Port Lorrel - It's All In Their Heads

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Port Lorrel - It's All In Their Heads

Postby Alberich » April 15th, 2013, 9:45 pm

[Picking up from here.]

Perhaps it should've been a wholly blank world. It wasn't. If you looked behind Tim you'd see Veracian countryside, but vague and faded. Behind Eli you'd see more of the same, but the two sides didn't match. Umbertiel wasn't Snamish. What seemed real and solid was not the background, but the men who faced each other. And -- as Eli quickly learned -- the impenetrable barrier between them. He struck, but he could not hurt, not with fist, blade, or spell. Tim met his opening rage with an immune calm.

Brother Timothy hadn't known just what he'd see when he tried this. He'd imagined all kinds of dialogue, himself perhaps talking like a sage or an archbishop, but in the end it seemed wrong. They were friends, he was here out of friendship, and in this place they were truly equals - more equal than men ever had a chance to be, as would soon be seen. Maybe the Next Life was like this, where they said one soul was as good as another. So the least he could do was talk like an equal.

"Calm on down," he said. "You can't hit me, not yet. That time will come. But right now we can't hit, no power, and that's good. People can't talk around power. And you and me, we need to do some talking." He paused to let the half-elf speak before he said any more.
Last edited by Alberich on April 29th, 2013, 4:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Port Lorrel - It's All In Their Heads

Postby Jack Rothwell » April 16th, 2013, 7:50 am

Eli was in a perfect fury, the immediate memory of the unexpected agony of Tim's brutal stab, the blackness of unconsciousness, followed by the waking into a pocket of existence conjured from whatever school of magic the Brother, his friend, had deemed to draw upon all added up to outrage in the half-elf's mind. He marched up to the barrier and slammed his open palm against it, pressing the obstruction as he glared into the other man's eyes.

"You... fucking... snake!" He hissed through a clenched jaw. "Were you working for them all along, brother? I give you power, show you a path to help you and the people you care for, and this is how the repay me? Why, damn it, why?"
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Re: Port Lorrel - It's All In Their Heads

Postby Alberich » April 16th, 2013, 9:29 am

"In order, then," said Tim. "No, I'm not working for anyone at all. I don't like the elves any more than I said I did. And Rose wouldn't have given me permission to come here. So I neglected to ask. I came here for your sake and no one else's.

"I did it because that power you gave me is corrupting. It's changing you for the worse, much worse than you can see, and everyone who cares about you knows it. It's started doing the same to me, and if I don't lose it, I'll end up worse than Blaise was. I did it to bring us here so I can show you that. And so that you and I can take it from each other.

"When this barrier comes down -- and it will come down in time -- we're going to be closer than brothers. In the meantime, let's talk."

He could've gone on much longer. But the heathen didn't accept the moral authority of a priest and didn't sit still for sermons. So he had to take this a little at a time.
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Re: Port Lorrel - It's All In Their Heads

Postby Jack Rothwell » April 16th, 2013, 11:09 am

"Worse?" Eli said, anger beginning to fade into incredulity at Tim's claim. He pushed off the barrier and stole a brief glimpse at the ethereal background of Snamish before he started pacing. He shook his head in negation. "I don't know where your logic is coming from, Tim, but I look at the beneficiaries of Logan's finances and I see things being changed for the better. Greedy, selfish people with money and power at their disposal turning it over to those in need: better. An army of well-paid, well-trained soldiers to be used against the ancient bastards: better. Money for your Church: better. Protection for my people that adds up to more than a village in the middle of nowhere: better! If your idea of corruption is determination and bravery then yes, I'm corrupted. Then again, I'd expect that view from a man who'd literally stab his friend in the back."

His attention was drawn back to the unreal surroundings despite himself. It put him in mind of the illusion he and the Priest had concealed in as he'd sprung his own cage on Drusia, separating her from her companions as Aleron had requested. It was bitter irony that the trapper had become the trapped, and in a harder prison to escape than a fancy anti-magic barrier. The thought grew a shoot of curiosity.

"Where the fuck are we anyway? Some brainwashing pocket-dimension built by the Church?"
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Re: Port Lorrel - It's All In Their Heads

Postby Alberich » April 16th, 2013, 1:44 pm

Tim found it easy to keep calm for now. It was understandable for Eli to be angry, even if he hadn't been corrupted. If he was the fire, Tim must be the water, patient but inexorable.

"We're in a place where we can talk soul to soul. By ourselves. And you can't interrupt with violence. But you can talk and remember. And you can see the past, at least the parts you really remember, with no lies. So let's do that.

"Let's have a look at this 'determination and bravery' and this 'protection' you're talking about. Let's talk about, what d'you call 'em, kobolds."

