The Long Goodbye

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Re: The Long Goodbye

#11 Post by Nomine » Mon Sep 24, 2018 9:01 am

Those we love, those we hate, they are canvases. We paint them with our fears, lusts, our anger. It makes it easier for us, and it makes them less than what they are. Sometimes it feels like we wish to see nothing real at all.

"Nomine do you understand that I am grieving."

It is a question that cuts through a lot of noise and bullshit. "Is Sinthya really dead?" is another. "Did he rape her?" is a third. Questions that peel away skin and muscle, exposing the brittle bones underneath.

As her tears run freely, I tell her as much truth as I can. It is almost the same conversation as I had with Sinthya back when Morrigan went into the shadows, I am the last enemy, the last one who knows the long story, for them both. Reckon that means I got a duty to see more of em, rather than to paint em in my image.
Years ago, a few days after Morrigan had left this realm for the shadows, I found Sinthya. The ground around her blackened was, with an outer ring of grass, still on burning, even her clothes were on fire, eating away her clothes, but leaving her unharmed.
"Ya reliving the past Sinthya?"
"The past is gone. There is no point in reliving it."
"Yet we often find ourself visiting it." I took a seat on an old tree trunk, one that still bore the marks from another fight, that time it had been with Entriia.
"Morrigan is dead, Nomine". She closed her fists, and I watched her carefully from behind my mask.
"The only one left from my past now is -you- and I don´t know whether to make an attempt on your life or one to embrace you". The flames on her skin dies out along with the anger in her voice.
"You need to embrace me, more than you need to kill me".
She slumped down into the blackened dirt earth. Like she lost whatever it was that held her up, a shapeless, hurt, soggy mess of humanity. Staring on the ground, her shoulders trembling slightly.

We spoke some more on Morrigan, how the shadows claimed her, how they never keep anything forever and when it is returned it isn't what or who it used to be.
After a while, I called her closer. Sinthya sat down carefully, watching me like she did not know how to behave, what to expect, shared pain being a new thing after years of fighting. After a bit, she leaned into me, and I removed my mask before holding onto her.

"Mrr.. Irony would have it so that you´re the last ally I´ve got". She looked up at me, and I replied with a smile.
"One thing to call it I guess, Sinthya."
"What would you call it then?"
"Reckon we need to figure it out Sinthya, takes more time and a different situation than we have been through. --- Could call it allies, but that has yet to come in my eyes, an ya need to find yer footing again first I reckon."
"Mm ´tis a figure of speech."
She looks away from me, letting her gaze drown in the waterfall.
"What should we do, then."
"We will bury the book deep where no one can come to it easily. I know where."
"Where, Nomine?"
"Core of it all."
"Mrr.. very well."
"Will they hunt for you?"

"Heartfang asked if I had a vision with ya Sinthya.
"A vision?"
"Ay, a vision."
"Mmhm. And what'd you say?" I stroke her back for a few moments, trying to figure out the right reply to that question.
"Said I had a plan, but reckon her question was better than I first thought it to be. After all, plans are the down and dirty, life stained versions of a vision."
Sinthya nods "Visions can be unrealistic."
"Part of it is will be to find new reasons to go on Sinthya, to teach ya some of how I have control, an to temper, to harden yer strengths."
Sinthya gives a stern nod again.
"An to share what Lashela and I spoke of in privacy."
Sinthya gives me a quick glance, and I can see that she is intrigued, before returning her gaze to the water, biting her lower-lip briefly. Strikes me that I could seduce here right here and now. I decide not to.
"Ya were with Morrigan in the end, and ya don´t know how much I envy ya that. Reckon to help make ya whole will be a fair way to make that even."
"There is nothing to envy. She was barely coherent when I got there."
"Ya got to say goodbye; there is worth in that. I just gave her enough, so she could hold on until ya came. "
Sinthya thanks me then, before she leans fully into me, giving me a careful, timid little embrace, like somebody who never have dared to try doing that before.

