At Long Last

Re: At Long Last

Postby Glenn » Mon Feb 24, 2020 2:45 pm

Glenn's mind was an ever-churning dynamo. He couldn't stop it, couldn't quiet it, couldn't soothe it. Once upon a time, the connection to Rhaena Olwak helped. Long mornings with Ariane Emory helped. Reading, writing, delving into secrets that no human should come anywhere near, tearing down facades even if those facades meant happiness. All of that helped, but none of it, not even all of it together, stilled his restlessness.

Even so, perhaps she gave him too much credit, either for the preparation or for the quickness. Returning to Myrken was no small thing, not something decided upon on a whim. The idea that he might leave again, that he might be forced to leave again, had crossed his mind and he had thought upon what terms it might occur. Success was obvious. Personal devastation was a real possibility though it would involve gaining a great deal he did not currently have, even here in the lair of a fond fairy queen and among two true, remarkable friends. Failure so severe that he could not fix it? That was a difficult thing to gauge but he was better suited than most.

Still, as she chuckled, he smiled in return. "Those are all possibilities, Finn, but none of them are necessarily strong probabilities, not stronger than the alternative. Most likely, I stay." Then things turned to his happiness, his presence there, to Gloria. Both of them were sober now. "She ought to be worried about the influence I have laid upon you. Maybe she does. Probably she doesn't. She thinks me drawn to power, but she's wrong. I'm drawn to possibility. I know well the feeling of its utter, hopeless absence.

"Gloria will be a problem, a problem for both of us and for us both. That's a shame for it could have been different. There are only so many inspired women here in Myrken, not due to any lack of valor or potential, but due to the way this place, like so many others on this continent, stamps it out. I've done what I could to reverse that, but my failures are well documented by now. Still, there are others." He acknowledged the necessity of only having an indirect hand, but it was limiting.

Or you could stay. Of course he meant to stay. He wanted to hear from the raven, but he wanted to gauge her reactions, give her a chance to contest his words, give her a chance trap herself in contradictions, if it came to that. Still, she had introduced a choice he had not even thought of, and that, along with her manner, changed things.

He gave her a firm, serious shake of the head. "It's Benedict's choice whether I stay or go, where we do this. I defer completely to his preference and his wisdom."
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Re: At Long Last

Postby Niabh » Sun Mar 01, 2020 8:28 pm

Once upon a time, the raven would’ve told you that no one could outtalk a Niall. Then he met the wanker. Then some time passed and he realized that outtalking didn’t even apply, since half the time they didn’t even seem having the same conversation. Just jabber-jabber-jabber on like a pair of bluejays, each entranced by the sound of their own voice. Or maybe he was just frustrated, forced to focus on their conversational antics by his own enforced silence.

Didn’t they say you heard more when you were keeping quiet? If that was the only advantage, they could keep it.

The lady plopped down on her stump again, elbows propped on her knees and chin in her hands, beaming up at Glenn as if she was a proud bard and he her prized pupil. “Only you, dear,” she said fondly, “only you,” which caused the raven to glare up at her in deep suspicion. Was she in the habit of calling the wanker ‘dear’? Couldn’t remember. Only Glenn Burnie would assume that when the Queen of Fairy implored him to stay, it was because she wanted to go on talking. The raven fluttered imperiously, still glaring, trying to get her attention, but either he was beneath her notice or she was utterly oblivious, too wrapped up in the game to give a damn.

Glenn was right. Maybe not about the power thing, but about how much influence he had on the lady. Benedict didn’t like it, not one bit. He’d watched her enough with the tultharian to know she made exceptions. Glenn was her latest exception, and her largest. He also knew her well enough to know how fast she could drop an exception. That little temper tantrum out in the Woods had taught him that. If anyone should be the exception around her, the raven thought, with uncharacteristic pique, you’d think it’d be him, and look how that had worked out.

Still, the raven kept his peace. He knew something neither of them did. And like a true Niall, he was hanging onto it until the moment of greatest dramatic impact. If the lady hadn’t just plopped her arse on his intended perch, he would have already dropped the news by now.

“You know my feelings on Gloria by now,” said the lady, more seriously, and quieter. “I’ll not bore you with more of them.” She crossed her wrists upon her knee. “I wrote that I would rather deal with Catch first, and Gloria a long way after. But neither of them can be done without we first deal with you. We need a plan for that, going forward. For tonight, though, it can wait.”

