Tempest in a Teacup -- Elde Fanfiction

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Tempest in a Teacup -- Elde Fanfiction

Postby Commander Shepard » Sat Feb 11, 2017 3:05 am

(! Feel free to comment, leave feedback, etc ^^)

How long has it been? Months now, though it feels like longer, especially in the company of so many strangers and without the company of one's beloved, ever-increasing hoard of pets. Bleaker still is the knowledge that, for now, your time is done. Your story is set aside for another's, and as you sail to parts unknown, the sky grows ever more gray, the days melding into one long, empty stretch...

What even was time anymore, Shepard thought, staring up at the low ceiling above her. She'd been awake... ?
Maybe awake. Maybe sleeping, but that dreamless, restless sort of sleep where you wake up miserable and start wondering if you're even real or stuck in some hellish, empty limbo.

The tip of Amethyst's beak against her cheek dispelled those doubts, at least. Her eyes, luminous purple and trailing a shimmer of pink, were the only color Shepard had really seen in...

No, weeks.
Months? Years now?

And even then, those colors started to look muted and dull; she wondered if soon they would fade to gray like everything else. Her nails were plain, the last color chipped off not too long after she'd come aboard this ship. Her hair had been cut a few days after that, and though it was grown back, it was just a dull gray mess around her shoulders. The sky had been clouded so long she truly forgot what the actual sight of blue was-- she'd even take black storm clouds, at least it'd be something!

Another poke, sharper, but Shepard couldn't bring herself to so much as nudge the crow away. Amethyst was the only creature who'd been allowed to stay around. Even Paine was gone, and Shepard could /feel/ the distance between them, how the griffin felt as heartbroken as she. The other creatures... a few might've been able to come along, but Shepard didn't want to risk them. For whatever reason, Cali seemed... safe, from all that had been happening, so Shepard hoped that protection would linger for her creatures as well.

The Sealer sighed, rubbing her face a few moments before reluctantly getting out of her bunk, only bothering to pull her shirt down as she left the tiny room for the slightly less tiny galley-- more a tearoom, nothing there but an empty table, some kettles and fixings, a barrel of water and the stove. Was it night, now? It seemed dark enough, there was no one around belowdecks, probably only the captain and navigator were up at this point, and they'd be on deck. Shepard yawned softly, groaning and rubbing her forehead as she set a kettle on the tiny stove, hoping a cup of tea might help her feel... something. Because she'd only felt hollow since coming here, empty--

"Might help if you put some water in there."

Shepard jerked her head back, frowning towards the table. It... it had been empty when she came out, right? Then again, her vision was bad on the best of days; sleep deprivation and this... stupor probably just made it worse. And the guy was dressed in his darks, with dark skin and hair like dried blood, no wonder he blended into the gloom. She shrugged, shaking her head slightly and scooping some water into the kettle, setting it back onto the stone-cold stove; it always took forever to heat.

"Thanks," Shepard said, sitting at the other side of the table, propping her cheek up on her hand and just... staring. Not at the man, not directly but he was in her line of sight enough that she could pick out a few more details. His hair seemed more... feathery, this close; and what seemed to be a short beard was... also feathers? Hands seemed totally normal though, she realized, as he lifted a steaming cup of tea to his mouth.

Realized too that he was watching her, when his eyes

had she seen them before?

tarnished gold met hers, and he smiled.

Something terrifyingly familiar in that smile... but at the same time, something immeasurably sad.

"Rather late for you to be up," the man finally said, setting his cup down.

Shepard shrugged, going back to staring at a knothole just to the side of the man's shoulder. "I haven't had a good sense of time for a while now," she mumbled. "Apparently I slept like... what, twenty hours just a couple days ago?"

The man nodded, lacing his fingers together. "Easy to lose time... assuming you think there's any to be lost," he said, giving another of those strange smiles. "It's a rather dull place to be, isn't it? Between?"

"Between what?" Shepard asked, mis-matched eyes flickering back to the man.

"There and there," the man replied, with a dismissive wave of the hand. "The parts of the story generally skipped over... the travel, the sickness, the mourning, the dirty details no one wants to live, let alone read when they're looking to escape such dreary times themselves."

