At Long Last

At Long Last

Postby Glenn » Sun Nov 03, 2019 3:15 pm

Failure, so often, was relative. It hinged on goals, on expectations. It hinged, like so many other things, on perception. Small gains could be made, could be rationalized. Others could be blamed, or even fate itself. Sometimes, though, failure could be quantified. A year. He had meant to arrive back in Myrken an entire year ago, before the frost of last year. Here he was then, just as frost was nipping this year.

That was a failure, but not nearly so much so as if he he never arrived at all. Here he was. They. Here they were. Genny. Her coterie (a driver, a guard, one more overeager than the other). Egris, the Kestrel, army abandoned. Two women. Two capable, brilliant women, two sides of wholly different coins, one that could well have her face minted on them. That was no accident, not really. Maybe the timing. Maybe. Some days he wasn't entirely sure.

The road had not changed him, welcome as the company had been. The changes had happened beforehand, a special brand of metaphorical alchemy that was all too literal, touching the molten vein of a real Power, of a Quene, thus spelled, thus spelling. Now, he was steps off a ledge, steps and steps and more steps forth, bolstered not by his refusal to look down, but instead by an energy, a restlessness, that made all that he truly was even more so, broader, louder, brighter; unleashed.

The usual letters were sent to bankers and taxmen, to those who owed Glenn something or that he owed something more. Lodging was secured, near Egris though not on top of her.

One more day of riding would do it, even at the pace they had been going, the pleasant pace, one that allowed for questions and answers that weren't just life and death, that led to bonds and familiarity and just a little bit of healthy contempt. Nothing unconditional and nothing absolute. They were human, after all, flawed and broken, jagged and razor-sharp. Pieces might fit together to a greater whole, but never perfectly. There was beauty and that, and the three of them, here at the end of the trail, could see it in their own unique ways.

In this moment, the gate closing behind them, this strange party, one that could only be made stranger by a raven that was not currently present, was shaded obliquely by a fleeing sunset. In this moment, Burnie looked out, knowing full well what was before him, to an extent before them all, ancient and primal, long-lived and insatiable, lived-too-long and bitter, mysterious and obvious, a hope in and around it that something might be different this time, that this plan might be better than the last, that the flaw had been in something other than him.

One night's sleep and one day's ride. In the face of this specific tomorrow, of the looming Myrken, of the known Doom and the this one, final, mad glimpse of hope, Glenn Burnie, so unveiled for the first time in near a decade, smiled. Tomorrow, then. Tomorrow.
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Re: At Long Last

Postby Niabh » Fri Nov 08, 2019 7:24 am

He had a plan. He thought it was a pretty good one, or at least one of those where once you'd come up with it, you couldn't think of anything better that wasn't just variations on the original. His back-up plan--going all the way to Cnoch-na-Niall and enlisting one of the other ravens--would've taken too long. Glenn would be in Myrken by then, and the whole point of an advance warning would be mute. Moot. Whatever the word was. Hell, either one was applicable right about now, wasn't it?

Glenn wasn't a complete omadhaun. He'd catch on quick enough.

Black smoke seeped through the window. It drew itself together in a knot, hovering uncertainly, before taking a sharp dive and arriving bang-plop atop the fire mantel in the form of a glowering bird. His beak opened and shut, opened and shut, as if demanding someone vomit some ants into it, but other than the quick clicking as the two halves came together, nothing else came out.
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Re: At Long Last

Postby Glenn » Fri Nov 08, 2019 8:11 am

By this point, Burnie was working on a letter. There was nothing surprising about that, except for maybe the fact that he had been working on it for so long. Generally, it was one draft and done. Generally, there was no ink wasted. He weaved errant words into plausible sentences, connecting thoughts that ought not to be connected into some sort of greater whole. Rarely did he crumple up a failure of a page. Even more rarely did he do it twice. Here he was on a third attempt, a third attempt tonight. In most circumstances, the raven would be a fond arrival; here, he was even more welcome by far.

"Benedict," not a question, for of course it wasn't; all too often, Glenn Burnie asked by telling. "Rum cakes are bribes. Oh, I think this deep into our friendship, we can be honest about that. If you want one so badly then things will have had to gone quite farther south, and frankly, I've just come up north, so it all seems unlikely." Someone with some common decency would have cut off the sentence midway through, would have not completed the joke, because the general idea of it was enough to get the point across, but Burnie just had to finish his sentence.

