• Closed • All the world's a stage

21st of Cylus 720

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All the world's a stage



21st of Cylus 720

Backstage was lost to the chaos.

The director paced around in quick circles, spewing a tirade of curses to the room in general. Some people were addressed specifically, his attention focused solely on them for a few seconds before he moved on to the next victim. The actors could only wince and cringe as the man raged at the crew, verbally demolishing the make-up artists, costume designers, and even the boy rushing through to deliver mugs of water to the thirsty few.

“—You call that a realistic-looking beard?!” he yelled at one of the stylists.

She’d previously been flitting around her charge, making sure their look was on point. Tongue out, brow furrowed, beads of sweat gathering. Hands and fingers juggling six different brushes and a palette with several brands and colors of maquillage. Working deftly with confidence and focus. Now she stood trembling and on the verge of tears.

“It’s shit! Absolute horseshit! Look at it! Look! I said a full wild beard! Not these… patches of monkey pubes! He’s got to look like he’s lived in the gutter for three-hundred years, surviving only by eating the ears of his fellow beggars! Threatening! Half-mad! Dangerous! Not pathetic like this!”

“But sir, I’ve only just started,” she tried with tiny voice. “It’ll look perfect when I’m done, I promise.”

“You’d better!” he glowered. “You’ve still got time to fix--” he gesticulated violently “—whatever this is before he’s up. Remember, threatening! Full caveman beard! If I see even one teeny tiny amount of skin through it, you’re fucking done, understand?”

“Yes sir!”

He then fixed his attention to the actor in the make-up chair, and the stylist gratefully turned to the army of products lined up near the mirror.

“And you!” he spat, making the actor, who’d been squirming uncomfortably in his seat before, nearly jump at attention. “I hope you know your lines this time! I require a flawless performance! There’s no third chances, got it? You got away with the piercing assassin stare once, but don’t think the audience won’t notice if it happens again! You don’t even have that many fucking lines to begin with either, so you’ve got no excuse!”

“O-of course, sir. I’ve pr-practiced extra h-hard, sir,” the actor spoke. The director glared at him in disgust.

“Look me when you talk! Shit like this won’t convince me of anything, you little shit. Get up from that fucking chair and tell me again! Like you mean it! Convince me you can play the fucking Raggedy Man!”

Gulping down a lump in his throat, the diminutive man slid out of his seat. Standing tall, he didn’t even reach the chest of the director. Neither his make-up nor his beard were finished, though he already wore the wig and costume. He looked like a raggedy man, alright, but not THE Raggedy Man.

The actor took a deep breath, in and out, and something shifted in his demeanor. One hand casually flipped a left-behind make-up brush in the air, throwing it up and catching it with slow and calculated motions. He met the director’s eyes, timid sparkle replaced with a cold, murderous and distant glare. Calculating, as if he’d just determined seven different ways to kill him, non of them pleasant.

“ ‘f Course, sir,” the actor rumbled. “I’ve been practicin’ extra hard.” It sounded like a threat, delivered convincingly enough to make the director step back for a moment. Then the actor’s visage returned to normal, and the illusion was lost. The actor returned to his seat.

“Good, good. Yes, very good,” said the director, clearly rattled. “Don’t make me regret putting you on that stage, yeah?!” It didn’t have the same bite as before. He toured the backstage for a while longer, reminding just about everyone about the time limit. About the ending of the current scene fast approaching. Those that were supposed to appear in the next had to be ready, goddammit!

Fortunately, people were on schedule. No-one was falling behind. That beard was starting to look passable as well. He nodded to himself. Tonight might not be a disaster after all.

And then he noticed.

Someone was missing. One of the actors. One of the two main performers for the next scene.

“Where in the Immortals-damned fucking donkey-ass shit-hell is my fucking Magpie?! MAGPIE! MAGPIE! Anyone seen the fucking Magpie?!”

“Sir, one minute ‘till the next scene, sir,” one of the assistants called.

“Motherfucking bleeding arsehole of a drug-snorting son-of-a-bitch! If I don’t see him in the next thirty fucking seconds, I’m going to murder him!” he raged, storming out the door. The director’s angry footsteps heralded his approach through the hallways. Fuming, he turned a corner, bumping into someone.

“Watch were you’re fucking going! Get the fuck out of my sight!”

Then he registered the person he’d collided with. Tall, blonde, lanky. Smooth skin. Wings. Halo.

“Oh it’s you! What the hell are you doing here, you fucktard? You’re up! Get your ass moving!” He grabbed the young man’s wrist and dragged him along without listening to any amount of protest that may or may not leave the man’s mouth.

“Good thing you’re in costume already,” the director spoke, hauling his prize through the backstage room. “There’s no more time to check your make-up. Whatever you’ve got going on will have to do. Fingers crossed the audience doesn’t notice!” They were in the wings now, décor management people and effects technicians rushing past in all directions.

“Two seconds!” the timekeeper called.

