Part 22: Back to the island

Part 22 - Back to the island by Dworkin (GM)

The island stands in a placid lake beneath a clear sky where a pale sun burns.  The air is cool and filled with strange fliers, and serpentine shapes move in the cold water, occasionally reaching up to grasp one of the "birds".  And yet the birds never struggle, and always seem to emerge from the water soon after...

The vegetation on the island has a greyish tinge beneath the green, and there is a circle of blackened ground, as if there has been a fire there.

Re: Part 22 - Back to the island by Cyan
The air boils for an instant, swirling with rainbow light.  Then, almost as if a curtain has been drawn aside, Cyan appears, holding the shining cube, those who have chosen to come beside her, touching her.

The cube flares, then its light winks out as the Bard drops it into her pouch for safety.

Re: Part 22 - Back to the island by Jack
             Jack had moved over to Cyan’s side uncertainly. Though he watched Hunter go sadly, there was something comforting about the big wolf as if he was losing a part of himself. He flinched at the change in worlds looking fearfully at the sky for a moment, searching. Almost as if a rabbit ready to bolt, yet even that passed fast enough with the places familiarity.  He blushed and tuned away letting go when he realized how tightly he was clutching Cyan’s arm.
       “Sorry.” he mumbled,  moving a little way away. There he stood staring out in the forest feeling an urge to run with the shadows and the wolves in the night, though he knew not where the urge came from. Without realising it he found himself walking in a uncincious shuffeling gait towards the forest and the center of the ilse.

Re: Part 22 - Back to the island by Leonardo

Hmm... again not exactly how I would have done it but I suppose her technique gets the job done.  So... this is "Fantasy Island"... nice.  I think I'll need to get a picture of this for my scrapbook.

As Leonardo stretches after arriving at the Island, he looks around at the scenery and nods his head in an approving manner.  Leonardo turns to Cyan and says in a cordial tone, "Well Cyan, you sure know how to pick 'em.... this is certainly a real scenic spot.  One might almost call it... picturesque... which gives me some ideas along those lines.  Still... I can't help but feel a midget should be showing up any moment yelling "Boss, the plane is coming!"... no doubt the result of falling asleep on the couch too many times with reruns playing the background."

Leonardo smiles at his own memories and chuckles as he recites the TV line in his best vocal imitation.  Shaking his head to clear his thoughts once more, Leonardo notices that Cyan has put the Cube away once again.

Leonardo looks back at Cyan with a neutral gaze and asks in a more serious tone, "So Cyan... seeing as I have no wish to repeat my earlier faux pas... does this Island have a rule against drawing pictures?  It would be a tragic shame if one were prevented from capturing the image of these surroundings... but I have no desire to create an unintentional unpleasant incident again.

Also speaking of the local customs... what about the locals themselves?  Are there any nearby settlements and if so, what are the native like?  Are there any modern conveniences or is the general technology level fairly primitive on this Shadow?"

Leonardo reaches into his backpack and pulls out his instant camera but waits for Cyan's reply before snapping any photos.

Re: Part 22 - Back to the island by Cyan
Cyan frowns slightly as Jack pulls away from her, rubbing her arm slightly where he gripped it.  Not from pain, but with a speculative expression on her face.  She watches him with faint worry in her ruby eyes, and then slowly walks to where the fire has died and begins laying another, Berd hopping from her shoulder to fly and help get her kindling.

At least enough wood is left from last time to make things simple.

"This area was fouled with poison," the Bard says quietly.  "I know not how that will last, but we should be safe.  There was no blood spilled around the fire, as I recall."

Berd stares at the ground nervously, then his eyes begin to slowly burn.

The redhaired woman stares blankly at Leonardo for a long moment during his 'Fantasy Island' speech, then nods, uncertainly.  "My thanks," she replies.  I suppose...if I understood that correctly.  "No, you needn't worry about painting pictures of landscapes, Leonardo," Cyan continues, raising an eyebrow slightly at his sarcasm.  "Indeed, should you wish to paint a, a Trump of myself, I would not be adverse to the idea.  Though, given the amount of time that might take, it could prove impossible for one sitting."  She shrugs.  "I could be wrong.  It is obvious you are a far more accomplished artist than myself.  Perhaps your skill with Trump is significantly more advanced than my own of Palanquet."

She winces, once, when Leonardo again employs the word 'Shadow'.  "This is as far as I have been upon this World.  The island, and no further.  We came here to escape a storm through the Curtain, passing from World to World.  Stopping to eat, to sleep, to rest and discuss, we were interrupted by fell business - here did Ares come to me, through my palanquet he carried, injured and ahorse, and here did his assailants follow him.  Here did Ares fall, and Kallika, too."  Cyan looks up, staring at first Leonardo, then Jack, and speaks the ancient words they would know in the lands of the Giants of Ice, the words to spark the beginning of the telling of the tale.

"Would you hear more?"

A sudden wind touches the area, radiating out in a concentric circle from Berd.  The grass bends slightly, slowly, in a growing wave from the little dragon, and when it passes, the green is brighter.

Re: Part 22 - Back to the island by Leonardo

Cyan typed:"Would you hear more?"

Leonardo moved over by the fire where Cyan was and sat down.  He had not seemed too pleased at the news about "poison" in the land but he made no comment.  For the time being, Leonardo decided to put away his camera.

As he sat down, Leonardo asked in a curious but polite tone, "Cyan, while I certainly do wish to hear everything you have to tell... I do have one question.  I have noticed just now as well as certain times in the past that you react adversely to my use of the word "Shadow".  I find this curious for one who has traveled so extensively from one Shadow to the next.

Surely you have seen how aspects of one Shadow have their reflections in others.  What is more, you companion Berd has demonstrated just how "malleable" the substance of these Shadows really are.  So I can't help but wonder why you react as you do to the word "Shadow"?  I do not mean any offense, I am simply curious.

On the subject of Trumps, I am not certain that I am any better at it than you Cyan.  Still one can always whip up a relatively quick Sketch and then work on the more permanent Trump at a later date.  While one can even create from memory, if my camera works here... it may aid in presenting the details needed to complete the final work of art.  I would certainly be honored to create a Trump Card for you Cyan... and in view of your generous gift to Prime, it may behoove us to do so sooner rather than later.

But I have digressed too much already methinks and have delayed your fine tale with my idle chatter.  Please dear Bard, tell me this tale of last stands and painful loss."

At last... the "truth" about what has transpired with poor David!  I hope she does not hold much back... the more information I have the better I can put it to use!  Hmm... I wonder how long a Trump of Cyan would actually take?  It would be a useful item to have to be sure... I wonder... would Jack agree to one as well?  Then again... in his present state, would a Trump of Jack be of any use as his mind keeps changing by the minute?

Re: Part 22 - Back to the island by Cyan
Cyan stares back at Leonardo for a long time, trying to gauge the man with her amber eyes.  After a time, she gives up.  Better to deal with these sorts of things directly.

"I do indeed object to the word 'Shadow', Leonardo.  It has taken me some time, but I have seen that it is a term used by those who live in the halls of power, in the Courts of Chaos and the Palace of Amber."  She prods the fire moodily with a stick.  "Yes, I have noted these things of which you speak - that there are similarities between worlds that lie close to one another.  Such can easily be explained through any number of methods and philosophies, not merely one of reflection and shadow-casting.  Yes, the substance and laws you put it, malleable to manipulation by those of great will, with the magick to accompany that will.  Wielders of the powers of Pattern, and the everchanging Logrus.  Other creatures and beings, who hold reality to their whim as does Berd.  I understand, too, that there are many places, of which these Courts and Palance be only two, where such manipulation is beyond the realm of possibility."

She looks up to Leonardo.  "I know you have spent time amoung those of Amber.  It is hardly surprising that their prejudices have entered your tongue - to one enmeshed within their society, it would seem but logical, but the norm."  Cyan looks back to the fire and sighs.  "But...for myself, I can only see it as nothing more than an attempt to justify their manipulations.  Why care, if everything is but a 'shadow'?  It is the truth that matters, is it not?  The truth casts the shadow, creates the reflection, so they tell themselves.  Berd informs me that the most horrid of atrocities have been committed by these masters of Order and Chaos, where entire worlds are used as cannon-fodder in their wars.  Why?"

"Because they do not see them as real."

Reaching into her pouch, Cyan flips through her palanquet to find a single card, flicking it out, holding it up.  It is a man, one of the beautiful, inhuman beings from the paintings at her home.  "They would see this man as nothing more than a slave to their desires.  All because, unlike them, he is not 'real'."  The card disappears.  "I once visited a World where those with skins of different colour were looked upon as lesser beings, and give vile names by their 'masters'.  This is much the same.  Shadow."  The Bard makes a disgusted sound.  "This is a world, around us, not a mere shadow of reality!  It holds people - people who are not merely shadows within a shadow!  People who live their lives, who dream?  Who are these masters of Amber and Chaos to tell us what is real?  *I* am naught more than a shadow to them - I, who am not of Amber nor Chaos!  Am I, therefore, worth less?  And if I am, then everyone but they are in the same boat!  And if I am not..."  Cyan flexes her lopsided hand.  "How then am I to be better than the weakest child upon any of these Worlds?  Upon any of these...Shadows?"

The Bard's voice drops to a whisper.  "Shadows cannot dream.  Shadows do not hold to their own destiny.  Shadows are nothing, for take away the truth, and the shadow disappears.  We are not shadows.  We are spirits, we are reality, no matter what magicks can alter our worlds, tear our minds asunder.  We are our own beings, brought to life for a reason, not to be toys of those with greater power.  We control our own destiny, or should."

Her eyes clear, and she looks back to Leonardo.  "Yes, I have travelled the worlds.  'Kike'.  'Spic'.  'N'grai'.  'Slope'.  'Coldblood'.  'Nigger'.  'Mud-blood'.  'Gaijin'.  'Relevish'.  'Squeaker'.  'Raghead'.  'Gwai loh'.  'Gutter-trash'.  'Chaudatu'.  I could go on, as I am certain you could, with names equally vile and disgusting."  Pausing, Cyan takes in a breath, and calms herself before adding one more name, one more epithet to the list.


Shrugging the redhaired woman turns to her pack.  "That is, of course, my opinion, as requested.  I hope you do not take offense, nor attempt to argue with me regarding it.  All I ask of you is that you refrain from such usage when it applies to the Worlds of those I call friends.  I shall not impinge upon your own opinions, further."

The cards stowed, she turns back, regaining her good humor with startling suddeness.  "Yes, you may indeed use to capture an image of me.  I have seen such things before - quite useful, I expect.  My own knowledge of palanquet precludes the use of such things...I must perforce study those of whom I would create a card, and a captured image has never proven sufficient.  But by all means."

Berd looks up for a moment.  His tail flops once to the other side, and he moves to hide behind Cyan, yawning.  With one hand, the Bard beckons THX 1138 closer, laying one hand on the back of the silvery arachnid.

"As for the story...."

OOC - Reprinted from earlier, to avoid me doing this...AGAIN.

I can't find, off-hand, the rest of the story.  I know we told Aaron at one point, but I'm not sure where (wish I could find it - that would cut down on things, immensely).  Leonardo, please let me know how much of the archives you have read, and I'll finish the story on Monday, or tonight! :)

This time, omit anything about music - Cyan is rather quiet and reserved when telling this story.

Cyan weaves a tale about how they all met in Cadiniagart, a city of the Golden Circle of trade with Amber.  At least, that was the idea - Prince Bleys was ostentiably in the city to welcome it into the Golden Circle, and a celebration was occurring.  During this celebration, a woman was slain by several attackers, lead by a man named Beldin.  Before she died, the woman gave a small package into the keeping of the people who had come to her assistance.  She claimed to be an agent of Prince Julian, and that the papers in the pouch were of vital importance to Amber.

Then riots began in the streets, with people claiming that the ruler of Cadiniagart had been Prince Bleys.

The small group left the city as quickly as possible, following the reluctant Ares on a journey that would lead them to Amber.  On the way, one of their number simply left, and another was slain by bandits.  (From now on I'll stop explaining where we lost players, because I don't want to go back and forth and check).  Upon arriving in the Forest of Arden, they were apprehended by Julian's men, and taken before him and Princess Fiona.

(Here the music takes on a darker tone)  Ares, it seemed, may very well forfeit his life, or his freedom - he was wanted by the royalty of Amber.  But Julian admitted that there must be some plot afoot - he knew of no agent of his by that description (the woman).  Hence, he and the princess retired to consider the matter further, and to consult with the contents of the pouch.

As it so happens, the pouch contained a warning that the Courts of Chaos were plotting against Amber - quickly checking with his contacts, Prince Julian determined that the Courts had received a similar warning about Amber.  He comissioned the group to find out more - including Ares, who received a full pardon - and set them on their way.

With a brief stop in Ares' world to gather his armour, the group returned to Cadiniagart.  There, they discovered the cube, apparantly dropped by the woman or Beldin.  The trail from the area was followed by Hunter, to Beldin's own house - they apprehended the villain, only to discover he claimed to work for Caine.

Taking Beldin to a world of Kendall's acquaintance, they realized that, after much questioning, it was very likely the man was telling the truth.  Attempting to contact Amber (Julian), they recieved only a vague warning, and then the card literally burned in Ares hand.  With no other way to confirm his story, they were forced to take Beldin's explanation as the truth (it seemed logical), and release him.  Then they continued onward.

Hunter's clever nose led them through World after World, on the trail of the one who left the cube.  Finally, they arrived at the standing stones, in this world.  There, they were accosted by a group of warriors, who backed down, calling them Nephillim when they saw the cube, and acting as though there was great religious significance.  (Ares could explain it better)  The cube itself grew quite 'excited' when it came into proximity with the standing stones, and created a gate to the desert.  From there, the group continued, intent on finding the creation point of this odd device....

IC -

Pausing, Cyan fumbles in her pack, coming out with the bottle of apricot brandy.  With a smile, she pours herself a cup.  "Now you know why I have become a is thirsty work, and offers many an excuse."  She puts the bottle down within reach of the others.

The cube, substantially larger than what was described in the story, is brought out.  Cyan carelessly tosses it to Leonardo.  "It is quite safe - I only ask one thing.  Please do not attempt to use it as a 'Trump', or use any other power to examine it until I have finished the story.'

OOC - The cube has its own thread, showing what Worlds it holds.

Re: Part 22 - Back to the island by Jack
    Each shuffling foot step took Jack farther from his two fellow seekers that were talking by the old camp sight.  His feet moving of their own accord had already taken out of sight within the tree line as the story was told.  As he moved, entrance by the world around him me kept reaching deeper into the essence of the very landscape, searching for the psychic resonance’s left by the pains and passion.  First seeing a strong yet unreal version of the battle with the unknown.  He moved on as if in a dream, reality becoming harder to separate from the vision of the past.
     Then was hit by the poisoning and fall of Kalika, with only the vaguest impression of the rest of the battle. Other than Ares return which was charged with both psyche and emotion.  As he moved deeper in the forest he could feel the passion and fun of the triads race through the night forest. The elation of the first instance of three moving as one.  He reached out with his mind and summoned the darkness, calling to the shadows, yet nothing answered him back. He had lost something and until this moment had no idea what he had lost. How had he been able to be at one with the shadows before. He felt like a man that had just lost his sight and didn’t even know it. He was a man that lost part of himself, a hollow sadness rested in his soul now. Still he had to continue on, and he did continue reading the history of the land, his history or perhaps his story.
          Yet fear grew nest to the sadness, he had seen that he could feel Kalika and the Alpha Wolf. Since he had awoke he had not felt either. As the cold fear grew into a lump in his throat and chest,  Jack began to run. . . He need to see, he needed to feel, he needed to be whole again. Instead he was a broken soul and broken mind searching for answers on an Island that he himself could not remember. Reduced  to living his own life vicariously by stealing memories from psychic impression left in the land.

Re: Part 22 - Back to the island by Jack
         Jack ran through the forest following a ghost of himself and Kali, always one step behind  trying to track the silver and midnight black wolf as the raced playfully through the night. Though he lost them something pushed him on. Branches whipped at his face and  arms stinging and leaning thin welts in his mad dash. He did not know how long he ran for when he burst into the bearing by the stream and pulled up shout looking at a triangle on the ground.

   Words rose unbidden to his lips “Bound by blood and bound by love, a Triad will be forged. Us Three of intentions strong and pure pledge mind, body and soul to each other. A Triad once forged cannot be broken, once these words of binding are thrice spoken” as he spoke he touched his brow, the small of his neck and his heart closing his eyes.

Kali nodded solemnly at Jack as she accepted the dagger from him. Her eyes open wide in surprise as a jolt rocks her body back. She gasps a small intake of breath and stares at the dagger and Jack in wonder. Tiny, silvery threads, glowing softly like spun moonlight connect the blade and Jack. She smiles at them in their beauty. She, unlike Jack, was not born to royalty and was not used to ceremonies. Blood snakes down her wrists and she takes another breath, steadying herself as purpose hardens her violet eyes. In a practised motion, Kali deftly opens a cut across each of her palms. Her blood mixes with Jack's and the silvery filaments glow in pulsing with her heart, and she feels her heart beat increase. Two beat as one. He can feel the connection solidying between them.
"I am Kalika Nahisdaughter" she speaks her birth last name quietly "Bound by blood and bound by love, a Triad will be forged. Us Three of intentions strong and pure pledge mind, body, and soul to each other. A Triad once forged cannot be broken, once these words of binding are thrice spoken" The dagger's blade never faltered as she made the required incisions at forehead, neck, and heart.

