No announcement yet.

Changeling: Malibu Dream House (Actual Play)

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Jacob’s Journal

    Our last show before the trip went well. All of our lovely ladies sang their hearts out. Lori even did a song called “We will Survive.” I think that was her statement of intent or declaration to the freehold that we would come back from Arcadia. The others went out on high notes as well (no pun intended). During the show I made my way over to Oleander’s table and asked if we could talk. I wanted to see if there was any way that the motley could get some Goblin fruit that would restore glamor should we need it. She said that she had prepared some for us to take with us and would give it to us tomorrow before we left. I thanked her and started to head back towards the bar when Moon intercepted me. Zi wanted to let me know that the Autumn court was going to lend the motley a special compass to use in the Hedge. It would point towards the Keeper of the person who put a drop of blood in it. I thought that this would come in very handy and said as much. Moon did explain that they needed it back, which is fine. If it got lost and we couldn’t go back for it because of the risk then we’d likely have to do something for the court to make up for its loss. I thanked hir for the loan of the compass. Zi will also bring it by tomorrow morning.

    After the show was mostly over Lori got up on stage and announced to the crowd that a number of us would be taking a leave of absence for a while. She wanted to assure everyone that we would be back, but it would be a little bit until then. She introduced those folks that would be running the club and those that would be the main performers while we were gone. After Lori stepped down Dark Kimberly stepped up and introduced herself as the new point of contact if anyone has any questions or problems while we’re away. She introduced herself as Kimberly Choo. I never knew her family name. I’ve always just known her as Dark Kimberly, so it was a bit of a surprise to get more of a name for her. I suppose it makes sense, she can’t very well introduce herself to the mortals in the crowd as Dark Kimberly. She’d get funny looks if she did that. Of course there was more than one Changeling that gave her a “funny” look when she announced her real name. Okay…the looks were more interested than funny, but she still drew more attention to herself than she normally does.

    The only other thing of note that I noticed was White Maria and Insincere Marguerite talking. The conversation ended up with both women in tears. I’m not sure what they talked about that had them both so upset. I’m assuming it’s because Marguerite is going into the Hedge and White Maria is afraid that my motley mate will not come back. I think that Maria is rather taken with Insincere Marguerite. At least given the number of times that she’s been here overnight and how she looks at Marguerite in the mornings. I don’t know for sure though. I hope that they will both be okay.

    And now to get a full night’s sleep. Tomorrow is going to be a long and possibly hard day and I want to be as rested as I can be to face it.

    **** **** ****

    Today was exciting I’ll give it that. It started out like usual. Lori got up early to go to church and got ready for travel when she got back. The rest of us had been packing while she was out. I think Lori packed last night. After we were all packed and ready to go we talked to the people who had come to see us off. It was a pretty good size group. It was Becky, Gloria, Elena, Stasia, Brightstar, Yvette, Oleander, Joan, Andromeda and Flores. Everyone made small talk with our guests before we got ready to go. I talked to Elena to remind her about the support group that was set up for those left behind by this trip. She seemed remarkably calm about the whole thing. I have to give her that. I don’t know if she just didn’t fully realize what we were planning on doing or what. I guess it was better than her panicking though. So, after the small talk was over Oleander and Flores presented us with several goblin fruits each. Most of them would restore glamor, and one of them was unique to each of us. Mine would allow me to melt into a puddle and stay as such for seven hours. I would only be aware of what was going on directly above me though. I t could come in handy. I know Calamity’s would allow her to fire off the glass in her skin like projectile weapons in every direction. Luna’s would create a dangerous dust cloud that would buffet anyone within its circumference. I’m not sure what the others did. They all sounded useful though. We also go the compass from the Autumn court and a trained homunculus from Oleander. He was trained to lead us to the Violet Empress’s realm. After all the fruit was stored away in our packs we got ready to leave though the gate in our hedges along the side of the house. Oleander opened the door for us and we all said our last good byes.

    On the other side of the gate we saw the Hedge mounts that we had summoned as part of the pledge we made last night concerning this trip to Arcadia. Each of us got a mount that was unique to us. I got a horse made of ice. Julia’s horse was all black and skeletal looking. Calamity’s was almost like a horse shaped wave of blood. Luna had a stag beetle and De la Rocha had a tricked-out motorcycle. Lori got a big feathered lizard and last but not least Marguerite got a big cat that could turn invisible save for its eyes and smile. Think the Cheshire cat. After we had all mounted Calamity and I both used a contract to see what kind of obstacles awaited us nearby. We found a couple of things that may have lay in our path had Insincere Marguerite not worked her own magic by carving a path through the Hedge itself. She created the path in the direction that the compass and the homunculus were pointing. This path also led to a particular tree that held the magic sack that Insincere Marguerite had hid in the Hedge a long time ago. She scampered up the tree and was back down in seconds with the bag. We then had Lori and De la Rocha try getting in the bag so they would know what if felt like. They stepped in one after the other and kind of disappeared into the sack. A minute or two later Insincere Marguerite pulled them back out. They said that they felt like very little time had passed, like when you wake up from sleeping. So it looks the Marguerite’s bag will work.

    After traveling a little more we came across a wood and rope bridge that was going over a waterfall. Calamity and I used our contract again and found out that there was a large Hedge beast somewhere nearby. We all guessed that it was waiting in the water below us so we took precautions. Insincere Marguerite started walking across the bridge. Before she got halfway across two heads reared up from the water below. She then jumped on top of one of the heads and used a contract on it to slow it down. The rest of us then took advantage of its slowed state and started shooting it in the other head. Luna had a rifle, Calamity, Lori and I had our pistols. We all shot at it and hit it with varying degrees of success. It was Luna’s final shot that made the head we were targeting explode. The head that Marguerite was on decided that discretion was the better part of valor and it started to retreat back into the waterfall. Insincere Marguerite started to fall very slowly then climbed up the other side of the waterfall as the head started lowering.

    Once the Hedge beast had retreated we all crossed the bridge one at a time, each of us leading our mount. Traveling was uneventful after that though Julia did say that we were being watched by several beings, probably Hedge beasts or inhabitants of the Hedge. We figured that they were staying away because of Insincere Marguerite’s “Gentry aura.” That was fine by us. We didn’t want to lose any more time dealing with them if we didn’t have to. As short while later the homunculus and the compass disagreed as to which direction to go. The homunculus pointed straight ahead and the compass wanted us to go to the right. Our guess was that the Violet Empress was outside of her realm at that moment and we decided to follow the homunculus. Later we came across a swampy area. Calamity and I used our contract again and discovered a couple threats ahead and some Hedge fruit also in the area. I took a closer look at the Hedge fruit and discovered that it was a kind of moss that can aid in healing wounds faster than normal. It looks very much like another fruit which will make you essentially bleed out if you ingest it, so I was very careful about the fruit that I collected. Rook was very strict when it came to teaching me about Hedge fruit. He made sure that I paid close attention to him, and I can understand why. Two fruits that look almost exactly alike can do opposite things to you, and one of them is really bad if you’re already bleeding. I have appreciated Rook’s teaching over the years. It has come in handy when I was in need of something to heal me or something that might give me more energy. There are some truly silly kinds of Hedge fruit out there, but a lot of them are rather helpful.

    After we had gathered the Hedge fruit we ran into a couple of Hedge beasts. They kind of looked like a combination of seals and alligators. It was a truly strange amalgamation. So, they attacked and we shot them. I believe that Luna was a little disappointed that Calamity and I continued to use our guns rather than our knives for that fight. I hadn’t really thought of it, but I did default back to the pistol. Usually I go for my knives before any other kind of weapon. I’m honestly not sure why I went with the gun the second time around. I mean, it made sense for the first fight since we needed something with range to hit the beast. I could have thrown my knives but didn’t want to lose them, so I used the pistol. The second fight though I should have used my knives. I suppose though that the plus side to using the gun in the second fight was that the creature didn’t get close enough to me to actually hurt me. I don’t think those seal/alligator things really hurt anyone, which is good.

    We walked for a good while longer after that encounter until we got to a forest that had purple leaves. We figured that we were getting close to the Empress’s realm if things in the Hedge were starting to take on Her color. Almost as soon as we arrived in the purple grove Insincere Marguerite spotted something up in a tree and climbed up and brought it back down. It turns out that it was a gift bag of sorts from Mama Lion, her Keeper. Apparently, Mama Lion used to leave these kinds of bags near places that Marguerite was sent to retrieve other Changelings. Marguerite looked inside and it had the usual stuff inside of it. It had a map of the Empress’s realm, a special potion that would make sneaking or other dexterous feats easier, supplies, and a special key to get past the border of the realm. There was also a map of where Missy and Jane were being held. Interestingly enough it indicated that there was a third person in the cage with them, and that Hunting Hawk was in a cage of his own. It seems that he has fallen in the eyes of the Empress. It also appears that she has a new loyalist in her service named Ocras. He is an unknown quantity and therefore dangerous to us and our plans. We at least knew that Hunting Hawk was going to look the other way when we took Lori’s friends. We don’t know what this new guy will do.

    As far as the bag goes though, In the past there would be directions on where Mama Lion wanted Insincere Marguerite to deliver the people that she took. This time though there was no note. It was more like She knew what Marguerite was up to and approved of it. Kind of like she assumed that Marguerite had never left her service. And to be fair Insincere Marguerite had never defied Mama Lion outright. She just went to ‘the world’ and didn’t return. Marguerite sees that as leaving her Keeper, but Mama Lion may see it differently. I am of two minds about Marguerite’s options. She can either use the bag and its contents to get into and out of the Empress’ realm or she can turn down the offer in an obvious move against her Keeper. I think that she should definitely cut ties with Mama Lion, but I don’t know if now is the good time to do it. We are deep in the Hedge and literally on the doorstep of Arcadia. Can we afford to take the chance that Marguerite’s Keeper won’t retaliate while we are here? I think in the end we all agreed that, despite the downsides, it would be a good thing to use the bag. We could use all the advantages that we could get right now. Our focus needs to be on getting Missy, Jane and possibly the third person out of Arcadia and back to ‘the world.’ I don’t know if the stranger will appreciate us taking her out of the Empress’ realm or not. Hell, I don’t know if Missy or Jane will thank us for taking them out of Arcadia. They may be so used to their lives that they have accepted them and want to stay where they are. I don’t know. I don’t know what the future brings. I just know that it’s going to be hard, regardless of what happens. I pray for luck. We’re going to need it.

    Insincere Marguerite’s Whispers

    She was here. In body or reach. My Keeper.

    Mama Lion

    I never feared Mama Lion. Well, perhaps a little. One fears one’s boss, yes? But I was always the best. I was Her favorite. I had more Lost of my own than any two other thieves. She rewarded me well, and praised me for my work. She sent me to back to earth. Never hurt me. Never betrayed me. Never really forced me to do anything.

    So I am at the point of betraying Her first. It all seemed academic. She sent me to the home, or so I thought, because she was doomed. Now I wonder if it was part of my grooming. But I know I was treated well because I performed well. Failure, too often or two drastic, would make me a property of another thief. In retrospect, it’s horrible, but I was too selfish, too talented, to really understand the situation I was in.

    But now She is known to be alive. She gave me a goodybag for my mission. It was Her way of letting me know She still had my back. But my friends are right; She is evil. She only cares for I because of what I can do for her, did do for her. I would not be what I am without her. If not for her I would be that creature with the Front National, hating everyone with darker skin, who was poorer, who was not Christian, or God forbid, Queer. But most of all not French. I hurt people. I was a monster. She did not change that, precisely…the type of monster perhaps, but She did not make me who I am.


    I would not be who I am without Her. So I am caught in a situation I never expected to be in. Stab Her, a Monster who hurt many other than I, but always treated I fairly, in the back? It is a decision I do not need to make now, but when the time comes I may need to make it in a heartbeat. I know, however, if Juliette, Julia, Maria or Yvette are threatened, the decision will be a very easy one.

    Other hard decisions happen. White Maria, who claimed to be unable to feel love or passion, confessed her feelings for I Saturday night. She asked to spend the night with I making love, real love not the sex games we play so well. But I promised myself to Yvette, so spent the last night in Paris. I hope to see White Maria when I return. I told her my action was not an answer, it was keeping a commitment, a contract, and the highly honorable in her own mind woman understood that. I am still not sure what I will do. I did not want a relationship outside Juliette, Julia and Maria, but I still care for Yvette…occasionally strained by her trauma as our relationship is. She still breaks down in fear sometimes when we are together. It hurts. We are trying.

    But White Maria is a new wrinkle. I don’t know how I feel about her, specifically because she warned me to guard my feelings against falling for her since she was incapable of love, and I did. Dark Kimberly did, at least, after I talked to her, take White Maria home for tea and sympathy. Or beer and sympathy in her case. I am very fond of Dark Kimberly, but White Maria is right that she is not the most classy member of the Freehold, Goth in the Freehold, or Wizened in the Freehold, for that matter. She had a nice suit on that night, though. (Last? Time is funny here) Calamity and I definitely noticed, and I think Julia at least did too.

    The ironic thing?

    That here we are, a band of brothers…well, Jacob and six women, Band of Sisters? Anyway here we are on the road to Arcadia, monsters on the way battled, near the door, and I am not afraid of walking into that place again. No, I have done this sort of job dozes of times, possibly near a hundred. Possibly slightly more. And I was less strong then. No Arcadia will be easy.

    Mama Lion and White Maria? That I am not so confident on.

    End Session CV

    I don’t have as much to add as usual, it has been a very difficult week.

    The songs performed not explicitly listed were Ivy Levin’s “Like a Glove’ (Calamity and Captain Jack) and Concrete Blonde’s “Bloodletting” (Insincere Marguerite and Marie-Hélène)

    Insincere Marguerite used high Wyrd Hedge Manipulation abilities, rather than contracts, to open a path, and the various steeds were Fae Mounts. Lorelei’s is a Vractyl.

    The Hedge beasts were custom jobs.

    So…while I have not rushed any of the important events in the story, readers may have noted an increase in the pace. The main effect, really, was skipping a bit more downtime than I might otherwise have, or dwelling on the Hedge trip less than I could have (though with the Fae Steeds, Insincere Marguerite’s Gentryness scaring dangers away, and the very advanced guidance systems they had, it was not really breaking the story too far for it to be that fast…their steeds were very quick, they were powerful enough to make their own paths, and many enemies avoided them thinking they were a Gentry and entorage. There was, however, a reason for that.

    We had reason to be concerned a player might have to move. If they had, the future of the game would be in doubt, so I wanted to ensure we got the weddings and Arcadia trip done. However, we have gotten word this is not the case. This storyline will still probably be solved in a couple sessions, but barring something new happening Malibu Dream House will continue for the foreseeable.

    With that good news, I have prep to do. Comments and Questions welcome.

    Onyx Path Moderator
    Forum Rules
    This is my mod voice. This is my goth voice.
    [Geist: Balance of Shadows ][ Vampire: The Conspiracy of Hrad Černá Hora ][ Scion: Bohemian Front][Changeling: Malibu Dream House] [Demon: Night Train Detective Agency] [WoD: The Golden Eagle]


    • “The road was long, through maze and moor,
      To gates of glass, all too secure
      Through which we see the damning sights
      Of true Arcadian allure.
      Our swords are stained with blood of knights,
      Our garments torn by darkling frights,
      Our faces stained by love and hate,
      Yet we have gained these final heights.
      We stand as one, our shoulders straight,
      So proud that we have bested Fate.
      And yet the tests have just begun,
      For we must try the looming gate.
      We're at road's end, the race is run,
      And all our hopes may come undone
      As we stand at Faerie's door
      A thousand miles from mortal sun.”
      Carved on the Gatepost of the Kaleidoscopic Portal

      Life circumstances intervened such that we are only getting Lorelei and Jacob this time.

      Session CVI

      Lorelei’s Diary

      Okay, the Great Arcadian Rescue Operation of 2015 ™ has officially concluded, and the results are… as good as we had any right to expect, I suppose. I actually missed most of the truly exciting parts, for which I am not at all sorry.

      When I wrapped up my last entry, we were gathering our wits and our strength on the edge of the Empress’ realm, preparing for the final push to rescue Missy and Jane and be done with this damned place forever. Before we took that last step, I begged the others’ indulgence for a moment, got down on my knees, and said a fervent prayer for our success. I know that most of the others don’t share my faith in the Almighty, but they were willing to let me have my moment. I prayed for our success, of course… but also for our safety.

      After I’d finished, I spoke with my motley briefly. I told them that, along with my father, Missy and Jane were the closest thing I had to family from before I was Taken. I also told them that the people gathered around me at that moment were the closest thing I had to family from after I was Taken. It’s been said before, but I thought it bore repeating. I thanked them all from the bottom of my heart for undertaking this mission with me, and begged them not to take any stupid, unnecessary risks. I wanted more than anything to get in and get out again quickly with the absolute minimum of conflict. Everyone agreed that this would be for the best… some with more reluctance than others.

      So, as I said before, I missed most of the exciting parts. Maria and I climbed into the bag as soon as we had entered the Empress’ realm… that deep purple castle sitting atop the magenta hill burning itself into my mind. I’ll relate the others’ stories as I was told them, though I’m certain they omitted some of the gory details for my sake.

      Julia remained outside of the castle the whole time, on a sheltered side of the structure, beneath a very specific window. She was painting us a way out of Arcadia. God must have been with us, because she was never discovered by the Empress’ forces. Marguerite – in full-on cat goddess mode once more – slipped in through the window, for all intents and purposes completely undetectable. Calamity, Jacob and Luna concealed themselves with varying degrees of success and set about their own missions… the latter two hoping to distract and detain the regular guards while Calamity set her sights on the complete unknown… the elite hunter known as Ocras.

      Like I said, I’m getting most of this secondhand, but my impression is that it didn’t take long for things to go completely pear-shaped. Calamity used her contracts to locate Ocras, and discovered that Her Ladyship’s new favorite is a female owl-type changeling. Apparently her taste in raptors has evolved. In any case, Ocras had spotted Jacob and Luna and was making a bee-line toward them. Calamity remained undetected, and used this to her advantage, inserting herself between Ocras and our friends. Unfortunately for both of them, this resulted in a catastrophic high velocity midair collision, and the pair of them fell to the chamber’s floor with a titanic THUD that could be heard from all over the castle. Calamity just barely survived the collision and subsequent plummet… Ocras (who also had to deal with Calamity’s glass shards) was not so lucky.

      Four guards approached to determine what the ruckus was about. Luna – trusting Jacob to handle the enemies on his own – quickly did what she could to stabilize and resuscitate Calamity, then flew her out of the window (clipping a couple of the guards along the way) to where Julia sat painting. By the time she returned, Jacob had handily dispatched all four of the Empress’ guards… but five more had arrived to surround him.

      What happened next is not entirely clear to me; I only just today managed to pry the details out of the two of them. I think they were trying to spare my feelings or something. Apparently these new guards were accompanied by… the Violet Empress herself. She strode through the grand double doors at the end of the hall and said something appropriately disdainful, like “kneel before me, churls!” And since she had all the power and grandeur of the Gentry backing up her command, it took everything my friends had not to obey her.

