#2167

I am recording the following for my own reference but I welcome any insights or questions anyone may have. I’m not yet sure what lesson or conclusion I’m supposed to reach in all this. On Friday, October 12th Tanim and Daren (though mostly Daren, I suspect) borrowed my wife (okay, she used the word “hijacked”) for a session of unwitting automatic writing while at work – by which I mean she thought she was taking notes on a patient and looked down to see she had actually written the following with her non-dominant hand:

“It was all there on the table.

The candlestick. The rope. The lead pipe. The wrench. The knife. The gun. He trailed his fingertips along each weapon with veneration.

Clue had always been his favorite board game. He loved the idea of giving six people unique opportunities to kill one another. When he played the game as a child, he often concocted complex scenarios that resulted in the deaths of all six guests. He’d been sent to Sister Reverence’s office more times than he remembered. It was always the same.

‘Young man, this is becoming habitual.’

Habitual. Habit. Like that stupid thing she wears everyday. It would be so easy to grab her by it and pull. Up, up, up. A widening grin. Until she turned purple, like that bitter chalice offered every morning.

STOP TELLING IT. YOU’RE TELLING IT WRONG.”

At this point the writing stopped, but she could still see a scene unfolding very clearly in her mind. She provided me with the following notes:

The party:

  • Took place in the exact same setting as the film “Clue” with the exact same weapons.
  • In an arch over the front door, engraved in script: “Do not die before your death.”
  • Six dinner attendees, each with a golden enveloped invitation: Bast, Inanna, Mage, Morrigan, Tanim, and Wepwawet.
  • Bast: looks like Aya from AC Origins
  • Inanna: looks like The Dean from Carmilla
  • Mage: looks like season one Carmilla from Carmilla. One silver chain at her hip. Could be the Morrigan’s sister. Makes the other guests very uncomfortable.
  • The Morrigan: looks like the character Morrigan from Dragon’s Age Origins. Could be Mage’s sister.
  • Tanim: looks like himself. Navy blue suit. A light blue flower-pattern thin scarf with gold tassels.
  • Wepwawet: looks like Bayek from AC Origins. Introduces himself as “Anubis”.
  • We never quite see Daren as a whole, only pieces of him. Close-ups. He’s dressed as he normally is, in all black, though with the addition of a plain gold band on his finger.

The deaths:

  • Tanim ends up with the gun. He never kills anyone.
  • When anyone dies, they bleed just as a person normally would. But afterwards, their bodies become golden ashes and they are blown away by the wind, from the top of the head to the base of the feet.
  • Daren stabs Mage in the Billiard Room. She is sitting cross-legged atop the pool table and has a drink in her hand. He walks up to her slowly. They maintain eye contact. This almost seems expected. He stabs her directly in the right thigh. She bites back a grunt of pain, squeezes out, “I knew you were going to do that,” and then downs the rest of her drink. Mage escapes from the house, alive, and keeps the dagger. She could have been “set loose” though, as the house was locked tight with the exception of a sole window. In the Billiard Room with the knife.
  • The Morrigan kills Bast with the candlestick. Bast is perusing the books in the library when someone cuts out the lights. Bast turns. The Morrigan enters with the candlestick, a long white candle sticking out of it, the wick lit. It’s the only light in the room. The Morrigan approaches Bast. Bast: “What happened to the light?” The Morrigan: “Here.” She removes the long white candle and hands it to Bast. Bast accepts it with a nod and turns back around to look at the books. The Morrigan raises the candlestick and whispers, “The weight of the world,” before striking Bast in the back of the skull. In the Library with the candlestick.
  • The Morrigan is killed with the rope. The rope is fashioned like a noose, but the killer unknots it so that it’s a single piece of rope. Wraps a length of rope around each hand and uses it as a ligature and chokes the Morrigan to death. She dies in the Cellar. In the Cellar with the rope.
  • Inanna kills Wepwawet with the lead pipe. Wepwawet is in the Observatory watching lightning crack through the rainy night sky. He doesn’t seem surprised when she approaches. His back is to her. Inanna: “Do you know why I’m here?” Wepwawet smiles. “Because you came.” He turns around to face her, stretches out both of his arms, gets down on one knee, and lowers his head reverently. He then raises it and looks up at her, his features peaceful and humbled. “As you will, Queen.” She nods once. She strikes him across the jaw with the lead pipe. We hear his neck crack. She bends down and almost lovingly caresses his cheek. Inanna: “The Duat has missed you.” In the Observatory with the lead pipe.
  • Inanna is killed with the wrench. She is in the Ball Room. She seems to be dancing with a ghost. We don’t see anyone else, but her hands are up and she’s spinning as though being twirled by an invisible dancer. We hear music; it’s “Moonlight Sonata” by Beethoven. There’s a piano in the ball room but we can’t tell if the keys are being pressed. The song seems to emanate from the piano, though. Inanna’s invisible dance partner suddenly seems to turn violent, for she recoils as though she’s been slapped across the face. She stumbles back and looks up, hair in her eyes. Inanna: “How DARE you defy me.” She is somehow hurled backwards into the piano. The keys and strings shatter and break. She’s unconscious. The killer raises an arm, a rusty work wrench in hand, and brings it down on her skull. In the Ball Room with the wrench.

