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The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby Ryadian » Oct 03, 2010 4:08 pm

A little bit of catching up. Since the Hasaré incident, Ryana has discovered that her telepathic abilities were "damaged" by the strain from the bond--she can't use them as effectively anymore. One of the abilities she lost was her "changing" abilities--she can't become Vanessa for more than a few minutes or so at at time.

Another thing is that she and the authorities decided to send Hasaré home to face justice...and the phoenixes decided to bring her. Brianna reveals that there is a portal near Ditto Town that leads straight home--but unfortunately, it's rarely open, and about to close. If they go, they won't come back for a while. The phoenixes have decided to go home, a decision Ryana encouraged, but Phoenix Archer herself decides to stay in Ditto Town.

Back in the present, Ryana finishes sorting through her memories, then mutters something about possibly getting a dog, before heading out for a walk.

As it turns out, it was a good thing Ryana gave up her secret identity. After she went home, she decided to test the full extent of her... mental scarring, it really was. To her surprise, she discovered a casualty: her telepathic abilities. Apparently, it'd just been too much of a strain fighting Evelyn's... well, whatever you would call it. Obviously, they'd failed a couple of times before--they'd decided this was why Ryana had her mood swings, and Evelyn her memory lapses--but not enough to spare them. She would have to experiment to find the full extent of her telepathy, but for now, she could assume they were mostly gone.

And, to make a long story short, that meant Vanessa was, effectively, gone. Her disguise had always been a telepathic illusion, and now, she could only maintain it for a few minutes, at best. Unless she walked around in full disguise at all times--or got a wig and contacts--she couldn't pretend to be Vanessa any longer. It looked like this was good--maybe even providential--timing. Besides, she had a feeling a certain someone already knew her alter ego. The newest edition of the Dittopian Thread came out awfully quickly, considering her identity had only been public for a few minutes or so. (One of these days, Ryana was going to find this "Emily"--and she was going to find out how she figured these things out.)

However, that was far from her only concerns. The next day, the business with Hasaré came up again: this time, the authorities wanted to ask her what to do about it. Other than arranging to have the bank robbed, Hasaré's main crimes were against Ryana herself--and, given what they knew of her, her more heinous crimes were probably committed elsewhere. In the end, they came to an agreement: they would (informally) extradite Hasaré to her home town, to face justice there. All parties found it fair and their best course of action.

Just one problem: who would take Hasaré to face her trial? Their home was far, far away; Ryana couldn't name an exact distance, but the trip could easily take weeks or months. For the most part, whoever went wouldn't come back any time soon.

And that's when Brianna approached her with the news.


Ryana stared at her in shock. "What?!"

Brianna nodded. "It was when I turned 18. I... don't know if it was there, or if I was just drawn to it, but when the time came... there it was. A portal that lead almost directly to the phoenix enclave. I spent that week at home."

She heard it, but she couldn't believe her ears. Home...her home, the home she left so many years ago, just a gateway away? "Why didn't you tell me?"

Brianna looked down, her face starting to go red with shame. "Two reasons, actually. First of all... well, I told you at the time that I'm not really supposed to talk about what happened. I wasn't sure if that was part of it or not. And the other thing is...." She hesitated. "Well... the portal
is still active--I've been checking up on it--but... it's not always open. It's only ever open for a week at a time, and I have no idea how long it'll be between openings. It's... erratic, at best." She shook her head. "It's better than walking, but it still means either a one-way, or a short trip."

Ryana sighed and nodded understandingly. She might have for a moment, but she didn't blame Brianna. She doubted this news would've made much difference, especially given what had gone on since Brianna made this discovery. Besides... it still meant she had to make a choice. After composing herself, she only needed one more detail: "Is it open now?"

Brianna nodded, but hesitantly. "It opened a while ago...almost exactly a week ago. It'll be closed within the next four hours."

"So, that means it'll still be a one-way trip." Ryana muttered; despite her attempts at control, she was still disappointed. She turned away, thinking it over and letting out a sigh. Finally, she came to her decision: "You girls still want to go home, don't you?"

Brianna seemed surprised. "What?"

"I'm not blind, Brianna, nor deaf; I've overheard you and the other two talking about it." She turned back, but despite herself, she couldn't lock eyes with her. "I know you three have wanted to go home for quite some time. But none of you could work up the nerve to ask me, so... as long as I was distracted, no one said anything about it."

Brianna shook her head. "It wasn't... just that, Ryana. We've known for a long time that you need us, just as much as we love you. We couldn't abandon you."

Ryana smiled. "I know that, Brianna, and... thank you. But, to be honest...." She shook her head. "I think the time for that has passed. I love you all so much, but I don't need you. And worse, I don't need to be a parasite who feeds off your company."


She shook her head. "No, that's exactly what I was; don't try to contradict me. It wasn't intentional, but by dragging you away from home for so long, just because I couldn't find any other companions in my travels... that's exactly what I was. And I wish I realized it sooner." She shook her head again, but this time, to dispel that subject. "But whatever may have been, I can honestly say... I don't need you the same way I used to. I've found a place to call home." She looked back into Brianna's eyes, a smile forming. "And now, you three are free to make your own decisions. And
your own decision is the only thing I'll accept."

She folded her arms. "So, Brianna, you and the others have a choice... do you want to go home, or stay in Ditto Town?"


Ryana's only regret was having so little time to say goodbye. In the end, all three of her girls decided to go home. To her surprise, for almost an hour, she thought Anna might decide to stay. Ironic... the one who argued with her the most, the one who defiantly disobeyed her... was the most hesitant to leave her. Ryana had a bittersweet smile as she remembered the tearful hug with the girl who could be her sister. It tore her heart, but she was comforted, knowing that they would see each other again.

Things had been so quiet since the girls left. Surprisingly, Ryana found herself starved for company, and ended up going into town a lot more than normal. She was glad for the time alone, just her and her thoughts... but at times, it was just too lonely. These changes would take a while to get used to.

Sighing, Ryana shook off the last of her memories. As much as they were primarily happy, she'd been stewing in them for days--occasionally, she needed to let go. Ryana lifted her wings from their rest and wrapped them around her shoulders. She was going out for a walk--into town, through the woods...wherever. Just somewhere away from these thoughts, just a break.

As she stepped out the front door, she muttered to herself, "Maybe I should just get a dog or something...."
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby narnianerd » Oct 05, 2010 6:29 am

A little Joe production...

"Stardate, Unknown, the USS United is floating through unknown space in a Galaxy that does not resemble the Milky Way at all, we were sucked here by a Wormhole in Sector 1030, we had gotten word of the Sectors plead for help and came to save them, unfortunately, we fell victims of the wormhole ourselves.

Now in this unknown Galaxy we are running low if supplies and Antimatter, somehow the jump to a new Galaxy depleted our reserve if Antimatter and we were to restock our space food in three stardates.

A resupply that will now never come. However on the edge of our scanners a small Planet, with a suitable atmosphere, is our one life line. If we can restock there we may have a chance of getting out of the galaxy."

Kyle clicked off the recording device "Lexi, get me a life form reading from that planet" Kyle said as the pulled out of hyperspace above Dittotopia "It crawling with life forms, various levels of intelligence, sir" Lexi replied "And a "Tec report?" Lexi looked at her computer screen before saying "Off the charts, sir"

Kyle nodded "Thank you, Cole, Lexi, come with us, we may need a translator, Cole I'm not sure why I need you, but I like you" he said standing up. He pushed his comunicator button and said "Jimmie, ready the transporter, Varner, you are coming to"

"I hoped you would say that, sir" Varner replied, Kyle and the group walked out of the bridge, in a few minutes they were at the transporter. Kyle walked onto the platform, followed by the other "Beaming you down" Jimmie said as he activated the machine.

A few second later they landed around the fountain, Cole, on top the fountain "I hate this job"
you had me at meah
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby starkat » Oct 05, 2010 8:02 pm

His heart nearly stalled as he reached down to pick up his wife. To him, it was obvious that she had been suffering through another debilitating headache, but this...! This was beyond anything they'd done to her before. He felt his own powerlessness to ease her pain deeply. But he could not afford to dwell on it; he must simply do what he could. With tender care, Gwanuig tucked her into his arms and stepped into the forest. He had turned for home as soon as he had felt her call and it almost broke his heart to be so far away.