Behind Tim the scenery changed to the memory he wanted to show - Goriel, where he'd shared a camp and fought beside one of the lively catlike creatures. Where she'd shown her courage and loyalty in the battle against the Outlaw Clan Gyermanov, Blaise's death-worshipping hosts in that bleak northern country. All these things he showed to Eli. He pointed out the kobold's liveliness, her kindness, her courage and bravery. "Yes, they're wild and pagan, and childlike, but...in the important ways, look at her! She's as human as us.

"Now after you told me they were one of your main enemies, I spent some time with Carlson and his men. I found out what your master's been up to, though you were coy about telling me. And I know you know. You sent an expedition to one of their villages, heavily armed, under Aleron's chief lieutenant. One goal and only one goal: to wipe them out, down to the last child. That's 'determination and bravery'? That's 'protection'? Blaise never did anything half so awful. So yes, 'worse.'

"Do you figure these kobolds deserve life less than half-elves? Or when are you going to see that Aleron is doing the exact same thing as the elves, only faster and bloodier? A few weeks ago, when I met you, you'd never have dreamed of doing something like that, or joining forces with someone who did. Fighting the elves I understand. Replacing them, being them, no. This Ralkin magic comes from the elves - the masters of temptation - small wonder it makes people act like the worst of them! What's more revealing is how it's luring you and me down that path."
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Re: Port Lorrel - It's All In Their Heads

Postby Jack Rothwell » April 20th, 2013, 11:41 am

"We're an endangered species!" Eli shouted, the words triggering an involuntary memory which painted a brief backdrop of him repeating the same words to Desiree. He coloured as the scene melted away, striving to return to the point he wanted to make. "One helpful catgirl doesn't make up for their attacks on Aleron and the killing of his apprentices, if they'd succeeded completely, we'd have never had the chance to turn things around for my kind! And... killing the children..." He trailed off, the scene behind him changed again.

It was something half-buried, but not forgotten, a memory which he'd ceased to think about years ago. In it he was a child, four years of age, being carried in his mother's arm. The pair saw of the ceiling of his parent's house give way to sunlight and a clear blue sky. Her face loomed briefly in his vision, it was crumpled, and crying. The tears splashed against his younger self's cheeks. Eli's mouth worked.

"I had a brother once." He said quietly. "I was too young to remember him. But I do remember this... I heard the story much later, when I was judged old enough to understand. He was 'errant-born'... he was euthanized."

The half-elf seemed to sag into himself for a moment. It was short-lived, but it was clear evidence of some emotional hurt being displayed, he straightened up and faced the priest again.

"We live with that, and fear of much worse. So, if it's a choice between the swift deaths of a handful of subhumans and the future of my entire species, I have to choose the latter Tim. I have to."
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Re: Port Lorrel - It's All In Their Heads

Postby Alberich » April 20th, 2013, 2:39 pm

Tim was glad to see Eli using some reason, sharing the pain. The vision of Desiree was a good sign. He was going to play that card in a little while. But first he had to draw this from the general to the personal.

"It's noble to want to protect your own kind," said Tim. "But that Ralkin magic is using your noble instincts to corrupt you. I can feel it trying to do the same to me. It makes promises but it lures you to evil. Carlson's men told me those kobolds never come here unless they're hauled up as slaves in cages. Aleron wasn't killing their children to protect himself. He was killing their children from revenge and cruelty. Pretending it's a choice of survival - it's a false choice, a cloak for doing evil.

"You call these kobolds a 'handful of sub-humans.' Do the elves call you a handful of sub-elves? Did half-elves ever kill elves? Maybe the one who eu...eutha...killed your brother, maybe he said the same. Better to kill one of these sub-elves than whatever he thought he'd do. There's a hubris in that kind of thinking, and it's dangerous.

"When we had Moral Guidance from Father Benedict, he made us spend a day thinking about the question - would you set a child on fire to save a village? But no one can really know he's saving a village by doing that. All he could really know was that he was burning a child. A man who would burn a child alive to save a village would burn a child alive and forget about the village. You can't end the evil in the world by inviting evil into your own soul.

"Come! Look at your face when we first met" -- it appeared -- "Yes, you were rude, and it was hard to calm the crowd, but all you cared for then was protecting your friends. On fire, passionate, but - human, humane, so much so. Forget about tactics for a moment. Listen to the voice! You can hear great evil if you try."

And then Tim shared the memory of a voice he'd heard that night:

"He was just an ordinary man picked for a greater purpose, kobold. An instrument to my will. A conduit for my power. I'll have a hundred like him before the month is out, a thousand by the year's end. An unstoppable tide to stamp out you animals, and everyone else you ever loved...I want to see the futility in their faces before they meet their end..."

