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Bet your life cont.

 
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Lirssa Sarengrave
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PostPosted: Sun May 03, 2015 8:52 am    Post subject: Bet your life cont. Reply with quote

The first part of this is over here Bet your life, but I see no reason in pestering administrators to move it from one perfectly reasonable place to another. So, we continue on!


The house was quiet. Not because everyone was asleep, by no means. The hour was late, and everyone was out. They had left her alone after the lateness of her return and gone about their day. No doubt she would find a note left behind in the kitchen expressing their hopes that she had a fine time, that they would see her at such and such an hour or place, and expressions of familial affection.

For the moment, though, she was in the bathroom slowly peeling away the gauze. The dried pus of a few broken blisters pasted the wrappings to spots on her hands. She had not felt them break, but no doubt in the merriment of the Beltane Fires, she had been distracted by the fun and friendship, seeing others burn away their cares through drink, dance, and...other activities.

She was gentle with the wounds. The small rounds and ovals with loose skin were left alone. When the pink, raw flesh beneath was prepared to take the damage, then she would remove the old. With a sigh, Lirssa looked at her reflection in the mirror. If they did not heal soon, she would have to take alternate measures.

As much as she preferred to be as she always had been, unspectacular, unenhanced, human, there were advantages to having that curse inside her. She hated to use it, and only to help others, but she was also not going to let burns ruin her performances at the street festival later in the week.

A snarl and shake of her head, she would not do it. She would not give in to the temptation. "Heal on your own, fool." She muttered to her reflection, and then cleaned, placed the ointment, and wrapped her hands fresh.

The places on her neck had been much smaller and fewer; already done with their tender care. The spots barely showed in the day, and at night took seeking to find.

The buzzer to the front door on the first floor made Lirssa start. Her heart pounding, she sucked in a breath and made her way to the speaker. "May I help you?"

"Lirssa, it is time for the weekly meeting." It was Konane. The voice was unmistakable. When people announce world altering ideas, it imprints the sound of them so very clearly. Lirssa would never forget how Konane sounds.

"Not here. Don't ever come here." Lirssa snarled. The mood of the previous night sent scattering to the wind as a flock of birds startled by a fox.

There was silence on the other side, and so she continued. "You leave messages at the Inn or at the port, but you leave this house alone."

"Lirssa, the meeting. One hour. Clock tower."

Odd place for a family gathering. "Fine." Lirssa was not going to go unarmed, though. She never let her guard down anymore when it came to meeting people. In fact, "Dante!" She called for the hound. "Time for a walk."
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"Anyone can handle a bad girl. It's the good girls men should be warned against." - David Niven
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Lirssa Sarengrave
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PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2015 3:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The night was cooler than Lirssa wanted. There was nothing she could precisely do about it, but still she thought, “It is colder than I like.” She stood on the edge of the rooftop garden. Stretched out around her was the familiar chaos of West End. Some nights the streets and buildings were like thunderstorms; a flash here, the rumble of conflict there. Other nights, nights like this one, it was more the scurry of mice through a maze. They slipped around corners and into dark nooks, each searching for their treasure.

There was a happy burn to her body. The show had gone well enough, though the back of her hands wept from open blisters. Not so many now, but enough. The wind whipped up the side of the building, catching her hair to twist into knots and tangles. A rat’s nest, she thinks. She smiles and ignores the sting of the wounds on the back of her hand.

Hair was not the only rat’s nest troubling her. It was, however, by far the easiest to contend with. She used the garland to control the long rings. The pinching and pulling ignored much more so than the ache of her shoulders and the spiteful complaints from her hands.

At rest once more, she looked in the direction of the clock tower. The first meeting with Konane and Olen together had been brief but enlightening. Lirssa had kept her silence, Dante at her side sniffing the air from time to time, as the mother and son argued openly about the wisdom of the contract. Two points of view, two purposes, and she the fulcrum on which their arguments teetered.

Another nest was her ship. It was in dock, waiting repairs. Expensive repairs. Lirssa closed her eyes, glad to be up and away from the world on that rooftop so the misery of the loss of her ship – no matter how temporary – would be hidden from view. Her mouth turned down and brows furrowed so the ache moved from her heart to her forehead. She would see it repaired, but she did not know when. How was she to make more money if she could not do the runs? That was the fastest method. The slower, of course, was to perform.

Back to the streets. Back to being a spectacle for the pittance folk could spare. Weeks of it before her, but it was her responsibility. Opening her eyes, Lirssa stared hard out on the streets far below her. It was her responsibility. Just like High Spires and all the other foster homes she had created. She would not fail them. She would not fail the children, her parents, her friends, or herself.

A star shot across the sky. Lirssa watched it burn bright and fade away. She smiled, a reflection of that star shine.

The world spun. Instinct tucked her down, and she slipped off the rooftop edge to the garden stones. Someone had pressed her out of place. She had been so careful for so many years to keep the barricade up against intruding users, and now someone had tested that protection.

Slamming her fist against the stones set upon the path of that rooftop garden, a new wave of nausea pushed against her. “No,” she growled out and closed her eyes to focus on her barricades. As she built, she searched for where she had weakened.

Who had found her? Who could have known? Had someone just been reaching? Maybe someone is desperate need? What if she had just cut off the last effort of someone struggling, someone good and needed in the world, and she had denied them? Too many images from plays and flicker shows, the gruesome deaths, the desperate cries, all flashed and played out in her mind. Coupled with the stress and strain of her days, she remained curled on the ground, seeking the scent of the jasmine to help her clear her mind and regain control. It was too much. She vomited.

