Welcome to Valerian Night, where the story comes to you in snippets and snatches, snapshots and slivers of 300 words every week. Your input is valued and needed, for what you say may drive the story into a totally different direction. Follow the meandering coils of story that take Alyxa Fairchild onto a direct collision course with Nightmares, Dreams, Old Deities and New Heroes as her world collides with that of Réveille, the land of Waking Dreams and Dead Gods. Trail after Morpheus as he discovers the foibles and confusions of the human world and finds himself strangely enamoured thereof all the while trying to keep his Dreamer safe and ensure the continued peace of the Real World. Let the young Jazzy open your eyes and show you that the world you see is not necessarily the world you know...

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

3.17. Frowns and Birds

Alyxa’s frown went deeper than just the skin. She saw her Dream again, standing there with Odin in that strange cavern. She suddenly felt like all the drifting pieces were slowly coming together; a jigsaw puzzle of infinite size made by blind gurus and carved by invisible children with no knowledge of puzzles whatsoever.

“The Trickster?” she asked softly.

“Yes,” June Darjeeling replied, “every religion since the dawn of time has had a ‘trickster’, as with most, they are all one and the same.”

“We learn to diversify, the Tricksters are better at adapting than the rest of us,” Morpheus said to no one in particular, brushing a finger across the porcelain of his teacup; the delicately painted birds fluffed their feathers and took flight, coasting in endless circles.

-And of course Loki is the one we’re concerned with,-  Bast grumbled, stretching out to her full glorious self.
Alyxa sighed and looked at her feet. She frowned again; her sneakers were stained and worn from travel. She needed new ones. She blinked and now she was suddenly wearing a pair of purple suede pumps. A quick look at Morpheus revealed his small smile, even though his eyes were still locked in the flying birds in the china.

“Alright, so we’ve solved the mysteries of the universe, now where’s Maye?” she demanded.

“Maye is searching for Loki, I thought I’d made that obvious already,” June told her.

-Not really,- Bast grumbled.

“Fine,” Alyxa cut in, ignoring the Cat-Goddess, “why is Maye looking for Loki and how do we get to her?”

June’s eyes sparkled.

“I don’t know the answer to the first question,” she said, “and as for finding her. You’ll just have to do a little Blood Scrying, now won’t you, dear?”

-‘Blood Scrying’? –

“Alright, let’s get it over with.”

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

3.16. Lineage and Ambition

“When Maye was a young witch, her father sent her to us for tempering, to hone her talents in such a way that might make her fit for leadership. It was her father’s dream that she would succeed him in the Great Coven, and so we taught her everything we knew and when she was ready we tried her in the way that was normal. She excelled at everything we threw at her, until finally we presented her with the darker arts. It is a witch’s right to know all sides of the Undivided; we were not to know that Maye would gravitate towards this lore, and too late we discovered that her ambition was stronger than her morality. When she left us to take up her father’s mantle, we had done all we could to caution her against this, but apparently we didn’t do as well as we thought. You must understand that we trusted our own teaching abilities, perhaps a little arrogantly, and believed we had ‘fixed’ her. She was the most powerful witch to be born into our family in generations, it was only right in our minds that her talents came with a certain superiority.”

“This is all very well,  June,” Alyxa put in gently, “but it doesn’t tell us where she is. Where is she?”

“Most certainly. What I am trying to say is that despite who she has become, Maye is our family, she is our blood,” the older woman assured her, “and like you, Dreamer, she is born from an illustrious line. Did you know that every witch can be traced back to a deity of old?”

“Of course, it’s common knowledge. I’m Morpheusian...Jessica’s Cassandrian, which is Helion. It’s how we  define ourselves.”

“Naturally,” June said, “the Darjeeling s come from the Trickster.”

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

3.15. Quests and Wishes

They had adjourned upstairs, where June Darjeeling served Irish Breakfast tea in delicate but mismatching porcelain cups. Bast opted to have cream instead while Morpheus seemed more interested in the fragile sweeps of paint decorating his saucer.

“As you can see, Maye is not here,” June said.

“Do you have any idea where she might be?” Alyxa asked, setting down her cup again.


-What’s that supposed to mean?-  Bast demanded.

“It means that she knows where Maye,” Alyxa muttered, “I’ve read this book. Alright, June, what do you want?”

June smiled a very witchy smile, this one full of teeth and gums.

“There is a rather rare book in a...special collection,” the elderly woman said, “I would like it.”

