Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

A Stage of Shadow (Dubiel)

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    A Stage of Shadow (Dubiel)

    Walking down the grand slope of the port face of Mount Kolvir was a long but easy jaunt, winding lazily down to the city at an easy gradient, very unlike the other faces of the mountain, which was jutting and steep all the way to the top if approached from the forest of Arden or the Vale. That way would take one up a narrow staircase in the rock until they arrived near the summit and took the Vale door into the castle. It was a route not used very often, and many preferred the road that Dubiel used now.

    As always, Dubiel's mask got strange looks from everyone she passed by. No one seemed to understand it, but it had become commonly known that the Princess Dubiel was fond of such a mask, and so as she passed the commoners of Amber she received the bobs and bows and curtsies suited for one of her rank. How she chose to feel about being treated this way was up to her, but it had happened most of her life. Only out in Shadow was she really treated solely on her many merits - and even then only because she would seek out such Shadows.

    Hidden within the folds of her dress was the Jewel of Judgement, the most precious artifact in creation. She had woken one day to find it sitting in a box by her bedside, wrapped in the crimson cloak that was stuffed in her traveling pack beside her. She felt certain her father had left it to her, and probably with good reason, but she was blind to what it could be. Everyone knew Bator was his favorite, he'd even drunkenly announced it as such at one of his victory feasts that she had attended. And Bator was a Pattern wielder of immense skill. No one knew the Pattern like he did - so why should it be her that received the most potent tool of Olin's creation?

    Surely if Bator were to have inherited it, it would have been as good as Olin naming him heir, and yet it had not. Did that mean? Could that possibly mean that Olin had wanted her to succeed him? The possibility was madness at first glance but impossible to ignore. Dubiel knew many stories that spoke of reluctant rulers being the best ones for the job precisely because they did not desire a crown or scepter. Yet here was the scepter of all scepters... and she dare not give it away just yet, not without knowing what Olin had meant by bequeathing it to her. She had studied it while in Shadow, before coming to see Olin on his deathbed. She had walked the pattern in its three-dimensional image, imprinting the Jewel into her mind. It had been the hardest thing she had ever done in her life, even harder than walking the Pattern in Amber for the first time, but Dubiel had always been the best when it came to perseverance - maybe another reason why Olin had given the relic to her?

    As she reached the city gate, she had to determine where it was that she was going. She could go to see Wanda, her friend and Steward of the City. Of all the other royal siblings, Wanda was the only one who had ever taken the time to visit Dubiel in Shadow at her theater world. That counted for a lot with the royal thespian. There was also Lord Aiden, the judge of Amber City, who resided in a large mansion in the upper class part of town. He was a long time patron of the arts and was on good terms with Dubiel as well. Then there were any of the other siblings to possibly visit: Edric at his army barracks just near the outer walls or Rhone out in Arden, walking down the many forest paths someplace. She could also take to the see and try to visit Gamon in Shalomar or Siobhan in Mystara. Or she could simply decide to get on a horse and ride out of Amber and eventually into Shadow.

    #2
    Re: A Stage of Shadow (Dubiel)

    Even when she'd reached the bottom of the road that wound way up from the town to the castle, Dubiel couldn't stop herself from crying. Her mask kept it from being noticed, mostly - but it was doubtless noticeable how she kept reaching up under it with her hand, and no doubt one or two of the people she passed heard her sniffle. Whatever was she going to do - was Amber going to do - without her father? How ready were... any of them, really, to take the reigns and rule the kingdom in his stead?

    Despite her weeping, Dubiel did her best to return the greetings she received, nodding politely to acknowledge those that greeted her. As the King's... the... the late King's daughter, she was a role-model for her people - to snub them would reflect poorly on her, and be a disservice to them.

    At any rate, she was used to it, by now. And, even without the respect accorded to her as one of Olin's children, her role as a performer often resulted in a few more enthusiastic greetings, every now and then; people who wanted to assure her just how good her singing or her acting was, or how beautiful she looked... or handsome, if she'd been playing a male part.

    Given her attire, though, their bows and curtsies were returned not by a young woman, but the hollow, frame-like skull of her hood. Presumably they had gotten used to it, by now, and it was not as spooky as it might once have been. And, really - there would have been little difference if her mask was off - the face under it was just as much hers as the mask's face was. The mask... it had originally been a costume for a play she had acted in - one of, if not the first, now that she'd thought about it. In that, she had been the monster... a 'terrifying beast, a thousand black tendrils sprouting from a mockery of a skull, hollow as it's heart'.

