Part 71 - Interlude.   Posted by Dworkin.Group: 0
Dworkin
 GM, 3671 posts
 Renegade Lord of Chaos,
 creator of the Pattern...
Tue 18 Oct 2011
at 19:09
Part 71 - Interlude
Right and the army, small by the standards of many armies in this war, but dangerous all the same, veer away.  Soon they are lost from sight amid turbulent eddies of their own making, vanishing into the cold darkness of the Underflow... and a faint sound drifts back to Cyan, James and the Banglen-Yps.  It sounds like... a song, of sorts.  The rapidly fading voices of the Archons, raucous and atonal though they are, all crying out in unison.  There is no harmony to the sound, but there is distorted, jarring rhythm to it, and then it is gone...

Berd navigates the currents of the Underflow, like the captain of a ship in unknown waters - a blank space on the chart, labelled only with the words, "Here be Monsters."  And, as with the chart, there are monsters here too - vast, dark shapes, swimming fish-like through the gloom and stirring up shattered fragments of dead worlds in their wakes.

And finally, after a time which might be hours or days, the exhausted drake swims up through the Underflow and falls into a world.  A lush place where three  pale orange suns shine down from a sky filled with green-tinted clouds above a forest with dark, glossy blue leaves.  On a hill beyond the forest stands a city, all towers, domes and cupolas of ancient bronze stained with verdigris.
Cyan
 player, 5182 posts
 Forged of dust,
 sunlight, and tears
Mon 24 Oct 2011
at 13:07
Re: Part 71 - Interlude
Booted feet step down onto the grass, and Cyan shakes out her arms - much to Berd's displeasure.  Humming quietly (a disjointed, atonal song, that of Right's army), she slowly turns in a circle.  "Beautiful," she whispers, squinting as one of the sun's rays shine along the stained domes.

Her glassy, topaz eyes clear.  "Unlike copper, bronze does not change so swiftly.  Those domes might have stood without inhabitants for some time."  She grimaces.  "Or the inhabitants might not be interested in cleaning them every decade...the city might well have people living within it."  A smile twitches up the corners of her mouth.  "They have chosen well."

"Harm nothing in this world," she suggests to the Archons, "save that which attacks without reason.  Keep hidden, as best you can, if you would.  And watch.  Merely observe its changes."

A memory of the mammoth creatures of the underflow stirs in her, and Cyan shivers, remembering the Gatherer.

"Best we find food and rest."  Berd could use some, and the act of searching out food would be lacking in efficiency.  "Perhaps the city might offer something we could use."

"What do you think, James?"  Shielding her eyes, she squints doubtfully toward the stained domes.  "Shall we make the walk?"
James
 player, 878 posts
 This thing's to do
 Hamlet (IV, iv)
Mon 24 Oct 2011
at 13:24
Re: Part 71 - Interlude
"Now that's a sight for sore eyes." James agrees.  "Literally.  Though, I'm not sure I'll ever get used to the different colours."

"I was going to suggest that the Archons take us to the city, since it would be faster.  But you're probably right, best to keep a low profile.  It's a lovely day for a walk and Berd can have a snooze as we go.  Or I can try to rustle up one of the local forms of transport."


James calls the Pattern to mind and absently starts to reach out, though he doesn't go as far as to try and work any changes yet.
Cyan
 player, 5183 posts
 Forged of dust,
 sunlight, and tears
Mon 24 Oct 2011
at 13:58
Re: Part 71 - Interlude
"Always I am amazed by not only your vast abilities, James, but with your simple fortitude.  You rival Cúthalion himself."  Cyan shakes her head, a smile growing on her face as Berd settles in for a nap.  As he does, the General's armor slowly warps and twists around the bard, shifting into a cotton blouse, a leather vest, and her old slacks and boots, gurthang now affixed upon her back by a ringed strap.  "Ah, much better.  Thank you."

As she walks, she ponders James' words within the Underflow.  "I hope Tahirah discovers the traitor before he - or she - acts again."  Cyan sighs.  "I fear such things are likely beyond us both.  Heaven knows I have no skill with such things.  Meredith...I knew of her, but never truly knew her.  Berd has...shown me things, of course, of what I missed."

