Genesis/Metamorphosis

Faerie tales from beyond the veil to the streets of RhyDin

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Bailey Raptis
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Genesis/Metamorphosis

Post by Bailey Raptis » Tue May 14, 2019 11:54 pm

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
(John 1:1)

"Well, God said something but didn't mean it
Everyone's life ends but no one ever completes it
Dry or wet ice, they both melt and you're equally cheated"
(Modest Mouse, "Dark Center of the Universe")

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Bailey Raptis
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Re: Genesis/Metamorphosis

Post by Bailey Raptis » Wed May 15, 2019 1:48 pm

May 14, 2019
Hugo's Tacos


The warmth of spring had come to RhyDin, bringing with it a breeze that kept pushing Jewell’s glamoured hair into her face as she tried to eat a taco. Bailey had stressed the need for discretion, so Jewell was sporting blonde locks—wiping her hands off on a napkin and twisting it all up into a messy bun—as she sat at Hugo’s and waited for the Archmage. The place was bustling, as promised, with packs of teenagers recently set free from their educational prison. The Empress paid them little mind, devouring a pork and pineapple taco and washing it down with a Badsider as she waited for Bailey to arrive.

Bailey’s late arrival probably wouldn’t have shocked his friends and colleagues in the fashion industry, who, even three years after his firing from L.D. 50, still viewed him as the enfant terrible of RhyDin’s haute couture. What would have surprised them was his ordinary outfit: plain blue jeans, black combat boots, a faded green crewneck t-shirt, and burgundy leather gloves. He hadn’t even bothered with makeup, save for a neutral lip gloss that likely went unnoticed by most passers-by on the streets. Unless they were magically inclined, they would also miss the way his glamour flickered, cut in and out and provided true glimpses of his mien.

Even in a crowd, even with hair dyed (or glamoured) blonde, Bailey easily spotted Jewell. He wanted to believe it was his keen vision that picked her out among the teenagers taking advantage of Taco Tuesday at Hugo’s, but he’d be lying to himself. The Empress had a magnetic pull -- that damned glamour -- and so he found himself taking a seat at her table with butterflies in his stomach. “Good afternoon, Jewell. Sorry I am late.”

She likely didn’t make it any better when she smiled at him, all coral lipgloss and genuine friendliness and always that touch of magic tucked away in the corner. “Hey! No problem. Just don’t hold it against me that I started without you. It smelled so good, I couldn’t wait.” Jewell politely just picked at the second taco on her tray now though, tearing off a piece of tortilla and popping it in her mouth as she asked curiously, “Isn’t it a little warm for gloves?” For her part, she was in a breezy summer dress and sandals. It was never too early in the year to start showing skin.

“Allergies.” The waitress stepped up to the table right when Bailey seemed ready to explain further. Instead, he placed an order with her for battered fish tacos and a water. Even when she drifted well out of earshot, Bailey lowered his voice and leaned across the table as he continued his thought for Jewell. Something there -- her recent kindness, or the tug of magic -- drew the admission out of him much faster than he anticipated. “Cold iron.” Two simple words that held heavy weight for the two. A weakness for the Fae, and the material with which Bailey’s sword and knife were forged. A sword and knife he had fought with for years with no apparent side effects. As if realizing their conversation’s quick turn to serious matters, Bailey backpedaled with a forced smile. “Do not worry about starting to eat early -- it does smell quite good.”

Her smile faltered a little at the explanation, and she couldn’t help the way her right hand drifted up over the spot just beneath her ribs where Kal had stabbed her. “Nothing quite like that cold burn.” Questions cropped up in her mind rapidly--namely just how Bailey could suddenly be so sensitive to iron--but she left them unasked for now as she washed away the momentary bitter taste in her mouth with a swig of Badsider. “So what’s up?” Since he had said she needn’t worry about starting to eat, she moved in on the second taco (fried avocado), ready to listen.

Bailey adjusted his gloves, eyes drifting momentarily toward the tacos. His gaze remained there even while he made his inquiry. “I have a question for you, Jewell. How were you created?” Color touched his cheeks slightly as he followed up, “I mean, I know all about the, , the singers and the stingers…”

Her eyes widened and it took quick work with a napkin to prevent the bite of taco she had just taken from falling out of her mouth as she coughed and laughed. “Singers and stingers?” she gasped out, trying not to choke and quickly taking another sip of Badsider. “I think that’s uh… the birds and the bees? Though I never understood that because I’m pretty sure they can’t uh… well,” she made a crass gesture. “But as far as I know, I was created the singer and stinger way.” She grinned just a little at him.

“Yes, that.” His cheeks reddened further as she corrected his misplaced metaphor and kept discussing it, complete with a demonstration. “I suppose all that is logical, as opposed to vampires, some lycanthropes…” Bailey drifted off, his thoughts darting in two separate directions. “I thought maybe it was something more mythic, more...like a god.” He became quiet as he looked up at her. “Like you were always just there. Maybe the other Others are - have you heard of anyone becoming Fae through means other than birth?”

Tap tap tap. Her pointer finger nail beat out a rhythm on the side of her Badsider bottle as she thought over that. “I think…” Jewell huffed out a sigh and slouched in her seat a bit. This was taxing her brain and there was a memory, fleeting on the edge of her mind and then gone the second she reached for it, of Elsewhere. “I think Mallory could have become Fae… or at least fae-like if she had chosen that path. But I also think we are not all created or born the same. I exist elsewhere from here, if that makes sense.” She stared off at something over his shoulder. “I exist in the spirit planes as well. The astral planes. I can walk those with this body, though it is different. And when… if I die,” she looked back at him again, her smile a little sad, “it is a different death than my mortal friends. I will live on in the Deep Dreaming or maybe even somewhere else. There is a part of me that will carry on beyond this place and time. That is eternal.”

Again, the waitress returned just as Bailey was about to speak. He thanked her and took a few quick bites from his fish tacos as Jewell discussed Fae mortality. After politely wiping some loose cabbage from his mouth, he nodded and spoke up. “Last fall, after that underground rave, I...traveled to the Hedge. And I met someone there, who claimed that he killed a Fae and became One himself. He claimed that I could do the same -- asked me if I would do so.”

