City Lights at Night

The Top of the Tower
in which the August Motley faces Joanna Galthwaite

Holy Hell, we did it— and by “it”, I suppose I mean several things.

We entered a city where the Lost go in and don’t come out.
We challenged a demon… and won.
We left the city where the Lost go in and don’t come out.
We went up to the dead city called Avalon.
We put down John Galt.
And we came back down, battered but alive.

A clockwork man, a walkin’ chess piece, a livin’ fireball, a bird and a guitar.

This entire ordeal will haunt me, the rest of my life. I thought I’d felt fear before, back in Arcadia— but it was nothin’ compared to the fear I faced these last few days. Not fear for myself, but fear for the four most important people to me. It’s somethin’ I couldn’t have anticipated. It occurred to me, though, that it’s that kind of fear that makes us brave.

Avalon was a great city, no doubt about it. Those who lived there fought and fell, and what they left behind is just a shadow. Ghosts, bones, old prophecies and an automated defense system. (That was a sight.) It’s what I saw from those with us, though, that will stay with me the longest. I watched Masa go mad; I saw Red nearly die fightin’ Avalon’s secret weapon; I saw Ondrej realize that the pledge he made might just kill him anyway; I watched Dirge go back to the city he’s been runnin’ from for who knows how long; I saw Frederick make a sacrifice nobody would expect of a Hob, because he is Masa’s friend; and I saw myself prepared to fly right for the woman we came to fight, in spite of my fear.

That’s not to say I didn’t see more’n a few sights that are goin’ to stick with me. The memory of that medical wing is goin’ to give me the creeps long as I live; the engineer, holed up in the control room who put a bullet in his own head will too. On th’ other hand, I will forever be amused by the look of shock on Mr. Scratch’s face when I turned into a dove right ‘fore his eyes. And the rest of Avalon… that’s gonna stick with me, too. No wonder the poor Reverend went mad. Thankfully, after the Key of the Goblin King was broken, Texarkana won’t be a trap any more. (Not that I’m plannin’ on goin’ back, understand.)

Now we’re headed back for Las Vegas with two men closer to Death than most would like and the King of All Hobs in tow.

I am so tired.
—Wren

View
Total War

Well, we knew going into it that the Demon wouldn’t be the hard part. God am I not looking forward to the hard part.

The challenges were what we expected. Insane, deadly, and almost impossible, but relatively straight up. We all won through ours ok, but it definitely hurt. And on a related note, fuck Demons. Fuck them and all the magic shit that people pull trying to get power they haven’t earned. I’m getting sick of this, first Tremaine binding one for a damn software upgrade, then Vicks and his damn lackeys worshipping this one, and now the Warden from High Desert came out of fucking nowhere and seized half of town. This won’t stand. The tower obsession and people so hungry for power they take and magic they can get is how this whole mess got started. The tower’s a powerful weapon, and a marvelous thing, but if we’re still pulling that shit then obviously we’re not ready for it.

Oh yeah, I should probably mention the tower. I’m writing this in Doushiro, moored at the docks of the broken tower. I know there’s a strong chance this will be my last entry. If it is, and you’ve found this, it almost certainly means we failed, or I’m dead. Guys, if its one of you reading this, I hope I went out well. Ondrej, remember our pledge, and you’re going to run this town eventually if you ever learn to be slightly less of an ass. With me gone it won’t be as much fun anyways. Wren, you got love in this town, but it won’t leave if you do. Since the day I met you, I knew you’d have to fly the nest eventually, but it was worth it to be your family. Masa… Remember your priorities. I know you love Frederick, and I know how valuable having him as a friend could be, but he’s just a hob. If you come out of this, break that key. If you don’t, you choose to let all those people stay trapped, stay enslaved, stay… taken. You won’t do that. Dirge, break her heart and I swear to God I’ll haunt you. If you have my body, don’t burn it. Don’t give me back to the fire. Bury me in the ground, out in the desert, and let me fall to dust like a normal man, or dig up whatever’s buried in my grave and put me there, so my family can come and see me.

If you’re reading this and you don’t have the slightest who I am, then know this. On June 14th, 2011, five changelings from the four courts of the freehold of Las Vegas and the ambassador of the great freehold of Milwaukee ascended to the broken tower, to save a pledge that shields a city and to stop a madwoman from seizing its power. If we failed, hopefully the impact was limited enough that this is the first you’re hearing of it. If not, then I’m sorry. But no matter what damage it has done, I still hold that it is no tower of hubris, its very existence and the shadow of its former glory prove that. It is the tower of betrayal, because broken pledges brought it down. It is the tower of greed, because a monster with a philosophy to justify her madness threw it open again. It is the tower of sloth, because like everyone who goes in for that kind of power, she didn’t do jack to earn it. But it is not the tower of hubris.

