A Box for Marinette (Game 7)

Have you ever moved so fast the world stopped?

Marinette had taken on so many tasks. Another dropped into the plate and she tilted her head at it. Of course I’ll do this. For the community. Nobody would run the beastwise–she’d asked aloud in every room, and directly to the one steward she knew of the animals… so she would do it.

‘If things go wrong, it’s your fault for making unilateral decisions for everyone!’

She stopped. She had asked. She always asked. She had been doing things that were asked of her. Being yelled at was new. She shrunk three sizes. She ran away.

‘I never seem to get to see you or speak to you anymore! I want to sit down with you and eat together.’ Isabel’s voice made her smile. Pere Clement, too. She had a moment with her friends… and then they turned their back to her as people came to speak to them.

Have you ever moved so fast … the world stopped?

Almost everyone appreciated her work. Almost everyone thanked her. But it felt like she had been forgotten. She was her work.

‘Thank you for the work you did.’

‘Thank you for your help. You’re so good at this.’

Marinette couldn’t remember when last she’d sat with someone she loved for a half an hour alone. Twenty minutes? Ten?

She felt untethered, but she didn’t know how to rewind the threads. When she went to braid the rope, it dissolved in her hands.

“Let me be a child. Isabel, you’d said you’d talk with me–I want that. Come away with me.”

She lead Isabel away. A brief moment, and then she was suddenly drunk. The moment dissolved into worry, concern and a crowd. The wall rose up again and separated her. She considered letting it go up. Perhaps this was too selfish. Maybe God was telling her she couldn’t have this.

No. Once more.

“Isabel, can I please?” The drunken woman nodded at her, and the eagerness with which she followed comforted Marinette in her selfishness. The tent. The tent might give her space.

They had five blessed minutes.

Then they were joined. And the tent slowly filled up once more. The walls closed in, and Marinette stopped winding the rope and let it dissolve.

The community is what’s important.

What she wanted was not.

Apart Together [Marinette, Game 6]

[They lied. They wouldn’t even apologize.]

Marinette reminded herself that this market went well, over and over again, as her hands shook. The community stood together, they worked together, and even though all the compromise seemed one-sided, it was still good. Nobody broke apart.

She shuddered to think about all the things that had happened.


That elf had walked up beside her, taunted everyone in the clearing, and then he had killed the human following him.. Right in front of her. Nobody had moved fast enough–even her scream did nothing to persuade it.

If she had known all the details. Why didn’t they tell her he was going to be here with ‘food’; why didn’t they tell her what this would look like? She would have tried to stop it. She would have been faster to interfere.

Granny Jo had promised not to offer it honey, not to make a deal with it. That’s exactly what Etienne did, when the danger presented itself. He told him that they would praise him. Hold a feast in its honor.

And when Marinette had told them they had hurt her when they went back on their promises, neither Etienne nor Granny Jo apologized–only Isabel.


[They’ll take advantage. They lie. They don’t care.]

Her faith was.. Shaken. Not in God, but in people. She had asked them to close the distance so many times, and they still kept secrets. They still mistrusted one another. They still ignored one another.


‘You can sway everyone with your tears, but you shouldn’t.’

Those words from Cole made Marinette raise her voice. “She’s not crying to sway people!”

She shouldn’t have done that. Isabel calmed her immediately, tried to talk to Cole–and then Henri came over. At first, Marinette thought this would bring the tensions down, but Cole began to growl at him. She raised her voice and got more and more angry, and Henri… and Henri wasn’t helping. Not like Marinette expected of him–not the way she knew he always did. He snapped back at Cole. She stormed away.

Theo approached, and asked for an apology. Henri wouldn’t budge. Marinette thought it was reasonable–acknowledging pain and apologizing for pain–but nobody budged. Nobody moved.

They just got.. angrier.


These tiny stories and snippets ran through her head.


“Hello. Have we met?”

“Hugo! Take him out!”

“This city would burn if your mists came down.”


Marinette shuddered at the thought of all of the bad she had seen. All of the mistakes she had witnessed. All of the callous, self-righteous actions… but there were other things, too.


