Thursday, July 14, 2011

Reflections on Extended Absences

Wow. It's been so long that it actually feels weird to type. But, okay, I'm back. I wasn't eaten by anything horrible, and I haven't been killed by the Elders. I've actually been out of touch precisely because we've been working out a deal with the Elders. Taking a break was Claire's suggestion, but I think she was right. She, um, she kind of suggested that if we want them to think they can trust us, I probably shouldn't be writing blog posts about what we do, even anonymously.

But now that things are settled, the urge to put my thoughts out here has grown irresistible. Plus, it's cheaper than therapy - and less likely to get me arrested, come to think of it. So, here goes...

For anyone who's forgotten (or who's coming in late), here's a quick recap. Back in late March, one of my friends - Mbata - came to collect my girlfriend, Claire. Now, Claire belongs to a group that worships the Father of Serpents, and they're currently at war with my group of worshippers. This complicates our relationship quite a bit, and both of us had prepared some defenses just in case. One of those defenses - one of Claire's - killed Mbata when he tried to grab her. I came home within minutes of his death, and in the heat of the moment I said something that I really shouldn't have - and thus attracted the attention of the Whisperers, who immediately moved to eliminate us both.

As a result, we were on the run until about the middle of May, when the Elders finally called off the Whisperers. At that point we were told we could return home, and we did. And that, of course, was when things really got complicated.

The first thing that happened - seriously, about five minutes after we returned - was that one of the Watchers showed up and had Claire swear the ancillary oaths. It took about five minutes and didn't involve anything that she wasn't willing to do. That'll keep her safe from the Whisperers, even if they do return to their duties. It will reassure the Elders, too, which is all to the good. The Watcher left immediately afterwards, which did a lot to reassure me.

The second thing that happened was that we cleaned the apartment. The less said about that, the better: after a month of neglect, it needed a lot of work.

Then we started getting in touch with friends and family, and Claire's parents immediately came over to visit. They were a little weird with me at first, which I can understand, but by the end of the week they'd warmed up again. I assume that at least part of what they were doing was making sure (for both themselves and their cult) that I hadn't done anything to Claire.

Once they were gone, we were able to get together with Billy and Crystal, and start trying to sort out the mundane problems that our disappearance had caused. We still had money, from the emergency caches we'd created, but it wouldn't last forever - and neither of us was going to be able to go back to our old jobs.

And then the Elders made me an offer: I could step into a position working for them directly, doing exactly the sort of thing that Mbata had been doing (before he died, I mean). I've mentioned before that this is precisely the sort of career that I went out of my way to avoid, and I'm even less thrilled with the idea now (for reasons I may discuss later). On the other hand, the money is good and it's a great way to reaffirm my loyalty, which could be very important right now. So after a couple of days I sent a message back, saying that I'd like to try it. I promptly found myself working on some relatively simple divinations under the supervision of the same Watcher who had given Claire her oaths. I'm guessing she's assigned to us, and the Elders want me to know it, though it's always possible that she was just handy (and qualified).

Within four hours, Claire had a job offer, too. She'll be working for an optometrist, though we're not sure what she'll be doing just yet. (The invitation was more like, "Drop by, see what we do, and tell me what you think you'd be good at.") That offer came from the Elders, too, though less directly than mine.

So right now we're settling back in, finding a new routine, and waiting to see how things work out. It's not perfect, but it sure is an improvement.

Reflections of a Deranged Cultist is a work of fiction. (Really, I swear.) No obscene or blasphemous oath were sworn in the writing of this post.

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