-May one ask after the title?- Bast asked, and Alyxa could have sworn she was batting her eyelashes.

“‘Sefer Raziel HaMalakh’.”

-The original, I assume.-

“Certainly,” June replied, taking a sip from her tea.

“It’s not,” Morpheus stated suddenly.

“I beg your pardon?” June demanded.

“It’s not the original,” the Dream-Lord replied, “the Arcs took the original back when the Elder retired to Reveille.”

June’s face was a tableaux of emotions, skipping across her face like a pebble across a wrinkled pond.  

-Weren’t expecting that, were you, crone?-

Alyxa flinched at Bast’s lack of subtlety.

“No, no I wasn’t,” June admitted.

“Is there anything else we might procure for you, my lady?” Morpheus suggested before either of his companions could stop him.

“A good night’s sleep?”

“Done,” Morpheus said, snapping his fingers.

“I was joki- ” June put in.

-You asked, wish granted, now tell us what you know!-

“Very well,” June murmured, shooting a side-long glance at Morpheus, “provided I never have nightmares again.”

“One wish I granted, a second requires a second bargain.”

-Tell us what you know.-

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

3.14. Words and Understandings

As it turned out, Dr. Charles Aswynn had indeed forgotten. He had to be trundled out of his lab where he had been arduously be at work making potions.  According to Michaela, who had been sent to fetch him, he often forgot everything for days at a time. It took an hour, but she extricated him and brought him before Jessica and Aeron.

“Charles, so nice of you to join us,” Aeron said.

“Yes, yes, sorry, I know, I missed out on the important meeting this morning,” Charles said, plopping down in a chair, “so are you going to tell me why I’m here?”

“We need a quorum and you, Jessica here, and I are it,” Aeron replied deftly.

Charles polished his glasses thoughtfully and peered through them first at the Loremaster and then at Jessica.

“A new Diviner? Why wasn’t I told?” he demanded, turning to look at his daughter. Michaela rolled her eyes but said nothing.

“Yes, the new Diviner,” Aeron said patiently, “you are the eldest witch amongst us, Herbalist, thus you make our third.”

“Ah, yes, well, of course, I see,” Charles mumbled, “I will, of course, be the third, and do my part for the coven. Was that everything?”

“We will need more than your usual attention span, Charles,” Aeron said gently.

“Yes, well, as you will. I s’pose with a youngster like this for a Diviner – ”

“Doctor, I know I am young,” Jessica interrupted, “but I can See.”

“What – oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be disrespectful, Diviner.”

“That’s quite alright,” Jessica replied, “we need to build our strength so we can help Alyxa get the little Dreamer back.”

“No kidding,” Michael muttered. Jessica reached for him and took his hand.

“There is much work to be done,” she told them all.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

3.13. Paths and Patience

Michael scanned the room, seeing flashes of different emotions flit across the faces of the coven members. Here and there he saw relief, but mostly he saw disappointment, and every few faces it was anger. For a breed meant to be upholding the good, this particular species of witch seemed to be slightly too ambitious. He didn’t like it. Just as well that their new leader was not among them; the last thing this Coven needed was another megalomaniac.

“Not here?” Aeron asked, far more demanding.

“I think that is a matter to be discussed after Jessica has had a moment,” the Arc interjected, putting his hand on Jessica’s shoulder.

“It’s okay, Michael,” Jessica calmed him.

“Do you...” Aeron said softly, “...have any idea where is he?”

Michael watched his charge sort through whatever it was that she was Seeing. He wondered what it was that she saw; it was the weird thing, this pact between the One and Apollo to protect the Cassandrian line. To think, Sariel had kept Morgan company for more than a human lifetime.

“He’ll find us,” Jessica said, opening her blind eyes, “we just have to have some patience.”

Aeron scanned her face for a moment and then stepped back.

“Very well,” he said quietly, and then raised his voice, “Lore dictates that in the absence of a Coven Master, the Diviner, the Loremaster, and the eldest member of the Coven form a quorum and lead the coven until the Coven Master comes forward.”

“So...who’s the eldest?”  Jessica asked.

Aeron scanned the room, muttering to himself, his eyes lighted on a young brunette.

“That’ll be Charles Aswynn,” he said after a while, “Michaela, where is your father?”

A rustle of murmurs, and finally Michaela Aswynn spoke up,

“My father isn’t here, I guess he forgot.”