Jewell arched a brow and there was the hint of a smile on her lips, “I thought you said you weren’t going to kill me…” She let the joke linger between them a moment before asking more seriously, “Do you believe him?” She didn’t ask the more important question yet: Do you want to believe him?

And why?
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Re: Genesis/Metamorphosis

Post by Bailey Raptis » Wed May 15, 2019 2:11 pm

“I told him that, even if I wanted to kill you -- which I do not, truly -- that I have sworn an oath of loyalty to you.” Bailey sipped his water, nibbled some more of his tacos, and went on. “In the words of my friend Per, I think he’s full of shit. Max and I watched this movie once -- Max is my roommate -- where half of it is just men in kilts talking about killing each other to gain each others’ powers. I think B-BO1 huffed too much of his spray paint and watched that movie too many times and got it confused with reality. But that might be a crimson fish --” Bailey’s head tilted from side to side, and he chuckled to himself before continuing, “ -- red herring. I have no proof that he killed a Kindly One, just his word and the fact that he knew of Their weakness, which, let us be honest, is not precisely the multiverse’s best kept secret. But (and we can certainly discuss what level of threat he poses to you later) my selfish worry is that something is happening to me.”

“Because you killed a sídhe?” she asked with casual curiosity, trying to pick up what was left of her taco before giving in and grabbing a fork out of the holder to try and scoop the scattered remains of it with that instead.

“No, and that is God’s honest truth. I can speculate -- that it has something to do with me using magic -- but I have no solid evidence of that. Despite our detente, I am still something of a persona non grata with the Stolen Ones, and Lyeorn never went over anything like this with me.” Bailey looked slightly annoyed as he wiped his gloved hands clean with a paper napkin.

Her brow furrowed as she shoveled a bit of remaining avocado taco into her mouth and thought that over. “That is… strange. But perhaps maybe not. In a way, you may be channeling the energy, power, magic -- whatever you want to call it -- of the NeverNever right through you. I imagine that would change a person, no? How could it not. It is meant to be used by us, but we do not really use magic. We are magic. So for someone who isn’t…” Jewell trailed off, but the gist of what she was getting at was hopefully obvious.

He crumpled the napkin up into a ball, picking up the pace some with the tacos in front of him. At the right moment, he chimed back in. “The more I use magic, the more I use glamour, the more I become magic and glamour.”

“Exactly.” Jewell pushed the tray towards the center of the table. She had done an impressive job of getting most of the crumbs. “I’ve never seen it happen, but I also haven’t had many dealings with Stolen Ones outside of Faerie. It makes sense though. And if you have developed allergies…” she nodded to his hands before shaking her head, “kind of crazy.”

“So the obvious solution,” he ended up repeating it twice, after his first attempt was muffled by a mouthful of taco. “The obvious solution is to stop using magic, and to stop wielding a weapon made of cold iron.”

The devil was in her grin, “Or kill a faerie.”

He matched that grin, after a swig of water. “Or someone who thinks he is one. I confess, I had...a lot of other things on my plate, that I could not really pursue that…” The word slipped away from him, and he looked to Jewell for help filling in the blank.

“Opportunity?”

“Yes, I suppose it is, in a sense.” Bailey scratched at his nose as he thought about it. “But now...with the court off of my back, I can...figure out why someone is so hell-bent on killing the Fae, and in me becoming one.”

“People always want to kill the Fae,” she shrugged. “The second part is strange. Unless they know it’s not going to work.”

Bailey’s fingers massaged his scalp as he remembered the night he met B-BO1. “Most Taken want nothing to do with the Gentry. We move heaven and earth to stay beneath Their notice. Very few of us ever interact with Faerie willingly, let alone work against Them, so if you were looking to get a Stolen One to behave in that way, you had better offer a damn good incentive. I think B-BO1 believes that I want to become Fae -- that is his carrot.”

“Become a Fae to work against the Fae? Seems silly.” Jewell lifted her Badsider and finished it off. “Do you even want to? Become Fae, I mean.”

“Not if you want to replace them,” Bailey said, before picking up his last taco to devour it quickly. It gave him time to contemplate her question. When he finally answered it, he couldn’t quite look her in the eye -- his eyes focused on the teens filtering out after having their fill of tacos, replaced by young college students taking advantage of Hugo’s happy hour. His answer was a dodge, and he knew it. “What I want is to be left alone, but I fear I never will be. Sandman may have brokered a truce, but Glesni and those who support her -- those who believe I am firmly in Arcadia’s pocket -- will come for me soon enough. Or B-BO1. Or the Snake. Or the Sculptor. I do not know what choice I have, or if I even have one.”

Jewell understood the desire to be left alone. She understood it so keenly that her heart constricted hearing Bailey utter those words and his fears, so it was with fellow feeling that she gave him her cockiest grin, “If you’re gonna be Fae you gotta think Fae. Just do what I do -- put yourself in a position so you’re pretty much invincible and burn those mother fuckers down one by one as they come for you.”

The comment brought out one of Bailey’s sharper smiles, all teeth and eyes that glowed briefly with the burst of emotion across the table. “I suppose...that is what I am aiming to do.”

Before he could elaborate any further, the waitress came back to gather their empty plates. “Would you like dessert, or just the check?” she asked the pair. Bailey looked across the table at Jewell, turned to the server briefly, and looked back to Jewell.

“It is up to her. Would you like to hear the latest Benson Boulevard gossip? If so, I will have a Badsider. If not, then a check will be fine.”

“Make that two Badsiders and some churros.” She confided to Bailey, “I never say no to gossip!”

With an elbow rested on the table, the Archmage leaned over with a conspiratorial grin on his face. “Well, the word on the Boulevard is that…”

((Written with Jewell's player, with many thanks!))
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Bailey Raptis
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Re: Genesis/Metamorphosis

Post by Bailey Raptis » Mon May 27, 2019 4:15 pm

May 26/27, 2019

When Bailey came back to the Celestial Tower after his night at the Annex, his statues immediately knew something was wrong. Not just because they shared a link, a connection born of the stone they were made of and that Bailey controlled. No, Bailey’s lumbering gait as he headed down the Citadel’s hallways would have tipped off just about anyone who saw him (in fact, it dominated conversation among several of the goblins on the Isle who spotted him earlier shambling across the sands to his usual teleporting spot). Bailey’s proxies insisted on helping him into a warm bath, then walked him back into his bedroom where they kept careful (and, he felt, rather needless) watch of the door. They likely would have sent one of their number into the room while Bailey changed for bed, but he insisted on at least a modicum of privacy, even in the midst of their grave worry.

