Armelle strode along the streets of Ottawa, noting how considerably chilly it was. Her face and lungs trembled in the cold as her fur-coated arms clutched each other. Dangling off of one elbow was an aged purse that danced in an irregular rhythm with each step. She wasn’t exactly sure why she was in such a hurry, or what had induced her to visit the old ballroom again. I needed to get out of the house, she supposed. There’s no point in vegetating inside all day and wasting air.
There was a reason her father had given her a gun, after all. Though she was still inexperienced with using it, she had a way to protect herself. If those Croze guys tried anything funny, she could easily pull it out of her coat pocket and give ‘em what for. Probably.
Before long, she arrived at the impressive building. There was usually a class taking place at this hour, where nine and ten-year-olds learned to waltz and two-step because their parents thought it would matter some day. She let herself inside and made her way to the main chamber. A feeling of nostalgia tickled her. She hadn’t seen these halls in nearly a year, and with the exception of a few details, it was exactly how it was when she left. She entered the grand ballroom, discovering it to be quite empty. While the lights were all on, there didn’t seem to be anyone present—no children, dancers, nor maids.
“Why are the doors unlocked?” she softly asked aloud, looking back at the entrance. Before she had the chance to ponder on possible explanations, a startling revelation met her: She had the entire ballroom. All. To. Herself.
She dropped her purse to the floor and started doing sachets and spins across room. The weightless sensation was more intoxicating than nicotine. Her bursting thirst for exhilaration and movement drank in every second of it. But as she did her spins, she found an unfamiliar, pale shape in the corner of her eye. And again. And once more.
Eventually, she stopped to investigate. The white shape turned out to be a note that had been tacked to a door on the far side of the chamber. She got closer to get a better look at it.
Please open this door.
Armelle looked at the note sideways. The Dome? She’d never heard of a dome being incarnated or sending out memos. It was unclear as to exactly whom it was addressed. The request in itself also seemed rather vague and pointless. Though in all of her years there, that door had always been locked. Perhaps...
She grasped the golden doorknob and turned. Not only was it unlocked, the door seemed to pop open on its own. She flinched backwards. The door slowly turned open, showing an eerily white room on the other side. Astounded, she stepped inside.
The area was quite an enigma; there were no chandeliers or light bulbs, but the room was still extremely well-lit. There were equally white doors everywhere. Doors on the walls, doors on the ceiling, doors above doors, upside-down doors, even a few doors on the floor. Everything was an untarnished white. It was utterly noiseless apart from the echoed clicks her heels made against the smooth floor. She felt almost guilty breaking the serene silence of the room. It reminded her a lot of how she imagined heaven to be.
Her gut clenched with unease. Have I died? The mere thought bewildered her. She sure didn’t remember dying. Is one supposed to? Did she visit the ballroom as a ghost? She reached into her coat pocket and felt the steel of her gun. That was still there. She doubted God allowed guns in heaven. But what if it was Purgatory? How would she explain her sins?
Suddenly deciding she really didn’t want to be there, she spun around to locate the original door and froze. Somehow, without her knowing, the door had managed to have itself heavily boarded shut. Attached to one of these boards, of course, was a square parchment that read:
OoC: Aronin is in the sig button image link post thingamabob...
The wind blew heavily against Aronin's cloak as he leaned on the railing. Small droplets indicated that the clouds would soon deliver its payload and drench the streets and ground. Including me, he thought grimly as he watched the dark sea pass underneath him. A fog horn sounding from the bridge made him tense a bit as he nearly expected an attack of sorts. I seem to have developed a form of paranoia, he thought bitterly and involuntary sent out a psychokinetic wave. The echo reassured him that there were no dangers around and he closed his mind to the world outside.
Ever since his powers had suddenly changed, he had felt more and more out of touch with everything. It was true that he didn't have to worry about his emotions being dangerous anymore, but that fact only made him feel worse. He could live a normal life now, without having to fear that he might hurt someone because of a little anger. But somehow, he couldn't. And he hated himself for it.
