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Author Topic: The Barker Street Irregulars case 1 Crowned Panic.  (Read 10471 times)
MWBailey
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"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #425 on: July 20, 2015, 02:53:23 am »

Ink got away with it because he was the Clockwarden of the Golden Tower. Molly could move as she willed because the Tower was her home. She strode forward, and extended her hand, dropping her glamour as she did so. "I hope I don't frighten you, Lady Celia," she said. "I am Molly, and this is my home. The room you seek is above." She gestured to a stair built into the side of the tower wall. "We had one of those fancy new lifts put in, but the buggers wrecked it when they started throwing spells to queer the clock. My Inky's working on it, but it takes time." Molly chuckled at her little joke. "Sorry, but we have no choice but to climb. Don't mind the blood, sometimes it's necessary."

Marley saw the doors slam, and knew the place he needed to be was on the other side. Perhaps Inkpot could fix the Clock all by himself, but as the goblin's senior journeyman, Marley Whippett was supposed to be at hand in case anything went awry. And there was the confusing bit about Celia; in all the confusion, Marley wasn't sure which Celia had gained the Tower, and he wasn't in the mood for twenty questions with the crownd on the steps at the moment. So, he did somethaing that, in normal circumstances, would be frowned upon by his Grand Master and by teh Order's Board of Review, but which under the circumstances was necessary. Standing before the doorway and facing the doors, he recited the Three Thaumic Constants, and taking his sword in hand smote the pillars with the first two words, and finally the apex of the door-arch with the final. There was a flash, and...

Not very damned much. He blinked, and looked around, and realized he was on the steps still, and the enemy knights (the ones he hadn't shot), having regained their senses and their balance, were coming for him. Marley pepared to face the recovered knights charging up the stairs, saw Toby and what looked like Mallard's wolf (!?) squaring off for a fight, and prepared himmsef for a hell of a fight - and then was ripped upward by a current of the Timewind, tossed about like a leaf amid the sudden roaring gale, as the spanner sword went flying friom his grip, to stick in the ornamental turf several feet from where Mallard and one of the Tobys were fighting. The Tower somehow dimmed, the clock within somehow remaining solid, the only remotely solid form in the wild maelstrom of images and insane sounds. "Like calls to like," it is said, and such occurred here, it seemed. The watch at Marley's waist seemed to be pulled to the Tower clock. He saw Inkpot then (Gods what an ugly face, he thought uncharitably, unable to stop himself). There was a moment of feeling torn in half, and then he lay, panting, on the stone tiles of the Clockroom. "Took ye long enough, ya great looby," Ink was saying as he helped his old friend stand. "Molly's already takin' our Celia to the Traderoom..."
« Last Edit: July 20, 2015, 03:26:54 am by MWBailey » Logged

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Stella Gaslight
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« Reply #426 on: July 20, 2015, 03:08:02 am »

This was the hard part. She had to convince a goblin to take on what could be viewed as a poor deal for the good of them all. It was not that they had no selfless but rather that it was seen as madness to not trade at your level best.  "Molly I wish to clear your lands of the white knights and all the corruption that comes with them but I am divided in a way I can't comprehend and do not have the power to act on my own."
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MWBailey
Rogue Ætherlord
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"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #427 on: July 20, 2015, 06:42:08 am »

Molly looked at Celia with an oddm nearly unreadable expression. She didn't distrust the woman; anyone Inkpot befriended or supported, in her experience, tended to be alright, but this kind of bargaining ploy (if ploy it was), one of presenting oneself as weak and apparently as a non-autonomous proxy, was not the usual "bag of kit," as the saying went.