Finally she stood up. The raven immediately hopped upon her vacated stool as she wandered closer to Glenn. “If I have my way, there will be no more failures. If only because if you are on my errand, I cannot afford for you to fail.”

She reached to touch his arm, which was just about e-godsdamn-nough as far as Benedict was concerned. He drew himself straight, head arched up like a rooster. “As much as some folks like to believe the sun rises and sets on ’em,” he announced, having had some time to compose a little speech, “what you’re both forgettin’ is that the sun’s been up on the other end of the lake for a good little while now.”

The lady snatched back her hand and wheeled on him, wide-eyed, and so fast that her pigtail lashed in a half-circle. Not fast enough to disguise the momentary flash of outright fury that crossed her face. “You little sneak!”

“I don’t think you’re in a position to be outraged just now.” He wasn’t particularly angry. This had dragged out too long for him to be angry anymore. Now he was just tired, and his voice held a petulant, plaintive whine, like a cranky child. “I don’t get you. Why didn’t you just tell him about the big guy? Of all people, you think he won’t get it?”

Blood slammed into her face like a slap. Her lips cringed back from clenched teeth. “Raven—”

The raven overrode her, leaning with urgency toward Glenn as though he might be silenced again in the next heartbeat: “She got pissed off because she thinks Gloria did somethin’ bad to Catch. And because Gloria called her a name.” A moment after saying it, he shivered all over, as though to erase the mistake. “I mean, it was a pretty bad name, in context. Not like she called her a big fat stupidhead or somethin’. But mostly the Catch thing. That’s why I thought she weren’t comin’ back, that’s why I threatened to go to you, and that’s why she tried to shut me up.”
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Re: At Long Last

Postby Glenn » Mon Mar 02, 2020 1:49 am

He watched her with interest as she plopped down. He watched her with interest as she rose again. Rapt might be a good word, but then her attention was entirely unveiled upon him. Even sober (though exhausted, unmistakably, having swam through the glamourie to arrive and then crawled through the mania it left him in), he was but human. Even he. They were both wrapped up in the game. It gave him a sort of power, for she would play by the rules and he would skirt around them, so long as they continued to play.

Even talk of Gloria could be pushed to a further point. She suggested it. He agreed. She reached for his arm. Affection came in many forms and there was still a long road left to travel for the two of them, if they meant to do so, if they had the chance to do so. It need not be carnal nor romantic, no matter what the stories might indicate. Was that not often Burnie's way? To eschew the easy and common paths for those secret and far less trodden. Here at the end of this night, one touch might lead to a closeness, something more fraternal, something inspired, a loyalty and synchronicity that bordered on bestial. They had such a long way to go down more complex roads that their people had so rarely walked together. So long as nothing interrupted them.

The raven broke the spell.

When she uttered Benedict's breed, Burnie backed a few steps towards his friend. He stayed silent, however, right up until the end. When he spoke, it was not to the fairy queen. It was no longer her time. "I gave her two chances, you know. I asked, and then, to ensure there was no confusion, I asked again." Despite suspicions, of one or the other or both or something else, he had not asked a third time. There may not have been any going back from that. "So that it would come from her, with her words and her feelings, before it had to come from you."

Then, as it was clear there was no immediacy of threat, Burnie sank down. There was nothing about him, nothing about his personality or how he clashed and scraped his way through existence, that would suggest grace. He did not have the patience for it, did not have the quiet competency to appreciate it, yet humans were infinitely adaptable. Every morning for years, two, perhaps three, he had stood across from Ariane Emory, and repetition overcame natural predilection. Two or three are not large numbers, but imagine them multiplied by three-hundred. It began with footwork, it ended with footwork, proper placing, proper pressure, again and again and again. Even the raging torrent of his mind ultimately fell to such lessons and his body learned what the rest of him never could. When he sank down, then, into a sitting position with legs crossed, it was the most graceful thing either outlandish being had ever seen from him.

"I could be upset or I could be jealous." That grace extended outwards to his voice. Were he still playing the game, he would make a lyrical show of this, a hundred floating, drifting, engaging words where two might suffice. It was no longer her time, however, and with morning, the path had become inexplicably darker. "Instead, I am concerned. Why would she omit this? Especially knowing that you would say it so clearly. Did she hide it from me or from herself?"