We both admit to having cried for Morrigan.
Back in the now, I watch Morrigan`s face streaked by tears, no holding them back. She says she should have lived a little longer, so she could have protected Sinthya. I don`t tell her that I watched Sinthya get taken, that I could have killed her easily, spared her the pain. But giving herself to the Embrace, that was her choosen penance.
I offered her a clean death, just like I offered Morrigan one. Neither of them took my offer. I reckon pain is a form of truth for both of them. Something to trust, something that won`t lie. Something pure.

I stay behind after she has left, remembering another time, back when Theramore still stood, years of war culminating with the leader of our Enemy, my captive. While I had broken and tortured Sinthya. Morrigan had remained close, the inability to protect the one she loved, being a torture in its own right, until that one day when she stood outside the house we used as a prison, eyes locked on the door, her whole body tense. Almost like she was trying to will herself through the door and into Sinthya´s room. The Sinthya she wants to see died, the one that are in that room is my creation.
Morrìgan says: I want to sssee her.
Nomine says: I see
Nomine says: Tell me Morrigan, would you pay to see her?
Morrìgan says: What do you want me to pay?
Nomine says: I´ll take that as a yes then. Would you pay through murdering somebody?
I look over her, my fingers tapping out a waltz on the flask.
Morrìgan says Yesss. Who do you want killed?
Nomine says: Even somebody who looks just like her?
Morrigan´s eyes never leaves the door. There is no doubt in her voice as she answers, and I wonder how much of that coldness is my doing.
Morrìgan says: As long as it'ssss not her.
Nomine says: Did you know she got a twin sister?
Morrìgan says: No.
I still had hope back then, for turning Morrigan, like I had turned Sinthya, make both of them into tools for a better future.
That hope vanished as Morrigan´s screamed, anger, hurt, hatred. Screaming to be let out, there was no emotion in Morrigan´s eyes when I let her out, nor when she turned to face me on the doorstep.
"I am going to kill everyone you care about. And then I'm going to kill you.---- I'm going to kill Devvy. And Chit. And every ssssingle Ssstarlighter I can get my hands on."
"And what will that achieve?"
"And I'll kill them sssslowly. Painfully."
Behind her Heartfang let out a low, slow grumble, all meanance. I don´t see Starlighters around us, but the voices on the stone let me know they are there.
"You are not going to kill any of us, not any at all."

I got a vision for Morrigan and both of us got debts to pay.

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Re: The Long Goodbye

#12 Post by Nomine » Wed Sep 26, 2018 1:48 pm

Success is measured by the goal you had
By that account, I failed in achieving my goal for Starlight, after all, I planned to rob them. A somewhat different and nobler goal than leading.
I ain`t sure that Lumi had a clear goal for wanting to have a talk about Shadow versus the Light, I am sure she had hoped, that we would admit the dangers of shadow corruption, that we would ask for help. But hope is a fragile sort of thing, it gets easily pulled down into the muck of real life.

Ya can tell a lot from how people position themselves in relationships to others, even before anyone started cursing or preaching, it was clear what sort of night this would be. People who are curious, who wants to ask questions, they mingle. Instead, people clustering according to the colour of their cloth, with matching drab moods.

"Most of us have an image in our heads of what the shadows or the light are, an what it means to be a devotee of either. I reckon most of us are wrong."
People don`t like to be wrong, can`t say I like being wrong either, but I have gotten used to it over the years. Took me a while to figure out that while I am likely to be the one that knows the most lore about the Dark Embrace, history, religious devotion, rituals and names of the faithful. I don`t know what it means to be one. I don`t understand what Morrigan went through in their service, what she did for them, I never lived it. That insight came with a bit of humility, truth be told. Can`t say I like being humble more than I like being wrong.