The dribs and drabs of green makeup that stained Bailey’s gray t-shirt were of little concern now -- Bailey’s blood had soaked into most of the neck of the garment now, rendering it a total loss. He balled it up tightly and tossed it into a mesh metal basket by his small marble-topped and eucalyptus wood writing desk. Luck seemed to have spared his other articles of clothing: blood dotted his jeans, his boots, and his gloves, but those could be dry-cleaned or carefully washed at his apartment. He set those items on top of a glossy white low dresser, pulling open a drawer to retrieve his blue knit pajamas. As he stuck his arms through the sleeves of the shirt, he remembered something. Mist gave me something at the end of the night, and it is still in my jeans. I should take it out first. Once fully dressed, Bailey did just that, turning over the smooth aluminum tin in his hands, before opening it up.

Several rows of what looked like individual pips from a chocolate bar sat inside the container, but on top of them was a thin piece of paper. Bailey pulled it out and read it:

1:1 Dark Chocolate + Sea Salt.
10 mg THC/10 mg CBD. Indica.
72% Cacao. Vegan. Gluten-Free.


With a shrug, Bailey popped one of the pieces into his mouth, chewed, swallowed, and fell into bed staring at the ceiling. He leaned over and reached towards his nightstand, a retro rose-colored circular piece with a pullout drawer. A sketch pad and pen sat on top of it, and Bailey picked those two items up and began doodling wedding dress designs until the edible kicked in, making his limbs feel like lead. His aches and pains faded away, replaced with that weight, a heaviness that relaxed his body and eased him into slumber.

***

An air conditioner hummed and whined relentlessly, fighting a losing battle against the oppressive heat lurking outside the prefab metal walls. Bailey could hear the moans of the injured -- the moans of those he had injured, and a faint iron scent cut through the stale recycled air inside the warehouse.

Blood dripped down Bailey’s knife onto an engineered concrete floor as he stalked across an office filled with the usual corporate crap: motivation posters with animals (some hanging from tree limbs), a calendar with photos of puppies, outlines of delivery routines and shipping schedules. At the very end of the room sat an overly ornate, large, and out of place executive desk made of chestnut wood, with shiny brass knobs on its drawers and the usual business trappings. A tower computer, in and out baskets for mail and correspondence, a black curvilinear desk lamp, a walnut wooden cup filled with pencils, a day planner with a burgundy leather cover, a telephone. The man behind the desk -- a man who was a dead ringer for Bailey, save for his rumpled blue business casual polo and khakis -- held that phone to his ear, frantically speaking to someone on the other end.

“Please, send help! My evil- someone told me I would be safe in here but I’m not, there’s a man here trying to kill me! Please-”

Bailey slashed at the phone line, cutting the call off. His doppelganger fell out of the chair, pressing his back against the wall and whimpering.

“The trap failed,” Bailey said coolly, staring at a face so much like his it almost made him shudder. The only difference now was the fear in the man’s green-blue eyes, wide open and begging Bailey silently for mercy.

“A trap? I don’t know anything about that, they just told me to come here, that someone -- you -- were after me, and they’d protect me. They didn’t tell me I have an evil twin!”

With two jumps, Bailey leaped onto the desk and then over, before smashing the hilt of his dagger into his double’s face. A thin trickle of blood escaped the man’s mouth, dribbling down onto the collar of his shirt. It smelled like copper and pitch.

I’m not the evil one here!” Bailey shouted as his anger overrode the usual care he took when speaking. “You don’t know what you are? Tell me -- what’s your name? Who were your parents?”

“A-a-Addison Schrover, son of Adam and Annie Sch-” Addison’s last syllable got interrupted by another blow to the face.

“That was supposed to be my name, my life, my parents! You’re a fetch, nothing more than a puppet, dancing on strings pulled by the Gentry. And now, you let the Stolen Ones court jerk you around.”

“What? No-no, that’s not true. I don’t know anything about this Gentry, or these Stolen Ones! I’m just a traveling salesman, and these people -- those men you just killed! -- were just trying to help me.” Bailey grabbed Addison by the collar, hoisting him into a more upright seated position as he knelt down by his fetch.

“They were trying to trap me, kill me, and I’m sorry, but you were nothing more than bait.” As Bailey lifted the dagger, Addison tried to claw at him, but a quick slam against the wall stifled his resistance. Instead, he sniffled, tears welling up in his eyes.

“Please -- I have a family.”

“No, you don’t. Your parents -- my parents -- are dead. Killed in the Marketplace bombing.”

“No, I have a wife, Emily. We have a daughter. Kerri’s two years old this upcoming June. Please.”

Lies," Bailey hissed through his teeth. “You are sterile. Hollow. An empty shell. A poor simulacrum, a mockery of life itself.”

“I-I swear, I’m telling the truth. Why do you have to kill me? Just let me go, and I will never bother you. I’d never even seen you before today.”

With a rough shove, Bailey inched back away from Addison, though he kept the dagger trained on him. “I’ve been trying to find you for almost ten years now.” Bailey allowed himself a chuckle, though it lacked any mirth. “You were not easy to find, and I suspect if you had stayed away from the court, I may never have found you.” He paused, sniffed once, and continued. “I saw you -- I saw them die, and you, bleeding, carried away by paramedics. Our parents -- our parents?” Another joyless laugh escaped Bailey’s lips, accompanied by a shake of the head. “It does not matter. Fletcher told me his greatest regret was not finding his fetch and killing them. For him - for all of them -- I have to do this.”

“Please, no, I-” Before Addison could finish the sentence, Bailey plunged the knife into his chest. The fetch gurgled, spit blood and pitch on Bailey’s face, then looked down at the blade lodged between his ribs. He tried to lift his head to look up to Bailey, but all his strength had ebbed away, and his head rolled back on his shoulders before he slumped onto his side. The body swiftly disintegrated into its component parts: corn stalks, coal tar, cat’s eye marbles, and tufts of rabbit’s hair. Bailey had little time to contemplate the "corpse", as the door on the other end of the room smashed open.

