RP:This Mess I Have Made
Part of the The God of Undeath Arc
Then things got complicated, my innocence has all but faded.
All the untested virtue, the things I said I'd never do, least of all to you.
All alone as I've learned to be in this mess I have made. "
I have made the same mistakes over and over again..." *
Mad Genius' Lab
Alithrya was unchanged upon Reginae’s return. The city had undergone few changes since it’s creation thousands of year ago. Yozenra’d returned ahead of the Queen to prepare a celebration in her honor. It was loud and long, sinking well into the night. A naga won a human’s tournament. It was expected but still cause for celebration. They were a warrior race, after all. So it’s roughly 2 am when Reginae comes knocking around on lab doors looking for Muzo, and she is knocking with abandon and howling his name in the otherwise silent corridors on this side of the Palace. “Muzo!” Her first few calls are punctuated with laughter. “Muzo, where are you?” There was a twinge of bitterness at him for not attending. How could he miss it? She’d slammed all those idiots into the ground and reclaimed her confidence after being beaten by the crab man. She’d lost so shamefully for Muzo’s freedom. It would have pleased her to have him there to watch her slaughter (not literally) all the competition. “Hey! I know you’re here!” The longer she calls, the louder she knocks and more her calls start to sour. “Muzo! I’m your queen, damn it. Show yourself!” Reginae stumbled on her humanoid legs, snowy hair unsettled, brushing her shoulder into the stone wall beside his actual lab. Where she should have checked the first time. Her hand pounds, hard, on her side of the door and will continue to do so until he opens it.
"Delightfully life-like," the alchemist mutters and watches the glass snake coil around his wrist and lace itself between his fingers. Not to mislead the reader, but the creature (indeed, for Muzo has just created it) is not the glass snake found in nature. It is a work of living glass, presumably a gift for one of Queen's maidens or concubines. They are always eager to bother Muzo for pets, and Muzo is always eager to oblige. Now, he admires his recently finished work. The snake's grip is sure on Muzo's arm. Its delicate tongue whips in and out, thin and surely fragile. In each of its crystalline scales, Muzo sees a fragment of his broken reflection glinting up at him in a hundred pieces. The faint light of his prosthetic eye shines up at him in a hundred twinkling fragments. The scientist's wonder turns brooding. Just then, mercifully, Regi knocks on his door. "One moment," Muzo lowers his hand, carefully coaxes the snake back into its velvet-lined jewelry box, and shuts the lit. He straightens his robes. He takes a composing breath. Regi hears the door unlatch, and Muzo's placid face greets her. "Reginae, delighted." Her greeting has only begun trickling down, down through the labyrinth of his mind. "My Queen," he adds hastily with a bow. It wasn't often she called rank on him. The door swings wider as he slithers back to invite her inside the laboratory.
Muzo opens the door and Reginae sways back, catching herself on the door frame to avoid an embarrassing spill. She levels her hetero-chromatic gaze at him. She’s struck by his red eye. Of course she knew it was there, of course she knew why but in this moment of intoxication she simply hadn’t expected it. When she’d pictured his face, in her discontented adventure down the hall, it wasn't this. It was before. Before acid and Larketian secrets and it made her just a -little bit- angrier. “Muzo.” She labelled him, matter-of-factly, like a book's spine and moved into the room with unsure legs. Minus the unsteadiness of her gait, she struts confidently in before turning to face the accused with a pale, bony finger waging. “Where were you tonight??” His attendance wasn’t mandatory but she’d been gone a long time! And came back a champion! Of Larket, no less! “I came back and you weren’t there.” Reginae hikes her hands on her hips and waits like a mother preparing a rebuttal for insubordination. “You weren’t at the parade,” She’s moved her hands to count off the events he'd missed on her fingers, “You weren’t at the demonstration, you weren’t at the feast, you weren’t at the after party…” Which she’d clearly partaken in, given the stench of black magic and gin on her breath. “I destroyed all the champions that fought for Larket, your home away from home, and when I return you are nowhere to be found." She spreads her arms wide, looking at the starry night sky enchantment overhead. She knew -why- he wasn't there but she wanted to hear him say it. She was certain. He just lost track of time and meant to be there, or worse, hadn't thought to go at all.
At the sound of his name, Muzo straightens. Their gazes connect. His brows raise. "Tonight?" Well, shouldn't that be obvious? As always, Muzo was here, diligently at work for the crown and its servants. Regi goes on, and as her accusations begin mounting, the royal researcher begins to wish he'd left his head bowed. This grilling would be easier to take if he didn't have to see the anger and disappointment, didn't have an image to go with the words. Muzo gulps. "But you've found me," he offers limply. It isn't as though he was hiding in here, but he knows that's not the real issue. As though to answer for him, a kettle begins whistling. Muzo hesitates, mutters an apologetic "let me get that," and hurries to move the screaming kettle off the heat. The whistling dies. The sense of tension and alarm remains. Kettle still in hand, Muzo pours a bit of boiling water into several waiting crucibles; each one puffs up a ring of colored smoke, purple, blue, red-- "Oh dear," rather than a ring, the last one puffs up a black skull and crossbones, and an audible whisper of "dooooooom" echoes through the lab. Muzo sets a lid on that last crucible and hangs the kettle to cool. He clears his throat. "Carried away," Muzo offers, "with lab work, as usual." There's apology written on his face when he looks back to Reginae. "Hate to have missed your celebration. Poor track record, in that regard." It's true. Muzo knows he's been absent for every important event in Reginae's public life. "I get to working, and nothing else..." nothing else matters "... nothing else crosses my mind."
