Contradiction in Terms
You say to-may-toe; I say toh-mah-tah. Deal with it.
Saturday, September 18, 2004

Isle Notes: episode eight

Admetus Darque, a.k.a. 'Addy'
Michael: an apprentice Baker
the Vagabond Emilia Corezze: Elana and Ellis's aunt; Eliandra's sister
the Jeweler Hector Corezze: Elana and Ellis's father; Master Jeweler of the Dream-Isle
the Bearer Rico: a rickshaw-driver
the Herald Eliandra Corezze: Elana and Ellis's mother; Third Herald of the Dream-Isle
Amaranth: the Keeper of Graves; a black-haired woman dressed in shades of gray
the Rich Man Lord Manuel: a rank three Rich Man; a.k.a. 'Uncle Manny', Elana and Ellis's godfather; a red-haired man in his fifties
the Rich Man Criseltha Boromant: a rank two Rich Man, perhaps 16 years old
the Poet Lord Vio Martell: Ellis's fiance; son of the Master Poet of the Dream-Isle
the Poor Man Barus
the Barber Tarlun
Gabriel Mansuetude, a.k.a. “Gabby”
the Thief Lysander

Rulers of the Dream-Isle
The Lady of the Isle
Lord Kestrel, Master of the Sky: dwells in Eyrie
Lord Cerdon, Master of the Rings: dwells in the castle called Bulwark
Master Darque, the Master of the Undercity: dwells in Night's House

Past Rulers of Isle
the thirteenth Widow
the Lover: a curly-haired man in gold and dark blue
the Lyric
the Bastard Bassanio

Part One

After the presumed catastrophic awakening of the Fabulist, Elana, Ellis, Zoilo, and Addy find themselves in a very different version of Isle, one in which Crafts are commonplace, people dress in exquisite tri-colored ensembles, and everything seems generally more prosperous and carefree than in the Isle of their birth. Learning that they are in the upper levels of the city, they make their way to the nearest branch of the Corezze jewel shop, in this version of Isle a thriving business with branches all across the city. Along the way they spy the Tower of the Speculum, a soaring edifice used by Astronomers to view all of Isle and the heavens above it.

Near the Corezze shop, Elana and Ellis are accosted by an elderly woman who claims to be their Aunt Emilia, a person they have never met in their lives. Nevertheless, they allow themselves to be hauled along to the shop, with many an admonishment about their "disappearance over the last three days". They have a joyful reunion with their father, who is actually dead in the reality they know, and who advises them to go apologize to their mother, also dropping a hint about Ellis's supposed fiance Lord Martell.

Eliandra Corezze turns out to be resting in state in the Isle graveyard. She is not dead, however, but put into a perpetual sleep "for asking the wrong questions". Nevertheless, she is able to converse with her visiting daughters and apprises them of the following:

> In this reality, the Itash family have the hereditary Craft of Clerk (as in cleric), while the Corezzes are Jewelers and Eliandra's family line are Heralds. Elana and Ellis are apparently apprentice Heralds. There is also a Tinker bloodline named Marcan.
> The Days of Blue Salt are a regular occurrence that happens every 500 years, when Isle comes into alignment with the city above. In this Isle, however, Astronomers (particularly the Watchers of the Speculum) have done something to prevent this from ever happening again.
> The Beggarman is also known as the Changer.
> The great emerald in which the Bastard Roman is imprisoned is the Emerald of Immortality, which keeps Isle intact against drastic change.
> The Fabulist's Ruby of Dreaming "keeps things the way they are".
> The various gems, along with the white walls surrounding Isle, are defenses against the Shifting Sea and other perils.

On their way out of the cemetery, the quartet--now accompanied by Hector Corezze and Aunt Emilia--happen upon Amaranth, the Keeper of Graves, who greets them cordially and exchanges pleasantries with Hector. Hector explains to Elana that Aunt Emilia was once romantically involved with Hector's father, who left her at the aisle, hence Aunt Emilia's smoldering resentment toward the Itash. Upon inferring, however, that Addy is a Couturier engaged by the twins for Ellis's upcoming wedding, Aunt Emilia consents to inviting both Addy and Zoilo to brunch with the family, since the Couturier has been a 'hidden Craft' ever since 'the Bolt Wars'.

They proceed to a restaurant newly opened in the upper reaches of Isle by Lord Manuel, who joins them for lunch. Elana realizes that she is able to sense Uncle Manny as a Rich Man of approximately rank three (with rank one as the highest). She herself is a rank five Rich Man, with the Corezze family as a whole ranked at about seven in terms of wealth. She is also able to sense the presence of a rank two Rich Man nearby, a young woman reading alone a few tables away.

Elana enlists Ellis's assistance in introducing herself to the girl, one Criseltha Boromant. They invite her to join the family for lunch, but she politely declines. In the meantime, Ellis's erstwhile fiance, Vio Martell, arrives in response to Aunt Emilia's brunch invitation.

Elana, Ellis, Zoilo, and Addy soon realize that Lord Martell is a fop of a man, and not much of a Poet, either. Addy is appalled to learn that Vio used his once-in-a-lifetime Great Poem to win Ellis's hand: an exercise of Craft that uses even the smallest spark of recognition from the target to seal a bond. Ellis is ready to tell her father, godfather, and aunt that she wants out of the betrothal when a ruckus occurs at the restaurant entrance.

