The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby Ryadian » Sep 25, 2009 9:11 pm

Ryana is in her strangely silent home, completely ignoring her usual safeguards against revealing her identity, as she reflects on recent events. While she does so, she suddenly gets a headache, which prompts memories back to the night that Hasaré tricked her into the woods. Apparently, not only did Hasaré know about this bond all along, her scientists created it. She used it as a way of subduing a very-beligerent Evelyn, in a way she hasn't fully explained, and a way to get to Phoenix Archer. Phoenix Archer is faced with a choice: let the deteriorating bond kill her and leave Evelyn little more than a robot, or swear loyalty to Hasaré, be cured of the bond, and give Evelyn a chance at freedom. Phoenix Archer wrestles with this choice, but is paralyzed between the two options.


Ryana walked slowly around her newly-cleaned kitchen, completely lost in thought. The cottage was strangely silent; the only thing that could be heard was a bird song drifting in from outside. Although Ryana and her “sisters” weren’t exactly the most boisterous bunch, a house with four people usually rang with footsteps, occasional conversation, and whatever mischief the youngest two could cook up. Today, there was nothing.

This fact wasn’t lost on Ryana, but an outside observer wouldn’t be able to tell. Her eyes were unfocused and reflective; clearly, she had a lot on her mind. However, it was hard to tell whether this was a burden or a relief. In fact, that was the question she wrestled with at that very moment.

Ryana’s walk took her out of the kitchen and into the living room. She all-but dropped herself onto the couch, her wings lazily curling towards her. Just a few weeks* earlier, she never would have dared to expose them like this, especially not with all her windows open and sunlight streaming in. But things had changed since then, and now…now she was free to wear her wings as she pleased. But it wasn’t without its cost.

Just then, an all-too familiar pain exploded in her head; a dull pain, all things considered, but very prevalent all the same. As she winced and rubbed her temples, concentrating to help alleviate it, her mind slowly drifted back to that night, immediately after she had learned its original cause….


(*I’m not sure how much a time jump it’s been ( :ymblushing: ), so I’m just assuming here. :p)

~*~*~

Phoenix Archer’s eyes widened. Her mind was being torn apart?! That was a unbelievable concept, even for Hasaré! “Wh…what?! Why? How?!”

Hasaré sighed, almost as if bored. “Do I really have to explain it?” Folding her arms triumphantly, she explained, to both of the writhing figures, “To make a very long story short, Evelyn didn’t come to me as willingly as she would like to think. In fact, at first, we practically had to wrestle her to the ground before she’d listen to two words from me.” Hasaré rolled her eyes and commented, “It was so frustrating.”

“Why would she want to listen to you, when you just prattle on about pointless topics just to gloat?”

Hasaré ignored her, and continued, “I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to gain her trust; I couldn’t even break her will. Empaths are so stubborn.” She glanced at Evelyn and, for the first time that the girl could remember, had a look of pure disdain. “That’s why I had to try something new.” Hasaré’s taunting tone was replaced by disturbing nonchalance. “Essentially, Ryana, you two have bonded…but it’s not a natural bond. No, I’d have to say it’s one of the greatest melds of science and magic in existence. My scientists bonded the two of you.”

“You hinted at that before.” Phoenix Archer tried to snap, but it sounded more like a groan. “Why? It seems like a liability.”

“Because I knew how this would play out. Naturally, there would be a point when this quite unnatural bond would start destroying itself—and the two of you along with it.” Despite having heard this before, Phoenix Archer couldn’t help but feel almost sick and terrified at the thought. However, Hasaré either didn’t notice or didn’t care, as she continued, “And, as such, I’ve assured that there are only two options for you.” Hasaré gestured to Evelyn, explaining, “You could let this bond continue to rip your minds apart, until, sometime during the next few days, it kills you…and turns Evelyn into a mindless automaton, with no personality or will over her own.” Hasaré pretended to think it over, then commented, “And, as absolutely loyal as she’d be to me, she would be very worthless. Her Empathy would be destroyed in the process, and her other skills severely impaired. She would be slightly useful…as a soldier, but still damaged goods.” She looked straight at Ryana, despite the fact that she wasn’t looking at her, and pointed out, “I think you know how I’d treat her if that were to happen.”

Ryana knew exactly how, but she really didn’t want to think about it. After all, she already knew that option one was out. “What’s the other choice?”

Hasaré slowly pulled out a small, metal device; it looked a lot like a headband of some kind. “I have the means to cure you…the only means, unless you can think of someone who can do the research and create a new one of these in mere days. I can give it to you, and you both will be, instantly, completely cured of all the symptoms of your bond.”

“Sounds perfect.” Ryana commented, sarcastically. “But I know what you’re doing: what do you want me to do in return for this cure?”

“It’s very simple, Ryana. Just swear complete fealty to me, and I’ll set you free.”

That statement was the last thing Ryana expected to hear…even though, all things considered, she should’ve seen it coming. This was what Hasaré meant; she and her mother had always wanted to buy her loyalty, one way or another. But still…to go to this extreme? However, that wasn’t important at that moment; her main concern was…what should she do?

Thoughts raced through Phoenix Archer’s head; on the one hand, she knew better than to make any kind of oath of loyalty to Hasaré. Her evil knew almost no bounds; there was no way Phoenix Archer could ally herself with her. And yet, she didn’t see how she had any choice. As much as she would never forgive herself for saying yes, she couldn’t bear the thought of turning Evelyn into a mindless machine for her own sake. Her own life didn’t really matter…did it? Adding to it, much as Phoenix Archer hated the thought, she really didn’t want to die…at least, not at Hasaré’s hands, playing her game. She would much rather prefer to have died fighting the Organization over this!

However, she realized that there was another option…but unfortunately for her, Hasaré practically read her mind: “And don’t even think about giving me a false vow; even if I can’t figure it out right away, I’ll always have an ‘on’ button.” Here, she gestured with the headband once more. “Like I said, it cures your symptoms…but the bond itself remains. If you disobey me, even once, I can start this all over again…and you still won’t have saved yourself, or Evelyn.”

Strike one…but all the same, it reminded Phoenix Archer of a very important point: “What about Evelyn? What happens to her if I do what you want?”

“What about her? She gets her mind back, and she can leave, for all I care. Nothing will ever happen to her again…provided you cooperate with me.”

“You’re willing to lose a strong solider for me?”

“Evelyn? She was expendable from the beginning; I knew this would come. Besides, it’s a little late to win her loyalty back now. I doubt I could forcibly regain her devotion without killing her, and that would be a little counter-productive, don’t you think?”

That only made matters worse. Now it wasn’t just Evelyn’s limited freedom to no freedom at all—a refusal meant that Evelyn would lose her last chance at complete freedom. Maybe… maybe saying “yes” was the right thing to do after all…but being willing to help Hasaré with whatever evil plans she had? How could that be right?

The simple fact was that this wasn’t a simple choice.
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby starkat » Sep 27, 2009 12:32 pm

This was not exactly home, but it had come to feel that way. It was a land similar and yet completely unlike their own. They had been here long enough that the tall buildings and concrete roadways had become familiar instead of alien. The only thing that did not feel the same was the air. It felt dirty compared to where they had come from. It was close and cloying.

It had taken them awhile to settle into this new city especially with her husband having some rather unique features. A disguise for him was necessary, so she had spent some time learning the customs and had found a hat shop. Now, her husband just wore his hair longer. They walked arm in arm down the busy streets. Night was falling and they had been walking the streets at this time in hopes of catching a glimpse of the beings they had heard about in various rumors.

“You know if this is true…”

“I know. It could give us the opportunity we’ve been looking for. The name of the city matches, but all we’ve had is rumors. We haven’t found any hard proof yet.”

“The advertisements said that they might be around tonight at the event in the park. The costume party?”

“I hope so. They could just be humans in costume though. It’s never been real before.”

“True, but we have to track down every lead.”

“Right.” She leaned against her husband and let out a soft sigh. Their journey to this point had taken a long time. It had not been easy, but their marriage had been the one thing that had gotten them both through it. Their families back home were going to kill them when they learned about the wedding since none of them had gotten to attend.