And she wept.
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PostPosted: Wed May 13, 2015 1:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

All the scents, with their salty, dank patina, curled about Lirssa as she entered the city region known as Dockside. Slowing her steps, she came to the corner of the Sea Siren tavern. It was a steady building of brick and wood. Lamp light crept from dirty windows. Lirssa did not spare a glance through them as she continued to the door.

The late hour meant few were inside and even fewer on the streets. There were no greetings of those who passed her by, not even acknowledging nods or glares. All were about their business. Lirssa was about hers.

Straightening her shoulders, remembering to be strong and flexible as bamboo like Bubber had instructed so many years ago. A pull on the door handle, she stepped inside where dank was replaced with the thick must of fireplace and liquor heated bodies.

Immediately, she reinforced the shields – the barricades – in her mind. As she did so, she felt a tingle across her scalp. She ran her fingers through the thick curls, only making it halfway down the length before tangles forced her to stop.

Looking about, she saw Konane standing at a table where Olen sat and drank. That image of him was so familiar. Days – years – spent at the inn, people she had come to know all at some time had the slumped back, hand on the bottle, flat look about them. Lirssa hoped she was not related to him. People don’t change.

But she had.

No, she had grown up. She was still herself. It was time to stop being afraid of what she would find and deal with it. She smiled at the thought.

Olen noticed the change, and one brow rose while his mouth slid in a half sneer.

“Good evening,” Lirssa said with honest cheer. This was nearly done with. She would have her answers and move on. It was going to be a good evening. “I am here for the vial of his blood.” She spoke to Konane. It was with her the deal had been struck.

“Grim little creature,” Olen drolled, but he suddenly had a smile, too.

“No, just getting this business done.”

Konane frowned as she sat, looking at her askance. “What do you mean?”

“I have met with you both several times. Mostly you two bicker, or he taunts me, or you threaten me with vague stories of how dangerous I am. I have been here before.”
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"Anyone can handle a bad girl. It's the good girls men should be warned against." - David Niven


Last edited by Lirssa Sarengrave on Wed May 13, 2015 2:21 pm; edited 3 times in total
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PostPosted: Wed May 13, 2015 1:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

“We are not The Society,” Konane actually snarled. Lirssa was taken aback by the strength of the woman’s reaction. A more minor, but still evident, response came from Olen as well. He shifted in his chair and kicked at an empty chair leg.

Lirssa continued. “I’ve done my side of this bargain, Konane. Time to pay up.”

Konane did not move, but looked Lirssa over. What she was searching for in Lirssa’s eyes was unknown, but eventually the search was over. Konane reached to her belt pouch and drew out an empty vial. Lirssa scowled, but the old mercenary lifted her hand to stay the protest. “I thought you might want to witness the collection. To be sure of the source.”

“Oh.” Lirssa closed her mouth and nodded. There was, she was disgusted at herself to realize, some delightful anticipation in seeing Olen bleed. “Go ahead.”

Olen rolled his eyes and sat up. As Konane proceeded with the collection, Olen glared and said, “I cannot understand you. With what you have gone through, with everything that has happened, why are you not clamoring – begging—to learn how to use your talent more?” His eyes glimmered and smile widened. “You could control others to give you aide, to help the children you scrape and struggle to help.” His voice deepened. “You could make people love you and never leave you behind. And you can reach them all.”

“That,” Lirssa grit her teeth, “is not love.” She said the words, but the ache was there. To have that power. To help others and not feel always alone even when surrounded by others. To let go that wall inside and the fear what it’s crumbling might unleash. To not lay curled up on the garden stones weeping at not knowing if she had just killed someone else by abandoning them in their need.

Olen sneered as he pressed a cloth to the cut on his arm. Konane stoppered the vial and held it out for Lirssa. Olen said, “And you know what love is, then? You in your infantile, sanctimonious wisdom.”

“I am not a child anymore.” Lirssa fought the fear and temptation of his words. “I will learn to control whatever this is. I will not let it be used by others. Others like you.”

The laugh was a slow, bitter thing. It came out through a tight jaw and drawn back lips. “Others like me. They are all like me in some way, Lirssa. They will want to use it for their advantage." He growled out, "Learn to use it for yours.”

She forced herself to look away from Olen and to Konane. Snatching the vial, she could not even work to craft a false smile for the elderly woman. “Thank you.”

When she turned away, she could feel the eyes on her back, and she fled them.
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"Anyone can handle a bad girl. It's the good girls men should be warned against." - David Niven
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PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2015 8:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It took time to track Olen down. Lirssa finally managed it with extensive aide from old connections. There had been more than a few trades made with street contacts, Jeb and his lot. She realized as she walked down a cobblestone street and saw one of the urchins standing at the corner of one unimposing building, the clone of its neighbors, that she was going to run several return favors to places she had not gone to in years. Her nose crinkled at the list in her mind.

The urchin gave a nod when she arrived and headed on his way as Lirssa knocked on the door and said, "Looking for Olen," to the willowy woman who answered. She was let in without question.

Questions came after. Of course the woman did not want one such as Lirssa hanging on her doorstep or causing a commotion to draw attention. "Who are you?" The woman asked, pulling her lavender shawl tighter over shoulders.

"Lirssa. I just need to chat with him." Chat. Yell. Accuse. All flavors of the same sentiment.