“Z5456 police! Show yourself, hands up!” Instead of following their directions, Bailey glanced down at the wax cord dangling down his neck. At the end, a simple circle charm made of stainless steel hung, resting over his heart. He slipped his pinky finger inside of it, muttered the command words that Jewell had taught him to activate the teleportation spell, and felt the powerful magic rip him away from the scene of the crime…
It's the disease of the age
It's the disease that we crave
Alone at the end of the rave
We catch the last bus home

Protect me from what I want

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Re: Genesis/Metamorphosis

Post by Bailey Raptis » Mon May 27, 2019 8:10 pm

…and place him in a familiar wooden hallway. The Annex locker rooms were behind him, towels and bloody clothes left carelessly on the benches; and before him was the meaty sound of fists on flesh, the clash of steel, and the bloodthirsty roar of the crowd.

But a black painted door separated Bailey from this terrible din, and crimson light glowed through the cracks.

The Archmage’s stomach lurched, and he doubled over, hands to knees, preparing to vomit up blood -- just like every other time he’d had this nightmare. He retched, heaved, but nothing came forth at first. Then, something caught in his throat, and he pounded on his stomach with a clenched fist trying to force the foreign object free. With one last gagging cough, he finally spit it out into his hand: a black star sapphire key that burned his hand when it settled in his palm. Bailey ignored the searing pain and approached the door, bending down to try and catch a glimpse of what might be on the other side through the keyhole, but there was nothing besides blinding red light. He rose from his kneel, frowning, but unlocked the door and stepped through.

The light faded at once, revealing a more sinister reflection of the fountain at Three Foxes Court — three sleek black hounds with crimson eyes, teeth and claws closed around a marble arm in the center. In its clawed fingers was an ever-beating heart, spilling blood into hundreds of thin rivulets that flowed over the steps of the fountain, across the courtyard and right past Bailey’s feet.

The locker room was no longer behind him. A dark and empty city, obscured by the mists of the Veil, stretched out in every direction.

“I feel…” Bailey began to recite the words he’d spoken when he first teleported back to RhyDin just over two years ago -- words he’d repeated each time this dream recurred. Now, though, he faltered, as he took in his surroundings. “Wait. This is not how it happened.” He turned around, searching for the door that led him here, but it had disappeared, leaving only an impenetrable and shimmering black wall of magic.

“Bailey.” It wasn’t a greeting, but a thoughtful recitation from the figure who spoke it: thin and pale, barefoot yet dressed in a fine dark suit, with platinum hair combed back around their curly horns. Malleus. A familiar book of names rested in their left hand, the kind commonly used by expecting parents. They flipped it shut and smiled. “I can see why you picked it.”

“Do I...know you?” Even as Bailey asked the question, he found himself stepping towards the androgyne. “Your voice is very familiar.” For now, he let Malleus’ comments about his name go unaddressed.

“The rave. Don’t you remember?” Malleus narrowed their eyes slyly. “I shouldn’t be offended... We’ve both changed since then.” They opened their hands to welcome Bailey to approach; the book was gone.

Malleus.” Bailey’s curiosity won out over his caution, and he stood before the horned figure, taking them in with a quick up-and-down sweep of his eyes. “What are you? Besides a we.” A quick detail, tossed out in hopes of letting them think he knew more than he actually did about them.

That only made the being laugh, and they padded a quiet half-circle around him. “True... Mallory has changed also... but I was talking about the two of us. Myself, and my new role... my new home... and you, and your light.”

“Why are you in my dream?” Bailey hesitated, looked back over his shoulder even though the area was empty, save for the courtyard, the fountain, the streams of blood, and the two of them. When he looked back, his eyes had narrowed. “I have heard that some Fae can travel in dreams -- even some of the Taken. I doubt that you are one of the latter, since most of them do not possess such power, but the former? That I could believe.” The thought of facing down one of the Gentry would have put a knock in Bailey’s knees years ago, but now, the Archmage stood as tall as he could while Malleus paced around him.

Malleus paused beside him and opened their hands again. “I am but an avatar of Mallory’s eternal soul, a position that first gave me her dreams to traverse while she slept, and now others. And it is true that the rites that began with my birth, and ended with her rebirth, were inspired by the rites of the first Fae to name themselves, in the Forest of the World when it was new... But, really, you’re far more Fae already than I’ll ever be.” They smiled. “I’ve seen it. The light that burns in the center of Jewell’s soul. The same light that burns in yours.”

Bailey walked over towards one of the marble steps and took a seat. He looked up at Malleus and almost gestured for them to take a seat beside him, but thought better of it. “While I appreciate the information you have given me on the origins of the Fae, I still must confess I do not know why you have brought me here. If this is an attempt to convince me to fully give in, you should know that you are not the first, or even the second — ”

“Why do you carry that iron?” Malleus asked. Bailey hadn’t offered, but they sat down beside him just the same. Reached up to scratch one of the hounds on the jaw, statuesque as they were.

“Wh-what?” Bailey expected Malleus to defend their motives, or at the very least explain what they were trying to do. That question though? Regardless of Malleus’ intentions, it still felt like it came from personal interest in Bailey. It cut through the armor around his heart and left him sputtering.

Malleus shrugged, and produced another book to peruse while Bailey sputtered and recovered. Clearly he’d heard them. There was no sound in the city besides the gentle burbling of the fountain and the pages turning under their fingers, an invitation to fill the silence with truth. With knowledge.

Bailey sat there, thinking. And thinking. And thinking. His lip quivered. Then, as sudden and as inevitable as storm clouds opening up to drench the earth on an overcast day, he burst into tears.

With a quiet shuffle, Malleus shut the book, holding their place with a finger, and rested their hand on Bailey’s shoulder.

He hunched over, face pressed against the inside of his forearms, knees pulled up as tight against his body as he could. He rocked in place, back and forth, as he tried to compose himself. “Δηλητήριο...it’s *sniff* all I have left of Fletcher. The closest thing I ever had to a father. I can’t give that up.”

Malleus kept their hand there, though they made no other movements. “That is your choice... as is how you go about keeping it. Will you suffer in his name, Bailey? Or will you both grow and change together?”