Lumi brought with her somebody, Luhannaa who has more insight into what it means to be a devotee of the light then she does, a grand thing. She also suggests that this Luhannaa will help people understand the void. With Annie turning to the void, Morrigan having been pulled out of it and Nightspirit with her own troubled past, I suspect that that idea of her being more of an expert on the void that some of those present is a bit of a stretch. Seven centuries of knowledge on how to eat bread does not make you a baker. Seven centuries of experience in how to make your enemy bleed does not mean you know what makes them laugh and love.
I notice that while Annie quietly asks over the guild stone if the Lightforged kills people like her, Morrigan is listening to what Luhannaa has to say.

Luhannaa says that both the void an light took part in the creation of, well, creation. That void, in general, is a force of chaos. Personally, I would have said it is a force for change, but if yer an orderly sort of person. Change feels both chaotic an terrifying.
She says that light creates, while void changes an twists. That neither is evil, but the void has a tendency to induce madness in mortals.

"Void has a tendency to induce madness in mortals."
Why is that?

A little later, Lumi talks about how the light makes her feel, the joy, the flutter in her stomach. Annie says the shadows make her feel nothing at all, it is an absence, Morrigan, nothing at all. Nightspirit does not feel there is a point to asking, an to a certain degree I agree. It does not matter if a power makes you feel good or nothing at all, you still own your actions.

But if the light gives warmth, joy, while the void makes you feel nothing, it even takes some of your life, some of your feelings in trade for power. How do you resist that drain, that feeling emptiness that makes you disconnected from all?
I reckon the answer is, "you can`t," Not alone, somebody else must come in, give you the warmth, fill you with energy, even with purpose, because what comes from within, that is traded for power. Power itself is an addiction, making us want more. Like most addicts, when you no longer have the means to "pay" for your addiction, you will find currency somewhere else.
Unlike the light, the void does not seem to be too particular about who is paying, as long as it is channelled through somebody faithful.
What the light gives: Love, joy, life, is the prefered currency of the shadows. Reckon there is a need to be a balance between the two forces, the more one gives, the other has to take.

With that in mind and how common it is to say: "The void is dangerous."
By doing that we push people away, instead of giving them the support they need to keep balance or to understand when to stop before giving away something precious. By the time they realise they have traded away what makes them human, it is too late, and we have created a monster.
Wish we could spend this talk on saying "We all accept that blind devotion to the light or shadows are dangerous, how can we put down safeguards and ensure that people tackle those dangers as best as possible?"

Going to war is dangerous, it breaks people
Summoning demons are dangerous, it draws the attention of the legion.
There are thousand and one dangers out there, we can`t tackle or understand most of them on our own.

The devotees of the light, claim to offer direction, but the only path they offer those claimed by the void is abstinence, which won`t work any better for faithful than it does for teenagers and sex.
The Faithful of the shadows claim that the void explores all possibilities, but they are sure as hell asking far too few questions for somebody open to exploring.

I once met a fella, he claimed that our thoughts, our soul was a result of our two brain-halves arguing. That our two brain-halves were a result of being born with an equal potential for both light and shadows, each represented by one half. That when somebody became a devotee of either, it was a result of an imbalance in the brain or the body`s fluids.
Looking at Starlight today, I reckon he must have been the smartest man in Azaroth. Sadly, the manner in which he conducted his research was not all that, human. So the former King had me put an end to him.

The talk ends with people feeling drained, unsettled, without having achieved their goals. Moving forward, if we should, it needs to be private talks, small groups, perhaps focusing on a question at the time.
If we decided to dedicate ourselves to either light or shadows, then we would need to cut away some. We need to learn more, about the forces, about each other. So we can keep the balance, between light and void.

The terrifying part of that thought. Keeping the balance, that was one of Lashela`s goals, back in the early days of The Embrace - the Brotherhood.

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Re: The Long Goodbye

#13 Post by Nomine » Fri Feb 08, 2019 8:20 am

"Training," a simple word with complicated outcomes. I am training Morrigan to be a valuable, resource, a human, I am training Syrawenn to become a leader. Syrawenn might not replace me in the future. But she needs those skills to survive, the world is too dangerous for her not to know how to tell the difference between ego and care, for her not to know how to change the rules of an encounter; Just because everybody around the table is playing poker, don`t mean you can`t pick their picket. Syrawenn needs encouragement, she needs to feel an see that "I can do this."

