Thursday, March 20, 2014

Chapter 99: Isabella Hears What The Walls Know

Sat, December 12, 2074 10:05 am: The House of Fallen Trees- Gothier, Pleasantview

Isabella's journeys into public dwindled from the moment she first set foot in her new home, and the burial plot scandal had sealed her front door for the foreseeable future. Even prior to the scandal, her mind began to stage a full-scale revolt against the outside world. In the crowded Pleasantview streets, her thoughts scattered and sounds amplified. She could hear every voice, every leaf, every car horn and bird song. At least at home, far back from the main roads, she could be left alone to her thoughts. She brushed a ripe grape with the tips of her fingers. So much depended on such a tiny thing. Such a dark and fragile thing.

Horace seized the Fiorello Vineyard for reasons that were spurious at best. The shock of that incident had begun to dissipate, though she was not sure that J.L.'s relationship with Horace would ever mend. For her part, it had been easy to come to terms with the loss because she already had everything that she needed. The small patch of grapes that had been planted in Arbormoor soil were spreading like wild fire at Tellerman Farm. It wouldn't be long now.

In her dreams, time ran backwards. Blades of wheat returned to their stalks from the crook of the farmer’s blade. They swayed for a moment in the breeze and then froze. They froze and never grew old. They froze and never died.

“Izzy! Yoo-hoo, Izzy!” A woman’s voice called from just beyond the conservatory. Apparently, Isabella had not sealed her front door tightly enough. "Are you in? One of the maids said that I might find you back here. What a jungle you've grown!"

Daphne Dreamer's high heeled shoes beat out an uneven rhythm on Isabella's ceramic tiled floor. Tap, halt, tap-tap, halt. Isabella could hear every displaced atom where the rubber met the earthenware. "My, my. I had no idea that you have such a green thumb, but I could certainly use a few pointers. Truly, everything that I touch withers just like that." Daphne snapped her fingers for emphasis. "Too much light, not enough light. Too much water, not enough water. Too much wind, not enough circulation. Too few nutrients, wrong blasted fertilizer!" Daphne chuckled to herself and she sidled up behind Isabella. "It's equal parts science and art, don't you think? Not everyone has the knack." Isabella turned around wearily. She could not find the energy to handle Daphne on the best of days.

"Do you need something?" Isabella did not mean to be rude. Or maybe she did. Daphne fiddled with her wedding ring.

"Why no indeed. I only wanted to stop by to chat. We are family now, after all, and it just does not seem right that you should be cooped up in here. I mean, I know that times are hard right now, and you're under a lot of scrutiny, and Don's death was a blow to us all but you have to get out. Live your life! You should be out having cocktails and facials and telling the world where to shove it. You're a Goth. You own everything and everyone from here to Alpinloch, and it's about time that you remembered it." Isabella tilted her head to the side, taking Daphne in. Who was this black-laced vision of frivolity, this alien creature tapping her way into Isabella's most private of rooms, exhuming Don's dead body and imploring her to get a spa treatment all in the same breath? When Isabella did not respond, Daphne placed a hand on her shoulder, her eyes brimming with semi-genuine concern.

"You know, Ripp and I are behind you all the way. No matter what happens, no matter what anyone says, no matter if the state takes you to task. We are here for you." Isabella shrugged Daphne off. She did not want to admit that the investigation was taking its toll. Television reporters were already cackling with glee over the fact that her husband's name reduced by one syllable was "jail". She did not live in fear of an arrest-- She expected it, but nothing could happen before the distillation was complete. She could not abandon the task now, not when an end to all forms of disease was so close. Her father's work would change the world. Everything else was shadows and dust.

A team of experts was examining the bones, and questions were being raised. Jon Smith-Tricou had been a busy little bee, pollinating flowers for miles around and collecting the nectar that he fed to his queen. Dr. Tricou sacrificed his own Townie bastards in an attempt to patch up his grandson's damaged psyche. Isabella knew this because the walls knew it, and they whispered to her. Sometimes, if she listened closely enough, she could hear Kvornan Tricou's axe sliding listlessly down the staircase as he dragged it into the basement where his mother-in-law awaited that fatal stroke. The blood is the life, and it carries like the flood. What it carries is the secret. The Sheut of Proximus Deus knew the secret, and somewhere out there he was living the life that failed to save his son.

"Izzy, are you alright? You have a queer look." What time was it? Isabella looked past Daphne with bleary eyes. There used to be a clock against that wall, she was sure of it. A gust of wind from the floor fan lifted the ends of Daphne's hair, making her head look like a child's drawing of the sun. Isabella choked back a laugh. It must have looked to Daphne like a sob. "You poor dear. I know why you spend so much time in here. You do spend a lot of time in here, don't you? It's soothing to be surrounded by all these plants, isn't it? Let me get you a stool." Isabella dropped her fists at her side, asserting her personal space.

"Daphne, I'm fine. This whole thing has just been a bit too much. How about this-- How about you give me some good news for a change?" At that, Daphne's stupid face lit up as though Isabella had just made the most exciting suggestion of her stupid life. Daphne bit her lip, transferring some of her lipstick to her teeth.

