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Henry
Essence 5
Essence 5
Topic Author
Posts: 719
Joined: 14 Sep 2010, 18:48
Title: Lookshyan brat
Exalt: Dragon-Blooded
Fighting Style: Awkward flailing and some hair pulling
Artifact: Magitech and heirlooms
Location: Rhode Island

Losing a Whole Year

27 Dec 2010, 15:54

Here's something about a Sidereal. The prose is a bit goofy, but the narrator is a bit goofy, so it fits. More to follow.

********************************************

The Loom of Fate sings. How long have I been away? An hour? A day? A year? No matter. The symphony of the strands continues, essential to – and oblivious of – the grand performance of Creation, which is in turn unknowing of the music of the Loom. A dance where the partners are forever apart.

The lowest range of the song is barely audible, the bass rumble of ideas and concepts. They tie everything together, giving it a purpose from which to grow. Slightly higher, and with more rhythm and direction, are the fates of nations and places, a hearty, complex sound, plucked by the hands of a thousand players. Here, city is plunged into war and quivers with nervous anticipation; there, a forest provides shelter to a migration of birds, ringing with the cacophony of its temporary residents.

Some of the song is nothing but silence, the quiescent acceptance of inanimate objects, each grain of sand merely something for an ocean tide or a probing turtle to play with. A part of the song is high and sweet, the passage of mortal life, the strands oh so thin and far too short, but full of an energy and vivacity that puts the other strands to shame. Each one is unique, each one is special, and each one is forgotten as soon as its part in the chorus is done and it is replaced by a newer, stronger harmony. Everything is as it should be, and yet…

And yet, there is an echo, a dissonance that does not belong. Curious.

I step up to the edge of the walkway, reaching out over the railing to the passing strands. Maybe the strands are drawn to me, or maybe I move myself to strands, but a thread finds its way between my fingers. I move my hands up and down the strand, feeling the slight bumps that connect the different segments of destiny, each one signifying the end of one story and the start of another.

The strand is translucent, like a piece of glass, almost invisible, but only for an instant. Then it surges with color, a red, a green, a blue, or sometimes many colors swirling together. Emotions, moments of significance: that is what the colors denote, passions and tragedies both fated and improvised. If I looked down, all the way down, to the end of the strand, I would see the violet shades, the purple so dark it is almost black, that herald the end of whatever the strand embodies.

But death does not interest me, not now. For now, I am interested in life, and my eyes run up and the down the strand, then over to the others near it. The colors move in harmony, the events of one life affecting those around it. Here, a moment of sadness provokes another violet wave in a nearby strand; a friend or lover, then. That same sadness causes the brilliant blue of satisfaction in a different strand; an enemy’s delight at the suffering of the target of his hatred.

I cannot find what I am looking for. The echo is not a sound itself; rather, it is the absence of sound. Only by playing the nearby strands can I form an idea of its location. Finding it will take time, time that I do not have today.

A moment of separation is required. I pull my attention away from the Loom, reaching into the folds of my coat to pull out a notebook. The thick sheets of paper lack the elegance of a scroll of silk or the sophistication of an essence-based recording device, but they have a comforting reality that the other two lack. I have a history with paper like this, one that stretches back to the days before my exaltation, twenty, thirty years ago. Perhaps, as I grow older, as I my identity fades and becomes diffuse, molded by the stress of destiny and fate, my attachment to the past will fade as well. But for now it is real, as real as anything else that defines me, whoever I may be at the moment.

I lean forward onto the railing again, catching my sleeve on smooth post. The arm under that sleeve is unfamiliar, the skin a bronze hue, not the nut brown of Gesa Ygali, the life I had lived for so long. Nor is it the expected pale gold, the flesh of Reven Akario, the identity that I am the most attached to, the one that the Loom and my family and my own actions have given to me.

I shake my head. It had been too long. For a year, for longer than a year, I had been away from the Loom, away from Yu Shan, living someone else's life, the life of a stranger, a fiction. A lie. I am Reven Akario and not some other, regardless of what my eyes may tell me.

The reason for the disconnect comes swiftly. Of course, spending so many months in the hot sun of the South would do that to my skin. I just hadn't noticed under the mirage of the disguise that had fooled even my own senses, tricking me into seeing only the fiction of Gesa Ygali. He had had no need for sun cloth, no reason to protect his skin from the sun's rays, so he had sat comfortably in the burning heat of the Southern dunes. Reven Akario, the identity underlying him - me! I am forced to remind myself - had lacked that assurance. My purposeful fictions might fool the eye, but the sun sees through all. A useful lesson for the future.

Another pocket produces a charcoal pencil, still sharp. I wonder how long it has been since I last used it. It doesn't matter, the habits comes rushing back, and I chew on the end of the pencil as my hand moves swiftly across the paper, summarizing the results of my mission. Why the mission was important I don't quite know, but it will form an essential movement in the ongoing rush of the symphony of history. Gesa Ygali has done remarkable good for a lie, and for a moment I mourn his death.