She was sitting in a room–with a bunch of her community. With Granny Jo, and Isabel, and Etienne, and Lysenna, and they were talking. They were making plans, and arrangements, and including one another.

When Isabel came to Etienne for understanding, he had agreed immediately. He had sought to protect her, to acknowledge her–he’d taken her seriously. There was no malice.

When Granny Jo had thought we had compromised too much, in that back room–even if she changed her mind–she’d said that she’d stand with us.


Everyone was trying their best.

Henri was scared.

Cole was coming from a place of protection for her community.

Granny Jo was trying to balance faith and trust.

Etienne had acted out of a need to save the people around him–to rescue his community. All of them.

That thing had killed someone, casually, in front of all of us. Was there a way to make everyone agree? No. That would be impossible.

[But people aren’t safe, you know. That bandit woman killed her brother. Her own flesh and blood–cut down for her survival.]

Marinette wished time would slow down. She was so… scared. Pierre would never. She would never. Cadence and Henri and Isabel and Lysenna would never. Tiphaine…

Tiphaine cleared her thoughts.

Tiphaine is scared always. Tiphaine will run from anything. But when Marinette volunteered again to walk to the slaughterhouse for her community, Tiphaine had volunteered to take her place.

Tiphaine, shaking and afraid. Not brave. Not stalwart. She knew not what would happen, but she… volunteered anyway.

My community would not cut me down to save themselves.

If I am slow, they will pick me up. If I stumble, they will grab me. If I scream, they will run to me. Gerard would stand in front of me. Bretta would shield me. Isabel would wrap herself around me. Lysenna would pull me up and tell them nobody was allowed to touch me.

Even Alphonse would not let his community be harmed. Even Theo would stand. Etienne and Hugo and Granny Jo–all of them would do their best.

… No, my community would not cut me down.

They would not cut any of us down.

… And anyone who thought otherwise was a fool.

I Hate Being Alone [Game 5, Marinette]

The night at home was calm. Grandpa Raimund was no longer coughing and babbling, Pierre was settled into his bed after hours of taking care of him, and Marinette was outside in a rocking chair, listening to the wood creek as she swayed back and forth.

[It’s just us now.]


[You can’t take them from me..] It hissed in her ear as she held tight to Gerard’s hand. This first step in was the hardest, but she screamed back at it that Gerard would keep her safe and pressed forward until her hand found bones. Bones she’d pull up from the dirt and decay, broken. They cut her hand with their sharp edges as she was pulled out in a hurry. Her face impacted a rock on the way out, but out she came anyway. It followed her. She wanted to scream for Pierre when it grabbed her. She prepared to disappear then.

Henri grabbed it, instead. Gerard held her tight and would not let her go. She stumbled back as he pushed her behind him and the hammer struck down as she clutched broken bones to her body and shadows tried to pull her back into the black. The first of their family was cleaved free, circling his bones as she handed them to someone to take them to the crypt of her ancestors.

She wanted to fall over. She watched Isabel go in and the lyrics on her lips were as much for comfort of herself as they were for the ears of others. She was exhausted–she was tired–she was frightened. That thing.. it was part of her, and it was scared.. and she felt that fear in her bones. She looked around to all her family and friends around her. She watched Lysenna enter the crypt. Lysenna. Battered. Unable to fight. Lysenna. Bold and brave and unshaken. She took a deep breath and waited.

Isabel next. Henri and Gerard were escorting people in and out. Cadence was to her left. She was singing, but she couldn’t hear her own voice. She just heard the sound of her heartbeat in her ears like a drum.

Something swept around, its claws slamming into her arm and ripping it open.

Cadence rushed around her to defend. Teles stood over her as her legs buckled and she went down. Momentary, she told herself. This is momentary. Teles wanted to bandage her.

‘No. Those are for people who won’t stand back up. Not me. Just wait. Not me.’

She shook. She couldn’t even bring herself to sing. She trembled. Another was brought out with struggling slowness by .. Sophie? She couldn’t see past the blur in her eyes or hear past the sound of screams and whispers.

