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[personal profile] lemniscate
okay. some of you may recognise this name: arcturus. ("have you seen this man?") arcturus salt, when he needs a surname, though that one properly belongs to january.

arcturus is a semi-canon character in the bracketverse, which belongs to marika and i and which i have been merrily doing terrible things to under the excuse of worldbuilding in AUs. (there are many exciting things under the sea in it but this is a character introduction.) the bracketverse is dark urban fantasy, basically, and a kitchen sink besides; sentient beings are divided into the ones that are on the earth and the ones that are under the sea, whilst we're... not sure about air yet. i'm leaning towards that air belongs to dead people and dead ends.

on the ground magic and its use is governed by a group of people called the twelve; there are several instances of them all over (one per x quantity of humans, or quantity of place, or quantity of magic, or something, but i haven't figured that out yet), all following the same titles. one or two of them may stick their nose into every instance of the twelve: the miriam (properly the queen of earth, to contrast the queen of the sea) is a constant, and david smith (of time) can bop around enough that he might be the same everywhere too. actually i haven't worked out who wouldn't repeat and who would so ignore this for a second.

the twelve allow and disallow certain things, and have defined opposites / contraries to go with their titles: the twelve lords and ladies, plus the three invisible titles. unknown: defies the system and represents safe harbour for deviations. untitled: defies the system and purposefully works against the twelve, but is still a part of the system, born and bred and working under it -- understandable magic, taught by someone under the twelve, etc. unsworn: very, very, very rare, very, very dangerous -- an alien, essentially, from the point of view of everything else.

these twelve are centred mostly on humans, but despite magic in humans being rare they still outweigh everything else; plus, the pattern for types of magic that can be recognised by this general metaspecies (things-with-hands-that-use-tools-to-do-big-things-and-create-social-organisations, i have another essay on the difference between humanoids and humanoid magic versus everything else) is roughly similar. think cats. a housecat can't breed with a cheetah can't breed with a tiger but they are all obviously similar to each other when you compare them to a komodo dragon!

anyway, humans are like humans and humanoids are like humans. i don't know what humanoids we have: definitely the fae, organised in some court form i don't know yet. constructs, too. other than that, i don't know.

you needed to know all of this because arcturus is the untitled lord of his generation. this is kind of cool for him! it means he has something to do with all of this terrible unresolved justified rage he has floating around.

now, arcturus is also a land/sea crossover, kind of like when you get a shrimp and beef taco except please do not eat the arcturus. the social strata in the sea is very different, due to being based partly on three separate species: in order of social precedence~~, selkies, sirens, and mermaids. (it happened roughly organically: sirens are going to jerk around anyone they can, selkies aren't affected by their singing and judging by arcturus talking to jordan [who is admittedly a half-breed too!] tend to be distinctly unimpressed by it. BUT MORE ON THE SEA LATER. I AM VERY PLEASED. WITH. THE SEA.)

you may have guessed the crossover he is would be human/selkie. to be specific, he is the bastard son of the current queen of the sea (highest-ranking selkie, decided... partly by heritage and partly by fighting, i believe). this means he can't shapeshift like a selkie because he doesn't have a skin (okay, he has skin, but he doesn't have a pelt; which would be considered freaky-odd-freaky by a proper selkie!), but he can breathe underwater. he has a weird kind of symbiotic magic seaweed like thing wired into his scalp, which grows with his hair and hurts terribly when people pull on it, and has yet to be adequately explained! he also has several rows of sharklike regenerating teeth, and retractable claws. many of these things are not normal for selkies. genetics go kind of haywire when you cross compatible-but-only-by-the-grace-of-magic species.

also, i'm not sure if his dad was actually human. you never know. arcturus is certainly weird enough.

most people are born with an affinity, however slight, for some form of magic; it's rarer not to have one than to have one, by personality or by innate something, or ... so on. (for example, cosma noline has no affiliation, which has taken people about twenty years to get used to. she is the unknown lady, multipurpose witch, island off the coast of You Are All Fucking Insane, What Are You Doing, and ironically sister to one of the twelve. cosma is cool.) arcturus therefore has sea, and for some reason air (air magic is linked strongly to communication and identification of the dead; the columbine, messenger of the twelve, speaker to the dead, would under the right circumstances be the queen of air, under my unsubstantiated canon).

also, necromancy.

the twelve do not like necromancy! so that did not go over well but he cannot really help it. it is kind of like being gay! (in the catholic church!) but with more dead people. same socially-disapproved-of, born-with-ness. but with dead people. so actually dangerous. so my analogy is kind of shit actually? oh dear.

but. arcturus is a born necromancer, boy was reanimating geckos when he was among humans!