The woman scrutinized Lirssa, examining every inch of her as if there would appear something more than a young woman if she looked hard enough. Finally, she sniffed and turned on slippered feet to the hallway. "Wait here."

"Or I will come with you." Lirssa muttered and followed the lady.

"I said for you to wait."

A snicker, Lirssa set hands to her hips. "You think I haven't seen or even been in a place like this?" Certainly the way Lirssa dressed now and held herself probably concealed her history well.

Another long look, this one more from disdain at Lirssa not respecting the woman's domain than study. "See, I just want to be sure he doesn't weasel away." Lirssa placated. "Pretty sure you rather he didn't sneak out before he paid."

Grey eyes widened in a flash of worry, and the woman hurried to the second door on the left. She opened it without knocking. Her concern for lost profit overtaking her sense of rules.

Olen was still there, laying crosswise on the bed, eyes closed, and looking well pleased. His companions were likewise smiling, but startled by the door opening, caught trying to tease Olen into more games.

"I hope you had him pay first." Lirssa smiled.

Olen groaned, his smile lapsing, and opened his eyes. Turning on his side and --unexpectedly-- making sure he was covered, his scowl turned into a smile as he noticed Lirssa's openly astonished expression. She had not thought he would consider his state of dress. "You," he began, "may still doubt our relationship..."

And he knew he had no need to continue the thought. Lirssa's heart thudded in her chest. She felt her face flush. She had not exactly forgotten, but in her angered determination ignored it. If he did prove to be her father seeing him in such a fashion -- her stomach churned at the idea. She fought the need to vomit.

"But, you are here now, and I am satiated -- for the moment." Olen grabbed the wrist of one woman leaving his side and pulled her down to kiss with a hunger contrary to his recent words.

Lirssa thought it looked possessive and demanding. What confused her more was the idea she suddenly had that he was somehow disgracing her mother. A mother who, for all she knew, was dead and not exactly the model parent or wife. Lirssa sighed and rolled her eyes to purge the foolish, childish thoughts. She glanced at Olen. It was past time to deal with why she was there.

Not waiting for the door to shut completely behind the others, she accused him. "Stop trying to tear down my defenses."

"Paranoid spriteling." Olen sat up, the sheets moving to drape around him. He looked like the portrait of some holy man. It was almost blasphemy.

"Not paranoid. It has to be you."

"Why is that so?"

"Because strangers don't know about what I can do, and even if someone somehow came across me at a weakened time--"

"--Which is happening more now, isn't it?" His grin was a wicked slice, cutting away Lirssa's prepared argument.

She tried to parse through just what he could mean by it. "You've been trying to find a time I'm weakest?"

"I am trying to prove mother's and my point. You will not listen." He jabbed a finger toward his head to emphasize his meaning.

At that moment, Lirssa saw it. The similarities in his features. Her mind whirled as if to scrub away what she had seen. She began to pace the small room. "I listen. I don't trust you. And this -- this really doesn't help." She stopped to face him, fists at her side turning knuckles white and palms burning. "Leave me alone!"

They glared at each other for several breaths. And then, he looked away. His mouth softened. "Perhaps," he hesitated and said again, "perhaps--I have approached this the wrong way."

Lirssa barked a laugh. "What a stunning revelation."

Olen smiled, rising while he kept the sheet around him. Gathering his clothes, he went behind a screen. "It is amusing to hear you speak; hearing the words of playwrights and poets mixed with the lazy language of the street."

It was not the first time someone had commented upon the way she spoke. Quoting plays since she was a child was a way to earn coin -- and dazzle others. "Yeah, well, fewer anons in my vocabulary these days." She flung her hands out. "But that is beside the point."

"It is not." He barked. His voice gentled again, and Lirssa no longer wondered how he could get others to do his bidding. "You used to embrace learning from whomever you could. Now, you run from it."

"Not it -- you! I don't trust you," she repeated. "You are a professed and proved 'not nice man'."

Olen stepped from behind the screen fully clothed. "True, but there are many in your life that are not nice people."

"And I don't let them in my head."

"No?" There was some dare in his eyes, a secret he was sure he knew.

"No." Lirssa spoke with more certainty than she felt. She had recently given an unearned trust. Nothing bad had happened, but then she began to doubt the decision.

Impulsive. Still. It made her clench her teeth as hard as her fists. Would she never stop just following her gut instead of her head?

"Hm." Olen was not convinced. "Let us say you are right. Why doubt that of all the people you know, I could help you the most? Helping you help them. Give them such power and skill to better this world as you always try to do?"

"I know how to do that."

"And not lose yourself at the same time?"

Lirssa heard her blood pounding in her ears. "No."

"I can teach you how to keep awareness, how to reach, communicate with those you are bound."

Struggling to keep from asking, to keep him from seeing how much that enticed her, and still she whispered, "Aware to move, to be there still?"

"No, that is the sacrifice of what we are. But to be not alone in the void? Yes."

To be not alone.
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"Anyone can handle a bad girl. It's the good girls men should be warned against." - David Niven
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PostPosted: Fri May 22, 2015 5:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The clock tower. It seemed appropriate. Lirssa stood at the edge of the arched opening high above the city listening to the birds in the rafters coo and sing. The bells would not ring for another twenty minutes. It would be enough time.

She heard the scuff of soft boots on the wooden stairway. Turning to face them, the light from a fading sun warmed her back and cast her shadow, thin and long, out to them.

Olen's eyes narrowed and jaw jutted out slightly. Konane was an unreadable figure at his side. Her hair pulled back from the crinkled face made her look older than she had before.