However, "We can approach this as if ya were a proxy for the actual bargainer," Molly said at last. "Is that what you're wantin'? Or - " a thud from behind the door to the second-floor chamber, where the Clock resided, filtered through the heavy shielding. Pulsing throbs of thaumic force were palpable even on this side of the specially strengthened, shielded and bespelled door as well as the muffled sound of two people speaking. Moly half-smiled as she thought she recognized the voices within. An instant and the smile was gone, and she continued speaking to Celia,  "Or, is there some other angle you're wanting to follow?"
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Stella Gaslight
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« Reply #428 on: July 20, 2015, 04:07:45 pm »

"I am London's proxy.  I can offer all the protection the city has but in exchange you become a part of it. I haven't asked this before because the need has never been truly dire.  But if London is to survive we have to band together."  Celia was hoping badly that she still had the power to do this and that she didn't inadvertently help the other her.
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« Reply #429 on: July 20, 2015, 06:41:55 pm »

Balls, had a big long speach typed out and my compter crashed just as i was about to hit post.
nearly 500 words!
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MWBailey
Rogue Ætherlord
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United States United States


"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #430 on: July 20, 2015, 09:23:16 pm »

Molly finally stopped at a door that was so highly caved it looked like a baroque sculpture in marbe. She nodded at teh neatly tyrned-out yet bloodstained gentlemanly guard, who banged  his glaive on the floor with three loud BOOMs. Bargainer to see th' Committee!" he barked out. An answering voice friom within barked in response, and the door suddenly swung inward. "After you, Milady, Miss," Molly said, then followed Celia and Beety inside. "Milords, I present th' The Lady Celia, Ballast High of the City O' London, and Proxy for the bargain between London and The Market."
« Last Edit: July 20, 2015, 10:15:36 pm by MWBailey » Logged
CPT_J_Percell
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« Reply #431 on: July 20, 2015, 09:37:18 pm »

The false king fought with a skill that didn't match his age, every wing was skilled and controlled, but the old wolf parried each and every swing of the false king.
"You want to be a king, a king of what?" The old wolf growled.
"I will be king of London and King of all!" he responded, arrogance dripping in his voice.
"You think you rule here, you thing these men in white are your subjects?" The Old wold spat back looking out the corner of his eyes and catching the looks from the Men in White.
"I am their Lord and King!" he shouted at the old wolf.
The old wolfs lips parted in a gruesome imitation of a smile, "You are a king of nothing, they do not answer to you,you are their puppet, their slave, they rule you!"
"I rule here, and they server me!" the false king shouted at the wolf and swung his sword in a two handed grip that would have felled a man. The old wolf caught the blade mid swing ringing it to a stop so fast that the false king was knocked of balance and sent sprawling to the ground.
Sensing the false king was in trouble, the men in white sent their shadows towards the old wolf. Shadow claws formed into solid object and sped their way towards him. Green ghostly runes appeared around the old wolfs neck and started to turn red as the old wolfs form started to dissolve, he held out his arms and laughed so deeply that it echoed around the building and walls around them.
"You seek to slay me with shadows, I am the master of shadows." the old wolf growled and the shadows speed towards him. he threw down the false kings swords and absorbed the shadows. The were ghostly screams like that of banshies and several of the men in white collapsed.
"You are nothing more then some old lycan who has grown too old!" the false king said getting back to his feet and retrieving his sword, "I shall now give you a warriors ending." he swung his sword and collided with the old wolfs shadow sword that rang out across the area.

Looked together, the old wolf leaned forward and downwards so that he was nose to nose with the false king," You have no idea who you face, I am the lord of darkness, I am the hand of the void." the old wolfs voice was low and shadows came from the old wolfs mouth. He smiled as he noticed the false kings eyes turn to the swords and his pupils grow wide, "You recognise what I hold, don't you?" the old wolf said as the sword formed into a corrupted version of excalibur, but instead of a gleaming gold and silver weapon the old wolfs was blacked and defiled, its blade the colour of old blood and it moved as if it was alive. A man in white charged towards them and with a move faster then the blink of an eye, the old wolf separated from the false king, took a step back and swung his sword, removing the man in whites head. Too the king it looked like the mans head has just parted from his shoulders and he turned to the old wolf who was laughing.
"False king do you know what this when is?"
The false king nodded, "Its a demon weapon, but those are not supposed to exist anymore!"
"And how would you know that?"
"The men in white claim that the king will bare the sword and led an army."
"So you think you can claim a daemon sword, no, a daemon sword claims you, it claims your soul and that of your victims. Do you know how many souls this sword has claimed?" the false king shook his head fear starting to change his expressions. "That was the three thousandth soul it has claimed!"
"You say that but why has it not claimed yours?"
"Because I am dead and I created this weapon!"
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Stella Gaslight
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« Reply #432 on: July 20, 2015, 11:16:17 pm »

