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Friv
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Tales Of The Iron Lake 1: Repentant (CtL)

08 Apr 2008, 20:37

Well, you know how it is. I write whatever pops into my head at a given moment, which works out generally but sucks for serials.

So instead of another Blood and Bone, you get this. I'm running a Changeling game tabletop at the moment, and I started writing NPCs for the setting's freehold. After 41 complete NPCs, and another 20-30 one-paragraph writeups, I realized that I had more NPCs than the characters could reasonably meet, let alone interact with enough for their backstories to come out.

The result is this - some of my favorite backstories popping up in something that may or may not be a serial - it might just be a series of character sketches. Either way, hope you like it.

The setting, which is hopefully not needed but might be interesting anyway, is located here: http://wiki.white-wolf.com/worldofdarkn ... =Grovedale

-----

The din of the high school's front lawn was a happy sound, one of chaos and joy and a hint of confusion, and one that brought a slight smile to Clever Maya's lips as she parked her car on the corner across the street. Stepping out, she paused just long enough to lock the car - it was old, and she didn't expect anyone to try and steal it across the street from a high school, but some kids might get it into their heads to check it out while her back was turned, and it seemed better safe than sorry.

As she crossed the street, strolling towards the large doors that children streamed out from, free from the confining structure of the day, she paused to glance around, taking in the street and its surroundings. The wind danced through the trees lining the sidewalk, its patterns creating a rustling whisper of truths ignored by the people that flowed around the trees like water across a dam. She wasn't surprised; to most, it was simply noise. Here and there a leaf caught in the wind, lifted into the air, and danced away. She almost felt that they were asking her to join them - but no. It was only wind, not the hauntingly familiar call of Autumn.

“Hey, Big!” The call echoed across the schoolyard, and Maya chuckled as she heard it. The girl slipping through the crowd bore a passing resemblance to her - at least in the eyes of those around them. Maya could see differently. Where the child's skin was chocolate, hers was purest obsidian, with muscles etched in the fiber of her almost-scaled skin. Her hair was spun glass hanging around her shoulders, to the simple braids worn by the girl, and her amethyst eyes were no match for the younger girl's rich brown ones. But then, none of those around them saw such things. To them, Maya was simply another woman - athletic, perhaps. Beautiful, certainly, with a nobility to her pose that gave even the leering delinquents lounging around a dumpster near the parking lot a moment of pause. But as human as anyone walking the streets.

Maya knew better.

Pushing the thought from her mind, she grinned and nodded to the girl. “Hey, mini-me. Ready to go?”

“Well, uh, actually...” The younger girl coughed, swinging her bookbag in one hand. “I was going to go over to Claire's house. Have you met Claire?” She waved at another girl, who was having somewhat more trouble flowing through the crowd. “Claire, this is Maya - she's a friend of the family.”

Claire was a blonde girl with an intelligent-looking gaze, although it shifted to confusion at that. “Are you named after her or something, May?”

“No.” The younger Maya grinned at the older. “It was just a co-incidence. Big Maya didn't even meet me until a year ago.” She shifted her attention to 'Big Maya', who was giving her a dubious look. “Anyway, I'm going to go to Claire's.”

“Have you told your mother?”

“Well... uh....” May coughed. “Sort of. I'm going to call her from Claire's.”

Maya gave her a deadpan look for a few moments, and then shrugged. “Well, make sure you do. You don't want to worry her.” Losing the look, she reached out with a grin and ruffled the young girl's hair. “And next time, tell us a little earlier, huh?”

“Ok, Big. Sorry to make you come over here for nothing.” With an abashed look which lasted exactly until she turned away, May turned to Claire and started walking off. As they did, Maya caught a snatch of Claire speaking.

“Geez, your mom sends friends to pick you up? Paranoid much?”

“Yeah, well. Something happened a while back.” Brushing off the comment, May and Claire vanished into the crowd of kids, and Maya sighed. Turning, she returned to her car, unlocking the front door and getting in. She reached up to adjust her rearview mirror, still thinking about the girl. 'Something happened'. An easy retort for what had...

“She's recovered quite well, don't you think?”

With almost a year of practice, Maya didn't jump. She barely flinched at the sudden sound behind her - instead, she finished adjusting the mirror, giving the man it now revealed her best fisheye. “Very well.”

“Almost uncanny, one would think, after what she went through.” Leaning forwards, the man in the back seat smiled widely. Maya shifted to meet his gaze, his features vaguely reminiscent of her own as he turned to face her. His skin was ruddy and smooth, and gave the impression of a waxwork figure, its actual shape indistinct.

