RP All The World Is A Stage


Active member
Sometimes you have to break the rules. Sometimes you have let the Chaos take point, even if it is only for an instant. Catian had planned and plotted for days, used his copied information to determine movements and schedules, locations and transits. They were tight, and the file for Castor wasn’t among his looted goods. Easily obtained, but obvious after the fanfare of his not-quite-heist. For the moment the Foundation needed to stay in the dark, the information they didnt know they were missing his last bargaining chip for any more “underhanded acquisitions.”

He had made plans with relativity high odds of success, the best of which involved mimicking 404’s behavior and drawing Hobbes’ guardian to him. Pollux had reminded Catian of the joys of sinew and steel against steel and sinew, will against will. The Anomaly had been correct, godhood was no boon to a warrior, immortality was no friend to the thrill of life against life. Castor was sure to prove as formidable in combat, if not more-so given the way the name had fallen from 404’s lips. Catian knew it still wouldn’t be enough to recall those days when he had lived a mortal life, and fighting someone so loyal to the Foundation would cost him another bargain.

That left him with his usual routine, one he had hoped to avoid for this meeting, but was silently resolving himself to when the Chaos within him bucked against his tight control, a bubble of a thought growing in his mind despite his usual subtlety and guile in these worlds that were not his own. He could just bring 408 to him.

For this performance there was a stage, quite literal and imposing in the darkness that Castor had been suddenly transported to, a nothingness that left him nothing else to look at but the empty boards and the lone, shadow covered man who sat idly center stage, hood drawn and lights cast at just the right angles to keep him hidden. There was nothing but the stage, the seats between Castor and the edge of it, and Castor himself. The stranger, the Traveler, let the man’s mind, ancient though it might be, adjust to the sudden change in silence. Castor would speak first, in this scene.
[div][attr="style","position:relative;left:-181px;top:11px;width:150px;text-align:center;background-color:white;border:3px #3137fd inset;padding:5px;font-family:courier new;color:#3137fd;"]ACF-408
[img style="width:150px;" src="[URL]https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/426247770299432962/1136069696471441428/CASTOR2.jpg[/URL]"]
CASTOR[/div][/div][div style="background-color:#3137fd;border-top:#3137fd 4px outset;border-left:#3137fd 4px inset;border-right:#3137fd 4px outset;border-bottom:#3137fd 4px inset;"][div style="border-top:#3137fd 4px inset;border-left:#3137fd 4px outset;border-right:#3137fd 4px inset;border-bottom:#3137fd 4px outset;"][div style="background-color:black;color:white;padding:15px;font-family:courier new;"]Castor was stood between stage and audience.

He was hardly dressed for either part. The black pants and bare feet might be familiar to the Traveler. He also wore a black t-shirt, inscribed on the back with the Foundation symbol. His hair had been tied back. Yet the eyes in the dark of the theater glowed an electric blue. They scanned the room – the nothing – the stage – the man upon it. The eyes narrowed against the glare, but he did not seem suspicious, or frightened. After a moment of deliberation, in the silence of the darkened theater, the priest breathed, and then began the monologue:

[div align="center"][font color="3137fd"]“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits, and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.”[/font] [/div]
The voice was deep and clear, with the soft curling edge of a British accent; one must never forget their roots, after all. And the roots of this man were planted deep, the voice of one who intoned prayers to gods long dead or, worse, forgotten. He did not know what manner of being had brought him here. He did know that this was not the Foundation, in his sparse room at her primary Location.

She’d be safe enough without him, for the span of an act. With that decision, made with relative rapidity, the priest spoke again, without the echo of the sole actor.

[font color="3137fd"]“Thus says the bard.”[/font] He smiled, amicably, lips closed except to address the shaded figure. [font color="3137fd"]“Yet there are some that are not content to play the parts assigned. Those who may never set foot upon the stage as Pantaloon, or even Judge.”[/font]

His shoulders shrugged gently, humming to life. There was surely no harm in the gentle urge of peace, even if it was but an inclination and not an indication. Their glow joined that of his eyes in the places the stage lights did not touch.

