Comics by Shaenon II

Tales of Madness
Page 41 of 41

Author:  Hawkwolf [ Mon Sep 12, 2011 9:58 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Tales of Madness

a break in this program for this short story errr poem. I dunno what to label it.

Oh sweet death.
How your touch caress those I care.
A shadow of my movements, my actions and dreams.
Can I turn and greet you? Will you allow me to embrace you with a Juda's kiss?
May I offer some Homeground coffee for lunch?
You offer much more to my beleaguered ability and ingenuity.
Will you take me? Teach me? Hold me?
Can death become me, or I death?

heh no this poem does not express my feeling at this time, I just thought it would be interesting to have a person wanting to take Death's job.

Author:  Hawkwolf [ Sat Sep 17, 2011 12:11 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Tales of Madness

The return of the.............. WEIRD NIGHT!

If we can "make" love, why do we have to search for it?

Just because the moon man is smiling at you, does not give you permission to make the earth smile back.

One day I am going to get a van. So when I go pick up my kids and I can open the door and say. "hey kids I got free candy!" Then grin at the other adults as my kids pile in and I drive away.

A good way to creep people out is to have your friend lay on the ground in a grocery store not moving and eyes closed. You grab a broom and attempt to sweep him away yelling "Clean up in aisle 4!"

What you want another way to creep people out? How about walking around with a knowing grin on your face. Make sure to smirk at anyone passing you by.

Still here? Try strolling through a crowded park singing "Poisoning Pigeons in the park" out loud.

Know what I learned in Basic Military Training?

-Sleep is more valuable then gold.
-Privacy is overrated.
-We are supposed to be mind readers
-Even if you did it right the first 3 times, you are still wrong.
-Chairs are not for sitting, but to look pretty.
-Your hands are not required to speak.
-Cupping our hands apparently cuts off circulation to our brains.
-It is possible for a person shorter then you to drop kick you in the face.
-Never be around a bored Instructor
-Eating while standing up can lead to 37 deaths of our fellow Airmen in the Middle East.
-Everyday is a make up run day.
-It is possible to be sleep marching
-Church becomes even more holy ground then before. (MTI's are not supposed to step foot there let alone yell at you)
-Time slows down. 8 weeks feels likes a half a month.


Author:  Zobot257 [ Sun Sep 25, 2011 9:34 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Tales of Madness

(Warning! The following story has strong language here and I'm not going to censor it like I usually do. Henshin doesn't mind swearing at times, so I'm just making this clear ahead of time.)




Stories of characters in the universe of Exalted, during the ten years between the shattering of the Fivefold Snare and the Southern Emergence...

2: Henshin

Dear Dusk,

Hey. It's Henshin. Sorry about what is probably gonna be a weird experience just before you read this. Cut the ghost whose delivering this letter a bit of slack, ok? He's a buddy of mine and he's not all crazy and evil. And I kinda pushed him into delivering it because he's got a crazy-good knowledge of the scavengerlands, so I figured if anyone I knew could track this training camp of yours down, it'd be him. Even though he was a bit nervous getting near a "big scary anathema girl." Kid thought you guys were all eight feet tall and shooting lightning bolts out your backside or something. But yeah, I'd consider it a favor if you don't banish him or destroy him or whatever. He'll move on in his own time, and he's halfway decent, even if he does cheat at cards.

So I guess you're wondering why you're getting this letter, huh? I mean, I kinda just vanished. Well, uh, I don't really have a great answer for you. I wish I had an answer for myself. I just... couldn't bare to see you guys again after what happened. I don't wanna go into it. But I also sent you this letter because, believe it or not, I, um, can't really figure out where to find the rest of you. I haven't heard much about Fuzzy or Wei so I don't know where to write to, and I don't even KNOW where Deka went off to. Baoshi and Mei seem like the type of cats who find you, rather than the other way around, and Jan's always traveling and doesn't seem to do a lot to make tracking him easy. But with all the stuff I've heard about you and your training camp, I figured that somewhere along the line someone would know where you were. So you've made a name for yourself, huh? I gotta say I'm impressed. It never seemed fair to me that kids who had no idea what was going on were just gonna be hunted down without any idea of why. Good job, saving some kids.

So, what have I been up to? Well, it kinda all started when I met an old man...

The old man's corpse had a grey cloak around its neck. It was a nice cloak; wool, not too stained with blood, and looked to have avoided being caked in mud, like the other bodies around it. Having a bit of personal insight into the saying "You can't take it with you", I bent over and started undoing the metal clasp around his neck, trying to avoid the gash caked with dried blood just above it. I guess it says something about me that I really don't even notice a little blood anymore. What it says is something I'd rather not speculate on, but I'm sure it says SOMETHING. But I needed a cloak, and he wasn't in any position to complain anymore.

"Dagnabbit ah' lost mah life an' now I'm losin' me clothes? Get'cher hands offa that!

Ok, maybe he was.

My eyes widened as I stood back up and turned around. The old man's ghost looked exactly as he did just before he bit it: angry, with a long slice along his throat dribbling ectoplasm. No one leaves a pretty corpse, but I've at least seen people die cleaner deaths. Morbid as it sounds, I smiled a bit. This was the first person I'd seen in a few weeks and the company was welcome. “Chill, man.” I reached down and with a swift tug, pulled the cloak off his body. “You've got a spectral translucent one now. You don't really need this one, do you?” At that, I wrapped his old cloak around my body. It was nice and soft, I could see why he'd be put out by losing it. “What happened here, anyway?”

The man clenched a spectral fist. “Yew happened! Snapperwhipper!

"Wait, 'snapperwhipper'? Isn't it supposed to be the other-"




...we became fast friends, although I got the feeling we weren't gonna get to spend much time with each other. Just two wanderers, meeting up on the road. but it was the sort of event that stuck in your head, you know? Kinda nice to meet someone who doesn't try to kill me on sight...



...Not that there weren't a few moments when I just wanted to smack him.

But I think I made an impression on him...

"JUST SHUT UP!" His eyes went wide, and at first I thought it was because of my voice. It did kind of sound a bit funny. A while back, I went with a bunch of friends to a bad place. A place of metal and secrets. And I sort of lost it there. I attacked them. Maybe I hurt them. I don't even know. I think someone was pulling my strings and my memory of that whole day is pretty foggy now. But ever since that day I've kind of got this weird resonance to my voice. It doesn't happen a lot, but I don't really talk a lot. But I'm not sure I like it... I'm always choosing to talk, and the words are mine, but it doesn't feel like I'm the one saying 'em.

I don't like having my strings pulled, but I feel less comfortable with someone putting words in my mouth.

But that wasn't it at all. I felt a wet trickling run down my forehead, and then a iron-ish taste on my lips. My caste mark was flaring up. Damn it.

"Y-yew're a... a... a..."

"Man, please relax. I'm not here to hurt you." I sighed. "And I wasn't the guy who killed you and these other people, ok? I just got here, the bodies on the ground are cool already, and I don't make a habit of killing people without a really good reason." I folded my arms and took a step back. "Look, I PROMISE that I wasn't the guy who killed you and your buddies here. But you're in luck for meeting me. As it so happens, these days I'm trying to do this "helping other people" thing. It's a bit unconventional, I know, but I'm sort of operating under the theory that maybe, just MAYBE, if we work really hard at it, we can make this world a better place by not being horrible murderous &#@!$ to each other." Weirdly enough, this didn't seemed to calm him down, even a little bit. I've got to get better at the people thing. "Ok, yeah. I'm an abyssal. Wait, you wouldn't know that term. Ok, well, I'm an Anathema... it's my doom to bring death to Creation. I can't exactly NOT kill people. But I figure if I only really kill people that are ALREADY horrible murderous &#@!$, then maybe I can sort of skirt by and the rest of you can all sorta live in peace or hug bunnies or something?"

Ok, by that point he just looked confused.

"Shit. I'm doing this wrong." I sighed. "Ok. Listen. Whoever did this to you was wrong, and you didn't deserve to die. I can't bring you back to life. But I want to help you pass on. Whether that's by finding whoever did this and avenging the shit out of them for you, or just by helping you put your affairs in order, or just getting a proper burial going on for you, I'm willing to do it. I want to help you, not hurt you any more than you've already been hurt." I tried to look as non-agressive as I could. This wasn't hard. I wasn't angry enough to threaten a soup bubble before I got this "blessing", and I'm only a little bit more intimidating now. "So, um, why don't we start by you telling me exactly what you remember, just before you died..."

To be continued!

Author:  Zobot257 [ Wed Oct 05, 2011 5:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tales of Madness

(Warning! The following story has strong language here and I'm not going to censor it like I usually do. Henshin doesn't mind swearing at times, so I'm just making this clear ahead of time.)




Stories of characters in the universe of Exalted, during the ten years between the shattering of the Fivefold Snare and the Southern Emergence...

2: Henshin, Part 2

So anyways Dusk...

I'm not honestly sure how I got tangled up in my traveling companion's personal affairs.

I bent over, scanning the ground around the old man's body. "If you died not knowing who killed you, that means with this many people it's likely you got slain first. At least I hope so. I wouldn't like to meet something that could kill this many people up close and personal without any of them seeing it." The old man's ghost didn't respond to me, even to call me a Snapperwhipper. At the time I figured it was just that he'd been terrified of me. But I wasn't really paying him much attention. I was examining the bodies nearby him, and wondering why every single one of them felt like necrotic essence.

Ghosts, you see, are composed of two different elements. A higher soul, which retains the reason and sense and intelligence of the person they were before they died, and the lower soul, which retains the biological instincts and drives that motivate people. Within the body, the two are essentially one. But as one dies, they're supposed to separate. The lower soul ceases to be and becomes energy, returning to Creation, while the Higher soul, free of the drives, instincts, and urges that make life LIFE, grows detached from the goings-on of our world and drifts off to be reincarnated through the Wheel. I think. I'm hardly an expert.

That's assuming that ghosts even come into existence in the first place. Ghosts only appear if the person have a strong connection to the world left behind. Strong enough to harness essence of the world around them in death, and twist it to keep them here in some way. I've been told it's easier than it sounds but harder than it looks. Maybe one in fifty people end up leaving a ghost behind. Probably more like one in two hundred? I don't really know.

The point I'm trying to make is that most of these bodies shouldn't have felt like death. Cold, yes, but not like a killing of the nature of the world. I grumbled, mostly to myself. “It doesn't make any sense... either everyone here ought to have left a ghost behind, or they shouldn't feel like this.” I stood up. “Hey, old man? There weren't any other ghosts here when you woke up, were there?” He didn't answer. I turned to look around for him.

He was staring at the corpse of a young girl, blood caked around two pigtails in the back of her head.

Yeah. This was messed up.

Maybe you and yours just sorta rubbed off on me...

I couldn't help myself. I don't like seeing kids get hurt. It's sort of a thing with me. I walked up to him, putting my arm around his shoulder. It promptly fell through, and I felt a chill run down my spine. Yeah, I can be stupid sometimes. So I tried to hug a ghost. Shut up.

“Hey... you need a moment?” I tried to sound sympathetic. He didn't talk back. “Um... I know this is probably a pretty hard moment for you, but I need to know something. Were there any other ghosts here? Did you see anything at all?”

Danielle.” His voice was quiet. Less than a murmur.

“What?” It had been low enough that I wasn't sure I'd heard him right.


I backed away. “Ok, ok... woah. I'll look at something else. Take your time.” I, uh, don't like it when people yell at me. Mask of Winters, my former master, didn't yell a lot, but he knew when and how to use a well placed yell. It was terrifying, and I still don't kind of flip out when people do it.

I backed away from him to do something else. Anything else. The old man's ghost probably needed a moment alone. That's when I noticed it. Drops of red, dried on the ground. Leading off into the woods from the site of the attack.