Writing implement was put down, though not away, for the letter was a necessity whether he wanted it to be or not. His measured facade broke, replaced with some real concern. "Who did this to you? That other raven? Her Father? The High Queen?"

The fourth guess would have been Catch, actually. Truly, it would have probably been the third guess as the raven belonged to one of the other two (most likely, at least, or better put, directly or indirectly). The fallen governor with all of his words and thoughts, would not so easily suspect the bird's Lady of this. Believe it? Of course. Of course he would believe it. Suspect it? Absolutely not. It meant that the raven should have a quarter of a hope, which maddening as it might be, was better than no hope at all.
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Re: At Long Last

Postby Niabh » Fri Nov 08, 2019 8:29 am

Writing. It figgered. Maybe after all this was resolved, he'd ask Glenn for lessons because be damned if he was going to go get caught in this situation in the future. At least he could scratch something.

The raven willed his face to become harder and more serious, an effort that made absolutely no impact on his actual face, which remained the same indifferent-leaning-toward-grumpy expression of any common raven. Glenn's concern gave him a small smatter of relief. All he needed to do was get Glenn talking until something useful came out. Talking would be no problem but useful might prove more complicated.

With every name the man spoke, the raven responded first with a quick tick-tock shake of the head, the way the tultharian did it, followed by bobbing down to whack the side of his beak once, hard, upon the wooden mantel. In his enthusiasm and urgency to make the connection, he whacked perhaps a touch too hard; after three, his brains were rattling.
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Re: At Long Last

Postby Glenn » Fri Nov 08, 2019 9:07 am

Glenn took the beak-whacking as a personal affront. It was all too much enthusiasm for wrong answers. He might not pick up on one non-existent facial expression or another, but that all felt like a bit much. Still, he had pondered what it would be like not to be able to talk. For a small period of time, he had lived it, trapped beneath the ground with a language he was barely fluent in (damn both his one academic weakness and having a mad harpy for a tutor). There he was blind and hobbled as well.

All sobering thoughts, all a sobering situation. "Catch?" The fourth guess, said reluctantly, and immediately followed up on. "She did it, didn't she?" and well and good if he stopped there, but he didn't, because when did he stop? You couldn't stop the river, not easily at least. You couldn't stop the wind. Even if you put up a wall, it would just flow around it. So was Glenn Burnie. "She can't though. There's an accord between you and she, a contract. Rules are firm and fast with them. Truth. They can bend it, maybe, but they can't break it, not like we can." He was stumbling off over that cliff now, tumbling head over heel from the notion of the situation to the necessities that allowed it to even be.

"Unless she felt like you broke it first." Was that a mercy? No, it wasn't some sort of false kindness, but instead the truth he knew. Benedict didn't break oaths. He instead interpreted them to the best of his ability. So then, the second unintended mercy. "What does she think you did, Benedict?" Even then, he seemed wholly incapable of making it as much about her as he should.
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Re: At Long Last

Postby Niabh » Fri Nov 08, 2019 9:59 am

On the one wing, Glenn rushing through possibility as fast as they popped into his wee knob of a head did cover a lot of ground very quickly. On the other, it made it difficult to keep up, particularly when he was mostly striving to make a connection.

For Catch, another swift to-and-fro of the sharp head and an authoritative whap! on the wooden ledge. For her, the raven rewarded Glenn by hopping up and down enthusiastically, bobbing his neck up and down--a proper nod was beyond him--followed by two quick knocks on the mantel: whap-whap!

The combination of effort and frustration left him exhausted. His wings drooped, their tips tracing trails through the mantel's thick dust, and his head slumped forward in a gesture that might pass for defeat. With no real hope, his feathered chest inflated and vibrated but no sound emerged. He hadn't expected it to, but the reminder made things worse.

In spite of everything, it was kinda sweet to see that Glenn still gave the lady so much credit for fair play. You could almost feel sorry for the guy. Almost.

