11/9/10 – Atlantic City, New Jersey
There was blood everywhere. On the floor, on my clothes, on the people surrounding me, on my hands. I didn’t even help anyone, and I still had their blood on me. I’ve washed twice, scalding myself in the process, but I can still feel it there. The sensation of the blood trying on my fingertips will fade in time, this I know from experience; however, the feeling of utter hopelessness will stick with me for some time.
I have been alone for far too long. I have my motley, and those who I call friends, but at the end of the day I am still alone. I realize that is partially my own doing – I have spurned numerous advances from would-be knights in shining armor – but it does not make the truth any less terrifying.
Los Angeles was a painful eye opening experience. I do not blame Mr. Goodhands, but I wonder if what I have discovered is something that one such as myself truly should know. What does one do with such information? Where do I go, who do I turn to? Oh that’s right, I have no freehold, nothing to balance me, no one to watch me to ensure that I am not descending into madness.
It was inspiring to see the way the members of this city banded together immediately in a time of need. Those who could, did. Those who could not, helped in whatever way they were able. Though it does make me think that perhaps I should learn the basics of first aid.
It is lovely here. I was invited to stay at Thorndale Manor, though I feel terrible about taking the room of another. The Lost of Atlantic City have been quite welcoming, and I feel comfortable returning to the city again.
It looks as though the sun is starting to rise. It really is quite beautiful. However, it looks as though Jamison was wrong.
November 10th, 2010
11/9/10 – Atlantic City, New Jersey
May 12th, 2010
The face of the hobgoblin appeared in front of her, seemingly out of nowhere. He leered at her, his eyes widening as he took a big sniff at her, "Ooohhh, pretty pretty new lady, come to buy a gem?"
She let out a gasp, her eyes widening slightly as she took a step back and stared at the creature. In the back of her mind, she started to question her decision to attend the yearly Goblins Market on the coast. There was nothing she wished to buy, but she had never seen a Market before, and she had wanted to experience it for herself.
The creature dipped his grimy long fingers into a pot, pulling them out spilling with sparkling jewels, "Jewels and Gems for the pretty pretty new lady. This one will make your eyes the color of the sky! This one will make you fatter! This one will make you thinner! This one will make you an amazing lover!" he looked her up and down, leering again, "On second thought, you don't need that one!"
She blinked, turning a bright red as she shook her head, stammering, "Oh...no, no...thank you, good Sir, for the offer but...I have no need of jewels...really...thank you, though..." she turned and scampered away from him quickly, glancing over her shoulder once just to reassure herself that the creepy little creature had not skittered after her.
She paused and inhaled deeply. Closing her eyes and counting to 10, she tried to force her racing heart to slow. She had heard stories of the Markets - warnings issued by Moms and others. They had all told her to be careful, to watch her back, and to never go alone.
'Well,' she thought, 'I couldn't find anyone interested in coming with me.' She smiled softly and let out a bit of a chuckle. In honesty, she hadn't tried very hard to find someone to come with her. She preferred to embark on her adventures alone - for better or poorer.
She strolled through the Market, her eyes wide as she took in everything she saw. It was all so new and exciting to her. She had resolved not to purchase anything. She had very little in the way of money, and she had no desire to trade anything more valuable then that for a mere trinket. But browsing had never hurt anyone.
It was her second circuit around the Market (although she took care to avoid the hobgoblin of earlier) when she spotted it. A tiny stall, nearly invisible between a gaudy table selling birds that spoke in every language and a stall filled with baking meat that made her mouth water. It was an older man sitting at the stall, casually reading a magazine.
He looked utterly out of place amidst the color and insanity of the Market. In fact, upon closer inspection, she noted that he looked strikingly like a Grandfather would. She'd not known her own Grandfather, but if she had, she imagined he would look like this man. A kind face, white curly hair, laugh lines around his eyes. Almost unconsciously, she felt herself moving towards his booth.
He glanced up to her, giving her a kind smile as she approached, "Well, hello there young lady. How may I help you?"
She looked around the booth, curiously. He had no wares for sale on his tables, and the booth was bare. Tilting her head to the side she looked at him, "Excuse me, Sir. What is it you are selling here?"
He closed his magazine and looked her up and down for a moment before smiling kindly and shaking his head, "Nothing you would be interested in, Miss."
It was almost as though he knew the words that would drive her crazy. Her eyes widened slightly and she chewed her lower lip, looking at him, "Oh no, I am very interested to see what you are selling..."
He paused for a moment and looked at her, folding his hands on the table, "Now, child, my wares are very expensive."
She looked around and lifted a brow, "But you don't have anything here..."
He laughed, and she thought for a moment that the kind old face looked like a mask. She shook it off and smiled to him, "Oh, child, I have much to offer you. You're new, aren't you? Fresh from the Hedge."
She hesitated for a moment and then nodded to him with a smile, "Just over a year out."
"I see. How long were you gone?"
"Oh...a very long time..." she smiled a bit to him, shifting slightly.
