The Ways of Constantine
The walls are covered by canvases. Some of them are finished, some not; some framed, and some still stretched out on their racks. Some are blank. The sunlight from the picture window to the west lights them all. Against the east wall, there's a bed, sheets rumpled. A standalone wardrobe holds clothing, and the pair of swords mounted on one side of it is matched by twinned pistols on the other.
Chotiari smiles at Tanith from where she's sitting on the floor on a pillow. "Hey."
Tanith grins widely at Chotiari. "I like the 'do."
Carl_Danners stays sitting back against a clear bit of the wall, feet stretched out.
Tanith touches her own hair.
Chotiari waits for Tanith's reaction to her face, though.
Tanith looks at Chotiari. "Something else is different, right?"
Tanith peers closely, as she settles down next to Constantine, leaning against him.
Chotiari nods, soberly. Not somberly, just soberly.
Tanith says "Oh!"
Tanith touches her face.
Tanith blinks. "Someone removed it for you?"
Chotiari says "Someone removed them. All of them."
Tanith considers. "I hope they asked first."
Tanith says "I've always thought scars were kind of neat, but then, I don't."
Chotiari says "Well."
Chotiari says "You could say he asked."
Chotiari says "Days before. I had turned him down, though."
Chotiari says "It came up again. I meant for it to be my knee, you know. I guess he thought I meant all of the hurts."
Tanith says "Oh, man."
Constantine nods, pensive.
Tanith says "I mean, you have a choice. Someone else shouldn't make
it for you."
Tanith blinks slowly. "Azuth?"
Constantine glances up at one painting, a landscape of an alien place.
Chotiari says "No, Terel."
Chotiari says "Azuth wouldn't do it. He wanted me to heal on my own."
Constantine says "The knee?"
Tanith nods, slightly relieved. "I'm glad he didn't."
Chotiari says "I don't think Azuth really realized about the knee."
Chotiari says "And please don't criticize, I didn't like to show him how much it was bothering me."
Tanith says "Oh, no, I understand completely."
Chotiari says "But I let my defenses down around other people. And of course I couldn't hide much of anything in the bar last night."
Tanith nods, and grimaces. "Still, that's just rude."
Chotiari shrugs. "I think he means well."
Tanith says "Remind me never to get hurt near him."
Constantine shifts a bit, where he sits.
Tanith says "He heals me without asking, I could die."
Chotiari says "I don't want to go out and get cut again so I can have a scar."
Constantine says "It wouldn't have the same meaning."
Constantine says "So. Bookmarks."
Tanith says "Bookmarks?"
Constantine says "Mmm. Things that one looks back on, in one's life.
Something that happens to you, or...meeting someone."
Constantine shrugs slightly. "Sometimes things that happen before you were born, I suppose. Family things."
Constantine says "You all know I used to be a merc general?"
Constantine says "There was this world, a place that had decayed
almost to the end of its existence."
Constantine says "Almost dead, a place of ashplains and old, burnt out volcanos."
Constantine says "I'd wandered there, with my men, for reasons that
didn't seem important even a year later."
Constantine says "And, unsurprisingly, found a contract. It smelled, a bit, but it wasn't so bad that I wouldn't take it."
Constantine says "Unspecified enemy, numbers known. Nothing I didn't think I could handle."
Constantine says "So...it was an unsubtle time for me. I drew up
battle plans, readied the men, set out. Terrain wasn't a factor; there
was a volcano at the center of an ashplain and I was to take it."
Constantine looks off, past Tanith's head, at a corner. "The opposing troops...they were strange, but nothing more than I'd seen when I was young in Chaos."
Chotiari listens, toying idly with both of her pendants, making them click together. She hopes it isn't annoying.
Constantine says "Thin line. We went in, had an easy enough time of it for a while."
Tanith fiddles with her own pendant, a bit.
Constantine says "But things got worse, further in. More of them,
pushing us back. Numbers, not tactics. We had to pull out."
Constantine says "I made camp that night in confusion. I'd done recon, and hadn't seen anything out there. Tunnels came to mind."
Constantine says "The next morning, I went out again, just a probe. And there were Serpent knows how many of them. I had aerial recon up again, so I could see where they were coming from."
Constantine says "They were being birthed from the ground."
Constantine finds Tanith's hand with his, almost unconsciously. "The
Shadow wasn't magical. I checked that, always do."
Constantine says "Which left a conclusion I was reluctant to reach. The people who were paying me had hired me to kill their god."
Constantine shrugs, slightly. "No magic; magical things happening."
Tanith says "Ew."
Constantine says "So...I set into plotting tactics."
Constantine says "I know how to deal with large, untrained forces; I guessed at ways to manage the replenishing..."
Constantine trails off for a moment, glances at Tanith.
Tanith settles herself a little more comfortably.
Constantine nods, to himself.
Constantine says "We would have been alright, I think, except for
that they learned, as we fought them."
Constantine says "The first week was harsh, grueling."
