May 8, 2006 at 6:34 am #2003EzahninParticipant
Is this the return to Oz?
The grass is dead, the gold is brown, and the sky has claws.
There's a wind-up man walking round and round,
What once was Emerald City's now a crystal town.
-Return to Oz
Upon their return from France, their impromptu and short-lived honeymoon, Egeria returned to her work with much to plan and little time to execute. As such, she found herself returned to her room at the Petal in quiet wait for the next patron that wished to know of their fate in this world, and their place within the next.
The old knight had almost given up on ever seeing Egeria again. Almost as soon as he'd told his servants that he'd no desire to see her, he'd regretted it, and had taken to looking for her, but she was never to be found in any of her usual haunts. He'd been reluctant to try her room at the Petal again, as the strange man he'd encountered there the last time had threatened him terribly much. And so, it was without much hope of seeing her that he tried again, knocking light upon the door.
“The door is open, please come in,” a soft voice sounded while eyes were swept low over the crushed velvet table linens and the deck of tarot that had been spread before it. True, she had seen the cards well before now, though she had taken a more intentful study of color and shadow. They have said that many matters of revelation come in the count of three. When Abraham found her there seated at the table he would be met with the deep green of her eyes, the stark white of fresh bandages wrapped about each wrist, and the glint of gold encircling her ring finger, “oh…it is you.”
His heart had nearly skipped a beat when he'd first heard her voice, but then sank deeply when he saw her there like that. “Yes…it's me.” He stood in the thresh for a moment. “May I…come in? Or…would you rather that I leave?”
“You may, have a seat if that is your desire.” A spread palm indicated towards a seat set across from her, across the width of the table where the patrons sat. Not her bed, not the billows of resting cushions, but where the patrons sat. “I ought to turn you out as swiftly, but I have no servants to speak for me…no, I would not ask for my servants to speak on my behalf.”
“I would deserve as much, Egeria, and I know that,” he murmured quietly. “I won't stay to offend you if you would rather I leave, though…” he said, as he walked slowly towards the offered seat, wincing internally.
“Oh, no. Do sit, it's rather chilly to be out in the streets – contrary to the season.” She would not have been so cruel or thoughtless to his old bones.
“Thank you…” he sat down slowly, regarding her for a long moment in silence. “You're looking well, Egeria. I take it from the green that you've been granted sight again? I'm very happy for you, if that's so.”
“Not for much longer, it was only to see the things I was intended to. Emrys, is his name and he has not granted me this sight to be lured by him, but to learn from him. When I see him next, it will be gone.” The cards were taken back from their shuffle, placed neatly back into their deck.
“Still, it must be nice to have while it remains, just as it was the last time. Perhaps still nicer this time, to have it to learn, rather than to be baited.” Another long pause as he regarded her. “Might I inquire…as to your bandages?” He couldn't bring himself to ask about the ring just yet.
“I,” her jaw turned tense almost immediately, requring the curl of her hand to shroud the gesture before it turned ugly, “apparently you wish to know as you asked me. The night that you turned me out, by the short hours it took to get to the widow's, she turned me out as well. To the streets. I was not going to spend another night sleeping in filth and resigning myself to wallowing in it to earn enough coin for rent of this room when I did not have the widow's dresses to barter. So I intended my eternal sleep in the cemetary, that is where these bandages came from.”
“Oh, Egeria,” his voice was a sort of horrified whisper, “Oh no…I'm so sorry, Egeria, so very sorry. I didn't mean to hurt you, Egeria, I…” he sighed sadly. “I don't know what I would have done had you been successful in that endeavor. I'm very pleased to see that you weren't. I'm so, so sorry, Egeria. It was all a horrible mistake. Can you forgive an old fool?”
“What do you care of it?” The fingers of her right hand dug carefully into the wrappings beneath her left to reveal an angry, half healed, wound, “just as this flesh will not be the same again, so can be said of our relations. You wish for forgiveness, old fool, tell me first why you turned me out.”
“I don't think you'll believe me when I tell you, Egeria, but if you wish to know, then I shall…” He cringed when he saw the wound, though her words hurt him more than the sight of her injury. “I care because I still love you, of course. Despite it all, Egeria, I've never stopped loving you.”
“It's not proper to tell a married woman such things…” a slow leak of breath left her lungs while fingers occupied themselves in the dressing of her wound.
