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1843. Post Norrell and Strange England.

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Joined: 26 Jun 2005
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Location: library, 7th floor

PostPosted: Thu Mar 23, 2006 9:53 am    Post subject: 1843. Post Norrell and Strange England. Reply with quote

Character Introduction: Lily Hollowstone

The West Devonshire chapter of the Society for Practical Magick met in the spacious and altogether finely accoutered drawing room of a Master Darcy Cleverly–rich paneling of cherry, a tasteful painting of natural and expensive greenery, along with tapestries which in who-knew-how-many centuries might still adorn the walls. The fireplace was enormous, and lit with a merry glow that served to accentuate the reddened cheeks seen as a noble inevitability after so many fine glasses of port and sherry (dessert wines went best in the evening, even though there had been no proper dinner; no one was complaining, especially since they went along so marvelously with a little tray of swiftly disappearing fruit tarts). The chairs were in rows, as befit more a lecture hall than a drawing room, but such things had to occur—this was a co-educational venture on the part of Mr Cleverly, and he had put away his enormous wing chairs for the crowd of murmuring practical magicians that gathered in his home once a fortnight. The ladies were few in number (and much less tipsy), but notably absent was the hostess, who had greeted everyone, but clearly was less convinced on the appropriateness of magick than her husband, and after the show of support had withdrawn with a headache.

The room was alive with the murmurs of debate, growing evermore heated as the wine went sloshing away down cultured drainpipes. “PishTOSH,” stated Elbermore Waxbottom, patting his ample belly, “Everyone knows that the best magicians come from the north. It’s a fact. The magick is simply stronger there. They grow up with it. Why, just last week a little child from near Scotland went and –”

“You know they proved that was a hoax, Waxbottom?” grinned the rakish young Christopher Limestern, “If you want a real bit of magic, it has to be from books. Books, man.”

“Pah. Norrellite.”

“Bollocks, Howie, everyone knows that practical magick is about doing, not just reading. EVERYONE. Em. Pardon my language, miss.” A man in back bowed to a startled young woman who was fanning herself uncomfortably at his outburst.

“But where you learn it. You either go out and start chanting children’s rhymes, or wait until inspiration hits—which it does a sight rarely anymore—this isn’t the old days, with kiddies popping out of street corners and turning your top hat to silver thread. Books are the only option. Or apprenticing yourself. It so happens I am taking an—“

Limestern tossed his head back and laughed. Howard Elderflax had proclaimed himself a magician virtually overnight when The Return had happened, and no-one had seen him do much of anything, apart from start the birds chirping God Save the Queen. Certainly not so impressive. But it was hard to be impressive and not get fined by the Cinque Dragownes. Impressive was reserved for military service, or perhaps assisting the large trading companies—economic warfare was still warfare after all. But then again, most ordinary people didn’t use magic except… the practical kind. Tonight the West Devonshire group had discussed egglaying in hens, magical mops in the kitchen, and magically propped loads on carts— balancing those things would save countless lives every year, it was calculated.

A lady in the rear in a rather large hat in the back opened her fan. It was painted with a peacock spreading its feathers, one by one, just as the folds slowly crinkled open, the bird spread its tail.

The man in the back—Horace Leigh—shook his head. He had come late, and all the tarts were gone. He was feeling more out of sorts than ordinary, and he shook his fist.“You mock, but how many of you have done anything outside your parlors?” he asked. “Magic moves to inspire us, to sweep us off our feet. You would turn it into another mundanity? If a man takes an apprentice, sometimes the apprentice teaches him!”

Cleverly stepped in to moderate, smoothing down his neat mustache. It was his drawing room, after all. “I believe the discussion,” he called out from his chair near the fire, “was more to the tune of ‘how are we to learn new, useful magic if not from books or apprenticing ourselves to another magician?’” The harrumphing of Leigh only the first murmur in a series of mutterings among those who rather agreed with him, and those whom the wine was making more vocal than would otherwise be ordinary.

“What about Faerie?” The question was so direct and clear that the room went dead silent. It had been a woman’s voice, surely, from somewhere in the back. Brocade shifted, suits rustled, and people craned around. The peacock fan gave a languorous wave. Horace Leigh turned and blinked. Standing quite near him was a woman he had not noticed before. Had she been standing there the whole time? Surely. She had the same look of society boredom the other ladies had. But more than one confused face reflected that she was a first-time visitor to this particular club.

