Weatherwax hmmms, and prepares a desc.
Andreas hmmms, and gropes for a Clever Plan.
Rowan says "Oh, good, Rowan doesn't have to talk to Kel anymore?"
Rowan hides in his corner some more instead and sulks.
Andreas says "Okay, we hollow them out, climb inside their skins, and....no, wait...."
A long time has gone by, but there is no telling how long exactly, except that the guard has changed twice. None of the guards are any more pleasant than the first, nor, really, any *less* pleasant. No one approaches the chamber other than the change of guards. The most recent guard, a badly scarred type, is quietly playing solitaire on the rickety table.
Rowan has found an area of floor that is for some reason more comfortable than any /other/ area of floor, and is lying on it, curled up somewhat.
The scritching sound of pen on paper (or something) and the near-endless murmuring from Andreas's cell has finally come to a halt.
Kelsey has not found anything comfortable, but is braced against the back corner of her cell in a sitting position with her arms wrapped over the holes in her stomach and head tipped back against the stone wall, dozing fitfully.
Andreas pages: First idea: write, write, write. What little
I know of public folks (and folks down the coast who I have grudges
against), then proceed into gossip and scandal. Dropping hints
throughout that point to a strange sort of smuggling set up between
ratkin and powerful vampires. BUT
Andreas pages: As I write, the ink is mixed with my saliva and narcotized blood, and I push the enchantment--each word, each sentence, carries typhus. The more you read, the more closely you read, the more the magic disease (symptoms: depression, lethargy, eventual fever and delirium) gets in. That's the subtle plan.
Andreas pages: The overt, if-they're-watching-they'll-catch-it plan is a little origami rat. VERY cute. Permeated with all the different bloods that wound up on me. Enchanted to emit an attractive scent to any rodents--and, through the law of sympathy, so do the folks the blood came from. Hopefully Black Crinos, Archie or even the corpse might lure Little Cousins close enough to help out.
Long distance to Andreas: Weatherwax loves it! Sia approves and thinks it's an excellent and creative use of the metaphor.
Andreas pages: Yay!
There is the sound of approaching footsteps, echoing down the hallway that leads into the holding area.
Rowan does not lift his head. Nor move appreciably.
Kelsey lurches back to consciousness with a faint groan and makes herself sit up straight, mustering a glare at the door.
Andreas, looking four shades paler than usual, stands and ruffles his pages nervously, smoothing nonexistent hairs back on his head.
The footsteps resolve into several sets of footsteps, and arrive in the room. There is a terse word in some other language to the guard, who stands up and moves to open Andreas' door. A quiet muttering makes the lock pop open. The guard opens the door to reveal Argent and his little group (somewhat patched up now) waiting patiently. Argent smiles, in a much better mood evidently, and holds out his (non-silver) hand to Andreas.
Mutterings and door openings and other such noises in fact cause Rowan to sit up against a wall, wincing as he does so.
Kelsey waits tensely, not bothering to get up until she must. But her ears are definitely peeled.
Andreas swallows audibly, extending a crumpled batch of pages in front of him. "I, ahm, hope my literary foray pleases you. Sir." His reddened eyes dart, taking in the others.
Argent takes the pages gently and turns them to examine them. He flips several, glancing down the scribbles. "Excellent, excellent," he says pleasantly. "I'm sure that I will enjoy reading this particular work. If it's good, the Galliards of Madness's Roots will sing of you for generations to come."
Bane grins toothily over Argent's head at Andreas, eyeing him somewhat possessively.
Andreas rubs his stubbly chin with his hand. "That...that would certainly be something, Sir. I tried to be as accurate as I could. Merchants, you know, we hear a lot. Travelling." His attention fixes on the silver hand for a second. "Peoples' reputations, that sort of thing."
Kelsey can't maintain a glare at nothing, and slumps back in her cell again as she listens, too drained to keep more than a faint frown going.
The silver hand twitches, and Argent smiles knowingly. "Yesss," he purrs. "Some of us *do* have them, don't we?" He glances down at the papers again, then folds them and slides them into a small notebook produced from a pocket inside his jacket. The notebook vanishes back into the black jacket again and he turns his considering gaze back onto the big merchant. "So," he says, "ever feel like joining the Urge Lords?"
A look of utter consternation flickers across Andreas's face; swift as a blink it's gone, and the nervous hangdog expression is back. "N-never came up before, sir. Circles I, I travelled in, we didn't have much exposure to the idea."
