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1/24 "Clowns are not born"

JWaldman Feb 15th, 2020 (edited) 130 Never
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  1. Eudocia Mimés says, "Oh, Dun. There you are."
  2.  Eudocia Mimés says, "Hello hello, Tonashi."
  3.  Dun exclaims, "Greetings dear Eudocia, I have come!"
  4. Eudocia Mimés says, "Sit wherever. I have no particular attachment to this place as it is Camilla's decorating and none of my own."
  5. Dun says, "Hmm."
  6.  Dun says, "We could sit."
  7.  Dun says, "Or we could dance while we talk."
  8.  Eudocia Mimés says, "A tempting offer."
  9.  Dun says, "I'd think so. Sadly, there's no nearby kindling."
  10. Dun says, "Dancing in a burning building is off the menu."
  11.  Dun says, "For now."
  12.  "Regardless," she said, standing but not yet dancing, "I'm going on a journey soon. I've been trying to get in touch with a witch, you see," she told him, "In the east. She's been doing a great job out there. Took control of a whole bunch of villages on her own. Rumor has it, it's these... magic shoes she has, I don't know the specifics," Eudocia said, moving for the first time in the conversation; she still didn't dance, merely went to lean against the nearest wall.
  13.  
  14. "She's not responding to my letters, so I'm going to go out that way myself to find the reason. Elysium can be stronger," she said, "And uniting occultists and witches under my banner is something of a priority. I don't think it'll be overly dangerous," she figured, "But it is a long journey, and nobody should make long journeys on their own. The roads are dangerous even to people like us - especially when tired."
  15.  
  16. She turned.
  17.  
  18. "Come with me? I'll be bringing Anabelle as well."
  19. (Eudocia Mimés)
  20. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  21.  
  22.  Dun would naturally perform a one clown waltz, slowly moving across the floor with steady, careful taps of his feet as if this was actually a ball room, and not a cottage in the midst of a backwater village of doom. Even on such occasions, the clown felt it necessary to offer a performance, even if his only audience present was Eudocia.
  23.  
  24. She was all the audience he required, he thought.
  25.  
  26. "A witch demagogue with magical shoes, thoroughly effective at low level bureaucracy and management of human capital. Are we certain she isn't actually just some sort of noble woman pawning her bathwater?"
  27.  
  28. The clown would tap his chin steadily, before at last pausing his his waltz with head tilted upward, beginning a slow, expressive display of ambient dancing and cheer to fill in the void for Eudocia's lack. If she couldn't dance herself, she could at least enjoy watching it!
  29.  
  30. "Quite rude of her not to respond to your letters though, goodmail men are hard to find these days! I bet she didn't even tip."
  31.  
  32. Dun would shake his head as he continued to dance, making a thorough display of the effort for Eudocia's benefit.
  33.  
  34. "Doesn't matter if it's overly dangerous, I quite prefer it that way. You're never truly alive until you're almost dead, I've found. Couldn't think of a better banner for witchkind to follow than yours, my dear."
  35.  
  36. Dun would bow his head with a soft chuckle, shaking his head.
  37.  
  38. "All you had to do was ask for my company. I'd already accepted."
  39. (Dun)
  40. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  41.  It was a shame that their reunion had come so late; while Eudocia was fully capable of the occasional burst of mirth and cheer, she had become much more subdued since the masquerade. Perhaps it was just that she was older now; alternatively, she just... changed. For better or for worse, people always change. Either way, it was immediately apparent how empty she seemed now; hers was a body that seemed to just be going through the motions, and she barely seemed passionate about anything anymore.
  42.  
  43. Strengthening Elysium was a 'priority' - a mere project. It didn't seem like something she was overly excited about.
  44.  
  45. And yet she watched the clown's dance with those obsidian eyes of hers, as if the void itself was judging Dun's performance. For all he knew - it was. There was something 'abyssal' about Eudocia now, and it went beyond her eyes.
  46.  
  47. "Is this one of those interpretive dances?" she asked quietly, off-hand; it was small comments like these that made up the only hints that there was something still present within Eudocia beyond an ever-present craving for mana.
  48.  
