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    Almost Best Girl#9371

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    Take a Guess
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    Where tomorrow ends.
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  1. Mag

    accretion. (3/3)

    Noi flowed like water. The evasion, parry, and counter all in fluid motion, unfolded like lilies before him. Caught in the descent Severus could do nothing. He could watch but not to save himself. Well, he did not need to, for once. Dove grunted as the haft of the tonbonkiri smacked her out of the air; shielded, the force was transferred to the body which went flying into a tree. Dove rose to her feet again, golden bars of iron curling around the shimmering torso. It formed into the shape of an old knight’s plate; a transparent visor of glimmering light sat on his brow as gauntlets encased his body thinly. “Perhaps you should put on some weight, boy.” Dove marked a line in the dirt, then called out to Noi: “I think we should begin with physical drills, actually. No magic except for strength and speed. How does that sound?” The hexblade lit up, strengthening itself for the trial to come. Dove pressed a foot into the dirt again, and then took off directly at the pacing Noi.
  2. Mag

    A levee to stop the flow

    Never let it be said that man had not the ability to choose. This was not the most noble of battlefields or the deepest pit of darkness into which Saron, and Casper, was to sink before the closing of the dawn; but it was one black enough. Black, for the diminished man leaping towards her; black, for the hole of rubble and ashes they had burned through the futures of so many. The woman crossed her legs, easing herself into a seat in midair and wincing. It was more the relieved descent of aching old wives, than the throning of a conqueror. Ankou staggered towards her, energy equally vacant. Neither seemed to be full of the same fire that possessed them so shortly ago. The culprit, the stray breath that still clung to Ankou’s skin like a puppy. What good is death if all it does is kill? (Ha ha.) Saron awaited his last approach. This was falling action; the fight is won, the sun arcs downwards, passions cool. Rain sets in, a rain on the spirit, cold and regret to make Saron wonder whether she ought to give the man the final farewell after all, or if this was worth walking away from, leaving his half-dead corpse behind to chase bigger shadows. It would be partially an act of mercy, partially something to balm the soul. Saron was never the type to stomp on wounded squirrels. But no. Some had to learn. The world had to learn. Each and every observe would know that Peacekeepers would keep the peace when necessary, and that they make the peace when compelled to at the temptation of evils. Ankou, Lilith, all of these, had tempted their hand. So they would learn. She would be a candle to guide their way. The warmth of candles is illuminating particularly in stormy half-light — and those with many gifts, Gaia commanded, must give freely. So Saron gave. So rainbows did form only in the presence of rain. Ankou grunted his last and threw himself down at her. She lifted a hand. Threads crept out from the faded friendship-band, teasing between each finger and through each ridge, until her hand was encased. The surface flared up into sweeping bevels and arched plate and flashed iridescent like the carapace of a beetle made from careless sunlight. The gauntlet encased her solitary palm, held forth like a reluctant handshake, and Saron took Ankou’s fist into hers when he fell upon her. The momentum of his descent brought his weight crashing into her diminished frame, which snapped the invisible chair in which she was seated. Twined in this way, they dropped for a soothing few seconds. They looked at each other. Saron showed some teeth. She never let go. “Men, die.” She said, in a voice that asked everyone to listen for it was her truth. Her eyes glittered. “Man — Man is immortal.” She snapped her wrist to the side, carrying all of Ankou’s weight in that quick, brutal motion. His body flew outwards like a slung pebble, a blur which slammed into the side of the Aviary, punched a hole through it, smashed through two or three tons of machinery regulating Sanctuary, and exiting out the other end with enough loss in velocity to drag his face across the pavement for a thousand feet. But Saron had not let go, and the lever through which such force was exerted remained in her hands when she touched down onto the ruined street. “If it was Saron Swain you were fighting, take it no problem. But it wasn’t just me. It was all this city, and a lotta people besides. A whole continent of them, a history of them and a future, too. You guys,” Saron flipped his arm into the air, the same arm she’d cut before, dismembered at last. “You guys are inevitably punching above your weight class.” The flash of purple light erupted out of the Aviary, out of every window, electrifying everything it touched and reducing the creep to inert dust. It spread, and spread, and spread, ever outward… One of the Aviary Phoenixes landed upon her shoulder. She stroked its head as he brushed his wings over her flesh, revitalizing what had been drained away. “That’s the truth,” she said. “The greater shall prevail. And we will always be the greater.”
  3. Mag