His train of thought was similar to hers, but slightly different. It had occasionally crossed his mind that his family would most likely be furious at what he had done, but he had long ago resigned himself to the results. He would hope for the best, but for now they had to focus on the task at hand. Finding those that might give them a hand had been difficult at best.

Her memories unrolled and the traumatic events of her recent past struck home just how stable her current life was. If one could call being away from her family and friends in a strange land stable. For a split second, she did not want to go back. Here, there were no fights, no deadly injuries as long as one was careful. She was actually married and there was no disapproving father-in-law to put a damper on things. At home, peace had been hard to come by except in small snatches. On some level, the last few months had been like a dream.
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby stargazer » Sep 30, 2009 6:42 pm

Erik sat on a bench under a large tree in the park-like front yard of the Emporium. The dark morning was cool and crisp; it had rained much of the night and his tail brushed against wet grass. The clouds overhead were still thick but he noticed a glimmer of starlight far to the west. Life is good, he thought: the town was peaceful, his family was safe, and their hatchling continued to thrive.

He was excited about what this day might bring, and a bit nervous too: soon Ambrose would arrive and they would all depart for Erik's home world. This would be their first trip through the portal since Molly had hatched, and there were lots of gargoyles back there eager to shower affection on this newest member of their clans.

Yet this was the start of a new journey for Ambrose as well, one filled with uncertainty. While Erik hoped the doctors and scientists at home would be able to help the half gargoyle, there was just no way to be sure what, if anything, could be done.

Soon a familiar shape approached in the night, and the purple gargoyle stood up and unfurled his enormous wings, brushing off a few remaining raindrops. The two friends met and Erik led him to the stardome, where he knew his mate and hatchling waited.

They entered to see the spectacular southern skies of home spread out above; for a moment Erik admired the Southern Cross and Magellanic Clouds that could never be seen from his Wyoming home. Ambrose caught his breath at the beauty displayed on the dome, and he stayed back until Erik had greeted his family.

Abby was gently rocking little Molly to sleep. Erik’s heart leapt joyfully as she sang a familiar Celtic tune, the same one she had hummed that wonderful night so long ago, when she had first met Thundershadow. He smiled as she softly sang:

“May Stars and Moon and Venus' kiss
give you many hours of bliss -
beneath the Maker's mastered dome,
may your imagination in dreams freely roam.”


“Wow,” he whispered once Molly was asleep and Abby looked up at him. “That’s lovely.”

Abby nodded and indicated a framed piece of parchment hanging on the wall, on which flowing calligraphy spelled out the poem she had put to music. She explained, “Cymru wrote it and gave it to us at the baby shower.” **

The pair missed their absent friend for a moment, looking down lovingly on their sleeping daughter; by now Ambrose had come close as well. Abby whispered, "Would you like to hold her while we finish packing?" The pleased look in his eyes was answer enough, and she watched with satisfaction as he gently took Molly into his arms. "You're a natural," she smiled.

The couple collected a few last items, and then Erik led them to the building’s foyer, where he set the Emporium’s security system to grant limited, emergency-only access to a few select friends. Abby gently placed the sleeping Molly into her carrier and stepped outside. Ambrose was next and Erik followed a moment later, his wide shoulders bearing a backpack full of infant supplies.

He was pleased to see that the earlier overcast had cleared, save for a few dark clouds scurrying away to the east, where a delicate sliver of Moon adorned the horizon. “Look, Erik,” Abby whispered, pointing skyward.

He came to her side and followed her outstretched arm to find the heavens ablaze with green, purple, and red streamers. The Northern Lights had been common nighttime companions at Abby's North Cascades home, but this was the first time the gargoyles had seen them in Ditto Town.

His hand found hers, and time seemed to stand still as they relished the spectacle above them. They hardly dared breathe so as not to disturb the magic of the moment, until Molly stirred and they knew it was time to go.

The shimmering ghosts seemed only to brighten as the little group walked together toward the portal, even as dim twilight lit the eastern sky. Then, the low hills marking the gate's location already in sight, Abby's clear voice rang out in the night, softly at first but with growing boldness:

“O Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made-“


A moment later Erik's voice joined in:

“I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.”


Molly, now fully awake, didn't understand her parents' words but was nonetheless caught up in the joy of the moment and cooed along with them at the end, until the song was cut off by their passage through the gate:

“Then sings my soul, my Saviour God to Thee,
‘How great Thou art, How great Thou art!’"


** Cymru (the NarniaWebber) wrote and posted this verse in the Town Square some time ago. She graciously agreed to my request to use it at some point in the Ditto Story. Thanks!
But all night, Aslan and the Moon gazed upon each other with joyful and unblinking eyes.
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby starkat » Oct 04, 2009 5:53 am

They reached the park just as the festivities kicked off. The color and music were a bit overwhelming, but they kept focused. As this was a costume party, they were wearing the clothes that they had worn when they first arrived but without the weapons. Those had been lost in their journeys. Husband and wife joined the revelers and kept an eye out for those they were searching for.

Food and drink were plentiful. Couples flowed on and off the dance floor while singles stood around the edges waiting to see if someone would ask them to dance. There were so many conversations that the buzz almost obliterated the sound of the music unless you were near a speaker or on the dance floor. Friends spent time catching up with friends and costumes were everywhere.

Finally, a large figure caught his eye. He leaned over and whispered in his wife’s ear, “If Erik’s size is any indication they’re here.”

His young wife smiled. She took a look as her husband twirled her around. Adrenaline pumped through her system. It was them. They started making their way towards the gargoyles who had just arrived. As they got closer, her face lit up. “I recognize that one! It’s Erik’s mother!”

“Her name is Angela I believe you once mentioned.”

“Right. Think we can get over there to say hi? This crowd is pretty thick.”

A broad smile split his face and he tugged his wife through a wall of people. By the time they made it to where they had seen the gargoyles, they were gone. “That’s annoying.”

His wife laughed. Her very proper and careful husband had picked up a New York accent and slang so strongly that it totally belied his true heritage. He would be stuck completely having to retrain himself when they got home. She stopped so that he had to swing around to face her. “We’ll catch up with them now that we know they’re here. For now… we haven’t danced together for awhile. I believe it was at a certain Christmas party.”

He bowed to his wife’s wishes with a smile. Up until this point they had just been mingling with the crowd. His eyes flicked towards the stone she now wore on a string around her neck when she mentioned that difficult winter and they joined the revelers on the dance floor. Different costumes stuck out from time to time, but they were lost in their own world as newlyweds can often be, at least until one of them bumped into a fellow dance pair.
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby Ryadian » Oct 04, 2009 2:26 pm

Kevin Davis followed Hasaré and Evelyn to where they were going to meet Phoenix Archer, and has overheard everything. Tasha catches him, and they have a verbal sparring match of their own while Hasaré and Phoenix Archer are talking. Kevin reveals that his interest has always been to protect Evelyn and keep her safe, and now he's furious to discover that he'd done the opposite. Tasha also reveals that she knows everything that's happening, including why Kevin is so interested in Evelyn, then drops the news that Evelyn will probably (literally) lose her mind by the end of the night. Kevin is shocked by this news, and the fact that Tasha doesn't care. In his blind rage, he knocks Tasha right into the nearby bushes.


Kevin Davis pressed himself against the tree as he listened to the conversation (or was it a verbal sword fight?) between this “Phoenix Archer” and Hasaré. Though he couldn’t see a thing, he could hear quite a bit of it (but, unfortunately, not all). Ever since she had mentioned what her plans were to the vigilante, he had been suspicious. He had thought all this talk of Evelyn having a bond with a human was ridiculous, but now, now he knew it was real…and though he didn’t know exactly how, he knew that Hasaré was responsible. She purposefully harmed Evelyn just to get a bargaining chip with this other woman. Just thinking about it caused his blood to boil.

Just then, a familiar figure came up…an all-too familiar figure. It was Tasha. “What are you doing here?!” She hissed. “Hasaré said this was only for those she specifically called!”

