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by William Maldonado

Juliano D'ariah focused his entire soul into his violin. He slowly, carefully played the Danse Macabre savoring every note fearful of any mistakes. He ignored his tattletales as they heard the annoyed whispers of the satyrs in the corner in between gulps of wine. (They don't understand this song), he thought, (wretches they are who would rather hear a CD of Pumpkins smashing rather than live classical). He buried his growing anger as his heart poured into the final crescendo and he opened his gray eyes as his entire body fell along with the melody into its last decrescendo.

Briefly, he saw a room painted with block colors of black and in some cases of old rotted brown. His eyes fell upon the mortals in the room, each of them decked out in Manson garb. Black lace and poseur make-up, their 'rebellion' being expressed in every pentagram and gargoyle which hung from their necks. He thought to himself, the perfect outfit for a tragic end. He kept the smile from his face as he watched Jacob Marley, the redcap who stood in the corner, itching to use the icepick which lay underneath his coat. He knew who else was fae in the room, but their fae mien slipped in and out from the mists as his own disbelief weighed on him. He knew that he had to share the glamour with them, despite his condition, his hold on this freehold and on his title within the court tenuous enough as is. The only person he didn't mind sharing with was his sometime lover Cecilia the pooka, whose dove like feathers and soft well lit face seemed out of place in this squalid room. He almost panicked when her cute features began to disappear from his vision but still he played on until the very last note flying from his violin, suspending itself briefly over the crowds heads then floating away like a distant dream. The ravaging was done.

Juliano, as was custom in the freehold, got to take the first quaff of the precious glamour. He drank deep of the raped glamour, which flew from a young girl, with the face and features of a spoiled asian teen, with the shrieking speed of a cockroach from a sudden light. He shuddered as the cold clammy and almost lifeless glamour fed him, his eyes clenched from the forbidden pleasure of it all. Slowly, as the sick yet quenching tremors subsided, he opened his amber eyes to stare again into the crowd.

This time he saw that the room was made of purest crystal. Seemingly fragile like glass, yet strong as steel. Petals were the dew which dropped from the crystal stalagmites, which each of the fae used to flavor their moonbeam wine. These petals, which looked like frozen purple ice sculptures fluttered down in a swirling dance like the death twitches of a never. In tune to the music born of harmony stones which hung like wind chimes from the few clear spaces of the freehold. Again Juliano felt whole, refreshed after a long period of disbelief. However, Juliano had to slake the thirsts of his 'allies' lest they use him to flavor their wine.

Juliano hated to spook...rather speak with sots like this, the banality in their souls threatened to tear away at his fae mien. So it was that he ordered the wind to drop a single night petal (as the stalagmite tears were called) into each cup. Juliano then rose his own goblet high and offered a toast.

"To what?", asked the asian girl, whose increased banality demanded a reason for imbibing.

Juliano thought briefly about the question before yelling out..."To the rest of our lives." He could hear some of the goths snickering at the toast, ignoring to notice the irony in the toast as they drank deep of their wines. Juliano turned his back on the wilders as they pounced on the throng. He could hear a few of them run towards the door, only to be greeted (or stopped) by Jacob. The ravaging and subsequent revelry (if romes own parties could be called mere revelry) fed each of them of glamour and of lusts.

"Come greybeard, join in."

Juliano ignored Jacob, as he opened the trod into his own private freehold. He whispered an order to all to leave with their victims when they were finished. Angry nods were the answer to his dictuum and Juliano entered the portal leaving the commoners to scrape the remaining glamour. He didn't even watch as the little glamour which escaped the ravagers, flew screaming into the crystals creating a rainbow, thus the glamour was stuck fast its shining light captured like hope in a 'progressed' world. Juliano closed the portal leaving the freehold of the Screaming Rainbow.

After a time that seemed to stretch into hours, Juliano finally appeared from the trod. He entered a freehold, based in the dreaming, near to the real world aspect of his own home. He walked over to the inkwell, which rested on a desk made of strong yet fickle dreamstuff. He plucked a lighter and set the blaze to a pink candlewick which began to burn with a silver light. The light revealed a seemingly endless river of books resting of an equally large book shelf, hung with care along a plot of trees. Nightshade grew in dark dismal corners and his violin obediently rested itself next to the desk.