"Didn't you know the tests would prove you lied?" Lirssa was in no mood to play their game -- whatever it was. She would control this engagement. "Why did you give the blood so freely?"

"Yes," Konane spoke, "I knew. Denying you would only make you certainly distrust us. I had hoped we would make more progress before it came to the tests."

Lirssa crossed her arms, frowning. "Progress," she repeated, prompting Konane to say more.

But it was Olen who answered. "Yes, in reaching you at a point of transition. There is one thing you have learned well. When transition is not happening, you can keep anyone out."

"Transition? When I get emotional?"

"Fear is the most productive to weaken you, but anger works as well." A glib answer, Olen actually smiled with delight in telling her. Was he trying to anger her again?

"To break me -- Why? Who are you people?" Lirssa had not anticipated that just threatening her or making her made was a goal. She would need to leave soon -- and next time bring someone she trusted. But she wanted to know more right at that moment. She would keep calm now that she knew.

She hoped.

"I am your grandmother." Konane answered. "That was not a lie. I am your mother's mother. I do not have a gift, so I am merely here to help you -- even if it does not seem like it."

"Konane, that is beyond the truth." Lirssa sneered. "Help me what?"

"Transition." Olen supplied. The glib nature dissolved as his hands rubbed over his face. He sighed, "You have reached it earlier than most of us. Likely your mother's blood."

Lirssa cut him off with a curt chop in the air. "You are not my father."

"No," he admitted. "I am your uncle. Older brother of your father."

"Why the trick?"

"To make you angry." He smiled so sharp and cruel, delight in the ruse. "And I can feel it working."

He was right. Lirssa felt him prod at the barricade that was weakening. "Stop it." She snarled at him and took a deep breath trying to calm down once more.

"Let me help you." He whispered.

"Please." Konane was unusually worried, her voice barely carrying the distance.

As much as Lirssa wanted to stay in control the more half answers and snips of ideas they gave, the more angry and afraid she became. "I'll find someone else to help me."

"There is no one else." Olen was so very certain.

Lirssa shook her head and tried to sound confident and sure. "Wanna bet?"

"Not with your life," he said. Then he whispered. "I've lost such a bet before."
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Cirque du Soliel contortionist -- skills similar to Lirssa's

"Anyone can handle a bad girl. It's the good girls men should be warned against." - David Niven
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Lirssa Sarengrave
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 06, 2015 10:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It was the last performance. The afternoon had gone well, and the audience for the evening show was already stirring in the theater. Their voices like the dull roar of an ocean, it broke against the curtains of the stage. Lirssa stood in the wings, but just close enough to peek out and view the faces of the theater-goers.

A few cast mates came to peek out, too, everyone more comfortable with their roles to take a little more leisure in experiencing the event. One of the stage hands paused and set his chin on her head. “I shall miss having a place to rest my head.” He grumbled. Though rough in word and with the body construction that a casual passerby would guess for a gladiator, this stage hand was a gentle soul with a good heart – and a silly sense of humor.

“Sorry to disappoint.” Lirssa whispered but did not move so he could continue to rest his head.

It did not last long, as he had work to do. Lirssa smiled after him as he departed. She would miss him as well. She would miss so much of the experience. And if she was honest, she would miss the applause. Applause, whether in the pitch perfect sound of the theater or in the wide open spaces, was a powerful intoxicant. She could never imagine any other drug being more potent. It was time to take a break from it.

But not yet. One last performance. She would embrace the corrections of the director and try to make it her best performance of the run.

----
It was a high like no other. The applause crashing against the stage. The cast taking their bows. The cheers from the audience. This she embraced with her brief curtsey taken in time with Arandir’s bow. She stepped away for the stars to take their well-deserved bows, adding her own enthusiastic cheers. As the house lights rose with the curtains closing, she looked to the audience once more and saw in the center Olen. He smiled. He knew she had seen him.

Her heart dropped. He would be waiting.

There was no escaping the meeting. She had no one to stand with her against him, and she could not hide in the theater all night long. There was the phone of the theater. She could try calling someone. As much as she hated to be silly, asking someone to walk her home, she also was determined not to be stupid this time. This would not be like The Society, when she thought she could outwit them or take them on by herself. That had been proven a ridiculous notion twice over. One time others had died at the hands of her parents, and the other time one had died at her own hands.

Lirssa felt the bile rise up as it always did when she remembered that day. No, she would not let that happen again. As the rest of the cast and most of the crew left, giving smiles and hugs of farewell, she side and back-stepped her way unobtrusively to the phone. The phone that had an Out of Order sign on it. She sighed as she remembered that it had gone out just after the afternoon performance, and the stage manager had started to use a personal communication device.

Looking up, she did not dare ask any of the crew, those few that remained, to walk her home. She did not know them or if they had any abilities against Olen. And if she was going to be stupid, it was going to be her life only that was on the line. Not an innocent’s.

Maybe Olen would not confront her, but that was one of the more ridiculous notions she had of late. And she had several of monstrous proportions. She stood there in the hall looking at the stage door exit, fumbling for the best plan. The frustration and fear were overtaking the rush and high of the earlier applause. She lifted her gaze, past beams and rafters, wires and ropes, to the ceiling above.

The rooftop.
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Cirque du Soliel contortionist -- skills similar to Lirssa's

"Anyone can handle a bad girl. It's the good girls men should be warned against." - David Niven
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 06, 2015 11:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If she could get a good distance away over the rooftops before he even realized she had left, then she could get back down to the streets and run the rest of the way home. Home was closer than the inn. Home. She just had to get there.