She glances sidelong at James, ruby eyes catching the light of three suns.  "But I have had only his point of view.  I would hear the story, when you have the time.  And if you are so inclined," Cyan amends.

"It sounds like a sad tale."

She takes another grip on his elbow as they walk; a small squeeze, nothing more before releasing his arm.  "Lords of the West, we have been at this a while, haven't we?  I recall that discussion, James.  A curious one, to be sure, but I stand by my thoughts."  Her lips thin and she fingers her hair - once brilliant copper, now almost auburn and threaded with thin strands of grey.  "Though...I fear my fire grows short of fuel."

Her smile still shines, but it is bittersweet.  "You have been the ground upon which we all stood for a very long time, I think.  As I said, Berd has shown me things...not everything, but still.  You helped hold him together when I was lost."

Another sidelong look, this time appraising.  "And as always, your words have cut to that heart of the matter you mention.  I have ideas.  They may work, they may not.  But without your support...I will fail."  There is no question in Cyan's voice.  "My plan is only the final cast.  Everyone has brought us to this moment.  At any point along the way the Quest might have failed, and all those who...who..."

She walks in silence for a bit, one hand rising to wipe her eyes.

"But you remain, the longest here and the sturdiest in body and spirit.  Without the support, the guidance, the strength you have lent, James, I would not be here to make this throw," Cyan finally murmurs.  "'Stand upon'?  By heaven, yes, and an understatement.  Stand upon and be borne up by, I think."  Tiny Archons buzz in the air around them, there and gone, always watchful, and Cyan studies them for a moment.  "With you to hold us up, Berd and I have a chance."

Her smile quirks.  "And we will make that change," she breathes.  "We will make them see."

OOC - Makes total sense to me, James.  :) 
Dworkin
 GM, 3678 posts
 Renegade Lord of Chaos,
 creator of the Pattern...
Tue 25 Oct 2011
at 19:30
Re: Part 71 - Interlude
The Archons dwindle in size, becoming no larger than dinner plates, then coins, and finally flies...  Yet still they keep up their endless protective pattern, three flying clockwise and three widdershins around the group of walkers, small enough that they are visible only to those who know to look for them.

The sunlight, weak though the three suns are individually, soon proves to be pleasantly warm when one is walking.  Most of the Banglen-Yps seem to decide, simultaneously and independently, to shift form, becoming birds, bees, or dragonflies, and incidentally leaving clouds of coloured dust or vapour drifting behind them.  Only one of the strange blondes remains, acting as an interpreter for the others, telling Cyan and James everything that her sisters see - animals for the most part, though a few seem more interested in flowers or coloured pebbles.

They move in under eaves of the forest, and the air cools noticeably in the gloom beneath the trees.  The Archons shift their patrol pattern constantly now, to allow for obstructing trees.  Still they are trying to do no harm.

After about a half hour walking in the shade, Banglen-Yp stops, •• We are not alone ••

•• Not that we ever are • these days ••

Her smile does not falter though, even when a woman steps out from behind a tree a few moments later, with skin a dark, mossy green and hair the colour of a raven's wing.  She's dressed in a vest and skirt of orange silk, and leather sandals, and does not appear to be armed.  She smiles, and gives a shallow bow, "Hello, travellers."
Cyan
 player, 5188 posts
 Forged of dust,
 sunlight, and tears
Sat 29 Oct 2011
at 11:20
Re: Part 71 - Interlude
Cyan is more than impressed by the Archons' capacity to avoid wanton destruction.  Right has indeed chosen his best.  She wishes, briefly, that they would show greater interest in the world itself, but concludes that the half-dozen, glittering rings are 'on the job', so to speak.  Whether they would normally lack interest in the world or not is open to conjecture, but at the moment they have a purpose.

Best she leaves them to it.

Instead, she listens to Banglen-Yp speak and talks quietly about her discoveries.  She drinks in the forests beauty.  And she enjoys the long, quiet walk.