“Fuck. Go! Don’t butcher it! The fangirls love you, but that’s no reason to fuck up, you hear! I want your best performance!”

With that, Magpie was pushed onto the stage, stumbling into position as the curtains rose. The stage had been transformed to resemble the top of a tower; complete with ornamental spires and gargoyles. In front of him was the familiar face of Oberan, though something was a little off about him. His nose wasn’t exactly right, nor was his beard. The man did carry himself in a way similar to the thief, but it felt more as if he imitated Oberan’s general demeanor.

The curtains fully raised, spots flashed on, bathing the stage in bright light. Faux-Oberan stepped out from behind a decorative spire so the audience could see him.

“Mr. Magpie, punctual as always, I see.”

Cheers and whistling erupted from the crowd as the mage was named, and Faux-Oberan stared at the young Biqaj expectantly.

word count: 1146
Just because I shouldn't doesn't mean I won't.


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Llyr Llywelyn
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Re: All the world's a stage

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21 Cylus, Arc 720

Llyr never minded chaos.

If only because what looked like chaos to most people, often didn't seem so perplexing to him. It held true for messes of paperworks, of riots in the streets, of bloodthirsty conflicts between men wishing to kill each other, and of the surreal fluctuations of Emea. Within chaos, Llyr found order. Whether this order could be recognized by others, or witnessed with understanding, it didn't occur to Llyr to even wonder such a thing. His ability to navigate his way wasn't one of conscious control but of inherent nature, though lately, he'd started to get a little more aware of these differences between him and the general populace from the mortal realm of Idalos.

And by a little more aware, for Llyr that meant aggressive research into the matter.

Thus, why he sat - entirely cloaked from perception - in the dreamscape of a familiar man: Oberan.

He hadn't spoken to, nor seen, the roguish cad since denied acquisition of Sintra's Cube. Llyr had never thought himself as a man driven by grudges, but lately, he found himself becoming less forgiving than he'd once been when the world had been shiny and bright and new around his naive self. Well, now Llyr was a whole twenty arcs old! Certainly, he wasn't naive anymore. Perhaps it was not so much his age, but what had occurred in the last arc. His father's death had sent him on an unexpected journey of independence and...

...Llyr could not say whether that was a good thing or a bad thing. Perhaps it was simply just a thing.

The dreamwalker hid his yawn behind his gloved hand, regardless that no one could see him, while he observed the verbally abusive director demean the various performers. Of course, it wasn't all meaningless detached nonsense. His attention perked up when he heard mention of the Raggedy Man. Not that it was any new information. He'd known about Oberan's subconscious obsession with the assassin ever since he'd met the man and used the name to coax a reaction from him.

Whether there was any symbolism to derive from the dream playing out around him, Llyr didn't actually care. He'd grown numb to the dramas that unfolded within the minds of dreamers. Very few caught his attention in any meaningful way anymore, and even fewer made him want to turn away from his various research. For trials, he'd been busy with an attempt to map Emea. It was... not going well... but he had discovered certain alignments between dreamscapes and locations on Idalos that didn't always seem so obvious. How to translate that to the written page, though? Llyr struggled to manage such a feat.

But, if Oberan was near Etzos, then that meant he also was near Etzos now. That if he slipped through and crossed out of the dreamer's subconscious and into Idalos, that he'd be right beside the older man.

And how old was Oberan exactly? A question he wondered about, on occasion, usually when he wondered about various o-

-...is my fucking Magpie?!

Llyr blinked at the shouts for him, or at least, the name that Oberan knew of him. Did the subconscious realize he was there somehow? Doubtful. Cloaked within Emea seemed imperceptible to all but the most powerful of entities. No mortal would be able to tell, even if just a hint of it. So, did that mean that Oberan simply thought of him anyway? He supposed he should be flattered by the notion... but he felt nothing of the sort.

A flit of wings, and he was onto his feet. Perhaps he might find more out through interaction. Sometimes people were always so willing to answer questions that they would never dare even acknowledge in the waking world. All because they thought themselves safe within the unconscious state of their dreams.

He let the Emean Cloak fall down and away from him, to let the director bump right into him. His dark brows raised when his wrist was soon dragged (along with no small barrage of verbal assault), and he did wonder what the construct that was supposed to represent him might have looked like. It was interesting, he noted, that the director expected him in a fairly natural state of his born masculine body.

Pushed onto the stage, Magpie's feet glided along the floor, then he glanced around at the set. Llyr didn't care much for theater. He thought it a terrible waste of time and resources. He looked over at Oberan - though it wasn't Oberan - and it wasn't hard for him to recognize that fact. Llyr tended to identify the entire dreamscape with an individual anyway, as it struck him as far closer to the potential truth than any person's body within the dream.

Bright light blinded him momentarily. He lifted a hand to shadow his face. There were people in the audience, or so he assumed from all the sound being made. He sighed.

Perhaps, if he'd been younger and more starry-eyed, he might have played along. As it was, Llyr looked away from the Faux-Oberan. He placed a hand on his hip, and said, "Really? This is how you waste your time asleep? Dreaming of me in some representation of mere memory?"