After stashing her bag back in the dressing room to claim another day, she took the iron stairs up to the door leading to the rooftop. Being sure to close it securely behind her, even giving the door handle a jerk, she turned to start the trek across the skyroad of rooftops. The theatre was a nice length to trek, but the nearest roof with the shortest gap was opposite the direction she needed to go. It was going to be a very indirect path home, but a path of safety all the same.

Walking the distance to the edge, counting her steps, she retraced her path and began a tumbling run. A handspring, back handspring, brought her into a double layout that arched over the distance between the rooftops. She landed hard against the gravel roof of the neighboring building and sighed. Rising, she looked for the next building to reach.

Each gap was overcome. Sometimes the buildings were so close as to just need a leap. Others required the full force of a tumbling run that built enough momentum to carry her over.

She was making her way in a roundabout manner towards home, but soon would need to get down to the streets once more. The gaps would get too far apart, and her home itself was a secluded island of a building among the other archipelagos of mortar, brick, and metal. Lirssa would get as close as she could before she had to make the decision of returning to the streets.

Another leap and she took a moment to draw in breath, hands to her knees and body hunched over. “You act as though I do not know you at all, Lirssa.” Olen spoke so clearly.

When Lirssa gasped, her heart raced against her will. She searched the rooftop but did not see him there. With a cautious step, she looked to the street below and saw him standing at the edge of streetlamp’s glow. He had caught her out anyway. Still, he was down there and she up here.

He would only follow of course. It was clear in the look he had given her at the theater and the fact he had traced her to that building, the very one she would climb down from, that he was not going to be dissuaded. Not this night.

Still, she tried. “Just leave me alone.” Lirssa hissed down to him. “If we have to meet, we will meet. But I will not be alone when we do.” Normally Lirssa would not want to disturb the neighborhood by shouting, but she doubted few would even pay attention and those that would she hoped would keep Olen from acting rashly. Or at least overtly.

“I am done with waiting for you to decide to learn about your ability, Lirssa.” With a speed she had not imagined he possessed from his usual lazy manner, Olen took the steps of the building’s escape stairway five and six at a time. The distance between them shrank in moments, sending Lirssa scuttling away from the edge and to the rough brick of a chimney as support.

“Olen, I am going to learn.” She spoke as to calm herself as well as to seem more confident than she was. The jitters were in her belly and passing all reason up into her throat as if to choke her. “I have found someone who is willing to help me learn.”

“Who knows nothing of what you are.” He growled. “This is not a game.”

“And this is not a play where the villain can threaten me into doing whatever he says. I’ve been down that path before, and I won’t repeat it.” The confidence was becoming more truth than lie. Lirssa stepped away from the chimney, her hands clenched in fists at her side. “I will admit to you being my uncle. I will admit to needing to learn more of what I can do and not just ignore it. But I will not submit to your tactics of fear and abuse. I am not a child anymore.”
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 06, 2015 11:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Olen’s head shook slowly, his mouth in a grim line. The words came out through clenched teeth. “You are acting out of fear now. Acting the child now. You fear me. Why would I hurt you?”

“You already have!” She pressed her fingers to her temple. “You attacked me in here. You lied to me to get me to fear and panic so you could control me.”

“Help you. Help you through the transition. We did not have time to hold your hand and play games for your trust. You needed the truth, and you needed reality.”

“What is this transition? You have only hinted at it. More threats. More fear. Enough already. I am through.”

In the same manner as he took the stairs, he closed the distance between them. He did not touch her. She almost wished he had tried to grab her so she could throw him, punch him, get him to think of anything other than her. She took a wild swing at him that he avoided easily. “I am not done with you, niece.”

In an instant, she felt herself pushed out of place. Flung far from her own self into the void. Olen still spoke to her. “You will listen now.”

“How can I hear you? Can you hear me?” Fear, anger, despair. It all tumbled around in the part of her that was still her, separate from the reality of her physical space in the multiverse.

“Yes, I can hear you.” Olen’s voice was so gentle, almost as she had imagined her father’s would have been. Strong but soft; warm, comforting. As if she were curled up in the surety of his arms. “Listen now. Listen to what it is I fear, that I want to help you go past. I will not lose you as I lost my brother. I will not sit idly by while you struggle. Konane forced me to look at you, but I see you now. I see what I will not let happen.”

The darkness was all around her. Lirssa struggled against the tide that kept her out of place in herself. “Let me back to myself. Tell me then.”

“You will listen now.” Olen’s voice did not change from the gentle, assuredness. “We do not have a name of what we are. Your mother could call herself Chameleon with pride. Your father was your father, no race or breed. It is a talent of our kind to open the connection to a place of power. When this talent first manifests, children are taught who they can bind to. One to one, they offer their talent to aid those who can manipulate that power. You have done this, you have seen it happen. Each can bind with one particular style of craft. I can bind with those who can work with air. Transition allows us to bind with each other. A vast network of power to support armies or the most powerful crafters known. You must learn how to bind to others properly, but beyond that. Lirssa—“ his voice broke off.

The time of silence lingered, and she struggled to return to space. She would push him away, regain herself. She would do it.

“Lirssa, you must understand. You can bind with any talent. Any talent.” He repeated.