And then, a guest.  Or, more appropriately, a host.

Forwarned by Banglen-Yp, Cyan bows, slightly lower than the woman.  "Good day," she replies, smiling in turn, her eyes a deep emerald.  "One hopes we do not trespass."
James
 player, 879 posts
 This thing's to do
 Hamlet (IV, iv)
Mon 31 Oct 2011
at 14:27
Re: Part 71 - Interlude
James watches with interest as Cyan's armour is transformed, or perhaps substituted.  Cyan's mention of his "vast powers" strikes James as odd.  He has always considered himself to be one of the more limited members of the party.  Even now, desperately hungry and almost exhausted, Berd could simply change things; alter reality in ways that were totally alien to James.  Compared to Berd, Dorian or any of a full handful of the other questors, James had always questioned his own adequacy for the magnitude of the task before them.

Abruptly, it occurs to James that that must be how Cyan saw him, or something like it.  She was not of the blood of Amber or the Courts, no powerful sorceror, "just" a mortal at the heart of a war that stretched the length and breadth of the known universe.  The war had consumed a significant proportion of her life, moreso, since part of the life she "knew" was a construct of Berd's creation.  If anything, the thought increased his respect for her.

"Yes, it suits you well.  For myself, I find my old armour rather too comfortable." James raps one gauntleted knuckle on the composite plating of his armour by way of emphasis.  "I worry about what I will become if the fighting must continue.  And I worry that it does not worry me enough."

James is grateful to follow Cyan's change of subject.  "Meredith was a young lady of extraordinary ability.  If she touched you, skin-to-skin, she could read your mind.  All of your thoughts and memories laid bare, should she choose.  Dorian could tell you.  It's hard to tell from second-hand but from what I saw, and from his reaction, she went through his psyche like a hot knife through butter.  That should give you some idea."

"A dangerous gift, to be sure, and one that had been shamefully abused.  Her former...associates, owners, I'm not sure, manipulated her.  She was a convenient tool for their spies, nothing more.  But she could be much more than that, I'm sure.  She needed some time to decide for herself who she was, a place where she felt safe enough to be herself."

"I tried to provide that, as best I could.  I think maybe it helped a little, but then she was gone, so suddenly.  I keep wondering whether I was trying too hard to fix her problem.  A very 'male' reaction, that."


The thought of Meredith and her decision to leave, brings James back to Cyan and her intimations of her "waning fire".  The prospect of losing Cyan, the foreshadowed grief, cuts James deeply.  He knew that she had been "lost" before, but somehow he had always expected that she would return, it was part of what had kept him going.  But he knows that eventually time must tell.  If things proceed to their natural end, Cyan will die before James is perceptibly older.  James wonders whether the Pattern would take him to a world where medical science was sufficiently advanced to rejuvenate Cyan, and what she would say if he offered it.

"It's weird.  I didn't know her long, but I still miss her."

"Back home, before I began all this, I moved around often enough that I never really made strong ties with people.  I kept in contact with my family, at least until my parents died, but we drifted apart over the years.  I don't think they understood my choice of work and a lot of the stuff I was doing I couldn't tell them about even if I wanted to.  Towards the end I had to make things up as my age became less "consistent"."

"I guess what I'm saying...I never really got used to the sense of losing someone, of saying goodbye.  Even with my natural advantages, with the stuff I was doing it always seemed more likely that I would die before my friends.  I'm not sure how I'll cope if I have to watch everybody I know get old.  I'm not sure I want to."


James morbid chain of thought is interrupted by Banglen-Yp's warning.  He has enough time to gather himself before the green lady appears and manages a respectable bow in response to her greeting.
Shaendra
 NPC, 1 post
Tue 1 Nov 2011
at 12:27
Re: Part 71 - Interlude
"Peaceful visitors are always welcome here." the woman replies, as her eyes travel from Cyan, to Berd, to Banglen-Yp, and finally to James, "Though I confess that I have never seen any so... unusual as yourselves.  Ah... but where are my manners?  Forgive me, please.  I am called Shaendra, and this wood is under my protection."

