Archive for the ‘Perrin’ Category

3.02: The Princess and the Tower

Posted: March 26, 2011 by MaskedGuardian in Mage: The Awakening, Perrin
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“Let me tell you a story, Perrin.”

“Another one?  Don’t you think I’ve gotten a bit too old and … well… Awakened… for your tales of princes and kingdoms?”

“You don’t like them?”

“It isn’t that.  It’s… sometimes I wish you’d just give it to me straight, just once.”

“What use would that be to you?  If you do not earn it, then you are not worthy of it.  I expect you to know this by now.”

“Okay, fine, let’s get on with it so.”

“Let’s get on with it so, Master.”

“Yes, Master.”

“Our story begins with a princess.”

“Of course it does.”

Perrin.

“Sorry…  Master.”

“She was the saddest princess in all the land because the world was filled with darkness and she wandered it alone and scared without kingdom or people of her own.  She could not see the monsters in the darkness but she knew they were there.  The darkness wanted to swallow her.

Then one day she met a prince.  He too wandered the darkness alone but he was not afraid for he was on a quest to find the light.  He told the princess of the truth of the world.  The monsters in the darkness enslaved the princess and the prince in this place.  They had no kingdom or people of their own because this was not their land.  And the princess saw the truth in his words.

And then the prince and the princess were happy, after a fashion, because they had long been alone and now they had each other.  The prince’s quest became the quest of the princess too.  They wandered the darkness together, searching out the light, for they knew in their hearts it was out there.  But they did not find it, though they looked everywhere in the land.

One day, the princess realised that the prince grew weaker.  The darkness stepped closer to him than ever before and his heart was sick, for he had lost certainty in the existence of the light.  The princess knew that she could not stay or the darkness would swallow her too.  So that night she again wandered the darkness alone, and she was the saddest princess in all the land once more, but she was not afraid because she knew the light was out there.

And then she saw it – a beam of silver light upon the top of a gleaming tower that burst forth from the ground, defying the darkness.   At last, she saw the monsters, as they gathered before the tower to block her path.  But she was not afraid.  She saw that she had been wrong.  It was not the monsters that enslaved them but the darkness.  She accepted their existence and she overcame them.  She came to the door of the tower and it opened before her.

This is how the princess fulfilled her quest and came to the light.”

“Ok.  Thin metaphor for my Awakening.  Check.”

“If you must comment, perhaps you might wait until I’m finished, child.”

“Yes.  Sorry, Master.  I thought you had.”

“The quest is the beginning, not the end.

The princess was not exactly happy in the tower.  It was beautiful and it was true but it was lonely and she wished that the light could be greater.  She saw the truth of the world through a veil of silver light and she was sad, because she also saw the truth in the hearts of men, and, as you well know Perrin, the truth in the hearts of men is often darkness.  So she sat in the tower and she watched the truth of the world unfold and she nurtured the silver light in hopes of bringing it to many one day.

Much time passed like this, in silence, watching the truth festering in the hearts of men, until one day she once again saw the lonely prince.  He had abandoned his quest for the light.  Instead, he wandered the land of darkness searching for the princess, for his heart was heavy with longing for that which he had lost.  She saw the darkness that rotted his heart but her own was filled with such need that she chose to ignore it.  She gathered her power, that which she had nurtured all this time, and sent the silver light to him that it might light his way to the tower.  The light burned fiercer than she had ever seen it…

…until the prince arrived at the foot of the tower.  As he gazed upon the gleaming tower, and the princess seated at the heart of its light, he resolved that he would have it for his own.  The light faltered in the darkness of his gaze and the monsters drew closer to him.  The princess watched, as instead of accepting them, he railed against them, refused to acknowledge their existence, until flinging them aside he beat against the door of the tower.

The tower would not open for him.  She gathered the light to her so that she might open it for him but she had forgotten that the light did not belong to her.  She was only the guardian.  Enraged, the darkness in the heart of the prince consumed him, and she saw his envy, his jealousy, his anger, she saw his intent to have the light or destroy it.  She saw too the weakness in the hearts of the monsters.  She saw that she could control them and they would destroy the prince.  But she hesitated.  She loved the prince even with the darkness in his heart.  She could not bring herself to harm him and so she allowed him to leave.