Waxbottom huffed. “Faerie, as well we have learned from the esteemed Strange and Norrell, is wildly unpredictable, and quite dangerous. As a matter of fact, the government has established its own branch of Faerie Relations, for I do not believe that anyone denies the threat it poses.”

“I do read the papers, sir,” came the voice again, mildly amused behind the fan. “The greatest magicians of the past and present have all had their time in Faerie, with Faerie. That cannot be denied.”

Christopher Limestern squinted back towards the less-firelit corner where the woman stood, rubbing his angular chin. He had a hawkish nose, and while he felt that it lent him a certain nobility, in this light it made him look rather gargoylesque. “It isn’t reported in the news so much anymore, but certainly Faerie sightings are much more common than they used to be. One might say the overall contact with Faerie has increased. Why take chances?”

“The peasantry in those rural locations where the roads run are taking to the old superstitions against having their children stolen, or their crops turned to rot,” nodded Howie somberly.

There was a feather in her hat, and it swayed slightly as she shook her head. “Why not, when all else will consign you to trifles?”

“Hear, hear!” shouted Horace Leigh enthusiastically, and a number of half-drunken gentlemen joined him. Cleverly and Waxbottom began to attempt to shout down the shouters, and it was some time before order was restored, along with a second round of fruit tarts.

But by then the lady was gone.

In a dingy alleyway, far from the society dwelling of Darcy Cleverly, there was a faint mewling, somewhere within a heap of garbage. Light footsteps stopped. The refuse spilled aside, turning into rose petals, leaving an empty wine cask resting in the middle like a crude ornament in a field. The nails that had resealed the top flew out, and the cask peeled open like the skin of a fruit. Nested in the center, creating kittenish weak sounds, was a tiny child, scarcely more than an infant.

“I knew I would find you here.” A comforting murmur. With a rustle of skirts so light they seemed made of gauze alone, there was the approach, and hands lifted the ill-cared for creature. The deformity—a leg with no foot. “Is this why?” A whisper, a frown of displeasure. “Come with Lily. I have a better home for you.”

The alley was empty when the wind picked up, blowing rose petals into motes of fire.
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Joined: 04 Jan 2006
Posts: 158
Location: the land of corn

PostPosted: Fri Mar 24, 2006 12:27 am    Post subject: Re: 1843. Post Norrell and Strange England. Reply with quote

Character Introduction: Veronica Lewis

Dark eyes stared out at the dismal gray streets of London, heavy lidded, yet wakeful still. How could she sleep, after all, knowing that soon her name would be another's, and she the chatel of a man she hardly knew?

Of course, real courtship would NEVER do. One hardly went gadding about with a man, unescorted, unguarded. Her maid, when in her mother's place, was both surruptitious and vicious whenever Veronica strayed from being a proper image of womanhood in fullest bloom.

She imagined he slept, tonight, secure in his knowledge that her dower would be lining his pockets, that she was the only heir to the family's fortune. And her mother likely slept with quite the grin upon her face, thinking what this match would bring her, what a pleasure it would be having that mannish daughter of hers out of the house.

Her father had rather spoilt her, after all, letting her sit at his knee, read with him... they'd followed the fantastical rebirth of English magic as it had covered the wartime papers and beyond with a shared glee her mother never seemed to hold.

It would be the end of such delights now, she imagined. Unless she was fortunate enough to have a husband indifferent enough to care little if she read tomes of magic rather than those filty little novellas that society girls babbled about.

Of course, there would be no silly attempts at drinking poison or playing around with daggers. He was a suitable match, as suitable as her mother could secure, and she'd have to go through with this sometime. Having managed to wait so long was surprising, really...spinsterhood was not so distant from this last birthday.

And at least she would get a lovely party. The dress was beautiful...showing perhaps a bit more decollatage than she ought, but of fine cloth, a stunning white. The cake was sure to be a masterpiece, and...

And at least she'd no longer have to see her mother's disapproving glares.

It wasn't as though she was sacrificing such a great freedom, anyway. Veronica had given up the feminine delusion of romance long ago, and had no intent of holding out for 'the one,' that someone, all those things girls babble about. To be comfortable was the best one could have.

A woman was a bauble, anyway. A doll to be displayed, a bird to sing, to flit about in her silks, ruddy cheeked and feverish from shortness of breath...damn corsets! Damn them to the deepest pit in hell! A decoration. She'd learned that long ago. Her father had indulged her boyish curiousity far too much.

She sighed, returning to her bed, laying down. Tomorrow would be wearying, trying on the soul and body, she'd better try her best to rest, lest she misstep.
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