What do you choose? A poisoned rose, or a knife in the shadows?
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After Homecoming, the world seemed almost... more open now than it had been before. If that made a lot of sense. Meeting everyone, getting a feel for them all - meeting the Four Monarchs, hearing about the Fifth Court, trickling into the mysteries of the city and region - it all made it very clear how big the world really was. And with Thomas being King, it made it very clear how much of getting back on their feet they would have to do themselves.
He'd been the one helping them. Behind the scenes, because he was too much of a coward to face them directly. To address their sins. Instead, he payed for their rapes, their tortures, their violations with gifts like clothes, food, and other things that they vitally needed - and more, if they were willing to entertain the Court of Innocence's assistance.
The problem was that for many of the Chess Club, the Court of Innocence had become somewhat synonymous with Thomas. Any gift that could be given by one of them was left with the potential to be an extended gift of his. A bribery, asking them to forget. This was further complicated by the fact that many didn't even know who WAS a part of the Spring Court.
Over the course of the next few weeks, he was a hot topic. A hot, disgusting topic of gossip and hatred that seethed through the lips of Ross, Sabrina, Max - perhaps even Damien at points. Everyone had a story - some of those stories were saturated in hate and bitterness, while others were less hate and more fear. And even though Sabrina had said to not pass around people's dirty laundry, people still did - even her. Diamond would not have to be a part of the Chess Club long to know what they thought about her - she could get context.
There were constant talks about the things he did, but never really specifics - but people balked specifically at the things he did 'to the girls' or 'to Lily, to Jordan, to Victoria'. There were other talks about the way he'd make people grovel before him, or make them 'watch', to show his dominance... Richie was something of a pariah among the group, considered 'in league with the enemy' though very little had changed about him besides that.
No one looked at him with trust anymore, and more often than not pairs got doubled when he was involved. Only Lily seemed to accept his choice - but then Lily seemed to accept everyone, and there was confusion about her actions too even if they were well justified.
... But the real chaos came when Lily eventually -heard- one of these rumors. It was an accident, and the piece apologized saying they hadn't meant to talk about her - and she... became confused. She said nothing like what they spoke about had ever happened to her. Thomas was never, not once while she was there, cruel to her. What they were saying didn't happen.
That's when the hell really began, because it became clear that some people remembered horrific details and remembered visually seeing them, and some of the people those HAPPENED to didn't remember them at all. What was real, what was true, became something of a chaotic mess - and people started to scramble amongst themselves, second guessing their ideals of what was right and wrong and trying to find some kind of common ground. But they couldn't. And because they couldn't, the motley was now more confused and groundless than ever.
Summer became autumn. The topic of Thomas and what happened was an unspoken taboo, because a lot of people were scared. Scared that they didn't remember cruel things done to them when so many people did. Scared that they might be MISREMEMBERING. Scared that they would not be able to find sanity if they kept trying to figure that out. So many of them tabled it for another day.
Accepted and trusted their emotions, if not their memories.
Richie ended up giving his report of what he experienced to Lily and Victoria in private. No one knows why Richie chose to step between Ross and Thomas that day - but Ross at the very least still hasn't forgiven the 'betrayal'. It was only doubled when Lily accepted his choice. Ross wasn't the only member who didn't trust Richie after that - there was a general feeling of 'us' and 'them' when it came to the Court of Innocents, and on top of stepping between them Richie seemed to spend a lot of time with the most social of the courts - enough to make anyone concerned that maybe - even if whatever he saw was enough to sate Lily - Thomas had somehow gotten in his head. Or maybe - as Sabrina put it - Richie was "less concerned about what was done to them and more concerned about getting high and getting his dick wet." He made connections in the mortal world as well but... that didn't help that prejudice, given that he made connections with a drug dealer.