Whether it struck through the dreamer or not, he added, "Oberan, where are you? Forget this silly play. Come speak with me."

Magpie turned his gaze onto the Faux-Oberan and he lifted a hand with a small dismissal gesture. "Would you not like to relay to me how it goes with our dear Lady Sintra? If I recall, you were such a strong supporter of her ladyship."
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word count: 975
Please — consider me a dream.
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Re: All the world's a stage



Faux-beran watched in horror as Magpie butchered his lines, going off script immediately. Clearly, the man hadn’t even bothered to rehearse his text, making things up on the fly. He didn’t even stay in character! What was going on?

Behind the scenes, hidden in the wings, the Director was fuming. What was Magpie’s actor thinking? It didn’t even resemble the written lines in the slightest. Discreetly, he gestured to one of the stagehands, who nodded and ran off. From a spot in front of the stage, out of sight of the audience, but clearly visible by the actors, a sign was raised with Magpie’s actual dialogue written on it. Naturally, it took only one dismissive glance from the not-actually-an-actor on stage for everyone to realize he had no intentions of going along with the established plot. As if his earlier declaration hadn’t been clear enough.

The Director resisted the urge to stomp his feet in frustration. Clearly, this was a boycott. Magpie’s actor was rebelling. An act of revenge for denying the request for a raise. Of course he’d said no to that! If one actor got a raise, all of them would come clamoring for the same. And then people would start to form unions, and before you knew it, they had enough money to sue your ass. No thank you, sir! The Director would have none of that.

Unfortunately, that had inadvertently created this situation. The only way the actors could strike back, was by striking. Boycotts. This had to end now, before the others found out what was happening, and why. Else they’d copy that too, and his theater group was done for. Even with just one actor ruining the play, the attendees would demand their money back, and the Director would have no choice in the matter. Either he complied, or he got a bad reputation –which also meant a smaller audience. Either way, his profits would dwindle, all the newly made money vanishing in thin air.

Damn, Magpie! Why resort to this? Was being the star of the show not good enough for you? Did all the fame go to your head? Fuck! Fuck! He had to salvage this. Somehow. Without stopping the play. The show had to go on. It had to. Only during scene changes and breaks could it be interrupted, everything else was frowned upon. Yet, there had to be a way to stop the play from plummeting into the deep dark depths of utter disaster. Someone lighted a lantern above his head. Of course!

Hidden from the audience, but very visible to the people on stage, a new signboard was held up. This time it read: “Save the play Oberan. Improvise.”

Faux-beran, eyes scanning the sign a second time to make sure he wasn’t imagining things, paled. Improvise? That meant… going off script! No-one was supposed to go off-script! The script was gospel, it needed to be followed to the letter. If the script said smile, you smiled. If it said punch, you punched. Without a script, how was he supposed to know what to do, and when? He had spent so much time rehearsing his lines, so much time memorizing them. To throw it all away now, it was akin to blasphemy! All that hard work for nothing. All those countless hours of practice…

For the Director to give permission to break the rules and try to salvage this disaster by also going off script spoke volumes of how important tonight’s show was. Naturally, all actors were aware of this. SHE was rumored to have bought a ticket, watching the play like a hawk from one of the balconies. No wonder Magpie had chosen this night of all nights to rebel. Everything was at stake, and his actions had even more weight to them than on any other evening performance.

The actor sighed. Shoulders slumping for a moment, then fixing themselves back in the position that communicated confidence. Some amount of arrogance even. He took a deep breath. Fine. Let’s do this.

“I am here, Magpie!” Faux-beran spoke, once more presenting himself with spread hands and a wide grin. “I apologize. It seems my skills have advanced to the point where it is too difficult for most people to see me. The life of a talented man brings with it its own share of problems.” He struck a dramatic pose as he shook his head in sarcastic complaint.

Magpie acknowledged him then, only to dismiss him again with a small wave of the hand and a disdainful glare. The actor frowned momentarily, wondering what it would take to drag Magpie back into his role.

“Sintra?” Faux-beran snorted before turning it into a slight chuckle. “Oh my. Magpie, you’ve been out of the city for a while, haven’t you? Etzos is free once more. The tyranny of the Spider has ended. We were successful in our attempts to overthrow her, you see.” He shrugged casually, pacing around the décor representing of one of the spires located in the Commercial Circle. “Honestly, it was ridiculously simple. She got complacent. Complacency builds failure. I snuck into her residence, Kas in my shadow. We got close enough for him to strike!”

The actor made a sweeping motion with his hands, as if cleaving something in half. “SLASH! Through the shoulder, she dodged just in the nick of time!” Another swipe of the hand. “SLICE! Took off two legs! Then! SHLACK! Straight through the heart! But she laughed, cackling. ‘Nice try little flies,’ she spoke, ‘but you cannot kill me outside my own domain!’ Little did she know that while Kas battled her, I was busy doing my own thing. Though she's anchored in her domain, a chain is needed to connect her to it. So I traced that chain, and opened up a rift into Sintra’s own home plane. Her face went pale as she was driven into it, her dying laughter turned to furious rage. But it already was too late for her. The life drained from her body, and her reign had ended.”