A blood trail.

Looking back, I probably should have realized if I got involved, there was gonna be some risk...

The first thing I wanted to do was follow it. Some bastard had been killing little kids. I'm not an exceptionally brave person, but even cowards can get enraged. But I didn't let myself get caught in the moment. A blood trail could mean lots of things. I went back to the old man's ghost. “Hey.”

He seemed to have calmed down, looking at me with sullen, dead eyes.

“Um, I know that there's a lot going through your head right now, but...” I pointed at the blood trail. “Something left this battle. Something alive, or at least juicy. Um, maybe there was a survivor who could tell us more? Or maybe, um, they need some help?” I waited for him to say something.

There was just awkward silence.

“Um... that is, if you WANT to help...

He finally opened his mouth, his voice as gruff as it had been when I first met him “Kid, if there's anyone left from this that still might end up like my Danielle, then it's our Dragon-given duty t'help 'em. Come on.”

I couldn't help but smile, just a bit. “You're taking this well.”

He snorted. I didn't even know ghosts could snort. “If there's even a little chance'a giving back sum trouble t'the guy who took away my Danielle, I'd charge in'ta a mess'a demons themselves!

I fidgeted a bit. “Ah. Revenge.”

Well shit. Getting this guy to move on and reincarnate was gonna be harder than I had hoped. I thought that just showing him who killed him and convincing him that he had died and it was over would have been enough. Or maybe helping someone who survived and feeling like he hadn't died in vain would help encourage him to will himself to reincarnate. But unfortunately for the Wheel, he was feeling vengeful. Hell, I could understand. If someone took away my hypothetical kid, I'd probably be enraged.

We began to follow the blood trail towards a large and darkened wood.

Helping him with family matters, I saw something terrifying,

After an hour of tracking, we approached a clearing in the woods. A clearing that was filled with cages.

And each cage was filled with ghosts.

I need to take a moment here to make a point. Ghosts aren't solid things. They can BE solid when they want to be, but typically when they manifest in a form mortals can see, things still just pass right through them. A simple iron cage can't keep a ghost trapped. Soulsteel cages could, but then, they're MADE of spirits. Ghosts can't be kept out, or in without some powerful forces involved. And this wasn't just one cage. There were at least twelve of these things, filled with ghosts. More ghosts than could possibly have just come out of that caravan.

And in the center of the clearing...

and also something impossible.

Imagine, if you will, a tree with large, gnarled arm and leg-like branches growing out of it in anatomically accurate places. Now imagine that it uses those limbs to pull itself out of the ground, tearing it away from its roots. It has a caricature of a face, with a long, bent, curly stick for a nose, two gnarled knots for eyes, and a void in the wood where a mouth ought to be. Large, ovular leaves grow in the place of hair. Now imagine this is the size of a house. Words like “Hulking” or “looming” might be employed by the poets. Now imagine it holding a club the sized of a tree, complete with the dirt clinging to the roots.

I know now that the creature I saw is an called a King of the Wood. I guess they're the rulers of forests or something? I don't really know a lot about them beyond the name. But if that's what they want to be called then I see no reason to doubt them.

This one, however, was a bit different than the usual model. Its Knot-eyes were rotting away, with glowing red motes in their centers. Cracks ran down from those motes, cracks in the wood along its “face”. Bark was flaking off of its body in different places. Leaves were wilting and had fallen off in spots, leaving an odd, hodgepodge pattern. I think it might have probably smelled too, but I didn't exactly sneak up and sniff its behind, you know? But what I think what caught my attention the most was that it was holding a terrified ghost and speaking in a tongue I had heard before, from an old, uh, associate of mine. A woman named Child Defiled and Violated by the Corrupt and Decadent Aristocracy. I didn't fully understand what it was saying, but I had picked up enough from Child to know to be terrified.

I crouched behind a bush. “&#@!$ &#@!$ &#@!$ &#@!$...”

The old man's ghost looked over at me. “Whatcha doin', lad? Go get'im!” He was talking entirely too loud for my comfort.

“Um, hey, could you keep your voice down? And get down here, ok?” I motioned for him to sit down. “Look, I just expected this to be some bandits, or a corrupt lord or something, ok?” I gave a quick glace back at the big brutish thing back there. “This is so VERY much not what I expected. That is a powerful god, or elemental, or whatever it is, and to make matters worse, it's gone and done the impossible.”

The old man gave me a skeptical glare. “What the jargle are yew gabbin 'bout?

I pointed at it. “That... that... whatever the hell you call that thing, is doing necromancy. Gods and Elementals, which that thing probably is, are avatars of the very life of our world itself, and necromancy is an expression of the slow continuous death and decay of that life. The two are practically opposites. Mask of W-” I stopped. I've been kinda paranoid about saying the old boss' name lately. Maybe its' just me being foolish, but I'm pretty he's got some way of knowing whatever people are talking about when they mention him. “my former boss never thought it was possible to teach a god that sort of thing.” I folded my arms.

Well, what'zit doing?

“I don't know, but-” My spectral partner's question was answered for me as the creature finished the spell. The ghost in it's grip gave a yelp of pain as its incorporeal form broke apart, collapsing into motes of essence, which were pulled into the King of the Wood's own shambling form. And it got bigger. And wider. And rottier. And suddenly that giant club in it's enormous birch-en left arm suddenly seemed a bit smaller in proportion. My voice was a whisper. “It just ate that ghost. Sorta. I think.”

I remembered wondering exactly what was out to get me if Fate no longer applied to me.

“Ok... this isn't just something I can sneak up on and stab.” I frowned. I like my problems straightforward. “We need to go get help for this. Maybe we can convince some other gods in the area not to try and kill me long enough to explain what's going on, and then they can get some help for us.” My ally didn't respond. He was looking at the ghost that the King of the Wood had just grabbed, probably to feast on. It was that girl. It was Danielle. Her ghost, anyway. Crying in terror, as an oversized wooden fist clenched around her, pulling her out of the cage. I looked at the man's ghost, his insubstantial face curled in rage. “Ok. Ok, um... don't panic! Just don't panic! Stop panicing and we-”

He charged. “Yew sick, disgusting, ugly lil' snapperwhipper-” Running straight towards the King of the Wood.

Yeah, I know. Freaking insane, right?

(To be concluded!)

Author:  Zobot257 [ Tue Nov 08, 2011 10:05 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Tales of Madness

(Warning! The following story has strong language here and I'm not going to censor it like I usually do. Henshin doesn't mind swearing at times, so I'm just making this clear ahead of time.)




Stories of characters in the universe of Exalted, during the ten years between the shattering of the Fivefold Snare and the Southern Emergence...

2: Henshin, Part 3

My new friend and I went back to meet his family. We didn't like what we found.

It turns out, Dusk, that this guy's family was taken by a terrible monster, plucked away. And when he discovered this, he got pissed. He ran off after it, with no thought to his own safety or the risk involved.

And you know what? When I saw what was happening, I felt like I had to do something as well...

I know what you're thinking. I had to get out there and help that lunatic, right? I'm an Abyssal. A champion of death itself. The power within my very soul ends lives and brings about entropy and decay. We're powerful. Badasses. I could go out there and end him right now, right?

Well, no. That's not what I did. Actually, what I did involved a bit more cowering, and shrinking down against the bushes. In my defense, that thing was &#@!$ HUGE. I watched as those wooden eyes turned to gaze at him. "You. Escaped Ghost." It didn't say anything further. It just began to chant. It began to chant. Kinda weird, now that I think about it.

Ok, I know I keep doing this, guys, but I need to pause the action here and mention something about Necromancy. Ghosts are terrified of necromancy because it has SO many ways of screwing over spirits. Necromancy is dangerous. Terrifying. Not just to ghosts, either. There's things there that can make the sky rain blood and pestilence or can devour spirits for their raw essence. (This guy definitely knew that last one...)

But Necromancy also takes a while. You can't just snap a finger and make it happen.

The old man's shade didn't really seem to have a plan. As this King of the Wood began to utter his dark ululations, the old man materialized, grabbing a rock, and began pounding it against the enormous elemental in sheer, dumb rage. That kind of confused me. It would have been smarter for the King of the Wood to just smack the now-solid ghost with his big club. What was it thinking? Was it even thinking? Why even allow something hostile to hit at you like that? Whatever it's reasoning, the jerk's spell finished and a tendril of shadow seemed to slink out of the elemental's neck, enveloping the old man's ghost, wrapping all around him, as he screamed in agony. His body seemed to be fading away the longer it went on.

I'm a damn, dirty coward. I'm terrible. I suck. The only reason I have this power at all is because I failed. I didn't get to be a hero, I didn't save those kids back home. And I was flipping TERRIFIED right there. I should have just ran out there and at least STABBED the thing. But... I couldn't. I felt paralyzed. Just watching. What could I even do, anyway? I just had a little dagger thing. A switchklave or whatever they're called.

And then the girl's ghost screamed for her dad.

Well, &#@!$. That cleared my head out right quick. I've never been able to just sit there while a kid's terrified, and I had forgotten she was even there. Ok, so I couldn't fight it directly. I don't have any big doomsday attacks or any ultimate-super finishing moves. But maybe, MAYBE, I could think of a few other things I could do... I slunk off, circling around the clearing, with the grain of an idea in my head. I wasn't sure how those cages where holding ghosts in, but it seemed like a good thing to find out. Approaching one of the cages, I was kind of surprised. They were soulsteel, which made sense. But how an elemental got that much soulsteel was, and still is, beyond me. The cages were all covered in roots and vines, and I quickly found out why: The doors, for whatever reason, had no locks on them! All that was keeping them shut were these thorny, tangled brambly vines. Lots of them.

I glanced back over at the one-sided fight. It was too much to hope for that team Old Man's Shade had rallied and made a comeback. He wasn't looking very good at all. Whatever that spell was, it was draining the essence right out of him. I sighed. It was time to do something stupid. Clearing my throat, I shouted. "Hey! Wooden Willy!" I shouted out at him as I cut through the roots and vines holding one of the cages of ghosts he'd had shut. "I'm letting your food go!"

Yeah, that got his attention pretty quickly.

The ghosts began to pour out like water from a faucet. I looked at them. "Ok, if we all rush this guy at once there's a pretty good chance we can take him down and-or you could just all start running away. That's good too." I watched as the ghosts floated off as fast as their ectoplasmic forms could carry them. And I sighed. There went ONE halfway decent plan...

The King of the Wood gazed at me, the wilted leaves of his body rustling. "That power. The energy of death. I do not understand. Why do you who gave me that power impede my ascension?"

"Um... yes. I'm the one who gave you this power." Ok, So I was lying through my teeth. Don't act like you haven't done it before. "But this wasn't what I intended for you to use it for! Look at this! You're killing people! You're killing yourself! For heaven's sake your hair is WILTING and you smell like a rotbeast!” Rotbeasts being something that I just made up right there. (At least I hope they're just made up.) "What if these were your people? What if their pain and sadness were yours? No one deserves this!" And that's when he swung at me.

I may not be much of a fighter, but I'm very good at not getting hurt and it's not like he swung very fast. Hard, but not fast. My body shattered and fragmented into motes of black energy as the giant trunk collided with the cage I had just emptied. With a popping sound whatever was holding it to the tree gave way and the entire thing lurched and fell to the ground. But *I* was fine. It's actually a bit of a refreshing sensation, discorporating like that. For a brief moment your entire mind breaks apart and any worries, concerns, or fears you have just sort of vanish. You lose who and what you are in the void of nonthought and just feel safe. And even when you reform everything that was terrifying you before takes a little while before it really seems to be so bad. People make a big deal about how abyssals are these terrifying bloody killers, but at least there's one thing about it that doesn't feel all that bad. As I felt my body pulling itself back together the sights, sounds, and unfortuntaely also the smells of the world around me became more tangible. "-then. If you have the lack of sense to take away what you gave, I will not yield it so willingly!" I heard him bellow. Probably half the forest heard him.