Jack opened his eyes shaking at the memory held in the earth itself, staring at the reminisce of the triangle in the ground.

She offers the thoroughly bloodied blade to Hunter, hilt first, and silver threads thicker now. They can be seen, weaving their way through Jack and Kalika, and the dagger, waiting for the Triad to be closed. The great wolf takes the hilt into his mouth firmly and grunts slightly. They all feel the connection of Hunter's mind to theirs, just by him accepting the blade. Just before the great wolf begins, it ocurs to Jack that Kali spoke her entire piece in Chunchee, and he understod it perfectly.

Hunter manuevers the blade in his mouth in a fashion that would be comical if not for the seriousness of their intentions. He holds it steady in his mouth while opening wounds in each of his front paws. A rush of a hunter seekingi its prey comes to their minds, the scent of a forest sharp in their noses, and Jack now understands. Hunter has shared his birth name, He-Who-Hunts-The-Shadow, with them. The ceremonial words are recited in the same manner, images of wolves, sounds of growls and whines, only they both understand what the wolfspeak. The alpha male struggles with the final three incisions, and the damage to his pride is clear for them to see, but at last it is complete, and the blade is returned to the center of the triangle, the eerie silver filaments now tightly binding them all. Together now Kali says to them through their newly forged link as they take up each other's bloodied hands and paws.

"As we will it so shall it be, Three to one and one to Three" they recited the final words together and a bright silver flash lit up the clearing momentarily blinding them.

The light slowly fades, and once it's light is completely spent Kali opens her eyes. She, Jack, and Hunter are seated at the points of a triangle. The blade, clean of any blood, lies in the middle. She is holding Jack's hand in one of her own, Hunter's paw in the other. There is no pain from the cuts and any inspection will show only a white scar across their palms.

Jack fell to his knees, the flash of an image of a flower of such beauty. With a silvery white ethereal bloom. the color within the petals looked, crystalline , liquid and gaseous all at the same time.   Almost glowing with an inner fire like a game in the light.  He had to have one for her. . . It was that simple, the flower was hers, a lame de loup. . .

Jack arose calling the broken pattern to mind, he could feel the parts of himself fractured becoming one again yet still incomplete.

Re: Part 22 - Back to the island by Leonardo

[OOC: Well I've been skimming the archives and I'm still trying to get through it all.  The hard part is trying to put it all together in some kind of summary format.  I'll leave it up to you to decide what if anything more you tell Leonardo.  To be fair, you covered the early part and the part where Ares died.  I guess the only thing left is the story behind the Cube (unless you can think of something important that I missed).]

Leonardo sat back and listened to Cyan's diatribe on the use of Shadow as a form of slur or derogatory terminology.  He sighed slightly as she finished her explanation and shook his head slightly as he responded in a resigned tone, "Well... that's an interesting perspective on the use of the word Shadow.  Then again... I have always believed words only have Power if you give them Power.  I certainly don't use the term in a derogatory manner... seeing as I myself am a Shadow of sorts.

Also I very much doubt the Princes of Amber would give a second thought to the likes of us regardless of the term used... in fact on could say that at least by calling us Shadows they're actually be up front with their feelings.  Considering how they treat each other within that family... I'm not the least surprised by their behavior towards anyone else.

I suppose I picked up the use of the word mainly from a metaphysical philosophical point of view.  I could continue in my original flawed belief that my world Escher and I were totally unique in the universe... or I could accept the truth that there is Amber and there is the Court of Chaos and all that lie between are mere reflections to one degree or another.  I certainly don't feel any less real or less important for assuming the mantle of Shadow.

However... it is clear that the term bothers you on a personal level and I have no desire to offend you.  Therefore I will try to remember to refrain from using the term openly whenever possible.  However should we travel to Amber or the Courts... I may need to resume my use of the word in order to blend in and make myself understood by the elite, you know the old saying "When in Carthage, do as the Carthaginians"."

As Cyan went on to reminisce about the past, Leonardo listened attentively and once again experienced the pangs of sorrow at having been too late to save David.  He took the CUBE and looked at it with a gaze of fascination and curiosity.

Looking back up from the CUBE, Leonardo nodded to Cyan's request and said in a friendly tone, "Well that is indeed quite a story you have to tell.  Certainly a good deal of adventure and adversity... learning and loss.  I suppose I came upon you initially just following the episode where cost David Ares his life?  I am of course anxious to hear more and in particular regarding this Cube.

You seem quite adamant that I not try to probe its secrets before your tale is done... I am most interested in learning why this is and what has been tried before to analyze this Cube.  Please dear Bard, continue your tale for you have an audience that is most definitely "all ears"."

Re: Part 22 - Back to the island by Cyan
Cyan merely nods to Leonardo's explanation of his feelings on the word in question, and his usage.  It is as I thought - he simply picked it up due to exposure, and has never considered the root, nor the implications.  "I did not think any offence was intended, Leonardo," she continues, quietly, when he finishes.  "I was merely explaining my own viewpoint on the matter.  I will not require you to alter your habits to suit my own, in this case.  I find the word vile, myself, but...."  She shrugs.  "To each, their own."

With that, she launches into her tale.

When she finishes the first part, Cyan glances around.  Leonardo is speaking, but Jack...Jack has vanished?  Where?  Berd's tail lifts, and points in a direction.  Jack is...running?  Why is he running?

"Indeed, that is the case, Leonardo.  Since the discovery of the cube, we have realized that it is likely a device of the Enemy.  It was held by Cylla, given to her by an old, one-eyed man who visited her world to offer a bargain.  The cube takes impressions of the Worlds it visits, should it stay in them long enough.  Each side is a Palanquet - you may have noticed there are more than six sides, despite it being a cube.  An interesting example of tesser, I would say."  Frowning, the Bard stands.

"Jack!  Where are you going?"

A vexed expression comes over her face for a moment.  "What is he...thus far we know nothing more than the fact that it may be used to create portals to other worlds, much as a palanquet could be so used.  I asked you not to examine it further, because I wished for you to be aware that it is a creation of the enemy, used possibly for tracking...though that does not explain how Cylla moved from World to World."  Cyan frowns, both at Jack's figre, standing at the edge of the island, and at the thought.  "Now that you know, I see no reason why you should not study-"

Jack has fallen to his knees.

"Jack!"  Cyan bolts from the camp, sprinting towards the kneeling man.  "Jack, what is it?" she cries, topaz eyes bright with worry under the afternoon sun.  Behind her, Berd's head snaps up, and he snarls, once, his gaze flicking to THX 1138, then back to the man holding the cube.

The drake lifts into the air, hissing, and then wings frantically after Cyan, the mechanical spider flowing along the ground under him, easily slipping over rocks and around bushes.

Re: Part 22 - Back to the island by Jack
        The Pattern to mind Jack looked around studying the world around him, even looking through the lens and probing with a tendril in the worlds beyond this one.   His head swung left and then right and he pointed a finger in each direction as if standing as at a crossroads trying to decide which way to go. He nodded once and said “That’s they way.” An encouraging smile coming to his lips and set out following a path that only he could see.  Then again perhaps there was another who could see it but even he could not have guessed the rhyme or reason in Jack’s broken mind.
      Jack had started the process of dancing the cracks, yet in a way that very few could understand. It would be like watching an artist at work, he was starting to surf them without ever getting wet. Dancing the cracks without ever stepping in them. He had became a virtuosos, though like most gifted people he was now a little mad.

Re: Part 22 - Back to the island by Leonardo

quote:"Jack!"  Cyan bolts from the camp, sprinting towards the kneeling man.  "Jack, what is it?" she cries, topaz eyes bright with worry under the afternoon sun.  Behind her, Berd's head snaps up, and he snarls, once, his gaze flicking to THX 1138, then back to the man holding the cube.

Leonardo had been staring intently on the Cube while listening to Cyan but when Berd "spoke", Leonardo's head snapped up as his attention was pulled away from the Cube towards Jack.  Leonardo jumped up onto his feet and raced after Cyan though he knew she was too quick to catch.

He shouted out in tone equally mixed with worry and annoyance, "Good Grief!  That mad fool is trying to access the bloody Broken Pattern!  In his state... this goes beyond maddness, this is bloody suicide!  Jack you damn fool... stop before its too late!  You're not ready for this... hell nobody ever really is even when they're in full possession of their damned wits!  Cyan... Cyan, stay back... don't get too damned close, you don't know what it is like!"

Oh hell... why do I even bother trying to warn her!?  She'll just end up going anyway and doing it her own way... just like the whole lot of them!  Is this it... is this how Jack's going to bloody well self-destruct!?  Damn it I don't even know enough about that blasted and cursed Broken Pattern to put a halt to this maddness!

~~~ Cyan please, please listen to me... if he goes into the Broken Pattern... he may very well take YOU with him!  He at least knows how to manipulate it... but there is no such thing as an "innocent bystander" when it comes to the accursed twists of the Broken Pattern.  At the very least... let me try to stop this maddness before it's too late! ~~~

Good God or whomever... did I really just say that!?  What the hell is coming over me, I am NOT a bloody freaking HERO!  Where is all that damned good sense that Samuel worked so hard to instill!?  Maybe Jack isn't the only one out of his bloody mind!

~~~ Jack, damn it JACK!  Stop this foolish nonsense before someone gets hurt!  Cyan is TOO close... you risk pulling her in with you on this mad journey of discovery.  You don't want to hurt Cyan do you?  Aren't the two of you friends and comrades... don't you care that you're risking her life with this crazy stunt?  Jack are you listening to me!? ~~~

Ok now what...

Re: Part 22 - Back to the island by Cyan
Cyan pauses a moment when she hears Leonardo's voice, then her lips firm.  "No time!  Stop him if you can!" she shouts, hurtling forwards.  Into the water!

Lunging forward, amethyst eyes boring into Jack's back, Cyan strives to reach him and carry both of them into the water.  That, if nothing else, she hopes will break his concentration.

All she can hear is Leonardo's words, over and over.  '...bloody suicide....'

Berd, winging forwards, watches coolly.  He doesn't think they'll make it in time - THIS World has not been buttressed against the Powers, like Cyan's 'own'.  Berd knows that this is going to be rough, if Jack manages to go, and carries them along with him...and the Drake reaches out with his own, wildly unpredictable talents, and begins to attempt to mesh his ability to slip through the Curtain with the power that Jack is laying down.

Smoothing out the cracks a bit, as it were.

Flashing forwards, the Drake scrabbles for a hold on Cyan's silk shirt with its claws, finds one.  Behind them, THX 1138 closes in, quickly, obviously confused, but content to follow commands.

Re: Part 22 - Back to the island by Jack
          Jack was walking up to the largest tree as Cyan burst into the clearing upon him. His face shown in an absentminded concentration, barely taking notice of her despite her close proximity. He had not even seemed to notice all of the shouts and brouhaha, yet now he waved a hand idly at Cyan with a half notices sideways glance. “Oh Cyan,” there was a hint of mild surprise in his voice. “I didn’t know you wanted to come with me.” He held out a hand to her, “Be careful  and stay with me.” He was examining the tree with a lazy interest , pointing his hand wavered between the left and right side of the tree. He seemed to settle on the left side and stepped around the tree that direction.

"Umm, " Comes Jacks voice from the other side of the tree, "Did Leonardo want to come along as well? If he did we will have to go back and get him."

Re: Part 22 - Back to the island by Cyan
Cyan, about to grab Jack and hurl him into the lake, pauses.  She narrows her emerald eyes for a moment, then glances to Berd.  "What?  He's...?"  Frowning, Cyan takes a step back.  "Jack...would it be possible," she asks quietly, carefully, "to go back to Leonardo?  We...should take him with us if we are going anywhere.  It might be a wise decision."

Her voice is hesitant, confused, as THX scrabbles up beside her.  It's obviously that Cyan isn't quite certain of what Jack is doing, or why it is so 'odd'.

Berd, on the other hand, stares at Jack with a faint expression of mixed amusement and respect on his draconic features.  Slowly, the drake bobs his head.

Re: Part 22 - Back to the island by Jack
Jack glanced at Berd an arched eyebrow questioningly, the shrugs noncommittally.

    Jack looked at cyan briefly a distant soft frustrated expression flitted across his face for an instant. “I really wish everyone would let me know in advance when they want to go with. . .” A confused look crossed his face for an instant only to be replaced by a child like pleased smile as he figured out the answer. His eye came back into focus on Cyan absentmindedly “Yes! It is definitely, theoretically possible to go back and get Leonardo. . . perhase.Is'nt anything possibile?” He waited a moment thinking about it then nodded affirmatively . “He is only across the island and a world back.” Jack nodded again and took a few more steps towards a bridge that crossed to the main land, which Cyan could have sworn was not there before. Jack stopped again his brow as the little light came on, “Oh. . . You meant go back and get him now?”

Re: Part 22 - Back to the island by Cyan
Berd's smile widens, showing teeth, though not threateningly.

We would if you told us, Cyan wants to say, but refrains.  "Jack, we were in the middle of talking about the past.  I had thought you would wish to hear of it."  She looks nervously down at the bridge.  "Yes, as a matter of fact, I mean now.  Leonardo is likely wondering what has occured with us, and has no means of contacting us."

She looks back with agate eyes.  No Leonardo.

"Might we return?" Cyan asks Jack.  "Please?"  His mind flits like a butterfly, alighting here, then there...never with any pattern!  What can we do?

Re: Part 22 - Back to the island by Jack
          Jack bent down and picked up something on the end of a finger, a pebble so small as to almost be a speck of dust. He looked at the pebble then glanced at Berd.

Jack flicked the pebble into the lake with an his odd knowing smile, as he stared at Berd for a moment his mind is clear and sharp. Then the moment was gone, and he looked confused at Cyan. “You mean he has no means to travel the worlds and go where he wishes?  Poor boy. . .” His brow again creased as he contemplated  what The Bard had said. “I will take you back to him, can’t have him lost and alone now can we? So one out of two will have to suffice, lost it is. Follow me. . . “ Jack turned around taking Cyan’s hand and leading her and retraced his steps to the tree. He stopped there for a moment to figure out which side  to go around on, nodding he went right and as the came out on the other side of the tree the bridge was gone though Leon was back.

"Leonardo, Cyan says you want to come with?" Jack called out smiling at the man, "If that's so step livley man, don't dawdle. . . I have places to go and people to beat."

Re: Part 22 - Back to the island by Berd
Berd continues to stare at Jack with interest in his draconic eyes.  For an instant, they sharpen.

The drake sags, suddenly, seeming exhausted, and his eyes dull.  Cyan stares at Berd in some consternation for a moment, then her attention slips back to Jack.

Re: Part 22 - Back to the island by Jack
       Jack reaches out and strokes the drakes chin with a small worried smile, pooring some of his own weakned energy into the drake he says Lievz! everyone feels the burst of psyche roll across the little isle from the power word.

Re: Part 22 - Back to the island by Berd
Berd, still looking a little weakened, raises his head up to look at Jack.

Berd's head droops again, and his eyes close.

"Jack," Cyan says, "he is weary.  Best we tend to what you wished to do," she continues, getting his attention back on the matter at hand.

Re: Part 22 - Back to the island by Jack
       Jack pulled his hand back from the drake tentatively feeling bad, he had not wanted the drake to over reach himself.  Nodding he said, “Right you are, you are right.” His deep blue eyes focused on Cyans for a moment “I am sorry. . . You know you don’t have to come with me, either of you if you don’t want. I will only be a few hours. . . A day at the outside. It is okay. . .Just a brief walkabout.”

Re: Part 22 - Back to the island by Leonardo

Leonardo didn't really have the time to contemplate what Jack had done or whether it was possible or not... nor did he care at the moment.

"If you've done six impossible things this morning, why not round it off with breakfast at Milliways".... well for starters, because it's bloody TEA TIME at the moment!  But then none of this has anything to do with the price of tea in China!

Leonardo finally caught up with Cyan and Jack taking a moment to just stare incredulously from one to the other with both eyebrows raised in pique.  He then placed his hands behind his back and turned to focus solely on Jack before saying in a forced calm tone, "Umm... Jack... perhaps... just perhaps you would be so kind as to WARN the rest of us before going off on your own and trying something like this.  In fact I was under the distinct impression that running off on a lark without prior warning was consider very poor form by this little group.

What's more... I seem to remember that it was YOU who informed me of this.  Of course... that was just before Aaron took off for parts unknown and Kalika decided to head out on her own and Cyan rushed off on an impromptu rescue... so perhaps the earlier "rules" were really more like loosely followed guidelines said tongue-in-cheek, eh?