    Honestly? The significance of her mask was merely that Dubiel had thought it was really cool, and had just kept it as a momento. 'All the mightiest warriors could not fell it, and havoc reigned'. Of course, in the end, the monster was slain, ended by one man seeking to take back the love the monster had stolen from him, but that mattered little. Over time, it had come to be dearer to her - like a teddy bear, that she never outgrew. With her father's passing, however, it offered no comfort, and it seemed a little to her like she were the man from the play - that, if she tried, she could reclaim her father from the monster that was Death.

    ---

    Dubiel had simply wandered around the city, practically in a daze, after she reached the gate, pondering why papa had given her the Jewel, of all things. She fingered the lump that told her it was there, under her multitude of skirts, while in the bag hanging on her arm, she turned the red cloak it held over and over in her mind.

    Why her? Royal blood notwithstanding, she was just a performer - why give it to her? ...Perhaps, papa just thought she would be a good Keeper for them? Uninvolved as she was in the affairs of the kingdom, she was far more certain not to abuse it as her other brothers and sisters. ...Right?

    ... But...

    What if... what if it DID mean that he wanted her to take his place as reagent? It had already had a trial, after all... she had almost given up, when she walked the Pattern in the Jewel. But she had not been found wanting - obviously, or she'd be dead now - and now the Jewel was truly hers, it's powers free for her to use as she wished.

    Her feet came to a stop, and she found herself looking up at a statue of her father before he had been wracked by whatever ailment that had taken him from them. She had thought it nonsense, at first, but... did what Bator and Svaltus have any merit? Had someone truly poisoned papa? She didn't see a way for that to be possible... and yet, she didn't know of any reason why dad should have died like that - his eternity of life coming to an end in just a few weeks.

    She wiped at her eyes again. This was all so confusing... maybe she should go and see Wanda. She could help her make some sense of all this mess, and Dubiel could break the news to her at the same time.
    Spoiler

    ULMF's request thread. Ask for stuff there.
    ULMF's game FAQ. Has info on how to run JP games and ISOs.
    IQDB. Searches for images!
    JDownloader, automates downloads from places like Megauplohwait.
    Hikari are, iza susume!
    Wear Sunscreen.
    >>*The Shoutbox slaps some sense into GargantuaBlarg.*

    Comment


      #3
      Re: A Stage of Shadow (Dubiel)

      Dubiel knocked at Wanda's estate near the center of Amber City, walking down the small path from her front gate to her unadorned front door. Wanda had never been one for flashiness, always pragmatic and simple. She'd probably be fine living in a small flat were it not expected for a Princess of Amber and Steward of Amber City to be able to host large events and show off some moderate wealth. Most controversial of all the royal siblings perhaps was Wanda's views on the monarchy. Having seen other systems of government in place throughout creation, she was very much against it. The blood of Amber could be sewn throughout the land and indeed it had been thousands of times by Olin alone. Who knew how many scions he had out there in Shadow knowing nothing of their birthright? She was convinced that with enough Amber blood out there in creation, a system of governance mimicking democracy could develop. Amber blooded representatives from Shadow coming from across creation to sit and manage the universe at Amber. That was Wanda's dream.

      Naturally such thoughts had been poo-pooed by her royal father, who had never had any interest or need to give up the throne. He had been immortal and all powerful, and not all that bad of a king in his estimation, so why develop a democracy? Still with Wanda's heavy concerns for the "little folk" he had amused himself by appointing her as Steward and giving her a chance to have a microcosm of democracy in Amber by running a city council that had elections for every position. Wanda had been re-elected by the people every four years for as long as Wanda had begun the council. Very rare was there even a legitimate candidate to run against her, for who could do more for Amber than an Amberite Princess?

      A servant opened the door for Dubiel and ushered her inside to a room with a view of the garden, where tea had been set. Wanda came in five minutes later with a file of papers in her hand, looking mentally exhausted.

      "Hello, Dubiel. Nice to see you again. Sorry I couldn't come down sooner. There's just been so much to do."

      Sitting down at the small table, across from Dubiel, Wanda took her double caffeinated tea and downed it in one long gulp.

      "What can I do for you?"