“And I supposed you were invited, even though this was, supposedly, a ‘peace-talk’ just between her, Evelyn, and this ‘Phoenix Archer’?” Kevin pointed out. Tasha just glared, which answered his question: “That’s why. Hasaré can’t be trusted…and I sure hope you’re not gullible enough to think that I’m just ‘misguided’.”

“What do you care about Phoenix Archer?” Tasha demanded. “She’s an enemy.”

“Hasaré’s enemy, not mine.” Kevin pointed out. “And I’m not here for her; I’m here for Evelyn.”

Tasha was surprised by this admission, but she shrugged it off as she asked, “Why? Have you gone soft over her?” Jeeringly, she asked, “Aw, does dear, tough Mr. Davis have a soft spot for her?”

“Oh, keep your mouth closed if you have nothing valuable coming out of it.” Kevin snapped, though his voice remained low. “You’re trusted with Hasaré’s secrets; you should know exactly why I’m here, and it has nothing to do with your movement. It has to do with Evelyn, and her alone.”

“Right…Evelyn. Of course.” Tasha rolled her eyes, almost as if Kevin’s loyalty to her disgusted her. “She’s so important.”

“Of course she is. She’s ….” He stopped. He didn’t trust Tasha any more than he trusted Hasaré, and he certainly wasn’t going to let two people have a secret to blackmail him with; he’d already made that mistake with Hasaré. Even if she knew the truth, he didn’t particularly feel like handing it to her on a silver platter.

“Oh, go ahead. Say it, Mr. Davis.” Tasha all-but ordered, a smug tone buried within the irritation. “Hasaré told me about it a long time ago.”

“I figured.” He muttered. That was the reason he didn’t trust Tasha; she knew almost everything that was going on, and yet, she didn’t leave that horrid place. Despite all the evil they committed, she stayed on. It reminded her of someone who got caught up in the wrong crowd and no longer cared. However, before he could reply any further, something Phoenix Archer said caught his attention:

“What about Evelyn? What happens to her if I do what you want?”

Kevin’s eyes widened. “So it is about Evelyn, after all.” He whispered. He felt a pang of guilt at the thought. All this time, he’d been helping Hasaré, convinced it was the only way to keep Evelyn safe…and now, now he knew he had aided in making her a pawn. And that made him worse than a monster.

Tasha scoffed. “Only partially.” She told him. “But you can forget about her. Unless this Phoenix Archer caves—which, from what I understand, isn’t likely—Evelyn’s gone. She’ll be a zombie in days.”

Kevin stared at Tasha, completely horrified. His guilt was completely forgotten with the shock he felt; both at the news, which confirmed all he’d feared, and at the purely indifferent tone Tasha had. “But…but Evelyn was—”

“Not my best friend.” She informed him, irritated. “She was an annoying little kid who I had to pretend to be friends with to keep things running smoothly.” She shrugged, then told him, “Sure, it’s sad that she’s going to be a mindless robot, but hey, if Hasaré thinks it will help our cause, I’m all for it.”

Kevin stared at her for five whole seconds before his rage hit the boiling point. In front of him was no longer a girl who had been mixing with the wrong crowd; here was a girl who knew she was committing unspeakable evil, and yet went along with the ride with no remorse. She was just as guilty and as evil as she would be if she were killing Evelyn herself.

Before either of them even knew what was happening, his fist hit Tasha squarely in the jaw, knocking her into the nearby bushes.
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby Ravenbrook » Oct 05, 2009 11:30 am

There is a world that probably has more in common with Ditto Town than not; (people don’t fall up, for example.) So perhaps it’s not surprising if a few of its inhabitance will eventually end up in Ditto Town. In this world there is an old, civilized country, called Scivala. If you leave the coastal city of the universities and travel north, off the main roads, you will find a small road that leads up into grey-green, empty moors until you reach the foothills of a great mountain range. It has always been said that the peoples who live in the foothills are strange people indeed. I have a reliable witness that claims to have seen some of the fairies and goblins are still said to dwell in the forests nestled between the mountains. Anyways, nobody can live so close to the mountains without a little strangeness rubbing off.
This region is where the rather unlucky family by the name of Rosewarne resides. If you should ever happen to meet a Rosewarne, give them my warm regards, for they are a good, just, and sensible family if one doesn’t count the occasional black sheep, but don’t walk more than a stone’s throw beside one, for they are cursed. Perhaps that’s a strong word, but magic is drawn to a Rosewarne, and a Rosewarne is drawn to magic. Anyone even remotely related to the family is likely to vanish into the older, wilder corners of the word, or be eaten by a dragon, or lose in a duel to a tax collector (because Rosewarnes crave adventure and can’t stand mundane people who try and take their money. They’d be much more at ease when pirates try to take their money.)
Two months ago (reckoned by Ditto Town time), there was a Rosewarne in the city (the one with all the universities,) trying to be admitted to a school for young ladies. Her name was Avon. The stuffy dean of admittance was looking over her application with some distain. Outside the sea gulls were uttering their strange melancholy cry that reminds men their time is short, and the sea is full of adventure and mystery and to come away, come away. But inside the dean had the drapes drawn and didn’t hear a thing. Now I am of the opinion that Avon is a bright young woman who should have been admitted easily, but she was under an enchantment that turned her into a black swan for 6 hours every new moon, and the dean apparently belonged to the school of thought that young ladies with enchantments they didn’t choose and couldn’t control shouldn’t be a allowed in school. He politely told her to go marry and stop bothering him. She gathered her things and left with a brave face, but when she had climbed into her carriage she broke down in tears. She was only 17 and she did not want to marry some man and become a trophy wife (abet one that turned into a black swan on occasion.)
Her parents were both dead, her mother from a fever, and her father from an attempt to rescue his son. The son had been spirited away by a fairy when Avon was only three. She could remember her brother vaguely as a rascal who pulled her hair and rode horses better than her but always grinned when she walked into a room with him. That was all. Avon had always wanted to meet her brother again. It was half the reason she tried to enroll in the university; she supposed the school had to teach something of use for rescuing brothers. They had courses on magick and its uses, and fairies. Surely something would be of use, but it didn’t matter now.
As her carriage passed through the town with its great modern buildings and docks backed up against the bay, Avon called her driver to stop at the grand cathedral. Avon felt lost now that she had not been accepted so maybe she should pray. Her mother would have prayed. Avon had always imaged God as an angry spirit that sent plagues and black luck down on people who angered Him, so she supposed that maybe he was mad at her and she ought to ask him about it. The great black doors were at the top of cold marble steps and it took Avon a moment to mount them. Inside, most of the people there were well dressed and walking about quietly or kneeling to pray, so of course the prophet was the first thing Avon noticed. He was standing on a pew dressed in long black robes and crying out that God wanted love and justice, not religion and empty words. His powerful voice echoed off the domed roof in an alarming way. A harried looking priest was trying to conduct the prophet out with very little success. The prophet was an older man, but he was still nimble enough to jump from pew to pew and stay out of reach.
Avon must have watched the spectacle a moment too long because the prophet’s eyes met hers. He jumped down off the pew he was standing on and came directly to her, followed by the priest who was by this time puffing. “Poor child,” the man said gently. “It wasn’t God’s will. You would never have been happy at that university. Would you like some tea? I don’t live far from here.”
Avon jumped in surprise and looked at her escort for guidance. Georg was an old servant of the family and was currently puffed up and looking as if he wanted to sock the prophet and rescue his charge in a blaze of glory. Avon, however, had always been a bit of a romantic, and she was rather impressed that the prophet seemed to know all about what had happed to her, although perhaps he only guessed from her tearstained face. Some part of her desperately hoped for a message from God, no matter how grim. “Georg, I don’t think he means any harm, and I’m sure you can come along. The prophet nodded, and the priest, who had grabbed one arm of the prophet without seeming to know what he was going to do with it, looked expectantly at the two new arrivals in hopes that they would leave and take the prophet with them. In light of it all, the practical Georg decided to go.
The tea turned out to be a surprisingly normal affair. The prophet’s moment of revelation seemed to have passed and he asked normal questions in his modest sitting room and made small talk while Georg stood and watched him like a hawk. Avon did begin to feel a little better, but still adrift in a large confusing world. What message from God would help in the end? It wasn’t until she began excusing herself that the prophet did anything interesting. “You’re looking for God to give you answers Avon,” he said suddenly, “But God doesn’t often communicate so clearly with humans, and never for any reason but His glory. Know this however, your brother is alive, and you will meet again, although not in this world. A vale will be over your eyes so that you will not recognize each other in the beginning, but in the end you will know each other.
“Also, could you deliver this letter for me? Keep on your person, and give it to the first person who asks for it. God has a purpose for you, but you must trust Him, whatever the cost.” Avon couldn’t think of a reply to everything she had just heard. Her heart had jumped when the prophet mentioned her brother. How had he known? But another world? Perhaps she was going to die and that’s what he meant. Avon left deep in thought fingering the sealed letter. She supposed the prophet could have been a petty magician who could skim thoughts off the surface of people’s minds, but Avon sincerely hoped that this was not the case as she climbed into her carriage and started the long ride home.
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby Ravenbrook » Oct 05, 2009 11:30 am