She suddenly finds herself surrounded by a swarm of  what are, presumably Banglen-Yps - a mixed collection of small birds and flying insects, and something that looks vaguely like Berd, but coloured in tones which change constantly from moment to moment.

"Do you go to the Caerse." she gestures in the general direction of the city, invisible now beyond the trees, If so, I should warn you that today is a holy day there, and they might not be so welcoming.  Not hostile, as such, but many shops will be closed, and inns will likely be full to capacity."
Cyan
 player, 5189 posts
 Forged of dust,
 sunlight, and tears
Thu 3 Nov 2011
at 12:14
Re: Part 71 - Interlude
Sadly, the woman's arrival gives Cyan no time to do anything but ponder James' words.  That he fears what he might become...she knows he has seen wars in the past.  Dreadful, terrible conflicts.  Certainly he has watched as they twisted people from good, kind, and generous men and women into vicious or ruthless killers.  Fear did that to people, fear and loss.

She thinks he still stands a long way from losing that all-important part of himself, but given what she has seen and heard of the elders of Amber, it will be a struggle for him as the centuries grow cold at his back.  But if anyone can hold onto their heart, she would back quiet, steadfast James.  Granite he might be, but his heart is living stone - warm and unbreachable.  The heart of the world itself, perhaps - all fire and precious minerals.

Meredith...certainly she would hear more of the girl from James.  What she has from Berd are impressions and images, nothing more.  Sorrow.  Pity.  Pain.  Anger at times, once with Meredith, more often with others for their treatment of her.

There's some amusement at James' assessement of his own possible stumble.  A 'male' problem indeed.  Men always want to charge ahead and slay the dragon of the problem, Cyan knows.  It's an admirable trait, no question.  But sometimes they need to learn to simply listen.  But James has always found a good balance, and she suspects he is too hard upon himself here.

But who can say?  She wasn't there, and certainly isn't Meredith, whose problems seem colossal from what the weary soldier describes.  Still yearning to hear the full story, Cyan hopes the woman finally found some peace.

She wonders if one reason James misses her so is because everything in his life has been impermanent.  The aging issue...him having to constantly move, and not get close to anyone...this journey has been an opportunity to meet people similar to himself, people with whom he might forge lasting relationships.  But events have swept them all away, leaving him once again with nothing.

And the pain in his voice at the thought of watching those about him grow old...

A pang of guilt runs through her.  At least, Cyan considers, he will not see that with me.  But's a numbly ironic thought, given that 'goodbye' will still happen.  Just a lot sooner than expected.  So unfair.  Finally meeting people with whom he might have common ground, James still loses them, one by one.

Berd...

A fragment of Berd, still conscious (always there is 'one'), sees/understands/agrees.

Despite his shadowed mood, James still manages a courtly bow for 'Shaendra', to Cyan's gentle amusement.  A well-used blade he is, but with polished edges.  "It is our honor to meet you, Shaendra."  Cyan smiles.  "We bring no harm to your woods, only curiousity and purpose to pass through.  Here we have Banglen-Yp -" a vague gesture encompasses not only the woman, but the curious seekers swarming about Shaendra "- in all her glory.  Archons ward our steps:  brave Nariel, Staosha and Suriel of the danioti, clever Rabacyel of the eshurianti, potent Barkiel of the herenethi, and bright Shalgiel of the sencathi.  They come in peace.  Here is James, a knight of honor, and I am Cyan, of No Place In Particular."

On her shoulder, the little drake snores, a waft of smoke rising from his nostrils.  Cyan grimaces.  "And this is Berd," she amends.

She sees no point in hiding the presence of the Archons - likely Shaendra has detected them, and in any case, to not introduce them would be rude.  "Understood," she murmurs to the Archon who spoke.  "There are mysteries in the Myriad Worlds even to Archons, and I do not think she intends harm."

This message was last edited by the player at 12:15, Thu 03 Nov 2011.