The end:

  • At the very end, we see Daren in the Study. He’s watching the fire in the fireplace. It’s the only light in the house. Tanim enters calmly. He stops in the doorway. The gun is in his hand at his side, but pointed down to the ground. Daren makes no move.

We discussed it all and here are some of our combined observations:

  • We first assumed this story meant that Daren is hostile toward the gods I worship and wants them gone. He and Tanim “disappeared”, so to speak, back in March about the time the Morrigan came into my life. Maybe the addition of yet another god made him, or them, mad and I have to choose one or the other. Occam’s razor would argue this is the truth, and Mage’s escape could be in line with that hypothesis.
  • However, the wifey pointed out that if Daren were to throw a dinner party, he might indeed think murder would be a nice addition. Better than small talk and party games, right? So… could it be that Daren simply wanted to meet the other gods, perhaps to take their measure or establish some sort of pecking order? Or, to attribute uncharacteristic altruism to his motives, could he and Tanim have wanted to meet the other gods in order to ensure I wasn’t in any danger from them? I’ve always assumed any gods/spirits/whatever are aware of others in the same area or working with the same person, but perhaps that’s not true. Maybe they really don’t know all that much about each other, the way neighbors can see each other every day but not know each other in any meaningful way.
  • This is the first mention of a Sister Reverence, which seems to indicate Daren was in a Catholic orphanage or other school before he was involuntarily committed to a hospital/asylum. Chriselle noted that in the past some Catholic orphanages gave the kids who aged out a token of their faith, usually a pendant, watch, or… a ring. This is especially interesting considering all I’ve told Chriselle about Daren’s past (since I don’t know much myself) is that he was held in an asylum called St. Anthony’s.
  • Given the gods all represent certain pantheons, the brief glimpse of Daren’s childhood is interesting – could it be intended to in some way corroborate the Satan/Lucifer vibes I’ve been getting from Tanim and Daren?
  • The phrase above the front door, along with the things said by the Morrigan, Inanna, and Wepwawet, feel very significant, though I’m not sure of their meaning yet. They seem to imply the gods were bigger players in this game, not simply unlucky party guests, in which case I could be going in totally the wrong direction with my thoughts. (Great!)
  • The deaths of the gods seem like a negative omen or threat, but it could be that because gods can’t so easily be killed, the deaths didn’t really “count”. This might explain why the gods stuck around for the murder party in the first place, and also why Daren possibly let Mage escape; she probably doesn’t enjoy that same form of immortality. This seems to be the biggest factor in deciding whether the message being sent is a threatening one or not. If the gods can die and come back just fine, that’s one thing; if they can’t, it paints a much more dire picture.
  • We don’t know who killed the Morrigan; my gut says Daren, maybe after he lost the knife to Mage, but Tanim is usually the one who kills with such brute force. We don’t know what unseen force killed Inanna, either, nor whether this force was one of the guests or someone/something else entirely. It seemed she knew and possibly trusted them, or at least trusted her power over them.

So that’s where I am now. More to come, I guess??

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#2146

This was never a competition, per say, and I truly have renounced my vendetta against you, yet some part of me still derives a twisted triumph from the fact that I am here at the end of all things and you are not. It’s over; there’s no time now for you to come running in to play the knight in shining armor and make everything right again. You had that chance – so many, in fact! – and yet I was the only one who stayed. The only one who still cared, who still believed, who understood what fighting for so long can do to someone. I was there for every inch of that journey, physical and emotional; I know far more now about your precious (and yet abandoned?) protege than you ever did or ever can. After all, when you are the only two left in a war you at some point stop seeing yourselves as facing off on opposite sides and instead as back to back, two against the world. Did you really expect her to continue protecting the sanctuary you built without any help at all for years – for forever? No, I don’t think you did. I don’t think you thought anything at all. You just wanted a fantasy world in which to escape, something you could rule with the power you didn’t wield in your regular life, and when you grew bored you tossed it away without a care for those you had already tangled in the story. That’s why I started this war, after all, and that’s why I ended it. She and I are both too much a product of your shaping and we deserve to be free of our last bonds to you. I guess in the end we get to be the knights in shining armor, not you; how ironic is that?

