Clio - In The Wake of War[Toggle Names]
Description: In the aftermath of war, there is a great deal of rebuilding for the new nation of Illyria. Dizzy, the Gear at the center of the conflict with the NOL looks toward being a key figure bearing the weight of the young country. Clio St. Jeanne, woman without a country looks forward to a future of uncertainty. The two share a moment, advice, and support on the walls of the Great Castle Illyria.
The ashes of the flames were all that was left.
Castle Illyria represents the seat of power amongst Illyria, where the ancient line of kings ruled over their lands. Perched within the Illyria valley in the Albanian Alps, the castle bears a strange blend of classic medival architecture and almost ancient Macedonian and Greek influences, all with modernized nuances running through it. Endless white marble spires and vaulted arches intersect throughout the castle grounds, giving a strangely gothic style to it despite the brightly designed masonry. The entrance to the castle bears a sturdy gatehouse leading to a narrow, over-vaulted corridor of the entrance.
The ramparts of the castle share this blend of styles. Electric lamps illuminate the parapets, enhanced with magical energy. Many carry a checkerboard pattern upon the floor, bringing alternating black and white tiles. Vines and greenery overgrow on the parapets and in decorative pots, giving a kind of floral life to the walls.
Unusually for what is normally defensive fortifications, there are great marble fountains decorating on high. The ramparts cross not only on the exterior walls, but over the courtyard and gardens of the castle complex, intertwining with the tall towers that pepper the castle grounds. The pathways are reasonably wide, big enough for two vehicles to drive up and down across without pushing each other on the sides.
Several such carts were high up on the parapets, used to collected the broken debris left when the dragon, Kulshedra, unleashed her essence within the castle walls. Here in the early morning, the Sacred Order acolytes were hard at work, carrying off broken statues and hewn off stone chunks. The architecture of the castle was still mostly intact; but the debris was dangerous as well as unsightly. These were the occupants of Illyria now: The NOL had left, and to the discomfort of many Sacred Order members, the Gears had arrived, lead by Dr. Paradigm. Now, it was a mingling of the order and the monsters, the very creatures who attempted to sack Japan. They kept away from the humans for the most part, but that was all for the citizens of Illyria. The followers of Ky Kiske and Leo Whitefang, the rogue gears of the NOL.
And of course Dizzy.
The Command Gear was standing here upon the walls, looking over the lands across the Valley of Illyria. She was in her disguise; the long black dress that was loose and concealing of her form. She was much more careful about hiding her tail and her wings underneath the thick clothes. Her blue hair was done up in a bun, held together by a yellow ribbon. The red-eye girl stared out at the rolling hills concealing the barrows, the empty tents, the deserted villages, the still mysterious forests, all inside the confines of the unapproachable mountains. This was their land now. The home of the Gears, and of the Sacred Order. She was rescued from the NOL, and brought here for it to be her home. And yet, it was... empty. Hollow. Dizzy did not understand her new home.
And she would keep looking at it, yearning for it's meaning.
Put the chairs up. Turn out the lights. Welcome to the aftermath.
Welcome to the rest of your life, Clio St. Jeanne.
She was out of uniform. In the rush to leave; the clearing and breakdown, the loss and suffering and the counting of heads and tallying of lives lost and sundered, she had managed to loot what she could from her gear and from whatever she could find. She had her sweater. She had a fresh pair of boots. She had an extra pair of leggings. She had enough to keep herself warm and covered. And for now, that's all she could ask for. To not be in the uniform she turned her back on.
The chain was gone. Her chain. No. the NOL's chain. She would make a new one. That wouldn't be impossible. She could find one and etch a new series of containment formulae into the metal. It wasn't a total loss. It only hurt like hell when she thought about it.
It had been some time since Clio had returned to the castle. She didn't have a reason to, nor did she really have a reason to leave. She was there, and that was all she really had. Existence. And so she wanders the castle. Not helping, because if she did, she would feel that she needed to pay into this whole experiment and despite leaving the NOL, she was uncertain about all of it. So she simply walks. She walks, and climbs, and tries to get higher up as she goes along because it's what she's always done when she needed to think.
She wonders if Jubei ever figured that out about her in their meetings.