So the lonely prince went back into the land and he carried the darkness in his heart.  The princess sat within her tower and watched as the prince gathered many to him with tales of the power of the light and wept as she saw the darkness grow within the hearts of all.  And she knew that she should not have allowed him to leave.  Her heart grew steely with resolve but as the army the prince had grown around him surrounded the tower, the light began to flicker, and fail.  She gathered the power to her, taking it all inside, before unleashing it at the great army that battered the tower.  But the darkness was too great.  The light died before its gaze and the tower fell and the power left the land.

And the princess wandered the land in darkness alone once more, and she was the saddest princess, for she knew in the certainty of her heart that the light would never return.”

“……….”

“I am finished now.  You may commence your smart comments.”

“……….”

“Do you understand, Perrin?”

“Yes.  Yes, I think so.”

“Then you know what you must do.”

“…… Yes.”

“I am sorry that it has come to this child.  If only you did not defy my every wish just for the sake of it.  Perhaps now you understand that sometimes I really do have your best interests at heart.  No matter.  It’s done now.  Go.  You have… work to do.”

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2.12: Dreams of Blood

Posted: February 18, 2011 by MaskedGuardian in Mage: The Awakening, Perrin
Tags: ,

It never began the same way but there was always the smell of blood.  Her feet squelched through pools of scarlet congealing on the carpet.  The edges of the room were blurred.  Tendrils of shadow crept forth from the corners.  They surrounded her, testing, careful, but they never touched.  They crawled along the outside, slowly, a mass of seething darkness.  The tunnel of shadow heaved.  It was never still.  There was something underneath it all, slithering, watching.  Her skin crawled.  Fear filled the depths of her gut with ice and began to spread.  She could not bring herself to touch the shadows of the tunnel but there was no way back.  She had to follow it.

He was already dead.  They were alone.

It had not happened like this.

This is how she knew it was a dream.

Her eyelids drooped, heavy.  The tension in her back released like a spring and she sagged forward, the glass tilting in her hand.  A wet nose pressed against the palm of her other hand with an accompanying whimper.  She forced her eyelids open and caught the glass just before it emptied its contents on to the carpet.  She reached out and gave the huge dog a scratch behind the ear.

The velvet blackness and silence of the night had given way to hazy grey light signalling the encroaching dawn.  At least one bird was determined to beat the morning rush, already up and about, performing a solo.  In the gloom, she stared at her reflection.

You look awful.

Her face was drawn, pale except for the huge suitcases that had taken up residence beneath her eyes.  Her eyes were shot through with a web of angry red veins but she couldn’t see that from here.  The severity of the recently shorn hair only managed to enhance the gauntness of her face and make the angles of her cheekbones sharper.

Look at yourself.  You’re losing it.  Pull it together, Perrin.

She studied herself critically, the scars that told where she had been and what she had done, the paleness, the way her hip bones protruded just a little too much to be healthy, the fragility of it all.  Shaking her head, she put the glass to her lips and drained the last of the whiskey.  It was cheap.  It burned her throat as it slid down.  Her stomach caught fire and her thoughts muddled as she put the glass on the nightstand and slid beneath the cool cotton sheets.

The beginning was always different, except for the scent of blood that filled her nostrils.  The air shimmered like waves of heat on the horizon on a hot summer day.  These waves of heat were hazy and crimson.  Vapours of blood.  The tang of copper stained her mouth and she knew that the air was filled with his life, slowly evaporating.  He was still alive, just.  Why was nobody helping him?  Where was everybody?

They were alone.  He was dying and they were alone.

It had not been like this.

This was how she knew it was a dream.

He was so still.  His chest heaved, desperately, as he struggled for air.  The vapours of blood struggled to stay free.  A few stragglers returned to his body but after a moment they escaped and they had multiplied.  Globs of crimson spluttered from his lips as his skin turned ashen.  As she sank to her knees in the bloody carpet, scarlet seeped through her jeans and stained her skin.  It was hot.  And the smell… burnt flesh and copper.  It was the kind of scent that pressed itself indelibly in your mind.

