A tale of artists, intrigue, and the magical renaissance

3.1 – Rursum Obdormivit {Asleep Again}

Elena was excited from the moment she opened her eyes, her heart racing with nerves both positive and negative.

Today’s the day! she leapt out of bed, and almost stumbled as the ground pitched beneath her feet. Steadying herself against the wall, she looked around her with eyes still blurry with sleep, confused that she didn’t recognize her surroundings. For a terrifying moment, she wondered if the rebels had kidnapped her again, but as she tried to identify the room around her, the blue glow finally clued her in. Excited as she was for the upcoming day, she was glad to find herself in Lord Waldren’s dreamworld again, for the first time in months.

The wooden ground creaked and groaned beneath her as she moved through the decks of the dream ship, searching for where the Twisted had gathered, the blue glow shining from her core lighting her way.

The deck was almost empty when she stepped out onto it, the only figures standing in the light rain were Lord Waldren himself and Little One.

“My dearest Elena, it’s so lovely to see you again!” Lord Waldren’s customary dark cloud hung ‘round the neck of his wide black furs, but he spread his hands in a welcoming gesture, “I had hoped someone would arrive who would be better company than my current sullen companion.”

Elena glanced at Little One, who was glowering out over the railings.

“I’ll bend to your desire to confirm that I’m safe and whole,” Little One said, her childish voice raised to cover the short distance between them, “your desire to prattle, talking about nothing, is a desire I will not bend to.”

“Completely hopeless,” Lord Waldren tutted, “unable to have the slightest bit of fun.”

“How is Venecchi, Little One?” Elena asked, proud that she remembered.

Little One’s head snapped in her direction, her golden eyes narrowing. “It’s fine,” she said shortly, “Venecchi is lovely in the Rains season.”

“It won’t be Rains much longer,” Elena said happily, “before you know it, Spring will be on us!”

Little One turned back to glower across the sea without answering.

“She’s in a mood today…I mean, more than usual,” Lord Waldren sighed, “but I really just wanted to make sure all of us were safe and sound, it’s been so long.”

“Oh! I know who that figure was, the one who frightened us off before,” Elena said, “I hope you haven’t been spending this whole time trying to figure it out.”

“It’s an embodiment of the Storm, like a congealed mess of power and magic,” Lord Waldren nodded, “that much was clear after a little bit of experimentation.”

“Oh,” Elena deflated somewhat, “I thought I would be able to help.”

“Bless,” Lord Waldren chuckled, “but my main concern was that the embodiment wouldn’t harm us, or disrupt our meetings. We may not be able to cause each other harm, but who knows what something like that could do?”

“The ability to meet in dreams like this has been one of the greatest keys to our success,” the noble looking man without arms approached from behind them, resting his detached hands on the railing.

“Hello Marsillo!” Elena said, and he gave her a stately nod and a small smile in return.

“Greetings, Elena, it has been far too long.”

“Nearly three months! I owe each and every one of you an apology,” Lord Waldren said, “Elena, you most of all, trapped as you are in the Milian Court without any way of contacting the rest of us, I hope you didn’t feel too lonely!”

“I was surprised when they told me you’d left without saying goodbye,” Elena admitted, “but I’ve been so busy helping His Princeps that I’ve barely noticed the time go bye.”

“Have we put the plans in place to keep her in the courts?” Marsillo asked over her head, “from what I remember, one of us was supposed to do that.”

“The Prince seemed enamoured enough of her work to keep her there for a while,” Lord Waldren said. Elena was gratified to hear that her work for Vecellio’s network project was appreciated. Confronting Be Pullo in the dungeons had only happened a handful of months ago, but it sometimes felt as if it was the biggest contribution she’d managed to make so far.

Lord Waldren continued as she mused, “you’re right, of course. Putting things in motion for Elena will be among the many issues we must address now that we can assemble once more. It wouldn’t do to have our little cog drop back down into the studio system again.”

It was a little irksome to be talked about as if she wasn’t there, and Elena opened her mouth to say something when a pair of arms wrapped themselves around her neck.