Now before anyone goes anywhere... why don't we just take ONE moment, or perhaps even two if need be, and discuss what the thinking is here... hmm?  For instance, just where do you have to go Jack and why does it have to be right now?  What's going on here?

Do you really think you're in any shape to be going for a "walkabout" using the Broken Pattern... most Broken Pattern walkabouts are rarely brief nor are they at all pleasant.  Also do you think it wise for this group to be split up so soon?  We've already lost two members thus far and that's not counting all those who have fallen during this quest.  The last time we split up... "bad things" happened and I for one do not care to tempt fate for a repeat.

Jack, you say that neither Cyan nor I need to go with you... but that's the same as saying you don't really need us around.  I'm sorry if I got the wrong idea here, but I was under the impression that this group SHARED everything in order to facilitate a smooth operation where each member could easily work together as a whole.  Individuals going off on their own without warning or care for the others... that's not cooperation and that's not kosher from my point of view."

Leonardo turned to look at Cyan with a raise eyebrow and said with a restrained tone, "Well Cyan... what are your REAL thoughts on this matter?  I know Jack has had a difficult time and he is still recovering so you may be hesitant to fully express your viewpoint at the moment.  However... there has to be some solid ground rules which apply equally to everyone or this group is doomed to failure without the need for belligerent outside interference.

When I joined this group, I stood silently as multiple people took it upon themselves to lecture me as if I was a slow learning child about the "RULES" which governed the operation of this group.  I accepted your rules and followed them to the letter... yet I have not seen the same level of respect paid to those rules by the very people who proposed them.  You, Cyan, have been the most faithful to those rules and for that I am grateful.

So... that makes your fully voiced opinion on this matter doubly important.  As was seen back in the cabin, neither you nor I are truly capable of "handling" Jack should he wish to turn aggressive.  I have no wish to be subjected to hostility by people who are supposed to be my comrades-in-arms as I am sure neither do you.  But if there are no set ground rules for commonly acceptable behavior... then how is there supposed to be any lasting trust developed?

Please note, I do not forbid Jack from leaving... nor am I in any position to do so.  I could not stop him if he chose to leave even if I was determined to do so.  However we can't keep on functioning with group members walking off and doing their own thing when ever the mood strikes them... without ONE word of warning or even a muted goodbye.  At least that is how I see things and how I believe David would have analyzed the situation."

Leonardo took a couple steps back and folded his arms in front of him as he waited for Jack's and Cyan's responses.

Well now... when the hell did I take diplomacy lessons?  I'm not any sort of mediator... and how did I suddenly become a proponent and defender of RULES!?  Samuel is going to have a good hearty laugh at this... either that... or he's going to be very pissed at me for playing this sort of game.

Then again... I can never really predict how he'll react so I really should stop trying to do so.  In some ways... Samuel is not entirely unlike Jack in that respect.  Just what the hell is Jack trying to do anyway, is this part of his "healing process" and if so... why couldn't he have at least informed us that he was going to try something like this!?

Well... it will be interesting to see how Cyan reacts... either she believes in the words she spoke earlier before all the trouble began... or she's no more dedicated to the ideals of "unity of action" than any of the rest of them.  This should be fun... which probably means someone is going to get hurt, I just hope it is not ME!

Re: Part 22 - Back to the island by Cyan
Cyan listens silently while Leonardo admonishes them.  The man is right, in every way.  The group has fallen apart, completely.  Some of them have been horribly injured, and have lost their way.  Others have abandoned it.  Some might not ever have been on it.

"I..." she says, then sags, shaking her head.  "I tried.  I tried for a long, long time to have unity within the questors.  To hold everything in the open, without any deception or obfuscation.  Jack has been hurt, terribly so," the Bard says.  "I do not hold him accountable.  Not yet."  A glance to Jack, there, with her topaz eyes.  "I cannot hold you accountable," the Bard repeats, this time to the man.  "And I do not, Jack.  I will not hold him accountable, Leonardo, for his actions.  Not until his spirit is healed."

"But Kallika is gone, and Aaron...well, best not speak of that.  The questors have broken apart, I fear.  And I cannot do this any longer.  What, shall I hold to the last, force those who take up the torch to follow a path that none other, not even myself, has been capable of striding?  I am no leader," Cyan states, firmly, but quietly.  "I WILL lead, when my hand is strongest in a place, in a situation.  But I cannot force people to do that which they do not wish to do.  I hold nobody to these 'rules', any longer."  She presses a hand against her forehead, then shakes her head.  "I will hold to them myself, as much as I am able; others may, or may not, as they wish.  I am weary of being the Guard over all. as you will."

The Bard pauses, then shrugs.  "'Do as thou will shall be the whole of the law'," she quotes, deliberatly ommitting the second half of the phrase.  A faint laugh comes from her, and she smiles, helplessly.  "I cannot be the mother, any more.  I leave the responsibility for actions to their owners.  The choice, from now on, rests with each of us."

The Bard's gaze flicks to Leonardo.  "I am sorry, Leonardo, for subjecting you to the troubles.  It must seem...ridiculous, now, given how we have acted, what you have seen."

Turning once again, Cyan looks at Jack.  "Please, Jack.  Tell us what you wish to do," the Bard requests, desperation filling her words.  Turning away from the two men, she sits down on a rock, elbow on knee, fingers rubbing her forehead.

Berd climbs off her shoulder and looks at her with some concern, then at Jack with more of the same.  Sighing a cloud of dull, yellowish smoke, the little dragon sits down and begins cleaning his wings with his long, forked tongue.

"Jack," Cyan asks, voice muffled, but relaxing slightly.  "Where were you going?"

Re: Part 22 - Back to the island by Jack
    Jack spent the first part of his conversation trying to answer Leonardo, in soft mumbling tones but the torrent of words coming out of the other man washed over him every time he tried. This was not good with how easily his mind flitted through stuff right now. With each interrupted start, it seemed to be forgotten as the next thing was thrown at him. None of his sentence seemed to get finished as he was already having to deal with the next one from Leonardo before he could complete the thought.

“I didn’t. . . .”
“I didn’t know that. . . “
“Sorry I don’t remember. . . “
“I don’t know. . . “
“Well yes. . . It’s easy.“
“I didn’t think of that.”
“Now I didn’t mean that, I. . . “

        Jack fell silent as the other man started addressing Cyan, though his lips moved as he tried desperately to sort everything out in his mind. When he heard the tired hurt in Cyan’s voice Jack moved over and massaged her shoulders. “A flower for Kali, her flower. . . .I don’t know how I know it is hers, but it is. That and some equipment. I have nothing not even really the shirt on my back.” He pealed off the tattered remains of the bloody shirt casually tossing it to the ground.
        Indeed the broken man had no pack, no armor, no staff any more. The pistols that were a gift to him long since gone an another world. Truly he had nothing except his black Jeans, even his thigh high boots were missing. “I don’t know what I need or really, or where to get to get it, but I know I will need more than a pair of pants to fight the fires. I need to be whole. . . and I need a big gun.”

         He pulled back from his rubbing of the bards shoulders with a faint blush and stood looking at Lenoardo. “I am truly sorry, Cezanne. . . I do not remember the rules you speak of, nor do I remember telling you aught.  I only know your name because Cyan has told it to me, not that I member much of Cyan or any of the rest. From what I have seen even what memories I have are suspect and I can not be certain if they are correct. Though I do feel that it would be no big gig for me to use the broken pattern to pop off and get what I need. I know how to miss the cracks. . . It’s kind of like missing a house, you walk towards it, then at the last minuet you turn right or left and walk around it. ”

       Jack half turned from the seekers and became quiet for the moment. “I am sorry. . .if I have caused either of you any grief. I can see now that I will be a hindrance to the questors. . . Leonardo is right. . . You are better off without me. Whatever has happened to me has obviously brought my usefulness to an end and what ever is wrong with me seems to bring nothing but grief and worry to you all.“ he looked around the camp for his things and again realized he had no things. So he did the only thing left to him and started walking away.  With a  shrug he looked back over his shoulder at Cyan “I don’t know where I’m going now.”

Re: Part 22 - Back to the island by Cyan
Cyan sighs and tenses slightly when Jack begins to work her shoulders.  She can't hold her unease, though, and relaxes under the pressure.  Her hand comes up, hovers, then touches one of Jack's for a moment before he pulls away to talk to Leonardo.  Agate eyes stare out over the water as Jack explains himself, and the situation.

"Jack.  Stop, please?"  Cyan stands, turning to face him.

"As I said...I do not hold you responsible.  In fact, the quest is responsible for the harm you have suffered.  And you have shown more loyalty to it than any, and you have, within you, the strength we need.  And I do not speak of physical power, though you have plenty of that, too.  I speak of will - not psychic strength, but the true will.  That which springs within anyone who finds something for which it is worth fighting."  She gives Jack a sad smile.  "Nobody would blame you for walking away, now.  But I say to are not a hinderance.  You are not grief.  We are not better off without you."

Cyan waves to the fire, the flames glowing brighter as the evening begins to set in.  "Perhaps we might retire to there, and discuss this?  You are needing clothing, Jack - we have been remiss.  We have ignored your needs, yes, needs, in favour of our own wants.  I know that you could find your own clothing, but...for the clothes, at least, and the mundane equipment, there may be a simpler method.  Berd?"

The drake is there in an instant, suddenly full of energy, here on Jack's shoulders, there upsidedown, hanging from his neck, staring at his waist, and everywhere, lightly running claws over bare skin, gentle, soothing touches...that measure.

With a wink, Berd springs off the man, the entire process taking but a moment.  The little dragon chooses to hover about a meter away from Jack, staring at him with shining eyes.

Smiling faintly at the display, Cyan shakes her head.  "Of course, if there was anything...special that you required, Berd cannot assist with that.  I suspect," she says, glancing at the dragon.  He merely sniffs, letting out a puff of azure mist.

"Jack.  Please.  Do not leave us.  It is what has happened before, with others, that causes me frustration, not your injuries, your loss.  I grieve for that, but it does not vex me.  Leonardo's words make me see that forcing my own beliefs on others...well, it is foolishness.  And it has not worked well."  Staring at the sun, Cyan sighs, coppery hair flashing in the dimming light.  "Better that I decide if I can work with people who are not the same as myself...for nobody is, are they?  I am my own person, and cannot expect other people to be just like me, or carry my desires close to their heart."

"Please, Jack.  Allow us to help you."  She flushes, suddenly.  "And allow Berd to clothe you," the Bard murmurs, glancing away.

Re: Part 22 - Back to the island by Jack
       The vast network of scars on Jacks back shown in the setting sun, pale white and pink masses and lines against his tanned skin. Jack stopped and turned back to face them when Cyan asked him to, he stopped and listened.

He looked into the little drakes eyes for a moment as it fluttered there in front of him, flashing a thankful yet bitter sweet sand smile “Honestly, I don’t know what I need little one.” He said to Berd “I just know what all I need. I suppose then that I shall leave it to your best judgement. It was my intention to just search until I found whatever I thought I needed. ”

“The one thing that I know of is a flower. . .” Berd sees the image of the flower in Jacks mind and knows that it is tied to Kalika, thought something in Jack mind is hesitant to let Berd Just make it. There is something special about finding it and picking it.  Much as the Thistle, Berd can repair them and give them life. Yet if one was lost it would not be the same if he made a new one. “I don’t even know where it is found, only that I can find it.”

“I know you do not hold me responsible Cyan, yet some how I heard Leonardo’s words that he believes me to be hostile  and dangerous Cyan. . . Obviously in my state I can not determine if I am or am not. So I must defer to his and your judgments.” Jack’s head sank staring at the ground “He said that if by saying that I don’t need you or him to go along with me for a shopping excursion, that I was saying that I have no need for either of you. I do not feel that to be true, but who am I to say what I feel anymore. I don’t even know myself. . . It is a sad thing that he knows more of how I feel and who I am then I do. “

          Jack had not moved in any direction as of yet, just stood there staring at the ground. “I do not want to go you, Leonardo, Hunter and the dragon have been my world since the I awoke from the fires soul-pain. I can not even honestly  remember  the Jack of which you speak so heartfelt of. If anything I fear that I will not measure up to the greatness you have spoken so highly of.”

Jack glanced up “Looking between Cyan and Leonardo, “I will not leave if you truly do not want me to go. Just do not be overly kind and have me stay out of pity for the broken man. Only  if both of you are certain that you want me hear then okay, it is decided.”

Re: Part 22 - Back to the island by Cyan
Cyan pales at the sight of the scars, rocking back on her feet.  She passes on hand in front of her eyes and shudders for a moment, and when the hand drops, her gaze has changed from obsidian to brilliant topaz.

Berd nods sagely at Jack's comments about the flower; he had intended clothing, nothing more, understanding that something given to give, is not as precious as something found with one's own hands.  And not as 'correct', either.

"Jack," Cyan says, "it is not required that we come with you, when you walk on your 'shopping excursion'."  The corners of her mouth drop into a sad frown.  " have been hurt, and you have been confused, and I worried about what you might be doing, where you might be going.  If you wished to go, to go to some place you could find what you needed and return, that would be your right!  Merely...tell us, first, that we not worry that you are doing something without thought.  It may seem as though we are treating you as a child, but your reactions, when you awoke..."  Cyan grimaces, not wishing to hurt Jack with her words.  "You were more than confused.  You were crazed.  And has not been so long, Jack.  I worry, that is all.  If you say you are going somewhere, I can believe you.  But if you sprint off, then begin to leave without warning, what am I to think?"

"I do not wish for you to leave, Jack."  She smiles.  "You are still Jack, under your confusion.  You are merely new to the world, at this time.  Do not fear measuring up.  You are you, and that is all you need to know.  Who 'you' is, you will discover."  Her eyes soften, and she raises one hand to Berd, who flies to her arm.  "And yes, we wish for you to stay.  Berd and I, in any case."

Turning, Cyan faces Leonardo, waiting for his response to all of this confusion.

OOC - edited to remove gift of trump, already given to Prime.  :)  Thank you, Leonardo!

A weekend going away present by Jack
       “I will stay it both of you like, though I will have to go on a shopping excursion some time. I need weapons and defenses.” Jack said  walking over to Cyan and placing a kindly hand on her shoulder. He leans in looking uncertain and whispered something to her.

           Unable to say any more, Jack blushed a deep red coming to his cheeks. Though it was half hidden in the shadows of dusk. He stepped back and hurried to the friendly glow of the camp fire in the twilight world of the island.

Re: A weekend going away present by Leonardo

Leonardo stood silently with his arms crossed in front of him as he observed the interaction between Cyan and Jack with an emotionless expression on his face.  When things seemed to die down between the two, Leonardo let out a small exasperated sigh, closed his eyes briefly and shook his head slightly.

When he looked back up at the pair, Leonardo said in a resigned and weary tone, "So then... that's it for the rules I guess.  Seems I joined up just a little too soon, with a day or so delay I could have maintained my secrets and my privacy with no harm done.  Oh well... serves me right for being too anxious to jump in before getting the whole story from everyone else.

I for one do not hold Jack responsible for his actions entirely, though I have little to base my assessment on regarding what is SOP for Jack's behavior.  After all, I have only Cyan's reactions to go by when determining what is "normal Jack" and what is "not so normal Jack".  Then again... I suppose I can't really claim to know Cyan well enough to judge even her actions or words.

For the record, I am not now nor have I ever been one for... "rules".  Personally I have always felt that rules merely allowed one to "cheat" more easily since the boundaries were so clearly defined.  However I have always felt that if rules were to be applied to one person... they HAD to apply to everyone.  "In the land of the honest men, the liar is KING" or something very similar to that.

Still... one cannot fairly expect Jack to remember much less follow all of the rules established before his traumatic experience.  Certainly it will take time for him to heal and I understand that.  My question was directed more at what was going to be accepted behavior among us once things were finally settled... if they ever truly are settled with this group?

I do agree with Cyan though... Jack, you really should wait awhile longer before trying something as risky as the Broken Pattern.  It is a trial to travel even in the best of health... but you are NOT in the best of health, now are you?  I'm certain that a limited "shopping list" can be fulfilled without the need to take a "shopping trip".  Cyan is also correct about the need to establish a clear line of communication between group members... especially any who intend to "walk off" on their own."

Leonardo uncrossed his arms and gestured back towards the campfire saying in a more relaxed if still wary tone, "Cyan, Jack... please let us continue this discussion someplace more comfortable.  I think it has been established that at least for today, it would be unwise for Jack to travel.  I will not hold him back, nor do I have the power to do so, but I would suggest that he at least wait awhile longer.  At the very least Cyan's mind will be more at ease should you wait a day or two.  Besides... you can't go out dressed like that, do you wish to be taken for a pauper?  If you mean to "shop", then it should be done in a proper fashion... dressed in the proper fashion.  Shall we go back to rest and continue our discussion?"

Well... things really have gone to the proverbial "hell in a handbasket".  Cyan is almost as emotionally cracked as Jack is mentally cracked!  Neither of them intends to enforce their earlier idiotic rules and now I am left exposed and vulnerable with no corresponding shield of knowledge.