In getting higher up, she clambers to the parapets. The high walls that oversee the valley. A place to look out at everything and take it all in. Designed at one time to see invaders coming from a great distance, now in the wake of battle just a very good view and a stark reminder of the costs and the ideals that paid those costs.
Choices. It was all about choices in the end. Just like everything has been since she found herself returned to Japan. It makes her laugh, quietly, sardonically, but she does laugh at it all.
And while she laughs, amused at absurdity and poignancy as one, she sees that she isn't alone up here on these walls. She looks over to the girl. She watches her. Tries to piece things together. The dress. The blue hair. Red eyes. Clio looks back down from the wall to the countryside. Not NOL. Possibly Sacred Order. Most likely not since she isn't helping. Something else.
"It's a hell of a view," she says, voice cracking before she clears her throat. She hasn't spoken in a while. "Sorry. Just didn't expect someone else to be up here like this." When curious, talk. It's served Clio well this long. Might as well keep trying it.
Dizzy actually gasps, in a hesitation of surprise. People were... she needed to get used to people again. Real people, not the people that Relius forced into her mind. She didn't like Relius. She didn't like NOL. She didn't know Clio used to be NOL. In fact, she didn't know Clio at all. The pulse of dangerous presence comes, but fades just as quickly. She looks at the other woman, and struggles a smile. "Oh... you startled me..." Clasping her hands before her, she gives a curt bow.
"... Hello, I am Edith."
A false name, yes, but Dizzy was trying to be better at this now. "I am part of the Sacred Order! I am, I am looking out at our new Kingdom." 'Edith' looks out, her face apprehensive. "This is... this is like our village now, this is our home." There is a pause there.
"This means we cannot go back to our old home, doesn't it?"
She shakes her head, as she walks to the parapet, delicately placing her hand on it. "There is very little people here. And... and there are Gears too, I understand. Gears and people. There will be more of them, and... " She kept trailing off, her gown dancing with the soft gust of wind. "And... what does this all mean?" She straightens her back in a jolt, and turns back over. "Oh! I didn't ask your name!"
"Are you part of the Sacred Order, too, or...?"
Clio looks away, lips thin, she didn't want to surprise this girl. She was much quieter a person without the rattling and clinking clanking of her chain. Something she may have to get used to for the time being. The weight and obviousness of the metal lash always lent a bit of size to the actually fairly small St. Jeanne. Truth be told, 'Edith' is actually a bit larger than Clio when the two are put next to each other.
Something about that, and startling Edith, made the brief apprehension shift a bit toward amusement. She isn't dressed in her NOL uniform, no, it's civilian attire now. She managed to sneak her life sweater out from the camp before it all went down. So there was that. Not as fancy as Dizzy's gown, but it works. And it's purple.
"That is exactly what you're doing," she says after Edith's curious and stilted statement. "Hard to believe, I know. All of this is somehow all the Order's. Pretty big step up, if you ask me."
She follows Edith's look out into the nature in the distance. The newly reborn Illyria. "I don't know where your old home is. But I've heard more than a few people say you can never go home again. This might be one of those times." She flops her hands into her pockets and leans back on her heel. One boot scrapes the toe on the flooring.
She stands not far off, listening when Edith talks. The way this girl processes information. Clio listens. She likes to listen. "You didn't, but that's okay. You have a lot on your mind. I'm Clio, by the way. Nice to meet you, Edi."
Clio gives the other girl a smile before she leans forward and rests her forearms on the parapet. Looking out over the valleys, forest, and the border mountains in the distance. "And yeah, Gears and People. Get a chance to choose how they want to do things. Might work out, might not, but at least they have the choice now." A heavy sigh, but a contented one. A breath that leaves guilt and anger and fear behind. "I'm not part of the order. I'm just someone Leo met a few times. That's all. Don't even know how long I can stay here. But it's good meeting you."
Clio scratches at the side of her nose when she considers Edith once more. "What do you think it means for all those people and Gears?"
Edith trails off, considering the name carefully. "Clio is a very pretty name. Is it French? Or- Or Italian?" The Command Gear liked thinking about different countries and languages, even at this time. The girl was strange, and her aura, her presence was... likely uncomfortable. Dizzy remembered her old home, her village. She killed everyone there, probably. A tremble of pain, of memory run through her. She shuts her eyes, and gives a deep breath. "I don't want to think of my old home. This is my new home. And, well, I think the Gears are very kind, and... and want a home too. Gears don't really have a home, I think. Not a home they really... own. Just places that they live. But with people..."