"Turning ordinary men into puppets, slaves, instruments, desecrating corpses, delighting in his cruelty -- what needs to be said? You can hear evil or you can't, and it's shouting at you. He talks about freeing slaves on one hand, and promises to make a thousand on the other, the most abject slaves you can imagine! And what did you say to it? 'Pay the master no mind.' The man I met wouldn't 'pay no mind' to that. The man I met would fight it. But Aleron and his Ralkin magic are corrupting you...into the kind of man who'd pay it no mind and, in the end, would do it himself. You're not that monster yet. And this magic has hurt you already more than you know."
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Re: Port Lorrel - It's All In Their Heads

Postby Jack Rothwell » April 22nd, 2013, 7:32 pm

"Fine. Maybe it has. A little." Eli said, stamping each word in a deliberate intonation. "And I'm not blind, Tim, I'm not denying that Aleron is unscrupulous in his methods, I partook, didn't I?"

The scene twisted into a brief moment of Eli seeing through a silka's eyes, then darting around a corner to bury his sword into the head of an unfortunate guard. He winced despite himself as he glanced back at the image. The scene melted into the richly decorated interior of Lucas Logan's office, and the half-elf drawing the Needle from it's sheathe as he stepped towards a fearful old man.

"..but it was all with a greater good in mind."

Faces in a crowd flashed by smiling and cheering, followed by a brief picture of a tearful shopkeeper being handed a bag of investment money.

"I know you think he's got me strung up in some way, that I'm idealising him, and I know it's immoral Tim, to seize control in such a way, but... think of the resources his magic could command! Not just him, but the people he could draw to him!"

Gabriel's hard, unsmiling face formed a dark portrait behind the half-elf. He looked at his former comrade with regret in his eyes.

"If anyone could save us, if anyone could find a cure for the errants which doesn't involve a knife..."

Back to Snamish: a talk at the council chamber barely a day before he'd left the town for good. Desiree holding the floor, delivering the bad news of a new 'defect' being born.

"We're in a bad fucking way, Brother." He murmured. "When you're hanging onto your place in this world by your fingertips your options are few and unpleasant. So, if you've got better ideas, speak them."
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Re: Port Lorrel - It's All In Their Heads

Postby Alberich » April 22nd, 2013, 9:47 pm

Tim bowed in respect to Eli's noble aims, though the means were corrupt. "I knew I was right about you," he said. "You have so much nobility left. Lord forbid I should condemn charity. The Church gives it and encourages it too, but we know it's a knife with two edges. Before the Captivity, our kings used to give charity, sometimes," -- his memory showed a beautiful frieze he'd seen in a chapel in Emerylon, of a grinning tyrant distributing clothes and gold -- "but the message was sinister - that you withered or prospered, lived or died, by his will, and he expected your fealty for his gifts. And they'd have an excuse for every evil they did.

"But this is not what matters most. Yes, that power is making promises to you, telling you what you want to hear most: that you can save your brothers and do good with it. It makes promises to me too, and has started to corrupt me. Look!" -- and he showed a memory of himself, earlier this very night, snapping rudely at an acolyte who didn't know when to draw his bath. "It may not seem much to you, but a year or two back, I was that boy. A few days ago I'd never have dreamed of being that way. This power is feeding my fantasy, the youngest bishop in the church, an archbishop, a reformer, a great missionary, to win the souls of thousands...and too important to be kind to a mere acolyte. It tells you what you want to hear, tells me what I want to hear, but it makes us into another kind of men.

"Who knows what noble goals Blaise was chasing when he started his strange quest? He couldn't have entered the church out of hatred for life, but he ended his life in league with this..." -- and he showed again a memory of the battle with Carloc, the hideous wounded death-worshipping mage-priest of the Gyermanov -- "whatever that corrupting power promised him, it made him such a thing that he quite lost his goal. It wasn't the Ralkin power but it was a corrupting kind too. A cousin.

"If I was an elf, what would the Ralkin power promise me? Maybe the death of your kind. If I was a kobold? Fat silkas, I don't know. But no matter how it draws you in -- in the end it'll make you something as awful as Aleron or Blaise, killing for hate and the sake of it, giving to people only to control them, freeing them only to enslave them worse. It's not enough to look at the promises. Liars and manipulators will make you sweet promises. Look at what it does to you to see its true face.

"You think it's affected your soul a little? Now there I can show you otherwise - it's done much more in a short space. The attraction of one soul for another is what we call love. And how has yours changed in such a small space? The ones who care, they've noticed." And here he took the plunge, and revealed his own heartfelt interview with Desiree...

"Tim, Eli's been... different lately. Angrier. Cruel. He... he's been scaring me. I thought I was being irrational - I mean, I spent half of yesterday afraid that Eli was going to appear and hurt me. Not that he has! It was just... the way he killed those prisoners yesterday, in cold blood. The Eli I knew back home would have never done something like that. I tried to talk to Eli about it a few minutes ago, right before I ran into you, but he... just got angry. I think there's something wrong with his magic. Lately, there's... something off about it. It... it feels wrong...Well, of course I would heal him! I don't hate him. He just... scares me. And worries me. I just... can't be with him anymore. But that doesn't mean I'd let him bleed if he was hurt!"