The sound of the fog horn called him back to the world. The thoughts had gnawed at him for a long time and they didn't seem to vanish. Many was the time the psychokinetic had resolved to change it, but he just couldn't finish what he started. Again, as he had done so many times before, he pushed the thoughts away. The ferry would soon reach land, and he had to get inside to pick up his belongings.
He turned, but was instantly thrown back by a blinding light flashing before his eyes. He caught himself at the railing and raised his mental shields immediately.
"Are you alright?" a man asked worriedly. Aronin blinked and looked dumbstrucken at him. Carefully dragging himself up at the railing he got to his senses and shook his head.
"I think so," Aronin answered while blinking. The white flash seemed to have burned a image on his eyes...
"Want me to help you down?" the man proposed. "You seem weary.."
"No, I'll be fine." Aronin dismissed him and turned to the docks slowly making their way past him. He noticed the man still standing beside him and sighed.
"Have you ever felt that you have to go somewhere, to make up for something you have neglected?"
The man smiled sheepishly and leaned on the railing beside him.
"Yeah." He made a pause as he too watched the docks. "Everyone has it like that every now and then." The man looked at Aronin and said knowingly. "You just have to walk up to her and tell her you were a fool, that you should never have left her, even if she was the one to throw you out."
Aronin raised a brow as he looked at him, and rolled his eyes as he returned his gaze to the quay. The image of a shining white dome seemed to call out to him from inside. He looked up at the skies and shook his head slowly. He had to find a way to get back.
The flapper gawked at the door. That was definitely not nailed shut when she went through it.
Okay, new theory: I accidentally found Papa’s absinthe. This is all a crazy drunken hallucination.
And because it was all a crazy drunken hallucination, she figured, she could just keep going through doors and find herself back in a familiar place at some point. Picking the next exit wasn’t actually too hard; the door right next to the incapacitated one was bound to be in the right direction.
Armelle entered said door in confidence—purposely leaving it wide open behind her—and found another well-lit room that resembled something out of a Grecian temple. There were intricate pillars and designs along the walls where two other doors resided. In the center sat an enormous fountain. It was crafted from a decaying stone cast in a green tint, and the liquid ribboning from it was also a radiating jade.
The door loudly shut itself from behind her, a fact that may have upset her more if she weren't enthralled in the scene before her. It looked almost too perfect to be material.
The young lady let her index finger glide through the emerald stream before gently pressing it to her tongue. The liquid had a twinge of licorice, probably alcoholic, somewhat familiar. . . Suddenly, it came to her. Absinthe! That door—or the Dome—or whoever—had redirected her to an absinthe fountain, as if it drafted up whatever was on her mind.
New theory: I'm going nuts.
This place couldn't possibly be real. Where was she in reality? She needed to calm down. She needed to sit and think. She needed. . . Hell, she needed a drag.
Instinctively, she reached for the space below her right arm where her purse should have been. Upon feeling nothing, a baffled anxiety hit her. She searched the floor frantically, suspecting she might have dropped it. After some quick mental backtracking, the fresh memory of her purse being carelessly tossed to the ground on the ballroom floor reunited with her. No purse, no cigarettes.
Her arms accentuated her determined march up to the wine-colored door. If she couldn’t beat it with muscle, she’d beat it with words.
“Look. I’m going through here even if I have to—have to—pour absinthe all over you or something. Now let me through! Laisse-moi entrez!”
The door rudely ignored her.
After a few more vain tugs at the doorknob, she gloomily head-butted the door and remained on it, leaning her weight against her forehead and letting her arms droop.
“My ciggies are out theeeeere. Pleeease let me ooouuut. . .”
A sealed envelope slid under the door and bumped with her shoe. She shifted her head down, so that the crown of her head lay on the door and her eyes could see the floor better. In proper, calligraphic writing, the envelope was labeled with a single word: Aronin. With hesitation, she bent down to pick it up.