Juliano sighed, he could feel the yearning set on him. Every night he dreamed of the summerlands, of joy and happiness. He feared himself and the mundane world. He was only an inch away from being undone and even Leopold, his violin cried. He had to take a quest to rid himself of his banality, his now nightly ravages didn't help anymore. Juliano plucked a hand mirror from the desks drawer and cleaned the dust from the almost cracked glass. The image shifted from his own frowning (almost normal) features into the area outside of his apartment. He just sat there and watched, feeling somewhat comfortable admist the ambient glamour, bored and sighing about the hopelessness of it all. The vie groceries, but she was visiting her parents out of town. Seizing the toys he kept since he was little, hoping that he wouldn't have to destroy them for their glamour, he entered his mortal seeming as Brian Wilson. Throwing his coat over his shoulders, Juliano began the long gray march to the supermarket.

On the way, Brian couldn't help but to notice how he felt at home amongst the plain and ordinary. He stared up and felt safe knowing that dragons would not come from the sky to attack him. In fact, he even felt good knowing that his dreams of being a shee noble was just that... He Froze. Brian wrapped his black coat closer to him, like armor against the inrushing backwash of Banality. He felt fear in every derelict whose dreams were only of coldness and forlorn worthlessness. He felt fear in the goths who believed themselves dead before they really lived. He felt fear in the police barricade around the scene of a suicide. He wanted to go home to his freehold, but he knew that that would only aid in the death of his mortal soul. So he went on.

"At last", Brian proclaimed when he saw the unimagined blinking lights of the supermarket. Ignoring the stares of sotheads around him, he marched into the supermarket, ready with toys in hand in case of trouble.

His head soon pounded, as he pushed the noisy cart around, taking a few things here and there with him. The painfully annoying music didn't help his headache either. Finally, he approached the checkout line, and he was all too willing to just use his arts to force the clerk to hurry him on bye. However, when the face turned to look into his, he paused.

He could only stare at her shy brown eyes when her braids didn't block his view. She had soft brown skin and a nimble none-too-skinny form. He couldn't see anything else about her under the unflattering work uniform, but something about her...

"That will be $34.68." Brian almost fell into a comfortable silence listening to her voice, before his attention snapped back to the present. He paid her and took note of her name badge.

"Have a nice day...Valerie."

"Your welcome, sir." She smiled, a smile that Brian found very pretty, and for a brief instant he thought of the tasty glamour which must exist in her, but all thoughts of ravaging were shoved aside when he noticed a man standing behind near her, watching him with an almost angry expression. Something about that look scared and angered him, and Brian's brown lowered. After a while, the man withdrew, but the effect from his eyes lingered. Brian shook it off, eager to get home.

However, as he was leaving, he heard a shout from that woman. He turned, and saw her rushing to catch him before he left the store.

"Excuse me sir, you left this." In her hand was his toy, a Ronin Warrior, with special decals Juliano had himself crafted. Brian shook his head when he almost thought of Juliano as some distant loon. (Don't forgot yourself. Please Tuatha prevent me from falling in the mists). Finally recovering himself, Brian gazed into her eyes, extremely nervous to a fault.

"T...T...Thank you miss Valerie."

Valerie tortured him with the smile that followed. Was she mocking him? At that moment he didn't care, he loved to see her smile. He frozed. (Love...am I going crazy?) Brian thought that perhaps the ravaging had done the worst to him, until he felt his heart pounding fast when he took the toy from her, briefly touching her hands. He almost blushed, but managed to keep his composure.

"Miss...you keep it."

Valerie shook her head, saying with emphasis..."I can't this isn't mine."

"But I insist you seem like someone who is or knows someone who likes toys."

Valerie laughed a little, another lovely laugh. "Well, I do like toys somewhat, but I haven't really the time to collect. But I do accept." Her shyness awed Brian and Juliano as one, and he felt like asking her on a date when suddenly a pang hit him in the stomach.

It was cold and quiet and still, not like the calming peace of a calm ocean trip, but the silent and lifeless inactivity of a day at the office. A frightening stillness. Banility.

Her eyes traveled to a spot over him. "Are you all right sir."

"I'm fine. I...just have to leave." With that, Brian, and the injured Juliano fled from the store, passing the man with the cold silent stare.

After serving himself a dinner of salad, Juliano once again sat in his freehold. His eyes were unfocused and his ears unaware, as his mind began to wander. (Something about her) he thought, (...excited my faerie soul. Yet when I grew near.). He rubbed his stomach trying not to think of that painful banality, which almost erased the crest which he wore over his shadowsilk tunic.

Juliano sat and thought of Valerie. He pictured in his mind her braided hair, which cascaded down her back like the vikings of old. He smiled when he thought of her smile, bright and honest, somewhat like the smile of Cecilia, before she became Unseelie.