He nods, giving her a sympathetic smile. He leans forward, his voice soft, "You are in need of a new face, are you not My Fair Lady?"
She looked at him, startled, "A...new face? No, I quite like my face."
He laughed uproariously, grinning at her. Once again, she saw just a flicker pass over the mask that she was now sure he wore, "Oh no, dear girl...a new identity. A new person. You need to be a new person..."
"Oh..." she blushed bright red, looking down at her hands for a moment and nodding, "Yes...I do. I am...well, who I was is no longer in existence."
He smiled to her, pulling out a heavy leather bound book, "I can get you a new identity, My Fair Lady."
She blinked, looking at him, unable to keep the excitement from her voice, "You can? How?"
He grinned, "Old fashioned book work. Now, who would you like to be?"
She looked at him and bit her lower lip, "I have nothing to pay you with, Sir."
He eyed her for a moment, looking her up and down. She felt like a piece of meat, with he the lion ready to pounce. After a moment he gave a smile, and she could have swore she saw just a glimmer of cruelty in his ice-blue eyes, "Blood. A vial of your blood is all I require from you.”
The warnings she’d been given echoed in her mind, “What’s the catch?”
He smiled, and she saw the mask slip just a bit, a line of gray skin appearing on his hair line, “No Catch, Fair Lady. You give me a vial of your blood, I give you a new life. You deserve a new life, after the one that was stolen from you.” He flipped open the book, smiling at her, “Now. Who would you like to be?”
She knew there was something wrong with his words. In the back of her mind, she knew that she would pay a far heavier price then just her blood. At the same time, the overwhelming desire to exist overrode all of that. She wanted to have a life again, to do with as she pleased. “
He cackled slightly, nodding as he flipped through the book rapidly. She could hardly follow his movements as he seemed to scan every page, finally stopping and letting out a victorious crow, “Found you! Right there, Fair Lady! Savannah Brown, that is who you will be.”
She hesitated, taking one step back from the table. He smiled, rubbing at his cheek and looking like the Grandfather she never had, “Sweet Lady, this is the only way. You won’t find anyone else here who will give you what you desire. I can, I will give you what you need…”
“And the cost is my blood? Only my blood?”
“Yes, only a small bit of your blood, dear girl.”
“Are you going to use the blood to hurt me? What do you need it for?”
He laughed, gently, reaching out to pat her hand, “Sweet girl, I have no desire to harm you. I will never use your blood against you.”
He saw her hesitation and he sighed heavily, “Child, you have been gone for nearly a century. They have taken so much from you, you have given more then most. You deserve this. I can see you are a kind soul, but you must do something for yourself!”
She nodded once and forced a little smile, “Very well. Savannah Brown I shall be.”
At once, his features sharpened until he looked almost rat like. His inhumanely fast hands moved, and she felt a sharp pain across the palm of her hand. She let out a yelp and tried to pull away, but he held her there with a firm grip, one hand catching the flow of blood from a deep gash on her hand. She paled at the sight of blood, shuddering at the wave of memories it brought to her mind.
He watched the blood drip greedily, licking his lips as he watched it fill the crystal vial. He spoke quickly, and she was unable to catch most of his words, her eyes widening as she caught what he said,
He grinned at her, his eyes glowing red. He inhaled deeply, shuddering at the smell of her blood, “Ohhh, the blood of innocence is always so sweet!” Leaning forward, he swiped his tongue across the gash and she let out a choked scream.
She wrenched her hand away from him, her eyes as big as saucers. It took her a moment to find her voice, but finally she was able to speak in a very small, far-away voice, “Can you…repeat all that for me, please, Sir…I think I…misunderstood?”
He cackled and stood from his seat, stretching to an impossible height. She watched as the mask fell away, revealing an ugly gray face covered in sores. His voice was deep as he stared at her, “ALL SALES FINAL, LITTLE SONG BIRD! YOUR NEW IDENTITY WILL BE DELIVERED BY THE NEXT FULL MOON! ENJOY YOUR LIFE!” he chuckled cruelly, staring at her, “While you still can, at least.”
She felt the tears start as she fled, cursing herself with every step. The small hobgoblin tried to waylay her and she tripped over him, bringing his table tumbling to the ground. She let out a choked sob as the stumbled to her feet, running from the horror of what she had done.
Ms. Savannah Brown was a young, quiet, mousy woman. Most people in her quiet little town didn’t even know her name. She had blonde hair and brown eyes and pale skin. She had moved to the sleepy hamlet, although no one knew why. She had no family (so she claimed) and no friends to speak of.
She left one stormy afternoon. She left a note on the library door and she locked them behind her, leaving the key on the mat. Her apartment was packed up (although there was very little there to pack) and her car was gone.
She disappeared from the village, and it was as though she had never been there. They talked about her for the first week, whispering over what could have possessed the pleasant young woman to evacuate so quickly. After two weeks, the gossip had turned to raunchy postulations regarding her sexual life. After a month, there was new gossip and Ms. Savannah Brown was forgotten.