Celia looked at the gathered crowed and worried a bit.  They looked so covered in wealth to be comical but she could see the sharp minds sizing her up and wished she was in a pit of vipers instead.  At least the vipers had no concept of compound interest. "Esteemed ladies and gentlemen I come to you today because a traitor in London with eyes on your lands.  Those in white, if given the chance, would rule you with a boot to the neck and I cannot allow that to happen.  I wish to broker a joint to London that will allow me to expel them from your lands and stop their draining of your rightful magic,"  Damn it, there was an utterly stony silence where they looked at her like she had crawled out of a swamp.  How had it gone wrong? She had used all the proper words and been incredibly polite She could feel Reid step up behind her and wondered if they should just take their losses and run hoping she could win the battle outside.

She was fire and anger fast as lighting.  Gone from the stairs in a bolt and in front of the malevolent blade.  "You will not have my child wolf.  He is not for The Morgan." Her voice boomed and twisted in ways a human should not be capable of. Normally the young king would cast aside his mother and fight his own battles but he could never speak against this.  "You know who I am.  We have known each-other many times throughout the years.  I do not take attacks on my own lightly."  London flowed from her in waves of power.  When Celia called on London it was the noble golden light of new promise but the queen was unafraid to call on the deeper more base cruelties.  The city was not always kind and the streets below them had seen no end of bloodshed.  The queen called on every piece of anger and hatred London had to give and she turned his blade with her hand the pain of its bite only adding to her fire.
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Ranger Reid
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« Reply #433 on: July 20, 2015, 11:36:51 pm »

Reid looked at the crowd.  At first it seemed that they had to convince some thirty odd goblins.  But the more he looked at the room, the more clear the arrangement became.  The obvious social order was that the ones up front with their jewelry and glitz were the pretenders.   At the back of the room were three large goblins wearing hooded cloaks, each with a different guild insignia.  While Celia was speaking she was largely ignored.  But when one of the three whispered to his cronies, the masses hushed to strain to listen.   Sensing that this was where the power resided, Reid decided to take a chance.  

He drew his knife and threw it hard.   It slammed into the wall between two of the three.    The ranger spoke with the full attention of the silent room "My friend is speaking.  It would be rude not to allow her some respect.   Now could we please speak directly to whatever magistrate, or council is in charge?"

The silence stretched into a long frightening moment.   Reid was afraid he had misjudged.   Then from the middle hooded goblin, laughter erupted.

"Get OUT!"  he roared.    The assembled crowd ran as if the building was on fire.  They didn't just crowd the doors, but a few even climbed out a barred window.  It was a little sickening to see them squeeze through the bars like a rat.

When the room emptied, the three large goblins pulled back their hoods.   To Reid's shock the middle one was the very fiend that Reid had helped before.  This was the first glimmer of hope that the man had felt.

The leader looked at the ranger and said "So, no pretty speeches.  What does she want?"

