Darkest before the Dawn

March 13, 2016:

There is always hope. Sometimes you just need to be reminded of that.

Queen Mansion

The Queen Mansion can be found near the outskirts of Gotham, and is
officially part of the neighbouring Bristol Township. Lying in a heavily
wooded area, it affords the Queen family absolute seclusion. The closest
neighbours are almost 10 kilometres away. Constructed primarily of
Sandstone, the East Midland castle was transported from England to its
present site in 1894, where it was painstakingly reconstructed stone by
stone. It has served as the main estate of the Queen family since 1976, when
they purchased it.

Since then, it has undergone several renovations, sometimes due to changing
technologies, and others due to the whims of the Queen family. But while the
interior may change with each generation, the main residence remains 60
metres long, 26 metres wide, with a 25 metre high turret in the centre.

In addition to the bedrooms, bathrooms, living areas, and foyer, the mansion
includes an office, library, armoury, exercise facilities, ballroom, dining
room, natatorium, wine cellar, and quarters for the full time servants.

Some of the design features are less well known, such as the panic room, the
secret corridors, and the security facilities. Overall, it has an old world
feel to it. The Queens may not have had money as long as some other
families, but they've adapted quickly and comprehensively. As you walk
through the Queen Mansion, it will remind you of a museum, with its ornate
decorations.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Fenris, Joker

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

The Queen Mansion.
Hell, even Oliver doesn't spend more time in this mausoleum than he has to anymore, only sneaking to it when the need to avoid his normal haunts comes to him. Most of the time he's in a smaller penthouse downtown or some other sort of living area; having shunned away the grandiose lifestyle since his most recent return. But the mansion does provide a bit of solitude and no one really goes looking for him there very often.

There is no servants here, nor anyone except for Oliver himself who is sitting in the living room upon a chair looking across the room in which the other furniture is covered over with plastic dust protection due to its lack of use. In his hand rests a drink of some kind, clear and music plays softly of a classical sort.

All of this in itself would not be a big deal, but Oliver has not been seen or heard from in some time. In fact since the incident with the Joker, Oliver Queen has been scarce and the Arrow even more so. The man has been in seclusion in his museum.

Jes always keeps an ear out for word on her friends and she's aware he hasn't been seen, she's also aware that Rain healed him as good as new so she's gotten a little worried. Really she should have checked on him sooner, maybe the magic healing had been a bit much but there hadn't been a lot of options on that front with the extent of his injuries. Her life is usually pretty crazy though and she hasn't had a chance till now.

Jes eyes the outside of the mansion for a moment before approaching the front door. It's about as big as she expected but a little bit more rundown. She knows he isn't here too often though. Jes is about to knock when it occurs to her there probably isn't any magical warding to keep her out if she just opens the door. There is probably still some state of the art alarm system or something and though so she does knock. She can hear the music faintly somewhere inside. Hopefully he'll answer.

Why would Oliver use a security system? He is the security system. Regardless the sound of a knock at the door causes him to blink and he turns his attention towards the door. Pushing himself up he walks to the door and as he gets there stops to retrieve something from beside it. The door creeps open to reveal the man standing behind it.

He looks well, rough. Like island Oliver. Unshaven, weary, tired and stressed. Were it not a mansion his rugged appearance would fit in perfectly in the wilderness.
His green eyes fall on the person at the door, recognizing Jesana in the darkness and he relaxes a bit, letting the door open more fully as he turns to start walking his way back towards the chair he was sitting in. His other hand, which was holding a sword, places it back in the sheathe from where it was hanging by the entrance. No greeting is offered, just the open door for her to enter if she chooses.

Catching a glimpse of this wilder, rougher look, Jes swallows and blinks and closes her mouth. Whatever she'd been going to say when he opened the door forgotten for the moment because, whoo. Yum. Following Oliver after shutting the door behind her, the demigod eyes the sword. "I bet you know how to use that too." There's a hint of teasing in her voice. Of course he knows what to do with his sword. Ooh, bad coyote. Jes grins to herself.