The words wrapped around her. She stopped her struggles as she felt his awe and his fear. The way he said it, the strange honor in his voice when he spoke of what she could do. She had known she could let anyone use her, but she had not know this was unusual. It was not supposed to be. “I am dangerous.” She whispered.

“You are now, but you do not have to be. Let me guide you. Let me help you.”

Help her. Would he really? Or would he mold her into what he wanted? Just as The Society had tried to; to make her into their tool and weapon. He had broken past her barricade, determined he would do as he willed without her consent. She knew now what the transition was. Surely Canaan could teach her? Why did she trust him and not Olen, her own uncle? Would he become as Olen had? As The Society had? Once he knew what she could do, would he manipulate her?

Cris trusted him. Why did she trust Cris? Why did she trust who she trusted and not who she didn’t? It was all gut feeling. She would lay down her life for Mrs Eva and Mr Mason. She would let herself be torn apart – had let herself be torn apart – for people she loved.

“No,” she growled back. “I will decide. I will decide.”

There was a sigh in that void. It was just the harbinger of the whirlwind that sudden rebuffed her, pressing her further from the place that was herself. It drove her back and in that resistance was Olen, “I will not let you destroy others from your obstinacy. Lirssa, you are too dangerous to trust to the hands of someone who doesn’t know what they are doing.”

There was power there. Lirssa was learning even as Olen and she fought inside. She was learning how to communicate with the one who was using her gift. She was learning how to be aware, even if she knew she could not move until she regained her place.

She was aware of Olen. She could sense what he was doing. Perhaps because he was no longer being subtle, but she could feel the direction of it as if a compass point mattered in the formless space she found herself. But in that direction she stopped fighting – and she grabbed. She pulled on to that power, she sunk it into herself, drawing on it like a rope and consuming it as she did.

And she felt Olen hesitate. He drew back, drew away from her. “Stop, Lirssa. Slow down.”

At last she felt her space, felt the solidness of self wrap about her once more. She opened her eyes to find the chimney crumbled, the edge of the roof ragged with destruction and the rooftop rippling as if a pool of water frozen just as a pebble was dropped in its midst. Olen sat with eyes wide and a smile that weakened and then fell. “See what I mean about the danger? And I controlled some of it, lessened the impact.”

“I thought we could do nothing with our gift.” Lirssa was hoarse, though she could not understand why. It was as if her throat had nothing but sand to coat it.

“We cannot, but too much of our gift in conflict and it has to go somewhere, do something. Either it does it to you or to the world around you.”

“My father?”

Olen nodded. “In transition he was alone, cast out to live with your mother’s people. He tried to learn on his own, to get them to help him. He was used, fought it, and he died as did your mother. And others.”

Lirssa thought of the ring. It had meant to dampen magic, and she had fed into it until it exploded. That explosion had killed a man and nearly demolished a building. That was just her. Just her before the transition. She was in the middle of that now, and she could have done it again. Could have fought, could have tried to push him away, and she and he would have died.

“I do not trust you.” Lirssa said.

“But now you know what you face. Speak to this new mentor of yours. Do not let him go into this blindly.”

Lirssa nodded and stepped away from Olen. She had to think. She had to walk. No, she had to run.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2015 9:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Olen stood at the edge of the gathering in the simple park edging up against the border of the West End. Lirssa should have expected him. Maybe she had. It was now he functioned. Waiting until she seemed alone and compelled to stay.

Expected or not, there was one simple truth that made this encounter start differently from all the others. Lirssa had sensed him.

As she did her series of handsprings in place, looking so much like a spinning wheel looping around, a warmth spread from the base of her neck out to her shoulders. It was if a ray of sunlight skimmed across her skin beneath her motley.

Just as Canaan had taught her, she thought about that feeling and opened up just enough to learn more about it's source. It was so unlike before when any weakness in her shields she would force her out and away from herself, tethered by a slender thread as she tumbled into a void. Now it was in her control.

The execution of the skill was still clumsy. She needed to concentrate more. Finishing the acrobatic portion of her performance, she transitioned to contortion, drawing her legs over her head as she balanced on one hand. She looked out past her toes.

The meditative flow of twisting her body from one position to another helped her to focus inside. Canaan had surmised based on what Lirssa had told him of her history that with the right control and uncompromising practice, she could sense more of her user -- as one applies emotions to certain scents.

This sense of familiarity and yet not instantly made her think of Olen. As she turned about and folded backward into nearly a box, she searched for him. He was there at the edge with a smile equal parts pleased and amused.

Unfolding her body, she turned upright to end the show in splits balanced on the park railing. Applause followed, but little by way of coin. After flourished bows, she gathered up the money and her boots. Olen remained as the audience dispersed, and Lirssa approached him while sweat trickled down her back.

"I am surprised you are speaking to me alone, niece."

A snort, "We may be blood, but neither of us deserves to call each other anything but our names, Olen."

His expression faded, turning into his scripted unimpressed with everything he saw look. "Your instructor seems to have actually accomplished things with you."

"Of course. I'm not that bad of a student. With the whole idea of me might be able to kill people, I have a lot of incentive to learn."

"Not what I was meaning, but as you say."

"Yeah, so what do you want?"

"I have every right to be here. You have no say over where I go or what I do." The blank facade shifted only briefly for a condescending smirk.

It irked that he was right. Lirssa wanted to tell him to stay away, but it was unreasonable. She went many places. Restricting him was impossible and to demand it would only make her sound like a petulant child. "Right. Well, bye then." She went to sit on a nearby bench.