I was recently told something by… well, not a reliable source, but I believe this. Our destinies, those of all the Lost of the United States, possibly the Lost of all the world, were lost when the tower fell almost a century ago. Destiny is powerful among us, even more than with most, that cannot be allowed to stand. But reviving this broken tomb is not the answer. A day will come when the changelings of America are once again strong and unified and virtuous enough to build something that wondrous, but it must be something new. If you wish to see that day, then work for it.

To any who still finds the shortcut appealing, who wish to ascend to the tower and take what they have not earned, be warned. My name is Red, as in the crimson of Summer; I have banished a demon, ended a Monarch, and outran the fires of Hell itself. No matter how badass you think you are, I promise: you can’t take me. And if you’re reading this, I almost certainly died in that tower. I don’t know exactly how it works for us after we die, but if I have a say I’ll still be there, waiting for you. And its a long drop.

View
To Best a Demon

Still stuck in Texarkana. Some interesting people here. Folks, thats what they are called here. Miles seems to be the local resistance, so far as that goes. Hopefully he’ll be free to leave once this is done, it wouldn’t be right to leave anyone caged up here longer than necessary, especially after what the mayor did to him: breaking all his fingers and cutting out his tongue. Captain Jack Montgomery is is one of the lovci but he was quite helpful when he thought I was his old partner. I have to get him back in contact with his daughter. Masa pulled the key from the stone in the name of the goblin king and one Mr. Scratches, aka Chimerias appeared. We’ve challenged him for a lifting of the ban on leaving Texarkana. Four challenges to free the city. But what can I do to best a demon? This city will not remain locked away.

View
Freedom

Well, so much for expectations.

I don’t know exactly what I thought Texarkana would be. I figured there’d be folks trapped there, jumping at any chance to escape. I figured there might be a big boss keeping them in line, someone just like Vicks, but I didn’t figure the rest of them for licking his bootheels and holdin fealty to a goddamn demon. Miles is alright at least, about what you’d expect outta spring, but better than you’d expect outta someone whose been through what he has.

I came in here expecting to play liberator, to play monarch for a little bit. Still kinda wish I’d been able to, but the humbling was probably for the best. Makes me glad Coyote will still be around when we get home, I’m not ready to take the plunge Ondrej is about to, too much of my own weaknesses to burn out first.

Ok, note to self here. If you haven’t done something about that poor man’s daughter, get your lazy ass on it future Red.

I’ll tell you what, the whole trip might have been worth it for the look on their faces when Masa pulled that key out of the stone. All that’s left now is besting a prince of hell in a one on one challenge. Always said I was faster than the devil. Time to find out if I was right.

View
Texarkana
in which there are several skeevy sort of folks, one or two nice ones and a demon

Well, here it is— and here we are, and here we will stay unless we can challenge and best a demon.

We wandered around the city for a while and found some useful information, from an old Helsing with half his memory missin’ and a man like a tree with broken fingers and no tongue (thanks to the folks in charge). Took some effort, mostly on Ondrej‘s part; we found Captain Jack Montgomery wanderin’ around near the Rough and Tumble bar downtown, and Miles Wood at the Thorn in the Wall. Interesting place, that— owned by the folks in charge now, and the bartender gave me an interestin’ bit of information: no one has ever left Texarkana. Now I know that to be false… I wonder why they don’t tell anybody about that…

Anyway, we found out the name of the demon that runs these parts— he’s called Cimerias. Goes by other names, the folks in charge call him Mr. Scratch. We didn’t have to look for him, he found us after Masa claimed the Key of the Goblin King on Frederick‘s behalf. Now things get tricky— since my brothers and I are bound together, and I’m bound to Dirge, well, that makes this all the more complicated. All of us have to challenge and best him, and if we all win we can leave (so says Scratch).

This is the part where I get scared— real scared. It’s not just fear for myself, either. I’m afraid for the people I’m bound to, the people I love. But I have no choice now; step forward and take the challenge, or live confined.

And that en’t goin’ to happen again, because I’m not goin’ to think about what will happen in that particular circumstance. No more fear, no time for that.

“I have no fear of heights,
No fear of the deep blue sea,
Although it could drown me,
I know it could drown me

No fear of the fall
No fear if it’s with you that I fall
’cause nothing could break us,
No, nothing could break us, now." (KM)
—Wren

View
Thoughts
in which Wren panics a little

Who’s that up— oh, TJ.

Said he’d see you back near Texarkana? Was that all? I really ought to ask.

“No, mine says ‘the end’. Why, what does yours say?” The end? This is the end?

‘This way lies silence’? That… no, you can’t be silent. Who will I sing with?
“Well, this way it is I guess.” Even though I want to fly home and forget all this.

no, damnit, NO! “Dirge?!” That’s not FAIR, give him back! Now I’m all alone.

