Author Topic: Winds of memories (Cata RP Character background stories)  (Read 2359 times)

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The snap of a large book being closed with some force startled Victor from his own reading and had him checking to make sure Thomas had not been stirred from his tenuous slumber. Fortunately he had not and with that settled, Victor made his quiet way to the study where he knew Helen would be hard at work trying to solve a problem that she herself had not thought a real problem until the night before.

"Is everything alright?" He asked while gently knocking on the door frame. Helens head swiveled as though on a well oiled bearing and looked at him hard for a long moment. She looked exhausted.

"Yes Victor…" she finally sighed, "Just… I don't think any of the books in our possession have any answers for me." She stood and began the laborious task of picking up her study material to file back onto their shelves. Some of them, Victor noted, rather obscure or downright obsolete texts. Alchemy books, times on blood magic, an arcanists treatise on golemancy and craft magic. Even some of Victor's own notes on certain subjects he had been more interested in during that vague hazy time before he met Helen. From the theme of the materials, Victor could easily deduce what had been bothering her. Or rather, who.

"Is it really that important Helen? I mean, if you can't find anything on it then-" He began to question. Helen spun on him, momentarily giving him the look of the mage hunter and not the look of the woman who'd given birth to his child. Then it softened back to the kindly stern face he knew so we'll.

"I need to know Vic, if the knowledge of her creation were to fall into the wrong hands it could be catastrophic. Can you imagine some blood mage creating even one homunculus like branches? A homunculus that can think and act for itself, can heal by packing it's wounds with dirt, is as strong as a truck, and can replicate itself with just a little bit of clay?" She exclaimed, lecturing just a tiny bit. The issue had pressed on Helen more than she cared to admit before, but now...

"If it existed," Victor suggested, "You would have found it by now. You… we have one of the largest intact collections of arcane knowledge, that we know of, in the world." He said this with an accompanying sweep of his arm over the shelves upon shelves of books in the study. The room was small, but even compared to the most well established arcanist convent or blood mage hideout who's entire collections usually only consisted of a few well thumbed volumes on one small shelf in a secure room somewhere…

Helen pulled another book down, one she'd already read, and Victor stopped her with a hand on her elbow. There was a factor that Helen wasn't taking into account. Whether because of a lack of understanding or a refusal to believe, she wasn't taking into account the creator. Illiana D'eva D'oris. Helen had dismissed the bizarre woman as merely a powerful trickster spirit, but Victor had not. Victor had a flexible imagination. A flexible imagination and at the time a wiped memory. He had not interacted with the woman, but he'd seen her do things and heard her claims, and Victor had been in the presence of powerful otherworldly beings before.

"Why don't you ask her?" Victor said, but Helen shook her head.

"Branches doesn't know the full details of how she was made, she has a great deal of arcane potential but her big concern is law and life. I-"

"No." Victor hushed, putting on finger on Helens lips, "Not Branches. You know who I mean."

"The spirit? But how could I possibly-"

Again Victor interrupted Helen, knowing the nature of the being he was suggesting Helen go to. "You won't have to. She'll show up herself. When every option I exhausted and it seems like there's no logical path, she'll show up."

"But if that were so, why isn't she here now?" Helen asked. Victor shrugged, maybe there were still options out there. Instead, he took the book from her and set it aside before wrapping an arm around her waist.

"A very good question, but one for tomorrow. You're exhausted and need rest now. Come on to bed." He said kindly, leading Helen off to her bed where she fell into a dreamless sleep the second her head hit the pillow.

The next morning, Helen put off her research in favor of unwinding a bit.Victor was probably right, now that the morning had come and sleep had washed away a few of her doubts. It gave her time to think, but in her thoughts she found that she had unconsciously ended up crossing the road into Branches part of the woods. Why had she done that? The original plan, from her perspective, had been to take a walk over the hall’s ruined fields to see if there might be something they could do to restore them. The devastation from Branches flight through the woods had settled somewhat but the smell of fresh pine tar was still strong in the air. Helen gave the inactive golem another once over, noting once again the crudity of the design and the flaws in it’s construction. Branches was, it seemed, just as confused as to the makeup of her own creations as Illiana was.