Aronin left the ferry as quickly as he could. It took some time; he had been on the deck while it docked and when he came to the exit the queue was already full, and security insisted on checking everyone as they exited. He sighed and tried to follow the queue. But several times he found the queue had moved on without him noticing. The thought of the dome was distracting.
He moved through the security soon enough and found a handicap toilet for himself. He did not wish to reveal his powers to the general public, knowing what a furore it might create. People didn't like things they didn't understand, or things they couldn't get themselves. It was a mix of jealousy and fright that met him when people occasionally found out.
Trying to clear his mind of such things he reached out his hand and conjured a portal to the dome realm as he had done so many times before. The sensation of touching the realm was that of submerging into water, both hot and cold at the same time. But this time, the sensation didn't come. Neither did the portal.
The first thought was to try again, and when the portal didn't appear after his fifth try, he sat down on the toilet seat and massaged his head. Even though he didn't manage to conjure the portal he obviously used some kind of power which left him with an headache. Why, he couldn't tell. It was not like he had ever understood how that power worked; it was a different power than his 'usual' ones.
He drank a handful of water from the spring and tried again, still sitting on the toilet. Nothing happened. Cursing and panting, Aronin became desperate. He wanted to go back, needed to go back, even though a tiny voice in his head said it was a illogical need, that there was something else going on here. He didn't hear, or mind it.
Read eyed, he went out of the toilet and proceeded to the exhibition he originally was heading for. The Statue of Liberty raged above him, the lights lighting it up made it appear gloomy in the dark evening. He staggered over to a bench and sat down. Somehow, something blocked his access to the dome realm. The effort had made him weary and exhausted and he had developed a headache, almost as if his stamina were drained when he tried to open the portal.
He sat for a moment on the bench until he felt better and could think clearer. There were a number of different ways he knew of, which lead into the dome; a small dome in the arctic, a portal in a deep forest and a doorway in a French village. Neither were close, and he didn't know if any of them still worked, given his failures to open his portals.
Finally he stood up and paid the entry fee for the museum. As he stood inside, he couldn't quite remember why he wished to see it, nor why he did it in the evening, near closing time. But it provided him with a distraction from his thoughts about the dome.
Until he saw it in a picture on the wall...
At first, he just passed straight by with only a passing glance. Then he stopped as if trying to remember something important, and finally he took a step backwards and started as he saw the photo of a white dome in the middle of the city. Confusion imprisoned him for a moment as he tried to find a good reason for why the dome, which were a secret but for a few, were pictured here, in a museum in New York... Then he threw away all forms of logic, and touched the glass.
Nothing happened. Aronin gave a grunt and realized he had hoped that touching the image would somehow suck him into the image, and into the realm. He grunted again, both angry with himself and the image, and went to the exit, not wishing to see more of the exhibition. The sight awaiting him caught him by surprise. Instead of the park that was outside the museum when he entered, a large white wall stood planted. His heart made a jump as he slowly exited, and saw how the wall curved in all sides; it was the dome. How he had arrived here, he didn't know. Nor did he care: he had arrived at last!
A door in the wall caught his attention. There was a note on it, he noticed and walked up to it.
Let her out and let her breathe.
Aronin winced at the obvious pop-culture reference, but decided to follow the note and opened the door.
Armelle flipped the envelope over, where a seal with a mini-dome in the center kept the paper fastened together. Her thumb dug underneath the corner of the flap and attempted to break the seal, but neither it nor the paper budged. She tried using several fingernails to pry up the seal, but no luck. She finally tried just ripping the paper, even dripping a corner in the absinthe fountain to weaken it, but that failed as well.
“So let’s get this straight,” she said to the ceiling. “You give me a vague envelope—in a room where I could potentially drink myself into a coma, by the way—and said envelope can’t even be opened?”
The ceiling had no rebuttal.
In that moment, one of the doors opened. She flinched in surprise and turned to face the door, suspecting it to be opening on its own. Instead, a man walked in. A peculiar-looking man, who had long hair and denim pants and a cloak.
Startled, she took the revolver out of her coat pocket and aimed in his general direction, shaking a little.