    Destruction des morts

    “I’ll be right back,” Dove assured them, in Renovatian, before taking the car out. You can lie once in every language. Before then words are just words, and sentences struggles in semantics. Before then we talk in shades of indicative grey, the-weather-is-such and I-have-brought-so-and-so. Then comes the lie. It is neither intentional nor premeditated, neither ordained nor the product of malice, it is not quite original sin being neither original nor sin. But after that moment the language is not descriptive but prescriptive. What happened has happened, but now there is hope. The real defers to hope. The road strikes out before her like a lie. Sometimes when she blinks she sees a black mark on the horizon like a smudged-up charcoal mistake; sometimes it’s not there but she knows it is. The artist has done a lovely job of disguising it but in so doing the whole landscape is blacked up. Dirt and dust kicked up in stormy vortex by wind; wind stealing across the barren, wild land under the overcast overwatch of tilled fields of stratus; clouds descending as a haze so that the horizon was splotchy and uncertain. She knows that the black mark is there. What Serafino senses, Cain feels and Dove knows. Today is a terrible day, the kind of day that dogs howl and accidents happen and nobody can’t do nothing about anything, gods to ants. “This time will be different,” she muttered to herself in an old tongue. The words hardly escaped her breath, meandering through the open window, before they were whipped to shreds by the wind, falling to the ground, torn up by the wheels of a car shooting like an arrow across the cloud-dust plains towards familiar dauntless Tia. The city, encased at times in the image of a black, smoldering charcoal ruin, overlooking the twisting plain, drawing everything in to be torn up and destroyed along with it. -- well, it was no such great loss. She had lied before. [Site 81] “Chicken chimichanga. You had one of those for dinner last night. It was a luxury.” “Now that’s just a lucky guess, and maybe grounds for a charge of harassment, but --” “I wish I even cared enough to know your name. You had plain chicken for breakfast today, and plain chicken for lunch as well. They looked identical but you were particularly excited about the second because you had heated it in the microwave at the compound instead of eating a fridge leftover at your home. Where you do not have a microwave, evidently.” Dove took a sharp intake of breath. “You’re a boring sort, aren’t you?” He was starting to redden up. He had been trained for spellfire and swords, not targeted attacks on his character. “I - listen, what the hell do you think you’re doing here?” He tried to puff himself up. “This is grounds for removal. You need to remove yourself from this area.” “In fifteen seconds, the fellow engineer which you’ve fancied from a distance will drop by to investigate the commotion that you’re needlessly causing. She will smell the remnants of the Big Fucking Chicken Chimichanga that you bought from Taco Harp last night, and will be suitably repulsed. Unless, of course...” Dove looked at her wrist as if reading a watch. “Well, here she comes.” The engineer blanched, backing away as someone rounded the corner. “E-echo! Echo. Uh. This woman. I can’t...please help her, I need to finish up some calculations.” Then there were two. Dove wasted no time in addressing the newcomer. “Are you a betting woman? I’d hope you believe in fate more than the other guy.” Her face turned stony. “I would certainly like to meet whoever’s in charge of this compound, because Tia is about to slide off the precipice of a tall, tall cliff into a valley of razor blades and shit. The military might like to have something to do with that, wouldn’t they?”
  4. Mag

    Project Destroy Tia

    my babes my lovelies come to me
  5. Mag

    Project Destroy Tia

    @Wade you read my mind too easily. <3 I have a plot in mind for that situation exactly; will PM you in a bit.
  6. Mag

    the best among your darlings

    how funny i was about to say i love lily, olivia, and all my girls there the most H N N N N N NN N NG
  7. Mag

    accretion. (3/3)