#2113

It seems strange that I have to justify my intentions. Look around; is this world really worth saving? Is it deserving of your blood, sweat, and tears, or even your very life? Hardly. You only need open your eyes to see what humanity has done to the Eden it inherited. Concrete cities, cardboard slums, humans packed as thick as maggots on their planet’s moldering corpse. In only a few thousand years they’ve managed to irreparably poison the land, water, and air, orchestrate the extinction of hundreds of thousands of innocent species, and invent countless ways to torture each other daily based on race, religion, and creed. They are locusts devouring everything in their path; they are a plague worse than any deadly virus or unbreakable curse. I speak only the truth and for my evidence can but point to any place on the globe and detail the horrors unleashed there since civilization’s birth: pride, greed, envy, sloth, gluttony, wrath, humanity’s chronic rot touches everything. Given all this, is it still a wonder why I want to wipe the slate clean? Why I no longer think humanity can be redeemed and this world salvaged? A fresh start isn’t so bad, is it, when you consider how many more centuries of war and death must come before the inevitable end performs its final undeserved mercy and snuffs life out for good.

What’s in your head, zombie?

#2112

It’s just her, in the end. It has always been just her.

Mage paces the Jolly Roger’s decks in silence save for the brush of wind through the rigging and waves against wood. No voices, no footsteps, no sounds of human habitation. She forgets how long it’s been since Tanim and Daren disappeared. Weeks? Months? Even longer? She wasn’t surprised to find them gone, of course; they were never truly loyal, only temporarily entertained by her quest enough to play along for a while. She has no real need for their power now anyway, but she does miss what passed for companionship with them.

As she walks, Mage runs a hand over the rail of the ship. The Jolly Roger has been her home and power base for twelve years; its timbers are drenched in her blood and magic, her anger and obsession and desperation. It is the closest thing to a home she has had in a millennium and the thought of leaving it behind would fill her with terror if she wasn’t so terribly tired. Yet to do what she plans, she cannot bring it with her. The ship must return to its grave at the bottom of the sea, this time to slumber eternally as it deserves.

If only she could be rid of the hook so easily. But one thing at a time.

Completing a final circuit of the deck, Mage returns to the quarterdeck and lays her hand upon the helm. For her final act as captain she dismantles the magic layered throughout the ship, spells of protection and speed, firing power and stealth. The last to go is the oldest spell, that with which she raised the ship from the seabed and set it to her purpose. Beneath her boots the wood groans and begins to decay and above her the sails split. “Well,” Mage gives the helm a pat and allows herself one sentimental sigh. “Thank you, ship. You did well. Now rest.”

And with that she steps off its decks for the last time.

~ * ~

Ali hadn’t even bothered putting on her armor. Standing at the beachfront at four in the morning, watching the tide come in, she sensed that Mage was coming. Walking out from the waves, a shadow clad in night and mirrors, her nemesis came ashore.

Mage can see the exhaustion on Ali’s face. “I’m not here to fight,” she confesses, “I just wanna talk.”

#2111

Do you think I wanted to be this way? she longs to scream. That I was made like this, with a rotting heart?

She remembers the beginning like it were yesterday and not a thousand thousand years ago: the white marble city sparkling on the edge of the primordial sea, the islands made of leviathan jaw bones, the newborn sun warming sand and water and immortal flesh alike. She remembers the weight of wings and the weightlessness of flying, soaring on lazy thermals through the eternal summer day. Her skin remembers gold and jewels and silk, her tongue ambrosia and honeyed wine, her ears the harmonious blend of laughter, music, and the susurrus of waves. Yet when she returns to those memories, painful though they may be, she most often chooses to remember the companions she once knew, those she danced with in the sky and those she lay with in the sea foam. Soft lips and sweet kisses on the sandy shore, open arms and hearts in the cool marble halls; love was so uncomplicated then. She was so uncomplicated then. She does not pine for home, but she does pine for those she left there.

Monsters are not born from flesh and bone, she wants to say, but won’t. They are born from betrayal and desperation. Remember that, because what was done to me can be done to you.

#2077

I can’t believe I haven’t talked about all the fun (ie terrible) things Mage has done in our recent DnD sessions! As you may recall, our DM and I killed off my magical girl warlock Dhashi and resurrected my psychopathic villain Mage into her body. Mage is theoretically there to help the others complete their quest to defeat the evil god Bezos, but that doesn’t mean she can’t have some fun (and irritate her party members workplace associates) on the way. For example…

