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  1. - Top - End - #241
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    Default Re: [Changeling] A Gathering of Mists IC

    "No." said Stephanie. "No, that's a bad deal. I refuse."

    That looked like it had seriously hurt her to say. She pulled her hood up to cover her face. She dropped the clothes she'd been given on the ground.

    It was really the casual disrespect of answering her phone in the middle of the conversation that had sealed the deal for Stephanie there.
    Last edited by Thanqol; 2012-07-18 at 12:34 AM.
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  2. - Top - End - #242
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    Qian Long looks over at Stephanie. She looks a bit sad (Charlotte, your opinion is that this is partially honest and partially affected). "You may refuse if you wish, but we still have a great deal of time and I haven't asked for your decision. What is it that's bad about the deal? Perhaps we could find out the problem and fix it. Oh, and no need to drop the clothes, those are a gift, you may keep them whether you refuse or not."
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  3. - Top - End - #243
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    Default Re: [Changeling] A Gathering of Mists IC

    "Every part of the deal is rotten. I have to work for you, and you don't care about me. I have to work for all the people who work for you, and I don't know them so they definitely don't care about me. I don't get anything in exchange except work and whatever you arbitrarily decide to give me. I don't know anything about what you're going to ask me to do or who I'm going to have to work with, except for whatever concessions you arbitrarily decide to give me. And finally, there's no way to quit once I've signed up because it's enforced by magic! I couldn't do much worse by selling myself into slavery, that's what's wrong with the damn deal!" Stephanie shouted.
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  4. - Top - End - #244
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    Default Re: [Changeling] A Gathering of Mists IC

    Qian Long looks apologetic. "Ah I think you have misunderstood. That's not at all what it's like. Perhaps, let us try something different. Tell me, have you been home since your return through the hedge?"
    Last edited by Anarion; 2012-07-18 at 12:56 AM.
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  5. - Top - End - #245
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    Default Re: [Changeling] A Gathering of Mists IC

    "Yeah," said Stephanie, sulking. "That's where I met Hatsy. She's all right."
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  6. - Top - End - #246
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    "Tell me about it. What was it like being home after all this time? And who was this 'Hatsy?'"
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  7. - Top - End - #247
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    Default Re: [Changeling] A Gathering of Mists IC

    "Hatsy's... well, a magic hatrack. I guess she was covering for me when I was gone?" Stephanie said. "And as to what it was like being back, that's none of your damn business."
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  8. - Top - End - #248
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    "Oh yes, what you are calling Hatsy we refer to as a Fetch. They're provided by our Keepers to replace us while we are gone. Some do a better job than others.

    But very well, since you don't want to tell me about your homecoming, I'll tell you of mine instead. You see, I was taken when I was a young girl, barely 11 years old. I was born in San Francisco, and attended school here. I was just starting middle school at the time, out in the Sunset *points west and a little south* and I had taken to the school chorus. I used to quite love singing, and one day, a visitor came to our class and listened to all of us sing. And at the end, he asked me if I wanted a private lesson."

    She actually begins to choke up a little bit, Charlotte and Marchande can't tell if this is real or feigned.

    She continues after catching her breath "I did not return for twelve years. At first I thought it was glorious. He made me his dragon because it matched my birth sign and I would sing for him at court, as well as dance and put on shows to entertain his guests. But it went on...and on...no rest, no breaks, for days, months, years, until I thought my voice would flee my throat and my legs break from the strain. So I changed my song, to a lullaby, and I breathed fire to warm his chair and lull him into a doze. And I left, cut my way through the hedge and came home.

    When I got there, there was another woman. She looked just like me, sang just like me. My keeper had made nearly a perfect copy, and she was better at my life than I had ever been. It had been so long, she was done with college already, cultured and sophisticated. She had a day job as an accountant and sang in local cafes in the evening. She was everything that I wanted to be, and I could never be her.

    So I left, I found others like me who had been to Faerie and returned. They were all members of the court here, some local, some who wandered to this city where they would find others who would accept them for what they were. I had no talents but my singing and dancing, in most other respects I was still 11 years old. But it was so nice being with people that knew what I really was, that were willing to talk with me and help me learn about my powers.