    Calm, she said. Calm?! Severus thought. But he said nothing. In part because he was unable, but in part because he was undergoing the process of shut-up-and-listen that all great students synthesize in the presence of the master. Dove looked into the veins on his hand, as if she was a palm-reader. The stones flying her way did not register. She merely subsumed and pressed herself into the fibers and nerves running through the boy’s body. What is man but a tangle of cords bound around a loom of bone? A miserable bunch of cords, but special and each different. Above-average aptitude for magic, but a strange breed. Something like the Genesar Arcantians but not; almost beast-like, supra-human. I don’t understand gypsies. Interacting with the tangle left the taste of spice on her fingertips, which bloomed into her hands, then through her arms as she stretched further and further into the body like a suit until her being filled the whole essence. Recursive, nonsensical. Severus controlled himself well in that locked-away part of his mind as he watched the stones grow nearer and nearer. Good kid, she said. Let’s try this. His hand closed into a fist, which jut forward to meet the first stone, force exploding out of every finger. The barrier cast was bright yellow, shaped like an umbrella, and shattered each stone where it touched. Severus thrilled and gasped. Remember how that felt? You won’t be able to replicate it for weeks but you’ll remember that sensation. That is what you’re shooting for, boy. Dove wiggled his toes and cracked his fingers, familiarizing herself with the rest of the body. Remember all of these, too. Severus stepped forward fast as thought, two steps launching him into a flying leap. Both hands grasped the hilt of the hexblade, both hands intended to bring it down onto Noi.
  8. Mag

    Project Destroy Tia

    Dove is, in fact, on her way to Tia at the moment for completely unrelated reasons. This came at a good time. She will defend the city with one of the Gauntlets of Zengi.
  9. Mag