Some, of course, would say that he had never lived, that he was only a mask for me to wear during my mission. While I can accept that argument, it seems, to me, to lack an essential understanding of what makes a person real. A person is not just a collection of motes and molecules, held together by the energy of life – he is a construct, an idea that gains definition by virtue of how others see him, and how he sees himself. Aren't ideas just as real as physical matter? Aren't they, from a certain point of view, more real than anything else? After all, is reality anything more than what we perceive it to be, anything more than a collection of ideas and concepts that we arrange to our liking?

I smile to myself. I am certain that others have had these thoughts before, and that they have reflected on them far more deeply and profoundly than I ever will. Perhaps, in time, I will have the leisure to explore them thoroughly. But at the moment I have paper work to do.

In time the notes are finished, and I can return to the Cerulean Lute of Harmony. I imagine my superiors will want to know that I have returned from Creation, and that my mission was a success. Will they see fit to explain what, exactly, my mission was about? Do they even know? I imagine not. Ignorance, of course, is no obstacle to the utility of an action, since the nature of an action is a matter of perspective, of ideas.

There I go again, daydreaming. I shove the notebook back under my jacket, folding it into one of the pockets to elsewhere. The motion has immediacy, a tactile urgency that brings me back into focus. I resolve to leave the Loom, to go back to my office, to slowly reconstruct the layers that make up my life. There are many people who I need to speak to, my superiors and colleagues and friends, but I am reluctant to see them. More precisely, I am reluctant to see myself, to see myself reflected in their eyes, their expectations and demands and requirements trying to shape and mold me. But the process is a necessary one, part of the give and take that defines a personality. Avoiding it is futile.

The pattern spiders hum and click, moving past me on the warp and weft of the Loom. I pay them no mind, which I imagine is how they like it, anonymous custodians of Fate. Soon enough I find my way out of the Lotus Dome, or, to be more exact, the exit presents itself to me. Time, reality, physical location - all of them are subjective in the Loom. One does not find something here so much as one seeks it, one wishes for it, and eventually one is blessed with the happy coincidence of coexisting with what one seeks. If only everything could be so simple.

I step outside.
You can dare to do anything and succeed in anything, provided you never forget that two and two do not make four; in clumsy hands, they often make three or even less; but they can make five or six. - Louis-Herbert Lyautey
 
User avatar
Henry
Essence 5
Essence 5
Topic Author
Posts: 719
Joined: 14 Sep 2010, 18:48
Title: Lookshyan brat
Exalt: Dragon-Blooded
Fighting Style: Awkward flailing and some hair pulling
Artifact: Magitech and heirlooms
Location: Rhode Island

Re: Losing a Whole Year

30 Dec 2010, 11:03

Here's some more goofy stuff.

Well this drama is a bore, and I don't want to play no more

**********************************************

For once, the halls of the Cerulean Lute of Harmony are quiet. There are no raucous parties or spontaneous bacchanals, and for that I am grateful. Not that I would ever criticize my coworkers or try to deny them their fun, but I have never had quite the enthusiasm for debauchery that so many Chosen of Venus seem to possess, to say nothing of the various gods of the Division of Serenity.

My office is on the tenth floor of the Lute, not a prestigious location, but not the worst, either. At least I have the space to myself, and do not have to share with another Joybringer or a god. I look forward to a few moments of quiet, writing up the final draft of my report, but I am stopped by a puzzling development. The door to my office is open a few inches, which is odd: not only have I not been in Yu-Shan for over a year, I remember locking the door before I left. Perhaps my memory is mistaken?

The moment of confusion is resolved when I push the door open further, and am greeted by a voice inside.

"Hello, Reven. It took you long enough to get here."

It is Kaelus Bardanes. The Chosen of Endings is lying on the couch that sits against the wall, his feet up on the arm, the back of his head towards the door. I don't bother to ask how he knew it was me.

"Good evening, Sifu," I say politely. "I hope you haven't been waiting long."

I step inside, closing the door behind me, and walk over to the couch. Kaelus opens his violet eyes a fraction and look over at me. As usual, he is dressed in soft, almost shapeless, gray clothing, and his jaggedly cut black hair spills across his eyes.

He shrugs. "I haven't been waiting at all."

"Oh. How did you know I had returned? I haven't told anyone yet."

"I didn't know."

"Then how did you know to come here, Sifu?"

"I didn't."

I don't press the issue. Kaelus would answer the question in his own time, if he deigns to answer it at all. I walk over to the desk, next to the window that overlooks the grounds of the Bureau of Destiny. Sitting down, I open the various drawers and remove an ink pot and a scroll of silk paper. I begin to write my report, translating the scratches in my notebook into more elegant calligraphy.