Shepard snorted slightly, the corners of her mouth twitching just the slightest bit; it was the closest to laughter or a smile she'd come in weeks. "That's one way to put it, yeah," she said, turning her gaze to the table and tracing the grain in the wood. Turned back to the man, as he continued talking.

"Feels like it's forever, doesn't it?"


"And seems like it never ends, seconds stretch into hours, an endless plain of empty gray," he sighed. "Where possibility once seemed endless, now it's impossible to consider so much as waking up the next day?"

Shepard sat up straight then, fixing the man with a cold stare, trying with all her might to ignore the ache in her throat. "What the hell are you getting at?" she said, inwardly cringing at how her voice trembled. She could feel Amethyst alight on her shoulder, the crow's feathers puffing outward, the talons digging into her shoulder.

"Ah... just that it's not," the man said, shaking his head. Still smiling in a way that seemed familiar now, frighteningly so.

"Not what?"

"Impossible," he shrugged. "Not even improbable, which is what impossible really is nine times outta ten."

Shepard swore, shaking her head. "What isn't... whatever?" she said, this was starting to get irritating.

"It'll end, eventually," was all the man said.

She swore again, and it elicited a chuckle from the man, his eyes growing perhaps a little brighter, almost luminous in the gloom.

"Everything's eventual, given the chance," he said, looking rather startled when Shepard cut him off.

"Are you having a conversation, or just... I swear, it sounds like you're quoting something..." she said, rubbing her temples. The flare of irritation had faded, and she slumped back in her seat, Amethyst lighting to perch on the back of the chair. She just felt tired again, ready to sleep another twenty hours or even double that.

"Reference more like, but that's not here or there," the man said, cooly sipping at his tea again, setting it down. "What I mean is... I know it seems this is the end. You're done, you're packed away to who knows where, never to be heard from again or see those you love... but even ends have an ending."

Shepard groaned, pressing her face against the table and mumbling, "that's some of the most pretentious bulls--"

"True though," the man interrupted. "Or a new beginning if you'd rather look at it that way?"

"I'm still..." Shepard sighed, looking back up. "Look, do you even know who I am? W... what I've done, why I'm here?!"

The man was silent for some time, staring into the steam of his tea. The gloom seemed even deeper, though his face was... not as shadowed; but Shepard was too tired to think of it any further than that.

"They call you the Sealer," he finally said. "A misnomer... a very wrong name-- and that is a quote, thank you-- if I've ever heard one."

"I'm why magic... I..." Shepard's voice cracked. "I started this. I... I'm why... magic is being killed, why tensions are getting so much worse, I'm... and I'm not even allowed to finish it?" she said. "Someone else is putting themselves in harm's way because I was a damned idiot, and... I thought... I thought I could do more," she said. "Maybe if I just kept being... nice, I don't know, I kept talking? Kept... doing... stupid errands and asking questions and figuring things out, I could at least get some peace made..."

Shepard heard a faint snort, looked up to find the man cracking a real smile now, despite trying to hide it behind his cup.

"Spoken like a real paragon... ah," he laughed, and this one seemed... sad, again. "Sorry. Carry on."

"I..." Shepard shook her head and mumbled a curse under her breath. "Don't even know where I was going with that... just I... I screwed up. I thought... I mean, I thought I could at least see it through, but no, I don't even get a choice in... gods, honestly, I don't feel like I've had a choice in anything, it's just... it feels..."

"Like there's some being dictating everything, that seems to really get a kick out of making you miserable?"

Shepard raised an eyebrow at the man, who looked... astonishingly bitter, actually. "That's... a way of... putting it, yeah..." she said hesitantly. "It was bad enough leaving my mom and uncle, but now... when I brought all this on..."

"You really don't need to beat yourself up over that," the man said, gentler this time. "Remember what I said? Everything happens, sooner or later. Oblivion would've gotten out, if not by you, then by someone else. Or by sheer time and chance exploring every option that wasn't his release, and therefore that possibility has to be explored too."

"Yeah, but--"

"No buts about it," the man shrugged, sighing and sipping his tea. "It was going to happen. Your presence here meant it happened sooner than later. And in a way that meant there was... some warning," he added, scratching his chin, looking more like he was talking to himself. "It's a terrible place to be either way, but trust me, I've been in a place where there wasn't warning. It got started silently and small, and it was... well. It was what it was," he said quietly.