Avon always looked most herself when she was riding a horse. Her long black hair streamed out behind her, and I believe there was indeed something swanlike about her then. The enchantment, which had begun after her brother had been kidnapped, seemed to have been tailored for her somehow. She, like her mother, did not have a very strong constitution, but she tried to ride every day, and ever since her trip to the city, she had rode farther and farther up into the mountains, a mysterious letter from a seemingly senile prophet tucked away in her riding clothes. Only Georg ever seemed concerned when she came back late. Her uncle, whom she lived with after her mother’s death, paid her little mind, and rarely showed any interest in anything except his hounds. He was rather proud that his niece rode, but didn’t know what else to make of her, so he practically forgot her existence to compensate for his ineptness.
It was fall and the aspen leaves were beginning to turn golden among the mountains. Growing weary, Avon slowed her horse and climbed off to rest by a familiar stream she often followed up into the mountains. The sun had been warm that morning, but cold grey clouds the looked like winter had rolled in and it had begun to mist. Avon was surprised to see how far she had come that day. She had entered a sort of a gorge and was surrounded on all sides by ancient, mossy tree. She sank down onto the grass feeling gloomy. Her breath came in short, painful gasps and her chest hurt. “Shall anyone mourn me if I die young?” she asked the darkening sky. She pictured herself lying in this spot and growing feverish and pale until her soul passed away in the cold mist’s embrace. She didn’t like the picture and made herself stand wearily back up. She suddenly wished she had let Georg come along, even though he never let her ride as far as she wanted. This was not the sort of place to be alone in. She stroked her horse affectionately and decided she should head back at once when she noticed something odd under the gloom of the trees to her right.
Two standing stones covered in weathered symbols had been placed on either side of what could only be a carefully laid path leading up out of the gorge. Avon looked at with a touch of shock. Nobody lived this far up in the mountains, and Avon couldn’t recall ever hearing a tale of a fairy making a path of stone. They edifices were of more fleeting materials such as leaves, mushrooms, or spider webs. Feeling suddenly bold, and not so weary, Avon hobbled her horse began to follow the path up and away from the river, telling herself she wouldn’t follow it far. There was no need to make any such promises. The path led up into a meadow after only a short climb and faded away in the grass. Magnificent spires of nearly eternal rock towered on all sides. Avon looked around her, suddenly a little afraid. She couldn’t possibly be so high and deep in the mountains, but the peeks rose all around her, looking colorless and stern in the gloom. Avon turned to follow the path back down into the much more comfortable, predictable world, when she caught a scent that made her pause. It was a light, sweet sent that made her think of her early childhood, farther back than she could remember.
Avon felt almost compelled to look for the source. This scent was important to her somehow, more important than going back down the path where her horse whinnied softly, wondering where his lady had gone. Avon may have searched for a long time, but she didn’t feel the minutes pass at all, when she finally came to the source, it was young, but very straight oak, growing at a much higher elevation than it ought, and clinging to it was a honey suckle vine in full bloom that was surely the cause of the sweet smell. Avon did something she hadn’t done since she was a child. Without giving it a proper thought, she slipped off her riding boots and stockings, and began to climb the oak. Its branches were low and close together, almost inviting, and the girl had no trouble climbing up into the canopy of the tree. She breathed deep the sweet fragrance that was suddenly all around her. It was such a sweet, spring-like smell, but there was also something sad about it, like something beautiful had been lost forever… Avon felt a single tear slip down her face and slowly climbed back down the tree. By the time she reached the bottom she was even more melancholy than she had been earlier, down by the stream, and so very tired. Before she properly realized what she was doing, she has curled up in the cool grass under the tree and fallen asleep.
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby Ravenbrook » Oct 05, 2009 11:31 am

I suppose to make any sense of what’s going to happen, I ought to expound on a certain Ravenbrook, King of Tern. I hope you will not think me the fool for having a higher opinion of him than most do.
Ravenbrook was born as John III but now it is little used or even remembered by any but the Tern historians. His earliest memory was of his mother being burned at the stake for being a fairy. Tern as a country had never taken kindly to magic. This is a strange thing considering the narrow country is pinned between Scivala to the south and east with the mountains all down its western border. Nevertheless, John II discovered that his wife and the mother of his firstborn son was a fairy who had enchanted him and in his rage had her killed. He spared his son since there was always the possibility that he might not have any more heirs, and he didn’t want any of his cousins anywhere near the throne. He would much rather have his own blood ruling, even if his own blood wasn’t entirely human. He did excel John III to a rather remote and ancient castle in the mountains. It was more a fortress than a proper castle, but the young John didn’t seem to mind. He learned everything his tutors taught him about ruling a country and grew in a tall, thin, somber young man whose only show of emotion was an occasional twist of one corner of his mouth. His features were angular, yet despite this, he seemed to have a perpetually youthful appearance, even when he grew a well-trimmed beard to appear more human.
In his 19th year, news arrived that his father had died and his younger brother, Alexander, had been declared heir. Alexander was coming with a delegation to meet his older brother for the first time. John III was no fool. When Alexander arrived, he found the castle prepared to defend against a siege. The older castle proved hard to take and for nearly six discouraging months Alexander’s forces beat against it like waves against high cliffs. John did not have a very large force loyal to him, but he was able to command them with unwavering coolness. What puzzled the opposing forces was that though the castle has a deep, clean well, the forces trapped inside should have been starved out long ago, but they seemed perfectly healthy. A rumor began that the huge flocks of ravens that dwelled around the castle were actually bringing the men inside food. The birds were certainly good at snatching bread out of the hands of Alexander’s men and caring it off in triumph. Alexander, who was not particularly superstitious, began to believe his brother was a sorcerer. He commanded the any raven within shooting distance was to be killed despite the face that arrows were in short supply.
That night Alexander went missing from his camp and in the morning Ravenbrook calmly brought his brother up onto the wall to stand in front of his troops and beheaded him there. The moral of Tern’s army was already very low indeed and now they were stricken with terror. They were surely fighting a sorcerer. Too many strange, impossible things had happened around the castle. (Impossible wild stories circulated about things see and heard during battle that could only be the result of magic.) John was never called anything but Ravenbrook again although the exact origin of the name was not known. It sounded like a fairy name, and he didn’t protest his new name. The disheartened Tern army surrendered and Ravenbrook took his rightful place on the throne within two months. He was now 20.
Ravenbrook turned out to be a surprisingly just king, though he seemed indifferent to his subjects and country as long as everything was running smoothly and he was left alone in the evenings after full days of hearings, banquets, balls, negotiations and the like. Many of his attendants secretly thought he was sad and would have been content to stay in the mountains until his death if his brother had only left him alone. Nobody would have believed them though. Though scared out of their wits by their king, every subject of Tern loved to hear the unexplainable tales that seemed to follow the young king around. There were apparently plenty. Mirrors didn’t seem to reflect rooms properly when Ravenbrook was near, candles went out unexpectedly, whispers were heard in upstairs corridors, etc etc. It didn’t seem to occur to anyone that most of these things could have been explained by the bats that had taken up residence in the castle hundreds of years ago.

