“I feel like I’m drowning in your world.”
Marisa was looking at the contents of a package that had recently arrived from Switzerland, clothing, shoes, perfume, jewelry and other sundries that would have been difficult to carry through the Nevernever in the jaws of a wolf. They had mailed these things to Dallas prior to leaving Europe. Finally they had arrived and she had come over to pick them up.
Conor O’Neill was standing nearby. His “care package” from Switzerland unopened. However, he was already wearing clothing that would have looked more at home on a Wall Street tycoon than a former bog-Irish farm boy from Connemara. Incongruent with the expensive Italian suit and shoes was a bottle of Guinness Foreign Extra Stout.
Well, maybe the Irish farm boy wasn’t completely gone.
He looked at the lovely blonde with whom he had been spending many long hours (and weekends) for nearly nine months. “Like you’ve been taken down Alice’s rabbit hole an’ you’re still a fallin’?”
She stopped tracing a line with her finger on one of the bracelets in the box. “Si. I feel like that.”
He took another sip before continuing. “In the old days, mortals back home, in the English, called that bein’ ‘Fae Struck’.”
She glanced at him quickly then looked away again, appearing to suddenly notice a new item in the box; especially amusing since she had packed the box herself. “Maybe so… what does that mean?”
He knew he was going to regret what he said next, but still he pushed on. “In the old stories, mortals that encounter the fair folk are taken beneath their ancient ring fortresses. They eat, drink, an’ experience things beyond the senses an’ experience of mortality. Time passes. When the mortal’s friends or family find them again… they’re never the same.”
“The mortal world has fewer colors, fewer sounds, an’ they spend a long time trying to recapture their time with the fae; to hold on to their memories an’ dreams. They never really go back to normal after… sometimes becomin’ musicians, artists, writers, poets… whatever.”
“Some mortals, in the stories; so overwhelmed by the difference between the world of the Fae an’ reality … go a bit cracked in the head. So their friends an’ family, knowing that somethin’ has happened to their dear one… called it being Fae Struck … caught up in … glamour.” Something seemed to die in Conor as he said these words.
Marisa finally looked directly at him, “Yes. I feel like that. I feel sometimes like I am loco and sometimes like I have not yet woken up from a dream.”
He nodded, seeming to understand what she was saying. "An’ so… then… what brings this on? Has Ramon said somethin’?" He had taken a shot in the dark.
Marisa’s usually controlled facial expressions only just slightly showed that his aim was good. "Only a bit. He wonders if my loyalties are still to my pack… which they are… or to some other power in Dallas. We… it has been difficult for us since Easter."
She sat down in one of the leather chairs in the large den area of Conor’s new home. “We lost two, Eduardo and Santos. Then, we lost three more… they… well they quit… or tried to. You see, it was all fun and games before. We were cool, werewolves, invincible… then it suddenly became very, very real for us.”
Conor said nothing, not really knowing what to say. He had gone through his “eye opener” when Ghouls devoured some women that he had known. He had been there to see the remains of the dead, and the living.
"Luisa and Ramon, they… well, nevermind. I say too much already. The pack needs to be together right now, we need to be strong. My actions as Beta are watched and I cannot let them down… you understand?" Her eyes, for once, transparently showed her emotions – worry and concern chief among them.
Conor nodded, still saying nothing. There was nothing to say.
There was an uncomfortable pause, broken only by him taking another sip of his drink.
“Also… there’s you…” she motioned to his clothing and the house “… and all this… and your other half…” She seemed to bite off her next words, wanting to speak but not.
“Go ahead, say your mind. It’s nothin’ I haven’t thought about mesself I’m sure.”
She looked at him again, directly, brown eyes holding his. “Everything about my life before, my training, screams to me that you’re a very, very sick man Conor. Dissociative Identity Disorder… maybe Narcissistic Personality Disorder … or worse. Yet…” she looked around at the mansion “… yet clearly there is something else at play. I cannot understand it. I will never understand it. I have no words or tools to describe what I have seen and experienced.”
He looked down at his shoes, “That’s two. Call it fae intuition… there’s a third reason. Go ahead, third pays for all.”