The raven slipped down from the ledge and swooped gracefully, silently, to the lower perch of Glenn's table. His black feet shuffled carefully away from the page and its wet ink, and he raised his head to Glenn with an unmistakable bleak look before stretching out his neck to tug a fold of his sleeve.
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Re: At Long Last

Postby Glenn » Sun Nov 10, 2019 3:16 pm

"Calm down and stop hitting your head." Of course, he didn't say that until after he had gotten the correct answer, the answer that he hadn't found first or second or third because he hadn't wanted to find it. There was a lesson in there and maybe he'd catch up to it sometime before morning. Maybe. "You've got enough problems without hurting yourself." By this point, he'd guessed his (the raven's) fairy queen. By this point, the tugging had begun, and instead of actually heeding it, he'd begun on a lecture instead. "We tend to punch walls, we humans. It doesn't feel good in the moment. It doesn't feel good after the moment. Sometimes, it damages the wall and sometimes it just damages us. It makes us feel powerful for a brief moment when we have no power at all. I'd say it's better to talk to someone, but obviously, that's been taken from you, thus powerless, thus slamming your beak into walls." Eye contact was generally avoided, but Burnie didn't know any other way sometimes; this was one. "It's good I can talk enough for the both of us then."

Oh, yes, the tugging. He was on his feet then. "Do you mean to take me to her?" Then, with some real concern. "She's not still, you see, the moon thing? Once a year?" He hadn't immediately sought her out for a few reasons but that was certainly one. It would perhaps explain why she silenced Benedict. "Probably past that, though, by now. Look, I'm happy to go and try to help; you know that, but you're sending me in blind and I don't even know yet what she thinks you did." That was a touchy subject and he'd poked at it twice now. "If you give me a week or so, we can come up with an elaborate system of communication. A letter system built through taps or head-motion maybe. I'll admit, will even be the first to admit," he said with neither frown nor scowl, "I am not very good with languages, but I am somewhat better with codes."

Did the tugging continue? If so, he'd start to move as bid. By this point, however, the bird was probably regretting smacking into the wall and not Burnie's skull. "Or are you taking me to someone else? Someone who can explain? No, probably her. Probably to her."
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Re: At Long Last

Postby Niabh » Sun Nov 10, 2019 3:45 pm

It was probably to both their goods that the raven couldn't make a sound, because it probably would have ended in a bout of incoherent screaming. Did Glenn really think he was banging his beak on the furniture because he liked the sound of it? Once-for-nay and twice-for-aye was about the simplest code he could think of on short notice. But he drew away from Glenn's sleeve when the man finally bestirred himself.

Tap-tap! for the moon thing. He couldn't be sure of that one, but it was a couple days until Frost Moon and better he go in wary, just in case. A single tap! of sharp beak against the desk; no, not to someone else. And an enthusiastic tap-tap! for her. Yes, to her.

He mustered an almost reproachful glower at the suggestion that he had done something. Reproachful was one facial expression a raven could handle. Yes, technically, he had done something, but only because...and there he found himself mentally floundering. Even out of her presence and in disgrace, you didn't just say--well, consider--well, he couldn't really bring himself to conceive that the Queen could do anything wrong. The Queen, by default, was always correct. At worst she maybe took a strange route to achieve her ends.

Better not to think about that now. Somehow it was less satisfying than he imagined to know that his lady might be forced to answer for herself, and Glenn's company far less reassuring than he expected. The blind leading the blind. The mute knowledgeable leading the loquacious-but-clueless, more like.

The raven's quick eye darted over Glenn's desk, the letter, the writing accoutrements. With a snake-like snap forward, he spotted his prey, picked it up, and dropped it on the floor. The penknife's steel point ticked against the wood. It rolled to rest beside Glenn's foot.
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Re: At Long Last

Postby Glenn » Mon Nov 11, 2019 3:41 am

There were any number of explanations for Glenn's comments in response to the bird's earnest and self-sacrificing attempts at communication. A third of them were honestly worrying, a third frustrating, and a third near-infuriating. With Burnie, it was generally always a little from each camp. "You're really a terrible woodpecker." Yes, that more or less sold it; an attempt at levity combined with the reason behind it: he didn't want to deal directly with the situation at hand.

Look at how he continued to search for excuses: first the moon then what the bird might have done (always carefully put as her perception of it; he'd offend his friend given the circumstances, but only so far). It meant that both raven and man were dancing around the truth of the situation, protocol for one and a well-honed shield for the other.