After his first three years as king, Ravenbrook began to indulge himself by returning to his childhood castle in the mountains, sometimes for as long as a month, despite the fact that his advisers were often making quite a web of politics for him to untangle when he returned. There was any number of explanations for what the king was doing in the mountains. It was know that he often walked right up into them and would be gone for days. One of the grooms even claimed to have seen him bring a very young boy back with him. That seemed to make sense. Everyone knew that fairies liked to seduce humans and steal them away, so a half-fairy couldn’t possibly be immune to this shocking habit. Afterwards, any child at all who went missing was blamed on Ravenbrook. Fifteen years passed in much the same way. The only really notable thing that happened was Ravenbrook’s hair and beard turned snow white even though he was only thirty eight but his featured hardly aged at all.
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby Ravenbrook » Oct 05, 2009 11:32 am

“Good heavens, there’s a girl! What are you doing all the way up here child!”
Avon woke and sat bolt upright at the sound of a man’s voice. There was indeed a man standing, or rather backing away as if he expected her to either start screaming or throw something at his head. The only thing she could make out about him in the dark was that he had white hair that looked like it was pulled back in a pony tail.
“Oh, I… that is to say… I saw an old path leading up here and…” she trailed off, too frightened and confused to continue.
“Why, you’re Scivala by your accent. That’s hundreds of miles away! You couldn’t have made it up here by yourself unless… unless you found one of the old paths, and for a human to even be able to see one, much less follow it is an impressive thing indeed.”
“Well, I suppose it’s possible, my family, we have that sort of thing happen to us, magick I mean.”
“Ah, I see. Well I’d best escort you home. I can’t leave you alone in these woods. Believe me, there are some powerful and not altogether wholesome things that dwell in these mountains,” he said, offering her his arm.
Avon’s fear began to melt a little bit. The man seemed the gentleman, if still a little startled by her presence. The two of them walked towards the fairy path without speaking. It’s difficult to know what to say to each other when you haven’t been introduced. At last the man broke the silence. “So why were you sleeping under my tree?”
“Your tree sir?”
“Well, I suppose I ought not to be tell you this, but being half fairy, I have a tree that… how do I explain it, I’m tied to in a way. If the tree was ever cut down, I’d lose my powers until I find another one willing to conspire with me.”
Avon suddenly wasn’t sure of the man’s sanity, so she merely said, “Oh,” then after a moment, “You don’t seem anything like the fairies I know. They are wicked creatures that steal away children, not escort them home. Your tree is nice too, but it seems a little sad to me.”
“Perhaps…” was the only answer she received.
“It was just that for a moment I thought you might have been a fairy yourself who had come to my tree to deliver a message. You don’t have a letter for me, do you?” he asked with a laugh.
Avon stiffened. She had nearly forgotten about the letter the prophet had asked her to deliver. Did this count? After all, he didn’t actually know she had any letter at all, but he’d asked for it, more or less.
“Is something the matter?” the man asked as they arrived back at the stream. The girl on his arm didn’t answer as she wavered back and forth about what to do. Avon’s horse whinnied happily to see her mistress had not come to any harm and she stroked the creature’s loyal neck happily while making her final decision.
“Can you ride back yourself from here? This side of the mountains is safer, and I have no horse so I would only slow you down.”
“Yes, I’m sure I can. Thank you, and this is yours,” said Avon, producing the letter.
“What is it?” asked the man, taking it.
Avon blushed slightly. “To be honest, I was hoping you would read it and tell me. The prophet by the sea gave it to me.”
The man wasn’t really listening anymore. He had already torn the letter open and was reading it with what appeared to be a great deal of shock. He finished and stood for a long time without saying anything, only staring at the paper. It occurred to Avon that she didn’t know how he could possibly read it in the dark.
“Well, if you don’t want to share the contents, I really should go. Georg will be worried sick for me and…”
“You’re a Rosewarne.” It wasn’t a question, but a slightly shaky statement.
Avon had already mounted her horse and had the sudden urge to bolt. The only thing that stopped her was the man taking hold of the reigns. “I’m sorry child, but I can’t let you leave.”
“What, but I thought… Let go of my horse at once!” said Avon, fear rising again.
“Now don’t make a fuss. I certainly don’t want to tie you up or be rough with you. You think I relish having to bring a young girl all the way back to my castle against her will. Not to mention some servant or other will probably see you and my citizens are going to start panicking again like a senseless bunch of sheep they are. Curse them.”
“Look, I don’t know who you think you are, but I will not allow a man to take me anywhere against my will. Now unhand me and…”
“What do you think you’re going to do to stop me?” he asked pointedly. “I’m not going to hurt you, I assure you. I’m very sorry that your servants will be worried about you, but there’s nothing I can do about that. Also, I know very well you have no family waiting for you.”
There was a pause in the conversation while the two of them glared at each other. Avon was scared out of her mind, but she was also a very stubborn young woman and she had been slowly drawing a knife she always kept hanging from her saddle. Luckily the man was standing on the wrong side of the horse to see what she was doing. She had never wielded a knife against a human before and she missed badly, only barely catching one of his cheeks. He grabbed her wrist roughly to keep from being swung at again and looked calmly up into her eyes as blood began to run down his chin, then his neck.
“I was the one who stole your brother away,” he said with only the slightest waver in his voice. “He is dead now. He tried to escape and rode my best fairy horse right into a swamp.”
The declaration had the desired effect. Avon dropped the knife and fainted. Ravenbrook paused for a second, looking down at the letter still in his hand and back at the girl, then gritting his teeth, he swung up on the horse behind her had soon ridden away into the night.
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby leuthilalda » Oct 08, 2009 7:53 pm

When Koolin and Skrain returned to the villege, their parents were finishing getting together a small store of seed for the journey. There was little else to carry; perhaps a trinket or two, not much more. Koolin turned to Reg and started to thank him. But the cardinal, smiling now, said "You can thank me later if you wish. Regina and I have decided to come with you."
Koolin and Skrain were surprised. "I didn't know that you all were coming." Skrain cried.
"Well Koo was very persuasive," their rescuer indicated. "Besides, we will be starting a family soon, and I don't relish having to fight off the monsters continuously, any more than you do."
"I don't know", piped up Skreer, the chief of the mockingbird clan. "I'd think that the dangers you know are a lot easier to cope with than those you don't. Are you sure that you want to set out like this on a new adventure?"
Skrain's father Skra spoke up. "Well, it won't hurt to explore. I'm sure there'll be danger in the new place, but Koo and Koora have already scouted around, and it certainly looks like it's a lot safer than where we are now. If we decide we've made a mistake, we can always come back."
"And if you haven't made one, come back anyway and tell us," the chief laughed. "We might move the whole flock over to your new home. Well, may Aslan smile upon you and your journey. And may he keep you safe."
"I would say that tooo," a sleepy voice sounded from over their head.
"Nightgleam, how wonderful for you to see us off!" Koora exclaimed.
"Ah true, true" agreed the owl. "Although I can't see why you are traveling in broad daylight. Much better at night."
Koo winked at his wife. "Well we really appreciate your waking up this time of the morning. We have valued your friendship and your wisdom."
Nightgleam blinked a couple of times, and that far off look that they had often seen appeared in his eyes. "Yes the place you are going is safer. But there will be new dangers. And, and..." His eyes suddenly took on a piercing look of surprise "there may even be monsters there who will become your friend!"
Skrain had a look somewhere between skeptical and distainful. "Monsters who are our friends? I just can't believe..."
"Now dear," Skrae his wife admonished. "Who knows what we might find there. Don't forget that some of the Narnian dwarves were evil, and others were good."
"I think the ones near where we stayed were good." Koora chimed in. "But they were almost too small to be dwarves. And their hair wasn't on their face, but on their feet."
Nightgleam started. "Hobbits? Here? Could it be? Toby?" He turned to Koolin's mother. What did their house look like?"
"It looked like a hole in the ground, well sort of. And I think they were in the business of taking care of sick creatures."
"It must be!" the owl exclaimed. "I ask of you, when you get there, try to learn the small people's names. If it is as I think, Toby and Rose Banks, mention me, and see if they remember."
"They are Narnian then?" asked the dove.
"Not originally, but they came to Narnia from another world some 20 years ago. They disappeared shortly before we came over here. It would be wonderful to see them again!"
Skra interrupted. "Everybody, it's time"
With much twittering, and cries, the three bird families said their final goodbyes to the flock. Koolarin, Koolin's little sister, was almost in tears, as they prepared to leave the only home she could really remember. Then, soaring in the air, they took off, in the direction of a place that they only knew as Dittotown.
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby starkat » Oct 12, 2009 5:56 am

“Oh! Excuse me!” She turned and tripped over something long and purple. Her husband reached down to give her a hand up, but before he could, a talon got there first.

