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The Keep, Ebon Askavi, Kaeleer, THE FUTURE & One Universe Over, Saturday Afternoon, Fandom Time
So. This weekend was not going the way Dinah anticipated. Instead of a fun time catching up with friends, she, Karla and Raven had been sucked into another universe, woken up in Glacia, scared the crap out of Julian, met Rookie, and been told some very bad news by Jaenelle.

Sometimes weekends at Fandom just blew.

Anyway.


Jaenelle
Jaenelle was, to put it bluntly, avoiding Karla. This younger version of her friend, so raw and wounded by what she could only see as a betrayal, was almost killing her to see. Especially knowing that her Karla was trapped, still injured, and nearly Craftless and that, for all Jaenelle's Ebony strength, she was powerless to help her.

To help Lucivar. To help her sister-in-law and her nephew. And now her father was missing as well.

Mother Night, this was a nightmare. Perhaps she should have listened more closely to Emma that day in the library after Agio. Perhaps then her friends and family would be safe.

She paced in the one of the smaller libraries in her own wing. Hopefully, the presence of so many ancient and priceless books would help her keep her own temper in check.

Dinah
"Hey." Dinah stood in the door of the library, and watched Jaenelle imitate the big white cat. She almost changed her mind about asking questions-- but no. They needed more information. And it couldn't really make anything worse at this point. "Jaenelle. Got a minute?"

It wasn't exactly a question.

Jaenelle
"Dinah."

Again, so young! Not that Jaenelle was all that much older, not even thirty yet, but she felt so old right now. As if the weight of her world was resting on her shoulders.

Funny that.

"No, I really don't," she admitted frankly, answering Dinah's not-question. "But for you, I'll make the time. How are...they?"

So fraught. The younger version of her best friend who was looking at her with eyes filled with betrayal and the younger version of the female that would in fact do the betraying.

Darkness have mercy. Hopefully they both had the sense to stay in the rooms she'd given them.

Dinah
"Not great." Dinah was grateful she'd come along on this one, because if this mess had been left to Karla and Raven alone, as invested and guilty, angry and hopeful, confused and heartbroken as they both were-- yeah. Someone would go with their instincts at some point, and still might. But at least someone a step back (if only one step, at that) would be there to help. "They don't understand what's happening, or how it got this bad." No accusation there. Not yet, anyway. "I get that you've got a thousand priorities, and your Karla is one of them. But if we're going to pick up some of this slack, I think I need to know some of the backstory."

Jaenelle
Jaenelle massaged her temples; in the steady glow of the witchlight, she looked exhausted, with dark circles and the faintest tracery of wrinkles. Then she gave a rueful sigh and some of the young woman that Dinah had once known returned. "There's a lot of backstory to catch up on," she said quietly. "Perhaps the most succinct way to put it is that not too long ago--a matter of weeks, really--Terreille declared war on Kaeleer."

Dinah
Dinah hissed out a breath, then clamped her jaw shut for a second. Every problem she had with Kaeleer was usually balanced by people trying to make it better-- but all the worst was magnified a thousand times in Tereille, by everything she'd heard. A memory of the things Lucivar had told her flitted through her mind. No wonder no rescue had been mounted yet. "Okay. So. How are you guys doing on that front, right now?"

She wouldn't have Jaenelle's job for the universe, right now.

Jaenelle
Jaenelle lifted up her eyes and gave Dinah a humorless smile. "Kaeleer is not going to war with Terreille. The cost would be far too high."

The life of every Queen, every Warlord Prince. Some might physically survive, but there would be none to sing back the life into the devastated land. None to be the hearts of their people. And the tainted Blood would continue on, corrupting and twisting the lives of everyone they encountered.

"I am."

Dinah
Agio. Bodies exploding. Psychic pain flattening everyone who could sense the rage driving the maelstrom.

Dinah froze, and there would be no way Jaenelle couldn't see that. She rammed up her barriers as high and hard as she could, and looked away, making her face blank. Took a minute to think about that. Someone had to ask the next question.

"Are you sure that cost won't be too high?"

Jaenelle
Jaenelle looked sad for a moment and turned away. "They brought the battle to us," she said softly. "Whole villages in Glacia have been wiped out. Not just attacked, but every man, woman, and child in them have been slaughtered. And Morton--" she swallowed convulsively. "Morton is dead."

Dinah
"What?!" Oh God. "No, he can't-- You said he was at SaDiablo Hall!" She was so sick of hearing this, of having friends die, and Morton wasn't a close friend, but he was a sweetie and he meant everything to Karla. "We have to tell Karla. And how the hell did that happen? I mean, I get it, they invaded, but--"

Maybe they could fix it. Somehow. Some way.

Jaenelle
"No," Jaenelle said, whirling around. "I didn't and you can't either. Mother Night, Dinah, are you mad? How old is she? Sixteen? Seventeen? She still wears her Birthright! You know what she does to herself at whatever point of time you're in! How much worse would it be if she knew all of this? Morton was ambushed by poisoned arrows the same night Karla was poisoned by a member of her own Court. With witchblood, Dinah. Even I can't cure that! The best I could do was draw it into her legs so it wouldn't ravage her entire body."