"I don't know if humans and Gears can live in peace together."
"I want them to, though!" Edith hastily adds. "They are very kind, in their way. I just... I just worry that there will be cruelty, a territorial nature to them." She looks out. Already, she could see some of the Gears in the distance, at an abandoned village, so far away. "What if they decide they don't want them around anymore? It can be very frightening sometimes, when your neighbors are so driven to get rid of you. I remember the war, I remember their... their attack. That they drive us away, to live their way. If we defend ourselves... and it becomes a war? I don't know how we can live in peace." She sighs, touching a hand upon her chest. "Do you..."
"Do you understand what I mean, Clio?"
"Greek," Clio says with a smile. "But I'm American. I mean I was born in France, but I was just a baby when I left." She laughs, waving it off and she looks out at the fields again. "Not that any of it matters now. I don't really have a country to go back to after all of this. Just sort of me, now. On my own."
Edith has an aura. It's off. Certainly, but Clio's been around Relius Clover, Captain Hazama, Heidern. Gears like Jack-O. Plenty of dangerous and weighty auras have been around. She can handle another one. And somehow, something of the pain and the timidity being shown despite the danger is in a way reassuring. Or in need of reassuring. Clio doesn't know which exactly.
And then comes the weighty statement. But following is the quick cover. And Clio, Clio laughs. A bittersweet, quiet, distant and short laugh. She hangs her head and runs her hand up and brushes through her short hair. "I understand," she tells Edith. She closes here eyes for a long moment before she sighs and opens them again. "I completely understand."
Clio draws a circle on the castle parapet. Fingers play at sigils. A spark of violent flame reaches up toward Clio's raised finger. Dances in a spiral, lashes for the girl's finger, and dies out. "There's always what ifs. People are dangerous. Gears are dangerous. What ifs are everywhere. But what ifs don't control you, or me, or anyone. The ifs will come, we can't control those. We can only choose how to react when something comes. Sometimes you fight. Sometimes you lie. Sometimes you run away and hide. Sometimes it hurts, but it has to, because the alternative to hurting is not feeling at all."
"Sorry, that made better sense in my head."
"Greek... French... American?"
Dizzy tilts her head at that, trying to make sense. You can be more than one? More than -two?- Dizzy was afraid to ask about how many parents she had. At the very least, she understood what Dizzy was saying. Or at least, told her that she understood. As she draws the magic up, Dizzy watches with both awe and curiousity. She tries to listen, tries to understand. But as she speaks and speaks, when she reaches the end... DIzzy shakes her head. She only can whisper an answer.
"I remember when I didn't have to feel too much."
Dizzy had a forlorn voice to her. "I remember when I didn't.... have to worry about anything, in the village. Sometimes a sick animal, sometimes some noisy neighbors. But there never was anything so... concerning. Like this. We're responsible for this place, this is our garden. And it is a very big garden. And if we neglect it, it will wither away and die. I do not like these what ifs. I don't not like being hurt. But..." She shuts her eyes, turning away from Clio. I
"I don't think I will ever feel nothing ever again."
She looks over the interior of the castle, the hard work of the Sacred Order acolytes, who toil to repair their castle. "It would be much easier if we could just disappear. Just not be here anymore. And just be left alone. Maybe they will leave us alone though. All the people outside of Illyria. Maybe we won't have to worry about lies, or about fighting. Maybe we can just be in peace with ourselves, and the world. I would like that the most." She doesn't turn back to Clio, only shaking her head once more as she looks down.
"That's just a dream though, isn't it."
Clio turns to jump up and sit on the parapet while Edith gets dizzy over trying to figure out the nationalities and nomenclature being thrown around. "The name is from Greece way way back ago. People just like it and kept using it. My French mother gave it to me. Then we moved to America when I was a baby and that's where I grew up." It's not much of one, but it's an offer of a more direct and concrete backdrop of how she has her name and the situation regarding her nationality.
She doesn't need to go into why there's no father. But Clio doesn't know the why on that, either.