Shepard sighed, rubbing her temples again (and dear gods, had her hair really gotten that greasy? When was the last time she cleaned up... when was the last time she even changed her clothes?) and closing her eyes. "Alright, okay, fine, let's assume that yeah, his getting out was inevitable. I've still done nothing but make things worse."

"Ah... well, you haven't had the best possible outcome, true," the man admitted. "But this is far, far from the worst you could do. You're looking at things so... narrowly," he said.

"The hell's that mean?" she mumbled back, glaring at him.

"Just that," the man said, taking on that... weird smile again--

and for a moment, a brief second she remembered another golden-eyed man at a table, with a cup of tea, looking like he was in on the greatest joke the world would ever see.

"See... here, see this cup?" he said. "What do you see?"

Shepard stared at his teacup, then back up at the man, her mouth set in a harsh line. "I see an overfilled cup of tea."

"And?" he pressed.

"It's... brown?"

The man simply stared, and Shepard looked back at the cup, shaking her head.

"It's... overbrewed? You didn't put cream in it? The cup's kinda dirty? I... I don't know, it's steaming?"

"There you go," the man grinned, wider than what seemed natural. "Steaming. Water evaporating into the hair, making it all a little heavier, a little more humid... say you opened a window, and that'd go outside, right? Now, just this tiny bit is nothing, all it seems is an annoyance, but send it out there, let it join with more warmth, more damp... in theory, you have the last push to a tempest from hell, all in this tiny little cup. Now, that's oversimplifying it, it's actually very unlikely-- not impossible, but at least improbable-- that it'd actually start a tempest, but... you get the idea, right?"

"... you really like overanalyzing tea?"

The man seemed torn between smiling and throwing the cup at her, but shook his head and reached into his pocket. "Alright, new angle... here," he said, setting a trio of marbles on the table. They were... plain. Very plain things, old and dull glass colored blue, green and red. "Pick one."

"... what."

"You heard me."

Shepard stared for a moment, at the marbles than at him, her mouth slightly open as she tried to comprehend what was going on. Finally, she shook her head, leaning back in her seat.

"Just pick one, any one at all!" the man said; and Shepard rolled her eyes, extending a hand-- nowhere near the marbles though, just enough to he could see the gesture she was making, though her gaze was fixed firmly away from him.

At least until she heard him let out a loud bark of laughter.

"I was... well, that's not quite what I was expecting, but all the better," he said, sweeping the marbles away. "Say though, I was your captain and asked you that and you did that. Well now, that'd probably put me in a right foul mood, wouldn't it? Even if I were just a little irritated... and I'd want to take that out on the next person I saw, right? Maybe the cook, and she ain't feeling so hot as it is already, and getting barked at when she just needs a day to rest and recover doesn't help matters. So you got her cooking, and maybe she's upset and not careful as she should be, coughs or sneezes... and just like that, you got a whole ship down with a cold, just cause one little bird felt a little cheeky."

Shepard opened her mouth to speak, indignant at such an accusation, but the man held up a hand.

"Or, say you're a prince feeling conflicted and hurt over going so against all he's ever known, thinking you're all alone and no one's going to understand what you're going through or want to be around you again. Then you have this little bird twittering away at you with questions on questions, and dragging you 'round to meet others. Say you're a wolfkin unknowingly bound to a spirit old as Time, scared and angry and used to rejection, but then you got some screw up treating you no different than they treat their own flesh and blood. You're a ghost, thought you were forgotten by the world and even the spirit of Memory itself, then you're brought to a home. A family. Say you're in a time full of fear and darkness and corruption... but you've got someone talking. Still asking questions, still stealing glass and ditching her homework into the sewer grates, still doing everything they can to fix things instead of choosing to give up, save their own skin, gods protect the line where you actively assist the blight..." he said. "It only takes a little light to banish the dark. Or a little steam to bring the storm... in a time of chaos, even the smallest things. Even things that seems like mistakes, the worst ideas in the world... they can be what shapes an era."

He was silent then, taking a sip of tea as Shepard stared, though this time with a softer expression.

"How... do you..."

