A tale of artists, intrigue, and the magical renaissance

7.05 – Effectio {Realizations}

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***

Two weeks ago

“Great-having are the dangers of warring of Ottoman and Italoza, yet small-having the concern?” the Storm had adopted a pose that Elena recognized as a look of frustration, his hood resting on one hand, and the speckles that made up his being buzzing agitatedly. Elena sighed and rose from her seat and crossed the room to the bookshelves that lined one wall.

“It’s not that we don’t worry about war,” she said, tilting her head to one side to read along the spines, “especially the rulers, they’re very conscious that a battle could break out between Italoza and the Ottoman Empire. It’s just that we’ve been at odds with them for so long that it’s hard to keep up the same level of tension.”

None of the titles of the books made them seem very helpful, especially those that were in a different language, but Elena continued reading, confident. The library of the dreamworld seemed to constantly shift between the many rooms of the huge ship, such that she hadn’t ever seen a book on the same shelf twice in a row. However, she discovered that as long as she kept reading along the list of titles on any given shelf…

“Here we are,” Elena said, plucking a large volume out, “A History of the Ottoman Empire, this will probably give you a higher-level view of the tensions, after I leave.”

The Storm took the book from her somberly but without comment, and she shifted uncomfortably. Despite her many long hours, there were still times when she had no idea how to read the Storm’s expressionless face, and it made her feel as if he was expecting something from her that she didn’t know how to provide. After a few moments of his silence, Elena’s discomfort was even more pronounced.

“I actually think we’ve been working long enough that I’ll be waking up fairly soon,” she added awkwardly, “maybe it’s better if you start reading now?”

“-can’t be expected to give everyone my attention and time, now can I?” Midora’s voice announced her approach to the little room, and Marsillo’s answering chuckle marked his presence as well. Elena couldn’t help but breathe a sigh of relief at the interruption when the young girl with no features but a grin opened the door. “Excuse me, Lord Avatar of the Storm, I don’t wish to interrupt your meeting, I know it’s important, but it’s almost morning and Marsillo and I were wondering if we could steal while she’s still asleep?”

“With book occupying has the girl gifted me time-takings,” the Storm waved a hand vaguely.

“Was that a ‘yes’?” Midora stage-whispered to Elena.

“I’ll see you again the next time I’m here,” Elena said to the Storm, but he was already engrossed in the book she had given him, and he didn’t answer. “Where are you taking me?” she asked as she followed Midora and Marsillo down the dark hallway of the ship.

“The destination isn’t the important part,” Marsillo smiled over his shoulder at her. Although he had no arms to distribute the weight, he kept one detached hand pressed against the side of the ship walls for support as it pitched and rolled, “the important part is actually being able to talk to you.”

I’m going above decks, because down below is dark and dreary,” Midora said firmly, “but as Marsillo said, the Avatar has been monopolizing your time for months!”

“I’m sorry, he says it’s important…” Elena mumbled.

“No apology needed!” Midora said, “we don’t blame you, but it’s meant we haven’t been able to talk to you since you started ruling Milia.”

Elena dropped her gaze, watching Marsillo’s fancy boots and Midora’s fancy shoes rather than meeting their occasional glance over their shoulder, “someone else is the Princeps…” she said.

“We know how puppet governments work, dear,” Marsillo chuckled, “honestly, there are pros and cons, but I applaud rising to your position so young. I hadn’t even run a single bank yet at your age, and I received most of my control from my family.”

“Marsillo is right. Even with our help, and with Little One co-ruling, it’s an impressive feat,” Midora said, “and even better for us, it means we don’t have to deal with Little One when dealing with Milia!”

“Dealing with Milia?” Elena stopped, startled. Midora and Marsillo were going to ‘deal with’ her city? What did that mean? Raid it? Conquer it? Why would they tell her, giving her warning to prepare?

“Prince Langone was always so reluctant and paranoid, so careful,” Marsillo said, “he made a habit of refusing any dealings with the Favero family without any consideration. I can’t tell you how relieved I am to have someone on the throne who will be more accepting of our proposals.”

