Benedict came along in the evening some days later and demanded that I do a small service for him in return for his support in the Banses debacle. He wanted me to make sure that noone was able to cast their vote in one of the two polling places in central Hong Kong. I agreed to this but let him know that I did not like the concept. I did not want to get trapped in the conflict between him and Corwin.
Rhiannon: Have you ever thought of the fact that agreeing was the wrong way not to get caught up in that conflict? Couldn't you just have given him one of those patented faraway gazes - you often use them on the rest of us - and offered him a cup of tea?The new temple was causing some friction. Stevie had decided to get out of the library to exercise his functions as defender of Po Lin interests. Rhiannon was not there to arbitrate, having gone off with Darien to meet some Lord from the City of Angels. Stevie vented his frustration by getting severly beaten by Julian.
Rhiannon: Our meeting with Oloss went pretty well, considering. I managed to get a contact, and learn Wookie in the bargain. Darien and Oloss had one of their long talks as usual - somehow I think that if I had a choice I'd have a Logrus Initiate as a sponsor, if this is the way they act. He actually tells Darien things... and he's cute.Fiona shows up and decides that the building of the temple goes too slow. She calls up a fate/pattern coupling and binds the workers in a soul drain feedback loop. Building speed picks up considerably for a while, but I never liked that method because it inevitably kills the subjects. I imagine Mei Li was rather terrified by this. That'll give her something for her moral superiority.
Rhiannon: Mhei-Li has had to rethink her stance on morals, I think. Black and white is certainly comforting, but in Hong Kong it only makes you confused. Hopefully she will find another standpoint before she reduces Quengh Chi to a shivering wreck. Quengh's not very stable at the moment, especially after Fiona ordered her to stop clinging to people all the time. Having Mei Li hunt you with prayer scrolls, incantations and incense can be a little trying at times like that.While indulging in my new garden early the following morning, someone sent me a box shaped very much like the one I had just planted with the delivery service - using the same delivery service. Uni received the delivery but I intercepted her before she could take it into the house. Someone had camouflaged the contents of the box very well - so well that the ki showed no sign of having been formed. I brought it into my studio and threw a pile of wards on it but despite some effort, I could find absolutely nothing out of the ordinary about the box. Frustrated, I went back into my garden to regain my mental equilibrium.
Some time later, Rhiannon trumped me, warning me that I should on no account open a box of such and such description if one was sent to me. It turned out that she had opened a similar box that was sent to Darien. It had contained an extraordinarily ravenous creature capable not only of devouring his furniture, but also of feeding on the magic Rhiannon had used to contain it, multiplying ferociously in the process. She looked slighty battered and was soaked. She had dumped the nasty creatures just outside of the City of Angels where she claimed to have been promptly intercepted by security forces and had had to pull a hasty retreat. Under no circumstances was I to open my box.
Rhiannon: Well, not that I think you couldn't have handled it. There is probably no chaotic force in this universe that could faze you for more than a moment (although I gather from your remarks above that you feel moved by weeping children.) I just thought that considering all the work that went into your garden and house, you might like a warning. We all try to keep you happy and content, so you'll stop demolishing things close to us.This had me worried. Somebody had as good as stolen my idea. I did some snooping around and actually found a spot where someone had made use of the Logrus just nearby.
Darien helped me follow the lead and we ended up in the very same building where the delivery service had their offices and the polling place was. In fact, we ended up right in the middle of the preparations for the ballot. Everybody was staring at us. No sign of the Logrus initiate. I grabbed Darien and dashed up two stairs and through the fire escape into the delivery service.
We went through the offices thoroughly but found relatively little. Except - everybody was working in a Pattern. I stopped anyone from leaving and turned the place upside down. In a corner by the coffee machine, I found a small skull carved out of lacquer.
I also found my own little parcel in a waste paper basket. This had me a little confused. Someone had stolen my idea, but not realized that I had actually executed it? In deep thought, We went out of the building and sat down at a good café across the street. Darien obviously suspected something but did not press the matter.
The building's ki suddenly started to change. It started oscillating and legs sprouted from the base. Rhiannon, Mhei Li and Quengh Chi chose this very moment to arrive on the scene as the building started to break away from the foundations, painstakingly crawling into the street, causing mayhem with the traffic.
I wonder where I had done wrong. The contents of the building were supposed to come alive, not the building itself. I reminded myself to do some research on propagating patterns of energy sometime. Might turn out to hold something useful. Quengh Chi assumed I was responsible - apparently I am responsible for anything out of the ordinary - and directed dire accusations against me.
Rhiannon: It's not that she is responsible for anything - it's that Keiko and Deidre are usually responsible for any kind of magic that manages to be both this creative and destructive. And disgusting. She didn't try to save those inside - in vain, I might add - and anyhow I'm sure that the horror of it wouldn't register in her case.Rhiannon and Darien stormed into the house to try to help those trapped inside. I would expect there was little they could do for most of them - most of them should have their ki thoroughly assimilated into the collective. The house crawled down to the waterside, where it seemed to contemplate drowning itself. Rhiannon and Darien shifted it into some other shadow where it presumably disintegrated (the ki would rapidly disintegrate).
Rhiannon: They died. All of them. And the house did manage to suicide as it wanted. Maybe trying to fed-ex Keiko to chaos would work in our favour.Eric came onto the scene and started asking questions and seemed content with my official version that it was some kind of terrorist attack. Rhiannon was giving me suspicious glances. Eric took the whole lot of us to go vote in the other polling place which turned out to be in the Bank of Hong Kong. I came along because I wanted to see how Benedict had taken care of that place.
The car stopped in front of the monstrous Bank of Hong Kong, a tower with nearly one hundred floors. With Eric in the lead, we all ride the elevator up a few floors. Through a door and into the room that served as polling place.
Benedict, mr Dragon and a truckload of mooks already crowd the room. Our two groups come face to face. Benedict is wearing that insufferable smile along with his white suit and crimson shirt.
The two groups view each other silently. Hands stray towards weapons.
Darien breaks the spell by stepping up to the registration desk. He asks to be registered and ask Eric to confirm that this is indeed a valid registration ticket. A hundred weapons are slowly drawn and a hundered safety guards are popped - carefully, so carefully. All eyes in the room are on Darien's back as he heads for the little cubicle.
In the silence Darien can be heard rustling small papers. Then: "Eric? There is supposed to be slips for two different candidates, right?"
"I got slips for mr Noname and blank ones."
Most of Benedict's men train their guns on Darien.
At this moment Corwin steps into the room. "Hey, Corwin! You got some slips with your name on it?" Corwin doesn't seem to get the atmosphere in the room, because he flashes his winning smile and throw Darien a yellow slip. Benedict follow the slip with his gaze.
"Let me borrow that", Rhiannon says and snatches the slip out of the air. She stares at the slip in her outstreched hand.
Two things preceed the unavoidable mayhem. First Mei Li suddenly decides to gather her ki into some simple but obviously forceful spell. A fraction of a second later, a hundred thousand voting slips with Corwin's name on it gushes from Rhiannon, caught in a whirlwind around her.
This is where I step out of the room.