Nov 16, 2019 9:42 PM
Sadde in Wonderland
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"Resistance? Don't you know the Queen will do terrible things if you want to Resist her?"

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"Which would be why I mentioned hiding from the Hearts, yes." Everless shudders, resettling her wings fussily. "I have no particular desire to join their ranks, and even less for the secrets which I have collected to be used against my compatriots."

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"How do you know I'm not working for the Queen? Or perhaps she has bugs - er, listening devices, or magic, I guess - in this room."

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"You have not met the Queen, or any of her servants save the Rabbit who directed you to me," she reasons. "You describe yourself as a visitor mistaken for an intruder," she continues with an uncannily accurate mimicry of Sadde's voice, "and have opinions or goals which you have been warned against sharing, and are therefore likely to be subversive.

"As for the issue of 'bugs' - I am a bird, although an unusually intelligent one. Bugs do not survive long around most avians, and ravens are no exception. Listening devices too small to be detected...possible, in principle, but if the Queen had those, there would be no Resistance by now."

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"I could have lied," she reasons, "about who I am and what I've experienced."

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"Scattered though he may be these days, Chess is an excellent judge of character," Everless responds. "I do not believe he would have sent you here, were you a threat to me or the Resistance. And you could not have known unless you spoke with him that he has the ability to find me." 

She gives the impression that she might be smiling, were it physically possible. "Incidentally, do you trust me enough to reveal the rest of your conversation with the Rabbit yet?"

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"The only part I omitted was my desire to overthrow the Queen," she says casually.

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Everless laughs, loud and cackling. "Welcome to the Resistance!" 

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"Sounds a bit too easy."

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"Oh, that isn't the hard part." The raven is still laughing, but it fades away as she continues, "The hard part is being in the Resistance. Planning and trying and failing over and over. Going into hiding and not knowing how many others have made it. Years upon years where we do nothing but wait. Wait for the Queen to make a mistake, for an opportunity, for a new advantage."

Everless hops forward, then flaps suddenly up onto Sadde's shoulder. "Have we been waiting for you, I wonder?"

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"Please tell me there's a prophecy."

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"Not unless you are inclined to assign cosmic significance to the insane ramblings of a formerly-brilliant madman," she says in a dry tone. "The Wandering Seer sometimes reveals glimpses of the future, to those who pay attention. But they do not seem to be consistent with each other, let alone paint enough of a picture to be useful."

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"There totally is a prophecy! Tell me."

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Everless sighs. "As I said, the Seer's words are neither clear nor consistent. He cannot even seem to decide from one day to the next whether our new ruler, once we have overthrown Marcella, will be a King or a Queen."

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She smirks. "Isn't it curious that I can't seem to decide whether I'm a girl or a boy from one day to the next?"

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The raven hops back onto the table, the better to peer at Sadde's face with each eye in turn.

"Well. That could explain quite a few mysteries."

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"This is kinda more evidence for the 'vivid hallucination' hypothesis."

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"I see the logic." Everless nods approvingly. "I would be happy to assist in any way I can with your efforts to confirm or disprove said hypothesis; however, believing myself to be real, I must request that you continue to act as though you were not in fact hallucinating until such time as you can be certain."

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"Yeah that's the winning strategy, nothing to lose if it's a hallucination and good otherwise."

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"Excellent! Now, I should really introduce you to the rest of the Resistance," Everless declares, "and fill you in on what you need to know. To begin with, has anyone told you exactly what the Queen does to those who break the law?"

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"Nope. You seemed to imply it was a fate worse than death."

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"That is...a fair description." Everless shudders, fluffing her feathers and hunching down between her wings. "The Queen...has some way of stealing people's hearts. They continue to walk around as they always did, but - changed." She seems to be at a loss for how to describe it.

"The Wandering Seer is one of her victims. Before, he was the Red King's most trusted adviser, and accounted the wisest in the land. Now, he can't keep in the same time for more than five minutes."

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"See, where I come from a heart is a muscle that pumps blood, but I somehow don't think this is what you mean here. I'm also not sure what 'keep in the same time' is supposed to mean."

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"People call them 'hearts' because, when removed, they look like red heart-shaped jewels a little smaller than a fist. A closer approximation of their apparent function would be...'soul', I suppose," she clarifies.

"The Seer has always been capable of perceiving the past and the future. When he lost his heart, he lost his anchor to the present. He can no longer reliably tell it apart from the other few dozen points in time he is experiencing at any given moment."

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"...I see. Can a heart be restored?"

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