Olen followed. "But since I am here and you are here, it is an opportune time to see how you are progressing."

With a sigh, Lirssa picked up a boot. Looking around the park, she saw children playing and families enjoying a moments respite from the chaos the city so often promised. "You can't be serious. I remember what happened on the rooftop even if you don't. My instructor knows better. Surprised you don't." She jammed a foot in one boot then the other. "I'm not going to go supernova, if that is what you're worried about."

"Yes, but you haven't finished crossing yet. Don't repeat your father's mistake, Lirssa." The passionate plea was whispered.

Lirssa looked at Olen, and everything she knew of reading people told her he was sincere. But it was hard to trust him. Doubt contorted her assessment as easily as she contorted her body. "Will I know when this crossing is going to happen?"

The man actually chuckled. It was not a pleasant sound. "Oh, yes. You will know when the final phase starts. Get out of the city until it is complete."

Remembering how she felt when he arrived, being able to sense him, she asked, "You'll feel it too, won't you?"

"Not like you will, but yes." And he drew in a slow breath, his eyes holding hers as he warned. "And so will anyone else open to seeking power as the scent of blood to a predator."
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2015 10:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

“Oh gods,” Lirssa breathed out, pressing her head to the floor of her room. “Oh gods, Olen was right.”

It was early. Maybe not too early. Lirssa didn’t want to spare the effort to open the blinds of her room window. There was no clock. It had fallen prey to a glitch of the West End, or her brother, Raza, had knocked it off her dresser once too often. It hadn’t mattered until now.

She had to get out of the city. Olen had warned her to get out of the city. Whatever energy she could muster had to be put to that goal. She dare not fly or even drive. She barely trusted her vision as it doubled and cleared once more.

Her pack was in the closet. It had been updated as years went by, Fio saw to that, just in case any of the family’s past made a visit. In a way, her family’s past had come to visit. And it had no intention of leaving without making its mark on her.

There would be a note, of course. There was no way to know what would happen after. It was all a gamble. A bet that her luck would hold out a little bit longer. Lirssa couldn’t leave without a note. She struggled to dress as wave after wave of nauseating pain swirled inside and then dissipated, leaving her grasping to regain her equilibrium. She wanted nothing more than to get back to bed.

But no. She dare not even sit at her desk for fear of not rising again. Leaning over, she wrote the letter as drops of sweat mingled tears decorated the lines.

“Dear Maman and Steve,

Not much time for prose. Gist of the matter, whatever this ability I have is going through a change. As much as I want to have you all near to help, I have to do what is best. I’ve been told by those that know more than me to get out of the city. Can’t trust myself to fly, so I’m heading north and getting as far as I can before it happens.

One thing I know, I’m a lucky girl. I’ve got you all. I’ll get through this. Love, Lirssa”


She wrote it to make it true, to believe it. To hope.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2015 11:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lirssa woke as rain pattered against her cheek and drenched her clothes. She was alive. Everything hurt. Opening her eyes took conscious effort and felt as if she pried open rusty hinges. Grass pressed beneath her cheek and tickled at her wet skin. The earth beneath her softened as it drank in the rain. She felt heavy and yet hollow. Like the bones of a bird, the lightness was within.

A grunt and a whimper, she rolled from her side to her back. A faint slop sound as her soaked clothes shifted. Looking up at the bower hanging over her, she came to the conclusion she was not where she remembered being last. She had made it a few miles outside of the city gates and turned toward the river there. With a gaping hole in her memory, she could only assume she kept running and stumbling along the river’s edge until she climbed onto the bank and dropped. It was dim light within the grey of the rainstorm past the weaving of leaves and limbs. But was it twilight or dawn?

Then and now had no connective tissue, not the slightest glint of memory to what had happened. She felt she had been beaten with rocks. It must have taken the rain some time to wake her. A chill trembled and pained her at the same time.

Her fingers crept spider-like across the grass until her hand scraped against the edge of her pack. A caress over treated canvas, she found the loop to tug open the top. Recollection of contents and an aching sense of touch helped her find the box of medicines. She opened her mouth to gather the rain while her arm and hand remembered how to lift bringing the pill to her lips. She fought to swallow it down. Minutes of waiting for it to work, and all the while she opened and closed her mouth to take in each small measure of rainwater.

Another chill. A little less pain. She dared sitting up and felt the rocking of her senses torture her stomach. She rested there, propped up on shaking arms, and looked at the grove around her.

She had crossed; made the transition. Hadn’t she?
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 21, 2015 1:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Every person -- every thing -- she passed on the streets was avoided. It was night, it was late, but it was RhyDin. The streets were never empty. Not ever. The changes she saw, the stories she heard of strange happenings last week as she made her way through town were no longer brushed aside and ignored. It could have been her. Some of them had been her. Canaan made that very clear just moments ago. In his words, --hunt her down--, in his look, there was a promise. A promise he was not going to let whatever she had done happen again.

Only she hadn’t known she had done it. Was that worse? Maybe she should be locked up. Maybe she would be. But right at that moment she was going to find the man who had told her to go out of town. Not seek help. Not the truth. Just get out of town. Foolishly naive, she had thought that meant everything would be all right. Canaan’s reaction to piecing together the truth crumbled that fantasy.

She would face what she had caused, inadvertently or not, but for now she would face Olen. Finding him was easy. It had gotten easier with the months, and the transition had altered the focus of her search from broad strokes to a finite point. The house was simple. It sat in a row with all its kindred, looking homely and welcoming with plants along borders and clean windows. A single story to be seen, though perhaps a basement or cellar concealed below. A single step rose to the door, and Lirssa lifted her hand to knock.