"Just take me," he finally relented. "No more questions. If I think of something else essential, you can peck my arm." Instead of tearing apart his arm in response, Benedict had snatched at the pen. In response, its owner would place his foot upon it softly. His smile for his feathered friend was just a little sad. "No. The sword's mightier, and I have one of those, and my tongue's mightier than both. If that doesn't see us through this, nothing else will. Lead on, then."
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Re: At Long Last

Postby Niabh » Mon Nov 11, 2019 3:44 pm

Following the shoreline of Silver Lake, long after the Dagger vanishes behind you and the winks of light from the docks grow fuzzy and indistinct, one reaches a certain point where this is all suddenly too much trouble. The trail--what little there is of it--tapers off to a mere flat spot in the grass, and then it isn't even that any more. Stingy thorn vines weave nets across the ground, trying to trip you up when they're not gnawing your ankles. Too many gnats swarm your face, suckling the tears from the corners of your eyes. Without warning your foot vanishes into a bubbling marsh that soaks straight through your socks. In spite of yourself, you grow frustrated. You wonder why you bothered to come this way at all. You find yourself remembering better fishing holes and easier shortcuts. Most casual wanderers turn back of their own accord long before the path slopes downward and drowns itself in a wide messy bog.

You're going the right way. Go deeper.


Not only did the raven have the advantage of flying over the worst of the obstacles, but he also knew the Tuatha, and when you knew the Tuatha as well as he did, the simpler cantrips might as well have consisted of noticeboard with "TRAP" painted in drippy, childish letters and the R turned backwards. He stuck tight to Glenn, stayed near to the ground, landed frequently to let Glenn catch up, and kept himself mostly solid.


The bog is a child's game. By stretching your legs in long strides (or if you are already a tall, long-legged creature), you can find strange solid spots like invisible paving stones. The stagnant green ripples underfoot, but holds firm.


In between guiding Glenn through the next obstacle, the raven worried. She'd told him not to come back. She might even have been serious. If she was serious then he was going to be in twice as much hot water, both for bringing someone to her and for showing up at all. And if she wasn't serious then the raven was going to be pissed that she'd gone and let her temper do the talking--all that blether about friendship and loyalty and company gone up in smoke, solely because Her Nibs was having a snit.

He had to take her serious. You’ve got the Niall bands. That means you’re worth as much as any of Them, so act like you got some dignity out there and don’t let ever anybody give you any shit. Maybe she forgot herself but he hadn't forgotten her, and he hadn't forgotten himself, either.


The path grows narrower and darker. Every side is bound in peril both petty and dire. Silver orb-weaver webs strung between two nodding reeds, a bit late in the year but perfectly innocent until you brush against them. Another pit--but this one is studded on two walls with wooden spikes, their black tips hardened in a campfire; you might clamber back out, but not without a few nasty punctures. A coil of thin rope disguised by a layer of dirt. A branch that flicks out on its own power to knock you flat on your back.

And the paths. You catch glimpses of them out of the corner of your eye. There's something this way. Quick, come here. Come and see. Hurry, or you'll miss it. You're going the wrong way, you idiot. This is the right way, and aren't you clever for figuring it? Come along now.

Resist.

Follow the black bird who glances anxiously backwards, glances at
you, you who are trailing further and further behind. In spite of all your best efforts, your feet drag. How long have you been walking, anyway? If feels as if you should be halfway to the bloody mountains by now.

But if you look across the lake, the docklights twinkle, faint but still visible.

Have you really come no further than that?

Come a little further.


Just outside the Woods, the raven stopped long enough to look at Glenn and nod, silently, always silently. He picked himself up from the ground and took wing, sailing into the dark slats between the trees.

And inside the woodline...

...there is no forest.


Only a grassy little pie-wedge of a clearing that stretched down to a sandy bank, free of reeds and weeds, where the lake water lapped. A thick tangle of blackberry bramble had been neatly trimmed back, and beyond it, a stand of new-growth saplings, none more than twelve feet high or thicker than a man's thigh, marked the Woods' true edge. The edge of winter came no further than a few steps within. A little dome of early autumn held dominion here, the grass still green, the ground still warm with the day just past.

The first sign of civilization was a slim chestnut mare, slapping gnats from her rump with her tail while rolling a mouthful of grass in her mouth. Only a horse could make soft grass sound like a handful of dried peas. The second sign was the smoke that hung like early fog, a blue veil that moved when the horse's tail flickered. The air smelled of oily pork and oakwood. The third sign was a pair of sopping-wet boots side-by-side atop a stump.
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Re: At Long Last

Postby Glenn » Tue Nov 12, 2019 6:19 am

Occasionally, Glenn Burnie was correct. More often than that, he was perilously, disastrously wrong, but in a very particular way: he was close. Closer than he ought to have been, closer than any human generally ever was. In all of his time in Myrken Wood and nearby, he had encountered very few beings who went by the term "wizard." There were scholars and physicians, beings that could wield primal energy like it was a blunt club, but very few that truly had answers to the questions only he seemed to ever ask. It meant that he had to discover these answers himself, often through first hand research. In this sort of endeavor, he was most dangerous when he was close but not quite there. There's very little risk in being entirely far off.

