Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Woods Random Legacy: Chapter 49 - Inheritance

The morning after the prom, Epsilon awoke to Shadow pawing at her face and mewing.
Epsilon: "Mmm, I know it's cold outside, but you can take yourself to the litter box.  You don't need me.  Go 'way."
Her sleepy protest had no effect on the dark feline, who simply stared at her closed eyes until the girl finally blinked again.
Epsilon: "God!  Alright, fine, get off so I can find my slippers."
After locating footwear and her glasses, she picked up the cat and strode through the house, raising both eyebrows as she spotted her brother already watching television.
Epsilon: "Well, you're up early."
Omicron: "Yeah, your cat woke me up, not sure what that was all about.  I was too excited to go back to sleep."
Epsilon: "Shadow wanted to be taken outside."
Omicron: "Don't we have a cat door for that?"
Epsilon: "In theory, yes."
Omicron: "You're going outside wearing that?  You know it's still winter, right?"
Epsilon: "Almost spring!  And I'm wearing slippers, you know."
Omicron: "You're weird, Epsi.  When you're done, I want to talk to you.  About last night."
Epsilon nodded and went outside to handle her cat.  Omicron had been right, it was cold out!  Determined not to let him see her shiver, she snuck back in through the back door, and got dressed before coming back out to meet him in the kitchen.
Omicron: "You were right, Epsi.  Last night was amazing.  Who would have thought anyone would ever vote for me for Prom King?"
Epsilon: "I know, right?  I'm so happy for you!"
Outside she was all smiles, but inside she was furtively hoping that he wouldn't ask too many questions about that incident.  Because it didn't make sense at all, seeing as it was entirely fabricated.  It had been pretty easy to do, and of course nobody would suspect her - she'd never had so much as an hour's detention, even in elementary school.  She just hoped that it would have the intended effect, bringing out Omicron's confidence even as the rest of the student body was convinced that everybody else actually liked the boy.  The pressures of conformity could have their uses, it seemed.
Omicron: "I couldn't believe it when they named you as the Prom Queen, either."
Ah.  Now that hadn't been part of the plan at all.
When her name had been called, her heart had sunk.  How could she have won?  She had been sure to only alter the Prom King votes, after all, so she hadn't cheated.
Epsilon: "Yeah, I couldn't really believe it.  I still don't, to be honest."
Omicron: "Why?  You're the only decent girl in that entire school.  All the others are"
He stumbled, and Epsilon stepped in to supply the word he was searching for.
Epsilon: "Bitchy?"
Omicron giggled a bit at the swear word, then nodded.
Omicron: "Yeah.  You're not really social, but you don't hurt anybody either.  You're just generally a good person, you know?"
Epsilon was saved from having to figure out how to take that compliment by the sound of the bus honking outside.  Omicron clearly wasn't ready, so as he ran off to locate his bag she just give him a quick, heartfelt smile.  Much easier than finding the words.

That night, she got ready for bed, still shaking her head in disbelief about her new job title.  Whoever had decided that "Overseer of the Dead" was a good job title for a glorified door guard clearly had a flair for the over-dramatic.  Still, it came with a 160% pay increase, so she could put up with the internal eye-roll every time her job title was mentioned.  Almost as soon as her head touched the pillow, she felt herself falling into a familiar dream.  (The usual dream soundtrack is here for the lazy who want music without digging through archives.)
The library was exactly as it had been the last time she'd dreamed it, as a child.  She stepped towards the nearest shelf, then heard a creak of floorboards behind her.  Resisting the urge to whirl around - she prided herself on being more dignified than that, even in her nightmares - she slowly turned to face whatever lurked.
Epsilon: "Who are you?  Why are you in my library?"
Old Man: "Oh, good!  So you do recognize that this is your library."
Epsilon: "Well, in the sense that this is my dream, at least.  You didn't answer my questions."
Old Man: "My name is Gregory Eberhart, though you don't know me as such, exactly..."
Epsilon: "I don't know you at all.  You seem interesting enough, I suppose, but be warned.  I dream lucidly, so if I don't like what you're doing in my library, I'll just dream you away."
He stepped forward, chuckling, then his expression slowly grew serious.
Gregory: "You really don't know, do you?  About your library, or about...anything?  But you're nearly grown, how could you not have known?"
Epsilon raised an eyebrow.
Epsilon: "Not known about what?"
Gregory: "Who you are.  What you are."
Epsilon: "Last I checked, I was Epsilon Woods, the bastard daughter of the town Casanova and some woman who ran off before I was a day old."
Gregory: "No, no, that's all wrong.  Well, actually, it's all correct, strictly speaking.  But it's so incomplete that it should hardly count!"
Epsilon rubbed her brow.  This guy was giving her a headache, why did her library dream have to be ruined by some madman in a bathrobe?
Gregory: "We're always sent to the children who need us the most, but I've never even heard of one in a situation such as yourself, with no education whatsoever."
Epsilon: "Hey, what do you mean, "we" and "sent?"  And for your information, I'm entering my Senior year of high school, so I don't know what you're talking about."
Gregory: "No, no, not that sort of education.  Magical education.  I was sent to you to help you learn, though in the waking world I take a much different form-"
Epsilon: "My CAT?"
Gregory: "Yes, exactly, I do believe you call me Shadow.  An adorable name, if I might say so-"
Epsilon: "You're my cat.  The one who won't go outside to pee in the mornings if it's too cold."
Gregor laughed heartily as Epsilon looked on in disbelief.
Gregory: "Oh, yes, I must say I'm sorry.  I never have liked the cold, though."
Epsilon: "This is absolutely insane.  I don't usually dream things that make no sense.  I must be going crazy."
Gregoyr: "No, you're not, I assure you.  You and I are speaking, as witch and familiar, in your dream realm.  For you, it's taken the form of a library.  For myself, in my previous life as a man, it was similar, but with the addition of a balcony from which I could watch the stars.  Each realm is unique to the wizard or witch who dreams it."
Epsilon: "No, no, I am going crazy.  I've been trying to dream you away ever since you said you were my cat, and it's not working.  That always works, I've never had a dream that I haven't been able to change.  The only conclusion is that I've gone off the deep end."
Gregory: "No, you've got it all wrong.  You can't change this dream because it isn't a dream, not exactly.  It's in your head, but it's different!  Oh, this is all too much to try to explain all at once.  How can I convince you this is real?"
He turned away, stroking his beard as he thought.
Epsilon: "I won't believe it until I can touch it with my hands.  In reality."
With a quick nod, he snapped his fingers and turned around.
Gregory: "That's exactly what you have to do, then.  Go find yourself a wand."
Epsilon: "Excuse me?  A magic wand?"
She fixed him with a blank stare.  Magic wands were straight out of fairy tales, further proof that this was all a hallucination in her own mind.
Gregory: "Yes, a magic wand!  Find a tree that feels right, then let it give its wood to you.  Cut away the parts that aren't right, then hold it in your hand and let your magic flow through it.  You will see, and then, perhaps, you will believe.  Now wake!"
He clapped a hand on her shoulder and then she was back in her bed, staring at the dark bedroom.  She glanced over to her right, to the bedside table where Shadow slept.