She remembered that.

It had been like that.

This was when she forgot it was a dream.

She froze.  Panic seeped into her and her mind went blank.  He was struggling, his own blood choking him, and when his hand grabbed for her she didn’t know what to do.  There was so much blood.  She didn’t understand how a man with all his blood on the floor – in the air – could grip her hand with such strength.  His eyes met hers and they burned into her so that she could not… would not… look away.  He had a secret.  He was keeping something from her.  She did not know how she knew it but she did.  That could not happen if he did not want her to know, she thought.  And then she realised that he wanted to tell her something.  His grip pulled her closer and he wanted to talk but the words wouldn’t come out.

It had been like that.

Hadn’t it?

“It will be okay.”

He held her there.  And then she felt it.  The familiar twist in her gut as space shifted around her.  It was already too late.  The pain… it was instant, paralysing, a blaze of fire racing up her spine.  The blood welled across her shirt, steaming, mingling with his.  She collapsed onto his chest.  More blood.  And his face… his skin was transparent and his lip twisted in what might have been a smile and there was a scarlet bubble and then nothing.

“You’ll be happy there.”

She rolled onto her back.  Agony shredded through every nerve.  She did not know why she still felt the pain.  That was wrong.  She should… she thought… be dead.  Surely she should be dead but she wasn’t and her insides were burning.  She should be dead.

But it hadn’t…

It hadn’t happened like this.

This was when she remembered it was a dream.

Every fibre of her being was screaming for an end.  She gulped a desperate deep breath of air and the vapours of blood – his blood – swept into her lungs.  That was when she saw it.  The shimmering waves of blood coalescing.  As she breathed, deeper, they stayed within her.

“I promise.”

This is a dream.

She awoke, clawing the sheets, frozen for a moment as she gulped for air.  Her skin was hot and slick and the sheets soaked through.  A flash of panic welled in her gut – blood – until she threw off the sheets and the sweat evaporated on her skin leaving behind only a chill.  She reached for the glass on the nightstand, forgetting its emptiness, then cursed and knocked it across the room.

Dammit, Perrin.  You’ll wake John.

The bottle was empty as well.  She pulled on a long jumper and padded down the hallway in the dawn’s light to get a fresh bottle with a dog at her heels, past the fearsome spear laid against the wall, dried blood still encrusted on its blade.

2.10: Wanted, 1 Guardian

Posted: February 14, 2011 by MaskedGuardian in Mage: The Awakening, Perrin
Tags: ,

“I’m so sorry for your loss.”

The parade of strangers passed by her slowly.  She stood, uncomfortable in too-tight black patent shoes, itchy black woollen dress and tights, desperate to get away.  Her grandmother hadn’t let her wear black to her parent’s funeral.  She had said that the colour was inappropriate for children.  Children… she had protested that.  She was almost fourteen.  She wasn’t a child anymore.

Her grandmother wasn’t here to complain now.

She had found her in her bed on Tuesday morning.

Still.

Cold.

She shook her head to clear it of the images.  Blinking the tears from her eyes, she straightened up her shoulders and faced the next mourner in the line.  She was the last one of her family left.  She didn’t want to let them see her cry.  She just wasn’t certain if she could keep up the veneer of strength for much longer.

“I was so sorry to hear about what happened…”

The handsome man took her hand in both of his and pressed it firmly, looking straight into her eyes and smiling gently.  His hands were… warm… comforting. He met her reddened eyes without fear of the pain he would find within them and there was sympathy there, but no pity.  His gaze just made her feel… calm… as if she was with a great friend and had nothing to worry about.  She knew him – or at least it certainly felt like that.  Did she?  She tried to think.  Where had she met this man before?

He reminded her, she thought, of a man that James had introduced her to when he had first taken her to services.  What had his name been?  She was sure James had said but she couldn’t recall it now.  That man had been handsome too, as handsome as this man, but when she tried to remember his features it just evoked images of Cary Grant and Clark Gable and Bogart and all the other beautiful movie stars her grandmother had loved.