[Don’t betray us. You are us.]

Her vision cleared finally and she rose. Quilon Jovienne whispered into her ear of bravery and she felt… refreshed. She knew she had to do this. One arm now. She let Henri take her hand, though it hurt to allow it, and she pushed into the crypt’s small tunnel again. She remembered when she was 7. She was giggling while she snuck through with Miette. She remembered this–it was smaller then, when she had come in here. When she had let it out. When it had.. found them.

The darkness closed around her and she stopped. She couldn’t even hear Henri in that moment. She moved and sung and stepped on rote as she saw that moment fifteen years ago. He detached from her. She let him go. She was alone. To her knees she went and she dug, but she didn’t really want to find anything. She thought if she crawled in, maybe she wouldn’t be so lonely.

Isabel? Pierre…? Bretta…? Where are you? Are you in here? If I dig deep enough–if I crawl inside.. will I find you?

She was 7 again, scared and alone, suffocating. And then Henri’s hand grabbed her back to reality. She could hear him crying. Something had happened. She had to get him out of here. These bones–those ones. Grab them. The pain shot through her arm as she pushed rocks out of the way, but she grit her teeth and used them anyway. She was pulled out with Henri and a pile of a corpse in her hands, and the people of the town had grown so thin while she was in there. No Gerard. No Isabel. No Lysenna or Sophie.. No Bretta. Just Henri, crying, and Cadence at the door, comforting him. Marinette wanted to hug him. Her hands were so full. She only managed a thank you. What a useless gesture.

There was no time. It came for them again, grabbed at her and Lysenna rushed around the corner into sight with Sleepsong. She slammed into it as Henri pulled it forward. Another soul salvaged. Someone had to take these–she was tired, and useless. Someone had to take them. She started to walk away, as Cadence declared she would go inside for the next.

She walked not five feet before she was surrounded by Bretta and Gerard once more, with Teles leading ahead. They weren’t gone. She wasn’t alone. She kept walking forward–kept walking as they were ambushed on all sides, kept walking. She stepped ahead too far, and a claw whipped out–her arm that wasn’t harmed was grasped and crushed in its grip. She screamed and dropped the bones to the ground as Corbin rushed to her aid, along with Bretta. The creature was driven off, but she was useless again. They had to be taken.

She made someone take them–who was it? The ghost was so frightened, he couldn’t stay here–was it Corbin? Bretta walked with him. She was in the snow. Her heartbeat in her ears, slamming, over and over. Nothing else.

Focus, focus. You’ll get better.

She was starting to get her vision back when she was rushed, lifted like oh-so-much lace off the ground as the creature started to run with her. She screamed. A shot went off and she tumbled to the ground and rolled. The creature was rushed and taken down, as her vision cleared, skirts over her head. It knocked her back into her body. She slowly rose again–back to the Crypt. The walls had collapsed. Nobody could get through.

Marinette groaned with both her arms busted and pulled the pick out of the bag she carried. She started picking away, whining with each stroke. The rocks came out. One of them landed on her foot and she staggered backwards and nearly fell again. People were coming back to move the rocks away. She moved forward and continued.

The door opened again–slowly. So slowly. The black tunnel screamed at her.

[You can’t take them! They are with us! Our family! You belong here!]

In.. in again, and again. Henri held her hand and she winced.

Until finally, with Milo’s heroic effort, the last was ripped away, and they loaded the bones into Marinette’s broken arms, and she.. lead Rogier with a host of protectors. She paid more attention now. She didn’t walk ahead of her guards. Not this time. Slow. Every step was so much pain. Tiphaine would scold her for all the blood on her dress.

Until they were laid to rest. Isabel there, giving the last rites. They were done. She was free.

[Well…. It’s just us now.]

Marinette’s whole body shuddered and she stood in the dark, alone, again. The people who moved around her didn’t exist. She was isolated. She.. was the problem now.


Marinette swung the rocking chair. She could still hear it, whispering. The porchlight held off the darkness, and she searched for Sebastien for any level of safety. She couldn’t hear or see him, now. Cadence and Isabel had told her no. They had said they could fix this, but what if.. what if it started again because of her? What if she gave it power? What if… it hurt people.