  • While fighting a horde of zombies, she ripped the arm off of one and used it to beat its head into a pulp
  • She has used Shatter and Eldritch Blast several times to make enemies explode
  • When the group found themselves trapped by a thieves guild, she used Misty Step to teleport behind their leader and cut her throat (specifically in such a manner as to incapacitate the woman but ensure she died a slow and extremely painful death, which my wife was happy to describe in great medical detail*)
  • She beguiled two guards into leading the group to a secret catacomb entrance, then forced the guards to come along in case they needed someone to “test” the traps and wards
  • After one of the guards burned to death doing just this, she cut his arm off and used it to continue safely triggering traps
  • She also might have looted a locket from him with pictures of his kids inside; too bad, so sad
  • She tried to fight another PC who is waaaay above her level and immediately lost, but got a sick sidecut in the bargain so no hard feelings there
  • She convinced the goddess of the ocean to defeat some enemies for them and in return told the goddess she could destroy a town full of innocent people
  • She bought a jug that can produce anything; she used it to produce BEES and then set them free in a tavern for funzies (and before you ask, it wasn’t even that many bees, thirty is not a lot of bees, please tell my DnD group that)

*Yes, I asked my wife the best way to cut someone’s throat and she answered immediately because she’s AMAZING

#2072

[ This follows the scene with Dhashi and the scrying bowl ]

“Hey there, little one. Yer Dhashi, right?”

“Oh!” Dhashi, kneeling on the cold stone floor, lifted her head from her hands and wiped at the steadily falling tears. In the doorway stood a tall man wearing the usual uniform of a gunslinger, complete with brimmed hat and sarape. If Overwatch existed in this universe, Dhashi would have noticed he looked extremely similar to McCree; but it doesn’t, so she didn’t. “Y-yes,” she replied, getting unsteadily to her feet. “Who are you? Where’s the Raven Queen?”

“The name’s Mercer. She sent me to show you around, get you settled and stuff,” He took a step into the room, figuring the girl had had enough scares for one day and not wanting to alarm or overwhelm her. “That okay?” Dhashi glanced back at the basin, her only link to the world she had just been ripped from. “But… my friends…” Mercer came a few steps closer and laid a hand lightly on her shoulder. “It’s okay, you can come back here any time you want.” The touch calmed her a little, and Dhashi managed a braver smile than she felt. She nodded for him to lead on and he steered her back out into the long, columned hallway, an arm resting around her shoulders.

“So this is the Raven Queen’s home?” Dhashi glanced up as they walked, eyeing the dark stone arches and the weak light filtering in from windows set high in the walls. “It’s so… spooky.” She shivered as a spider skittered across the marble floor. “And dark.” Beside her, Mercer shrugged. “It ain’t so bad once you get used to it. And you won’t be here often once you become a Champion.”

“Oh,” Dhashi’s feet seemed to stop of their own accord as her stomach flip-flopped. “Right. That.” Mercer stopped as well and knelt down so they could talk on level, his hand never leaving her shoulder. “Don’t worry, kid, you’ll do great.” He gave the aasimar a conspiratorial wink. “You have the best in the business to teach you.”

“You’re one of the Raven Queen’s Champions?” Dhashi’s look of surprise changed to one of suspicion and she eyed him as if he would transform into a monster at any moment. “But you’re not all scary and mean like the other one.” Her comment made Mercer throw back his head and laugh, and the atmosphere between them relaxed once more. “I assume you mean Mage. Yeah, she’s… intense, that’s fer sure. We’re not all like her, though. Think of us like special tools – you need the right tool fer the job, whether that’s somethin’ small and delicate,” he pointed at Dhashi, “or big and strong,” he pointed at himself, “or utterly terrifyin’ and almost certainly insane.” He laughed again, not noticing how wide Dhashi’s eyes had gone. “Are my friends going to be okay with her?” she asked.

“Oh yeah, they’ll prob’ly be fine,” Mercer climbed to his feet, then finally noticed the tears welling in the girl’s eyes. “Oh jeeze, wait, don’t start cryin’ again,” he pleaded, but it was too late. The tears fell in waterfalls. “Dangit,” he muttered, “I’m terrible at this mentorin’ thing. Uhh,” he glanced around desperately for a distraction, “look, birds! Look at the nice birds.” He steered Dhashi toward the nearby rookery, pointing up at the ravens of all sizes and ages that roosted or hopped from perch to perch in the airy room. He had no way of knowing how much Dhashi missed her own animal companion, Charlie, but either way he breathed a sigh of infinite relief as her tears ceased and her smile reappeared.

– – –

“Going well?” The Raven Queen appeared at Mercer’s side as he leaned against the open doorway. He nodded to where Dhashi sat on the rookery floor, birds already nestled among the folds of her dress, perched on her arms, and grooming her long, golden hair with their sharp beaks. She murmured to them as she smoothed their glossy feathers, and the ravens burbled and croaked in reply. “She’s got a big heart,” Mercer conceded. “And she’s braver than she realizes. Dunno if that’ll be enough, though.”

“It will have to be,” The goddess clapped him on the shoulder, then disappeared. Mercer stood watching Dhashi for a moment more, then went to join her. She smiled up at him as if they were old friends and began telling him the birds’ names.