The handsome stranger… no, she knew him, she was certain… let go of her hand.  The pain came flooding back through her heart so suddenly she thought it might stop.  She gasped, a wall of emotion slamming through the calm that the stranger had evoked, so much, too much, so that she wanted to grasp his hand again.  He turned away just as her fingers flexed, her hand reaching out for nothing.  She winced.  This time she could not stop the hot tears from welling up in her eyes and spilling over.  She had to get away from this, all the spouted platitudes and pitying looks.  The handsome man was talking to the next lady in line, distracting her, and he blocked the path of the others there to offer their condolences.  He turned his head slightly and nodded at her – as if he both knew what she was planning and approved of it – in on the plan and even helping her with it.

She slipped off into the crowd, wandered, until she found herself sitting on the cold marble floor behind her grandmother’s coffin, hot forehead resting against the smooth polished wood.  As the sounds of the mourners in the church started to die down – after all, without the orphan there was nobody to pay respects to – the echo of her huge gulping sobs began to ring around the ornate building.  She tried to stifle them, stuffing her hand against her mouth desperately, but they were free now and pushing them back down was impossible.

When the familiar arm of James slipped around her shoulders, comforting, holding her against him, she could only sob more and cling to him.

“It’ll be okay, Bunny.  I promise.  I’ll be here for you as long as you need it,” he said finally as she managed to get some control of herself, “We can run away.  You and me.  I can take care of you.  I won’t let them take you.”

“Wh… wh… who?”

“The social services people.  They’re waiting for you.  But we can go out the side door now and they’ll never…”

“No.  No, James.  We can’t.  You… you’d better leave.  I have… to do this.”

He nodded and didn’t argue.  He knew her well enough by now to recognise the stubborn set to her jaw that indicated she wouldn’t easily change her mind.  Instead he stood silently, reaching out a hand to help her up before walking down the central aisle of the church and leaving her behind.  She smoothed out the wrinkles in her woollen dress and pulled a crumpled tissue from up her sleeve.  She gave her face a half-hearted wipe.

There were only three people left in the church.  They stood at the entranceway.  One woman, blonde hair pulled in to a neat ponytail, wearing a conservative navy-blue suit and a severe look on her face.  Her companion was a plain looking man with an equally unhappy look upon his face and they were both deep in hushed discussion with the handsome stranger.  She couldn’t hear what they were saying.  The woman looked angrier as the conversation continued, glancing at her from time to time.  But then she nodded, and smiled, and seemed to relax a little, the anger leeching from her face.  The handsome stranger produced a folder of papers and handed them over.  The woman didn’t even look at them but she shook the stranger’s hand before her and her companion left without another glance at the teenager in the aisle.  The handsome stranger waited as she walked down the aisle and came to a stop a few feet away from him.

“Who are you?”

“My name is Edgar Lifton.  I am your court appointed guardian.  I’m here to take you home.”

“You… you’re going to let me go home?”

He shook his head and for a moment she thought she saw the sympathy in his eyes flicker towards pity.  “No.  Your old home is… gone now.  I’m here to take you to your new home.”

“But… I… please…”

“It will be okay.  You’ll be happy there.  I promise.”

She believed him.

His promise was given with simple… honesty.

He took her hand again and he smiled and her heart felt… calm… again and for the first time all day she understood the… peace… in the silence of the church.

2.05: The Cult of the Bus Stop

Posted: February 10, 2011 by MaskedGuardian in Mage: The Awakening, Perrin
Tags: ,

She waited.  As usual, the bus was very far from keeping to its supposed schedule.  It was always like this but especially on rainy days.  Last week she had been waiting for nearly an hour.  It was almost enough to make her wish that her grandmother would just collect her.  Almost.  All she could do was try to wait with patience.  She sat, perched on the edge of the narrow red plastic bench, the hood of her raincoat pulled low over her face.  It wasn’t enough protection to stop her glasses filming over with droplets of water but she didn’t notice.  She didn’t notice anything much these days.

