“You don’t really like Camille, do you?” she asked teasingly, small fingers moving onto the enormous bow above the buttons. Her movements were clumsy and Sven got the feeling that the girl didn’t dress or undress herself often, forced to leave everything to her brother. The doctor purposefully kept her hands behind her back, patiently waiting until Stella was finished.
“We disagree on certain subjects…but I respect her as a self-made woman” she stated, calmly removing one of her gloves. The statement was true enough; the conversation between the two immortals during dinner last night suggested that Lapointe had a different social background than she originally presumed. The woman was hotly ambitious and Sven assumed that it was this trait that had driven her towards her title and current social position. Apparently the woman ran one of the most prestigious delivery shops in San Virginio, specializing in gaining children’s souls which were the easiest to operate on. She made a name for herself as a reliable and discreet soul dealer.
Cases like these were not common amongst the immortals; the system was so well set up that it was almost impossible for any outsiders to enter their ranks. Generally speaking, there was only way to enter the higher society as a mortal and that was to become an object, something that was admired and sexualized, until it was finally used up like a dirty washcloth and discarded. Ambition could only get you so far; Sven considered herself a fairly ambitious individual but she lacked Lapointe’s skills with people and her ability to gain useful contacts. Despite her famous published work, Lapointe still outranked her, being a lady of nobility. It was clear that the immortal knew how to play the politics game and how to present herself as ‘one of them’. Sven had always been unable to do that; she forever remained an outsider, no matter where she travelled.
“Self-made woman?” Stella echoed with a puzzled look on her face. Her chest was now bare, adored only with a small necklace with golden star. Accompanying it was a group of what appeared to be love bites peppered along her neck and shoulder. Sven looked away sharply.
“A self-made person is somebody who managed to better their social standing by themselves, with no outside influence.” At Stella’s wide-eyes gaze, she added “Somebody who worked hard for everything they own. Independent.”
“Are you a self-made woman?” Stella asked immediately and the doctor made a soft impatient sound as she placed her palm against the golden skin.
“I would like to think so, yes. Now- enough with the questions. Let me concentrate.”
She didn’t want to think about the answer to Stella’s question. It was true that she had risen above her peers but if she wasn’t born a soul shifter, Sven would have no doubt died in San Sofronia like a stray dog many years ago, her body eaten by the starving villagers. This of course begged the question: how much of what she achieved was her own skill and intelligence, and how much of it dependent on the circumstances of her birth? She wasn’t so sure anymore.
“Luca has been very busy today” Stella mumbled, picking up her pencil again to continue her picture.
“Oh, the general has been bothering him since the early morning. The Regency is planning a hunt and they want him to lead it” Lapointe responded, now turning towards Sven. “From what I heard they intend to end it with a public slaughtering. How vulgar… but then again it will certainly get the message across, don’t you think?”
Sven wasn’t surprised by the plan.
“That’s what Regency usually did in the past…and it always worked” she commented darkly. Regency was known for their harsh treatment of rebels and the gate history was full of gory incidents during the previous uprisings. Sven wondered why they still tried, despite all their failures.
How could anyone even think of openly opposing an individual that possessed the ability to control thousands of souls at the same time? Sure, Branded were slow and without intelligence but their sheer number alone made them an unstoppable force. Sven was confident that even by himself, Abbracciavento had the power to stop this rebellion if he wished; his private collection of souls was said to be the biggest in all the nineteen gates, even larger than Devitt Corporation’s collective bank. Only the Regency possessed a bigger number, most likely because of the tax system and the yearly donations.
“Bad people, darling” Lapointe answered without hesitation.
“Who attacked the gates?”
“Exactly. Your big brother is very strong and the general wants him to go and defeat the bad people so that the gates would work again.”
That was definitely one way to look at the situation. But Sven didn’t correct the immortal; the less Stella knew about the rebellion, the better.
“But what if he gets hurt? I don’t want him to go!” Stella said with large eyes full of worry. That disgusting immortal didn’t deserve her concern, Sven thought.
“I don’t think that’s going to happen, Stella. Abbracciavento is very strong” she replied honestly.
It was a pity really but Abbracciavento was by no means a reckless individual. He survived for so long…Sven knew that it would take much more than a group of rebellious mortals to take him down, especially when he has Stella to protect. It seemed to her that he would rather burn all of the gates to the ground himself rather than be separated from his sister.
DIDN’T FINISH MY DAILY WORDCOUNT BECAUSE I FAIL AT LIFE WHYYY
so you’re telling me there’s an alien who regenerates into a completely random form, that he cannot control or determine himself, and who understandably could take millions of different appearances, but who all 13 times just turned into a different skinny white guy
“I…I don’t understand” Stella admitted, setting down her pencil.
“Well, you have seen that lovely fountain outside in the garden, haven’t you?”
“Yes! It’s Kraska the Courageous!” Stella replied instantly. Sven remembered vague details from that particular Tale Play; the branding symbols used in that session were often mentioned in her lectures.
“Well done, darling. Vorshko’s Tale Play is a good example of a Comi-tragedy. Kraska is a noblewoman in a kingdom that has been destroyed by a terrible monster. She wows to kill it in order to gain revenge for her slain parents and eventually manages to finds its cave where the creature is sleeping peacefully. But during the last act, as she kills the slumbering monster, Kraska realizes that she had slain her own mother who has been the victim of a terrible curse. With her only family dead, the curse then transfers to Kraska who takes her mother’s place and becomes a monster herself.”