Part Two
The ruckus is caused by the sudden appearance of a dirty-looking man in raggedy clothing. Curious, the quartet volunteer to handle the matter, sending the older family members back to the table. They soon learn that the stranger is a Poor Man named Barus, who, unlike everyone else but our heroes, senses that all is not as it was. Barus explains that he opened a door in Poor Man fashion and wound up here, separated from his friend Sela, in whose company he has been fleeing from the Dowager. With some difficulty, they are able to persuade him to leave the spot where his door took him, in order to move away from the restaurant.

Through a series of mishaps, the quartet discovers that the Poor Man is obliged to obey any perceived orders issued by the Rich Man, which results in a series of miscommunications that takes them away from the Dream-Isle back to the Isle they know (where they find that Eliandra Corezze does indeed sleep perpetually, having replaced the prior Fabulist), and then to a desert where they manage to spot the very tired- and dehydrated-looking Tarlun and Gabby.

Addy lands his flying carpet to pick their friends up, and there is a strange spark effect as Addy solicitously touches his friend Gabriel's shoulder. Elana attempts to bring both men (who have fallen unconscious) back to health with a Rich Man's purchase, only to be told by the disembodied 'Those Who Sit Above' that her payment is insufficient, but that "a door may be opened". Barus obligingly opens the invisible door in mid-air, and they find themselves flying above an isolated island in the middle of the sea.

They land, and ask the kind woman within the sole cottage for help. She immediately administers to Tarlun and Gabby, mentioning in the process that she was once on Isle. Ellis makes a deductive leap and identifies the woman as the Wanton.

As this occurs, Zoilo receives another of many prophetic warnings, indicating that blue salt will be coming to Isle sooner than expected. Elana seizes upon this to alternately implore and shame the Wanton into assisting in the defense of Isle. By questioning, the Wanton learns that Elana and Ellis are the daughters of Eliandra, and that Eliandra is now the Fabulist, as well as (the party thinks) a daughter of the former Widow. The Wanton says that she "senses agenda" and offers a chance for Elana, Ellis, and Zoilo to "walk" and learn more about past events.

Part Three
They take her proffered hand, and are mysteriously sent to a woman who permits them a glimpse through a door into the past. When they tell her they wish to learn about Eliandra, she directs them to a door that looks upon the scene of Eliandra's birth. There they learn:

> that Eliandra is indeed a child of the former Widow, who, at the time of Eliandra's birth, was "a mother seven times over"
> that Eliandra is the third of three births that resulted in daughters, a fact which angered the Lover, who was ostensibly the sole father of the Widow's children, and who wanted a boy "to raise as his own". Apparently, girl children are left for the Widow to raise, while boy children are taken away by the Lover.
> that the former Widow had relations and children with the Lover, the Lyric, and the Bastard, despite the "Great Proscription"
> that the Lyric's portfolio includes "ferreting out secrets", the ability to bypass doors, and a certain domain over words

The trio therefore posits that all the current office-holders of Isle (excluding the Lyric) are children of the Widow. Examining the evidence available to them, they theorize that the family tree is arrayed somewhat like so:

From the Widow and the Lyric:
the Thief Lysander (presumably the eldest, since he is spoken of as a Crafted adult as early as 250 years in the past)
the Hollow and the present Widow (possibly third-born, as the Hollow is known to have entered office 150 years ago and looked 15 years old at the time; physical aging is known to stop upon assumption of office, which would theoretically make the Hollow 165 years old)

From the Widow and the Lover:
the Wanton Emilia and the Fabulist/Dowager (presumably the second birth, as the Wanton has memories stretching to about 150 years in the past)
the Lover Elias (presumably the youngest, since the Lover had no sons at the time of Eliandra's birth)

From the Widow and the Bastard:
the Bastard Roman (birth order unknown, but before Eliandra)
the Herald Eliandra

From the Thief Lysander:
Carissa Aldefonse, mother of the Tinker Zoilo Itash

From the Herald Eliandra:
the Soldier Ellis Corezze
the Rich Man Elana Corezze

More informed than before but perhaps more confused than ever, the trio returns to the Wanton's cottage, where, apprised of what they have learned so far, the Wanton again offers Elana and Ellis a "walk" through the past. They accept, and find themselves in an Isle household in the more recent past.

They witness a confrontation between their mother and the Wanton, whom they now recognize--in confirmation of Zoilo's hunch--as Aunt Emilia from the Dream-Isle. They learn that their younger selves were given to Emilia to raise up to the age of seven, during which time their mother bore a son to her half-brother Lysander. Eliandra then demanded her daughters back, saying, "I need them". Emilia attempted to keep the children, but Eliandra used her Orator's Craft to banish Emilia from Isle, employing the same as well to force her estranged daughters' love. The twins also learn that their birth order may be the reverse of what they had believed, and that they are not the daughters of Hector Corezze, but rather, of the Bastard Roman, their mother's full brother.

When the twins return to the Wanton's cottage with this information, they are greeted not only by an astonished Zoilo and a tearful Wanton Emilia, but by a drawl of "It's about time" from the previously-unconscious Gabby. Gazing at him in surprise, they realize that Gabriel Mansuetude's body has somehow been inhabited by the presumed dead Thief Lysander.

Nikki bit in at 7:28 PM :: ::
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