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

3.12. Colours and Faces

The Coven members gathered in the largest room of the house, some sitting some standing, and all eyes were fixed on Jessica. She could feel the intensity of their thoughts behind the irises, so many different desires and criticisms. Who will she pick? When will she pick them? What does she See? Isn’t she too young? Jessica could imagine what went on in their minds, mainly because she was thinking them herself. They were valid questions too, all of them unanswered.

“Have you got everything you need, my dear?” Aeron asked her, coming up beside her.

“Yes, thank you,” she replied quietly, taking a sip of the glass of cordial sitting in front of her.

“If you need – ”

“Aeron,” she interrupted, sharp enough to surprise herself, “I’m fine, thank you.”

“Alright,” he said quietly, and moved off.

She let him go without making any attempt to apologise. Someone else drifted towards her, she thought it was Delia from the perfume but before she could say anything the whirl of colours that were her Sight settled.
A stream of faces flew past her, like index cards being sorted. They spread and became a room full of people, the coven Working a rite. There were braziers everywhere, and torches. It was Beltane. The Circle glowed in the firelight. The Coven Master stepped into the centre of the Circle and pulled back the cowl of the ceremonial robe.

Jessica knocked over the glass, spilling cordial everywhere, as she stood up. Michael was behind her then, steadying her.

“Jazzy? What do you See?”

The tension in the room was a physical presence, it wanted to know who she was going to choose.

“...he’s not here. The man in my vision, he’s not here,” she said, “but...I think, I know where to find him.”

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

3.11. Blood and Guts

As usual, there was blood everywhere. Andreas sighed miserably and shook a bit of human entrails off his boot. It was a boat house of some variety, but it might as well have been a slaughterhouse for all the bits and the smell. He had done his fair share of butchery over the aeons, but this was beyond the pale.

“Why can’t she just talk to people?” he demanded as he spotted his lover. Hector looked up and effected a small shrug.

“You try explaining that torture isn’t always necessary to a woman like Medea, you’ll likely end up like that,” he said, pointing at what looked like the remains of a skull. The brain was leaking out, somehow pooling sadly below it. Andreas decided not to dwell on how it had reached such a liquid state.

“Did we get anything at least?”

“Apparently we did,” Hector replied, gesturing at vaguely-visible sigils written all over walls, “according to  Mercedes, these are Keys to open a Gate to Hell, or something.”

“So...what? We’re going to storm Hades and retrieve Amy?”

“I don’t think it’s going to be that simple a plan,” Hector assured him, “not even Medea is a match for the Prince.”

“But does she knows that?” Andreas murmured, then, seriously, “as long as she lets us in on the plan, I don’t like the idea of Lucifer screwing around with the order of things.”

“If the Elder would get off their behinds and help it would make a difference.”

“So you believe we should go to Reveille?” Andreas asked, they had not discussed this before.

“I believe we’re going to need all the help we can get.”

“You’re not wrong, love,” Andreas agreed, scraping some unknown visceral matter off the sole of his boot, “not wrong in the least.” 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

3.10. Assurances and Reassurances

The house felt full now that there were actual people in it; for Jessica this changed the very timbre of the atmosphere, adding all manner of colours and hues to the odd sense of sight she now had. For the most part, the newcomers were strangers to her; as Morgan’s apprentice it had never been necessary for her to meet or work with other witches. Aeron introduced them to her one at a time so she could get a feel for the sound of everyone’s voices, not that she could remember them all, but a few stuck out. Michael’s presence was always there, somewhere in the room – the coven had accepted his presence as part of her own, and if there were any questions they were asked out of earshot.

“You alright, Jessica?” Delia asked her softly.

“Yeah, just a little overwhelmed.”

“You’ll get used to it,” came the reassuring reply, “or not...Morgan just referred to everyone as ‘dear’ or ‘darling’, I guess that helped.”

Jessica laughed.

“I think I might be a little young to call people that.”

“You’re the Diviner, you can come up with something else more appropriate.”

“I’ll think about it,” Jessica said, “right now I’m more concerned about how I’m supposed to be choosing the new Coven Master.”

Delia patted her hand in a maternal fashion, odd for someone her age and a small part of Jessica resented it.

“It’s meant to come to you, I don’t think you’ve got much to worry about.”

Jessica bit her tongue; she was really tired of people telling her there was ‘nothing to worry about’. No, she thought sarcastically, I’ve got blind, see weird colours and occasionally have weird dreams about the end of the world.

“At least all the candidates are here now, right?” she asked instead.