Morrigan on the other hand, you can`t train her without beating her. She knows she is expendable, but thinks it is because she has no value, or at least no value when she is not bleeding. There is no making her whole and without cracks, but that doesn`t mean she can`t be made into something else than she is today. There is raw emotions in her, and she doesn`t know how to channel them, so they turn into energy, into aggression.
Then there is no forgetting that she is hurting every minute of the day, old wounds that never healed right, broken bones an scars.
In a way, she is a reflection of me, whatever humanity we got, will have to come from the rule book we choose to follow. It is a constructed, fragile thing that makes others think we are like them - human, emotional, subject to the same moral restraints. It makes others comfortable around us. Or well, it can be, when her rulebook is written and printed into her bones.

For Starlight as a whole, there is training to be done. We have made it this far, but so many of us are tired, weary, makes it hard to focus on tomorrow. Makes it hard to see and build the skills that are needed.
Training is also about going through shared experiences, something that forges bonds between people.

On a personal note, there is echo`s out there - of something, or someone familiar. Might be a passing feeling, but there is far to many old faces showing up, both good and bad.

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Re: The Long Goodbye

#14 Post by Nomine » Mon Feb 18, 2019 1:32 pm

So I brought Starlight to my "new" home, truthfully, it is one of a handful of houses scattered around the world, and I don`t honestly feel at home in any of them. That particular house is nestled up against the city wall, so tight that even an honest mans lie couldn't slip between the house and the wall.
Have not been there long enough or cared enough to fill the house with objects, and I am getting far too old to keep sleeping on the floor. So, one of the first things on my mind as getting a bed. However, nothing is as simple.
There are a hundred messages all wrapped up in that bed frame.

Firstly it is a gift from the Kul`Tirian noble house Hawkins to the noble house of Withamhall, telling the other noble houses that the Hawkins seeks favour with the Kingdom of Stormwind.
In a world with arranged marriages, a bed made for two is not without importance either, both Hawkins and Withamhalls have unwed children after all.
Of course, I should perhaps have told Richeron Withamhall about my political machinations, but he, like all of Starlight should be fairly used to me using his name for my own purposes by now.

That the bed is made from one single piece of wood and covered in a carving depicting a Kraken, that is symbolism meant for nobles and thus without value.

Then the boat is collected at the docks by a group of unusual group of people, almost designed to draw attention, gnomes, void elves, humans, all of us carrying ourselves like we don`t fear being attacked, not even when we skirt the poorest parts of Boralus. It makes every hungry watcher ask themselves "Why are they not afraid they will be robbed, perhaps I should be careful around those."
Then some of the watchers will take note of my tabard, of my hat. Some of them will remember that a man wearing that hat, that tabard, also brought corn and flour for the soup kitchen feeding the poor. That he paid grandmother mourning their sons, for a quilt that will cover the bed — all in all, more protection than picking a fight with the largest, meanest bastard around.

People passing by will see a leader that is not afraid of putting his own back into it, they will see people who all share the heavy burden of lifting a massive bed two floors, against all common sense — not stopping until the job is done.

When all of Starlight is gone, then coins will be spent on spreading the rumor of a wild party there, a gaggle of harlots all driven to exhaustion in a Kraken bed, first a few, then several will claim they were there, of pleasure, of power, and a back covered in scars. A fight will break out between two calling the other a liar, claiming the owner of the bed was either a noble or a thief. Neither will be describing me or my name. Of course, both will be paid by me for the fight and the attention they draw.
Just because something did not happen, does not make a lie. What matters is that it makes the local ganglords curious enough to invite me for a conversation, after all, I have a nobles bed, no fear and coin to spread.

A hundred little messages wrapped around a bed, and by the end of two weeks, I still won`t have slept one night in it.

