A Fragile Immortality
Thursday, March 19th
We wake. Sid has a bloody nose. Cole calls Ms. Stewart.
“Sid’s not going in.“
“Nightmares.” “Ah. Just so you know, he’s got a high fever.” Ms. Stewart gives Cole the details for her call in, so we’ll match. Cole brings Sid some tea.
Lacey Ann offers to talk to Mr. Potter at school- we’ve heard he’s a good dream walker- and to get Sid’s homework for him.
En route to school,
“Nose bleeds happen when you watch Anime, so don’t watch any.” Lacey Ann jokes to Sid on our way to school.
“What? What’s anime?” Cole asks.
“Japanese cartoons.” Lacey Ann replied.
“Oh! Japanimation.” Sid nods.
“Do the people get the nose bleeds or just the cartoons?” Cole is confused.
“Only in the Anime, thus far.” Lacy Ann and Niobe agree.
“Okay. Good. Otherwise, I’d have to ban it.” Cole says gruffly.
“But! We’re girls! Only boys get the nose bleeds.” The girls protest.
“But the boys are around, and we wouldn’t want to chance nosebleeds.” Cole goes towards lecture mode.
“Oh, yeah. Fluids. AIDs.” Lacey Ann nods.
“AIDs are for gays.” Sid pipes up.
“Not anymore. Anyone can have it.” Lacey Ann informs an incredulous Sid.
“Hey Johnathan.” Lacey Ann spots Sid’s sleep deprived friend.
“Hey.” He seems cognitive today, if tired and worn out.
“How are you?”
“Okay. Where’s Sid? He wasn’t in English today.“
“He’s home sick. He said you hadn’t been feeling well?” Lacey Ann questions him.
“Yeah. Feeling better now, thought. Twelve hours sleep last night helped.” Jonathan seemed relieved.
“Maybe Sid caught whatever from you?“
“In that case, it’ll go four days with bad sleep and exhaustion and then break.” Jonathan details his symptoms for Lacey Ann.
Arianne rolled, her academics are decent, but not as good as normal.
Katy is still tired when Cole meets up with her in shop class. Cole takes one look at her, and knowing how far ahead she is in class points and orders her.
“Go. Corner. Sleep” Katy Ingles is too tired to argue.
Lacey Ann goes to talk to Mr. Potter at lunch.
“Um, hi. Do you know Katy Ingles?” Lacey Ann is shy with this intimidating teacher.
“Yes. She is in my social studies class.” Mr. Potter is all business. Lacey Ann looks around to make sure no normals are nearby.
“She’s napping in drama and I bumped into her. She’s having nightmares. We’re pretty sure she’s being haunted.” Lacey Ann’s voice is full of concern… and nerves.
“Do you know anything about him?” Mr. Potter looks at Lacey Ann.
“He wears a long trench coat and feels like steel wool…” She’s not quite sure what he’s looking for.
“Ooooh. Him. ...Why did you come to me? I usually see her with Sid.” He knows there’s more than just what she’s saying.
“He… we tried to help last night and-” Lacey Ann gets cut off.
“I though you were going to be your group’s dream warden?” Lacey Ann blinks, feeling like a rat in a cage, how much else did he know? How closely was our group being watched?
“I… I’m learning.” She shrinks into herself in front of him.
“Has Ms Stewert gone over the dream walking skills?“
“Good. Is it just Sid, or is it all of you, who have the pledge with Katy?” Mr. Potter’s concern seems clinical- strategic.
“Oh. That could be … difficult.” He goes on to explain some dream stalking basics. That those without pledges can get to the dreamer they need. “One can jump from dreamer to dreamer- like stepping stones- to get to the dream you want. But, if any of your ‘stones’ wake, you’re lost. Do not try this technique on your own.“
“Sounds like a plan.” Lacey Ann is rightfully anxious of techniques that could have her lose her way.
“Why did you come to me?” Mr. Potter queries her, gently.
“Because we heard you were good with dreams.” Lacey Ann is naive and honest. “I have some small skill.” He tries to hide a small smirk of pride. “I can help if you want. I can do more if I’m with you for the dream. Unless, of course, you let me into your pledge. Which I don’t recommend.” Potter is conscious of his tolerated but unaccepted status.
“Right! Stranger Danger.” Lacey Ann brightly recites her awareness of that rule. He blinks, snorts, and nods to himself, as he remembers that she’s really eight.
“Or else I need a connection to Katy. I can do it without one, but it would take power that would leave me… vulnerable. I’m willing to help you freely, all it takes is a few hours.” Lacey Ann relaxes visibly at his offer to help freely- remember her promise that morning to offer nothing for this help. And she observes that Mr. Potter still has the Autumn mantle about him.