“I apologize,” came a voice that was obviously not from a human chest. “We should have been more aware of where we were. Are you alright?”

“Yes, I am. Thank you. Sorry about tripping over your tail.” She looked at her husband to assure him she was alright and then to those they had bumped into.

“Katherine!” The female gargoyle exclaimed as she recognizing the human female. "Well, then, I'm glad you tripped over my tail!"

Katherine let out a laugh as she was swept up into a hug. “Hello Angela.” She reached out and shook the hand of the male gargoyle next to Angela. “You must be Broadway. I don’t think I got to meet you the last time you were in town.”

“That’s right. It’s nice to finally meet you. We’ve heard a lot about you from our son and his mate. Who is this?” Broadway offered his hand to the man at her side.

Katherine’s face lit up. “Angela, Broadway, may I introduce you to my husband."

The gargoyles exchanged surprised expressions. The last they had heard, the Ditto Rider was unmarried. "Husband?" Angela said after a beat. "Congratulations!"

"Thank you," Katherine blushed. "You may have met him when you were in Ditto Town last. His real name is Gwanuig. Here he goes by Michael.”

The elf prince bowed to the stunned gargoyles. They realized now that this was an elf and not a human male. His appearance was greatly altered from the way he appeared in his homeland. His hair was shaggy and long enough to cover the tips of his ears and he looked as American as his wife. Normally they both wore elvish style clothing and fit in more in a forest setting than a city setting.

"You’re married? I’d love to hear all about it!" Angela was pleased for her, yet puzzled. There was another question she wanted to ask. "But Erik said you'd disappeared from Ditto Town. I bet there's a story there too. What happened?”

Katherine took a look around her. “Not here. It’s a story best left for safer quarters.”

“Okay. Why don’t you guys come back to our place for a late night snack?” Broadway offered. Angela smiled at her mate’s sense of hospitality; true to form, it included an offer of something to eat.

Katherine could feel Gwanuig’s assent through their bond. “Sounds good to me. But it is kind of early to leave a party. Shall we mingle?”

Angela grinned and took her mate by the hand and they resumed their dance. Katherine and Gwanuig went hunting for the refreshment table. They mingled and made small talk with different people throughout the evening. In a new experience for both the Ditto Rider and her husband, they took turns dancing with the gargoyles; despite his rather portly appearance Broadway proved surprisingly agile.

Katherine danced with a handful of others as women were in short supply. During her dance with Broadway, he gently teased her into laughing with an exaggerated story of Erik as a young hatchling. She had heard the story of Erik’s first telescope before, so she could pick out the exaggeration. It was fun hearing his father’s point of view.

Finally, her husband reclaimed her and they spent some time eating and watching the other party goers. They swung out onto the dance floor one final time when the band announced that it was the last song in the set. As midnight approached Angela signaled to them from the outer edges of the crowd, and each of them made their way over to where she waited.

“So where are we headed?” Gwanuig asked once they were assembled.
Broadway smiled. “You've heard the old expression, 'A man's home is his castle'? Well, in this case, our home really is a castle! To get there, we have two options, walk, or take the high road.”

Confused, Gwanuig was about to ask for clarification when Katherine placed a finger over his lips. She knew exactly what Broadway was referring to and a thrill coursed through her veins. She had to ask the logical question despite her excitement. “Which would be the best for you?”

“Flying would definitely simplify things.” Angela’s eyes lit up with the thought; they’d been on the ground since leaving the castle at dusk.
Katherine watched her husband carefully. He had spent all of his life on the ground or on horseback, and flying, along with the other modes of transportation they had come across in this world, was still new to him. Gwanuig was mildly uneasy at the thought of hanging from the gargoyles while they were in mid-air. Katherine swallowed a giggle at the mental picture she was getting from him. She pushed a picture of her night flight with Erik into his mind and he started to look a little sheepish.

“The high road it is then,” he said.
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby Ryadian » Oct 14, 2009 2:39 pm

However, before any more dialogue could be exchanged between Phoenix Archer and Hasaré, a thud attracted their collective attention. There was some rustling from behind some nearby trees, but they couldn’t see what it was…until a young figure with short, dark hair stepped out, his strangely-colored maroon eyes gleaming almost angrily. Hasaré and Evelyn recognized him instantly as Kevin Davis. “Stop this madness now, Hasaré.” He commanded, righteous anger burning with every word.

Even Hasaré was startled to the point of pure speechlessness. However, she finally found her voice (and, unfortunately, it was a very smug one): “And why should I do that, Mr. Davis? From what I can see, you’re just one man, and in case you forgot, I can still do just what I promised I’d do to Evelyn if you ever became belligerent. Besides…you forgot to look behind you.” Kevin spun around, only for Tasha to get some payback; she kicked him in the stomach, and he doubled over. It was pretty obvious who had the advantage in this fight, as Tasha was far better trained, stronger, and was still standing. However, she never got a chance to use that advantage…

~For once in your life, just shut your big mouth, Hasaré.~ A highly-furious voice penetrated every mind. Everyone turned…though Phoenix Archer had the hardest time at it, as she didn’t have much energy left and it was from behind her. To her astonishment (and joy), she saw her three companions, now in phoenix form. Anna was standing in front, and her expression made it quite clear she was the one who had spoken…though her sisters looked similarly angry, and the aura of flame around Brianna only helped the image. However, more surprising than this was the fact that they weren’t alone. Several humanoids, ranging greatly in age, size, and…err, human-like appearance, stood beside the three. Phoenix Archer didn’t recognize most of them, but she did recognize that they were allies…and that they outnumbered Hasaré and Tasha by more than four to one.

Hasaré almost swore at the sudden turn for the worse; she didn’t think her bargaining chip would be enough anymore. Still, it was worth a try…. “Don’t come any closer.” She warned. “If you do, I’ll—”

“Don’t listen to her!” Phoenix Archer shouted, clearly straining herself to do so. “Just…get that device…in her hand! Don’t…don’t stop until…until you have it!” With that, she groaned, then collapsed; she wasn’t unconscious, but she no longer had the energy to move or talk.

Brianna glanced at the others, then said, ~Well, what are you waiting for? Let’s get it!~

~*~*~

After that, almost everything was a blur. Ryana remembered everything, but it took some help from her friends to decipher it all. Immediately after Brianna’s announcement, they were surprised by the sudden emergence of around a dozen men. Of course, Ryana later realized, Hasaré would be prepared; she had brought just enough men to subdue the phoenixes should they follow her there. They’d probably been hiding behind the trees, waiting for the right moment. Well, it had come.

Despite the advantages of surprise and numbers (and barely at that), it soon became clear that Hasaré and her goons were outmatched. They were all armed with various anti-phoenix devices, but they were all short-ranged, and had utterly no effect on their non-phoenix allies. All the phoenixes had to do was take to the air and avoid the effects, while their enemies were occupied with other, more immediate threats. Add to the fact that many of them knew how to handle themselves in a fight, and Hasaré found herself in a real bind.

Hasaré knew she had to do something, and fast, if she wanted to retain control of the situation, and as such, she resorted to the only thing she could think of: a hostage situation. “Unless you want Ryana to die a slow and painful death,” She announced, far too seriously, “I suggest you stop this before I destroy her cure.” (Unfortunately, this was one of the few things Ryana remembered; not the words, but everything else about it.)