With one last sniffle and a sigh, Bailey straightened, wiping at his face with the back of his arm. The usual blue-green in his eyes shifted to a darker jade hue, flecked with specks of red -- the lingering effects of his blessing as the Lord of Bloodstone. “Maybe... maybe just his last name will be enough. Maybe I can be the last remainder of Fletcher Raptis.”

Malleus’ hand slipped from Bailey’s shoulder, and they gave him a rather flat look. “Your dream-wandering soul has come to the domain of Mallory’s heart. It has a vast and growing library.” They opened a hand to the nearest buildings, where silent shades moved among the stacks visible through the windows and open doorways, and let that hang for a long moment. “Where... she’s had the contents of the Tower of the Earth copied.” Another beat, and a more expectant look from the avatar, angling their horned head. “And the Keeper of Earth has dominion over elemental earth, including metals... such as iron...”

Bailey’s eyes followed Malleus as they pointed towards the buildings, whose shadowy shapes came into sharp focus with each gesture. He watched the shades move through the area, but still seemed unable to connect the dots that Malleus had lined up. “So…”

Malleus sighed. “If the cold iron’s burning your flesh, transmute it. Make it copper. Or silver!”

“But I don’t know how...to.” Finally, recognition dawned on Bailey, and each word came out slower. “Oh.”

“You can read tonight, for as long as you’re dreaming,” the avatar gestured to the nearest buildings, “and figure it out from there. I’m pretty sure Mallory will help you,” and with a sigh, they crossed their legs and reopened the book. Kitab al-Aghani. Arabic poetry.

Bailey stood, returning Malleus’ gesture from before and resting on a hand on their shoulder. “Thank you. I owe you and Mallory a debt.”

“Tch. Go on. Rest is fleeting; dawn approaches.” Malleus felt his hand leave their shoulder, heard him moving across the courtyard, and only then turned their head to smile after him. They shook their horned head and smiled, returning to their reading as they murmured, “It’s a good thing he’s pretty...”

((Written with Mallory's player, with many thanks!))
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Re: Genesis/Metamorphosis

Post by Bailey Raptis » Wed Jun 19, 2019 2:26 pm

June 18, 2019

Bailey sat at the counter of the tiny Kabuki Street ramen shop, nestled beside a salaryman in a sharp navy suit and a gyaru girl in a bright pink blouse, black shift dress, and two-tone boots in black and white with pink feathery fringe. The restaurant was tiny; jammed between a pachinko parlor and a bootleg DVD shop, all the seats were at the counter and even ten people felt impossibly crowded. Most of the windows looking in had been papered over with menus, some with pictures of bowls of chasu and wonton ramen and some with just the items and prices written down. Aromatic steam billowed throughout the shop, enveloping customers in warm comfort, even as the cooks shouted out orders and banged their ladles against stock pot lids.

After slurping up the last of his noodles, Bailey settled up with the hostess. “どうも!” he said in somewhat clumsy Japanese, thanking her and the cooks with quick bows of his head. He stepped outside and lit a cigarette, walking half a block down the road until he found a narrow alleyway. He squeezed past several vending machines peddling canned coffee and sports drinks until he reached a white primed, six-panel door. In the blink of an eye, the door shifted to black, with a copper scroll hanging from the center by a nail and a lambda waiting for Bailey to knock it. He did so, and a moment or two later, the door creaked open slowly and beckoned Bailey to enter the Lyceum.

The shop was busy this time of day, students and sorcerer’s apprentices pulling books off of the shelves upstairs and flapping through the pages, alchemists and shamans picking through the cluttered displays of spell components, and hedge mages muttering to themselves as they tried wielding the gnarled old staves that had been set out for sale.

Mallory and Safiya were both here, and they weren’t alone. A shadow-eyed crimson specter floated behind the counter, completing transactions at the witch’s direction; and Safiya’s (once Trick’s) pet cat Primrose stood atop the till, talking very seriously with a wizened old witch about the reliability of potion recipes.

It was a fair bet that Phil and Des were helping with inventory in the cellar, if either of them were on the clock today.

Mallory spotted Bailey through the bustle and flagged a wave to Safiya: “Can you hold down the fort while I take lunch?” The sorceress nodded and shooed her towards Bailey as she moved to speak to Mallory’s customer, a flame-haired genasi examining their enchanted jewelry.

Bailey took in the crowd at the Lyceum with a soft smile, watching students and shoppers alike as they studied and spent their coin on the vast array of merchandise Mallory and Safiya had in stock. The crimson specter behind the counter and the talking cat only merited a cursory examination from the Archmage, but the genasi with fiery locks? Well, that managed to garner a large chunk of Bailey’s focus, enough that he missed Mallory’s approach until she was almost right in front of him. He jumped a little in surprise, his head swiveling towards her with a wide-eyed expression that slipped into something more sheepish when he saw her. “Sorry, I was just-”

“Thinking about how to break the ice?” Mallory gave him a good-natured grin as she teased him. “I’m sure they’re pretty good at that. Hungry?” It was a busy day, and she wasted little time.

He rubbed his neck, laughing as Mallory caught him staring. “I see what you did there. Fire, ice, a pun, yes? They would probably be better at melting ice than breaking it, though I suppose melting is breaking.” He trailed off with his musings, before catching his mind wandering with a quick shake. “Sorry again. I just got back from eating at Wantan Ramen, but I can tag along if you do not mind?”

Mallory’s expression was amused while Bailey rambled, but that hadn’t stopped her from leading them to the door. She let another customer in ahead of them (revealing a brief glimpse of the Four Points), shut it, murmured a few syllables, and pulled it open to the bazaar in Cadentia, the new hub of the one-time ghost town.

Dozens of bodies filled the street in front of them, parting around a bipedal beast of burden, a slow-moving hovercraft, and a hooded drow merchant hawking entire bolts of spider-silk with a lilting song.

“I could go for a dürüm,” she said to Bailey, and found a path into the crowd.

“What is a dürüm?” Bailey asked, somewhat distracted as he took in the new sights, sounds, and smells of Cadentia’s bazaar. Not watching where he was walking, he nearly knocked over a green-scaled lamia carrying a basket filled with prickly pears. She hissed at Bailey in Arabic, and all he could do was throw up his hands in apology. When he turned to watch her slither away, his eyes lingered on the rattle attached to the tip of her tail, a beat or two longer than most folks would consider polite.