    A levee to stop the flow

    The swing of the arm, all mental capacity directed inwards towards the violent, hateful motion of muscle. It hypnotizes. Saron watched but did not see, was in cavorting, spinning motion, but never moved, reacted on instinct. Shields formed and were broken, but that half-second of delay was enough for the man to dash away like a shadow again. A swing after him took a chunk out of building, another swing bit deep into the rock. He hit her in the face, once, with a blackened fist snaking around the flat of the fastened blade. She hit him in the face, once, with the side of a building. Again and again the rock crumbled around them, the rain whipped in wind before them, the air parted between them, compressed and stretched like the slow motion of a wave. At some point she blinked to look around. Somehow they had made it back to the aviary. Some god had seen fit to drawn a circle of devastation through central Casper with the two as pen. Ankou flashed red again, rising up to meet her. The end was far, far out of sight. All such plans of gods were ill-prepared to be predicted. The sky flashed hot, blinding white with holy lightning, just as she swung downwards to meet him. Portents and prophecies indeed, the half-second future being told by a rushed omen. Evil and good, red and white, the contrasts of blood and plasma. She hit the bubble deftly, square in the middle, with the point of TIZONA. Because in that moment the world was divided in two, shadow and light, it did not occur to her that the shadow which seethed around Ankou was anything more than reflection of his psyche, or the flicker of judgement and true nature that flickers around us like ghosts every so often. Heroes never think in truths, only in narratives. Sometimes, they forget that in every narrative, there is the fall. No, now there was just she and he, her sword transfixed right into the heart of his. The light faded; nuance returned — Glass shattered, and the immense pressure wave expanding outwards from the internals of the bubble, robbing the air of breath and filling the void with undeniable force, taught her nothing more than that she had made a mistake. Instinct brought the blade to bear before her as a shield, retracting from its rupture as fast as her every muscle could act to save themselves. Negabjurium swallowed a quarter of the force, and exploded; twenty tons of metal fell to rust and sparkling flecks, breaking along every fault line. Through this silvery cloud of all that was left of her sword, the force of the blast wave reached through as pillar of force, taking form by the dust which it carried carried along. It drove into her gut, from there draining everything it could find — warmth, blood, function — and spreading ever further; and the force carried her up, up, towards the clouds… The air streamed past her face so fast that when she coughed she could not find another breath, and only gasped as her body skipped across the rooftops like a stone. The chariot rides across the sky, the sky stretches to the sea. Crested, the sea gives way to more. The laps are run. It takes effort. And something has happened, Ankou knew that he had overcome something. He could look back and see himself going the distance. He could count the meters. But the race never terminates that easily. If there were ever an end then it would be trivial for anyone to reach it; only when there is no end that people know fear and respect. Fear for authority, and fear of justice. Respect for the vast sacrifices by which the common peace was constructed. If authority and sacrifice had limits, then… So there was no end. The strange fifth missile flared out of the clouds to which it had disappeared during the melee, coming to rest upright beside Saron’s collapsed body. A probe, presumably for biometrics, stretched out and cast a bright beam onto her face. It took her into its queer, robotic eye. Shortly after, its cylindrical chamber opened up, and yet another utensil dropped out right into her hand. It was a tattered tie-dye cloth wristband, the sort that fifth-graders might make in happier places than this. Saron’s arm moved as if of its own accord, holding it up against the light. The women popped open a mischievous, bloody eye from her prone position, examining the gift. “No, this wasn’t the one I asked for.” The missile beeped worriedly. “You did wonderfully. It was Pratya that put you up to this, wasn’t it? Oh, never mind. H-oopsie daisy!” She hoist herself up, tottering around on her feet like like a drunkard. She winced. Your muscles are showing signs of severe atrophy, 36. “Yes, and your face is showing signs of terrible ugliness, Pratya. But I take some joy in avoiding stating the obvious,” she said as she leaned against the missile, watching the distant figure drift closer. Your use of the present tense is terrifically incorrect. It was a good try, though. 3/10 for effort. Saron closed the channel and slipped on the wristband, wincing when she realized how loosely it fit her weakened arm. “This is enough for now. You should head back, shouldn’t you? Wait.” She tossed the blackened pen she loved so dearly into the missile’s central chamber. “Tell them to get that fixed.” Another wave of the wand, and the missile vanished. Saron pocketed the stick and jammed her hands in what was left of her apron pockets, stumbling towards the edge of the building. Once she stepped onto the air she sighed easily, kicking out her feet and floating towards the man drifting close. “Well, it was a good try. That’s why they call you Reaper in the Dark, huh? Because…” She looked past him, then refocused. “I’ll say, it’s a very descriptive name at least. Black sure is a color, isn’t it? Color of grease oil, color of soiled clothes, color of burnt molasses and ink. Color of diseased hearts and minds, too, and a lot, a lot of sadness. You don’t kill people so much as you make them very, very miserable, I’m sure. Even death is nobler, to be frank.” As she came closer he would see precisely the gauntness that was the result of suffering his namesake at close range. Bags hung below her eyes, wisps of grey hair ran through to frame her bony face. But there was no weariness in all those crevasses, nor was there slouch in her diminished arms. She carried herself with the same vast pride and sense of power that she had at the beginning of this, if not more concentrated in the ashy, shriveled flesh. The endless race; the boundless road; the limitless law. A Peacekeeper was all of these things. However much was taken from them they had more to give. Saron shook her head. “I should still offer terms for surrender, but I was told that to be the bigger woman is to be honest. So I’ll be honest. If you tried to lay down your weapons now, I’d execute you anyway.” She held out an open-palmed hand, as if expecting him to come take it. As if expecting him to come quietly regardless. “You could run. You could stay still. You could even try to kill me again. I invite you to consider all of your choices. People are nothing if not free.”
  10. "...the unconquerable past, looming over a future growing smaller every day. As affairs now fall farther and farther into its mass, approaching a horizon over which consequence could not escape. Yet I still grieve. For blank years drawn into the cosmic grindwheel, for preyed-upon yesterdays. Even if today will be different, and tomorrow different still, desperate handfuls dangling on the precipice. Wherever we go we are always in their shadow; I grieve for permanence. For demolished homes, forfeit and forgetfulness, the utility of love; for the die never uncast and for sixes and snake eyes..."

    (Roulette, 1866)

    1. Jotnotes


      No u

    2. Twitterpated


      "Hit 'em with the 7-11"

  11. Mag

    accretion. (3/3)

    “Don’t be afraid,” Severus’s body said aloud, but not to Noi. “You won’t get scuffled too badly. This is firsthand learning, boy. Best remember this: all things can be learned.” A hand reached out and pulled the falling hexblade out of mid-air, his wrists cracking as its downward momentum turned into a twirl and electricity crackled along its length. As it spun it carved a black streak into the soil, leaving glass behind. “A nice thing, isn’t it? A treasure, isn’t it? But things can be found all too easily. Even you Loveridges have your cursed hatchet.” A few moments more of admiration, and Dove stopped its spinning and shuffled his feet into stance. Only one arm held the sword in lazy grip; the other was pressed into a plane, held before her like a shield. “Alright, Noi. Go whenever you like. The boy wants to watch, let him watch.”
  12. Mag

    accretion. (3/3)

