Precipice

Feb. 1st, 2009 09:12 pm
arsenicwaltz: (Default)
"You should not push her."

There is an intensity to the Lord Shaper's words that belies his calm exterior. Desire looks sharply up, cigarette in hand forgotten. Nearby, a smudge of black taffeta mars a corner of the Great Hall's marble, and two figures stand attendance a few feet away. Death looks back at her siblings irritatedly, but Despair's lumpy form is intent on the girl, as a terrier with a kill in sight.

"Oh?" Desire's tone is calculatedly light.
"Indeed. I do not think she can take much more of this."
"Oh, but it does make the hours go by so much quicker, don't you think? Lends a little interest and drama to the wait?"
The ever-present furrows on Dream's forehead deepen. "You endanger all of your plans by it. For what? You are not welcome in her domain and yet she suffers you with equanimity. But you could be..."
"Shh-!" Desire turns, pointing.

Behind them, a cowled figure stares with blind eyes at the scene before him, a massive book held against one hip. Destiny pulls a quill from the middle distance, and very carefully notes something in the tome. A long moment passes, and he nods, fading into nothingness.

"Well that was unnecessary." Desire's petulant expression changes to disgust as the cigarette between those long white fingers burns out. "Oh for the love of-"
Loud footsteps interrupt the complaint, and a huge lumberjack of a man strides in, tracking red clay mud across the pale and glistening marble.
"Hullo sibs." He scratches his beard thoughtfully. "What have we here?"
"Oh, one of his projects, you know. She doesn't seem to have much of a sense of humor."
Dream opens his mouth as if to speak but closes it again, a stormy expression on his face.
"Huh. She's lasted this long. I think she's made of sterner stuff than either of you realize."
Desire looks confused, Dream looks thoughtful.
"Besides, we wouldn't want to find out if he was wrong midway through, eh? Have to have a bit of a stress test to find out, first."
"We are endangering a very rare tool indeed."
"Even a broken tool can be repaired and put to use."
"But the stakes-"
"The stakes are only as high as he wants them to be. Couldn't let him get bored now, could we? No, no. This," Destruction gestures grandly, "all of this- you, me, her, them - is according to his plan."
"And if she breaks?"
"Then we delay, find another."
"What if she refuses?" Desire flicks a lighter, irritated.
"She won't refuse."
Dream turns back to look at the girl, curled and rocking in the corner of the grand room, tear-stained face held between hands marked with red crescents, hair limp and disheveled against dull black fabric and clacking beads.
"I pray you are correct, brother."

Why now? Why this? It should have been over months ago, why bring him back? And why for so short a time? What are you trying to prove? We've known for years that my heart is implacable - impractical, self-destructive. Why drive the lesson home now? Why? Answer me! Please! Please...

Solitary

Apr. 17th, 2007 03:25 am
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There is, of all things, dust on her eyelashes. Forcing them apart is a struggle, but she fights them.

Her feet are cold. That is the only part of herself she can currently feel, and although it is uncomfortable, the tingle at the end of her limbs is a reassuring reminder that her body is still alive. She flexes one leg, experimentally.

Inside the Great Hall, the Shadows start from their reverie. For four months they have sat in patient watch in the cold marble room, ever since the night of the Massacre. The Gallery had flickered, sigils and frames fading in and out, and some only out - not to return. There had been a great weeping, and then only silence as the girl disappeared. In the following night-day, they had scoured the Palace, only to find their mistress in the Great Hall, folded into half-lotus and wrapped in kimono, her back to one of the living marble pillars. And there she sat, silent, unmoving, for months. As the night-days passed in the City, welts appeared across her body, cuts across her hands, bruises across her face, as she weathered whatever events came from within. And then they stopped suddenly one day, the browns and purples trickling away under the onslaught of time, the red lash marks fading to a dull raised lattice across her arms and back.

But now her eyes open, and she topples forward, weakened by her struggles and the passing of time. Eddie is there almost immediately, a soft cushion held out before him to catch her fall. The girl swallows past her dry throat and coughs, arms twitching limply against the softness of silk damask. There is a mug of something warm near her face now, and she drinks like an invalid, like a man grasping at the last rope that could break his fall. She sighs, and collapses deeper into the pillow, eyes fluttering shut. With a thought, she is back in her own bed in her apartments above the Ballroom. The tinny waltz that plays below comforts her as she reaches for Eddie's spindly arm.

"I shall... be well," she croaks. "Only... give me... time."
She rolls over, burrowing deep into the coverlet.
"The battle was long," she gasps, "I did not succeed. I fought alone. My foe was armed with trickery. I could not... prevail."

As Eddie creeps from the room she whispers into the dark.

"I am alone, all alone..."
arsenicwaltz: (Default)
In the very heart of the Palace there is a grand chamber of multicolored marble, long lines of tall pilliars marching towards a dais on which sits a grand and highly ornamented throne. The throne's claret velvet is worn and threadbare, and the spires of gilt carving are bedecked with dust and cobwebs. A great sense of vacancy fills the room and more particularly the throne, relieved only by the presence of a very large, somewhat careworn looking spider who has taken up residence as caretaker of the seat. In front of the throne sits a flimsy looking folding stool, an abused and flattened pillow perched atop it for the comfort of the sitter, though it is quite evident that nobody has sat here in some time.

The girl stands behind one of the matched pair of black marble pillars, shivering with her body pressed up against the cold stone as if to hide herself. Her cheeks are wet, her eyes closed, her hands clenched and drawn to her chest, and she gives the impression of trying to press herself inside the pillar as if to escape something. Her lips move silently against the carved and polished stone, and the entire chamber is suffused with an air of sympathy. Finally, her lips stop moving and she slides down the pillar to curl fetal position against it, a fragile-looking thing in a nest of skirts. Finally, she speaks aloud.

"It pains me, this slow drawing apart. It's as if that moment, those few precious hours were some dream world, and now that I've returned, they are as insubstantial as butterfly ashes. I want to be that close to them again. I wish for that feeling of connection. It was glorious while it lasted, but I had hoped... I wish it had lasted longer."

As she falls silent, the long hall is filled with the sound of rushing wind, though not a breath of air stirs. The spider takes cover in one of its many maze-like webs, leaving a trembling thread of spidersilk glimmering over the seat of the throne. In that space condenses a Presence; a bright glow without shape or substance, but which dominates the entirety of the long hall, casting the pillars' shadows in sharp relief against the cold walls. The girl looks up in consternation, but not in fear.

HAVE YOU LEARNED NOTHING, YOUNG ONE? The voice booms and crackles through the room like a thunderstorm condensed. DID THE GREEN-EYED TEACH YOU NOTHING? The girl shrinks back, ashamed. YOU ARE TO LIVE, TO LOVE, IN THE MOMENT AND BE THANKFUL FOR THAT MOMENT. YOU ARE NOT TO PINE FOR WHAT YOU DESIRE. YOU ARE NOT TO MOURN WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN!

The girl nods shakily, her face pale. "I will try! I have tried! It is not as if I didn't understand what he was trying to teach me, it's that I couldn't make myself give up! I could not quash those feelings so easily!" She hides her eyes, though the brightness has taken on a warmer color.

SIMPLY DO. DO NOT THINK. FEEL IN THE MOMENT, AND FOR THE MOMENT, BUT NOT FOR THE FUTURE. PUT NO STORE IN THE FUTURE, FOR IT IS A TREACHEROUS PLACE. YOU WILL DO WELL IN THIS. I KNOW.

With that, the Presence vanishes, lifting a heavy pressure from the room. The girl collapses into unconsciousness against her pillar, and sleeps.

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