Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Chapter 56: Elise Cannot Let Matters Lie

Fri, November 27, 2074 12:46 am: 88 Wilkins Ave.- Camden, Pleasantview


The old radiator by Elise's bed rattled and hissed, expanding the silence with steam. It was so strange the way ordinary spaces that she never considered under ordinary circumstances came to life in moments of extraordinary gravity. Kvornan folded the sheets around Ermengarde's tiny frame. His thoughts tumbled one over the other in a confusion of languages that Elise did not speak. She had never felt more thoroughly isolated than she did then.

Elise tipped her body backwards, trying to rest her head against the wall but it was too far to reach. Kvornan feigned a light cough. This was their speechless dialogue. I want to rest but I can't. Elise's chest rose and fell with the weight of her own mortality. She would give it to him if she could.


Kvornan exhaled deeply as Ermengarde flipped onto her side. Though her eyes had been open for much of the night, she remained unresponsive from the moment she'd spoken onwards. After Elise dressed her, Kvornan somehow managed to put her to sleep. It was, he said, all that they could do.

Elise tapped Kvornan's knee with the hard sole of her sandal. He jerked his head upwards, startled. In an instant, she saw the anxiety that he had been trying to shield from her throughout the night. And it was discouraging.


"You aren't inspiring very much confidence in me over there." Her voice had taken on the vaporous quality of steam. Kvornan knitted his brow.

"Maybe I'm not feeling terribly confident." His tone fell flat with the weight of its honesty. Elise must have recoiled then or given him some sign that only he could read because he quickly amended his statement with, "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that."


Water dripped from the bathroom faucet at uneven intervals. Ermengarde's body slept as sweetly now as it did when hers was the only consciousness commanding it. And there was something essentially chilling about that.

"What's happening to her," Elise whispered. Kvornan drummed his fingers on his knee thoughtfully.

"She has barricaded herself in her own subconscious. It's the smartest thing to do when the psyche is invaded. Let's just pray that whatever is occupying her gets bored and leaves." Elise looked downward, visually skipping across the checkered pattern on her skirt. She would not be content to just sit and wait. The waiting was enough to drive her mad.

"What if- What if I went in there? Could you teach me to do that? Like you did with my dreams," she proposed. Kvornan grunted from the back of his throat.


"What happened with your dreams was different. I opened up to draw you in. Your own psyche is impenetrable, for which I am very thankful," Kvornan intoned. Elise's gaze drifted half-heartedly over the room. His emphasis on the last two words made her think he meant to address some invisible presence. She shook her head to free herself from the thought.

"But you do know how to go into other people's psyches?"


"So teach me." Kvornan parted his lips to respond, perhaps to agree but then resolutely shook his head.

"It's a bad idea. You'd be putting yourself in danger." Elise clenched her hands into fists. Annoyance and desperation were bubbling up inside of her. They were wasting time.

"She's my sister!" Her shout was high-pitched and infantile. If Kvornan had been anyone else, she might have felt foolish. As it was, she pursed her lips and held her ground. His eyes gleamed in warning.

"Nothing is worth the risk of losing you, mvalit," he snapped.

"That's..." Selfish was not the word. And in the absence of that word, Elise was not certain of what she meant to say. She swallowed hard. Kvornan squeezed his eyes shut, struggling to clear his mind. He reached forward and grabbed Elise's hand to steady himself. For a time, all three of them breathed at the same pace.


"We can't just sit here and let this happen," Elise murmured.

"We don't have many other options."

"But if there are other options, we need to consider them."

"You think I haven't considered them?" His cheeks flushed hotly. He was becoming increasingly frustrated and Elise's tenacity only served to provoke him. Still, she could not let matters lie.

"But what if-"

"Elise, please just don't argue with me on this!" Elise gasped and withdrew her hand.


She was now the very definite target of his anger and she knew why. She was thinking about entering Ermengarde's psyche without his permission or assistance. Kvornan pushed his chair closer to her until the sides of their legs were touching. In the midst of her fear for her sister, Elise felt her stomach jump as it did both in sadness and in pleasure. She wanted to pull him from his chair and press her body to his. She wanted to hold him until her arms gave out-- Until the fibers of their skin and clothing fused-- Until they were one highly conflicted being.