Somewhat winded by the time they reached the edge of the woods, Gwanuig stopped and set Katherine down and tried to wake her, but could hear nothing, not even a groan in response. Fear started nibbling at the edges of his heart, and in the rising panic he decided to leave her in hopes of finding Lianna. But as he pulled away, he felt her stir. His breath caught and he looked downward again. She grabbed a hold of his tunic and gently moaned.

“Alright then, I won’t leave you,” he whispered softly, caressed and kissed her forehead, and then picked her up. The only thought marching through his head was "Must find Lianna". Anything more, and the fear might derail him. As he was unwilling to sling her on the saddle like so many potatoes, his horse followed him as he carried Katherine to her cousin’s store. Unfortunately, when they arrived, the building was dark. Gwanuig's heart, borne up by a single hope, fell, and he gently laid Katherine on the ground, trying to come up with an alternate plan. Thankfully, he didn't have to think long.

"Hey! Is everything ok over there?" A voice called to him from down the street, and a figure came trotting over.

"No! I need help! Please!" His voice was raspy, but he thought he recognized hers.

“Prince Gwanuig! Katherine! What's happened?" Aria stopped, surprised, as soon as she reached the pool of light from the streetlamp, then walked over quickly. "Is it the nanites?"

"Yes, the headaches are caused by the nanites- this is the worst I've ever seen it! But it's a long story. I was hoping to find Lia- we can't leave her out here."

"No, of course not. Can you carry her farther, or do you need help?"

"How far?" he felt exhausted, but the confidence in the engineer's voice was rousing.

She pointed to a building two doors down. "Just there."

"I can do that...but it's dark inside, are you sure anyone's there?"

"Don't worry. In this town, the Doctor is always in." She gave him a mischevious grin, which he returned not even halfheartedly, as he bent his knees and once again lifted Katherine's limp form in his arms.

"I'm sorry, Prince. I should be more serious at a time like this. But it's true. Dr. Ivanos doesn't actually sleep."

As he followed her into the doctor's office, he was once again overwhelmingly grateful for the weirdness of Ditto Town.
Aria knocked as she swung the door open. “Doctor? You around?”

Dr. Ivanos materialized in front of his visitors. Gwanuig was grateful that he had seen Hugh do the same enough times not to be startled; he feared dropping his precious burden. “May I set her down somewhere?”

“What happened?”

Gwanuig bit his lip and looked at Aria. She looked at him, puzzled at his hesitation. "The nanites, Gwanuig, tell him," she prompted.

He gave a sigh of resignation. “There are nanites in her body. We do not know how long they have been there, but we have reason to believe they have been in her system for some time. She suffered from severe headaches a couple of years ago and they seem to have returned. I was returning to town when I found her. This is the most intense pain I have seen her in to date.” He sidestepped the fact he had felt her pain through their intangible bond. “We don't know how, but we think someone is deliberately triggering the nanites to produce these headaches- of course, the source and mechanism are unknown.”

The doctor hummed and nodded at the appropriate moments as he ran several scans at the same time Gwanuig was talking. It amused the elf as it was a very human response to multi-task when handed a challenge.

“Let me give her something for the pain and see if we can bring her around,” Dr. Ivanos said. Preparing a syringe, he exchanged glances with Aria before turning back to the elf. “Do you know where her family is?”

“They don’t know, Doctor. In fact, I didn't even want to tell you. Aria found out...I'm not sure how-”

"Erik told me because he thought I might be able to help. I've started working on some possible treatments," she offered. "Was he not supposed to?"

“Gwanuig, Katherine's family must be told. Medical protocol…” The doctor started in on a spiel, but Gwanuig cut him off with a wave of his hand. Ivanos paused, consternation written on his photonic features.

“What I am about to say will go no further than this room, am I understood?” Gwanuig paused only long enough to level a steely glare and receive bewildered assent in return. “My wife has chosen to keep this information a secret lest her enemies discover this and take advantage of her weakness. As well, her abilities are no more. Something has happened to cause a disruption in the timeline.” His New York accent faded completely and the elf Prince was standing there ready to exercise his full authority as a husband and as a prince.

Aria interjected after letting out a small squeal at the word ‘wife’. "The enemies part, I completely understand. But don't you think Katherine would tell Ryder at least?"

“Katherine can speak for herself,” came a soft voice from the cot. Dark green eyes flickered open and Katherine accepted a hand from her husband as she shifted into a sitting position.

“Welcome back,” he whispered in Sindarin, kissing her forehead and wrapping an arm about her shoulders.

Katherine leaned her head back and gave him a look that caused him to aim for her lips for one additional kiss, then gave him a reassuring smile, before turning her attention to the other two figures in the room. “What did your scans show?”

“The scans confirmed the Prince—your husband’s story. I think, based on the interference my systems are registering, that I can also confirm that the trigger is remote- and that the signal is radio-based. The nanites are concentrated in the nerves at the end of your spinal cord. My theory is that when activated, they attack the nerve endings and that’s what triggers your headaches.”

“Any idea how to stop it?”

“I'm working on it, as I said- Alexsei, you'll provide medical support, I assume?"

"Of course, Aria."

“Thanks, you guys." This was from Katherine, whose weary face now held a spark of hope.

"Oh!" Aria slapped her forehead. "By the way- welcome back!" She wrapped Katherine in a tight hug. "I'd almost forgotten in all this craziness."

Katherine laughed. "Oh, that's ok."

"And also congratulations!" Aria added, stepping back and grabbing Katherine's hand to admire the rings. "Gorgeous. I want to see pictures and hear all about it!"

Katherine couldn't help grinning. "Of course! But maybe not tonight."

"Oh, no, that's ok. We'll have a ladies' night soon." Aria winked conspiratorially, and then a worried look flitted across her face for the briefest of seconds.

Katherine nodded, then turned to Gwanuig once more. "Thank you for bringing me here, you know if anyone noticed I was missing?"

Gwanuig shook his head. “No, love. The others may have assumed that you went after me or were just getting caught up around town.”

“Now it’s my turn to cut you off,” the doctor interrupted with a patient but firm smile. “She needs her rest. You are welcome to stay, Prince, but Aria...”

"Of course. I'll see you in the morning, Alexsei." Then Aria hugged the newlyweds and congratulated them once more before slipping off into the night.
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby stargazer » Oct 06, 2010 1:47 pm

"Aaaaabbbbbbby, I’m home!”

The jade green gargoyle looked up from her work upon hearing the pleasant deep voice from the foyer. It wasn’t long before its owner came through the doorway; a smile on his face for his loved ones.

Molly’s playpen was near the door, and her face lit up in recognition of her daddy. Erik picked her up gently and planted a little kiss on her forehead. Then he turned and embraced his beloved, careful not only of the hatchling in his arms but the project spread out in front of her.

“Wow, it’s really coming along,” he observed. “It’s lovely.”

“Thanks. Do you think they’ll like it?”

“Like it? They’re going to love it! I’m just a little surprised that you’re so domestic all of a sudden.” The last came with gentle teasing.

“Look who’s talking,” came Abby’s reply. “I’m sure her first word is going to be ‘Daddy.’”

“Sounds good to me,” he winked. “Isn’t it a little early to be working on it, though? Eliana isn’t due for a few months yet.”

“It may take me that long to get this right,” Abby chuckled.

During their recent visit to Manhattan, the couple had picked up souvenirs for friends back in Ditto Town, doing their best to find unique or unusual gifts for the children in town. For example, they’d picked up DVD sets of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy for both Varnafinde and the Banks family, figuring they might get a kick out of the movie adaptation of their world’s signature historical event.

But they had wanted something extra-special for the DeHonds and their soon-to-arrive baby. An idea had come to Abby during Katherine and Gwanuig’s tour of Castle Wyvern, and upon their return to Ditto Town they’d converted one of the Emporium’s spare rooms into a den for her project.

Erik’s eyes roamed over the work spread out in front of his mate, stopping on the prominently-placed central image. Its silvergreen leaves brought back memories of a moonlit walk through the forest. It’s been far too long, came the guilty thought, along with a vow to change that soon.

But then he caught the image of baby Molly, and next to her, a gargoyle egg. He had a passing thought about another hatchling.

“I heard that,” Abby smiled. “But I think we should wait until Molly’s a little older before giving her a little brother or sister.”

He blushed and nodded his agreement. He shuffled his daughter in his arms and, with a talon, indicated the center image again. “Full Moon is in a couple of nights,” he smiled.

“It has been a while,” she agreed, immediately knowing his thoughts.

