12.8 Black to White

by Matt P.

The change from pure black to a very dark gray was so subtle at first, the lightening so gradual, that Walter didn’t notice it. None of the others noticed until that point either, until all at once all three of them stopped and looked around.

Weird,” Walter commented, reaching out to try to touch the surroundings. It didn’t work, he couldn’t touch the background of their current reality apparently, but it didn’t seem to hurt anything either. “Wonder what this means?

It means that I’m playing by slightly different rules,” came a voice every bit as resonant as their own. Suddenly they were standing in front of Gabriel Shepherd, who was dressed in dark robes that pooled about his body. He was sitting cross-legged on the ground in an apparent state of meditation, and opened his eyes when they came close. Walter stopped, losing his footing for a moment at the sight of the man’s eyes; they were dark, almost black, and inside there were small pin pricks like a light seen through a dark sheet. Or a night sky when the dark has first fallen and the stars were just beginning to appear.

Why am I not surprised?” Walter asked with a sigh, raising an eyebrow and looking around. “See, this is more annoying than Ryan. At least he had something he was afraid of, unless Gabriel is afraid of blank spaces.” Walter looked around as if trying to find something scary in the off-whiteness that surrounded them.

Morgan didn’t comment, instead looking critically at Gabriel. “To stand in the land of Nightmare and exist apart from their rules is a very rare thing. I could only have done it in the fullness of my own powers—and with what I lost removing Oberon from Faerie perhaps not even then.” She spoke more in a musing tone than in an accusatory one, the way that someone mulls over a particularly intriguing riddle or logic puzzle.

Did you know a Lord, or Lady for that matter, of Nightmare can still get staggeringly drunk?” Gabriel asked, with a smirk. “One of them owed me a favor, and this is the result. You catch more flies with honey, and not less than thirteen bottles of tequila over the course of eight conscious altering hours, than you do with vinegar.

Walter stared at him for a beat, before shaking his head. “I’m honestly not even sure where to begin parsing that sentence, so why don’t we move on. So we’ve got all of our merry band back together, what’s the next step? Ditch the reverb-o-voice, find Oberon, murder-face?”

Morgan sighed. “We need to find Tennyson. He came through in order to save us and we probably shouldn’t leave him to eternal torment by his darkest terrors. It seems…un-sisterly, at the very least.” She shrugged a little bit. “But the way things going, it seems like we’ll get right to him anyway. This is all very…direct.

Well…that’s because of me, actually,” Walter answered with a little smile. “I had a meeting with one of them. Apparently the decision to go with Oberon wasn’t unanimous. I think we’re being given the chance to collect everyone before we find our way out of here because of that.”

Morgan went very stiff, arms at her sides. “And what did he, she, or it want?” Her voice was tense and wary in equal measures, which Walter wholly expected given the subject. He kept up is weak little smile, although it faltered a little bit in the face of her tone.

I didn’t give it anything,” Walter said. “I think this is kind of sweetening the pot. It taught me a way to bring it in to kind of…consume Oberon for us, once we’ve cut him off from his magic.” Walter dropped his weird little smile, since it apparently wasn’t looking. “Their offer is that in return, they get a piece of Summer and a piece of Winter, and I—”

Never! I didn’t fight two goddamn wars to give up our land for—” Morgan hissed angrily, rounding on Walter and setting her shoulders as if for an argument. Walter held up his hands in a peace gesture to her.

I know, and I don’t plan to do it, but if it can get us the hell out of here then I won’t turn down pot sweetening,” Walter said, shaking his head. “I get the feeling that my,” he struggled for a word, “Contact would prefer to own some Faerie real estate but will at least be a little happy so long as we stop Oberon from ruining their whole gig. Come on…we’ve got to get Tennyson and get out of here, however that works.”

Morgan took a calming breath, letting her hands unclench, and nodded. “Let’s get gone. Maybe he’s just afraid of bees too, although I don’t believe we actually are lucky.” She sighed, looking at herself for a moment. “If his nightmare is a clothes store, I’ll make him a Baron.”