    They asked me to swear the same oath I'm asking of you. At first, I didn't have to do anything. They had heard my story and knew I didn't want to sing, and they didn't push me, they just helped me find a place to live, and would throw parties and special events every once in a while. And if I wanted to talk, someone was there to listen. Eventually, I decided that it wasn't worth living in the past. That life, no matter what has happened, is about enjoying yourself, finding pleasure wherever you can and helping others to find their own pleasure. I just, wanted to see all my new friends smile. So I started singing again, and eventually I became involved with planning some of the spring balls, and became very good friends with many people. I also sang for regular humans and they liked it and paid me well for my services. Eventually, I bought my own club near Chinatown and now I help other aspiring performers, both changeling and mortal. And I was chosen to be the new queen of spring several years ago and have served faithfully since then.

    That's what I'm offering you today. A community of people who will understand what has happened to you, who can help you learn all about your powers, and who can help you make a life among all the regular people as well.

    And we ask for your oath because we want to know that we can trust you. You saw how difficult it was to get throough the thorns and back home. There is always the fear that maybe some people lose their minds on the trip back and would do awful things if left alone. Or that they're still loyal to Faerie and want to trick us into going back. The oath is a way to prove that you're not one of those people, or at least keep you from doing anything bad if you are.
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  9. - Top - End - #249
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    Default Re: [Changeling] A Gathering of Mists IC

    Stephanie had relaxed a little through the story. It helped to be able to put a bit of humanity behind who she was talking to, and a different impression on the organisation she was hearing about.

    "I'll swear to not hurt anyone, no problem. No one should be made to do anything they don't want to do, or kept a prisoner. But it's the exact same thing which makes me wonder if I'm basically signing up to be your prisoner. You still haven't told me what this 'loyalty' involves in terms of duties or laws, and I'm just not going to take on a vague, open-ended job like that."
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  10. - Top - End - #250
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    "Ah, I'm sorry but it is going to be somewhat vague. We only have one strict requirement, which is to help another member of the court if they're in serious trouble and you have the power to help them. But loyalty is a vague concept by nature. You're swearing to the court, not to any particular person. It means you won't betray the court and that you'll side with the court against outsiders, but it doesn't mean you have to listen to any particular person or do what they tell you."
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  11. - Top - End - #251
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    Default Re: [Changeling] A Gathering of Mists IC

    Oh. Well that sounded a lot less... invasive.

    If Stephanie were a brighter person, she'd have then asked if there were any competing courts or other possible people who'd want to hire them. As she was not, the only question that came to mind was, "But didn't you say there was a strict hierarchy thing?"
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  12. - Top - End - #252
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    "I did say that, and there is one, but if you just want to enjoy your life, you can be at the bottom of it, receive the basic services of the court and be friends with anyone you want. Or not be friends with people you don't like. The only requirement as a new member is the one I just mentioned about helping people who are in serious trouble. What you can't do is advance up the hierarchy without agreeing to take on more responsibility."
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  13. - Top - End - #253
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    Default Re: [Changeling] A Gathering of Mists IC

    "If that's all that's involved and required, I don't really have any problem," Stephanie said, having calmed down a lot.
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  14. - Top - End - #254
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    Default Re: [Changeling] A Gathering of Mists IC

    Charlotte takes the return trip from changing slowly. The clothes, the shoes, are all unfamiliar. She varies her walking motions, the size and rhythm of her steps, to find the sweet spot between comfortable and unobtrusive. She hits a good pace about halfway back, before continuing silently into the background.

    ***

    She listens. There are points where she would like to interject, but Qian long seems to have everything firmly in hand. So instead Charlotte watches everything. Stephanie going through denial, cynicism, anger, relief. Qian long edging into sorrow, dancing around exasperation, seated firmly in surety the whole time. Compared to the walk through Market, the car trip here...

    "Why are the streets so colorful and vibrant, by here it is so dull?" The thought seemingly falls out of her mouth before Charlotte can really think about what she was saying, but she quickly recovers. "In the street I could feel all the colors of the people, but here it is almost sterile, Madame. A blank canvas."
    Last edited by SiuiS; 2012-07-23 at 11:11 AM.
    "Patience has its limits. Take it too far, and it's cowardice."