“Too long, for sure. Are you up for a moonlit walk in the woods?”

“What about Molly?”

Erik hoisted his daughter so he could look into her eyes. “You’ll be good, won’t you, sweetheart?” She giggled in reply.

“Daddy’s girl indeed,” Abby winked.

Meanwhile, unnoticed by its master or his family, the Emporium’s instrument array dutifully but silently recorded the electromagnetic signatures of the arrival of the USS United away team.
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 Sonny » Oct 19, 2010 8:47 am

Part 1 of a two-part Day-In-The-Life segment

Eliana panted as she finished sweeping the dining room floor. She loved being a wife, and being a mother... Eliana rubbed her growing belly. She sighed contentedly, a little out of breath. This whole being pregnant thing was wearing her down!

"Five months" she muttered, looking at her calendar. "A long five months, with four more to go." She stepped into the kitchen, pursed her lips, sighed, and shook her head. "Just can't seem to do it anymore. Terrible, my mother always said that cooking food made her nauseous when she was pregnant, but I didn't believe her. Poo! Time to order take-out from the C&P."

"Atlantis," she said to the house computer, "I need to you to pick up dinner from Hugh."

"Certainly, Eliana," Atlantis replied. "What's the menu?"

Eliana sank onto the couch. "Oh, make it the fried painter deer special, and I'll take an extra helping of mashed potatoes."

"Excuse me, Eliana, but eating so many carbs is not good for you. According to my database, an over-consumption of carbohydr-"

Eliana cleared her throat to interrupt the over-zealous computer. "I am eating for two, mind you. Sometimes it even feels like for three! Thank you for your help, Atlantis."

"No problem, mistress."

"Oh, don’t forget Cameron, and don't you dare cross out that extra helping of mashed potatoes!"

"Um... OK. Dinner at five?"

Eliana nodded drowsily. "Yes..." and she fell asleep on the couch, serenaded by Jack, her canary.

In her dreams, she was walking through a field, 12 again. The sun shone down on Eliana McBride, warming her face. She picked a bouquet of daisies, and ran back home to present them to her mother.

"Mother!" she called, "Look at the flowers! I picked them for you!"

Celia McBride turned from the stove, where she had been frying a pan of painter dear. "Oh, my sweet girl, they're beautiful!" Eliana ran into her open arms, and they hugged each other, taking care not to bruise the flowers.

"Here, my child, let's put them in a vase on the window sill. The sun can shine on them that way." They filled a vase with water and carefully arranged the flowers.

"Order Asterales, family Asteraceae, genus Bellis, species B. Perennis," recited Eliana, hopping up and down, surveying their work happily, her strawberry-blond braids bouncing.

"That's right, my little Daisy," came a voice from the doorway.

Eliana turned and ran toward the voice. "Father! You're home from work!"

Alistair McBride chuckled, lifting her up and tossing her into the air.

"Yes, and someone is here to see you," Mr. McBride said.

A 14-year-old boy half-shyly came around the corner and stepped into the house. "Hi, Eliana," he said. "Father said I could come for dinner."

Eliana's smile widened. "Oh, good!" she exclaimed. She grabbed his hand and pulled him out the door. "I want to show you my tree house robot I made."

Loren eagerly followed in tow. "What does it do?"

"You'll see." When they arrived at the base of the great castle oak, Eliana stopped. "Atlantis!" she called into the tree. "Let down the ladder!"

"How many pigs make a decent pork pie?" came the challenge.

"The voice recognition isn't quite right yet, so it can't activate just on my voice. I have to answer the challenge," whispered Eliana to Loren. Aloud, she called back to the computer, "0.23458741"

A rope ladder descended from the tree, and Loren and Eliana climbed up. "That was awesome, Eliana," said the admiring boy as the rope ladder retracted. Did you use the pattern algorithm I sent you?"

"Yes, but I tried to modify it to recognize my voice better, and then I was stuck in the tree because I actually made it worse, and it wouldn't let down the ladder so I could get down!"

"Oh, no! What did you do? Climb down?"

Eliana laughed, and Loren smiled. That was the laugh of the girl he wanted to marry some day. "Actually, Father had to come rescue me, because it would recognize his voice instead of mine!"

Loren stopped laughing, but his eyes looked mischievous. "Eliana, I have a present for you."

Eliana woke up. There was Loren, standing over her as she lay on the couch. "Oh. Loren, I just had another wonderful memory dream," she said as she sat up.
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby Sonny » Nov 18, 2010 3:16 pm

Part 2 of a two-part Day-In-The-Life segment
A Little Joe / Sonny Production

Loren sat down next to Eliana. "Was I in your dream?" He kissed her cheek.

Eliana blushed and smiled. "Yes. Remember the day we went to the Castle Oak tree house and I showed you Atlantis the computer?"

Loren chuckled. "Yeah, you told me how you got stuck up there when you modified the voice-recognition algorithm."

Eliana blushed deeper. "Uh, yeah. I had just gotten to the part where you said you had a pres-- Wait. That was your 29-year-old voice, not your 14-year-old voice."

Loren grinned mischievously. "Was it now? Yes, I had just said, 'Eliana, I have a present for you' when you woke up." He pulled a little box out from behind his back and handed it to Eliana.

Just as she was about to open it, they were interrupted by Timaeus the Android at the front door, and Cameron at the door which separated his apartment from the main house. Cameron stopped, embarrassed at evidentially invading an intimate scene, stammered an apology, and was gone back into his apartment before either of the DeHonds could say anything. Timaeus, on the other hand rolled right in, oblivious of the situation. "Dinner is ready, Miss Eliana," he said.

"Thank you, Tim," said Loren, as he removed the packaged meal from Timaeus's cargo bay. "Please get Cameron. Dinner is almost ready."

"I suppose the gift can wait?" asked Eliana as she got up and began to set the table.

Loren nodded, grinning. "Tonight will be fine," he said, as Tim and Cameron came into the room.

When the table was set, the three of them, Loren, Eliana, and Cameron, sat down to the delicious aroma of fried painter deer, mashed potatoes with Hugh's special gravy, green beans smothered in a rich garlic sauce, cottage cheese, and Loren's favorite garlic bread.

After the prayer, Cameron unfolded his hands and put a piece of the garlic bread into his mouth. When he finished chewing, Cameron started up the conversation. "I'd like to thank you two again for letting me stay with you," he said before picking up a piece of deer meat with his fork and putting it into his mouth.

"No problem," Loren responded. "You know, I kinda miss my brothers, so it's good to have a little brother in the house again," he teased.

"Besides," added Eliana as she piled mashed potatoes on her plate, "we built the guest apartment on the back of the house for a reason."

"Yeah, so my mother could visit," said Loren.

"Oh, shush! It was for any guests, and you know it. Seriously, Cameron, we are glad you have you here."

If Cameron wasn't as tan as he was, the two of them would have seen him blushing "By the way Eliana, the food is amazing," he said, quickly changing the subject.

Eliana looked embarrassed. "Actually, it's from the Cup and Platter. I sent Timaeus over to fetch it. Hugh does such a great job."

Cameron laughed and replied, "Well then, cozy slippers to the hologram," and proceeded to dump some gravy unto his plate.

Loren chuckled. "I'm sure we'll pass on the greeting. So, tell me about your time here in Ditto Town. I take it you've spent some time here."

"Ay, when I was younger," Cameron said. "Ever since, oh, I was sixteen last time I was here," he continued.

"So that was... how many years ago? I'm sorry; I don't remember how old you are." Loren made a face. "Sometimes at 29 I feel ancient."

"Reeeeally ancient," agreed Eliana as she took another bit of mashed potatoes. "But he has always been really forgetful, so that doesn't amount to much."

"Um, that would have been, five years ago. My dad brought me here to sell some of the furs we had captured over the winter," Cameron added. "I moved up north when I was twelve."

Eliana looked thoughtful. "So, I'm confused. You moved north when you were 12, so were you here before then? And you came back before you finally left at 16?"

"Yeah, basically, I lived in Ditto Town till I was twelve, when we moved up north; then I came back to Ditto Town at sixteen to make some money selling furs, then we went back up after that until now, when I decided to come back," Cameron replied.

"Wow, that's neat. So this really is home to you," commented Loren.

"Yeah, you can say that," Cameron replied, shrugging. "Over the years I've grown used to the woods, so coming back to Ditto Town, and people in general, is a bit unnerving for me."