No one even paused for a moment to ask if his theory of inoculation was correct. No one wondered if a job done right but left only half done might just cause the issue to flare up further. He had chopped down the time of his affliction from two hours to closer to seventy-five minutes, a feat that felt all too futile considering the all-encompassing, something-or-nothing nature of the problem in the first place. Still, as he stumbled through this misleading labyrinth, guided by his own feathered true north, the clock continued to tick. The evening had shifted into surreality with the raven's arrival. This was, in comparison, much more of a plummet. It had been years now, five, six, a hundred, since Golben, but this brought him back, so much so that he wondered, even as he wandered in a haze, pulled out of traps through no doing of his own, if there wasn't a stronger connection between his time there and what he experienced with the fairy queen. He had simply assumed that his malady was derived from the tearing of his mind that came with the death of Rhaena Olwak and the subsequent absence that would never be filled. Now, though, in this endlessly scattered (scattering?) moment of an hour, the perception-altering experience of Golben started to make more sense. All the more fool he for seeing a woman as a woman instead of as a maze. He laughed for the fourth time in a three-minute span. Since this journey began, how many thoughts had forced their way through only to be lost again? How many times had he made the connection to Golben only to be pulled away by one lure or another.

Still, steadfast and otherwise hopeless, the raven led on. To make matters worse, at some point, Glenn dug in his heels. It may have been fatigue. Could he be blamed if it was fatigue? How many steps had it been? How many miles? How many mountains? It was hardly his fault, after all. He was never one to complain about physical exertion, however. Ariane Emory had seen to that. Just as the glamourie had tried to stall him, he was successfully stalling it, ticking down the seconds in his head in between wild leaps of reason and empty forward drudgery.

It meant that when his vision began to clear, when his thoughts began to clear, when the clearing became apparent before him, his wild, impulsive thoughts and their deeply embraced abandon was starting to clear as well. Starting. It would be minutes more. It meant he had, perhaps, one or two desires that he was absolutely going to act upon. "Stay back, Benedict, especially if she's mad at you. Let's make her thing that first thing back, I found my way to her all on my own." The smile on his face was a tiny bit exhausted and far, far too playful. Despite him just mentioning her temper, he seemed to have completely forgotten just why he was there. What did the raven expect, really? It was a miracle enough, even with so stalwart a guide, that he, of all people, had made it there in the first place. "Victoria! Ellipsis! Oh, Finn, do come out already."
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Re: At Long Last

Postby Niabh » Tue Nov 12, 2019 6:04 pm

“Oh, don’t bother, Benedict. I knew you were coming.”

Weary, disgusted, the woman unfolded herself from the same stump where only her boots had been the last time Glenn glanced at it. The boots now sat side-by-side on the ground, so it didn’t appear she’d lain in wait disguised as a pair of boots. It didn’t appear she was disguised as anything, dressed as she was in rough trousers with stains on the knees and a spangled scarlet scarf looped over her neck, crisscrossed over her breasts, and wrapped in a wide band to the bottom of her ribs, with wooly curls spilling over her shoulders. Limbs a bit too long, shoulders a bit too broad, face alien, terrible, all the proportions tweaked so subtly that at a glance, it was hard to tell just where the wrongness lay, only that it was uncanny, like a wooden carving that unexpectedly raises its head to meet one’s gaze. The telltale mole was on her collarbone.

Her appearance meant nothing; there were plenty of creatures in the world—certainly in Myrken—uglier or more glorious or more inhuman, with more limbs and more eyes. A subtle and essential element had vanished. Suddenly she was as solid as the ground beneath them: blood and bone and probably toothaches and chilblains and flatulence and all the other stinks and aches of the flesh. Moonlight lay on her skin the way it lay on everything else, flat and blue. No longer did a separate sun single her out for flattery.

Queen of Fairy. And bushy-haired barbarian, much as she had warned him.

