Three of Mr. Armitage's more esoteric characters. Guess who?

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The land was too open, cold, empty. An emptiness so wild and tangible it permeated the skin, licked at the mind and heart. It wormed its way in and broke one free from their moorings.

The man stayed cocooned in his office, clinging desperately to his maps and schedules, the order that kept him anchored in a space more controlled, more sterile, than the emptiness outside. There was nothing else. Even the picture of his wife and children was tucked into the corner of the map frame like an afterthought.

So when he saw her through the camera that shielded him from that eerie space, it took only the flash of large brown eyes and an impish smile to set him terrifyingly adrift.

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"There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth: Not going all the way, and not starting." ~ Buddha

Even in my diminished circumstances I play the part of the country gentleman, and yet every day the role is more ill-fitting, like I'm a child wearing my father's overcoat. I should shrug it off, step free, but acts of horror tie me to this place. We thought we could expunge it, but that has only led to more blood. I am still tethered to this life, trapped between clinging to the past and throwing it away, but never responsible. As long as someone else dealt the cards, it was never my fault for playing the game. I waver between old ash and fresh air, tied down by the guilt for the rage of a child that I have been too afraid to look at for twenty years.

Until now.

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My mother taught me, you see. I watched my father dance a merry tune on her whims and subtleties while spent she far too much time at the rectory. Women are not to be trusted. Mercenary, vicious, treacherous, wrap a women in the finest silks and underneath she is still a trull as common as clay. "Virtue" is only a trap to lure the foolish into marriage. Play the game long enough, lift the mask, and find at their heart they are adorable little animals, always grateful to be free of burden to pretense.

Sad...that it is always a pretense…always.