Whap. That was Mallory smacking Bailey on the arm as she glared at him. “Stop ogling before someone picks your pocket — or kicks your ass. C’mon,” she jerked her horned head and started towards the nearby food stands, where the smell of smoke and meat and peppers was heavy in the air.

“Sorry!” Bailey turned back and spun around an ogre carrying an oversized treasure chest on his back, darting through the throng with skills that would not be out of place on a contortionist. He waited until he caught up with Mallory at the food stands, huffing a bit from the effort to keep up with her. “A little distracted lately.” He paused briefly to consider that. “More than a little distracted, if I am being honest.”

“It’s alright. Just... seeing a stranger, staring at your body?” She looked over her shoulder at him as they found themselves in a queue behind an orcish cyborg listening to a sports broadcast on her augmentations; the witch raised her voice to continue being heard. “You can’t be sure what they intend. It can be a shitty feeling. Yeah?”

“I…” He thought about what he was about to say, and blushed. His usual restrained and meticulous language drifted away. “You’re right. There isn’t a good excuse for that, and I’ll do my best not to do that again.”

Mallory’s expression softened. That was about as much as she could ask for. “This guy sells prickly pear sodas,” she nodded to the front of the line, where a man talking about a mile a minute slapped together and handed off orders at a lightning pace. “I can get us a couple, if you want. What’s on your mind?”

“Bottled? That sounds good, and I would like to bring one back for Eden if we can keep it chilled long enough.” Bailey let out a low whistle at the impressively fast order-taker, but the impact faded fast as he jumped right to the heart of his visit. “I need to go to Faerie, and I think I’m going to need your help.”

Mallory gave him a long look as his words landed, taking in their gravity... and then she was at the front of the line. The man was not merely cooking, counting cash, and handing out orders, but haggling on the fly. He and the witch began shouting back and forth in Greek, flashing three fingers, then four, up to the moment she was giving him coins and he was passing her a wrap packed with shaved meat. There was a styrofoam cooler packed with bottles, too, which he pressed into Bailey’s hands with a bright smile and a bow of his head.

“C’mon.” Mallory was quick to usher them out of the way, up to a patch of wall where they could stand on a stretch of raised brickwork, surprisingly out of the way of the crowd.

Among many things, Bailey loved languages, and though he wasn’t fully fluent in Greek, he could pick bits and pieces out of the fast and furious conversation between the two, his own lips moving silently as he tried to keep up. He took the cooler pressed into his hands with a quiet “ευχαριστώ,” before following Mallory over to the raised brick wall. He pulled the top off of the cooler, twisted the cap off one of the sodas, and handed it over to Mallory before doing the same with a drink for himself.

“γεια σου,” she toasted him, and took a drink of the soda. Hungry as she was, the wrap could wait. “What are you going to do when you get there?”

After clinking his bottle against hers and taking a small sip, he set his jaw -- a tight gesture rarely seen on the model’s face. “I am going to find my Keeper and kill Him, and then see what happens to me.” The negative thoughts swirled around his head, but he focused on the positive ones alone and only gave them voice.
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Bailey Raptis
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Re: Genesis/Metamorphosis

Post by Bailey Raptis » Wed Jun 19, 2019 2:40 pm

She set her drink down on the ledge and took a bite of her wrap. Gave her a moment to think while she chewed. “How are you getting out?”

“Open a portal back to the Hedge and run like hell, because if I somehow happen to succeed at this, I cannot imagine Their Court is going to be too pleased with me. Getting back is of less concern, though, than finding my way to Him.” Bailey lifted his right hand and began the familiar task of casting a portal, spinning out a clockwise circle in the air. Only this time, the portal did not appear in front of him. Instead, when he finished, he reached into his jeans pocket and retrieved a compass where one had not been noticeable before. It seemed like a simple thing, made of brass, but its arcane energy could be felt even before he handed it off to Mallory. Inside, a simple housing marked out degrees, while the needle sat motionless inside the casing, with a single strand of reddish-white hair still clinging to it. “I made this while I was the Tower of Water’s Keeper. Instead of seeking out true north, it works to track a person down. Hair, blood, fingernail clippings-” He stuck his tongue out after saying that last thing.

Mallory took another bite of her wrap before she accepted the compass, sensing the spark of magic on her fingertips. As she examined it, she shared what she knew about most Stolen Ones’ captors. “Most Keepers have a Key — named for the fact that it’s often a charm on a key ring, like a two-faced coin or a lucky rabbit’s foot. Some keep it in their shoe, or their bodice, or even their belly — a trinket that can take them through the Veil to the mortal realm they imagine in an instant.”

She handed it back, and gave him a faint smile. “This is almost perfectly made. But I’m guessing this hair isn’t from your Keeper...”

“That is very useful to know,” he said between sips of soda. “I will hope that the key is somewhere... easily accessible.” His nose wrinkled at the thought of carving into someone’s stomach. It quickly subsided, though, when he remembered who that hair belonged to. He looked up to the midday sun, melancholy plain on his features. “No, that is not my Keeper’s hair. But I have a thought there.”

Mallory indicated that he should tell her by making a slight gesture before scarfing down most of the rest of her wrap. Eating like the food might be snatched from your hands any second wasn’t an easy habit to break.

“Some of this is conjecture on my part, leaps of logic that I am taking based on the information I have learned from the Citadel’s library, the libraries in the Towers of Water and Earth, talking with Jewell and with Malleus.” Unlike in the past, where Bailey might have talked quieter about Jewell and not Malleus, the opposite held true here. “Let us assume that when I was taken, I was human, more or less. Let us also assume that the magic I am drawing upon is, in some part, based in glamour or, at the very least, is Fae in nature. It stands to reason that something happened to me while I was in the Lands, to shift me from Point A to Point B. And from what I know of all that, people do not just change into Fae from exposure to glamour or Arcadia. Do you see where I am going with this?”

“Mm.” Mallory balled up her now empty wrapper, rolling it in her hand as she thought about this. “Generally changes that dramatic result from a pact... or a curse. But often... the curse is of our own making. You find a well that makes you feel twice as strong — you won’t find many people who wouldn’t draw from that every day. But spells aren’t entirely ephemeral. We end up... unraveling and rebinding our own threads in subtle ways when we reach out like that... over, and over, and over again.”