Shaendra
 NPC, 2 posts
Sat 5 Nov 2011
at 19:53
Re: Part 71 - Interlude
The woman inclines her head to each person as they are named, and peers curiously at the Archons.  "I have heard of such as these.  My cousin travelled to another land, and came back with a tale of such a creature.  He said it spoke little, but when it did its words were filled with wisdom.  You are all most welcome here."

"Please, do not be alarmed.  I am about to call my friends out of hiding."


She raises her hands and claps twice.  There is movement in the forest, parts of some of the trees seem to break away, changing shape and colour as they do so.  Bark becomes green skin and hair and clothes of silk and leather.  Like Shaendra, they seem unarmed, though some carry what appear to be some sort of musical instruments.

"We are the protectors of this forest.  Its gardeners, if you will.  If you wish our assistance, we can lead you to where you need to go."
Banglen-Yp
 player, 765 posts
 Off the beaten track
             ''Who am I?''
Tue 8 Nov 2011
at 15:57
Re: Part 71 - Interlude
 

Hands clapped in delight at the appearance of the Tree People as they collectively was dubbed the moment is was evident where they at least was hiding.  A sense of kinship, if distant, made the part of Banglen-Yp that could smile do just that while the rest chirped or made other noises of approval and greeting.

• We are honoured to walk in your world •

A bow from what probably was the Banglen-Yp that they others first encountered, although it was impossible to tell by looks alone.  She was, however, still keeping apart ever so little in the mental realm, perhaps on purpose, perhaps merely through being the "eldest".

The thought of what home will look like once she returned made her smile; endless variation born from experience and fuelled by imagination awaken.  The thought of going home made her smile waver a little and she turned to look at those travelling with her, still new emotions stirring inside.

Everything ends, but is not that what made it valuable, she wondered.

 

Got my tenses mixed up, hopefully fixed now, no other change made.

This message was last edited by the player at 16:22, Wed 09 Nov 2011.

Cyan
 player, 5190 posts
 Forged of dust,
 sunlight, and tears
Wed 9 Nov 2011
at 12:02
Re: Part 71 - Interlude
Pleased, Cyan shoots a glance at the Archons, one eyebrow lifted.  Perhaps her cousin stumbled across one of the nephillim.  Perhaps the Archon was of a singular bent, not a part or party to any faction.  Either way, it's proof they have made their mark upon the Myriad Worlds in a manner not only negative.

They have done good, as well.  The quest has proven that, time and time again.

Her smile broadens when Banglen-Yp replies - from the more steady intonation of her voice and the care she takes in her movement, Cyan suspects this one is 'their' Banglen-Yp, the one who has spent the most time with people.  It pleases her to see the woman so comfortable in this strange universe, so comfortable with her companions.

And, being what she is, Cyan doesn't miss the shadow that passes across the beings face.

But when the other people move from beyond and even within the trees, her smile falls away and Cyan's topaz eyes widen.  "You..."  One hand scrabbles in her pouch, a pouch she kept even when armored in Ares' jet and gold.  Her pouch of treasures, to never be forgotten.  "I know you."

Cracked, broken memories murmur in her ear.

"A fourth room, if you please, Donavon."  Spoke the short green-skinned man behind them.  He'd been silently observing his surroundings, with a good-natured smile about the entire thing.

"I met a man on my travels.  At the beginning of this journey, in fact," Cyan whispers.  "A man like you."

He looks down at the two shafts jutting from his chest, opens his mouth to speak, and falls to the ground.

"He...was the first to fall."  And she holds out her hand.  A small collection of beads lie upon her palm beside a few coloured stones, all shining in the sunlight.  Shining like her eyes.  I never thought I would...

"His name was Otandal."
James
 player, 880 posts
 This thing's to do
 Hamlet (IV, iv)
Fri 11 Nov 2011
at 13:00
Re: Part 71 - Interlude
James watches curiously as Shaendra calls her people from hiding.  It didn't concern James that there were people close by capable of concealing themselves from sight.  He couldn't help but be a little surprised, though, when they step from the trees.  The more logical part of his mind immediately begins to consider the possibilities Some kind of illusion or a true melding?  The more illogical and often more sensible part of his mind thinks Dryads! (and is all the happier for it).

