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Cassian Gawyne
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[Gawyne] Welcome to the Tangle

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Welcome to the Tangle


111th trial of Ashan in the arc of 708


Weary eyes blinked open upon registering a gentle touch and a hissing sound that signalled urgency without words. As Cassian became attuned to what little light shone from the night sky through his window, squinting and wondering all along, he made out the shape of his stepmother sitting on the bed. And she seemed dressed for an adventure. Even though the young Bastard of Gawyne was not given to emotional outbursts (in fact he plain was not given to emotions at all) an exhilarated gasp escaped his throat. Sonnet Gawyne sat on his bed in a hooded fur coat that signalled that she was about to embark on a clandestine matter that promised to be a change from the everyday banality of their lives.

Maybe she was fetching him so they could hunt for Norkins, or maybe there was an infestation of Gribblers in the pantry? Or maybe they needed to harvest moonlight for some special decoction of his stepmother's. After all, everyone knew she was a witch, didn't they? The servants surely spoke of it, and they would speak of it, too, thinking the boy too absorbed in his studies to notice. Sonnet was really the only person who seemed to pay attention to him when it wasn't their duty to do so and that was fine by Cassian. It afforded him peace and quiet without having to do anything for it. And it had a certain… voyeuristic charm to be privy to things he was not supposed to hear, no matter how pedestrian.

It was just a shame that he lacked the faculties to truly hold responsible those whom disrespected his stepmother.

The reverie only took the blink of an eye, in which Sonnet, having noticed the boy waking, had managed to bundle him into his own cloak on top of his sleep clothes and had then proceeded to hand him his boots. Silently, Cassian slipped his feet into the soft leather. He wouldn't have known what love or even mere appreciation felt like then, but he comprehended trust and knew that he felt such where the woman was concerned. This woman who might not have been his mother by blood but certainly tried to be one in deed. It wad all something he could approach on an intellectual level. Accessible.

In silence, Sonnet Gawyne ushered her stepson out into the hall, leaving his warm bed desolate and uncared for. In silence, they traversed the stone tiles beneath their feet. Though they were lord and lady of this domain, their nightly excursion was not to be witnessed. That too was intellectually comprehensible to the child. And even more exciting in a similar manner as listening in on words not meant for his ears: it all carried the thrill of something forbidden. The woman pulled him into a dark nook to let a tired servant slog past and the boy waited with breath held tight in his chest so as to betray nothing of their presence.

Gingerly pushing open the door towards the manor grounds, the Gawyne's escaped into the garden, speeding towards a copse of trees as quickly as they dared, only slowing down once they'd dodged out of the starlit meadow. Sonnet pulled him this way and nudged him that way and through it all, Cassian only wondered just how blindly he trusted this woman, and why. And he couldn't tell, couldn't comprehend or deduce, only accept it as truth.

Exiting the trees once more, his stepmother led him onto a clearing featuring a weathered stone pavillion. They paused then, taking time to enjoy the night sky above. The pregnant moon resting in its starshod abode, but above all utter silence. A silence only marred by breaths and heartbeats.
Last edited by Cassian Gawyne on Fri May 08, 2020 4:36 am, edited 1 time in total. word count: 643
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Cassian Gawyne
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Re: [Gawyne] Welcome to the Tangle

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The pavillion might once have been hewn from white stone but time and lichen had turned it an icy dead grey mottled with mosses. Keeping his own counsel for this brief moment, Cassian inspected the structure more closely. A circle of pillars supporting a dome-shaped roof sat on a raised foundation, all finely worked stone in as far as he could tell but bereft of ornaments. Either this place had been abandoned before completion or never been intended for prolonged use. In the center were marks of something having once stood there, whether a statue or a birdbath or a sacrificial altar, and the inside of the roof had once been painted a vibrant blue most of which had since gone with the seasons. It was impossible to make head nor tails of the place, no matter how much not knowing gnawed at him. The boy had more important matters to attend to.