      Comment


        #4
        Re: A Stage of Shadow (Dubiel)

        Dubiel had been to preoccupied with her grief to consider her dear sister Wanda's desire for a change in the way of rulership in Amber - right up until she was at the gate to her home. By then, when she realized where the train of conversation might go...

        The idea had some merit - as many ideas did. The people, ruling themselves... that made sense, did it not?

        But father had waved it off. Why bother, when he was already so good at it? It was true, the more one person had to rule over, the less attention he could devote to any one place - but he had managed quite well in his reign. All in all, it had worked - why fix what wasn't broken?

        Even the people had resisted the change, it seemed. Wanda's own experiment had not yielded much evidence in favor of it... after all, she had held the title of Steward ever since it's conception. The people had no interest in changing that.

        Father's strong hand had kept the kingdom functioning very well, but now that he was gone... none of the children had the eons of experience he had. Perhaps in time, they could become as able a ruler as he had been, but no doubt they would be a poor substitute at first. So... maybe... maybe they could try Wanda's way?

        Dubiel turned these thoughts over in her mind while she waited for Wanda. Perhaps Bator was right... the longer Amber was headless, the worse it would be. Shortly after thinking that, however, she shook her head to clear it - it was a time for mourning! She should be focusing on honoring papa's memory, not trying to figure out what to do now that he was... that he was dead!

        The thought occurred to her that she should deliver the news with her true face on. Stepping away from the table, she shifted once more into the woman Olin had last seen her as, and waited the short while until Wanda came to greet her.

        She looked so tired... Dubiel didn't want to add even more to the burden her sister was carrying, but this was too important to just sweep under the rug. It took her a moment to gather her thoughts.

        She pushed her tea across the table to sit next to Wanda's emptied cup. "It might do you well to take this one as well, my dear Wanda. I'm afraid I bear more bad news." Taking off her hood, she looked Wanda eye to eye... her's still puffy from her crying. "Daddy... Father Olin has passed on. The Unicorn took him from us, and he is no more."
        Last edited by GargantuaBlarg; 28th March 2012, 08:13. Reason: Forgot color, durr
        Spoiler

        ULMF's request thread. Ask for stuff there.
        ULMF's game FAQ. Has info on how to run JP games and ISOs.
        IQDB. Searches for images!
        JDownloader, automates downloads from places like Megauplohwait.
        Hikari are, iza susume!
        Wear Sunscreen.
        >>*The Shoutbox slaps some sense into GargantuaBlarg.*

        Comment


          #5
          Re: A Stage of Shadow (Dubiel)

          Wanda's reaction was one of the more stoic that Dubiel had seen. It didn't carry the scorn that Vaelus' had, but it did not exactly shed any tears for Olin either. This may be because of the patronizing way Olin had always made Wanda feel about her notions of leadership and the concerns she had for the little people.

          "I see," Wanda said, sipping a little from Dubiel's offered cup but then nudging it a way. "Well, it was expected wasn't it? I went to see him a few days ago but he was too tired to talk to me - or feigned so. I suppose I'll have to draft an official address to the people. They'll need to hear it from me most likely, or if not I at least will need to say something official, unless of course he named an heir... he didn't do that I suppose, did he? He'd had ample opportunity before hand to draft some sort of living will as I suggested to him long ago but no, he didn't do it then so I can't imagine he did something responsible at the end either..."

          It's then that Wanda seems to notice the puffiness in Dubiel's eyes. "Oh you poor thing. Always the most feeling of us I thought, which naturally makes you the best of us. Father took all but Bator for granted, but you were most deserving of his love in all likelihood. You needn't cling to your masks in here you know. Feel free to take a bed if you need some time to yourself - heaven knows I've got pleny of unused space in this house."

          It seemed that Wanda was determined not to display quite as much emotion as Dubiel, but there was still concern in her eyes - most of it reserved for her half sister though, as opposed to memories of her father.

          "You know, if we ever put this whole issue of leadership to a vote, you would have mine, Dubiel. The Pattern could do far worse than to have someone who cares as much as you do in charge of it. I'm sure I'm not the only person to have noticed that."

          Comment


            #6
            Re: A Stage of Shadow (Dubiel)

            It didn't surprise Dubiel that Wanda wasn't as fond of their father, given his dismissive attitude towards what she'd thought was best for Amber - but even so, she'd expected more of a reaction than she'd gotten.