Clio leans forward, hands on her knees. She watches and studies Edith's back. She frowns with a sad-eyed concern. She feels a small pang in her chest. "You're not wrong," she tells Dizzy, "I want to say you are. But you're not."
She looks away, toward the greater profile of the castle itself. Its gothic structure stretching upwards to the sky, a white spectacle of stone architecture ripped straight from a fairy story in the most fitting way possible. "Easier, yeah. Sure. Easier is a lot of things. But easier doesn't always mean better. Trust me, sometimes the best things you do can hurt you the most. Even if you don't always want it to."
Clio looks back to Edith. She watches the woman for a moment. "What do you like to do?"
These were very heavy thoughts.
Dizzy did not like to think about it, but these kinds of heavy thoughts came to her very easily. Especially the future of her gears. And why were they her gears? It was a burden, and she did not like that burden. Especially since the last time she acted on her burden, she nearly destroyed the Sacred Order. It was... it was very heavy. But Clio at least explains the three nations, which relaxes her quite a bit. And when she says easier... Dizzy preferred easier, yes.
But what did she like to do?
"Oh..." Dizzy begins, falling deep into thought. "I like... animals. I like going and finding animals, and feeding them. Especially deer, and little chipmunks. I like birds too though, they have the most beautiful singing voices. Sometimes I try to sing along, but the birds have very sensitive ears, so when they do not like my singing, they go quiet to very politely tell me I am off-key!" Dizzy shuts her eyes, giving a long, happy sigh. She opens her eyes again, looking at Clio as she clasps her hands before herself again.
"I also like laying in Ky Kiske's lap!"
Dizzy smiles at Clio, bouncing on her heels. "He has a very soft lap, and I like to lay my head on it. He plays with my hair, and pets me very gently. Being petted very gently is very nice. Sometimes I get so comfortable, that I pretend that I am a little animal, going inside a tree trunk, and I fall fast asleep." She looks innocently at Clio, cocking her head aside.
"Do you like animals, birds, or laps too?"
The world is a weighty place. And Clio can tell there's a lot of weight behind Edith here. The aura. She's been around weight like Edith's. But all of those she felt the presence of, well, they were all strong in other ways. Ways that Edith didn't seem. And that, Clio felt, was a terrible tragedy for the world and for Edith alike.
And even if Clio wasn't the same force, she could still be stronger in a different way for the Sacred Order Acolyte. And sometimes that meant just hearing out what someone liked to do.
Animals, always a good place to go with. The singing thing is a little odd, bit Disney Princess, but then again, they were talking on a castle and Edith was wearing a gown. Screw it, thought Clio, not the strangest thing seen today. "Deer are cool. So are chipmunks. And say, if you like animals like that. You're in this new place that's unfamiliar to you, maybe you could take your time and see what kind of animals you can find. Write them down in a notebook or something."
And that's when things turn to Ky Kiske, Knight of Order of Soft Laps. Clio snorts, biting back her laughter. Still, the image, and Edith's all around cute demeanor make it really hard to not take it heart. "He makes you feel safe?" Clio asks, "Good, stick with that. That's a good thing." Probably for everyone given the aura that this girl exudes. A very, very good thing for everyone.
"And yeah, I do like those things. Don't have any real laps though. But I'm good with the animals and birds. I had this cute little big headed panda phone charm I was going to give to a friend. But, things happened and I lost it." Clio knocks her heels against the stone she sits on. "Little secret, but I melt you so much as get a dog, a cat, rat, any kind of little cuddly thing."
"Oh, a notebook!"
The Command Gear perks up at that idea. "I like writing. And reading! I think I could write a book, on the animals. I hope there are animals here. I have not... I have not even seen many birds in Illyria. It is a lonely place. But maybe that will change." The snort, however, does make her nervous. Why does everyone laugh about Ky's lap? Was it very ticklish to other people too? "He makes me feel very safe, by the way. He... helped me, when I needed it." She didn't want to tell her how he rescued her. It would be too revealing. She wanted to keep her secrets, even though Clio liked the same animals. She didn't know what a panda was, but if she lost it, it must be very sad. But she shares her little secret.
The word seems to only confuse the girl. There was an... innocence to her. Even her grasp of language seemed immature. Dizzy tilts her head to the side, eyebrows furrowed. "Melt... any kind of cuddly thing..." She tries to connect the word together. And she gasps.