Then he looked to Fionnuala, that concern having seeped from the constrained shape of his words all the way into his eyes, even if only slightly. "I'd like you to answer, too, and am glad that I stayed so that you can, but Benedict goes first."

It was the raven's time now.
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Re: At Long Last

Postby Niabh » Thu Mar 05, 2020 8:19 pm

Well, well. She had been dismissed, then. Her jaw trembled, as though the force of a sharp retort shook her locked teeth, a tin cup scraped across the jail bars. She swallowed, and the shaking stilled, her face smoothing into what the raven recognized as a dangerous calm. The storm could be dissipating, or they could be in the eye of it. She might blow either way.

In truth, the calm was acquiescence. Benedict was up to something. Glenn slipped down beside him—ah, there was her sionnach, all stealthy spontaneous grace—while she swept herself aside. Her shoulder leaned against Benedict’s house in a way that a more suspicious creature might take as a threat, or a warning—you’ll pass this way eventually—and she gave her plait a rough, irritated swipe away from her shoulder. She was going to come out of this badly, she feared.

The raven scooted nervously away from Glenn. Nothing personal; he just had a vast wing-spread and didn’t like being crowded. Plus Glenn was still acting all weird and chummy; he would not be surprised—though he would certainly be upset—if the man got himself all full of bonhomie and slung an arm across his back like they were drinking buddies.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t know why she wouldn’t just say it, since it’s the only thing that makes anything else make sense. Anyway, you know how before Catch were sort of…um, simple?”

Raven!” she snapped, aggravated.

“Don’t fecking raven me, he was simple. Even you called him simple. At first I thought she was off her tree, that she was…I don’t know, I thought it was her bein’ kind to the village idiot, or maybe she was so smitten that she just saw what she wanted to see.” Dark and intense, he leaned closer to Glenn, speaking urgently. “I’ve seen those two together before and nothin’ against the big guy but usually she has to speak to him with real small words, if you get me.”

Fionn could not restrain from a loud hmmph! Her shoulders slumped, her gaze black and bitter as a wolf’s.

“But he has changed. It’s like…there’s more there there. Like he’s solidifying. He's more like her. I even thought she’d done something to him, but she swears she didn’t and the way she is about him, I don’t think she’d lie.” He tapered off, with an uncertain little dance, foot to foot. His wingtips hung loose, dragging the stump’s rough face. “But then I thought, she hung around you, and you changed, and she hung around him, and he changed, and that seems like way too much coincidence.”

“I’ve done nothing to Catch.” She spread her palms and gave a helpless laugh. “I should be flattered anyone believes I could do anything to Catch.”

“You’re the Queen,” the raven said, stony. “You’re a Niall. You’re the only person here who don’t believe you have enough power to change whatever you want changed.”

That made her cross all over again. To have her own title flung into her face, as though it were evidence against her. Hands bound, impatient, she sighed again and folded her arms sullenly. The raven hesitated long enough to confirm that she was really going to stand down. Then he spoke.

“It’s easier to start from the beginning. Remember a couple years back I told you I might not be able to get you a reply for a few days because she was in jail? That turned out to be no big deal; she pranked her way back out. But the reason she was in jail, she told me, was because some old bloke she deals with had some plant what only grows back home.” He cocked his head toward the lady. “What was it, cos mactíre?

Cloigíní,” she said. “Cloigíní geala. The red kind.”

The raven tck-tck-tcked like a clock spring wound to breaking, then gave a little impressed wheeze, tension releasing. “Yeah, all right. No wonder.”

His head twisted back toward Glenn. “Anyway, she found out he had it and decided to go get some, and I know it seems like I’ve gone off on a wild tangent but bear with me, this is all context. She said she wanted it because it might come in handy, but if it was red cloigíní he had, then I think she’d taken it into her head to be offended. Tultharian gettin’ hold of something that belonged to Tuatha, you know? Anyway, that’s how she got arrested. They caught her. She couldn’t break glam and didn’t want to do anything too bad to the geezer, so she went along with it. But she sneaked out some seeds.”

“Under my thumbnails.” With a bright, brittle grin, not at all pleasant, she crooked both thumbs and wiggled them. “No one thought to look.”