I still hadn't quite gotten it back in my head that I should have been running, so I rushed over to the next cage and began forcing the door open. "Come on guys! I know he's scary. I'm scared too. But maybe, just maybe, if you help me, we can-" The ghosts didn't really even pause to listen to me. The second the door was open they started pouring out and making a break for it. I don't know why I expected much more out of them. Most ghosts get nervous around necromancers or death knights, much less two in the same place. And they're motivated by their own continued existance. That's why most of them refuse to move on in the first place. It's rare to find a ghost with an unselfish heart, just as rare as it is to find it in mortals. I shouldn't have taken it as badly as I did. But at the time all I could think of was that we had a common foe and they were abandoning me. Leaving me alone with that thing. And it kinda hurt.

And that's when the King of the Forest's second swing slammed into my side, sending me careening across the clearing, landing with a thump on the ground.

It hurt. There was a disgusting snapping sound. At the time I didn't realize what it was, but it was one of my ribs. I don't really remember what happened there, just after I open the door of the cage my memory gets fuzzy. I don't want to believe that I just didn't see it coming. Call it pride, but I'm usually pretty good at noticing when someone's trying to kill me. Maybe I tried to dodge and just didn't move fast enough. But perhaps it makes for a better story to say that I just gave up. I didn't know what to do and I couldn't do this alone. I lay there. Broken. Beaten. I think I was coughing up blood. My head was throbbing. I watched him lifting the giant club up over his head. I had to run. I had to get up. I had to at least roll over. But I just couldn't. There seemed no point. I left behind the only people who cared about me and got myself killed sticking up for dead guys who wouldn't even help stop the guy feeding on them. " of them could'a pulled it off..." At what seemed my last moments, I thought of the only people who'd cared about me since I got this black exaltation.

The birchen club came down.

And then it stopped. The King of the Forest gave a cry of confusion. There were ghosts, at least ten of them, standing over me, arms raised, grasping at the club. Pushing it up. Stopping it midway through it's swing. Holding it back. Other ghosts were swarming at him. All the ghosts I'd set free were there. Opening other cages. Grabbing at the club so he couldn't flatten me. Swarming at him and attacking. They came back for the other ghosts they'd abandoned. They came back for me. It was a bit of an odd sight, seeing ghosts fighting. Ghosts in general are a bit of an odd sight, given that they usually look how they did just as they died, but seeing a small army of indignant ghosts who just wouldn't take it anymore was just enough to make me wonder if the blood loss and physical trauma was making me see things.

After a few moments of stunned confusion, I started to sit up. Despite my body complaining, I managed it, and staggered to my feet. For a moment I just stood there, staring at the ghosts and watching them attacking the King of the Wood. His body was literally being pulled apart. “Why... you're rotting!” I gazed at him. “Ghostly essence... it's the only thing that's been holding you together, isn't it?” I reached down, withdrawing my switchklave. It probably wouldn't be useful for anything more than leaving a carving on his trunk, but If those ghosts were going to bother saving me I may as well at least be ineffectual for their sake.

GRAAUUGH!” He snarled as he swatted at ghosts, discorporating them with every move of his burly arms. Ghosts went flying as he swung wildly, trying to reclaim his club. He gazed at me with murder in his knotty eyes. “THIS WILL NOT SAVE YOU!” He bellowed as he freed his weapon and sent it rushing towards me.

“Shit.” I didn't really have any way of saving myself. The ghosts were a surprise but not something that could have stopped him. I was winded and probably had at least a cracked rib. No real way to dodge and I didn't have the essence to escape. So I threw my piddly little dagger, straight at his chest. If I was going to die I figured at least I'd mildly inconvenience him. Imagine my surprise when the hand holding the club vanished. His body began to disintegrate before my eyes. When gods and elementals die they just collapse into base essence. I've seen it happen enough before to know what it looks like. There's no way he should have died from just that, but he did. The last thing I remember seeing were the dissociated motes of essence sinking into the earth beneath me and then his club, with all it's remaining momentum, barreled into me. For the second time in one day.

I really try to avoid being stupid enough to get beaten up the same way twice.

I was unconscious for a long time. I think I may have dreamed. Something about a woman, and laughter, and a sun blessed beach... I don't remember what it was, but it's one of the few happy dreams I've had since I took the black exaltation. The undead patrons who give out that sort of power aren't really big on the whole “Happy” thing, as you might have guessed.

I woke up due to pain. Piercing pain in my chest. It wouldn't have been cool to scream, so I didn't. I definitely did NOT scream. No matter what you heard, I definitely didn't scream. Yup.

...shut up.

There was the ghost of a young woman, bandaging my wounds. I later learned she used to be an army medic in her past life. “That was amazing, lord!” She smiled.

I grinned weakly. “Heh. Thanks...” the “lord” comment hit home. “Wait, what?”

"You saved us all! You defeated our murderer!” She smiled down at me. “Everyone thought we were doomed!

“Um, well, you guys DID help, I really only threw a little pointy knife at him...” I didn't like the way this was going.

The farmer's ghost told us about you! Henshin, the man who swore to help him avenge the murder of his little girl! The Death Knight who fights against undue death!

“Wait, no, I was just-” I suddenly became aware that there were ghosts all around me. Cheering at me. Circling me in the sky, all looking at me adoringly.

Their voices filled the sky.
“He who gives voice back to the Voiceless!”
“The Avenger of the Unjustly Slain!”
“Hero of the Fallen!”
“Our Lord and Savior!”
“Our Champion!”
“The Speaker of the Dead!”

I tried to sit up feebly. “Guys, wait, no, that's not what I was going to do. You don't need to call me your Lord! I'm not some big leader of-”

And then I saw them. The ghost of the old man, standing next to his little girl's ghost. Smiling at me. I almost heard a thank you as they both collapsed into energy.

They'd chosen to reincarnate, their souls at peace.

Because of me.

And that's pretty much how this all got started.

So we gave the people a proper funeral, Dusk. We never did find out what was going on with the man's family dying. But we parted ways knowing we did the best we could.

Um, incidentally, if you hear people whisper about some Dark Avenger, the Speaker of the Slain, who is supposedly terrorizing the Scavenger Lands, I'm sure it's absolutely nothing and just some local legend being blown out of proportion. Probably nothing you need to investigate with any sort of violent intent. On a completely unrelated tangent, if you're still in touch with Baoshi, tell him that I pulled a Tao. He'll probably know what it means.

But all my traveling has got me thinking. Maybe I'm not cut out for being a hero. I'll probably never be as brave as Shun or Wei or you or any of the gang are. Every time I get into some kind of strife I always just want to run away and hide. Or if I have to fight, use some manner of cheap shot to get the best possible advantage I can. I'm not brave. I'm not strong. I may never be.

But maybe I don't have to be.

Maybe even with my fakey not-real courage, I can do something else. Maybe the world doesn't need another great hero. Maybe I could just be a guy who tries to talk to ghosts and helps them move on and accept that they've died. Or, I don't know, does some stuff to help them be at peace so they can embrace reincarnation. Maybe things would be better off if there was a death knight out there helping people accept their deaths.

Anyway, thank you for reading this. Let everyone know I'm all right and thinking of them. Until we meet again...


End Story 2

Author:  Sarah McLaren [ Sat Jan 07, 2012 7:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Enjoy!

Lexus skulked through the back-alleys of Xyon, fascinated. It was almost exactly like home, with a few minor differences. And he was slinking, not skulking! He was totally being all ninja-like and stealthy!

He tripped over a rubbish can, rolled upright, and dusted himself off in the “I meant to do that” manner familiar to anyone who is owned by a feline, except he did not lick himself.

He zipped around the corner and waited, but no one had been attracted by the noise, or honestly didn’t care. He breathed a sigh of relief. Reputation maintained.

“Hello, Nega-me!”


After he was sure he was definitely not having a heart-attack, he slowly turned around, hands in the air, body in a defensive crouch, ready to flee at a moment’s notice.

Axel made a disappointed noise.

“Awww, running away? But I was going to have fun~”

Terrorizing his alternate was fun, admittedly, but also too easy for his liking. He preferred a bit of sport. He poked Lexus with the muzzle of his death ray, noticing the flinches where it touched.

“Open your mouth. ”

Lexus clamped his jaw shut tighter instead, lifting his head up, eyes squinched shut. So he did have a bit of spine after all! Not much, admittedly, but that could be worked on.

“You aren’t going to shoot me. ‘Cause if I die, you die.” His voice shook a little.

“Are you suuuuure? Has anyone ever tested that? We could find out, right now. I could just…” He pulled the trigger. Lexus ducked. The beam scorched the brick behind him.

“So you aren’t sure!” Axel grinned. “Called ya bluff!”

But Lexus was already retreating into the distance.

“Hey, what kind of awesome symbolic fight is this? Comeback and be shot, it only hurts a little, you wuss!”

He fired, and missed as Lexus rounded a corner.

Something on his shirt beeped.

Odd, that wasn’t…


Lexus couldn’t help but grin a familiar grin as he panted next to a dumpster, leaning on it for support.

“Feels good, doesn’t it?”

Like a bad personality sprite, his alternate was leaning on his shoulder, looking like a chimney sweep fired from the chemistry lab. He automatically shied away from the touch, causing Axel to fall over.

“See, I reckon… if I’m a villain, you must be a hero, right?” He called up from the cobbles.

“Uh, n-no. Heroes get killed.”

“Pfff. Only the stupid ones! Look at us, we’re not stupid.”

Lexus declined to comment.

Axel noticed this, and scowled. “Okay, I’m not stupid. Betterer?”

Lexus said nothing even louder.
Axel X(‘d and punched his ankle.

“Stupid mute nega-me being all smugly silent at me.” He muttered, just loud enough for Lexus to hear him, but quietly enough for him to respond with an innocent look should there be any question.

“It-it did. A bit.”

He looked up. Lexus was twisting his fingers nervously together, but his mouth was slowly spreading into a slightly, but not very, apologetic smirk.

“See? Told you.”

“Your face was priceless!” Lexus started laughing. Axel’s own smile faded into a pout.

“Okay, you can stop enjoying it now.”

“Not likely! I have a picture on my cellphone!” Lexus pulled it out of his pocket and waved Axel’s face in Axel’s face.

“Give me that!”

A brief scuffle occurred. It ended with a smashed cellphone, a few bruises, Axel pulling Lexus’ hair, and Lexus’ teeth in Axel’s leg. The two lay beside each other, wheezing, especially Lexus, who had gotten a knee to the ribs.

“I’m Axel, by the way.”


There was a bit of a silence.

“Y-you know wha?” Lexus was starting to relax a little around his counterpart, now that a gun was no longer being pointed his way.


“I wonder if they ever clean these streets.”

Axel craned his head as far back as he could, then continued staring at the sky.



Axel tried to remember what he’d been talking about. Oh yes.

“I mean, you don’t want to be a hero, fine, I’ll just have to find someone else to be my nemesis. But you liked it, I saw it.”

“Lalalalalala~” Lexus had stuck his fingers firmly in his ears.

“S’the adrenaline, good or bad, hero or villain. And you’ll want more.”

“Can’t hear a thing you’re saying, speak up. Lalalalala~”

Axel grabbed one of Lexus’ hands and pulled it away so that he could shout in his ear.

“Hey, I’m trying to be all wise and mentory and cool over here, you mind!?”

Lexus winced.