"Granted, might've gotten some of the details wrong, readin' so much gives me-- them-- me a headache," he chuckled. "Makes you feel any better, you're not the first to do this. Not the only one doin it right now, but... as the saying goes, this is your story. And much as you think you're being written out, something's telling me you're not anywhere near done yet. And..." he smiled, wicked and his eyes seemed to glow now, bright as sunshine. "Here's some food for thought... say you're watching it all," he said. "Say you're tied to it all-- all the lands, the seas, the skies and peoples and animals, the fabric of uncertainty, possibility, you're chaos itself. Say those peoples you saw... in another time helped create, are so divided... terribly so, so many sealing themselves away, dwindling slowly in number or faster when they go at war with each other. And true-- they've got their reasons, but you're outside that and all you see is stagnation and hollowness. The kind of hollowness that snuffs out possibility before it can begin here so you can only see it realized in another reality, where in all this time... it becomes a relief seeing things remain the same, rather than regress and decay..."

Shepard shivered slightly as the dark seemed to gather, shadows pressing in so all that might exist was this table, herself, and the man. But she hardly noticed that-- rather, she trembled because, in an instant, it made a sort of sense.

"... until all that's left is... nothing," she said quietly. "Or... something... something... s-so terrible it... either they have to unite or all die so something new can come of the ashes," she said quietly.

"That's a way of saying it," the man said, the golden glow seeming to spread in thin veins along his face. "It's a terrible burden to bear, Sealer... Shepard. I know this," he said in a quieter tone. "In another time, I was the instigator... not on a scale like this, but it still meant doing terrible things, to give humanity the chance to save itself from its own stagnation. This world... there's so much more," he said, an ache rising in his voice. "So much more to happen, to be won... and so, so very much to be lost."

He stood then, tall and his hair no longer dull rusted red, but cherry bright into black, feathery, wisping in and out of being. "I wish you no luck, Sealer, for luck doesn't exist. Only timing... and to that, I wish you always to be there at the right time, even if it is a wrong place," he said quietly.

Shepard stared at him, trying to untangle the thousand thoughts racing through her brain, and could only manage one question-- "who... what the hell are you?!"

The man smiled, and his eyes shone like

Was it Cali's eyes she saw? Yet something brought to mind Niles, brought to mind


"Closer than you know," he said. "Closer to others you know, too... but I think you've started putting that together for yourself, haven't you? I datesay you'll be seeing sign of me again before terribly long... not long before summer, perhaps..."

And Amethyst was screeching, the galley hot and humid as the kettle whistled the last of its steam. Shepard scrambled, turning off the stove and opening a window to let the heavy air out. She stared at the sea, the sky growing only a slightly lighter gray until the galley felt back to normal. She closed the window and went back to her bunk, taking no notice as she crushed a cracked green marble under her feet, only caring that the sweet relief of sleep took her almost as soon as she laid down and she didn't have to think on it any more.

It was only a few hours before she was roused, the ship tossed about in the midst of a violent tempest.
Call me Shepard or Paine!

...art|| trade
.Shep || -
...You can fight
...like a krogan
run like a leopard
but you'll never be better
than Commander Shepard!

...by viddi
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Commander Shepard
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Re: Tempest in a Teacup -- Elde Fanfiction

Postby Sphye » Sat Feb 11, 2017 9:09 am

I love it! The dialogue is well-written, constantly moving forward even if in a seemingly roundabout way (especially as far as your Sealer sees it)! The sarcastic responses and signs of frustration really pull it together well.
by ebriose.
"But I still hold out hope that maybe someday
I'll be worth more than all the silence left in my way"


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Re: Tempest in a Teacup -- Elde Fanfiction

Postby Mathcat » Sat Feb 11, 2017 4:16 pm

Thanks for sharing this with us. I'd been wanting a story of what someone's Sealer did after the Yuletide event and how they felt once the story had moved on from them. I particularly enjoyed meeting the Ancient of Chaos(?), as he's more like what I was expecting Numair would be. I also liked Shepard and would be interested in reading more stories about her, if you ever feel inspired to write any.
I'm not really here anymore, but I am still posting stories at https://archiveofourown.org/users/Mathcat2/pseuds/Mathcat2. I mainly write stories for Dragon Cave, MagiStream, and Forest of Mirrors, but I do have one Eldemore story.
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