Her back ached with the residual tension of group therapy.  She wanted desperately to relax but somebody had smashed in the glass panel at the back of the bus stop.  Her feet dangled over the carpet of little glass cubes.  They had been part of each other once, connected, and now they were each alone in the world.  She knew how that felt.  Washes of that misty rain that was impossible to protect against floated through the empty frame, soaking through the cheap material of her raincoat, until she was shivering, cold, so uncomfortable…

Where was the bus already?  She checked her watch for the fifth time in as many minutes and glared at the empty road, willing the bus to come around the corner, then sighed with frustration.

Come on already.

“You’re not crazy, you know.”

The voice was gentle, sad but kind.  It came from behind her.  It was the first voice she had heard in six months that her brain actually wanted to pay attention to.  Maybe it was just because he was saying something that she really needed to hear.

The boy from therapy stepped through the open frame at the back of the bus stop and sat down on the bench next to her.  His eyes were of the deepest blue, almost violet sometimes when he tilted his head a certain direction, and his gaze was piercing.  He really saw her.  He was handsome, in a way, or at least you could tell that he would be handsome, some day, when he was older.  Not that people in mourning really noticed such things but later she would recall those details.

She didn’t say anything for a minute.  There was a moment of almost awkward silence.  She could tell that he wanted to say more but he seemed to be waiting for her to indicate that would be okay.

“I… I’m not?”

“The way you feel… disconnected, you said.  You’re not crazy.  The shrinks will tell you that you’re suffering from depersonalisation but they’re wrong.  You feel disconnected because you are.”

“I don’t… I don’t understand.”

“Do you know how the world was created?”

She sighed and shook her head, her heart sinking.  “Oh.  You’re one of them.  Religious-y type.  I don’t do religion.  God and I… we’re not on speaking terms these days.”

“That’s because you’re not talking to the right God.  There are two.  There is the true God, He who is of light and love and peace, pure of spirit and untainted by matter.  He wants us to transcend, to connect with him, to let our souls find the light.  And then there is the false god, who made the matter of the world to trap our souls within it, the god of chaos and power.  He cannot understand love.  He restricts our souls.  He does not want us to find the light.  Before he created the world, we were all connected with each other, with the light.  But he cut us off from that.  He disconnected us.  So we must strive to overcome and reject that which he rules, that we might once more find our souls connected with heaven.”

She stared ahead at the water streaming down the drain in the road in front of her.  Where was the bus?  Why did the crazy ones always want to talk to her?  Did she have something tattooed on her forehead?  But still…

“My mother talked to God.  It didn’t do her any good,” she responded finally.

“What happened to her?”

“She… died.  My father too.  There was… an accident.”

“I am sorry.”

“Me too.”

She fell into silence, again, but suddenly she found herself wanting to say more.  She was tired of being lonely and angry and she just wanted to… connect.

“They told me it was an accident.  They didn’t give me any of the details.  I guess they were trying to protect me.  But I know anyway.  They said my father was drinking.  My grandmother… she talks to her friends on the phone and she does it quietly and she thinks I can’t hear her.  She gets angry and she talks about how my father killed her daughter and when she hangs up she sneaks off to her bedroom and I can hear her crying.  She can’t stop crying.  And sometimes… I don’t think she can really look at me.  She sees my father… and she thinks he killed my mother… and I… I can’t believe it.  My dad wouldn’t… wouldn’t…”

“What would your father say if he was here, to make it better?”

“He’d say… He’d say, ‘Little Bunny, it’s okay to be sad’ and he would hold me for hours, if I wanted, until I wasn’t sad anymore.”

“I think you should come with me to a service.  Seriously.  I think it would help.  You could come next week after group.  It might help you understand.”

The bus pulled up in front of the stop and she stood.  She was so tired.  Maybe what he offered was just an illusion but would there really be any harm in trying?

“Ok, I’ll come, if I can.”

The bus doors opened and she stepped on.

“Oh, hey!  Bunny!”

Her head whipped around to stare at him.  She hadn’t told him her name and she wasn’t sure if she liked him calling her that.  She wasn’t sure how to respond.  The doors closed before she had a chance to say anything more, but not before she caught the rest of his words through the mist and the howl of the wind.