Samuel will be furious with me for my folly... no doubt he will take great delight in rubbing in this failure at information exchange for decades to come.  HE would never have budged on the issue of personal information or at the very least he would have told the bare minimum without embellishment.

Instead I took these bumpkins at their word... and now I pay the price for my trust.  No wonder David is dead... which one of the MANY secrets still being kept by the members of this group eventually led to his demise I wonder?  Where are Aaron and Kalika I wonder... will they return... will they be accepted back with open arms or told to "piss off"?

Something tells me that this is a group made up of repentant "sinners".  Besides... I doubt we can afford to turn any potential ally away.  Then again... an uncertain ally can be more dangerous than a certain enemy.

Re: A weekend going away present by Cyan
Cyan's mouth drops open when Jack whispers something to her, and she goes white, then red, staring after him as he walks towards the fire.  Blinking opalescent eyes, she turns her head towards Leonardo as he speaks, obviously struggling to follow what he is saying.  Her flush deepens, though obviously not in reaction to the artist's words.

"My...I am sorry, should...I think you should behave as you see fit," Cyan says, slowly.  "I trust that if...if I make a...if I act in a fashion you find reprehensible, you will simply inform me," she continues, slowly gaining ground.  Blinking, she looks after Jack for a moment.  "Berd...informs me that Jack's power over the Broken Pattern is nothing less than miraculous, but still, I would see him wait.  Berd will provide for his clothing, for the nonce."  She essays a feeble smile, then walks after Jack, stumbling once over a rock.  "Best to continue this by the fire," the Bard agrees, finally recovering herself, though not banishing the heat from her cheeks.

"At least," she says, picking her way to the cheerful blaze, "I have openly presented myself to you.  In this way you can say you are not alone in that.  Aaron, I doubt will be returning, and should he, well...there will be some consideration as to whether we wish his presence."  Her expression is dark, at that.  "Frankly, he has done little to assist us, little at all, and much to hinder, and worse," Cyan mutters.  With a glance to Jack, the Bard quickly looks into the flames, her face again almost taking on the colour of her hair.

"As for Kallika, I do not doubt she would be more than glad to share her past - she has done so already.  Jack..."  Here Cyan looks at Jack once again, then turns her gaze away.  "I think Jack would tell you, if he could, would you not, Jack?"

Berd, letting out a chiming laugh, sits down next to her, followed by the great, metallic spider.

Cyan, finally, looks directly at Jack for a long moment.  "No," she says, quietly.  "I...that...that was Kallika.  She and you are as one.  The...Gatherer's world?  You must be...misremembering," Cyan finishes, stumbling over the words, poking fiercely at the coals with a stick.  Berd laughs again, and she turns on him with such suddenness that the startled dragon topples off the log.  "Leave be, Berd!"  the Bard exclaims, brushing a lock of hair from her face.  A moment later, she shakes her head as Berd's eyes peer over the top of the log.  With a resigned sigh, Cyan pulls out the bottle of apricot brandy that Lexy gave to her, pouring herself a cup, and digging out a pair of cups for the men.

"If you wish," she says.  "The quality is quite good."

Berd, still letting out tiny gusts of musical laughter, wanders over to where Jack has sat down, and directs his attention to a small, neatly folded pile of clothing beside him.  Cyan holds out one cup towards Leonardo, and raises her eyebrows helplessly.  Turning to Jack, she passes him another cup, and whispers something, sitting back down a moment later, face pale.

Re: A weekend going away present by Jack
          Jack only seemed to be half paying attention to Leonardo, half trying to look and not look at Cyan at the same time. “Don’t worry about it Cezanne, you yourself may have changed the rule. You can not add another ingredient to the mix without changing it.” He said absentmindedly and half heatedly. Jack may have had little idea what had happened over the past few days, but that felt like the right thing to say. A frown grew at Leon’s words but he didn’t choose to add anything else.

        Instead his blush grew at Cyan’s rambling “Yes! Yes I know Kalika and I. . .” He snapped in confused frustration at the Bards words. “That’s what confuses me. You are right. . . the memory must be false, though it seems as real as anything I can remember.” There was a confused pain his voice He reached into  the pouch  that had not been there before and pulled out a dark sweater. Pulling it on he asked “So real, how am I to know what has happened and what did not?” He pulled a cloak from the pouch and standing he swung it over his broad shoulders. “What about everything when you pulled me from the torture chamber?” He asked hesitantly but was  shaking his head no. Turning he took a few steps from the fire and pulled the hood up to cover his head. There he stood staring out into the night that he had once been tied to so strongly.

"Yes Cezanne, I would tell you of myself. . .If I knew, of I could trust what little I know." his voice came sounding calmer "It seems I. . . I mean my memories a little more than embarsaments."

Re: A weekend going away present by Leonardo

Leonardo sat down gracefully and looked relatively unimpressed and somewhat disinterested in the responses he was getting from both Cyan and Jack.  Not only was the balance of information not redressed in his mind... but it was clear both of them had something more important on their minds.  And once again... they chose not to share what passed between them, though the odd blushing and distracted tone certainly gave fodder for the mind to play with.

As Cyan was blushing and rebuking Berd as the drake laughed, Leonardo allowed himself a small, sly knowing smile.  When Cyan offered a cup of her drink to him, Leonardo graciously accepted it but took the opportunity to quickly glance at Jack and then back at Cyan before raising an inquisitive eyebrow, "I tend not to drink unless I feel secure, however under the present circumstances... I might as well accept your generous offer.  Firstly, it would be rude to refuse a gift offered in friendship.  Secondly, if I wait until I fell fully secure again... I may very well find myself adopting total abstinence as an unintended consequence.  Thank you Cyan for your kind gift, I'm sure I'll approve of the taste."

With the sly smile still on his face, Leonardo replied in a calm, poised tone, "Well Cyan, I have never taken issue with you regarding your own level of disclosure.  As I mentioned before you seem most willing to... share... everything with anyone.  I do want you to know that I appreciate your trust.  I merely brought the point up because I was under the distinct impression that everyone was being held to the same standard and now I discover that this was not the case.

Still what is shared cannot be UN-shared and I will just have to deal with the consequences as them come.  I suppose I should be grateful for the valuable object lesson forced upon me... NEVER place one's trust too fully in strangers one has only just met regardless of mutual acquaintances.

But I reiterate that for now it is all water under the bridge sort of speak and I find no fault in your behavior on this matter Cyan.  As for you acting in a reprehensible manner... again any issues I might raise would be strictly differences in culture and customs.  I do not expect you to conform to Escher standards anymore that I would be expected to be held to your standards.

Jack of course is another matter entirely.  He is not fully recovered from what I can tell and small wonder considering the circumstances.  Therefore he should not be held to standards meant for those of sound mind and body... at least not for the time being.  Of course this introduces a level of uncertainty and unpredictability into the group which must be remembered.  I am all for granting leeway and leniency to Jack, he is healing and certain idiosyncratic eccentricities are to be expected.

As for Aaron and Kalika... frankly I am not sure they will be able to rejoin or wish to, but if they do... we must be careful not to judge too rashly.  From my perspective, Kalika has been no better nor worse at following the full disclosure policy and therefore I cannot fairly judge Aaron harsher than she.  As to Aaron... if he is truly of the blood of Amber, then it may be more dangerous to attempt to exclude him than to include him.  The Amberites are not known for taking "hints" and nothing short of death can often dissuade them from their chosen course of action.

Furthermore... we are not yet so strong and powerful and numerous that we can idly discard one who willingly takes up arms against our Enemy.  We as an effective fighting force are hurt and now forced to withdraw to lick our wounds.  Unless you know of a supply of willing and able participants who will join our deadly cause... we may have to consider strongly taking Aaron back.  All the more so if we are now to adopt a "do your own thing" policy.  After all... if the "Rules" are to be discarded... then by what standard do you measure or judge Aaron or Kalika for that matter?"

Leonardo sighed and shrugged before taking a sip of the liquor that Cyan had offered him.  He knew that with Pièce de Résistance on he could drain Cyan's entire stock and probably not feel one drop.  Still... he was cautious in his tasting as he now intended to adopt a more careful attitude in his dealings with this group.

In a lighthearted tone, Leonardo sent Cyan a quick message, ~~~ You know Cyan my dear... you truly capture the firelight quite nicely when you blush like that.  Seeing as the secret words passed between you and Jack were of an apparently... "private" nature... I will pry no further.

However do be wary, I still do not fully trust the man we pulled back from that planet and letting him inside your guard could prove to be a fatal mistake.  Also... Kalika did not strike me as the "forgiving" sort... at least not where it came to her significant other... and vice versa for the "old Jack".  Do be careful... for more reasons than one. ~~~

Leonardo turned to look at Jack and resumed his nonchalant expression as he said in a calm, neutral tone, "Hmm... those dark colors really do suit you Jack... must be the contrast with your fairish complexion.  Still... I was under the impression that while he can work miracles, even Berd doesn't weave quite that quickly.  Where I wonder do those new clothes originate from... hmm?

I wonder... just what memories do you have left... at least those fit for public discourse I mean.  Perhaps there is a link... or dare I say pattern... to what you can or do "remember" and what you can't?  If you are getting confused then perhaps there is a method to the madness... perhaps your memories have been altered for a specific purpose?"

Re: A weekend going away present by Jack
          Jack’s brow furrowed as he half turned back to the fire. He was not quite comfortable with smiling, he had a serious and most confusing life crisis going on. He tried to smile none the less, but it was weak and uncertain and confused.  “I can’t say I remember much. . . It’s difficult glimpses at best. I mean I remember Kali dying in a car explosion. Though Cyan says this is not true. . . I remember almost everyone I can remember trying to kill me or beat me down at one time or another. . . Different things bubble up at different times, often out of the blue. . . I. . . I. . . It so difficult to sort it out. I can not rely on the memories now, only the feelings, only gut reaction.”
        “My gut tells me that if Kali is cast out so am I. That is just the way it is. I may not remember her well, but I feel. . . I feel for someone I know not, nor have ever met. Perhase it is Cyans words about us. . . ” Jack shrugged and then said in an almost vicious tone of voice. “I will extinguish the fires and break the knives,” His voice eased again “ but I can not promise that I will stay with the group. Some of what you say Cezanne sets my teeth on edge, I can not even give you the honor of telling you why because I do not know. It is just a feeling. . . I do not know who the old Jack is or if I can fill his shoes. All I can do is do what I feel is right and needed.” He shrugged again. “But I will not betray anything I know of any of you. We will just have to see how it goes.”

In the mean time who is “Wee Willy Winky and why did he do what he did?”

Re: A weekend going away present by Jack
          The sly look that passed from Leonard to Cyan finally sank in along with the faint feel of psychic energy being passed from the masking force of Leon to the frustrated Bard. Realization dawned over his face and then he blushed even more brightly “Oh. Oh? Oh! I’m sorry, I’m such a Dunder Head!” Jacks blush grew even deeper “I-I Didn’t realize that it was the two of you that had something going on.”

“I have put my foot in it this time! Why don’t I get out of your way and let you two have some time alone?” Jack said scooping up his new pack and starting out away from the camp and the cheerful fire.

Re: A weekend going away present by Cyan
There's a rock by the fire, a large one.  Cyan eyes it speculatively.  Perhaps if she beat her head against it hard enough, this would all go away.

More likely she would simply pass out, come to, and deal with Jack gone and Leonardo thinking her mad.

More mad.

The sick feeling grows in her stomach as Jack asks her about her and the torture chamber.  She hadn't been able to help herself, then, though with effort the Bard had been successful up to that point.  With great effort....   Leonardo's insinuations and clever words aren't assisting her roiling stomach.  The Kallika issue...she has been over that, again and again.  Cyan would never, ever try to split the two lovers; it is the reason she has swallowed her feelings, all this time.

The reason she will continue to swallow her feelings.  She has no right.  None at all.  Jack and Kallika were happy.  Jack is her friend, Kallika her friend.  How can she even think about trying to do that, to them?

Even were it possible, the Bard thinks, shooting Leonardo a quick nod.

'There is nothing between Jack and I,' she returns.  'Nor has there been.'  It's true; all of it, one-sided, from the beginning.

That fact hasn't helped her features, though.  It's worse, now; Leonardo has definitely spotted it.  How could he not, you foolish girl?

Leonardo's comments regarding Kallika and Aaron require answer, though.  "Kallika has done nothing but support the group," she states staunchly.  "I know you know nothing of their past, as you say, so there can be no basis for comparison.  Hence, I submit this."  Cyan smiles thinly.  "Kallika's leaving comes after a lenghtly period of support for the group, and her being blinded.  I know not her reasons, but I am inclined to trust her.  Aaron, however, has done nothing but interfere with us, outright attack members of the group, and repeatedly blame his transgressions on fits of madness, from which he has supposedly been 'cured'...again and again.  I cannot think of a single time he has been of true assistance when we were in peril, and can think of many times he has been a danger to us, or simply a disruptive influence."

Moodily, Cyan prods at the fire.  "The situation is not the same, no.  Take Aaron back?  I will think on this, but every bit of caution within me speaks that it should not be so.  He has proven, time and time again, that he cannot be trusted - not simply with the truth, but with our safety.  A chain is as strong as its weakest link, no more, Leonardo Cezanne."

Shifting and reaching out, Cyan puts one hand on Jack's arm as he speaks in frustration.  Her own lips thin, and she glances down, sadly.  The man's evident confusion, in such a strong person, is painful to behold, and she closes her eyes for a moment, still with a hand on his arm.  At least he still has anger, and as great as mine for those shards of vile flame...but what of Kallika - can he not remember her at all?

The 'car' explosion.  That was his first love, was it not?  He said that she died in his place.

I must be very, very careful, here.
  She knows that Jack might very well make an error of judgement, and she is certainly in place to capitalize...but at what cost?


Then her jaw practically drops at Jack's next words.  Berd's tail sticks straight up from behind the log as Cyan makes a strangled noise, and leaps to her feet, catching Jack's sleeve, carefully and lightly.  "Jack!  Wait...please,, there is nothing between Leonardo and myself!"  The Bard glances back at the artist desperately, then looks back to Jack, eyes shadowed as she faces away from the flames.  "I-there is nobody, not in this group."  Shaking her head, she scrunches her eyes closed. This is not going well.  "Nobody, anywhere!" Cyan blurts, trying to better explain, obviously completely off her center, and not hiding anything (if she ever was).  Oh, so much better.  "I have...I mean..."

Suddenly the Bard sags, slighly.  "I am not 'with' anyone, Jack," she says, quietly.  " have given no offense.  Please, come back to the fire."  With a weak smile to tell him she speaks truth, Cyan urges him gently back to his seat, should he be agreeable.

Berd yawns heavily, head coming up from behind the log.

Face bright, Cyan whispers something to Jack, quickly, then sits again, pouring herself a generous amount of brandy and taking a long sip.  Her hands are shaking slightly, and she stills them.  Leonardo must think we are completely mad by this point.

Re: A weekend going away present by Jack
           It did not take much for Cyan to stop Jack, Her words and light touch on his sleeve  was all. He could feel her growing dismay at all of this since his cursed curiosity had driven him to ask about the errant memory. More than just her expressions and blush were telling him he was hurting someone he cared for. His mind was a powerful tool and he could read and feel the emotions of most of those around him. Everything he was saying was only making this all worse.
          He placidly let her guide him back to the fire with a hand dog expression. Yes I screwed this one up bad  and am  making it worse by the moment. He thought as she stammered through the list of who she was not involved with. He let her sit him down looking at the bottle of brandy and contemplated finding answers or at least peace in the bottom of it. Cyan leaned over and whispered to him, her pain as evident as ever and in a moment of clarity he knew. Jack looked at Cyan, brushed a stray fiery lock of hair from her face. Then he engulfed Cyan in a hug for a moment, the hug was that of one person consoling and comforting another.

    Jack pulled back from the hug and looked down at the fire, reaching behind the log he stroked the drake absentmindedly.

Jack drew his knees up to his chest and closed his eyes letting his head tilt forward.

Re: A weekend going away present by Cyan
Jack's hug, sudden and unexpected, is both mana and acid for Cyan.  Surprisingly gentle, it holds a shocking amount of strength, leashed back, reined in; her arms circle him, and the fear is gone, enfolded in warmth and strength.  She feels safe, there, for the first time long has it been?

Cyan cannot truthfully recall when she has ever felt safe.  Perhaps...back at the cabin, with Berd, before everything began.  Long, long ago, before her training, before the journey to Beleriand, before the Lord of Fetters, before the trip to Amber that spawned this quest.  Happy, yes.  Relaxed...rarely.  Hence the brandy, though she does not require the drink - the vice of addiction is not one of Cyan's.  Hence her strong, brittle exterior.  Hence the music, in which she can almost lose herself.

But Jack's arms, the heat of his body, is acid, too, for Cyan knows that these arms, this heat belongs, in essence, to Kallika.  While Jack can gift her with this, hold her like this, it will never be her place.

Then his mind does the same, taking hers up carefully, so much stronger than she.  It carries her in its quiet strength, much as she did when first Cyan pulled him from the chamber of torture.