Helen found her way to a pair of stone posts that hadn’t been here before at the edge of Branches clearing, marking the entrance to the center of her “domain.” It was pleasant, the clearing, but Branches seemed to be absent. The ruins of the bandit camp had been neatly picked up and haphazardly tossed into two piles. One a messy wreck of obvious trash, and the other, a pile of usable scraps. She also had to admit, what the homunculus had done with the bandit leaders yurt was fairly impressive. The frame had been sunk into a pit and covered over with clay. The roof had remained as it was, heavy canvas that Branches had covered in cedar boughs and tarp.

Helen was getting ready to go back, when she caught movement from the two scrap piles. A length of town canvas was slithering out and weaving itself around a mix of splintered fiberglass rods and broken camp gear. A sheath of mud engulfed the moving mess and formed into the rough shape of a woman, the canvas continuing to move into strategic places on the “doll” and shifting in color. Before long, the familiar form of the Deus Ex stood before the Mage Hunter.

“Good morning Ms. McKinnon.” She said, sounding a bit put off, “It seems I’m not quite allowed to abscond from this reality at my desired time as of yet.”

“I guess Victor was right, and I’ve come to such an impasse that there really is no other option left to me.” Helen mused, watching Illiana with the unease she reserved for strange obscure entities.

“Indeed. Come, come, let’s have a seat inside. Branches is currently away, disappointing me with her life decisions. I wish she’d gone to you instead, but I digress.” Illiana grumbled. The small door to Branches home swung silently open, invitingly even. “She won’t be back for quite some time, too busy getting more advice from Roxanne and making eyes at… bah…”

For all of her, Helen was drawn to do as she was asked. She had no interest in looking through Branches home while she was away, but all the same it seemed she was going to be doing so. As for what Illiana had said about Roxanne or “making eyes,” she had no idea and a compulsion not to ask. A question for another day, and perhaps to be directed towards the homunculus.

“You have a question, and I have an answer, though you will probably assume I’m playing some trick on you. Go ahead and ask.” Illiana said impatiently. Helen wasn't sure what to say at all that, or where to start, and so she just cut straight to the meat of the matter.

"Is it possible for other people to make constructs like Branches?"

"No." Illiana said with a dismissive flick of her hand, then sighed, "No it is not Ms. McKinnon. Branches is a homunculus, no doubt, but not the sort you are familiar with. How do I put this in a way that sounds believable?" There came a long silence between them in which Helen had time to appreciate the rustic trappings of Branches home. No carpenter was the homunculus, but creation clearly ran in her blood. With the thought formed, Helen found Illiana was grinning knowingly at her. "I suppose that's as good a place to start as any. Creation does indeed run in her, if only I'd been aware of what would happen when I made her. It only makes sense to start at the beginning, or at least very close to it. Go on and have a seat on one of Branches mats, she won't mind."

Helen considered, then did as she was told. She had a feeling that this would all be new to her and indeed, it was.

"In the beginning," Illiana intoned, "the earth was flat. But not flat as I know you are thinking, I mean that it was utterly devoid of detail. A sphere floating in space adorned in an endless plain of grasses and trees. Dirt and flat red rock. No mountains, no hills, no rivers or canyons or lakes or oceans. All very interesting. It was not however devoid of movement. Every cycle, a spark would ignore the plain, and the rains would come and put it out. The earth would churn and mix the fertile ash with the hardy soil, and the wind would bring upon it the seeds of another generation. So it went for ages upon ages until one day, the Earth did not churn. Fires passion came and it's kiss burned away the grasses and trees, then the rains came and poured their love upon the ash, soaking it into a hard cast upon which the winds seeds could not take root. The wind saw what had happened, and asked of the fire and water why they had done what they'd done. To this, they responded that twas not their doing, twas the earth. The earth had not churned, had not mixed and shackled the fires passions with its staunch practicality. The rains had come then and blindly poured their love onto what had been left in the fires wake. Passion unchained, love without sense.

