An Army Of Allies


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Scene Title An Army of Allies
Synopsis In which Delia awakens an army and receives the blessing of another ally.
Date November 25, 2010

”All men, whilst they are awake, are in one common world: but in each of them, when he is asleep, is in a world of his own.”

— Plutarch

In a roar that rivals the howling wind and bellowing thunder, the wave of tears cascades down the grand staircase, carrying the desk from the office and it’s two small, red-headed occupants along with it. It surges against the drapery-festooned door supposedly containing Reuben’s army before it lessens, the water disappearing slowly - under doorways, walls, and even through the slats of the floor.

Reuben sits clutching the edge of the desk, middle and forefinger looped through the circle at the end of the iron key. He is stock-still for a moment after they come to a rest, the yet-to-ebb waters moving like the ocean against a stair-case shore sliding various files and papers to and fro.

Slowly, Reuben turns to look at Delia, the fury on his face mixed with a confusion of thrill and fear.

“Don’t. Ever. Cry. Again.”

Sniffling, the little girl wipes her eyes and clambers off the desk. The giant tears that provided their means back down the stairs, having served their purpose, dry in stains on her cheeks. Just to prove that she doesn’t follow his orders, Delia sniffles again, the sound of her nasal cavity filling up again is a bit sickening but it doesn’t seem to bother the smaller of the children.

“I do what I want to. You’re not the boss of me.”

That probably means that she’ll cry whenever she wants to.

Pulling back the curtain, the redheaded girl brings into view the cupboard door, more importantly, the keyhole that leads to the army. “Does your army have my crown? And I want a wand… so I can be a fairy queen too because I’m the prettiest.” By her own standards, when comparing herself to Reuben, she is the prettier of the two of them.

With the keyhole exposed, Reuben inserts the iron into the lock, turning it until the tumblers click. “Of course they don’t silly-stupid-head,” he jeers, his grin ever-widening as the door creaks open on it’s hinges, letting even more of the knee-deep water spill into the room beyond, turning from an ocean to wade in to the remnants of a rainstorm.

The room is, in a word, vast. Two stories of shelves that stretch back into what can only be assumed to be the entire wing of the house, and a third with a ring of portraits and paintings, too far away for either child to see clearly. The upper two floors bear balconies, and a spiraling iron ramp with an ornate railing curls in the corner to the left of the door, providing access to the higher levels.

But it’s clear to see that Reuben’s goal is the array of statues on the main floor.

There are seven of them in total - each minutely carved out of stone, with no detail left unrepresentative. Each stands on a pedestal, creating an aisle that leads up to a work table larger than the one they road in on and a massive leather wing-backed chair.

Reuben steps cautiously into the room, his eyes upward when they aren’t on the statues, but coming to rest near one marked Tom McHenry. “Alright, Fairy Princess. Do your magic. Wake my army up.” It’s an affront to Delia’s sensitivities, confidence, and skill. A challenge.

Looking up at the statues, little Delia purses her lips into a tight little knot as her eyes drift from one to the other. From her standpoint, seven is not a very impressive army. Slowly padding over to the leather chair, she peers among the tools before she finds one that might suit her purpose. A long, thin dowel that she swishes from side to side in front of her until it begins to sprinkle glitter from its exposed tip. All fairies need wands.

Stepping up onto the desk, she kicks away most of the other junk on it that she either can’t identify or doesn’t care to, giving herself a nice little floor to twirl on. With a few pseudo ballet hops one way, then the other, she swings the wand outward and showers the statues with glitter. “Wake up!!” The command is from the fairy queen herself, not just Delia. “Wake up giant army! We have to kill the ogre!”

One by one, the statues begin to shift. Like people who have been standing or sitting in one position too long, they test joints and flex muscles before rising up into a straight line in front of the desk. In front of Delia, not Reuben.

As much as Reuben may feel that the regiment of golems may belong to him, he doesn’t raise a fuss when they amass in front of Delia. “Okay!” he shouts, the triumphant glee helping his voice to echo like a bugle cry against the high ceilings of the warehouse. In another moment, he’s standing beside Delia, his arms crossed over his chest, one hand lifted to rub at his chin.

“We need more,” he muses. “We need a secret weapon. All good armies have a secret weapon. That way? If our men fall in battle fighting bravely against the evil ogre? We can stick ‘im. Where it hurts.” He stands still a moment more, thinking hard as he looks from face to stony face before he turns on Delia again. “I think I know who can help us - she doesn’t like the ogre either, and she might even give you a crown. She likes princesses.”

