OT: Tales of AU – Issues and Invitations

on July 29, 2013 in Other Tales, Tales of AU


I think I manage to squeak out some approximation of “excuse me” before fleeing out of the room. In my haste to get away, I don’t stop at my room… it’s too new to really register as mine. I keep going until I reach the door at the end of the hall… the bathroom.

Oh, well. At least that will give everyone a plausible reason for my sudden flight… well, less plausible to anyone who understands the implications of my semi-mortality, but my money says that if someone suddenly flies out of a room and makes a bee-line for the nearest restroom, few people will want to know the exact details.

Putting some distance between me and the triggering situation helps a little but all by itself, but the main reason for getting out of there was to prevent myself from doing something I’d regret, with preventing anyone from seeing that struggle being a close second.

Everyone has to grapple with their inner demons from time to time. Mine is pretty well under control, but the problem is it’s not metaphorical. The other problem is the outer demon, which tends to reflect the inner one.

Demons are superficially indistinguishable from humans, their designated prey. It’s part of how they work. This works to my advantage when it comes to blending in… the demon half seamlessly mingles with the human half. Looking half-demon I just look human.

But if you saw me when I’m angry…

Well, you wouldn’t necessarily conclude that I was demonic. People do get mad. They go red in the face and contort with rage. This is a thing that happens. If you didn’t know what I was… and I managed to avoid starting a fire or pulverizing whatever I was holding… you’d think I just had issues.

If you did know, chances are you’d think you were watching the run-up to a full-on, all-out demonic rampage. This was a lesson I’d learned more than once growing up. And of course, everyone in the room knew I was a half-demon… I’d just told them that a few seconds before.

I’ve learned to control my anger, to mask it and choke it down, out of necessity, but sometimes things take me by surprise. I’d been braced for just about any reaction to my announcement, but I hadn’t expected to be so affected by the golem girl’s brief introduction… that had come out of nowhere.

I’m pretty sure I made it out of there before anyone could make too much of my reaction. I might have given myself a reputation as a bit of a spazz, but I can deal with that. I just have to regain a little composure and then go back in.

I take a deep breath and head for one of the sinks. I’ve never done anything so theatrical as splashing cold water on my face, but a mirror can be handy… generally, the amount of control needed to force my face into a non-threatening look of calm tranquility is exactly equal to the amount needed to actually calm down.

Standing around trying to will myself to not be angry about something rarely does anything because I’m focusing on the thing that made me angry in the first place. I’ve never been very good at meditation… my mother’s original prescription for my adolescent rage… because there’s nothing to distract me and my thoughts just chase themselves around in circles. Focusing on my outward appearance shifts my attention to something else, though, and it usually works.

It isn’t necessary this time, though… the sight of Alea over my shoulder startles me out of it as soon as I look in the mirror.

“My apologies,” she said. “The intention behind my approach was not to startle you… I am still not used to the reality of mirrors.”

“You don’t use them?” I asked.

“They have their places, but are not as prevalent in our society,” she said. “Mirrors reflect light.”

“I’ve noticed I can’t see as much in a mirror as I can in the room when the lights are out,” I said.

“In any case, I’m sorry for intruding on what might have been a private moment… I thought you might have been distressed by the golem’s plight.”

“I wasn’t distressed,” I said. “I was angry. I have… anger management issues.”

Alea laughs. It’s a beautiful sound, which does a lot to salve the wound it inflicts. If anyone else had laughed at me at that moment, it probably would have led to a worse flare-up than the one I’d narrowly averted.

“It isn’t a joke,” I say.

“Of course not,” she says. “But my life may be… that phrase is a very good approximation for what was said to me, shortly before my parting for the surface. I have ‘anger management issues’ as well… anger often causes us to do things in haste that we regret at our leisure.”

“If regret was the biggest consequence, I would have stayed in the room,” I say. “Regret I can live with.”

“I would think regret implies that some other consequence exist to be regretted,” Alea says. “But I doubt you’re in a mood to argue semantics with someone who is still learning the language.”

“As moods go, there are worse ones,” I say. “Thanks for your concern, Alea… for future reference, though, if I run off like that, it may not be safe to follow me.”

“I didn’t assume it would be this time,” she says. “I know little of the nature of demonkind, but I have heard stories.”

“And you came anyway?”

“I have heard stories of ‘drow’, as well,” she says.

“I… I’ve also heard those stories,” I admit. “I have to admit, I don’t know much about your actual culture.”

“I am still learning new things about it, myself,” she says. “The only thing I can say with certainty is that we are neither monsters nor angels.”

“That’s not exactly a rousing defense.”

“If I am to fight against any preconception my people are held to, the one that we more so than most need a defense would be the keystone I would attack,” she says.

“I was actually thinking of myself,” I say. “I need to be more than ‘not a monster’… I need people to see me as a person.”

“Then I believe we are, as they say, on the same page,” she says. “And I think your righteous anger at the golem’s plight does you more credit than you believe.”

“I’m not sure how righteous it was,” I say. “I don’t know her story… for all I know, I was completely overreacting. Maybe that’s just the way she sounds?”