“I’ll have to ask them. I’ll let you know.” He nods dismissal, then calls after her, “Tell Cole, I send my best.” Lacey Ann scurries off. Shortly, thereafter, she sends the text.
“Potter wl hlp. consult here, home?” The responses filter back to her, through the next hour or so.
Cole replies first, “Neutral Ground. EGM“
After Sid seduces a masseuse during his ‘sick day’ (gets 5glamour, 1 will), he goes shopping to set up our medetative living room. He gets advice on soft soundtracks and gets the room all set up.
Arianne replies second, “EGM” Eastern Goblin Market.
In shop, Cole makes 6 broken looking dreamcatchers- as tokens to be used. Lacey Ann swings by.
“Mr. Potter sends his best.“
“I don’t know. I was hoping you knew.“
“I don’t know him from Adam.“
“So, I should let him know we can meet him at 6pm at the Eastern Goblin Market?“
“Ask what he wants to eat. We’ll provide. As a thanks for freely given knowledge.“
After school, Lacey Ann swings back by his classroom. After checking around to make sure there’s no one listening, she asks him “Does 6pm at the Eastern Goblin Markets work for you?“
“We can bring food. What would you like?“
“Don’t worry about it. I’m. Fine.“
“We’ll bring chicken then.“
Lacey Ann talks to Katy. (roll 2:0) She babbles and eventually offers Katy the broken dream catcher charm that Cole made. Katy accepts it and puts it around her neck.
We go home, to meet up. Sid has set up the meditation section, speakers and all.
Sid asks Niobe, “Did you have a good day? Did you make anyone cry?” (Liz looks at Josh oddly, then remembers, her girl looks for sorrow.)
We all prepare to head off to the Goblin Market.
“Do I go?” Niobe is nervous. “I’m scared.“
“I’ll hold your hand.” Cole offers and the anxious Niobe takes him up on it.
FLASHBACK: Shopping last week.
Gabress grabs Arianne’s hand and asks, “What would you like to be?” Without waiting, she answers for Arianne, “You’re going to want to blend in.“
“Yes.” Is Arianne’s definitive reply.
“Why will no chatelaine let me dress them up.“
Sid smiles and chimes in, “Make her a subtle and pretty princess.“
“Do you even want to be in hedge weave?“
“Yes.” Arianne’s reply is as wordy as ever.
“_Okay then. Pants from the bottom of the ocean. Cost- whisper a dream, a broken watch, and $5, American.” (2xp) Arianne whispers a secret in her ear then says that she’ll be right back.
A timid Niobe steps a little forward, “I think I- need hedge weave?” she closes her eyes and grabs Cole’s hand again.
“She should be a white princess. To grow up to be the ice queen. Waiting for her frost King.” She comes back with a frost white ball gown. Niobe takes one look at it and nods. Then, she goes to try on the pretty dress, already tinged in sorrow. It’s just right.
“Hmmm, price? A simple price. A copy of the first book you read by yourself.” (Sarah and the Unicorn).
BACK TO PRESENT
Nitch and Notch are chatting nearby. Natch is still inside.
“Hi!” Sid greets them.
“Hi.” Nitch and Notch nod to him.
“Want some chicken?” Sid offers. Then, the building itself, Alwas, leans precariously over us.
“Ah. Popeyes. Didn’t want some Goblin Fruit?” The building is talking to us.
“Want some?” Sid offers.
“Nah.” And Sid starts thinking about growing our own fruit.
“Want some fruit? We’ve got lovely melons, beautiful cherries, and of course, a fabulous dream-a-drupe.“
“What’s a dr…” Niobe is curious.
“Picture a purple nectarine, so scrumptious… Have you had wine?“
“I’m too young.“
“_Oh, but its got the warmth of a sweet wine, they have recouperative powers.”
Just then, Mr. Potter arrives, Alwas becomes just a building again as autumn approaches us. Leaves, the cool brisk air. The hedge itself turns autumny around him.
Potter is arrogant and expectant. “Alwas, bench?” Nitch and Notch scatter inside as a bench walks out and sets itself under Potter, just as he sits down. Niobe steps halfway behind Cole.
Lacey Ann considers herself the hostess, as she invited him. “Thanks for coming.“
Potter smiles, “Happy to help. ... So, Sid, you’re the one who’s seen him. 6’4”, jacket pulled tight and high, beady red eyes, claws?“
“Didn’t see the claws.” Sid nods to the rest, though. “The impression I got, though, was of rusted steel.“
“Doubt you’d get close enough to see.“
“I think he’s autumn. I’ve been dream warden to a motley before. He’ll hunt you to almost the end. Chasing for the fear or until he gets what he wants.“
“Last time, was he looking for the fear, or something else?“
“Not sure. The last time I encountered him, I held him to a standstill.“
Then, Mr. Potter gives us the advice. The hunter, he feeds off of our own fear. Make him pull down his glamour faster, make him spend his willpower. As Potter turns to go, Cole has to ask.