Reid nodded towards Celia, and replied  "Tell them Celia.  Just explain.  He understands what mutually beneficial means."    The ranger looked back at the large goblin and smiled a tight knowing smile.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2015, 11:39:43 pm by Ranger Reid » Logged

Stella Gaslight
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« Reply #434 on: July 21, 2015, 02:01:43 am »

That was not exactly what Celia had expected to happen but it did cut to the point nicely.  "The knights in white have your tower under siege and if we cannot hold them back they will take the market and make your magic a slave to theirs. They are trying to bring about a false Camelot and they have all ready tried to ram open the gates." From the winces on their faces she could tell at least some of them had felt that. "Through means I do not know they have a copy of me. A copy that can call on the same magic I do."  There was a quiet murmur of unease.  "She is their means of binding you and the magic they would call on is old as the stones and unbreakable.  If we can make a pact I can make sure you keep your sovereignty but you would become more firmly anchored in the city and if the reason is just and in service of the city I could call upon your power to lend aid.  You know me like you knew my grandmother, we are just people and not ones to call on such a loyalty frivolously.  If you are willing to forgive our debts we will fight for you down to my dyeing breath."
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Ranger Reid
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« Reply #435 on: July 21, 2015, 02:10:17 am »

The goblin Reid knew stood in thought.   He was obviously struggling with something.    The smaller one to his left spoke with a surprisingly refined feminine voice.

"We have to tell them Reggie."

The leader sighed, and nodded.  

She continued, "We helped them keep a sliver of you from when you passed through our wards with Toby.   We weren't completely convinced when you took him.   But we only ever thought to use it to locate you.    When the Order approached us, we never knew what they wanted with the slivers.
We can undo the binding, but then the sliver won't simply return to you.   It will actually die from being separated.  Your souls will recover, but it will be painful for you and Toby both.  Like trimming fingernails and getting the cutical, but with your soul."  

She laughed at her comparison, but no one else seemed to find it humorous.  
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Stella Gaslight
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« Reply #436 on: July 21, 2015, 02:43:38 am »

The play of emotions on Celia's face started with anger and finished with a tired sort of relief.  It was utterly horrible but at least it made sense.  She was so tied to the city she would have never felt it and as for Toby he was a changeling and magic worked oddly with them on the best day.   "I am sorry I had not come sooner.  I was afraid of tangling with The Morgan when I should have been remembering my lore about the old thief traps. Don't unbind them yet I may be able to rectify some of the damage they caused and I am not sure what the order has done to them.  That may be that is what the order is hoping for so the spells can double back to bind the full me.  They are nasty pieces of work."  Celia could feel the other her now if she listened to the feelings in the back of her mind.  She was calling on the city in a deep way and if that little silver of her wasn't careful madness and rage would swallow her.  The last thing they needed was berserker Ballast so Celia would have to move fast.  "Will you become a keystone part of London of your own free will knowing both the privileges and responsibility that come with your pledge?"
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Ranger Reid
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« Reply #437 on: July 21, 2015, 02:54:11 am »

Reggie  spoke and for the first time looked Celia in the eye as an equal.    "I thought we already were.  It is time we were acknowledged for our role though.  But we will have to set specific terms."   He grinned and allowed the glamor to fade so that Celia and Reid could see his sharpened teeth, with bits of decaying matter stuck in between.  "You fooled us once.   We will agree to a limited pact of aid.  And then we can write a formal agreement of our roles, and rewards as critical members of the city.  If we work at it, we should have something permanent in three or four years.   But we can do something temporary now."

Looking past Celia and the ranger, Reggie bellowed "SCRIBES!!!"   Immediately there were two small goblins by his side with parchment and inked quills.

Reid allowed Celia and the goblins to work out the temporary treaty while he retrieved his dagger.   He was pleased it had missed the mark.  He had intended to kill the middle one to make a point, but some insight or feeling made him flinch at the last moment.  As he considered it, he recognized the feeling of his curse's touch.   He knew that in a small way the Morrigan had kept him from blowing the deal.   In silent thought he wished her thanks.  Briefly he felt the kiss of raven's feathers brushing across his face.   Seems things were coming together finally.  If only they could finish this deal before anyone was hurt.
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walking stick
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« Reply #438 on: July 21, 2015, 09:54:31 am »

Beety looked vague to the point of seeming to fade, then she sang in a voice that wasn't simply hers,

The Raven stolen
By the woman stolen
And the child stolen
For the realm that falsehood would steal.
 