      With a herculean act of will, Luna grabbed Jacob and flew him out of the room, straight to where Julia was waiting, just putting the finishing touches on her painting. But that wasn’t all she did, oh no…

      I’d debated what to do with Madame Spidertoes’ little present for quite some time. It was too potentially useful to ignore, and yet it seemed unlikely that I would have the opportunity to employ it, as I spent most of the excursion stuffed in a bag. In the end, I had left it in Luna’s care. As the group’s other aerialist, she seemed like a good choice… she could drop the spider-bomb from above if necessary and avoid the possibility of getting caught in its blast radius.

      (“You didn’t…” I said in shock when Luna related this story to me later.)

      (“I did,” she replied simply… and then a moment later, “I lobbed it right under the hem of her pretty purple skirt.”)

      (I confess to indulging in a bit of sadistic laughter at that. Try as I might, I cannot think of any better use for that terrifying weapon.)

      Meanwhile, I found myself being drawn out of the warm comfort of the magic bag and into distressingly familiar surroundings. I had rarely seen the cage from the outside, so the perspective was new, but other than that not much had changed. As I was getting my bearings, I began to notice a few voices speaking in urgent yet hushed tones.

      “Why is this even a debate? The French girl opened the cage. Let’s get the hell out of here!” This from an unfamiliar girl with dark skin, vaguely Asian features, and pure white wings.

      “But why would we leave? Where would we go?” This voice was as familiar to me as my own… and speaking words I had dreaded hearing for the last year and a half.

      “I’m not stuffing myself into a bag just because some cat tells me to!” Another familiar voice, articulating what I admit was a pretty distressing situation without context.

      “Jane?” I said quietly, focusing on her chestnut-brown locks as I heard Marguerite pulling D from the bag behind me. Then I turned to regard my other childhood friend’s midnight hair. “Missy!”

      The two of them turned to look at me in sync, cocking their heads to the side and considering me with their liquid black eyes. Recognition dawned… first in Jane, and a split-second later in Missy. Smiles of true, genuine happiness spread across their faces. “Jules?” Jane asked before rushing forward to embrace me. “It is you! You came back!”

      “Of course I did,” I said through my tears. “I promised I would, didn’t I? Sorry it took so long. But I’m here now, and I can get you both…” I turned to regard the new girl, and amended my statement, “I can get you all out of here, but we don’t have much time. We need to go.”

      “Sold,” the new girl said immediately. “I just have to, what, get in the bag? No problem.”

      Missy and Jane hesitated, and looked at each other. “I don’t know,” Jane said after a moment, and Missy nodded from a little behind her. “This is our home now, Jules. What would we do if we went back… back there?”

      I sighed, trying to think how I would convince them to come with us and fretting about how long it would take. “Look, the world is different now,” I said emphatically. “The two of you… you don’t have to give up what you have with each other…”

      D was getting impatient. “Yeah, chicks can get married now. In fact, Juliette and I are married,” she said, displaying her wedding band as proof.

      I couldn’t help cracking a grin at her typical brashness. “Girls, this is Maria… my wife.”

      Jane, in a way that was so very Jane, quirked an eyebrow at me. “You married a Mexican?” she asked quizzically.

      “Not the time,” I said quickly to forestall D’s inevitably biting response. “Look, seriously… we can get you out of here. You can have your freedom… you can have your lives back. I swear I’ll help you however I can. But we have to go now.”

      I did something that I don’t often do. I’ve known for a long time that I can use the power of glamour to make myself more persuasive, and I know several contracts which can further enhance that effect. Using them… well, it usually feels like cheating to me, like I’m magically making someone agree with my point of view and circumventing their free will. I don’t like doing it… especially not to my closest friends. But I had to admit that the circumstances were the very definition of extenuating, so I gave it my all.

      It almost wasn’t enough. Jane, in her stubborn determination to do right by Missy, would not allow herself to see the reason in what I was saying. She was certain that Missy wouldn’t be able to leave the Realm, and nothing I said was going to convince her to abandon the girl she loves. I can relate.

      Fortunately, Missy was an easier sell. “Okay,” she said hesitantly, putting a hand on my shoulder. “I trust you, Jules. I’m in.”

      Jane looked inclined to argue, but after a moment she simply nodded, kissed Missy on the forehead, and turned her attention to the bag. “So we just climb in there?” she asked.

      “Oui,” Marguerite replied, holding it open. The new girl – her name was Trinh – had already clambered in. Missy followed, with Jane right behind her, and D and I followed suit.

      The next thing I knew, I was being removed from the bag in an area of the Hedge which was not remotely purple. “How long was I in there?” I began before taking in my surroundings. “Holy shit! Calamity, you look about six seconds from dead! Hold still…”

      As it turns out, I wasn’t in the bag that long; Julia’s painting merely deposited us in the Hedge much closer to home than we had expected. Unfortunately, we had no way to stop the Empress’ forces from following us through the painting after we’d left, and a group of them appeared in the clearing just as I finished stabilizing Calamity’s wounds. Oh, apparently the blessings of my new Kith do extend to magical healing, by the way. Dealing with the worst of her wounds – extensive though they were – was simplicity itself.

      We turned to face the new threat, and dealt with them handily over the next half minute or so. I shot one of them with my pistol, and he retaliated by sticking a sword into my side, which was not fun, but I knew even then that it could have been a lot worse. I patched everybody up as best I could.

      “We should be safe here for a while,” Marguerite opined. “The Empress, she did not see me, so she will likely believe that another Gentry was responsible for the raid… possibly she will think it was Mama Lion herself. I do not think she will send more guards through when these do not return.”

      So we made ready to begin the journey home. We couldn’t leave Missy, Jane, and Trinh in the bag; that’s not how escaping from Arcadia works. You have to make your own way through the Hedge, even if you have help from other people. So we got them out of the bag, and I handed out a few of the extra outfits I’d brought along. The Empress was never very diligent about clothing her pets, and that hadn’t changed. My clothes weren’t a great fit on all of them, but they were the only ones modified to account for their wings.

      “It feels weird to wear clothes again,” Missy said, stretching and trying to get comfortable.

      “You’ll get used to it quickly,” I promised her.

      We summoned our mounts and began the journey back to Malibu. Missy and Jane – after some brief hesitation – climbed aboard Poly with me, while Trinh mounted up behind Calamity. She and D had sort of taken the new girl under their care, knowing that I’d be preoccupied with the other two. As gently as we could, we taught them about the facts of changeling life… glamour, magic, tale-crafting… and the mysterious nature of the time-slip between Arcadia and Earth.

      Jane figured it out first. “Okay, so exactly how much time has passed since we were kidnapped,” she asked, giving my engagement ring a significant glance.

      I sighed. “I was kind of hoping to ease you into this,” I admitted. “We don’t know exactly when we’ll come out, but when we entered the Hedge it was June of 2015. It’s been about thirty-eight years since we were Taken.”

      The two of them struggled to take that in. “So… what’s happened in the last forty years or so?” Missy asked hesitantly.

      I chuckled. “A lot. It’ll take a while to catch you guys up on all the movies and music you missed. As far as politics and world events go… well, there’s only one Germany again. The USSR split up into a bunch of individual countries. The US has been involved in a couple of wars, mostly in the Middle East. There have been major problems with terrorism, too… and this is really just the highlights.”

      At one point Marguerite shushed us and had us listen as hard as we could. It took a moment or two, but eventually I picked up on the soft, distant sound of singing. A short while later I could even recognize the song… “Silent Night.”

      “Well that answers one question,” I said with a grin. Calamity pooh-poohed the notion, stating that we couldn’t be sure that we weren’t hearing the echo of some Gentry’s “eternal Christmas” realm. It would later occur to me that even if we were catching the echoes of the real world, we would have no way of knowing whether we had been in Arcadia for six months… or for ten years and six months.

      Still, the song gave me hope. It was music that led me out of the Hedge during my first escape, after all, and the Wyrd does love its leitmotifs.

      The song faded shortly thereafter, but it wasn’t long before we found ourselves in familiar surroundings. We stopped off at the Hedge House before returning to the world, so that we could see to our remaining wounds and clean up our clothes and other belongings. It wouldn’t do, we reasoned, to stumble back into Malibu all bedraggled and blood-stained. We also cordoned off a section of the Hedge House grounds to serve as a grazing field and combination stable/garage. Yeah, most of us have decided to keep our fae steeds if possible. Hell, I don’t think I could have convinced Poly to leave me for good even if I’d wanted to. Which I didn’t. She’s such a sweetie-pie…

      After a brief attempt to explain the Hedge House to our three new guests (in the end it boiled down to “you know what, never mind, we’ll get to that later”) we made our way to the gate. I was running pretty low on glamour at that point, but I nevertheless eagerly offered up the paltry amount necessary to open the gate. A few steps later, and we were back in Malibu. It was dark, and obviously winter… in that it was maybe a hair under seventy degrees outside after nightfall. A bunch of us simultaneously pulled out our phones – which of course fascinated Missy and Jane – and began the process of turning them back on and connecting to a local network. After a pulse-pounding minute, the information I sought shone up at me from the tiny LCD screen. 10:27pm, Monday, December 21st, 2015.

      “The Solstice,” Julia said softly.

      I felt a grin coming on. “About six months. Not ideal, but not too bad either. I can still make the Spring semester.” I turned toward the others. “We did it!” I said, feeling hot happy tears running down my cheeks. Missy, Jane, and Trinh probably thought I was crazy. They still don’t get how monumental a task it is for changelings to voluntarily re-enter Arcadia and come back out alive again.

      I called Oleander first. “Hey,” she said, stoic and cool as ever, but I know her too well… I could hear the emotion in her voice. “You back, Angel?”

      “I am,” I said softly. “We are. All of us. And we did it. We brought them back.”

      “I knew you would. Never doubted it for a minute,” she said, the relief very evident in her voice. “Where are you? Do you need a pickup?”

      “We’re outside the Dream House. After I checked the time and date, you were my first call,” I explained.

      “You want me to head over there?” she asked, and then, without waiting for a response, “I’m on my way.”

      “Can’t wait,” I said. “I’ll see you soon, okay? There are a few more calls I need to make.”

      My next call was to Dad. It was obvious that I’d woken him up, as he was a little drowsy and grumpy at first. Once he understood what was going on, though, he became ecstatic. We made plans to meet for lunch the next day, and then he asked me a strange question.

      “Is Imelda a friend of yours?” he asked just as we were about to say our goodnights.

      I was so surprised at the sudden question that I almost didn’t recognize Oleander’s given name. “Oh,” I said once I’d gotten it. “Yeah. I actually brought her by the church one Sunday last year.”

      “I thought she looked familiar,” he said after a moment. “She has been providing me with… strange fruits and vegetables during the months of your absence. I think… I think they are making me stronger somehow.”

      I felt the tears welling up in my eyes at this simple act of kindness from my girlfriend. “Imelda’s… she’s special, Dad. She’d never do anything to hurt you. If she says they’re good for you, you can take it as gospel.”

      “I thought as much,” he said calmly, “but it never hurts to ask.”

      I texted Dark Kimberly next to let her know that we were outside. It was fairly obvious that there was a show going on, so we wanted to plan our arrival carefully. Kimberly responded with an ecstatic WELCOME BACK!!!!1!11 and told us to head in whenever we were ready.

      I dialed Brightstar while we were still outside of the Dream House, and once she calmed down, we agreed to pencil each other in for later this week. Dark Kimberly eventually got tired of waiting for us and came out to meet us. She ushered us in excitedly, and sort of quietly announced our return to the crowd, which was quite small (a Monday night during the holiday season which also happened to be the Solstice equaled a pretty slow night). The only changeling in the audience was Molly, who was quick to welcome us back as well.

      I called Joan next… I figured she would be more coherent than Andromeda, and I was not disappointed. She was very happy to hear from me, and I could hear Andromeda’s happy squeals once she’d shared the news. She opined that they really had to get working on that VCR now, and I told her that I’d be happy to come over sometime soon and check on their progress. Which only left one question…

      “I didn’t miss it, did I?” I asked anxiously. “The wedding, I mean…”

      “Oh,” Joan said in surprise, and then her voice turned suddenly soft and shy. “No, you didn’t miss it, Lori. In fact, we… well, we didn’t want to have the ceremony without you, so we decided to wait until you got back.”

      I was touched beyond words. “You… Joan, you didn’t have to do that! I could have been gone for years!”

      “And if that had been the case, we would have reevaluated the situation,” Joan replied patiently. “But Rebecca and I… we can afford to wait a little while. You are important to us both, Juliette. It would not have felt right for us to have the ceremony without you.”

      I was overcome with gratitude, and had to end the conversation pretty quickly after that to avoid breaking down entirely. To distract myself, I called Peg up to let her and Jimmy know that their most recent initiate had returned from the proverbial badlands. They’re not in the neighborhood at the moment, but promised to look in on me the next time they pass through, and offered up their congratulations on a job well done.

      I had one more important phone call to make… Princess Jolie would want to know that one of her subjects had returned to the fold. Of course, she already knew it, because Calamity had called Becky first thing, and the claviger had passed it on to the monarch post-haste.

      Oleander and Becky showed up at about this point, and Stasia and Elena were not far behind them. All four were really happy to see us back, though Elena was a bit more cynical and world-weary than I’d seen her before. Apparently she came out to her parents while we were away… and they’ve pretty much disowned her. That’s rough. Okay, to be fair, ‘rough’ doesn’t really cover it. I can’t imagine what she must be going through.

      Stasia will see her through it, though. I mean… after a hasty muttered apology for stealing focus from our return, she got down on one knee and produced a diamond ring from the depths of her coat pocket! Right there in the theater! I got Marguerite’s understudy’s attention quickly and had her throw a spot on the two of them so everybody in the theater witnessed Elena accepting Stasia’s proposal. I quickly opined that they simply had to hold the reception here at the Dream House, to which Stasia responded with a somewhat panicky “we’re not there yet.”

      A lot of us were pretty starved for glamour by that point. Between channeling my magic into convincing Missy and Jane to accompany us and all of the healing I’d done earlier, I confess to having been a bit parched. When I mentioned this to Kimberly, she smirked and told me she could pencil me in as a guest star for one number. Though I wasn’t really dressed for the part, I got up there and crooned my way through Irving Berlin’s “Blue Skies.” Some of our regular (mortal) customers were there, and those sweethearts gave me a standing ovation! Suffice to say the experience slaked my thirst nicely.

      Captain Jack showed up at some point, and he and Calamity also insinuated themselves into that evening’s show in celebration of our return. They did an… “energetic” number called “Danger! High Voltage.” The performance was… memorable. And had not been approved by the Dream House’s artistic director. Which is me. At this point, I choose to move on without further comment.

      As the evening wore on, I eventually badgered Maria into calling Alejandro. “He’s your brother,” I said pointedly.

      “I know,” she responded with an eye-roll.

      “You have to let him know we’re back,” I pushed a little further.

      “I will,” she said irritably.

      “D, he thought you were dead for years, and it tore him up. Don’t put him through that again.”

      “Are you sure you’re not Catholic?” she grumbled good-naturedly… but she also pulled out her phone and retreated upstairs for some privacy.

      We spent the rest of the evening chatting with our three new arrivals. Trinh, as it turns out, was on her way to LA from Baton Rouge in the hopes of becoming a fashion model when she was originally Taken (some time in 2006). A quick check on Julia’s phone revealed that her Fetch had carried out this plan, and was a moderately successful model in the nearby metropolis. The Fetch in question looks almost exactly like Trinh, only slightly older… which could be problematic. That of course led to a discussion of Fetches and the dangers the pose to changelings, which further led Missy and Jane to ask about their own Fetches.

      I chuckled nervously. “Well… apparently those two, umm… went on a crime spree, robbing convenience stores across the Midwest until they were gunned down by the cops,” I admitted in a rush.

      The two of them looked at each other for a moment. Missy looked vaguely scandalized, but Jane just chuckled and shrugged. “Yeah, that figures,” she said simply.

      We gossiped with Dark Kimberly and the others for a while about Freehold politics and relationships. Boss Lowjack had been campaigning pretty fiercely to try to find someone to replace him as Winter King right up until the coronation ceremony earlier that day (obviously there were no takers). Princess Jolie had gotten involved with Angelica for a while, and things were pretty hot and heavy between them to hear Becky talk… but now it seems like the Princess is kinda-sorta unofficially back with Queen Charlotte. Other than news of that sort, the Freehold has been pretty quiet for the last half year.

      One bit of news in the world at large caught my attention, I must say. Two weeks after Maria and I got married, just a few days after we went into the Hedge, the Supreme Court voted to legalize gay marriage nationwide. So that’s nice… I’m glad to hear that people across the country will now have the same rights and privileges that we enjoy here in sunny California.

      “Umm… Jules?” Missy interjected timidly after a while. “Could you, umm, show me where the bathroom is, please?”

      “Sure,” I said, standing up and hugging her. “C’mon, it’s this way.”

      Since we have fairly clearly marked public restrooms at the Dream House, I figured Missy wanted to talk to me alone about something, and sure enough, as soon as we’d left the others behind, she started hemming and hawing a bit.

      “Missy,” I said to her softly, “you are one of my best friends, and I am so unbelievably happy to see you right now. I will never do anything to hurt you, and I will do everything I can to help you, I swear. So whatever it is you want to say to me, I promise I’ll listen, okay?”

      She nodded. “It’s about Trinh… and Jane,” she said after a moment.

      “What about them?” I asked.

      “Trinh hadn’t been there very long when you rescued us,” she continued, “and she was the Empress’ favorite.”

      I rolled my eyes. “She always did like the new girls,” I recalled. “It was the same way with Annabelle…”

      Missy nodded emphatically. “Right. And remember how we dealt with Annabelle?”

      “I’ll never forget it,” I said soberly. Then I realized what she was trying to say. “You’re not going to…”

      “We were,” Missy admitted. “Jane thought she was a threat. We were going to kill her and eat her. And I think Jane might still be planning something along those lines.”

      “Shit,” I said after a moment. “There’s no reason for that anymore…”

      “I know,” Missy sighed. “That’s why I told you.”

      “I’ll talk to Jane,” I promised, “and make her see reason.”

      Something like panic filled the inky pools of her eyes. “You can’t tell her I told you!” she whispered desperately.

      I hugged her close. “I won’t,” I promised. “Come on, Missy… we’ve always taken care of each other, haven’t we? I swear I won’t let anything come between you and Jane. I’ll take care of it, but I’ll be discrete, okay?”

      “Okay,” she said. “Thanks.” And then, after another moment, “umm… Jules?”


      “I, umm… actually do have to go to the bathroom,” she said sheepishly.

      I laughed and hugged her again. “God, I’ve missed you two,” I said fervently. “Right down the hall. Second door on your left.”

      So about five minutes of observing Jane and Trinh interacting showed me that Missy was right. As soon as it seemed plausible, I asked Jane if I could speak with her privately for a few minutes. She cheerfully agreed, but turned all business as soon as we were alone. “What is it? Is Missy alright?” she asked.

      I took her hands in my own. “She’s fine,” I assured her. “I wanted to talk about you. I can’t help but notice a bit of tension between you and Trinh… mostly on your side,” I said delicately.

