The Road to Skara Brae

Making a Better Monster
Personal Journal of Elizabeth Bartlet

When I took Angus to the asylum, we knew what we were doing. The process of making a gargoyle by ritual is a painful and destructive process, which is why it’s better to find two people that could form one complete person.

The shreds of humanity cry out against this act, but in the end I see only the need. Angus and I are of one mind here. We know what Percy can do, we know what he is capable of, and we need more. So quietly, with the aid of Shadowe, we made our plans and ensured we would not be overheard.

Though, in truth the screams wouldn’t have bothered me overmuch. This is something we need to do, not something I do for my own amusment. They suffered, but gods know so have I. Suffering is what we do, in this case, it’s for a purpose rather than some fool deities sick amusment.

I used the room below my house to prefer the ritual. Though the items needed are complex, it was nothing compared to the level of focus required over the days that it took to form these two beings into one. Blood magic can be risky and there is always a cost… but in this case it was not to me.

The bodies of this humble giant and the scrappy man that Angus had turned would bring about an incredibly talented beast. The powers of Necromancy with the stealth afforded to the Assamite? This creature would be able to attack without ever being seen. Perfection in the for of a fighting machine.

Its loyalty would be unquestioned, because in the case of making these monstrosities, they have no free will. Everything they do is at their domitor’s command, and I would be that for them, it.

With this one act we protect our legacy, our children and our lives. I have little interests in shovel parties, but I will change something to make it more useful, and now that I know I can… I will.

Though, this reality is hard in this light. I wouldn’t simply take an unsuspecting person and bind them into someone else… but if one became unable to do what needed to be done, we would have an option, a means to remedy such a plight. It’s a resourcefulness that I feel even Viola would appreciate.

What is it that they say? All is fair in love and war, and we are in fact, at war.

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The Great Fire
Edinburgh Burns

The fire broke out around 10pm on November 15, in Kirkwood’s engraving workshop on the second floor of the Old Assembly Close, a narrow alleyway just off the High Street.

The city of Edinburgh had formed a permanent fire brigade only two months earlier under its new firemaster James Braidwood. Although this new force arrived quickly with their custom-built fire engines, they had difficulty locating a water supply and did not begin to tackle the blaze until 11pm, by which time six stories of the building were ablaze.

Due to the narrowness of the alleyway, the fire spread quickly to adjoining buildings, first affecting those to the east of Fishmarket Close and later spreading along the roofs of the Royal Mile through embers carried by a southwesterly breeze. By midnight, four tenements were ablaze as the fire advanced towards the Cowgate.

The Old Assembly Hall at the centre of the fire (which had given its name to the close) was destroyed during the night. Around midday on Tuesday, November 16, the spire on the Tron Kirk caught fire and molten lead began to pour from its roof. Although firemen succeeded in reaching the roof of the church, the fierceness of the blaze forced them back.

At 10pm on Tuesday evening a secondary outbreak occurred in buildings on the corner of High Street and Parliament Close (renamed Parliament Square after the subsequent rebuilding of the affected area). This blaze started on the top floor of an eleven-story building overlooking the Cowgate.

This led to claims of divine intervention and punishment from God, as well as deliberate fire-raising. It was more likely the result of a still smouldering ember. This second phase of the fire began to consume the buildings on the east side of Parliament Close. Efforts focused on saving the adjacent Parliament Hall and Law Courts, and stopping the fire leaping to St Giles Cathedral.

A young David Octavius Hill made watercolour sketches during this second phase, viewing the fire from the west. By 5am on Wednesday 19 November, the fire was described as “grand and terrific”. The building housing the Edinburgh Courant collapsed and the fire continued to spread down Conn’s Close towards the Cowgate.

Due mainly to a downpour of rain, the conflagration was brought under control by Wednesday evening, although small outbreaks continued and final smouldering did not cease until Friday, 21 November. Over the following days, engineers from the castle and navy were employed to pull down the highly unsafe remnants of buildings left precariously balanced along the closes.

The fire attracted huge crowds of spectators including a large number of Law Lords: Charles Hope, Lord Granton (Lord President of the Courts); John Boyle of Shewalton (Lord Justice Clerk); Sir William Rae of St Catherines (Lord Advocate); John Hope (Solicitor General, later Lord Hope); the Dean of Faculty; and Henry (later Lord) Cockburn.

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What is real?