  15. - Top - End - #255
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    "I'm not sure what you mean. If my story bored you, I apologize. We have a little more time together, but an hour is not so long. If you're referring to something different...I hesitate to mention this, but there is a theory that changelings lose a part of their souls going through the Hedge. If you find normal people in the streets more vibrant, that could be related."
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  16. - Top - End - #256
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    Default Re: [Changeling] A Gathering of Mists IC

    Charlotte stammers. "No, I mean... I meant...

    "... What?"


    If there is a specific face for being flabbergasted, Charlotte is certain she is making that face.
    "Patience has its limits. Take it too far, and it's cowardice."

  17. - Top - End - #257
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    Default Re: [Changeling] A Gathering of Mists IC

    Stephanie raised her hand. "If we didn't have our souls, we'd be dead," she said flatly.
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    Default Re: [Changeling] A Gathering of Mists IC

    Qian Long exhales a sigh that comes out with a bit smoke. "You still have a soul, whatever anyone may say. It's simply possible that the Hedge...damaged it on the way back. As I said, it's just a theory, but Charlotte's description did make me think of it and I promised to try my best to answer all your questions."
    Last edited by Anarion; 2012-07-18 at 11:54 PM.
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  19. - Top - End - #259
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    Default Re: [Changeling] A Gathering of Mists IC

    "Non, maybe we don't. Maybe "they" are correct. You don't have a soul, and Hatsy doesn't have a soul, but Helen did. And all those people we passed by, I could see them, feel them, almost... Taste them. All the anger and happiness and sadness and despair, like clouds of color. And here, you..." Charlotte pans, gesturing around the room, "Nothing."
    Last edited by SiuiS; 2012-07-19 at 06:15 PM.
    "Patience has its limits. Take it too far, and it's cowardice."

  20. - Top - End - #260
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    "Ah, I see now what you're talking about. And apparently you see emotions in color." She smiles a toothy grin. "That is a most interesting talent, my dear. Yes, it is true that, although we changelings think and feel as all others, we do not produce glamour. It is a side effect of our time in faerie. We must gather our power from mortal emotions, amongst ourselves we can at best trade it with each other."
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    Default Re: [Changeling] A Gathering of Mists IC

    "If we lost a part of ourselves," Marchande says, "It was not coming back. It was while we were there." She nods apologetically to Stephanie, trying to not bring up that argument. "But we are still human. Most definitely."

    But it worries at her mind. Maybe Charlotte is right. She hadn't noticed any, well, colors or anything like that, but she hadn't been looking, had she? And it made sense that things of faerie would have to prey on humans for power - had they been changed, soul and body?
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  22. - Top - End - #262
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    Default Re: [Changeling] A Gathering of Mists IC

    "I haven't 'lost' anything," Stephanie grumbled. She could walk on walls, conjure tendrils of darkness, and make magical deals. That sounded like a gain to her.

    But the thought worried her nonetheless. She wasn't able to entirely dismiss it. Was this black magic?
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  23. - Top - End - #263
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    "There are many better suited than me to discuss this issue if you join the freehold. In fact, the autumn court counts among it's members a particularly bright individual who keeps a laboratory in UCSF, the local medical school. It would be my pleasure to introduce you if you're made your decision and wish to join our freehold."
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  24. - Top - End - #264
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    Default Re: [Changeling] A Gathering of Mists IC

    If Stephanie was a smarter pony, she would have had some reservations or second thoughts or requests for clarification. As she was not, she just said "Sure thing!"
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    Default Re: [Changeling] A Gathering of Mists IC

    Charlotte composes herself (mostly) and thinks. Stephanie's debate ate a lot of time, since they were still on it when she returned. She fidgets a bit - stockings are harder to put on than socks were, and the left one was just a fraction of a hair off - and rubs a finger along the stitching at the side of her mouth.

    "Why are their four kingdoms? And what is meant by 'Glamour'?" she says, her tone introspective. She is certain there is some connection, something obvious she is missing... This may be the clue she needs.
    "Patience has its limits. Take it too far, and it's cowardice."