“Okay, okay! It’s just… you know, I’d like to help people, I really would, but I’ve seen countless heroes, much, much better than me try to fight the Dictator and lose, and I don’t want to go to prison! Or die! Or whatever else! So I do the little things I can, you know. But no heroing. Never ever. I mean, there’s only one person I’ve seen that’s still actually in business, and she’s more a-“


Axel leans forward with interest, the spread of the grin on his face coinciding with the spread of the blush on Lexus’. He starts to fiddle even more than he had been previously, hands twitching as he folds a nearby 7-up can into metal parts.

“Who’s this she~?”


“Hoo hoo hoo! I bet I know! Nar-mmph!”

With the speed of a striking cobra, Lexus is on top of Axel, both hands pressed over his mouth, shooting him a glare that says if Axel says anything, just one more thing, he’ll… he’ll…

Axel gives Lexus in return a half lidded look that says he can’t say anything at all on account of the hands holding his mouth shut.

And somewhere, hidden in the rooftops, Lady Drezebel is doing concept art.

Lexus slowly takes his hands away, allowing Axel to stand up and brush some of the ash off.

“Welp, whatever, this is now officially boring. See ya if you ever decide to train.”


When he’s halfway down the street, Axel decides to throw a bone, for getting to play big bad wolf…

“Have you tried roses?”

…and runs cackling towards the nearest intersection. Lexus narrows his eyes.

He picks up his smashed, sparking cellphone…

“Hey, you said you wanted this!”

… and throws it at Axel’s shrinking head.

He’s rewarded with a crackle, a yelp, and a vow of eventual revenge, and manages to turn his snicker into a cough. A very snicker-like cough.

He might as well explore a bit before heading back. It might be fun!

Author:  Zobot257 [ Sat Jan 21, 2012 11:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tales of Madness




Stories of characters in the universe of Exalted, during the ten years between the shattering of the Fivefold Snare and the Southern Emergence...

3: The Warrior that could not War

A long time ago in Creation, a man named Saffron went to the Blessed Isle to fight the strongest people there.

The strongest people there didn't like that, but he sort of took a lot of it in stride and was smart enough to run when they started ganging up on him

Then he met a boy who was about to die.

Demons had been very cruel to this boy, and he had a fate that was not fate that he did not choose, a life that never would be his.

So he had ran from it. And the demons gave chase, like hounds after a fox.

A man named Saffron saw something in the boy that reminded him of someone else. Someone who didn't deserve what happened to them:

A young child named Baoshi, who had also had big shoes to fill. So he saved the boy.

But to hold off such terrible demons... even a single great warrior could not manage it for long.

A blade was broken. A warrior, robbed of his identity.

The shards scattered, in the hands of those who would cruely keep them away from him

So the warrior fled, taking the boy with him.

And together, the fighter who could not fight and the boy with the fate not of fate, went on a journey. A journey to see a girl who was like the rising sun, the moment just before an awakening.

Horrible things baying at their heels.

The Warrior who could not wage war, leading the boy to see a friend who had never met him.

Until eventually they reached the Witch of the Scavenger Lands and her daughter.

A daughter younger than the boy remembered. Who knew nothing of the boy, even though he knew much of her.

The boy despaired, seeking a purpose.

And the warrior who could not wage war... found one.

Those who can, do. Those who cannot, teach.

Though the boy remembered being friends with the girl, she did not know him. Though the boy was not the girls' friend, he felt fondly for her. Though the fighter could not fight, he could teach others to.

He would teach the boy to fight. To protect a girl that would never know him.

Story 3 End.

Author:  Jane Narbon [ Fri Mar 02, 2012 8:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tales of Madness

Two Short Stories

>Time-Travel Documentaries Pilot Episode (Mechanicsburg). Unreleased Footage<

[Dixie stands in period dress, in a past variant of Mechanicsburg. She's holding a microphone]

"Hi! I'm Dixie DeVil. Today, on The Way Things Were, we're covering Mechanicsburg, including its most famous creation— the Jaegermonsters." [winks at a passing Jaeger]

"The first Jaegermonster was created by Vlad 'The Blasphemous' Heterodyne, through twisted experiments and sinister chemistry. The result was something far beyond what he could have ever dreamed: Strong, though humanoid warriors, with strangely-colored skin, claws, and fighter instincts."

[There are several minutes of rough footage, including Dixie walking from place to place and flirting with a few Jaegermonsters. One even managers to get her to give him a kiss! The scene changes to inside Mamma Gkika's. Dixie's speaking from what is probably a bit later in the script.]

"Jaegers have their ups and downs, but no one can say they're not good partiers! With an enormous tolerance for alcohol and a penchant for competition and fighting, they'll turn any opportunity into a raucous occasion."
[Dixie leans towards the camera, as if about to confess a secret.]
"And don't forget the value Jaegermonsters place on their hats. For instance, if I 'borrow' one—"

[Dixie flutters her eyelashes at a passing Jaeger... then, when he turns to look, grabs the hat off his head and runs for it.]

"Hey! Mein hat!"
"Vot are hyu—" *SOK*

"Vait! Hy haven't blown de vhistle yet!"

[The video feed is knocked out by some sort of impact. The audio continues.]

"Vhy, hyu..." *CLINK* *CLANG* *POW!*
*KA-BOOOOM!* [sounds of an uproar]

[At this point, the audio feed is replaced by some feedback, then static. The documentary series was canceled.]

~ End Dixie's Show


>Jane's Diary, 03/16/XX — 04/10/XX<

My experiments in quick matter teleportation have led me to the conclusion that, if the technical issues can be resolved, a device could be generated that would allow for quick escapes from any sticky situation. There's only the question of where to draw the power. If the device is to be usable at any time, traditional power cells may not be the best choice. But what source of power of that magnitude could be quickly derived?
I'll put this project aside for now. Have to work on rigged giftbox for Axel's birthday.

I have it! If I were able to draw energy somehow from the molecules around the user... hmm...
(drawing follows)
I should be able to achieve something if I concentrate on 'upgrading' molecules by forming chemical bonds... the resulting release of energy could be an effective power source, if done over a large enough area. I'm going to talk to Kaylee and see if she's interested in the project— I imagine that with the right type of processing, the surrounding molecules could be converted in a way that releases energy and is relatively harmless.

Kaylee's interested! We went over some ideas earlier today. Because of the relative quantities of molecules involved, Sis says it might be best if the leftover molecules are formed into some kind of physical object. Have to come up with something that's relatively straightforward to construct, and no one would mind being left behind.
This might be tricky.

I was upon the internet, and I found a perfect item to synthesize! It will require a little work with the controller, but I think we can program it generate the synthetic cell patterns as required. Still working on patterns of orientation of the machine. I have a sneaky idea as to what to do with the device, too— I suspect some people will be significantly annoyed at me if I carry out my plan, but that is the peril of being a Mad Scientist.

Testing. Preliminary attempts ended up with self covered in goo. Back to the drawing board.

Slightly better results today. We've gotten the requisite item to form, though there have been some issues with placement. Kaylee was nearly clobbered in the head! Despite this, she thinks she can add some variation to the produced item.

There is a large gap.

I can't believe this got caught beneath a pile of falling logs... anyway. We've got the device almost finished. I'm working on getting it reconfigured so it's easily wearable/concealable— not to mention impossible to break. I'm also getting the power sources together for the time portal for my scheme. I've been keeping that part of it secret. I'd much rather no one found out about THIS.

It's done. Tried it out in a test sparring match or two. The look on Michael's face!

I've got the time portal ready, and I've found the location and forest clearing. I've made 10 of the devices, and instructions in the target language. All that remains is to toss the things through.
If my calculations are right, the targeted group will discover the devices. Their current (and permanent) configuration allows the user to teleport. The object picked to remain behind is a large, wooden log.
I hope the ninjas appreciate it. If what I'm doing works, this'll settle a certain disputed old trope-legend...

~ End of Diary Fragment

Author:  Sarah McLaren [ Thu Jul 05, 2012 11:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tales of Madness

I was listening to WV: Ascend, and this sorta AU thing happened. Enjoy!
“No way, Damien! If we can…”

He took a deep breath, flicking through his childhood memories, finding those incidents, taking them, combining them...


He couldn’t quite manage the Madness Voice but it was probably as close as someone like him could possibly get. It ripped out of him, echoing in the small space, leaving his throat raw.

Sarah paled and raced out of the room as if her legs had been overridden by the harmonics. He locked the door behind her, rubbing his neck, and turned to the nearest bank of switches. He thanked whatever deity happened to be around that they were all labeled.

Flicking the one marked “Intercom”, he licked his lips, and coughed.

“This is…”

It came out as a squeaky croak. He cleared his throat, and tried again.

“This is Acting Captain Damien Lux of the third fleet.”

He tried to think about how to put the next bit, how to sugarcoat it, reassure rather than incite panic, and gave up. The smoke starting to curl through the air vents wasn’t helping.

“This ship… has suffered critical damage. The engines have melted, and we are five minutes from re-entry. I know telling you all to remain calm is rather pointless, in these circumstances.”

He covered the microphone as he fell into a coughing fit. He shut off the ventilators, activated the filters, and pulled his shirt up over his nose.

“That said, a stampede would not be a welcome addition to our current problems. There are people working on repairing the remaining escape pods, and they will notify you when they are ready. So be patient, and follow their instructions.”

He checked the monitor. Things were not going well. Overhead, the first of the warning lights started to blare, beginning the sharp stab of a headache.

“If there are any amongst you capable of repairing the engines, please report to the hangar. That is all.”

He switched off the intercom, moving to face the windshield. It showed a beautiful aurora-touched ocean. Nobody else was seeing this. He didn’t even know how many were still alive; too many of the auxiliary systems were down, having been deactivated to conserve power or damaged by the collision.

He sat down and gripped the joystick, with just the slightest tremor. The autopilot obligingly went into standby, throwing up diagnostics. Altimeter, locked on to the planet below and dropping fast. Ailerons, mostly functional, but responding slowly. Hull – 65% intact. External temperature, rising. More warning lights chose this moment to activate as the ship started to vibrate.

He started the descent.

Author:  chicgeek [ Fri Jul 06, 2012 7:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tales of Madness

That has me curious for more! I like.

Author:  Sarah McLaren [ Sat Jul 07, 2012 11:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tales of Madness

More? But I didn't really plan -


“There goes the lightening!”
“This bolt needs tightening!”
“Let’s find the head that looks the most frightening!”
“Oh yes, we’re resurrectin’ up a storm alright!”

Damien poked his head around the corner and pulled down his dust mask.

“Are you two going to do the entire musical?”

The two exchanged looks, and grinned. Damien rolled his eyes and withdrew, muttering something like “Shouldn’t have asked.”

Axel grabbed the paint roller, holding it like a microphone. Sarah stepped over to the empty paint can, and started a beat.

“Oh don’t worry about your dear old dear.”
“She’s perfectly fine, we’ve got ‘er right here.”
“Freshly dug up, you can hardly tell she’s dead!”
“Not much of a talker, wrote her permission instead.”

Sarah holds up an imaginary piece of paper.

“To participate in tonight’s expeeeeeeeriment!~”

Axel starts playing the air guitar.

“We’ve got everything we need
To cure this disease
Things in jars and spare parts, it’ll be a breeze.”
“A snap!” She clicks her fingers. He nods enthusiastically.
“Just like that!”
“So take a seat, we’ll be as neat as can be.”

“I’ve got the leads!”
“Where’d I put the keys?”
“I’ll get the thing which says “Kill me, please!”
“Because we’re resurrectin’ up a storm tonight!”

“Is the…”
“Jacob’s ladder.”
“Is it sparking?”
“I assure you, sir, it’s positively arcing!”
“There goes the lightening!”
“This bolt needs tightening!”
“Let’s find the head that looks the most frightening!”
“Oh yes, we’re resurrectin’ up a storm alright!”

