He walked through the rushing crowd with little difficulty. His unseen escort kept most away, and his very strangeness seemed to keep the rest at bay. He walked with a sense of wonder. Around him there was screaming and shouting, It seemed the city was sacking itself.
The fires were beautiful, so beautiful and he wandered, entranced. Occasionally he would stop to watch, tearing himself away only at the insistence of the Voice. At other times, the Voice would say:
and he would stop and summon the flames into his hands before launching it at the buildings, through the broken windows, or the shattered doors, releasing the buildings from this tormented state of being, allowing them the brief freedom of the flames.
He would have to get back soon, his pack would be missing him. Perhaps just one more.
Mafiosi's the plural of mafioso, dumbass.
Stop. Learn what your reaction's doing and why you're so twitchy.
That's it; you're hungry. And I know you just ate, but these things happen. Guess we're lucky you're not fussy enough to turn down the dead.
No. Take your time, think about it. You needed it, you asked, you got. Listen to me - it's a good thing.
Okay, listen. I know they died. I know you couldn't help them. I know what you did after that. That's why you're here - not all that many people were out in a doorway with a baseball bat when the leatherheads were on the hunt.
Now you've got a new beginning. You're free; you've proved yourself. See what you think about a tomorrow with a new family and a new chance. Shell shock's got nothing on this...
'Trade unions are leading regional campaigns and they are fostering support for local campaigns, led by trades councils and other local people, as a way of building lasting alternatives to the politics of hatred.
'London's trade unions are proud of their city's reputation for multiculturalism, diversity and progressive politics. That reputation must be robustly defended. Unions have led campaigns to defeat the far right before and we are determined to do it again.'
The woman's pre-prepared statement was barely audible over the shouts of the crowd; maybe three hundred people in a room small enough to feel cramped and overwhelming. The meeting management had done perfectly to make sure that everyone who came felt the power of the people, the call and stamp of voices and feet Making a Difference.
The next woman has done speaking tours across Europe, and knows how to gauge the mood of a crowd. She looks out at them shouting together and grins, all steel-honed presence. Tearing up her notes, she steps out in front of the podium and claps her hands above her head in rhythm. The crowd follows, converting the individual shouts to a single purpose, speeding up and bursting out in a cheer together before settling into silence to listen to her extemporise.
The speech she gives no one can remember later, but the key points have hammered themselves into the audience's psyches. That any leadership that refuses to allow its people freedom should be torn down. That the group should keep faith with one another, protect each other, support each other. That the principles of freedom and unity are more important than personal matters.
That the spirit of freedom be the fundamental principle; that everyone should expect and demand freedom from their leaders.
That everyone should prove themselves worthy of their freedom.
She comes down to people chanting a made up name and moves through the crowd to listen to later speakers who rail against the new rise of Fascism (she remembering the first time the word came to prominence) and the fear of the alien which creates racism, violence and hate. Once the speeches are over, a couple of people corner her and start talking eagerly. How do personal freedoms mesh with personal responsibilities? How can we create a society where everyone believes that we can be stronger if we help one another? How can we make everyone understand?
She rubs a thumb over the palm of her hand and the black ink there, then rests her fingertips on the pulse-point at her wrist (which almost flutters as she pretends to breathe) and smiles.
Come with me. Come with me, and I'll show you how it works.
As I've said I've no plans to bring her back as a PC. She may return as an NPC in the future, but in a very different way. Which is hinted at, at the end of the story. The hints have, for the record, been cleared with STs. :)
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Once again, there were two armies arrayed against each other, and two generals facing each other in combat.
But the distinctions were less clear than originally. The Roman army had some brightly painted caravans dotted throughout it, and the gypsies in their camp wore armour and moved in a far more orderly fashion than previously.
The duel in the center was continuing, but it seemed as though one figure was starting to win. Dressed in a mix of Roman armour and gypsy attire, he hammered upon his opponent- sometimes whittling away with knives, other times chopping and thrusting with a spatha. His opponent had several times been forced to one knee, and was bleeding from a number of wounds- none serious, but they were having a slowing effect.
The standing figure pressed the attack, and it looked like the duel might be coming to a conclusion. Suddenly, he staggered, as if struck from behind, then again and again. Turning, he sought his attacker, but saw nothing. Realising his error, he started to turn back to his kneeling opponent, but too late. His enemies sword came up, and there was a spray of blood as he fell, having in an instant gone from near victory to defeat.
Mithras cleaned and sheathed his sword, and started to stride from the battlefield, as both armies wavered and disappeared, leaving just the two men on an empty field.
As he walked away, a voice from behind him spoke weakly, and he turned back.
“You…have won….”, Jack said, coughing up some blood onto the landscape.
“We always win”, the reply came, with a voice that strengthened even as Jack’s weakened.
Laughing weakly, Jack responded, “But I…came…so close. Not bad, for…a vagabond.”
Mithras said nothing, but merely waited.
Drawing himself together a little, Jack continued, “I will not contest you my power, built on that I took from you”, he coughed some more blood, then continued, “it was won as fairly as I won mine. And besides…you’ll need it for what we both know...is coming. And there is one more reason…that you should have it all…”
His energy seeming to flag, he sank to his knees, and clutched his wound, as blood trickled between his fingers. He seemed somehow more insubstantial now, fading as the armies had.
Mithras turned to leave once more, and then stopped once again, as he saw something out of the corner of his eye.
Jack had stood up, and there was a slight smile upon his face as he faded.
“That last reason…?”
And he said five words, then disappeared.
Mithras opened his eyes, expressionlessly regarding the scene before him, as Jack’s last words echoed in his mind.
“The wound was not mortal…”
Warning - contains exceptionally dodgy implied vampiric semi-incest.