Oh hell. Cage bars. Not again. God, no, it’s her. It can’t… no. NO. I won’t sing it this time. She can’t be here if the song isn’t here, maybe if I sing louder it will go away and she can’t find me, can’t put me back in there—
“Blues stay away from me, blues why won’t you let me be… don’t know why you KEEP ON HAUNTING ME—”
Ha. It worked. It worked! What’s… another cage? Oh no, nonononono…
“Dirge?”

He isn’t moving. He isn’t moving… please get up, please, please… how do I get in there? Fly. FLY. Come on, Bird. FLY.Hell, I didn’t know I could do that.
“Please get up, darlin’, please?” Shit. Wait, I know. How does this go again? A minor… “These blues have got me cryin’, oh darlin’ please come home.” Please?

Oh thank God. Jesus, darlin’, don’t scare me like that. “Sorry, I’ll try not to do it again.” How can you joke when I was so sure I lost you just now? And why did it make me smile, even so?

“Eugene! Hell, cat, I thought you were somethin’ else, with nine tails and claws like iron… oh you saw it. Then we need to go. NOW.” Fly, little bird, fly away. Fly away FAST.

Where are they… they’re all here. Everybody in one piece. Mostly.

“Holy hell, he wasn’t kiddin’. Um, long live the King?” Didn’t expect that one, though I guess I should’ve.


Be back soon. God, I hope so.
—Wren

View
There are No Dragons on a Chessboard

The road diverges here, a path for each of us and my way lay slavery. The gatekeeper was there, until Frederick killed him. He is the King now, and Masa his Duke or Baron or something. The gatekeeper claimed to be a dragon and knew many things, but not nicknames. As though a series from A Christmas Carol I looked upon Snyder’s funeral. I imagine these things did not happen, but I was compelled to leave him the Crown of Thorns I had created. Snyder died for his freedom. I could pay him no higher respect. Then I saw the Reverend and Norman discussing me, at one point they stopped and looked to me to answer what I believed to be freedom. A childish attempt to complicate a simple matter. Finally I spoke with Johanna, this part seemed realer than the rest. Perhaps, perhaps not. We discussed freedom and what it took to rule the City of Lights. She claims it requires a monster, I don’t believe her, but none the less I cannot stop replaying the argument over in my mind. I fear my grasp of reality is slipping. I never wanted this. I was left no choice. Snyder is my model now. If I must die for this cause so be it. If it requires my sanity, I suppose there is little I can do to stop it. I must do as I must do. This is freedom.

View
Over the river and through the Hedge to Texarkana we go

There isn’t much time. We are heading to Texarkana NOW.

We are leaving Church right now. Things were tense. The Reverend wants to start over, completely abandoning the pledge and converting to a dawn and dusk court system… with the Reverend in the monarch of dawn and an outsider in charge of dusk. I thought the Reverend was more selfless, but he clearly is letting his grudge cloud his judgement.

The problem is that people are so desperate to hold the Freehold together that they are willing to give the Reverend everything he is asking for.

Cruxes was the only Monarch against letting the Pledge dissolve. That is not to say that he was the only one thinking objectively, if the pledge is allowed to break then he will die, All the more reason to try and salvage the pledge. I must admit that I was surprised to see the other monarchs knowingly vote to kill Cruxes… Is John Galt that horrible that sacrificing Cruxes is really justified?

No. He is a good man, who takes care of all the lost. Allowing the pledge of the four suits to break would just be sacrificing Cruxes to Galt. We can’t let any of this happen.

So now it up to us. Our little Family: Masamune Masatsugu, Ondrej Gmeur, Mr. Red, and Wren Swift… And the Ambassador, but he is sort of like family, like a brother-in-law. Oh and Frederick, but he is like family. And Doushiro too, we can’t forget him. Alright so it is our little family… and friends. No I don’t like that either. We are all a family, there may be a core group that makes the family, but all of us have gone through so much together that we are all a family now. We’ve just gotten a little bigger.

Eugene, if you are reading this put it back. This note isn’t for you. And the Goblins will take you away and eat you!

Jim, if you are reading this and I am dead, remember to put my things in the Hedge. Take whatever interests you, I doubt that your interests and the hedges interests don’t overlap much. But whatever you don’t take please dispense my things into the Hallow.

View
Vow of Sovereignty

I have staked a claim to the Emerald Crown. Whatever freedom I may have is meaningless for me alone.