Another shrug. “So I honestly can’t tell you how she’s been doing in your absence. You’ll have to ask Vri. But you hopefully do recall I called you here for a reason? There’s a transaction I wanted to make, and a reward to collect.”

Faux-beran snapped his fingers, and from the ceiling an object was lowered. Connected by thin, near-invisible wires, a cube descended in a single beam of focused light while the actor made jazz hands. Slowly, steadily, until it touched down on his palms, and Faux-beran could triumphantly present it to the Magpie.

The weight, feel, color –shifting and shimmering—and the way its form blurred and faded in and out of existence was exactly how Oberan remembered it. The power it radiated too. And so it sat on the actor’s hands, impossible to focus one’s eyes on for longer than a mere moment, as Faux-beran waited expectantly for the mage to take it.
 

word count: 1203
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Re: All the world's a stage

21 Cylus, Arc 720
The dream held steady. Stubbornly so. Llyr didn't feel surprised in the least about this, though he crossed his arms when he saw yet another signboard get held up. He read this one: "Play the improvise Brano. Save."

With a sigh, he supposed it wasn't the laziest translation of writing within a dream. Most dreamers barely even bothered with having actual things written at all - and only let their subconscious supply what should be there. Usually it was nothing more than a blank page, but made perfect sense to the dreamer. For Llyr, it only offered a slight irritation.

A dark brow rose on its own, a sharp asymmetry to his expression when he looked at the grinning Faux-beran that declared himself. The theatrical representation of the actual man was almost endearing. Almost. He waved a hand in dismissal of the attempt for the dream to continue as it was.

However, he lowered his hand when he heard talk turn to Sintra. Etzos, free once more? Llyr knew that wasn't true. He kept very close tabs on Etzos since his departure from the city. Even though he hadn't resided in the place for seasons, he still conducted business within its walls. The blond mage allowed the explanation, and made a note of interest that Faux-beran referred to the Raggedy Man as simply: Kas.

Of course Oberan would seek to work with Kasoria on such matters. There wasn't a single man or woman that Llyr knew of that had as much hateful passion to destroying Sintra's seat in Etzos. It was hardly a secret anymore after Marshall Webb, as well.

While Faux-beran regaled the tale of Sintra's demise, Llyr leaned back with a flutter of his wings to keep his balance. He yawned and barely covered it with his long gloved fingers. Though he seemed exceptionally weary in his expression, the biqaj did pay attention to things that the actor said. Interesting... throwing the Immortal back into the domain just as they were dying... he wondered if that would actually work. Llyr, though, still wasn't convinced that even Lisirra had been gotten rid of. He didn't quite believe that any Immortal was capable of death in the way that mortals understood it.

Pondering the likelihood of being able to open a direct route from Idalos to the Untold, though... that was a feat which Llyr didn't know if he even wanted to be possible. Fractures to Emea were dangerous enough, but to rend open past the Veil and directly into a domain? It made him feel slightly uncomfortable, or maybe the leaning posture had gotten a bit too awkward. He fixed his height back to the usual soldierly stance he preferred and fixed his jacket.

The irises of his eyes turned a vivid violet when he looked up toward motion above them. His eyes widened. The cube steadily lowered... but Llyr didn't wait. His dragonfly-esque wings buzzed behind him and he lifted up from the stage's floor. Llyr flew around the prop, lightly touching one of the thin wires with his fingertips, then spiraled around the geometric object while he followed it. His feet landed lightly back on the stage and he stood in front of Faux-beran with his eyes fixed on the cube that landed in the rogue's palms.

Everything about it - the weight, feel, color, even the wrongness that accompanied it - it was exactly how Llyr remembered it when that woman had mockingly shown it. She hadn't allowed him to touch it, then. He wanted to touch it.

His fingers danced against the air in light taps, and he wondered if there were any reason to not grab it. Oberan was asleep though, and deep in dreaming, and didn't seem keen to acknowledge him in any lucid manner.

Llyr glanced at Faux-beran, then he asked, "What reward do you want?"

He wanted it, he wanted it, he wanted it. He just needed to get it in his hands. His gloved fingers slowly started to slide over the sharp dimensions as the cube jittered in and out of existence. Once he got it in hand... once he got it... it was such a perfect replica...
word count: 720
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Re: All the world's a stage



There could be no doubt about which emotion was etched into the Magpie’s face when the cube began descending from the ceiling. Greed. All of the reluctant actor’s attention was instantly fixated on the artefact making its way down, everything else ceased to exist. Faux-beran grinned widely, pleased to see his efforts had managed to drag Mapgie back into character. The winged actor’s talent was on full display, his sheer skill in portraying his character obvious to even the leeks in the audience. The subtle and believable way with which Magpie changed his expressions and body language was unparalleled. It was the reason he could get away with more than the others, though the Director tried his best to not show such blatant favoritism.