"Well, you can be sure we'll do anything to make you comfortable," assured Loren.

"Within reason, of course," teased Eliana.

"Oh what? No two thousand credit dry cleaning?" Cameron joked right back at her, then proceeded to chomp down on his venison.

The three of them chuckled, then sat in companionable silence, enjoying the meal. After a couple minutes, Loren looked up, his eyes sparkling. "Hey, guys, I almost forgot. I found something really interesting today."
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby stargazer » Dec 03, 2010 3:38 pm

Abby bustled about the Emporium, making sure everything was perfect before her guests arrived. It was a pleasant late-spring afternoon with ideal temperatures, yet Erik had good-naturedly insisted upon a small fire in the hearth, pointing out that “It adds ambience.” Fortunately, thought Abby, this particular fireplace was gas-operated and thus that “ambience” didn’t require chopping wood or the frequent tending of a wood fire.

Satisfied that all was ready, she took a deep breath of the lilac bouquet that graced the main room. When first introduced to the human custom of bringing flowers indoors, she’d been puzzled, but after doing it once she’d been hooked. It was like bringing a bit of spring into her home. And with the large garden out in back of the Emporium, there was rarely a shortage of flowers – including familiar varieties similar to those at home, such as roses, lilacs, gladiolus, and daisies, but also some local plants that had no clear equivalents in their home world. “Maybe Eliana or Loren know about them,” Abby mused, making a note to ask them the next time they got together.

She admired the blooms whose color approximated her mate’s skin color so well, and then chuckled to herself, “It won’t be long before a certain someone will be trying to stuff these in her mouth.”

Right now that “certain someone” was off with her father: Erik had taken Molly with him to get the treats for tonight’s festivities. The Cup & Platter wasn’t far away but the couple had allowed extra time, since it was no secret the proud father loved to show off his daughter to most anyone he met along the way.

Abby confirmed that the appropriate DVD box sets were by the television in the main room. During their last visit to Manhattan the couple had picked up copies of the movie adaptations of The Lord of the Rings, which would be tonight’s main attraction. But the most amazing thing was that their guests – Varnafinde and the Banks family – were natives of the real Middle-earth. The gargoyles were curious about how accurate the films really were, and how those really “in the know” might respond to them. The couple had read Tolkien’s work back in their own world, long before stumbling into Ditto Town; they’d never imagined then that it was anything more than a very imaginative work of fiction.

Invitations had been sent out and accepted, and Abby had offered to care for the Banks’ twins, Tom and Maidenberry, so that their parents could enjoy the movies undistracted. “Too bad Molly’s a little too young to play with them,” Abby thought, “though if they’re like the kids at home they’ll still be fascinated by her.” But the best surprise of all would come at the end of the evening, when the gargoyles would present their friends with their very own copies of the movies.
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 Ryadian » Dec 11, 2010 11:15 am

This probably wasn’t a good idea, Ryana knew. It was rash, impulsive, and just about everything that got her in trouble in the past. Well… okay, it wasn’t entirely impulsive. The idea had been bugging her for days—probably the only reason she’d come this far. If she was perfectly honest, she was almost hoping someone along the way would talk her out of it… or she could talk herself out of it. So far, neither one came to her “rescue”.

Finally, she stood outside the door. This was her last chance; after she went in, there was no turning back. With a deep breath, she pushed the door open and stepped through. Inside, two dozen different sounds assailed her ears. She quickly shut them all out, half-wincing as she remembered this was what she was getting into…. She looked around for a few moments, trying to find the one thing in the room not making noise.

Ah, there he was. A young man suddenly appeared from behind a set of boxes, then smiled widely. “Hi, welcome to the Dittopets Pet Shop! My name’s Jake.”

Ryana smiled politely, but… well, she could only hope it looked more convincing than it felt. “Hi. I’m… Ryana.” It felt strange to be so informal with a stranger, let alone use her real name, but really… that’s all she was to him. Even if he did recognize her, she was just another customer now. Normal life was weird.

“Well, nice to meet you.” He extended his hand, which she instinctually accepted. Once that was done, he asked, “So, what brings you here? Anything I can help you with?”

Ryana nodded slowly. “Actually, yes. You see, I’m here because… I’m looking for a dog.” She cringed at that; it was to-the-point, sure, but it was just so… weak. Quickly, she amended, “You know, a… companion. Someone to keep me company at home.” ‘Something to make a little noise in my silent house.’ She added, mentally.

Despite her poor delivery, Jake seemed to understand. He nodded throughout, and when she was done, he told her, “Well, we’ve got a few that’ll probably suit your interests, then.” He gestured towards a particular row, and as they walked, he started asking a few questions. “So, what kind of dog were you thinking of?”

‘Well… a normal one, of course.’ Somehow, Ryana sensed that wouldn’t really hold water. She shrugged her shoulders. “I… don’t have a particular preference, really. Whatever you have, I guess.”

She noticed a slight change in his expression—partly amused, and partly… something like an eye-roll. Wait, what did she say wrong? “Uh-huh, I see. All right, then… how old were you thinking?”

Oh. She wasn’t. Ryana scrambled to do the thinking she should’ve done at home…. “Definitely not a puppy. I’d prefer one more… mature than that, if you know what I mean.”

Jake nodded. “Yeah, I understand. Do you want one with training, then?”

Ryana nodded. “Yes, for sure.” She didn’t have the knowledge or patience required to do it herself.

He smiled. “That’s fine; most of the dogs are either trained or on their way.” Just then, they reached their destination. The row was framed on either side with kennels, all of them with dogs of various ages, sizes, and breeds. Ryana was suddenly glad for the line of questioning; it proved that at least one of them knew what he was doing…. Jake turned back to her and said, “Here, I’ll show you some of our older dogs—well, non-puppies, anyways. I think we’ve got a few that are what you’re looking for. But, I think I’ll let you….” Jake stopped as he realized his customer was no longer paying attention. At least, not to him. Instead of saying something, though, he turned to see what she was staring at so intently.

Ryana, apparently, had already found one that caught her interest. A large dog, white with a large strip of black running from his ears to his tail (maybe it was the other way around), stared at her, an expression she mirrored almost perfectly. Without saying a word, she went down on one knee, to eye-level with him. There was only one thing she could think to say: “Who’s this one?”

Jake smiled. “Well, if you’re looking for a name, he doesn’t have one yet. I prefer to leave that to the customer.” He thought for a minute, and came up with all the relevant information he could: “He’s a Siberian husky. About two years old, though I’ve only had him for one.” He glanced at her as he added, “Like most dogs of this breed, he’s really playful.”

“I thought as much.” This, of course, had very little to do with Ryana’s… “extensive” knowledge of dogs. (Especially considering she’d never heard of a “Siberian husky” before.) No, it had more to do with those eyes, those ice-blue eyes. The exact same shade as Diana’s, with the same smile she always seemed to have. At the same time, though, she saw the slightest mischievous glint, the one she saw all-too-often when Anna was planning something. Even farther back, though, she saw the same kind of thoughtfulness so characteristic of Brianna. Maybe she was just lonely, maybe it was just that she’d spent so many years with those girls… but that didn’t change what she felt. She knew that this was the dog for her.

Jake must’ve noticed, too, because his voice suddenly took a cautious turn. “I should warn you, he’s going to need a lot of looking after. He’ll need to be taken for a run—not a walk, a run—at least once a day. And… well, let’s just say you might want to dog-proof your house a bit.”

Ryana shook her head. “That won’t be a problem. I take walks all the time.” Well… okay, so maybe “walks” wasn’t accurate. Half the time, they turned into flights half-way through, but… well, that should just help her to keep up, right? She turned to Jake and asked, “How much for him?”

Jake shrugged. “Why don’t we discuss price later? Right now, I think we should talk about what you’ll need for him.”

Ryana nodded; that made sense. “All right. Is it… all right if I pick up some things now, and come back for him in a few days?”

Jake nodded. “Oh, absolutely. Whatever works best for you.”
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby stargazer » Dec 21, 2010 10:32 am

Author's notes: One of my favorite things about NaNo is its timing – the season inspires chapters about Thanksgiving and Christmas. This little stand-alone snippet is an adaptation of a chapter from this year’s NaNo story, and caught me in a particularly nostalgic mood. This doesn’t fit into the current story line (it's the wrong time of year), but from Erik’s family to yours, Merry Christmas.

It was a dark and starry night.