    Fifteen minutes later they had spilled out of the woods and begun to skid across the vast plain-country just out of the mountains; Palgard was a smudge of black like the remnant of a nightmare, clinging to life against the bone-white cliffs behind them bathing in the sun. Ahead was sweeping yellow and sparrows among autumn, taking joyfully to wing across the wide skies. Dove slammed on the brakes as soon as she found a place to pull over, diving the car into a gravel lane carved through the wheat-stalks. A solitary tree loomed over the lane, providing shade. She killed the car and lay back, looking into the sky. “I don’t know if Noi is like you and I, but I know we’re more or less alike,” she began. “Don’t you remember playing in the dirt and eating bugs, I don’t know, dressing each other up, hopscotch, pretend? I have those memories too.” She tapped her head. “Right in here, and down here, too.” She laid a hand over her heart. “The difference between us, boy, is nothing.” “Well, I can’t fly,” Severus observed. “You can learn to fly if you like. Humans are potential beings. They can do a lot of stuff.” “I don’t know how,” he said firmly. “You are special, beyond me.” “I’m just like you. Once upon a time, anyway. Maybe I’m older than you by a few hundred years, but if you think time is an obstacle, the one things humans can always do is wait.” “I don’t want to wait.” She twisted around in her chair and smiled like a frog. “Noi, I think I like this boy. Let’s have some fun with him.” Dove kicked open the door and yanked open the back door, grabbing Severus by the scruff of his shirt, and hauled him onto the side of the road. The boy cleaned himself up, without a word; his arms were up as if he thought he was going to defend himself. Dove waited for Noi to get out of the car. “You’ve got a power we don’t have, that we’re going to need in a few days. In exchange for this, you’ll have your answer. Who we are, and what a human like you and I, Severus, can learn to do,” Dove said. He backed away, maybe thinking he had made a mistake, but Dove’s strides were too fast; she grabbed his face with a hand and jammed a finger into his mouth; he tasted starfruit and felt something inside him unravel… And when he opened his eyes again he felt he couldn’t speak. But his voice opened up cockily, with words that were not his own. “Noi, toss me my hexblade. I wonder if you can beat me even like this. Although,” Severus felt his arms swing around, muscles crackling in a stretch, and said again: “This body isn’t bad, not at all.”
  13. Mag

    accretion. (3/3)

    “Looks fine to me,” Noi said. “Hasn’t said a word but his eyes are full of questions.” She noted these as a doctor might. A doctor who was endeared to by childish nervosity and floor-turned shuffling. W-why no, Doc, I haven’t… The kid had that look around him like he wanted to know the contents of the needles on the racks, scared to ask in case they were going to stick him with one of them. The question almost made it to his mouth but stopped in his eyes, restive, flashing this way and that way and every way except at either of the women. But the whites of his eyes were watching them, always, fixated on them even. Noi snickered but her developing motherly instinct took over after a little. “You should ask your questions, you know — Severus, was it?” He turned pale, then flushed as she teased him. “I-I-I — “ but his innate desire to be a man, and Noi’s appeal to fearless childhood, won out over the cowardice of man. He firmed up and let more mature childishness spill out at them. “What are you? Your powers are immense…how do you do it?” Because all boys wanted weapons and power and great men thought that there was no goal better pursued. Dove laughed, too, a shocking, familial trill. Maybe being around Noi made her parental, too. She shared an amused glance in the mirror with the woman in the back. “Kid, it’s no big secret.” “Tell me,” he insisted. “I need to know. I want — “ “The same thing everyone says they want, but nobody really needs.” Dove’s fingers tapped out a pleased staccato on the leather of the dashboard. “Though it might’ve helped in that business with the Gutterfiend,” she admitted after a brief lull. Severus’s burning look didn’t stray from its focus. The boy had guts to put the magnifying glass to ants twice his size. Finally he buried everything but courage in dead dirt, everything including fear and reservation and wisdom. “I am deeply gracious for your rescue of my family. But if you were not there then we may all have died. If we had strength then we would not need heroes like you.” Dove and Noi shared another sparkling look. “Power does not a hero make.” “But a hero needs power.” “Don’t tell me you want to be a hero? You’re a bit older than that, aren’t you, darling?” He did not flinch. “What are you?” Dove did not answer. The car carried on, through the dry sun filtering through dry trees, along the diminished riverbed; shadows alit and took wing in mottled sequence on Dove’s brow. Severus settled back in his seat. But he knew the topic was far from gone.
  14. Mag

