The wonderful L. J. Smith owns the Forbidden Game and all its characters. Lucky.
So this is my first shot at a Forbidden Game FF. I just finished the series and now I'm havingJxJATWFGSBMJJAIGDAMAPCTW(Its an official medical problem. JulianxJenny And The Whole Forbidden Game Series But Mostly Just Julian And I Guess Dee And Michael Are Pretty Cool Too-Withdrawal. Seriously, you know you've got it too and venting through FF is the only known cure. God help us. God help us all.)
Sorry if they end up out of order. I'm just rambling on impulse.
This first one is of when Julian first saw Jenny in what I have dubbed as 'The Pennsylvanian Closet Of Doom And Grandpa Guzzling Fiasco.' Try saying that three times fast.
Update 2013: jesus christ. why.
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It was the basic nature of a Shadow Man to hate. Hate so burningly, so absolutely, so irrefutably that it could almost fold past the limits of even a human's comprehension. At norm, it was focused in a way that allowed equal and rather fair loathing to everything that respired and then some, regardless of aesthetic or creed or manner. It was a fact of unlife, something akin to pointing out that, if you used it properly, ice burned, or that mortal blood was such a delightful shade of red.
The Shadow Men hated. They could no more cease to do that than cease to swallow, and the youngest was no different.
But Julian had a special, special shard of resentment in him for sorcerers.
The uphill drag of their carcasses as they grated against the food chain irritated him deeply, helped along by their interference in things they had no business with or understanding of. It was inherently incorrect for a human to have power, slight and damnably luck orientated as it was, over the Shadows.
He did, it must be clarified, especially despise the ones that locked him inside their closets. And with naught but his tittering elders, endless ice, infinite dark, and his own quiet and increasingly innovative imaginings of grievous bodily harm towards the one to whom he owed his predicament for company. Julian, much to the misfortune of any who would make contact with him for the foreseeable future, was eons passed the point of mere boredom (which in itself has historically been responsible for numerous inventions and outbreaks of intricate and permanently scarring psychological disorders) and well into being profanely fucking annoyed.
Now, when fully submerged in the cloying thunder of their hate, when in this state of boiling anti-zen, it is impossible for the Shadow Men to be reached from above murk's surface.
And if not strictly impossible, then it would take an awful lot.
It would take, for example, the accursed, iced-shut, immovable closet door being blown inwards with a jolt that sent up slicing maelstroms and echoes howling for miles in every direction, high-octave swine squeals of the elders sent to drill his ears and icicles to lash at his eyes. It would even take Julian, snarling like a feral dog spooked, staring against the freeze, ready to lunge, rip, tear, make something scream–
–only to be blinded – blinded – by a flare of pure solar light. Like ten thousand camera flashes stilled at their brightest peak and glaring from the threshold, silhouetted only by a figure haloed and turned golden – no, no, She was golden, all of Her own – within the bright.
That would just about do it.
She was – entirely seraphic, éclatant, kanpekina, álainn – this world, for all its strange and abundant beauties, had yet to concoct a word that he would fit to this creature, with Her painful shine and Her gilded hair that even now danced excitedly about Her head, like new ribbons twining lovingly on a maypole and flickering into those eyes – and, by the Nine, what eyes they were, even slit to avoid the onslaught of ice wind, they entrapped Julian under deep and unnameable green of faraway uncharted waters, the shifting viridian of the secret under-plume feathers on a bird of paradise's wing. She was vibrating with so much colour he didn't understand how She could possibly stand to keep Herself ravelled up, hadn't let free and painted the world Her way, for surely She could fill any one of them.
She was so alive.
Julian was captivated, right there. Mind and soul.
He stood cold and still and indistinguishable from the ice if not for the wanting.
Yes. Yes, he needed this One. This one girl. This-
Julian felt his face twitch, diffidently, in the oddest way. It was a few stalled moments before he recognised the tightness in his cheeks as the beginnings of a smile. It was the first of its like in a long, long time, and it went unseen in the darkness of the prison. Jenny. Jenny, Jenny.
To Julian the seconds were stalled as if trapped in a clear bubble of amber. He felt, in that half-place, that he could spend an eternity on this threshold if he was allowed only to watch, to catch the glow of Her.
He was not given the chance.
Ignorant and buzzing, the Shadows around him stirred forth like a roiling swarm of flies compressed into vague shapes on all sides. Julian's idiotic expression was lost and replaced with the more familiar, if anomalously sincere, primordial twist of a snarl. A silver-tipped arrow through a vermin nest, Julian darted forth. As he does so, he is full of rightness. This is what he should be doing. This is his meant direction – to Her, to Jenny. He wanted – nearness, he wanted-
Oh, he wanted.
Suddenly the rectangle of light was marred by a tattered arm. A hated, hated arm, and one that thought itself worthy of coiling, like a half-shed snake, around the girl's slip of a waist. When it hauled her away from his direct sight, Julian heard himself hiss-growl from all the pressured places in his throat. No sooner than he'd registered the fact that he now in fact had a throat, complete with the rest of an unnoticeably constructed human form, had he jackknifed desperately forward and lodged a human foot in the doorway. The slam of the oak against the new leg went unfelt, and the frantic shrieks of, "Nauthiz!" were only a minor headache to him.
He could not see Her. And he was going to see this screaming obstruction burn for that.
