The gift.

Jul. 17th, 2011 10:08 pm
eight_or_eleven: (Thoughtful)
Skill had prepared quite the feast.

Rarely did the castle where Strength sometimes lived have so many guests.

Most of the cards were home, and as was to be expected, there were spirited debates being volleyed back and forth between those cards who sat next to each other.

But they were not the only ones present.

No, tonight the castle was open to all the divinatories, and those who were able to come, did.

Numbers.

Signs.

Constellations.

Stars.

And, of course, a few of the sentient races who had come to the castle for help.

The dining hall was full of beings both of supernatural nature and mundane.

It made Strength glad duty had not called her away. Or for that matter, the rest of the immediate and extended family.

But one was not there. He was still away on duty.

Justice.

She missed him. Missed him when he was away.

Stirring her food idly, her fork began to trace outlines and then pictures on the plate. And she sighed. He should be here, to attend.

This soon bored her, and so she began to stare out the window, lost in thought. Through the paned glass she could make out [or thought she could] Utani's brothers and sister, out stalking the stellar kingdom with their mother. Chasing prey amongst the galaxies. Soon perhaps they would have mates and children of their own to guide until they too became stars themselves.

She sighed again. The voices of the guests seemed to fade away.

Until she sat upright. Set her fork down. Got up with a minimum of attention.

And turned towards the door.

"I missed you too," said a familiar voice, and Strength's heart began to beat fast.

Shujaa and Utani got up quickly and made their way over to give greetings.

"I thought you were on duty."

"I am," said Justice. "I came here to see what all the fuss was about."

"Oh, we've had parties like this one before. You're not missing much," Strength teased.

In reply Justice placed a hand on her arm and motioned her away.

"I'd like to stay longer, but I can't."

"Duty."

"But I did stop by long enough to bring you this," he said as he took her hand, palm up.

A small box covered in fine silks and velvets was placed in it.

"Open it."

Inside was a golden torque bracelet, with lion's heads on each end.

"Oh, Justice, this is lovely!" She took it out and placed it on her wrist. "But I don't think you took time out from duty just to give me this."

"I didn't."

"What then—" she began, then gasped. Whispered. "Oh, Justice..."

A smile tugged at her mouth, while an identical one took its place on Justice's face.

"I'm taking that to be a yes?"

Strength fought for words for several minutes. She barely noticed that Passage and Misery were standing in the doorway, exchanging conspiratorial grins.

"Is it?"

"Of course it is love," she said, and flung herself into an embrace which left Passage and Misery to tittering.

"I must go now," Justice said as he let her go. "But I will return. By then I expect the news to have reached everyone," he added with a wink.

"I'll be waiting," she said, before returning to the feast.

Misery and Passage were already chattering excitedly to Seven and Cuauhtli when she returned to her seat.
eight_or_eleven: (Tarot)
Stories end, and stories begin.

One chapter in the endless saga was over, to make way for the next.

Flanked on each side by her lions, Strength looked out at a sky that seemed to be both gold and purple, as if someone had been playing with this world's gradient settings.

It amused her, in a way. The sky was not always like this.

But it was pretty.

A nice change to the usual, even if the usual was always changing.

Change.

Ah, yes. Change.

It had come to one of them, and now, she thought, it was coming to her.

She remembered the meeting where they all gathered to discuss and argue the matters set before them. There she'd made a personal choice.

She would go back to him, if he asked her to.

He had, and she did.

Just like old times, she mused, mind drifting back to that night.

It was like time had not passed at all.

A sound of sand whispering as footsteps disturbed the grains. All but silent, but she heard it, and knew without looking who was making their way over.

Justice.

He had decided to come out here to be with her. And she welcomed his presence.

"How does it feel?" he asked her, as Shujaa moved away from his mistress to allow Justice to stand next to her, to put a hand on her. If she welcomed it, he welcomed it.

Strength provided the other half of the gesture by leaning against the other card.

"I think you know," she teased.

He did know.