[font color="3137fd"]“What part do you play, friend? And what do you have in mind for me?”[/font]
The figure on the stage remained silent, the lines delivered by Castor echoing in the surrounding darkness without a twitch. When the spell of the words fell away, and new questions had taken their place, they moved with a rustle of fabric. Their exposed arm raised in front of them, bringing the hand level with where their hidden eyes would have been if not for the purposeful murk that shrouded them. With a sudden sound they snapped and the lights went out with a mechanical thud.

Only to be raised again upon an empty stage, set decorations instantly placed in that brief moment between the darkness and the light. Verdant bushes, distant mountains and snow laden fields spread over the stage, at once seeming both real and fabricated in a strange amalgamation, as if a piece of the world had been clipped and pasted to the stage in conjunction with the props. A voice sounded, heavy and sonorous and seeming to come from the darkness all around the stage and the few visible seats.

”We begin our tale in days of yore, when the world was smaller and its people more isolated. Though many gods with many names sheltered their creations with their divine touch, we focus today upon the Nordic tribes of the North, and ancient prophecies lost to the ages despite countless translations.”

The stage changed, freely and without the hidden hands that most would expect in a theatre production. Nothing but white, the fields of snow now the entirety of the stage. A man walked froward from somewhere beyond bare-chested with plaited blonde hair and beard and a heavy hammer in his hand. ”Thor, god of thunder, war, and fertility. A hero to men and even to gods, his legend has been told in countless numbers of ways.” The man lifted his massive hammer and thunder sounded from the stage as a flash of lightning struck the flat of the weapon. Blinding light filled the snowy field, and when it cleared the man was gone.

Instead there stood a wolf, as large on all fours as the man had been standing tall. Its white fur was purer than the snow, a shape of purity with gleaming red eyes. ”The story of Fenrir, however, is a tale unsung, the focus most often on his beginning and his end. The wolf let out a howl, almost musical, before fading into the snow. ”Neither a god nor a mortal wolf, Fenrir was something between, just as our story is something between his beginning and end. The stage went dark again. ”This is a tale with caution, dear audience. Should the old gods learn of what you are told here today their wrath would surely fall upon you.”
[div style="background-color:#3137fd;border-top:#3137fd 4px outset;border-left:#3137fd 4px inset;border-right:#3137fd 4px outset;border-bottom:#3137fd 4px inset;"][div style="border-top:#3137fd 4px inset;border-left:#3137fd 4px outset;border-right:#3137fd 4px inset;border-bottom:#3137fd 4px outset;"][div style="background-color:black;color:white;padding:15px;font-family:courier new;"]In response to his question, the production began. Castor could choose to take it as reply, at least, the same way auguries cast in animal flesh could be taken as prophesy. And as any priest given answer, he stepped back, and sat down before the elevated stage to meditate upon its reply, however convoluted it might seem. It had once been his duty to interpret these. Now perhaps he was simply meant to enjoy the show.

It was a tale of gods. The very word had little meaning, anymore, but there were some that adhered to them. Some people that admired them, some Foundations that contained them or brushed up against their realms. The priest had never been able to bring himself to spend any time at L-9, where some things that could have been gods were kept bound, or where the gods unbound sometimes slipped through and were pushed back like pests rather than the commanders of the universe. Even without faith, the priest had no place among such.

He could watch and enjoy, however. He had been preoccupied elsewhere during the golden era of the Norse, and only knew their lore as most modern men did, through study and translation. Thor was a warrior, that much he knew. The heavy hammer crashed against the sky, and even Castor blinked as the light rose, and then when he looked again he had been replaced upon the stage.

Fenrir he knew, as the narrator indicated, by his birth through the trickster and his death in the apocalypse. The intense blue eyes met the intense red, and held in silence.