She looked back down at the package of clothing from Geneva. “I am told by those who can see it, that your symbol is the butterfly. I feel as though I am but one of many flowers. What part do I have in the world of one of the immortal Lords of Summer?” She set down the golden bracelet on top of the package and stood up. Her body language clearly showed that she was about to leave.
Conor crossed the room and wrapped her up in his arms. After a long time, they at last kissed and finally let each other go. He reached down and handed her the bundle; she initially refused to take it but he was persistent.
“These were gifts sweet lady. At least let me know that these grace one o’ the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen; kindly spare me the pain of a gift refused.” He had a wan smile as he looked at her.
She nodded, and silently they walked together towards the mansion’s front door down the long, long hallway.
With one hand on the front door handle, he paused. “You should know somethin’ Marisa, though, before you go. I don’t say this to change your mind, only because you should know the truth of it. I first met you in the summer of last year… since then, there has only been you; you an’ no other. The butterfly is the symbol of my mother.”
She looked genuinely surprised, startled in fact. Then she nodded, and kissed him again. He opened the door and she stepped through. She reached up quickly to wipe her eyes before turning again to look at him.
“Thank you for that. I believe you.”
They stood together on the threshold, the uncomfortable silence ticking away to the inevitable parting. Then, with a sniffle and a small smile, “…permit me to make a small bad joke?”
Conor grinned, “It would be best I think, worse the better.”
She reached up and touched his cheek, “We’ll always have Switzerland.”
Neither lauged, but eventually she let go and walked back to her car. Conor watched until he could no longer see her vehicle from his front step.
He closed his door and strode with powerful, angry steps to the closest mirror. It was the one in his hallway half-bath.
In the Irish he growled out, “<Did you have anything to do with this?>” He glared at his reflection until it turned pale with glowing blue eyes. Its white hair seemed to float in an invisible breeze.
“<Of course not, I have no need for such meddling. She used her ‘Free Will’ my dear boy.>” When the reflection spoke the words ‘Free Will’ the scorn was palpable.
Conor wanted desperately to believe that the creature in the mirror was lying.
“<Didn’t I tell you before? Time is on my side. Everything you love will grow old, die, or leave you in the end. You are not one of them.>”
He simply walked away, unable to bear the smirking face in the mirror.
He strode to the rear door leading to his stone patio, opening it quickly. To no-one in particular, apparently talking to the empty air he said, “<Send for the smith.>”
Half an hour later, a small creature walked up to Conor who was now playing his guitar in his upstairs game-room. On the floor at his feet was an ornate small wooden box. The creature said nothing as he finished his song. It looked like it had been made of wood, gnarled knobbly hands led to gnarled knobbly arms. Over its deep, brown body was a tunic of green and a leather brass studded apron with assorted fine tools in the various pockets. Its eyes were luminous amber. Brown “hair” like strands of moss seemed to be slowly turning greenish-yellow with new growth. Perched atop its head was a floppy greenish tweed woolen cap.
Conor looked up, as he set aside his guitar. “<I see you wear Summer’s livery now. The color suits you.>”
The creature barely moved as it spoke, replying in English, “The same can be said of you my Lord Dallas.”
With a pensive nod, he reached down and picked up the wooden box. He opened it and inside, resting on a bed of green velvet were three brass keys. The Wards had not yet been put up in his new home. These were intended to be passkeys through the barrier. The central key was the most ornate, with an intricate knot-work motif surrounding a letter ‘M’ in flowing script.
He picked up the key and handed it to the creature. “Melt this down and forge it new. Make it look like the others.”
Basically… things were going too well.
With the events of last game, I am changing Conor High Concept a bit… "Lord Dallas, Earl of the Summer Court, Sidhe Scion" – also I wanted to conclude the story arc for the Marisa NPC as well – representing 9 months of a relationship with a Fae – so I used my last milestone for doing writeups to change her Trouble as well (but I left the one representing Conor). I think it makes a bittersweet, but solid, "ending."
ps – depending on when the Charades story arc ends, the in-game date of this postgame may change slightly.
For the morbidly curious… the song Conor would have sung. First an English version (the video embed is going wonky):
Of course he’d sing it in Irish … this link has both languages.