Images flash in her mind, then, her heart thundering with the first, breath quickening slightly, then slowing, dropping with the heaviness of her heart as she squeezes opal eyes shut, and opens them as dull jade.

Cyan chokes, once, and releases Jack, shifting slightly to sit beside him, rather than against him, her dull, greenish eyes drinking in the firelight rather than reflecting it.  Then she takes his arm at the elbow, pulling him close for a moment and sighing, before letting him go and moving away again.  "'Go on with life'," the redhaired woman whispers.  "Yes."  The flush is gone from her cheeks - they are pale, again.  Perhaps more than before.

Berd's head lies down on the log as Jack scratches it, where his glittering eyes can survey the campsite.

Re: A weekend going away present by Leonardo
quote:"Oh. Oh? Oh! I’m sorry, I’m such a Dunder Head!" Jacks blush grew even deeper "I-I Didn’t realize that it was the two of you that had something going on."

"I have put my foot in it this time! Why don’t I get out of your way and let you two have some time alone?"

Leonardo took his eyes off of Cyan as his head snapped quickly around towards Jack with a both eyebrows raised and a very concerned look on his face.  Leonardo absentmindedly reached out with his right hand to reassure himself that Pièce de Résistance was still bound around his left arm as Leonardo began to rise and back away from Jack.

Good God... or whomever... has he been listening in on my bloody mental communication!?  Is that possible... I thought... I thought Samuel said I would be warned by Pièce if that happened!  Damn it all... there's still to damn much I don't know about these people!  I can't afford to have some bloody mental basketcase rooting around inside my mind whenever the bloody mood strikes him!

How long have I been defenseless against Jack's intrusion!?  How long has he been listening... what does he know!!?  I thought he was still half in a coma with the better portions of his brain fried... damn it all... I've been lulled into another bloody false sense of security!

Well no longer... I see now that all that talk before was just that... TALK!  It is time I return to my roots... time to play The Game by the usual "cover one's own ass" style rules!  No more Mr. Nice Guy... no more bloody mistakes and lowered defenses... or I won't live to hear Samuel berate me for my failures!

As Leonardo slowly backs away with a mixture of fear and anger warring for control of his expression, he begins to register Cyan's own reaction... a reaction fueled by a very different set of emotions...

quote:"Jack!  Wait...please,, there is nothing between Leonardo and myself!"  The Bard glances back at the artist desperately, then looks back to Jack, eyes shadowed as she faces away from the flames.  "I-there is nobody, not in this group."  Shaking her head, she scrunches her eyes closed. This is not going well.  "Nobody, anywhere!" Cyan blurts, trying to better explain, obviously completely off her center, and not hiding anything (if she ever was).  Oh, so much better.  "I have...I mean..."

It took a moment for Cyan's words to sink in and another moment for Leonardo to realize that Jack's comment must have been a simple guess... he had picked up on clues but had misconstrued them.

He... he wasn't "listening" after all... if he had been then Cyan would be much more upset!  Thank God... or whomever... but... just the same... I NEED to be more careful!  Still now that I think about it... with Cyan's reaction thrown in for good measure... well... it is kind of funny.

Leonardo halted his retreat and looked from Cyan to Jack and back again as his facial expression blanked for a moment into emotional neutrality... and then he threw back his head and laughed.  This was no mere snide chuckle but a full throated, belly aching, release of nervous tension and stress.

Leonardo wrapped his arms around his stomach and had tears of joy coming out of his eyes as he continued to laugh an honest, nothing held back laugh.  He paused just long enough to ease himself back down to the ground but then he looked back up at Jack and then Cyan and broke down laughing again for another moment or two.

It takes another few moments for Leonardo to catch his breath and wipe the tears from his eyes as he raises his hands in an imitation of a surrender gesture.  With a large beaming grin, Leonardo says in a breathy but pleased tone, "Oh dear... that... that was bloody brilliant, I haven't had a good laugh like that in WEEKS!  Oh just when you think life has gotten dark and dreary beyond tolerance... something turns around the corner and sheds the light of humor on life's odd twists and turns.

Oh thank you Jack, thank you for lightening my mood... really that laugh was worth the worry.  Oh dear... I am sorry Cyan, Jack... I don't mean anything offensive by my mirth... but the image that popped into my mind...priceless."

At this point though Leonardo begins to notice the darker mood that overcomes Cyan as she continues to try and explain her situation to Jack.

quote:Suddenly the Bard sags, slightly.  "I am not 'with' anyone, Jack," she says, quietly.  " have given no offense.  Please, come back to the fire."  With a weak smile to tell him she speaks truth, Cyan urges him gently back to his seat, should he be agreeable.

Leonardo begins to sober up from his light mood of levity and resumes his more traditional calm seriousness.  With a small sigh and a slight shake of his head in bewilderment, Leonardo adds in a somewhat grave tone, "She speaks the truth Jack, there have been no bonds forged nor cords tied or rings exchanged nor even deep feelings shared between the Bard and I.  Though that is not unexpected considering that I joined this group only a day or so ago... as time is counted between Shad... umm.. Worlds.  I have no more claim to Cyan than she has to Aaron... or you for that matter.  Perhaps Berd has laid his claim... and he strikes me as one not to trifle with."

Leonardo smiles and chuckles at this last comment as he winks at the Drake before returning his attention to Jack and Cyan.  However Leonardo begins to wonder if either Jack or Cyan caught his last statement... because for the moment it appears they only have eyes (and hugs) for each other.  For a moment the concerned look comes over Leonardo again but this time for a different reason.

Hmm... so much for denial and keeping faith with one's comrades.  Then again... if this man really is the "new" Jack... perhaps it is time for him to forge new relationships?  Why do I get the feeling this will only turn out badly?  If Kalika were to return and see those two in such close and intimate quarters... well I've seen my share of "cat fights" and have even been the cause of a few... the further away I stay from that ruckus the better!

But what we really DON'T need is for romantic entanglements to interfere with our mission.  The Enemy will see these weaknesses... as all emotional attachments are really just weaknesses disguised as virtues.  Hell.. one should need nothing but one's self... the desire for others is simply to compensate for deficiencies in one's own character or nature or personality.  Still... there are so very few SHADOWS that every truly understand this.  But I'm willing to bet The Enemy knows this and what is more.. The Enemy will know how to USE this kind of weakness against us!

With another sorrowful sigh and sad shake of his head, Leonardo turned his attention away from the pair towards Berd to see how the Drake responded to this new development.  With a shrug, Leonardo put the pair out his mind for the moment.

Oh well... in the end it's their problem.  It certainly is none of my business... they will do as they please and I lack the power right now to change things.  I wonder... perhaps it is they who need "time alone"

quote:"'Go on with life'," the red-haired woman whispers.  "Yes."  The flush is gone from her cheeks - they are pale, again.

Leonardo notices Cyan pull away and regain her composure... after a fashion.  With a slightly raised eyebrow, Leonardo turns towards the pair again and asks in a calm, curious tone, "Perhaps you two have more to work out... after all you both have known each other far longer than  you have known me.  Should you two wish a some time to yourselves to... become reacquainted, well perhaps Berd could escort me around the island and show me the sights as it were.  I certainly wouldn't want to intrude or become the proverbial "third wheel" in this situation under the present circumstances."

Leonardo waits patiently for one or the other to respond while he keeps watch on Berd from the corner of his eye.

I wonder what the Drake makes of all this?  What is his connection to Cyan anyway?  I sometimes wonder if he is her companion... or she is his?

Re: A weekend going away present by Cyan
Cyan stares down at the ground with pale sapphire eyes, now that she has pulled away from Jack a bit.  She remembers hearing Leonardo's reaction to the misunderstanding...the laughter bit, but not maliciously.  He meant no mockery, she reminds herself.  Indeed, there had been a hint of...relief?

Amusement, given the situation, cut like a dull knife, but it wasn't meant to do so and Cyan offers Leonardo a watery smile before looking nervously back at Jack for a moment.

Right now, she feels very much the youngest of the group.  Jack may be still 'new', but there are hundreds of years hardwired into his brain that cannot simply vanish, and Leonardo...well, he is certainly older than myself.  Like all of them.

And I am merely confused and befuddled.  As always.

"No, no, Leonardo," Cyan says, quietly, in answer to the man's offer to leave them alone.  "I...that is, there is no need for you to leave us.  We...well, perhaps we should be making dinner."

She should feel embarassed, but the hollow emptiness within precludes any such emotion.  Cyan actually feels sympathy for Leonardo, through the bleakness; to come into a group like this, and have to put up with such outpouring of confusion and emotion would be exhausting, spiritually speaking.  She should apologize...but then, there has been enough of that already, today.  If I continue, Leonardo will begin to think that I view it as nothing more than punctuation.

Berd's head comes around, even with Jack's hand on it, and the glittering eyes focus on Leonardo for a long moment.  Lips slowly peel back, revealing needle-sharp teeth, and it's a few seconds before it becomes clear what Berd is doing: far from threatening, he is merely showing teeth in a very wide, lazy smile that has nothing to do with violence.

Yawning, the drake closes his eyes, then sqwaks with annoyance as Cyan's hand bounces off of Jack's for an instant.  His head pulls out from under the big man's palm, and he glares across the lost man's body with narrowed eyes, staring up at Cyan.

"Please, ignore Berd," she whispers apologetically to the artist.  "He can be difficult at times."

Berd sniffs and pushes his head back under Jack's hand.

Re: A weekend going away present by Jack
            Jack looked up from where he sat stroking the Drake, looking confused at Leon and said “Um, your welcome I think.” Not understanding what the thanks was for.  Still it the Amberite Sycophant was on a good mood and laughing it must be a good sign. At least he was not whining about everything for the moment, as he seemed to do almost constantly. That complaining or putting them and their actions in the past down. That was it, that’s what had been bothering Jack bout them man. He did not believe he had heard a positive or encouraging word come out of his mouth since he could first remember.  Of course that had not been that long ago. He may not be able to read the mans cloaked emotions, but he could only guess that the negativity the man issued forth was worse inside his mind. That and his reaction to Jacks miscommunication had been most curious.

         Jack shrugged that thought off, he had other things to deal with. “No Cezanne, Don’t-“ Jack spoke at the same time as Cyan, then drew up short in telling the man not to go.  He fell into silence again listening to Cyan, and pondering the pain he had brought into her life. Trying to formulate a response, it was not easy when you worked off of feelings and instinct instead of reason.

         So much pain and hurt. . .  It was all not supposed to be like this, life was not supposed to be like that. Complex and painful, it was supposed to be simple.  He was hurting Cyan by the choices he had made, probably even before when he was whole. Kali would hurt when she came back, the fact that nothing had happened would not matter and probably not help in any way. Still he could not hide what had happened, that would be wrong and he did not remember enough of her to know how she would react.
         Better he had never been born then to be the source of pain to those he cared for, and he was placed in the most difficult position of finding himself caring for both. One he felt almost as if he had never met and did not know her, and yet could feel the purity of the bond that linked them. The other he only knew because she had been there saving him, opening up to him. Her love and caring had filled his shattered world when he was nothing, comforted him when there was nothing but pain.  Yes pain for those he loved seemed to walk in Jacks footsteps, like a shadow.

       Jack picked Berd up protectively   after Cyan’s hand bounced off his own, setting the drake on his lap he continued to stroke the drake. Though his other hand came up and came to rest on Cyan’s back between her shoulder blades without making any mental contact. “Berd means well, he is just old and crotchety like some of us here.”

Jack shook the silence off and looked up between the tow of them. “Dinner, dinner would be good Cyan my-.” He stopped and suddenly switched gears fluidly “Do not worry Cezanne you are not a third wheel, we are the tree musketeers, no? Also I over stepped my bounds by asking if you and her were an item anyway. Cyan is my friend and I will support her no matter who she so chooses to be with. She simple answered some questions for me and helped me clear some confusion.” And assisted me in opening up a big fat can of worms

      “So forgive me I have been rude, things to deal with. It’s not easy being a raving loon you know.” The knowing smile halfheartedly found it’s place. “Life can be a big scary place and confusing as hell. Now Cyan mentioned a history lesson that I missed out on? Could you three try and fill in my blanks so I can avoid future embarrassing questions? Consider me one big blank? Cyan what is my history with this group? Leon why do you whine constantly?”

Re: A weekend going away present by Cyan
Berd makes a happy musical sound when Jack picks him up, and relaxes, giving Cyan a narrow lidded look before sighing a puff of lavander scented, and oddly fluorescently orange, smoke.  He rolls over, presenting his smoothly scaled stomach for scratching.  The tiny scales are velvety, much like those of a grassnake.

His eyes, however, remain on Jack's face as he blows small, rainbow smokerings into the air.

"Yes, h-he is," Cyan says, stuttering slightly when Jack's hand falls between her shoulderblades.  For a moment she waits, but he 'says' nothing to her, in the privacy of her mind.  She swallows, once, uncertain as to what he is doing, but (after a brief, inner struggle), leaves his hand where it is.

It's painful to admit, but she likes it there. twists in her, like a knife.  Hurting, to feel it there, knowing only that it is as close as they can be.  A hand on her back, in friendship.

So be it.  Whatever I can have, she thinks again.  It won't do forever, a small voice whispers from within.

It will have to.

Jack's comment makes her twitch, but that's all she shows as the Bard reaches down, into her pack, digging around until she finds what look to be small, primitive jars.  Unscrewing the tops, Cyan pours them out into her small pot, setting it on the fire.  There are beans, chickpeas, and other legumes, as well as some seemingly fresh vegetables.

Thank you, Lexy.  Even if the woman wasn't here, her supplies were still helping them...though they were beginning to run low.  Cyan tests some of the other musician's spices and, nodding, begins to add them to the curry she is making.

"I can continue, Jack," Cyan says, choosing not to comment about his own statement 'who she so chooses to be with'.  That 'choice' has been taken from me, the Bard thinks ruefully, fully aware of Jack's hand on her back, like a hot brand through her deceptively thin, silk shirt.  With a sigh, she splits her concentration, struggling to put his hand out of her mind (and failing miserably), and beginning to tell the story, again, while cooking the curry.

Coming to where she left off, finally, Cyan pauses to taste the food, amber eyes catching the light oddly.  Then she continues.

Following their entry into the desert, they found themselves caught up in a conflict between two beings of great power.  Two men were also there - two men that later introduced themselves as Lazarus, and...well, a man with no memory.  A man who Kallika named 'stranger', in her own tongue.  Jacui.

"And that," Cyan pauses to say, "Is how we met Jack."  Her face falls, and she looks down at the cooking.  "And that is when Duncan was torn from us, dragged back through the portal.  There was nothing we could do.  No return, and no means of saving him.  Even palanquet failed to assist."

Berd watches her nervously.  Cyan HAS been known to burn things, on occasion.

Re: A weekend going away present by Jack
    Jack sat there in quiet contemplation listening to Cyan’s tale of  everything, surprised and yet not at hearing about how he was found. If only he could remember? How long had he been like this? Since she met him?

Re: A weekend going away present by Leonardo

quote:"Leon why do you whine constantly?"

And with that... once again the humor is gone and Jack has proved himself the insufferable uncouth pain-in-the-ass... as usual!  Hmm... perhaps he's more recovered than I thought, shame that his memory didn't return along with his annoying personality.  Apparently his memories felt it was unfair for only his tact and manners to be absent!  Oh well... perhaps laughter is the best medicine?

Leonardo smiled in a sly fashion which did not quite reach his eyes as he replied in a faux surprised and sickeningly sweet tone, "Wine you say... well isn't it obvious?  Because mere beer or ale would simply be far too plebian to sully my taste buds with.  Besides... with you around Jack, I never need worry about where the cheese is to go along with my wine.  Though I could understand your confusion at my choice of refreshment... you've always struck me as more of a Bud Light sort of guy."

Leonardo had another good chuckle over his twist of Jack's words and wondered how much Jack would pick up... and whether the man would push the issue further.  The "old" Jack may have lacked manners but he wasn't a completely unpolished buffoon from what Leonardo had been able to surmise before the accident.

Leonardo turned his attention back to Cyan and listened attentively to her continued history of the group.  He also noticed Berd's attention being focused on the food which prompted a slightly raised eyebrow from Leonardo.

Oh dear... I had hoped that when Cyan had offered to prepare the food... that she actually knew what she was doing.  But Berd seems a tad less trusting than the rest of us... and he ought to know better than any of us.  Oh well... perhaps she is using cooking as a means of taking her mind off of Jack's advances.

Strange... the "old" Jack didn't strike me as this much of a smooth charmer... a bit to blunt if you ask me.  I thought that was the appeal for that "wolf woman" Kalika.  Cyan strikes me as being far more sophisticated... if a bit youthful and naive... for Jack's abrasive crudeness.  Then again... I suppose among SHADOW it really does take all kinds.

quote:"And that," Cyan pauses to say, "Is how we met Jack."

Leonardo raised his eyebrow fully in interest and surprise as he responded in a calm, thoughtful tone, "Hmm... well now that is quite interesting.  So "Jack" may not even be Jack's real name but just a derivation of Jacui... which sounds French but with a slight difference, I can't say the dialect rings any bells at the moment.