“I’ll add some gears.”
“Found the bionic ears!”
“Hey, you! When you look at this… do you feel fear?”

A pause.

“Ha! Well you will! Hold him still!”

“The switch is down!”
“Dial’s spinning ‘round!”
“The doors opened out onto the town!”

(Sir, it says this brain may be slightly insane.)
(Oh no one’ll notice, everyone knows the “science by” date’s only a suggestion.)

Because we’re resurrectin’ with a storm toniiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight!~


Lightning flashed and thunder boomed, and they were both covered in paint.


Author:  Herr Doktor [ Tue Aug 07, 2012 8:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tales of Madness

(An attempt to decrazy Herr's past and make him a lot calmer and better to write for, and to make him fit into the storyline properly.)

A man in an immaculate suit sat in a chair in front of a woman who seemed at odds with herself. One one hand, her eyes and face seemed kind, but she seemed like a person stretched too thin, like she'd been worn down and there wasn't enough of her left. They were in an office that seemed to have been pulled out of some bad movie, the lights too bright and the shadows too deep.
The man in the suit steepled his fingers and looked across the desk at the woman. “The board has determined that out methods are... Inhumane, and that we need to shut down the program.”
“Our methods? We?” The woman glared at the man. “I'm no longer involved, and you know it.”
The man flinched, but kept his eyes level. “They consider your part of the program a success, and they want to keep all variations of the Doktor that you've pulled from the various realities.”
The woman looked at him, the color draining from her face. “They want the Doktors, including the primary one, without any sort of paradox oversight, and without controlling factors?” The man nodded in response. “But... That's insane. They could rupture the fabric of space-time, they could cause realities to cease to exist, they could tear open gaps between close lying sets...” She stopped when the Man raised his hand.
“Karen. Listen. You showed me the science. I know the dangers, but they won't listen.” He stopped and sighed. “I'm sorry, but it is what it is. They'll be here to take control of the operation and begin a shift of the resources in two days.”
Dr. Karen Song, one of the most brilliant minds to ever attempt to solve the issue of trans-reality travel, was left speechless. The man stood and extended his hand across the desk. As they shook hands he leaned forward and whispered into her ear. “This can't happen. Trillions of lives are at stake. Remember the fail safe you told me about? Do it.” He leaned back and frowned like he'd given her some sort of warning. “Do we have an understanding, Dr. Song?” She just nodded and gulped. The man turned on his heel and walked out the door, flanked by a pair of guards in black.

Dr. Karen Song's research primarily involved what was essentially a massive computer that calculated and quantified the differences in disparate realities. For example, if her machine were to compare the posiverse and the negaverse, it would find a very low rate of difference in the outcome of the threads that started the base reality. It was such that someone from one reality had a 78.85452% chance of acclimatizing themselves to the other reality with relatively low chance of complete mental breakdown. The machine had not compared the two realities, except as a theoretical reference point, as her research took place in a reality with a difference factor that would take three hours to read completely. Her research also involved a machine that could track her theoretical 'threads' and feed that information into the computer. The computer found one thread that was within a 48% area of common in all realities that the distant, turbulent reality they were in could sometimes access, including occasional access to the posiverse and negaverse. A teleportation device was rigged, and the subject was brought to the lab.

The subject was pulled from multiple realities, and all of the separate entities were trained and enlisted by Dr. Song's new and very generous funders who were known as the Conglomerate. To ensure obedience, they used a variety of damaging mind control that Song did not approve of, although she let it happen out of a desire to keep her funding, though. As mads went, she was fairly sane at most times, and her outbursts were funnelled into her research. After a time, there were issues that started to occur, where in untouched realities, versions of the subject would suddenly have the knowledge and training afforded to the conscripted versions, without the mind control. Soon, several of the versions, now referred to as “Doktors” were sent throughout realities, using convenient and complicated calculations to travel far and wide. Soon, the subject's past no longer existed, and was limited to what the Agency had dictated. Countless realities had been altered. As an experiment, they manufactured a past for one of the subjects, and monitored his progress from afar. He was located in the posiverse, and he had counterparts watching him his whole life, even a double in the negaverse to account for any issues that might occur if people began digging into his past and into alternate reality research of their own. The name he was given was James Shockley and he had come to be known as “Herr Doktor” or just “Herr”.

He'd made mistakes, and friends, and had made a place for himself in that reality. The Conglomerate considered the experiment a failure, because while it made the subject more dangerous, it also made him unpredictable, the reality glitches occasionally affecting his behavior, and he would be nearly impossible to control. They used him for several tasks and found that there were things about him that were too dangerous to continue with, so he disappeared. He was kept locked in a place that was essentially in a dead zone that only half existed.

He was part of Dr. Song's failsafe. After the Conglomerate started to delete the past of the Doktors, Dr. Song knew that she was in a dangerous position. Her new funders were terrifying, and she had no desire to cross them. So, in the same dimensional dead zone where the Primary Herr Doktor was kept, she left a machine that if activated using the genetic material of Herr Doktor as a target, would trace out all of the glitched and deleted threads, essentially rendering all of her research null. She also might have programmed it wrong, in which case it would delete the pasts of everyone that he'd ever come into contact with. She'd used a second version of her reality-probing setup to compute and design the rebuilt threads, knowing that she would be simultaneously creating and destroying hundreds of pieces of past, including entire family trees and altering history. The second machine was run by a powerful artificial intelligence known as Talgo.

Dr. Song walked into the room and flashed her badge at the two guards, who stepped aside, not yet knowing that the program was to be shut down. She sat down next to Herr Doktor, who spent his days staring at the wall, writing, or playing on an old guitar that had appeared in the room one day. There was also a computer where he would talk to an artificial intelligence that was designed to keep him company. Dr. Song looked at Herr, and began to speak to him in German.
“Hello, Herr Doktor.”
“Dr. Song.”
“I'm sorry I haven't been here to visit lately. But I do have good news. It's time.” Over the course of several years, Dr. Song had secretly told Herr about her plan, speaking German as a basic way to keep the guard from knowing too much.
Herr nodded, a mad grin slowly spreading from ear to ear. Dr. Song looked over at the computer terminal and spoke to it, now in English. “Talgo, engage.” The computer bleeped in response, and the machinery that allowed for trans-reality transport for the Conglomerate's purposes activated, amounts of energy great enough to destroy planets and collapse starts and in some cases, cause a second big bang fired up. All of them. Talgo responded, “All systems activating. Isolating threads and preparing for rearrangement. Time to event, seven minutes.” A bubble of blue energy form around Herr, who suddenly locked completely still.

Dr. Song stood up. Seven minutes. She could handle that. A grin spread from eye to eye. Sometimes, when a very sane mad is given enough provocation, some real madness can come out. The next seven minutes involved such strange breaches in reality and sense that some of the guards sent to stop the process were stuck in a mental loops as squirrels for months, and would wander around the facility, collecting acorns and climbing trees.
Dr. Song came back into the room, cackling absentmindedly as reality warped around her. After a moment, her mobile horizon breacher shut off, and she stopped cackling and looked at Herr. “Ready?”
He nodded. Talgo spoke again. “Engaging program. Goodbye.” The computer then clicked and engaged the program.

Talgo was a clever writer, and knew how much energy he would have to work with. So, he made minimal changes, usually just slipping the Doktors into existing families, and lightly rewriting the genetic code of that family going back just far enough. In most cases, history was completely the same, and the Doktors having existed or not had no impact. In the posiverse however, Talgo did a little more. He slightly changed some of Herr's experiences, but left him much the same, including his disappearance. He took many of the details of his past up until he bagan to affect the threads of that reality significantly, and simply made them not exist. Lives changed drastically. His parents, who were plants from the Conglomerate, ceased to exist, and many people he interacted with had massively different lives. In that reality, that form of Herr had ceased to exist at his disappearance. A new version was created however, because Talgo wanted him to have a fair existence for a while. Also, Talgo was smart and knew they'd need another failsafe, as the Conglomerate would still exist, and chances were they had failsafes of their own, although none this elaborate. So, one day, a geneticist and a machine making genius had a son. Not for the usual reasons, but because the geneticist was a bit inept, and wanted a test subject he could work with almost from scratch. After a time, though, the child became more than an experiment, and he grew up, learning from the pair of them, and having as normal a youth as the son of two mad scientists could have. The mads did forget to name him, though, but instead called him their “Little Doktor”.

In all realities, Herr Doktors advanced properly for their realities, and the state of the time-space continuum were as decent as they could be with mad scientists running around. The Conglomerate still existed, but their abilities were limited, and they'd lost their best source of manpower. Talgo had changed his Thread and that of Dr. Song for their safety. Talgo made himself human, and placed himself and Dr. Song into the posiverse in Zyon city. Dr. Song's spark was much more powerful and rather than fiddling with reality, she took her name to heart and specialized in inventions invloving sound and music.

No ill effects were felt by most people, except that fettuccine alfredo was orange for a week no matter what anyone tried, and people had a lingering sense of deja vu and in some cases, vuja de, but only the first time any of them listened to Simon and Garfunkle.

People who had encountered the old Herr never seemed to connect the name “Herr Doktor” to “Herr Doktor” or realize that while the new one went by Jim after watching Taxi, and the old one was actually named James. Some mads did, but in their insanity often dismissed it. Herr did have issues where his reality would snap apart and he would flashback to things that had never happened to him in this timeline, and thanks both to his father and to Talgo not talking to the main computer for a week due to an argument over several million games of chess played during time while the some of the new realities were compiling, Herr did have a very unpredictable genetic code.

But more on that another day.

Author:  Kate [ Tue Aug 21, 2012 11:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tales of Madness

Relating to the heroic mortals who will be in the Exalted campaign after this one, I have Zixin. I am still working on his personality but I think regardless this should be reasonably accurate, even if it's not a complete portrayal.

"No no no! The wood paneling does not go in until it is carved! There is insufficient access once it is in place!" The tall, fire-haird man strode over to the workers, picking up the wooden panel from their arms. "A proper craftsman CANNOT be expected to work cramped against the floor or standing on tip-toe to reach as far as possible toward the ceiling." He carried the panel back outside, and a bit away from the construction, setting it down with the other pieces. "This wood shouldn't even be here yet- the craftsmen need it to do their portion of the work." After some further searching, he directed the group of workers toward a secondary room where the digging of the foundation had not yet been completed.

As he walked, a nondescript man of average height and slender build followed, deftly picking his way through the scrap wood and metal despite being entirely focused on a scroll he was holding. Upon reaching the pile of uncarved wood paneling, he looked up. "Master Mnemon? The paneling shouldn't go in until the stone is placed and the structural metalwork is complete... At this point, it would be more efficient to use this as flooring in the main chamber and order new wood for the paneling?" Although the man with the scroll spoke quietly, Mnemon listened carefully, turning away quickly once he had heard sufficient information.

"Second Group! As soon as you finish marking out the walkway, switch to flooring the main chamber using these supplies!" Mnemon looked back, to see man with the scroll examining the panels. "Zixin, I trust my suppliers."

Zixin quickly recoiled from the panels, holding the open scroll in front of him. "Yes, sir! Sorry, sir. Of course, sir."

"Perhaps you could aid in the construction of the metal supports. I believe they are behind schedule as well."

"Of course, sir." Zixin scurried off, reading over the large blueprint on the scroll he was holding as he continued to avoid both the scrap material on the ground and the holes dug for various structures to be laid, only being deterred by a worker walking in front of him.

Mnemon Hideo looked around, considering. The manse appeared to be closer to schedule than could have been hoped for, given the general organization of the merchants and workers. Zixin, of course, was organized enough, and given how much he expected to be paid for his work- well, Mnemon could tolerate a bit of schedule slip. Obviously, he had done some research into Zixin before hiring him, given the low rates, but, well, even the best craftsmen could lack work if they could not communicate properly with potential patrons.