The package was delivered exactly a month to the minute. She was in the garden, planting flowers with a furious zeal. She looked up and noticed a small brown package. Brushing the dirt off her knees, she stood slowly. She knew what it was.
Her first instinct was to hurl it away, to throw it to the wind. But then, if she did that, it would have made it all for naught. It would have made that poor woman’s abduction all for nothing. And she knew, in her heart, that the real Savannah Brown was living with some faceless creature in
She sighed heavily, carefully picking up the package. For such a small bundle, it weighed heavily upon her heart. She looked around the garden at Moms home, suppressing the tears. She had cried an ocean since the day of the Market. Finding her resolve, she clutched the package to her chest and rushed into the house, setting pen to paper.
Today, I received the package. I have done something horrible. I have sentenced an innocent woman to the life I should have been living. I have stolen her life, as mine was stolen from me.
Nothing I ever do will right this grievous wrong. She will suffer for my pride. It eats at my soul.
I resolve to find a way to better the world around me. If I can find the real Ms. Brown, I will free her. If I cannot, I will help those Lost that I find. I will fight, with what talents I have, against the evil that lurks at the edge of our minds.
And I will mourn. Every day, I will mourn.
I am sorry, for what I have done. If I could take it back I would – but there are no exchanges and no refunds.
May God have mercy on me,
May 3rd, 2010
I don’t know how long I have been here. Time feels wrong. There are days that seem to stretch on for years, and nights that seem to pass by in the blink of an eye. I can’t help but wonder if my family is missing me yet. Do they know I am gone? Do they wonder about me? Have I been relegated to another family cautionary tale?
‘Don’t wander out on the savannah by yourself. You’ll disappear like Song Bird.’
There are days I hardly even remember my true name. Moments where I forget who and what I was before stumbling into hell. Elena Anne Westerly. That is who I am. Perhaps if I keep repeating it over and over again, it will be true.
It seems that my sole purpose in being here is to entertain Him. Sometimes I will spend what feels like days telling him a story, or months singing to him. It is truly something from Arabian Nights.
He treats me like a little treasure. I know that there are others like me here – poor souls who have been taken and bound to this place. I see them rarely, but when I do, their eyes and countenance are filled with venom. Though he keeps me apart from them, sometimes when I sleep I hear the whispers of agony from the others who are bound with me.
I am fairly certain he tortures them. Does unspeakable things to them under the cover of darkness. Perhaps that is why some nights are so long? He requires more time to visit his depravity upon those poor, tortured souls.
It makes a horrid person to think this, but there is a part of my soul that is eternally grateful for my position. I am comfortable and warm, well fed on food fit for a Goddess. I am given my every whim, save that one small thing that He will never give me. What have I done to deserve this? What have they done to deserve their treatment?
I must face the realistic expectation that someday he will tire of me. My story will not be witty enough, my song will falter, and my face will not be fair enough. I fear what He will do on that day. Will I join the tortured masses of his palace in the woods? Will I be turned out into the forest to be hunted like a stag? Will He set me free? If I serve Him well enough, will he allow me to go? I am fairly certain my fate will be dire, upon the day he tires of my presence.
For now, I must continue on. I will smile for him, tell him my favorite tales, and sing when he commands. I will be his Song Bird, for I fear what will happen to me if I do not.
I am no less Lost then I was when I first arrived here. But there are days where I fear I have become more damned.
She pulled her arm out of his grasp, wrenching away and staring at him with wide, frightened eyes.
“You don’t have to do this! Catching us and taking us back, you don’t have to do this!”
He let out a snarl that was more of a hiss, spinning to face her. One large hand wrapped around her delicate throat, and she knew he could crush the life from her if he chose to. His voice was low, his eyes narrowed, “Do you have any idea what She does to those of us that fail in our duties? Do you have ANY idea what happens to the Hound who misses his prey?” He shook her by the throat, accentuating his words.
She let out a whimper of fear, shaking her head as far as she was able, stumbling over her words, “No…I…but there must be another way…”
He snarled, pushing her to the ground and standing over her, “There is no other way, Song Bird. Trust me.”
She quaked, staring up at him and scuttling back away from him, “We could run! You could help me run! I’ve heard stories…”
He let out a roar of frustrated rage, dragging her to her feet and shaking her again by her arms, “We’ll get caught! We ALWAYS get caught, you simpering idiot! You’ll get sent back to your pretty little tower and do you know what would happen to me? Do you? They would send me back to Her. And do you know what She does to Her Hounds that fail? The other Hounds would rip me apart! That is what happens to a Hound that fails. His brothers and sisters devour him, in hopes that they will not be so weak.”
He pushed her away, in disgust, turning his back on her for a moment. She knew she couldn’t outrun him, and she didn’t even bother trying. His voice softened for just a moment as he shook his head, “You think I don’t wish I could? There is no way out, Song Bird. Not for the likes of us.”