"Oh! You don't mean keep the poor animal a prisoner, do you?"
With the success of the notebook idea, Clio grows a little more confident in talking with Edith. Maybe she just needs something she can hold onto, something small that she can control and she can make happen without having to worry about the bigger problems, thinks Clio as she kicks her heels against the stone parapet and smiles. "It's quiet," she admits, "As the fighting calms down, you'll see the animal's come back. And you can be the one to catalogue them and write down all what you see. That might even help the Sacred Order know what's natural and what isn't after all the faerie stuff."
Clio swings herself up and stands, balanced, on the Parapet. She stretches upward and she may have laughed a little at Edith's talk of laps, she doesn't find it all that funny. "I'm glad he's there for you. People sometimes need people," she says. She pauses for a moment and considers Edith. And the girl's approach to language now that she's questioning melt.
Clio's eyes snap wider than before. "Whoa, no, no melt like that. Just, I feel really happy with cute little things around. Like kittens and sh. . .other small cute things," she corrects, realizing now how Edith takes things.
A clever stroke of thought comes to Clio when she looks back down to the courtyard. A quick glance to Edith and a hum. "And it's not just people. Darkstalkers and Gears need others sometimes too. I just sort of call them all people. Because the ones I've met all basically seem like people to me."
Nothing so small to hold and control.
Or maybe it was?
Dizzy didn't think of herself as someone who wanted to control things. And yet, the shadows it would always pull at her. To lead and inspire the Gears, the Darkstalkers. To protect them. She could do so much more, if she just reached out, like she would a small bird, or a little rodent, and just cup it in her hands. She could do that to all of humanity, of Gearkind. Just reach out, and hold it, and let it peer up at her so gently. And Dizzy would be so gentle, even if it nipped at her.
Even though she could just squeeze.
But Dizzy doesn't think about that. She doesn't reflect on that. She just knows that she wanted to help out. And it was hard to lift heavy things in a dress. She could. Not. Wear the dress. But that would... that would reveal things. She did not want to take her dress, especially in front of Clio. She wanted to keep herself covered. "I like helping. I am just not very helpful now... So it would be good..." She sighs, but she takes a deep breath. "But melting sounds like a good thing. Like Ky's lap is melting, right? Or just melt? Melt the lap..." Dizzy looks at clio with wide eyes.
The topic shift was a save for both of them.
"Oh. I suppose... the same can be for Gears, and Darkstalkers." Dizzy says, with understanding. "That people are just like them, right? I don't know if there are that many differences between the worst of people and the worst of Gears. But I haven't met many truly terrible Gears. They are just following orders; the same with Darkstalkers. I don't know if there are any wicked Darkstalkers here... I think."
"Do you think Illyria can be a place of tolerance, family, and friendship, then?"
Arms crossing, Clio looks out and surveys the landscape from her perch. A land that wasn't hers. A people that weren't hers. She was without a great deal, but in return she finds a degree of terrifying freedom. One that allows her the choice between so many possibilities that lay ahead of her. The wheel of fate spun, and like a roulette ball, Clio's future bounced and bounced with each choice made.
She could squeeze. Anyone could squeeze. But if the option to squeeze was there, then so to was the option to not. And that made all the difference in Clio's mind.
"Not being able to help now doesn't mean you can't help a lot later. Don't let it get you down. You'll have your chance, Edith," Clio says with a grin. "And yeah, it's a metaphor. Like, the word doesn't mean exactly what it means, but it describes it in a kind of sort of way."
But things are more serious a moment later. "There's a lot of good people that follow bad orders sometimes. They may have their reasons. As far as I think, you just got to give them the choice. Find a way that they can choose something good, or something bad. It's not always easy. I get it wrong sometimes. And sometimes I don't know if I'm that great a judge. But yeah, I think it's possible Illyria can be great. Won't be easy, but a lot of the time really great things aren't easy."
"Thank you, Clio."
Dizzy smiles at the words. The presence softens; the dangerous aura gone. The command gear felt more comfortable now, as she considers the ambitions. "I could... help grow some gardens. THen people could eat. ANd maybe I could make blankets, for sewing. And we need a library, so we can have lots of books to read. There are... there are a lot I can do. But I can see that better now. It's hope. This is a place of hope." Her smiles fades a moment, as she looks very thoughtful.
