Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Chapter 97: Ahriman Refuses The Thought

Fri, December 11, 2074 11:02 pm-- Ethelden Palace; Amhurst, Veronaville

Selket was standing in Ahriman's doorway, unpainted and half-dressed. Her nightgown had a thin and fluid drape to it, almost as though she had just stepped in from a rainstorm. Ahriman was certain that he had never seen her hair hanging loose upon her shoulders like this before. She looked like a girl. Worse than that, she looked very nearly touchable. She leaned back from his door, craning her neck to get a good look at the empty hallway.

"Comrade, we need to talk," she whispered. Ahriman braced the door frame.

"I can't let you in here!" Indeed, he could not. Propriety aside, he kept a small apartment. It was untidy. It was cluttered. It was not suitable for any woman, and this woman was not suitable for any place besides.

"Please, I only have a few minutes." Her fingers landed on his wrist so lightly that she must have been afraid that he would pull away. Instead he just stood there, too conflicted to notice her touch as it happened. The very idea of being alone with Selket Redding where he ate and slept and performed any number of solitary functions cycled on an endless loop. Her eyes were searching his, almost pleading. She would be such a terror later if she did not have her way now. Selket bowed her head in relief as he stepped aside, letting her pass. Once the door was shut, she plowed into a speech that came so quickly, it could only have been rehearsed. "I'm sorry Magister Templi, I know that this is irregular, but I've been to see Loki Beaker, and he said something to me that really stuck, and I got to thinking about the Jareth Garrison attacks--" Ahriman gestured behind her, silent but sudden enough to grab her attention.

"Have a seat." Selket began to lower herself onto the chair behind her, not looking back. "Mind the cat." Webb, Ahriman's obese and crotchety minx sat curled on the wing chair licking his paw. Selket jumped and pushed a pile of books aside as she took her seat on the sofa. Ahriman had forgotten that she was afraid of cats. He brought over a chair from the dining table. When the two of them were sitting opposite, she seemed to lose her train of thought. Selket shook her head as though to rid herself of some distraction.

“Jareth Garrison, he…” Her voice trailed off. Ahriman folded his hands on his lap and looked down at the carpet. The only way for him to focus on what she was saying was not to look at her. The sight of her left no room for other thought. Selket cleared her throat. “Allow me to start over: RDI Reconnaissance has managed to piece together a timeline of the past twenty-five years of Garrison’s life in an effort to build a case against him. According to their research, Garrison’s behavior started to become somewhat erratic about twelve years ago. There were reports of numerous car accidents, aggravated assaults, vagrancy, arson, substance abuse, the list goes on. He became estranged from his young daughter—“

Daughter?” Ahriman plucked the word from the air and displayed it apart from the others as a thing of singular value. A daughter could simplify everything. Selket rested her hand at the base of her neck.

“That is correct. The Vali Division has her on record—Rosa Noland, age sixteen but before you ask, she is somewhat magically gifted. Whether Garrison has Fae lineage is still unclear. The girl’s mother is a daughter of Cade Muenda.” Ahriman sat back in his chair. Selket was looking at him now, trying to gauge his reaction. There was nothing to gauge. An estranged daughter whose status as a partling meant nothing about Garrison himself was a little better than worthless information.

“Anyway,” Selket continued, “Garrison dropped off of his local police blotter about four years ago. The RDI thinks that he is living in Alpinloch. Long story short, he was clean for most of his life. Something traumatic must have happened to him, something big. He was positively low-key before this. And then there’s Orion Specter.” Ahriman cringed involuntarily. Just the name was enough to send him back into his shell these days. Orion was a continuing source of embarrassment. “Do you remember what he said to us all those years ago? That he is a hunter of ‘wolves, devils and filth’, all common terms for vampires? And here’s something that I never told you—I asked him plainly if he was sent to kill the Sheut. His exact words to me were, ‘Ah, yes. That, maybe.’ I thought that he was stalling or misdirecting at the time but now, I understand. You see, when I went to see Loki Beaker, he suggested that there is only one certain outcome for Orion in kidnapping Sita Tvaud. He said that to Orion’s mind, the surest way to attract the brother would be to take the sister. Now what privileged information has Hyperion Tvaud been up to his eyeballs in for the past three weeks? I know that this is going to sound completely insane,” Selket inched forward on the sofa. “But what if Mahadeva allowed Garrison to drink from him at some point?”