“So araile-araile, some time goes by, years go by, and suddenly there’s this notice. Someone’s askin’ if anyone’s seen the very same plant. So she moves ’em further away from the den, out in the Woods, and she sets a trap in case someone comes lookin’. And then as a prank she sends a whole mess of them to the fellow what put up the notice. She said if he had enough of his own, maybe he’d stop nosin’ after her stash.

“A few days after that, someone ends up fallin’ in the trap. Put it all together, the timing and all, and you don’t gotter be a goddamn genius to figger out they're after the plant, you know? Anyway, we go out together to see who’s been snoopin’, and it’s Gloria.”

The raven glanced uncertainly to his lady, who stood lean and strained, spine tensed to pounce. Then back to Glenn, with a tiny sigh. This many words was an investment. He couldn’t just leave it there, even if he wanted to.

“So. Gloria’s in the hole, and she’s nowhere close to in her right mind, and neither of us know what's wrong with her. The lady thinks she’s rummed up. But then she—the lady—she starts taunting Gloria. Needlin’ her. Makin’ it worse. And all of a sudden Gloria snaps and starts hurting herself, like she said—she pulled out a godsdamn tooth and threw it at us. Not like I know anything about it but it looked like it hurt. And she's like you’d better not kill me or Catch’ll be pissed and I’m standin’ there thinkin’ good job, Gloria, say the one thing that’ll make her even more angry, and right on time, it did. She…” He faltered again, looking almost embarrassed. “The lady accused Gloria of doin’ something bad to Catch. Like. Real bad. Just trust me on this one. It was bad. And Gloria’s like, you’re just so in love with him so you don’t see what he really does to people, the mare will dam araile-araile, and the lady…well, I thought she was going to leave her down there.”

“I said I was going to get a branch,” Fionn said, irritated.

“You didn’t say anything. You stormed off. And I told her if she left, I’d go get help from the town guard and let Gloria tell ’em whatever she wanted, and then I’d go tell you about all the business with her and Gloria. Because there’s a lot. But she left anyway. I figgered she wasn’t coming back, so I went and found some help, which was a goddamn mistake, but never mind that now. Anyhow, about the time I did get back, so did she. And that’s when she took my voice. I guess so’s I didn’t end up tellin’ you everything I just did. And that’s when Gloria called her a rat’s back.”

Rat’vak.” The r ripped from the tip of her tongue; the final syllable became a whipcrack. The morning dew steamed off the grass around her as if her very anger had caused it to smolder. “Servant. She called me servant.”

The raven shuffled, eyes sliding away from her. “Ye-e-e-ah, in case you couldn’t tell from that tone, callin’ a queen a servant? Not great. Anyway, that was pretty much the end of it. She stormed off, I stuck around long enough to see Gloria got out, then I buggered off before anyone could ask me any questions. Except by then I couldn’t’ve answered them.”

His chest inflated, then sagged. The effort of telling the story had blunted the edge of his frustration; the broken dam reduced to a trickle. Watery pink light bounced off the lake’s ripples. A bank of yellow-bellied clouds drifted idly over Myrken. The larks were out, and the hole of his front door looked awfully dark and cozy from here, were not his lady’s face, now clear in the dawn’s glow, glaring at him like a baleful moon: lips pressed to a line, eyes widened somewhere between anger and betrayal. It was, he realized, not unlike the look on her face when she’d taken his voice to begin with. She’d do it again, the moment Glenn’s back was turned, if this gambit failed.

“So,” he concluded, “long story short: she’s gotten weird about Catch. I just didn’t realize how weird until all that happened. I don’t think she realized either. She still doesn’t realize it. I think the reason she got so mad with Gloria is because Gloria was right. When it comes to Catch, she don’t see anything. And I don’t know if it’s her or if it’s him anymore.”
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Re: At Long Last

Postby Glenn » Tue Mar 10, 2020 6:13 am

Glenn Burnie had forced a sort of passivity upon the two of them. This was the raven's time, and that meant it was most certainly not their time. Maybe, in making that choice, Burnie had flexed muscles that a queen would normally have reserved for herself, but she was a queen in exile and that was a different thing altogether. He had returned to Myrken and even in her place of power, in this oasis within the woods, the entirety of the province was his home. He could wear the people's disdain or admiration as someone else might wear clothing, likely better than he, himself, tended to wear clothing. The Wood was not sentient, but if anything might make it so, irritation towards Glenn Burnie would be just the thing.

