Jul. 12th, 2006 12:34 am
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She sits quietly against the wall of the Gallery, as she has for some time. Her skirts are rumpled from where she slid down against the wall, and above her hangs an empty frame of rich oak, one corner graced by a treble clef, the other by a now-wilted leaf. There is a hollowness in the Drummer's absence, but not the sense of utter loss that previous departures brought.

The girl's eyes are dry. She had expected his leavetaking, but not so soon. She had known there was trouble, but not that it was dire enough to sunder them.

She wonders to herself what went wrong, really. She wonders what the Drummer says about her now, behind his locks and doors. She wonders if she should have been gentler on him, or less so, or if she had chosen her own carriage how it would have fallen out, or how the changing of one of a million tiny details about that night might have altered her present situation. But she sits, and she thinks, and she wonders, and she does not cry.

Mostly though this day, she sits and ponders why she does not feel more, wondering if the half-guilt about her own serenity could count for something for him. Her twisting thoughts leave her sitting there, against the wall. Did she really love him? Did he love her? What was this "love" he thought he knew? What did it all matter, in the end? Slowly her thoughts congeal, and she begins murmuring to herself as she stands, straightens her skirt, and turns her steps towards the Sanctuary.

"I loved him, but I never let him in. I knew in my soul that he would hurt me should I ever do so, even if my head and heart were deaf to it. I was not a partner to him, I was more parent, and that inequality was enough to end it..." She strides into the Sanctuary, and her steps are resolute.

"I seek a partner, not a charge. Perhaps that is why."
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She wakes to the smell of smoke. The acrid scent pushes away a very pleasant dream, and she wakes in the dark to the soft sounds of the Drummer's breathing, and the crackle of pine. She closes her eyes with a sigh, then pushes away coverlet and silken sheets, wincing at the temperature change. Inside her apartments a ghostly orange light, at the same time similar and different from the light of the City, dances through her windows and flickers along the gilt ceiling ornaments.

Outside the Shadows have gathered in a throng on the back balcony to watch, but she pushes through them. The air is thick with smoke and flying ash, and there is a solemn funeral air to the scene. It is a funeral; a cremation.

On the other side of the Palace's walls, the stumps of still-living pine burn like smudgepots, some sending up jets of bright flame as their sap ignites. Tiny sapling pines, no more than a few fingers thick disappear and reappear in the smoke like doomed dancers in skirts of flame. The forest burns, even where it's been chopped back from the walls, and the walls themselves creak and groan with the heat. Above the flames the Tower still rises, a burning light at its apex glimmering like a malevolent eye.

The sense of waste overwhelms her. Even as the Forest burns, she can see it's no use; the Tower and Palace are too closely bound in the World to ever fully sunder in the City. The pines shriek and wail in a voice that only she can hear, and she turns her back on the sight, clutching her kimono tightly about her as if to close out the entire awful thing. Eddie is by her side now, and the rest of the Shadows turn to look at her, expressions of fear and sadness written on their faces. She shakes her head.

"There is nothing I can do. The Wolf thinks that I'm hunting him, and anything I say to the contrary will sound like a false denial. This," she gestures to the burning trees, "should at least make him feel better."


Jan. 3rd, 2006 03:14 am
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She is perched on the balcony railing overlooking the foyer of the Palace, one arm wrapped casually around a marble sylph-shaped column when Eddie finds her. Her hands are idly but busily engaged with a knife and apple, and tiny tendrils of apple skin fall into a small pile on her lap. She seems pensive, meditative, as she looks out over the space towards the heavy brazen doors with their sculpted trees and vines. Her mouth twitches, quirks experimentally, then she smiles, shaking her head.

"Nothing turns out the way you expect." The sound startles Eddie, who jumps, twig-like limbs flying.
"Yesss, I mean... No! - no indeed Missstresss," he answers, regaining his composure.

No answer is required, however, and the girl stares dreamily at the door, turning the naked apple in her hand. With an absentminded gesture, she places the knife to the right of her at about chest-height, as if she were setting it on a table and not on thin air over a goodly amount of empty, open space. The knife hovers in space obligingly, and disappears. Eddie sighs inwardly, making a mental note to check the kitchen countertops to see where the thing ended up. The girl stares out at the doors, the true Gateway to her kingdom, for a moment longer. The sculpted leaves seem almost to sigh in a passing wind, the vines flicker and sway as if real and not locked in cold, solid metal. She starts gently, then pivots on her perch on the railing, absently patting the sylph's marble knee as she dismounts onto the balcony.

With a handful of apple peel, she strides through the back parlor and drawing room, out to the patio and down the steps into the formal garden. Her feet crunch on blue-grey gravel as she walks to the center of the space, pausing to let the ripples on the new-Called reflecting pond subside. She sinks to her knees on the pond's smooth granite margin, the jet fringe on her skirts clinking softly against the stone. A snap of her fingers calls two candles to her, one for each side, and they shed a warm steady light across the still, still water. Taking a deep breath, she casts the peels onto the surface of the pond. "Tell!" she gasps.

The peels scatter, then as if guided by many unseen hands, begin to twirl and turn in the water, forming circles and lines and eventually a pattern that she recognizes. It is a bodhran, the image strangely outlined in bits of fruit skin. With a laugh, the girl plunges her hands into the water, sending droplets flying. When she pulls them out there is a drum in them, dry as a bone with a pattern of celtic knotwork worked on the head. She stares at it for a moment, a smile on her face, then stands to go. With an absent thought, she Calls fish into the pond where they eat the apple peels, then just as quickly unthinks them when the surface of the pond is empty. The candles she leaves, two flickering points against the dark, still night.

Back in the Gallery, she strides down the row of frames until she finds the one that suits: a rich dark oak, carved with a treble clef at one corner, and a green, green leaf at the other. The drum nearly leaps from her hands to hang within it, and she laughs again. Following behind her, Eddie marvels at the sound. As she leaves, he notices that the frame of red wood, with the tartan scrap inside, has fallen back from its former position near the heart of the Gallery, and the drum has taken its place. With a shrug he turns to leave. The ordering of Her gallery was not his concern.


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