She hesitated for a moment, before touching his arm, her eyes wide as she looked up at him, “But we’ll never know, unless we try…I…I’ll do anything, if you’ll help me get away. Please…I know it’s hard, but please…”
He sighed heavily and stared down at her, his eyes sharpening with hunger and desire, “Anything?”
She blinked and swallowed hard, trembling beneath the steely gaze, “If you get me out of here alive…I will do everything in my power to make it up to you…”
He smirked and licked his lips, nodding his head once, “We have a deal, then.” He grabbed her painfully by the arm, “Now then, we run.”
They ran through the thick woods, and she had a moment to mark how he moved through the trees. He ran unburdened despite his size, gracefully moving through the trees. She was hard-pressed to keep up with him, but true to his word; he did not allow her to falter.
She saw a light breaking through the trees and she cried out to him, but he had already seen it. He looked at her, with a look of pure elation on his face, “It’s there, Song Bird! I can see it! The Hedge, we’re almost there!”
Almost unconsciously, he put on a burst of speed, dropping his weapons and his hat as he ran for the light as though his life depended on it. And it did. From behind them, she could hear the baying. The Hounds were here.
“Huntsmen!” She screamed his name, willing him to stop and come back for her. Her lungs were burning with the effort and she felt her limbs start to falter. She watched as he ran, never once looking back towards her. She felt her heart sink again as she watched him disappear into the Hedge.
She slowed her steps, knowing that all was lost for her once again. She felt exhausted – mind, soul, and body. She heard a voice, low and cruel, “He left you, didn’t he, Song Bird? Oh well, one is better then none.”
Rough hands surrounded her, and the world went dark.
May 2nd, 2010
I am afraid I do not know if that date is correct. Everything here is different. I don't know how many days I have been here, or if I will ever return home. I fear I shall be consumed by this place. All I can do is hope and pray and work for my freedom. I feel my memories slipping away from me, and I believe this wretched place is stealing them from me. I found this journal amidst his things. He told me, I could have anything I desired...so it is now mine. Perhaps writing my story will help me keep my memories. At the very least, when I waste away to a mindless nothing, perhaps it will serve as a warning and a lesson to other young girls. That is my ardent hope, at least; though I know better then to count on it.
I was born Elena Anne Westerly, on the 21st of December, the year of our Lord, 1905.. Lady Elena Anne Westerly, if you are being precise about it. My father is Baron Edward Westerly, and my mother is Lady Catherine. I am the youngest of five children and the only daughter. My mother had always longed for a daughter, but they had nearly given up hope of ever having one. My next youngest siblings are the twins, and they are seven years older then me. She lost several children before she took pregnant with me, and she was certain she would have no more. Needless to say, I was apparently a welcome surprise.
I was ill as a very young child, as such, my family did everything in their power to protect me from the world. They felt that my delicate constitution could not handle such things as the real world has to offer. I wonder if perhaps they weren't right...
My childhood was as every childhood should be. It was filled with love and laughter. My family is blessed with ample lands, and we never wanted for anything. It has only been in recent years that I have come to realize how blessed we are, and how lucky I was to have such a childhood.
When I was five years old, I was sent to Queen Margarets school in Edinburough. It was quite the experience, and though I loathed being so far from my family, I adored the atmosphere. I was given the opportunity to learn and to expand my mind, which is something I had always wanted to do. I was summoned home as the Great War began, and my schooling was finished while living with my family.
My eldest brother, Edward, was killed in 1915, during the war. He was in France, and had only been gone for a few months when we received word of his demise. It was a heartbreaking blow for all of us, though I think it hit my father the hardest. Edward had been his heir, and had been groomed for years to take over when my father became too old. He'd had a young wife, though no children as of yet. It was the darkest moment in my young life, hearing that my beloved eldest brother would never return to tease and taunt me and take me riding in the country side. The twins, Aiden and Andrew, begged my parents to let them go. They wanted to make a difference, and to avenge Edward. Wisely, my parents forbid them from going.
Time moves on and heals all wounds, even the heartbreak suffered through that atrocity. It hurts me to this day to think of my brother, and I still miss him terribly. I wonder, and not for the first time, if this place is heaven or perhaps hell. I must admit that it is beautiful here, but through the smiles of the others that I see, I can sense a deep seated terror. No, as lovely as it may be, this would definitely be catagorized as hell. Perhaps I am dead, and this is my punishment? I wonder what I would have done to lead God to send me here?
I digress. I find I do that more then I ought to, in this place.
When I was 14, I confessed to my parents my desire to become a writer. A journalist, to be precise. I thought it would be a wonderful thing to travel the world and write about what I see and do. My parents were opposed to that course of action. They feel that it is nothing that a woman of breeding should do. Apparently, I would be better to spend my time running a household and bearing many children. It was ever a bone of contention in our household. Even though they did not approve, to their credit, they still provided me with the means to do what I wished. A beautiful tiny office overlooking the rose garden and a brand new type-writer.