In the low hills about half a day’s easy walk from Ditto Town, a patch of light suddenly shimmered for a few seconds, followed by the apparently instantaneous appearance of three winged creatures. They stepped away and the portal vanished as quickly as it had appeared.

Erik paused a moment to look up at the wonders spread above. The winter constellations – the bright Unicorn and dimmer Dragon – burned brightly, and he couldn’t stop a contented sigh from escaping his lips.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?” Abby said, pleased as always to see her beloved enjoying one of his favorite things. She took his hand and together they walked to the nearby rise Erik and Thundershadow had long ago dubbed the “stargazing hill.”

Setting Molly’s little carrier down between them, they relaxed and enjoyed the celestial splendors in companionable silence. When Erik next spoke, his comment wasn’t quite what Abby expected.

“I’m not used to looking at winter stars when it’s so warm,” he chuckled.

It was true. Christmas was upon Ditto Town but for some reason it felt much more like autumn.

“There sure was plenty of snow in Manhattan,” was her amused reply.

“That storm shut down the city for days,” Erik concurred, “and yet David’s family was able to provide his usual wonderful Solstice Feast for everyone.” He rubbed his belly, remembering the culinary delights that evening, just days before, had held.

“He certainly has his connections. The Yule log was one of the biggest I’ve seen. But I think a lot of the credit for the food goes to your father.”

“Too bad I didn’t inherit that talent from him.” Erik laughed softly. “I just can’t make my roast turkey and stuffing taste like his does.”

They chatted a few more moments, about their friends and clan back in the big city, and how excited they were to be in Ditto Town for this year’s Christmas celebration. Suddenly Abby’s eyes grew wide and she leaned over to whisper in her mate’s ear.

“That’s a great idea!” he exclaimed when she was finished. “Let’s go!”

They picked up Molly and made their way to the nearby town.

The Square was quiet and seemingly deserted, except for the cheerily-lit windows and sounds of conversation emanating from the Cup & Platter. The pair sat down next to the Fountain.

“Are you ready?” Abby’s whisper held a mischievous tone.

“After you,” he nodded. He loved to sing, almost as much as he loved to tell stories, but had no illusions as to his musical skill. Abby had the talent, and he was content to let her lead.

Her eyes shone in the night and he was filled with joy as her words rang out over the empty Square:

“O holy night, the stars are brightly shining…”

He joined in, a baritone to her soprano, and Molly cooed along. As they finished a splash in the Fountain caught their attention, and they turned to see Bob Saget the Platypus swimming behind them. “Just like old times,” Erik grinned.

Abby knew all his favorites, and he wasn’t surprised when she began again:

"Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Alles schläft; einsam wacht…"

They knew only the first verse in the original German, and they immediately switched over to the English. As they finished, Erik noticed a tiny creature bounding toward them. With a flutter of wings, it landed on his lap, within sight – but not reach – of the curious hatchling he held. It seemed to preen its wings, and the musical quality of the sound caught their attention.

“Abraham Lincoln?” the adults burst out at the same time.

The cricket seemed to bow in acknowledgement for just an instant, then his wings moved again, producing another beloved melody of the season. Erik and Abby began again, this time with their friend’s remarkable sweet accompaniment:

“O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie…”
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 » Dec 31, 2010 8:10 pm

“Lass, your cousin is on her way over.” The doctor greeted Katherine as he entered her room the next morning.

“What!?” Katherine reacted by sitting up quickly and swinging her legs over the edge of the bed.

“She comes every few days for a discussion on herbs and other medications. It is quite the learning experience for us both! I enjoy it tremendously.”

“I have to get out of here!” Katherine reached for her clothes and went to the bathroom to get ready to leave. “I do not want her to know I was here!” she hollered through the door at the doctor.

“My lips are sealed,” the doctor said with a sigh. He puttered around the room until she returned and shoved a pill bottle into her hands. “Take this. Your cousin and I have been working on a pain killer that is natural and is more potent than ibuprophen.”

“Thanks Doc.” Katherine opened a window and slipped out just as Lianna’s voice floated in from the front room.

She made it to the safety of the forest before nearly running into a heavily cloaked figure. “Sorry sir,” she said as she looked up into the man’s eyes. Her jaw dropped and her knees almost gave out as she looked into eyes she had not seen in a very long time.

The cloaked man reached out and steadied her, leaned forward and hissed, “If you want to stop your headaches and learn who is behind all of this, meet me a week from today at these coordinates.” A piece of paper was shoved into the young woman’s hands and the man turned on his heel and disappeared into the trees.

Katherine stared in shock at the spot where the figure had disappeared.

I thought I would never see him again. Where did he come from? What does this mean?

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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby JillPole » Jan 05, 2011 8:28 pm

Awhile back, after their first band practice- at which Eruheran had discovered that Adrian could sing, and realized that this wasn’t supposed to be the case- he decided that the band needed a piano player.

Rather, he decided that Collhyn needed to be in their band, and piano would probably be the most fitting instrument. However, since Collhyn was pretty much capable of playing anything he pleased, the elf had decided that he could play whatever he liked so long as he came. And this was because Collhyn probably knew more than anyone around about the merfolk- certainly more than Adrian himself knew.

This was one of the things that brought him to the enigma’s door in the Ditto Mansion.

As he knocked, he could hear a soulful, bluesy guitar- not that Eruheran could have told you it was bluesy; he was trying to become familiar with different genres of music but there were a lot of worlds to catch up on, and he hadn’t gotten that far yet.

The music stopped shortly after he knocked. Collhyn answered the door with his usual mildly querulous expression on his face, (usual when he was human, of course; dragons have a deal of trouble showing querulity) which morphed into a wide smile at the sight of his favourite elf.

“Eruheran! Come in, come in!” The bespectacled musician moved aside quickly, allowing Eruheran to enter.

As Eruheran did so, he sniffed appreciatively. Collhyn and Ekko’s apartment had a unique scent- exotic spices, old books, worn instruments, typewriter ink, and a hint of something animal but not unpleasant.

“So what brings you here today, my boy?” Collhyn called Eruheran that, despite the fact that his adoptive daughter’s boyfriend was 50 years old. He couldn’t help himself. Some people- especially of a certain professorial persuasion- persist in thinking all around them are far younger than themselves. Collhyn was, however, approaching 300, so he at least was usually justified in his thinking.

“A couple of things, actually,” Eruheran answered. “Is Ekko around?”

“No, she’s gone to the greenhouses to visit Oceana. Did you want to talk to her?”

“No, I’m here to see you.” Eruheran coughed nervously, swallowed the harder subject for the moment, and pressed on. “How would you like to join my- our- band?”

“A band?” Collhyn’s face lit up. He looked genuinely delighted. “I’d love to! I haven’t played with a band since…I think it’s been seventy years at least. What kind of music do you play?”

“Adrian calls it rock and roll…” Eruheran said, then shook his head. “But I’m not really sure where he got that from. According to my research, whatever we’re playing, it isn’t rock and roll.”

Collhyn laughed. “You know, he was browsing my bookshelves months ago and sort of picked something at random and started reading…spent twenty minutes draped over the couch with this-“ here he pulled a collectible-style book off the shelf whose title, in large white block letters, read “Rock n’ Roll Greats”. He handed it to Eruheran, who began flipping through the pages. It featured minimal text and large glossy pictures of performers named things like Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, and Buddy Holly. They wore what were, to the elf, ridiculous outfits, and what text there was had glowing reviews of the music these men had played. He was grateful Adrian hadn’t turned up in a white sequined jumpsuit.

“It all makes sense now,” Eruheran mused, as he handed the book back. “He’s never heard a note of it in his life.”

Collhyn chuckled. “Probably not. But you know our friend and his attention span.”


“So whatever you’re playing, it’s not rock n’ roll, but you want me to join.”

“Yes, but I confess I have an ulterior motive besides your ‘mad skills’.” (This was another phrase he’d acquired from Adrian, and he gave it finger quotes as he said it. Collhyn laughed at him.) “The thing is: Adrian can sing, and I mean extremely well, rather like Oceana but with less…control over everyone around him.”

Collhyn’s laughter faded and his face fell to a frown. “And he can only remember five years of his life…”

“Yes. I don’t know enough history of their people to know how that’s possible, but Oceana did tell me that mermen aren’t supposed to be able to…”

“No, they’re not. I mean, there’s one way I’m aware of, but I hope that’s not what it is.”