Ahriman was on his feet. He clutched his forehead and looked dead at her. He wanted to lose himself in the most beautiful woman that he had ever seen, all full breasts and magenta eyes and soft skin and glossy hair. None of it could drill the thought from his mind.

“Why else would he bring all of this down upon himself? Why attack Faes? I think there is a void that started widening in him the moment Mahadeva walked out of his life—“

“No, it’s not possible.”

“—and so he starts chasing the next available thing. If Garrison were harboring any part of the Sheut’s energy—“

“That’s enough, Mistress Redding.” Selket folded her hands under her arms as if to look less threatening. Ahriman could feel the color rushing to his face. Even Kvornan Tricou would not commit anything as atrocious as what she was suggesting. “I’m afraid that this is all very circumstantial. What could possibly be the Sheut’s motivation for something like that? Nothing good or even advantageous could come of it, and he would know as much. It’s unthinkable. Just consider what the consequences would be. Mahadeva would die, his soul would rise up to Paradise and there would still be part of him lingering down here for as long as Jareth Garrison lived. And what about Jareth himself? He would…”

“Lose his mind?” Ahriman glared at her.

“I won’t entertain this any further, comrade.” Selket stood. She closed the distance between them until they were eye to eye. He was afraid that she could see him sweat. She took his hands in her own.

“I know what I’m suggesting, I know just how farfetched it is, but I would not have come here tonight if every fiber in my body didn’t tell me that there was some truth to it. And what if it is true? How do you proceed, Magister Templi?” Her voice was very low, next door to a whisper. Ahriman bowed his head away, and she let go. He felt her thin gown snare his shoulder as she passed. “I am sorry if I woke you.” The door closed behind her with barely a sound.

If she had given him the time, he would have told her that she had not awoken him. Sleep had proven elusive for months now, out of busyness or worry or both. When it came, it often brought his nightmares back. Ahriman was a man in decline. He knew the great urgency that sprang up at the end of a person’s life, that pull to right what remained wrong. Every day, he fought to keep the world from changing and every day, a little more of what he clung to slipped between his fingers. Kvornan Tricou’s seemingly endless tenure on Earth was a threat to his people, and perhaps a threat to all people. Somewhere out there was a very delicate little girl at the heart of all things, and she was at his mercy.


  1. Alexei drank from Kvornan? That would explain a lot. :S

    For some reason, I'm surprised that Alexei is aware of his daughter's existence. I knew he had a daughter because you posted a picture of her on DBL, but I figured she was a product of a one-night stand (or perhaps something more sinister) and her mother never sought him out. And now I'm definitely wondering about his thoughts on her.

  2. Oh most definitely. It was a reciprocal activity. This is why Alexei is crazy but it is also why he has magic. The RDI is looking for evidence that Alexei is a partling in order to prove that he may have been capable of overpowering poor Amunet Chi'en, along with any other Fae who comes forward. This was why Alexei's daughter rose such red flags for Ahriman. If his daughter is a partling, then that could be used as evidence that Alexei is a partling too. However, Alexei's daughter is also Cade's granddaughter, and Cade is half Fae. Rosa being a partling therefore proves nothing about what Alexei is. In any case, she was conceived prior to the Kvornan blood swap fiasco of 2062. What happened was in no way sinister, but was petty and manipulative. I don't know if/when it will come up in the story. It's a lot to explain. Alexei met Rosa's mother through Cade. Cade asked Alexei as a favor to escort Rosa's mother and her mother up to Veronaville back in 2050. He made it clear to Alexei that it was a matter of urgency and that it had to be done in secret. On the first leg of their trip, Alexei begged Kvornan (who he didn't really know very well at all) to crash for a night with the two women. Kvornan initially refused, but then realized that he could tag along and go home to Veronaville. This was the trip that they met Wyn on. It is also the trip featured in this chapter. Although, by the time we see them in chapter 91, they have already dropped the women off in Kent. The affair came much later.

    I wonder how Alexei feels about his daughter too. Does he regret everything that he has missed out on? He's so wrapped up in Kvornan that I really don't know. Even the Kelly incident was really just a manifestation of the Kvornan blood-swap.

  3. Oh hey, I found the image of Rosa! Naturally, this sim does not exist anymore. D'oh!