It was the same year that my parents informed me of my betrothed. He is a nice enough man, I suppose, but there was never any spark between the two of us. He is 7 years my elder, the oldest son of a close friend of the family. He has apparently always been quite taken by me, even when I was very young. I know that it would be a wise match for us both. It would bring our families ever closer, and I would not be far from my own family. However, I really can't stand the thought of marrying him. I think perhaps there is an unkind streak that runs through him.
After officially announcing our bethrothal, we were encouraged to spend more time together. Walks in the park, riding, picnics – all supervised of course. Our parents encouraged our relationship and did everything in their power to help it bloom. I tried to be open to it, but there was never anything there; nothing but a deep-rooted sense of duty.
In 1920, with the completion of the war and life getting back to normal, I began to work on convincing my father to allow me to travel. It was not an easy task, as he was disposed to keeping me as close to home as he possibly could. With lots of wheedling and help from the twins, we were able to convince him to allow me to travel. I was given leave to spend 6 months in Africa, on the condition that I marry as soon as I return home. It was a small price to pay to have a chance to see the world.
Arrangements were made, and I traveled to Africa with Aiden and Andrew and a small entourage of attendants. We trekked to the home of a family friend near Upington. From there, I was allowed to travel at my leisure.
I can safely say, that was the best time of my short life. There was so much beauty to be seen, so many things to experience; and it was all there, waiting for me. I blossomed while in Africa, I believe my parents would hardly recognize me if they saw me now. I knew that my return to England and my nuptials loomed over my head, but I hardly cared. I focused on the moment, and relished in knowing this was my chance to experience to world, before being thrust back into the polite society of tea and crumpets and dinner parties.
I hate dinner parties.
It was two months before I was scheduled to return to London that he showed up. My Betrothed. Riding in on the rails, waving his hat gallantly like he was a knight come to rescue his fair princess from a dark tower. I am not quite certain where he got the idea that I needed to be rescued, but he claimed to have been sent by my father.
He arrived in Africa and the impending doom that I had been able to push out of my mind came crashing down upon me. Soon, I would be a married woman, expected to run a household and bear children for my husband. I came to loathe the sight of him. The way he dressed, the way he held utter disdain for anyone not of the peerage (not that the peerage matters much these days, but he seems to be stuck in darker times.)
God in heaven, I can hardly believe it has been mere days. It all seems so far away and so long ago. He had been in Africa for a week, when he convinced me to go on safari with him. He knows of my distaste of hunting for sport, but he pressured me.
“It is your wifely duty to attend me, Elena. It is time you get used to it.”
I aquiesed after a time, unwilling to cause bad feelings in our marriage before it had even begun. I would be forced to marry this man, I did not want to make it any more unpleasant then it had to be. We loaded up a picnic and as many guns as he could carry and took off towards the plains. It was not my first trek out, but the beauty of it all still took my breath away. I was entranced by it, so much that I hardly noticed when he stopped the vehicle.
I will not recount it all now. That is one memory I would not mind losing forever. Needless to say, my dear future husband made advances upon me. Had I been less shocked, I don't think I would have had the fortitude to get out of his grasp before something we would both regret happened. Harsh words were exchanged and I stalked off, to try to cool my head and give him time to cool his as well. I am a good, virtuous woman; I will not be bedded before I am wed. Even if the man doing the bedding is my future husband.
As I walked away from him, I saw a young girl. She was naked, with a finger shoved in her mouth. She watched me with ebony eyes, never blinking. I smiled, greeting her in the Afrikaans that I had worked so hard to grasp. The child turned and fled from me, towards a thicket of trees.
The words of my host echoed in my mind. There was danger on the plains. I don't know what possessed me, but I ran after the child, crying out to her in her mother tongue. I felt a deep sense of foreboding, and I was certain that something lurked in the trees, just waiting to snatch the child into its jaws. She ducked into the trees, and I ran after her, heedless of my betrothed yelling for me from behind me.
The trees were thick and cool. There was no stifling heat in here, just coolness. I heard my betrothed's voice fading away into the distance, and I plunged forward, calling for the little girl. Even as I strode forward, I saw the world around me changing. By the time I realized I was no longer where I should be, it was too late.
So here I am. I have been given a gilded cage where He watches me and keeps me as his pet. He calls me his Song Bird, and I am afraid that I have lost even my name to this place. He has given me free run of this place, his palace in the woods. The only stipulation is I am not allowed to leave. Ever. He has taken my freedom, and He plans to keep it in his tight grasp. The golden chain that binds my ankle reminds me that while I have nearly everything I could ever desire, that one thing that I need is not open to me.
I am afraid. I am Lost and I am afraid. May God have mercy on my Soul.
"No! And that is final! You will stay here, you'll marry that boy, and you will get all of this nonesense out of your head, do you understand?"
She stared at her father, her face flushed and frustrated. She took several deep calming breaths and looked at him, "I don't want to marry him."
Her father looked at her and lifted a brow, "Did I ask what you wanted, Elena? You are going to marry him, and that is my final say."