"I want to say 'as good as before'," she began, then added, "and some part of me wishes to say 'better'. But I don't think either response is fitting. Neither is truly adequate enough."

Justice moved his hand from her arm to her waist, his arm crossing her back.

The familiar touch caused an old and very familiar feeling to rise, and with it, old and familiar anxieties.

"Because this time, we start anew. Truly anew. We walk a path together that is being repaved as well as being discovered for the first time. Unlike before, we are given liberty to love."

Love. Yes.

This time there was the freedom to truly face and feel love without any hesitation or fear to barricade the door to their hearts with.

It was strange, and yet welcoming.

Strength was going to discover just what courage meant, and what it meant to be courage.

"I am not sure if this time it will last," Strength said. "It may be as it was before. A time to enjoy, not for its permanency but for what it gave us."

"Permanency is not why you came back. Nor is it something you promised me the night you did come back. I will not lament if it is not permanent. I will enjoy what I have for however long I have it. That, I think, will do. And if it does become permanent? Then I shall have a reason to rejoice."

"I think you did quite a bit of rejoicing that night," Strength teased her returned lover. "Enough that the others knew what had transpired between us even without having to tap into the network that connects us all."

Justice coughed. She knew he was blushing. It made her laugh.

"You had reason to," she added. "And you still do. This time, whatever happens between us, it will be for and because of love. That, more than anything else, is cause to rejoice. Because the cards are at last beginning the next stage of their evolution. I for one will welcome this change."

"And what about the others? Do you think those that object will change their minds?"

"If they do, I will be happy. If not? I will wish them well whatever they decide to do. I will not begrudge them that."

Justice nodded, and silence fell about them, as they watched the gold and purple tones swirl and shift in a slow and subtle dance over the ocean. As though it intended to reflect the ever-shifting state of affairs below it, the ever-shifting state of affairs in the lives of the cards.

They stayed like that for what felt like hours. Or was it days? Time meant nothing here.

"We should get back to the castle," Strength said after the lengthy pause. "I think it's time for a little more rejoicing."

This time, it was Justice's turn to laugh...

Names.

Mar. 11th, 2008 07:22 pm
eight_or_eleven: (Tail tug!)
Like all the other days in the last fortnight, the cubs had been sequestered away in another part of the castle. It was their request, once they had found their voices, after all. They needed the time alone to deliberate their names.

After all, now that they had voices, they would also need identities. Something to distinguish them from each other.

Strength sat at the ocean's edge, watching the waves lap lazily against the shore; Shujaa lying behind her. Against the near-white sand, he was hard to pick out.

How do stars and star-children choose their names? she wondered. Was it the way some races did it? Was it a matter of coming into the knowledge of what it always was, and you simply needed to wait long enough for the awareness to be realised? Or was it something you chose after deliberation? Or did their mother tell them what the name was, and that was that?

Well. They had all the time they needed; she just had to wait.


It would not be long.


Though time seems to be more anomaly than anything else here, it does pass. And in the space of what humans would call "a day", the cubs came out of the castle and down to the shore.

"You have names now?" A simple question that allowed the cubs to tell Strength how the naming was done.

Yes, we do, said one of the males. Our mother had to awaken that part of us that would allow us to access our names.

So that was how it was done...

"And what names were revealled to you?"

If the cubs could smile, they would.

Strength had that "don't keep me in the dark" look.

The other male stepped forward. I am Fundisho.

The male who had spoken added, And I am Ndia.

"And you two? What names did you recieve?"

Utani, said one of the females, and the other said, Nuru.

Strength grinned. "'Direction', 'path', 'kinship' and 'radiance'. They are all good names."

We're glad you approve, said Fundisho. As is our mother.

There was a nod from Strength. "Well. Now that you are named, what say we have a little celebration for the six of us?"
eight_or_eleven: (Windswept)
Sometime after the journey of Draco to the Tarot's world and his return to Milliways...


Some time had passed since Strength had set foot in her home world. In fact, not since Mary Anne had been crowned the Queen of Swords [with the appropriate festivities of course]. That wasn't what had brought her here today. Nor was it the boy Draco Malfoy. She was old enough to understand that what's done is done; there is nothing to do except wait and see if he passed through her sphere of influence.