His heart, if it was possible, sank even lower at that. “Who?” was all he managed to choke out, staring down at the floor, as he fought to keep the tears that threatened at bay.
“Octavius.” The name spoken without the tenderness of a new bride. “Because in spite of the hatred we had for each other, even on the day you turned me away, with the others, he was all I had left. He was the one who found me there in the cemetery, and without him, I would not have been here to this world when Emrys finally sought me out for a greater purpose in this life than a blind seamstress and some nameless trollop of some old fool. They did not care to know my name, but they cared well enough to assume that all I wished for was your money. I've no need for it, your money or his.”
“Egeria…I never thought of you as some nameless trollop. You meant, and still mean, far more to me than that. I know you weren't after my money, and the opinion of others be damned. But Octavius, Egeria? Why did it have to be Octavius?”
“Because he was the only one there…after all I've done to him, and even after the threats I made on his life the day you turned me out…what other reason does there need to be?”
“Do you…do you, love…him?” It was a difficult question for him to ask her.
“Not as certainly, nor as quickly as I loved you, Abraham…but when it all came down to it, when I needed help the most…why him? Because it wasn't you…”
“Not as certainly nor as quickly, but you do love him, then?” He sighed again, sadly, as before. “I was afraid of that, Egeria…you asked me why…well, I'll tell you. An acquaintance of mine who attends church at St. Paul's told me they had seen you there that day. That you had gone into the Bishop's private chambers, and that you had brought him flowers, and that you remained back there for some time, and that it was certain you were carrying on an affair with him. Have you any idea how much that hurt me, Egeria? To think of you with him?”
“You wish to speak of pain?” The laughter left her in a hollow melody, half-risen and leaned over the table hard enough to express a bit of red from the slivers of healing flesh in her wrist, “I went over there, when I learned of what he did to you, and gave him a bouquet of dead man's lilies and the threat of death when he was healed once more. What I did not take into account what the bastard had healed himself a considerable deal, enough to have had his way again against my will. After some time, after our 'affair', the only reason he let me go was because I told him you were expecting me – and for what I knew, you were. So kudos, a thousand kudos to your acquittance. He or she has helped you remain the old fool you claim to be.”
“I'll never trust a word they say again,” he muttered, “though little good that does me now. Egeria, I'm so sorry. I can't blame you at all if you can't forgive me. I truly am an old fool, and clearly you're better off without me.” His eyes began to cloud with tears. “I think it likely the world would be better off without me as well. I suppose all to keep me here now is bitterness to keep my children from taking too much joy in my departure.”
“We all have our reasons to remain here, what is important is that we have both found ours.” Egeria sighed, “You chose the outcome of this…your actions. I am sorry you have not found happiness or remedy from them.”
“How could I have?” He shook his head. “No, Egeria, I knew almost right away what a horrible mistake I'd made…I've looked for you, but I couldn't find you anywhere. When I came here, some strange man was all I found, and my thanks for my efforts was to have my life threatened until I gave him money, which seemed to calm him, at least to some slight extent.”
“That is my friend, Minoru. When his friend died and he had nothing left, I gave him this place to stay in while I was away. I think that is our difference, those who have less seem to be more giving in their understanding. I offered him what I had instead of turning him away.”
“Well…” There was little he could say to that. “I only hope you are happy now, Egeria, and that you remain so. All I've wanted all this time I've known you is your happiness. And so even if your reason for remaining is…him…I hope you stay happy. I suppose I should offer you my congratulations on your marriage, but I think you'll be able to understand my reluctance to do so.” He stood slowly, taking another long look at her. “I suppose this is goodbye, then,” he whispered.
He was not her reason for remaining, it was simply one cause for doing so, but Egeria did not feel so giving as to offer him that one small comfort. She remained silent, as he had, when she was turned out and through his door.
He nodded, slowly at first, and then again, more quickly. “Goodbye, Egeria. I wish you only the best. I…” He let his words trail off then, turned, and walked slowly out of the room and away.
(Thanks and XP to Egeria Fellows)May 13, 2006 at 3:04 pm #2583SilasHughesParticipant
What?!? When did this happen?!?! Darlings, you simply *must* post more of your RPs!! I'd love to hear about what brought this all about!
Marvy job, as usual, to both of you!
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