Миша’s Speech


The scene is the courtroom where the Realist is on trail for killing travelers and removing their eyes, in an attempt to frame the sidhe. Misha’s voice is halting at first, as he tries to choose his words and enunciate carefully, but as his passion grows his speech quickens and his accent becomes thicker, interspersed with Ussuran words or sometimes odd syntax. (I won’t write this because it would be difficult and anyways it would take away from the message he’s trying to get across).

My mouth opens, and you know I am an outsider here. I left Ussura behind and traveled across the wide white sea to Avalon not to seek adventure, though certainly I have found adventure. I didn’t come to make my fortune or my fame, and neither have I gold nor banners announcing me. I came here simply to change, to leave behind the comfort of the things I knew, which were making me fat and happy but also stupid.

My mother is dead. My other mother, my матушка, lives in Ussura. Her name is Matushka, and her title is Matushka, and she is the other mother of every Ussuran. She may not be one of your sidhe, but she is definately not human. She lives in forests and mountains and in the silence before a decision is made, and she guides us in her way. Like any human mother, her love is sometimes gentle like a kiss on a bruise, and sometimes hard like a slipper hitting your head. Like the sidhe, she has a sense of humour and understands the importance of a promise and a contract. Like humans and sidhe, Matushka loves a good story.

I will tell you some stories, about people and about sidhe and about other things. They will not be as good as Matushka’s stories, but they are mine, and that counts for something.

This is Niccolo. Niccolo is a knight of Avalon. If you didn’t know that already it’s because there is cauliflower in your ears, because he will tell you. But there are secrets in Niccolo’s heart that are badly kept, and I know them. I will not tell you, because a man’s secrets are his own, no matter how poorly they are kept. Though the eldest of many, in this way Niccolo is still the younger brother. He is convinced he is the first to find where the jam is hidden, and having found it names himself the world’s best seeker of jam, while the jam-maker approaches with slipper in hand. Also like a little brother, Niccolo will surprise you with the depth of his heart and his uncanny ability to escape with his jam and hide intact, whether that jam-maker be human or sidhe. I do not know if this is a story about human nature, or sidhe nature, or Niccolo, but it does seem that poor secrets make for rich convictions.

Now Bastien, here, has many secrets in his heart that are not kept poorly, and countless more secrets in countless books. To know I know little of Bastien but that I trust him is enough. He is the worldly older brother, gone for long stretches and returning with treasures that seem trinkets compared to his words. Bastien’s stories are like sidhe deals – they have more left out than left in, and all the good bits are in the omission. Learning to listen for the unspoken has made me wiser, and learning not to speak it all plainly makes for better stories in the end.

Yseult is a problem solver. Sometimes she creates these problems, too, but that is not the point of this story. Sometimes she solves problems in ways I understand, like with her sword or with her strength. Sometimes she solves problems in ways I don’t understand, like with smooches*. When I see a problem I can solve, I say “this one I will solve with fists.” When I see a problem of objects and things that belong elsewhere, I can say “this one Mirabelle will solve without fists.” When I see a problem for Bastien, I can say “this one he will solve with books and secret knowledge.” When I see a problem of Avalon, I can say “this one Nikolo will solve with shadows and the queen’s ear.” But when I see a problem I don’t understand, I can say “this one is for Yseult. Yseult will find where the dog is buried**.”

Finally, Mirabelle. Mirabelle is a lover of history, of arfet.. art.. farticats… objects. Old objects with stories of their own. Mirabelle is a lover of objects, and enjoys nothing more than moving things from one place to the other, from the place they are to the place they belong. One of these objects was a tablet, and Mirabelle said “I, who love objects like no other, will smash this one before I give it to an evil person.” It came to pass that the evil person was about to take the tablet, and Mirabelle was unable to stop it, but I was around. And so I smashed that tablet, and broke it badly, and Mirabelle was mad at me for a very long time. Some things happened after that, that aren’t important to this story. It was anger at the evil person that caused those words, and not Mirabelle’s heart. Even if someone’s desires appear clear in the moment, their history is more important. Even if Mirabelle appeared to want the object smashed, she is, at dawn and dusk, a lover of objects. Even if this man, this Realist, appears to want to help people against the sidhe, from dusk to dawn it is people he is murdering and sidhe he is framing for it. Even if the sidhe appear to want to do evil, from dawn to dusk to dawn most want only to exist in the way they were made.