“What is it?” He felt a wave of fear from Collhyn gush over him as the enigma’s worried look deepened.

“Let’s just hope I’m wrong. When’s your next practice? I’ll be there with bells on.”

Eruheran looked at him curiously. “Uh…I was hoping you would play the piano.”
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby Varnafinde » Jan 06, 2011 12:45 pm

Varna felt very privileged to have found Ditto Town.

At home, in Rivendell, she was beginning to feel lonely. Most of her Elven friends had left for the West. She got to know mortals from time to time, but those friendships lasted so short - less than a century.

She had begun to consider whether it was time for her as well to leave for the West, when she had discovered that other portal some years ago, the one to the world that was the home of the gargoyles (although she hadn't met them there). Going to that world cheered her up, and she especially liked going to Oxford, the city of the professor who had translated the Red Book.

Varna was hoping that some day she might find out how this professor had come across a copy of the book. As far as she knew, it only existed in a few hand-written copies in some libraries and archives in her own world. Could the Professor have found a portal? He must have learnt the language, too, in order to be able to translate - it was a very good and very accurate translation.

But as much as she liked Oxford, it wasn't a place where she could settle down. She always had to hide her true identity there. Elves were seen as mythical creatures by most people. Some, though - especially those who had read the Professor's translations - accepted her and was pleased to meet someone from her world, but she had learnt very quickly to look for the signals that showed that she would not be accepted, and that she again had to pretend to be human.

And then she had found the portal to Ditto Town.

Ditto Town was different. Here there were so many races and species from so many worlds that meeting an Elf didn't make people bat an eyelid. Here she could be herself. Here she had got friends - she nearly had more friends here than at home now. Here she could make a second home for herself.

And this afternoon she would be visiting some of her best friends. She had accepted immediately when she got the invitation some days ago - to a movie night! Someone had made a movie from the Professor's translations - a movie in three parts. If they didn't get too exhausted, they expected to see all three parts tonight, and it would take them till well past midnight.

Varna knew that in Oxford's world, these movies had been shown at the cinema. She had even been in Oxford once while the second one was running.

But she had had only one experience with going to the cinema, and once was enough. This had been roughly forty years ago, and a friend (who knew her secret) had said that she would love all the nice music and the beautiful scenery in that movie - called Sound of Music. Sure, the music was lovely (afterwards she had bought the record, and later the CD), and she was absolutely thrilled at the beginning of the movie, when the camera swept over the snow-covered mountain-tops of the Alps and then gradually focussed in on the young woman singing the title song - but to her horror she found that seeing close-ups of moving faces in that size made her feel uncomfortable.

She wasn't sure whether what she had felt was mostly some kind of fear or more just nausea, but she had had to look away during all the close-ups, and she never went to the cinema again. She was a bit nervous the first time she was invited to watch TV, but the smaller screen didn't have the same overwhelming effect, and she was fine. So she wasn't worried about tonight - rather she quite appreciated the chance to finally see what this movie-maker had made of the story about the War of the Ring.

He couldn't possibly have got in everything. Just the most detailed parts of the story covered weeks, and the whole story covered years - in only nine hours he would have to skip some sections. Possibly have a narrator summarize what was being skipped - or whatever a movie-maker used as story-telling techniques.

Varna was more used to oral story-telling, especially in the form of narrative songs. She knew the Lay of Beren and Luthien, and had performed it herself several times - she even knew Maglor's great lament of the fate of the Noldorin Elves, but she had only performed it once. There were few occasions where such tragedy would be appropriate.

As far as she knew, no song about the War of the Ring had been preserved. A song was mentioned in the story, but no text was given, and by now it would be lost. A good thing that copies of the Red Book had been preserved, and that this Professor had got one and translated it, to make it available for other worlds.

And if some people preferred the visual to the verbal stories, this movie-maker had provided a version for them as well. It could only be a good thing. Probably.
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby Ravenbrook » Jan 15, 2011 11:43 pm

The young woman had been told to never go into the lower city alone (not that her chaperone let her go anywhere alone) and especially not after dark. The lower city began below the university district and followed the river that ran between the two hills on either side. The University sat as stately as a judge on one side with the intellectual elite estates surrounding it. The Cathedral stood like a pointed sentinel on the other side, it’s great steeples pointing toward the sky and its eyes upturned as if the ribbon of strange, uncommon dwellings below was a sight to be avoided by holy eyes.

Watching out the window of her carriage, the young woman (whose identity I’m afraid I won’t be able to conceal for long) had to pass through the valley, like any voyager who wished to sail between the two islands of civility. At night the lower city, with its thin cobblestone streets, small courtyards, eclectic shops, and packed houses that jumbled up against (and occasionally on top of) each other came alive. Glimpses of another life briefly appeared down the cobbled streets leading away from the broad road that faired the proper. Most tried to avoid even glancing at the lower city’s sites, but the young lady was transfixed by the sites through the carriage window. Not everything the ladies eyes fell on looked quite possible, streets curving away insanely, chickens scrounged the streets who had two separate heads for twice as much pecking, and once a person that looked as though he was walking up a street so vertical that he should have tumbled back down to the bottom... but maybe it was only a trick of the light. One thing about the lower district I suppose should mention is that some of its power is in the fact that you are never quite sure if you’ve witnessed magic, the oddity that pokes out of the corners of the universe from time to time, or something perfectly normal seen from a strange angle or in a strange light.

But the young lady was just passing through to a party and had no time to reflect on the implications of what she witnessed. When she reached the church side of the city with its mercifully normal houses, the first thing the young lady noticed as she entered the ballroom of a nobleman, was the music. The little orchestra that lead the dance had the usual number of pipes and violins, but it was the piano that underlaid every sound that was making the magic. It made the piece seem strange, even the dancing took on a different quality because it was a dance to this mysterious music. Our heroine knew how to play piano well enough to be considered an accomplished lady, but she’d never taken real interest in playing for its own sake. Yet this music filled her with a strange desire to improve, to spend her life improving, if she could only play like the magician making this sound. She caught sight of him, a young man a little on the plump side, with slightly eccentric hair that was so black it was blue. He had frightened eyes that met hers for a second before darting back to the safety of the familiar black and ivory keys. The young woman found herself short of breath for the moment of their meeting... but it wasn’t his appearance that started her. Indeed, she couldn’t say what it was that made her start and catch her breath in the hot, breathless ballroom, stuffed with people. Then she was whisked away by society.

She answered the polite inquires about her family and the inevitable ones about the mysterious benefactor who had saved them out of poverty. Yes, her sponsor had indeed been generous when he paid off her father’s debts, secured her brother a position as a young officer in the navy, and paid for her to attend ladies’ school and come out in society. No, she still did not know his identity, and yes, she supposed he might indeed be in this very room, and yes, that was an exciting prospect. To appease her audience, she looked around the room, but of course she didn’t know who she was looking for. Her eyes fell on the pianist again. The same little start.

It was oddly relieving when the conversation turned to other avenues. The young lady was slightly embarrassed by the fact, but she was rather afraid of ever learning more about her sponsor. She knew it was unreasonable, but the mysterious somebody frightened her. She had no grounds for the feeling that tightened her chest, because she knew nothing about him. Of course she didn’t.

And then she had an even stranger fear. If this flock of people questioned her closer about her family, she wasn’t sure she’d be able to give an answer. Whenever she closed her eyes and tried to focus on them, what she thought she knew of them seemed so unsubstantial, like a dream after waking. She had parents and a brother, and they must be in good health but beyond that not even a face could be summoned to her recollection. But of course, nobody ever asked her even the silliest of inquires, they only reminded her of the generosity of her sponsor and commented on beauty of her dress.

It was very late, and our heroine was being to feel a little faint from the heat and the noise before she managed to get away from the conversation and several dance partners to make toward the door. She managed to bid adieu to the host and asked him who the pianist was. “He was a man of genius and I should love to have him play if I should host a party,” she added lightly to make her inquiry less strange.

“Genius you say? Yes, he is good, but I should avoid him if I were you. He lives on 712 E______ street, which is in the lower quarter. You know how THEY are.” The young lady thanked her host but wondered why he should have hired the pianist himself if it was such an unfashionable thing to do. She then took her leave and was escorted home in thoughtful silence.

