By Jane Lambert and Kurt Berger
This is the log of a role playing session on a MUSH I play on called Cresent City. Chantilly is a young woman who has been haunted by nightmares for years, as a result of glamour ravaging done to her at a young age by unseelie slaugh and redcaps.
She has a job, working as an apprentice in a metalsmithing shop, the owner it Tamara.
I think this scene really shows how very dark Changeling can be.
The city is clean and lovely in the new center area. Shiny buildings, clean glass, and few people with crusty attitudes like ole Johnnie Walker there. He weaves in and out of the crowds, jostling even when none is needed, bumping people even a bit out of his way, as he seizes control of the flow of pedestrian traffic. Soon enough, he finds himself just staring at a window. One with crossed swords, and the word 'metalworks' on the glass. And spits a gooey wad of tobacco juice into the gutter. "Fuckin' priceless," He mutters.
Shannon is sitting in the shadows on the street, keeping to herself as she watches the world walk by. Johnnie draws her attention and gets a curious glance.
Walkers or stalkers, striders or gliders. It doesn't much matter, as Johnnie is currently scowling at his own reflection beyond a myriad string of metal chinks and little trinkets. "Rennie fest wannabe, anachronistic backwater motherfuckers." Is his low guttural assessment of the display. He peers through the glass, a brownish-red tongue lapping at his lips as he spies movement. Out of the corner of his eye, he feels a glance upon him, and merely smiles. Blackened spots line his crooked teeth, juicy with a days' worth of tobacco and glistening with bile. "Evenin'
Shannon looks at the man as he goes through his tirade, her eyes locked on his chest or something in that region. As he turns on her she gets caught of guard, muttering a soft hello in return.
A grimy hand closes over the door handle to the Metalworks, his grey-blue eyes steeling on the musky glass, as Johnnie turns the knob. "Don't expect a happy conversation, or a handout. Get a fuckin' job." He mutters, as he walks inside, some other purpose moving his irritable, nasty self onwards.
Chastaine's Metalworks -- Showroom
It's a large, open space, the neutral colors providing a backdrop for the articles on display here. Soothing music fills the air in direct contrast to the weapons and articles of combat that are the stock and trade. The walls are a pale cream color, the floors covered in plush deep grey carpeting that softens every footfall. There's a black lacquer counter in the corner with a receptionist seated behind. In glass cases and set on stands against the walls are weapons of various styles and eras, from a medieval spiked mace to a full set of Shogun armour in lacquered black metal. In place of honor in the center of the room is a suit of armour, scale mail. Inset spotlights hightlight it softly. There is a door in the back wall painted the same soft grey, almost blending into invisibility.
Chantilly is talking quietly to Tamara.
Tamara is chatting with Chantilly. She looks up casually at the new customer, then her eyes go wide and her jaw drops.."
Chantilly looks between Tamara and the customer, "Uh, should I go inta the back?"
Tamara umms and nods, "Uh..yeah, ask Stevie ta learn ya how ta hone the swords."
Chantilly nods and sighs.
Chantilly opens the door and heads into the workshop. Chantilly has left.
Johnnie throws the door open with a casual abandon, his eyes glistening as his lids narrow, and he takes in the 'sights'. "Oh, how utterly -delightful-." He says, with all the sarcasm he can possibly muster. "Please. Don't let your little girl walk out on the party before it even starts."
Tamara clears her throat and calls out, "C'n I help ya..Mister?"
Tamara shrugs, "I'm the owner and there ain't no friggin' party I seen yet."
The center suit of armor shows some interest to the bizarre little man, as he walks over towards it, cracking his knuckles with a loud snapping pop. Like a bone splintering in an echoing cavern, that's the sound of Johnnie's knuckles. He grins behind those impossibly large teeth, snapping casually as a buzzing sprite zips from the backdoor after Chantilly's exit, a little cutesie fire pixie that is chewed into little bits by his maw. "Anybody ever worn this?" He nods towards the suit, spitting a wee bone to the floor. And grinning. Widely.