Constantine says "The next was much worse."
Constantine says "At the end of the third, I pulled back to think again."
Constantine says "This time, I sent men back to the city where I had
been hired, to enquire into certain things. Discreetly."
Constantine says "The god had not been worshipped for long enough that he was nameless, not thought of by almost anyone."
Chotiari shifts on her pillow, as her seat-bones are getting sore.
Constantine says "I asked in my camp. He had found a name there,
short and harsh."
Constantine says "It seems that even hostility is worship of a kind, or at least as much respect as a god needs to find power."
Constantine says "So...we were feeding it."
Tanith nods thoughtfully.
Constantine traces a line along the back of Tanith's hand, as he
speaks. "I went back, different goals in mind."
Constantine says "I had my men fight carefully. With respect, and honor, and consideration."
Constantine says "And I encouraged them to send up their prayers that they might be favored, this once."
Chotiari tilts her head to one side, listening in fascination.
Tanith watches her hands, but is attentive.
Constantine says "It helped, somewhat, too, although not enough;
although we might pray to the god, not now nameless, the things we
fought were still his favored ones, and we sought his innermost
Constantine says "But still we prayed of honor and fought bravely."
Constantine says "Another month passed."
Constantine says "At the end of that month, my army arrayed before
his -- no longer an it -- I stepped out between the battlelines."
Constantine grins, a bit. "And called out a challenge, by the laws of honor and nobility."
Constantine says "And the god, much surprised by his expression, found himself facing me."
Constantine says "It seems that in lending power by worship, there is also the power to shape."
Constantine says "I won't bother with the details of the duel. I won, barely."
Constantine says "The god...was reduced. You can't kill a divinity. Somewhere out near Chaos, in a place I found for the purpose and hope never to visit again, the seed of a god is well-guarded."
Constantine says "I'm not sure if it was a bookmark, but it was something that made me think."
Chotiari is thinking.
Tanith nods, and swallows.
Constantine glances at Tanith, a question in his eyes.
Tanith laughs, wryly. "Bookmarks."
Constantine says "Would you like to tell it, cariodlen? Or another?"
Chotiari says "Cariodlen?"
Tanith looks around the room, studying Chotiari, Carl.
Tanith says, softly, with odd accent, "Carrodre, carrodva."
Tanith says to Chotiari, "It means beloved."
Constantine nods, contemplatively, and says, "Carrodre," carefully. "Thank you, beloved."
Tanith says "Bookmarks and gods."
Constantine says "Or neither."
Tanith looks at her hands, turned palm-up in her lap. "I don't know
if she was a god or not. She'd been around a long time, though."
Tanith glances at Constantine.
Constantine looks back, meeting Tanith's eyes, and nods.
Tanith says "She called herself the Lady, and she sort of belonged
to this guy in charge of a gang. He'd stolen something that housed her,
from a museum shipment."
Tanith says "Fay brushed with them, and I ended up joining, an inside job, y'know."
Tanith laces her fingers together. "But it all got tangled up, and I
ended up doing stuff I didn't mean to do, when it started."
Tanith shakes her head. "The Lady was amazing. It was more her than Tim keeping me involved."
Tanith says "I was going out with Tim."
Tanith says "But she was sort of like..."
Chotiari says ". . .dating?"
Tanith nods to Chotiari.
Tanith looks up, hunting for the right image.
Chotiari nods, comprehending something, and doesn't interrupt again.
Constantine watches Tanith talk, eyes calm.
Tanith says "She was something like a jet fighter. And the kid who
led the gang, he was like a five year old driving it."
Tanith says "And he hadn't done anything but joyride, but all the deadly stuff was waiting."
Tanith says "And stuff was happening, and it was all going out of control."
Tanith says "And I wasn't thinking about all the strings she was tying to things, for him. I was just thinking about how fast she could go, how high she could fly."
Tanith looks at Chotiari. "Am I using the wrong example?"
Chotiari blinks her non-comprehension. "I. . .well. He couldn't handle her. She was powerful, and he didn't know what he had? All the stuff about dzets, I don't get."
Tanith gestures. "They fly incredibly fast and kill things, with people inside to guide them. Like cars, only much more beautiful, much faster, with guns."
Constantine murmurs, "A horse too powerful for the rider."
Chotiari frowns. "Hold on a second." She pulls her satchel onto her
lap and rummages in it.
Chotiari pulls out a much-rumpled napkin with a line-drawing on it. The subtitle says, 'car'.
Chotiari says "Like this?"
Constantine grins a bit.
Tanith looks at it. "Well, sort of."
Tanith says "Maybe the horse works better."
Chotiari nods, looking at 'tine. "My father had a stallion I wasn't permitted to ride."
Constantine nods, and looks back at Tanith.
Tanith picks up the threads, bringing her hands back together. "A
friend of mine named Michael noticed her."
Tanith says "He got upset. He's very territorial."