"It's good to have you back," Kaelus says, his feet blocking my view of his face. "I need to get you back into the training ring."

"Yes, a very wise idea, Sifu."

"You're going soft."

"Am I?" I look at myself. No one would ever call me muscular, or even especially fit, but I thought the months of privation in the Southern desert had left me as lean and rugged as I would ever be.

"Yes." Kaelus turns his legs outward, and looks at me through the gap between his feet. "And not like that, you numbskull. I mean, honestly - you thought I was talking about your physical fitness? What an idiot."

"And what did you mean, honored Sifu?"

"I mean, you need to get your head out of the clouds and focused on something concrete, something real."

"Do I?"

"Yep." The feet wiggled a bit. "So, how was the mission?"

"It went well enough," I reply. "Though..." I frown. "I think I understand now what you meant about focussing on reality. I have to admit, I'm having problems putting it behind me."

"Feeling kind of distant, are you?" Kaelus asks. "Like you're not sure how real you are? Keep on getting visions of yourself not as yourself, but as something ephemeral, existing between the strands of fate?"

"Yes, like that! You've dealt with it, then, before?"

"Nope. Never a problem for me."

"Oh."

"Reality isn't tricky at all, really. Wherever you go, there you are. That's my philosophy."

"Ah. Perhaps, in time, I will also reach that revelation?"

"Probably not."

With that, Kaelus's feet came back together, signifying the end of the conversation.

I focus on writing for a while. The habits and motions of calligraphy come back to me, and my brush flows across the paper. There is a simple joy to be found in a well-formed word, an act of crafting that allows a satisfying degree of precision due to its smallness. One phrase builds upon the next, both the shape of the words and the poetry of their meaning flowing together.

When I have finished the second copy of the report, I lean back in my chair, the snug leather backing catching against the rough cloth of my coat. I had forgotten how much I like the chair, and the room as a whole. It has taken me the better part of two decades, but the office is finally decorated to my satisfaction, the polished wood paneling set in around the blue jade columns, the shelves that line the walls, decorative objects placed on them, artfully arranged around the piles of scrolls. Some of them I have acquired myself, but most come from my exaltation's prior incarnations. There is something not quite right with the room, though, and it sits on the edge of my awareness, quietly harassing me.

"I did move them."

"Sorry, Sifu?" I turn to look at Kaelus, still hiding behind his feet.

"Your...little silver things." He gestures vaguely at my desk. "You were wondering where they had gone."

"You mean the artefacts? The devotional carvings from the dawn of the First Age?"

"Whatever. I thought it was a good idea to move them."

"Ah. And how did that...impulse present itself to you?"

"Well, I came around one day and there were three people in here."

"In my office?" I ask, confused.

"Yes, in your office, Reven. Where else could I be talking about? Anyway, redundant questions aside, they were in here doing something that is probably illegal in most jurisdictions. I let them finish it, of course, but I snuck in to remove your silver thingies from the desk once they were done. I didn't want any of your fellow perverts breaking them in case they made a habit of assaulting the virtue of your desk."

"Thank you. Do you mind, Sifu, if I ask..."

"I was here on my own initiative. People in the Violet Bier of Sorrows are always harassing me - you know how it is, missions this, orders that, Fate's in trouble again - so sometimes I come here escape." He bobbed his feet a few times, flexing them against his soft-soled boots. "Actually, I come here quite often."

"Oh. And so you..."

"Yes, I imagine I accidently left the door unlocked, thereby allowing the orgy to slip inside and stain your carpet. Don't look, you nincompoop - that was just a dramatic exaggeration. Your carpet is fine. So far as you know."

"Erm. And that's..."

"What I was doing today. Exactly right. Sorry, but you're not that special. I don't spend my days pining for your return; I was just borrowing your couch for a nap. Still, it's good to see you."

"Thank you. Likewise. And..." I wait for Kaelus to interrupt me again, and I am slightly surprised when he doesn't. "And where are the artefacts?"

"What? Oh, those things? Under the couch, I think. Or maybe I shoved them in the closet. Something like that."

"I have a closet?" I look around, confused.

"Of course not. Why would you think that?" Kaelus shuffles back on the couch, propping himself up to look at me. "You really are getting soft in the head, Reven. You need a break. A sabbatical."

"A break? Perhaps, though I..."

I am interrupted by a brisk series of knocks on the door, followed by a rather forceful opening. Into the office steps Uvanavu, the God of Health and one of the leaders of the Division of Serenity.

"Master Akario, you have returned," he says, smoothly bowing. The god is tall and elegant, though his expression is rather pinched and worried. I do not recall him ever appearing any other way.

I try to be graceful as a I stand up from my chair and bow in return. "Master Uvanavu. You honor me with your presence."