      She shrugged. “She was new. She was a threat… a threat to Missy. I’m sure you remember how we deal with threats like that.”

      “She’s not a threat anymore, Jane,” I said as gently as I could. “The Empress’ opinion doesn’t matter anymore…”

      Jane nodded. “Yeah… I guess. It’s hard to wrap my brain around that, Jules, I admit. But just because she’s not the favorite anymore doesn’t mean she’s not a threat. If she hurts Missy, or… or tries to take her away from me…”

      “Jane,” I said, forcing her to look in my eyes, “nobody is going to take Missy away from you. It’s obvious to everyone that you two are in love. Hell, even I felt like a third wheel around you two sometimes…”

      Her intense look softened, and she seemed a little abashed. “You were never a third wheel, Jules… you were always one of us.”

      “I know,” I assured her, “and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. But my point stands… she’s not a threat to you.”

      “Maybe not… but she’s not a hunter, either. And you know what that makes her.”

      I’d never heard Jane talk like that before. She was always more assertive than Missy, but never violent. “I’m not a hunter either, Jane,” I said quietly. “What does that make me?”

      “You’re a friend,” she said instantly. “We never forgot you… as hard as it was to hold on to anything in that place, we always remembered that.”

      “So trust me,” I said softly. “Leave Trinh alone. We have people in the Freehold who can determine if she’s a threat. If she is, they’ll know how to deal with her. But if you go off half-cocked and hurt or kill her unnecessarily, well… those people might start to see you as a threat.”

      She took a deep breath. “Okay,” she said at last. “I do trust you, Jules. I won’t hurt Trinh, I promise.”

      “Thank you,” I said as the two of us made our way back to the bar. Missy had returned from the facilities by that point, and people were preparing to bed down for the night.

      “You two can take the upstairs guest bedroom,” I said when Missy yawned. “Trinh, you can have the one downstairs. You’re welcome to stay as long as you need to… as long as you want to, in fact. But you don’t have to stay here if you want to move on. You’ll never be forced to stay anywhere you don’t want to again.”

      “Thanks,” Missy said. “Umm, this is kind of awkward, but… do you have any straw? I… don’t think I can sleep if it’s not on straw.”

      Trinh cocked an eyebrow at that. “I was kind of hoping for a bed myself,” she said with entirely too much sarcasm, in my opinion.

      “If Missy wants straw, we’ll get her some straw,” Jane spat back acidly, though she didn’t look too enthused by the idea in my opinion.

      “Umm… I’m sure we can find some somewhere,” I said helplessly.

      “On it, give me twenty minutes,” Oleander said, pulling out her phone.

      “Thanks, sweetie… you’re my hero,” I said, giving her a peck on the cheek. Explaining my complex web of relationships to Missy and Jane had taken a bit, but I think they caught on eventually.

      Calamity suggested putting straw on top of the double bed in the guest room, or maybe just on one half of it, to sort of ease Missy back into the world. That sounded like a peachy-keen idea to me, and half an hour later it was all set up. The two of them retired for the evening, and people started trickling out. Soon D and I found ourselves propping up the bar together.

      “You call Gloria?” I asked. When she nodded, I inquired further. “How is she?”

      “She’s okay,” D allowed. “She missed me. I told her I’d see her later this week, but I can call her back if you want to stay with Oleander or something…”

      “It’s been a hell of a long day,” I said in response. “Six months long, in fact. What I’d really like right now is to lie down in a big soft bed with my wife and show her how much I genuinely appreciate everything she’s done for me.”

      D grinned. “I kinda figured,” she allowed. “You know… Mags and Julia have done a lot for you lately too. Want to see if they’d be up to joining us?”

      “Sure,” I said gamely, “but just the family for tonight, okay?”

      It turns out that was fine with everyone, and a glorious hour or so later I’m sitting up in bed, leaning over to write in this journal while D snores softly with her head in my lap. I should get some sleep; I need to go see Dad right after Sex Breakfast, and I’m sure Missy and Jane will have a million questions about this strange new world. I brought them here, so it’s my responsibility to see that they’re acclimating well (Trinh too, I suppose). I have a lot of friends and lovers to catch up with as well.

      Oh, and let’s not forget that my college career begins in less than a month! That’s right, Oleander was as good as her word, and all the paperwork has been filed for me to start as a freshman at UCLA in mid-January. If I can score high enough on a few Advanced Placement tests and take an extra course here and there, I might even be able to make up for the semester I missed and get my eventual medical studies back on my original timetable!

      But for now, I’m going to slip back under the sheets and lose myself in the warmth and love of my family. D’s strength and kind-heartedness, Marguerite’s grace and fierce loyalty, and Julia’s courage and unmatched artistry… they were all invaluable in Arcadia, but this is where they belong. Here in the mortal world, those gifts are not hoarded by a single demented entity, they’re free to grow and develop and shape the world and the people around them.

      I think that being with them tonight will drive home what we’ve really accomplished. I returned to my own personal Hell voluntarily and made it back to the world again, bringing three more innocent souls with me this time. I hope that by rescuing my friends, in some small way I have made up for breaking our original oath. Missy and Jane forgave me for that transgression long ago. I hope that now, maybe I can start to forgive myself.

      Lorelei de la Rocha

      Onyx Path Moderator
      Forum Rules
      This is my mod voice. This is my goth voice.
      [Geist: Balance of Shadows ][ Vampire: The Conspiracy of Hrad Černá Hora ][ Scion: Bohemian Front][Changeling: Malibu Dream House] [Demon: Night Train Detective Agency] [WoD: The Golden Eagle]


      • Jacob’s Journal

        It’s done. It’s over. We’re back from Arcadia and the Hedge. As I mentioned before, we elected to use the bag that Mama Lion left for Marguerite, but before we used the key Lori wanted to pray. She bowed her head and prayed for strength and for us to find her friends and bring them home safely. She also thanked us for coming with her all the way there. We all assured her that we were family and we take risks for family. Then Lori and De la Rocha got into the magic sack and we all crossed the barrier into Arcadia. I felt the familiar tingle go up my arms when we crossed the border. I used to love that sensation when I served the Lady. Coming back home to her realm gave me a thrill. I was somebody in Arcadia, at least in Her small part of it. Likewise I felt something like excitement when I crossed the border into the Hedge because it meant that I was on a mission for the Lady. This time though I only felt apprehension. I was going into Arcadia, into a Gentry’s realm without their permission, and I wasn’t doing it on behalf of the Lady. That was against protocol. Rook and I only ever went where we were sent. We didn’t deviate from our mission. To do so was to court the anger of the Lady. Today we did so in direct opposition to one of the Gentry. I guess I felt some excitement when we crossed the border, but it wasn’t because of the tingle up my arms. It was because we were defying the Gentry. We were decidedly going against the Violet Empress’ wishes in being there. Our mission itself was in active defiance of Her. But we went anyway. That was the whole point of this trip, and I was happy to do it for my friend.

        After we crossed the border we split up. Insincere Marguerite started climbing up the wall of the castle like a spider with the sack slung over her shoulder. Calamity went invisible and started up the wall after using a contract to locate Ocras. She was apparently up in the rafters watching. Luna and I turned invisible and headed up the wall ourselves looking for any other guards. Unfortunately Ocras heard one of us, probably me, and started heading in our direction at great speed. Calamity saw this and interposed her own body between me and Ocras as she flew in my direction. They collided at high speed and both fell to the floor. Ocras was badly wounded from Calamity’s strike as well as the impact against her glass. They both fell and Ocras was further wounded from the impact with the floor. She didn’t make it. Calamity didn’t get away free and clear of that either. She hit the floor with a thud and moaned in pain. She was also badly hurt from the impact and fall, though she was still in the land of the living. Luna rushed down to the floor and started stabilizing her student. I followed her and prepared to take on the oncoming guards and keep them off my lover and friend until they could get clear. After Luna bandaged the worst of the injuries she picked up Calamity and started flying to the rendezvous point with Julia, injuring one of the approaching guards in the process.

        I engaged the guards that had headed in our direction. I was still invisible so they could not see where the strikes were coming from. They made educated guesses as to where I was, but I kept moving and didn’t get hit very often. Not that I’m complaining mind you. It was fun to watch them strike at empty space. Some got a little too close for comfort and others got lucky and managed to hit before I could dodge out of the way. I had to keep moving because after the first hit I was bleeding, and no matter how much I would have liked it, my blood was not invisible when it hit the floor. So, I danced around the soldiers, frequently going back over places I’d been to keep from making a new trail on the floor. It worked to keep the injuries I took to a minimum so I’m not going to complain.

        More guards arrived and I started fighting them off. Soon after Luna came back to help me and we both got a surprise. The Violet Empress herself arrived with more guards and demanded that everyone kneel. So everyone did. Luna and myself included. We didn’t obey for very long though. Within moments Luna forced her limbs to follow her own commands and she stood and came over to me. I did the same and stood up in defiance of the Empress. Luna then pulled the spider bomb that Madame Spidertoes had given us out of her pocket and threw it right at the Gentry. Then she picked me up and we flew to the tree where everyone else was waiting for us. We all hurriedly went through the pathway that Julia had painted. Once on the other side Insincere Marguerite managed to pull just Lori and De la Rocha out of the sack. Lori looked around and her eyes went wide when she saw Calamity’s condition. She quickly started using her healing contract on our friend while Luna, De la Rocha and I fought off the guards that managed to follow us through the painting. After she was done healing Calamity, Lori even pulled out her own gun and shot one of the guards. She was wounded herself in retaliation, but it wasn’t bad. After they were dispatched we called our mounts and we quickly rode further away from the Violet Empress’ lands. Once we’d gotten a safe distance away Marguerite pulled the remaining girls out of the sack. Some of us got a bit of a surprise when Insincere Marguerite pulled not just two but three girls out of the bag. Apparently the new girl in decided to come with us. Her name was Trinh. After introductions we did a brief explanation of where we were and what was going on. We told them that they had to make their own way out of the Hedge in order to get to ‘the world.’ They could have help getting there, but they had to actually make the journey. They all agreed that was fine and we divided up who would ride with who. Lori took Missy and Jane on her mount and Calamity took Trinh on hers. We then all started heading towards the Dream House.

        We rode for a while longer before we started hearing Christmas music, in particular “Silent Night.” After a bit more traveling we finally came to a familiar gate. It was the one that led to our own property. Before we went out we went to the Hedge House and were surprised to see that it had created a stable for our mounts. So, we put them in there and cleaned up and changed clothes before heading home. The last thing we wanted to do was to walk into the Dream House during a show covered in blood and looking quite disheveled. After we changed we walked out into ‘the world.’ It was cooler out which matched up with the singing that we’d heard earlier. It was likely to be around Christmas time. All of us that had them pulled out our phones and turned them on so we could see what the date and time was. It was obviously cool-ish and dark out, but that didn’t narrow it down much. Our phones told us that it was Monday, December 21, 2015. So we’d been gone for about six months. All told that wasn’t nearly as bad as I was afraid it was going to be.

        So, as soon as we were able we all started calling people. Lori called a number of people to let them know that she was back. I think she started with Oleander who offered to come straight over to the house. I called Elena who sounded happy to hear me, but also sounded somewhat sad too. She told me that she was now in the same boat as me in that she had a brother but no parents. I asked her what happened and she told me that she had come out to our parents about her and Stasia and they had reacted badly. She didn’t mention how the little shit reacted. I asked if she could come to the Dream House and she said that she would be heading over soon. I think Calamity was on the phone with Stasia at the same time I was talking to Elena. I also called Lowjack to let him know that we had made it back safely. He seemed happy to hear from us, but he was in something of a grumpy mood because he hadn’t been able to find anyone to take over being the Winter King in his place, so the title was still his. He grumbled something about getting me to take on that mantle, but I’d been gone. Truth be told I don’t want that title either. Anyway, in the end we all went up to the Dream House and were officially welcomed back by Dark Kimberly who came out to meet us. We all gathered back inside and got a congratulatory drink from the bar and sat down to enjoy the ongoing show.

        While we were all socializing Calamity and Lori were checking out our new guest. Lori read her desires and found out that Trinh really wants to be a model. Calamity read her fears and found out that our new guest is afraid of Ocras, the “surgeon” that changed her, the Empress and some 20-something Vietnamese woman who mocks her. So, as far as we can tell her fears and desires seem pretty mundane. Someone did some checking online and found out that Trinh’s fetch is actually already a model in the nearby area. So, if Trinh wants to take up the profession she’s going to have to change her name and be careful not to use the same agencies that her doppelganger uses. That’s if she stays in this area, which seemed to have been in her original plans, so we’ll have to see how that goes for her. Changing her name and getting documentation to back up that new identity will need to be up on the top of her list, though I’m not sure if she’s up to thinking about the necessities’ of setting up a new life.

        Then came the surprise. Stasia seemed to gather up her courage and went down on one knee in front of Elena. Before Elena could react Stasia had pulled out a ring and proposed to her. Elena looked surprised but happy. While all of this was going on Lori had the light and sound person shine a spotlight on the happy couple. Elena looked like a deer in headlights when the light shone on her but she said yes and they kissed. Elena had mentioned that things had gotten more serious between the two of them, but I didn’t realize things had progressed that far. I guess it’s because they’ve had six months to get closer and develop deeper feelings for one another while for the rest of us it was just a matter of a day or so. So I was probably more surprised than Elena was, but it was not a bad surprise. Stasia, despite my initial misgivings seems to be good for my sister and that’s what really matters in the end.

        Before we had finished our drinks Oleander, Becky and Desiree came by to welcome us back. There were hugs and kisses to go around. It was also good to see Desiree looking much better than the last time we saw her. Last we knew she was still on shaky ground sanity-wise, but she appears to be doing much better now, which is good. After we exchanged greetings, conversation turned to retaking lives for the new arrivals. Trinh was told about her fetch’s activities as were Missy and Jane. Apparently, their fetches hooked up and went on a crime spree robbing convenience stores throughout the mid-west before finally being gunned down by authorities. They shrugged and said that was fair. They didn’t seem surprised to find out what their alter egos had been up to, so it stands to reason that they probably had similar thoughts before they were taken. Several people recounted what their own fetches were up to or had been up to. Jacob Michalev has had a pretty boring existence so far, so I didn’t mention him. De la Rocha did mention that she didn’t have a fetch and was able to step back into her life like she hadn’t left.

        Conversation then turned to how hard it could be to come back to ‘the world’ after being in Arcadia for so long. I understand that they had gotten used to being in the cage, but in the grand scheme of things they weren’t in the Empress’ realm for that long. Maybe a year and some change. Granted in terms of real time they were gone for thirty-something years, which is a long time, but time passes differently in the Keeper’s realm’s, so they were only technically there for a year and a couple of months. I didn’t mention how long that I’d been in Arcadia myself. I don’t know for sure. I was only gone from ‘the world’ for about two years, but about two decades passed in Arcadia for me. The aging process slowed down after I entered the Lady’s service so I don’t look that old, but sometimes I certainly feel it. People were talking about the effects that prolonged exposure to Arcadia did to you. I can attest that the longer you spend in that place the more you change. I certainly became a different person after being there for so long. I don’t recognize myself sometimes. Though I have gotten used to who I am now so looking back as I was when I was first taken makes me do a double take. My mind is just not in that same place anymore. I left that mindset a long time ago. I’m just glad that I was able to reestablish a relationship with my sister despite all the changes. We’ve had conversations since I admitted who I was to her that I think reminded her of the old me. I know it certainly reminded me of him, but I also know that I must seem different to her. I can’t be that same naïve kid that I used to be. I think she understands that. Which reminds me, she looks a little bit more care worn and world weary than she did before we left to get Lori’s friends back. I think the rejection from our parents took its toll on her. She’s not as naïve as she used to be either. I wish I could have saved her that pain, but there’s not much that I could have done to stop it. I couldn’t have interceded on her behalf as a brother, because in the eyes of our parents I’m just a stranger. They have their “son” at home and don’t know any better. Now they’ve lost a daughter too. I hope they feel that loss keenly.

        Anyway, it was a time to be happy. We’d gotten back safely and were reunited with friends and family. We listened to music for a little while before I think it became too much for Lori and Calamity and they made arrangements to do a couple of surprise acts on stage. I don’t remember the names of the songs that they did, but as usual they were great. Lori changed pretty quickly into one of the costumes from backstage and strutted her stuff on stage. It wasn’t all that long since some of us had heard her sing, but it was for the crowd and they ate it up. She did look pretty up there. Calamity and Jack did their own number and had quite a cheering section in the audience. They certainly do work well together.

        After the singing we talked about sleeping arrangement for our new guests. We said that Trinh could sleep in the guest room downstairs while the other two could sleep in the guest room upstairs. At the mention of sleeping Missy asked if she could sleep on hay that night. I guess she had gotten so used to sleeping on hay in the Empress’ realm that she didn’t think she could sleep without it here. Oleander just held up a hand and said that she was on it and started making phone calls. Jane didn’t seem to want to sleep on hay though, so we figured we’d just put hay on half of the bed upstairs so both ladies could have their ideal place to sleep. I’d admit that when I got back sleeping in a real bed took a little getting used to. I had been used to the accommodations in the Lady’s palace, which were not nearly as comfortable as a real-world bed. She didn’t want us becoming soft in her service, so we were denied certain luxuries, like soft beds, but at the time it was just an honor to serve her. We didn’t mind the things that we missed out on. Though I do admit that I used to like getting hot coffee whenever I came to ‘the world’ on a mission for Her. That was a secret treat that Rook and I shared.

        And through all of that I completely forgot that it was me and my sister’s birthday today. I will have to text her as soon as I’m done writing in this book to say Happy Birthday. Has it really been a year since that camping trip? I guess that’s what happens when you go to Arcadia where the time is all messed up. I’m just happy that in the time that I was gone my sister had someone to lean on when things went poorly with our parents. I shall also make an effort to be there for her now that I’m back. Maybe we can plan another trip to the mountains. I can make it snow again. It would be fun to drive the local weather forecasters crazy trying to figure out what’s going on. That’s a plan for another day though. Right now it’s time to snuggle with my Luna and tell her how much I love her, and how much I admire her aim with that spiderbomb. I certainly am lucky to have her. Sometimes I wonder if I should ask her to marry me. We’ve been together for a while now, but still not all that long. Though everyone else around me seems to have gotten caught up in the wedding fever. Insincere Marguerite and Julia, De la Rocha and Lori, and now my sister and Stasia. I don’t know if Luna would want to be married or not. She’s not a conventional woman, but she is my unconventional woman and I love her.

        End Session CVI

        Okay, lets see

        Tons of contracts used. Pretty much everyone outside the sacks used 3/5 of Smoke to turn invisible, cover traces and boost stealth.

        Calamity and Insincere Marguerite used Darkness to climb, and Insincere Marguerite used Mirrors to reshape herself to be sleeker and faster, with descriptions of her movement being “gollumesque” and her limbs moving to give her a quadrupedal gait as she moved across walls and ceilings. Insincere Marguerite had to pick a lock which required 12 successes. Successes were cumulative but each try she took 12-successes so far automatic damage. She got 10 the first try, so took two total getting well over enough second try.