It was merely fortunate that he had found the craftsman- a stray chance that lead to him wondering who had modified the former architect's schematic.

Mnemon's supervision was not strictly necessary, but Zixin tended to lack the appropriate volume for a construction site.

Of course, there were exceptions to everything. At the end of the day, when Mnemon stopped by the forges, he found Zixin looking rather confident. Several other smiths were still working, and as Mnemon watched, one more entered, looked a complicated diagram on the wall (drawn in Zixin's style), and walked to a forge still warm from previous use.

Zixin himself, though his portion of work was done for the day, was pouring what appeared to be an arm bracer out of a molten metal that somehow seemed to glint despite its glow. Mnemon frowned slightly. Even if Zixin had gotten permission for his side project, he was still unsure about how good of an idea it had been to allow it.

Author:  Jane Narbon [ Fri Sep 07, 2012 7:27 pm ]
Post subject: 

Imagine. A long line of stratus/cirrus clouds stretches across the huge dome of the clear blue sky. The clouds are striated in a way that makes them look like the tail of an eel, or some great serpent. It’s approaching sunset, and the light is beginning to dim.
The line of clouds moves. It moves along its length, pulled over the horizon, rapidly vanishing on the other side of the mountains.
There’s silence, for a moment.

Then, a ROAR of elation is heard, and with an aerial cacophony, an enormous, cloud-formed head, greater than any hill or city, zooms back up, dragging its long tail behind it. It sees you; you wished a boon of it earlier, and it has heard your prayer.

Slowly, the cloud-creature gets closer and closer, its face resolving to the reptilian jawed head common to its kind, but made entirely of air and vapor. It is now not merely enormous; it is immense. Carefully, the entity approaches you, stopping a few feet from you.

And then, it crouches, letting you climb onto its form, and ride it into the unknown.


(And if it's not canon, it freaking should be. I know a LOT of Exalts would love riding a giant cloud-dragon.)

Author:  Jane Narbon [ Sun Sep 09, 2012 7:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tales of Madness

Old projects never die. They're just delayed for a hella long time. (Part 9 here)

The Champion of Fun
Part 10: Infiltration!

...and that's how I found myself in a dubiously-fitting business suit, walking behind Emily as she and I walked into the 'big freaking edifice'. Tedd had explained it all in the phone call.

"The key is to act as if you belong. You're walking to somewhere, not wandering around. I'm sending fake identification to you and Emily by catgirl."
"...what?" I said.
There was a blur of motion in my peripheral vision. When I turned to look, no one was there— but Emily was holding a book-sized package with a quizzical look on her face. Inside were two plastic ID cards: one with my face, and one with hers.

I knew what stage of the Journey we were in now. Some analysts of story called this the 'Night Sea Voyage', while others called it the 'Stealth Run'. Still, the principle was the same. Into the lair of the main antagonist!
There was just one problem: Usually, the final showdown wasn't at this point of the story. Instead, there was some sort of twist, or continuation. What if—?
I shook my head, hard. This wasn't a story. This was real life, and I was overthinking things. I focused on Emily in time to hear the receptionist, who was just as grey as she was, reply, "Your IDs have confirmed. Full access up to the 57th floor."
Emily gestured that I should follow her into a nearby elevator. The doors closed behind us.

On the way up, I couldn't help thinking. What was waiting for us at the top? Would this really play out like it did in most of the stories of the western world? Or would—
"Jason, I have a question. What motivates you?"
Emily had interrupted my thoughts. "Huh?" I said.
"When you received a message from this 'Tedd', you followed without question," Emily said. "We are now about to do something very dangerous; yet, you've obeyed him without question. Why?"

She had a point. Why was I doing this....? I couldn't just say that I was worried that a story would aggressively co-opt me.
OK, I was worried a little, but that wasn't the whole reason.

I looked over at Emily's gray-tinged skin. She was another reason I was doing this, but... could I tell her in her current state that it was for her? Really? She'd ignore me. And there was a larger reason, too.
"Well," I said, trying to think of a good way to put things. "Back when I was maybe... eight years old or so, me and some other kids had a winter sled race."
Emily raised one eyebrow, but continued listening.
"I wasn't exactly a very big kid, then, and I wasn't the 'cool kid' or particularly big or... well, I was kind of scrawny, actually. I didn't have a sled you could steer, either— just one of those... saucer things."
I looked up at the elevator light display. We were only a third of the way to the top.
"Saying that one kid 'ruled the neighborhood' or anything like that is a big exaggeration, but I guess you could say Jen was... really important at the time. She chose the course. Thrill Hill."

Emily had grown up in the same town as I had, but the mention of the five-story, icy, hairpin-turn hill didn't cause any reaction.
"I don't know if you were there that day, but me and about a dozen other kids, or more, lined up at the top of the hill. Someone said 'Go!' and then... everything was a blur of motion. At one point my scarf blew over my face. I couldn't see where I was going, and when I got it off, I discovered I had just missed a SPEED LIMIT sign. I saw someone with a toboggan abandoned in the brambles by the side of the road. All the time, I was feeling a rush of wind. It was pure joy, in that one moment....
...and then I was at the bottom of the hill— and I was the first there! I'd won! No one else expected it."
As Emily listened, politely, the elevator gave a *ding* and the doors opened. "We take the stairs from here," she said, and guided me to a door.

Once we were safely in the stairwell, she gestured for me to continue.
I said, "I was really happy about winning, obviously, but if you'd asked me or any of the other kids if they'd had fun, they'd say, 'Of course!' It's more than just that one sled ride, but I think that's the reason why I'm in this. Because 'fun' is something that needs to be preserved."
Emily nodded, pushing open a door at the top of the stairwell. "I see," she said, as she walked into an outer office. No one was there.
Tedd must have given her directions, because she pushed open the door behind the secretary’s desk. On the other side of the room was a huge office, with furnishings and view that would make most CEOs jealous. Two walls were all window.

Instead of what I was expecting— a grey-stained, fun-averse woman sitting grandiosely in a gray chair— the room was empty. Slowly, we walked over to the desk and glass walls.
The desktop was perfectly, hair-splittingly neat. Not a pen was out of place. The computer screen was dark.
Silence was paramount.

I decided to break it. Something was wrong here. As I looked out at the view, I pulled out my phone and called Tedd.
“Yes?” Tedd picked up.
“Tedd,” I said, “I’m on the top floor of the skyscraper, and no one’s here. The worst we’ve gone through so far is to walk up some stairs. What did you mean when you said this ‘mission’ would be more dangerous—?”

“He meant you’d be right where I wanted you.”
I admit it: I jumped. An entirely too familiar steel-clad voice was coming from right behind me.
“Yipe!” I said, but it was just the computer screen. It had lit up, showing Madame President. Some text said ‘Transmission from’, and gave an address.

“You are now 64 floors off the ground,” the woman stated, “and the elevators have been disabled. I have alerted security.”
Emily ran over to look at the monitor. “Why are you doing this?” she asked.
“Simple,” Madame Prez said. “This gets both of you out of the way. Have a nice descent.”

And then the screen went blank.

Author:  chicgeek [ Fri Oct 19, 2012 4:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tales of Madness by Chicgeek and Dr. Beard

By Chicgeek and Dr. Beard, taken from a chat conversation. An Exalted tale.

In the City of Humble Harmony-

Ti stretches her toes out towards the fire, content as a cat. Hue seems equally relaxed in his own chair. They'd worked together on her herbal compendium, both too engrossed in getting the words just right to pay attention to the clouds. Not until they were startled by that first rumble of thunder.
"Oh!" Hue begins swiftly gathering his supplies, carefully tucking a calligraphy brush in an inner pocket. "When did that blow in? If I hurry, I think I can make it back before-" And the clouds open to unleash a hard driving rain, the kind that falls at a fierce slant soaking even those with the forethought to carry an umbrella. Hue looks out with dismay.
"Perhaps you should stay a little longer." Ti's habitual whisper is wry.
"....Perhaps I should."
Ti casts a practiced eye upon the storm. "That's not letting up for hours. Might as well make dinner and build up the fire."
"Hours?" Hue blinks. "An hour, maybe. It's bound to lighten up. Enough for me to borrow a cloak and run for it." The rain pelts down harder. Almost gleefully so, he'd swear.
"Hours. You can make a run for it then, or grab a blanket and doss down by the fire." Ti begins measuring the rice.
"I couldn't impose-" he protests, faintly.
Ti rolls her eyes and hands him a knife and a small bowl. "Here, chop enough of these to fill that." Hue picks up one of the wrinkled brown objects she gestured to. Mushrooms? It could be a dried mushroom, couldn't it? Philosophically, he gets to work.

Just rice, and soup, and the last of the fresh plums. Delicious. Hue's stuffed. It's better than some of the meals he's had in stately mansions. (Of course, companionable silence instead of having to sing for his supper elevates any meal over the feasts his patron threw.) Now, a chair in front of the fire, and the sound of rain. The scents of the various plants hung from the ceiling in bunches, or distilling in the still room, or in jars filled with dried matter in various shades of brown, thicken the air; a mix of sharp and sweet and green scent.
Satisfied, they both look forward to tea.

"Okay, so I'd been hauled off to the other side of town again, and didn't find my way back home till almost, maybe an hour or two before daybreak. I knew Mumma would be furious if I woke her up, so I tried to sneak in through the window..."
Relaxed, Hue is telling a story about the time he got caught trying to break into his own house; the young teen who dragged him back out the window to beat him up nearly got credit for stopping a theft, while he was almost arrested.
"- so they asked Mumma if she wanted me brought in, right, and she said yes. I kept saying I lived there, and one of them said, essentially, 'you can't expect us to believe that when this woman who lives here says you don't,' and Mumma chimes in with 'Oh no, he DOES live here, a'righ, but tha's the third time he's got th' window jamb stuck an he oughta be taught a lesson!' "
Ti can't help but smile. He's doing the voices and everything.
Now Hue's laughing. "They asked her to repeat herself. Couldn't believe what they were hearing. Then they repeated her words back to her, veeeery sloooowly. I thought she was gonna smack 'em she looked so livid."
Ti notices he's mixing up the formal and informal words now, cultured school vocabulary crashing into a half-forgotten childhood vernacular.
"Wow. So, what happened next? Did you get to go in, or did they really arrest you for climbing in your own window?"
Hue's still smiling. "Oh, they let me go. Mumma nailed the window shut after that though. Which is funny because, you see, she said she was angry about me getting the window stuck because she would get in trouble with the landlord. I'm not quite certain how nails in the windowsill are an improvement in that regard."
Ti shakes her head. "I can just see those city guards making their nightly report. "We hauled in three drunks, broke up a fight, caught a mugger, and oh yeah, we almost arrested a kid climbing in his own window.' Heh."
Hue chuckles. "Everyone in the building knew I lived there, but they were all just... watching. Like it was a performance. Imagine it was fairly surreal."
Ti's puzzled. "Hey, you said, 'you were hauled off to the other side of town again?' What was that about?"
He lifts an eyebrow. "Oh! Yes. That happened fairly frequently. Did I not tell you?"
Ti shakes her head. "Nope. And, sounds like the folks in your building were starved for entertainment. Or jerks. Possibly both."
Hue continues, matter of fact. "Possibly. No, there were some older boys and girls in the building and around the neighborhood who knew I was clumsy and that I had a terrible sense of direction, so every now and then they'd catch me and stuff me in a sack or something, then sneak off to drop me in a strange part of town. They took bets on how long it'd take me to get back, I think. Usually happened when I was locked out, so they could sneak around after dark without anyone asking what they were doing with an unusually vocal trash can."
Ti's shocked. The story just quit being funny. "That's...that's terrible. You were just a kid."
Hue shrugs. "It wasn't much fun, certainly, but I always found my way back eventually.They weren't trying to murder me or anything. ...With the possible exception of one boy, Jarras, who smashed me over the back of the head with a wine bottle on three separate occasions. But he was arrested for something or other at some point and the family moved away shortly after."
Ti shakes her head. "Yeah, but they were still sadistic, cowardly bullies." Then the last thing Hue said sinks in. "He what?" Her whisper has the tone of a shout. "Gods damn, Hue, three times? And he was allowed to get away with it?" Ti takes a deep breath, and collects herself. "My friend, you are lucky to be here. Now you're a famous poet. Who's being chased by the Wyld Hunt. The more things change, eh?"
Hue laughs lightly at the comparison, then shrugs again. "I didn't tell on him. Perhaps I should have, but I thought it was easier not to."
She sighs. "Hue, I know it was a long time ago in a different place, and that it's far behind you, but I'm still fighting the impulse to hug you." Ti pauses. "Eh, I suppose I can indulge in being impulsive upon occasion."
Hue finds himself being given a quick tight hug, and lets out a startled squalk. Ti grins. "There! Okay, sorry, I won't embarrass you any more." She winks. "And no, that was not Tizzy." Pausing a moment, she continues. "She would have thrown in a noogie."
"Hee." Hue is embarrassed, a squished smile on his face, but not only because of the hug. He had given up on trying to tell these sorts of stories to Peri, who hadn't laughed at any of them, but had on several occasions sworn up storms of curses at every person involved, then given Hue a plate of cakes and tea. There was something disconcerting about it all, the pity and concern where he didn't think it belonged. His childhood hadn't been that bad, had it? He'd always thought of it as about average, a little worse in some ways, a little better in others... "Everyone else seems to be so much more upset about this than I am."