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Re: The Long Goodbye

#15 Post by Nomine » Fri May 31, 2019 11:00 am

I am tired of this burden, of always being the one that gets it right.
Getting it right most of the time, and people start to depend on it.
Get it right a bit of often, and people start looking for the cracks.
The cracks they can use to hurt themselves, the cracks they can use against me.
Actions, the giving of a gift, the sharing of news, the raising a concern, all of it can turn into cracks, the hurt helped on the road by self-doubt.

Being right, an saying the truth is often no more than a word apart, but there is a world of hurt in that word.

Getting it right is only a trick, an illusion, it only exists to make people feel the battle is won, so they can keep on fighting in the war.
When we live long enough, people can`t avoid seeing through the illusion, to notice the man behind the curtain. Seeing through the words that have been used to make people go on for just one more day, for just one more fight, live through one more hurt.

Telling the truth means stepping out from behind the curtain, naked and broken.
That is not an option when people have already started to look for the cracks. What's needed then is something that empowers and gives confidence, along with a structure that people can measure themselves and their actions against. A structure that ain´t based upon one leader or one voice. Those ultimately, always end up corrupting one way or another.

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Re: The Long Goodbye

#16 Post by Nomine » Fri Jul 19, 2019 12:56 pm

"Let you do what?, From where I am sitting it is all sounding like a whole lot of bluster from an aging agent, too old and broken to be relevant anymore."
I lean a little closer, tapping the edge of my card against the table, flashing him a smile.
"Not only are you going to let me Mr. Shaw, but you will also give me a few things, nothing that the King will miss terribly much."
He snorts in reply. The left eyebrow arched so high that it could be a model for a new cathedral hall. "Precisely why should I, and by extension the King give you, and your motley crew of composed of, what is it now again... A soap-making gnome, a dranei loving gnome, one angry orphan-hugger, two flea-bitten refugees, a writer that wouldn't win a spelling bee for two-year-olds, and of course, your most recent acquisition; a bad-tempered murder puppet.
He looks from me to the cards on the table, and I spare a glance at what I got in my hand, three of hearts, eight of diamonds and a queen. It does not match with anything on the table. Looking at him, I doubt he has a good hand either, wars have left both of us wrung up, the last drop of luck squeezed out.

"Mr. Bannon, the Godmaker vessel is a resource that would benefit the war effort. We have been extremely lenient in letting you keep it for so long."

I pass on a shrug in return, "If it lived up to that name, yes. But as we both know." No point in finishing the sentence; we both know how it goes. Live long enough in the shadows, and you end up meeting a half dusin "Kingkillers," "Legendary Warrior of, "Blade of eternal-something-or-other." I stifle a yawn and let my hands change that three of hearts into a jack of hearts. "Mr. Shaw, an escape route, supplies for five people on one week, some magic that lets us camp on the island of Mechagon for a week, and a handful of those grenades that make the locals short circuit."

He lets out another snort, and it is all rather undignified. Goes well with the Nine of spades he puts down on the table. Making for a rather mottled collection of cards facing us, a ten of heart, a two of diamonds.

"Mr. Bannon, starting or supporting a rebellion against a "legitimate" King is not something you, nor I am in a position to be doing. SI: 7 will not aid you or your fishing expedition. We will, however, welcome your donation of the vessel, within the week."

"Can't do that am I afraid, Mr. Shaw, we got to know who the client really is. If they work for the Mechagon King or the rebellion, and regardless of which side they are on. We need to know what else is in their collection. After all, if they had the vessel, imagine what else could be there and how beneficial it could be to the King, to the war effort." There is truth to those words; the client bragged about a unique collection, one that had been seen by very few. As he mulls over my words, I put down the queen. "Got to give the King something he lacks after all."

Shaw adds another nine to the table, then another two, leaving him with two pairs. "Mr. Bannon, I would want some considerations put into place. A pothook on the vessel, magical - so we can extract it when needed."