And then came the warning, and the priest of the first gods among men only smiled a sad little smile. Their wrath did not frighten him, any more than their blessings brought him joy. Caution for the one, passing pleasure in the other. But gods always brought about their will at a price.

His left hand flexed, silent for all its mechanical wonder, and the bright eyes watched the stage.
The stage lit again, the interior of what might have been an old tavern filled with several people, each uniquely dressed and armed. In the corner, lit by a spotlight to bring him focus, sat the image of Thor, with heavy hammer at his side and a massive white wolf at his feet. The buzz of conversation, unintelligible in its drone, filled the air as if Castor sat in the tavern as well. The scent of cooking beef and heavy mead filled the air, and the darkness around him seemed to retreat a small amount, revealing a few more rows of seats as well as a white haired man relatively close by. As the narrator spoke again Catian’s lips were unmoving.

”Fenrir had been at Thor’s side when destiny took hold, prophecy unspoken taking shape before gods and men in a small tavern who’s name has been lost to history.” The voice still seemed to echo from all around, but the stage drew all attention as a door on the far left opened to admit a tall, beautiful woman with hair as dark as night. A jeweled broach and many rings spoke of her wealth, and the chatter of the tavern died down as she stepped inside with a buffeting drift of snow.

She made her way to the bar at the back of the stage, every actors’ eye upon her. Even the countenance of the god Thor followed her steps, though the wolf did not rise from where he slumbered. A mug was passed to her silently, and with a cursory look around the woman’s ice blue gaze settled on the empty seat across the table from Thor himself. To the audible dismay of the rest of the tavern’s customers she slid into the seat wordlessly.

Catian leaned forward in his seat as Thor spoke.

”It is unusual for a woman to travel alone, and more unusual still for her to choose to sit with a god.” His voice was thick with an accent long lost to humanity, deep and graveled as if the ice of his lands threatened to freeze his throat.

The woman smiled kindly, her back conveniently to the stage’s right so that her expression could be seen. ”A Queen sits where she chooses, Thunder God, and you are the closest to my station in this place. It is only natural that I would seek the company of another ruler.” It was Thor’s turn to smile now.

At his feet the wolf stirred, and as it rose it became apparent that the wolf was a man wearing but the skin of a wolf, though it covered him almost as completely as if he were the beast. Though the god of thunder ignored the motions at his feet, the woman’s gaze fell to the beast. Her smile toward Fenrir might have been warmer than it had been to the god.

Thor reached out a massive hand, wrapping it around the Queen’s mug and her own hand completely. ”If you seek the audience of a god I can think of far better places we could get to know one another.” The man who was a wolf snorted, and the Queen withdrew her hand quickly, leaving the mug behind in his grasp.

”I would sooner lay with your beast than with you, Odinson.” The scene began to fade as she patted the wolf’s head gently with her other hand.

At this point Catian turned to Castor, shifting eyes smiling in an almost uncomfortable way. ”Myths can be a bit odd, can’t they?” Perhaps his voice was the same as the narrator’s, perhaps it was different. He had clearly not been speaking the words, however, and seemed to be intent upon watching the play himself. ”This next bit is the most important, I think.”
[div style="background-color:#3137fd;border-top:#3137fd 4px outset;border-left:#3137fd 4px inset;border-right:#3137fd 4px outset;border-bottom:#3137fd 4px inset;"][div style="border-top:#3137fd 4px inset;border-left:#3137fd 4px outset;border-right:#3137fd 4px inset;border-bottom:#3137fd 4px outset;"][div style="background-color:black;color:white;padding:15px;font-family:courier new;"]Castor attentively watched the scene unfold. A queen, a god, and a wolf – werwulf, in the old English, although that could be a creative touch on the part of the director.

That could have been familiar. Once, or now. Recent events certainly crossed his mind, especially once he saw that Catian Valor had perhaps always been there. The man was distinctive – and, again, recent – enough to have an impression even on a memory as long as his. Enough that electric blue eyes were drawn from the tableau for a moment, the priest turning from the gods of the stage to the craftsman of realities.