    A levee to stop the flow

    After a troubled and restless eternity, Ankou returned. He brought some friends with him, or one in particular made up of so many old friends. Some of whom Saron might’ve known. Some of whom may have come by the Stately Hero once or twice, or stood in line in front of her at the same market, or passed her by in a car meandering through slow streets. Casperians and soldiers, too — died with fear and the died with the terrified smell of urine hanging about them but they died for the ideal of country, making them noble. All of these just in an arm of the swinging titan…or perhaps not. But when Saron looked at the man riding atop she saw the afterimages of the boys with no respect, who never stopped pulling the tails off squirrels and laughed at the misfortune of others. Who thought they were fearless and that compassion was girlish and weak. Who knew only everything that they wanted to know. Cleanse it. The field surrounding the pen vanished in a blink as she depressed another button, and again it resumed spinning in her hands. She didn’t move except to blink even as the titan bore down on her, even as it shattered buildings and threw clouds of shrapnel at her. Still like a statue with that ever-twirling pen, hollow eyes throughout. Though at the end, before it struck her, she quit the spinning. All Peacekeepers share a bond with the Great Mother, even in the paralyzing face of a lack of faith, or a peculiar aversion to talent. Though she was no Zeph, Saron still had the touch given her by greater men and women; and here in her city, her soil, at least, would obey. The first pieces of glass and rock powdered, then compacted into a shield. As the torrent intensified beyond her ability to control, concrete was pit against concrete and glass against glass, chunks of the shield broken off and reformed. Stray pieces struck through and broke upon her clothes and skin, none of these registering in any of her muted senses. Finally the onslaught halted, leaving behind another cloud of dust dancing about her, confirming that indeed, her sword was fully vanished, and leaving the woman herself in haze. “I knew boys who would pelt me with stones as a child.” Her clothes were torn beyond the best triage of a tailor, her hair riddled with rock and splintered glass. Saron trembled dusty fingers and bloody lip, licking the sides of her lips to keep them clear of dirt. She bled from a hundred shallow cuts and gashes that were all too thin in light of the jagged glass that had cut her, and what little blood there was accumulated as a sheen upon her skin. The well-kempt woman was gone, but her habit remained unchanged. Her habit, her character, and that glossy, untouched black jacket cradling her body, all whole. From this last she produced another thin stick, this time in the appearance of a trickster’s wand, black with two white tips — a child’s toy. Peacekeeper 36. SOAP missiles, armed. She swished it once, twice to either side, and from a shimmer in the air came the tips of four rockets the size of men, accelerating outward as if fired from a long, long ways away. Saron grasped onto the fifth, just a bit different from the rest, and let it carry her at speed towards Ankou himself. With a flick of her wrist TIZONA reappeared in her hand in all its invisible majesty, and as the wash of flame began she let go, jumping through the air and swinging with the fury of fury, the rumble of rage.
  15. Mag

    accretion. (3/3)

    Some things never change. To their right were the misshapen teeth-like mountains, Palgard resting darkly on their gums like a bruise. They were driving through the long swale of the valley beneath, along roads cursed with dirt and barren, dusty abandonment. The clouds gathered closely around the mountaintops far, leaving the valley in abject light, one which washed out everything and swept their souls into the single solitary river meandering through the flats. Another day on the road. “Levy’s crown city was somewhere in this valley,” she said. “Not that Palgard noise, though the place is a pretty enough city on its own. If you give me a day to drive around I can probably point you every single place someone messed themselves shaking while Levas walked down Main Street with his fire-breathing horses.” She sounded fond of the memory, fond in a way that she never was speaking of anything but. “Grand place. Though everything is much bigger now than they were even thirty years ago, it doesn’t really feel that way, don’t you think?” “Maybe that’s just what they call nostalgia.” Dove brought them into a gentle coast around the protrusion from the mountains upon which the dark towers of Palgard rested. “Palgard, population 40,000. Small by the standards of today, and that was half the number of Levas’s whole capital, and the city’s still twice the size.” Dove grimaced. She had been involved in the events that had contributed to the diminishing of the city thirty years ago. She remembered burning buildings and Desecrators; all of this, less fondly. So she switched lanes. “How’s the boy doing?”