            "Sister, please. I know you two didn't see eye to eye, but please don't think so ill of father. He could barely raise his hand from the bed when he passed - I'm sure, if he could have, he would have said something to you..."

            Dubiel fidgeted with one of the strips trailing from her hood, which was now resting in her lap. "...At any rate, Cameron had said he would be preparing an announcement, for the lords and the people, as well. He also mentioned making today one of remembrance, in his memory."

            She rubbed the tips of one cloth between her index finger and her thumbs. "But... no, dad didn't name an heir. Thank you for the vote of confidence, Wanda, but... I... don't you think I'm not fit to succeed father? I've spent all my time performing at the theatre, as an entertainer! Even if, as you say, they really didn't care for the people as I do... surely, one of the others would be more fit for it? What about yourself, even?"

            "Ordinarily, I wouldn't even think of it, but... well..." Dubiel looked around furtively, hoping none of Wanda's servants were around to oversee or overhear. "I found this in my room one day, boxed up with a red cloak..."

            From underneath her dress, Dubiel pulled the Jewel of Judgement, laying it on the table between them. "I... I have no idea what it's supposed to mean. Why would father have arranged to give me this Wanda... I... I don't know what to do..."
            Spoiler

            ULMF's request thread. Ask for stuff there.
            ULMF's game FAQ. Has info on how to run JP games and ISOs.
            IQDB. Searches for images!
            JDownloader, automates downloads from places like Megauplohwait.
            Hikari are, iza susume!
            Wear Sunscreen.
            >>*The Shoutbox slaps some sense into GargantuaBlarg.*

            Comment


              #7
              Re: A Stage of Shadow (Dubiel)

              Wanda snorted. "I doubt he would have spared a kind word for me, Dubiel. You may like to see the best in people, but all I can recall is the scorn Father had for the lesser people. Entire Shadows could be sacrificed for his mad campaigns against Chaos. The man has used his own children as tools, pieces in his mad games spawned from the boredom of centuries... I'm surprised he hasn't used one of us as a guinea pig for understanding the deeper nature of the Pattern - and it wouldn't surprise me if he had and then just covered up his tracks. Dad was a schemer at best and a tyrant and dictator at worst, and no I won't shed a tear for the old fool. For you I would shed a sea, but not a drop for him."

              Wanda sat back and fanned herself, the mid-afternoon sun was shining brightly upon her through the garden view window.

              "On the contrary, you would be an excellent successor to Father. Acting skill is all you would need to address the public, and really the rest of it is simple delegation of specific roles to the most qualified people in the different sectors of governance. You would do what was best for Amber and for the people of Amber, and those out in Shadow as well, if necessary. That's more of a qualification than Dad had. And me? Hah. First of all, I don't have your charisma. I'm a behind the scenes type of girl, I'll raise the curtains and make sure the spotlight is on the star at the right times, but you're the main attraction Dubiel, everyone knows that. Hell, people love you even without seeing your true face, or even your fake one when you were that mask of yours and --"

              Wanda stopped suddenly, noticing Dubiel taking out the bag and bringing out the Jewel of Judgement.

              "Dubi... where did you... the Jewel..." Her hand hovered over it, shaking, and then suddenly looking at Dubiel in a completely different way, thrust the cloak back over the Jewel to hide it.

              "Dubiel, you need to leave. Get out of Amber... Are you insane, Bator and anyone else interested in the throne will be clawing their eyes out trying to find this! If Olin gave this to you then it means at the very least he wanted you to have it and NOT Bator, nor anyone else for that matter."

              Wanda got up from her chair and took Dubiel by her hand. "Come with me, I've got to get you to my gallery."

              They quickly walked through the many rooms of the house until they arrived at a small staircase leading up to the second floor and out into a loft that had an amazing view of the sea through the window. Paintings of amazing landscapes dotted the room in every direction Dubiel looked.

              "This is my Gallery. It can lead you through Trump to many places in Shadow. Safe places. Places you can hide and make sure that THIS stays out of the other's hands. I'm not saying that it means Olin wanted you to rule Amber after him, but I know that others will want it so that they can claim a mandate of rule for themselves and you MUSTN'T let them, Dubi. You mustn't."