Argent pats Andreas on the shoulder companionably. "Don't worry, son," he says, startlingly paternal (and even more startlingly, believeable in the role). "You'll have a few minutes to think about it. Stand here and behave while I chat up the others." He gestures to Rowan's door and the guard scurries over to open the lock and door in the same fashion as he did Andreas'.
Rowan just stays right where he is, propped against the wall, only half looking at the door.
Bane remains to keep an eye on Andreas, while Argent and the others move on to Rowan's cell.
Argent looks in at the battered Garou. "My, my, you *are* a bit of a mess, aren't you? If you'd like to stop being difficult now and tell us what we'd like to know, we could get you cleaned up some, stitched, et cetera. What do you say?"
Rowan manages to smile at the man, slightly, although it's
not exactly warm or welcoming. "Depends what you ask."
Rowan does not sound particularly confident in this answer. Perhaps it's pain.
"Well, that's an improvement," Argent says, smiling wider. He leans against the doorframe. "How about telling me exactly where the caern is?"
Rowan says, vaguely, and entirely truthfully, "Somewhere near the mountain." After a short pause to cough a little, he adds, hoarsely, "I keep getting lost."
Argent nods slowly. "What sort of wards or defenses does it have right now?"
Rowan's smile can't help but slew into a smirk, just slightly, but he's in too much pain to be /too/ obnoxious. Or even obnoxious at all. "I'm not a theurge. Or an ahroun." He doesn't cough, this time, but his voice gets slightly hoarser anyway, words a bit clipped. "Lotta people patrolling. Don't know magic."
"When you say 'a lot', how many do you mean?" The Urge Lord is casual, but is watching Rowan's face keenly from beneath his long eyelashes.
Rowan shrugs. Clearly, this was a bad movement to make, given his wince. "Keeps changing."
Andreas gives Bane a slight eye-roll at this answer.
"Hmph," Argent comments. "These two elders, Dawn and Dusk, what do you know of them?"
Kelsey leans back against the wall of her cell and begins to sing in a low, strained voice. "In western lands beneath the sun, the flowers rise in spring..."
Bane grins at Andreas.
Rowan is fairly good at lying with a straight face -- dealing for so long with vampires, you have to learn that -- and evidently picks now as a good time to test Argent's patience, or truth telling abilities, or both. It's not like he can hurt more. "Twins. Sentinels. Go places together."
From afar, to Kelsey, Weatherwax, and Andreas, Rowan intones, "What could possibly go wrong?" and stands back, rain dripping behind him.
From afar, to Kelsey, Weatherwax, and Andreas, Rowan thinks only Kel would get that, hm. If she even does.
Kelsey pages to Weatherwax, Andreas, and Rowan: It sounds extremely familiar, but no. :)
From afar, to Kelsey, Weatherwax, and Andreas, Rowan explains, "Beginning of Dream's road trip with Delerium. He'd just broken up with someone and was Very Depressed."
Argent glances back at the guard, who steps to Kelsey's door and says, "Shaddup!" He slams shut the little window.
The silver-armed Lord cocks his head to look at Rowan. "I see," he says thoughtfully. "And you've never heard of either of them before?"
Kelsey snorts and only switches tunes. "Waiting in the shadows, waiting for the thunder to roll. What are you hiding? What are you hiding? What broods in thunder's soul?" Whistling in the dark? Perhaps.
Rowan slumps a little, not completely able to hold himself up. "Vaguely. From center of states. Not my territory."
Kelsey pages to Weatherwax, Andreas, and Rowan: Ooooooh. Right. And you know what I was quoting, yes?
Rowan pages to Kelsey, Weatherwax, and Andreas: The first time, you mean? I /recognize/ it...... But I dunno where from, whimper.
Kelsey pages to Weatherwax, Andreas, and Rowan: The song Sam sings in the Two Towers when Frodo is a prisoner of the Orcs. ;)
Argent nods again. "That's enough from you." He moves
away and nods again to the guard, who closes Rowan's cell door
and locks it. Then he hurries over to Kelsey's door and unlocks
"So, Kelsey Eisenmann, we meet again," the Lord purrs.
Bane glances over at Argent and the others, then looks at Andreas and licks her lips suggestively.
This time, Rowan bothers to haul himself over to the door and watch. Slowly.
Kelsey tips her chin up and gives Argent a cool look, but the effect is somewhat hampered by her shredded condition. "This is not making me feel very at home with Shadow's children, Argent," she says irritably. "The fools who rescued me had more courtesy."
Andreas murmurs something quietly to Bane, smile on his lips.