  49. "If she's not actually a witch, then I kill her and take the shoes - if the rumors are true and they do hold any power," she said. "They're of no use to a noble. I'm the only one that would know how to use them."
  50.  
  51. ...She still had that boundless confidence, too.
  52.  
  53. "If she's disinterested in working with me, then I also kill her and take the shoes," she went on, giving the tiniest smile with those eerily thin lips of hers. "We'll see where it goes. You, Anabelle, me, and..." she trailed off, a finger rising to tap against her chin.
  54.  
  55. "...Cameo? I've yet to decide. He came from Osrona originally," she said slowly, "So he might know the eastern end of Esshar better than any of us."
  56. (Eudocia Mimés)
  57. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  58. If Dun appeared bothered by Eudocia's subdued presence, it certainly didn't show in the continuation of his dance. Perhaps he merely considered it now his sworn purpose to fill in the blanks for the former jester; to match their own void with his excess of sanguine, practically surplus cheer and whimsicality. Though his visage was masked by the clown, there was a sense even still that he was always smiling. A sheer radiation of mania.
  59.  
  60. The clown certainly seemed to notice the obsidian eyes upon his dancing form, at last bringing the performance to an end with an exaggerated bow and a bark of laughter before blowing a kiss to the loving crowd.
  61.  
  62. All one of them.
  63.  
  64. "Sometimes you just have to dance, you know? I get these...itches, feel too pent up after a good joke, just sorta gotta...release it with some expression! I hope it does not offend your senses too much, my dear. I am but a journeyman."
  65.  
  66. Dun would nod steadily, crossing hisright, serpentine scarred arm over his left before folding the pair tightly over the dull, black plate of his cuirass. How the clown danced so easily in heavy plate was beyond the calling of logic.
  67.  
  68. "I feel like we can cut out the middle man and just kill her for her shoes period. Not to say that she won't like to work with you, but all those villages she controls....wouldn't it be better if they were yours? Your shoes, your dominion, your banner, your show!"
  69.  
  70. The clown would nod firmly with a light chuckle, jingling his bells ambiently.
  71.  
  72. "Nobility is relative, in truth. Her strange, inbred feet might be a family heirloom, but upon your tiny, porcelain pale digits they will be a treasure. Cameo is a reliable sort, old business acquaintance, he'd be convenient if things get messy. Or if we just want to suddenly play around in a sand box and build castles while we get bored on the trip."
  73. (Dun)
  74. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  75. Eudocia glanced behind her - granted it was at nothing but wall as expected, but she had to check if there was suddenly a live studio audience behind her. Nobody blew kisses to her, after all. ...Okay, that was a lie. A lot of people did. She just couldn't understand why; she was pretty much a zombie kept alive by stolen mana and, although not decaying, she was perpetually on the verge of it.
  76.  
  77. "Always dance," she said quietly, drifting past Dun with all the grace and chilliness of a ghost, "They might try to stop you - but always dance." She proceeded silently up her staircase; that was another one of those odd changes, how little walking she did. Sure, her legs moved. Her feet carried her. But something about the way she moved hardly felt like 'walking' - it looked mostly normal, sure, but there was just something weirdly uncanny about it.
  78.  
  79. And, like all uncanny things, it was hard to put into words - it just felt... inexplicably 'off.' She simply moved.
  80.  
  81. "You raise a valid point, killing her," she conceded, arms crossing to rest atop the railing, "But I have no interest in leadership or ruling. I don't have much of an interest in anything, in truth." Her head tilted to the side as she considered it anyway, though.
  82.  
  83. "...Except consuming everything I can," she said, "And expanding my own power. And those shoes would make me more powerful. Who cares what happens to the villages then? It's hardly my problem. They can sort it out."
  84.  
  85. She shrugged.
  86.  
  87. "...Cameo, then. The four of us - that'll work."
  88. (Eudocia Mimés)
  89. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  90.  "Those that try to stop me, my dear, find out why it's best to keep the clown jolly. A sad clown is a dangerous thing indeed...Dillion learned what it took to bring me back into good spirits, ohohoho...."
  91.  