        Ocras was designed to be a major battle. One the heroes will only have a chance against if Calamity ambushes and they work together. Then (an invisible) Calamity stepped deliberately in front of (an invisible) Ocras that did not detect her flying at 35 miles per hour in rafters, collided with her glass, and both fell about 45 feet to the ground. So Calamity did the two things she did best. 1) Murder from ambush and 2) nearly die.

        Lorelei, for her part, used her Fairest abilities and Vainglory to convince Missy and Jane…it was not an appropriate point for the new social system. Jane wasn’t really listening, but Missy was.

        Jacob got to hold off guards and do well. They were mook-ish but there were several and in CoD several semi-competant assailants is tough. His being an Elemental stopped the first seven levels, though, so he was not badly hurt.

        They got it in about six months, which was the “everyone is super efficient amount of time" result. They did not dally, and moved rapidly, and that time pressure added a tension that worked very well.

        Now what to do with these rescuees? That is the subject of our next session. Comments and Questions welcome.
        Last edited by Baroness Nerak; 04-22-2018, 04:21 PM.

        Onyx Path Moderator
        Forum Rules
        This is my mod voice. This is my goth voice.
        [Geist: Balance of Shadows ][ Vampire: The Conspiracy of Hrad Černá Hora ][ Scion: Bohemian Front][Changeling: Malibu Dream House] [Demon: Night Train Detective Agency] [WoD: The Golden Eagle]


        • Were there any Clarity rolls for being in Arcadia?

          A god is just a monster you kneel to. - ArcaneArts, Quoting "Fall of Gods"


          • My original plan was a roll when they entered and then a chance to gain a point on success of their mission. I was, however, on day 10 of oral pain that lead to an extraction the afternoon after the game, and it slipped my mind. I wound up not requiring the rolls because it did not come up until post game.

            Onyx Path Moderator
            Forum Rules
            This is my mod voice. This is my goth voice.
            [Geist: Balance of Shadows ][ Vampire: The Conspiracy of Hrad Černá Hora ][ Scion: Bohemian Front][Changeling: Malibu Dream House] [Demon: Night Train Detective Agency] [WoD: The Golden Eagle]


            • It's great everyone managed to get in and out without dying...though granted, Calamity nearly didn't there. Thank goodness for Luna and her swift actions, and Jacob and his stealthiness.

              On the note of Calamity, gosh dangit Calamity, stop throwing incredibly deadly wrenches into the Baroness' plans. XD In all seriousness, she really does have a tendency to do that. We love her though, and congrats to her for solo'ing what was supposed to be a tough encounter. It probably wasn't the most dignified victory she's ever had, but points for it all the same.

              Interesting that nobody had to use the goblin fruit Oleander gave them. Probably for the best too, given how they were generally a last-resort sort of deal. One hopes they don't need to resort to them any time soon either.

              Really, the adventure was great fun to read, and a satisfying payout to the buildup that has been coming ever since the start of the series. Here's to the newcomers, and the returning rescuers.


              • Calamity makes everything more interesting. Her player and I also might have miscommunication when I said "coming in hot" She did stab, for the record, just was...unfortunate for everyone.

                Yeah the fruit was back up in case it went to shit. I did not particularly want them to lose, but I wanted them to win by their own merit.

                Thanks so much I think everyone was quite pleased with it. And of course, plenty of drama to come.

                Onyx Path Moderator
                Forum Rules
                This is my mod voice. This is my goth voice.
                [Geist: Balance of Shadows ][ Vampire: The Conspiracy of Hrad Černá Hora ][ Scion: Bohemian Front][Changeling: Malibu Dream House] [Demon: Night Train Detective Agency] [WoD: The Golden Eagle]


                • So, Records don’t really exist of my first changeling game, Beyond the Sea. A few records were done, but they were either on physical paper, make no sense without context, or were embedded peacemeal in a PDF. I have been asked about it several times. However, I managed to find a solitary journal which actually references several events in that game in a fairly amusing way. Check out a summery journal for the Motley of Illaron Highborn (Spring Fairest) Trace Eventide (Spring Darkling) Olivia Mortwight (Autumn Darkling) Mr. Bones (Winter Darkling) as told by Marian Etta, Autumn Elemental. I present it for your amusement on this off week for Malibu Dream House.

                  Intermission: Beyond the Sea

                  Session ????

                  Marian Etta’s Notes

                  Last night's lesson: do not anger or get the attention of an angry and extremely powerful ghost. To demonstrate this lesson, we will use Olivia. Olivia, whom was jealous of the affections and attentions given to Marney by Illaron, changed her shape into a pile of leaves and tripped Marney while she was walking. Note: this is the same Marney who is owner of the Captain's Cottage hotel and possessed by the angry and powerful ghost of her father "the Captain." As a result of her actions against Marney, Olivia was visited in her bathroom by the Captain. The ghost attempted to drown Olivia, but she escaped by breaking and crawling out of the bathroom window. Also note that the Captain could have prevented Olivia from escaping through the window, yet he did not, which indicates that perhaps this was simply a warning. After all, Olivia only tripped Marney, which did not actually cause her any physical harm. But such an action has shown Olivia to be a threat to Marney's well being, hence, the "warning." Third note: as proof of how powerful the Captain is, Mr. Bones found a "signature" (which is something only powerful spirits can leave behind) in the form of two water soaked boot prints on Olivia's bathroom floor.

                  In contrast to Olivia's example, Mr. Bones will demonstrate how to not get the anger and attention of an angry and extremely powerful ghost. The ghost named Amelia, who has been given a huge amount of power from the evil entity sleeping under our town I call "Steve," recently left the Heather House. The Heather House is an extremely deadly haunted house, with a closet full of the ghosts of children trapped inside until the ancient magic clocks inside the house chime 11:00pm. At that hour, the child ghosts will possess and kill any living being inside the house, but they return to their closet every night at the last stroke of midnight. Amelia had previously attempted to possess the entire Heather House with her power, but was not completely successful. However, Amelia did possess the windows and doors in the house, which prevented the Wyrd Sisters from having their afternoon tea parties inside. It should also be noted that Amelia is the sister of my girlfriend, Christina, who owns the Lonely Lady hotel and is the vampire guardian protecting the town from "Steve." As Amelia is getting power from "Steve," Mr. Bones was wise to send me to check on my girlfriend's welfare, as "Steve" would probably be happy if such a guardian were to come to harm. Also note that it is the middle of the day when I rush into Christina's bed chambers to check on her. Luckily, I have the power to hear ghosts if they are around me and are not attempting to be silent, which Amelia was not. Thanks to the power of new technology, I quickly text message Mr. Bones that Amelia is indeed in Christina's bedroom, and he needs to come help, as he can see ghosts who have not manifested on this side of the shroud and I cannot. I also succeed in waking up Christina from her day slumber and inform her that a ghost is in her room. As I am not Olivia or Mr. Bones, I ran from the bedroom because I choose not to deal with angry, powerful ghosts. After I leave, Mr. Bones is able to hide and witness the reunion of the sisters. Christina is able to use a vampiric power to astral-project herself from her sleeping body to talk to Amelia. To my delight and relief , Mr. Bones discovers that Amelia's will is strong enough that she is able to fight off "Steve’s" control long enough to talk to her sister without hurting her. After leaving Christina, Amelia is later found in the secret room under the Heather House, but she was last witnessed as simply sitting in the room and is not currently causing trouble as of the writing of this diary entry.

                  Today's lesson: Love triangles are unpleasant and should be avoided. Today's demonstration is brought to you by Olivia, Illaron, and Monica. Olivia and Monica are good friends. Monica has been one of Illaron's repeat lovers in the past, and she is rather fond of him. Olivia has recently requested that Illaron become Olivia's exclusive boyfriend and lover. Illaron has accepted Olivia's request, and as a result, Monica is unhappy. Trace, as acting Spring King, has ordered Monica to take a vacation until her emotions are under control and will not affect her job. Fortunately, Monica agreed to such an arrangement and is currently staying in my hotel for relaxation and reflection.

                  End Session ????

                  Because have a horrific Abyssal Entity in the game the PCs will call it Steve.

                  Okay well that is a glance at the Beyond the Sea game. Next week back to Malibu Dream House.

                  Onyx Path Moderator
                  Forum Rules
                  This is my mod voice. This is my goth voice.
                  [Geist: Balance of Shadows ][ Vampire: The Conspiracy of Hrad Černá Hora ][ Scion: Bohemian Front][Changeling: Malibu Dream House] [Demon: Night Train Detective Agency] [WoD: The Golden Eagle]


                  • Our heroes are back home, adjusting to the time they have been gone. Meanwhile, their new guests try to adjust to being back home with varying results.

                    Calamity’s player was ill and unable to make so she was not present for the session.

                    Session CVII

                    Lorelei’s Diary

                    We’ve been home for about a day and a half now, and while it would be an overstatement to say that everything is perfect, I really can’t complain about recent events in my life. Missy, Jane, and Trinh each bear watching (for different reasons), but I think with time and a little patience things will start to normalize.

                    I woke up yesterday morning surrounded by my closest lovers, and just lay there basking in their nearness, feeling their smooth skin against mine, and listening to their slow even breaths… until the rumbling of my own stomach woke Maria up. The two of us did our best not to disturb Julia and Marguerite as we rose, but by the time we were ready to descend to the kitchen, all four of us were awake and ready for breakfast.

                    The first thing I found upon heading downstairs was a neatly printed note from Calamity. Apparently Becky has swept her off her feet and shanghaied her to an undisclosed romantic vacation spot for a few days. Well, they’ve both earned it. I hope they enjoy themselves.

                    I’ve sort of unofficially taken over cooking duties in recent months, though there’s still a bit of trade-off here and there. As I was the first one to the kitchen this morning, I decided to try a little experiment. Kimberly’s kept the fridge well-stocked in our absence, and I had no trouble preparing a traditional American breakfast for the motley and our various guests. Coffee, orange juice, toast, bacon… and eggs.

                    I remembered my initial gut reaction to the sight and smell of cooked eggs when I first returned from Arcadia, and I thought it might serve as sort of a litmus test for how far gone our three rescued girls were. Sure enough, when they descended a short time later, Jane and Missy both sort of blanched at the thought of eating eggs… though Trinh set to with gusto.

                    “It’s okay,” I said softly, taking my friends’ hands in my own. “It’s going to take time, that’s all. You’re not birds, no matter what she tried to do to you… but nobody expects you to come back all at once.” I gave them each a plate with bacon and toast, and Jacob prepared a few mugs of steaming coffee. “We’ll get there together, girls… I’ll help you however I can.”

                    Jane and Missy gave each other a significant look, though I didn’t fully understand it until later in the day.

                    At some point I realized that I was being a bit rude. “Sorry, Trinh,” I said with a sigh. “I don’t mean to ignore you. It’s just that these two have been my best friends since like 1970, and I’ve spent the last two years obsessing over how to rescue them, so I’m a little focused right now.”

                    “It’s not a problem,” she assured me. “I understand.”

                    “Well, for now, just assume that any offer I make to the two of them extends to you too, okay? Even if I don’t explicitly say so.” She agreed that this would work, and then turned back to the remains of her breakfast.

                    So I was sipping my coffee and browsing through the local newsfeed on my phone when the first shoe dropped. It seems that local L.A. fashion model Trinh Jackson was at a party last night when she suffered some sort of nervous breakdown. She became extremely agitated, and rushed from the party, yelling that some nebulous person or group was after her and intended to do her harm. Looks like Trinh’s fetch has sensed that she’s back in the world, and is not taking it well.

                    I asked to speak with Jacob privately, shared the news story with him, and asked if he could contact Boss Lowjack and see what the Winter Court could do to help. He agreed to do so, and a short phone call later he reported that Lowjack had assigned Molly to gather information about Trinh’s fetch so that the Court could assess the situation. If the fetch can be reasoned with, we’ll get the two of them together and see if it will be possible for them to co-exist, or maybe even merge. If not… well, they’ll contemplate other solutions if it becomes necessary. One or the other of them may have to leave the area if they’re both going to survive, though Lowjack commented that if the fetch was forced to leave L.A. it would probably mean career suicide for her. Privately, I wonder if it wouldn’t be better for everyone if Trinh were to leave the area… it would get her out of Jane’s jealous view.

                    Poor Trinh doesn’t seem to know what to do about this… ideally she’d like to get some semblance of her life back, but she doesn’t want to hurt her fetch if it can be avoided. “I try to go through life without hurting anyone else,” she said… which sounds like a peachy keen philosophy to me. Plus she’s cute, and sexy as hell, and at least bi-curious… but I’m pretty sure that if I slept with her, Jane at least would view it as a betrayal, and I’m not willing to do that.

                    I also sort of glanced at a few websites to try to catch up on everything I’d missed while I was away… and I admit that I paid more attention to the pop culture world than politics. There’s a new Star Wars movie in theaters… like the seventh in the series, I think. I had hoped that something noteworthy might have happened in the world of musical theater as well, but all I found were a bunch of references to a show about the American Revolutionary War, or something like that. Meh, whatever… not really my area of interest, but I’ll probably download the music at some point anyway.

                    So before long it was time for me to meet my Dad. D asked if she should come along with me, and of course I told her she was welcome to join me if she wanted… she’s his daughter-in-law, after all, and I knew he’d be happy to see her. I invited Missy and Jane to join us as well, but they demurred, stating that they weren’t ready for that quite yet. I have to keep reminding myself that they don’t know how much Dad has changed over the years… in their minds, he’s still the stern, disapproving preacher who used to call their parents whenever the three of us got into trouble as kids.

                    Dad was ecstatic to see us, of course. I have to keep reminding myself that it’s been six months for everybody else, even if it feels like only a couple of days to me. He pulled me into a hug as soon as the door was open, and had plenty of affection left over for Maria as well. He looks… good. Like, [u]really/[u] good. Stronger and more robust than before. “I see Oleander’s visits have done you some good,” I commented with a grin.

                    He raised an eyebrow in mild confusion. “Oleander?” he asked.

                    “Imelda,” I explained. “It’s sort of a nickname.”

                    “Ah,” he said with a nod. “Yes, her vegetables and herbal remedies are quite remarkable. I feel better than I have in years.”

                    We talked for an hour or so about how things have been going. Of course, I gave him a basic rundown of the events of our journey – supplemented here and there by D’s blow-by-blow accounts of the various fights – and he filled me in on the important events of the latter half of 2015. Natasha is still living with him, though she was out at that particular moment. She’s doing well, if somewhat obviously depressed by her third-wheel status with Elena and Stasia.

                    “That’s probably going to get worse before it gets better,” I commented with an irrepressible grin.

                    “I am aware,” Dad said. “Elena texted Natasha last night with the news. She went out by herself not long after.”

                    We talked about Missy and Jane for a bit. Dad has done some digging and tracked down what’s left of their families. Missy’s mom and dad started fighting after her fetch’s death, and apparently went through a bitter and acrimonious divorce. They’re both still alive, but not speaking to each other. Jane’s dad started hitting the drink pretty hard around the same time, and unfortunately died of liver failure a few years later. I… find that difficult to accept. Sherriff Lassiter was always such a straight arrow back in the day… solid, dependable, and friendly. Jane’s going to have a hard time with that news. At least her mom is still alive, and in relatively good health.

                    Dad wants to meet with the girls as soon as they’re ready, to do what he can to help them acclimate to the world. I warned him that it might be a few days, and he was willing to accept that as a necessity. I’d really like to get the two of them talking with one of the therapists at the Clinic as quickly as possible, but I imagine they’re probably closed for the holidays. Maybe I could request an emergency counseling session or something; I’m sure Boss Lowjack would be willing to accommodate me if I explained the situation to him.

                    We returned to the Dream House after a few hours to find most of its inhabitants up in the attic loft. Julia had begun painting a series of images commemorating our adventures in the Hedge. I made an offhand comment that we could arrange them in sequential order and have a hell of a comic book, which set Julia off like you wouldn’t believe. “First of all,” she said icily, “I don’t read ‘comic books.’ They’re graphic novels.” So for the rest of the afternoon, all I had to do to tease her was say the words “comic book” (or, if I was feeling particularly mischievous, “funnybook”). It was fun, and some of the others even joined in from time to time.

                    I got a text from Dark Kimberly during this time, asking (with a somewhat desperate tone) if I intended to perform that night, as a host of changelings intended to attend the show. I was flattered, and of course I’m never one to turn down the opportunity to strut my stuff in front of my nearest and dearest, so of course I replied that I would love to smiley-face smiley-face smiley-face less-than-three. This led to a discussion of texting and emojis with Missy and Jane, which ballooned into a discussion of the evolution of cellphones themselves over the years. I confess, a lot of this info was new to me as well, and I discovered a few things about my own phone which I had not previously known.

                    We eventually retired to the media room to give Missy and Jane a taste of the music they’d missed over the past four decades or so. D had suggested at breakfast that each of us pick three songs from post-1978 to give them a proper sampling. This conversation was sparked when she played a bit of a song called “Laid” for the two of them to illustrate how some of the restrictions on music had eased up over the years.

                    “See,” I said with a grin as I took in Missy and Jane’s somewhat shocked expressions, “musicians can sing about sex and drugs these days without disguising it with lyrics about roller skates and tambourines.”

                    Incidentally, when I complained that I was at a disadvantage when it comes to “new” music, D rolled her eyes and said “what, are you telling me that you don’t know three songs from the last thirty-seven years?” I allowed as how I could probably come up with something, and then turned the tables on her by asking if she could name three songs from before 1978. She eventually did… though she cut it really close with “Dancing Queen.”

                    I don’t actually remember every song provided by everyone, but a few stand out for various reasons. Jacob played a song called “Hole In the World” by the Eagles… a group which was popular when we were Taken, but broke up shortly thereafter for nearly twenty years. That song was one that they composed upon getting back together in the late 90s. Maria demonstrated how the restrictions upon language and subject matter in music had eased over the years by playing Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing In the Name Of.”

                    One of Julia’s songs was “Dragula” by Rob Zombie, a rockin’ club dance song from around the turn of the century with repetitive, shouty lyrics and heavy guitar work… a hell of a lot of fun to dance to! I should think about working out an act with that one at some point. It’s too bad Ace isn’t around anymore; his voice would have been perfect for the singing on that one.

                    Marguerite and Luna picked somewhat more sedate numbers for the most part, with a bit more broad coverage of the time period. Marguerite picked songs we’ve performed at the Dream House from time to time like “Stray Cat Strut” and “La Plage de St. Tropez,” while Luna went for songs with a bit more popular appeal, like “Welcome to the Jungle” and one I hadn’t heard before, “Walking on Broken Glass” by Annie Lennox. That’s another one I might have to perform sometime.

                    My own selections were carefully selected to display female vocalists from different eras with distinct styles. I started them off with “Walkin’ On Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves, because I love the upbeat optimistic feel of it. “Bring Me To Life” was next, with Amy Lee’s haunting vocals and Evanescence’s hard-rock orchestration bringing the conversation into the new millennium. Finally, I topped it off with Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” to introduce a modicum of electronica into the mix. The girls seemed to like that one, so maybe I’ll introduce them to more of her work over the next few days.