Through much of this, through her jaw tightening, through the raven scooting, through the question of denial and withheld information, a question that would be raised early and answered late, through the description of Catch, through her interjection, through the raven's evidence (small words, simple thoughts), through the hmmph and the glare, he watched and he listened and he did not interject; she did more than enough of that for the both of them.

It was not until friend Benedict brought him back into the story, until he noted that Glenn, much like Catch, had changed. Then, he spoke: "You're not wrong," for it was the raven's time after all, "but it's more complex with that, with me, yes, but mostly with him. There were always moments of lucidity, moments where the veil could drop. It was a scale. Certain stimuli, certain outside pressures, certain conditions. If Catch was driven past a point of extremity, you might see signs of it. More often, though, it wasn't about Catch at all; it would be about you, about vulnerability. When you were stripped to your barest self, wrenched from all that was comfortable, all that you were, he would be able to show you. In this, Fionnuala, take some solace: you've been torn from so much. He is no unicorn, or our definition of such a thing is wholly false, and vulnerability is not innocence, but they are all kin, you see. We affect him. Sometimes through plots and plans and experiments, sometimes just through the resounding hammering of our hearts. I have. Rhaena did. Of course you do." Words, too many words, with so much confidence when it was all only experience and anecdotes and supposition. If he was embarrassed, however, it was not by that, but instead that he had interrupted Benedict for so long. "My apologies. Please continue."

To his dubious credit, Glenn stayed silent through the next bit, through the jail and the plant, and the hidden seeds. It was excruciating, but his own pressure had been recently relieved and was only now building up again, so he showed his pained restraint with a fidgeting patience, if not with any semblance of grace. This was the raven's time, after enforced, unhappy silence, but must it be quite this lengthy? She may have been pleased with him, but he did not show any pride for her trick of seeds and fingernails. He was agitated in general but neutral in specific for each and every thing they said.

What then, would draw forth his speech once more? As it turned out, not one thing at all, but many. They came as a litany of statements and questions, clarifiers as the story got away from them all. "What is this plant? What are its qualities? You realize that one aspect of trade is having to share your things? Why might Gloria want it?" A breath, though just a short one. "Gloria is human as I am human. We began that way and if we are more fortunate than we deserve, we will end that way. In the meantime, events have changed us. With her, it's more dramatic. She is, I think, both a catalyst and a conduit. I am a catalyst but nonconductive." He did not ask about the accusation. If he knew this much about Catch and about Gloria, it was likely he could make some simple connections. One more question then. "Who was he, Benedict? The help you got. Best I handle this and not her," his queen 'her' in this case, "but Gloria will be a danger enough without a witness. Every potential surprise moving forward creates a risk you can't afford her to have."

The story was coming to its conclusion then, a queen made a servant, an insult seeped in truth. Fine. In one fluid motion, Burnie bounded to his feet. "We'll do three things, then, Benedict. First, you'll tell her bard of her condition. Not her father, not her mother, none but the bard. I'm not saying it won't seep out anyway, but if there is some enchantment at play, let her be the judge. Perhaps peck out her left eye in the process for my sake? No? Fine. Then, in the meantime, I will temper Fionnuala's sense of vulnerability. She is less alone here in Myrken Wood today than she was yesterday. Doubly so as you can speak again. With a true friend nearby, she will be less apt to succumb to the unveiled grandeur of Catch."

The third thing, of course, went without saying, even for Glenn Burnie, who thought everything worth saying in the most overstrained ways.

Not this though. It was the most obvious thing in the world. Obvious to all.

He would have to go and see Catch.
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Re: At Long Last

Postby Niabh » Fri Mar 13, 2020 7:47 pm

Midway through, she began pacing. Prowling, really—like a hunting cat behind bars, with her hands caught behind her back and her plait lashing to and fro. Like a cat, she came to sudden, uncalculated pauses where she watched the man and the raven intently, with a long, piercing gaze, then swept back into motion. If Glenn kept his fidgeting in check by barest sufferance, then she performed it in broad, smooth, silent strokes, as if dispelling impatience for them both. Again she wished she’d had a moment alone with the raven to rehearse where he meant to go with all this. Now she felt locked out, on the boundaries.