Perhaps myths were less odd, when you had lived through a few.

[font color="#3137fd"]“History grows to legend, legend to myth, and myth fades to nothing,”[/font] he told the god, not with the impetuousness of a nonbeliever but the calm, distant quiet of who knew very well how odd such stories could become.

Then the blue eyes returned to the stage, to the beast and the monarch and the deity, and watched as he had watched for so long: impassive, if slightly amused.
Catian smiled at Castor’s words, but otherwise remained silent and seemingly enraptured by the play they both were viewing. The story unfolded in several acts; the actors changing and shifting throughout with a focus remaining on the man in the wolfskin and the queen revealed to be named Boudica. War erupted, between men and between gods, and beneath that overarching plot there grew a romance that was originally presented as insult between Boudica and Fenrir. As the play’s final act was drawing to a close a child was born to them, and the narrator who had been largely silent for the duration of the middle acts delivered his final message.

”Prophecy foretold that the sons of Fenrir would herald the end times, Ragnarok, by devouring the Sun and the Moon. However only one child was born, a daughter who had nothing to do with godly realm or her beastial father. A daughter who went on to have many children of their own, even as those children bore more to the line.”

The lights on the stage focused once more on a singular figure, face hidden by a dark hood with the shadowed figures of the entire cast standing behind him ad infinitum. Catian looked away from the stage, back toward Castor as the narrator intoned once again.

”The Sons of Fenrir were lost to time, their blood diluted but singing through their veins and into the future we now find ourselves in. This line kept the prophecy in their hearts, believing that one day they would see it to fruition as revenge for their ancestor’s mistreatment. They walk among you, hidden, awaiting the day that the horns of Valhalla call for the end times, and their true nature revealed for the world to worship.”

There was crack in the narrator’s voice at the final lines, and though the play seemed to be concluded the stage lights did not dim. The man at the center of the stage also remained, alone in that cold spotlight as silence fell upon the black theatre.

Catian broke that silence with his own voice. ”Well? What did you think of the play? A little rough around the edges, I’m sure, but a story as yet untold in your world. At least, untold to the majority, if not completely secret.” Why the Traveler was interested in the work still remained a mystery, but his leveled gaze seemed to speak of import to the story, of some sort or another.
[div style="background-color:#3137fd;border-top:#3137fd 4px outset;border-left:#3137fd 4px inset;border-right:#3137fd 4px outset;border-bottom:#3137fd 4px inset;"][div style="border-top:#3137fd 4px inset;border-left:#3137fd 4px outset;border-right:#3137fd 4px inset;border-bottom:#3137fd 4px outset;"][div style="background-color:black;color:white;padding:15px;font-family:courier new;"]The play was, it seemed, to justify apocalypse. In this modern time threats of the end times were a dime a dozen; but rarely were they as tragic as stories made them to be. Catian would not see the tightening twinge of consternation in Castor’s face, but he might have sensed it, if he were attuned to the gears and organs that made him whole.

He had spent enough time in Britain to recognize Boudica, the warrior-queen, rebel against great Rome. Roma had been one of the last periods before the modern wars that he and his black-bladed kinsman had bloodied Europe’s soil. He had never made it far enough north, then. Italia and Africa had been their homes. But word traveled in an empire.

So why no word of the god-wolf who lay with her? That had been precisely the gossip that would be wanted in the safety of the Seven Hills. Although there might have been too much of an omen, to those who believed a wolf raised their progenitor.

Or maybe it was just a story. Another legend, another myth. It could be a story untold because it was new and inspired, or old and forgotten. He watched those upon the stage – werwulfs, creatures of a different time, a different breed, than the common monster. The spotlight was not the only cold glow that remained on the shadowed figure at the center of the stage.

