The Queen of Air and Darkness has recaptured Thomas Lane. His wife Iera mounts a rescue to return him, but it was necessary to take Mab unawares, so the group of rescuers assembled at a back way into Mab's realm, a place of thorns, in order to gain quiet entry to the heart of her realm. So as not to alert Mab, the Chaosians took or were given a fae aspect before they assembled.
A smooth stretch of lawn, flooded by moonlight so bright that the night can no longer conceal colors; the emerald rich and muted. Around the perfect circle of turf, ancient oak trees loom, gnarled and half-leafless with age, their branches sharp claws awaiting the unwary wanderer.
Above, stars burn, barely dimmed by the full moon. They flicker, not like distant bodies seen through sifting air, but like torches set in the firmament, far larger and brighter than any seen in human lands.
Ladril bestows a faint smile upon Dancer. Her eyes and hair aglow with moonlight.
Chalice comes out of a trap door, which, as it closes, disappears back into the green sward.
Tumnus says "I'm afraid that my nature often runs contrary to good advice."
Tumnus lets out a quiet breath.
Chalice says "You eat bugs."
Dancer shivers faintly.
Mab paces forward a step. "More of you. Like little rats from underground. Do you desire oblivion so?"
Tumnus chews his lip.
Dancer narrows her eyes at Mab.
Tumnus looks thoughtful.
Dancer says, coldly, "Not rats."
Tumnus says "If you live here, this place cannot be without some charms."
Ladril turns her pale gaze upon Mab, taking in the details.
Chalice glances at Tumnus, then at Mab. "How...sweet."
Tumnus says "How are you called, white mistress?"
Chalice presses her lips tight together.
Mab turns her black and empty gaze on Tumnus. "The Queen of Air and Darkness."
Tumnus looks up at the sky.
Tumnus smiles. "Your realm is beautiful, then."
Tumnus says "Who rules the earth and the grass?"
Dancer stands with both hands on the top of her staff, her feet set apart.
Mab says "The earth is darkness, and grass is rooted in that darkness. I rule here, earth and sky and all between. And you trespass." The last is said almost in a hiss.
Tumnus chews his lip.
Chalice says tautly, "Shouldn't take what isn't yours."
Dancer gives Ladril an intense look.
Tumnus looks thoughtful.
Ladril steps forward, holding up one hand.
Ladril says "You call yourself Queen of this place. I have heard...rumors. That you may have a great prize in your possession."
Dancer says quietly to Chalice, "Let the lady speak."
Aloyn comes out of a trap door, which, as it closes, disappears back into the green sward.
Tumnus bends over to inspect the grass and the earth.
Chalice presses her lips together firmer.
Mab says "Another rat. Just how many of you are scurrying about in the realms below?" Her empty gaze is turned on Aloyn.
Aloyn looks entirely amused.
Ladril frowns ever so faintly at Mab.
Mab says "And who are you to say what is mine?"
Tumnus straightens, chewing his lip.
Ladril says "Travelers. We follow the wings of rumor. Such a prize could not be in the hands of a lesser Faerie, although, upon seeing this, I am not so sure."
Tumnus blinks, looking at Ladril.
Tumnus scratches vigorously at the hair between his horns and looks at Mab.
Chalice takes several deep breaths, fury barely contained.
Tumnus catches a glimpse of the stiffening Chalice, and sidles over.
Tumnus takes one balled fist in his hand.
Ladril's expression and body betray little emotion. A hint of disappointment, and disbelief.
Mab laughs, cold and silver. "I have much that your kind would consider treasures. It matters not. All that is here is mine. Including your little lives. What should I do with you, I wonder? Would you make good servants for my table? Or prey for the dogs?"
Chalice glances sideways, and takes another deep breath.
Dancer shakes her head, her eyes alight. "You make assumptions."
Aloyn says, dryly calm behind green eyes, "Her kind does."
Dancer says, delicately, "It's best to find a meeting point, queen."
Ladril draws herself up to her full height, the light in her eyes no longer borrowed from the moon. "I believe you have something of mine. Whose vows are bound to me. You do not own my life, nor that of my fellows."
Tumnus says "Actually, I don't mind serving at a table."
In the dark trees behind the queen, dark shapes move and blazing green eyes gleam.
Aloyn says "I do. And I stand arms for Queen Ladril."
Chalice elbows Tumnus, hard.
Dancer slides one hand lower on her staff, a faint smile on her face.
Tumnus looks at the eyes.
Tumnus grunts, then winces.
Tumnus looks at Chalice.
Mab looks to Ladril. "Careless of you to lose this thing, child. More foolish to come here seeking it. "
Chalice narrows her eyes.
Tumnus puts a narrow, brown hand over his ribs.
Mab paces forward, the shapes from the wood following her. Dark dogs, eyes blazing with faelight, teeth white and sharp.