Speaking of, clearly the props department had gotten extra budget for prosthetics and such for Magpie. Both the halo and the wings were so convincing that Faux-beran almost thought them to be real. Especially so with the way they jittered and fluttered idly, but more likely someone had built a small mechanism to control the motion of the wings. Still, that eye for detail made the flight doubly impressive, as the wings behaved exactly as real wings should. The wires were so thin, yet so strong, easily hoisting Magpie in the air and around the stage, while being completely invisible.

Perhaps Faux-beran’s props would also get an upgrade after this play. Surely the Director would reward him for bringing Magpie back into his role. He’d thwarted a boycott, and the audience hadn’t noticed yet. That had to count for something, right?

Meanwhile, backstage there was no small amount of confusion running rampant. The Director had begun a premature victory lap around the dressing room and the wings in celebration of Magpie’s change of mind. The play could continue, the money would keep coming, the theatre was allowed to remain in existence! He strolled towards the special effects area where a lot of the props were kept, and where many stagehands had easy access to the rafters above the stage. From that position they could rain down confetti and hailstones and whatever necessary at the time. Additionally, this was where the pulley system for the raising and lowering of the curtains, the actors and some props was located.

His congratulations on the flawless execution of the Magpie’s flight was met with confusion, and the same expression remained when the Director began to speak in awe about how great a job they’d done at making the wires invisible. No-one said anything though, welcoming this unusual yet not-unpleasant change in mood.

The victory lap continued into the dressing room, where the actors for further parts were still getting ready. He pumped his fist in the air and roared in triumph. “Crisis averted! The play is saved!”

However, no applause or sighs of relief came. The reaction was lukewarm at best, and indifferent at worst. Eyes focused on the Director for only a moment, then turned back to a sobbing figure sitting slumped in a chair near the middle of the far wall. Magpie’s chair at Magpie’s mirror.

In it sat Magpie –or rather, his actor—who gingerly turned to face the Director with deep regret and fear in his eyes. Whispers of encouragement were muttered by the people around. Swallowing a lump in his throat, the gangly blonde youth rose, then approached the now-flabbergasted Director. The man stood with his jaw agape and eyes wide, not comprehending what was going on.

“I’m sorry, Director,” the actor spoke, the crack in his voice hinting at having cried loudly prior. A sign supported by the red and slightly puffy eyes, and the somewhat runny nose. “I wanted to get some rest before the play, but I overslept…” He lowered his face, shoulders tense. Expecting not only a waterfall of insults and tirades, but something worse as well. The boy braced, though it didn’t come.

The Director had to open and close his jaw silently a few times before he found his voice again. “But- but- If you’re HERE, then who’s on the stage THERE?”

On that stage, Faux-beran took a moment or two to consider Magpie’s question. Yes, what for reward would he like? What would Oberan ask for in a situation like this? Not gold, he could steal that easily. Artefacts? No, same deal. Besides, the Magpie likely didn’t have any. Audrae’s love and acknowledgement? That wasn’t something the mage could provide. Initiation in magic? Yuck, borrowed power! Never ever ever! Ever! Oh, but there was one thing, wasn’t there?

“Remember last time? Our deal was cancelled then, but considering I honored it still, wouldn’t you do the same?”


word count: 807
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Re: All the world's a stage

21 Cylus, Arc 720
Llyr could take it. He understood this. The dream might collapse around him, or go wild, but he could take it and leave with it and enter the world with the replica, perfectly anchored between his own hands. It would be so much simpler, however, if Oberan's little actor just gave it over willingly though.

He awaited anything. In the background, the commotion could be heard by his sensitive ears. The young mage glanced over Oberan.

When he finally heard the returned interest, he barely managed to stifle a scoff. What crass expectation... but he looked at the cube. It might not be the real one, but having a replica of such fine detail would certainly come in handy. If not to replicate, then to give to a tracker who would actually manage to get the job done and not mess around like Oberan had.

He looked at the false Oberan, and he considered...

...and he said, "Yes. Of course, I would. Honor is so very important, is it not, Oberan?"

Llyr couldn't help but a small twitch of a smile at one corner of his pale lips. He reached behind him, slid a hand along the air itself, and the reality of the dreamscape split open in a maw of light and ether. He stepped backward and said, "You would be wise to wake, and to hand me the cube before you follow."

He held out a hand, in gesture for the cube to be set against his gloved palm. The pale biqaj took another step back, while he crossed the threshold between dreamscape and the Veil. Would Oberan awaken into lucidity and follow - or would he continue to waste time with the silly nonsense of the subconscious? And would he truly give the cube, even the replica, or was his fabricated attempts at seeming alliance as shallow as Llyr believed them to be?