James had been about to accept Shaendra's offer of help when he notices Cyan's reaction.  He watches with sympathy as Cyan pulls out what appears to be a keepsake of this Otandal.  James didn't remember the man at all, so Cyan must have known him some time ago.
Shaendra
 NPC, 3 posts
Sat 12 Nov 2011
at 23:18
Re: Part 71 - Interlude
The green-skinned forest dwellers return Banglen-Yp's bow, and Shaendra replies to the blonde shapeshifter, "You honour our land with your presence."

To Cyan, she explains, "Otandal is a common name in these parts.  In the Old Speech it means, 'shapes metal'."  Shaendra studies the items in Cyan's hand, "Tathlokti beads, and stones from Lake Var.  This Otandal must have been well travelled, Var lays many leagues from here.  Was he gifted with the drevhan?"  Sensing some puzzlement, she demonstrates what she means...

One hand is raised before he face, and the fingers elongate, changing form to become, in rapid succession, leafy branches, writhing serpentine streams of water, and spikes of stone.  "The drevhan is what permits us to conceal ourselves in the forest.  We adopt forms which can not be easily seen when leaning against a tree."
Cyan
 player, 5191 posts
 Forged of dust,
 sunlight, and tears
Tue 15 Nov 2011
at 16:13
Re: Part 71 - Interlude
"Well-travelled indeed," Cyan replies, without a trace of irony.  "He was indeed gifted with your drevhan - I saw him several times alter his body to suit what he needed."  She grimaces at the woman's explanation of the name.  "I see.  Tander.  Tander Otandal, I believe, assuming Tander was not a diminutive of Otandal."  Slain just out of Arden, in a burst of arrows from the woods.  Brigands, nothing more, and yet Tander became the first to fall away from the quest.

But not the last.

How to explain this to Shaendra?  Does she understand the Myriad Worlds?  Does she even know of them?  Best not to confuse the issue...yet.  "I met him in a city far distant from here.  We journeyed together for a time, with others.  But men desperate for money ambushed us on the road, and Otandal fell.  We buried him, but I resolved to bring his name and his keepsakes to his people."

She bites her lip and bows her head.  "Glad am I to have found you."

Berd's eyes crack open and he studies the beings before them; but the drake falls back into a deep sleep, struggling to replenish his drained reserves of strength.

This message was last edited by the player at 16:31, Tue 15 Nov 2011.

Banglen-Yp
 player, 766 posts
 Off the beaten track
             ''Who am I?''
Tue 15 Nov 2011
at 16:17
Re: Part 71 - Interlude
 

There seemed to be a few more trees around, with many birds and other creatures landing in them, although to anyone with keen enough senses the trees appeared to be just that; trees.

A kitten crawled out on the shoulder of the Banglen-Yp that had bowed and let out a cheerful mew, looking with curiosity at the leaves dancing teasingly nearby.  Banglen-Yp lifted a hand to both stroke the kitten and hold it back.  Pouncing their host would not be a good idea, even for a little kitten.

Once the ravaging beast is secured with a chin rub Banglen-Yp's gaze went to her own hand, held discreetly low, as it mimicked the transformation just seen.  She smiled gently and returned her gaze to Shaendra.

 
Shaendra
 NPC, 4 posts
Tue 15 Nov 2011
at 18:19
Re: Part 71 - Interlude
"You gifted his remains to the land.  There can be no more fitting tribute to one of our people.  Life springs from death, and returns to it in the end, nourishing further life.  It is the nature of the world."

Shaendra studies the kitten for a moment before turning in a complete circle to watch the numerous birds and flying insects which surround them.  If she finds anything odd in the appearance of many of the birds, she does not comment on it.  Instead she asks, "Will you take food with us before you travel further?  We have sufficient for all, and more.  The forest provides."

At which point Shaendra and all of her people speak in unison, "Blessed is the forest."