So the wind took up a waterlogged branch of charcoal, and descended into the earth to show it what had been wrought by it's inactivity. For many days and many nights, the fire and rains waited. Then upon the dawning of the fifth day, the wind emerged from the earth bearing with it something new. It was small and moved about on four limbs. Before long, it was tilling the ash into the earth with its front limbs, and moving about on its back limbs. The wind brought seeds, and it planted them in fertilized soil. The rains brought their showers and the creature watched. When the rain had passed, it gathered up the puddled water and followed the flame as it went, sousing it whenever the fire grew overeager. When night fell, it built more like itself and in the morning the wind would come and blow the breath of potential into them. In time, they grew more defined, bodies taking on more shapes and sizes and colors. They developed hands and feet. Eyes with which to see and mouths to speak. They tilled the soil, but did so without the finesse of the earth. Instead, they gave the labor their own touches of creativity. They filled the soil and moved it aside to make the rolling hills. Loose stones were gathered up or pulled from the depths of the earth and used to build the mountains. They dug trenches and filled them with water, creating the first rivers and canyons. They sorted the trees and plants and created biomes. Life sprang forth, and the world filled with it. The creatures born from the earth sorted them as well, inhabiting the regions of the world with their own special uniqueness and spreading the soul of fire and water, the heart of the earth, and the soul and unlimited potential of the blowing wind.

Helen was enthralled and for a a few moments, didn't realize that the Deus ex had stopped talking.

"Well? What happened next in this creation myth of yours?" She asked. Illiana seemed introspective, lost in thought until finally.

"They faded away. They seeded the world as we know it and then simply returned to the soil from which they came. That's not to say they didn't develop a culture or even a uniform shape, had their own superstitions about things like eyes and types of stone or soil, but mostly they shaped the world as we know it. Besides, I've told you a much simplified version of events and didn't go into the love affair between the wind queen and the stone king that began the whole chain of events."

"I thought you said there was nothing alive before?" Helen asked. She settled quickly, understanding that creation stories were often like this. Leaving out small details, as any "history" would often do.

"Of course silly, but can the wind be said to truly be 'alive?' Or the earth? Or fire?" Illiana shot back casually. Helen thought about it. Taking the question from the average standpoint, no, but if you thought about it spiritually… "It is a hard question isn't it? However you want to look at it, you wanted to know if it was possible that someone else could make a being like Branches. The story I told should illustrate that beings like her did once exist, but they were created by powerful beings. Sure, they multiplied themselves, but the wind had to give them a breath of potential before they actually moved around at all. Branches is a creation of my will, the will of an omnipotent godlike being possessing just the tiniest touch of my own Deus Ex Potentia." Illiana scanned the room looking around at everything Branches had accomplished in her short shot at life, basking in the experience of pride. Then stood, reached out, and flipped one of the polaroids on Branches windowsill onto its face. "I just wish she wouldn't squander it so… It's been fun Helen, but I really must be going. I've told you enough to get those brain gears moving. More than enough to fulfill my purpose. Remember to remind Branches to get Roxanne to her arbitration next month would you? Thanks. Ta!"

There was no flash, no flourish. Before Helen could rise, the strange purple haired woman in the business suit simply opened the front door, strode out, and vanished. With that, Helen was left alone in the small house by the lake.

Helen ruminated for a long time on the story before deciding that most of it was probably well thought out bunk. Branches was no more some kind of "Proto Homunculus" than Helen was a red mage. She was still thinking on it, when the subject of her pondering pushed her way into the shack, and stopped.

"Um… What are you doing in my house?" She asked nervously. Still afraid of Helen. Probably always would be on some level. Helen made some excuse and stayed a bit longer for tea, which Branches seemed to have picked up a like of. While they sipped, Helen saw her take notice of the turned down photo and flip it back up. It featured mainly Hector, but standing uncomfortably close to his side was the Homunculus looking like she was about to catch fire from nervousness. Helen considered for a long time after she left and wondered why she hadn't just told Branches that the woman she'd gone to for advice was playing her, then let it go. She needed to learn about life, and whether it turned out for better or worst, Branches would need to learn this lesson on her own.
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