"Thank you. I apologize for my intrusion, but I was hoping to speak with you about your recent mission..." Uvanavu stops, having apparently just noticed Kaelus reclining on the couch. "Master Bardanes," the god says, a bit stiffly, but he bows nonetheless.

"Hey," Kealus responds, wiggling his hand a fraction by way of a greeting.

"I am sorry," Uvanavu says, still excessively formal, "I did not mean to interrupt. But I need to converse with Master Akario about his findings. Perhaps...?" The god glances hopefully at the door, clearly implying that Kaelus should leave the two of us alone.

"Yes, I agree," Kaelus replies. "You should come back later. But don't worry, you didn't bother me - Reven already woke me up from my nap."

Uvanavu frowns. "Perhaps, Master Bardanes, you have business elsewhere?"

"Nope. I bring my business with me, wherever I go."

"I see," the god says icily. "I do not recall, in the two centuries since your exaltation, having ever seen you engaged in productive work here at the Bureau. Perhaps you could remind me what, exactly, your duty is here?"

"Internal affairs," Kaelus says blandly. "You know anybody who needs an audit?"

"I do not think so, no."

"Good. Then my work is done." Kaelus settles comfortably into the couch.

"Perhaps," I say, trying to head off any further unpleasantries, "you would care to take a seat, honored Shogun? I would be happy to answer any questions you may have."

"Thank you, Master Akario," Uvanavu says, turning to me, "but I would prefer to speak alone, without any unqualified listeners in attendance."

"You know," Kaelus says to the ceiling, "for a guy with a palindrome for a name he sure is big on talk."

Uvanavu starts to turn a violent shade of purple, but before things can escalate further, I step forward hastily, interposing myself between my two guests.

"Master Uvanavu," I say, "perhaps you would care to review my report in the comfort of your own office? I would be happy to stop by in a hour or so to discuss my findings with you."

I place one of the newly-written scrolls in Uvanavu's hand. He frowns, but turns away from Kaelus, and forces himself to smile.

"That is agreeable, Master Akario. I must say, it is a pleasant surprise to discover that your report is already complete. That sort of diligence is often sorely lacking among the Five-Score Fellowship." He casts an angry glance at Kaelus.

"Thank you for the compliment," I say. "As your humble servant, I am always eager to hear whatever wise words you see fit to impart to me; doubly so if they are praise for my meager efforts."

"I only say what is deserved. Very well, then. I shall look forward to seeing you before the end of the day, Master Akario. May the Sun shine on you always."

"And also upon you," I say, bowing as Uvanavu departs.

Kaelus turns to look at me. "You can get one season for sure, but I'll try to hustle two."

"What?" I blink in surprise. "I'm sorry, Sifu, I don't..."

"Your break? Remember?" Kaelus sighs. "We were discussing the necessity of you going on sabbatical before we were interrupted. I mean, honestly - try to keep up, Reven."

"Right. It's just that, well, with..."

"Not a problem. The Shogun of Sticks up the Ass won't cause any problems. At least not for me. He might for you, but that's not my concern."

I am somewhat angry. "Perhaps, Sifu, if you had been..."

"Politeness has nothing to do with it. That guy's been on my case ever since I exalted. Hate's the fact that I'm independent, doesn't understand that the Gold Faction's a bunch of scatter brains."

"Well, he has never..."

"The only reason he doesn't get on you for being independent is because you're always kissing his behind. It's a wonder he doesn't have a rash from it."

"I would like to think that it's a matter of appreciating my talents and valuing them over office politics. Perhaps if you tried harder, Sifu, to gain friends, you might find yourself with fewer enemies. And formal organization might help as well, for recruiting and..."

"Don't you start with that Silver Faction nonsense again," Kealus says, slashing his hand angrily. "Just because you and I talk to Lunars on occasion doesn't make us a faction. And don't start on that whole 'reuniting the Exalted host' speech again. I've had quite enough of that thank you." He sits upright, and pokes his finger at me. "So, two seasons? Sounds fair?"

"Um, yes, right, two seasons. That would work. Tell me, though, what..."

"Go on vacation, you nitwit! Hang out at the Baths of Venus or something. You're familiar with the concept of having fun, right? Well, you're in Yu-Shan, so have fun with it."

"Yes, of course. Perhaps I'll go back to Wavecrest. I haven't spent much time there since I exalted, and there are some beaches there that compare favorably to anything to Yu-Shan. Although..."

I think back to my time at the Loom of Fate earlier today, and that strange echo causing disruption in the southeast. What was going on there?

"Perhaps," I say, "I'll go to An-Teng."
You can dare to do anything and succeed in anything, provided you never forget that two and two do not make four; in clumsy hands, they often make three or even less; but they can make five or six. - Louis-Herbert Lyautey

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