She figured he would, eventually. He'd need to find his inner strength to face this trying time, but that day wasn't today.

No. She came here because she wanted to come here. She'd developed a habit of spending far too much time in the Bar at the End of the Universe that she was neglecting her true home.

So that was why she stood on the shoreline looking out at the now-turquois ocean playing about under a topaz sky. It was mid-morning, with a nice wind brought in from the ocean. Just the kind of weather to simply do a whole lot of nothing, or to enjoy being home.

Not far from her sat a pile of stones. Flat. About the size of a man's palm. Perfect for skipping. She picked one up, pulled her arm back, and gave it a throw. It hopped several times before landing in the water with a satisfying "plop". This action was repeated until all the stones were gone. She didn't worry though. If she or someone else here wanted them to return to where they were they'd reappear, just as they were when they were found.

Which they promptly did, if a touch wet from their dunking in the water. And were subsequently tossed back into the water.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

It was good to be home.

It's never too late to start coming back on a regular basis. This family might not be the easiest to get along with but they still miss you.

"I have spent centuries coming in and out of this place," she points out to the lion. "It's nothing new."

"He has a point," said an all-too-familiar voice. Justice's. Of all the cards Justice was the one she held closest to her heart. Some even said it was because the two cards were the only ones known to switch places in the decks the sentients used.

"He does. I've just become fond of the bar."

"To the point where you're starting to neglect visiting our world?"

A stone flew out towards the ocean, bouncing off the surface and then disappearing.

"We're beginning to wonder if you'll ever come back. If you'll ever call this place 'home' ever again."

"It is always home. I might spend a century away from it but it's still home."

"Then come back to it. Come back here."

His tone said, "Come back to me." And she understood the unspoken words.

"Justice I can't. We can't. That was in the past. Things ... change. We grow. We're not static any more than the people we serve are." She turns around to face the blindfolded man. "I'm not Misery who desires normalcy for the sake of normalcy. Chasing after sentients in the vain hope that this time, this time it'll 'work out'."

Despite the blindfold Justice looked saddened.

"You're dearer to me than anyone else, but we have to move on."

"So you can spend more time mingling amongst the sentients in the hopes that one will fulfill your interest for as long as he lives?"

"Justice when did you start harbouring resentments? We drifted apart; that's all there is to say. Whether I'm looking for a mortal to spend time with isn't important. Especially when I have not, and am not currently looking either."

Justice sighed. They'd drifted apart more than two hundred years ago, yet it was still fresh in his mind.

"Maybe one day our paths will cross again but right now they've diverged. And as much as I wish to stay there are places I need to go to."

"Not the bar?"

"No silly; not the bar," she laughed. "I am to visit the Star Kingdom to see if Leo Minor has had cubs recently. It's a rare event when she does, but if she's had any..."

Strength has considered giving me a companion of my own to spend time with, the lion says.

"Yes. And if we find that Leo Minor has had cubs, and if she's willing to give one to me... Well. We'll just have to give you a name so you know who I'm talking to."

I already know who you are speaking to and as for a name I have chosen one.

"You have?" said Justice. The animal companions of the cards did not always have names, but those that do were either named by their card companions or chose their names themselves. "What is it?"

I am to be called "Shujaa", the lion—Shujaa—said simply.

"'Brave one', in the language of one of the sentients. It suits you," Justice approved.

It should. I am after all an embodiment of courage.

"I thought you were the embodiment of animal passions tamed," joked Strength, and the lion hrumphed. "Well. Shujaa. I believe it is time we made our way to see Leo Minor. To see if she has cubs." She turned to Justice once again and placed a kiss on his cheek. It made him feel as though they were back three hundred years in the past.

"There's always the future," she said, promising nothing but leaving things open to possibility.

And then she summoned the bridge that linked all the worlds together: Tarot. Zodiac. Numbers. Constellations.

And left.

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