"Actually, I had hoped to wait to tell you at dinner next week with the rest of the family but what the hey, right? Izzy, I'm expecting." It took a moment for this information to sink in. Her initial reaction was to smile supportively if perhaps a bit unconvincingly. Then she began to change gears. Daphne's pregnancy would afford her a child of the blood, and not just her blood but something far older, something far richer. Every Dreamer in Pleasantview carried it-- a blessing and a curse. Isabella knew this because the walls knew it. Daphne's timing could not have been better. Isabella sent up a prayer of thanks, in silence.

"That's wonderful news. Congratulations, Daph." Daphne brimmed over with delight.

"Thanks and, oh! Damn." Daphne's cell phone was alarming. She pulled it out of her pocket and flipped the lid. "I was meant to be at Phoenix's ten minutes ago. I'm sorry, I really must fly." She leaned in to kiss Isabella on the cheek. "Give J.L. and the children my love. Take care of yourself, Izzy. I mean that." Isabella mustered a brave smile, and Daphne pranced out of the room. It had been a fruitful morning after all.

Isabella returned to the grapes. The host would need an emotional tie to Daphne's baby. Any tie would do.

A breath of cold air soaked her to the core, and it was not generated by the floor fan. Isabella kept the temperature of this room at a balmy seventy-six degrees. The only possibility that she could imagine was open window. But when she turned around to find the source of the draft, what she saw nearly stopped her heart.

An elderly Fae woman dressed all in black had somehow manifested behind the potting bench. Her back was crooked and her eyes smoldered. Isabella tried to cry out in shock but could only manage a strange creaking from the back of her throat. And then the old woman spoke.

"Her child is perfect. You will do well with her." The old woman's voice was little better than a death rattle. It was the voice that she heard from the walls. Isabella composed herself.

"Who are you?" The old woman bowed her head.

"I believe you know who I am, Mrs. Tellerman. Even without the blood of the body, the swamp is indissoluble. My light will never wane, which is fortunate because you and I have much work to do." Isabella backed herself into the corner, shaking her head emphatically from side to side. It couldn't be. "Your fear is ill-founded and inappropriate," the old woman said. "The Destroyer calls you into his service. You have been chosen, Mrs. Tellerman. It is an honor."


  1. This chapter fell a bit flat for me, but it had to be out there before we could proceed. *cracks knuckles*

  2. *ahem*

    Here's my uncontrollable fangirl capslock pre-read comment:


    :D :D :D

  3. Aaaaad now that I've read it:

    Woah! Jennicor is alive in some form or another! I didn't see that coming. The Destroyer is the Sheut, correct? I seem to recall one of the aspects being the Destroyer. If that's the case, it's interesting that the spirit of Jennicor would be calling people into Kvornan's service (unless maybe she wants to double-cross him?).

    So there's something in the Dreamer blood too. I figured when Isabella first got the news that Daphne's baby would be somehow special since the father is Cassandra's son, but I wonder what's up with the Dreamers. Darren is deceased, correct? I don't recall seeing much of Dirk yet.

    Also, I seem to have forgotten what J.L. did? I remember Oona and Horace having the dispute about the property, which J.L. would have something to do with, but why is he in danger of being arrested? Did they have to dig up some dirt to seize the property? Sorry, my memory sucks today.

    But yaaaaay, I'm glad you posted! :D

  4. LOL! Yaayy! I'm totally glad to fill-in. ;) I'm excited for the batch of chapters that I am working on right now. Hopefully, the momentum will continue for a while.

    Yesss! Jennicor is a ghost much like Don. There is a very good reason for that which they both have in common. More on this to come soon.

    The Destroyer is not the Sheut, but the Sheut is the aspect of Deus Rex that is closest to the Destroyer. In the beginning (*thunder, lightning*) there was one consciousness to the universe that divided upon its self to become both Creator and Destroyer. As it continued to splinter, it became Deus Rex which in turn splintered to become everything that exists in the universe. The Faes have a lot of mythology surrounding creation including Ken-Creliqu ("The Ecstasy" which is celebrated at Hieros-Gamos), a myth that will play into DBL a lot along with its sequel Ken-Eshivellim ("The Becoming"). As for Jennicor, stay tuned!

    Darren is deceased, and we have not met Dirk. The only Dreamers (or more to the point, descendants of that line) that we have met would be Ripp, Phoenix, Conrad (Oona's son) and Sabina. *thinks* Yeah, I think that's it. Although, we did get this snippet once.

    J.L. dumped human remains in the middle of the woods in an unmarked mass grave (which is a criminal offence in Simcity) and it made headlines when one of the gravediggers turned up dead (because Kvornan murdered him). Those remains were from Jon Smith-Tricou's backyard body dumping ditch, which no one living knew about apart from Kvornan, Kiernan and probably also Thea until the Tellermans moved into the House of Fallen Trees.

    And dude, there are no worries. Your memory is excellent. I had to completely study this story and my notes just to get back into it. Obviously, it's been too long. But hey, I have changed my desktop background to Kvornan and Alexei for encouragement. :D

  5. PS: There were a couple of sentences in chapter 46 that I have since re-thought so I, erm, yanked them. :S