The words spoke; the face and tears spoke louder. Or so Tim hoped. Intellect alone would never get Eli there. But the half-elf had a heart still, a loving, passionate heart, and that could find him where words would not go.

"Do you dare to look? Look at yourself with her -- the way you were before you took up the Ralkin magic -- when you met her -- when you confessed your love -- when you set out on your journey -- when you drew your sword to defend her -- and the way you were after! I'll avert my eyes if it's private. That magic has been the only sudden change you made, and it drove her right off. I can't remember it for you. Only you can do that. I can't look at what you've been doing away from my sight - only you can look, and see what you're becoming. Look if you can. Feel while you still can! No good will come of that power.

"And if this power turns love into tears in less than a week -- how long to turn love into hate, and hate into cruelty? You've seen the signs already. It's working on your pride the way it works on mine. I can't promise that you can ever be the savior of your race. But if you walk down this path, I can promise you - you'll become what the elves are and more, until your old self would say you were not worth saving."

He had to stop...he was starting to get up to sermon length...and only Eli could act to save himself. Tim couldn't make him look at those memories. But if he would do it - if he'd see his joy with Desiree - and the joy turned to tears - and the tears to bitterness after - maybe, just maybe, he'd see he was being lured.
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Re: Port Lorrel - It's All In Their Heads

Postby Jack Rothwell » April 24th, 2013, 5:26 pm

Eli did little during Tim's speech beyond a slow pacing walk, nods and shakes as his points were made until the sight of Desiree's face as she spoke about him. He winced at the image.

"In ended in an argument." He said.

"You wanted to talk?"

Desiree, standing before them with the wind whipping at her hair. The faint rumble of airship engines in the background. In his memory his eyes dropped to the planking on the deck floor.

"I scared you. I see that. I could have left those men alone, I could have left them to the 'justice' system of the port, but I didn't, I burned them alive. And you've barely said two words to me since. Have I...?"

"Have I ruined things between us?" The present Eli murmured. "I couldn't bring myself to ask it."

"They were bad people Desiree. They'd probably bribed the authorities to look the other way... and I put a stop to them. And it wasn't wrong. Can you see that?"

The conversation was interrupted by a different scene, the interior of a warehouse, slavers bound with abject terror in their eyes before a roar of anger drowned out their screams. Fire rained down on the captives, their skin blackening and falling away at the blaze took the breath for their final, agonised cries. The airship returned.

"Can you see that?"

The watching Eli nodded, as if to himself.

"It wasn't wrong to stop them, Eli, but... they were already stopped. You didn't stop them. You... killed them."

Desiree turned away, shaking her head.

"One of them wanted to rape me. Their leader forbade it. She protected me. And you burned her alive. She was a slaver, and maybe she would have been executed, but... she was kind to me. She didn't deserve to die like that."

The phantom woman wheeled around to face the observers, the light catching her tears as they streamed down her face.

"Yes, you scared me. But you also... you killed someone who helped me. You killed her along side the man who wanted to rape me, as if they were the same. And you didn't... care. That isn't Justice, Eli. That's murder."

"Sometimes they can be the same..."


Sharpness, arrogance in his voice. The scene melted briefly to one of their more intimidate moments. Her face on the pillow, their voices soft and tender.

"...were you just feeling a little kinky tonight?"

"Maybe it's the fresh air. Or maybe it's just that you're so damn beautiful... and kind."


Her face filled the background, the sound of a gentle kiss before his eyes closed. The blackness opened back on board the airship.

...and why do you care if that woman died? Because she was 'kind' to you? Stopped you from being raped? She probably ordered that so her employee's wouldn't 'damage the merchandise'! Those people were the same, and one barely qualified 'act of kindness' doesn't separate them. They deserved to die. They were scum, like most of the..."

"I was trying to calm down." Eli said, something dead in his voice as his younger self continued his tirade in something akin to a hiss.

"One of our ancestors piggybacked on the accomplishments of the other and now they think they own the place. Since we've left Snamish what have we seen? Humans doing whatever they want. Bandits and twisted mages, murder, slavery and xenophobia... and they look at US like we're scum, or demons, and it isn't right!"

"Why do you think I want to go home to Snamish? Whatever. Just... never mind."


Desiree wiped away a fresh flood of tears and looked through the eye of memory. For a second her line of sight seemed to find the watcher, Eli felt something turn in his gut.

"We're done, Eli."

The quiet backdrop of Snamish returned on the half-elf side of the barrier. Eli stood facing it for a moment, he slowly raised a hand and pressed a pair of knuckles to the corner of his mouth.

"...fuck." He breathed.
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