The attack on Skara Brae came as a surprise. Certainly, it was not the first time my demense was violated but this place has felt more like home than the others did, more… Something. I digress. The losses did not truly effect me, they only served to create gratitude that those of my kind I truly value were safe. Their numbers dwindle. I understand Angus’ decision but I resent it. He was the only one I’ve known since that first journey to still share our particular brand of magical blood. I feel more alone as time marches on, even though my childer is all I could have hoped he would be.

I grow bored with my penguins. They are amusing, but they are more important as a money source now than anything. They only ever were an attempt to fill my time. I’m tempted to train them to be freaky adorable killing machines to guard me as I sleep, but I’m sure that choice would be met with some “contention in the ranks”. Hmmm…

I find my heart is growing colder. What I did to that horrible priest was depraved, though deserved. I fear that the repair work done by my long lost Theurge lover is nearly completely undone. How can I become that monster I was without the slithering wyrm within me? Perhaps it was all me all along.

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War
Personal Journal of Elizabeth Bartlet

We knew it was coming. No matter how prepared we were, it did not stave off the surprise of the attack. As angry as I was at the thought that Angus would weaken himself right before we intended to join the war in truth… I am glad that he was not in our home when the bells rang out.

Sarah and her half sister were in the care of Fionn, who had stayed the night with us. She took care to remove them from harms way, she kept them safe. For that, I will never be able to repay her.

We lost three two. Sacha and the Nosferatu that lived in the caves below us. Their loss is one felt keenly by those that knew them well. Guil was safe having been in Joan’s house during the incursion. The others were hidden well enough to not be found. To know the number of Vampires means that the minister had some connection to his mage brothers and gave them every piece of information that was needed.

I worry that our mummy friend has too little understanding of discretion. He acts in grandiose manner and thinks little for the chaos that will be reaped by the rest of us for his little adventures. Perhaps it is time to find out what he’s afraid of. I know it is some form of metal… but I’ll need to isolate the exact agent.

I do not believe that the Queen’s Skeleton Keys are to blame. This Solificati… hunters with magic. They are to blame. They’ve made an enemy in me, and this is not something I will soon forget.

Angus and I have begun to create and disguise necromantic alarm systems on each house. It is one of the few things he can still do with the change in his form. Beyond that, I am teaching him what it means to be what we are… whatever that means. He’s been ghouling himself with his own blood to increase his abilities and strength, and perhaps his life since he is truly mortal now. In truth, I’m not certain how I feel about that. At least I know that if he were to die… he’d come back. It’s safer this way I suppose.

I’ve been studying his daughters. They are as alike as perhaps Aisling and I were before all of this. In this world they are called Damphyr. Living vampires. In ours… abominations. They are still suspect in this time, though, with luck I can conceal their nature until they are older. It will keep them safer than letting the ruling bodies of either faction know what they truly are. It’s impossible to tell what the reaction would be.

They both possess a means of telepathy, which means they either have access to Numina, or they are both already astute in the use of Auspex. A terrifying concept that mere babies have master techniques that others struggle years to grasp.

They may surpass any or all of us in time. Having a life time to adjust to what I feel I’ve only known for a year at most… I almost envy them.

I fear though, the time for spending my days in silence and quiet company of my daughter are at an end, because the world once again needs saving, and perhaps this time I’ll even decide to save it for myself rather than everyone around me. Perhaps I’ve finally decided to live.

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Out of Place
Personal Journal of Elizabeth Bartlet

I understand now why Percy was always so distant at these gatherings. Not belonging in a court you once were hailed in was a sharp reminder I am no long who I was.

It calls to question who or what I am at all. So long I have been told that I am a leader, the town is mine, the group follows me… but how can they follow when you are ignored in favor for the others that you gathered.

I stood in the presence of everything that I aspired to be… and I was looked on as if I were the pet to the vampire that I made. It is beyond infuriating. That they would look down on me as if I don’t belong…

I don’t belong.

Where is the place for one that is outside of normality but not interesting enough to garner special attention? The shadows beside her mate I suppose. Not that I mind the shadow that Angus casts but I miss the ability to perform on the center stage of such political intrigues. I lived for it.

I have not slept in two days. Not because I’m not tired… but this isn’t my home and I have to appear strong. If they had any idea how restless my dreams are, they would think me broken or weak. I cannot appear to be anything less than the refined vision that I am suggested to be.

Angus knows I rarely sleep, and there is nothing that I can take that eases the dreams, the night terrors that I experience every time I close my eyes. If anything it would simply lock me in them longer which is a fate I prefer to avoid. The others though, I continue to shield my weaknesses from them, as I have always done.