A message delivered by Charlie to the Freehold of Las Vegas on behalf of Ondrej Gmeur:
If I have learned one thing from my time here, among my family and freehold it is that we are, at times of great need, bound together by the wyrd and by love. For this reason I cannot sit idly by while Joanna Galthwaite and The Rev. Doremus Silas seek to tear this freehold apart at the seams. It is with the deepest hopes of avoiding anarchy on the one hand and tyranny on the other that I claim the title Pretender to The Emerald Crown and set out upon this quest to Texarkana with my family (My two brothers and my sister, and I suppose my brother-in-wyrd) to overthrow the Queen and defend the Monarchy. Not for pledge nor freehold, nor in this instance for family. But for the one thing which rests higher than any of these principles. Not the Reverend’s God, nor the Queen’s profit. But Freedom. Freedom for the Lost to live by the rules we set for ourselves. The rules we all chose when we emerged from those Thorns. The Freedom to choose our own way in this world. To remake it in our own image. Our OWN image, not that of our keepers, nor of any petty despot of the world of felt and men. This insistence upon moving beyond our durances may strike many as a partisan act of Spring, and so it should, for I do not desire to abandon our model of four seasonal courts, but only to bring balance to the freehold once again by once again setting the path of Spring on fertilizing the Tree of Liberty. We are Free once more. No longer bound by the heel of Neon’s pact with the pelts, nor the iron grip of our keepers. Whether our choices are ultimately for good or ill if for future generations of the Lost to decide. We can do no other action than that which appears to us to be correct. And for me that means taking this risk, which many will call foolhardy. But it has been sworn by all that is in my power to do so that I will return to right this wobbly freehold that we can once again be proud of our city. Know that we will return. Move your pieces while you may and let the Reverend position his forces, for when we return the Pledge of the Four Suits will stand defended. We will not go without a fight. For what purpose have we fought our way out of those Thorns, out of our cages and our walls than to be once more the masters of our own destiny.

View
To: Vincent DelRay, c/o King Lear, Freehold of Milwaukee
To be delivered pending death of sender

Inside of an envelope addressed to Lear, a letter and another sealed envelope.

To: King Lear, Monarch of the Winter Court, Freehold of Milwaukee

I have never met you, and I’ll be awful sorry if I never get the chance— but the way things are goin’ at the moment, that’s a distinct possibility. As of tonight, your Ambassador to the Freehold of Las Vegas is headed to Texarkana along with me and my brothers, to undertake somethin’ terribly risky— an attempt to overthrow Las Vegas’ Monarch of Spring, who resides in the Tower of Hubris. She’s been locked away an awful long time, and en’t fit to rule I suppose. But in order to do that we have to retrieve somethin’ from Texarkana.

I’m sure you know that it’s a city where the Lost go in and don’t come back out— I don’t know if you know the reason, but that doesn’t matter so much. Anyway, in the event that I don’t come back, Mr. Saul Jackson is supposed to send this to you. Enclosed is a letter— if Mr. DelRay makes it back to Milwaukee and this letter’s been sent to you, could you please give it to him?

Many thanks, and here’s to hopin’ this doesn’t reach you (for my sake, among others),
Wren Swift

The sealed envelope

Dirge,

You know I’m not religious, but Lord Almighty, I hope you don’t have to read this.
When I got back from my time in Arcadia, there wasn’t much more to me than a scared little bird lookin’ for somewhere to land. Funny ’nough, the first of the Lost that I met in Vegas was you. You dragged me ’fore Ms. Silver (feels like ages since she was on the throne, now) and hauled me over to the Barnswallow. That day, you saw me at my worst—scared out of my wits and about to fall to pieces.

What I wanted after that was to feel normal. To have a job, and a place to live, and family. I found all three of those, but there was somethin’ else missin’ yet. Then there was Yule, and what started as Ms. Silver wantin’ me to ask you somethin’ wound up with me wantin’ to ask you a whole lot more somethin’s, and well… here we are. I’ve heard about the places you’ve been and the things you’ve done, and some of ‘em carry more weight than others but the most important thing is where you are now, where you have been since I got to Vegas— here. Here’s home, darlin’, the thing I was missin’ even though I had family and somewhere to live. You told me once that home’s where you hang your hat, and that en’t strictly true. You ought to know by now that home en’t where you hang your hat, it’s where your heart is.

You’ve seen me at my worst, and since then you’ve seen me at my best and all the in-betweens. There’s been trouble with ‘squitos, pelts, helsings, even a wonderworker and a demon— there’s been secrets, and not-so-secrets, and very un-secrets, and really-ought-to-be-secrets— I have learned to shoot, learned that hobs can have a king, and learned that the past doesn’t stay buried (because the Lost go gravediggin’ once in a while). You’ve been there for me through all of it, and I thank you for that. I’ve sworn on my life to stand with my brothers to try and overthrow Galt, and you’ve sworn to come with us. No tellin’ where that will end up, but it’s been one hell of a road, en’t it? If all goes well we’ll be hittin’ a different road soon, the one leads out of Vegas and off somewhere neither of us has seen yet. But just in case, I wanted to let you know how grateful I am.

Thank you for bringin’ me home.
All my love,
Wren

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.