However, that was her undoing. Anna was both infuriated by Hasaré’s claim, and she saw the opportunity presenting itself. She had already just turned to avoid tree branches, so she redirected her flight in order to swoop over Hasaré….CRASH! She was just in time to run into Tasha’s fist. Although the girl didn’t have anything that affected her as a phoenix, she packed a powerful punch; the robotic augmentations may have helped a bit.

Anna dove straight into the ground, plowing her way past at least two pairs of opponents before she stopped herself. As quickly as possible, she righted herself, grimly noting that getting past Tasha wouldn’t be so easy. At least, it wouldn’t have been, had it not been for an unexpected helper: “Mr. Davis”, as Hasaré had called him, took advantage of Tasha’s redirected attention and tackled her.

Of course, he couldn’t hold her for long, but it was long enough for Anna. Just as Tasha threw her attacker off, Anna was back on her feet and taking off again—gaining just enough distance to finish what she started. As she ascended the last few feet, she snatched the headband out of Hasaré’s hands with her talons. This didn’t go unnoticed by Tasha, but there wasn’t a whole lot she could do about it; when she tried to reach for the phoenix, Anna let off a few sparks, which was just enough to fry some of her circuitry. That arm wouldn’t cause much more trouble this battle.

After this, the battle didn’t take long at all. Very soon, all of their enemies were subdued. Phoenix Archer, still lying limp in the grass, only remembered the stillness, marred by frantic whispering, and footsteps coming closer. She felt something refreshingly cool slide onto her forehead, and suddenly, the pressure in her mind released. Slowly, she blinked her eyes open, and she saw the concerned, beautiful faces of her two youngest “sisters”, now in human form. She smiled, weakly but surely, and their expressions immediately changed to relief.

She also heard groaning, but when she turned her head to investigate, she felt her concern was unwarranted. It was Evelyn, also recovering from their recent…close encounter, but she looked fine otherwise. Besides, she had her own nurse; the strange man who had burst in was beside her, pulling her into his gentle but loving embrace.

With that bit of knowledge, Phoenix Archer smiled and closed her eyes. Now, she could truly rest, knowing that it was all over now….
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby stargazer » Oct 18, 2009 11:38 am

Gwanuig’s eyes were closed but he could feel Broadway’s powerful muscles working to lift them into the sky. He felt no fear; his bravery had been demonstrated time and again over the past decades. But taking to the air on the back of another creature, no matter how big his wings or how sincere his wife’s reassurance, was just something he’d never expected to do. He opened his eyes once he decided that they were safely aloft.

He marveled at how high they already were, and that Broadway was gaining altitude quickly without having to do much work. "It's the thermals," the turquoise gargoyle remarked as if reading his mind. "The updrafts of hot air do almost all the lifting."

By this time they had caught up with Angela and Katherine, and the two females smiled over at them. "Isn't this wonderful?" Katherine called. She’d loved her flight with Erik but had never imagined that someday she might soar the skies over Manhattan.

Gwanuig smiled at them, still a little uneasy about this new experience.

Broadway sensed the tension in the elf’s tight grip and wanted to help put him at ease. “How are you doing back there?” he called out.

“All right,” came the reply. Broadway adjusted his flight path to a more level climb, and could feel the elf relax a little. “That’s better; thank you.”

“We’re almost there,” Broadway observed.

“Sure, just as I’m getting used to this,” Gwanuig pointed out.

“We can take the ‘scenic route,’ if you’d like.”

The passengers quickly agreed – for Katherine, it was a chance to extend the exuberance of soaring above the clouds, and Gwanuig had already begun to appreciate the wild freedom of flight that the gargoyles cherished so much.

Though Katherine and Gwanuig had lived in the city for some time, seeing its towers of glass and steel from this perspective took their breath away. They began to understand the attraction this island city held for their hosts; seen from above, it had its own strange beauty. And with the wide open skies around and above them, the earlier feelings of overcrowding vanished.

They came to rest on one of the taller buildings; above them its spire reached toward the quarter moon that rode high over the skyline. They were silent for a few moments as they took in the view of the surrounding skyline and the cars moving like tiny ants on the streets far below.

“This is called the Empire State Building,” Angela began; acting as a tour guide she then pointed out several other well-known landmarks.

"You live in an empire?" Gwanuig asked. In their time here he'd heard no such thing.

"I don't think so," she replied. "It seems to be a nickname for this part of the country, that's all."

Then Broadway said, "Still, the humans must consider this building something of a romantic spot." His eyes were on Angela and his affection was clear for all to see.

"What do you mean?" Katherine asked.

Broadway chuckled. “Well, I’ve seen a few ‘chick flicks’ involving this very observation deck.” Seeing the newlyweds’ concerned expressions, he quickly added, “Don’t worry. They can’t see us up here, at least at night.”

Angela, meanwhile, had made a most unlady-like snort – though it was not at all inappropriate for a female gargoyle – upon hearing her beloved use the phrase ‘chick flick.’ She knew that, like his father, Broadway had taken a fascination to the wonders of television upon their arrival in this new city; indeed, his interest in movies and the like had been passed on to Erik when he was still a hatchling.

“’Chick flick’?” Gwanuig repeated, puzzled. While he’d picked up much of the local slang this expression wasn’t one of them. Broadway chuckled and offered an explanation.

“That reminds me of movie nights with Cymru,” Katherine said quietly a few moments later, missing her friend.

Gwanuig sensed his wife’s sadness and offered, “Maybe we could watch a ‘chick flick’ while we are here.”

“You’re more than welcome to do so at our home,” Angela replied, gesturing toward the softly-lit white outline of the tenth-century Scottish castle her clan called home.

"You live there?" an amazed Gwanuig asked.

"That's home," Broadway confirmed. “Are you ready to see it?”
But all night, Aslan and the Moon gazed upon each other with joyful and unblinking eyes.
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby starkat » Oct 22, 2009 7:48 am

“So how do you like being married?” Angela asked cordially as they circled high above the softly-lit white outlines of Castle Wyvern. But she was baffled when all she heard in reply was an odd laughter – surely her daughter-in-law’s friend had found happiness with Gwanuig? Was something wrong?

She was considering how to diplomatically broach the subject when Katherine finally quit laughing and explained. “My family is going to kill me. Gwanuig and I eloped. We got married after we went through the portal. And I love being married.”

Angela shifted slightly in midair as an updraft forced her to make a small correction, then began banking for the final approach to the castle’s courtyard. “I’m glad you’re happy,” she said. “It’s wonderful to find the one you love. Perhaps your family will understand that – maybe they’ll just be happy to see you.”

“There’s that. Then they’ll want to throttle me for not having a big wedding!”

At the human’s tone, Angela joined her in laughter. She understood the family’s desire to attend – it was equally true of the gargoyles even thought they still held to small, traditional mating ceremonies - but she figured that at least Katherine was looking at the bright side of things. But there was something in the human’s voice that concerned her, and she had a pretty good guess as to what it was. “Are you worried about not getting back home?”

“A little. I don’t really know how, but if you’re here and Erik and Abby came from here, there’s got to be a way to get to Ditto Town right?” Worry, hope, and a little reluctance bled through in her tone.

Angela was glad she could set her human friend’s mind at ease as they came in for a landing in a stone courtyard. “I think I can offer good news there, though there’s someone here who can answer that better than I can.”

The reluctance concerned her, but from what Erik and Abby had told her of life in Ditto Town she thought she might understand. Their youth had been full of battles as well. That was something her human friend would have to deal with on her own, but it seemed like she had a good man, or rather elf, at her side.

Katherine stepped away from Angela and into Gwanuig’s arms as they took in their surroundings. The stone towers were imposing and the grandeur was overwhelming. Nothing they had seen before had prepared them for this. Angela and Broadway watched silently as their guests took it all in.

“Would you like a tour of the castle?” Broadway offered.

Angela guessed what was on her mate’s mind. “One that starts or ends in the kitchen?” she teased.