Tumnus puts his thumb in his mouth.
Aloyn smiles serenely.
Tumnus gnaws upon the tip.
Tumnus looks over his shoulder, and shudders.
Dancer grins, with teeth, settling into something that looks more like relaxation.
The dogs move silently across the grass, forming a circle around the little band. Mab watches, a chill anticipation on her face. "Do you have more to say, unwise children?"
Ladril says "I maintain that this was not lost, but taken. Removed from my custody by one who had no right."
Aloyn glances over at Dancer, very relaxed, with a very similar smile.
Tumnus paces and shuffles his hooves, shuddering.
Dancer says "You'd have had us earlier if you werne't bluffing, queen."
Dancer says "You know we're not so easy to take. Let's cut the crap."
Chalice says abruptly, "It's ours. Not yours."
Tumnus smiles suddenly.
Tumnus takes his thumb out of his mouth.
Tumnus says "Please give him to my lady. If you do, I will give you something."
Aloyn says, on the heels of Tumnus, "I don't mind proving it if she requires, you know."
Mab smiles, a greedy smile. "Ah, promises, little faun? What would you promise?"
Aloyn shifts again, and becomes rather more poised.
Aloyn says "Unless her... creatures... aren't of quality."
Ladril lifts her hand, displaying the ring which is a physical part of her finger. "He is mine. By his own word and oath. You have taken him, and I will have him back."
Chalice balances, tension fading suddenly.
Dancer says levelly to Mab, "Let's see if you have him before you bargain."
Tumnus grins at Mab.
Mab stiffens at the sight of the ring. "So that is what you seek. Bound to you with feeble threads he may be, but bound to me and this land with cords of silver and blood. You will not have him."
Tumnus's smile fades.
Chalice says, poison sweet, "Bound to us all, by love or by choice, in some form or fashion. He is not yours to keep."
Ladril narrows her eyes, "I will have him. You know full well the bonds of soul sworn oaths. They can tear your land asunder, such is their strength.
Tumnus says "A white dancer, all of bone, to take his place."
Tumnus says "A black tree, to sing sweetly, in his stead."
Tumnus says "And a thousand bats with claws of silver and eyes of sapphire, at your command."
Mab says "And they might tear your soul asunder first, o brave little mortal who wears the mask of fae."
Tumnus says "Please, Queen."
Tumnus says "They won't give up, and if you harm them, their friends will come in anger."
Mab says "Shall we try the contest? Or shall you seek another bargain?"
Ladril says "What do you suggest for this...contest?"
Aloyn tilts his head.
Dancer shifts subtly.
Tumnus goes back to chewing on his thumb.
Mab smiles, cold and cruel. "We shall set bond against bond. If yours proves the stronger, you may take your prize and return to sunlit lands. If you fail, you and your companions will give your souls to me, of your own free will."
Ladril says "I cannot promise their souls for them, but I, at least, will accept your challenge."
Aloyn says "If you wish to deal for my soul, such as it is, you'll
challenge me personally."
Aloyn flashes a smile, teeth bright in dark face.
Mab says "How little faith your friends have in you, o ring wearer."
Tumnus chews his lip.
Chalice glances at Dancer, then at Ladril.
Ladril narrows her eyes. "Perhaps you are afraid you could not win out one on one against such as my fellows."
Aloyn says "Perhaps we're bantering to gain her time."
Dancer laughs. "I lost mine somewhere, Queen. Shall I add something else to the bargain? I'd gladly get directly involved."
Chalice shrugs. "I would rather you test my bonds than hers, but you'd get so .tired. after testing the first two I wouldn't dare ask you to try a third."
Aloyn says "I itch for involvement, myself."
Tumnus lowers his gaze.
Tumnus mumbles something unintelligable.
Mab looks at the little group, the dark hounds moving a pace closer. "You may choose your champion, if the little ring-wearer's bond is so frail. Come, pick one of you to strive for this friendship you claim so dear. Bond against bond. Or stand here forever as monuments to foolishness."
Ladril's hands clench, and she turns her pale gaze towards her companions.
Dancer says calmly to Ladril, "I'm with you. She oversteps, though. She involves us, she gets the pointy bits, too."
Tumnus doesn't look at Ladril.
Aloyn says "The same."
Ladril holds a hand out to Dancer and Aloyn.
Tumnus looks at Ladril.
Tumnus says "I want to..."
Tumnus says "But I can't."
Ladril says "I know, Tumnus. And I ask no more than you can give."
Tumnus says "I'm sorry."
Dancer moves smoothly to Ladril's left side, her staff in one hand.
Aloyn flanks Ladril on the right, his hand free.
Ladril says "There is no need for sorrow, Tumnus."
Tumnus's eyes glisten.
Dancer takes Ladril's hand.
Tumnus squeezes Chalice's hand.
Tumnus releases it after a time.