She turned her left hand towards him, palm up, appearing filled with a wellspring of blood that was nearly overflowing; though when she tipped it over, the blood vanished.

He straightened up, his posture shifting to something more like the careful body control he showed when strutting the catwalk. More performative. “ ‘Not a whit. We defy augury. There’s a special providence in the fall of a sparrow.’ ” Bailey didn’t wait to see if Mallory knew where the quote came from before continuing. “It almost sounds like you are talking about fate and destiny. I…” He paused, sucking in a deep breath as he watched Mallory appear to summon and banish that wellspring of blood. “In a way, that matches with what Jewell told me. The more I use magic and glamour, the more I become those things, the way the Gentry are.” He stopped speaking again, this time to sigh. “For as powerful as They are, there is a strange simplicity -- or maybe the right word is binariness? -- in what They are and how They operate. They are spells, They are contracts and oaths and titles and True Names and Language. There is a reason they call them ‘fairy tales’; the Fae are also stories and fate and destiny Themselves.”

Mallory smiled softly. “Malleus hinted at what the two of you discussed... in their own special way. Jewell’s said it herself — fairies are magic.” She plucked up her soda again, sucked in a breath (as if she could make herself much skinnier) as a great beast of burden with horns and scales squeezed its way down the street. “Do you think that killing your Keeper will change that... or is this pure revenge?” There was a hint, in her tone, that she relished the idea far more than she judged anyone for it.

Bailey wriggled in the space left to him by the passing massive creature, another demonstration of his skill in adjusting his stance. Mallory’s words prompted a slight tilt of his head, his fingers resting on his chin as he pondered them. “An interesting idea. And very binary. I have had one person tell me killing Him will make me fully Fae, and you are suggesting that doing so might snuff out that spark within me. No one really knows what will happen if I succeed, least of all me -- there is no recorded history of a Stolen One killing any of Them, let alone a Keeper. But the way I see it… if I fail, I die as myself. More or less human. If I succeed? What will be will be.” As he waved it off, his smile turned razor-sharp. “But at the very least, that μαλάκας will never ruin another life here.”

“I have no theories,” the witch said with an honest shrug. “None I’d feel confident about, anyway. But turning that fucker into crow-food... I think that’s a good enough reason on its own.” She tapped her nails against the bottle. “Have you ever spilled your blood onto iron? seen it burn away at its touch?”

After a large gulp of soda, Bailey allowed himself a smirk. “No one has managed to disarm me and stab me with my own weapons yet. But no, the hives on my hands and the side of my torso, and my blood not clotting when that chip of iron lodged in that cut are the only things I have noticed.”

Mallory smiled. “The cut... that’s evidence enough. Place your blood in the compass, and embed cold iron in the side that will face you. If it does nothing but spin, even standing before the Hedge?” She shrugged. “I’m not sure what else to try... But if it points anywhere?” She smiled grimly. “That’s where you’ll find your revenge.”

He held the bottle out again, seeking another toast. “To revenge, then.” With one last quaff from the bottle, Bailey emptied it out, setting the glass container aside up and out of the way on the brickwork. “I suppose this is the part of the fairy tale where you give me some sage advice, like, ‘Revenge is a dish best served cold’?”

Mallory’s laughter died soon after they clinked their bottles together. She scratched her claw-like ring fingernail into the glass as she thought about it for a moment. “There was... a hole in me, after I found my revenge.” She looked up from her bottle and met his gaze:

“Fill it with love.”

(Written with Mallory's player, with many thanks!))
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After the Battle of Bailey Street

Post by Bailey Raptis » Sun Apr 05, 2020 9:56 pm

April 4, 2020
Early Morning
Dockside, Near Three Foxes Court


The battle was over. The fog that had settled over Three Foxes Court since late February had been banished by warm Cadentian winds, breezes that blew acrid smoke straight into Bailey’s nostrils, watering his eyes. He blinked a few times, and then he could see clearly once again.

He was leaning against the boarded-up front door of a bodega, one that must have been owned by a Dockside resident who had managed to lock up his or her building before things had truly gotten bad in Three Foxes. To his right, seated on a sill in front of a giant (also boarded-up) display window, was a brown-eyed woman with red-streaked black hair, a white silk bomber jacket with patchwork prints of a garden’s worth of flowers, and tight leather pants. She held a lit cigarette in one hand, and tapped a shinai against the glass in rhythm. Blood and gore were splattered across their faces, but while Bailey’s leather jacket, jeans, and boots had also been dirtied by viscera, Akane’s clothes remained surprisingly pristine. They watched as a small group of delinquents, still filled with energy from the night’s fight, worked on restoring a small park that had been torn apart during the turmoil. One of the girls -- Probably the oldest, Bailey thought -- gave orders to the others in Japanese through a megaphone. Some of them were carefully tilling a small plot and planting sunflower seeds in the soil. Others were patching holes in the roof of the park’s shelter, spreading out fresh rubber pellets around the children’s jungle gym, and even repairing holes in the rusted-out metal slide with a welding torch. Sparks from the acetylene tool threw fiery sparks into the air, fireworks that lit up the early morning sky.

When Bailey received the tip-off that the Wayward Court knights were mustering on Friday, he made his way to the gathering point, only to discover that the “errant” part of his self-applied “knight-errant” made him something of a liability. He didn’t know the formations or the martial orders the Knight Commanders barked out at regular intervals while preparing for the battle, and so he was directed -- not so subtly -- to join up with one of the bands of delinquents also getting ready for the fight. By the time he made his way there, he found that most of the groups had been set-up, and so he was assigned to the rear guard. Back-up, in case their assault didn’t go as planned, clean-up if it did. Fortunately for them, the latter held true, and his squad wound up fighting -- slaughtering -- a retreating contingent of gargoyles, lesser vampires, and ghouls.

“They named a street after you!” Akane’s voice cut through Bailey’s musing, startling him twice. Once as it interrupted his thoughts, the second time as he processed what she said.

“What…? Oh, no, no, I do not think it was named for me.”

“Why not? There is a Jewel Street, a Simon Street, a Helston Avenue...why not you?”