In the meantime, Sonnet had spread her cloak on the ground inside the pavillion and sat down cross-legged on one end of it. Unlike Cassian she was sensibly dressed in riding garb at not at the whim of the elements. The woman beckoned to the boy and finally broke the comfortable silence which had existed between them, "Sit down, Cassian. We need to talk." Her words were soft and measured, but with hidden bone to them that made clear that the matter was not up for discussion. Luckily for everyone involved, Cassian did not mind. Curiosity had been gnawing at him, only mildly dampened by the obvious absence of Norkins and other critters real or imaginary. Wrapping his own cloak about him, he descended into a tent-like shape as he settled onto his knees. "Of course, mother," he half whispered, making sure not to put undue stress on the appellation even though he had chosen to use the monicker to placate Sonnet. The smile flickering across her lips suggested that she had taken to his supplication. Despite the nature of their relationship, she so enjoyed it when he called her that. He knew it, she knew that he knew and yet she couldn't help herself it seemed.

Not that it would change anything for her. Lady Sonnet had a habit of keeping her own counsel, arriving at a decision and then sticking to it no matter the adversity. Cassian thought it one of her more admirable traits, in as far as he admired other people. She would not be manipulated into changing her plans, he knew.

"Let's be candid here, Cassian," she began, words still kept low as if anyone in the manorhouse might yet hear them despite the distance and the trees and, well, everyone most likely being asleep at this time of night. "You are not like other children. Sard it, you are not like other people. Not like anyone I know. This is a gift for you in many ways… but it is also a problem. Society, human society frowns upon certain types of behaviors and honestly, I might too. Cassian for his part took most of her words in stride. He didn't understand why or how he was different from other people, but he could tell as much through sheer observation. It did not matter to him but what did matter was Sonnet's admission. The boy's eyebrows went up as he sought to raise the question but his stepmother was already ahead of him. "I know about the cook's cat. And I can guess he wasn't the first and most likely not the last either."

All expression drained from Cassian's face, as if he'd donned a mask of impassivity. His mouth with the ghostly lips became just a line and his eyes lost all warmth. Playtime was over. "Ah." The brief utterance was admission enough.
word count: 644
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Cassian Gawyne
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Re: [Gawyne] Welcome to the Tangle

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Cassian straightened visibly even as he sat on his knees like a supplicant. It wasn’t so much that he now regarded his stepmother with open hostility, he’d simply returned his mien to that comfortable armor of what he trusted was inscrutability. ”It was broken. I wanted to understand how it worked and repair it,” he spoke without inflection. It wasn’t that this wasn’t true. The cat had had developed a limp, he’d noticed and so he’d trapped it and opened it up to find the root of the problem. Cassian had easily liked that cat better than most humans about the manorhouse.

However, he also understood on an intellectual level that cutting open living things was an act often frowned upon by his contemporaries, even if he’d seen medical professionals do just that. ”Do you remember that voyage to Andaris when the carriage broke down? The coachman attempted to right it and injured his leg...” There was no point in extending the retelling of that particular episode. They had both been there after all and Sonnet had taken great pains to repair the coachman’s leg but it had been a laborious task to set the splintered bone before she dared use her witchcraft on the wound, a task better suited to a butcher than a noble from the look of the ruined dress she’d worn that day.

”Cassian… I am not angry. I am worried. And I want to help you. I cannot change who you are, I don’t even know… I don’t know.” Shaking her head, Sonnet Gawyne released a rough sigh, then metaphorically picked herself back up and looked straight at the boy once more. ”You like to figure things out, yes? Wouldn’t you like to be able to figure people out? Know why they can go from sad to happy or the other way around sometimes? When they get angry and you don’t even realize something is shifting?” Initially, her smile had been forced but as she watched Cassian’s features relax once more and his curiosity come to the forefront again it grew. ”Would you like to know what all of it truly feels like?”

Cassian regarded Lady Sonnet with controlled trepidation. New things were as alluring as they were inherently dangerous, he understood. He also understood that curiosity was his vice. He never understood people who didn’t want to know. He could never settle for people explaining away the inexplicable through the actions and whims of the Immortals. He knew Norkins weren’t real, even if that was an uncomfortable truth to face up to. The gaze of those cool eyes became unsteady, flitting to and fro until it finally dared meet Sonnet’s eyes. ”You know I cannot resist.”

Her smile intensifying, his stepmother gave a girlishly reserved nod that didn’t suit her at all before pulling off her right glove and holding out the naked hand. Cassian reached out as if her expected to be bitten, but he took the proffered hand and gave it a gentle squeeze to announce his presence. Without further speech, the witch nodded and squeezed his hand back. When she did so, it felt as if she’d injected him with fire.