  92. Dun would turn with a swivel of his boot as Eudocia drifted past him, standing tall and motionless for a time as his masked gaze trailed across Eudocia, certainly not phased by her appearance. Perhaps he saw things differently behind the mask, perhaps he too was marred by the realities of the world and its harshness, and considered physical beauty to be bullshit.
  93.  
  94. Or maybe he just liked Eudocia's frenetic swagger. It danced well in tune to his own.
  95.  
  96. "Wise of you, though. Leadership is a booooore. Been there, done that. Everyone comes to you asking for answers to problems, and all of the sudden you're the bad guy when you kill the problem. You've got to smile on the outside even when you aren't on the inside, because everyone following you always expects you to be at your best..."
  97.  
  98. The clown would form a frown with the smile upon his mask, sighing lightly as he nodded to Eudocia.
  99.  
  100. "Even when you're at your worst."
  101.  
  102. Not skipping a beat, Dun would turn with a dramatic swivel before, with frankly questionable agility, doing a back flip from the ground below through the air with surprising grace for a heavy plated, excessively muscular performer, landing with a light clunk upon the edge of the railing beside Eudocia with a chuckle.
  103.  
  104. Folding his arms in for a moment, the clown would spread his arms once more with a small stick, a head sized, spherical plume of raw, unrefined energy hovering about like a stalk of cotton candy for a mana parasite.
  105.  
  106. "Perks of being a master of energy magic, boundless reserves waiting to be molded into tricks and treats. Let's leave the bureaucracy to the cheese eaters in Osrona, we can expand your power and have fundoing it! Only stipulation is that when we get the shoes, you dance with me. Can't waste good shoes on someone that doesn't dance."
  107. (Dun)
  108. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  109. "The only regrettable thing about Dillion is that I did not get to kill him myself," she said, black eyes staring out at nothing in particular. "I could taste the cosmic mana on him. I wanted to consume it." Even if she said that, though, she didn't sound disappointed; it was the same apathy as always, so much so that it made everything sound like just a minor inconvenience at best. "I think I said this already, but he pledged his allegiance to us - and, against my advice, they took off his collar. I told Anabelle to execute him on his way out, but they opted to give him a chance - and, of course... he ran."
  110.  
  111. She gave a tiny shrug at that. It wasn't the running that bothered her; she knew she'd run into him and kill him someday anyway - if Dun and the glass-man didn't get to it first.
  112.  
  113. "Predictable."
  114.  
  115. She took a small step back as Dun, with all of his armor and sheer size, performed a frankly impressive backflip up onto the railing. This, perhaps, was the first time she was truly expressive in the entire conversation - her gaze narrowed, shifting rapidly between Dun and the very thin wooden railing, wondering if and when it'd give out and snap.
  116.  
  117. She did not warn him of this, of course.
  118.  
  119. "When were you a leader of anything? I thought Moonfall was the only place they could put a clown in charge. But- that's the thing, though," she said, looking back out at the exciting sight of... her wall. "Even if your heart is aching, they still expect you to smile. Not that I'd know anything about that anymore," she said. "I left it back in my hometown."
  120.  
  121. Her left hand rose, then, claws curling inward as if beckoning; it was rare that mana truly took shape like that, giving Dun arare sight: nothing about Eudocia's 'mana consumption' was an exaggeration. It was tugged from the air into her hand and crushed in her grasp, devoured instantaneously.
  122.  
  123. "I suppose this is an acceptable deal. But also, only if those shoes have any real value. Otherwise it is simply a waste of everyone's time."
  124. (Eudocia Mimés)
  125. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  126.  "Ohohohoho, I know the feeling my dear. I've given many chances to many people, been stabbed in the back so many times it's almost like a massage at this point. You give fools an inch, they'll take a mile, and all the while they'll laugh and point and jeer in amusement at those that gave them mercy. Never trust a traitor, their loyalty is glass. See through and easily breakable."
  127.  
  128. Dun would appear to chuckle at that, the image of Dillion's broken spirit still bringing a smile to his face even now a while after he'd passed. Good jokes aged like a fine wine. He still sat precariously on the very unsturdy wood, but it appeared to not yet shattered beneath his feet.
  129.  