The Devil finds work for idle hands. That was the motto which Ross seemed to have developed in the time that had passed. Make no mistake, rage fueled every action he seemed to take - coupled with frustration. Richie had betrayed them in his mind, as had Leone, as had Anavel by not telling them, as had Lily for simply accepting Richie's excuses and letting it pass - and Victoria, who had been a victim herself. He couldn't remain angry at Lily, but he could be mad at her stupidity - as well as everyone else's. He ended up building a room in the hedge designed specifically for breaking anything he could get his hands on - a sparring room to say the least. That rage led him, unsurprisingly, to the Summer Court in the months that passed (possible scene). Their wrath, coupled with pressure from Lily that the groups find ways to integrate with the Freehold, ensured his enlistment - but only after Artie helped him formulate a suitable wording to his oath. He avoided the topic of his fetch, and has found himself looking for construction work that doesn't look too closely at papers.
Artie also avoided the topic of his fetch, but the topic of his fetch wasn't going to avoid him (possible scene). Lily and others had suggested members all try to join courts, and while not everyone was going to enough did to keep him busy in his role as a notary - making sure people understood the nature and possible ramifications of joining a court, or of making ties with certain people. He did try to assist everyone, but he was only one person and even with his brilliance there was only so much he could do. He managed to make a stipend of money working up programs which were then used... in less savory ways to acquire funds. Beyond that, he ended up joining the Court of Madness - finding a strange synergy within himself and the sorcerous ones.
Sabrina, like Ross, had felt betrayed by Richie when he stood between the Pretender King and Ross - their history should have long warranted far more suffering. Unlike Ross, she didn't cast her rage at the rest of the world, but she did express suspicion in Mindy - after all, Mindy had joined the Freehold prior and entered into the Court which supposedly involved spying. Why hadn't she alerted them to Thomas? Anavel didn't know their past, but Mindy DID, and the idea that the knowledge had skipped over the pawn was hard to swallow. Leone was protecting a friend. Lily was thinking about the motley as a whole. Ultimately, the revelation of Thomas had revealed how just unprepared they were, and ultimately lead Sabrina to the Autumn Court - where she could find answers despite the fear that they had evoked in her at Homecoming... and where she could avoid the topic of her own personal life (possible scene).
Mindy was a member of the court of shadows longer than anyone had even considered being court members - which wasn't long at all. Apparently they did like to keep her busy though. Her status made it unclear if she was spying on them to report to the Court of Winter Shadows, but Mindy informed them that that was someone else's job and that the Court did not overrule the bond of the motley. Ultimately, a lot of it was more of the same with her - she didn't really stick out as a member. She did cry less, through liberal use of winter masques. It also seemed that during the interrim, she and Victoria became... closer. Unlike many, she didn't seem to hold Richie ill will for his choice, and would willingly go with him without needing a second guard.
Shelby was nothing if not dedicated. While other members worried about Thomas, Shelby worried about her art and - in a way - getting her life back from the woman who stole it. One of the main focal points of her art was Amber. She seemed to see Amber as her muse, and developed something of a fixation on her. That fixation was so strong that she legitimately considered joining the Spring Court only to get closer to her. Of course, this did not happen. Instead, Amber developed a devoted stalker, who was then scouted by the Court of Madness for her... dedication to the search of knowledge in all it's forms. She found an affinity with Lorelai, the Beast Artist second only to the Queen and now uses her work to create macabre art - as well as Arcadian. She may or may not have joined a cult dedicated to the Goddess of Desire. When she's not doing that, she's taking her time to work on her relationship with Tyler, who is caught between his job, her, and her fake - a source of conflict that seems to always be bubbling (possible scene)
Max has yet to join any court, but the Court of Madness seems to be interested in him, as does the Court of Winter. In the days following Homecoming, he made some associates in both courts who he's happy to deal with on a fairly regular basis but isn't sure if either of them truly call to him enough to make a bargain or swear into. Like some of the motley mates, he has no fetch - and if you ask him about it he would let you know it died while he was gone in the same way he lived - forgotten and unknown. He did make some contacts in the mortal world - and makes some money hustling people in various games of chance or on the streets.
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