...back up, let me explain his backstory.

i'm fairly sure his mom left him with the name arcturus because i can't think of anyone else who would. he was raised by an adoptive family that was not particularly healthy anyway (apparently, he says, he was adopted by a couple that later split up and after that it gets complicated), and left for the Side (side and side are what people use to refer to whatever side of the city -- magic/not magic, there's a deserted district in the middle of the city where this iteration of the twelve have their main seat that is bigger on the inside and it is referred to as the local Side but Side can also mean all magic, it is very stupid!) at around age 14-15.

on the side he had the dubious and very rare awesome thing-ness of ending up apprenticed to the lady of justice (serves as judge, jury, and executioner for magic-related faults, has a big fuckin' sword), theresa. i swear she has a last name somewhere but i can't remember it. about half everyone here has no last name, mind; giving out your name is dangerous, something arcturus only learned once he had a reputation and a half under his own, er. (though not everyone goes by that: ciel and cosma noline certainly go by their birth names, believe it or not. their parents were either hippies or geeks.)

he ditched that mess at age 19-20, conveniently around the same time as he was being found out for a born necromancer (if someone who uses illegal magic is born on the side, i'd imagine they are exiled or executed). i say mess because... of things i don't want to talk about. do not leave theresa in charge of anyone impressionable, easily injured, or still a minor, basically! for reasons.

arcturus then proceeded to disappear for around three years, after having invented a drug formed of near-death or shortly-before-death experiences, getting a lot of people addicted to it by accident, them dying... it was also a mess! arcturus: not very good at damage control.

somewhere in all of this, after leaving the normal side and before there are bodies on the ceiling takes place, arcturus met january salt. ironically, she is a healer. but that is cool too.

(he was also fairly good friends with cosma noline while both were students, and knows a lot of fellow half-breeds -- jordan is the best example i can think of, colour-changing half-selkie, lives in a rookery.)

age 23, having accidentally acquired an 'invisible' in his service (sam jones, naturally somewhat resistant to magic), he sets about having the twelve assassinated -- if really rather slowly.

age 24 he finds himself forced to speed up by basically the fact that sam is going insane because that is one of the unfortunate side effects of that stupid drug he never got around to naming because he felt sick thinking about it. also sam finds an unconscious, amnesiac girl marked with a coded type of scarring used by the twelve to mean 'holy fuck this is so dangerous keep awaaaay' so she hangs out with them. her name's cat. if you've ever read any cause you'll know where i'm going with this.

random facts about arcturus:

'current-day', or as far as i've written him up to, he is, yes, 24. really doesn't look it! among other things, is four feet and ten inches tall. (january, at five foot two, foreheads over him if not quite towering.) also slightly covered in scars, though these will all eventually heal completely; he frequently manages to cut his mouth open on his teeth and his tongue open on his teeth, though. the ones that point backwards make it a bit hard to speak. so the way he talks is a bit speshul.

he could technically claim the title of unsworn, due to not being human and not having magic that works under the twelve's rules; but it is known by and studied by the twelve, it is not alien, and so he'd ultimately fail. this is why we have cat instead.

(his visual aesthetic is based heavily on the fact that i was just getting into the black parade at the time when i started writing wings. silver, black, and white. occasionally tumblr gets me screaming "ARCTURUS NO" at things, whether it's because a) ARCTURUS NO or b) ARCTURUS YOU DO NOT WEAR DRESSES, I THINK?)

also, ever since he was very, very small he's had a geas on him that prevents him from harming another human. the phrasing is very odd; he can hurt someone with magic, he can hurt someone by enticing them to self-destruct, but he cannot raise a hand against a fellow human being. i think it's only humans, too, but it might be non-constructed humanoids; at any rate, it has a loophole.

the loophole's most obvious exception is named tabot and he is a construct! arcturus can beat him up. theoretically. they're about equally matched i guess.

that being said, i forgot what else i was going to say!

-

so here's the prologue of there are bodies on the ceiling and they're fluttering their wings, also known as ...wings or TABOTCATFTW (the title's from a counting crows song, all right).
The first thing she sees -- the first thing she's ever seen -- is bright yellow-and-black tape winding around the front of a building and an alleyway. She tilts her head and feels like she's going to fall over, or possibly throw up, but the marks resolve into letters.

DANGER. DO NOT PASS.

It's as bright as an assault-and-battery case, as shocking as a slap. Cat trails one finger from forehead to chin, clumsy as anything, unfamiliar scars making the texture of her fingertip really weird.

Maybe everyone's is like that. She doesn't know.

She ducks under the tape, stumbling, and leaves behind a bloody hand-shaped smear.