                    There was a little bit of tension at one point when Jane pointed out that she never expected to see me in a lesbian relationship… let alone an interracial lesbian relationship. This set D’s teeth on edge, of course, and she took further offense when Jane persisted in calling her a Mexican. “I’ve never even been to Mexico,” she protested loudly, “can you please call me a Latina?” When Jane protested that she wasn’t familiar with the culture beyond a few stereotypes… well, things started to get a little out of hand.

                    “Maria!” I said loudly at one point when she started to advance on my friend. She whipped around to glare at me, and I took her hand. “She doesn’t know what she’s saying and doing wrong yet,” I soothed, giving her a squeeze. “It’s going to take time. None of us had ever really met any Latinas back in Iowa. I know this is important to you, but… please be patient. For me.”

                    She took a couple of deep breaths, then turned back to Jane. “Sorry,” she said, and it sounded like she meant it. “People like me… we get the shaft a lot in modern society. It’s made me a little defensive.”

                    Jane looked at the floor. “I’m sorry too,” she said after a moment. “I really don’t mean to offend you. I just… everything’s so different now…”

                    “I went through it too,” I said, giving Jane’s shoulder a squeeze. “Hell, I almost called the FBI on Jacob the first time we met…” That got a few laughs from those gathered, and even a smile from Jacob himself (though he admitted that an FBI investigation at that point would have been problematic, as his cover identity wasn’t as extensive back then).

                    After things got back to normal, we tried to explain the mechanics of glamour to our three newcomers. All three of them seemed cautiously enthusiastic about attending the show that evening. I offered to lend some more of my clothes to the three of them, and Jane, Missy and I retreated to my bedroom to pick out suitable ensembles.

                    Once the three of us were alone, Jane confided that Missy had tried to convince her to return to Arcadia during the previous night, but Jane had refused, and Missy was unwilling to make the journey alone. I asked Missy if this was true, and she tearfully admitted that it was.

                    “Everything here… it doesn’t feel real,” she said after a moment. “It’s like my life before was a dream and this is a dream and the only thing that makes sense to me is being back in our cage…”

                    I pulled her into an embrace. “I know it’s hard,” I whispered. “I thought about going back a few times myself when I first escaped. But you have to accept it, Missy… this is reality. If anything, the cage was the dream. And you don’t have to go through it alone…”

                    “I know,” she sniffed, “I know you and Jane won’t leave me, Jules…”

                    “Absolutely,” I said, “but there are other people who can help you too. The Winter Court has a Clinic in town, with therapists who specialize in helping changelings adjust…”

                    “Therapy?” Jane asked. “You mean like a shrink?”

                    “It’s nothing to be ashamed of,” I said. “Not these days. Jacob, Calamity, and Maria all speak with a therapist regularly. They wouldn’t be treating you for a disorder or anything, just helping you work through some monumentally heavy shit.”

                    We picked out a couple of pretty dresses for the two of them that fit relatively well, and prepared to head downstairs to await the opening curtain. Before we left the room, I sort of hesitated, trying to work up the courage for what I knew I had to do.

                    “What is it, Jules?” Jane asked after a moment.

                    “Can I tell you two something?” I asked softly.

                    “Sure,” Missy said, looking concerned.

                    “I… I have to say this. I’ve needed to say this for almost two years now.” I looked up at the two of them and felt the tears start to spill. “I’m sorry,” I said, choking slightly on the words. “I’m so sorry, girls.”

                    The two of them looked at each other quizzically, then back at me. “For what, Jules?” Jane asked.

                    “I left you,” I said simply. “I swore that I wouldn’t, and then I left you there to rot. I’m sorry. I was so scared and I thought I wouldn’t get another chance to escape and I’m sorry…”

                    Then the two of them were hugging me. “Shh,” Jane said, stroking my hair, “you came back, Jules. That’s all that matters.”

                    “We don’t blame you, Jules,” Missy added, “we never did. You’re one of us.”

                    “If it’s important to you… we forgive you,” Jane said.

                    It was important to me. I was a wreck for the next twenty minutes or so… it made me glad that I hadn’t applied my stage makeup yet. “Thank you,” I eventually managed to gasp out. “I’m sorry I fell apart like that. I just… I’ve been living with the guilt for so long. You two are so important to me… I love you both. It’s so good to have you back.”

                    “We know how much you risked to come and get us, Jules,” Jane said. “We’re not going anywhere.” And then her voice sort of hardened as she looked over to Missy. “Are we?”

                    Missy shook her head. “I’m grateful. I just… it’s…”

                    “Hey,” I said, taking her hand, “it’s okay. You’re not alone; we’ll help you deal with it. Jane’s not leaving you for anything, and neither am I. And though I know you don’t know them well, the rest of the motley is here for you too. Hell, the same could be said for the whole Freehold.”

                    So eventually I got the two of them dolled up for the company and the three of us headed downstairs. We had a huge crowd last night, mostly composed of changelings who wanted to welcome us back into the Freehold. I figured I’d give them a real show, so I picked a song I’d done previously and added it to the schedule (that way nobody had to learn new blocking, lighting, etc.). So I pulled on the fishnets and the leather and crooned my way through Madonna’s “Like a Virgin,” doing my best to squeeze every last drop of desire I could out of the mortals in the crowd.

                    It went well. It was good to be back.

                    So of course the majority of my evening was spent mingling with the gathered changelings and trying to catch up on recent events. I stopped at Joan and Andromeda’s table first, gratefully accepting hugs and kisses from both of them. Any fool could tell that they were genuinely ecstatic to have me back. That sent a warm rush from my heart throughout my whole body. It’s humbling to know that people really care about my welfare.

                    Of course I asked if they had started planning their nuptials yet. They got engaged before any of us in the motley, but they still haven’t set a date. They were cagey about the answer, and I got the feeling that I had inadvertently hit upon something of a sore subject. Not that there’s any strife between the two of them… it’s more that they’re still trying to win over Rebecca’s family to the notion of their relationship. Honestly, they’re more upset by the fact that Joan is a Gentile than that she’s a woman. Lindsey is proud and steadfast in her faith, and has no desire to convert… and understandably wants the ceremony to be meaningful and official in the eyes of the church. But she’s willing to accept that Rebecca’s faith is no less important to her, so they’re thinking about having two ceremonies.

                    I took both of them by the hand and gave them my best smile. “Just as long as I’m invited to both of them,” I said.

                    “Of course,” Joan said at once.

                    “We wouldn’t think of having our wedding without you,” Andromeda assured me.

                    I promised both of them that I would join them for dinner and a feature film as soon as I could, but made sure to caution them that I wanted to stay close to Missy and Jane for a while in case they need me. Both expressed their hope that we could share an evening soon… but they totally understood why I might need to delay that rendezvous. “Of course the welfare of your friends must come first,” Joan said seriously. “We would expect nothing less of you, Lorelei. It is one of the reasons we care for you so deeply. You are truly a good person.”

                    Nothing gives one’s ego a boost like having a paragon like Lindsey compliment your moral fiber! Gosh!

                    I mingled a bit with everyone, but the next time I actually sat down for an extended conversation was when I reached the Spring Court table. Princess Jolie was as effervescent as ever, and again I could tell that she was genuinely happy to see me. We chatted for a bit about this and that. I gave her a “highlights reel” of our journey to Arcadia and back, and pointed out Missy and Jane across the theater (and Trinh, of course). She caught me up on the local gossip, including the fact that she is indeed sort of seeing Queen Charlotte again. I noted that Angelica didn’t seem particularly pleased when this tidbit came out.

                    I stopped by the bar next to chat with Jacob, Stasia, and Elena. Halley was there as well, but Molly was conspicuously absent (I assume she was shadowing Trinh’s fetch, but I don’t know for sure). I stayed just long enough to say hi to everyone, then moved on. It sounded like Elena and Jacob were having a pretty heavy conversation about how things went down with their family when Elena came out at Thanksgiving, and while I’d love to be able to offer her some comfort or sage advice… it’s really not my place. That was a family matter, and I didn’t want to intrude.

                    I made my way to the door and snuggled up next to my wife for a few minutes. We had the usual conversation about who was going to be doing what that evening, and after the requisite assurances that we were each other’s top priority, we agreed that our other lovers deserved some attention that evening. “Unless you want to get in on a threesome with me and Gloria,” D said with a smirk. “She’s so hard up for me that she’d probably agree to it if you want to take advantage of the situation…”

                    I thought about it. It’s something I’ve fantasized about more times than I can count… but that would have left Oleander out in the cold. While I know that my lover would never begrudge me the chance to have some fun on the side… she had been six months without me, and I didn’t want her to think that I didn’t appreciate her patience or everything that she’s done to help me, my friends, my motley, and my father. “As incredibly tempting as that offer is,” I said with heat, “I’m going to have to take a rain check. Think she’ll still be up for it in a couple of days?”

                    “I’m sure we’ll convince her,” D said with assurance. Then she looked across the theater, caught Gloria’s eye, and snapped her fingers.

                    Gloria rose and made her way across the theater, looking slightly panicky. “It’s happening tonight?” she asked with a nervous glance at me. “I was hoping to get at least a little drunk first…”

                    D chuckled at that. “Calm down. I’m all yours tonight.”

                    I took her hand. “It’s good to see you Gloria. I just… I know a lot of people sacrificed a lot so that I could help out my friends in Arcadia. I wanted to thank you for your patience and understanding over the last few months.”

                    She gave me a real smile and a quick hug. “No problem. It’s good to have you back… all of you,” she said as we disengaged.

                    “I’m probably going to spend the evening with Oleander, if she’s okay with that,” I told the two of them. “You two have fun catching up, okay?”

                    As I was walking away, I could swear I heard D mocking her gently under her breath. “’It’s happening tonight?’” she mimicked. Gloria smacked her arm lightly, but made no other protest.

                    My next stop was to speak with Rowan and Neon. The two of them are officially dating now (no chaperones required!) and it looks like things are going really well for them. I examined my feelings about that as frankly and honestly as I could, and was relieved to discover that I am truly happy for them. They seem very comfortable together, and any fool can see that they’re head-over-heels for each other even if they’re not as publicly demonstrative as some couples.

                    Both expressed a hearty relief that we’d made it back from Arcadia without losing too much time. Neon told me that Brightstar planned to attend the show the next night (which I believe is the last show before the Dream House closes for the holidays), so I made a mental note to keep that evening clear for her. Neon also told me that she was spending that night with one of her mortal paramours, a boy named Devin. Apparently things have gotten serious between the two of them. When she saw the doubt on my face, Neon was quick to assure me that Devin knows about me and is fine with Brightstar continuing to see me. So that’s a relief.

                    The rest of the conversation was a little odd, in that Rowan felt the need to apologize for her actions following the destruction of the House. It turns out that her connection to the psychic parasite had actually altered her brain chemistry on some level, flooding her system with endorphins and serotonin, upon which she had become dependent. Robbed of her connection to the House, she had been deprived of the chemicals and had sunk into a deep depression.

                    “Oh my God!” I said, reaching out and taking her hand. “You poor thing. Are you okay now? Is there something I can do to help?”

                    She smiled and patted my hand gently. “Thank you, Lori,” she said softly, “but once we realized what was going on, the Freehold had Andromeda take a look at me. She… did something to fix the problem. I’m not really sure what, but she fixed me.”

                    My alarm must have shown on my face, because Rowan squeezed my hand. “She didn’t use the Table, if that’s what you’re worried about,” she assured me quickly. “I… don’t really know what it is, but I know it’s bad news. I heard her saying that the procedure would be easier if she had access to ‘the Table.’ But she managed without it, and I’m okay now.”

                    I let out my breath in a sigh of relief. “I’m so glad,” I said. “Look, honey, I’m sorry I put you through all of that stuff last year when you were already dealing with so much…”

                    “Don’t,” Rowan interrupted me. “It’s okay, Lori. You couldn’t have known. And everything turned out for the best…” She glanced fondly at her date, and I saw that her other hand was firmly in Neon’s grasp.

                    I took that as my cue to leave the lovebirds alone, and moved on a few minutes after that. I had one last stop to make before I retired for the evening. I dropped by Monica’s table and asked if I could introduce her to a few people. She agreed readily enough, and a moment later we were sitting at the table with Missy and Jane (and close enough to Trinh so that she could join the conversation as well).

                    “Monica, these are my friends, Melissa Garfield and Jane Lassiter. And this is Trinh Jackson. The three of them have just returned from Arcadia, and I thought you might be able to spend a little time with them and help with the adjustment period. Ladies, this is Monica. I know she looks a little scary at first, but she’s a real sweetheart, and she serves as the Freehold’s unofficial welcoming party.”

                    The five of us fell into a conversation at that, and while nothing official was set up, the girls now know how to contact Monica when they’re ready to get out of the house and start integrating into changeling society. Monica is used to dealing with people who are still a little shell-shocked by their ordeals in Arcadia, and she was quick to put the three of them at their ease.

                    As the conversation ebbed, I noticed that Missy and Jane were both eying me somewhat hungrily, and… it awakened certain stirrings within me. These were the girls who first introduced me to the idea of love within my own gender, after all. I’ve missed their touch for the last two years. When Monica moved on, Missy leaned in to kiss my cheek.

                    “You were amazing up there, Jules… I mean Lorelei,” she said.

                    “Yeah,” Jane agreed, “it was pretty damned hot.”

                    “Thanks,” I acknowledged with a grin, “I’ve had a lot of practice since I escaped, and I’ve picked up a few tricks.”

                    “So we were talking,” Missy said softly, “and we were wondering if you wanted to…” She couldn’t seem to finish the sentence, but I could see where it was going.

                    I leaned over to her and kissed her forehead. “I do,” I sad after a moment, “on two conditions. First, unfortunately, it can’t be tonight. I owe it to Oleander to spend tonight with her. She did so much to help us rescue you, and… and she might be the reason my Dad is still alive today. And from everyone’s perspective except mine, it’s been even longer since she’s been with me than since you two have.”

                    Jane nodded at that. “That makes sense,” she said after a moment. “But the offer stands… we’ve really missed you, uh, Lori.”

                    Missy’s brow wrinkled in thought. It was adorable. “What’s the other condition?” she asked.

                    I smiled, and took them each by the hand. “I don’t think you’ll mind this one,” I promised her. “I just want you both to promise me that anything we do won’t come between the two of you. I love you both, and I always will… but what the two of you have is special, and I don’t want to cause any bad feelings or strife between you.”

                    The two of them looked at each other for a few wordless moments, and then each nodded to the other. “Deal,” Jane said definitively.

                    So at long last, after what felt like hours of schmoozing and hobnobbing and other such nonsensical words that mean socializing, I made my way over to Oleander’s table. Her face lit up when I approached, and she started to greet me. I promptly settled into her lap and silenced her with a deep, passionate kiss that lasted several full minutes. She gasped for air when I finally let up, smiled at me, and said “not that I’m complaining, Angel, but what was that for?”

                    “That,” I said, “was just a down payment to give you a little taste of how grateful I am for everything that you have done for me over the past eighteen months or so. That was for the goblin fruits, and the homunculus, and the straw for Missy last night. That was for loving me. But most of all,” and at this I couldn’t stop the tears from rolling down my cheeks, “that was for taking such good care of my Dad while I was away.”

                    She reached up with one hand and wiped my tears away. “Of course, Angel,” she said softly. “He’s one of the most important people in your life. And… you’re the most important person in my life.”

                    “Are you free tonight?” I asked breathily from about two inches away.

                    Her smile was so big that I could see her teeth… a rarity where Oleander is concerned. “If I had made plans for tonight, Angel, I would cancel them. No matter what they were.”

                    “And… would you mind staying here with me instead of going back to your place like we usually do? D’s going over to Gloria’s, so we’ll have the room…”

                    She looked a little surprised by the request, but not upset. “That’s fine with me. Why do you… oh,” she said, as her eyes flicked over to Missy and Jane’s table. “I get it. How are they doing?”

                    I shrugged. “It’s a process,” I said. “Trinh’s okay; she wasn’t in Arcadia that long. Missy’s having trouble adjusting her mindset… I think she still thinks of the Durance as ‘home.’ Jane’s doing better with that side of things, but she’s having more trouble adjusting her attitudes and behavior to her new reality. But they’ll get through it. They’re strong.”

                    “And they’ve got you to help them,” Oleander said with a smile. “And you’ve got all of us.”

                    “Thank God,” I said, using the simple turn of phrase as a prayer.

                    Things died down after that. D and Gloria had already left, and the theater was clearing out. Marguerite and Julia tried to pick up Trinh, but she got cold feet at the last minute and balked (I think they might have ended up going to bed with Desiree, though). When the last of the guests had departed, I led Oleander up to my bedroom and proceeded to demonstrate the depth and breadth of my gratitude for everything she does to me. I don’t think I even scratched the surface, but I look forward to continuing the demonstration in the future.

                    I actually slept last night, with Oleander snuggled up against my chest, our arms around each other. My internal clock is completely out-of-whack, either from our recent time-slip jaunt in Arcadia or from all the all-nighters and poofing I’ve been doing over the past year or so. Whatever the reason, I woke up about ninety minutes before it was time to start on Sex Breakfast, so I’ve been writing in this journal and watching Imelda sleep.

                    She is thoughtful and considerate and more beautiful than most people in this Freehold seem to realize. I love her. She is not my D, my Maria, mi esposa… but she is mi amor all the same. I need to find some way to show her what she means to me… some way other than sex. I want to do something to prove that though she may not be my wife, she is never far from my thoughts.

                    It’s something I’ll have to think about. But for now… I think I’m just going to crawl back into bed for a little while.

                    Lorelei de la Rocha

                    Jacob’s Journal

                    Today was not what I expected. I figured it would be just more introduction stuff for the newbies, and it was to some extent, but not all of it. We woke up for breakfast and found that Calamity and Becky had left a note for us letting us know that they had gone off on some romantic holiday by themselves. Sounded like a plan to me. I know those two really like each other and I think having some time just for themselves will be a good thing for both of them. They just need to figure out that the other person is the one for them and stick together. Hopefully this little break will help them do just that.

                    Breakfast was fine. There was conversation about what it means to be a Changeling, all that stuff that I figured we’d be talking about. The funny side to breakfast was Lori made eggs, bacon and toast for everyone and Missy and Jane almost turned green at the idea of eating eggs. Trinh, who’d been in Arcadia far less time, ate them up just fine. The other two are going to need to get used to eating regular foods again. Lori assured them that they will soon remember that they are not birds, and will get used to being in ‘the world’ once more. I’m not sure how much of that they believed just now, but it will sink in soon. There were some people that the Lady sent me to bring back to her realm that were grateful that I’d come for them. They had gotten so used to being in Arcadia that they were having a really hard time getting used to “normal” life again. Some people fought back, which wasn’t unexpected, but some of them thanked me when I returned them to the Lady. I just hope that Lori’s friends don’t start wanting to go back to the Empress. I hope that they find a place in ‘the world’ and get used to the idea of being free once again. If they went back to Arcadia Lori would be devastated. She felt so bad for leaving them behind in the first place that I’m not sure how she’d react if they went back voluntarily now.

