Dec 03, 2021 3:01 PM
The Underground meets Exaltation
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"I'm trying not to think about how much time is passing," she admits, after a minute crawls by. "It could still be deleting people right now. How much do you trust this quest book?"

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"We've only been on one quest before but it was a good quest! We had adventures and learned things and got a good prize at the end."

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"Yeah? What did you get?"

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"The necklace that lets us look like ourselves."

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"Sounds like a good deal. Not sure what kind of reward would make up for the apocalypse."

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While the view outside the windows is mostly tunnel, there are sometimes glimpses of spots of color and complexity. There are trees and buildings out there, sometimes. No water yet, though.

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Emmy watches for things that might be fun to paint later.

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A balcony. The plants are vibrant, well-cared for. The view of the surrounding area is less inspiring, perhaps, but a nice copse of trees provides shade and seclusion as two women sit together, drinking coffee quietly together.

Rounded hills, sunset. Her new friend(s), whooping and cheering as several figures, barely visible in the twilight, chase each other up and down the grassy hill.

Murals, and several painters. More mural than untouched wall, with colorful wings and people drawn in varying levels of detail- some are photo-realistic, while others are practically silhouettes. Symbols, arcane in meaning.

That's all that Emmy can see, with how quickly the memories fly past them, by the time the train begins to slow down once more.

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It would be nice if she knew where they were going. Crazy Jane knows that there's a lake down here, somewhere. She remembers a snatch of it, standing there, holding the flower in her hand- but that's it. Just a piece of it. It might not even be her memory. It might be Penny Farthing's. It might be Baby Doll's. Pretty Polly's, Spinning Jenny's, or- well, there's a lot of people whose memory it might be, but there's only one that's likely.

It has to be The Girl's.

Crazy Jane has never asked questions about this part of their life. She knows it's not safe, this deep. She barely even comes Underground, with how desperate the rest of them are for her to keep things working up top. But now, the quest wants her to ask questions. Fine. Time to see what's buried at the lake.

"We're here."

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Emmy disembarks from the train and approaches the lakeshore.

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"It's never this easy to travel down here. Not through memories, not without- help. Some of us guard the worst ones."

The question is, where is everyone? Just Driver 8, who- nope. Driver 8 isn't leaving the train. Maybe it's because everyone is with her, here. She keeps walking.

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The coastline of this lake is dotted with flowers and tall grass. Everything in the memory is sun-dappled, making it hard to see anything besides the lake, glistening with reflected light. She remembers it- better than she usually would, she's sure of that. She bends down to pick a flower.

"Does Clair need any help getting into the water?"

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"No, I'm good." She wades in, and then assumes a diving position -

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- and there she is, wriggling into deeper water.

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The lake feels perfect: a comfortable temperature, just the right salinity, and there's something intrinsically comforting about it.

There is also, Clair realizes quite quickly, someone at the bottom of the lake.

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That seems maybe important! She swims down.

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Whoever it is doesn't look like they're moving. They look like they might be dead.

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Why is there a dead person here.

Clair swims closer. "Hey?"

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The body doesn't respond in any way.

Up above, the beautiful weather of this memory has been marred by clouds. Lightning flashes, thunder crashes. Rain begins to fall.

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The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter mourns. What she's mourning, she isn't sure of. She doesn't have any paintbrush, or an easel. She kneels down, and starts painting in the mud.

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The body doesn't respond; the trowel does. It has started to move.

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Clair pulls the trowel out of her pocket to see what it's doing.

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It has begun to make a digging motion, on its own. While doing so, it moves closer towards the body.

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The comb didn't do this, but okay. She swims down down down, holding the trowel.

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When the trowel reaches the body, it stops. The body waits, unresponsive.

Up above the lake, it's clear that the situation has changed. The weather is more turbulent now.

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