Ti's feeling a tad embarrassed herself. Well, maybe she should share a little too.
"Me, I grew up dirt poor. Literally. Dirt floor. We had our own place, but it was pretty much one room and a small outbuilding. Something between a barn and a shed. Little farm, outside of town. If you could call that small village a town. I'd go days without seeing anyone but my parents." Her voice is matter of fact. Rising, she pours hot water over the tea. A marvelous smell fills the air.
Hue nods. "We were lucky, I know. Decent little apartment, only six or seven families in the building, and that was with Mumma and Dada just barely getting work sometimes."
Ti nods back, pouring the tea into plain cups. "Hard to imagine, for me. Oh, I always like going to town well enough. Go to the city, make my rounds...tea shops, apothecaries, restaurants..go see Peri, probably bandage him up again." She rolls eyes. "But, I like my solitude. I liked being able to get back away from people, to the peace and quiet."
Hue reaches out for a cup. "Heh, I do too. Just didn't get much of it."
Ti sips from her own, idly doing a mental adjustment of the proportions of the blend. "I bet you're good at finding out of the way places, though. Rooftops and such. And the places that are quiet when it's very, very early in the day."
Hue murmurs assent, sips. After a moment-
"...Forgive me if I'm prying, but... were you happy? Growing up?"
"....Yes. But, I was pretty young when my life..lives? changed." Ti's face is calm. Peaceful. But there's a stirring, beneath.
*That's an understatement.*
Oh, hush.
Hue sips tea, face studiously neutral. Polite. Ti smiles gently. "It's okay, I know you're dying to ask after such a cryptic statement. You have excellent self restraint, though."
"You don't have to talk about it if you don't want to," he hastens to assure her.
But Ti continues. "I was a lot like Tizzy, growing up. No, that's wrong. I was her."
*AHA! You admit it!*
Was is the operative word here. I grew up.
*You got boooring. (sniff)*
Ti ignores her. "That was my nickname. I won't get into how my parents died, and how this-" she indicates her throat-"happened."
fire screaming(who? us?) sharp hurts stop stop Stop
"But I got a mentor, who raised me." *those bushy eyebrows, fierce* grumpy, grouchy *I miss him* me, too "It was a good life, too. Just...different. Living with a hermit, becoming pretty hermit like myself. I strive to be self sufficient, to have self control. Which is amusing when I can brew a mean intoxicant." Here she smiles. "Or as Peri would say, 'recreational aid'. She thinks I'm too much of a boring stick in the mud, "*I Know!*, "I think she's too impulsive and reckless," *Ha! That's how life should be.* "but we coexist well enough. I'm glad you all don't mind, or say you don't." Ti grins at Hue. "Before, if she made an appearance, people would blame it on my testing out a new formula." *(giggle)* "Peri was the only person who knew. Well, aside from my old mentor. And, you can ask questions, I just may not answer them, all right?"
Hue considers. He has been curious... "Alright." Pause. "Do you two... are you aware of each other, at all? Or is it like one of you goes to sleep when the other wakes?"
Ti, still calm, pours out a second cup. "We're aware of each other. I'm the one in control, except for rare occasions." *(grumble) Yeah, yeah, rub it in.* "So, if it switches from her to me, I will know what I've done. And usually go, 'oooh, crap.' It's not like waking up and having a chunk of time missing."
*(sense of satisfaction)*
Hue nods, again. "I see. And do you both know what the other person knows? For instance, if I were to speak to Tizzy, could I assume she knows the story I just told you?" He'd heard stories about this kind of thing, but if he had learned only one important lesson in life, it was that the tale and the truth were often far removed. Ti was his friend. He wanted to understand.
Ti sips her tea. "Yes, you can assume that. It isn't a non stop conversation in my head, maybe she does...drowse? But yes, if I know something, so does she. Don't know if that's normal or not for this." She snorts. "Normal."
Another pause. " Am I freaking you out?"
Hue looks her squarely in the eye. "Ti, we both fluoresce on command. We met by battling the same shadow demons. We bonded, in part, over a fight which involved enemies that travel by zombie squid."
Ti chokes a little on her tea, snorting with laughter. Hue has to snerk at that himself. "What I mean to say is, no, not particularly." A shared grin.
"Heh. You realize, if you'd told your story to her, there would be cussing. She would want to go beat people up with you-and since the original targets are too far away, then you'd be dragged off to find surrogates." *plenty of those!* "Copious amounts of booze and sweets would be involved." *grin* "The adventure would end up before a magistrate, or maybe there would be a successful escape, with bruises and a hangover. And more. You got off lucky just being embarrassed with a short hug."
*it's like you're reading my mind.*
Ti sits back, a picture of serenity.
*C'mom, you'd want to, too. I know you were as sad and mad as I was. I could take him on an adventure!*
You say that like you'd be giving him a present.
At this, Hue raises an eyebrow. "Supposing I didn't want to go?"
"Heh." Ti smiles.
Hue doesn't find the smile reassuring. "No, really, supposing I thought that was a terrible idea."
"You'd still find yourself dragged off. " Ti smiles, wryly this time. "Or, if you were truly, something would happen. You'd have her tugging on your arm, and in search of 'fun'."
Oh, hell no! Leave the poor boy alone!
"Well, sentiment appreciated, but I'm glad that isn't happening." Hue sighs. "I still don't see what's so terrible. It was frightening at the time, but in retrospect I think it's funny. And the guards were nice enough about the whole incident once they worked out what was going on." He's honestly puzzled by her reaction to his story.
"Oh, it was funny. Arrested for climbing in your own window." She snerks again, briefly, before sobering."I just hate the idea that people were mean to you. I don't know, maybe you just bring out a protective streak?" She shrugs. "Which is kind of amusing. I've seen how good of a fighter you are. I've seen you make supernatural beings back down with words alone, too. Anyway, you are hereby excused from following Tizzy on wacky adventures or debauchery. Even if she has no sense and will get in trouble. Just bail me out later."
*Sez you.*
"Will do." Hue takes another sip. "Is there anything I should do should I, ah, meet Tizzy in person?"
"Duck?" Ti laughs. "Kidding, kidding. She was in control when we exalted, you know." *happy dance* "But you're excused for not noticing-it was a fairly hectic time! We're both your friend. You don't have to worry. Even if she is jealous."
*Aw, why'd you hafta-*
(sticks out tongue)
"...Jealous?" He's puzzled.
Ti continues. In for a penny...he might as well be forewarned. "Peri admires you. She, for some unexplained reason, has a crush on him." She shakes her head. "There's no accounting for taste. He's dear to me, but strictly as a staunch, but exasperating, friend."
*(glower) He's perfect for us!*
Oh, please! Not. Friend, yes, dear friend, yes, but romance? He'd drive me crazy. (pause) Crazier.
Now Hue has an amused smile. "I admire Peri as well, but there's not the slightest chance of anything romantic between us, if that's what she thinks." He takes another sip of tea. "I've never had a lover, or desired one, actually. Not opposed to the concept, just... it isn't something that ever happened, with me. Ironic that I'm so well known for those terrible love poems, isn't it?"
Pipe down already!
*(sticks out tongue)*
(sticks out tongue)
Ti's face is serene. "Eh, it'd be boring if we were all the same. I haven't had a lover myself, but she has." *smug* "Not that I'm opposed to the idea, mind." *oh, reaally?* She blushes, slightly, thinking of a far off soldier...and skritchable ears.
Hue gives her a slightly cheeky grin at that. "I wish you both the best of luck with your romantic endeavors, then."
Ti gives him a light thwap on the shoulder. " Hush, you." Her blush deepens. His grin widens. "Ehehehe~ If you ever need help finding the right words, I do have professional experience in that area~"
"Hue!!!" Well, nice to see he'll come out of his shell around friends. Come to think of it, he's seemed pretty confident in general, for a while now.
Deep breath.
" ...besides, I think using someone else's words is, well, cheating. No offense."
He laughs, not offended at all. "I always thought so too. I was only teasing."
Ti gives him a small smile. "Pest."
"Thank you. I do my best."
"Heh." She pokes at the fire, thoughtful.

The rain falls.

(And yes, words italicised between asterisks* are Tizzy's thoughts, italicised in bold, Ti's thoughts)

Author:  Jane Narbon [ Wed Dec 19, 2012 6:20 pm ]
Post subject: 


NEWLY UNEARTHED, we present the SCANDALOUS and SHOCKING details of the INTIMATE CORRESPONDENCE of two WELL-BRED LADIES who, in truth, are MUCH MORE than they SEEM.
To be PUBLISHED in this PERIODICAL upon a WEEKLY basis!
(This is the Victorian story that me and Chic have been working on for a while. We'll be posting weekly, in part so we get the nudge to get back on it! This first segment was written by Chic.)


Helena, Ambassador to Wales, is going through the day's post. Invitations to parties, bills, advertisements— oh, a note from the Prime Minister!— discreet responses to missives that oh-so-delicately hint blackmail, and a rose-pink envelope addressed in a feminine hand.

Dearest Helena,
I hope this finds you well? I know you are frightfully caught up in the busy social whirl-I do hope you take a moment to put your feet up and have some tea.
I've been frightfully busy myself. Dash, dash, dash— and you'll never guess the latest. I let myself be talked into performing again, and after vowing I was retired from the stage! But it's just for one night, and really, it was just too tempting! Details to follow.
I'm going to Simpson's tonight, and I'll be late as late if I'm not careful, so I'll stop here.

A normal, gossipy note from a society lady— but the bubbly tone strikes a jarring note with anyone well acquainted with Emilee. Helena smiles, and sniffs the letter. Just as she thought— a delicate rose perfume scents the page. She carefully applies a liquid from one of the dainty bottles on her dressing table, and more words appear below the signature.