[font color="#3137fd"]“Your friends play the soldier, then. The soldier and the lover.”[/font] His face relaxed in to a smile, the first outside of humorous cues upon the stage. [font color="#3137fd"]“Good entertainment, with an open ending. Perhaps intended for another act, should the opportunity present itself.”[/font]

He disputed with himself whether that should be left alone, and then decided that the nonanswer wasn’t right.

[font color="#3137fd"]“My only criticism is that the conclusion feels somewhat like a sermon. A promise of an end.”[/font] His gaze finally turned toward Catian, the oddly emotive eyes steady. [font color="#3137fd"]“Leviathan does not concern himself with the gods and their kindred, or even their secrets. If this were a threat of Ragnarok, however, this would be taken very seriously by some in his Foundation.”[/font]

It was best to speak of and think of Leviathan in the hard masculine, in his mind. It created a very clear image of what Leviathan was, one that he replaced in his mind with the knowledge of ancient and nearly forgotten divinities without faces. Now the eyes moved slightly, to study the face of divinity as it appeared before him, as though searching for something definite without listening for a real answer.
It occurred to Catian as he barked a quick chuckle toward Castor that the people in the Foundation elicited his amusement far more often than one might expect of an organization that ultimately would see him locked down from the freedoms he enjoyed on this plane. With a bit of wryness coloring his smile he leaned closer to Castor in a friendly manner and the already small distance between them seemed to become smaller and more familiar, though there was no hint of malice or threat to the proximity.

”Yes, I would hardly imagine otherwise, Four-oh-Eight. Dealing with deities is not only tricky, between you and me they also tend to be [Expletive]holes as well. Always a good policy to avoid them unless absolutely necessary!” Catian slapped his knee emphatically to drive the statement home. ”I think you make a good point, though. About the play, I mean. It is as if there is a final act yet to be played out. You say that the Foundation would wish to be involved if that act were about Ragnarok itself?” Catian’s tone almost hardened, chilled a bit as if he were making an accusation; one that hurt him to speak.

”They told you it was a tale of between. Perhaps the end of all times wasn’t the conclusion they wanted to reveal, but a more personal armageddon?” He had straightened in his seat, and his gaze trailed back down to the stage, back to the hooded figure still illuminated there. With a sidelong glance toward Castor he flicked a finger toward the player before continuing. In the instant that Castor’s attention also landed upon the figure on the stage both he and Catain were standing there as well beneath the spotlight with the figure between.

”Is the end of one person’s world less important than your own? Less important than SV-1’s world ending? And I thought the Foundation helped anomalous humans, in their own fashion.” Somehow Catian had drawn close again while he spoke, and Castor faced him fully with the hooded figure to their side. Not quite confrontational, but commanding of attention and possessed of some other tension. ”Maybe that final act is waiting for someone at the Foundation to choose its path.” Catian sounded almost deflated. He reached out, and pulled the hood free from the figure to reveal the face of a young man.

He wants your help. He needs your help, and without that assistance his own Ragnarok will end an entire world of possibilities.” Catian’s face was replaced by the young man’s, or they had somehow switched places and the young man was now the one who faced Castor. A faint five o’clock shadow, eyes of blue and gold and hair that shimmered in the light, apparently white as Catian’s but oddly seeming black or grey where the shadows touched. ”He is just a boy, but his fear of that ending act has stripped him of his hopes and dreams. Do remember what it was like to dream, Akachi? To hope?” Catian seemed further away, and every detail of the boy’s face seemed to stand out.

”If the Foundation can do nothing for him, perhaps an immortal can help him accept that end he is so desperate to run from. Either way he is an Anomalous element that may be related to a world ending event. That alone should warrant him some Foundational attention, shouldn’t it?”
[div style="background-color:#3137fd;border-top:#3137fd 4px outset;border-left:#3137fd 4px inset;border-right:#3137fd 4px outset;border-bottom:#3137fd 4px inset;"][div style="border-top:#3137fd 4px inset;border-left:#3137fd 4px outset;border-right:#3137fd 4px inset;border-bottom:#3137fd 4px outset;"][div style="background-color:black;color:white;padding:15px;font-family:courier new;"]There was a low hum in the back of Akachi’s mind as his true name was called. The memories that flooded in were very mixed. Memories of childhood that a purely organic mind would have long since discarded – well, any barring one, reinforced with iron. The iron-banded mind that had invoked his name with scorn so often over time. The hum of the machine nearly tuned itself to the name, and then faded back into its usual drone.