Politeness had vaporized when she remembered the look in Canaan’s eyes. The accusation and anger. She opened the door. Instantly, she heard Olen call. “I am in here, Lirssa.”

She knew where he was, but still she had to smile, grim little smile it was, to hear such welcoming. He sat in a chair by the low burning hearth. The nights were still cool enough to warrant it. A mug of something warm rested on a small table beside him. He looked like the picture of domestic tranquility. When he looked up to her, there was sympathy, sorrow, and he lifted a hand to beckon her into a warm embrace.

“You. Lied.” Lirssa snarled.

His hand dropped. The affected sympathy faded away, and in its place the slice of a feral smile. “I did not lie. I have never lied to you, Lirssa. Except in claiming I was your father.” He chuckled and rubbed one finger across his bottom lip, thoroughly amused. “That, yes, was a lie.”

Lirssa felt the rage threaten to boil out in a scream. She clenched her fists, set her feet, and growled. When she spoke, the words managed to come out without yelling. “You told me to get out of town. People would sense me. But it was more than that. People were hurt. Places and things were effected. That was a lie.”

Olen rose so much like a king comfortable in his domain. “You stupid, simple child. I also said weeks ago that you could connect with any form of magic. I said others, not just people, would sense you. You. Don’t. Listen.”

Listen. Lirssa thought she listened. She remembered the words. She remembered words from years ago and recently. What she did not think about was from where the words were coming. From who. Olen had also said he was a bad man. Olen had said he did not want his brother’s mistake to be repeated. He had never hidden how much he loved his power, his ability to use it to get others to do what he wanted. And he had done so to her.

“This is what you’ve wanted all along.” Lirssa finally was listening to what Olen had said and piecing it with what had happened. “You wanted me to be dangerous. You kept telling me I was so I would believe it. You wanted me afraid. Hoping, plotting, that I would come to you to fix me once I had seen how dangerous I was.” But something still did not fit. “Why?”

Olen snarled as he sat once more in his chair, hands like claws against the arm rests. “We can give power in our youth. When we transition--”

Lirssa felt her heart drop and there was barely enough breath to speak the words for him. “We can take it away.”
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 21, 2015 1:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

His attack was swift and brutal, and Lirssa suddenly sympathized with a fish suddenly lurched out of its world with the pain of a hawk’s talons. Her body folded to the floor as she was pressed out of Place and into the Void. In the tomb-like absence of everything all Lirssa had was Olen. The void, her ability, and Olen. There was not a face, but she could envision his smirk through the derision in his voice. “Simple, naive girl. This could have been easier if you’d just offer the gift to me.”

Lirssa felt a jolt like being struck by a stone. “You could have taken it when I was simple and naive.”

Another jolt. “And lose out on all that you have now after transition?” It was a pitying laugh. “That is worth this small inconvenience.”

“Yes, I seem to spoil your plans.” This time when the jolt came, Lirssa suffered it passing through her.

And then she held on as though it were a rope. Like the night on the rooftop, she pulled and drew it inside. But she had no fear of causing things to crumble and shake. She had transitioned. This was hers to do.

And she felt Olen’s fear once more, understood it as fear for himself not for the world around him. It had always been about himself. “Stop, Lirssa. Remember the rooftop. You are only a conduit. You can do nothing on your own. The power must go somewhere.”

It was true, of course. She still could do nothing but power others and now take power away. Both were dangerous, but she would not fear it. She would trust herself. She would learn. “Oh, I do remember that rooftop. You caused that ripple. You didn’t contain it. You let it go. Just like you had me go off alone to transition, so I would effect more, to hurt people. You used my fear of hurting others as a weapon against me. You wanted me to fear and hate myself.” She tugged on that power, feeling as though she grew in that Void, that the Void was no longer apart but entwined with herself. “But I have been learning.”

And she drew his power in. She dug and clawed it away from him as he fought. There was nothing corporal and yet she felt each sting and bite of his attacks. They became as nothing, nuisances against the wellspring of power that was now her shield. While she held him there, she questioned him. Here where her power was greatest, she would get answers. “Is there any more to this gift?” A gift. She was still not certain, but she was determined to have it be so. With time. With training. She would learn to live with it. And use it well. “Any more transitions? Any more times I will unwittingly be a danger to others?”

“The transition, the only transition, is done.” And he cried out in a pitiful mewling way as a newborn cub seeking succor from his mother.

She could destroy him. She knew it, all she had to do was push all that power into him in one mighty surge and he would be undone. She could drive it down into the core of him to let it burn away his self. And yet, she was not him. She was not others. She was herself. Instead she felt for a place in the Void where it always seemed the power passed through her and out to a user, and she flushed it all that way.

Like being tumbled in the torrent of an ocean wave, she felt it rush out of her until only a slender trickle remained. A tether to that connection. And she was just herself. Just Lirssa. She opened her eyes and looked at Olen trembling on the floor.

“You are severed from your gift, aren’t you?” She assumed, but she was no longer going to let assumptions dictate her actions. She would know.

His head bobbed up and down as tears dropped down to the floor rug.

“Then we are done.” And Lirssa left him there to tend to himself, as she had been left as a child to wander until she was found. It was, she had to smile as she closed the door behind her, a gamble.

((Many thanks to Canaan for the play that tremendously informed this finale!))
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