“Hark that!” This to Benedict, who braced his feet in defiance as she stalked toward them. A hand flared out toward Glenn, summing him up. “Grinning like a ninny! What do you do but drag him through three miles of glamourie when you know what a state he’s in! As for you…

Now her attention whipped toward Glenn. “Do you think just anyone can stroll upon my land withoutten I know it? Never mind the glam, how would you like it if I had to peel your body out of the frost tomorrow morning, hm? What were you thinking? I can’t trust either of you!” Her mouth strained in distress, showing a row of bottom teeth. “When did you get back? What took you so long?”

Panic, anger, fear, all trembled like a dewdrop before breaking. Her arm shot out, wrapping fiercely around his back before her face pressed into the crook of his shoulder. Her brow was hot as fever.
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Re: At Long Last

Postby Glenn » Wed Nov 13, 2019 1:33 am

They were a match, but then they'd always been, even if it never quite seemed apparent. As strange and outlandish as she was, he was plain. His loose, well-made earth-toned clothes, shirt, pants, jacket, nothing to decorate, nothing of flourish (no blues today), were the worse for wear for the journey, for both journeys perhaps, the far and the immediate. His face was, as always forgettable, his hair dull, his eyes sharp not for their color and only for their intensity. He was short enough to be considered just a bit short but not nearly short enough to be noticed for it. More likely, he'd just be partially obscured by the person in front of him. She draped herself in glamourie and a regal bearing and he draped himself in words and an assurance that could rock the world. Weren't they the pair when they were thusly clad? What were they when they were so exposed?

Beauty was a lever. It moved people. Once upon a time, when he was young and still thought the world something it was not (though, of course, he still thought now so very much about what it could be), perhaps beauty might move him. Today it was merely something to move others. He had seen the innermost part of many, many things: laws, societies, another's mind and heart, what drove beast, creature, and man. Whatever he sought out in others was not beauty, not real and not feigned, but something else entirely. Her appearance meant nothing but what it signified to her and to him. His appearance meant no more and no less.

And then he opened his mouth once again.

"I'd have walked three hundred if I had to," and the words came so simple and so easy, "for I saw what state you left Benedict in, a messenger rendered voiceless, reduced to banging his beak upon my desk. If his state was so dire, what was yours? Of course I'd walk so far to see to you, Finn. I'd already made it back to Myrken; what was a bit farther." Then, even as she cut the distance between them, pressing herself into that frame, oh so deceptive under the clothing, fit and tight, though he carried himself so differently: "Benedict wouldn't lead me astray. Even in my current state, I know that much at least." Was it accusatory or just supportive? It was certainly fearless but then he was without restraint still and they both well knew it.

Burnie was no hugger. He was trained in this, like so many other things, equally to his detriment and his benefit, through those long mornings with Ariane Emory. His embrace, his true embrace, was a pack response: head pressed in, eyes shut, little more. That was a real impulse, but a restrained one, and he lacked that restraint entirely in the here and now. Instead, He did wrap his arms around her. "I'm just back." His voice was light and easy, conversational, as if this was a perfectly normal thing, a perfectly right thing, everything where it belonged. "I'd like to blame the women, women that you seem to keep encouraging me to dally with, but in truth, they are the only reason I arrived as soon as I did. They dragged my bones over the road to get me here. I might have written letters forever, were it not for them." Then, as an extra bit of punctuation to make sure no one ended up a toad, his voice almost lyrical yet entirely deaf of tone (in quite a few ways, perhaps?), "but do not be jealous. That's just a might. Without you, I would certainly have hidden away in a box writing letters forever. You see the difference? Might versus would certainly. I do give you the proper credit, Finn." And yet, even through all that, he never actually got to any of the big, pressing questions.

No, all of that was just, for him to her, hello.
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Re: At Long Last

Postby Niabh » Wed Nov 13, 2019 3:56 am

Fionn was a hugger, and a thorough one: the squeeze was warm, tight, and sincere if mercifully brief. She disentangled herself before it could get awkward for anyone (except for the raven, who swapped from foot to foot and managed to look uncomfortable, betrayed, and anxious all at the same time) and stepped back to armslength, one hand on his shoulder as she looked Glenn over with mild suspicion. People Here got older when you weren't looking at them. It was insidious. It happened too slowly to notice when it was right before your eyes, then one day you looked again and they were all over wrinkles and wattles and it was too late to do anything about it.