                    Speaking of Lori. She was catching up on her news online this afternoon and came across and interesting article that she brought to my attention immediately. It appears that one Trinh Jackson, local model and minor celebrity, went a bit crazy last night about the time that we returned and started going on about the “people that were out to get her.” Lori suggested that I call Lowjack, which I thought was a good idea. He will know how to handle a possible threat from another fetch. So, I called him and explained what happened. He expressed his concern and said that he’d put Molly on it to determine exactly what the fetch was up to and if she was going to be a threat to the real Trinh or not. I told him that I would talk to Trinh herself and see what she wants to do. She may not have a choice, but we’ll see how things work out.

                    So, I went upstairs to the attic to speak to Trinh. She was watching Julia paint, while Insincere Marguerite was doing the same. Marguerite was not dressed, which didn’t seem to faze Trinh. I guess that makes sense. She was kept naked in a cage for a while. She probably got used to the whole naked thing. Anyway, I told Trinh about fetches in general and what we’d discovered her fetch had done when we got back to ‘the world.’ I gave her the options. She could leave town and set up a new identity elsewhere, confront the fetch and see what happens, or try and approach the fetch peaceably and see if they can come to an arrangement. Trinh latched onto that last idea like a lifeline. I’m not sure if that’s going to work or not, but it could. Once Molly gets back to Lowjack we’ll have a better idea of what sort of mindset the fetch is in and we can make plans from there. I just hope that it doesn’t go “off the rails” like Mary’s fetch did. That was just a bad scene all around, and it really messed up Mary. Come to think of it, we don’t see Mary much around anymore. I know that she had some issues with coming too close to her beast side and craving human flesh. That is probably why she hasn’t been seen in a while. Keep her away from temptation and all that.

                    Later in the afternoon Luna came back from talking to her bosses. She explained that she had been doing “work” in Africa for the past six months and finally arrived back. I don’t think that I could have pulled that off, but she has a certain force of personality that people listen to, so hopefully all will be well with her Ranger job. I happen to like her job. It fits her well, and it’s fun to help out on occasion when she finds would-be poachers. Dr. Sullivan never did approve of me terrorizing people in the woods with Luna. I think he thought that it was taking a step backward towards my old self as Rime. He’s probably right, but it’s just too much fun.

                    Lori was talking to Missy and Jane and they expressed that they were having trouble adapting to life in ‘the world.’ So Lori brought up the therapists at the Winter Court being really good resources. They initially balked at that idea. I think that they had the idea that you only go to therapy if you’re crazy, but we tried to reassure them that therapy is for anyone that needs to talk to someone and I admitted that I see them regularly as does De la Rocha, Calamity and others. I think they finally came around to the idea that it might be good for them to talk to the therapists, but as of yet have not set up an appointment or anything.

                    Then De la Rocha came up with the idea of all of us recommending some of our favorite songs from the last 30 plus years to Missy and Jane so they have something to listen to, to help them catch up on music that they missed. I’m sure this will also lead to other questions, like what the songs are referring to and such, so it should be a good way to help them reacclimate to ‘the world.’ De la Rocha suggested that we each come up with three songs, so I suggested “Hole in the World” by the Eagles. I like that song and figured they’d know the band. They’ve been in business forever. I also listed “Wherever You May Roam” by Metallica and “Freak Like Me” by Halestorm. I thought they might like the strong female vocals from that band. Plus, the song is really cool. Luna suggested “Walking on Broken Glass,” “Welcome To the Jungle,” and “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.” Also good songs. I’m not sure off the top of my head what other songs people suggested. I know that “Bring Me to Life” by Evanesce was on the list, as was “Dominion Mother Russia” Or something along those lines. I’ll be honest I paid closer attention to the title when the words Mother Russia came up. There was also “Killing In the Name Of.” I think De la Rocha suggested that one.

                    While we were talking a little bit of tension came up between De la Rocha and Missy and Jane. I think it was mostly Jane, but it came about because the new girl didn’t know what terminology to use to refer to our Latina motley mate and used the term Mexican. De la Rocha was offended by that because she’d never been to Mexico and wasn’t from there. Eventually cooler heads prevailed, namely Lori and some others, and we agreed that vocabulary would be another good thing for our “Ladies out of time” to learn. Some people, like De la Rocha, get particular at what they are called, but Jane had no way of knowing the term Latina before this afternoon. We’re going to need a crash course on cultural changes of the past 30 years I think. Lori even admitted that when she first met me she almost called the FBI on me because I’m from Russia. The Cold War was big when she was taken and not an issue when I was born, so that thought had never occurred to me. I’m glad in the end that she didn’t call them. At that point my identification would not have held up to Federal scrutiny.

                    Then there was the show. The show itself went fine. Lori wowed Missy and Jane by singing a Madonna song up on stage. I don’t think they were expecting the level of talent that our lovey Lori has when it comes to singing and performing. I tended bar like usual and talked to the regulars. Molly was off keeping an eye on Trinh’s fetch, so I talked to Hailey about my trip to Arcadia and some of the highlights of the trip. I left out the bit about Mama Lion leaving a way in for us and a couple other things, but focused on us getting the girls out and fighting off the Empress’ loyalist and guards. She was particularly interested in the different forms that our mounts in the Hedge took. She smirked at me when I admitted that mine was a horse made of ice. What can I say, I’m ice-aspected. I can’t help it.

                    I also talked to Elena, which is where I spent a good bit of time. Stasia realized that we needed to talk and made her way off to talk to someone else so I could have a private word with my sister. I asked about our parents’ reaction to her news and especially the “little shit’s” reaction. Apparently when she said that things did not go well it was an understatement. Things tanked hard. They invited Elena home for the Thanksgiving Holiday and Elena asked if she could bring a date. They said sure and they made the drive all the way up to Portland. When our parents greeted Elena at the door they were shocked to see another girl with her. It seems that the “little shit” reacted poorly to the news as well and got into a brief confrontation with Stasia. Our parents threatened to call the cops and Stasia eventually backed down when Elena said that they were leaving. Our parents gave her an ultimatum. Elena could stay and be part of the family if she gave up Stasia. Well, that wasn’t going to happen, so Elena left. I get the impression that our parents don’t want her to come back as long as she’s dating a woman. Well, they can go stuff it. I was admittedly cautious about Stasia in the beginning, but not because she was a woman. I couldn’t care less about that. I just didn’t want Elena to get hurt. Well, Stasia has proved that she cares about my sister and has been treating her right. That’s all I want. I want Elena to be happy, and if Stasia makes her happy then good. If our parents can’t accept that then they can kiss my ass.

                    I gave my sister a hug and reminded her that she is surrounded by people that care about her and she has a woman that loves her a good deal. I reminded her also that she will always have my support. I don’t plan on going anywhere so as long as she needs me I’ll be there for her. She admitted that she was really glad that I was back and said that she might be a little more clingy than normal for a little while. I said that was fine and that I’m always happy to help. When things calmed down a bit I congratulated her on her engagement with Stasia and told her how happy I was for the couple. I also suggested that maybe sometime soon we could go on a camping trip to the mountains again. It was exactly a year ago that Stasia and my sister hooked up. I thought it might be good to go camping again to remind them of that night, and to celebrate our birthday. She seemed interested in that, so I just need to bring up the idea to the rest of the motley and we’ll see how many people want to join us this time.

                    I can’t express enough how mad it makes me that my parents, our parents, rejected Elena based on the gender of her date for the holidays. I thought that they were better than that. I know that they are pretty traditional but they’ve always shown support in our interests and dreams. I just never thought that they’d go this far. That they’d make an ultimatum to Elena. Them or Stasia. Elena would have been miserable if she gave up Stasia and she would resent our parents for making her do it. This way she’s hurt by the rejection, but she at least has someone by her side that loves her unconditionally. Well, besides me that is. I’d be remiss if I didn’t admit to wanting to get back at the “little shit” at least for his actions that day. Part of me was almost tempted to get him good and lost in a cave somewhere cold, but that may be going a bit too far. If I was still Rime I’d be making a road trip already and getting ready to reintroduce the “little shit” to his maker. Actually, he is a fetch. It’s not like I’d be stranding a real person in Arcadia. I would just be returning him to the Lady. I am so very tempted to do that. I know Calamity would help if I asked her to. The others might be a little reticent about the whole idea, especially Lori. I’ll have to think on that. Would it be worth it to possibly incur the wrath of the Lady just to get back at the matchstick boy that hurt my sister? I’ll have to give that one some thought.

                    End Session CVII

                    A lot more RP than rolling this session. The only thing left out was an extended conversation about how everyone met. This was covered in the journals, and a previous Lori journal covered that same essential conversation in some detail, so it was left out.

                    The music picking was fun.

                    Calamity’s player is back to fighting fit so she will be along next time. Comments and Questions welcome.

                    Onyx Path Moderator
                    Forum Rules
                    This is my mod voice. This is my goth voice.
                    [Geist: Balance of Shadows ][ Vampire: The Conspiracy of Hrad Černá Hora ][ Scion: Bohemian Front][Changeling: Malibu Dream House] [Demon: Night Train Detective Agency] [WoD: The Golden Eagle]


                    • Holy crap it’s almost Christmas. Final Show till New Years, Christmas Eve fun, plots to murder two Fetches, plots to avenge another and have a positive reunion with a third. Oh yeah, and helping the new girls acclimate.

                      Session CVIII

                      Lorelei’s Diary

                      So Wednesday, December 23rd dawned bright and early… and Oleander and I, taking our cue from the rest of the house, rose somewhat later. I was still among the first to make it to the kitchen, so I took it upon myself to start on breakfast. I figured we’d had enough fancy Frenchified food for the time being, and started in on a batch of good old-fashioned blueberry pancakes. Though Marguerite made displeased noises about how “American” the meal was (I might have teased her just a tiny bit by calling them “flapjacks” a few times), she tucked in with all the others when the pancakes were in front of her.

                      The kitchen was actually pretty crowded that morning, what with the motley, Missy & Jane, Oleander, and Gloria hanging around… not to mention the unexpected bonus of Calamity and Becky, back from parts unknown to rejoin polite society! “Parts unknown” turned out to be a rented beach house down the shore. I made some nervous comments about how one can’t trust beach houses these days, but Calamity assured me that this particular beach house showed no tendencies toward either murder or malicious mind control.

                      I brought up a few potential acts for that evening’s show… the last show of the season, if you don’t count next weekend’s big New Year’s Eve extravaganza. We decided to hit a few of our old favorites… Christmas crowd pleasers that we knew would play well with our regulars and wouldn’t require a whole lot of planning for new choreography or lighting effects. With that taken care of, I felt confident in planning a few other activities for the rest of the afternoon.

                      Oleander bade me farewell after she’d eaten her fill of pancakes, telling me that she would be heading into the Hedge soon, and would likely be toxic for the next few days. She nevertheless promised to stop by on Christmas day to say hello and wish me a happy holiday.

                      “I only regret that I won’t be able to offer you a Christmas kiss, Angel,” she said with sorrow.

                      “Don’t worry about it, sweetie,” I said, offering her another kiss before she left. “You’ll be my own little sprig of mistletoe… full of the Christmas spirit, making me yearn for a kiss, and mildly toxic. Plus,” I added with a wink, “I’m pretty sure you could take out a Norse god if you set your mind to it!” She laughed at the (admittedly forced) witticism and said one more goodbye.

                      Oh, I should also mention that Jacob asked the motley (plus a few close friends like Elena, Stasia, Missy & Jane) if we wanted to go out camping again as sort of a late birthday celebration for him and Elena. Apparently they did that a lot as kids, and I think reviving the tradition at the Dream House might help Elena to feel like she’s a part of a family again. Of course we all agreed that it sounded like great fun, and Jacob set about making the preparations.

                      Monica showed up just after Sex Breakfast to take our trio of new arrivals on a tour of the Freehold, and maybe get them some new clothes of their own (the Freehold provides a small stipend for new arrivals just for expenses like that). Jane asked before they left if I could introduce them to my guy in L.A. so that they could get whatever outfits they picked out altered to account for their wings. I gave the shop a call, and Antoine agreed to meet us there later that afternoon. He’s such a sweetie-pie, taking time during the holidays to help us out!

                      D also went out just after Sex Breakfast. It seems that Twitch had heard that we were back in the Freehold, and had invited her out for lunch so that they could catch up. I suspect that he also wanted to reassure herself that she was still the friend he’s come to know rather than the monster that used to haunt his nightmares, and I trust that she was able to reassure him on that count. At least, when I asked her about it later, she told me that things went well. “I still feel it, deep down inside,” she confessed, “but I know how to handle it better now. Especially in well-lit, crowded places like that.”

                      So while most of my friends were out, I spent my time on the computer, trying to set up a schedule for my first semester at UCLA. The news is mostly good… I should be able to get in to a few AP tests before mid-January, and if I do well enough I might be able to place out of as many as 12-15 credit hours, which will just about make up for the semester I missed while we were in Arcadia. You never know, right? Doesn’t hurt to try. What’s more, since this first semester is going to be filled with general education courses, I’ll probably be able to take most of my classes online, and cluster the others in such a way that I’ll only need to drive to campus two or three times a week.

                      Oh, before I move on, I should mention that once again the Christmas season has worked its magic upon Marguerite… she’s so adorable at this time of year! Though Kimberly had organized the holiday decorations long before we returned, she had confined her efforts to the public areas of the Dream House. Marguerite had dug out a few more decorations and was stringing them up in the hallways and in our private rooms, singing Christmas carols in French all the while. And of course, I frequently found her dangling just above my head holding a sprig of Mistletoe out expectantly.

                      When the girls got back, Monica asked to speak with me briefly, so we let the three of them freshen up. Her assessment of my friends’ psychological state was troubling, but not particularly surprising to me. Missy seems to have a relatively mild form of agoraphobia; she tends to get nervous in big, wide open spaces. Monica noted the tendency in Missy to retreat from her surroundings, and her longing to return to the cage that’s all she’s known for the past God-knows-how-long. Jane’s better about integrating into her current surroundings, but she reacts very negatively to any suggestion that she and Missy be separated… even temporarily and within shouting distance of each other. At least she didn’t think any of them were even remotely likely to be Loyalists.

                      I thanked her for her insight and pulled out my phone. I don’t often contact the monarchs directly (other than Princess Jolie), but I keep their information in my phone for emergencies. In about thirty seconds I was speaking with Boss Lowjack. I apologized for bothering him, and asked if it might be possible to get Missy and Jane into a counseling session within the next day or two. He checked his schedule (we commiserated about the prevalence of computers in modern society), and allowed as how he would be able to fit them in at 10:30 the next morning. He asked if Trinh would need counseling as well, and I told him that I’d ask her, but to assume that she’d be fine for the time being unless he heard otherwise from me.

                      I wanted to try something before we went out, so I asked our three new arrivals to join me in the backyard. I tried to explain the basics of flight to the three of them… how our wings really shouldn’t allow us to fly based on the laws of physics, but our connection to the Wyrd can overcome those limitations if it’s strong enough. I made sure to let them know that they probably wouldn’t be able to truly fly for a while, but that they might be able to glide if they wanted to try.

                      Missy and Jane were all for it, and honestly… they took to it really quickly. About as quickly as I did when I first returned to the world, actually. Trinh was a harder sell… she’s still close enough to the human she used to be that she can’t really believe that she’s capable of flight yet. She took a few test glides off the raised outdoor stage, but wouldn’t even entertain the notion of jumping from the balcony or the roof like the rest of us.

                      So the four of us piled into the van and headed out after half an hour or so of flying lessons. The ‘vette is one of my favorite things ever, but it is not practical when you need to transport more than two people. Before turning toward L.A., I ran us into Malibu proper and took the girls by Wildfox. The Freehold is generous in helping new arrivals get on their feet, but they have limited resources, so most of the girls’ new wardrobes had come from thrift shops and Goodwill. I thought I’d treat them to something a little fancier, since my bank account is pretty flush after gathering interest for six months with no expenses.

                      I grabbed the attention of one of the fashion consultants and asked her to find a few fashionable backless dresses for my friends. She brought out a load of good options for each of them, and I let them pick their favorites. Trinh made some earnest noises about paying me back when she saw the price tag, but I just smiled and said “Merry Christmas” and left it at that.

                      Traffic was light today, so it only took us about forty-five minutes to get to Challenges in L.A. Antoine picked me out as soon as we entered the store and rushed up with a big smile on his face. He kissed me on each cheek (I returned the favor) and then turned his attention on my friends. It looked for a moment like he was going to offer them the same treatment, but he took in their nervous demeanor and held back at the last minute.

                      I don’t know who originally ensorcelled Antoine, but the changelings of L.A. and the surrounding counties owe him a debt of gratitude. Like many of the more exotic changelings in the area, I can’t buy my clothes off the rack, and doing my own alterations (cutting slits in the back of shirts and dresses to accommodate my wings) results in sloppy frayed edges that won’t stand the test of time. Antoine alters clothing professionally, doubling and sewing up the edges and adding extra sleeves or whatever else might be necessitated by a changeling’s unorthodox physique.

                      Wing-slits are apparently a pretty easy alteration; Antoine said he had a template for his equipment that makes things go pretty quickly. He took a few measurements from each of my friends and said he would be done within the hour. We browsed the shop and chatted idly for a bit while we waited. I had the opportunity to observe Missy’s agoraphobia for myself… whenever her gaze strayed to the window, she got this sort of thousand-yard stare as she glanced up at the sky. I sincerely hope that someday she’ll be able to appreciate the freedom the open sky represents to people like us… but I won’t try to rush her into it.

                      We hurried back to the Dream House after the alterations were finished, and arrived with about twenty minutes to spare before curtain. I rushed into wardrobe and makeup, and saw Missy and Jane to the same table they’d claimed the previous evening. We once again played to a packed house; the Christmas show is fast becoming a much-anticipated tradition at the Dream House.

                      Marguerite and I paired up once more for our “Baby It’s Cold Outside” duet, and Calamity and I broke out our “Bloody Creature Poster Girl” staple. The two of them also did their own numbers (which both earned thunderous applause). I’d originally intended to go with my “Santa Baby” number, but decided at the last minute to substitute something with a little more soul. I slinked my way across the stage to the bluesy strains of Charles Brown’s “Please Come Home for Christmas,” and soaked up the desire I felt every time my thigh showed through the slit in my gown.

                      I mingled with the crowd after my last number, speaking with Siobhan (who seems to be settling in well), Moon and Dionysia, White Maria, and various and sundry other members of the Freehold. Dark Kimberly is apparently working to solve her Fetch’s murder, which occurred while she was in Arcadia, but she isn’t having much luck. The motley has agreed to help her with her investigations if we can, because… well, because that’s just the sort of thing that we do, I guess.

                      I spent a lot of time with Missy and Jane, of course, and made sure they would be ready to go by 10:00am the next morning. Talking them into the counseling session was easier than I’d expected, actually… the hard part was getting them to agree to join me for lunch with Dad following their appointment. I also introduced them to Neon and Brightstar, so they’ve met all of my official girlfriends now. Trinh asked if I had individual nicknames for each of them, and I realized that I don’t. Aside from calling my wife “D,” I don’t really have nicknames for any of them. I mean, I tend to call people “sweetie” when I feel close to them… but that’s not confined to my girlfriends or lovers.