So it seems Jack's memory problem is not directly related to his time spent with the fiery wheels... he seemed to have memory issues prior to that.  Of course the added strain and trauma certainly didn't help the issue any.

Is it know to where this poor Duncan got pulled or how he got pulled through the portal?  Also this Lazarus... what happened to him, he sounds like a man who could come back from the grave.  Certain resurrecting... in a manner of speaking... old comrades could aid us now that the group's membership has gotten a tad thin."

Leonardo took a moment to look down at the cooking food as he noticed Berd take another significant glance.  He then asked in a friendly tone, "So Cyan, what are you preparing for our meal?  Is this one of your native Shad... umm.. World's recipes?  It does smell quite good, probably even more so now that I think back on how long it has been since I last had a proper meal.  Does Berd also partake of similar fare?"

I'm not about to lose my next meal to the flames of overcooking just because the poor girl is struggling with a pathetic case of "love sickness".  It is truly sad... one would think a BARD of all people would know how these tragic romances almost always end... BADLY!  Oh well... at least the food smells tolerable and it has been awhile since my last meal.

I need this food... I need it to fuel the ol' gray matter.  Just WHO is this "Jack" anyway?  It seems to me that having no memory is a great way to hide things about one's self while forcing everyone else to divulge important details at length.  Just how much does Jack REALLY not remember... I wonder?

Re: A weekend going away present by Jack
        Jack sat up when Leonardo dodged his question, his right hand stopped stroking the drake mid stroke and his left hand fell away from Cyan’s back.  The knowing smirk came to Jack lips as he answered. “Ah a prevaricator perverting my words.” He nodded knowingly in an absentminded way. “I think it is said that a prevaricator is a liar in the caterpillar stage.” he got and uncertain look on his face for a moment as if trying to remember something then nodded affirmatively again. “If you can not answer why so much from your lips come out so negatively picky at people instead of lifting them, then just say so.”
        The knowing smirk faded into a confuse look “You mean I’m not Jack? but Cyan. . . You told me that I am Jack?” Surprise show pretty clear. “Hmmm Jacui sounds familiar. . . Jacui no more. . . Jacui forever.” Then he smile back up at Leonardo innocent as can be and starts stroking Berd again.

Re: A weekend going away present by Leonardo

quote:The knowing smirk came to Jack lips as he answered. “Ah a prevaricator perverting my words.” He nodded knowingly in an absentminded way. “I think it is said that a prevaricator is a liar in the caterpillar stage.” he got and uncertain look on his face for a moment as if trying to remember something then nodded affirmatively again. “If you can not answer why so much from your lips come out so negatively picky at people instead of lifting them, then just say so.”

Leonardo smiled and even chuckled a mirthless chuckle as he responded in a deadpan tone, "I do find the irony quite amusing.... you ask why I am so negatively picky while calling me a liar in a back-handed way... and yet the very question and accusation you address to me flaunts the very fault you attribute to me.

Perhaps you might take a moment to notice the proverbial glass walls which surround your lovely home... granted they are showing some cracks at present... before you decide to cast your next stone, eh?

Besides, I did not pervert anything... you asked about "wine" and that is what I answered.
Indeed, I answered your question quite well... YOU are in NO position to question ME about MY behavior now or in the foreseeable future.

Of course you being you... whomever that really is... having no grounds to speak certainly won't dissuade you from doing so just the same.  However just to disprove the false rule you've tried to establish for me... did I not just finish complimenting Cyan on her cooking, or for that matter you on your exquisite sense of humor?"

Leonardo shrugged and rolled his eyes slightly as he added in a uncaring tone, "But think of me whatever you will... as I'm sure you will with or without my permission.  However at present do try to remember at least this one point... for the time being it is YOU who is the one that "can not answer" questions about yourself.

Even Cyan would have to admit in all fairness that I've answered a good deal more than my fair share of questions regarding my past and abilities... so far only SHE has truly reciprocated to my satisfaction.

Perhaps there are extenuating circumstances which explain the lack of quid pro quo from everyone else... but be that as it may, I shouldn't have to be plagued with insinuations that I am holding anything of value back at this point and time.  Better a minor prevaricator than a major provocateur in my view."

Re: A weekend going away present by Jack

          Jack slid Berd to the ground and his knowing smile appeared again “Hollow and honeyed, poorly honeyed at that Cezanne.” Jack said “I have cracked no jokes and the drake is critical of Cyans cooking. What’s more is she just put the beans on to soak, it will be a time before they even begin to give any aroma. Hollow words are easy, truly supporting your comrades at arms takes work.  What’s more is no it was not a back handed insult, I thought it was direct as could be.  Play with the words all you like you know I said and meant complain. Even now you prevaricate and try to turn it around pulling others around you down in stead of building them, so pathetic. I do not know what the rule was that you are constantly bemoaning. I suspect it has something to do with openly sharing information. I can not say if I did this or not, but I would gladly share any relevant information with you or anyone else if I could remember any. Much to my sorrow I know so little it’s pathetic.”
        Jack shook his head “I would give my eye teeth to remember anything decently, telling it gladly and yet you whine about having shared your secrets. No I am sorry I can not do this.”

Jack shook his head, then stood. “I am sorry Cyan, I can not stay like this. I will fight the Wheels of fire on my own.”  He stood gathering his pack yet again, for the last time.

Breakup by Cyan
Cyan watches nervously as both Jack and Leonardo begin to squabble - any warmth or comfort she feels from compliment or contact is banished in the unease the clash produces.  She opens her mouth to comment on Jack's name, to explain the significance, but then the 'discussion' grows into a full-fledged arguement.  Her mouth snaps shut and she glances back and forth between the two men.

...please, stop....

Quickly, she reaches out and pulls the food from the fire, placing it on the ground.  First things first.  Ignoring Berd's plaintive look, Cyan closes her eyes for a long moment, only to hear the drakes annoyed, musical chime as Jack places him carefully on the ground.  At the lost man's words, her eyes snap open and she stares at the fire for a long moment.

"Please, stop!"

Cyan slowly rises to her feet.  "I- Jack, abide.  I have something to say."  Berd looks up with a worried expression, but she cows him with one glare from dark, agate eyes.  "I have...dealt with this quest since the beginning.  I stood to it during clashes of ego, clashes of methodology, even clashes of sanity and madness.  I have attempted to keep people focused upon the goal, and when I have given up, others, including yourself, Jack, have taken up that torch.  But I can do this no longer."

The Bard turns to Leonardo.  "Leonardo Cezanne, I give apology for any lack of closure you might now have for the death of your friend.  We have explained all we can at this pass, and I see no point in continuing further.  You may investigate as you wish, or course, and I suggest beginning with the Royalty of Amber - they set us upon this quest, and would likely do the same with you.  I also must apologize for certain things that Jack has said, for while I believe he speaks truth in some ways, he, himself, is also to blame for our current state."  The Bard gives a heavy sigh, and rubs her forehead.  "You have my gratitude for all of the assistance you have given, at personal cost to yourself.  In the future, when this quest is done, if there is aught I can do to repay you, do not hesitate to ask.  Should it not impinge on any oaths, I shall do my best to assist."  There's a sick feeling in her stomach, and it shows in the paleness of her face.  Despite his incredibly abrasive manner, Leonardo has backed her up in a critical situation, and stayed when Aaron and Kallika have left.  This is wrong...but what can I do?  I cannot continue to mortar the cracks - they have split, and this is the end for any cooperation.

"Please return unto me the Cube."  It is a whisper.

Turning, Cyan faces Jack.  "Jack, if you go, I will come with you.  I will not leave you to battle the Enemy on your own."  Not now, not ever.  "But...."  Her jaw sets.  "We must speak of this discussion, you and I."

Berd glances up, first at Jack, then at Leonardo.  Mind shuttered to any attempt at communication, he gives one, long, disgusted sigh, then flaps over to Cyan's pack, laying down on it and closing his lambent eyes.

In the distance, thunder rolls.

Re: Breakup by Jack
        Jack stopped for a moment his new pack mid heft as he heard Cyans voice, with a nod and a bow he steps back a step shouldering the pack. Simply saying “You do not have to come with me Cyan, but you may if you wish.” Then he takes another half step back  to let the bard and artist settle their business, casting a glance to the distant thunder. It was time for him to go, but he would hold a bit for Cyan.

Re: Breakup by Leonardo

Leonardo looked genuinely surprised as he shifts his attention from Cyan to Jack and back again.  With a sad shake of his head, Leonardo stands and responds in a bemused tone, "Oh this really is ridiculous... I don't know about Jack, but I was just having a bit of fun for Chaos’s sake!  For me it was merely harmless banter but it seems you two take things far too seriously sometimes... really what harm is there in words and opinions?  Are we all to restrain ourselves and bottle our feelings inside... until our control slips and those emotions can no longer be contained?  Surely you don't advocate emotional outbursts which rival thermonuclear explosions!?

Seriously... doesn't this all strike you as a bit melodramatic at this point?  Jack was being Jack... rude and crude but honest to his own point of view.  Perhaps we should see his return to personal insults as a good sign... does it not indicate that his old personality is returning?

I must admit that I get tired of him constantly threatening or insulting me and this time I did bring him up short about it but I kept my tone cool and light I thought.  I must also admit that I was unprepared for him to give up so soon... I didn't know he was one of those type who "picks up his toys and goes home" at the first sign of someone not agreeing or submitting to his way of thinking.  Surely this group must have survived differences of opinion before?"

However the determination to part company seems clear and strong in both Jack's and Cyan's eyes.  With another shake of his head and a deep sigh of resignation, Leonardo returns the Cube to Cyan as he says in a disappointed tone, "You know before Jack decided to make snide personal attack about my behavior, I really was beginning to relax and enjoy myself for the first time in over a week.  It's a shame that this had to happen but it seems there is nothing to be done about it.

Apparently these fissures in the foundation of this group have been growing more divisive over a considerably long time... perhaps I merely arrived at the breaking point.  It is a shame to see things end like this... and before dinner as well.  If only Jack could have accepted my attempt to deflect his barb... but no... he had to push things didn't he.

Look Cyan, I don't expect you to show me any extended loyalty... whatever I did, I did for my own reasons enough said.  However if you do intend to pursue this matter then I am certain we will cross paths directly or indirectly.  The Enemy has cost me too much already and I do not forget a slight.

So by all means, go on and accompany your wounded friend... Jack probably needs you a great deal more than I at the moment whether he's willing to admit it or not.  But do be careful, both you.  He is a link to THEM and he is the link to US... I'm sure in some strange and twisted way the old Jack might have even taken some perverse satisfaction in the thought that HE was the focal point for the conflict.

However I'm not saying this for his benefit nor to address his shortcomings, I'm saying this out of concern for you.  You have shown me kindness and courtesy where others have not... whatever the reason, it matters not to me.  You are also too honest a person to not realize that you are vulnerable in close proximity to Jack... in ways that have nothing to do with The Enemy."

Leonardo reaches into his duster and pulls out a Trump Card.  On it is the picture of a small stone shrine shaped as a registry book on a podium with a red ribbon placed between the open pages as a marker.  Next to the shrine and standing a bit shorter is a metal mailbox with a little flag on the left side (except instead of being red it is gray with a black and white yin/yang symbol on both sides).  The background looks to be an open field of tall grass swaying in the wind under a clear blue sky.

Leonardo hand the Trump Card to Cyan and adds in a serious tone with a grave look on his face, "Cyan, this is obviously not a Trump of me... only one person has such a Trump and I have been instructed never to make more or have another made of me.  Do not take offense, it is not my wish but the will of one I cannot and will not disobey that commands this.

However this Trump will allow you to contact me indirectly or at least pass a message to me.  It is... well... a "drop box" of sorts.  Use this Trump to place a note or message in the metal letter box.  To indicate that a message has been left, raise the small flag attached to the mailbox and place the red bookmark so hangs off to the left.

I tend to check this dropbox on a regular basis so it is a reliable way to contact me.  I will reply to any message by placing the reply back in the mailbox, lowering the small flag and draping the bookmark along the right side.  This way we will not be completely out of touch and even if you do not wish to work with me... we can still exchange information.  Whatever everyone's personal feelings may be... we are all working towards the same goal of defeating our common Enemy.

Do take good care of this Trump, the world is called Serenity and the name fits.  It is a small, peaceful place which has no real material value and is hardly visited by Shad... umm.. World-Walkers.  There are no predators and indeed hardly any large animals at all.

There are a few simple humanoids with crimson skin tones, purplish light body hair and slightly smaller and frailer frames than you or I called Serines who live at a very basic technology level.  They have only a few small isolated villages which are located  almost on the opposite side of Serenity than this dropbox.  The isolation, simplicity and privacy are why I chose this location... it would be a shame to see such rare virtues spoiled by outside interference."

Leonardo has a faraway look in his eyes for a moment before pulling himself out of his reverie.  With a small sigh, he smiles a mirthless grin and adds in a solemn tone, "Well... enough of that for the moment I think.  Back to the business at hand.  It would seem to me that since it is two-to-one... I should do the gentlemanly thing and retire from this Shad... umm... World.  If I head off, then you two can stay and talk at length in peace without the "third wheel" getting under foot as it were."

Re: Breakup by Cyan
Cyan listens to Leonardo's long explanation silently.  When he hands her the card and cube, she takes them wordlessly, examining the card before slipping it into her second pouch.

When he finally finishes, Cyan gives him a formal bow.  "Leonardo Henri Cezanne, I am sorry for the difficulties we have caused you.  But it is true that there is fault to be found on both sides of the fence-" this with a sharp glance towards Jack "-both sides, regardless of what each of you has to say.  Shall I chastise the two of you as children, extract promises that the behaviour will improve?  No.  That is not my place, nor is it my right.  But the fact remains that I am more than weary of the clashes that have taken place within this quest.  You have, indeed, arrived in the teeth of the breaking point, as you say.  I wish you, truly, the best of luck in your own quest."

For an instant, her eyes catch the light of the fire, twin rubies, glittering.  "As for the old Jack, it is wiser to not to speak of which you do not know.  And while I thank you for the advice, whatever 'vulnerability' I have is my business."

Taking a deep breath, the Bard banishes her growing irritation, and nods.  "My thanks for the Trump, as well," she says, pausing over the unfamiliar word.  "Should I have opportunity to use it, and return, I shall do so.  Regrettably, I have nothing of the sort with which to supply you, though I may in the future.  Perhaps the dinner will suffice - stay, and enjoy the meal.  It requires only a few more minutes."

Politeness costs nothing, and while Cyan doesn't agree with everything that Leonardo has said, she can see it would be a waste of time to fight about it.  The only points that mattered, truthfully, she has addressed.  Reaching down, she sweeps up her pack, settling it and a disgruntled Berd on her shoulders.  "No.  I am not thumping both of them," the Bard states, firmly.

Berd snorts, and promptly goes to sleep.

"Goodbye, Leonardo Henri Cezanne," the red-haired woman says quietly, before turning away, silk shirt shimmering in the fire, to move to where Jack stands.  "THX 1138, please join us, if you would?"

The mechanical spider, as commanded by Prime, follows her to the silent watcher.

"So.  You will lead us from here, Jack?" Cyan asks, voice tight with exasperation, but considerably less formal in tone.  "Somewhere quiet, where you may rest, and I may tell the remainder of the story?"

Re: Breakup by Leonardo

Leonardo's eyebrows twitch slightly at Berd's unspoken suggestion to Cyan to which she says no but he just sighs and shrugs off his ill feelings.

With a bow of his head to Cyan, Leonardo responds in a resigned tone with a hint of whimsy, "Fault is something that can found in anyone at anytime if one merely looks hard enough... not allowing it to bother one is a true gift.  I thank you for the gift of the meal Cyan la Bard.  As for the old Jack... from the sounds of it, I wonder is anyone really knows enough to speak... even or perhaps especially Jack himself?

However the hour has grown... late and this area's charm has been lost to me for the time being... perhaps your imminent departure makes it so?  Whatever the cause, I believe I shall finish the food preparation elsewhere... perhaps somewhere more... familiar... to me at least."

Leonardo gathers the food pot and then makes a grand flourishing bow to both Cyan and Jack saying in a polite but formal tone, "Cyan la Bard, Jack des Shadows... I bid you both adieu et bon voyage.  May David Ares's spirit guide your hand and watch over your souls."

As Leonardo rises from his first bow, it is clear his eyes are closed tightly and his left hand is inside his coat.  As he rises from his second bow and finishes his goodbye... he vanishes, off to another Shadow.

Re: Breakup by Jack
        Jack stood impassively through the whole thing quietly watching replaying the situation in his mind as he was ready for anything.  Leonard’s phrases kept popping into his mind, but not the current ones.

Lifting his head to the heavens Jack spoke to the night after Leon was gone. No more words to twist, no more reasoning. Only raw feelings. . .

In the land of the honest men, the liar is KING. Only if we let him be, I could not see myself serving a liar king. Only my heart will I follow! Who is king of the land of liars?”