Tumnus eyes the dogs. His brown hair ripples.
Ladril turns to face Mab. "Well?"
Mab says "Then follow, you that challenge.
Mab disappears into the trees.
Ladril disappears into the trees.
Here also is a smooth lawn, beneath an arching roof of earth, white roots showing in the sod. Torches burn with a turnip white flame in sconces set in the walls, and in silver lamp poles set in the turf. At one end of the long hall, the green rises like velvet over a throne shaped from earth.
Mab stands near a cafalasque of silver and white, on which a young man lies.
Ladril looks from Mab to the cafalasque.
Ladril steps towards to cafalasque.
Dancer flanks Ladril.
Mab rests a hand on the man's blond hair possessively.
Ladril stiffens, gaze quickly scanning his form.
Dancer's eyes glitter.
Mab says "Now. Strive. See if your little mortal link is the equal of one forged of moonlight and blood, to the earth itself." Her voice is light and mocking.
Ladril says softly, "He is my soul, my life. The sun, warm and sweet.
The earth, secure and comforting. The water, encompassing, life
breathing. The air, supporting, loving. Two halves of a whole. Empty
and Full. Open and Closed. Together or apart. Neverending. A circle.
Ladril's hand extends towards Thom, though she does not touch him. Her form shifts, colors emerging, life and emotion an almost palpable swirl about her.
Ladril's eyes, over bright and now brown, never leave Thom's face.
Mab says quiet and cold "The sun does not shine here. The earth here binds him close, the water runs with his blood. The air wraps him close, keeping him for me. His soul is mine, and your circle is broken."
Ladril spins to face Mab. "No!" she hisses, launching herself at that imperious smirk.
Dancer says, commandingly, "Freeze, Mab." She adds, "I have the calling of you."
Mab staggers back as Ladril strikes her, catching herself with one arm against the wall of the mound, She locks eyes with the fae.
Dancer lifts her chin, planting the heel of her staff into the grass.
Aloyn is light and easy on his feet. Quiet; present.
Ladril glares at Mab. "You cannot break our bonds! We are a circle! No one can break them but us. And you have left him unable to do so."
The air of the mound seems suddenly bloodwarm, the ground shivers with tension as Mab and the red haired fae struggle silently, without movement.
Dancer takes a breath, and says to her staff, "Not where I'd have chosen. I'm sorry." She drives it into the ground.
Mab's face slowly loses its mask of cool arrogance, and she slowly sinks to her knees.
Dancer hesitates, hands on the staff.
Ladril reaches out, touching a hand to Thom's shoulder, moving it to cover his heart. She leans over, placing a kiss to his brow.
The trembling of the earth becomes a rumble, worms and clots of earth shaken free from the ceiling raining down.
Dancer snaps, "Aloyn. Can we leave?" Earth catches in her hair, slides off her shoulders and arms.
Aloyn says "Oh, yes."
Dancer yanks up her staff and dances, almost, to Ladril's side, as sheltering as she can.
Aloyn says "Hold him, Ladril."
Aloyn wraps one arm around Dancer, one around Ladril and Thomas.
Dancer reaches back, grabs Chalice's wrist.
Ladril holds tight to Thom, like a lifeline.
Mab's gaze wavers and finally fails. She mouths something that might be curse or prayer, earth tumbling down in chunks now.
Aloyn says "Work with me."
Aloyn falls instantly into concentration, breathing slowing, face terribly calm.
Dancer breathes raggedly. "Where?"
Dancer stares at Mab, then, her eyes going abstracted.
Aloyn murmurs. "Courtyard of Lords."
Dancer pulls Chalice in closer, her eyes narrowing against the falling earth, and her breathing drops away to nothing.
Mab throws up her hands, as if trying at the last to disrupt their work with a spell.
Aloyn is almost scintillating, on some levels, with the energies of Trump.
Dancer is taut, unseeing, almost.
Courts of Chaos - Courtyard of the Lords
The avenue broadens here into a vast courtyard of dark grey flagstone. The majestic spires of Chaos are mirrored in a reflective pool of liquid stone in the Courtyard's center, and benches of varying sizes are scattered around, providing resting places for the various visitors and residents of the Courts. Around the Courtyard, evenly spaced, are seven great gates: entrances to the Houses of the Lords of Chaos.
The avenue contines northwards towards the gates, and southwards towards the center of the Courts of Chaos.
Ladril clings to Thom.
Aloyn lets go, body exhausted, and unwilling to fall; with care, he walks around Ladril, to Dancer.
Ladril presses a kiss to Thom's temple, rocking him, though he doesn't seem to react.
Aloyn goes down with Dancer, moving as best he can to cushion her fall.
Tanith br'nej -- the section of history this log takes place in.
Log: The Rescue of Thomas
/ Gretchen / Flick
Last modified: April 23, 1997 / firstname.lastname@example.org