"I would do everything in my power to help her short of putting you in harm's way. All I need for you to do is to stay calm and keep me company while I regulate her sleep. Ok?" Kvornan said. Elise nodded, her throat constricting. By stay calm, he had meant shut-up but Elise was too tired to fight in any case.

"Ok," she murmured.



The room fell into silence; Elise watching Kvornan, Kvornan watching Ermengarde. Elise wanted to comfort him but she didn't dare. He had it in him to break her heart with a glance.

Ermengarde turned over onto her back, her arms spread in welcome or surrender. Elise placed a hand on Ermengarde's foot and gently squeezed. Everyone she loved most was only ever passing through.

"Is she going to die," Elise asked softly. Kvornan did not flinch.

"Not before her time."

"Is now her time?"

"No." There was a finality and a certainty to it that made Elise wonder whether he knew when her time would be.


"I am sorry that I yelled at you," he said. His face was contorted in something like bitterness and Elise had the strangest sensation that he blamed himself for this. He closed his eyes and pursed his lips, still protectively shutting her out.

"It's alright," she breathed. She wanted it to be more than an acceptance of his apology. She wanted it to be reassurance. She wanted it to be Ermengarde awake and alive and whole.


Kvornan folded his arms on the edge of the bed and lowered his head between them. Elise was on her feet, as if by reflex. For an instant, she stood not knowing what to do. Then tentatively, she wrapped her arms around his shaking shoulders. Pressing her cheek on the back of his neck, she stroked his side, comfortingly. Only then did his thoughts roll forth in a tidal volley of ghosts.

December 3, 1996 10:13 pm: The House of Fallen Trees- Gothier, Pleasantview (Seventy-Seven Years earlier)


I'd been awake for days and I was starting to feel it. My muscles bowed into the shape of my chair, arching my body ever forward, towards the shell that nested in Fricorith's bed.

There was nothing for me to do but I refused to concede to my own helplessness. I was like a butterfly flapping its wings against the lid of a mason jar. Maybe you're too young to understand.


My son or some dried-up effigy of my son twisted in the many layers of quilting that I had piled on top of him three days prior. I would have taken his place if I could. He wasn't just in danger of dying, Elise. He was on the verge of effacement. He was staring oblivion in the teeth.

The doorknob turned and I felt a cool rush of air. My wife's niece, Gvaudoin, slipped into the room. I did not turn or acknowledge her in any way. I barely knew that I was in the room, let alone her.


She stopped at the foot of the bed. She said something like, "he looks peaceful" and I begged her to say anything but that. She told me that she was worried about me and I don't know what I responded with. Maybe I didn't say anything at all.

The fire was dying at her back. I wondered if Fricorith was warm enough. It was the only variable that I could control. Gvaudoin tried to convince me to eat something. She offered to bring it up to me, whatever it was. I don't remember. Soup, maybe. I told her no. I wanted her to leave and not just because of my emotional state. In my culture, it isn't appropriate for a man and a woman to be alone together in a room like that-- At night and with the door closed. It occurred to me that maybe she counted Fricorith amongst us. And the fact that I did not have the same inclination drove me deeper into despair.


I got up to stir the coals. She seemed to think that I was coming for her, subtly blocking my path. Our eyes met and I became very acutely aware of the fact that I wasn't wearing a jacket. My wife was a few doors away, no doubt still awake and listening. I had made her leave Fricorith's room the night before because her distress was making me agitated. I wished that Gvaudoin would go to her. I wished that Gvaudoin would look after her and feed her but she didn't. She put her hands on my chest and I sank into them.


She was so beautiful. Divinely so. Sometimes she would walk by and God help me, my palms would begin to sweat. I didn't move while she smoothed my collar. I didn't listen while she spoke. I now had guilt to add to my ever mounting list of unpleasant emotions. But I couldn't pull away.


I collapsed instead. It seemed to catch her off guard but she held me. She called me by my name which was something that she never did. I was only ever Sheut or Lord or Mahadeva. But in my weakness, I was human.


Without thinking, I returned her embrace. I ran my fingers through her hair, kissing her cheek, her jaw, her neck. I never sought comfort from anyone, not even as a child. If I fell, I dressed my own scrapes. If something frightened me, I confronted it. And now?


She was effortlessly carrying the whole of my weight.