I admit that destroying the ghost of the former queen was likely extreme, but in the moments when she demanded my assistance, I understood why she’d been killed. Losing that upon the world in the form of a free wraith, I think not. The other though… I’ll do as I said and return the item to him. He seemed kindly enough to earn a reprieve.

Seeing Victoria was difficult. I remember so little of the recent past that I find myself struggling to again know my place in all of this. I know we spoke to her just a year or so ago. I know that we were pleasant and that I made arrangements with them… but the intricacies of past conversations are gone. The fine details that I would have remembered… gone as if they never happened.

I would have said something, explained that I wasn’t the woman that they knew, but it would make little difference and would have bred doubt of my ability to continue on. We can’t have that.

The technocrat that we were introduced to seemed… different than those that I recall. Then again, we were allies with several, so perhaps it isn’t all bad. It simply means that we will need to insulate Friday from them.

Then there is the matter of Angus’ daughters. We haven’t told anyone of their abilities or their advanced aging. How could we, people kill what they do not understand. This fact is also true for vampires.

… I find myself struggling to focus. This tower is so full of noise. Perhaps I can request a cell of my own where I can sleep without being observed… At least then if I wake, no one else will be disturbed.

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Sun Breaks After the Storm
Personal Journal of Elizabeth Bartlet

It’s incredible how quickly time passes when you have not been paying attention. In short, the trip home to Skara Brae happened as you might expect. It was a quiet storm. Part of me almost wished that Finn had lashed out, had said or done something… In the end he took his children and left. Perhaps because he knew that if he banished one of us, it would banish both. Perhaps the emotion that he felt for me was real, and I am so tarnished by the events that shaped my current mind that I cannot reciprocate.

Aisling opted to stay. I cannot say that I understand it, but I will not be the one to question her. She has opted to rebuild the warders as the Fianna left with Finn. I could be angry about it, but honestly there is little point. As much as I am certain they wish I did, I cannot feel regret for what has been done, only the way it came out.

Both Joan and I delivered healthy babies, hers a boy that she named Dennis after a glass walker we had known in the future. Mine I named Sarah after a gangrel that Angus and I remember traveling with for a time. She is growing incredibly fast, something to do with the alterations in Angus’ body that allow him the ability to have children. She seems to get on well with Sam and Freddy, as they’ve opted to stay with us and continue to live under my roof. I find that I don’t mind in the least, and they are helpful with the baby and around the town… so long as I can keep them from thieving anything that isn’t nailed down.

I had my marriage ended by the church, which was simple after Finn had gone. Angus divorced Aisling, and after appropriate time, we were married. With luck there was delay in my childbirth that it was easy to assume that we had just been lucky on the first attempt. Everything played out exactly as Viola had suggested, because honestly it was the best plan we had.

I’m not certain what I expected when I walked through the door that Angus held for me, but I am happy with him, with little Sarah, and with our lives. I regret the impropriety of the situation, I regret the damage this has done to Percy, and Aisling. I regret that I see the pain in their eyes on occasion when they look at me and long for the woman they knew.

Angus tells me that I haven’t destroyed anything, and he truly believes it. He feels badly for the injury to Aisling’s heart, but not for anything we’ve done. He dotes on our daughter, and for the first time in my many years, I feel whole. There is no struggle with him, no fight, no constant fear that I will become a monster and he will reject me. The comfort in my own skin makes me feel alive.

Often I seriously consider the offers I’ve received to change again, to be a vampire, however after all of these many changes I am contented to stay as I am. We have a good balance here. Viola manages the Vampires, I manage the Garou and we live relatively peacefully. That isn’t to say that should disaster strike I wouldn’t welcome the change in order to stay here just a little longer with those that I love.

My memories of certain events still haven’t returned. We’ve decided that they likely will not ever, and as I have had occasion to ask, I’ve been told it’s better that I don’t recall the details. Knowledge that devastating, something that changed me so definitively suggests that I am better off not knowing. I will not become that self loathing, suicidal monster that placated the men she loved, rather than letting them love her as she was. Never again.

In truth, I hated her. I remember much now… and I hated her. I despised being her, lost in all of that suffering and pain, all of the weakness that she felt with FInn, with Abel… with Finn again. She felt constantly at the mercy of everyone around her and as evidenced, the first time I opted to take control of my own life and make a choice…

I cannot say that there isn’t some amount of guilt I feel over what has happened, but I refuse to feel badly for being content. That is how this started and it is not how I will let it end.
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Tabula Rasa
Personal Journal of Elizabeth Bartlet

To be told of ones life from the perspective of others is a surreal sensation. Percival… Percy… that is what he prefers. He has delivered my own journals to me as a means of recovering what I’ve lost. As much as I would prefer that this was a lie, or one of my many nightmares, they all speak the truth. I cannot say how I am certain, but I can feel it in the very pit of my being.