She had always known it would come to this. There was nothing abnormal about being forced into a loveless marriage. She sighed heavily and looked up at her father, "If I agree to marry him. Willingly. With a big smile on my face...will you let me go?"
Her words gave him pause. She knew he was envisioning hauling her down the aisle rather then accompanying her on his arm. He blustered, and she felt her heart sink.
It was two of her older brothers who came to her rescue, the twins, breaking into the conversation, "We'll accompany her, father. We'll make sure she is safe while she travels. And she won't be going alone, she'll have to take her attendants..."
Her father turned his eyes towards his sons and let out a heavy sigh. It was three against one, and he knew that his children's wills were as strong as his own. He turned back to Elena, scowling, "Fine, fine. You may go. For six months, and no more. And when you return, there will be a wedding waiting for you and that boy, understand?"
She let out a squeal of joy, launching herself into her fathers arms and kissing his cheeks, "Oh! Thank you, thank you, thank you, Papa! I promise, six months! Thank you!"
With a grin, she bounded off, up the stairs and towards her bedroom, leaving her father in stunned silence. He sighed and rubbed his temples, glancing at her brothers, "I suppose I should make travel arrangements..."
Her mother, from the other room let out a soft, cultured laugh, "She is definitely your daughter, Edward."
He chuckled and shook his head, looking towards there stairs where he could hear his precocious daughter clattering, "I know, Cat. I know..."
Her father peered over his newspaper at the young girl, lifting one eyebrow. She gave him a bright, winning smile and he chuckled, setting aside the paper.
"A story, hmm? What kind of story do you want to hear, angel?"
She beamed up at her father, running towards him and promptly climbing into his lap, "Tell me about Peter Pan, papa?"
"Again? Haven't I told you that story before?"
She looked up at her father and smiled, curling against his chest. He laughed and tucked her head beneat his chin, rocking the young girl, "Very well, angel. Peter Pan it is..."
His voice carried her away as he recited the story he knew by heart, "All children, except one, grow up. They soon know that they will grow up, and the way Wendy knew was this..."
Soon, the young girl was dead asleep in her fathers arms. She stirred as he stood, grasping at her fathers shirt and mumbling in her sleep, "Second star to the right..."
He laughed softly, holding the little girl tight to his chest. Carefully depositing her into her bed, he tucked her in and kissed her forehead, "Sleep well, sweet angel."
She remembered it as though it was yesterday, rather then so many years in the past. Her fingertips found the locket around her neck and she grasped it, fighting back the tears that threatened to overwhelm her. Everything had been taken from her, including the family she had loved and cherished. All of the time she was in Arcadia, the memory of her family worrying over her had kept her going. Knowing that they were gone was enough to crush the hope she had been filled with the day she had stumbled from the hedge.
She looked up at the stars as she walked away from her childhood home, sighing softly, "Second star to the right...straight on til morning. I'm sorry, Papa...I love you."
May 1st, 2010
She couldn't hear him behind her, but she knew he was there. He moved silently through the forest, even as her own labored breathing echoed through the eerily silent trees. She could sense him behind her, toying with her, letting her run herself into exhaustion before taking her.
She stumbled over a root, letting out a miserable cry as she fell hard on her knees. Her heart was beating loudly in her ears, a deafening cacophany of her own terror.
In the span of moments, he was upon her. She felt her heart sink through her bare feet as the realization of her imminent return dawned on her. One strong arm wrapped around her waist and she felt the cool, sharp edge of his blade against his throat.
His voice hissed in her ear, "You should know better then to run. They always send me, and I always catch my prey."
She suppressed a shudder, squeezing her eyes shut against the tears that threatened. She could feel her terror bubbling inside her, and she knew that any moment she could break down. She wouldn't let this creature see her break. She lifted her chin, holding herself still, feeling a moment of pride at the lack of waver in her voice.
"I know who you are, Huntsman. Don't toy with me."
He laughed, a throaty sound that filled her senses. To his credit, his grasp didn't even waver. He was the best and had been for many years. She could hear the disdain in his words as he tightened his grip on her waist, "And I you, Song Bird. I've seen you, sitting up in that gilded cage. He gives you everything you want, everything you desire...and still you run?"
With a snarl he spun her, pushing her against a tree and pinning her there, his black eyes searching her blue ones. She inhaled sharply at the sight of him and bit her lip as he stared at her.
"Oh yes. Yes, he gives me almost everything I want. Jewels and dresses and dolls and china. Beautiful courtiers to amuse me. Plays and puppets and ponies and birds and cats and dogs. He gives me everything that he thinks he want, yet he denies me the only thing I need."
She shook her hand in his face, the clipped golden chain smacking his chest, "He gives me everything but my freedom, Huntman. And that is the only thing I want."
He scowled down at her, narrowing his eyes and hissing, "None of us have freedom, Song Bird. We are all pawns. None of us are allowed to run free. Be glad you have what you have. Be glad your keeper does not use your body. Although after running, he may change his mind."
Her eyes widened at the implications and she cowered back from the Huntsman, shaking her head quickly and whispering, "No. He won't do that. I'm his..."