“I do not believe you were,” she says. “My heart ached at her voice… I do not believe any living creature is meant to sound like that, and if she was indeed designed, then her designer has done her at least one disservice.”

“Yeah, I’m kind of grasping at straws… I just don’t want to get pissed off again thinking about how bad it could be.”

“Then perhaps the solution would be to acquaint yourself with the reality of her situation,” Alea says.

“That won’t stop me from getting mad.”

“No, but you will at least know that it is justified.”

There’s a knock at the door, which opens a crack.

“Is everything okay in here?”

I kind of expect it to be Kiersta since checking up on us would be the R.A.’s place, but it doesn’t sound like her.

“We are perfectly well,” Alea replies.

“Sorry to barge in, then,” Demeter says, opening the door all the way. “Uh, one of my charges thought that something was wrong, but to be honest, they don’t really understand people all that well. This little experiment is meant to help there, but I expect there to be a lot of little miscommunications and misunderstandings along the way.”

“I have no doubt that you will find yourself to be correct,” Alea says.

“Thank you!” Demeter says, without a hint of awareness. “On that subject, I shouldn’t be leaving them unsupervised in a room full of people for much longer, so you’ll have to excuse me.”

“She’s… something,” I say, after the door has swung closed.

“She is indeed,” Alea agrees.

“And so are you,” I say. “But I mean that in a good way. You’ve obviously mastered sarcasm faster than a lot of people who were born here.”

“My previous… my former lover often commented on the wickedness of my tongue,” she says. “Though it often landed me in trouble, it was not always a complaint. She was… you would say she was high-born, and she had a very insular upbringing. She had a difficult time doing anything that you would be likely to recognize as flirting, which made it all the more affecting when she attempted. But it also meant that I had to do a certain amount of… pursuing, even when it wasn’t quite seemly for me to do so. I wonder now if that was worth the trouble.”

“She must have seemed worth it, at the time,” I say.

“She did,” Alea says. “She certainly did… even still, I’m not sure that I would do it again, for her or for anyone.”

“Once bitten, twice shy?”

“An apt saying,” Alea says. “Yes, Kegan… I think I’ve had enough of pursuit for the time being. I think I would like to find out what it feels like to be pursued.”

I’m still trying to figure out what the hell to say to that when she glides out of the bathroom.

It takes me an embarrassing amount of time to realize what she means for me to do.


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29 Responses to “OT: Tales of AU – Issues and Invitations”

  1. Webbonomicon says:

    Awww…

    Current score: 2
  2. pedestrian says:

    Yep, yessir, indeedy….

    My wife thought it was hilarious that at a party or other event, some woman would be coming on to me. Doing everything but semaphore flags and I would be standing there totally oblivious.

    “Huh?”
    “You know, that brunette who kept draping herself all over you while you were trying to talk to Joe and Marge?”
    “I just figured she was getting pushed into me by the crowd. I thought it was strange she kept interrupting. Wait. Wasn’t she trying to talk to Marge?”
    “Uhh, Nooo! Wake up and smell the pheromones, you big goof.”

    So, does this mean Kegan and I are related? Small Multiverse indeed.

    Current score: 0
    • Luke Licens says:

      I believe the joke was to follow her out the door, not into her pants. Granted, it could be both.

      Current score: 0
    • TheEyes says:

      Hey, you were at least self-aware enough to get a wife; some of us would love to be so oblivious. 🙂

      Current score: 0
      • pedestrian says:

        Yes, I caught my wife.
        In the same sense a fish catches the hook.

        And I thought Alea was rather semaphoring her desires there.
        Interesting that she considers Mackenzie a possible mate. And that she is confident enough in her combat ability to safely interact with a half-demon.

        Did anyone else note, Alea seems to have a Subtle Art’s capability, that took Teddy a lot of effort and safety precautions to achieve?

        Current score: 2
        • Burnsidhe says:

          How so? She’s as much as said, before, that she’s learned to be very observant. And she is an elf.

          Current score: 0
  3. Luke Licens says:

    I can’t express how much I’m enjoying Tales of AU, other than “OOK!”

    Current score: 0
  4. Burnsidhe says:

    Ohh, Alea definitely has a talent for flustering people.

    Current score: 0
  5. Markas says:

    Wait…. Wan’t Alea the one of the same “sexual orientation” as Steff? and inspired Dee to give Steff the potion?

    Current score: 0
    • Adele says:

      No, Alea is female. Dehsah is “halfkind” (a mixture of male and female physical traits) which is a third sex, not a sexual orientation, and which Steff physically transitioned to.

      Sexual orientation references which populations you are attracted to, as compared to one’s own gender – not relevant in the issue of halfkind (it appears that adult dark elves are encouraged to be trisexual – love of sameness, love of otherness, love of halfness).

      Current score: 1
  6. Arkeus says:

    Dammit, i was too busy crying for the Dee/Alea’s realtionship to even notice there was something going on between Alea and Kegan.

    Poor Dee.

    Current score: 1
  7. Mo says:

    For anyone with as poor a memory as mine, here’s the previous installment: http://www.talesofmu.com/story/other/tales-of-au-introductions-inversions

    I love that Kegan thinks Flower is squinting at people simply because she doesn’t have her / any glasses.