Some melody the young man had played that night ate at her peace. It filled her head in quiet moments and she caught herself humming it , and polite ladies didn’t hum in society (although I hear they do in Ditto Town, which gives me hope.) She practised her little piano until her fingers ached but she could never quite make the music sing or give it a soul like the young man had. This went on for weeks and the neighbours began noticing before she could stand it no longer and devised a plan.

Her chaperone was told she was going to a friend’s party and she was being escorted by another gentleman, a brother of the friend. The pianist in turn received a curious letter asking him to come to a residence near the university in his carriage. If he wished it, he could have a devoted student. She had heard his music at such-and-such a party and was enraptured.

To her delight, at the appointed time, a strange carriage pulled up and the pianist stepped out, pretending to be a gentleman. In a stroke of unfathomable luck, nobody seemed to notice or care about the situation, and our heroine escaped with the pianist as easily as two swallows dart wherever they like among the roofs of the city

“Please forgive my impropriety,” began the blushing young lady, “But I had to get away and this was the only way I could devise...”

“Oh, say nothing of it,” answered the young man with a shy smile. “I understand why you wanted to see me though it’s really very improper. At least, I believe it’s the same reason I wanted to find you again if it took me my whole life. You’re REAL.”

The young lady blinked several times. She didn’t know quite how to address such a strange statement, so she said nothing and thought about it. Yes, it somehow described why she had gasped when she first perceived the young man playing the piano. In the dizzy, brightly coloured facade all around her, in the constant stream of people, places, and activities, the young man seemed strangely solid and substantial.

“What does it mean?” she asked at last.

“It means that I should teach you piano,” he answered with a shy smile.

The lower district was even stranger when you took a chance and journeyed down its cobbled streets. A mist was beginning to creep up off the ocean, softening lines and details. The evening seemed to have more deep colours and warmer lights, even if they were hazy in the mist. Streets wound away on haphazard journeys into the fog and people were out in the streets, or packed onto porches that were practically out in the street anyways, and a few brave citizens were even calling down from rooftops, leaning over wrote iron railings. Our heroine thought she spotted the two-headed chicken again, but there were also cats with glowing eyes that seemed to vanish into the fog and reappear in locations faster than she could blink eye (or perhaps there was more than one cat...) street magicians in patches or capes, depending on their act, were making things vanish and solid objects pass through each other, wisteria and small espaliered fruit trees filled nocks and perfumed the night, while the men with long pipes perfumed the night in another way. Things seemed to big or small or lopsided, and the young woman’s head began to spin.

“What do you think?” asked the young man, breaking the silence in the carriage.

“It’s a bit.... unusual,” answered the young lady, unable to think up a polite, civilized reply that had any honesty in it at all.

The young man nodded slightly... then roused himself to add, “It’s my home,” with a touch of pride.

Our heroine learned that the young man didn’t own a carriage, but had rented one and her listen would pay the fee. The driver deposited has passengers at the pianist’s small, vertical house. It was situated behind a winding little courtyard that squeezed it’s cobblestone way between two houses that were slightly offset, and some shrubs and vegetables in need of weeding. Then it was still up a flight of stairs before they arrived at the house set back away from the street behind its neighbours.

A curious pair of eyes peaked out behind a curtain as the pianist opened the door with a large iron key and opened the door. The young lady discovered that the pair of eyes belonged to a little sister who was promptly sent to bed. She’s real too, the young lady thought with a sudden pang of longing. Somehow she did not believe her faceless memories of her family . They weren’t like the little girl. Did she even have a family?

“Well,” said the pianist returning down a set of spiral stairs from tucking his little sister in, “Would you take some tea?”

“Really, I’m only here to learn what you have to teach me.”

“Then I hope you don’t mind starting with the basics. I should like to know what you know. Let us hear your scales.”
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby Ravenbrook » Jan 15, 2011 11:43 pm

It was at another party when the young lady met her benefactor at last. Black and white dresses and masks and colourful personalities that didn’t seem to have any meaning. Music with varied styles and keys whose melodies would escape the memory moments after they had faded. Refreshments that left no taste at all, no feeling of fullness... Everything about her life was like one grand view after another from a strange countryside which would sometimes open up, only to be forgotten when another appeared. None of it seemed to have any... any what? Truth in it?

“Ah, young lady, I need to introduce you to a gentleman of my acquaintance. A man of some property who is interested in finding a lovely young wife, no doubt, although he won’t admit to it. Says he enjoys being a bachelor...” The young lady followed the endless words coming from a man’s mouth across the room without really paying any attention until she caught sight of the subject of conversation. He was wearing gold-rimmed glasses and had snow-white hair that seemed a good deal wilder than the rest of his clean, modest suit. It was impossible to guess his age. He didn’t as old as the color of his hair suggested, but he couldn’t have been young either. He looked a little weary, but his eyes were piercing, even commanding. He was familiar, and in the words of the pianist, he was also REAL.

“Ahh, Mr. -------- allow me to the pleasure to introduce the young Miss --------- I’m so glad you could both be there tonight and grace us with your presence. I’m sure you’ll have a delightful time getting acquainted and you must dance together tonight, I insist!”

The white haired gentleman gave a nearly indiscernible wave of his hands and the other man’s words wondered away to another part of the room. The couple looked at each other for a few moments without speaking. Finally the young lady broke the silence. “He didn’t really say your name. Do you have one? Nobody seems to really have a name here. Even me. I’m sure I’ve forgotten mine.” She caught her breath for a moment because she really wasn’t sure this was a polite thing to say.

The gentleman didn’t seem to notice however. “I have a name, but I shall keep it to myself at present. I should be very out of place with a name,” he said with a slight laugh.

“Yes, I suppose you would,” the young lady replied thoughtfully. She wished the pianist were here. Frightened and shy as he was in public, he was a natural teacher when he was alone with her. He was also stable and the young lady was sure it would not be so alarming talking to another REAL person with him here.

“Ah, there is no one at the piano forte at present. Perhaps you could entertain us with a song. I should like to hear what you’ve learned.”

The young lady jumped, she was certain she hadn’t spoken aloud about her teacher, and for a moment she tried to think of a way to decline, but now everyone around her was agreeing, and she felt she could not deny the white haired gentleman with the golden glasses.

“Come, I’m sure you play very well,” he added. And so to the piano she went uttering the sort modest protests that nobody ever listens to.

In a moment the young lady was seated. The gentleman produced a piece of music from somewhere, and so she began to move her fingers over the keys with the man standing behind her. She had indeed learned something past few days? Weeks? The passage of time seemed to have lost its meaning, along with so much else. And then she forgot everything except her piece. The music seemed to well up in her, and her fingers moved to obey. It was a strange piece too, frolicking, full of longing, and wild all at once. There was something slightly surreal about it, and at the same time, more real than the world that contained the vibrating notes. The music flowed easier and she found she was playing better than she had expected, that she had improved more than even she had realized. Find something inside of you that you care more than anything about, and bring it out, let it move your hands, all of you, and it will move and shake the world itself. That’s what the pianist had said. That music was more than the sum of its melodies and cords and impulses. He said that not everyone had the gift, but after a few sessions, he believed she did possess it.

The song ended. The last notes faded away and the silence and dull noise that filled the room was a poor substitute. The young lady turned the sheet over just to make sure there was nothing left. There was polite applause behind her which brought her back to reality, or as much as the her life could offer her.

“That was well done,” said the gentleman. There was a smile on his face that the young lady wasn’t sure she understood. It wasn’t simply delight in the music, but more like triumph. “Notice, the room seems to have changed a little, don’t you think?”

The young lady was obliged to look around. For a moment she did not know what the man was referring to, or what she was looking for. Yet, a touch of the song’s flavour seemed to have stayed behind, in the curves of the lines and in subtle colours, and perhaps how the shadows fell. Maybe in the way even the conversation rose and fell. It made the young lady slightly giddy, and frightened too. Had she really changed reality just by a little music? But that was impossible! Yet, she had always thought the lower district suited the pianist’s unconventional, childlike, and slightly dark spirit, but she had always thought that was why he had chosen to live there. She had never considered that he might have created the atmosphere, the strangeness, that his potent music had awoken magic to seep in through the cracks. And her music might also do the same thing. She shuttered and found the gentleman offering an arm. She took it as she felt very dizzy indeed. He helped her out of the crowd and into another room where she could breath better.

“Thank you,” she said after sitting down on a chair and enjoying the freer air and the quiet. “I’m sure my head turned a bit in there. It seemed like I’d really... oh it is not important.”