"His what, Song Bird? His Pet. You are his PET, his TOY, his AMUSEMENT. And he will punish you for it." He laughed again and smiled at her, his eyes showing no amusement as he stood back, one large hand clamping down firmly on her upper arm, "Time to go home, Bird. He'll be missing your company."
She stumbled along with him, feeling the despaire overcome her. For a moment, she'd had her freedom. For mere minutes, she had felt the sun on her face and the wind in her hair as a freewoman; rather then a slave. In that moment, she knew that she would stop at nothing to make her escape.
August 29th, 2007
Be on the look out for some vignettes...
Oh, background ties are love! :)
Real Name: Jocelyn Marie Wright
Current name: Captain Jocelyn
Nicknames: Joss, Sprout, Lyn, Captain
Concept: Finder of lost dreams, Purveyor of needed items, Pirate Queen, Unmovable Rock, Ocassional Hedge Diver, Transporter of People and other Items desired by the Fae
Inspirations: Harriet Tubman, Elizabeth Snow, Wendy
Husband – lost several years ago, and possibly returned (or maybe never really taken again, whatever you want). Jocelyn will have no recollection of him.
A happily married Changeling couple who would have been willing to have a child.
Any Changelings who she may have fished out of the Hedge
Any Changelings who she may have found and returned to their Keepers
Any Changelings who she may have transported something/someone for
Anyone interested in being part of her motley, or former members of the motley – they spent copious amounts of time bringing lost back and helping get them set up on normal every day life.
Brief Timeline – before the Capture:
(There will be fiction to go along with much of this, but this is a brief idea of what she has done, and where she has been.)
1933 – Born in Bangor, Maine to Lesley (works as a Laundress) and James Wright (works as a fisherman, spends weeks at a time at sea)
1934 – Lesley demands that James quit his job as a fisherman. He explains to her that he adores what he does, and he loves the sea, and that he will not quit the job. He leaves for a run, and when he returns, his wife and young daughter have vanished. All of his attempts to find them fail, and he gives them up for lost.
1938 – Joss begins asking about her father. Lesley explains to her daughter that he died when she was very young.
1939 – Joss begins kindergarten, and shows immediately that she is well ahead of her class. She reads whenever he mother will allow her.
1940 – Joss begins to show an almost frightening attraction to High Fantasy novels, especially those involving the sea or pirates. Lesley is more then a little disturbed by this trend, and attempts to keep the books from her daughter. Joss does not quit reading them, but rather hides the fact.
1940 – 1943 – Joss continues to show her acumen in the classroom. She shows herself to be intelligent and creative – a fact that often gets her in trouble. She continues to read her fantasy novels in secret, and somewhere deep down – she believes that her father is alive and well, waiting for her to find him.
1943 – Lesley begins to grow quite ill. The family is unable to afford health care for her, and she quickly deteriorates. The cancer quickly claims her body. While she is on her death bed, she confides in Joss what really happened with her father. Jocelyn is furious with her mother, despite the women’s advanced illness. Joss knows that after Lesley’s death, she will be forced to live in foster care. Mere hours after her mother passes away, Joss has slipped off into the night. She has cut her hair and put on clothes she stole from a neighboring house, she has all of the money she had saved for new clothes for school, and she has a picture of her mother in a small golden locket.
Winter 1943 – Joss travels towards Bangor, encountering various issues along the way. As winter begins to hit, she is forced to find a place to spend the winter. She finds a kind family living in Virginia, and she begs them to allow her to stay for the duration of the winter; promising to help with the farm work if they’ll just let her stay in the barn. The family takes a liking to her, and the mother allows her to stay – Joss reminds her of her youngest sister who had passed away mere months earlier. Joss is happier here then she has been in a very long time, and she finds a kindred soul in the families son. The boy is about her age, and in his free time, adores the same fantasy novels that Joss does.
Spring 1944 – Joss bids the family that adopted her goodbye. Despite their desire for her to stay, she feels the need to find her father. She leaves 2 weeks before her 11th birthday, determined to find him before then. Joss arrives 2 days before her birthday, incredibly excited to finally be finding her father. She spends much time listening and watching, gathering information about her father. She shows up on his doorstep the evening of her birthday, and is relieved to find he welcomes her with open arms.
1944-1946 – Jocelyn learns everything she can from her father about fishing and sailing. She finds that she is a natural on the open sea, and he often calls her ‘Sprout’. She is welcomed on the docks by many of the man, and seems to be like a second daughter or a neice to all of them. They are all more then willing to show her the ropes and teach her. Her love of the sea, and her natural ability, makes her a darling among the fishermen of the small costal village.
1946 – James is sent out on the last run of the season. Joss begs to go along with him, as she has many times in the past. He refuses to allow her to go, citing the fact that it would be a dangerous run. Joss is devastated, but finally agrees to stay behind. Once the ship is a week late returning, Joss begins to worry about her father. The rest of the crew finally comes limping back into harbor, only to reveal they lost approximately half of the crew – including James. Joss debates running, but is convinced to stay in the village for the time being, and she is given a job helping on the ship that her father once commanded.