Llyr would not wait forever, though. He would not leave the created portal between the other mortalborn's mind and the Veil open forever. And if Oberan took too long, he would close it - and he would not return to the dreamscape afterward.
word count: 364
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Re: All the world's a stage


Magpie grabbed hold of the very fabric of the dream, and ripped it asunder, tearing a large hole. Through it seeped a bright light alongside magical ether. Faux-beran shielded his eyes with a hand to prevent being blinded. The illumination did not diminish, so the actor had to squint against the blinding rays coming from beyond… whatever that was.

It wasn’t in the script. None of this had been. The actor found the special effects employed rather suspicious. After all, without proper coordination and rehearsal it would be exceedingly difficult to have the proper effects coincide with the right actions. Yet Magpie did not appear to be surprised or taken aback in the slightest, exuding an aura of confidence. What had happened was entirely expected.

There were doubts in his mind, of course, but the Director’s instructions had been clear. Save the play. Improvise. Which was exactly what he did.

In but a moment the cube changed hands, leaving Faux-beran’s completely.

And the actor, merely a construct of the dream, not the dreamer himself, began to fall apart. His body began to fade into motes of light which slowly drifted upwards, starting from the extremities and moving up to the torso, and then the head. Stagehands running around in the hidden section in front of the stage met the same fate, as did those waiting in the wings with props and décor.

The fast approaching footsteps of the Director and Magpie’s actor died as they too disintegrated. Both of them had just about reached the stage, though hidden from the audience still, and could cast a quick glance at the winged mage before they disappeared. There was confusion and panic on their faces.

Oddly enough, from the audience no floating motes of light appeared. The seats had been impossible to see due to the darkness in the theater, and the spotlights –the only sources of light on in the theater hall—making it difficult to see anything else but the stage while you were on it. Now however, with the excess of backlighting coming from the rift, everything was illuminated. The seats were empty. No audience was present. Actually, no, there was someone.

On the highest of the center balconies, a figure had risen from their seat. One leap brought them down to the ground, hooded cloak fluttering behind, then falling still around their body. They strode up to the stage with purpose, and the closer they came, the more detail became visible.

The first of which was the shape of their body. Feminine.


Image

It wasn’t Oberan. Or was it? She surely looked like she could have been. In both the structure of her face, to the color of her hair and eyes, the woman possessed an obvious connection to the thief. In fact, their appearance was so similar they had to be directly related. Twins perhaps, though she seemed to be a few years Oberan’s junior. However, as she nearly reached the stage, there were too many factors that did not add up. Too many things that were too eerily identical to the thief for them to be the result of coincidence or genetics.

Her clothes, for starters, were exactly like Oberan’s. Every sewn-shut tear was in the same place as they’d been on Oberan’s garments when Magpie’d met him. Every patch covering a hole was applied in the same manner as they’d been on Oberan’s outfit. Clearly, the clothes weren’t hers. They didn’t fit her at all. She might measure as tall as the thief, but her body was completely different. As a result, they fell rather loosely around her, especially in the shoulder and waist area.

Then there was her face. Her expression was a perfect match for Oberan’s default one, channeling the same self-confident arrogance as he often did. Though her features were softer, her brows thinner, lips fuller, and she sported no facial hair, it was very easy to see his face in them. Equally identical was the way she carried herself, standing straight with shoulders slightly back. Defiant. Confident. But most telling was her nose. It had clearly been broken a couple times. Attempts had been made to fix it each time, but it hadn’t healed perfectly, resulting in it standing slightly crooked in the middle of her face.

She nimbly vaulted onto the stage, positioning herself in front of the mage, arms crossed. “You’ve just eradicated this evening’s entertainment, Magpie,” she chastised him, an annoyed frown lining her forehead. One hand flipped a loose braid back over her shoulder, then she nodded towards the shining rift. “Whatever this is, it better be worth it.”

One step brought her over the threshold.
Last edited by Oberan on Mon Jul 27, 2020 10:49 am, edited 1 time in total. word count: 801
Just because I shouldn't doesn't mean I won't.


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Llyr Llywelyn
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Re: All the world's a stage

21 Cylus, Arc 720
Llyr's fingers curled around the cube as soon as it touched his palm. He clutched onto the geometric shape. His eyes danced, filled to the elfin-shaped brim with iridescent light. He paid little attention to the dream as it fell apart, well assured he was already past the threshold as soon as he sent focus to anchor the cube to his hand. A smile slowly teased his pale lips upward.

It wasn't the real thing, but it was still enjoyable to visualize what it might be like to have the true cube in his hand. At least, for the moment.

He glanced, once, when he noticed someone in approach of the disintegrating dreamscape. Llyr's smile faded away. His expression returned to neutral, if not slightly annoyed, while he considered yet another layer of dream to try and distract him with more nonsense.

Sometimes, Llyr felt so tired with nonsense. So far away from the innate curiosity of his younger trials while exploring Emea, he didn't feel keen to wait. He paused, however, when he noticed that the woman seemed to be Oberan - just female.