Reginae waits, feeling much like a tea kettle herself. She was the last thing he tended to. The last person he thought about these days. Some of the servants gushed to her about his genius at dinner, showing off the various pets and weapons he’d made. How did he have more personal contact with everyone but her? The plumes of smoke are ignored, all save the one that ‘dooooom’ ekes out of. She’s silent until his apology is offered in full, her tongue already loaded with what he didn’t want to say. “You get to work and –nothing- else -matters-.” She stands there, shoulders heaving, before stepping towards him with heavy feet. “I have done nothing but risk my life for you, several times now in fact, only for you to fail to show up at the slightest thing. How do you think it makes me feel to be a figurehead with a companion that’s never at my side? Muzo-“ She exhales heavily rubbing her temples to control herself, but a voice whispers in the back of her mind. “Try...” No, it’s beyond that point now. It isn’t ‘try’ anymore, it’s ‘do’. Reginae massages her scalp, disheveling her hair further. The air in the lab starts to thicken, a thin black fog starts to obscure the floor. “Do you actually love me or do you enjoy the perks of my position?” He’d gone to Larket to do all manner of things without telling her. Had his own lab, his own staff no doubt. All the things he had here, except her, and he’d still stayed. She'd always supported his inventions and research projects. “I met that other Queen.” Josleen. “We had a lovely chat.” The contents of which are left ambiguous. “I am a Queen, for Aramoth’s sake, the LEAST you could do is show up to support me as a CITIZEN." Not even a lover - low blow. "Don't you miss me when I'm gone?” The fog around their feet (and tails) starts to thicken. The more solid it is, the more it starts to sting. Reginae can’t feel it. All she can feel is the pent up frustration of loving a man that never, ever, came through for her. That kept secrets from her. That claimed to love her. The consequences hang in the air; broad and fragile. “You took an oath of fealty and have served only yourself.”
Muzo blinks (winks? It's somehow still obviously a blink, even with one eyelid) in bewilderment. Reginae's outburst is overwhelming, and he's floundering in it like heavy surf. "That's-" He begins, but the Queen isn't finished with him. "There's-" No good, Muzo. You're getting a piece of her mind. Reginae is fuming. Speaking of fumes... Like a jealous mistress, Muzo's laboratory demands his attention, doing her very best to snatch him away from Regi even now, even in the middle of the Queen's tyrade. "Regi-" Muzo's tail squirms uncomfortably as the stinging fog creeps upward, and he looks down around himself, watching the vicious vapors flood higher and higher. "Appreciate your concerns, will address them shortly," he babbles hastily, distractedly. Muzo snatches up a pair of tongs. "Very sorry to interrupt. Advise you evacuate, your highness," he picks up the crucible, even as black fog continues to leak out from beneath the lid, and delicately lowers it into a large jar. "I'll be right behind you." An equally large cork squeaks into place. By now, the black fog is up to their hips, and it stirs in swirls and whorls whenever either of them move. If Regi hasn't gone for the door yet, Muzo begins physically urging her to the exit, and it isn't until both of them are safely outside the lab, it isn't until the door is shut tightly behind them that Muzo dares to breathe a sigh of relief. Tiny black wisps wiggle impotently under the door, like little tentacles, groping blindly. "You were saying, about us..." Muzo tears a blank page out of Formulae and sticks it to the door. "DANGER," he writes, "DEADLY ATMOSPHERE!" For emphasis, he adds a scull and crossbones, then tucks the pen away in his robes. "...about me..." Muzo rubs his temples. "And my service. Are you asking for my resignation?" That's not right. Muzo stares at the floor, no, through the floor. "Honored to serve," he adds uselessly, "and grateful for the admonishment. Will, will, will..." Will what? There's a promise he's supposed to make here, some pledge to improve and somehow address his shortcomings. "...adjust my behavior accordingly." It would be easier to think if his tail would stop tingling. Or if his heart would stop racing.