I left my mothers in Ussura, but I found my siblings in Avalon. We are different, very different, and sometimes we don’t understand each other, but that is the way of every family. Who we are is only part of who we choose to be. Bastien is Bastien, Misha is Misha, and the sidhe are sidhe. This man is a man, but he is also a murderer, not because of the way he is made, and not even because his actions caused people to die, but because he murders to make people afraid of the things he fears. I understand the sidhe more than I understand this man here, this Realist who demands reality bend to his ideals.

* This is said in such a thick and weird Ussuran accent that it’s unlikely many people outside the main party actually understood what word was being used.

** Вот где собака зарыта, idiom meaning to get to the root of a problem.

Many thanks to Chloe, my GM, who spent time to gave excellent feedback and suggestions on a draft of this, even though it’s just a lil dribble drabble.

Misha’s Toyhou.se

3… 2… 1

Space was much louder than Laika thought. Under the rattling and banging and gutteral roar of the engines, there was something else – a constant noise that had nothing to do with the earthly sounds of her ship, her pounding heart, her ragged panting. There was a hissing, as if space itself was whispering its secrets to her. She strained to listen, but things were getting hot, so hot…

There were no windows in her ship, but she saw pinpricks of light, twinkling like the stars without. Darkness threatened the edges of her vision, forming a starscape that pulsed in and out of focus. The vision of space behind her eyes warred with the metal and machines in front of them.

listen… the whispers said. hang on. let go. listen…

The starscape pulsed in time with her heart, and the inside of her ship was replaced with snatches of memory. The vaguest sense of warmth, milk, brothers and sisters and safety… She saw the street she used to live on, the garbage she ate and puddles she drank from. She saw the lab she was taken to one winter morning, asked to do incomprehensible things but warm again at last. She saw the machines and the needles and the people, so many people, all patting her and touching her and sometimes hurting her but never meaning it.

Finally, the most painful memory of them all – She saw the children she had played with the day before launch. For Laika, people were mostly hands and smells and gestures, either kind or gruff or mean, but always lumbering and powerful. Children, though, children were all faces and laughter and light to her, kindness and joy and endless love. The memory-children blazed like the sun, like laboratory spotlights, like stars. They opened their mouths but only the hissing of space came out, louder now, drowning out the clunks and rumbles of her failing ship.

Listen… Do you hear it? It’s almost here…

She tried to lean forward but the straps held her tight. Her ears swiveled this way and that, trying to locate a sound that was all around her. She closed her eyes but it made no difference – the starscape was inside her head and outside the ship, with everything between useless and invisible. Her heart pounded in one last furious burst of speed, and then began to slow. Her head became heavy, too heavy to lift, and she relaxed, slumping against the too-tight straps.


“I can’t believe she’s gonna make it!”

“She won’t, if you don’t concentrate and help me get these tubes out of her!”

“What kind of monster straps an innocent being into a tin can and flings them into space without an air conditioner?”

“You know what kind. You know what system we’re in.”

“oh… right…”

“Poor thing. We’ll get her patched up good as new, with a TranslationMod so she can tell us where she wants to go next. It’s the least we can do.”

Laika’s eyes were gummy and hard to open, her body ached deeply and felt like stone. She was laid on a table, cool but not cold, firm but not hard. The voices were somewhere above her, and she felt herself being unhooked and detached. She was being separated, from the web of machinery that linked her to her ship, linked her to earth, linked her to the lumbering men of science that had strapped her in so far away and not so long ago.

Those voices… They sounded like the children she remembered, all sunlight and laughter and starscapes. One of them patted her head gently, and the tender love in the caress burst in her head like music. Laika listened, and her tail began to thump gently against the table.

Art by ErsatzLace