Interesting... slightly.

Llyr wouldn't have guessed that similarity between him and the roguish cad.

The light in his eyes faded, then bounded in lavender irises around his pupils, while he surveyed the woman's figure in lazy observation. He drew the cube close to his person, almost cradling the artifact for how protectively he kept it near him.

"Well, well..." he said in a silvery voice. He watched while she vaulted onto the stage, then struck a rather surly pose.

One of Llyr's dark brows rose sharply in an arch at the chiding. He scoffed a small laugh, then held out a hand in offer to escort the woman over the threshold in a more proper style of etiquette. It did make a difference, didn't it? If Oberan was a lady after all...

"I beg to differ," said Llyr. "You seem more than suitable to be the evening's entertainment, Oberan."

He felt no concern about the matter while he sealed the Crossing behind them and led the unusual form of Oberan (was it the man's actual self? A true form of sorts? Or was it something else... if an illusion, he doubted it would hold up under the Veil. Either way, Llyr didn't much care). Whether dreamer, or Emeyan, Llyr initiated them directly into lucidity while he stepped down the glass stairs of his personal perception of the Veil.

After a few steps, he looked at Oberan and asked, "What do you see?"
word count: 442
Please — consider me a dream.
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Re: All the world's a stage

Image

The mage offered a hand for her to take, like perfectly amicable gentleman to steady a damsel while she descended a carriage or other vessel. Aldebaran was of half a mind to refuse it, perfectly capable of keeping her balance in just about any situation. One weird shimmering tear in reality was not going to change that. Yet, she accepted, placing a dainty hand inside of his and allowing his fingers to curl around hers. As the owner of the theater as well as the supreme ruler of it, she was a very important person, after all. Conforming to basic etiquette was only natural. Magpie should feel honored.

If not for that, then for the fact that he was still roaming freely as of now. The Director had know the importance of quality entertainment. Aldebaran was a fickle mistress. On some evenings she was easy to please, happy with just about any performance he put on. On others… not so much. However, as long as the play did not bore her, everything was fine and dandy. Chances to redeem himself would come, to rebuild the favor gained by his position. The more favorable she viewed a Director, the better they were paid. The greater the actors were they could employ, the more budget there was for special effects and crew and backdrops and lighting. Which made it easier to keep her happy. On the other hand, the current Director had stumbled the last few evenings, and her patience had decreased to an all time low. This night was—had been his last or next to last shot.

Fail too many times to entertain, and you became the entertainment. Behind the theater existed a colosseum. Failed directors fought for their freedom there, pitted against each other, as well as dangerous beasts and monsters. That’s where she had fun on off days, or when she grew disinterested in the current play.

Her eyes snapped quickly to the winged mage as he made his remark, face taut in held-back anger. “Careful with that tongue of yours, Magpie. I’ve sent many to the hypogeum for less. The one to be entertained is me, not you. You provide entertainment, or you become it.”

While she didn’t quite snap, there was an edge to her words. An authority lied within it, one that wasn’t used to being defied. People did not talk back to her. They listened and bowed, and were relieved when they weren’t dragged away.

“You better hope whatever you have prepared is satisfactory, or you’ll be forced to perform yourself still.” The eagerness with which she followed betrayed her curiosity though, regardless of the harshness of her words and voice.

As he sealed the rift though, and the both of them were well and truly disconnected from the theater, Aldebaran’s conscious abruptly shifted gears. She felt as if doused with a bucked of ice water while sleeping peacefully, snapped wide awake and none too gently. Dozens of things clamored for her attention, overwhelming her momentarily.

Where? What? How? I--? Theater? Magpie? Magpie?!

What the hell am I doing?!

She quickly withdrew her hand, taking a few moments to study the young mage’s face, trying to work out what led to this situation, but couldn’t recall.

“Where am I, and why exactly are you here?”

And why did he have the Cube? Hadn’t it gotten lost somewhere along with the Mole? Had he actually managed to find it? Is that why he was here, to gloat? Big mistake, Aldebaran could simply steal it back—

"What do you see?" the mage asked.

Aldebaran frowned at the question, uncertain what to make of it. “A city.”

But it was much more than just a city.

Huge, sprawling, and comprised of multiple tiers. With thick and imposingly tall walls separating them, towers interspersed along its length. There were spires and mansions and shops. Museums and parks, canals and bridges. Gates with portcullises, and everywhere banners were on display, swaying lazily in the wind. They were ornate, detailed, rich in color and emblazoned with an intricate crest. Yet the thief couldn’t tell which color it was, or what the crest looked like. Neither could be accurately computed and interpreted, much less described.

Likewise, the architecture was not one uniform style. Not to say that the buildings did not fit together. On the contrary, they matched rather well, clearly built to suit a certain image. Up the tiers were more lavish variants, and down the tiers more modest ones. As if the building style had remained constant while this huge metropolis was created, or as if it’d been built overnight rather than over the course of decades. Not that Aldebaran could pinpoint what style this was, mind. Several different elements of several different cities were incorporated into one, blended together perfectly. Etzos, Rynmere, Rharne, Ne’haer, the list went on. All were recognizable to some degree, all wildly different. By all accounts, they shouldn’t go well together, but they did anyway.