-

here's an intro to the twelve, in the in-universe style i wrote my notes in:

warning: contains le wings spoilers, and is accurate through to the end of the same! BUT SERIOUSLY. ALL OF THE WINGS SPOILERS. ALLLLL OF THEM.

Officially, the Twelve mandate magic use.

There are, however, fifteen titles.

The regular ones (who, it bears noting, will age at approximately 33% to 66% speed that which is normal, and who can be killed whenever, but who can only die of natural causes once a successor exists or they have been successed – but for the Miriam, who will live forever until a successor exists, and has only been four in recorded history), those known, are:

1. The Lady of Justice, also styled the Judge or the Executioner or the Law (of Justice, current Theresa, deceased, seventh killed and first by the Untitled Lord’s hand)
2. The Metallurge (of Metals and of Magnetism, current Tulio Huitrón, deceased, third killed)
3. The Lord of the Waters (of Water, current Marc Taylor, deceased, fourth killed)
4. The Weatherman, in times of drama also styled the Storm (of Wind and of Storm, current Ezekiel Cartman, deceased, fifth killed)
5. The Weathervane (of Fire and of Ice and of all their permutations, current Zöe Cartman, deceased, first killed)
6. The Miriam (of Earth, current known only as the Miriam)
7. The Lady of the Fan (of Stories and of Thought, current Tania Clark, deceased, sixth killed)
8. The Lady of Mazes (of Illusions and of Mind, and to a degree of Art, current Ariadne Shaw)
9. The Columbine (of Wings and of Messages and of the Lost, current Margaret, deceased, second killed)
10. The Aleph, also styled the Variable (of Mathematics, current Ciel Noline)
11. The Wanderer, also styled the Lonely One (of Time and of its warping, once and future [for the moment] David Smith)
12. The First Mover, also styled the Cause (of Space and of its warping, here and there [should you look behind you] Isaac Corvin)

The three silent titles are as follows:

1.The Unknown (who is not set against the Twelve and their system, and who was made as a part of it, but who works outside of them, as an alternative, and a reassurance that all is not monopoly, and a touch of lawlessness; current Cosma Noline)
2.The Untitled (who is set against the Twelve, and who conforms even so to their manners, and who tends to be defined by having as their vocation a branch of magic which is rejected, and who is the kind of rebel they can work with, and who precipitates revolutions on the right level needed, give or take; current Arcturus ‘Salt’)
3.The Unsworn (who is set against the Twelve, and who is outside of them and of their naming, and who has never been touched by their laws, and who is uncommon, and who is in their every breath a revolution or apocalypse through sheer force of paradigm shift; potential Cat ‘Jones’)


handy fact: if you get all the references in all the twelve's names i'll give you... uh... store credit for a fic request?

-

and here's an unfinished poem based on something amanda palmer was tweeting about too long ago for likely anyone to remember now (please note: the 'unfinished' is the part where a lot of these only have the first line, everything but the un-numbered stanza is four verses)

01. Bring your crack cocaine to work
Just don't startle when you find
It’s white graphite and talcum powder
And tricks played on your mind.

02. Bring your favourite room to work
At home it doesn't fit
You’ve carried it for long enough
Others may know what to do with it.

03. Bring your mom and dad to work
For they may well be proud
To see you scarcely trembling
And only slightly cowed.

04. Bring your other face to work

05. Bring your old ideals to work

06. Bring your flask of jack to work

07. Bring your button eyes to work

08. Bring your fear of heights to work

09. Bring your will to live to work

10. Bring your Baudelaire to work

11. Bring your inner child to work
And start a fire at break
To find that in the chaos
There is nothing you would take

12. Bring your poetry to work
And hide loose sheets around
—Though folders, chairs, or ceiling tiles,
Be sure it will be found.

13. Bring your broken rules to work

14. Bring your etch-a-sketch to work

15. Bring your Marxist aunt to work

16. Bring your favourite tree to work
At home there's been a drought
Other people are a different country
Maybe they can help you out.

17. Bring your sousaphone to work
And find it somewhere to stand
You may never have learned to play
But somebody here can.

(Bring your unwritten songs to work
And start a band.)


-

NEXT ON WORLDBUILDING THEATRE: probably the sea stratification and why they don't need a system like the twelve!

NEXT ON JOURNAL: hopefully not another bout of radio silence? i am going to try to post daily tuesday onwards until you all decide to band together and slap me or life prevents again. after all, you haven't even heard properly about my school, and my school is fantastic and horrible and full of teenagers!

THINGS I NEED TO EXPLAIN TO YOU GUYS YET:
* musicverse
* my school
* threadverse
* the cultfic
* why i have a dreamwidth now

THERE. entry over.
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