Tanith's mouth tightens somewhat. "Instead of talking to me about it, he set me up."
Chotiari peers at the napkin for a moment, then tries to un-wrinkle it. She stuffs it back into her satchel, down near the bottom.
Tanith gestures, sighs. "I wasn't doing the right thing, but he
could've talked to me."
Tanith says "He put me in a situation where I had to call for help; a trap for her."
Tanith says "And he caught me and held me there while she... died, I guess."
Tanith says "If you can if you weren't ever alive."
Tanith says "It was... a lot like that."
Tanith says "There's more to it."
Tanith says "I started talking to Bonecrusher again."
Tanith says "After all, I was still friends with his fiancee, and he's a friend of Fay's, and used to be a good one of mine."
Constantine rests his hands on his knees, listening.
Tanith glances at Constantine, continues. "I had this knife the
Lady'd given me."
Tanith says "I was carrying it around with me without realizing, even."
Tanith shrugs. "Things like that have a way of doing, well, things like that.
Chotiari shifts position, moves the pillow out more into the middle of the floor, and lies down on her stomach, elbows resting on the pillow, head propped on her hands. Listening.
Tanith says "He saw it and hauled me over to Dr. Richter's."
Tanith says "He's this mage, about one of the five I've met who aren't out to cut your throat or something."
Tanith says "He looks at the knife, looks at me, and then he gives me, I guess, the magical equivalent of a CAT-scan."
Tanith closes her eyes and smiles wanly. "I think I'm in bargaining, or something."
Constantine offers Tanith a sheltering arm.
Tanith says "I'd been there during the ritual that destroyed her.
Worse, I'd been in the circle."
Tanith wriggles closer to Constantine.
Tanith says "And I was an agent, of sorts. A proxy."
Tanith says "So there were bits left behind, in her, and in me."
Tanith says "And in the knife."
Tanith says "If you were the throat-cutting type of mage, and good enough, you could use it and me to get her back."
Tanith says "And she could come back on her own."
Tanith says "Like a disease."
Tanith says "Some people get cancer. I get antique goddesses."
Tanith says "Or something."
Tanith says "Carl... Carl Richter, I mean, he said he could do some
sort of surgery."
Tanith says "More like amputation; she was all wound up in my gift."
Tanith says "And it'd be years before I came down with the Ladies, but the later I left it, the worse it'd get."
Constantine moves a bit closer to Tanith, eyes shadowed and sad.
Tanith says "So I thought about it."
Tanith says "And I didn't talk to anyone else, not even Fay."
Tanith says "They're all yelling at me now about that."
Tanith says "And I told him to go through with it."
Tanith touches her wrist. "And he did some sort of ritual that I probably would've thought was impressive and interesting if it hadn't been me."
Tanith looks down, her face closed. "And I'm pretty crippled, I guess. My family's treating me like I've died."
Tanith says "It's not really a punch line, but afterwards I asked
Michael what he would've done if I'd chose the other way."
Tanith says "He said, 'The right thing.'"
Tanith says "So I didn't even really have a choice, I think."
Tanith says "But it was good to think I had one."
Tanith says "And it was the right thing."
Tanith draws her knees up, wrapping her arms around them.
Constantine says soft, "It was."
Chotiari can't lay like this. She fluffs the pillow, and curls up on her side, with the pillow under her head, facing Tanith an 'tine.
Tanith glances around the room again, looking at people's eyes.
Constantine adds, voice quiet and firm, "And no matter what your gift, I do not think that you will ever lose your bravery." His eyes are steady, perhaps a bit wet.
Tanith says "I'm getting some stuff back."
Tanith says "I'm supposed to go see Dr. Richter in a week."
Tanith shrugs again, trying to loosen her shoulders.
Constantine glances at Carl.
Chotiari hates to admit that she hasn't understood the story much at all, and so she doesn't. She responds to the tone of the story, and empathises with. . .regret? Sorrow? Hurt, certainly, reflected in her eyes.
Constantine says, at nobody in particular, "Bookmarks?"
Tanith rests her chin on her knees.
Constantine glances over at Carl again, pensive. "I don't know much of you, Carl, although I think we're friends."
Carl_Danners says "Mm. I think so too."
Carl_Danners glances around at people.
Tanith gives Carl an almost apologetic look.
Chotiari is curled up, probably with her back to Carl, lying on the floor. She's listening in a half-drowsy state.
Carl_Danners rubs a hand along one leg, eyes distant. Shakes his head.
Constantine leans his head on Tanith's shoulder, nodding against it.
Constantine says "Sometime, if you'd ever like."
Carl_Danners says "I think my stories all have too much blood for right now."
Tanith fiddles with her bandage and nods.
And off to the Bar at the End of the Worlds, for coffee.
Tanith Ichiko Miramoto -- the section of history this log takes place in.
Log: Bookmarks (Storytelling)
/ Gretchen / Flick
Last modified: April 23, 1997 / firstname.lastname@example.org