“My name is James…”

2.02: Therapy for the Disconnected

Posted: February 7, 2011 by MaskedGuardian in Mage: The Awakening, Perrin
Tags: ,

“We have some new faces today, so everybody let’s help them feel welcome to group.  Why don’t we start with … Jane?  Would you like to start?  Let’s get our new arrivals comfortable before we ask them to talk.”

She let her mind wander.  The few items that were of any interest in the room quickly exhausted her attention.  There were a couple of posters on the wall, their theme suitably positive and motivational for the occasion, and somebody had had the bright idea of bringing in a few plants.  Being only thirteen, she had little experience with the realm of gardening, but she predicted with the expert certainty of youth that the plants were probably as doomed as the rest of them.  All in all, the decor was a pretty poor attempt at hiding the faded pale blue walls – coated with that kind of shiny gloss paint that was easy to clean – and the shiny grey linoleum on the floor.  A few plants certainly couldn’t hide that unmistakeable hospital scent.  That concoction of cleaning products, alcohol and somewhere, underneath it all, the cloying stench of sickness was going to be ingrained in her nostrils for the rest of her life.  Of course, the imprint of the moulded orange plastic chairs, apparently designed to cause the maximum discomfort to the human body, could very well last longer than that.

It was marginally more comfortable than the waiting room had been.  There, people sat with their eyes on the floor or a two year old magazine and refused to meet each other’s gaze.  She figured that there was so much pain to go around that they were just afraid if they made that connection it might all come flooding out.  Or maybe they were afraid that they might get stabbed in the face by a crazy.  That second one was probably far more likely in this part of the hospital.  Not that she could judge or anything.  She had her glazed over eyes firmly fixed on an ancient copy of ‘Hello’ as armour against nutjobs trying to talk to her.  She didn’t like waiting by herself.  Her grandmother had dropped her at the gate though, like she always did, because she didn’t like coming into the hospital after…

Why was everyone looking at her?  When had Jane stopped talking?  The group was examining her calmly.  The therapist was on the edge of her seat, looking at her intently, as if waiting for some kind of answer.  Suddenly she found herself wishing she was back in the waiting room.  She looked quickly from face to face for any hint, a scarlet blush rising along the angles of her cheekbones, scuffing her shoes on the floor.

“I’m sorry.  What was that?”

“I asked if you could tell us how you are feeling, now, it’s been about six months since the accident, yes?”

The elfin-faced teenager closed her eyes and tugged absent-mindedly at the long dark plait that hung over one shoulder.  Then she took a deep breath, held it until she thought her lungs might explode, and then exhaled with a shudder.

“Yes.”

“How do you feel today?”

The therapist’s voice came to her as if she was talking through water, her words murky and remote and barely touching her thoughts.  It had been like that since the accident, with everyone.  Though referring to it like that always made it seem like she had been part of the accident.  Sometimes she thought that might have been better.

“I feel…”

She struggled to find words that really accurately described it.  How did you explain to somebody that you just … didn’t… really notice them anymore?

“I feel… disconnected.  From the world.  You talk to me and it’s like I have water in my ears and I don’t even really… not really… hear you.  Or anyone.  You’re all so far away.  I look at you all, the world, and it’s like I’m not really a part of it all, you know?  Like sometimes, when somebody is really sick in a hospital, and they have them in… like… that plastic thingy, you know?  Like a tent?  That’s what it’s like.  You’re all in the tent and I’m outside of it and I can see you and I know you’re there but it’s like there’s this layer of plastic between me and the rest of the world and it’s all so remote.  Or maybe I’m in the tent and you’re out there.  I don’t think it matters.  I…”

She stopped.  She thought she’d probably lost them a minute or so ago, with all her babbling.  The only one who didn’t seem to have that blank polite stare was one of the new arrivals and he was looking at her with this sad little smile that almost made her feel worse.  And he seemed… nice… and she just knew from his face that he was kind… and she didn’t think she wanted this nice boy to see that she was probably crazy.  She dragged her gaze away from him, back to the therapist for a moment, then drew her knees up to her chest and wrapped her arms around them.

“I don’t want to talk about this anymore today.”