Reginae's intent on giving Muzo ALL of the pent up errors she'd calculated during the day of celebration. Oh, that's right, she made a -list- every time anyone else -mentioned- Muzo. The black fog bites into her legs and eventually waist while Muzo struggles with containers and apologizes all the while. She grumbles while he nudges her out of the room and crosses her arms once the door is closed. There's no trace of recognition that this was a dangerous situation. When she feels composed enough to look back at Muzo, he's flabbergasted and spinning his wheels. The Queen doesn't answer his question about the resignation. They both know that's not what she's calling for with this discussion. "Fine, have it your way." She grits through her teeth, ripping the warning sign off the door and slipping back inside. The fog is thinning but the air is limited and smoggy. It reminds her of something she can't quite recall. Reginae claps her hands together, exhaling all the breath in her lungs. Her eyes open to a matching set of grey as the inky smoke starts to stir. Like a tornado, with Reginae at it's center, the toxic gas spins around her. It increases it's speed exponentially the longer she's present. No more black tendrils try to squeeze themselves out to freedom. Her snowy hair doesn't move. She is the eye of the storm. In Muzo's haste to get them out, he'd knocked over the jewelry box with the glass snake. Unharmed, the creature roams through the shadows, latching on to Reginae's ankle. Attention shifted, the storm rages on at a deafening decibel while she reaches down to coil the glass replica around her wrist. "Hold still, little one." She whispers with a trio of synced voices. Reginae leans forward, placing a kiss on the small snake. Black smog begins to bellow inside the fragile glass skeleton. In a minute's time, the lab has been cleared of toxic gas. The entire contents of the room was transferred into Muzo's replica. Now it's shimmering mirrors are etched in dull pitch, the swirl of wisps reminding the outside world that the doom still lived. Snake still in hand, she approaches Muzo where ever he's ended up in all this and hands him the glass creature. The acidic properties of the gas can't penetrate the glass. "Here." She says, giving him back his pet and his lab.
"My way!?" If Muzo had a way, it would be something like "don't tear down that sign I just made" and "don't get killed by poison gas" or somesuch. In fact, as Reginae barges back into the lab, Muzo is feeling quite distinctly unaccommodated. "Did you see the, ah," the scientist reaches down to grab his discarded warning sign from the ground, but a sudden gust pulls the paper away before he can snatch it, "the ah..." Muzo's gaze grows wide as his attention follows the paper into a raging vortex. Regi stands at its center. "Trust you know what you're doing," he calls to her over the turbulent, howling winds. Muzo shields his face with a fluttering sleeve. Indeed, he trusts her enough not to interfere, and he stays safely outside the door until the danger subsided. The last wisp of black fog sucks into the glass snake. "No more doom," a defeated, disembodied voice squeaks. Carefully, hesitantly, Muzo begins slinking back in. "Yes!" He accepts the snake without question. Already, the researcher is turning the little glass creature this way and that. "Magnificent," he mutters, but before fascination can consume him, be clears his throat and pulls himself back to the present. "Thank you," he nods to Reginae, "for that. You didn't have to, or, that is, I didn't expect you to, being angry as you are, and understandably so. Would have been your right to leave me to my troubles, let me sort out my own, ah," he tugs nervously at his collar, "mess."
Reginae relinquishes the glass snake, watching the way Muzo's eyes light up with the possibilities she'd just presented him with. It was the work, and not her, that was fascinating. Something he could lose hours of time in. The disguised Naga dusts off her hands and sighs. "You aren't losing your job. You're good at it. The best, in fact." What he was not the best at, though, was being present. "The crown thanks you for your service." Her voice is deflated, tongue limp in the absence of her rage. Whatever she'd done had dampened her anger but not altered her resolve. "We are done here." There's a finality that hangs in the air. Afraid Muzo might miss the context she clarified. "Do what you like. I release you." As if she was a captor that kept him under lock and key to study. As if that was the basis of their entire relationship. Reginae thought of the spark, shape shifting and knocking around inside it's glass container. They'd captured another force of nature in glass but couldn't seem to maintain a relationship. This was her mess too. "Don't break it." She advised, pointing to the wispy snake before turning to go. Her humanoid legs melt together to reshape her tail and she feels tired. Much too tired. "I'm going to lie down." She tells him, for no real reason, before starting back down the hall to her bedchambers at a sluggish speed.
Muzo feels mingled relief. So he wasn't being fired. That's good, but a nagging inner voice reminds him that something else is at stake. Precious though his work may be, there are other things in life to consider. She thanks him. "My Queen," Muzo answers, a little breathlessly. To say "you're welcome" wouldn't do. Then, something strange happens. Something changes in the air between them. Somewhere, in the space from one moment to another, in the narrow gap across the room, a bizarre distance grows, like spacetime distended by a very, very heavy something. It pulls the air out of Muzo's lungs and the blood down out of his face. It may well have pulled him to the floor if blind protocol hadn't demanded that he remain upright, that he retain some outward shell of dignity in the face of this disaster. Muzo isn't being fired. He's being dumped. She points to the snake in his hands, but somehow, Muzo can't bring his attention to it. Instead, he watches dumbstruck as Reginae excuses herself to lie down. "Alright," he acknowledges her, doing his best to sound accepting, but he only comes across as choked and timid. Regi's sluggish tail carries her away, and Muzo watches. His eyes trace her outline and follow her movements. He studies her. Words form inside him, straining to be spoken, but his mouth and throat will not obey. She is leaving. She is leaving too slowly, and it is hell to watch her. Behind herself, Reginae will hear the door to the laboratory shut and latch, and if she looks back, she will see the corridor is empty.
Ben Folds Five, Mess *