              Comment


                #8
                Re: A Stage of Shadow (Dubiel)

                "Wha- leave--" protested Dubiel, but Wanda was already pulling her up. She held tongue as her sister pulled her out of her chair and through the rest of the house to her studio. When they'd gotten there, though, she turned around and stomped one of her feet. "'Leave'? I can't just leave, Wanda!" she exclaimed in a huff.

                Before she continued, she gave a look around the around the studio, in case one of her servants was there tidying up. She wanted greatly not to be overheard. Once she was satisfied, she came in closer to her sister, to speak quietly. "I've already had it for a while, now - a few weeks, in fact. I've been careful with it, and I haven't told anyone - not even my servants. You're the first person who knows, Wanda." She gathered her sister's hands together, and then clasped them in her own. "Father entrusted it to me. I won't let them take it from me."

                "Even then... I don't know what Cameron is planning to do to honor father's memory, but I intend to be there for it. ...And, I'm sure they expect me to sing his dirge, Wanda. If I left before even doing that... well... I... I just don't think I could live with myself. And... and, imagine how it would look if I just left, so quickly?" She shook her head.

                "It might not hurt to keep a few eyes, on it, though... do you have anywhere you wouldn't mind me getting a little, ah... bloody, sister?"

                She intended to start manifesting a few little birdies from her blood, to keep an eye on her jewel - in case anyone tried to steal it. She always liked cardinals...

                She wanted to speak to her brother Even and sister Vivi - after all, they should know that father had passed - but, she knew that the gap between them and her in their psychic abilities meant that they could easily take a peek into her head, if they wanted - and if she wanted to keep her Jewel a secret, she couldn't be taking that chance. Since Wanda knew as well, she couldn't ask her - she would just have to trust that someone else would take care of it. ...Besides the issue of informing them of father's death, she quite wanted to know where they were, as well.
                Last edited by GargantuaBlarg; 4th April 2012, 12:27. Reason: Wow, I am [i]really[/i] bad at remembering where colors go.
                Spoiler

                ULMF's request thread. Ask for stuff there.
                ULMF's game FAQ. Has info on how to run JP games and ISOs.
                IQDB. Searches for images!
                JDownloader, automates downloads from places like Megauplohwait.
                Hikari are, iza susume!
                Wear Sunscreen.
                >>*The Shoutbox slaps some sense into GargantuaBlarg.*

                Comment


                  #9
                  Re: A Stage of Shadow (Dubiel)

                  Wanda's mouth gaped incredulously. "You... you want to leave the Jewel of Judgement alone and unattended while you go sing a dirge for Olin?!"

                  The steward princess squeezed Dubiel's hands almost pleadingly. "No Dubiel! Bless your sweet heart but no! If it was entrusted to you then you must keep it on you at all times! Never let it out of your sight and if Bator or anyone else tries to take it from you, then you need to use its power against them. I don't think you understand the severity of this situation. If any of your other siblings - the ones who want to claim the throne - find that stone, then they will use whatever means necessary to steal it. They will kill you if they have to - it wouldn't be the first time Amberites spilled blood to contend for power amongst each other and I know that all of Eileen's children will hunger for that stone. And don't expect them to wait politely for you to finish some emotional song for a man who didn't even know the meaning of the word love!"

                  Dubiel could sense some extreme bitterness coming out of her sister for their mutual father, but amongst that all, Dubiel was starting to see the big picture. Would her siblings actually kill her just to have this Jewel? Certainly it was powerful - the most powerful thing in creation perhaps. None of Eileen's children would hesitate to use it to declare immediate right to rule.

                  Eventually Wanda gathered herself, sniffing back a few tears. "I worry for you sister, and I worry for Amber. If you were gifted this stone, be it by father or perhaps by the will of the Pattern itself, then I feel it must mean something more than you being a kingmaker and handing it off to whomever you feel must be best. Dubiel... this is King Arthur's Excalibur, this is the Mandate of Heaven, the Jewel of Judgement falling into your hands... it's a sign that you should be the one to rule - and together, you and I, we could make Amber better than Olin ever would have. Please don't throw it all away."

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Re: A Stage of Shadow (Dubiel)

                    Dubiel gave a long look at Wanda. "I have kept it with me at all times. Was I not clear, sister? I would dread to leave it unattended - it was entrusted to me, and so I will do what I must to ensure that with me it will stay."