                      Which brings me to that night’s festivities. I’d told D earlier that Brightstar was going to be there that night, and asked if she was okay with that. She gave me her usual cocky grin and a soft kiss, and said “not at all, babe. You want some alone time with her, or you want to spend the evening with both of us together?” And all of a sudden I did want that. I wanted it more than I could say. If it had been Oleander instead of Brightstar I wouldn’t have gone for it, but I know my girls well enough to know that she’d be okay with it.

                      So I led D up to Neon and Brightstar’s table, and the four of us sat around making small talk for a while. When the crowds started to thin, I turned to Brightstar with a mock-serious expression on my face. “Honey?” I said sweetly.

                      “Yeah, babe?” she replied.

                      “I’ve got a little bit of a dilemma here,” I admitted.

                      Her brow wrinkled cutely in sympathy. She’s such a sweetheart. “How can I help?” she asked.

                      “Well,” I began, “it has to do with all of these convoluted timelines. Like, I know that from your perspective, it’s been about six months since the two of us have been together, and I want to acknowledge that and give you the attention you deserve from me.”

                      “Thanks!” she said brightly with a dazzling smile.

                      “But on the other hand, from our point of view, Maria and I have been married for less than two weeks, and we still have that newlywed feeling going on, so I want to spend some time with her as well. Now… how in the world can I reconcile those feelings so that everyone gets the attention they deserve?” I admit to hamming it up a bit at this point, batting my eyelashes and grinning innocently.

                      Brightstar’s own grin widened, and she glanced over at Maria. “I think I can come up with a few suggestions along those lines, but I’d need to discuss them with the two of you in private,” she said after a moment. And so began an evening of distraction that ended up being an odd combination of marathon and sprint… hell, Brightstar is the only person I know who probably could sprint an entire marathon.

                      When the three of us finally wore each other out, I allowed myself to be drawn into a few hours of blessed sleep. Brightstar snuggled up against my chest, and D nestled between my wings (she’s gotten really good at that over the past couple of years) and put her arms around me… around both of us, actually. I fell asleep after a few moments of that, and I think Brightstar did as well. I can’t speak for her, but I know that I’m never as comfortable as I am when D has me in her embrace. I know for certain that nothing can hurt me while she’s protecting me.

                      I have a vague memory of D leaning over and kissing my cheek as she got up for therapy the next morning. “Adios, mi amor,” she whispered, and pulled the sheet up over the two of us. I think I managed to mumble out something like “luvyu” before sinking back into the warm clouds I was dreaming about.

                      The next time an alarm went off, unfortunately, it was for me. I managed – with difficulty – to extract myself from Brightstar’s slumbering embrace, threw on a dress, and headed down the hall to gather Missy and Jane. They were already awake when I got there, and if they weren’t exactly enthusiastic about their upcoming counseling, at least they were resolved to go through with it.

                      The three of us met D, Calamity, and Jacob as they were coming out of the Clinic. The latter two decided to head home, while D stuck around to hang out with Twitch so that she’d be available for lunch with Dad after the appointment. As it turns out, the counselors wanted to speak with Missy and Jane without me present, so I ended up hanging out with the two of them as well. D is still a bit edgy around Twitch, but she’s gotten much better about reining her predatory impulses in when he’s present. I never doubted her ability to do so, but still… I’m proud of the progress she’s made.

                      (In point of fact, she was probably less nervous around him than I was on this particular occasion. Not that I was afraid he would hurt me, or that I would do anything to him… it had more to do with the fact that his office at the Clinic is decorated in post-apocalyptic horror-movie surgeon style. I have never in my life seen that many syringes, and they all seemed to be pointing at me no matter where I stood in the room. Sigh. I suppose it’s good practice for when I become a doctor and have to deal with needles all the time…)

                      When the hour was up, Dr. Bright asked to speak with me privately. He has the same concerns over Missy and Jane that I’ve already enumerated elsewhere… namely that Missy is sort of a flight risk (no pun intended) and that Jane has the capacity to commit great violence if she is provoked. His assessment only bore up my own analysis of the situation… but it was still hard to hear. I mean, to think that sweet Melissa, who always loved eating outside in the sun during lunch period, might prefer the gilded comforts of the Empress’ cage. And Jane, well, she was always feisty and kind of sarcastic, but I never really thought of her as a violent person before. It nearly brought tears to my eyes, which would have been super embarrassing in front of Dr. Bright.

                      But to be fair, I’m not really the same person I was before I was Taken either. It’s not their fault. They were in Arcadia too long, and it took its toll on them. It’s my responsibility to help them, and damn it, I’m going to do my utmost no matter what it takes.

                      Dr. Bright had a few suggestions as to how we might deal with the situation. First, he stated that under no circumstances should the two of them be forcibly separated. They tried at first to give Missy and Jane separate counseling sessions, but even suggesting that made both of them very agitated. Well, okay, I could have told them that and saved them the trouble.

                      Dr. Bright is also providing a mild sedative… mostly for Missy. He’s giving a bottle to Jane and another to me, just in case. It might help her sleep a little better, but he cautioned us not to use it for that purpose over an extended period to avoid creating a dependency. It could also be useful if she begins to suffer anxiety attacks, which is a real possibility over the next few weeks. Again, I have no problem with this suggestion so long as the drug use doesn’t get out of hand.

                      His third suggestion was… problematic. He strongly recommended fitting the two of them with ankle bracelets, like criminals. These devices would be networked to an application on the motley’s phones. If the two of them went into the Hedge, the app would alert the rest of us, and tell us the point at which the two of them had left the world so that we could retrieve them before it was too late. I see the sense in this, I really do, but…

                      I told Dr. Bright that I’d take his suggestion under advisement… but I knew even then that I would only do it if the two of them agreed willingly to the precaution. I absolutely will not treat the two of them as prisoners; that’s contrary to everything I’m trying to achieve with them.

                      Luckily it wasn’t an issue. I explained the Doctor’s recommendations to the two of them. Missy balked at the tracking device at first, but Jane – seeing that look in her eye and truly wanting to save her from herself – nodded and said “I’ll do it” pretty much immediately. Missy, realizing that there’d be no point in refusing the anklet if Jane had one, resigned herself to wearing one.

                      “It’s not forever,” I promised them both, hugging them close. “It’s just until you acclimate to the Freehold. Once you’re comfortable here, they’ll come off. You have my word.”

                      Once they were both fitted, we picked up the prescriptions at the front desk, downloaded the app on my phone, and made our way back to the van. From the clinic it was just a short ride over to Dad’s house. He greeted us warmly at the door, favoring me and Maria with vigorous hugs and Missy and Jane with somewhat more reserved embraces.

                      “Before we eat,” Dad said as soon as everyone is seated, “there is something I’d like to discuss privately with Juliette. If you would excuse us…”

                      I followed him into his office and closed the door behind me. “What’s up, Dad?” I asked. “Is everything okay?”

                      “Yes,” he said, but I heard a certain heaviness in his answer. “I… while searching through some old documents the other day, I… I found something, Juliette.” He produced an unsealed envelope from his desk. “I feel that it is my duty to give this letter to Jane, but I wanted to speak with you about it first.”

                      “What is it?” I asked, a little confused.

                      He sighed. “Ben Lassiter and I were never close friends, but he was a member of my congregation. I spent some time ministering to him during his decline, following the death of Jane’s Fetch and the dissolution of his marriage. This is a photocopy of a letter Jane’s Fetch wrote just before… just before the end.”

                      “What does it say?” I asked, uneasy.

                      “You may read it, if you like,” he said, handing me the envelope.

                      It wasn’t pleasant reading. Jane’s Fetch seemed to know that the end was near when she wrote that letter. She seemed resolved toward her fate. She felt that the world would never accept the love that she had found with Missy (the letter was written in 1981), and rather than hide what they had together in such a world, she preferred to go out in a blaze of glory. Though she didn’t exactly plan to die in a daring daylight robbery… she was realistic enough to know that this was a likely eventuality. She apparently thought this was preferable to forcing Missy into that sort of life.

                      There’s a little more beneath the surface of the letter, unless I miss my guess. I believe that the Fetch knew on some level that she wasn’t the real Jane Lassiter. I don’t think it was a conscious knowledge; it was more like a feeling of vague detachment from the world and people around her (except for Missy’s Fetch). If that’s the case, she might have wanted to end their lives to spare Missy the revelation that she wasn’t real either. So I’m wondering if that might have played a part in their fate as well.

                      It rang a little too close to the girls’ current situation for my liking. Jane and Missy already feel that same sense of disconnection from the world in which they find themselves, and I really don’t want them reading that letter and feeling like suicide is a viable alternative to learning to cope with their circumstances. While I agree with Dad that they deserve to know what the letter contains… I’m thinking that the time just isn’t right.

                      “Dad,” I said seriously, “I’m not sure if they’re ready to read this letter yet.”

                      He sighed. “I found that letter while I was looking for something else, the night that you returned from… from that other place,” he said after a moment. “I can’t help but feel that Providence was at work in that, Juliette.” He looked away for a moment, and then looked back at me. “But you are far more familiar with the circumstances than I am, and you know the two of them well. I will trust your judgment in this.”

                      I took his hand in my own. “And I trust yours, Dad. I promise that I will give them this letter, if you’ll leave it in my possession. I just… I want to give them a little more time to adjust to the world before I challenge their place in it, okay?”

                      He squeezed my hand gently. “Very well,” he said with a smile.

                      The two of us rejoined Missy, Jane, and Maria in the sitting room and talked for a while. Dad was brilliant, putting the two of them at their ease as well as anyone has since they got back from Arcadia. Though I couldn’t help but notice that the two of them were always very stiff and respectful in their replies to his questions, and always called him “Reverend Wells.”

                      When it came up naturally in conversation, he was quick to assure the two of them that he had no problem with their relationship. “Love is both beautiful and rare in this world,” he told them, “and I have come to realize that the fact of love is more important than the object.” He’d said something like that to me when I first came out to him last year, now that I think of it.

                      He also had a refrigerator full of food donated by his congregation. “My flock treats me very well,” he explained, “no matter how I might try to dissuade them. I have a number of vegetables, and turkey and ham. Which would you prefer?”

                      Missy and Jane looked at each other for a moment, and I think I saw them turn ever so slightly green. “Ham,” they replied in unison. No surprises there, though I still think a hearty meal of good fried chicken would do wonders for their world view.

                      So we had a lovely lunch and a good deal of pleasant conversation. Dad made sure to tell Missy and Jane that they were welcome in his house and his church at any time, and that he would be happy to do whatever he could to help them get their bearings and start their new lives together (I think that simple adverb at the end of his sentence did more to win Jane over than anything else he said or did). The farewell hugs were a little less reserved, and we chatted amiably on our way back to the Dream House. It kept Missy from staring out the side windows and getting all tense, at any rate.

                      We heard the tell-tale sounds of sparring from the backyard when we got back. Jacob and Calamity started sparring without me! Can you believe it? I raced upstairs and changed into a pair of bike pants and a sports bra, taped up my knuckles, and joined the two of them on the outdoor stage for a bit of combat practice. While I still don’t like the idea of actually getting into a real fight, it’s great exercise and in keeping with my role as a Pilgrim of the Endless Road. I’m getting better, too… but I have to work on overcoming my instincts. At this point, every time someone lands a blow I tend to launch myself into the air to get out of reach. As Jacob pointed out, I need to have other options available to me in case I’m threatened in a space where such a retreat isn’t possible.

                      D didn’t participate in the sparring, unfortunately, though I understand why. She headed off to the Children’s Library to see Madame Spidertoes, who had been inquiring as to her health since we returned. I’ve been meaning to speak with Gladys myself since we get back… I really need to thank her for the spider-bomb, and to let her know that it was used to good effect in Arcadia. But this didn’t seem like an appropriate time, so I decided to postpone that duty for a few more days.

                      Missy and Jane joined us outside eventually (Trinh had already been watching), having apparently been driven out of the house by Marguerite’s Christmas spirit. “She kept trying to hug us,” Missy said, looking vaguely embarrassed.

                      “Is that a problem?” I asked as I caught my breath.

                      “Well… she’s a cat,” Missy elaborated, not meeting my eyes.

                      “Missy,” I said, gently pushing up on her chin until we were face-to-face, “she’s not a cat. And you’re not a bird. Right?”

                      Missy sighed. “Yeah, I know,” she allowed. “It’s just… instincts, you know?”

                      “I know,” I said, “it’ll take time. But Marguerite loves me, and she knows how important you two are to me. She’ll never do anything to hurt you, and will do whatever she can to protect you. I swear.”

                      “Okay,” she smiled. “I believe you, Jules. Like you said, it’ll just take some time.”

                      After we’d all gotten cleaned up, Marguerite cornered us in the theater as a group. “We shall go out for the caroling tonight, non?” she asked.

                      Most of us allowed as how the caroling would be delightful, but Jacob and Luna held out against the jolly Christmas tradition. For a while. Because unlike last year, Marguerite’s childlike glee was eventually able to wear down even Ebenezer Khrushchev, and he agreed to come out and have some fun with us. Once we’d scored the Russian vote, Luna wasn’t far behind. And I even managed to convince Missy and Jane to join us!

                      As soon as the sun went down we hit the road. We caroled at the homes of several of our friends, including Dad, Elena and Stasia, Felicity, and Joan and Andromeda. We also hit a few Freehold fixtures, like the Lighthouse and Augustine’s church. I didn’t spend any glamour or put too much into my performance; it was all about having fun and spreading the spirit of the season, not about inspiring desire or harvesting glamour. Most of my friends seemed to be on the same wavelength. Jacob has a surprisingly pleasant baritone singing voice, by the way. Julia mostly demurred, speak-singing so as not to activate the powers inherent in her voice.

                      But the real surprise came when Missy and Jane started to get into it. It… it was like we’d never been apart, and it was powerful. The three of us fell into easy harmonies, and our voices complemented each other beautifully. The two of them mostly backed me up last night, but I think that’s just because they were still reluctant to take center stage themselves (so to speak). The first time it happened, our other friends just sort of stopped and stared for a few minutes, and I could tell that they were all thinking the same thing I was… how long before we can get those two on our stage?

                      The only little spikes of negativity came when some well-meaning audience member requested an encore. It happened twice, and both times I just sort of launched into whatever song they had asked for without preamble. The others were good about covering it up, but it was unsettling to have my frailty laid bare during what was otherwise a very pleasant experience. I tried not to let it spoil my evening.

                      When we’d tired ourselves out we headed back to the Dream House. We gathered in the theater for about an hour, sipping hot chocolate and chatting softly near the big tree Kimberly had set up in there. At one point, Julia got up on the stage and started really singing. I got that dreamy, floaty feeling, and the world seemed to recede while I listened to her hypnotic voice. Usually I can’t remember much about her performances, but I took care to note the song this time… she sang “Silent Night.” As the song that led me out of Arcadia the second time, I think that particular carol will always resonate with me.

                      “Okay, everybody,” I said when the conversation started to ebb, “time for all good boys and girls to be in bed.” I glanced at the tree and the bare floor underneath it. “Look, I know we missed most of the shopping season, and there’s probably not going to be a lot of gift-giving in the morning. But I just wanted to say one thing while we’re all gathered together like this.”

                      I looked over the faces of all of my closest friends. “Everyone in this room has already given me the best gift I could possibly ask for,” I said fervently, “and I will never forget it. I love you all.” I moved around the room, kissing each of them… some on the lips, some on the cheek or forehead as I deemed appropriate.

                      “Some of you,” I said, letting my gaze linger on Marguerite, Julia, and especially my Maria, “have given me even more than that… more than I could ever have asked for… more than anyone could possibly deserve. I am so grateful, so fortunate… and I swear that from now on I will do everything in my power to make sure that you all feel as lucky as I do right now.”

                      There wasn’t much to say after that, and we retired to bed. Maria, Julia, Marguerite and I retired to their bedroom, and sank into a warm mass beneath the covers. We kissed a bit and held each other until we all fell asleep, and stayed that way until late Christmas morning…

                      …which is now. For a wonder, I actually woke up before Marguerite, and I’ve been letting the three of them sleep while I jot down my thoughts. I’m taking a break from hitting the medical journals for the next few days; I figure I’ll have more than enough studying to do once the semester starts up in January. And honestly… that tangle of limbs under the sheet over there is looking more and more inviting the longer I sit here writing.

                      Ah, hell with it. I’m going back to bed for a while. Merry Christmas!

                      Lorelei de la Rocha

                      Onyx Path Moderator
                      Forum Rules
                      This is my mod voice. This is my goth voice.
                      [Geist: Balance of Shadows ][ Vampire: The Conspiracy of Hrad Černá Hora ][ Scion: Bohemian Front][Changeling: Malibu Dream House] [Demon: Night Train Detective Agency] [WoD: The Golden Eagle]


                      • Calamity’s Little Black Book

                        Friday, December 25th
                        Eight years, five months, twenty-eight days
                        Days without Stabbing: 5

                        It’s Christmas and everything is going well, which has me nervous and on edge. I can’t help but recall how perfect everything felt this time last year and how hard and fast it all went to shit. But Becky is here, asleep in my bed. I’m watching her as I write this. The peaceful expression… the way her hair ripples and shifts about… She’s beautiful. She came last night to be here to spend Christmas with me. While we were gone she spent her time training Angela to take up her duties so she could do things like this. So she could be with me. So we could be together. She whisked me away to a rented beach house Tuesday and we spent the day together, just the two of us. No court duties for her. No mysteries or rescues or drama for me. Just us alone together talking and laughing and while we didn’t spend all (or even most) of our time fucking we barely let go of one another. Holding hands or kissing or even just sitting close together. And even once we returned, we’ve been doing it. I didn’t know she was coming over last night but when she showed up it made me almost burst into tears of relief to not sleep alone. I think she can tell I’m dealing with the ghosts of last year and has been trying to make sure I know she’s here and not going anywhere. But it’s not just about me. To her, I was gone half a year and while she hasn’t outright said it I’m pretty sure she was worried I wouldn’t come back.

                        And let’s face it, I almost didn’t. Throwing myself into Ocras’ path was damned effective but damned reckless. And I didn’t even hesitate. To be fair, I was expecting a broken arm not a nearly fatal plummet. But I was fully expecting to be injured and it didn’t even give me pause. Even as it was happening, as I felt my arm shatter and the impact ripped me loose from the rafters and the pair of us started to fall all I felt was a savage glee at the startled cry of pain and the glimpse of fear in her eyes before we hit the ground. It wasn’t until we were traveling back through the hedge that it even hit me that in my zeal to murder Ocras I’d broken my promise to Stasia and Becky to be careful.

                        And now I am back and I can’t stop thinking about what would have happened if Luna hadn’t been there to tend my wounds and fly me out. Or if Lori hadn’t been such a skilled healer that she could put my Humpty Dumpty ass back together again. Who would have drawn the short straw and been the one who had to tell Becky? Or Stasia? How could I so carelessly risk hurting them? Dr Emmett seems to think that being aware of this unhealthy lack of concern over my well-being is progress. Admitting something is wrong is the first step to fixing it and all. I don’t know about that but I do know that I have to do something before my dumb luck runs out. So yeah, looks like I’m not done with Dr Emmett and the clinic just yet.