Juliano stopped then, thinking of how much happier he was, watching Cecilia before she became a ravager, giving to her lusty legacy. He sighed, wondering if she would even care for him, seeing how close he was to becoming undone. Juliano then wondered about his fae soul, wondering where and if he would return if he died.

"What's the point, perhaps I should flay myself with a dagger and end my constant suffering. Brian would be much happier that way." Juliano sighed, the noise and intensity of his gloom waking Leopold. The violin walked towards his friend, and it began to play a mysterious melody.

"Ah, what am I thinking about...Well...", and like a girl to her teddy bear, Juliano confessed the events of the trip, paying particular attention to Valerie and the man.

At the mention of Valerie, the violin played My lady's heart. "Leopold, she is attractive and I do feel the need to be with her. But she is a Banality magnet perhaps an unusually cheery autumn person or..." Leopold played the bone-wah. "You think that's not right...What of that man...the sot almost stared me down.". Leopold danced. "You mean he might be the Banal...".

Without thinking, Juliano drew the mirror, and dusted its glass thinking deeply of the Ronin Warrior. The glass once again swirled, changing shape to reveal a gray room, with only a single rose for color, at least, if Valerie with her colorful scarf wasn't in the picture.

He watched intently, noticing the fear on her face, then clenched his teeth when he saw a fist, the man's fist pound down on her. Valerie fell to the floor, and Juliano could see, very briefly the the tall limber limbs and the oriental silks which covered her body, effects which she stared at briefly, but the man ignored. She ran her fingers through her hair, ignoring the vulgarities shouted by the man, until she looked at her hand. A hand reddened with her own blood. She turned, and flickered a brief grimace of hatred, before she grew afraid and allowed herself to be kicked over and over again before she fell limp one last time, the crest of Fiona across her breastplate.

Juliano's screams shook the dreaming, as he watched in horror, fearing that perhaps he was too late. He ignored the image of a fae mien, ignored the man in part. Feeling the weight and glamourous fear that perhaps she had fallen away from him. Leopold played a heroic firey ballad, which Juliano took as meaning that their was still hope for Valerie. However, before transporting to her, he thought of her fae mien, and realized that not only might she have been an Eshu, but a seelie at that. Even if he could save her, she would probably not be with him, if she knew what he was.

"Leopold, I'm not going." The violin sceeched it's annoyance at Juliano, a screech he ignored as he flopped down into his seat. "...what if it's a trap, perhaps she is an Eshu for Duke Thunderheart and wish to...undo me.". The violin played the bone-wah. "How would you know Leopold. I'm a bastard who forgets what he is, or that he even exists." Leopold again played the bone-wah. "Then again...nothing grand is ever gained easily." Leopold dances. With that, Juliano fetches pen and paper and draws a picture of Valerie and him in each others arms. Instantly, he's in her apartment, the same bleak gray walls and the same foredooming atmosphere.

He hears keys in the door and Juliano rushes into a nearby closet. He watches and listens as Valerie comes into his vision...with the man in tow.

"Who was that man and why do you have that toy!" Juliano could see the fear in her again and she places the toy on the dresser next to the flower he saw.

"He was just a guy ok."

"Are you sure."

"Yes."

Before Juliano's eyes, the man punches her and again she pauses. The man wipes red liquid from the brass knuckles on his fists and she looks at her blood soaked hand. She looks up and again she recoils as the man raises his foot.

"NO!!". Juliano rushes out the closet and sweeps the man from under his feet. Juliano shudders as the glamour rushes from him as he calls on the wyrd, with his long sword at his throat, Leopold watching from the closet. "Now you banal piece of shit...you pay for harming her." His hand twitches and his arms begins to flex before it calms under Valeries touch. "Why do you protect him?" The look in Juliano's eyes is almost maddened.

"I...I...I can't kill him nor should you." She gives him a peaceful pleading look and he removes the blade from his throat, and with a warning gesture motions him to run away. The man does, swearing obscenities all the way.

"Thank you...mister."

"I can't stay, you would never accept a mundane like myself."

"Mundane, no mundane would act with such heroism, look at you, you ignored the banality of this room and that man just to help me." Juliano's eyes betrays his confusion. "I knew about you in my dreams and I had to meet you and stop you from killing him. I had to save your fae soul and your honorable good spirit, so it is I you would never acc..."

Before she could finish, Juliano sweeps her up into a kiss, and the pair of them feel their unbelief melt as the rooms colors change and brighten. The mask of disbelief and fear has been shed between them, and as Leopold plays a ballad of love, the gray death flees in fear of the inrushing armies of Glamour. For the first time, Juliano remembers what he looks like and remembers the faerie name of her past lover. It was Valeria.

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