The bargain broken
By the honour broken
And the souls broken
By the takers of more than was owed for the deal.

"Raven singer, this is true?" asked the goblin leaders  "They used our thief trap to break apart  The Ballast of London and the changeling boy?"

The Ravens knowing
What is truly owing
And the lies sowing
By the stealers of light who would rewrite a deal

The Raven alive
For the truth to survive
Or chaos will thrive
With madness and pain to be all that is real

The song twisted into a scream from all the Ravens of The Tower and Beety collapsed.
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Stella Gaslight
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« Reply #439 on: July 21, 2015, 12:25:18 pm »

Celia dropped everything and ran to Beety.  She gently lifted her up and set her in one of chairs that ringed the room. The goblins looked at her as she made sure Beety was safe.  "Could I have a glass of water?  When she wakes I think she will be glad of it."  Celia hoped she would wake soon.  High magic was afoot and Beety was a valued resource in dealing with the more archaic forms.  She turned back towards the goblin leaders with a determined look.  "I think we may have both been fooled."  It did make her feel a little better to know that she had not just stumbled into the oldest trap in the book.
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« Reply #440 on: July 21, 2015, 07:42:45 pm »

The old wolf turned and looked at the woman holding his daemon sword, her regal clothes burned and her skin blackened in the black flame that surrounded it, but she didn't let go. He watched her as he thought about what he was going to say. With a wave of his hand the sword evaporated into black smoke to float in the air next to him. "I do not serve the morgan, I serve only myself." He said to her in a low deep voice that echoed off the stones. "I seek those false to the crown of Camelot, I have lived over 500 years and traveled multiples words to get here. " He grunted and turned to find the false king had got to his feet and buried his sword in his chest up to his hilt. The old wolfs claw reached up and with a snap of bone wrapped his hand around the false kings still holding the sword and twisted. The false king fell to the floor screaming as the old wolf pulled out the sword. Black smoke dripped from the blade and a dark pattern like oil was snaking its way around the blade. "Another false copy of the royal sword!" he said with disgust and snapped the blade in half throwing the bits in separate directions. He turned back to the woman, "If you want to save this retch, brake you attachment to the men in white and leave, I give you only one warning."
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Ranger Reid
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« Reply #441 on: July 21, 2015, 07:52:30 pm »

After Beety's song the three goblin guildmasters conferred privately.    Then Reggie came forward and spoke  "We have decided to help you as best we can.   This will be the first time we have ever done this.   It takes the combined power of all of our magic.   The three guilds have never agreed to do this before.   We will perform the Cleansing."

When it was obvious that Reid didn't know what they were talking about, and Celia was distracted, the lead goblin explained further "It is a failsafe we designed in case a more powerful magic was used against us here in the market.   We create a field of non-magic.   It won't last long, but for a few minutes, there will be no magic in this area at all.   
But be warned, anyone who is sustained by magic will suddenly lose that power."   He looked at Celia "You will lose your contact with London for a few moments.  But, the other you will die.   Any weapons being used or spells being thrown will fail also.    We have to have an accord though.  Is this what you wish?"

This time he was definitely speaking to Celia only.
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Stella Gaslight
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« Reply #442 on: July 21, 2015, 09:00:59 pm »

She looked gravely at him.  This was going to hurt but if the other her was this ruthless then they were out of time.  "Yes." she said quietly thinking about that all grown Toby masquerading as Arthur.  He had only a small bitter life and she felt sorry for him.  "For the good of the city and all of it's people I am in accord with you."  The choices she had to make sometimes felt like a vast weight on her shoulders but this was one she would have to bear for a long time.  Celia turned to Reid looking warn down.  "if it isn't a bother can you keep close to me?  I have never sharply severed my tie with the city and I worry about what may happen."
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« Reply #443 on: July 21, 2015, 09:10:00 pm »

Reid smiled his tight sad smile.   "I will be right by your side Ma'am."     