Tamara shrugs, "Naw, it's a master work, fer show..I'm makin somethin' kinda like it fer a special order."
Chantilly comes into the room from the doorway that leads to the workshop. Chantilly has arrived.
Chantilly peeks her head out of the workshop area.
Johnnie flicks a finger against the armor, sending a shudder through the metal, a vibrating whistle and whine as the steel shakes under what would seem to be an earthquake - but nothing more than a flick of a thumb from the man. He grins, grins more and larger, as he walks round the form. "Somebody's been playing happy little games with you, haven't they?" He asks, in a hissing tone, like a deranged Mister Rogers.
Tamara's eyes get a little wider, then narrow a bit, 'I ain't no kid, fella..I don't play games."
Chantilly stands there, watching quietly. Hoping to not be noticed.
Johnnie has walked round the suit of armor, and spikes a grey-blue eye towards the back door, almost before it opens. As if he either invites, or just plain knew in advance, of the other woman's curiosity. "Oh yes you are. And yes you do. Someone's decided to make you a guinea pig. What'd they promise? Lovely dreams, the finest inspirations?"
Tamara peers at Chantilly, "Awfully fast lesson, weren't it?"
Chantilly stands there watching Johnnie, a determined look in her eye now. She isn't one to be cowed. "He was busy with an apprentice."
Tamara turns to Johnnie, "Ain't nothing wrong with an imagination, as long as it ain't to overactive."
Another pixie whistles into the room from the back - you may not have known just how many of these populated a place like this - but they're everywhere, crawling over the weapons, drawn to the forged steel like moths to a flame. But this one, redheaded and sparkling, screeches to a halt before it runs smack into Johnnie. He reaches out, plucks a wing between his thumb and forefinger, and just laughs. This one comes to poppa.
Tamara winces at somethin, "Probably got cholestrol..or give ya heart burn."
Chantilly walks more fully into the show room, now that she has been seen. She says to the man, "Ya know, ya should just go if you are gonna come in here and just be nasty."
"They lied." He says simply, as he walks the few feet forward to stare into Tamara's eyes, and pinches his thumb and forefinger together, grinding his teeth against some invisible toothpick. "Inspiration from without dulls the blade within. You become dependent. Addicted. Lost within a maze of someone else's construction. If you only know what is happy and pleasing. ANd if you ignore the nightmares rattling in your skull."
Chantilly frowns at the mention of nightmares.
Tamara arches a brow, 'Only nightmare 'round here is you.." she points out. "'N they didn't tell me ta do anythin' in particular."
Chantilly offers, "I can call 911.."
Tamara shrugs, "He ain't done nothin'...yet."
Chantilly says, "It ya don't want him here, it is trespassin'" Sounds like she knows from personal experience."
Tamara nods, "That's a point..what did ya come here for? Just ta bug me?"
One finger is held up, and Johnnie excuses himself, "One moment, madame." He turns towards Chantilly, and peers his solemn, squared beady eyes on her. "Mind your manners, little lady, or the boogeyman might not be too pleased with you this eve. Ever sleep with one eye open? Ever wonder what's under your bed? Ever walk the line between fright and despair, wondering when you'll wake up from that awful, terrible dream, and not knowing when, or if, it'll ever happen? " He chews, smacking his teeth, and suddenly grinds them, "Go back to your pathetic little life, before I decide to give you reason to make that call."
Tamara narrows her eyes, "Ya leave her alone." she says in a low, steady voice.
Chantilly snorts, "Yeah, let ME tell ya about then ya big a-hole. Ya mean that black shadows oozin' through the window, slippin' onto your bed and trying to smother ya inta forkin' heart attack? Or how about monsters with nails in their head and teeth..everywhere." She looks at him pointedly.
Tamara looks at Johnnie and says, "Hey, I don't know -what- you are..but ya don't threaten my staff, not in -my- shop.."