Who-ever built this place was either a genius or a madman. Or both.

In the distance, far away from where she and Magpie were standing, Aldebaran saw the labyrinthine network of alleys and streets and squares and markets shift and change. Houses moved, towers rose and fell, the wall encircling the tiers closed in and distanced itself. Spires popped up, mansions grew and dwindled away. Trees sprouted, parks with benches and flowerbeds spawned. Squares emptied and filled back up.

She whistled, impressed with the view, excited at the thought of exploring it. How did the people of this city traverse it while it changed, Aldebaran wondered. Were there sections that remained constant, never-changing? What did you do when your own residence or place of work was not where it was supposed to be? How did you not get lost?

She turned around a couple times, on the lookout for a passerby to grab and question. Men, woman, or child. Rich, poor, or beggar. In a hurry or casually strolling. She found none. Only Magpie. There was no-one here. And then she noticed there was no ambient sound. No hustling and bustling. No birdsong, no thundering of carts, no barking of dogs, or screeching of fighting cats. No laughter of playing children, no squeaking of frightened rats.

There was only the city, large and imposing and shifting. Cobbled streets slick from recent rain, puddles here and there. Deathly quiet. Abandoned.

“A massive, shifting, abandoned city,” Aldebaran corrected herself. “Where are we? What is this place?”
word count: 1103
Just because I shouldn't doesn't mean I won't.


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Llyr Llywelyn
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Re: All the world's a stage

21 Cylus, Arc 720

Oberan, in female form, accepted his hand with an air of pride about the touch. As if Llyr should be honored for the mere permission of it. Her curt response to his taunt proved it to be so, as well. It wasn't all that surprising, but he did extend slight interest for the fact that Oberan harbored such arrogance within the dreaming self and in such a look too. Her threat did little. It was the threat of a dreamer, after all. A dreamer who had yet to recognize what was before them and who held their hand.

Llyr only hummed, like one hummed so very patiently at a child who had gone on a rambling story to tell their busy guardian about something otherwise ordinary. They stepped through the opening between the dream and the Veil, and it closed behind them. With it, lucidity domineered over the dreamer to wake them in the bizarre otherworldly space.

He allowed the hand to withdraw, and even lifted his as if in a slight surrendering apology for the touch itself. Llyr remained neutral in expression, eyes of crystal blue, while he observed the gradual confusion of the other mortalborn.

While he waited, he flipped the cube between the palms of his hand in a playful manner. He inquired as to what it was that Aldebaran saw around them.

A city? Llyr momentarily glanced around, though he knew he would see no such thing. If only he could figure out how to perceive what others did in the Veil... could it ever be possible to manipulate the very sight of other dreamwalkers within such a space? To make them think they saw a door to one dreamscape that was truly a door to an entirely different one? How would traps work, he wondered, in such a place.

Llyr supposed he wondered such things, at this particular moment, because of the dreamer he'd just escorted through.

"What sort of city?" he asked in a light, unassuming voice. The last thing he wanted to do was pressure the newly-lucid and confused rogue.

She whistled and then said, "A massive, shifting, abandoned city. Where are we? What is this place?"

"Well, my dear Oberan," said Llyr with a flip of the cube. It was just big enough that it wouldn't fit in his jacket, but he held tight to it once caught and held it behind his back. He swept an arm out in a randomly chosen direction, in gesture for them to start walking rather than remain still (and vulnerable).

Llyr started the stroll regardless, with only a moment's glance at his newest initiate, and a hint of a thinly-pressed smile showed on his pale lips. His wings fluttered then settled like gossamer tailcoats behind him. He answered in his southern-accented, naturally deep voice, "You are in a place beyond Idalos. It is often called the Veil by those who walk within it. It grants you access to many, many other things in our world and beyond it."

"Remember Rhakros?" inquired Llyr in a rhetorical manner. "Remember when I took the Webspinner away from our unit to avoid potential conflict between your missions?"

The young mage paused, to allow such a statement to settle in the other's mind. Once it had, as he continued their stroll through what to him was a vast corridor of crystalline glass that reflected the many bridges and spiral staircases through the abstract world. He started up one of the staircases, that twisted around and around - though whether they walked up or down, was neither important nor discernible.

"This is how I did such a thing," clarified Llyr. "This is how I do many things, and this is what I was going to teach you if you had appropriately succeeded in finding me..."

He raised the cube up, close enough for the other to touch if so desired, though his fingers tightly pinched the cubed shape to resist an attempt to actually take it from him.

"...alas, you failed and this does not qualify either. But... there are other things at stake. Tell me if you are too confused to discuss the state of Etzos and the spiders among the webs. You see, I have not visited the city in quite a while."
word count: 725
Please — consider me a dream.
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