She slumped into a chair, curling up like she did when she was a child, bracing her feet against the chair's arm. "If we are very, very lucky, in time we might be able to rebuild enough healthy muscle and tissue for her to walk again. In time, maybe her skin will stop sloughing off in strips. Hopefully, Julian can finish the purge of her Court, so we know who is loyal to her and who is loyal to her uncle. Can you honestly tell me you would burden her with knowing all this? More than a decade before it happens?"

Sighing, she looked away into the fire. "I didn't lie when I said Morton was in the Hall. SaDiablo Hall in Hell. He's demon-dead now."

Dinah
"Seventeen...." But that really wasn't the point, just reflex talking.

And finally finally finally the answer to the question that had bugged Karla so much: why couldn't Jaenelle cure her of whatever happened to her legs? Answer: some things were too much even for Jaenelle.

Dinah shoved her hands through her hair, picking up the pacing where Janelle left off. Opened her mouth several times, closed her eyes. Then sighed raggedly. "No."

Now was not then. It might never happen. This was one version of the three possibilities Karla's children hadn't been allowed to warn her about. If Raven had been here, and sane, and whole, she could have helped... Too late for this Karla. Not too late for hers. Not yet. But telling her yet... no. Years and tears away. But she'd remember, oh yeah. Maybe figure out someone who could do some good with the knowledge, without wrecking Karla's peace of mind for a few more years.

Raven's evil timing was so perfect. Damnit. She could see that now. "You don't have the time to get to your Karla, because her whole realm is under attack and falling to pieces, and you're going to-- do what you did, in Agio, only worse." Breathe, breathe. "That's not going to stop Raven, is it? She's not Blood."

Jaenelle
"I will remove the tainted Blood," Jaenelle said quietly. "I have a way that should shield the innocents when I unleash my full strength."

Should. What a flimsy word to rest the fates of millions on.

"Not only do I not have the time to rescue Karla, I don't have the time to rescue Lucivar. Or Saetan--" Her voice cracked. "I am getting very tired of messengers."

Karla's Jewel. Saetan's finger.

"But even if I could unleash the maelstrom tonight, no, it would not stop Raven. I've scoured every inch of Kaeleer and Hell for her. Wherever she's gone to ground, I can't find her, can't target her."

She sighed and fluffed her hair, a gesture that either Karla would have recognized instantly. "So there's some of that background you'd asked for," she said wryly.

Dinah
No way to tell Karla most of it; to mitigate her hurt and disbelief that Jaenelle, Witch, didn't have an immediate solution, hadn't rescued her other, older self already, no way to ease one burden by slamming another onto her. No. Someday-- someday she'd forgive her own Jaenelle for this if she had to. Not yet.

Part of what Jaenelle had said sank in, and she shivered. "Lucivar. And your father? They're really not messing around, are they." All this talk of corruption was beyond her-- she had no idea how that would work, or what the criteria were, but hostages, people she knew and liked... "Got it." She set her jaw. "Okay. You've got other problems." Not bigger, but more immediate. "So we'll take this one. We have a better shot than anyone else. We'll get Rookie her Maman and Stepfather back."

Jaenelle
"Rookie?" Jaenelle raised her eyebrow in surprise. "Did Rook tell you--?" She shook her head, cutting herself off. "No, of course not. You're just Dinah, in any dimension." That last was said with a fond smile, which was quickly wiped away by the realization that this Dinah might no longer feel so fond of her.

"Do you really think you can find this Raven? And get Karla and Warren back?"

Dinah
Rookie was Rookie! There was no way you could call that little sad girl anything that sounded like a chess piece.

Dinah's feelings about Jaenelle were mixed. On the one hand, time travel meant she couldn't explain this to the others--except to Dinah, who stood outside the possible future. And her expectations of Jaenelle were a lot lower than Karla's. But the strongest impression she had of Jaenelle--as much as she tried to fight it--was of the time she was a shredded mess from drugs, and later killing thousands of people. And now she was going to have to do the exact same thing again very soon, only worse.

"I think we've got a better shot than anyone else," Dinah said slowly in answer to her question. "Your Karla was weakened by poison. Your Warren didn't expect her. We have the element of surprise, health, and one more person on our side." It was...vaguely terrifying. "Unless you've got a better idea, in which case, hey, I'm listening."

Jaenelle
Jaenelle's smile lacked anything approaching mirth. "I don't. I'm fresh out of ideas of any stripe," she said, before her eyes went distant for a moment. "And we're fresh out of time," she said a moment later, her eyes focusing on Dinah again. They were once again midnight, unimaginable power swimming in their depths. "I have to go. There are...preparations to complete."

She stood up briskly, heading for the back of her library, to the door that led to her own rooms. She trusted Dinah enough to see herself out.

*Get my Sister back* Like Emma, Jaenelle did not need to touch Dinah to be heard. Please, Dinah. Get her back.

Dinah
Dinah could see the power, even though she didn't understand it, or even really comprehend it. Just part of what it meant: Jaenelle was preparing for what she had to do.

She heard that last message as Jaenelle left, and froze for a moment. Then took a breath, and stalked off to find her Karla and Raven.

For you, for Rookie, for me, for other-me. Hoped she wasn't lying. Go be Queen. I got this one.


[NFI, NFB, coded using whateverknight's super-useful preplay coder! Warnings for spoilers of Queen of the Darkness. Follows this and this. Preplayed with the awesome glacial_witch.]

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