As they spoke, the two scribes finished writing on their parchments.   They looked at each other, spat on their quills, and traded sheets long enough to sign each other's writing.   

When this was done, the three guild masters began to chant.   Every goblin in the market suddenly stopped where they were and picked up the chant.

The entire marketplace, the tower, the battleground all froze, including everyone in it.   (Oddly with the exception of the old wolf, who seemed immune to the chant.)

As the words reverberated through the air, their was a shimmering, and suddenly everything changed.    Gone was the maze and the market.  Instead the entire field turned out to be a midden heap.   There were bodies decaying, hogs rutting, garbage with flies and maggots.  The tower itself remained, but even it was lessened.   It was not the imposing powerful tall structure it had seemed.  Instead it was a small farm silo type structure.   The clock was completely unchanged.

The goblins too were diminished.  They all stood a foot or more shorter than before, and they looked much less human.   Instead they looked more like a cross between pigs and rats.   (Gaining the positive aspects of neither.....)

The air was rent with a piercing scream from the false Celia, likewise from the false king.    Reid stepped to his Celia right as the backwash of power hit her too.
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« Reply #444 on: July 21, 2015, 09:14:11 pm »

The Old wolf fell to one knee as if something and knocked the air out of him and snapped back into physical form. what ever had happened to the magic flowing around the area had knocked his own powers out of balance. For the first time in 100 years, he reclaimed his human form and struggled to take a deep breath allowing him to calm and clear his mind.
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« Reply #445 on: July 21, 2015, 09:57:53 pm »

Beety had woken during the discussion but she waited until the power was focused on Celia to shout. "Toby now!"
The boy hurried to break holes in the stiffened magical bindings on the fallen King and Queen, it no longer looked like armour or golden robes.  The can opener, good Sheffield steel and shed horn from a magical beast, would free what was left of their shadow selves to return to Toby and Celia.  Those shreds might be enough to help.  The battle wasn't over and the enemy still had The Raven.
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« Reply #446 on: July 21, 2015, 11:54:29 pm »

Celia saw the color drain from her world and then sound and sight. She was left with darkness all around as her body struggled to adjust to the connections it had always held falling away.  She tried to stand still and be strong but Celia was shot through with tremors of exhaustion and fear.  All she could do was ride it out.

The queen screamed with an almost inhuman pain as Her king crumbled in her arms. He was younger and his body less stable because of the use of the sword all it took was a touch from the can opener to cause him to fade away.  The men in white were full of panic and struggled to brake the hold of the cleansing.  "It is all right momma. I promise."  Toby said with tears in his eyes and touched the can opener softly to her skin. The queen looked toward the sky and untravelled in to a thread of light.  The nearest knight looked on in horror and did the last ditch thing he though that would save them from the wrath of their lord. Taking all the strength in his body he broke the seal on the reliquary that held her shard.  This was suposed to call her in to the locket but it was too late for that, all that was left of her was grief over her son's short life and anger.  It slammed in to him with a force that tore at his mind ripping it apart until all that was left was an empty shell that was one a man.  Toby sat among the empty armour stunned.  It wasn't tell later he realised his ears were a bit less pointed and his eyes a bit deeper.  It was strange to be a bit more human after all.

In the tower the darkness enveloping Celia was replaced with a light that burned it's way across knocking the breath out of her.  She crumbled in to Reid no longer able to stand against her changes running roughshod over her. A small chunk of hair that had escaped her bun turned a color as silver as starlight.
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« Reply #447 on: July 22, 2015, 01:25:32 am »

Reid dove to catch Celia as she collapsed, and almost dropped her from the shock of how light she was.  As he swept her up, he looked at Beety for any advice.


A strange stillness settled over the whole area.   Then out of the complete silence came the sound of a fluttering of wings.  Hundreds of ravens settled on the trash heap.  They were barking and cawing, till it sounded almost like laughter.  In their midst a hundred birds started flying in a tight tornado of a circle.  The swirling black mass formed into a familiar figure.    