Reaching out to grab Delia’s wrist, Reuben jumps from the desk and squeezes past the stone soldiers, racing down the length of the warehouse at speeds no small boy should be able to reach. The water that still lingers on the floor sprays up on either side of his sneakered steps, creating a wall of water between them and their surroundings.

Perhaps it’s Delia’s influence, or perhaps Reuben himself has some “magical fairy powers” up his sleeves, but when they do come to a stop, the water explodes into fireflies that flit away, only to be assaulted by the driving rain.

They stand outside on a covered walk, overlooking the expanse of gnarled and twisted wilderness that Delia picked through on her way to the house. The storm still blows, the pouring rain unrelenting, lightning serving as the only source of illumination in the dark clouds.

Standing away from what little protection the overhang provides is a woman dressed in a tattered black dress. But it’s tiers of lace and ruffles that mark it as a Victorian-era treasure hang in dingy, unkempt wrinkles if not shreds. Gloved hands hold a flimsy parasol that unbelievably stands up against the deluge. Her hair, piled on her head in a style that has been devastated by the wind, is strangely half blonde, half brunette. The rain plasters a thin veil to the woman’s face, shrouding her features as if she were a corpse rather than…

…a bride?

Reuben is the recipient of another one of those dubious glances from the fairy princess before she looks up at the woman shrouded in black again. A shiver courses through her not just from the deathlike appearance of the woman before them, but from the rain beating down. If the little redheaded girl was braver, she might seek shelter underneath the parasol as well. She’s not, of course, and so she quivers like a leaf exposed to the elements.

“Are you sure she likes princesses? She looks like she eats princesses…” Delia whispers while leaning toward the redheaded boy, never taking her eyes off the woman. Should the quiet words be loud enough for the bride to hear, the little girl grimaces in apology directly after, just in case. The audible gulp of fear that comes from the little girl is telltale of the heebie jeebies that are crawling through her system at the moment.

The bride turns her gaze on the two redheaded children, and she smiles. But it is a sad smile. “Have you come to pay your respects?” she asks in a quiet voice, turning to stare down at the ground at her feet. It didn’t seem to exist before, but noticeable now is a marker in the ground - a flat granite slab with a name and dates carved into it.

Spencer Carroll Damaris.

“He died on Christmas, you know.” Though she speaks plainly, a southern drawl creeps into the widow bride’s voice. “Dreadful time of year.” The woman crouches down and lays her decaying bridal bouquet over the marker before kissing her gloved fingers and pressing them to the stone.

Reuben nods, his previously ruddy features turning pale at the sight of the gravestone. "Yeah," he whispers back, but then he speaks in a slightly louder voice.

"She used to be a princess, didn't you?" he says to the widow-bride next, drawing himself up to his full, if meager height. "But you got locked in a tower when your prince died. And the ogre promised to get you out." And the name of their common adversary is leaned upon, as if the woman may know him by something else and need to play along. "But then he ruined it all. He put you back in his own tower, didn't he?"

The little girl’s owlish stare up at the black widow is uncertain at best, as though Reuben might be lying to her. “You were a princess?” The story seems to make sense though, ogres are quite known to do exactly the things described. All that and eat goats. As a small tribute to the widow princess, Delia shakes her little wand against the palm of her hand until glitter begins spitting from the end.

With a flourish of a swirl, the springy haired little girl points the wand at the grave and covers it with glitter that melts over the tombstone, making it bright and new. Once the glitter reaches the ground at the base of the marker, little flowers begin springing up and the weeds and thick overgrowth shrink away. Rose vines crawl up to frame the stone and bloom into red and white. When the glitter finishes its magic, Delia points her tiny face up expectantly at the woman. “Can I have my crown now?”

The widow bride stares down at the stone and the flowers that spring up around it, and then peers curiously to the little girl who has worked her magic. “You’re like the ogre. You can do things,” she surmises. “Special things.” It leaves her with some doubts, it seems.

“I’m Princess November,” she tells Delia, tucking a strand of blonde hair behind her ear as a strand of brown tumbles down from the other side of her updo. “When I was young, an evil man tried to lock me away in a tower, but my prince saved me.” A glance is spared to the marker in the ground. “The prince and the ogre were friends once. Inseparable. But the ogre let the prince die, and so I was locked in a tall, black tower. A tower so tall,” she explains, “that its only window was as high as the clouds, and the clouds were always heavy and grey.”