                        And as always there are far more important things going on than my whining and navel-gazing. Stasia proposed to Elena upon our return. It… seeing her... Seeing the way she looked at Elena as she brought out the ring… She’s found her princess. Maybe if things had been different it would have been me. But They took me and the Sinister Bitch betrayed her. I’m just glad she was wrong about not being able to love again.

                        Unfortunately, it’s not all happy. Elena took Stasia with her to Thanksgiving with her parents and they were apparently not okay with her dating a woman. Seems Jacob’s fetch was particularly toxic and nearly came to blows with Stasia which I have no doubt would have earned him an ass beating had Elena’s parent’s not threatened to call the police if Stasia did not leave. And then they issued an ultimatum that if Elena left with Stasia she wouldn’t be welcome to return. Jacob is furious with the Little Shit for taking a bad situation and making it worse. He was seriously considering sending the Little Shit back to his maker but I dissuaded him from what the Lady would likely consider an insult at best and a declaration of war at worst. Better to just deal with him ourselves. However, as soon as we started to discuss how it came up that Jacob has avoided his fetch (for obvious reasons) and doesn’t know that much about the Little Shit or his routine. I offered to spy for him since I won’t set the Little Shit off the way Jacob would. And that gave me an idea. I have put off dealing with the Sinister Bitch for much the same reason. So I suggested that we strangers on a train this shit (yeah, I know it’s not exactly how it works but it’s my damn metaphor) So while I’m scoping out the Little Shit he’s going to do likewise on the Sinister Bitch and then we’ll figure out what to do about them both.

                        The hitch is that the Little Shit lives with Jacob’s folks in Portland, which is a bit of travel time. So I’ve spoken to Marguerite and she’s agreed to use mirror travel to get me there provided I’m spying and not murdering. Which I agreed to. This is Jacob’s kill and I’m not going to steal it from him.

                        But before we can start that we've got Jacob and Elena’s birthday camping trip. Seems like it’s working on becoming a tradition. I know Jacob’s planning to make it snow again, but I guess Stasia won’t have to sneak into Elena’s tent this year. I believe we’ll have Lori’s friends with us and Beautiful has agreed to come along. Hopefully she won’t be too disappointed that we’ll be the only ones without an air mattress though I am sure I can find some way to make it up to her…

                        And at some point I’m supposed to meet her fetch. I knew that she was on good terms with her but apparently it’s more than I (or almost anyone else) realized. Apparently shortly after her return Beautiful went to kill her fetch but she pleaded for my dragon to spare her husband and adopted daughter. That gave Beautiful pause and she did some deep desire reading and found her fetch wasn’t aware of what she was or the Gentry or anything of that sort and so she ended up sparing her. And apparently since then her fetch has developed a few interesting and very useful abilities (in particular the ability to make duplicates) that she uses for Beautiful in exchange for being protected. I’m one of only a handful that know about it. She’s entrusted me with one of her most important secrets. She’s… really serious about this. And that makes me so fucking happy… And so fucking terrified that I’m going to fuck it all up.

                        Jacob’s Journal

                        Becky and Calamity came back this morning just in time to have blueberry pancakes with the rest of us. Lori was cooking while I, as usual, was making coffee for everyone. Or whatever drink they wanted. Sometimes someone will ask for tea. While we were all enjoying our breakfast, I brought up the idea of going camping this upcoming weekend to celebrate me and Elena’s birthday. It was a hit last year so figured it would be appreciated this year. Everyone readily agreed, even Jane and Missy seemed interested. I assured them that I would get camping gear for them. I figured that I’d get a tent that is designed for four or more people so it will have a bigger opening and more room to accommodate their wings. Trinh also expressed an interest in coming so I assured her as well that we’d get a tent and sleeping bag for her. She seemed a little reluctant to have someone buy her gear, but I assured her that if she didn’t want to keep it then it would get used by our motley in the future.

                        After that we talked a bit about our trip to Arcadia. I think some folks got to hear some parts of the story that they hadn’t heard before. Then to change the topic, I think, Lori brought up the idea of having Missy, Jane and Trinh try gliding off of the roof. Trinh didn’t want to jump off the roof or balcony so I suggested that they start with taking a running leap off of the backyard stage. It’s high enough off the ground that they should be able to get a little bit of air. So we all went out back and the three new girls took turns jumping off the stage. Missy and Jane picked it up pretty fast. Trinh took a little more time to get it, but she eventually did. I think she just wasn’t as used to the idea of having wings as the other two were. They all thought that was fun so I’m going to count that as a success. My assumption is that Lori suggested that so the girls, especially Missy and Jane, would have something fun to associate with ‘the world.’

                        While all of that was going on Calamity approached and asked why I was in a bad mood. I guess I was projecting more than I intended to, or she’s just gotten better at reading me. I told her what happened with my sister and Stasia at Thanksgiving and admitted that I was angry at the “little shit” for doing what he did. I admitted that I had thought of the idea of taking him back to the Lady’s realm to return him to his maker. I also acknowledged that my idea might not be a good one since it would draw the Lady’s attention my way and I don’t want that. The longer she forgets that I exist the better things are for me. So, Calamity and I talked over our options. I suggested that we get an idea of what the “little shit’s” routine is, but I can’t do it since he would react to my presence. Calamity said that she could follow him around and we could find a way to lure him away from the house and his friends. Then we could do whatever we wanted to him. I think it was implied that we’d kill him, but I suppose that just scaring him might also be a viable option. I don’t know which one I’d prefer at this exact moment. I will admit that I have resented him for a long time now. How dare that parody of a human being take over my life? Then I try to remind myself that I wouldn’t have been able to take my life back anyway. I look too old now to be able to assume my old role in the family.

                        After we had discussed what to do with my fetch Calamity admitted that she was also curious to see what her own fetch was up to and find out what kind of person she is. She calls her fetch the “sinister bitch.” I think I remember Calamity saying something about her fetch being left handed and she was right handed, hence the name. It does make me wonder how observant her parents were if they didn’t even notice that their only daughter suddenly started writing with the opposite hand. So, we came up with the idea that Calamity could spy on my fetch and I could spy on hers. I’m not sure if Calamity has it in mind to kill her fetch or not. I agreed to tail her though and find out what kind of person she is. I did not agree to go further than that as of right now. Who knows, maybe she is a decent person.

                        It is a really long drive between here and Portland so Calamity asked Insincere Marguerite about using her mirror power to get her closer to Oregon. Marguerite asked what she wanted to do and Calamity explained that she wanted to trail my fetch and get an idea of his schedule and what kind of person he is. She assured Insincere Marguerite that she had no intentions of harming the fetch at this time. Marguerite agreed, but stated that it would have to wait until after the holidays. I suppose that’s fair. Insincere Marguerite loves this time of year and is not going to want to miss anything for an errand, especially if that errand would take her away from town for an extended period of time. Plus, there’s the fact that I think that she didn’t want to hurt anyone at Christmas time. Or plan to.

                        Once everyone had their fill of gliding around the backyard Monica took the three newbies out to see the important sites of the Freehold. Like the different monarchs, the clubs, etc...and to get some clothes of their own. They were only back for a relatively short time when Lori suggested that they go out to the place where she gets her outfits altered to accommodate her wings. They came back with a fancy new dress each and their new shirts augmented with holes for their wings. I guess Lori decided to take them out for something special as well. They were all chatting and smiling when they got back so I’ll call that little outing a success too.

                        The last show of the year went rather well. Our lovely ladies pulled out a couple of numbers that they did at the end of last year, but they were no less popular this time around. Insincere Marguerite and Lori did their duet of “Baby it’s Cold Outside,” then Lori and Calamity did “Bloody Creature Poster Girl,” and then each lady did one song of their own. For my part I was holding down the fort at the bar. I talked to Hailey for a bit before taking Molly aside to discuss things with her. I wanted to know how her tailing job went. It turns out that the fetch of Trinh Jackson is paranoid but doesn’t know who or what is after her. She is convinced that someone or something is though. She’s even gone so far as to take up with friends of her ex-boyfriend who have criminal connections and guns. She’s got them keeping an eye out for her. Right now Jackson is at a high level of awareness and is running mostly on adrenaline. Molly suggested that we wait until she crashes from that high and talk to her after she has exhausted herself. After that we can set up a meeting between Trinh and her fetch.

                        While I was talking to Molly I also asked her for some tips or tricks of the trade that she might be able to share with me. She didn’t ask why I wanted to know how to tail people unseen, she just gave me some suggestions and tips. She suggested learning a contract called Contract of Mirrors, which ironically has nothing to do with mirrors. With enough practice you can change your face to look like that of someone else. It also takes less effort if you have a small token from the person you want to look like. Something like pocket change from their dresser, a paperclip from their office, something small like that. It also helps to have a nondescript car. That unfortunately rules my jeep out. They tend to stand out on the road given that they are normally taller than most other vehicles on the road. I may have to see if I can borrow Molly’s car when I follow Calamity’s fetch around. We’ll see.

                        **** **** ****

                        And then there was therapy. For everyone it seems. De la Rocha, Calamity and I left for our sessions pretty early. Calamity asked De la Rocha if she had talked to Madame Spidertoes yet, since apparently the elder Changeling has been looking for Maria since we got back. De la Rocha said that she hadn’t but would soon. And then I got to talk to Sullivan. I did my best to reassure him that everything had gone well in the Hedge and in Arcadia. I again left out the bit about Insincere Marguerite’s Keeper leaving a bag of goodies for her in the Hedge. I know that Marguerite is not actively serving Mama Lion, but some others that don’t know her very well might make assumptions. I didn’t want my motley mate to get in trouble for something she had no control over. I don’t think Sullivan was very impressed by how many guards I took out while we were making our escape. I think he thought that was a step backwards for me. At least he made notes about it and asked how I felt after killing those men. To be honest I didn’t really feel much of anything. I told him that I was relieved that I was alive, and tried to give him the impression that it was completely a matter of kill or be killed. That wasn’t untrue. It was kill or be killed. I suppose that I could have tried to go for incapacitating the guards instead of killing them, but to be honest it was just easier to go for the killing blow and look for the next target. That way I didn’t have to slow down and make sure that I hit non-vital spots. When fighting them if they didn’t fall down I knew that I had to hit them again, somewhere more fatal. I didn’t have to worry about getting a knife in the back from a downed but still alive guard. And again, I didn’t explain all of that to Sullivan, I just played up the survival aspect of the situation and tried to get his attention on the awesome throw that Luna did with that spiderbomb. Chucking it right at the foot of a Gentry was a gutsy thing to do. I love my Luna.

                        Anyway, as we were leaving therapy Lori, Missy and Jane were just arriving for theirs. Apparently Lori had talked to Lowjack or someone at the clinic and set up an appointment for her two friends. It just so happened that their appointment was right after ours. Calamity and I said our “hellos” and headed back to the Dream House. De la Rocha said that she was going to wait for Lori and the others. She had plans to hang out with Twitch. I am happy that Maria is finding closure by working with him and interacting in a normal way, instead of feeling like she should be tracking him down. What I’m not happy about is that Twitch is enjoying himself while they talk. I was happier when he was just terrified all the time. It served him right for all the shitty things that he did to people. He should be worried about retribution.

                        After leaving the Clinic we headed back for the House. Then we set to making breakfast for everyone. We had crepes this time. Julia’s suggestion. I again made the coffee, and acted as a gofer getting whatever Calamity needed out of the fridge. I figured that I might as well do something to help with the food. Making coffee doesn’t take much effort. Food and coffee was enjoyed by all. Then once White Maria and Brightstar had left I brought up information that I got about Trinh’s fetch, and Molly’s idea to wait a bit until she’s tried and then we can try to set up a meeting. I assured her that we would have someone there that is good at talking and negotiations as well as someone there that is capable of keeping her safe. I figured Lori would do the talking but didn’t want to promise her presence before I’d gone over the idea with my motley mate. I figured Calamity and I would provide the protection just in case things go pear shaped.

                        Lori, Missy and Jane all went to Lori’s dad’s house for lunch after leaving their therapy session. I guess things went better than Missy and Jane feared that they would. I think they were afraid that he was going to be the harsh man that he was 30+ years ago, but he’s apparently mellowed a lot since then. He seems like a very friendly, tolerant man to me. He is keen on helping Changelings where he can, and I’m sure that he’s interested in helping Lori’s childhood friends reacclimate to ‘the world.’ So, after they got back from lunch Lori joined Calamity, Luna and myself for some sparring. We started out before Lori got back since we don’t have to hold back when it’s just the three of us. We can go all out and not have to worry about hurting anyone else. Once Lori joined us we switched to hand to hand training and slowed things down a bit so she could see the moves that we were doing. Then we showed her how to do them. It was fun. Trinh watched. I think she enjoyed herself. I was a little surprised that De la Rocha didn’t join us, but apparently, she went to go meet up with Madame Spidertoes. Towards the end even Missy and Jane came outside. I don’t think they initially came out to watch though. I think they were trying to avoid getting hugged by Insincere Marguerite.

                        After sparring Lori told us that the therapy went pretty well. She admitted that the counselors at the Clinic thought that Missy and Jane might be tempted to run back to the Hedge so they were fitted with tracking anklets so we’ll know if they leave the freehold. Lori then told us all about the app that we needed to download so we could keep track of the two newbies. We got that done in short order. She also mentioned that Doctor Bright prescribed a mild sedative to help Missy with any anxiety attacks that she might have. It seems that she in particular is afraid of open spaces. After having been kept in a cage for a while I can understand that.

                        Calamity informed the group of something that happened a while ago, like years ago, but was getting attention again. Apparently Dark Kimberly’s fetch was killed before she got back from Arcadia. And not in an innocent “it was all an accident” kind of way. She was tied up and brutally murdered. Dark Kimberly has been looking into it since it happened, but there’s only so much that she can do since she looks just like her fetch and it could cause some problems if she were seen. The motley expressed an interest in helping her find out who killed her fetch. I suggested that we should acquire the help of someone that speaks the language just in case we need a translator. I’m not sure who we’d get, but the list isn’t that long.

                        And to finish out the day the whole lot of us, me and Luna included, went out to sing Christmas carols. I was initially going to turn down the offer to sing, stating that I’m not a good singer, but Marguerite pleaded with me until I gave in and agreed. It wasn’t long after I caved that Luna said she’d come too. We went to a bunch of our friends or family’s places, which was good. I don’t like singing in front of strangers. I hated chorus when I was in Middle School and everyone had to participate. At least when we go to High School we got to choose our electives and that wasn’t one of them for me. I may not have liked it because back then my English was not all that great and I had a thick accent.

                        Then after we got home we got a special treat. Julia got up on stage and sang “Silent Night” to the motley. It was kind of haunting, but beautiful. She really does have a great voice. I counted that as a Christmas present to the rest of us. None of us had time to shop for presents, so there’s not going to be a lot of unwrapping going on this year. I guess we’ll just do little things here and there for each other in place of traditional gifts. Merry Christmas!

                        End Session CVIII

                        If you are playing along at home, in addition to the duets Calamity did “Mistress for Christmas” and Insincere Marguerite did “Winter Weather”

                        It was largely skimmed over (Though Jacob dedicated a paragraph to it and Lori touched on it) that the murder of Kimberly’s Fetch came up. When she returned she could not take back her life because her fetch had been found dead in the truck of a car with hands and feet bound and eventually, slowly choked on a gag and tie around her neck. Dark Kimberly referred to being murdering her in the first person “I am trying to find the people who murdered me” and clearly took it personally, since her fetch seemed a lot like her. As a result she left LA and changed her appearance, eventually becoming a Goth. She still wants to find who murdered “her” and spoke to Calamity and Lori, and Calamity filled in the group.

                        I think that covers everything but comments and questions are welcome
                        Last edited by Baroness Nerak; 05-20-2018, 05:26 AM.

                        Onyx Path Moderator
                        Forum Rules
                        This is my mod voice. This is my goth voice.
                        [Geist: Balance of Shadows ][ Vampire: The Conspiracy of Hrad Černá Hora ][ Scion: Bohemian Front][Changeling: Malibu Dream House] [Demon: Night Train Detective Agency] [WoD: The Golden Eagle]


                        • Thank you so much for finally making "Changelings have to have custom clothes that still don't look too weird" canon in your game. I do wonder how Calamity deals with the glass spikes when she doesn't want to retract them. Does she just wear ripped clothing and play it off as a punk/goth style choice?

                          Also, glad to see all the new plot hooks going on, even though it can't be long before we get a reprisal from the Empress (that's her name, right) or a visit from Mama Lion.

                          A god is just a monster you kneel to. - ArcaneArts, Quoting "Fall of Gods"


                          • Well, while it doesn't tend to come up in the journals, Lori tailoring clothes to fit her wings has been mentioned fairly often in game. As for Calamity, she tends to perform in corsets or sleeveless off the shoulder dresses and wear similarly sleeveless halter necked blouses or short sleeved business casual with open shoulders. When she's dressing down she does tend to simply go with the ripped tee/jacket. In general she goes through clothing (much the same as bedding) and just replaces things as they're damaged. For instance, I know there was a journal where she decided to wear a lacy nightie for Gawain and mentioned the fact that she was only going to be able to wear it the once since it would be ruined by her glass.


                            • We have discussed this issue as a gaming group a few times over the years, and I believe the general consensus goes something like this:

                              The Mask affects clothing that's currently being worn by changelings, but does not affect other clothes in their collection. Someone looking at Lorelei when she's wearing a t-shirt for instance would not notice the two slits cut in the back of the shirt to accommodate her wings; just as the Wyrd edits the wings themselves out of the onlookers' consciousness, it takes care of minor details of that sort that would make her stand out as odd or unnatural. However, if someone came across Lori's laundry basket and started going through her things (eww, get out of there you pervert!), they might wonder about the holes in the backs of all her tops, which could lead to awkward questions. And though it's never come up, I assume that if such a person were to see Lori wearing one of those tops again, they might see the slits cut in the back because they're expecting to see them.

                              As always thanks for reading and commenting. I'm already hard at work on Lori's journal for last night's session, in which no bears were harmed.

                              P.S. - Yes, Lori's Keeper is known as the Violet Empress, often abbreviated simply as "the Empress." :-) In character, we're all sort of hoping Marguerite's Gentrified Bearing merit will put her off our scent... since the Empress never actually saw Lorelei during the rescue mission, maybe she'll assume that the thief was actually Mama Lion (who is known for such raids) or something like that. Out of character, I'm sure it won't be long before someone remembers that we did leave a direct witness to the rescue behind... though Lori will never admit it, we really should have killed Hunting Hawk when we had the chance...


                              • It looks like my players have already answered this better than I could. ^_^

                                Onyx Path Moderator
                                Forum Rules
                                This is my mod voice. This is my goth voice.
                                [Geist: Balance of Shadows ][ Vampire: The Conspiracy of Hrad Černá Hora ][ Scion: Bohemian Front][Changeling: Malibu Dream House] [Demon: Night Train Detective Agency] [WoD: The Golden Eagle]