"... What is your future here?"
Dizzy's reaction was almost half-minded. But the tone was sincere. "I will be following the birds and animals, I think. But what about you? What do you want... want your future to be here?" Dizzy flattens her dress out; for a moment, you could almost see the shape of the tail. "I think it's very easy to make your future now. If you ever wanted something in life, you should try and do it now. It's just..."
"What would that be?"
"Now you're getting it," Clio says, smiling at the compliment. She turns and sits, legs hanging over the edge of the parapet. The whole of Illyria laid out in front of her. She leans back, hanging her head back to look toward the interior of the castle's grounds. "And that's plenty of stuff you can do. And I bet the Order would appreciate it. Just help the way you can and the way you want. It's up to you."
But then the question is on her. What is her future? What is her plan. She lays back. She blinks. She rolls herself backward, flipping off the wall's edge and back onto the ramparts proper. Righting herself, her hands rest inside of her sweater pocket. Her lips thin, her eyes looking off to the distance.
She could lie, but right now isn't something she needs to do. "I don't know," she admits with a shake of her head. "Think about a lot of things. Talk to Leo. Talk to a few other friends I have. Maybe take in a few fights. Knock some sense into myself and get a little better at what it is I do."
"There's something very important to me. I want to save it. But I don't know how, or if I can. Something's gone rotten." She looks to Edith and tries to figure out a proper analogy. "It's like a sick animal, or pests in a garden. But, real big. Way, way bigger than me. Way bigger."
And she listens.
Dizzy listens to Clio's story, her future. And she... she didn't know. Dizzy didn't know a little bit ago. But when she mentions Leo, she claps her hands once. And her friends, and... fights? Fighting was not good, Dizzy thought. But she reaches the very important thing, the most important thing to her. Dizzy falls silent for a moment, taking it in. "Sick animals should always be nursed to health," Dizzy repeats, almost matter of factly. "And pests in a garden..." Dizzy gives a very serious frown.
"... All animals should eat from the garden, if they are so hungry."
Dizzy gives a firm nod. "Sometimes when something is sick, and bigger than you, like a deer, you should be very careful in how you treat it. They are scared, more scared than you are, and if they hurt you, it's out of fear, not because they are bad. But they need you to nurse them, make them better." She bows her head with a second nod, as if she is imparting wisdom on Clio. "And sometimes, even if you try your... try your best to make something better that is sick, they fall asleep and never wake up again. Baby birds do that. ANimals do that. Even... people. It is very sad, but it is part of the life, and if you always try your best... then you cannot let it hurt you anymore." Dizzy reaches out, to touch Clio lightly on the shoulder.
"Nothing is too big, that you cannot try."
There is some room for correction and clarification in Dizzy's interpretations. Clio knows this. She also knows that Edith is trying her best to help and that sometimes that's all that really matters. Years ago, someone accepted that Clio was trying to help in her own way and that has made a profound impact in the young woman's life. Recently, she could say the same.
Clio thumps against the parapet, looking upward, smiling and nodding along the wisdom imparted by Dizzy. While it isn't useful in its literal nature, she can see some glimmer of potential in it toward helping her. "Thanks, Edi," Clio says, quietly, but she clears her throat to thank her more clearly.
Clio walks from the wall to the other edge, to look down at the work going on below. And she stops when Dizzy touches her shoulder. She looks to the other woman.
Clio smiles and nods. "You're a good person, Edi. Good to know the Order has people like you with them."
Dizzy almost corrected Clio.
She wasn't Edi, she was Edith. But Edi... Edi was a nickname. Like Melt. It was okay. Dizzy wanted to be like people. And having a nickname like that was useful. So when she say thank you? And how she is a good person?
It makes her happy like how Ky Kiske's soft melty lap makes her feel.
"I... am happy you are part of the order too, Clio." She focuses those crimson eyes into Clio, a smile on her lips. "And I think I can believe in us, in Illyria." She looks out to the castle, the kingdom. "There is so much more we need to do for this land.
"I hope we can do it together, as friends!"
Log created on 19:46:25 06/04/2018 by Clio, and last modified on 01:52:50 06/07/2018.