“Friends! Fellow Twisted! I am so glad to see you all, you have no idea,” the Grinning Girl said happily, hugging Elena tight. Though she was getting slightly more accustomed to the monstrous appearance of the other Twisted, Elena was very careful to not turn around until Midora let her go. A close-up view of the girl’s blank face and too-large grin full of sharp teeth was a sight Elena didn’t need just yet.

“It’s always nice to be missed,” Marsillo said evenly.

“‘Missed’ nothing,” Midora scoffed, “I just think I’d go half mad if I had to spend another day surrounded by mindless fools and idiots without the ability to vent to you all. I swear, there is nothing more capable of braindead absurdity than a Faberi with delusions of grandeur. Faberi are a plague upon the earth.”

“Hey!” Elena protested.

For a girl without a face, Midora did an excellent impression of rolling her eyes, “I meant actual Faberi, Elena, not you. You’re a Twisted.”

Elena was still a little bothered by Midora’s statement, thinking of Owl, but her thoughts were interrupted when Lucrezia stepped through the door. Elena’s stomach lurched with disgust as the woman approached, her brown hair in a smart ponytail from which a few strands had escaped, a mild smile on her face.

“My dear Lucrezia,” Lord Waldren flung out his hands in an exaggerated gesture, “you and I have so much gossip to catch up on!”

“So much indeed,” Lucrezia laughed, and Elena took a step back to give her a wider berth as she passed, “I’m quite glad that you were able to rid your dreamworld of our mysterious guest.”

“Well, he won’t be a problem for us, but I’m afraid I wasn’t able to rid us of him,” Lord Waldren gestured out over the sea. Elena followed his gesture. The sea was made up of fuzzy waves of black and white speckles, and it was quite difficult to make out anything in the visual hiss, but she suddenly caught sight of what Lord Waldren was talking about.

The Storm stood steady in a tiny rowboat, that moved across the sea perfectly even with the ship they occupied. His arms were folded over his chest, and he was unmoving, even as his cloak and hood whipped around him, caught in a vicious wind that touched nothing else. His little boat was far away enough that Elena couldn’t see his face, but there was no question at all that he was watching them.

“Well…” Lucrezia seemed lost for words, “…that’s a bit unnerving.”

“Good morning and the greatest of salutations to you, my formidable associates,” Master Coastering announced himself as he stepped onto the deck, the ribbons that made up his face unaffected by the slight breeze on the deck.

“Morning?” Elena asked, startled.

“The hours I am in the habit of keeping are somewhat eccentric,” Master Coastering explained, “‘twas early morning when I made my way to slumber.”

“I’m afraid most of us will be departing soon,” Lord Waldren nodded, “I just felt that I should gather you as soon as I could, to assure you that all was well, to soothe any doubts-”

“To remind us all that the others are still watching, so don’t step out of line,” Little One said darkly.

“Honestly, Little One, must you turn everything so bleak and cynical?” Lord Waldren said, flustered.

“Yes.”

“Anyways, as soon as Fulvio joins us, we’ll all be able to catch up a bit. I’m sure we have much to discuss. Oh dear, it looks like we might be losing Elena already.”

“What?” Elena said, surprised.

“Don’t worry, my dear, we won’t have to wait another three months for the next time,” Lucrezia said kindly.

“Bye Elena!” Midora called, her voice sounding far off.

Someone was knocking gently on Elena’s door, and she opened her eyes to see the canopy of her bed above her. She sighed and swung her feet out of bed. It had been good to see the Twisted again, though it had been only briefly. Now that Lord Waldren was hosting the dreamworld again, she looked forward to spending more time there, relaxed and easy.

“Come in Emerald,” she called, and the Rhetor entered with a small pile of clothes and a wide smile.

“Today’s the day, I’ll bet you’re excited!” Emerald said. Elena blinked sleepily, trying to catch her bearings. There was something she had been excited for, before she had joined the Twisted in the dreamworld, but she had a little trouble grasping the thought with the fog of sleep around her.

“Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten, not when you’ve been so excited all week,” Emerald teased. By this time she was used to how useless Elena’s memory was when just waking up, and she stood in front of the bed smiling. Elena’s eyes suddenly widened, all thoughts of sleep driven from her mind. “There it is,” Emerald laughed, but Elena was already heading towards the water closet, practically skipping.

Today’s the day that Mama visits!

***

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***

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19 responses

  1. Craziness and business going on for me this weekend, I’m afraid, as you can probably tell from the size of the chapter! This is the third-shortest chapter in all of Twisted Cogs so far, but I figured a short chapter was better than a cancellation. Short as it is, I liked writing some interaction we haven’t really seen much of, and I figured if it made me smile, it’d make others smile as well.

    Hope you enjoy it, length notwithstanding!

    Like

    2015-07-19 at 11:14 pm

    • Stormblessed

      Why is your name different?

      Like

      2015-07-20 at 12:01 am

      • There was a weird little point in time after I published Twisted Cogs book 1 (under my real name) where I would interact online as both my “Maddirose” and “Llama” handles. Since I felt like this was more confusing than anything, I decided to move all of my SFW interaction to the “Llama” and keep all of my NSFW interaction under “Maddi”. That way people who only want to follow my SFW materials (hi siblings!) can do so without stumbling onto things they’d rather not see :)

        Like

        2015-07-23 at 4:02 pm

        • Well, llamas rock! Some of them even get to rule kingdoms because they are so cool.

          Like

          2015-07-24 at 1:53 am

  2. Oh, this will be good.

    And probably horrible. But also good.

    Liked by 2 people

    2015-07-20 at 12:04 am

    • Horribly good? Terribly terrific? And, don’t forget… super-awkward. ;P

      Like

      2015-07-20 at 4:34 am

    • …huh. I just got a notification that I liked my own comment. I don’t remember pressing that button…

      Like

      2015-07-20 at 8:24 am

      • Seems like a healthy appreciation of your own awesomeness, to me. I see no problem here.

        Like

        2015-07-23 at 4:03 pm

  3. Oh not her.

    Like

    2015-07-20 at 12:21 am

    • AvidFan

      ^

      Like

      2015-07-20 at 5:28 am

    • Cant we just burn her or something and be over with it?

      Like

      2015-07-20 at 11:49 am

    • CK

      Elena: “This will we wonderful!”
      Readers: “NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!”

      Like

      2015-07-21 at 1:46 am

      • CK

        *be

        Like

        2015-07-21 at 1:46 am

      • I think we all dislike Domenico (did I get his name right?) but if he decides to have a… word with Elena’s mum, well… I’m not complaining.

        Like

        2015-07-21 at 1:48 am

  4. Fhoenix

    Oh joy.

    Like

    2015-07-20 at 8:48 am

  5. Jeff W

    Well, I just read through this whole story in about a day and I have to say I am quite upset. I knew I would be, though. I always am when I have to stop reading a story this good.

    Seriously, Twisted Cog is fantastic. I am definitely adding it to my list of series to follow. Keep up the good work!

    Like

    2015-07-23 at 12:23 am

    • d’aw, how sweet! I’m glad you’re enjoying it so far, and also that you had a little bit of backlog to get through before you caught up :)

      Like

      2015-07-23 at 4:04 pm

  6. AceOfSpade

    Damn I caught up… at least it look like the next chapter will be posted soon so that’s a happy coincidence.

    This story is so good, but godammit I get that Elena’s innocence is one of her most important quality but when is she going to understand how horrible her mother is?? I’m calling it right now: Mama is going to find something to complain about and humiliate her in front of everybody because her daughter will never be doing everything right in her eyes, that woman’s delusions of grandeur are so huge it borders on insanity.

    Like

    2015-07-25 at 6:39 pm

  7. Okay, THIS is the one I’m taking a break at.

    Damn you, Twisted Cogs! I’m supposed to be not binge-reading.

    Like

    2015-08-31 at 12:29 pm

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