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    Charlotte coughs politely.
    "Patience has its limits. Take it too far, and it's cowardice."

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    Default Re: [Changeling] A Gathering of Mists IC

    To Stephanie, Qian Long says "Excellent. When your companions are equally satisfied, we shall do a short ceremony for the oath, which is sworn in the formal style, and then our time together will be finished."

    Then to Charlotte, she says "Ah, your Keeper was not one who spoke much about the things of Faerie I presume? Perhaps some background would be appropriate then. Glamour is the power source of the magic we wield in the world. Although you may not realize their exact nature either, you should understand that our powers are derived from the nature of Faerie, where everything in all of existence is bound by oaths. Thus, we can make binding pledges with each other and with mortals, and we all have a set of contracts with various aspects of nature, whether it be the primal elements, the concept of beauty, or the essence of hearth and home, among others.

    But, to draw upon those pledges and contracts, we make use of glamour. You may not realize the name, but I assure you that you know the sensation. Glamour is the sweet nectar of mortal emotions, the stuff of hopes and dreams, as well as anger, sadness, fear, and so forth. It's use and its acquisition are especially pleasant experiences. However, there is a certain challenge in acquiring it, and taking too much from one mortal can harm the person, so it is best to conserve your glamour and spend it prudently. Because of its value, we often trade it amongst each other as well, as a form of currency for services. Someone could offer you a share of glamour for something as simple as running their errands, and many people form lasting relationships where one works for another in exchange for regular amounts of glamour as well.

    As for your other question. I believe that you mean four courts. There are many freeholds around the world, and a few may call themselves kingdoms, but it is the courts that are a constant. We keep the four seasons because there is a certain power in them. Our scholars claim that long ago the first Changelings to escape Faerie made pacts with the seasons for strength and protection, and these pacts remain today. The seasons natural shift is a thing of the mortal world, and our deals with them help to ward away the True Fae and make it difficult for them to enter the world and retake us unaware. The how and why are difficult to answer, but given your questions today I'm confident that you will enjoy the company of the Autumn court researcher I already mentioned."
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  28. - Top - End - #268
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    Default Re: [Changeling] A Gathering of Mists IC

    At mention of her Keeper, Charlotte begins to tingle - Red and orange sprinkles, like pins and needles, crawl their way up from her gut and she manages to stop them before they reach her face... Whatever this is, it is an emotion that should have privacy.

    her voice is shocked, however, when she responds. "You mean promises are strong enough to work magic, or to hold... Them at bay?"

    This was something new. The realization that she wasn't the only one to disappear? For a moment, Charlotte sees things from a normal, human perspective. A history perforated with capture and murder and torture, slowly squeezed to a close by the strength of ones words. It is a sensation of fear, primal and poignant, before the fog of her habits begins to creep in once more.
    "Patience has its limits. Take it too far, and it's cowardice."

  29. - Top - End - #269
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    Default Re: [Changeling] A Gathering of Mists IC

    "It is not proven, but we have established our courts and, save for the rarest occasions, we have remained safe for many generations. It is also helpful for those who return from Faerie with greater confusion than others. Because of who and what we are now, all Changelings can grasp hold of oaths and formalities, to at least some extent. For some, the order and formality of the seasonal courts provides them stability."
    Lawyer Pony Avatar by Dirtytabs, exalted as an Eclipse by Elemental, now with a fancy robe.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    Anarion's right on the money here.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tiki Snakes View Post
    Dulce Et Decorum Est Pro Anarion Mori?
    Quote Originally Posted by Tiki Snakes View Post
    You just highlandered an entire city block into a glass-filled storm by road-runnering down it in your underwear.

  30. - Top - End - #270
    Titan in the Playground
     
    SiuiS's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2011
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    Missing her multiquote :(
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    Female

    Default Re: [Changeling] A Gathering of Mists IC

    "And you said I would like this Autumn person, Madame? Are they so different then? And you have autumn persons in spring... The courts are factions, non?"
    Last edited by SiuiS; 2012-07-21 at 02:45 AM.
    "Patience has its limits. Take it too far, and it's cowardice."

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