Marinette had asked if they would kill her.

Cadence said only if her sword said so. Her sword, that Marinette could not appeal to.

Pierre would have been mad to know she asked such a thing, so she hadn’t told him. She didn’t know what to do, though. She pulled her knees up to her face and buried her head in her skirt. She sobbed.

She hated being alone.

What is.. This?

There was nothing more important to Marinette than community. Her community. Her people. It hurt that others had suffered to keep her community safe–but they were distant, far away from her; they were not her community. She would do what she could to right those wrongs, to amend those pains, to bring them into her community, but when Alphonse spoke of the salvation that had been given to Luisant, Marinette’s heart echoed his words. She abhorred it, truly, but these feelings resided within her regardless of their selfishness, and they were real. She was not responsible for what the nobility had done–none of them were, but if standing above a pit and told “You must push this stranger into the abyss, or Pierre will die”, what would she do?

There was not a question. She would shove that man without hesitance, and weep at the injustice of it all. She would break on the wheel of responsibility and crumble like a dead flower. She would hide in the corner of the darkened church like she had when she was seven and her mother and father were gone. She would hide until someone found her, until he comforted her and told her nothing like this would happen again–even if he lied. Sweet lies.

Father Vallet–how dare he hurt her community? She struggled with this distrust and concern she felt over Alphonse. She had never seen eye to eye with him before, but… but now, it was deep in her, like a poison. A poison that had been put there under the guise of the Church she sought for safety. She had told him she would give him another chance, and he had come back and done it again. Even Isabel thought this might be for the best, but she had not seen it! She had not been there when they had turned on each other. Men and women screaming unceremoniously at one another until one nearly drew a knife and the other, in fear, had POISONED him. This man–she hated this man.

Hate? What was that?

This … this was poison, too. This feeling. She had never felt it before. What an awful, intrusive feeling. A clawing hand dragging her under a thick river of red so she could not catch her breath. She had not even felt this for the men who took her father from her. Perhaps that was the curse of knowing. When she was young, she did not understand the ways of men. She did not understand how hurt spread and ruined. She did not really grasp that Father and Mother were never, ever coming back.

Now she knew what she had, so the losing? It was far more painful. Far more frightening. And she grabbed for it with far more desperation–and in that desperation, that seething red: hate.

She stared at the door of her small one-bedroom home, where Grandpa slept in the one room and Pierre, her, and now Alere all slept in the main room. She saw the moon’s rays through the window, and sat, quietly, until she stood up. She couldn’t be here tonight. No, not tonight. Out the door–the same familiar trail. The same steps, the same soft song. The same destination, where she’d sleep beneath the church’s pews until she woke at her home again.

“Look to the soft and misty skies,
The moon is full and wind is blowing…
Now, please, Love, don’t you close your eyes…
I see your fear is growing.
You do not have to be afraid,
Darling, please be brave…
There’s nothing out there quite like me; don’t you see?

Not every monster’s scary–
Sometimes they are on your side.
I’ll leave the bad ones wary,
I’ll gnash and bite, they’ll run and hide;
You don’t have to fear the dead,
You’vе tamed the monster undеrneath your bed.
You don’t have to fear the night,
’cause I’ll be watching you ’til morning light…”

We Don’t Want That

She put her hand down on the table. Pierre was staring at her intently, with a frown on his face.

“We haven’t spoken oddly in–” His eyes narrowed.

Marinette stood up straight, fluffing her curls again and taking a deep breath. “What we meant was, we want to speak–”

The frown deepened, and Pierre crossed his arms, staring down at her with concern.

“We don’t think it’s a problem!” She shouted in frustration. Bastion put his hand on her shoulder and whispered comforts that she couldn’t find outside in Pierre’s concern. She knew it was worrying him. She knew it was worrying everyone, but she couldn’t seem to change the word, no matter how much she tried.

“We had to help; you know we did…” she whined, pathetically, through pouting lips as she turned her head away from his steel eyes. “… We couldn’t just.. leave them.”