1946-1948 – Joss proves that she is her fathers daughter. She is quick and intelligent, and almost frighteningly good at what she does. Despite her age (and the fact that she is a woman) she begins to command great respect from the men around her. Every time she is at sea, she searches for her father, though it is always in vain. And every time she is at sea, she surreptitiously throws a bottle with a small note over board, in hopes that it will find her father somewhere.
1948 – The people around her protect her, ensuring that the state does not try to put her into foster care for example. On a soft fall evening, Joss hears something outside. It sounds like her father, and in her mind, she is convinced that he is alive and well. She is coaxed into Arcadia by a Fae, where she is captured and stolen away to a castle beneath the sea.
Joss is quickly filled in on where she is, and what her duty in life is. She is told that her Keeper is a bounty hunter, and he is hired to hunt down Changelings who have escaped from their keepers. Joss is given a choice – she can join him in the hunt, working the seas of the hedge, finding errant Changelings and returning them to their keepers. Or, she will remain inside his castle – always watching the sea around her and never being allowed to experience what she loves. She chooses the sea, and she becomes a hunter.
Time moved slowly in Arcadia, and Joss quickly learned. It was not long before her Keeper began to trust her enough that he gave her the ship on her own, and sent her to do his dirty work. Of course, she had hands on the ship that were intended to keep an eye on the Changelings there. The crew, however, was mostly comprised of other Changelings.
Joss did not kill Changelings that she found, rather she subdued them and brought them back to her Keeper. Her Keeper would then give them to their keeper – to do with as they saw fit.
After several years, Jocelyn was sent with the ship to bring back a Changeling who she knew had escaped many times. When she found him, she was shocked to discover that the Ogre she found was her father. She took him back to the Keeper, as she knew that she had no choice. After turning him over, she overheard a conversation between her Keepers and her fathers Keeper, where her fathers Keeper discussed killing the Changeling who had given him no end of grief. Joss could not allow this to happen, and she attempted to assist her father in breaking out. He was able to escape, but she was caught in the process.
Holding to his promise, her Keeper punished her. She was given a cell where she was able to constantly see the ocean, hear the ocean, and smell the ocean – but could never be there. It was a horrible existence for one who had learned to rely on the ocean.
She awoke one morning to find herself floating on a bed of kelp. To this day, she has no idea what occurred to allow for her escape. Her best belief is that there was a coup in the castle by the sea, and by sheer luck she survived. As anyone in that situation would do, she ran…
Promptly into a group of Changelings prowling the hedge. Her first reaction was to fight them, believing that they were hounds intending to return her to her Keeper. Eventually, they convinced her that they were not there to return her anywhere but to her home… They brought her safely back through the hedge, into a world vastly different then the one she’d left.
After the Return:
1998 - Jocelyn found her way back to the real world in San Francisco in 1998. She appeared to only be 20 years old, though she had been gone for 50 years. The group that found her explained that they were dedicated to find Changelings and helping them find their way home. She was broken and terrified, but the group was kind and helped her adjust to the world around her. She traveled with them to Maine to see what had happened to her. She had been deemed a runaway, though there were a few who still remembered her and her father.
1998 – Joss begins to build a shipping company out of San Francisco. She uses this is a front to both help find Lost who have stumbled through the hedge, and give them assistance with moving to where they need to go. She eventually expands the shipping company from pure ocean shipping to truck and train and cargo plane.
1999 – Jocelyn remained with the Motley that found her, clinging to the friends she had found. She assisted them when she went looking for new Changelings, and slowly she began to fall in love with one of them. (This is open to character tie…want to play my pc’s tragic love?) Eventually, the two entered into a hesitant relationship, both of them terrified of both the future and their pasts.
2002 – Husband is taken when the motley goes into the Hedge. They are ambushed by Gentry, and he is taken when he puts himself in their path – sacrificing himself and forcing her to escape.
2003 – Joss maintains the shipping company, and it becomes a successful front for the Lost Railroad. She proves to be quite the business woman, building allies and contacts throughout the country. Joins the Summer Court.
2004 – Joss gives up memories of her one True Love in order to purchase a human infant who was to be sold as a slave. She has no memories of her husband, aside from a vague scent that haunts her dreams.
2005 – Joss sets her new headquarters in Colorado Springs, purchasing a home near Garden of the Gods. She often wanders along the hedge, watching for Lost to stumble out.
2007 - Jocelyn is a well known member of the Summer Court in Colorado. She is known for being dependable in any situation. Her time is spent rescuing people who are floundering in the hedge, finding Lost who have come home and setting them on the right path, and monitoring the Goblin Markets, watching for signs of the Gentry. She has a huge heart for any innocent, and any Lost – however angering her will only end in tears. She has a vehement hatred of the Gentry, however she prefers to hurt them by taking away as many of their slaves as possible…