“Well, first, a jewel is a common noun as well as a person’s name. Simon is a fairly common last name among most humans, and one of the first governors of the city was named Helston. Second, Bailey also has meaning beyond a person’s first name. Like a castle bailey.” Akane’s eyes bore no recognition of that word, and so he continued, “The outer wall of a castle, or the court enclosed by said outer wall.”

“Why not?” She repeated the question, sliding off the sill into a crouch on the sidewalk near a six-pack of Asahi Super Dry tallboys. She pulled one loose from the plastic ring tying them together, tossing it to Bailey. He popped the tab, and she used the moment while he was taking a sip to press her point further. “You ran for governor. You were on the Beltane Court. You were Archmage. Those are not worthy of naming?”

“I did not win the governorship. I-”

“But you did win Archmage,” she interrupted. “And defended it.”

“Well, yes, but…”

“But what?”

Another sip of beer gave him a moment to think of his response, even as she stared intently at him. “Those things do not really matter, Akane.” Bailey ignored the work he had done to help his friends as Archmage in an attempt to win the argument. “Look - look at all the shit that has happened since then. I’m- I’m not even going to waste time naming off the tragedies. You live here, you know what’s gone wrong. How did I help alleviate suffering when the cult was here? When the Opals exploded? When Mallory and those kids got kidnapped?”

“I’m sure you did what you could, when the chance came. And hey. You’re here now. We won’t forget it.” We.The Kabuki Street Delinquents, Bailey thought.

“I suppose.” Bailey’s reply was good enough to prompt Akane to clap her hands once and smile.

“Good! We’ll tell the story of the Battle of Bailey Street, and the story of Bailey of the Battle of Bailey Street. The shrimps’ll love it!”

“I am sure they will.” Bailey paused, looking over to Akane with a smaller smile of his own. “Arigatou, Akane.”

Tondemonai, Bailey. Please, let us know if we can help.”

“Well, actually…”

((Please feel free to let me know if you'd rather not have your character mentioned or alluded to in this post, and I will change the references. The Kabuki Street Delinquents are the property of Eri Maeda, and used with her permission (and my gratitude!). Dialogue written with assistance from Mallory’s player, also with gratitude.))
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In the Beginning

Post by Proxinho » Sun Apr 19, 2020 9:02 pm

Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay
To mould me Man? did I solicit thee
From darkness to promote me?

(John Milton, "Paradise Lost", Book X, Lines 743-5)


There is -- there’s a meeting place, for beings like me. If you go to Old Temple, a little ways off the water between the Westbridge and the Middlebridges, you’ll find Little Norway. If you go south of there, away from the marinas filled with replicas of Viking ships and the Scandinavian-style wooden architecture of the main district, there’s a public library. It’s a little less in tune with that theme, more utilitarian in terms of its design and structure, but inside, among all the books and shelves and study desks, there are meeting rooms. One of those rooms, the biggest one they have available, is where we Prometheans meet.

Or maybe I should say Created? There’s some question among some of us about what we should call ourselves, even though we’ve made it one of the rules of our discussion -- “Please don’t argue with others over the terms used to define us.” We have about a dozen people who regularly visit, with about 6-8 of us at each meeting depending on our schedules, but every once in a while a new person will come in, with more questions than answers about what they are, and if we’re not careful, we can spend more time arguing over our nature than we do supporting each other in an experience very few beings can understand.

That said, I don’t think I’m like the other Prometheans, Created, golems, homunculi, whatever. I know, I know, I’m breaking the rule we set for that discussion, but I -- I’m not in that discussion right now am I? So I can break them all down without getting yelled at. Created, it applies to me, but it feels a little too vague. Every living thing was created in some fashion, although...breed- no, sex, is different than how I was made. And plenty of non-living things are created too: a sword is made, a house is built, a rock is worn away by millions of years of wind and water -- sorry. I’m getting away from myself. Prometheans implies a connection to Prometheus, who stole fire from the Greek gods and gave it to humans. And while the side of me that carries Bailey’s thoughts and feelings inside might find it somewhat appropriate that Mallory, someone who speaks Greek and has some sort of connection to mythos, named me and not Bailey, I don’t think I’m much like Prometheus, and I’d prefer not to be tortured. Technically speaking, I’m not really a golem, since I’m not made from clay. I’ve even heard the term “Galateid” thrown around, and while some parts of it are close, not all of it lines up. For one, Galatea was made of ivory, not marble. Second, in the Greek myth that inspires that name, Pygmalion fell in love with his creation. I have never gotten even the slightest inkling that that’s been the case with Bailey and I, and thank God. Our...connection is complicated enough, without that also being a factor.

So what makes me different from the others? The golems, the mummies, the “Frankensteins”, the statues almost but not quite like me? That moment of birth. Or creation. Whatever it is called. They typically remember it in exact, almost excruciating detail. Being shocked to life. Hearing that last muttered incantation to summon their consciousness. Feeling the bite of the scalpel on stone as their sculptor made that final incision. It’s not the same for me, not at all. The early days of my existence are foggy, hazy, and filtered through the shared mindspace of Bailey and I. The first thing I can clearly remember -- or I think I remember -- is Na-rae writing on my chest with a black permanent marker. Even today, I see the words -- the name -- a millstone around my neck, almost literally. BAILEY. Then, there’s a moment where Bailey, on the advice (or was it a suggestion?) of Pharlen, installed or enchanted or...he put an improved vocalization system in me, so that I could do more than just play and parrot the same phrases he programmed in at the start. Other memories flicker and float around in my head: rescuing a woman from Bailey’s Keeper in Faerie, getting knocked off of a platform while challenging for MoonBeryl on Bailey’s behalf, talking to a man named Conner at the Red Dragon Inn, hanging out with Bailey’s friends while they ate meals. I came to be not like a bolt of lightning, but like fog, slowly shrouding the world from everyone’s eyes.

So when I attend these meetings, I mostly just sit or stand and listen. Every once in a while I get asked to tell my story, or what my thoughts are on a certain topic of discussion, but I always demur -- decline to add what I think humans call “two coppers.” The attendees of these discussions, as friendly as they are to me, as well as I get along with most of them, they aren’t my brothers and sisters. They’re not my flesh, my blood, my bone, my stone, my soul or spirit or anything else like that. They are them and I am me. And I am alone in this multiverse.
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