I don't make excuses for anything that I've done and this least of all. I lost everything when they died. You will never go through what I did. I swear it.


  1. Mvalit (pron. Mo-LEET) is Ashkay for "beloved".

  2. Wait... this was posted on TUESDAY?!?! I just got the notification like, five minutes ago! And I've been stalking the blog like craaaaazy! Gaaaah! Damn internet!

    Or did you just start the draft on Tuesday? I've noticed that Blogger is rather annoying in the sense of labeling posts with the date of the draft, and not the date of the actual post. Stupid programming there, really :(

    So Fricorith had the same problem as Ermengarde? Interesting. No wonder poor Kvornan is so touchy about the whole thing--brings back terrible memories. Also, he had the hots for Gvaudoin? How old was she? Like, Elise's age? Eh. I guess Kvornan just has a thing for raven-haired women with startling eyes.

  3. She probably started it on Tuesday Van. It doesn't automatically switch over like it should! Blogger is retarded sometimes! *rolls eyes* Cause I've been stalking too! LMAO!!!

    I felt for Kvornan in that last shot. I like that he's opening up a little to Elise. They share such a bond don't they?

    Your sets were outstanding and your writing was very descriptive. I could hear the sink and the radiator. That was very cool.

  4. Don't blame the internet! *pets internet lovingly* It was totally Blogger. I didn't publish until today but, just as you suspected, I started the draft on Tuesday.

    Yes indeedy, Fricorith did have the same problem as Ermengarde. In fact, that was the reasoning Samael gave Kvornan for why Fricorith had to die. Couldn't risk him passing it on to future generations of Fae. It's a hereditary disorder. Ermengarde got it from her mother (but the other three, luckily, did not). Fricorith got it from Kvornan. Kvornan got it from his biological father.

    Kvornan has never and will never have one of these episodes though. No one would dare. Unless of course, oblivion seems like a viable option to that person. And it was Kvornan's permeability that allowed him and Elise to construct "dreams" together.

    Gvaudoin was a little older than Elise in 1996 but not by much. She was 15. However, the times were different back then. (Lookie! I finally get to say IT WAS THE TIMES!) Also, Kvornan was 26. And nothing ever came of it. It was the love that dare not speak its name. Elise is the first person to ever learn of it.

  5. They do. And what I think was going on there was that Kvornan opened up because he knew that she would someday know the truth about everything. He couldn't protect her from that. They're too closely linked. If I could draw you a diagram, you would see that the Sheut sits at the right hand of the Ib.

    Thanks, Phoenix!! I actually built the set for Elise's room back when I was still playing the game. It was very convenient. *drums fingertips together* But I did have to haul in that chair for Kvornan. :p

  6. Interesting development here I feel for both Elise, Kvornan and for Ermangarde... Such a painful relive he must be going through and then the glimpse into his memories, Powerful indeed. 80) And I am a bit lost here, sorry I swear I read the whole thing, but Kvornan and Elise seem to share a deeper bond than meerly Ib and Shuet... Perhaps I am just reading to much into it, LOL! 80) Still their sweetness with the other is heartwarming and his desires to protect and care for her...

    Ok from other comments, I have started posts on one day with Blogger and it doesnt update the date when you finally do post so sometimes it is off. 80)

    Wonderfully worded, I could totally imagine sitting in the room Without need for pics! Bravo!

  7. Hheeeyyy, Cherie!

    Kvornan will explain his connection to her at some point (I think it is currently scheduled as Chapter 63). Until then, just think of them as two parts of a whole. They're made of the same stuff.

    Poor Elise in this chapter. Kvornan's a jerk and I think she understands that. She of course understood that he was particularly on edge. But he was being a bit of an asshat to her here.

    And he is VERY protective of her. To what extent, we will find out as the story continues. ;)

    hehe Yeah Blogger is a mess. But it's a lovable mess. Like a disobedient pet that you just shake your head and smile at when it steals food from the dinner table.

    Thanks, Cherie! Yikes, I barely even glanced at the pics while I was writing this one.

  8. Vulnerable Kvornan... what am I going to do with that... This is a very interesting take, because of course, like Elise, we're all expecting him to roll in and fix everything, have answers, make it better. To see him anxious makes the whole thing that much more scary. Oh, Ermangarde. I adore that little girl, and I feel so bad for her.