“What do you want, Jack?” Her voice was flat.

“Now, now. Maya. Is that any way to speak to the Autumn King?” Jack Tallow, one of the most powerful changelings in the city of Grovedale, and the leader of the Autumn Court, grinned another of his insincere grins, raising his eyebrows with blithe unconcern. “I was just passing by, and I thought I'd see how the sprout was doing.” Reaching into his coat, he pulled out a large manilla file folder, and flipped it open. “Wonderful reading. Care to take a look?”

Without leaving his gaze, Maya shook her head. “Don't have to. I've seen her progress myself. Complete recovery. No signs of trauma.” She let herself frown slightly, showing a hint of fangs. “Your point?”

“You might want to keep it in mind, that's all.” Setting down the folder, Jack leaned back in the seat, his expression turning grim. “It's one thing to leave it be. Lots of us do that. It's another to get involved. Dangerously so.”

“She is not a threat to anyone. She's a fourteen-year old girl.”

“It is a two-year old construct of magic and shadow.” Jack's tone was flat. “And if you keep treating it as a person, you are going to be badly hurt.” He sighed. “I understand your concern, Maya. I even understand that, as much as we both know it wasn't your fault, you feel responsible for what it went through. But don't let that cloud your objectivity.” He paused. “I know that you've been teaching it about us, about the Hedge and Glamour and how to defend itself. If that goes bad, I don't want to have to destroy it.”

“You won't.” Maya's voice was harsh. “I saved her from one monster, Jack. Don't become another one.”

After a moment, Jack laughed. There was an honesty to the sound that was at odds with his usual expression. “You aren't afraid of me at all, Maya. I like that about you.” Reaching over, he pushed open the door and stepped out of the car. “Just keep it in mind. The Starbringer saved you from a madman, and then you saved yourself from the Starbringer. I wouldn't want to see the third monster that traps you be your own guilt.” With that, he closed the door smoothly and strolled away, his cloak rustling in a pattern which had nothing in common with the wind around him.

For a few moments, Maya watched the leader of her Court walking away, and then she cursed savagely and started the engine. God damn him anyway, for the memories he was waking in her. Her fetch was no monster.

And in one corner of her mind, she prayed that the day would never come when she became one.
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Re: Tales Of The Iron Lake 1: Repentant (CtL)

08 Apr 2008, 23:07

Nice beginning. I always find interesting the relationship between Changeling and Fetch. I hope to see more soon!
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Re: Tales Of The Iron Lake 1: Repentant (CtL)

20 Apr 2008, 23:40

That's a fine bit of writing. I'm not a Changeling expert but, yeah, the relationship between one and their Fetch can be a fasciantingly weird source of good RP. But I won't look at this story from a gaming point of view.

I like the rather sisterly-like affection Maya has for her "mini-me". You also do a good job of making Jack not exactly a bad guy but definitely creepy and menacing. Antagonistic, I guess is the word I'm looking for.

Just a thought: The first paragraph makes me think Maya's an old woman at first. I think it's the conjunction of her car being old and her referring to students as 'kids' the way someone older might. I'm assuming that's not the case here. :)

Nice story, Friv! You remind me I haven't read enough of your work lately...and you remind me how much I enjoy it when I do.
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Re: Tales Of The Iron Lake 1: Repentant (CtL)

22 Apr 2008, 12:37

Anteros: I've got the next part on the burner at the moment; I may have it up soonish.

Epiphany: *grins* I have a lot of fun with Jack; he's an NPC that's been with me from the first days of Changeling: The Dreaming, and my players are usually profoundly unsure what to think of him.

Maya's tone and thoughts there was because she feels old, rather than because she is; she lost her childhood to Arcadia. I may go back and edit the story to make that more clear.

Thanks for the comments! :)
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Re: Tales Of The Iron Lake 1: Repentant (CtL)

16 Aug 2008, 21:05

Having that many NPCs can make a limited setting come alive, because you can always have a character ready for any place the PCs go. it can also serve as an endless source of adventure hooks.

The problem is keeping everything straight.

Anyway, I like this. I also like the prequel you did. Having her befriend her Fetich is interesting.
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Friv
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Re: Tales Of The Iron Lake 1: Repentant (CtL)

16 Aug 2008, 23:52

BrilliantRain wrote:
Having that many NPCs can make a limited setting come alive, because you can always have a character ready for any place the PCs go. it can also serve as an endless source of adventure hooks.

The problem is keeping everything straight.


The other problem is the vast amount of work involved. ;) (Up past eighty NPCs to date. :smilenod: )
"Some people walk in the rain. Others merely get wet."

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