                    She wasn't confident she could do much to keep them from taking it from her... after all, her brothers and sisters were almost universally all better fighters than her - and it would be even worse if they managed to get inside her head. Her force of will was nothing compared to theirs...

                    But, she was it's keeper, and so she must do her utmost to keep it. Besides that, they wouldn't be able to take it from her, as long as they didn't know she had it. She would have to keep them from finding out.

                    Would they really kill her for it? She knew it was an invaluable artifact, and a powerful call to rule... but... to kill her? She didn't share Eileen's blood, but even so, she was still their sister... wasn't she?

                    She shook her head rigorously, to clear it. "At any rate... perhaps you are right, sister. I know you would do right by Amber - how exhausted you are right now is a testament to that. if my taking the throne would put you in position to do so, then perhaps it really is best I do try for the throne. But... I just can't leave Amber, yet, Wanda. If I am to rule, I must conduct myself fittingly. I... know the way he's treated you and the people wasn't the best, but he's never done wrong by me, and so I must honor his memory. And, how could I call myself a ruler, if I fled before a threat reared it's head?"

                    Dubiel bit her lip. "I know I this might not be the safest course of action, but... please, sister, trust in me." She pulled Wanda into a hug. Into her ear, she whispered, "And if... if in the end, I do fail, please, promise me you won't do anything foolish? If they... if they really do kill me, Amber would be so much worse off without you, too."

                    Spoiler
                    Last edited by GargantuaBlarg; 5th April 2012, 01:37.
                    Spoiler

                    ULMF's request thread. Ask for stuff there.
                    ULMF's game FAQ. Has info on how to run JP games and ISOs.
                    IQDB. Searches for images!
                    JDownloader, automates downloads from places like Megauplohwait.
                    Hikari are, iza susume!
                    Wear Sunscreen.
                    >>*The Shoutbox slaps some sense into GargantuaBlarg.*

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Re: A Stage of Shadow (Dubiel)

                      Wanda had a forlorn defeated look in her eye. "Sister... what kind of ruler would you be if you put pomp and circumstance before the practical needs of the kingdom? But if I cannot dissuade you from this course, then at the very least I am not going to let you walk it alone. Keep the Jewel on you, and wear the cloak. Even I have not heard of it, so it should be safe enough to wear without too much notice. After all, most of us tend to concentrate on that mask of yours anyway..."

                      Wanda led them back from her gallery room and into her own bed chambers where she began to change into clothes of proper mourning.

                      "I'm going to hear you sing your dirge and I'll be right next to you the whole time. If someone tries something, you're going to get the hell out of there, understand. You're stronger than I am, Dubiel, you have such natural gifts... I don't think I could wait out another eternity under a rule of Bator or Vaelus, or any of Eileen's brats. Amber and the universe deserve the change that this opportunity presents us, and you represent that change Dubiel. Your inheritance of the Jewel only makes it more clear in my mind. I'll do what I can to protect you and don't you dare presume to tell me not to do anything foolish until you wear a crown instead of a mask."

                      After several minutes of changing, Wanda exited her wardrobe in a well-fitted, high collared, black dress. She also wore a matching hat with a fishnet veil in front that draped across her face.

                      "I will write a quick notice that will be posted in the city square. Then we shall meet with Cameron and get the funeral underway."

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Re: A Stage of Shadow (Dubiel)

                        Dubiel said nothing further on the matter of her decision not to flee Amber. The Pattern bless her, her sister always practical... but, she couldn't abandon the city just because she was of what her brothers and sisters might do. She had always been friendly with them... surely, they would covet the Jewel if they found out she had it, but would they truly try to kill her for it? She tried to imagine Vaelus, or Bator, or Vivi, running her through, in cold blood...

                        It was hard. They had marshaled soldiers in the myriad wars and battles Amber had fought, surely, but... she had never seen them do so, and had rarely ever seen the results of it, especially firsthand. Whenever they had gone off to fight something somewhere, she had always stayed in Amber. Well... except once. They were to do a play called 'Jasson the Legionnaire', about a man who spent his entire life fighting in the army. She thought it best to see what the military life was like, so she asked father to let her come along during his next campaign, to see. So she'd turned into a young man and pretended to be a fresh recruit.

                        Hazings, bravado and posturing by the others, veterans or new recruits like her, she'd expected all that... but the actual fighting? It had been awful. Under her father's command, her side had hardly been in any danger, of course, but... the way the soldiers they were fighting just slumped to the ground, and how the ground started to turn red... if she had been on the other side...