  130. Only time would tell if that continued to be the case.
  131.  
  132. "...Clowns are not born, Eudocia. They are made by a society that molds them. Unnatural creatures devoid of the strings that once bound them. Once upon a time...I was in command of many men. They trusted me, I trusted them. And many betrayed me, so I saw them dead. Yet, as I buried my dead and mourned them for the men they were in spite of their betrayal, the knights mocked me for things I could not control....blaming me for everything but my own actions..."
  133.  
  134. Somewhere along the way, the mirth left Dun's tone, becoming a bitter, vengeful drawl that spoke with permeating malice. An aura of quiet fury hung about the clown, though he did not even shift an inch upon the wooden bar.
  135.  
  136. "I learned then that a leader is merely another word for one you get to blame when things go wrong, a scapegoat for the foolishness of the masses. The knights took everything that made me a man, stole from my reputation what they could not from my empty pockets. They took my kindness, and they made it their own joke."
  137.  
  138. The next words that left Dun's mouth were frigid, boundlessly determined.
  139.  
  140. "I will have my revenge."
  141.  
  142. The clown would at lastturn to Eudocia, staring into her visage for a time as he briefly ceased to speak, mulling over something internally before continuing.
  143.  
  144. "Tell me of your hometown, I'm curious. This is perhaps the first time we've spoken of such heavy topics, might as well go the full way. And of course the shoes must be of real value, there would be NO POINT IN DANCING TO CELEBRATE IF THERE IS NOTHING TO CELEBRATE ABOUT."
  145. (Dun)
  146. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  147.  
  148. "Trust is a useless thing. I can't say I've ever held much trust for anyone," she said. "Not even in the stars above. The people I've trusted in my life - and haven't betrayed that trust - amounts to less than I can count on one hand." The thought didn't seem to bother her, though. "I did learn a valuable lesson, though: no 'chances.' I should have gone there myself, instead of telling Anabelle to do it." She shrugged that, too; in many ways, it was funnier that he died the way he did. He left Moonfall, so confident in his safety, and then... just like that, murdered in a town he was likely coming to think of as a new home.
  149.  
  150. "So you're a noble," she said, "The Thunderbirds... or the Watch. And you weren't wealthy by your own admission - so it's not nobility. The Thunderbirds never actually mattered, and when they moved to Moonfall there were no giants like you - so that's off the table, too."
  151.  
  152. She smirked. It wasn't cruel. Monstrous as she was, 'cruelty' seemed to be something beyond her at this point. She had no patience for subterfuge; she didn't have a mind for planning. In many ways she was the most trustworthy witch in Elysium, if only because lying took more effort than she'd care to put in.
  153.  
  154. 'Better the devil you know,' or however the saying goes.
  155.  
  156. "Interesting. Revenge, then," she said, "So you came to us, and to the warlords in Theria. I can appreciate that. I don't like complex motivations - the more involved the machinations, the more likely there'll be a betrayal somewhere along the lines. Hunger, revenge, spite, destruction - they're simple things."
  157.  
  158. The more she rambled, the more it was clear she had very little intention of talking much about her hometown - still, she'd humor him at least slightly. "It doesn't matter much, Dun. That was a whole lifetime ago. I was born to a wealthy family - the first magi anyone there had ever seen in several generations. The stars called to me, and I answered."
  159.  
  160. A pause.
  161.  
  162. "Except the star with the strongest pull was a black one - a dying void star, though I didn't know it at the time. That's when I learned that there's really no choice involved in what life gives you. It doesn't matter what my plans were - scholar, doctor, what-have-you. All that matters is what the world decided I'd be. That is the only thing that matters abotu my hometown, Dun. That one little lesson."
  163. (Eudocia Mimés)
  164. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  165.  
  166.  Eudocia Mimés says, "--Ah."
  167.  
  168.  "I was an idealist, once. More a fool then than I am now as the clown. I trusted easily, and saw the best in people. And as I lost pieces of my body and my mind day by day, I smiled a smile faker than this mask and tolerated it all. Suppose then I felt it was noble, now I realize it was merely apprehension. The first time I had a taste of revenge in truth is right before you, has been the entire time."