After a time, she gave a slow if not-quite-satisfied nod. If the year past was stamped somewhere on his face, she couldn't find it. Mostly he looked exactly as she remembered, though his voice was much clearer in her memory than any individual feature. His words bore a lightness that she was certain had not been there last time, and she mistrusted it.

"Mo sionnach," she said gently, "why should I be jealous over something I myself wanted for you? How many times have I told you you need your own people? Doubtless you've spent your whole time in their company fighting with both hands not to let it alter you any." She shrugged, head tipped toward one shoulder. "It matters not. It serves its purpose in spite of what you do."

Her hand slipped away, even as she added lightly, a bit prim and teasing, "Don't ever tell your ladies they were nothing but a vehicle, though. No lady likes that."

At which point the raven let out what, under other circumstances, would have been a bugling shriek and darted toward her, his head shooting forward like a snake's. She jerked her leg back, but not quick enough. "Ach!"

A bluish blossom spread through the trousers' weave and merged with the other stains. She bent to rub at it, scowling at the raven. "You didn't come back! I looked for you! I was afraid you'd gone home."

Which only threw the raven into further conniptions, considering she'd told him not to bother coming back. She snatched her hand from her calf and straightened just in time to save the back of her hand from another jab, and his beak glanced off her kneecap, which stung even worse than breaking skin. "Stop it!"

He jabbed at her again, though this time she whirled out of reach and retreated backwards as the raven advanced, beak chittering in anticipatory menace.
Anything can be magic if you're gullible enough.
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Re: At Long Last

Postby Glenn » Thu Nov 14, 2019 1:08 am

People did get older. Glenn, on the other hand, had a complicated relationship with aging. In many ways, he looked just a tad bit younger than when she had seen him previously, worn from the road, yes, but not nearly so afflicted by other things, herself included. Of course, his recent walk through the glamourie had complicated things entirely. He did look at her, look back at her as it was, but with some decorum. She was naked to him in ways she'd rarely been for their previous meetings, in ways that she may have to be moving forward were they to best account for his own weakness. It meant that he did not focus overmuch on the mole. That was one of the many problems in dealing with her and her raven; you couldn't look him in the eye and you couldn't look her anywhere else; do either and they'd get suspicious.

"Is that a question that you are truly asking?" His tone was light, yes, though in these words dry. "Women suggest things simply to be jealous all the time. An end and the means both. I imagine that's all the more true for queens, because then responsibility enters into it, that haughty, chin-raised, superiority, where you do what's best for others but secretly chafe when it's not what you'd like most or if it comes at cost that is somehow onerous. Private chafing is the worst sort. It's why no one wears codpieces around here." The words came so freely. In his current state, he'd tell her anything, but perhaps do so in the most aggravating way possible. In fact, he'd even make her arguments for her, tempered, of course. "I'm not much different. I think I know best for everyone too, but that's not due to some sort of artificial (and the gods gift with artifice as well, so let's not trifle over that distinction) title or responsibility. I simply can't do anything else."

He was about to grant her the point about women and vehicles. He'd said it a moment before. Means. No woman wished to be a mean to an end and he had no desire to see one as such. Unlike every other male in Myrken, if he had only acted upon his desires more often, he probably would be less of an offensive boor. Instead, it was purpose, endless purpose, distinct as he had noted from mere responsibility.

Unfortunately, granting her one point ten points in did her no favors. The anticipation had been building, along with other darker things, and it led to an airborne menace unleashed. Instead of getting in between queen and herald and whatever justice might occur between the two, he took two judicious steps backwards and watched. Normally a bastion of self-control, that was quite well shattered through glam and glamorous (and Golben? he'd have to delve deeper down that path later, lest he forget it with stardust in his eyes), and the sound began to well up from his chest with no recourse.

Glenn Burnie laughed. It was a snort with the first bite and an outright guffaw with the beak attack. "One means yes. Keep that in mind. You best not ask him any questions that would be answered in the negative or you'll get twice the pain for your trouble." That was the ever-helpful advice one might receive from a fox, something he so rarely provided despite her name for him. One snort, one guffaw, and one ill-everythinged comment was quite the lapse for him however, and he calmed, if not sobered, quickly. "Give him his voice back, Finn. This has gone on long enough." The tug pulled him just a bit further though, the words in his head tumbling right out of his lips, fond yet brutal. "Unless you mean to seize the advantage of telling your side of the story first and thus waltzing all over the truth."
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