“How awful!” Stella cried pitifully, eyes watery from the tale. Sven felt a tug at her chest when she saw tears in the girl’s eyes. She didn’t know where these maternal instincts came from but perhaps it had something to do with the fact that the body she was wearing had given birth before. The long scar on her stomach was the evidence of caesarean section; the person who volunteered for the operation had been a mother, once upon a time.
Sven looked away with an uncomfortable feeling in her stomach.
“But how beautifully tragic!” Lapointe stated with a clap of her hands. “Not to mention, this was the first time in history when a single champion was reused for the next session. Kraska played a significant role in the next Tale Play, written by Clara Millington. Here!”
She placed the opened book in front of Stella who immediately started to read, still rubbing at her wet eyelashes pitifully. Sven narrowed her eyes at the action.
Can we just like imagine queer students using Lee Jordan to come out like "AND GRYFFINDOR SCORES A POINT! BY THE WAY PADMA PATIL IS A LESBIAN AND SHE'S READY TO MINGLE" and padma is like ayyyyyyyyyyy step right up ladies
“This actually did happen to a real person, and the real person was me. I had gone to catch a train. This was April 1976, in Cambridge, U.K. I was a bit early for the train. I’d gotten the time of the train wrong.
I went to get myself a newspaper to do the crossword, and a cup of coffee and a packet of cookies. I went and sat at a table.
I want you to picture the scene. It’s very important that you get this very clear in your mind.
Here’s the table, newspaper, cup of coffee, packet of cookies. There’s a guy sitting opposite me, perfectly ordinary-looking guy wearing a business suit, carrying a briefcase.
It didn’t look like he was going to do anything weird. What he did was this: he suddenly leaned across, picked up the packet of cookies, tore it open, took one out, and ate it.
Now this, I have to say, is the sort of thing the British are very bad at dealing with. There’s nothing in our background, upbringing, or education that teaches you how to deal with someone who in broad daylight has just stolen your cookies.
You know what would happen if this had been South Central Los Angeles. There would have very quickly been gunfire, helicopters coming in, CNN, you know… But in the end, I did what any red-blooded Englishman would do: I ignored it. And I stared at the newspaper, took a sip of coffee, tried to do a clue in the newspaper, couldn’t do anything, and thought, what am I going to do?
In the end I thought, nothing for it, I’ll just have to go for it, and I tried very hard not to notice the fact that the packet was already mysteriously opened. I took out a cookie for myself. I thought, that settled him. But it hadn’t because a moment or two later he did it again. He took another cookie.
Having not mentioned it the first time, it was somehow even harder to raise the subject the second time around. “Excuse me, I couldn’t help but notice …” I mean, it doesn’t really work.
We went through the whole packet like this. When I say the whole packet, I mean there were only about eight cookies, but it felt like a lifetime. He took one, I took one, he took one, I took one. Finally, when we got to the end, he stood up and walked away.
Well, we exchanged meaningful looks, then he walked away, and I breathed a sigh of relief and sat back. A moment or two later the train was coming in, so I tossed back the rest of my coffee, stood up, picked up the newspaper, and underneath the newspaper were my cookies.
The thing I like particularly about this story is the sensation that somewhere in England there has been wandering around for the last quarter-century a perfectly ordinary guy who’s had the same exact story, only he doesn’t have the punch line.”—
Sven glanced down at the opened book, half heartedly looking at some of the illustrations. She didn’t think Tale Play art was appropriate for someone as young as Stella.
“There are many more- it’s a very popular event. And it doesn’t end there” Lapointe explained, adjusting the grip on her long pipe “many Tale Plays have been redone in the form of ballet, opera and theatre. It’s really a pity that Luca won’t let you leave this dreadful place; to really understand the beauty of Tale Play, one has to see it with their own eyes.”
The woman exhaled softly, the smoke leaving her painted lips in misty waves until it settled above their heads. Sven had always disliked the smell of tobacco but Stella didn’t look like she minded.
“My brother says that it’s too dangerous to go outside” the girl responded with a frown.
“And he’s right” Lapointe tapped Stella’s nose playfully “There are many bad things happening at the moment but soon they will pass. They always do. Be patient, princess.”
Personally, Sven doubted that Abbracciavento would ever let Stella leave the manor. He seemed too dependent on the girl to ever let her out of his sight; it had nothing to do with the current political climate. She had a feeling that Lapointe knew it too.
“Many may disagree with me, but I think a good Tale Play should always have a dramatic swordfight” Lapointe continued, turning a page in one of the opened books.
“What do you think, Miss Dahmanov?”
“I don’t care for it.”
“My, how disappointing. But then again you don’t strike me as a woman who enjoys fine art.”
Lapointe was right although Sven would most definitely not consider Tale Play as art of any kind. It was fetishized violence masquerading as something intellectual, representing everything that was wrong with the immortal culture. But coming from Lapointe it sounded like an insult. The way the woman was looking at her, Sven felt as if she wanted her to rise to the challenge.
WORDCOUNT DONE FOR TODAY AND HOLY SHITTT 50 000 WORDS IN TOTAL I CAN’T BELIEVE I GOT THIS FAR
I AM THE FUCKING STAR THAT SHINES THE BRIGHTEST OF ALL