                        After that first fight, she couldn't stomach being that close to the battle anymore. She abandoned her disguise, and simply watched from Olin's side as he commanded. Even that had been hard to swallow...

                        Looking back, perhaps that had been one of Olin's 'slights' to her? Like Wanda, and how he treated this idea of Democracy with her... had letting his silly little girl come with him to play at soldier been the same thing? She'd never thought of it like that at the time... and, ultimately, she'd viewed it as a valuable lesson. For one, war was a terrible thing. For another... she wasn't a soldier. Or a general. Of any sort.


                        Even then, though... she just tried to imagine her brothers or her sister, killing her. She thought of Vivi... of Bator... of Svaltus... their lips curled up in a sneer...

                        No, that didn't seem right. Maybe anger? Sadness? They were shoving a blade through her... twisting it, to make make it hurt... or to make sure she was really dying...

                        Dubiel shivered, and tried to banish the thought from her mind. It was a chilling notion.


                        At any rate, Dubiel had to prepare herself, in case her sisters somehow did somehow manage to discover she had the Jewel. After getting permission from Wanda, she excused herself to a windowless room, where she could be sure she was alone. There, she turned one of her hands into a monstrous looking black claw - more suitable to the mask she wore, perhaps - and drew one sharp nail across her opposite wrist, a little twitch of a wince crossing her hidden face.

                        Red beads of blood started forming from the cut... and then they started growing, larger and larger. Then, they started to move together... and pretty soon, there was a writhing blob of it, jiggling on her wrist. It took a few minutes, but the blob began to take shape, a wing popping out on either side from the red mass... and eventually, a blood-red little cardinal sat on her wrist, peeping.

                        "Hello, dear," Dubiel said to it, stroking it's head with one finger. It usually took her a while to recover, from such acts - which she considered reasonable - after all, most animals took weeks, if not months to birth another creature, and it took them still longer to learn to walk or fly, and do all those other things as this little birdy knew. She wasn't sure how long they had, but if she recovered quickly enough, she would make a few more. On top of all that, though, these little birds could do something special. Like her, their tiny eyes could look, and see the Pattern in all things. This would be helpful for the task she had for them.

                        "I have something I need you sweeties to do for me," she said, to her little birds. She then showed them the Jewel of Judgement. "This is very important to me. I need you to watch over it - and if I ever don't have it, I need you to to follow it, and make sure I know where it is. Never let anyone else know, unless I say so."

                        She could make more birdies later, but for now, she had to get ready along with Wanda. That meant... hiding the Jewel. Now that her beloved father Olin had... had... she had to wipe her eyes once more. Now that daddy was gone, they might be a little more alert... she couldn't just hide it at her hip like she'd been doing, passing it off as a coin purse or some other such thing...

                        She put it around her neck, and looked at herself in a mirror. ...No, that definitely wouldn't do. It was so big, it looked as if she had an oddly-placed, irregularly-shaped third breast! Definitely not acceptable.

                        She wasn't so sure about her idea, but... hurrying, she undid the buttons holding her blouse, and looped the Jewel's chain around her neck, laying it on her bare flesh. She knew how to borrow the mass of objects, to fuel her stranger transformations... perhaps she could use that, and hide the Jewel within her? If not, perhaps... perhaps she could just move her body's insides around... hide it, under her ribs, next to her heart? Anywhere... She was a being of the Pattern, too. If she couldn't hide it completely, perhaps the Pattern that made up her could at least camouflage it?
                        Spoiler

                        ULMF's request thread. Ask for stuff there.
                        ULMF's game FAQ. Has info on how to run JP games and ISOs.
                        IQDB. Searches for images!
                        JDownloader, automates downloads from places like Megauplohwait.
                        Hikari are, iza susume!
                        Wear Sunscreen.
                        >>*The Shoutbox slaps some sense into GargantuaBlarg.*

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Re: A Stage of Shadow (Dubiel)

                          The droplets of Dubiel's blood twisted and churned, shaped by the Amberite's centuries' worth of practice into the form of several blood red cardinals - a bird with special meaning to the princess.

                          They chirped pleasantly, becoming quickly comfortable with their new existence. They noted the jewel, and then Dubiel herself, and chirped again in affirmation of their task.