Broadway grinned. “You know me well my love.”

Gwanuig looked at his wife. “That would be good, but could you give us a minute or two?”

The gargoyles nodded and stepped inside one of the archways. Gwanuig turned to Katherine. “Now, do you want to tell me what’s bothering you?”

Sometimes having a bond with your husband where he can read your emotions can be difficult. “Nothing’s bothering me,” she said grumpily.
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby leuthilalda » Oct 24, 2009 8:49 pm

Rose Banks suddenly sat bolt upright in bed. Toby sleepily opened an eye and said "Have a dream?"
"No thanks, I already had one." Rose joked, and then "Ouch!" at Toby's subsequent poke. "Ok, actually I don't remember what I had been dreaming. But suddenly I heard this voice say "They're coming."
Toby playful expression turned to worry. "I wonder who 'they' are? Do you think this is a warning?"
"No, when I heard the voice, I didn't have a feeling of doom or fear. It was more like a feeling of joyful excited anticipation, like company was coming."
"Ok, so who is coming?"
"I guess we'll find out soon enough, Dear."
-------------------
But it was neither Toby nor Rose who met their company first. A day or two later, Sea-Lily was working in the garden in front of the Rescue Center, listening with half an ear to the sorrowful-sounding song from a mourning dove. Suddenly, the song shoved its way up to the front of her conscientiousness, and she realized with a start that the song was not only the normal mournful sound, but actually sounded like the singer was sobbing uncontrollably. She went over to the bush which had grown next to the entrance, and finally saw the source of the sound. It was a mourning dove certainly, but a very young one, almost a fledgling. Yet, for one so young, she was almost the size of an adult. And the the sobbing was not an illusion; the young bird was obviously showing signs of sorrow. Suddenly another thought crossed her mind, and she decided to follow it, even though it seemed a silly thing to do. She asked the small bird "What's wrong?" and was only slightly surprised to get an answer.
"I am so (sob) tired, and hungry, and (sob) my parents and brother are looking for food, and I am cold (sniff) and sleepy, and I have never flown so far before..." She left off, but was still sobbing softly.
"You poor thing", Sea-Lily comforted. Then she slipped in the front hall of the center and got a large handful of bird seed that they kept for the winter. She returned to the bush, and held her hand up while the young bird greedily ate from it. A full stomach and an exhausting trip helped Koolarin to rapidly become even more sleepy, but before she closed her eyes, she asked her benefactor, "Are you a Toby?"
Sea-Lily startled, puzzled. "My father's name is Toby..." she started, but her answer was lost on her new friend. So when Koora came back to the bush she found her daughter peacefully sleeping and a very thoughtful young hobbit keeping watch over her.
Hail, Cameron Rhodes. May you always have the best mushrooms in the Shire, and keep a sharp watch out in service to King Peter.
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby Aravanna » Oct 24, 2009 11:11 pm

The copy of “The Dittopian Thread” that Lucid was carrying was an older copy that had been soaked by at least one spring rain. In consequence the pages were a bit crunchy and hard to separate, also the ink had run so that the front page had forgotten its headlines. Now it only offered wavy lines and part of an article in the bottom left corner that might have been about the Ditto Patrol. But it was the wanted ads that Lucid was after, and those were still legible.

Somehow, three months had passed since Lucid had found himself at the Rescue Center, run by the upstanding hobbits, Toby and Rose Banks. Three months was a long time and Lucid felt like he was imposing. The family insisted that he wasn’t; after all, they frequently had patients living with them for weeks to recover body and soul, but Lucid felt it was time to stand on his own feet. He had been helping Toby with odd jobs around the Rescue Center, but it didn’t really take his mind off of everything. His mind, which had felt so unsettling empty when he had first arrived in Ditto Town, continued to fill with life in town and he felt like a human being again. It was strange, looking back to that time when he had rode in on his six-legged mount, Champion, with only the knowledge that some sort of monster was bearing down on him to destroy him. There were no memories of anything before that, not even the smudge of feelings children have of their first few years. He could still hear the creature sometimes, in the form of a wolf during the darkness, howling after its prey. Lucid had never mentioned its existence to anyone and nobody at the Rescue Center ever seemed to notice the sound. The important thing was that the monster never entered Ditto Town, so consequently Lucid hadn’t left since he had helped a young man named Chase destroy a school that was making an army out of the darkness inside of human souls. Lucid had fought his own “shadow” and come back with injuries, the name “Thames” (which might be his surname, he didn’t know) and an unsettling feeling that he had helped the school do something before his memories had been destroyed, and that something probably hadn’t been particularly wholesome.

Lucid looked at the address again nervously and hoped he was dressed right for a job interview. Really, he didn’t need an address to find the power plant. The plumes of white steam, left over from the geothermal heat that turned the turbines which provided electricity to Ditto Town, were often visible in the winter. Ditto Town was powered by the hot springs that approached the surface of the earth. The ground under Ditto Town was something of a mystery from what Lucid could garner. It was full of tunnels, springs (cold and hot) and memories.

Lucid decided that his poor newspaper was probably not a worthy companion for a job interview and left it in a trash bin before going in search of the main office for the plant. Lucid really had no experience, but then, maybe nobody else was applying for this job, and what was involved in running an almost fully automated power plant anyways?

*******

A lot apparently.

The geothermal plant was a mass of giant pipes, filters, wires, computers, valves, and things to remember. It was also connected with the municipal sewer system, something Lucid hadn’t known before today. The interview had been awkward until a question came up about security. Lucid had merely pointed out that the entire expensive security system could be easily circumnavigated if someone posed as a truck driver (shipments were common) over the lunch hour since some of the workers left their shirts (with badges still attached) lying in the break room. It was only common sense, right? Lucid was now getting a rather extensive tour.

“And you’ll probably neva’ need to come into this section of the plant… unless we blow a blinking pipe again,” the guide added under his breath, “but this actually leads down to the shaft drilled to bring the hot springs up to the steam generators. Ya’ can’t climb down of course, unless ya’ fancy being boiled, but I’m told it opens up below town into a hot aquifer and ya’ can go swimming if ya’ fancy scalding. It’s way down, past the tunnels.”

“Ah,” was Lucid’s only reply to the man with the mustache and bowler hat showing him around the plant. His name was Carl Shoemaker (that’s Carl and not Mr. Shoemaker, if ‘ya don’t mind) and he seemed be the general manager.

“And these three valves here are the master valves. If she springs a leak anywhere, we can always shut the whole thing down manually at the point of connection. And here are the pressure regulators. Ya’ll never need to know how to program these things… and don’cha mess with ‘em,” Carl added under his breath. “If the computa’ says something’s wrong with ‘em, don’t be afraid to ask Mike about it.”

That was take home message of the day: ask Mike about anything and everything before you touch it. That was how Lucid’s life would go for the first three months if he got the job. He suspected he was going to get it. The general tour and all that.

“An’ rememba’ all the important numbers are in the office. Ya’ll probably hafta’ call the techies every few days. They know more about these computa’s than I know about life.” Then Carl added “But it’s a square trade. They don’t know nothan about life.” He seemed unaware just how loud and rude his frequent muttering was. “That enough for ‘ya today?”

“Yes, thank you,” said Lucid, feeling like most of the information had already evaporated from his mind.

“Good, I’ll call ‘ya on Wednesday if ‘ya got the job,” said Carl, walking briskly away.

On his way out, Lucid ran into Mike again. “Oh, hello.”

Mike, who was a heavy man with graying hair, waved absentmindedly as he reviewed a clipboard that he always seemed to be pouring over. “I hope you get the job,” he added without looking up. “This is a good place to work. It’s clean and well run, and it’s sustainable. This is an important industry to be in. Everyone will always need power and we give it to them without damaging to the environment or hidden costs. You can go home and sleep well at night if you work here. Not everyone can say that.”

“Thanks,” replied Lucid, wishing that sleeping well at night was as simple as where one worked. Still, it was honest, and Lucid left the place with a little bit of longing. Wednesday seemed like it was separated from today by a gulf the size of a year.
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