He was just a cat.  He had to just be a cat.  Right?

Against all rational judgement, she still left the house after breakfast - in the middle of a downpour, no less - to search for a tree.  And she found it.  When she approached, and touched a branch, the wood came away in her hand with no effort at all, as if it was a gift from the tree.  She clutched it to herself and backed away nervously, telling herself that she was being stupid even as she jogged towards home.
It took her a further few weeks to find the courage to carve the wand, and even more to attempt to wave it.  By then, spring was already establishing itself in Sunset Valley, which made her feel even more ridiculous as she shut herself away in her bedroom waving a stick around.  But, despite all rational reasoning to the contrary, it just felt right.  She could almost swear that she saw shimmers in the air, sometimes, trailing behind the tip of the wand as she made circles and arcs in the air.
One day, the tip of the wand exploded in green light as she brought it down on its final arc.  Dazzled at first, her eyes quickly adjusted and she picked out symbols - mathematical and other, unfamiliar glyphs - shimmering in the air for a moment before fading.  The release of power channeled through the stick of wood had been incredible, and there was no denying that something had happened, even to her rational mind.
Only then did she notice Shadow watching her from the corner.  Tucking the wand away, she stepped over to him and picked him up, regarding the small creature.
Epsilon: "Well then, Shadow, I'm either a witch or much crazier than I thought.  Which is it, I wonder?"

~ * ~

Again, sorry.  As you can see, I decided to ditch the idea of the prom chapter.  There was just too much to stage, and the longer I waited the more daunting the task became.  The good news is, I'm writing again.  Next chapter is going to be entirely staged, but each picture is of something different, so it's not as scary as making the perfect prom night.  After that, it's just pushing through to the end of this generation.  I predict the generation hand-over to happen somewhere in the Chapter 52-55 range, depending on when exactly you define it.  There's going to be a very clear point where generation 3 is now in charge, but it won't correspond exactly to where the rules would put it,'ll see.  I'll try my best not to run off in a state of being busy and scared of an overly-ambitious scene again!

On a story-related note, yes, Epsilon is a witch.  Very exciting.  I've met my quota for children becoming supernatural this generation, with one to spare!  As far as the prom thing goes, well, she IS James's daughter.  She might condemn his overtly evil schemes, but she's not above a teeny little bit of manipulation for the greater good, or at least for the good of her younger brother.  Just don't lay it out like that to her, she'd get offended at the notion.


  1. Welcome back!

    I would have ditched the prom, too.
    I loved the dream sequence with Shadow Cat/Gregory. Nice use f the familiar, there!

    1. Thanks! I'm glad to be back. Next chapter is actually what drove me to come back. I woke up one morning with a monologue in my head, and I realized that I just had to write it, which meant that I had to power past the point of procrastination.

      The prom chapter was going to have a lot of character development for Epsilon in it, dealing with the conflict between how she inherited a manipulative streak from James and her personal morality. Omicron got fleshed out a bit more, too. So far, he's not been much more than a baby brother character, to get protected and coddled. The prom was going to be his turning point, but that didn't happen. It'll have to be an off-screen turning point, I guess, because I'd rather have the story move on without the extra information.

      Thanks! I have so much lore written down in text files, especially having to do with supernaturals. I'm going to infodump a bit of it next chapter, but I'm excited that, between Gregory and the next chapter's infodump, I'll finally get to use some of the stuff I've been preparing since way back when Lane became a werewolf. I try not to plan more than a generation ahead, so I have no idea if I'll even need to use most of it, but I figure it's better to have it established in case I need it.

  2. Oooh, Shadow's a proper familiar who's been sent to guide her?! How exciting, I hope he's a good character and isn't going to turn out to have been manipulating her.

    I don't blame you for ditching the prom chapter, I can't imagine how much work that would be to stage!

    1. You people are so suspicious! Not every mysterious person who shows up in my story is manipulative and evil, just most of them. ;)

  3. Yayyy! You're back! No sweat about the prom. You hinted enough at what happened, I think.

    I want to know more about Epsilon! I like that We found out something, but NOT ENOUGHHH!!! :p

    1. Yes, I'm back!

      You'll be finding out a lot more about Epsilon in the next few chapters(well, not 50, but 51+). I think it's about time, she's been a mystery for a while.