    Alea was also a priestess initiate or novice or whatever. She might know the same spells as Dee to freeze half-demons in place. But AFAIK she’s not telepathic or telekinetic.

    Current score: 0
    • pedestrian says:

      Thanks Mo, I had forgotten that Alea had also been a priestess novice. But I still think there is a hint here that she has at least some Subtle Arts ability.

      If Flower was created with the same poor eyesight as Amaranth. And the meeting with the alien wizard who gave Amy the glasses, never occurred. Then Flower never read all those books and is just another divine nymph.

      I had thought that Flower may be Barley, who arrived at MU with her growing hostility to Amy. That Flower/Barley would still be jealous of Field/Amaranth for supplanting her in the, well, maybe not hearts and minds but the affections/erections? of the farmboys. {What, no sheep are available? Yeah,goat porn.}

      Whether Amy is Field or Flower, she would just be a divinely appointed cumdump, with all the intellect of a cow chewing her cud.

      A final thought about Alea. Obviously there was a major political shakeup/maybe violent back home. Now, here she is on what amounts to basically exile to an alien world. She can pretty much cut loose and construct her own future with minimal interference from Home authorities.

      Which could explain her interest in Kegan, someone who is also alienated from her own society, though not to the degree of Mackenzie.
      Alea shrewdly figures a partnership that could complement each others strengths and makeup for each others weaknesses, would improve both their chances of survival in a hostile land.

      Current score: 0
      • Glenn says:

        Both Flower and Field must be well enough educated to pass the University’s entrance exams. And why would the Paradise Valley farming commune pay to send them to University if they didn’t believe that their education would make them more valuable? And notice what Demeter said:

        “Uh, one of my charges thought that something was wrong, but to be honest, they don’t really understand people all that well.”

        One of her “charges” showed a better understanding of what was going on than Demeter, because something really was wrong.
        One of the major themes of Book 1 of Tales of MU was the subject of racism. I think it’s pretty obvious that the ‘domesticated’ nymphs are a lot more capable than Demeter currently believes.

        Current score: 0
        • Burnsidhe says:

          This assignment could well be a ‘life experience’ for Demeter too. Sooner or later, her assumptions about Amaranth and Barley’s capabilities is going to bite her in the ass.

          Especially if the nymphs run into a certain other druid teacher, one who’s more worldly and capable of teaching the nymphs how to read and talk the human language.

          Current score: 0
      • Seajewel says:

        I thought the implication was that Amy wasn’t allowed to wear her glasses out. Yu could be right that she’s never been allowed glasses, but in any case nearsightedness doesn’t mean inability to read. As the other commenter pointed out, Field and Flower both are in school at least.

        Current score: 0
      • Cadnawes says:

        “Whether Amy is Field or Flower, she would just be a divinely appointed cumdump, with all the intellect of a cow chewing her cud.”

        Really?

        Books give education, not intellect. And I’m not sure you meant it that way, but that’s some serious slut shaming you’ve got radiating off that post.

        Current score: 0
        • pedestrian says:

          C, you are correct. My intention was to shame the divine entities who create without concern for the consequences to creating intelligent beings, then deliberately limiting their capacity for self-empowerment. Is this not why we are infatuated with Ms Godmurder?

          See TWO’s history for an example. I am of the opinion that My innate low opinion of programmers, will not be improved by the development of Artificial Intelligence.

          And, as for the eugenics driven label of Homo Sapient & Sentient. I think we are a lot less ‘wise’ then our bloated ego’s are willing to acknowledge. I think we have very little free will and basically are running on instinct more then forethought.

          Current score: 0
  8. Karen says:

    I would love it if there could be a way that the Previous link goes back to the Previous in the series–the AU in this case.

    Current score: 0
  9. Zathras IX says:

    Those who fail to keep
    A check on their appetites
    Get consumed by them

    Current score: 0
    • pedestrian says:

      Truism Z.

      Is there such a action as excessive moderation?

      Current score: 0
  10. Erm says:

    “I’ve noticed I can’t see as much in a mirror as I can in the room when the lights are out”

    This one’s interesting. I guess MackKegan’s dark-vision isn’t based on light.

    Current score: 0
    • Fnark says:

      I’m remembering some description of MUniverse darkvision that has it as literal vision based on darkness. Which is obviously only something that works in a universe with a relationship to traditional physics as darkness has to light.

      Current score: 0
  11. Fnark says:

    I am exceedingly interested in these developments.

    Current score: 0
  12. Lunaroki says:

    Typo Report

    Putting some distance between me and the triggering situation helps a little but all by itself, but the main reason for getting out of there

    That first “but” doesn’t belong.

    Current score: 0
  13. Whataslacker says:

    Loving Tales of AU!

    Current score: 0
  14. Whataslacker says:

    What no tag for AU? Need one so we can easily re-read/catch up.

    Current score: 0
    • zeel says:

      Quite.

      Current score: 0
    • Seajewel says:

      Agreed. the character tags used at the beginning were great for this but they’ve been left out in the last few installments.

      Current score: 0