With the combined shove of all the Shadow Men – something that made even Julian and the others at the spear point of the mass feel distinctly crushed – against this one frail sorcerer… there was no hope in any of the Hells for him. Steadily, the door was opening. Tendrils of cloying mist slithered and twined through the cracks, pressing like insistent fingers or venturing through the room like the antenna of some blind and terrible insect. Where the wisps touched, frost spread over objects – amusing little talismans of charm and protection that could do no more against this sickness than a kiss could to a guillotine – and rippled out as whitened mould.
Over the soft crackles of furniture petrifying under the freeze, the excited chittering of a legion of recently liberated Shadow Men all spittling to speak at once swallowed the small room (to someone who has quite assuredly never had the misfortune to hear first-hand what excitement sounds like in the Shadow Men, it would be beneficial, for wont of a better word, to try and visualise the clicks and squeals of a starving plague of locusts as they converge upon a single patch of corn, which means the sound, also, of thousands of small exoskeletons ripping and falling as they tear their hivemates apart to gorge first. And then picture yourself as that patch of corn. With this, perhaps the most imaginative and entomophobic could catch an inkling of the noise in that room). To Julian they, and the frantically screeching old human, were reduced to a mildly invasive hum at his peripherals. The little light girl had his absolute and whole attention.
Tears were freezing in those eyes, those eyes like the last wink of dusklight caught in abandoned green bottles, and shudders wracked her tiny willow-wand of a frame with, surely, enough force to break it. She did not look away from the howling depths of his world.
Captivated. There was the word. A moth captured in the pretty prison of a lantern and looking only at the flame.
It was only, could only be, the chafe-your-marrow echo of the Shadows speaking all at once in an abhorrent, cavernous singularity that gave anything that they could possibly say a distinct undercurrent of, 'BASICALLY, YOU ARE DOOMED,' that roused Julian a ways out of his stilled stupor.
"Give her to us."
And Julian, for the first time, began to feel the cold.
"I can't!" There is no way to describe the level of pathetic achieved by the fraying tone of the old human in the face of Them. The absolute futility of him.
"We'll embrace her."
"No." Julian's voice was clear, especially compared to the sorcerer's whines and Dəhşət's malice and Yжас's ravenous hisses. He didn't recognise it. "Let's keep her," he said. "I want her."
"We all want her." A faceless (literally, without face) elder – Hrůza – turned his leathery, sharpened skulls to Julian. The one closest to him loosed a probing length of grey flesh that may once have been a tongue. "We're allhungry."
"No." The sorcerer, this time. Not Julian. That was incorrect.
Kinh Dị's voice lapped with all the reason in the world. "There's only one way to change the consequences. Make a new bargain."
The coward back-stepped, milky eyes went glassy and filmed. "You mean…"
Oh, and Julian was smirking, finally, and almost himself again. Oh, yes. Oh, we mean.
"A life for a life."
"Someone must take her place."
"Come now, that's only fair." That terrible reason in their blackened tones. That inescapable way. Who could bear that? Not the human.
Not Julian, anymore.
"I want her."
"Ah, youth." Skräck's voice was slow and stupid. They laughed like ancient instruments played by new age novices, and Julian knew he had them.
He had Her.
The old human braced. "I'm ready."
You're really, really not.
Her voice. Like a glittering stone whistling through the air and shattering the cold glass of the world at impact. Like living.
Julian saw the bright girl leap back in sight, a miniature golden kitten pawing at the old dog's tail before it went away to die, her tiny, tiny legs scrabbling to get to her grandfather. Her little lily-pad hand grasped helplessly at his sleeve– just as the Shadow Men hooked their talons through tough cloth and warm tissue and hauled.
And stalled. And wound him further, by inches, and he was a fox in a fox-trap terrified and clawing with frantic fear and they could have won the battle easily, he knew, but they were feeling playful after their keep. And they would drag them both in to join their Games.
It was internal, now. And it moved him.
Julian clamped a hand over Jenny's grandfather's pressure point and pressed hard, hissed into the old mans ear, "Release her, you stupid fool. Let go of Jenny."
The sorcerer didn't even look at him, didn't break his keening. What he did was fling out wild arm which slapped away the desperate hands and caused a little cry like a fallen songbird. As with any feral beast pack, the sudden movement caused a jerk of violent energy within the Shadows and, with high giggles and unmistakable ripping, the sorcerer was gone. Julian did not follow him.
Instead he slipped out of the cold and melted into silence and shades in that little Pennsylvanian basement, and Julian watched. He watched, quiet as snow, this little light girl – this Jenny, as her tears, holding her feathered lashes like pre-dawn spring dew, played the watery light through the slit blinds as though they were each a perfect liquid crystal, watched as She tipped forward like a lovely china marionette, made for dancing but the strings all cut away, her head in her hands and the sheet of gold hair coming down like a veil.
And there was no one to notice a droplet catch and freeze in the Sunday morning air, momentarily a miniature pendant of opal before it softened into a languid trickle over the curve of a phantom hand.
Julian decided he would stay a while.
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In plays and poems someone understands,
there's something makes us more than blood and bone,
and more than biological demands
for me, love's like the wind, unseen, unknown.
i see the trees are bending where it's been,
i know that it leaves wreckage where it's blown.
i really don't know what, "i love you," means.
i think it means, "Don't leave me here alone."
-Neil Gaiman, Sonnet
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i love that poem isn't it pretty. here i shall recommend Neil Gaiman in general. yes.
oh and now jsky the Shadow Men's names are all translations for the word 'Horror' instead of just syllables i thought sounded menacing ok the more you know
this is kind of satisfying even if basically nobody else gives much of a fuck. idec anymore
i just want to know your feelings. about Julian's feelings
because shhhh he has them and stuff