“How do you know me?
“There’s only so many Autumn, so many Artificers, so many of us at the high school. Only 100 or so of us here anyway, it’s easy to keep track of the new ones. Especially one as special as you. And Lacey.“
Lacey Ann and Cole head off to firearms practice. Lacey Ann is surprisingly good.
At Winter Court
“So, kids, it’s time to sit down.” She sighs, “Okay. So, Mr. ‘Winters’ has his favorist Spring Court party. You’re all welcome to attend or nat as you will. I will be there. As will some others. ...Onyx said something last week about dreams?“
“It’s gotten worse. Two kids in the High School got contagion. Summer looks to be right, it’s going to be a bad summer. The last time it was this bad was the millennium. We’ve had more contagion this year than in a standard 5 years.“
“Great. ...Any other business.” chirp. chirp.
“Okay, you’re all free.“
Arianne and Niobe head home.
Sid visits his granddad. Then, he comes home and makes hot chocolate for all, and gets ready. He’s dressed in his boxers and terry robe and white bunny slippers. Niobe feels bad about not taking the dream catcher, to help and apologizes.
“Niobe, it’s okay. You’re staying here to guard our bodies. Make sure no one gets in.” Cole reassures her and Niobe is heartened by her serious task.
At 9:30, the rest of the house goes to sleep.
10:30, Arianne gets into the dream.
10:45, Sid joins the dream.
11:00, Lacey Ann joins.
1:45, Cole makes it in.
Arianne enters, listening to an organ pipe playing, cheerily. She sees Katy praying in the pews, with her broken dream catcher token, instead of a rosary. Looking at the altar, it’s not Jesus in front of the cross, it’s Cole. The stained glass image is a stylized, idealized Cole. (Katy’s latino) In the images, Cole is helping her, guarding her. By the time Arianne takes this all in, Sid appears.
He looks around and whispers to Arianne, “She is safe in Cole? This will freak him out.” Sid is amused. “This is a little too weird.” And he starts checking under the pews.
Lacey Ann pops into the Church of Cole. Then, they go and sit at the pew next to Katy. Lacey Ann has her dream catcher.
Sid turns to Katy to ask, “Feeling better? Saw you had a hard week.“
“Yep.” Obviously, this looks like a wish fulfillment dream. Katy looks tired and Sid pets her hair.
“It’s okay. I’m protecting you now.” He looks at Cole’s image.
“It’s so wonderful to have you all here.” Katy admits.
“You know it’s all about you.” Sid tells her.
“No, it’s all about us, as a community, in God’s love.“
“You know this is a dream, right?” Sid asks.
“Yes. That’s God’s way of talking to us.”
“Okay. Well in this dream, Lacey Ann represents your happiness. Arianne is your sense of order.“
“I don’t know her” Katy interjects.
“Well. You’ve seen her. Me, well, we know what I’m all about. You’ve had your chance.” Sid teases her, was a soft smile. “Maybe before college we can team up on someone? We’re friends, now.“
“I have my friends and my faith. That’s all I need.“
“You know, now that you’ve met us, you can just call us up, should you need us.“
Cole finally joins the dream, looks up. It’s still the Church of Cole, but the side windows show our motley as Saints, helping. And Jesus is back on the cross.
“You’re kidding.” Cole blinks.
“See. Your self reliance is embodied as him.” Sid continues. Then, turns to Cole, “I’ve told her the truth, that we’re embodiments of various aspects of her.“
“Time out” Cole announces, “You three,” he points at the motley and gestures them to him, “you stay.” He points at Katy. “Why me?” Cole demands of Sid, once they get a little ways away.
“You’ve been taking care of her. So she’s attached to you. It’s her subconscious.” Sid explains again.
Then, the sun rises around the church.
Sid peeks out the back. it’s a man in golden light armor, with a sword. Sid closes the door. The man descends as an angel and knocks three times. The door opens. The motley is warily watching him.
“Interesting. It seems he decided not to come tonight. It figures.” The golden figure is Potter. “_And he didn’t get in the other one’s dream last night. ...It seems he got what he needed. ...Well, I have a long way to get back. I came to pick up the pieces if I could.” Potter sheathes his sword and leaves.
The rest of the dream is uneventful, and the motley waits with her until the dream ends.
Niobe has been guarding until they wake at 3am.
Sid says, “Niobe, thanks.” Then, blows the wakefulness gift to her.
“It was the Church of Cole.” Lacey Ann tells Niobe.
“Your dagger is going to have to wait.” Cole informs Sid.
“I know. Sandwiches…” Sid asks.
“I don’t want to know.” Cole cuts him off.
Lacey Ann chimes in, “Well, when a man and a man, and a woman love each other very much…”