He was going to see Catch. That much was plain. Unavoidable, really. She had warned Catch that he would. She had even—and more the fool for it—told Glenn that he should. But now that the moment was inevitable as the dawn, her stomach bubbled in dread.

If you really believed he could harm Catch—not just upset, harm—you would stop him right here and now. If you really believed Catch would harm him, you would—

The thought ran up against a hard wall.

Would she?

A heavy truth settled upon her like cold snow, and her pacing slowed, her shoulders bending under its weight. If he set himself in the path of the beannaithe, what happened next was in the gods’ hands and no one else’s.

The sound of Glenn interrupting at last, speaking her name, her true name, like a bowstring snapping in her face, jerked her out of her ruminations with an involuntary twitch of her shoulders. To hear it said—aloud, in this open stillness where the wind might whip the sound away and anyone at all might pick it up—made all the blood drain out of her face, leaving her cold and dizzy. She twisted back toward them both, bestowing upon them her chilly intensity.

Keep silent. Give them space.

By and by her foot began to jitter with impatience as she waited for the raven to conclude, waited to see what the damage would be, and bit back a groan and sucked her bottom lip as Glenn encouraged him to continue.

When he said her name a second time, she lowered her head and locked her jaw, but not tightly enough. A little whimper seeped out. She grimaced in embarrassment and cut her eyes away firmly. Until they were done.

Glenn, of course, was never done. But she was, and that was all that matter.

“You do not give my raven instructions right before my own nose, Sionnach,” she said, quiet and firm. “You most certainly do not send word back to my own people without the leave of me.”

She started toward them, though it took many more steps than it should have done to reach them, a dreamlike distance. “You may answer him, raven.”

Benedict might have felt a lot more comfortable with that permission if she weren’t hanging right over him. He shifted about again, trying to keep an eye on both of them at once. “I don’t know who the bloke was. He knew Gloria though. The cloigíní is…”

He paused, glancing up at his mistress. “You want to tell him, or should I?”

Her fingers rose to her temples. She closed her eyes briefly, chuckled, and shook her head. “Not if you’re going to take all of today and half of tomorrow about it.”

Her eyes opened. “I don’t know why she would have wanted it. She seemed to think it was some sort of poison—accusing me of wanting to kill someone with it.” She spoke with weary but familiar disgust, because of course that was all anyone Here would see in it. Everything filtered through the veil of their own mortality. Her voice darkened and echoed. “It is this night just passed, mo sionnach. It is what we mourn. It is a flower that blooms on both sides of the gates of death. It is not to be shared, or traded.”

She breathed deep, then managed a small, forgiving smile. “More than that and I’ll have to smack you with a wet reed.”

Her head cocked to the side, her expression more serious. Worried. This time her hand made the journey, uninterrupted, to rest upon his arm, tethering him lightly to the spot lest he bound all the way to town this minute. “Do me this favor, Sionnach. Before you embark upon…whatever mad thing you’re obviously planning to do, go back to wherever you’re bedding down. Have yourself a bite to eat, since you scarce ate enough to keep a bird alive—”

The raven fluffed himself offended. “I resent that.”

She smiled, then gave a slight shake of her head toward Benedict and went on. “Get what rest you can. Think this through.” Each word of the three was matched by a gentle but insistent tug on his elbow. It lingered there as her steady gaze met his. Vulnerable. “Will you promise me that much? Just this once?”
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Re: At Long Last

Postby Glenn » Sat Mar 14, 2020 2:25 am

If he set himself in the path of the beannaithe, what happened next was in the gods’ hands and no one else’s.

Given his power, his age, his malleability in the face of Belief, what was Catch but a god? No, what would happen next would be decided by a god and by a human. This was Glenn Burnie's entire point of being, what he strived for each and every day, a human hand straining against the chains of fate. If Catch was to pull the other way, so be it. In whatever happened next, they, not some distant gods, would deserve the credit and would deserve the blame.

"Thank you Benedict. You don't know him but you can find him again. Please do so and let me know." The bird had seen Glenn good and bad. He'd seen Glenn sick and well. He'd seen Glenn use wank for this and that. He'd never quite seen Glenn like this, here in Myrken, but he knew well enough that it was not a good thing when Glenn Burnie used less words instead of more. "He'll come to no harm at my hands. However, through your good intentions, he's now involved in this. That is not a door easily closed. Either you handle this, she handles this, or I handle this. Best that it's me."

