Author Topic: Columbina - The Opening Act  (Read 1564 times)

Offline Wargamer

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Columbina - The Opening Act
« on: August 10, 2012, 11:49:40 PM »
She was Columbina, portrayer of old glories and of self-destructive vanity. It is a role that must be filled, and none who have performed the Ritual would question that.

Yet now she is less than that, and more than that. A cosmic joke, in every sense, has set her on her path. We laughed at that. We laughed out of spite, for she deserved her fate even if we did not wish it upon her. Even by the Columbina's standards, she was aloof, self-righteous, and convinced of her own superiority. We also laughed out of joy, for we do not believe anything happens by chance. Her fate, such as it is, can only lead to greater things for us. This is what we believe because we wish to, because we must, and so we laugh.

Most of all, we laugh because we are Harlequins, servants of the Laughing God - we laugh because we are the only ones who would dare to do so.

*   *   *

Let me start again at the beginning.
It transpired in a place between places, locatable on no map and beyond any point of the compass. It is everywhere, and nowhere. Call it the Webway, if you like, but that is not entirely true. It is not a lie, not quite, but for the sake of your understanding it will suffice.
Now, picture a stage. It is a simple thing; small, with cheap wooden floors that have seen better days. Not old, exactly, but simply built for a purpose and deprived of anyone who cared enough to maintain it beyond the most base of needs. It is circular and about thirty paces across, give or take.
And yet it is more. Its size is infinite, its material impossible to describe in physical ways because it has no physical form. It is energy bound; the psionic other of the Warp twisted into something useable and put to purpose. It is the raw stuff of the Webway, or what would become the Webway in time. This is older, more precious.
It is both these things at once; the latter by the will of its creator, the former by the mind of Bhashaila Atianrys; the Columbine who set her foot upon it.

To understand the stage, one must understand the performer. She is Columbina, portrayer of old glories. To her, all in this world is faded; only in the past can she find perfection. She is a daydreamer, her mind always in the past, fantasising of all that was and might have been. Her clothes are as fine as any Harlequin would wear, yet the holofield projectors make them into a faded, tattered garment. Dirt clings to her royal court gown, once floor length but now torn away just below the knee. The puffed-up, needlessly ostentatious shoulders and upper arms of the gown have frayed away to nought but the most meagre strips of cloth. The elegant corset, once designed to support and accentuate the bosom, has cracked and lost half its laces.
None of this is real, of course. It is illusion, put into reality by the psycho-reactive fields of her holosuit. All the Columbine wear such attire; their pathetic, wretched appearance is an expertly rendered contrast to the heart and mind of the individuals themselves.

Bhashaila Atianrys takes the stage, and none can bear to look at her.
She is not perfect. "Perfect" is too small a word for it. Where you to look upon her you would draw a blade across your wrists there and then, for you would love her at once. For one instant, a moment of such intensity that to you it lasts a lifetime, her eyes would meet yours. She would look down on you, for she looks down on everyone, yet the cock of her head and the angle of her brow would let you believe that this stunning creature, this Goddess, has deemed you worthy of her attention. Then she would smile, and your soul would sing with joy. You would cry; your heart barely able to contain itself, your mind struck numb that you could ever grant someone so glorious a moment's happiness. In that instant you would vow to love her and serve her always.
Then her eyes would change and she would laugh, and you would know she never saw you at all. She was looking through you, remembering someone long gone, in a distant place and a time long past, and her smile was at the memory, not you. Then she would see you, just for a fraction of a second, and that would be enough to tell you that you are worth less than nothing to her, and that there is no other way it could ever be.
Bhashaila Atianrys takes the stage. One man looks upon her. He is the Great Harlequin, leader of the Troupe. He looks at her, and he laughs.

The Columbina does not bow to the Great Harlequin. No Columbine would ever bow to another; you might as well tell the stars not to shine. Yet he bows to her, and he laughs while he does so. She is the Old Glory, but he is the Laughing God. She believes herself worthy of becoming like him, and he disagrees. This is what has brought them to this stage.

Without warning, and with no hesitation, she begins to Dance.

Gone is the filth. Gone is the ragged clothing. Gone is the faded glory and the heartache. Before our eyes she has become a queen of old. She dances, and her every movement speaks of all the Eldar once were. She flicks her wrist, and an empire rises. She pirouettes, and her outstretched foot moves imperceptibly, dictating with the most miniscule of movements which stars she deigns to let endure, and which she desires be snuffed out.
Time and again she turns upon the stage, her movements becoming faster and more intense. She begins to rise, raised aloft on shimmering translucent wings; a flawless, angelic creature soaring above her creation. Below her, the stage is a stage no longer, but an empire that reaches from one corner of the galaxy to another. She cares not for it; all that matters is her.

The Great Harlequin steps forward, joining the dance with a glorious flourish. He joins her in her revelry, moving with her yet apart from her. As she swoops, he soars. As she bounds forward he recoils, only to leap forth in turn as she composes herself upon landing. The two of them are as the sun and moon; separate, yet bound inescapably together.
I wrote a novel - Dreamscape: The Wanderer.. Available in paperback and pdf.

Quote from: Liberate the Warhammers
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