Andreas pages: In a low voice, he says "Is that true, now? Would you not treat me with any courtesy, if you had the chance?"
"Possibly because you persist in perceiving us as Shadow's -- or Thunder's -- children, my dear," the Lord suggests, settling himself against this doorjamb as well, but facing Kelsey squarely, hips canted to the side and slightly forward, arms folded. "And the ones who captured you perceived clearly that you were not truly one of us."
Bane leans closer and whispers something to Andreas.
You paged Andreas with 'Bane says, "What do you mean by courtesy, exactly? I'm sure I can think of things I'd be glad to do with you, given half an hour without any interruptions."'.
Kelsey props a hand against the wall and pushes herself to her feet, gaze locked on Argent. "You have fallen away from the tribe's glory. But our blood is the same. I may not agree with all you are doing, but I see this whole world has been shaped by the crucible our people made. We took the sun away. We gave them their Long Night, to scour the world of the sick and the old, the cities and the weaver. And from that night was born their Lilith, their Sun, -everything- they have now. We showed them what no Garou dared to think when I was alive before: one tribe, one people has the power to change the world. -That- is our legacy. And it still lies in you."
Rowan listens to this with a fairly frozen gaze. Not as frozen as before he and Kelsey spoke, but... Frozen enough.
From afar, Andreas grins at Bane and replies "At the moment, a promise not to push my heart out through my ribs in all the excitement's all the courtesy I'd want."
Kelsey pages to Weatherwax, Andreas, and Rowan: The Kelsey
rewrite of Bright Future history. A scary thing. :}
Andreas pages to Kelsey, Weatherwax, and Rowan: Yeah, what propaganda! Everyone knows its the rats who did all that. ;)
Argent's eyes narrow dangerously. "You certainly have a romanticized view of the world. Was that something that predominated before the Night? There was no glory to fall away from, child. Everything you knew and saw was fraud and lies, gilded heavily with delusion. Small-minded power plays and short-visioned bargaining. They sold themselves long before your birth into slavery. If you think that the Long Night was any doing of the Shadow Lords, you have other facts coming. They captured the Sun, but had no idea how to hold Him. Without their blood-drinking and world-warping masters, those curs would have charred themselves to a crisp for nothing, and someone would have made a long song about it, like they did when the Croatan killed themselves." He leans closer to her, his powerful presence suddenly radiating to fill the entire chamber. "We are what survived of those petty fools. The Sun was nothing: a pathetic grasp for power that lasted a pathetic number of years. We strive for dominion until the end of Gaia, the only thing worth striving for. Without earthly masters." His face softens and his voice lowers. "But you can unlearn your delusions, Kelsey. You can join us, make us stronger for your knowledge of what we must avoid, the pitfalls that our flawed blood can open. Become one of us, Kelsey."
You paged Andreas with 'Bane grins and runs her tongue over one of her canines. "I can promise that, at least. You'd be no fun dead." She jerks her head toward Archie. "I'm not like him. I prefer them moving."'.
Kelsey shakes her head and sags. "Maybe you can't hear; the sad little excuse of a bane you call your master now has rotted your ears and your ambition and your soul. Go fuck shadows, then, if you can't bear the light of day anymore." There's a trace of scorn in her voice. "I could help you. I did help you. I may yet help you. But I will stay true to Thunder." She looks over towards Rowan and Andreas. "And if I stay, what would become of them?"
Argent snarls once, then his voice settles into a mocking singsong. "*You* aren't listening, little girl. You know nothing about who we serve. And it was *your* kind who couldn't stand the light of day, remember? The ones who called themselves *Shadow* Lords? Because you were too busy slinking around behind everyone's backs, trying to stab them and failing. Or succeeding, sometimes, by accident." Something about him shifts, and Kelsey becomes aware that this man, for however young he may look, has an aura of power about him that matches (and possibly exceeds) Julen or Eos. "And Thunder is dead, long weakened and attenuated by your kind's use. He was weak, and his replacement isn't even sentient."
Kelsey says levelly, "There's a lot I don't know, rhya." The word is grudging, but not given in flattery. "But I'll learn, and I'll find my -own- way, unless you'd like to make my choices simple by just killing me here. Otherwise, I'm going to keep collecting your stories, and their stories, and the lies and the truths and the madness and the songs, and serve a totem that's -dead- until I find something worth living for. So." She closes her eyes and bares her throat. "Waste me if you will."
