that you will understand that I would not write so abruptly if it were not a very urgent matter.

I need your help - or, rather, I know that we need to work together - on something vitally important. It is related to what we did together three years ago, at the water's edge. The need is even greater now than it is then.

Please meet me at your earliest convenience in the garden behind the Whitechapel on Silk Road. I will be there working.

Yours,

Hermia Stephanides


--
The letter was the fourth thing that I did after I awoke, with the taste of seafoam on my lips. The first was to curl myself close to Valmont, embracing him so tightly that he awoke too. I told him everything as I held him close, listening to the steady beat of his heart and feeling his warm presence next to me.

The second was to hug the children. (It is still a marvel, to think 'children' and not 'child.') For once, Luc stayed asleep - he murmured and squirmed in his dreams, his little mind working hard even in slumber, but he did not wake.

The third was to send a message to Chester, a tiny flare of magic sent into the ether. I know he will answer when he can, and I hope that it is soon, for I will need his help. I will need everyone's help.

The fourth was the letter, sent off with Adam as he finished the night's cleaning to head home. He was startled to see me awake, and even more so to see me sending a note to the Carnival, but he agreed to do what I asked.

And the fifth was to get to work.

I stay in the garden all morning, Marie sleeping beside me as the pale-purple stillness of dawn brightens into full day. Sorting herbs and sketching diagrams, plucking at the threads of Power to see what shapes I can weave them into, trying to find the sparks of divinity that Nanshe left behind.

Working and waiting.

[Open to Syl]

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