I have discovered so very many things that I would have never thought possible. The vast majority of the journals I read from later years are filled to the covers with things I cannot even fathom.

Though it is all as if reading a story written to entertain. It is of great interest, and some of it even feels possible, but there is no emotion attached to any of the words. It as if my mind accepts the possibility but my heart refuses.

Added to this utter strangeness is the face of a man who inflicted horrors upon my very person. Those memories are hardest to digest. That I had developed such feeling for a monster. The torment is the clearest of the memories… and just as I had receded into myself, as I had finally given over to the most base of my nature… these people, as if beckoned by my very soul, arrived and gave new life to my fractured mind.

I cannot bring myself to leave them. It cost them far too much to even consider returning to what I remember of my life. Though, truth be told, that is impossible. I am no longer the woman I thought I had been. My own body feels foreign and covered in black tattoos. I do not look on them as familiar when I stare into myself through the mirror.

My daughter… Aisling, has said that I received one as a rite of taking leadership here. She has showed me the mark that matches it on her. The others were mystically applied. She explained that she watched me die, a spear having been thrust through my waist, and again into my side. There is another, a longer more winding mark that traces the path of my spine, likely the result of another injury, but one she herself does not remember. I have not been brave enough to ask anyone else, for that level of immodesty would be… uneasy for me.

As I read, I have begun to remember flashes… the faces of younger children, a room in what appeared to be a castle keep with a woman that I recall feeling was familiar painted on the wall.

I recall a tall man with darker skin and feathers in his long black hair but cannot yet recall his name. A cave with what I could only describe as a diseased bear attacking someone that I recall from my time in torment. I only know his name to be Abel, and that at one point I saw him as a mate. Why I will never know. Going through my journals of the time it seems that I kept many secrets from him, including the state of my own heart and growing resentment for a man that… I can’t remember. I know I’ve read the page over and over again, the words displease me. Then… nothing. As if the knowledge itself will not rewrite itself in my mind.

I have taken to speaking with Angus as often as I can, as it seems he is the source for most of what I dared not even write in my own journals. His consideration and whit leave no wonder in my mind as to why I have stayed with him for so long. Of anyone, I would say that it is easy to trust him the most.

Percival has taken to joining me for tea. I think this is more to ensure I am well rather than for my tea. He does not care to partake much. The wolves…my children as it has been explain to me, they seem to enjoy his company when their father is not here.

Fionn, my oldest daughter… though not chronologically, visits often. Her presence makes me smile, as if she is both light and color in an otherwise gray world. Aisling offsets her perfectly, and feels more like a sister to me than a daughter. Though the fact that we look so similar likely has to do with that.

The others had given a great deal of space. Viola visits with me come dark, nearly every night. I enjoy her company and she feels the least foreign of any of them. I have begun to remember bits and pieces of our time together, though most of it involves some for of debauchery. Her ways make it hard for me to imagine a time when we were not friends, and in truth, aside Angus she likely knows me more than any.

I have yet to resume my duties as Theurge in full. I have had to spend a great deal of time relearning the motions of many of my innate abilities. The rites, the rituals. Luckily I have kept excellent records. Angus and Percy have what I do not.

After having read the last of the journals, I have begun to see the waters of the river styx as a blessing rather than a curse. Perhaps it was needed to allow myself to continue. In all of my many years I have seen much pain and loss of loved ones, and while it is hardest to say so…I believe that I was finally beginning to succumb to them. Perhaps it was needed to allow a fresh start, or a blank slate as it were.

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More Bitter Than Sweet.
Personal Journal of Elizabeth Bartlet-Brody

Time passes. It ebbs and moves and changes, but I find myself utterly unmoved by it.
It’s as if I am a static space, unphased by the passage of time and without a rudder.

As things continue to happen I find myself utterly lost and yet, the world around me grows more clear.

I am absolutely miserable in this skin. I miss the sensation of my teeth piercing flesh, the warm rush of blood, and the magic it ignited within my very core. I miss the control of standing at the precipice of life and death and choosing if my victim will go on breathing.

I miss the intrigue and the court. I miss the politics that I understood. I even miss the silence of my inner voice when I no longer gave it heed. In truth, it’s why I’ve changed so much about myself. The denial is the only way to not devoir my own self out of loathing. If I remember that I was so much more… the lack would be too much to bear.