The Morrigan stood tall and proud, this time she most closely resembled the queen version that had appeared in Reid's dream.   She walked up to Celia and the ranger and stood for a moment.      She raised one hand and the birds fell silent.    

Her voice was surprisingly young when she spoke  "So.  It is over.  The White are broken for now.  Good.  Treacherous snakes.  Ranger,   you have been punished for the wrong doings of your forefathers.  I will not remove the curse, but I will not let it drive you completely mad.  You will still feel pain, but you will remain yourself.   Celia, your debt for using my name is repaid.   You others,"  her gaze took in the entire field, lingering for some reason on James, "I will speak with in my own time."  this time she for certain winked at the old wolf,   "For now, I have a few of the White to settle with that were not here tonight."

With that the birds all swept in a powerful circle again, and she was gone.

Reid stood holding Celia in his arms like she was a broken doll.

With a woosh, the glamor returned and the regal tower, the clock, the maze, the market, all returned to it's former glory, as did the goblins and their clothing.
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Stella Gaslight
Governor
Time Traveler
****
United States United States


Looking for a few good lobsters.


WWW
« Reply #448 on: July 22, 2015, 02:59:49 am »

Celia woke with a gasp like a woman drowned.  She took in deep lungfuls of air clutching Reid like a life-raft.  When she was finally able to stop shaking Celia found her voice again.  "i think my heart stopped for a moment there."  She said shakily.  "Is every one all right?  I thought I saw a dark figure but I can't be sure."
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MWBailey
Rogue Ætherlord
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United States United States


"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #449 on: July 22, 2015, 04:05:28 am »

Unchanged, yes. The clock never changed, because the City and the two Knights Temporal held it thus.

It was not an easy task; Marley, his entire being clenched around another spanner, one that he kept in his vest, held the timing lever's pivot in place while Inkpot applied magically-generated magnetic force to a makeshift anti-perturbation ring, hastily thrown together from iron staves, discarded daggers, and bits of scrap left in the Clock Chamber for the purpose of making parts in just such an emergency, which surrpounded teh entirely of teh clock, while teh new balance wheel, which he and Marley had forged using banefire and will, swung back and forth as teh escapement thundered rhythmiccally.

Slowly, ever so slowly, the timewind was subsiding, and the Goblin Market Eddy was being brought back into synch with the beat and gyre of the Clock. There came the moment of the bargain struck, and suddenly it was as if the clock were about to begin rusting - but it never did. the walls became rough stone, and the stench of silage filled the air - and then was gone, the shrieks of ravens and other birds filling the air. The birds were gone - all save one, a fledgling raven with untrimmed wings, which suddenly somehow appeared in the ClockChamber and flapped over to and perched on Marley's shoulder. The Knight did not notice the bird for quite some time, not until he felt the chill of his own sweat running down his back and coating his arms, and heard Inkpot laughing and saying, "You've made ye a friend Marley, ye great looby longhair! Marley cocked his head toward the raven, and the raven did likewise at Marley, and the two stared at each other one-eyed for a momentm until both blinked simultaneously adm looked away, Marley harrumphing to himself.

Later, they climbed the steps toward the bargaining chamber, almost running into Celia and the ranger on their way down.

"How did he get in there, Ink?" Marley was asking his old friend and comrade.

"Ye're askin' me, when ye're th' one what drifted in onna breeze?"

"But ravens don't ride the timewind, do they?"

"dunno, do they?"

"Do they, little fellow?" Markley said, turning to eye the little raven, still clinging to his shoulder as if he'd grown there.

"Great Looby," the fledgling mimiced, sounding like a miniature version of Inkpot. Marleystared, then shook himself. "Cheeky bastard. What ho, Lady Celia! How goes the City?" he said, trying not to let the all-too-intelligent-seeming little ball of feathers on his shoulder unnerve him.
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