Cassian gasped in surprise.
word count: 553
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Cassian Gawyne
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Re: [Gawyne] Welcome to the Tangle

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"This is how I feel for you. I know you can't tell, and I know I can't prove it to you. Except in this way."

He barely heard her. A comfortable, tingly warmth spread from where she'd touched him, slid up his arm and eventually settled somewhere between his shoulder blades. Like embryonic wings of fire waiting to burst forth from his back.

After a fashion, Cassian knew this feeling, though he did not usually associate it with other people and the context probably counted for use of the proper vernacular. Was this love, friendship, fascination… or compassion? At any rate it was nice. Not world-shaking, not life-sustaining but the world felt a better place for feeling like that. But of course the world did not actually change and neither did Cassian. Cassian remained curious, even if his curiosity had literally killed the cat. "What did you do?" he asked and it didn't take an Empath to feel the hunger radiating from the young man.

”I did exactly as I told you -- I showed you how I feel. It’s a gift I was given. A gift I will share with you.” Lady Sonnet withdrew her hand from his and helf her fingers to Cassian’s face. Squinting through the gloom, he could make out what seemed to be a maze of faint scars. Light green scars. Though he didn’t know what this signified, anyone could have figured out that this was a Witchmark, given the situation and what had just transpired between them. ”Empathy...” she spoke again, ”That is what it is called. It’s the gift to see how people feel… or in a pinch make them feel as you want them to. I use it to cure sadness and despair but for you… it would simply allow you to understand how and even why people around you feel as they do. I think this would help you in your life… don’t you agree?”

”If you can read my mind,” Cassian offered with a cynical smirk inappropriate to his young age, ”You already know the answer, no? Moreover, you know me, no? You do know I would never pass up the chance to understand more of anything.” Wiping the smirk from his face, the boy straightened once more, facing his stepmother soberly and earnestly once more. ”Tell me what I need to do,” he practically demanded as he regarded her levelly. This roused another faint smile from Sonnet’s cheeks, as well as another nod that bordered on the timid.

She squared her shoulders as if to steel herself for whatever came next. Taking a deep breath, Lady Sonnet then closed her eyes before she spoke. ”There are two things you need to do, my boy: One, trust me. Completely. Utterly. I’m sure you can do that but I’ll still have to stress it. Once we begin, you can’t change your mind. You can’t turn back. You can’t back out. So just to be safe I’ll ask: Can you do that?” The boy nodded at first, then realized that his stepmother’s eyes were closed, thus requiring verbal confirmation. ”You know I can. Yes.” he said very quietly, thoughtful even.
”Yes. But I still need to hear it.” There was a joyous tinge of amusement in her voice. To his surprise, Cassian noted that he picked up on it without thought. That was new. He’d just… known. What was going on? ”Now, the second thing…” Lady Sonnet continued, ”I’m even more convinced you can do. I’ll need you to breathe evenly and count your breaths as you go. For as long as it’ll take. Can you do that as well?” Furrowing his forehead, Cassian gabe a tentative, ”Yes. As long as you tell me when to stop.”

She laughed. Gently, joyously. Once more. ”I will. Now give me your hands, breathe… and whatever happens, let it happen. Relax. Flow…”
word count: 669
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Cassian Gawyne
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Re: [Gawyne] Welcome to the Tangle

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The boy did as he was told. Slowly, steadily he breathed in, held the breath for a few heartbeats before exhaling in a controlled manner. One, two, three while his palms rested lightly on Sonnet's open hands. Four, five and he thought he understood what was happening. Cassian's mind was a roiling, grinding thing which ate up information and chewed and sifted through information, then regurgitated it and repeated the process. But now it was preoccupied with his breathing and could do none of that. Cassian was preoccupied with existing and that had to be enough for the moment.

Nine, ten, eleven… was something supposed to happen? Twelve, it wasn't his to have such thoughts, not now, not here. Thirteen. He was supposed to trust, no matter how hard it came. He owed her as much. Fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen… existing…

Cassian reached a hundred breaths, then two… nothing seemed to be happening except that the process of breathing and counting automated itself, transcended conscious thought and effort. The man -boy- did not exist anymore, philosophically speaking. Breathing was achieved. Happened. And Cassian was not even a bystander to it. He was the night air curling around the obstacles in its path, the stream without a care for the rocks in its bed. Flowing.