  169.  
  170. Dun would gesture to his mask as he moved his face closer to Eudocia, her miasma of all consuming, voidy star dust seeming to not bring the clown fear as matched the eyeholes with Eudocia's own. If her sight with those shiny blue eyes was good enough, she might even realize only one of those eye holes glinted back. The clown would trail a finger first in a smile from cheek to cheek, before slowly to the hole that still sat burned in the upper forehead, the single true mar upon the otherwise merely musty mask's face.
  171.  
  172. "When I killed the man I hatedmost, I stole his face and was reborn a clown."
  173.  
  174. The clown would tap his mask's chin idly as he hummed to himself, glancing over Eudocia's visage as he crouched lightly down upon the wooden bar, the creaking of the strained material clear as he did so. It was a dangerous game, after all.
  175.  
  176. "I am no noble, and I am no Thunderbird. You're sharp my dear, got it in one. Perhaps I'll tell you more some day, after we've risked our lives together enough. Can't spoil the whole show by giving you the ending."
  177.  
  178. Dun would snap his fingers, an ethereal blue flame sitting upon his finger as his mask once more held upon Eudocia's visage as he perched. He appeared to be searching for something, though whether he was looking at her or through her was up to debate. Six of one, half dozen of the other.
  179.  
  180. "I don't want power, to rule Osrona, to seize its riches. All meaningless, boring things. I want to see the order brought to its knees, to know what it truly means to be powerless. And as it crumbles in upon itself, I want to be there for the punchline. Lands, riches, they'll have changed hands dozens of times in a hundred years, sand and dust in the wind. But true revenge? That is immortal, it leaves a scar upon history that cannot be mended."
  181.  
  182. The clown would mull upon Eudocia's story for a time before deigning to respond, he seemed genuinely interested in the matters discussed at the least.
  183.  
  184. "I was poor, you were rich, and here we are clowns of a like coat together. The past is irrelevant, you are right, only what we make of it. Though, if it was truly a dying, void of space in the heavens that called for you..."
  185.  
  186. Dun would snap his fingers, the wooden railing somehow breaking on command as the clown's black sabatons thudded delicately to the ground fully standing.
  187.  
  188. "Then it just means they knew you were going to be a star. What better reason would a dying star have for calling out to you, if not to find a replacement? This whole world, it's a big goddamn circus, everyone plays their parts and pretends it's not a show. But real actors realize entertainment is all that matters, and we will play our part, my dear Eudocia. Someone has to work the crowds."
  189. (Dun)
  190. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  191.  "Frankly," she said, sliding away from the railing just in case it chose to shatter at that point - she was so thin that a piece of stray wood going through her leg would probably actually cause massive amounts of damage, more than any normal magi would be affected by it - "It doesn't actually matter who you are, beneath the mask. Actual identities don't matter," she said. "Most witches use fake names, even."
  192.  
  193. Her hands went to her pockets then.
  194.  
  195. "It's funny that you came to that conclusion about the stars so quickly, though. It took nearly ten years for me to realize that Kenos chose me to succeed it," she said. "I thought it was trying to kill me. And then I thought doing this to me was just a 'test' - but... no. It was suffering and dying too," she told him, "And all cosmic magi are sympathetic to their star, when you get down to it. Kenos had nothing to do with this. And... it really did want me to succeed."
  196.  
  197. And she did.
  198.  
  199. "...Anyway," she muttered, gaze shifting to the door, "I should answer that. We had some politics to tend to, I think."
  200. (Eudocia Mimés)
  201. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  202.  Dun says, "Yes, we can chat later. It's been pure pleasure my dear."
  203.  
  204. The clown would leave Moonfall that evening with a sense of strange companionship. Since the first day he'd adorned the mask, his rapport with Eudocia had been pleasant, it seemed now with his dual life in Theria that the persona of Dun felt more substantial. There was no false life to present, only the real one in his ambitious determination to rise to power as a warlord. His fellow former jester had big plans, and she new how to stir chaos with the best of them.
  205.  
  206. He could do nothing less than achieve new heights of power to aid in her machinations, they were a duo act. It would be one nightmare of a circus.
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