The gentleman was silent for a moment before finally replying, “I dare say,” which of course meant nothing.

“But please sir, I am sure I know you from somewhere, and you seem to know me. Who are you?”

“I am your family’s sponsor of course,” he replied quietly, looking her in the eye as if forcing her to accept and react to the truth, but not wanting any praise for it.

“ Oh! Oh yes of course. I, I didn’t realize... that is, I owe you such gratitude...”

“None of that. I enjoyed meeting you tonight, and would encourage you to continue practicing. You need to practise to master your art. Goodnight.”

He was gone in a moment and left the young lady’s head full of spinning, conflicting thoughts. The rest of the party seemed long and immeasurably dull in comparison to her earlier conversation. Nobody noticed she was deep in thought. Nobody noticed anything here. Her sponsor had seemed kind enough, but somehow more dangerous than she expected, and so strangely familiar. That part still nagged at her. She was sure she had never met her sponsor before, but she KNEW this man. Somehow...
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby JillPole » Mar 10, 2011 7:46 pm

Eruheran left a few minutes later, after he’d said the other important thing, and descended the stairs with his heart still hammering hard in his chest and a giant smile on his face that he was desperately trying to suppress. He still felt warm from Collhyn’s tearful bear hug.

He found Ekko and Oceana in the greenhouse, as Collhyn had said. They were laughing as they picked gooseberries, and suddenly Oceana looked up and saw him. The joy that entered her face at the sight flew like an arrow into his heart, and he grinned like a fool and ran over, dodging cucumber vines and bell pepper beds.

He caught her up in a hug, lifted her, and spun her gently once, kissing her nose as he set her down. “Hi,” he said, attempting to catch his breath.

“Hi yourself,” Oceana replied, putting her slender finger on his nose. “Did you come to steal food?”

“Yes, that is exactly what I came for,” he said, not taking his eyes off her face.

“Ahem. I guess I’ll be getting back up to Collhyn. Will I be seeing you two for dinner?” Ekko, the basket of gooseberries on her arm, prepared to leave.

“Not tonight, my sweet Ekko- and forgive me for ignoring you.” Eruheran lifted her hand and kissed it respectfully. “I intend to have Oceana and Aria over to my place for dinner tonight.”

“Well, you kids have fun then,” she grinned impishly. “I guess us old folks will just have to eat alone.”

“We could join you for a late dessert?” Oceana suggested hopefully. “I love your gooseberry pie.”

The enigma laughed. “Of course. We’ll see you at 9 then.” She swished off towards the Mansion, leaving the couple to themselves.

They strolled the greenhouses for awhile, Oceana pointing out interesting points about her crops, Eruheran filling her in about his day. She’d taken over management of the greenhouses in the past few months; without a job of her own and no pressing issues trying to ruin her life, she’d eventually felt lazy dividing her day between reading and strolling about town. The greenhouses were fulfilling; both her elemental water powers and her siren song benefitted plants immensely (though she sang only when the greenhouses were empty of people.)

Eruheran had just finished describing the ongoing work on Aria’s helium generator when Oceana suddenly started jumping up and down, clapping her hands in glee. “Oh, I almost forgot! Have you heard about Ingrid and Ornus?”

“No! What is it?” He asked, amazed at the sudden change in her demeanour.

“Ingrid and Ornus are going to have triplets!”

Eruheran’s eyes bugged out and he laughed. “Wow, they are going to be busy! Good for them!”

“I’d imagine they already are, preparing and such. I’d like to go see them tomorrow, would you like to join me?”

“Of course I would!” he replied enthusiastically, and then his face clouded as a thought struck him.

“What is it, Dommie?” Oceana asked, suddenly concerned.

“You…you want children, don’t you?”

“Oh,” Oceana blushed deeply. “Well of course, but they…that is, I’m not…adopting is perfectly all right if I couldn’t…”

Eruheran took her hand kissed it. “Fair enough,” he said, and they made their way to the stables in a contented but anticipatory silence.
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Re: The Inn Between: Ditto Story 8

Postby stargazer » Mar 17, 2011 11:32 pm

Thanks to starkat for her contributions to this segment.

Anyone frequenting the Town Square that sunny afternoon might have found the sight amusing: a large, purple-winged creature trying to juggle two arms full of treasure. Weight wasn’t the issue; rather it was a matter of handling two very different loads. The infant carrier itself was designed to be easily handled, but transporting the rapidly-growing Molly was complicated by her wiggling around as she curiously examined the sights around her. In Erik’s other hand was the basket of treats from the Cup & Platter. While quite manageable by itself – it was lighter though bulkier than Molly’s carrier – the difference between the two required him to pay constant attention to his balance. He was making full use of his tail and wings for this task.

“Looks like Daddy may have bitten off a bit more than he could chew, eh, Molly?”

His daughter, who had little more to do than smile and look cute, performed her role admirably.

“I figured you’d agree,” he quipped. “But I think I can manage without having to call Abby for help.” He glanced up at the sun and added, “We should have time to stop for a few minutes here.” He placed his hatchling and the food basket on either side of himself and sat by the Fountain. Molly had already shown an affinity for the glint of sunlight on the water, so he gently removed her from the carrier and placed her in his lap so she’d have a better view. Before long she was gurgling and cooing at the sight.

The sun was warm and invigorating, and he unfurled his huge wings to soak it in. At times like this, he mused, it was almost as if he were drawing energy from the sun much like he did while sleeping in stone. While he had no empirical basis for this – the pendants still held their secrets in defiance of the tests the scientists at home had run on them – with artifacts like these anything might be possible.

Suddenly Molly squawked and squirmed; somehow her tail had become pinched. He freed it and before long she was happy again. His little one didn’t wear her pendant today – it was safe at home – for she was awake courtesy of Greya’s hatching gift. Now there was an even bigger mystery than the pendants. He moved her shirt aside to reveal the small, lighter spot on her tummy. While she slept it appeared as a tiny crystal in the stone, but when she was awake it looked much like a little pale birthmark. He ran a talon across the spot, and while he felt nothing unusual it was enough to cause his ticklish daughter to break out in giggles.

“Good afternoon, Erik!” a new voice called.

He placed Molly back in her carrier and rose to greet his friends. “Katherine! Gwanuig! How nice to see you! May I escort you to our home?” (Back in Manhattan, when they’d happened upon the idea of bringing Lord of the Rings DVD sets back to Ditto Town for a movie night, Abby had suggested adding the recently-married couple to their guest list; he’d loved the idea. “The more, the merrier!” had been his response. They’d accepted the invitation, much to the gargoyles’ delight).

“Gladly,” the Ditto Rider replied, pausing a moment to admire the little one next to her lilac friend. “Isn’t she bigger? We just saw her, but it seems like she’s changing all the time.”

“You’re right,” he said proudly. “Our hatchlings grow quite quickly during their first few years.”

“She’s getting stronger, too.” Katherine indicated the little hand with a tight grip on an offered finger.

“You could carry her, if you like. It might be easier for both of us,” Erik grinned.

“I’d like that,” his friend replied.

“So, are you ready for tonight’s movies?” Erik asked when Molly was securely handed over. “We’ve been busy all day getting ready.”

Katherine stiffened a bit as she recalled her reaction upon receiving the invitation. She relished another chance to spend time with the gargoyle couple and their little one, though the movie’s subject had made her uneasy. She knew that any connection between her husband’s people and those involved in the War of the Ring had long since been dissolved. When the elves had settled in this dimension, they had made a life for themselves and their culture had evolved into something similar, but different from what was described in the books.

Gwanuig caught Katherine’s slight stiffening and had to stifle a laugh. Unbeknownst to his wife, Gwanuig had long ago read the books and had even seen the movies. He had to do something while she was confined to bed by the doctor in the other dimension. “Lord of the Rings?”

Both males had to struggle to keep a straight face as Katherine’s reaction was priceless. She stared at her husband in amazement. Gwanuig gave her a look that said ‘later’ as Molly let out a disgruntled squeak at her carrier’s odd behavior.

Erik finally managed to reply without chuckling at his now-pouting daughter. “That’s the ticket.”

Katherine nodded, “But we may want to come separately. If we’re seen together too much in town, people may wonder.”

It stung Gwanuig for a moment, but he realized his wife was right. “We can still sit together. People would find it odd that we didn’t.” He was rewarded with a smile from his wife.
But all night, Aslan and the Moon gazed upon each other with joyful and unblinking eyes.
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