The princess November smiles again, a wistful thing for times so long ago. “The ogre came to my rescue, and said that he would be my prince now. But the ogre never really wanted me. The ogre only wanted my absolution.” The smile fades, and her eyes narrow. It’s as though Delia and Reuben can see the princess’ heart harden.

“The ogre had a princess in another castle.”

“But that’s why we’re gonna take this one back,” Reuben says with a furrowed brow and a growing grin. “Delia has a sword. She used it to get me out of the dungeon.” The boy takes a step closer to the widow bride and hunches his shoulders, his eyes narrowing with conspiratorial happiness - the plotting bully.

“And then? Then she brought the statues in the Big Room to life.” The statues of those that the ogre can’t forget - those he must remember. And among the seven stony soldiers, one bears the face of Spencer Damaris himself. “So we’re gonna find the ogre, and we’re gonna stab him with the sword!”

Lightning tears across the sky on the heels of the boy’s words, and Reuben clambers back against the exterior door, lifting his arms to cover his face against the tyrannical storm. High above, in the small protrusion that is the attic, a shadow hangs in the doorway. It is a hulking thing, and for a moment, the lightning lights the scowling face of a man who could set things aflame with his eyes.

Spying the face, the tiny girl cowers behind the widow-bride, hiding under her skirt and out of view of the specter from above. Against Princess November’s leg, the sopping curls are freezing cold but the little girl refuses to leave the safety of the rags the woman wears. She’s been warned not to cry again, but what Reuben can’t see can’t hurt him. The telltale squeal of the beginnings of her sobs can be heard, muffled under the gown. Evidently, the ogre is just a little too frightening for Delia to face.

At the tender age of six, she’s always been something of a cry-baby, at least the first time around. This time doesn’t seem so different as her frigid little arms wrap around one of Princess November’s legs for protection. The wails from underneath the layers of fabric are accompanied by a river of tears flowing out from under the woman’s feet, only to run into a stream at the edge of the property.

Princess November’s face lifts so she can view the ogre through the window. “There there,” she murmurs reassuringly, lifting her skirt enough to coax Delia out from under its layers. She crouches and wraps her arms around the trembling child and presses a kiss to her temple. “You must be very brave, little princess.”

The grieving bride’s gloved hands lift to her head, removing a tiara and dislodging more of her duo-tone hair. There’s a tearing sound as she removes the tattered veil and allows the wind to carry it far from them. “Here.” The tiara is perched upon Delia’s ginger curls.

“That’s better,” November decides with a kind smile. “You remind me of my daughters. Princess Roz would like you.”

Shaking, Reuben claws his thin fingers down his neck and against his blue shirt, now spattered and threatening to soak with rain, even given the relatively safety the overhang provides. “He knows,” he whispers, finally tearing his eyes from the general upward direction they’ve been darting to throughout their adventure. “We have to hurry.

Quickly, he holds his hands in front of him and starts to count, his voice affecting a somewhat sing-songy rhyme. “Seven Soldiers made of Stone,” he starts, counting them all as one finger. “November’s Bride upon her Throne. Tease the Monster from his Cave,” and with two more fingers counted out, Reuben pauses, looking back to the two who share the widow’s walk with him.

“Then the Castle shall you Take.”

The gift of a crown dry up the little girl’s tears and she wipes her nose by sliding her arm across her face. A long sniffle is given before she takes an audible gulp and stares up at the Princess November with her large round eyes. “I’m a Queen…” she says proudly, swishing her wand. “I’m a queen of fairies and unicorns and Abberjininnies. The Abberjininnies keep the unicorns safe from ogres who eat them.”

The tiara gives the little girl courage and when she looks up at the window again, she sticks her tongue out at the shadow, this time unafraid. When Reuben finishes his poem, it’s Delia’s turn to be obstinate and she grimaces at the end. “That doesn’t even rhyme… It should be ‘Then the Castle shall you save!’” With another wave of her magic wand she points it at the door to blast it open.

“Well, Fairy Queen,” Princess November murmurs, standing up again and gesturing toward the door now destroyed, “your castle awaits you. Be careful.” A dark length of silk handkerchief is tugged from her bodice and offered out to Reuben. It’s longer than it should be, and it easily fastens around the boy’s neck like a scarf. “There. It is fitting that you should wear my favour into battle against the ogre.”

A hand rests gently against Delia’s back, between her shoulderblades. “I wish you the best of luck. Now, go on.” Princess November gently nudges the Queen forward.

“And beware the Dark Princess.”

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