It wasn't until she had her hand upon his arm that he spoke once more, and there were multiple things to cover. He did not shy away from her, though there was not the magic to this moment as there would have been before the raven interrupted. Then, he might have refused her nothing. Now, he'd impose instead. It was from the same point of caring and affection, but it was his hand pointing the blade instead of hers.

"Though you have no use for my promises, I will promise you that one thing. You just get the one, though." And what did that mean? She could suspect, but instead he would tell; of course he would. "I will look into the cloigini as I have looked into other things, including how Gloria might have previously encountered it. Therefore, I'll be looking into her without her permission too, so be gladdened that it's fair and not at all personal."

That was the one. With Burnie, there was always three, wasn't there? Except for when there was more. Here was the second. "Benedict should go. If you are captivated beyond your ability to mitigate, it is your responsibility as Queen to take measures to ensure your health of mind and body." That was a dangerous game, but its danger was in its effectiveness. You could shame royalty that took their responsibilities seriously. "And, furthermore, Queen, while I may give your raven and my friend instructions when I find it necessary, I would never give him instructions that you would disagree with, save for directly in front of you.

"As for the third, fine. I promise. Just ignore what I said about vulnerability and Him. Fine. I will rest, I will eat," she could all but feel the defiance wafting off of him; it was a defiance that was for him and for her and for Myrken, yes, but far more than it was for things, it was against things.

It had been a long day and a long night, and perhaps that excused what he was about to do. More likely, though, it was but a prelude. Still, even a prelude counted just like anything else. He made a half turn to face her and wrapped his arms around her, an embrace. He was, of course, an inexperienced, terrible hugger, with less warm and soft spots than most people, but it was an embrace nonetheless, rare currency. It would also bring him close enough to speak softly. "But do not forget, Ellipsis. Catch was my dear Mystery and I His long before you ever met him."
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Re: At Long Last

Postby Niabh » Mon Mar 16, 2020 9:06 pm

“I wasn’t ignoring you,” she protested. “It’s just that you’re wrong and it’s so utterly useless telling you why you’re wrong that I’ve taken the position of letting you go ahead and be wrong until you’ve plumbed it for all its potential. And don’t be snippish,” she added, like a scolding schoolmarm. “You don’t get to make all these grand gestures, being concerned over me when I am perfectly capable of looking after myself, and then act all insolent when I dare suggest you might like to sleep before you go running off after Catch. I’ve seen what you’re like with no sleep, remember? Twice now. You lie on the ground babbling nonsense.”

Her chin lowered, and she gazed sternly at him. “You’re going to need all your wits with Him now, mo sionnach.

One point he had gotten right enough that he made her uneasy and defensive: that there was something unnatural between herself and Catch. A thing she could not see, a thing to which Catch’s very radiance had blinded her. Shame had very little to do with it. The thought that she might love something more than she loved her own people did. Glenn had laid a finger on the heart of her concerns, and her spine knotted, her hip shifting her weight uncomfortably. Resenting him for it, and grateful that he was sharp enough to see it, and brave enough to say it.

It was gratitude that kept her by his side when he turned to her, and gratitude that welcomed him into her arms even after she pushed him away earlier. Poor Glenn. He really was terrible at affection. Like hugging a marionette, or a creature that was not quite used to having so many limbs and didn’t know where to put them all, and of course he had to have his one bit of imposition, reasserting his control over the situation, before he could bring himself to relinquish it.

Still, the gesture was worth more than the execution. She accepted it for what it was and locked her arms tight across his back.

“You are both my mysteries.” Her sigh of resignation ruffled his hair. “How will I ever keep an eye to both of you at once? At least He heeds me, once in a while.”


And did he think, just because he felt her solid arms embrace him, did he truly believe that self-same flesh and bone that slipped like smoke through his fingers could not run invisibly outside a jacket pocket? Testing, riffling lightly, searching for an outline through the fabric.

Nothing. Nothing.

Silently she swore to herself, then resolved both hands upon his back once more.



Too close, a little too close for the season, but this late it was more an annoyance than a compulsion. Her embrace squeezed tighter for a moment, long enough to steel herself before she took a firm step away, holding him armslength. The sense of connection sundering felt like a physical loss—a thing wrenched loose.