Argent seizes her by the throat with his silver hand and draws her so close their faces nearly touch. "Maybe I *will* make your choices easier," he hisses, breath hot on Kelsey's face. One side of his upper lip rises in a sneer that flashes sharp white teeth. "You and your friends here. Serving a dead totem is madness, so madness you shall have." He bellows, obviously to his compatriots, but never moving his face away from Kelsey, "Bring the others!"
Bane curses softly, but takes Andreas by the elbow. Archie and the wolf move back to Rowan's cell, the guard opens the door, and Archie hauls Rowan out by the upper arm.
Rowan stumbles obligingly, but given just how much attention he's currently giving Argent, he doesn't resist a whit.
Kelsey flinches in his grasp and starts to choke. One hand reaches up to lace fingers over Argent's, a bleak but stubborn cast to her knitted brows.
You paged Andreas with 'Bane whispers, quickly, "I'll see you when you get out, then." She grins again.'.
Argent holds Kelsey in that pose for a long moment more, then steps back, releasing her. "Come along," he snaps, taking her elbow and dragging her from the cell. He flicks a glance over Rowan and nods, then to Andreas. "Well, friend merchant," he says, almost pleasantly, "I'm afraid I'm forcing the choice."
Kelsey follows with as much dignity as she can muster; admittedly it isn't much, and she stumbles. But she marches along beside the man.
Andreas looks over at the two Garou, then musters a sickly smile for Argent. "Must be fate, then. Now, this is one of those indoctrinations that last weeks, right? Dancing, drinking, big ritual at the proper phase of the moon?"
Kelsey interjects shortly, "This is where they rip out your soul and feed it to the abyss. Try to enjoy the ride."
Rowan suddenly stands stock still for a moment, and is then, obviously, dragged. "Fuck /that/," he says, with some actual energy.
Argent and Kelsey lead the way back up the long hallway and stairs. Argent flashes a winning smile over his shoulder at Andreas, "Oh, it could, certainly. That will probably depend upon you."
At the top of the stairs, the parade turns down a narrow, oppressive tunnel. Several lengthy, silent minutes of travel ends in a vast cavern, lit with tall lanterns, flickering with power. The room echoes with a single, unending scream of agony. The source seems to be at the center, within a wrought silver cage. Possibly, something more would be visible in the Umbra, but none of you have the ability to get there right now. You pass through there, and, with your ears still ringing, you arrive in a small, neat room. There is a single, heavy trapdoor in the center of the floor.
Rowan starts sweating.
Andreas's lips move soundlessly as he drinks it all in, eyes wide.
Rowan glances in Kelsey's direction, muscles slowly tensing.
Kelsey has retreated back into the numb shell of pain; sometimes pain is actually useful for blotting out the outside world. But she does give the other two a sad little smile.
Argent flips the trap open with his foot. A vast, cold darkness breathes up into the room. "Welcome to your destiny," he says finally, seizing Kelsey by the back of the neck and forcing her to the edge of the wide hole. Archie levers Rowan to a second edge, and Andreas is nudged up to the third. "This is the door to the Paths of Madness, whence you shall return changed or not at all. May your delusions be stripped, your illusions shattered, and your mind find its home." He pauses, letting them hear the sound of darkness taking an expectant breath. "Would you like to say anything to be remembered as your last words?" he inquires.
You paged Andreas with 'Bane whispers, very, very low, "When you jump, bend your knees and lean to the right. If you land right, you'll be golden. Then you just have to deal with whatever your mind throws at you." She licks your ear. "See you when you get out."'.
Rowan pages to Kelsey, Weatherwax, and Andreas: On the whole, I'd rather be in Philadelphia.
Andreas pages to Kelsey, Weatherwax, and Rowan: Dang it, I was thinking that!!
Rowan does not seem at all eager to do anything resembling moving anywhere near that edge, and in fact takes quite a bit of pushing, prodding, and just plain abuse to get there. He's mute, lip thinning, no words coming.
Kelsey doesn't struggle, fight, or otherwise throw a ruckus. Instead she simply seems to be staring down into the darkness, sniffing it, taking in the air from below. "Weaver had me for two hundred years. Fair's fair," she says diffidently. She sets her feet to jump.
Andreas's face splits with the first real smile he's had in days. "If these are the shadows you've been copulating with, remind me to introduce you to a few nice people I know, when I'm out again. You NEED it."
Argent hisses and flings Kelsey forward into the pit. Archie kicks the backs of Rowan's knees and then the small of his back. Bane pats, and then squeezes, Andreas' butt before pushing him forward with a grin. You all fall into the living darkness, losing sight of anything like light instantly.