Akachi hardly noticed that. Catian had appealed to his humanity. None of the warm humor or chill warning seemed to affect the priest in any way. People’s worlds, their lives, ended every day. That was the nature of mortality. It was the place of the immortal to understand, to let go when the time came. It used to break his heart, whenever a mortal that young resigned themselves to their fate, but the seams had been reinforced over time. Neither the lecture of a god nor his pity would have stirred him.

But the final calm, the monologue of direction upon the stage – where they had always been, it was easy enough to accept – that awakened something. Some warmth stirred then, not in his machinery but the part that was still organic enough to be called human.

[font color="#3137fd"]“Tell me about the boy.”[/font] He reached out, as though to place a mechanical hand on top of the lad’s head, but stopped at the last moment. For a moment, his mind shifted to another boy. The low hum became a grind, like metal on stone, and then faded back again, but Akachi’s face twisted just enough for the regret of that past to be clear.

He pulled his hand back, and let it fall to his side. Ragnarok was preferable to some fates.

[font color="#3137fd"]“If he is anomalous, the Foundation will find him.”[/font] That was not the fate that concerned him. Why ask 408 for assistance? Any of the personnel Valor had visited with in the past would have been alright. Well…almost any. [font color="#3137fd"]“If he needs help, any assistance in finding him faster would only do him good.”[/font]

And why the theatrics? he didn’t ask, because it was unlikely Catian would answer him honestly in that regard.
The image of the boy seemed to ripple with Castor’s imminent touch, only to fade away as his hand retreated. Catian’s proximity had returned, and perhaps a bit of the glib expression he had held before his plea. Something of expectation colored that impression, as if the Traveler had heard exactly what he wanted to hear. The stage fell away, the pair standing over infinite black that held promise of color that never came.

”It is strange how some minds might tell a story, is not? Personally I might have enjoyed this in a written form better, and I would imagine many from your world would convey it through cinema.” Catian’s hand waved and it was holding a folded slip of paper, as it always had. [/b]”The boy has an old soul, as they say. He chose the format of this message, as it were.”[/b] Catian proffered the held slip paper almost teasingly.

”I suggested this letter, an introduction to help Dr. Hobbes establish an idea of what she is dealing with. Penned by the boy’s hand so it lacks the veracity of Foundation paperwork, but I am sure it will he of some use.” Scribbled on the back of the page was series of numbers, clearly of a different hand than the from the one on the other side. 39° 54' 27.00" N 116° 23' 50.03" E It seemed written by Castor himself.

”A restaurant called the “Black Jade Dragon.” You really can’t miss it, they have a dragon made of, not surprisingly, black jade over their entrance. You will find him there.” Catian leaned a bit closer, conspiratorially despite the sheer emptiness around them. ”Tell Levi I said that this one should balance itself out, so I won’t count it as a favor if she doesn’t.” He leaned away, smiling warmly though it was unclear whether that was toward Castor or a piece of the message he had asked him to deliver.

”I think you’re going to take a liking to the boy, Aka- Castor. I hope that the story has a happy ending. For both of your sakes.” Catian’s body began to fade away, or the darkness did, perhaps as the world seemed to brighten. With Catian’s departure Castor would find himself exactly as he had been before the dream began, performing whatever task he had been performing.

The time that had passed might have been mere seconds, but somehow, unexplainably, at his release Castor would find himself holding that paper, an introduction on one side and his own scribbled note on the other. Somewhere in Beijing a werewolf was lurking.