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This is why its always good to have a methusla like Jack around when you decide to put a 5 point enemy on your character sheet...
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I'm not happy with all of this, particularly the ending, which I think needs more work. But I'd at least like to get this rough draft out there, particularly as it's relevant to some of my first year plans.
( Watch out, this is the longest piece of fiction I've ever written )
When he arrived at the desolate house that his master currently inhabited, he saw him looking at an image of something- it looked like one of those brainstorming session charts that some people used to do plans. As Matthew approached, Jack waved a hand and the image disappeared. Matthew suppressed a surge of envy- soon, such power would be within his grasp.
"So, you have made your decision, then". It was not a question.
"Yes, master. I will become your childe, and show the world my power."
"I see. A pity", said Jack, without any emotion.
Matthew tried to speak, to ask what his master meant. But suddenly, he found he could not draw breath. Focussing his will, he called upon the powers that he had already learnt at his master's feet, and for a few seconds, air moved through his lungs again.
"But why?", he gasped out, as his lungs once again seemed to stop working.
"I would tell you to ask my sire...except I devoured him over 200 years ago", Jack replied.
As the blackness at the edge of his vision slowly expanded to fill his sight, and the buzzing in his ears grew louder, he reflected bitterly that, in the end, nothing had really changed...
He stopped suddenly, as he arrived at the house. He recognised this place. It was where he had taken his first true act on the path he now followed. It was where he had killed them all. It appeared deserted. But he knew that was, like so much involving his master, another illusion. Steeling himself, he pushed open the door, and went in.
Normally, he knew exactly what his master wanted, but tonight he felt bereft of direction. That could only be deliberate. Which meant it was time for another test. He both dreaded and looked forward to these. The fear of failure warred with the fact that he knew that such tests always preceeded the teaching of some knew skill, or more insight into the philosophy that had raised him from his base origins.
And there he was, sitting on the same sofa that Tristian had been "holding court" from when he died. But the difference between Tristian and the monster before him was like the difference between night and day. The presence of his master filled the room, and for a moment, the battered, decrepit living room seemed to be transformed into the court of a mighty lord of times gone by.
Then the moment passed, and it was simply Matthew and his master, the one who had taken the name Jack, and made it his own. He entered the room, and dropped to one knee. It felt right, somehow.
"I am here, my Lord".
His master contemplated him for a while, as if waiting for him to speak. But he did not. He had learned that lesson very early on.
Eventually, Jack spoke, his body like a statue, with none of the incidental body language he displayed for public consumption.
"It is time for you to be tested once more. And this may well be the last test I give you. We will see if you have learnt both the truth of power, and the truth of illusion. And we will see if you have learnt the truth of the me that I have shown you."
"Once, some time ago, I offered you a choice- to take power, or be crushed by it. You chose power, and have continued to do so since. You have performed your assigned tasks with more than adequate ability."
"So now, I offer you a choice once again. You have learned the ways of power and control. You are no longer the worm you were when I found you. And you have pierced the veil of morality that most cloak themselves in, and seen that it, like so many other things, is just another illusion."
"I have crafted my finest illusions, out of both truth and lies, and bound both my enemies and allies in them. My enemies blunder around, plotting and fighting against illusions of me, congratulating themselves on seeing through my lies, not realising there are more beneath. As to my allies...well, they will find, should they ever be ready, that the Sword of Caine is far sharper than they realised. And so enough with London for now. I will not be constrained. I will not be contained. And it is time to begin the next stage. Which is where you come in."
Matthew still waited, knowing that more was to come.
"I offer you the choice of where you go from here. In one month's time, I will enact the final piece of my plan here in London. At that time, you can be one of three things:
The first choice; I can offer you the Embrace, as my childe- power and potential undreamed of by mortals.
Or, I can offer you the Embrace, but as one of my great-grandchilder.
Finally, you can continue as you are, gradually gaining power, but limited by your state, and ultimately reliant upon me.
The choice is yours, but be warned: One choice will result in your destruction, and one will forever bar you from a significant place in what I am building.
You have one month to think about your answer, as you go about your normal business for me. Now go."
Without a word, Matthew turned and left.
One month to go- what answer should he give...?
On a connected note, this whole business of naming fics after song titles and quoting them at the end of the fic is very new for me, just sort of randomly came about with the first Lir fic and seems to be sticking. Not sure if it will continue or not. Anyway, hope you enjoy, any feedback much appreciated as always.
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Dotted across the north side of the board he had created were figurines, reminiscent of chess pieces. Some of them were marked with symbols, and some also had a little ring of chains around them.
He contemplated the image as he thought. Had he done enough to proceed to the second stage, or must he risk another foray into the court proper? He spent some time, calculating risks and rewards with a precision that wouold have surprised most of those who thought they knew him.
Pausing, he picked up one of the pawns, a fine crystal piece draped liberally in chains. He turned it over in his hand, as if considering making a move, then returned it to the board. He must be patient. Too much, too quickly and he risked them acting before he was fully prepared.
Dismissing the image, he leaned back in his chair. Yes, he had enough to proceed to the next stage. Enough pieces were in place- less than he might have hoped, but more than enough for his needs.
He could see the pattern unfolding in front of him, and the possible break points as it extended. One had been neutralised already, though he didn't realise it. Another would move too slowly, and was already prepared for. There were many unknowns, and he had learnt the lessons of his own stolen power- even the weakest can be a threat in the right circumstances.
He would get one unopposed chance to enact his immediate plans, and he would have to make the most of it. After that, they would realise the threat he truly was, and act accordingly.
He stood up, thinking of the old nursery rhyme his people had made about him. Mentally, he editted it a little as he walked out of the room and headed to the library for his night's study.
"The hour is late now, the sky is black. And nothing you can do will save you from Jack"