The loss of a child reminded me of this in full. It was more crippling than any loss before. No one should outlive their children. My humanity died with him that night. When the soldiers came and shot my son for his pelt.

DO NOT EAT THE FLESH OF MAN.

Oh but I did, and I relished in it. The thick metallic flavor made my blood sing at its return… and then I purged it… I’m a wolf now, this is against the rules… no matter how badly I wanted to consume the very essence of the monsters that had murdered my child.

This is only half of what eats at the darkest corners of my mind.

Finn reached into Angus’ mind and saw into him… He’s never spoken of what he saw but I know what it contains… to a point. I know that his mind has never been swayed from the moment that we first met and the feelings that have developed since. It was the whole of the reason that Abel hated him. He knew.

I find myself drifting into years past while I consider all that might have been revealed. Moments shared between us. Worlds and places that we will never see. Some aren’t worth reliving… others? I can’t help but wonder myself. Am I just chasing after a memory of a man that will never exist? Did I refuse to chase one that loved me at my absolute worst? The answer is likely yes but it is far too late for that.

I remember the night after Finn left. My heart was utterly torn to pieces and I found no comfort. Even turning away from Viola, who I’m certain felt that sting. I had taken the box of his things, everything he’d left behind, and moved them to the island. It seemed the only place for them, and in truth… it was only making me worse.

Sitting on the beach that night, I found myself without will to move on. I stared up at the setting moon and traced it as it began its descent towards the horizon. As the sky lit with the coming dawn, I had decided to embrace my end. Why linger in suffering. The moment my mind was set, I found myself crushed to the sand. Angus stared down at me with fear, anger, and something else… I could no longer place the look that echoed feeling.

He’d cursed me for giving up, told me that if I were to die, than he’d die here with me. Just like this. My tears fell bitterly as I felt him lift me up. The wind scored my skin as he ran against it and took up refuge in a cave. It was there he made me swear, tearfully, that I would not take my own life. I never stepped foot on that section of beach again, and the cave… it was years before I gathered the courage and only because it was the one that Abel had claimed for himself.

At first I had only agreed to save him… but in time, I knew that if I were taken by anything short of time, he and others would never recover. In truth, I didn’t live on to save Finn, as often I nobly had decried… it was to save Angus, Percy, Viola, Corsin, Sarah… The people that stayed.

That knowledge is what I fear Finn might possess, the fact that in the end, it wasn’t my love for him that stayed my hand… but the growing love for others and the actions of a man who longs for the return of his love, from across the busy streets of our little town.

In the end, I know my own heart. How do you spend lifetimes with someone and not grow to love them? Perhaps it would have been better if I had died rather than bring them here… I find it hard to say if these things ring in my mind because of truth that I just now embrace… or it is the building bitterness that grows in my chest to save it from the onslaught of pain. As much as I hate to admit it, I blame Finn in part for the death of our pup. He should have been watching…

That is why I stay away, that is why in six months, we’ve exchanged naught but pleasantries. That is why, when faced with him, as he was on the beach, I left. The exposure is too much and leads me to question everything. Questions are something that we cannot afford. Not anymore.

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Time on my hands

Who knew? In some ways, life on the streets was easier than this fucked up shit. I mean, I wouldn’t change being a mother and in love for anything, but, back then, I didn’t care as much. I have lost so much, but gained much more. Who knew that a street hacker from LA would end up attempting to help organize a community in 1830’s Scotland. Digging in the dirt seems to have cleansed me from my former life. It doesn’t hurt that my mate is so sexy, either. Glad I made this notebook. I will write more later. Baby is crying.

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This is how the world ends, not with bang, but with a cut.
Personal Journal of Elizabeth Bartlet-Brody

If I had known.

If I had even stopped to consider what I was doing before I did it… They threatened my daughter. At the time my only daughter and her child. I wanted them to suffer, like I had suffered at the hand of so many. I wanted oblivion to devour them from the inside out and leave nothing but a grieving empty shell.

I infected them. I brought the plague. There was no corrupt man chasing my every action and laying in wait while his trap sprung. I did this.

Spiraling…. the term has such irony… Falling, always falling, or failing. I can’t let them pay for my mistakes. If I have to end this on my own to be certain that no one else suffers… So be it.

I don’t know where to begin, how to stop what I’ve started, or how to make amends for what it is that I’ve done to this world. The war that I have caused… In the morning I will give over to Aisling and Wyrm Dancer… They will need to lead us through this, the first War of Rage. For that is what caused it. My unchecked rage.

When they learn what I did, what I’m capable of… Even I would not trust myself.

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