Chantilly glares at Johnnie, if nothing more angry, she wags a finger in his direction, "Ya don't scare me, ya stay out of my forkin' nightmares or YOU will be sorry. I swear it! You are not gonna haunt 'em no more!"
Tamara blinks admiringly, "Ya tell 'em, Tilly."
Johnnie scowls up his lip, and a pool of tobacco spit pools under his lip, about ready to be launched, but he almost thinks better of it. Glares at the wagging-fingered girl, as if searing her image into his fevered mind. "Oh, I'll stay in them. I made them." He smiles, quietly, though something bothers him about that exchange. Something... not quite right. "As for you." He turns back towards Tamara, "Not all roads are paved in gold, not all clouds have a silver lining. Not all dreams come true, and not all gifts are free. You're a playtoy, a ball of yarn, nothing more, nothing less." He shrugs, and just chuckles, a deep, resonant cackle. "You ever wonder what it's like to lose everything, all at once?" He idly inquires, a glint in his mocking eye. No physical movements, and nothing overt in his tone - he just can't help but be that way.
Tamara rolls her eyes, "I ain't exactly playtoy material, buster, if ya ain't noticed.." scoffingly, though she does back up almost imperceptibly, "N' I've had my share of losses."
Chantilly moves towards the bullish man, "You are trespassin', get the hell out 'a here for a grab a sword and poke it into your fat gut. I am fightin' now..I am not 10 no more, ya can't hide outside my window!" What the hell is she talking about.
Tamara looks at Tilly, blinking in confusion. "Don't think he's that old.."
Well, well. Something she says gets the old goat grinning wider now. Gleeful as he drifts in to the little cracks in Chantilly's veneer. "First of all, my dearest child, I am not trespassing, as this is a shop, open to any and all paying customers, so you should learn the first and foremost of all rules of retail - the customer is always right." Johnnie snickers, shooting a simple little glance at Tamara. "Your window? It was cracked, was it not? A little hairline fracture running up the molding. Your father never fixed it when you asked him to. An empty, barren tree would always scratch on the glass, you thought it was the finger of death, didn't you, taptapping on your window, beckoning you into your dreams. But they were always cold, lonely dreams, weren't they? Icy chilling nightmares, that drained at your heart and soul, and made you wake up with a start inthe middle of the night, shivering and shuddering at just what the -hell- was -that-."
Tamara looks over, "Everyone dreams of that...that's why.." she looks around at all the protection.. the weapons and armour.
Chantilly's eyes go wide and she lunges at the man with beating fists. She obviously has not the first clue about fighting or even hurting someone, but she seems to have a huge reserve of bottled up anger, "Fuck you, fuck you!" She yells like some mad woman now, as she swings trying to hit, and if she does hit, doing basically nothing, "Go ta hell where you belong, get out of me dreams...I found the flower, it is MINE, it made my head ok, so fuck you, you can't have my mind back!"
A laugh, bitter and joyless, rings through the shop, dancing off the blades, and echoing off the steel. Johnnie's eyes light up, as this girl's fury unleashes in battering little balled-up fists that rain down on his barrel chest. He makes no move to stop her, no move to do anything whatsoever to restrain her. He just whispers, a cold wind blown from arctic breezes, through snow-covered trees and lonely avenues, the wisp of solitude bristling at the presence of another: "The flower is dead, it's cold in the ground. Lifeless and gone, but you knew that, didn't you? YOu see it every night, as you look down from the highest skies, and wonder, hoping and praying, what might have been." He clutches her cheeks then, and turns her wailing face up towards his, grin spreading wide like rivers of crimson. "YOu know me, child. Look closely. I -am- your nightmares."
You enchant Chantilly!
Chantilly suddenly stops, stops dead in her tracks and looks Johnnie over from head to foot, her eyes growing wider all the while if that is possible, then she lets out a blood curtling scream that makes the ones in horror movies look like poor immitations. Then she is all motion, back peddling as fast as she can, crashing into a case of armour behind her.
