A maze held them, caught in a place beyond dawn and twilight. Through it they grasped new powers woven in their souls. Yet they still they held to secrets, of awakened souls to blood bound bodies. Some held secrets they did not realize in the grasp of their memories and dreams. The tournament entered final days and nights.
The War Continued
Dawn caught upon leaves, the edges golden as sky parted from the path of moon and rise of sun. Ever the two in a dance ever forward, never back. We enter the lands shrouded from God's grace and the light of true sun. A place fabled to exist in the shadow cast by the moon, ever dark and filled with the howls of the dead. The demonic tide ruled by the blood of Tzimisce. May I remain steadfast in resolve and the grace of Mithras to see this through. If not, then strike me to ash, for I refuse to linger in the chains of these wretches of tainted blood and purpose.
Benedic's piercing blue eyes scanned the hand-penned words, crisp black on yellowed pages of a friend and commanding officer. A perfect recreation of his journal, meticulous by the hands of brothers in London. Jurgen battled not only the horrors of the Carpathians in those years. To be born of Mithras and his line carried demands of blood, position, and station, especially for the General of the Courts of Avalon. Benedic knew only in peripheral during those years, from the books and letters, returning to them since the blinding light consumed the mountain in India and New York fell. He left there as the first pangs of a failing war signaled a doom.
Gnarled fingers strong despite the age, beyond the grip of mortal degredation, turned through the pages to old maps and orders, likewise did he turn pages of his own journals in New York. Reports laid under these leather-bound tomes from his most trusted friend and seneschal, who looked on with gnawing concern.
The elder had not changed his suit since meeting the girl, not that such was required. Silence stretched longer than expected, as he sought something. Every attempt to speak had been ignored, such were such moments with a mind that desperately needed tropor yet refused it through sheer will.
"The mason. The historian. A child of Tzimisce blood. What next Monstrose? The second coming?"
Monstrose raised a brow in mirror to Benedic's. "If so, I want to spontaneously combust. A fireball and nothing."
Benedic tilted his head ever so slightly. "Such a thing could never happen. Not here."
The elder only turned back to the tomes. "Keep a close eye on her. I have yet to decide how I shall act. If she merits destruction or embrace depends on her actions." His thoughts returned to ancient mysteries for insights to the coming future.
The tournament called to all within the freehold, be they seelie or unseelie, commoner to noble. The word and praise of the Baroness felt as a drug to the peons so in need of a fix. Not Basque, he never had such a need, or at least that's what he told himself. Each night he wrapped himself in the layers of silk and cottons, a uniform of his nature, armor against the perceptions of others. Again the thoughts he clung to, for he had little of a story in this kingdom.
At least that's what he told others.
Pressing spectacles upon the bridge of his nose, Basque considered the day and night ahead. Meeting for coffee and tea, enjoy a snack, meet their new friend. Do homework and complete his paper on the Ottaman Empire. Attend the tournament to see who entered the maze, perhaps join it himself or make contact with others. Inform his liege that no, Donovan was not that kind of man, he wasn't after his girlfriend. Do not smirk or laugh when considering his liege, the Scourge of the Burning Sun, the Lord of Hounds, the Breaker of Gilden's Shield...had a cute little girlfriend with fluffy ears and tail.
Perhaps a part of him was jealous? He had chased Marna, using the hunt for a kiss to cover his endless searching for parents that left him. Everyone had someone. He had a few, friends made along the way. And now he faced odd connections, faces in the day appearing at night. Donovan, Emily's friend, just another at school that now wandered the All Black like he had always been. The gothic amazon bartender that nearly kicked him out of a couple places due to his chimeric fake id, likewise was in their sacred home away from home. Emily awoke in the tournament causing many to cry out legacy and legend, as if everything was a prophecy.
So special, all of them. He was grey. They the rainbow. Gnashing his teeth, Basque forced away the petty thoughts. One day he would hold the power to chart his future. If only he had the patience to see it through. He had to let go of the child he was, this mired past, and embrace what was before him. And yet, where did he come from? Who were they? Did they have a gift as his? A mother or father or both of the sluagh? Perhaps not from this court but another?
Sometimes the old ideas and dreams consumed him, so close if he closed his eyes. Wild fascinating what ifs of spies on the run, warriors protecting some important chimerical, on a vital mission for some lord or baron or even his baroness. Did they wonder about him? Watch from afar and dream? Would he know them if he saw them?
A chime sounded, messages from his friends to meet for tea. Their grand court. The group scheded of creating a corner for the social, faking it till they made it, and so far it worked. They considered adding Emily, and he considered Donovan again. They shared similar interests in anime, ran in similar circles. They all seemed so...normal...but that was changing. Was he the only one that noticed? He didn't see the significance of a single girl becoming a pooka at the tournament. He witnessed the dramatic shift of a group of mortals becoming something more, so many souls awakening, changing, evolving right before his eyes. THAT was magic.
Taking up his phone, he pressed letters sending a reply, before a final review of himself in the mirror. Slowly the dark skin, pale hair, morbid bruised coloring around his eyes and lips all faded. A boring cynical young man returned his gaze. All in due time.
The Question of the Door
The greatest Elvis hits sung by drunken frat boys played counter to the jingle of slot machines and a roulette table exploded through the casino bar. But with a rote and a well placed set of earbuds, Sebastian absently listened to the meeting of Hermes from afar. Adepts argued over regulations of training, too few for teaching so many, the messages received from a Rogue Council, seeking information and answers. Sebastian followed everything so closely, every report vital, providing some of his own. But now?
He scribbled on his iPad, building rote matrices and designing patterns, translating a series of runes in a photo and scan that kept shifting, changing. Layers of data that his devices had trouble decrypting. "Damn it...it has to have a cipher, some sort of key." A sense of failure burned in him, much like when he first awoke. "Perhaps it's not ...maybe more of a ...translocation map?"
Sipping a neat scotch, he stopped trying to solve, and started studying. Sojourn had given him a few ideas, Donovan others. If the door was truly a door, connecting to other locations, the symbols could be keys. Equations spun through his mind, symbols at the periphery, as he considered not so much what it was but what it symbolized.
In a booth, Sojourn watched and was pleased.