Though he continued breathing and counting, he could no longer have sworn which number he was at if roused from his non-existence. Submerged in a sea of nothing, he only broke its surface because it found him, not the other way around. It had found him in the most curious of manners. Not as freedom, not as light but as a feeling. A feeling as if a weight was being lifted. A lightness and airiness yet with bones of steel, both supple and infinitely strong. Like a friendly wind at his back carrying him forward and upward and yet merely a feeling.

In his state of absence, this feeling managed to fill him whole. It seeped into every fiber of his being, from the inside out into the very tips of his extremities. It wasn’t something he recognized. Unlike what he’d felt previously, he lacked a frame of reference. Maybe because being a child, he had little to fear, except maybe Norkins. Maybe he didn’t worry because he plain wasn’t your average child. He was, well, Cassian. He analyzed, he pondered, then he acted. If he failed, he went back to the drawing board. Cassian rarely worried about the outcome of his actions or the course of his life. As such, he couldn’t have known, could he?

”Hope.”

Lady Sonnet’s voice suddenly broke the silence. How many breaths had it been? Cassian knew he’d counted them but he couldn’t tell where he’d ended up. Counting, breathing, existing had just been a thing that happened to someone.

”Hope?” he asked, sounding as inquisitive as ever with only trace amounts of his confusion remaining in the tone. Of course he knew what hope was on an abstract level. It simply wasn’t an emotion he had any truck with. The mere concept had always seemed wasteful. One either succeeded or one did not. Hope did not change the outcome. That said, having every iota of his being suffused with the feeling gave him an appreciation for its motivating and supporting power. Something to revisit.

”Hope.” Sonnet asserted. ”I poured all of my hopes for you into this… and since you’re not babbling or screaming it seems those hopes were well-placed.”

That last comment sounded oddly cool.
word count: 604
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Cassian Gawyne
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Posts: 123
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Re: [Gawyne] Welcome to the Tangle

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As cool as the air around them. It had grown chilly, Cassian noticed as his conscious self returned to the world of the mundane, the banal. Dawn couldn't be too far off either as the birds were already rousing and filling the trees beyond the pavillion with gentle sounds. Suddenly weary eyes blinker open and beheld the woman across from him, their hands still linked.

Lady Sonnet’s eyes opened as well, steady and calm, albeit with the embers of a sparkle flickering in the dark orbs. They met Cassian’s gaze and moved to probe them, slowly, methodically, deeper and deeper. Finally, she nodded her approval, the sense of coldness still emanating from her. Had they traded places? He couldn’t tell, he simply knew she was different. Which should have given him pause but didn’t.

”Now you do it,” she demanded. ”Look into my eyes… then past them. And then tell me what you see and how you feel. The boy narrowed his eyes in response, scrutinizing Sonnet’s eyes. What was he supposed to see? What was he supposed to feel?

What was he supposed to feel, he wondered again and as if in reply he experienced a touch that wasn’t a touch. Not in the physical sense, yet not unlike a physical connection. Someone… something… a third presence which had joined them but wasn’t quite there. Less than an ember, but full of potential, a mere spark but with the possibility to light a fire. The unseen, uninvited guest didn’t speak to him, didn’t truly communicate in any way. But when he sought out its presence, he felt things. As if he knew without knowing. Knew things without form and instructions without words, knew them in a way which was both far far less than such palpable stuff and yet far beyond it in intimacy. It was the faintest of nudges, the ghost of an urge, the seed of a want.

Cassian inhaled the world around him. Smelled the pines and the dew and the moss overgrowing the old structure where they were sat as if he’d cast off a mask that had hampered his senses. Senses which now settled on his stepmother turned… something else. He looked into her eyes and felt he knew how to look beyond them. So he did. It was that simple. Even if that simplicity had no prepared him for what he was about to see: A rainbow woven into a shape, the confluence of a hundred multicoloured yarns, tiny little tendrils swaying in hidden winds, writhing, some reaching out, some recoiling from him.

Cassian’s eyes widened.

”There you go,” she observed with the loudest smirk she could muster, ”Welcome to the Tangle.”
word count: 461
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