Elena relaxed a little bit, but the explanation itself brought up worries. She bit her lip and steeled herself as the little group reached the stairs up to the deck. “I’m not just going to accept any proposal you make,” she said after a brief silence, “I’m still going to do what’s best for Milia.”

“A businesswoman at heart, my kind of girl,” Midora turned and flashed Elena a grin so wide that seemed as if it should split her head.

“I can respect that, you needn’t worry,” Marsillo said. “We Twisted don’t use our connections to the disadvantage of our responsibilities.”

“How does it work, then?” Elena asked.

“All our connections mean is that we can plan together, work together, scheme without outside influence muddling the waters with distrust and sedition. Far from ruining cities, we make them better. The outside world sees Rimi and Florenzia and Venecchi and Ferrire all as loosely affiliated city-states under the rule of a king, and they wonder why it works so well, why there is such cohesion and cooperation. They do not see the little family here, weaving webs to keep them together.”

“Speaking of weaving, we really need to discuss your place in the Faberi Guild,” Midora broke in, “we should construct you some decoy-Storm, but I think it would be good for you to be associated to the Faberi Guild at large, and I can do that for you.”

“I get the prestige and the legitimacy of being one of the highest Master Faberi…and your guild gets the prestige of a Milian counsel member as one of its members?” Elena asked.

“You see, you do understand how it works!”

 

***

 

“Fulvio!” Midora leaned forward in her seat on the mountaintop, somehow managing to look betrayed with only a mouth, “you’re the King’s Spymaster and you never told us?”

“I don’t understand,” Marsillo said, “you’ve always been reticent, Fulvio, but you hadn’t ever struck me as the type to withhold assistance from us.”

“I’m the master of spies, of actions that occur beneath the cover of night,” Fulvio said contemptuously, “I hardly need to announce my intentions to provide assistance. Each of you has benefited greatly from my help over the time I’ve known you, you’ve just attributed it to luck.” Fulvio slowly turned to address those seated around him individually, “the crash of last year,” he said to Marsillo, “…the brothel fire…” he said to Midora, “…the unexplained slip in supplyline…” he said to Lord Waldren, “…the accidental fall of Count Atticus…” he said to Master Coastering, “…the spilled wine-”

“I knew the wine was no accident,” Little One said.

“Prellia’s well-timed illness and miraculous recovery…” Fulvio continued, turning to Lucrezia, “…no one questioning Emerald’s more striking traits…” Elena’s stomach turned to ice when Fulvio turned to her.

“I thought the King’s Spymaster was a woman,” Elena hastily changed the subject.

“And you aren’t really made of puzzle pieces.”

“Enough,” the Storm broke in with a single word. The Twisted at the table turned their attention back to the flickering figure. “Soon will morning day be the taking of you, and of importance-greatest is instruction of you.”

Fulvio sat back down, and the Storm continued.

“Safety only require the progeny, yet recalcitrant of always, the havings of world yours”

“He says our world is stubborn and doesn’t like letting his children in,” Elena translated.

“Thusly echoes of reality have the progeny being. Ripples, reflections, shadows, ghosts.”

Elena didn’t bother to translate the easy line, but she did furrow her brow. The idea of the world itself keeping the Echoes out was disturbing.

“Of worth having are the Progeny greater. I always the plan-having to the Progeny-giving was this.”

“He says his children deserve so much more, and his goal has always been to give them more.”

“Of acceptance can the force-giving be, if of the authority is infused.”

“I think…I think he’s saying there is a way for the world to accept them. It respects authority. So for example…if one can rule Italoza and tell the world to let the Echoes in, Italoza will accept them in?”

The Storm nodded a single time, and Elena’s heartbeat quickened. A way for Ele to be in the world, really in the world. She could hug him, and he wouldn’t be chained to her side, he could live a real life and be his own person. Elena was so excited she almost missed the Storm’s next speech.

“Wait do the Progeny wait, sprinkled in time. Born are humans, tied are Progeny to them, then to the humans are the giftings of me to them, the Storm. With slowness was the watchings of me, top-rising the Storm humans.”