Hands on his shoulders, she studied him, a little melancholy. “We had best find some way to meet hereafter. Someone’s bound to notice if you come this way too often.”
Anything can be magic if you're gullible enough.
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Re: At Long Last

Postby Glenn » Wed Mar 18, 2020 5:22 am

Glenn let her go on, let her tell him how wrong he was, or at least loudly refuse to tell him how wrong he was. He let her complain about his grand gestures and his snippishness, and he simply tried to not smile at her. He mostly succeeded. An hour before, he would have failed horribly. "He's seen me lying on the ground babbling nonsense as well, you know." That was a prelude to the claiming of mysteries that would come later.

"My wits will only ever take me so far with him. Especially now. I wager I'll need my heart more than my wits. We'll see which of us is right on the other side." Just what the wager entailed was anyone's guess. Never agree to terms with a fairy when empty generalities would do.

He had wits, heart, and restraint all when she said what she said about heeding. Rat'vak was too recent on everyone's lips (proverbial in the case of the bird). And as he showed restraint, she showed none at all and she surely, to herself, named it a kindness, with him none the wiser.

Or was he? There were three types of glams, and one type, the type that unfurled in the midst of an embrace, to him, in his current state, felt like a quickly downed shot of brandy in the midst of a terrible hangover.

There was no way of knowing what exactly had happened though. His mind went to all the wrong places, benign places, ones that met her need: a moment becoming an epoch if that was what she needed. All he could do was guess, but truly, it didn't matter. The gesture had been given freely. It had been given unconditionally as well. She did with it what she did.

It did not feel like an epoch before they were disentangled once more. "Letters first," He said coolly, sharply enough. "Benedict will tell you if things have gone poorly or if I am somehow not myself. He'll tell me the same about you. We'll find a way after this single, first thing is behind us."
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Re: At Long Last

Postby Niabh » Wed Mar 18, 2020 6:15 am

She nodded in solemn agreement. "I'll send Benedict to check on you later today, an he will go."

A glance toward the raven, who clucked and perked up, flitting and smoothing back his wingtips as if he were prepared to set out this minute. "Of course I'll go. Sheesh. What do you take me for?"

"Too little and far too much, it would seem." She gave a dry smile, then the formal nod with her fist to her breastbone. "Good neighbor."

She turned back to Glenn, who had gone cool while she grew warmer, softer. With daylight on her back, she was inclined to be amused by him once more. He'd sensed the glam. Her clever, inquisitive, sharp-eyed sionnach, ears pricked for a pattern, and why name him that at all if she hadn't wanted him to play the part?

"I did not ask your help to untangle what I have wrought, and I have no need of it." She bowed her head. A momentary surrender, but a sincere one. "But I am glad to have it, all the same."

Her reluctance to let him go back into the world, where anything might happen to him--or where he might happen to any luckless thing that cross his path--manifested in the way her hands hovered just above his shoulder, two birds, before she drew them away and turned her back to him, stepping briskly toward her fire, where she stooped to begin tidying away the remains of their meal. "If you have need," she tossed over her shoulder, casually, "the path is open."

And it was. Nothing outward changed but the sight of Myrken across the lake assumed an ordinary distance and proportion. Her glade was a perfectly pleasant but ordinary space carved between forest and lake. It would be a brambly and muddy trudge around the lake to the Dagger, but no longer an impossible or indefinite one, and the sun promised a lovely morning. Already she felt the slight bubbling in her guts that she had come to identify as regret. But what else could she do? With all his innate, hard-won sense for glamourie, could he too recognize the risk?

Her throat worked, lips twitching slightly as she considered him, a question working its way to the forefront before she dismissed it. One regret per day was quite enough. Let's not go making it two.
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Re: At Long Last

Postby Glenn » Fri Mar 20, 2020 6:05 am

If she had but one regret out of that entire exchange then more power to her. One regret might be a chink in an armor, but by that notion, humans walked around bleeding from every pore. "I'll speak with you soon," he noted to the fairy queen, smiling slightly whether she saw it or not, "and I'll speak with you first," this to Benedict. "I hope that you found my aid more palatable than your Lady."

And then, with the confidence of a self-taught mapmaker and a world-taught Glenn Burnie, he walked back towards the rest of humanity, and towards the one bright all-consuming star at the very heart of Myrken Wood. That would be for later, though.

Rest would come first.
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