                          They watched as Dubiel peered into the mirror, regarding her own body. To shape one's own form was not an easy process, nor something that should be entered into lightly. It had taken years of painstaking practice to perfect even just one form, and while there was no doubt great skill within Dubiel's artisan hands, messing around and making new pockets of flesh required time and delicacy. It was about ten minutes later when she had finished sliding the jewel inside her ribcage, underneath her heart.

                          Now it was almost a certainty that if her dear siblings wanted the jewel, they would have to tear her apart to have it. It was a sobering thought. Perhaps this was good for a short term solution?

                          Wanda was tapping her foot impatiently when Dubiel stepped out of the room, her small flock of cardinals flapping out behind her and hovering.

                          "Oh yes, those aren't going to attract attention." Wanda said with syrupy sweetness before holding up her hand. "No, don't bother, I'm sure you know what you're doing, sister-mine. Let's get this show over with."

                          Leading her out to the front of the house, a horse drawn carriage, complete with a footman and driver, awaited them and helped them into the compartment.

                          "To the center plaza," Wanda told the driver. "It's time to inform the people."

                          Turning to Dubiel, Wanda leaned in conspiratorially. "You still have it on you, yes?"

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Re: A Stage of Shadow (Dubiel)

                            After the last of her little flock emerged from her wrist, she gave the wound a rub with her other hand. When she drew her hand away, it was gone, as if she'd never had it.

                            Dubiel wiggled about a bit, twisting to the left, then the right, then hopped a little, feeling the stone now lodged under her ribcage as she jostled about. ...Now that she thought about it, they really would have to rip her apart to get it, so long as she had it in there... there wasn't any physical sign it was there, but... concentrating, she looked down at her bare flesh, gazing at where she felt it, letting the Pattern reveal things her eyes might never see otherwise. Could she see it, even then?

                            Slipping on the rest of her clothes - including her skull-hood mask, red cloak, and another cloak in mourning black over it - she looked again, checking to see if they helped to conceal her secret. She hoped her gifts wouldn't stand out very much...

                            She gave a little gasp when she almost walked into Wanda when she finally emerged.

                            "I love cardinals - they're so pretty, don't you think?" she said as they walked along. "I was hoping they would make me feel better..." she said, trying to sound as innocent as the sheltered little princess should. Hadn't she berated her brother for even mentioning the thought of succession, barely even a few hours ago? And yet, here she was... conspiring with her sister to snatch up Olin's throne...

                            At any rate, the reflex to give Wanda a knowing wink was easily suppressed. After all, she couldn't see her face, anyway.

                            When they got to the carriage, Dubiel called her birdies to her, letting them alight on her arm. She gave one a little rub on it's tiny head with her finger, and then rose their perch up into the air, letting them disperse to watch over the area all around her.

                            When Wanda asked her question, she nodded, enough to make her mask do so noticeably as well. "Can you see it? Look closely..." she asked, also leaning in, and also whispering. She hoped she wouldn't have to tell Wanda to see with the Pattern's aid... though she would if she did.
                            Spoiler

                            ULMF's request thread. Ask for stuff there.
                            ULMF's game FAQ. Has info on how to run JP games and ISOs.
                            IQDB. Searches for images!
                            JDownloader, automates downloads from places like Megauplohwait.
                            Hikari are, iza susume!
                            Wear Sunscreen.
                            >>*The Shoutbox slaps some sense into GargantuaBlarg.*

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Re: A Stage of Shadow (Dubiel)

                              Wanda snorted at Dubiel's comment about the pretty birds. She was too busy and practical a woman to let such things appeal to her. It was odd how these two half-sisters were so close, given their wildly different perspectives on life.

                              She was far more interested in Dubiel's trick with the Jewel. She stared intently at the masked woman for a moment and then sighed. "You must think you're quite clever. I'm not a great scholar of the Pattern, not compared to Bator, but I know that the Jewel resonates as much with Amber as you or I. Someone looking through shadow to find it, WILL find it, if you let them know where to begin their search. That's why I so strongly advise against this public display..."

                              The princess frowned and stopped herself from pursuing the matter further. She couldn't get a read on Dubiel, not with the mask.

                              "I do so detest talking to that mask of yours at a time like this, you know? It's bad enough you don't wear your true face. The people need to look to a familiar visage in their leader."

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X