“He’s been sort of…holding the Echoes…he brought them all here at once, but some of them are waiting to be born. He’s been waiting and watching all of the Stormtouched rise to places of power,” Elena said, “as soon as an Echo is tied to us he gives us the Storm and watches us rise.”

“Accept-having will be the world, when rulings each the acceptance-giving they are, and having of the top-rising will Progeny be.”

Elena tilted her head to one side. “I…I don’t think I understand that. It sounded like he says that when Fulvio rules each country, he’ll…she’ll….Fulvio will tell the world to let the Echoes in, but then the Echoes will be in positions of political power? But Storm, won’t the Stormtouched still be in those positions?”

“Of the human-having would be concern without I,” the Storm sounded just as puzzled, “of mine the plan without clearness has been?”

“What is he saying, Elena?” Lord Waldren asked impatiently.

“He’s berating her for her slowness,” Fulvio said quietly. “She hasn’t figured it out yet.”

“Then I must be slow as well, because I don’t understand,” Marsillo said, “the Echoes become real people, why would they take the powerful positions instead of the Stormtouched?”

“If the Storm has been planning this from the beginning, it’s as simple as looking at the Storms from the beginning,” Fulvio stared at the Storm, two faceless, featureless figures locking eyeless gazes across the table, “the Lanisti and the Rhetor.”

The pieces fell together in Elena’s mind with an almost audible click, and everything went cold.

“Miss Lucc-iano, you have a look of epiphany about you,” Lord Waldren said, “please enlighten us.”

“You brought all of the Echoes through, but you only got it right at the very end, with the Lanisiti and Rhetor.” Elena whispered, “we thought they didn’t have Echoes, but that wasn’t entirely true, was it?”

“What?” Waldren asked, “Lanisti and Rhetor don’t have Echoes, everyone knows that.”

“Lanisti and Rhetor don’t have Echoes…they are Echoes,” Elena replied, her voice dull. “Somehow, without even realizing it, they’ve erased the humans and occupied the bodies instead. And the Storm wants to do the same to every Stormtouched in the world.”

***

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***

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10 responses

  1. Bart

    Yeah, this is a bad thing. And if they fight him, they lose their secret meeting place.

    Like

    2016-03-15 at 12:40 am

  2. Oak

    thanks for the chapter,
    interesting twist

    Like

    2016-03-15 at 2:25 am

  3. Sengachi

    What are the Lanisti again?

    Like

    2016-03-15 at 7:46 pm

    • Alexander Leaking Pen Hollins

      melee fighters.

      Like

      2016-03-15 at 8:18 pm

      • Sengachi

        And they don’t have Echoes? When did we learn that?

        Liked by 1 person

        2016-03-17 at 8:20 pm

        • Bart

          A very long time ago. It’s not something usually referenced, but do you remember when that woman was able to see Eli and then they found out she was a Rhetor? That storyline was quite a while ago.

          Like

          2016-03-17 at 11:54 pm

  4. Alexander Leaking Pen Hollins

    I was wondering how long this was going to take to come out! My bet is that it’s gender.

    Like

    2016-03-15 at 8:19 pm

    • Bart

      That what’s gender? Because we’ve already seen male and female rhetor and although an example doesn’t immediately come to mind I believe we’ve seen male and female lanisti as well.

      Like

      2016-03-15 at 11:54 pm

      • BlazingShotgun

        I believe they were referring to the echo-stormtouched gender disparity. I strongly hope that is not it. That would be so very stupid.

        Like

        2016-03-16 at 10:03 am

  5. xdrngy

    Well, yeah, we couldn’t really expect the Storm to have humanity’s best interests in mind. Interesting that it’d just outright say it, though. Doesn’t seem to realize the humans would care

    With all the stormtouched out there you’d think there’d be an alternate solution. What about the statues the Caelators make? Can they put echoes in there? Come to think of it, where’s that life coming from anyway?

    Liked by 1 person

    2016-03-19 at 12:38 pm

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