"Fair enough, Mr. Shaw, in return I want to names put on the "Do not investigate list. Darabelle, a warlock and an yet to be named Piano player."
He gives me a small nod. "I assume that both fall under the Starlight charter we have given you and that this is not a private matter." I give a quick nod in reply. "Furthermore, Mr. Bannon, am I safe to assume that I am given early warning this time?" His last words spoken softly, a warning based on experience in his tone.
"You can be assured there, Mr. Shaw, I might choose to be less decisive when it comes to those two, and one is only a matter of preparation. It shall depend on her actions, which notes she chooses to play."

I put down my cards, a jack of hearts and eight of diamonds, making it, a straight with a Quack on top. "Much appreciated Mr. Shaw, I will let you know if we needed to steal the vessel back and how it went."

He nods, looking down at the cards, dismissing me through his lack of continued interest. As I reach for the door, he lets out a low grumbling noise. "I believe you cheated. Mr. Bannon."

"Of course, Mr. Shaw, you would not want it any other way."

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Re: The Long Goodbye

#17 Post by Nomine » Mon Sep 16, 2019 9:17 pm

Eileena saw, rather sees the world as one long song, injuries are disharmony and healing is bringing the harmony back. Reckon that is part of why we matched so well. I always looked for the cracks in the world and how to exploit those.

A lot has happened the years she were trapped, but enough remains that it can fool anyone to believe they can pick up where they left off, that they understand what has changed and how.
While I never had an ear for music and harmonies, I know how disruptive it can be when one musician keeps playing the same note, and the rest of the orchestra has moved on to a different song. It cuts through it all; it becomes confusing. I imagine Morrigan and Eileena with their fingers poised, ready to play the one note that throws the orchestra into disarray.
When I make them live under the same roof, I do my best to force a change, from how they live, how others meet them in their home, and how they deal with me. Of course, I know that Morrigan is like a broken piece of pottery, and Eileena is can be the gold that weaves the broken pieces together. Starlight works on 'Morrigan's soul, but that does not change that her bones are hurting every single breath she takes.
In the same breath, I know that if Fennewald comes for Eileena, I have put the best weapon Starlight has against a warlock like him, directly in his path. Morrigan understands perfectly well what it means when a man exploits you.

That means there is only a handful of other pressing issues left to handle, from Anomen breaking himself apart, Lumi being wounded by the changes in Starlight, the Vessel needing to be retrieved before it is used against the world, the trial, Cheysa and Chit being off-key each in different ways, Annie struggling, lastly there are new recruits needing to be integrated. Not last, Anadelobrin needs to hear our voices through the emerald.

There is an uncomfortable truth about leadership. It is that everybody else gets to walk away.
If somebody is pissed off - it falls to the leader.
If somebody is hurt - it falls to the leader
If things are not living up to the expectations.
What people rarely take into account is that one hour a week is all that is given to bring everybody somewhat onboard. That is just about one minute per member, or only about five per. one that shows up for the meetings.
You can destroy a lot in five minutes, and it is very little you can fix in the same allotment of time.

Another fun thing about leadership is that I never wanted it.
The child wanted to be a hero
The thief wanted to be a ladies man
The prisoner wanted to be free
The agent wanted to win
None of them wanted to lead, reckon leadership is something you only want until you understand it until you know the weight of it, but by then it is too late.

What is damned sure that there is never enough time. But I am paid to pretend like there enough time to recognize everyone and to ensure that we survive every storm. Just as I am paid to know that "we" does not mean "all." That people 'don't need to like the monsters that keep them alive.

A funny thing about my home: there have not been any mirrors there for a long time, and I won't be putting one up. A blind woman doesn't need it, a tool doesn't need one, as, for me, I know every line of my face, and I don't need my reflection as a reminder of anything else.

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Re: The Long Goodbye

#18 Post by Nomine » Mon Sep 16, 2019 9:18 pm

One hundred blades hidden on the body,
One enemy well meet
99 blades hidden on the body,
One friend cut twice
97 blades hidden on the body.
A score of lovers,
A few blades left
A war well fought,
one blade hidden on the body
A life well-lived,
100 scars on the body.

A lover lost and found, 1000 words caught in the throat.

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