A crooked finger presses to those blood-red lips, whistling a sshing sound, but an insane giggle seeps from behind it. Johnnie stalks forward, the slow advance of every horrible demon fashioned by the mind's eye - inexorable, and effortless, and will always overtake the retreating heroine. A voice creeps into audience, mid-lullaby, a pale imitation of a woman's voice, faraway and lost, like a drifting memory. "... momma's gonna buy you a mockingbird. And if that mockingbird don't sing, momma's gonna buy you a diamond ring...." Then fades, as if passing by the scene, fading into the oblivion from whence it came. Maternal. Caring. Motherly in every way. Scratch, scratch, goes the pane on the window, the creeping claw of the tree's finger poking at the crack in the pane, poking into your room, waking you from your eternal slumber. "Rise and shine, little Tilly, breakfast in bed. Why are your sheets so wet?" Comes a softer voice, quiet yet stern. Paternal. Fatherly. Echoes from a past that may well not even be your own. All with a mocking laugh barely audible to your ears, as Johnnie drinks it all in, soaking up each vestige of glamour that ripples off you with every panicked scream, every addled thought.
Chantilly presses herself against the cabinet, her mind not even able to comprehend the need to move to one side in order to flee. Her hands dig behind her, like a rat trying to burrow, tears run down her face and she screams and screams and screams. The terrified Glamour pours forth as her body trembles. There is no sanity in her eyes, just the raw bleeding wound of utter horror.
Scratch, scratch, goes the branch, the stilted skeleton of the wintery tree peering in your window, its shallow gaze a menacing jack-o-lantern grin. The moonlight bleeding through its eyes, bright yet sallow and grey. Then within your room, your walls bleeding away to nothing, lost in the miasma of a starlit night. Tapestries of darkness rise high above your head, as you are suspended within a forest of ghostly images, scraped at every turn as the barbs of branches prickle your arms and legs. Carried away, into the depths of your coldest dreams. All the while, the moon runs red, then curves into a hideous grin, laughing. Laughing, laughing, mocking your fears, milking your terrors. Nothing is real, yet everything is sudden - a gravesite on a cold, rainy grey day, the name hard to read as you peel through the crowd of mourners. Roses flutter from dry hands to the ground, sobs of familiar faces peel away as you are alone, staring down at an open crypt. Your name etched on the face, your body laying within the opened coffin. At your shoulder, a gravelly voice echoes, "The final nightmare, the last dream you ever need fear. It's short, long away, close by, just over the ridge, just behind the door. Scream, and it fades. For now. But it will never ebb until it comes for you. Until you are as this. Until that day, Chantilly, I am your psyche. I am your nightmare. I am your boogeyman." The voice of Johnnie Walker.
Chantilly drops to the floor, her screams and sobs intertwined, she curls into a fetal ball and rocks, begging as she screams, "No..no..no..no..anything..please..no..no..no..make it stop..please..I will do anything..."
A hand pats your shoulder, as the graveyard breaks into shards of memory and fantasy, falling away, breaking and shattering into nothingness. A void, a blackness that no light penetrates, consumed by your sobs and pleas. "You already have." Whispers the dark tones. "You have all of this, for all of your life. Cherish these moments, child, as you are now, and only now, truly alive. A dead man has no fears, a dead man sees no ghosts. True happiness is the ultimate lie - nirvana exists beyond a shroud of wailing souls, crying as you are. You are your world, you are your soul unburdened with each shriek of terror. Relish it, savor it, as it is the salt of the earth." The voice careens from unknowable corners, echoes from unseen heights, and reverberates within your mind. Then, if you dare open your eyes, the shop - only minutes may have passed, and it all seems solid, real enough. You're alone. No Tamara. No Johnnie. Just you, yourself, and your dreams. Sleep tight.