    And I'm glad that Van asked about Gvaudoin because I was totally like... WHA?! I mean, now that I know, I'm rolling with it, but I wouldn't expect that to find its way into Kvornan past. But I suppose most of his past is wrapped around Fricorith, so...

    Powerful update, Pen.

  9. Not having control over a situation is very difficult for Kvornan because, as you can imagine, he isn't used to encountering obstacles that he can't overcome. But don't lose hope in Kvornan yet. Kvornan hasn't. He's too stubborn.

    Heh. Heheheheh. Other than the fact that Gvaudoin was grown-ish for the time period, Kvornan's a dirty old man. I mean, Tara is what? 22? And he's 104!

    Thanks, Veron! Next update also coming slowly but surely, I'm afaid.


    But hey, older guys know what they're doing right? *nudge nudge*

    You know what, that comment just proved that deep down I'M a dirty old man.

  11. hahahaha! When I was in high school, I was an art major so I used to have to cart around an enormous toolbox. And on that box, I had a bumper sticker that read "Sexy Grandpa" in shiny foil letters.

    Y'all know how I roll.

  12. what will happen if Elise goes around Kvornan? Can she? Can she get into Ermengarde's psyche without his help? Or permission? what would it take?

  13. LOL, Beth! Why did you delete that first comment? The POV thing was very à propos to this chapter. It's probably glaringly obvious that I intended this chapter to be from the K-man's POV when I shot the images. But then I started to think about it more and I REALLY wanted it to be from Elise's POV. Which meant that I had to do something unorthodox with the flashback. The Elise/Kvornan chapters are tricky as far as POV is concerned because they can effectively hear each other's thoughts.

    Could Elise go in while Kvornan is sitting there? Yes. He has no domain over what she does with her energy. I mean, he can of course tell her not to do it but he isn't really the boss of her. Getting in is an act of meditation and focusing on a particular target. She's had her foot in Kvornan's door many times (but never fully entered as she would plan to do with Ermengarde) in her sleep, where her target was always the House of Fallen Trees. I don't know what she would visualize with Ermengarde. But she's had the experience with Kvornan enough times that she probably has a good idea of how she would get in. But the real question is, what did she plan on doing when she got in there? I don't even think she really knew. Kvornan knew that she would not have known what to do once she got in there. Going into someone's psyche is an extraordinarily disorienting experience.

    And it's dangerous. Too much psychic activity and the whole structure could fall down around you, leaving you in a sort of limbo of non-existence-- The very oblivion that Kvornan was referring to in here. Elise will never see her mother again, not even in eternity because of the collapse of her psyche. Agatha Mindelsohn didn't just die. She ceased to exist. But Kvornan has been keeping that little tidbit of information from the Mindelsohn children for obvious reasons.

  14. why did I delete it? Because it felt bitchy and I didn't want it come off like that. It's not entirely from Elise's POV. It's both. But it works. And that is why I have a problem with the rules about POV. I've read a lot of pieces that would NOT work if the writer kept to some kind of strict rule about NO POV LEAKS. I don't care about that. Sometimes it would totally ruin the piece if both character's thoughts weren't there.

    Ok. Apart from POV issues. YES. I thought Elise could! But that's like when you open the door, do you know the way down the hall? Can you even see the way down the hall? Is it a hall or is it a road or a garden or what the hell is it? Where am I? Around the church widershins.

    Danger is seductive. Never seeing her mother again...well eternity is an interesting concept in itself isn't it?

  15. I think the first thing that came to mind here for me is the question of whether or not Kvornan really could have prevented this with Ermengarde and why does he not know who is in there. Then of course the pain of reliving this and sharing what happened with Fricorith not only to share that with her but to reassure Elise that he would not let this happen.

    He was hard on Elise but harder on himself. It is interesting to see that he is not completely in control and yet certain that this thing with pass at some point. The thought of Elise actually entering Ermengarde's psyche intrigues me...and the idea that Kvornan would follow perhaps. And poor Ermengarde with all kinds of people rattling around inside her...hmm that really does intrigue me!

  16. Beth:

    Hmmmm... Weeeeelllllllll... I was certainly aiming for just Elise's perspective. She can hear Kvornan but her perspective is not his perspective. If I mixed the perspectives, I'd have to divulge all that Kvornan was thinking here. And that's no good. That's why this had to be Elise's chapter in the end. Part Two of the chapter was his inner monologue, addressed to her. Hence the first person. It was experimental.