"For the record, I am not now nor have I ever been one for... "rules". You said! Only for those who follow the letter of the rules and spit on the spirit, holding the spirit of all in contempt! I say the spirit of the rule is the truth and need be held solid! The word of a rule are words, words have meanings which can be interpreted. Interpretations can be manipulated, the spirit can’t. It should never be manipulated.” He shouted at the night but ended quietly introspectively. “You have proven to your word, using the rules of society to suit you at a whim! Hollow and empty as your compliments.”

      “You spoke of us in contempt like we used rules of truth on a whim! I may not remember! Yet I feel in my heart truth, trust and unity are the only way which we can face what we must! I can not remember if I have lied or misled, though I can not think of much that I would lie about! I hide what I can do and what I know from no one whom is rightfully my ally. Can you say the same Cezanne!?!” Jack yelled into the empty darkness.

      “Hiding what you feel behind whatever cloaked you! How can you say you shared all if you do not even share what you feel!?!  You hold the attempt to preserve the trust and unity of this group in such contempt and disdain!  Not only do you hold me in disdain, by that you hold Cyan in disdain as well as I saw her need for this inside of her as clear as day!” The fury of Jacks rant has grown  as he marched forward to where Leon had sat pointing at the spot.

“Why do I rant like this now that you can not answer? It would have done no go for me to call you on it before, you would have simply twisted my words as you did. It was not banter Cezanne.”

YOU are in NO position to question ME about MY behavior now or in the foreseeable future.

          “ THE UNQUESTIONED LIFE IS NOT WORTH LIVING! No the contempt and fire you held for me in those words was true! I hold the same for you now. . . ” Jack shook his head. “Cyan said we were done with the rule and trying to change people, I accept that. Still it does not mean that I must subjugate myself to your rule or the rules by which you play your games. . .” Jacks voice had grown softer and calmer now, ever so soft. "So I took my toys and chose to leave rather then play with a mental and verbal bully. So bully for you ol’ man you won the debate, but only at a cost. You ”

  Spinning  to look at Cyan with a wildness in his eyes that was just beginning to fade, Jack said “We will be moving quickly.” He strode over picking up the spider and cradling it in a big arm. “Take my hand and I will lead the way. Though no mistep can we afford. Anyone trying to follow will fall in the cracks with the way I am going to do this."  He already had the broken pattern to mind and the probing tendril and lens out from when his and Cezanne’s discussion had ended. Now it was easy for him to see the path across the worlds.

You are the king Leonardo. . . He said with a last look around in a hushed whisper as he waited for Cyan to take his hand. He glanced at the red head and asked "Am I a bad man like Cezanne said, am I a danger to you Cyan?"

Re: Breakup by Cyan
Cyan seethes for a moment while Leonardo leaves as he came - with flippancy and lack of care for his own errors.  Then Jack builds towards eruption, with successive crescendos, his voice rising and falling with the waves of his anger.  The Bard watches silently, sapphire eyes dark, while Jack's feelings on teh matter spill out into the night air, ending in his savage with which she agrees, though not without exasperation for Jack's methods.

Finally he is done, with that final, whispered thought.  Then he turns to her.

Berd taps her once, warningly, with his tail.  She shushes him, and stares at Jack cooly.

"A bad man?  No.  Leonardo judges by his own comforts, I think - he sees no more clearly than the people he accuses of blindness, too caught up in his own point of view and defenses to stand outside and observe."  Her voice is quiet, considering; it belies the tension in her stance.  "A danger to me?"  Oh, yes.  "No.  Sometimes a foolish man?"


Turning away, Cyan paces briefly, then spins back towards Jack so quickly that Berd scrabbles for a hold atop her pack.  "Jack, you poke and prod.  It is your way, but you know no boundaries, and never have."  Now the exasperation is in her voice as well - it stands below geniune annoyance and irritation, but is definitely shaded by frustration.  "There are times when one must hold one's tongue - I do not mean stand idle before a wronging, or swallow one's self to allow another to trample one's pride - merely that there is a time and place for witty barbes."  Cyan's burnished hair flares in the firelight as she shakes her head.  "You knew what sort of man Leonardo was, by your own observations, and yet you still insisted upon poking and prodding.  The man was an arrogant fop, and with a decidedly unpleasant personality and outlook upon life," she continues, waving her hand in the direction Leonardo took, "but he was a friend of Ares, whom you no longer know, and was quite likely instrumental in my saving of your life!  He provided needed assistance when all others had left you and I, at risk to his own life, and should things have gone wrong, could very well have been our last hope...again at risk of his own life!  Without him, you might very well be dead, now, and myself with you!"

Her voice has raised, but could not yet be considered shouting.  Pausing, Cyan brushes her hair back with her hand.  Her face is flushed, again, but not due to embarassment.  Berd, sitting on her pack, studiously examines his foreclaws.

"That," comes her next salvo, this time delivered in a quiet, calm tone, "is worth a little politeness, a little ignoring of his faults, for a time.  Now.  Your last discussion with him - he went too far, and in the end, deserved every word you said.  True, it would have happened sooner or later.  I can see we would never have been able to travel with the man."  She looks away, towards the fire.  "...sooner or later I would have broken his jaw," is her muttered comment.  "All you did was bring the conflict to the fore, more quickly.  But that is not the point," Cyan notes, swinging back to Jack.  "He did deserve some rope, if you get my meaning!  Some gratitude.  There will be times when dimplomacy is needed, and you..."  Her hands fall to her hips, and she shakes her head, part amusement, part frustration, part disbelief.  " have no boundaries!  *I* am not considered diplomatic, but compared to you, I would make a fine ambassador!"

Laughing quietly, her mood shifting like mercury,  Cyan turns back to the fire and prodes a log with her boot, sending up a shower of sparks.  Sighing, she glances at Jack, face a dark silhouette in profile.

"Well.  Water under the bridge.  While I have thanks for what he did, and did right parting on good terms, I must say I am well pleased to see his backside...leaving.  I will owe him a debt of gratitude-" forever "-for assisting me in saving you, but his manner...."  Cyan whistles once, high to low, like a falling bomb.  Moving to where Jack stands, she raises one hand towards him as if to touch his arm, as she has in the past, then pauses.  With an effort, the Bard completes the gesture, touching him shoulder, then stepping back a pace.  "You are no danger, Jack, save to your enemies.  And while you can be a *bad* man, you are certainly not an evil one."  Her smile is ironic, taking any sting from her words.

"Well, then."  She glances at the edged steel arachnid in his arms, and then over to Berd.  "It seems we have our own baggages...I am prepared to leave, Jack."  For a moment her expression becomes worried.  " have an bone to pick with me?"

Re: Breakup by Jack
        Jack stopped with a thoughtful look his face, his brow creased in concentration as he glanced at Cyan. “I have always been that  tactless and lacking in diplomacy have I?” There was a quiet air of concern about him.

Re: Breakup by Cyan
"No."  Cyan stares up at the sky for a long moment.  My tongue will get me in trouble...again...if I do not watch it carefully, and think before I speak.  Topaz eyes drop back to regarding Jack.  "You are not tactless and undiplomatic when you wish to be...but it seems, much of the time, you love to...hmm, how to put it.  Make witticisms?"  She shrugs.  "Even at the most inopportune moments.  It also appears at times that you dig, you pry...and I know, one cannot know unless one asks, but you seem to take it a step further, at times."

Frustrated, now with herself, Cyan blows a lock of hair from her eyes.  "You are not a boor, Jack, I am not saying that.  But you enjoy...stirring the pot, on occasion, as someone I knew might say.  And, as I said, at the most inopportune moments."  She gives him a weak smile.  "Possibly it comes from your being royalty, in times past?  For you were.  I would have come to that, and explained what I knew, but events..."  The Bard waves around the camp.

Re: Breakup by Jack
          Jack listened to what Cyan said concern showing in his face, his head nodding slightly. After she was done he looked her right in the eyes with his own deep blue eyes and said. “I don’t feel that you are totally in the right, but okay. I will do my best to behave. . .” He turned from her his shoulders slumping a bit, with a glance back he motioned for her to follow him and started for the other side of the island. He spoke as he moved but did not make it far. “Right you are,” he said letting go of a little more of himself in the agreement. “Though I do not believe I was royalty, but I think I kne-“

        Jack stopped, stood up straight and popped his neck by twisting his head this way and that without his hands. He stood there for a moment before speaking . I am disappointed in you Bard, I would have thought better of you. ~   The voice held a psychic resonance almost the same as Jack in shadow form, yet it’s mannerisms were different.  He slowly turned to face her and from Jacks face show eyes as black and midnight regarding her. I would have thought much better of you all including Jack, how trouble some.~

Re: Breakup by Cyan
"Jack," Cyan protests, heart sinking.  He is taking this all wrong....  "I am not trying to tell you to-"

She freezes when he speaks, and her other hand touches the pommel of her sword for an instant....  Berd, on her shoulder, raises his head, narrowing his eyes as Cyan realizes that this...creature is still Jack, somehow.  The psychic 'signature' of the voice is too close to Jack's.

Her hand falls away from the hilt of the sword.  There is nothing she can do with Kirilindë.  What, cut him down?

"What do you mean?" she whispers, agate eyes wary as she takes a slow step back from the night-eyed man.

Re: Breakup by Jack
      He noticed her hand on the sword hilt and that she had stepped back, one of his eye brows arched wry smile played across his lips. His face became serious and a bit unsavory as he leaned forward and wiggled his fingers. In a deliberate voice he said Boo! then chuckled dryly with mirth at Cyan’s expense. Havn’t a clue do you? What’s the price for politeness Bard? He sighed Do you remember when Aaron came? It all changed for Jack didn’t it? Building to a  head in Cainia. Remember that? Remember choosing to leave and work on your own if need be? Didn’t Lexy deserve some slack? Oh I know you said Lenny deserved rope, Jack just gave it to him.

Black eyes regarded her. Don’t think for a moment that Jack is not thankful to Lenny for everything, the easy going Jack is just not dancing around things. Why is that do you suppose? he gave her a slow broad wink. Could it be that everyone else is politely not dealing with things? What has been the cost of your politeness to Aaron? What was the cost of politeness to Lenny at the price of not standing up for Kalika? Or for that matter Jack. . . Could the price be a loss of balance? If someone is out of balance they tend to pull those around them off center as well. Jack has been pulled so far off center even before he destroyed his own mind to protect the lot of you. Politeness and kindness without assertiveness is an invitation to disaster.

Jack won’t complain though, he will shoulder the burden of blame silently. He is good at that you know. With your polite lack of direction, Kalika’s silent supportive lack of decisions and Aaron’s seemingly lost nature. Jack has been quietly shouldering responsibility for some time now, since Lazurs and Ares left. Trying to protect you and sacrificing his own easy going good nature for your quest. Not that he is blameless, on the contrary he is the most to blame. Still what is the price for politeness when someone else has to step into the missing gap of assertiveness and fill with aggression? When some one lese must put themselves out of balance to balance the whole?

Of course Jack picked at Lenny, it’s how you discover the nature of things. That’s Jack, curious, you would be surprised at everything he picks and pokes at. It would have never been an opportune time to pick at that man. So it was best to do it at an inopportune moment, you get a truer reaction that way. Or perhaps it would have been better to be polite until you broke his jaw. He shrugged That’s fair, just and nice as well as polite isn’t it? What would have been the price of that politeness? It cost nothing does it not? He chuckled again I apologize, I just find it amusing that all three of you knew it would not work, and yet you are upset that Jack ended it. The first time he has actively done something for himself and chosen to go his own direction. Yet in some ways you seemed vexed? He had to pick and get a better feel for Leon, he could not trust just anyone with what he is about to do.

        <b> <I>No matter I suppose, the cards are dealt. Our boy Jack is about to pull something creative and risky in this war that is going to be fought against Archons. Though he will not tell you what it is he’s up to, it is to protect you. I would say that you need Leonardo and Aaron for this, but it looks like it is to late unless something changes.  Just be ready Bard, and try to be a bit more assertive. Take some of the pressure off of Jack so he can be the man he was meant to be. The Jack you first remember meeting, he may have poked and prodded then but it was in honest good nature.~

          Cyan saw the billowing inky blackness flow from Jacks eyes. “-w a royal once. Some kind of prince I think. . . Anthony Dominic something or another. It’s odd I can’t remember his face, but I feel I knew him well.” Jack smiled at Cyan with his deep Blue eyes shoulder slumped a bit once more. “Are you ready to go? You have to finish telling me the story an we have places to go, preparations to make.”

Re: Breakup by Cyan
Cyan listens, frozen, to the 'other voice' coming from Jack.  She's about to speak, about to present her own views, when Berd's mind touches hers for an instant.

The Bard pauses, then accepts the criticism without comment, listening to this...other Jack speak.

The assessment is severely flawed and skewed, of could it not be, coming from a single person, a single perspective?  But there is enough truth in the words.  Enough.

For long moments the 'being' speaks, then Jack snaps back to 'control'.  Whatever happened is done, and the creature has had the last word, with no hope of any commentary of her own.

This time.

"Dominique," Cyan says quietly.  "If you cannot recall his face, that is because it is yours, Jack.  Kallika gave you the name, jaqui, and from that we have Jack.  But when you remembered your birthname, it was Dominique.  You told us of yourself, and I will tell you that which I know, as we walk...or perhaps, when we are done."

Berd on her shoulder, amethyst eyes thoughtful, Cyan reached out one, gloved hand to Jack - her left hand, holding the scabbarded sword in her crippled right.  "I am ready," she says.  "But...will you tell me to where we travel?"

Re: Breakup by Jack
         Jack listened to her words, but shook his head. “No. . . no couldn’t have been me.” The looked back with an enigmatic smile “We will go to a place I have never seen, The Cross Roads or to be more specific the cross roads of the worlds, also called cross worlds. I’ll try to call out to Kalika as we go.”  He glanced over at Cyan. “Tell me of the spiders Cyan, the spiders you were speaking to when I awoke.” again he looked at her as he led her into the night. “Do not worry Cyan, I said I’d try to be good and I shall be a good little Jacui.”

Re: Breakup by Cyan
Cyan frowns.  Is this some other kind of obfuscation, or joke, of the sort for which Jack is known?  She isn't certain; he seems serious, or rather, earnest, and she sees no reason for acting otherwise unless he spoke truthfully...and yet, the memory of that cold, amused voice, the darkness in his eyes spikes her, and she wonders.

I shall have to speak to him of this, in the future.  Of this...person, to whom I spoke earlier.  There are things that should not be kept secret...actually, Cyan is largely in favour of not keeping much secret at all.  But she knows that most of the world would not agree with her.

Another sharp bite at the mention of Kalika.  Then again, there are some things that should have been kept secret....  Jack knows.  Kalika will know.  How will she react?  I have done no wrong, Cyan thinks fiercely.  I have done nothing.  Kalika cannot hold that against me!</i>

But she might.  The small woman is very, very protective of her 'territory', and she views what lies between her and Jack, rightfully, as such.

Cyan's frown deepens at Jack's final words.  "I do not wish for you to be a good little stranger, Jack," she states, "I only wish for you to be yourself.  Even if that makes the road a little more...hilly, at times."  Her frown dissolves into a faint laugh.  "You will make me tell this tale from back to front, jumping to the middle when it suits?  Very well.  I shall explain to you how we came to be in the land of the spiders...."

Re: Breakup by Jack
               Walking across the island Jack nods distractedly “Yes and no, less of how we came to be there and more of the spiders themselves. What are then and what were they doing there? I- . . . I don’t like them and yet you were speaking to them, you have one with us. They hurt,” Spider carrying him to the torture chamber, stripping away his arms and armor for their masters. “and help the flames. I do not understand.”

Re: Breakup by Cyan
Carefully, so as not to distract Jack, Cyan explains as they walk.  How she came into contact with the spiders.  How they, themselves, are slaves of the Enemy.  How they, lead by their leader, have a resistance movement, literally underground.  How the Prime is their 'mother', and how they have warriors, hidden deep beneath the ground.  How, because of them, Cyan was able to have a safe point through which she could save Jack, putting their own people in danger to save one of her own.  The gift of the trump.  THX 1138.  The final, parting words.

All of this, while Jack prepares to take them...elsewhere.  And where?

On a red horse by Jack
         Jack led them out into the night, first this way and then that. In a seemingly Willy Nilly course. Sometimes back tracking  and changing direction on what seemed like mad whims, as he danced the cracks of reality  dodging  the breaks with ease. “So what happened with the rest of the story you were telling with Lazarus, myself and Kali that you were telling?” He asked leading them around the island for the third time.  On the first trip around distant electric light could be seen on the shore, by the second trip the motor of a boar could be heard out somewhere on the lake. Then on the last trip they came upon Dock attached to shore with several large charter fishing boats attached to it. Jack points out one called the “Minnow”. “That’s it, that’s how we will travel.”

        The entire time he lead Cyan and Berd, Jack reached out with his mind hunting for Kalika. Searching for a woman he barely knew any more, searching for Manai!

"Kalika? Kalika? Are you out there? Where are you? What are you doing?  have you abandon me?"