Speaking of tea, I found something interesting on the last East India Tea Company airship. Very interesting indeed, and more up your alley than mine. A small package with a interesting set of blueprints, a list of addresses, and gold krugerrands! If you go shopping tomorrow at Claremont's, I will have Our Mutual Acquaintance slip a copy into your reticule.
I'll be at Lord Buckridge's dreary house party this Saturday. I let the old goat think he persuaded me out of retirement. Think you can bat your eyes and wrangle an invite? I'm hoping to find out a bit more then.
Must fly! Literally. The navy's been far too uppity since they commissioned that new dreadnaught. They're in desperate need of someone to show up its flaws.


Author:  Zobot257 [ Wed Dec 19, 2012 7:41 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tales of Madness

Ooo... I like! Keep it up!

Author:  Jane Narbon [ Mon Dec 31, 2012 3:57 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Tales of Madness

Published WEEKLY-ish.


A letter, a short while later:

Dear Emilee,

I am indeed quite well; I have had such busy days recently, one doesn't know where to begin. I am fortunate that my rolé as Ambassador is a light one, normally speaking. (Mind you, there are times when it does become terribly important, but I am bound to silence upon the matter.)
Recently, however (as usual) my business has needed less discretion; I was shopping at Claremont's just the other day, and I found a most lovely blue silk that I intend to have made into a dress. I think I shall try a slight variation on the current style. I have picked out a fan to go with it; it has a pattern of trees in the ocean, with— well, you can see it when we next find ourselves at the same social event.
While I was there, I found an unusual mottled green chiffon that I think you would love; a sample is enclosed.
I'm gratified to hear you will be performing once more, even if only for a single show. I am quite fond of your elegant dances, and will attempt to be present when you take the stage once again.
One more piece of news I think you will be interested to hear: when I was at Lady Conway's salon on Monday, a certain Mr. Alexander Porter seemed to be rather taken with me. He was discreet about it, but I believe I caught him sneaking glances at me! I shall have to keep an eye on him.

I hope things are going as well for you as they are for myself; I await your reply (I should love to know what you have been up to in the past few days).


One of the verticals of the final "H" had the tiniest loop for a flourish. Emilee smiled, and shook liquid from a small bottle labeled "H. Whyte's All-Purpose Correctional Fluid" onto the letter. True to form, the ink faded, leaving a blank sheet of paper. Shortly afterwards, however, an entirely new set of writings appeared on the paper.

Dear Emilee AKA You-Know-Who,

I got the blueprints. There were four total— oddly enough, two were hidden beneath the other two using some sort of concealed writing. As far as I can tell, one is for some sort of strange device that requires a significant number of tuning forks. One, a blueprint of the Royal Opera House— an exact blueprint, something of a rarity if you're looking for one that includes the old lost passages. I think the third was for an iron... dress? I shall need to reply to you later on that one. The fourth was a hash of lines— I suspect it may be in some sort of code. The "dress" and the coded blueprint were the hidden ones. Peculiar.
The addresses are mostly society bigwigs, but not all. I believe at least two small pawnbrokers are on the list, along with a laundry, the Minimal Cathedral, the publisher of a frivolous magazine named [i]High Life[/i], and a house that is either of ill repute or very good repute, depending on who you should ask. I tried placing the points on a map, but it appeared to be mostly random, more or less. A copy of the map is drawn on the included cloth— use the other solution to reveal it.
In addition to that, one of the kruggerrands you included with the package was false! The 'coin' contained a note, which I find very perplexing; it's also in code. Unfortunately, whatever it is written in it resisted most of my attempts to decode it; a copy of the message is included on the reverse side of this letter.

Glad to hear you'll be at Lord B———'s. I got an invitation, and will see you there. Be careful. Buckridge is a wily cuss, even though his parties are dreary. I suppose your performance will spice it up a bit... anyway, ever since his wife died, I have heard the most scandalous rumors about the man. If only half of them are true, I'll be surprised...
If you like, I have a set of listening devices that you could wear to the event— I'll leave them in our secret place, by the park.

Regarding my new fan: Some time ago, I discovered an old treatise on using the fan as a weapon... the new one has a sharpened, reinforced edge, and I've been practicing. You should get one made, as well— I can lend you the treatise... I find myself in need of someone to spar with. It is quite exhilarating. (Also, I've found that dark blue, as a dress color, tends to hide the little chemical beguilements I like to play around with quite excellently.)

Hope your 'career' is going well. I shall let you know if I spot any opportunities for you.
See you on Saturday!


P.S: Be on guard. I heard the Navy has added a number of long-range cannon to the dreadnought. I think they're trying to show [i]you[/i] up...

Author:  Jane Narbon [ Sat Jan 26, 2013 5:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tales of Madness

Published WEEKLY...ish.


Helena's mail today contains not a letter, but a packet of glossy brochures for Cook's tours. She lifts an elegant eyebrow when she sees the heavy envelope, address carefully written in a dark purple ink. Laying the brochures aside for the moment, she carefully cuts open the envelope to make one flat sheet, and adds a few drops of Essence of Violet to the blank inside.

Dearest Helena,
My oh my, you were correct in your evaluation of Lord Buckridge! The old goat had almost backed me into the aspidistra before I 'accidentally' drove my heel into his instep. The poor man is still limping— I hear he's concocted a 'hunting accident' story. I suppose that's true, in a way. And I did manage to get a copy of his keys.
Pity we didn't have more of a chance to speak freely Saturday. I examined the rest of the krugerrands, and they all seem genuine. (What? I didn't pass on all of them.)
This grows more and more interesting. I'm familiar with the Royal Opera House, but had no idea of the extent of the secret passageways. I believe you and I are overdue for a dose of culture, don't you? I suggest we begin at the hidden access panel on the roof and go from there. Consulting my almanac— it seems it should be a moonless night next Tuesday. Masks and basic black are quite fashionable this time of year. Don't worry about transportation— I'll drive.
Is Mr. Alexander Porter still showing an interest in you? My dear, you mentioned the publisher of High Life was on the list? Mr. Porter is the bankroll that keeps the magazine going. Perhaps it would be worthwhile to cultivate his acquaintance? I hear whispers that he's the money behind more dubious business as well....
Love the new fan! I look forward to practicing with you.


P.S. Thanks for the tip off on the long range cannons. Not too shabby, but really! The Navy is stuck on 'bigger is better'. Looks impressive to be sure, but when one can outmaneuver them? When will they realize that size isn't everything?
See you Tuesday!

Author:  chicgeek [ Sun Apr 14, 2013 11:34 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Tales of Madness

Okay, this is something I wrote up a couple of years ago. I pm'd it to Luc and Demo, and forgot it. Thought I might as well drag it out and post it here. I'm leaving in the references to Heterodynes, ect., since this is an old piece.
Jo's origin story. Josephine is the daughter of Joe, of Joe's Diner. Joe, of course, is the god of good food and Demo's creation. His daughter Jo can cook, but is more mechanically inclined-after all, she did make Gladys, her sentient food creation machine. I don't know if Jo and Eustace will still hit it off in canon. Things change, and that's why this is in the Tales section. But Jo's origin came to me in a dream (yes, really), and I scribbled it down.

(The message-Okay, Tinker and I were playing around with Josephine and Eustace during chat last night. (I think Joe would either be amused, or casting a jaundiced eye upon the Heterodyne:) ). They even made an elaborate addition to the Castle library, full of tiny trains and mountaineers and yeti to retrieve books, and glowing fireflies and mechanical flowers.
Eustace had showed her a breakfast machine made of toys-the waffle iron opened like a flower, ballerinas skated butterpats over it, the toy cement mixer filled it with get the idea.
And it prompted me to think about Jo's parentage. We know she's the offspring of the god of good food, she appreciates food, and she's a mechanic. And it suggested something strange as I slept.)


Jo is at the grand ball being thrown in Mechanicsburg, originally in celebration of the newest additions to the Viktor clan, but now a full fledged wingding with the return of the prodigals from their time jaunt. Joe has finagled an invitation for Josephine-this is a once in a lifetime party-and she's worked so hard while he's been on vacation.
It's rare seeing Jo in a dress, but she carries it off in her own style. A cheery blue, that she can move in, a wide gray leather belt cinched around her waist-and you just know the decorative metal bits and bobs are also functional. Sensible gray flat shoes. She snorts a bit at the society beauties in their stilletos-why on earth would you wear shoes to a ball that you couldn't dance in? She's tall and slim, with short brown hair that always looks tousled, no matter what she does to it.
(Anyway, she'd have to meet Eustace and hit it off. Tinker and I decreed it must happen. He suggested a cinderella style beginning, then the two of them being sensible and slipping off to work on an improved egg chute or something.)
When the subject come up, and it inevitably will-
Jo bites her lip. "Yeah, first thing-you know who Pop is, so I'll tell you now, I'm only as old as I look, allright? Anyone who knows, wonders. But my mother-you'll laugh. Or think I'm pulling your leg. Then I'd have to slug you."
"No, really, I won't."
She hesitates. "It's....kind of a strange story."
He smiles, encouragingly. "I'm a Heterodyne-I had to quell a rebellious shoe horn before the party. If it wasn't for the automated tie rack tackling it from behind I would've been late. Try me."
"All right, you asked for it. But if you laugh so help me-" She glares.
Eustace throws up his hands in mock fear. "Never!"
Jo takes a deep breath. "Okay, then. It started with my grandfather. He was a spark, you see. He had a son late in life, and he doted on him, even though he was nothing but trouble. Well, his son repays him by up and leaving home. Wanted his own life. And grandfather got lonely. Morose. He decided he needed a daughter. Someone who'd cook and clean and keep the house cheery, right? Who'd be everything a dutiful daughter should be, and take care of him in his old age. So...."
Jo takes a swig of lukewarm punch.
"He made one."
Eustace nods. "That's not so odd. Most mad biologists tinker with their offspring at least, when they don't build them from scratch."
"Who said anything about biologists? He made a clank. Kinda like a Muse or something? Now, are you going to let me finish this or not?"
Eustace schools his face carefully, and when Jo doesn't detect the slightest upward quirk of lip, she continues.
"Anyway, it worked. Not perfectly-see, she could follow recipes, measure precisely and all that-but she couldn't taste an apple to see if it was tart or sweet, couldn't smell if the fish was a day older than it should've been. But skill made up for that, mostly, and she was the dutiful daughter he'd planned. Until he finally died."
"Then what happened?" Something about this story is nagging at him, a famiiar thread teasing his memory.
"Well, she went on. She was so finely made, y'know? Worked as a cook in palaces, in private homes, in inns-with a human assistant to taste test, natch. Now, this is where it gets weird...." Jo takes another deep breath.
"She gets made human. And never regretted it. Don't ask me what happened, but everyday for the rest of her life she made a batch of cupcakes first thing to leave on the windowsill. Starts getting chubby off her own cooking, a bit-but her smile was real now, and infectious. She created a pie recipe so good it even got Pop's attention, and they, well....had a fling. I was really, really young when she died, I barely remember her. So, Pop raised me."
Eustace nods, slowly. "All right. A muse level clank, made by a master mechanic, turned human by fairy magic-has to be, there's nothing they like better than cupcakes. And you get your mechanical ability from that side of the family. It's a fantastical story, I grant you-but believe me, I've heard stranger. Remind me to show you my family archives sometimes. But I don't think you're pulling my leg."
Jo smiles, briefly. "Yeah, sometimes a fairy will attach themselves to a family, and check in every so often-every so often for them could be hundreds of years, mind you. But when her godmother did show up, apparently she offered her the same gift she gave to her brother, years ago."
She waits for it. Eustace doesn't disappoint her. His eyes widen despite himself. "You, it can't be-"
"Yep. Now ask."
"Your grandfather....your grandfather was-" He can't say it.
Jo nods. "Giopetto."

(Hmm...I wonder if the Blue Fairy knows Elleb?)

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