    Other chapters where I experiment with the narration include Troy Cannot Respond In Kind, parts One and Two of the Caliente dinner party and to a lesser extent, Kvornan Is A Marionette. There may be others but those are the only ones that come to mind right now.

    As far as POV leaks... It totally depends on who your narrator is. If you can bend the rules effectively, go for it. But if it just seems haphazard, it can jar the reader out of the story.

    It is indeed. And in the story, it is an absolute destination.

  17. Gayl:

    Could Kvornan have prevented this? Unfortunately no. I don't even know if he knew Ermengarde was permeable before her first episode (the one that put her in the hospital). Of course, he would have known that she was potentially permeable because her mother was. But there's nothing to be done to prevent it. It can only be combated. Carefully.

    And he doesn't know who's in there because he hasn't peeked in to see. ;) There again though, I'm certain he has his theories about, at the very least, the sort of thing that is occupying poor Ermie.

    There is a lot of conflict and uncertainty in this one. It's interesting that you mention him following Elise because I kinda have to wonder if he would. Too many cooks break the eggshell, I'm afraid. But as Beth put it so splendidly, Elise can open the door but she wouldn't necessarily know her way down the hall. So would Kvornan go in to help her stumble around in the dark? Or would he keep out to reduce the stress on Ermengarde's psyche? That might be a lose/lose situation.

  18. You know, I must be missing something here. Ok not HERE. I misjudged some things. your experiment in narrative oh come on your writing blasts anything like that right through the lab wall. You have to be kidding. I did see the switch between one POV and another but that's like watching someone turn on a teensy tiny lamp in the middle of a thunderstorm. The fireworks shut down the lamp.

  19. Which is why I WISH I had someone to proofread. ;)

    Ha! Did I really write "the Caliente dinner party" up there? I must have had Troy on the brain (which I guess isn't really that unusual for me).

  20. I have a thing for vulnerable man, i'm practically swooning when i saw the last few pics, hehe. Why is Ermengarde so vulnerable to those psyche intrusion? And how on earth i missed the updates? I practically a stalker!

  21. Karen! You know... I have yet to have a "swooning over Kvornan" moment. Maybe there's some side of his personality as yet unexplored that would do it for me. But don't get too comfortable with this particular side of him. He'll be right back to his general unpleasantness soon.

    Ermengarde has a condition that she inherited from her mother where the psyche is weak and open for invasion. In the universe of the story, certain aspects of a living creature's energy are inherited from the parent, just as genes are inherited. But the other three children do not have this problem. And of course, Kvornan's son Fricorith was the same way.

    Hope the images are loading more easily for you now! I reformatted these to JPEG. ;)

  22. So it's a genetic disorder! It's so interesting that the Fae control things like that. It's also really horrible of them :(

    Was this girl his biological niece?

  23. *hehe* Whoah, the Faes don't control Ermengarde's disorder-- I haven't re-read the comments on this chapter but I'm fairly certain that what I meant is that the Faes can help her master her disorder for herself. They can teach her ways of stopping these attacks from happening. Kvornan has the same disorder but no one would ever dare attack him. He passed it to his son and by the time Fricorith started showing signs of the disorder, he was too old to learn to protect himself.

    Gvaudoin was not Kvornan's biological niece. She was his wife's sister's daughter. Even Kvornan has his limits. :D

  24. No, no, I meant control it as in population control, ie. killing whomever has it (obviously not Kvornan, but his son is a good example).

    Still, it's creepy. He must have seen her grow up and everything. Ew.

    But then again, Kvornan doesn't seem to have trouble with that.

  25. Oh! Well a Fae could do that but he would have to be particularly skilled, like Ahriman or Selket. I don't know that we know any others yet who would be that knowledgeable. Jack is powerful enough but has no idea that this is even possible. Keep in mind though that there are other creatures in this universe with both the ability and the inclination to do something like this. To most Faes, this would be a monstrous thing to do.

    Oh yeah, he most definitely did see her grow up. At the time though, he was still basically a kid himself. Fourteen when Fricorith was born. But yes, this was weirdness. I don't know that Kvornan has ever been in love without there being a load of weirdness attached to it, though.