Re: On a red horse by Cyan
Pulled about, willy-nilly, Cyan stumbles and staggers after Jack.  His turns and stops come at random intervals, without any pattern, else she could prepare herself for them, anticipate them.  As it is, only her exceptional balance allows her to keep her footing.  I'm not...certain this is...better than Berd's method!  For that matter, the Drake, after a few, horrified stares around himself, firmly closes his eyes.

Cyan isn't certain what he saw, and isn't sure she wants to know.

Coming to the end of her narrative, as Jack discovers the boat - a boat of power, she realizes - Cyan runs fingers through her hair.  "Ah..."  Where was...oh, yes.  Slowly, she moves to the boat.  All the while they walked, the Bard has been unable to think about the fact that she is linked to Jack with held hands; now, it's a burning in her fingers.  "This boat?  Very well."

With that, she continues the story, spinning it out carefully, trying for objectivity rather than poetry; it isn't easy, and goes against her nature, but she manages.  Somehow.

Re: On a red horse by Jack
        Jack himself hopped on board the boat muttering something “Just my luck, I was trying for the Orca and I get the minnow. He reached in the pack Berd had made for him and tossed a small handful old gold coins out onto the pier. Searching for a bit he finally found the keys. Nothing was going 100% correct.  Still it was better then it could have been. He cast off with practiced ease listening to Cyan’s story and started the boat.

        As they pulled away from the dock and got about 50 yards out into the lake a fat man came running out of the woods into the electric glow yelling “Hey! That’s my boat!” Jack didn’t really look back knowing that the coins would cover the boats cost multiple times and the man could probably catch a lift with one of the other boats. Soon the man and the boats were lost in the distance behind them as Jack revved the twin engines.

         Still listening to Cyan speak he took the boat out to the far side of the lake where they could see a gap in the shore line showing the late to be a large ocean cove. Threading the gap he took her out to sea and he was home. The wind, the water. . . It would have been better with sails, but you couldn’t have everything.

          Stopping the boat he dropped the anchor, listening to Cyan as his hands worked of their own accord. Moving back to where she sat he reach out and took her maimed hand staring at it for long moments.  Gingerly he took the hand in both of his no longer trying to move them through the worlds, instead focusing on something else.

          He examined Cyan’s pattern carefully, looking at the chaos and order within her paying special attention to the wounded appendage. Then he covered her hand with his own before setting to work, mending the breaks in the macrocosm of Pattern within her. Restoring the balance and harmony between order and chaos, positive and negative. Then mends the breaks, flaws and ills that were where her finger had been. Ever so careful to dodge and avoid the breaks and flaws in his own power. Not forcing it, but guiding it and healing with care.

          Cyan’s hand tingled as he held it covered in his hands, his eyes staring at it slightly out of focus. After long moments he pulled his hand back to reveal . . .

OOC: I’ll let Dworkin tell you what he reveals.

Re: On a red horse by Dworkin (GM)
The boat bobs at anchor on the open sea, dark foam-capped waves slapping against the hull as Jack concentrates all of his attention on Cyan's hand.
Time passes, as it will, and a line of dark cloud appears along the western horizon, building slowly as the temperature drops and the wind rises gradually.

Finally Jack moves his hand and, beneath it, Cyan's is whole again, or nearly so.  The restored finger is slightly crooked, and feels a little stiff, as if from long disuse.

Still, it is there, and only a faint scar shows where it had been severed.

Re: On a red horse by Jack
       Jack looked up from the pale new finger, he could still see some minor flaws in the pattern. That was the way of life though, balance of order and chaos with flaws thrown in. The flaws were a part of it all, they were his part of it all and nothing he could ever do would be quite perfect.  Still he could do what he could to make it all right again. It would be right with time, with guidance.
     He smiled an honest smile looking into Cyan’s ever changing eyes and asked. “Is that better?”  the n with a sideways glance he said "A storm is building, we had better get moving."

Re: On a red horse by Cyan
Cyan's voice trails off uncertainly as Jack, in the middle of her tale, simply stops the boat and takes her lopsided hand.  Slowly, she looks down at her small, scarred appendage, held carefully in Jack's much larger grip.  Berd, on her shoulders, rises slowly, his eyes glittering and shimmering.  The air around the drake wavers for an instant, as if in a heat haze, and a shadow, oddly wingless, spreads over the wall at his back.

Then it fades, and the little dragon hops off Cyan to take up position on a hanging bar, staring down at the two humans.

Flushing, Cyan starts to speak once, then subsides, wondering exactly what is going on.  SOMETHING is up, that's for certain.  What, she's not sure.  Given the way Jack acted back at the campsite...I should tell him to let me go, the Bard thinks, worried that things will progress past the boundaries of decency, given the situation with Kalika.

Then the itching starts.  Sharp pain, running up her arm.  Oddly, Berd ignores that, but lets out a small, warning chime an instant later when the tingling begins.  Warning, but not threatening.  Cyan gasps once, as a feeling fills her, a knowledge that something tremendous is about to happen.  Then more feeling, this time utterly physical and Jack pulls back his hand to reveal...hers.

Unmaimed, only the slightest signs left.  The finger, scarred, and slightly twisted as if broken.  Cyan's eyes are opalescent orbs of wonder as she raises it in front of her face, slowly flexing the finger with her others, making a fist, then opening them again in front of her eyes.

"Impossible," she stutters, staring at Jack, face pale.  At the former Prince's words, Berd, eyes narrow and oddly silent, crawls up through an open hatch and faces the storm.

" this magic?"  Touching the finger, Cyan blinks again; there is a weakness, there, a clumsiness, but only a matter of days will see her hand return to its former strength and cleverness.  I will be able the harp.  Again.  Without error...without years of retraining!  Tears shining in her eyes, Cyan throws her arms around Jack.  "Spirits above!  Thank you!"  Sitting there, she rocks back and forth, hugging Jack with tears rolling down her cheeks.

A finger is nothing.  Skill with her blade could be compensated, and not (to Cyan) of such great value.  But the loss of her music...

Above, the wavering appears again, in the air around Berd, as he begins to lay his will upon the storm.  His thoughts are shuttered, silent.

Re: On a red horse by Jack
        Jacks face showed a calm confused expression at the bards reaction. He did not know what gift he had given her, or that she had lost the music. Even though he was there for the event himself, he had simply seen another person in pain. He had only done what he could to fix it, though he himself was not even certain what he had done. He just knew what needed to be done.

      He stood there as she hugged him, holding her and comforting her with a bemused look on his face. “Cyan. . .It’s okay.  I don’t think it’s magic, but yet I guess. . . It’s a kind of magic.” He shrugged holding the bard, mistaking the tears of joy for her being upset with him. He had spent an awful lot of concentration on the mending  and was a little disoriented, unable to easily read her emotions. “I just saw where your hand was broken and fixed it, I couldn’t let you go on suffering if I could do anything about it. Just mended you, that’s all ” He hugged her a last time and let go “I don’t know if Berd can calm that storm. . . Heck I don’t know if I could calm that storm, it’s the price. The price paid we had better move before it takes it’s toll.”

    He didn’t pull away yet though, letting Cyan get it out of her system, ready for her to vent her frustrations on him. “If we move I can probably dodge it though.”

Re: On a red horse by Cyan
"Thank you, Jack," Cyan whispered again, hugging him.  "Thank you - my hand, I...lost so much when I lost the finger."  Leaning back, she looks at him, eyes bright with tears, smile on her face.  "You have no idea what you have done," the Bard says, sudden understanding filling her.

Shifting back a bit more, Cyan grows more solomn.  "Jack...I am a Bard.  When I lost my finger, I lost my skill with the harp.  Much of my life's training, my life's work...gone, in an instant.  I was ready to try to learn again, ready to find something else, if necessary.  But this -"  She raises the finger.  "Now I can play, as I did before!  This is a wonderful gift."   Abruptly the Bard laughs, giddily, eyes burning in the dimming light like twin opals.  "Oh, thank you!"  Leaning forwards, she kisses him on the cheek, once, then moves back, flushing guiltily.

"I...yes.  Move the boat."  Still feeling the euphoria, the Bard glances helplessly at the controls.  "We should move.  Berd?"

Above, Berd's eyes narrow.  He can blunt this storm, slow it...there was time he could have shattered it like glass, torn it asunder or made it rain...rain for a long, long time....  With an irritated hiss, the drake breathes a burning cloud into the sky, where it dissipates.

The lightning answers, walking across the water like a wall, miles away, where Berd's power brings up a last line of defense against the growing storm.  The little dragon ducks back inside, and trills loudly, agitated.

Re: On a red horse by Jack
             Jack blinked in surprise at the kiss on his cheek, then smiled a calm pleased smile at Cyan. He was clearly cheered by her delight “No problem, it’s the least I could do. After all you have done for me.” He nodded and turned back to the controls his fingers brushing his cheek where she had kissed him for and instant, but his back was to her.  He set to work at the controls weighing the Minnows anchor and starting her up again.
            “Don’t worry Berd, do what you can with the storm. I’ll put my tupence in  and we’ll slide around it.” Jack started the twin engines forward again skirting the storm and the shore. He reached out and opened a cabinet pulling out a small silver disk of Billy Joel’s greatest hits. Sliding the disk into a slot on the console soon the driving beat of “Down Easter Alexa” came from speakers around the cabin.

Well I'm on the Downeaster "Alexa"
And I'm cruising through Block Island Sound
I have charted a course to the Vineyard
But tonight I am Nantucket bound

       The winds rose as Jack reached out with his lone tendril feeling the break of the storm, finding the best way to miss it and dodge the break. How best to defect it so to speak. The look on his face was intense  and filled with a kind of wild pleasure. He may have been a prince, he may have been a hunter, but this was what he was bort to do. At one with the wind and rain, to ride the storm.

We took on diesel back in Montauk yesterday
And left this morning from the bell in Gardiner's Bay
Like all the locals here I've had to sell my home
Too proud to leave I worked my fingers to the bone

           “Cyan,” Jack snapped the word casually but it was casual as a captains order. “Rain slickers, life vests and an emergency raft should be back in that cabinet Just in case.    There should also be something to eat and drink in the galley below.”

So I could own my Downeaster "Alexa"
And I go where the ocean is deep
There are giants out there in the canyons
And a good captain can't fall asleep

       He reached out with the tendril, trying to calm it and mend the break that was causing it as he stood behind the wheel. Somehow it looked like someone had managed to put ten foot of man in six foot of body, with the way he stood tall.  Ready to turn the boat into or away from the storm if need be, ready to drop the deep water anchor to give them stability in the rolling waves.  Yes he was a man to home.

I've got bills to pay and children who need clothes
I know there's fish out there but where God only knows
They say these waters aren't what they used to be
But I've got people back on land who count on me

So if you see my Downeaster "Alexa"
And if you work with the rod and the reel
Tell my wife I am trolling Atlantis
And I still have my hands on the wheel

Now I drive my Downeaster "Alexa"
More and more miles from shore every year
Since they told me I can't sell no stripers
And there's no luck in swordfishing here

I was a bayman like my father was before
Can't make a living as a bayman anymore
There ain't much future for a man who works the sea
But there ain't no island left for islanders like me

So it was that he started them back on their journey, to find the cross roads of the worlds. Now a mad man or Savant, a bane or a boon, possibly both. It would be for each to judge the man as they say fit, for as always he was who he was, no more or less.   As the song ended he called back to Cyan,  “Can you play us some good sea travel music?”

Re: On a red horse by Cyan
Cyan smiles, and sits down on the seat, drawing her knees up and resting her chin on them.  For a moment she looks startlingly young...and it's so easy to forget that, compared to the others, she is.  Amber eyes gleam as the Bard stares at Jack's back, then focus on the small, silver disk in his hand.  "Oh!  I have seen those...they carry music with them, do they not?"

Moments later, her query is rewarded by Billy Joel.  Laughing, Cyan claps her hand with delight.  The sound is tinny, by comparison, to real, live music, but it is fine, with instruments she has only heard once or twice, and certainly, the Bard on the disk can sing.  It's a fine song, too.

The Bard swings her feet out, standing up at Jack's command.  "As you wish, Captain!" she says, hurrying to the locker and coming out with the...well, the odd clothing and safety devices.  Piling them on the seat, she hurries down the steps to the galley.

In a short time, the red-haired woman is hurrying back up, with a tray of breads, sliced meat, fruits, and vegetables; a thick slab of cheese lies to the side.  Setting it down beside Jack, Cyan slips back down, coming up with some dark, capped bottles.  "Lower...Kanata...Lauger," she reads.  "Beer, I would guess."  Popping the corks with the odd looking screw, she hands one to Jack, and sits down where she can look at the side of his face, taking a sip from another bottle she holds.

"I love these things, sometimes," Cyan notes, drawing a circle on the side of the bottle in the condensation.  "These powered coldboxes, that hold food."  Her eyebrows raise when Jack requests a song, and she chews on her lower lip for a long moment.  "I will sing a song of the waves, a song to bless the glory of the Lord of the Depths, and to ask for his help to restrain his servant, the Master of Storms.  It was given to me, time past, by the Teleri, and I have heard the White-bearded one sing it - while I cannot do it his justice, I believe I will not shame the song."

Picking up her harp, she begins to carefully pluck notes, then runs a scale.  Fumbling once, Cyan hisses with annoyance, then coaxes a perfect run from her fingers, more slowly this time.  "Well pleased I am that this is a simple song!" she states, her face burning with embarassment at her clumsiness, and pleasure at the simple fact that she can again play her harp.

The song is light, airy, with a faint note of supplication; it is sung in an alien tongue, a musical speech of light and shimmering tones, that calls to mind some of the words Cyan occasionally uses.  Bright and clear, it rises, slipping from the boat and over the waves as the storm draws closer.

Sitting on her seat, Cyan finally appears back in her element - on a voyage, harp in hand, singing, she looks at peace with herself and the world.  The storm gives her no pause as it closes on them, for she trusts her strength, trusts her song, trusts her luck, and trusts Jack.  Whatever will come, she will see it through.  The last light of the sun kindles her hair to burnished gold and the harp to liquid silver before it slips behind the clouds, and she laughs, fingers dancing on the shimmering strings.

Re: On a red horse by Berd
There, in the Cabin, Berd eyes the storm.  The little drake sits quietly as the two others talk, sing, and listen, for once not paying the food any heed.  His glittering eyes are fastened on the storm, and his body sits, still as a statue.

The power, invisible but there, nontheless, extends from him like thick ropes, reaching forth, into the storm.  It finds the heart and seeks to sway it, but this storm is different.  It is consequence and, as Berd knows, consequence is not so easily avoided.

If only that were not true, the little dragon muses as he sends another surge of power ahead, breaking down a growing swell within the storm.  He cannot stop it...but he can blunt it, turn the focus from their craft.

Consequence.  The bane of his existance, such as it is.

The storm...he examines it, studies it as he holds it, much as a man might study a rock held within his palms.  There are...fissures through the storm.  Cracks.  Unnatural.  Jack's doing, no doubt.  How interesting that a creation of a flawed power, built on breaks, can be so...whole.

How...interesting.  Is it true?  If one attempts perfection, it will be flawed.  Perfection in an imperfect universe is impossible.  But were one a Daoist, one might think that by acceptance of imperfection, perfection itself became possible.

Is that why the storm resisted?  It has become...closer to perfect?

Or is it simply because of that cursed consequences?

And the breaks...that is not the only place they lurk.  Berd knows of others.  Part of his inner sight rolls around, turning to look more deeply within himself.

He is not what he once has been, the drake knew.  Sometimes he catches glimpses of what that COULD have been, might have been.  And perhaps might, again, if Berd simply accepts the breaks.  Accepts the imperfections.

Perfection is, of course, no longer possible.

Berd looks into the breaks of the storm, his will shattering another building surge like spun sugar.

Berd looks into the breaks of his spirit, seeing the scars of battle, the wounds torn into him while the dragging occurred.

The heat plays along his flank, the pain, the fire of a thousands suns, or so it seems....

Berd hovers above the chasms rent in his spirit and, closing his spiritual wings, plummets.

The little dragon's eyes glitter as he stares into the storm, into the breaks within it, within himself.

Re: On a red horse by Hunter
The alpha male sniffs the air delicately. The others were gone, and he was truly alone for the first time in his life. The link of the triad was smashed, the tatters flowing in the spiritual ether like feelers, searching for something that was no longer there. His link to Kali, strong and intact, but stretched so long through the Shadows that communication was rendered useless. Kali's last request rings in his ears and he mourns for her. Her excuse for leaving as flimsy in his mind as he knew it would be in Jack's, had the man's mental breakdown not shattered their bond.

He growls without realizing it. Foolish man!! He had warned Kali, and yet, was the love not good while it lasted? The bond, the completeness not worth the sacrifice and horror now? He shakes his head, clearing if of such thoughts. He had a decision to make. Follow the words of his bonded, or pursue his own course of action. Freed from all bonds to others, the wolf makes his choice and sniffs the air delicately once more, searching... there he trots into the distance, towards the shore of the placid lake, and is swallowed by Shadow.