She looks around at the disarray. Geeze, no wonder he'd always wanted to visit her before. "So, how are you? I was wondering if maybe you didn't disappear again." There isn't any anger or frustration in her tone like might be expected considering last time he disappeared. Just worry. "I meant to stop by sooner but shit happens. I got a little bit.. shot, for one." Okay, a lot shot actually. "Fun times that."

Ollie slumps into the chair and picks up the drink off the table. Next to it is a flash drive and his bow, the quiver is off leaning against one of the plastic covered couches. Queen takes a sip of the drink before looking at it, not initially responding to Jesana then he finally does. "Yes, I know how to use the sword." His voice is flat, quiet and then he looks at her.
"Shot?" Ollie's voice cracks from it's quiet reflective tone to concerned. "First, why did you get shot… second, are you ok? And third… why are you worried about me if you just got shot?"

She weighs how much of an answer to give but the strange flat sound of his voice when he first starts talking worries her more so Jes answers honestly. "It was pretty bad. Totally sucked. I'd just been healing from this demon poison and then I went to see Lady Pepper." She pauses. "Ms. Potts. She's a friend. I kinda show up when stuff is about to happen even when I don't mean to. It makes things..interesting anyway. Some guy with some sort of high tech laser gun showed up claiming to be a lawyer to see her and tried to kill her. I jumped in front of her. It was a good thing. No way could she have survived that. It burned the holy hell out of me." Jes half grins to take away the seriousness of the situation a bit. "Almost anyway."

"It's lucky for me she's fast and they have good healing stuff there. Some robot thing brought her a burn kit and that helped. I heal fast, I would have been alright but I had some magical healing too. I had to go.. somewhere." If magic is bothering him she probably shouldn't go into detail about that trip. "But that took time too. Anyway. I'm here now. What's bugging you?"

Oliver picks up the glass again to take a sip out of it after listening to Jes's story. Lasers, assassins, all of it sounding far to familiar to him of late and the lines etched on his forehead portray that. The room, well the house as a whole is cold. Kept there to keep things preserved but the cold doesn't seem to be phasing Ollie in the least. Everything about this place is just what was. He's been rough in taking care of himself as shown from the gruff look, he's been at least cleaning himself but the room just feels like Oliver, smells like Oliver. Being here is like being a part of the man.
"Confidence." He finally says it after long moments. "I don't have any confidence. In what I'm doing, in what I can do. I'm questioning every action, every thought… everything is a question and so I'm hesitating. Hesitation gets you killed." He pauses, lifts the glass to take a drink and stops, "Gets others killed." Then he sips from the glass.

Jes sits down on the floor in front of Oliver and studies the room and then him for a moment. "Why? Because some asshole shot a rocket at you? That's why I gave you the feather. If you get hurt again I'll make sure you live. I know there are people out there like me, who are, a lot worse than I am."
She's not exactly one of the good guys but she never harms the innocent. "That never stopped you before did it? And even people like me get hurt. Hell, I get hurt all the damned time. It sucks but it kinda comes with, what we do. Or, well, in my case with who I am but.. what you do is needed. You make a difference. You save people, but you can't save everyone. No one can." Jes's voice hitches on the last sentence. She couldn't save her first children, or her family. "Hesitating might get people killed but it's worse not to do anything at all."

There's a scowl and soft growl. "If I ever get the chance I'm going to rip that Joker's heart out while he's still alive. I hate that sonofabitch. You know he shot Pepper once. I tried to get in front of her then too but some vigilante bitch got in my way. And he was holding a gun on a woman in a wheelchair. A wheelchair for Fenris sake!" Crazy bastard. She tries not to hurt crazy people but in this case she's very willing to make an exception.

Ollie looks down at Jes when she sits down in front of him, gazing for a moment before his head shakes. "It isn't just that Jesana. It is a lot of things is all. I struggle, we all struggle, but I struggle with morality, with what is right and wrong, with what I can do versus what I should do." He laughs, a short laugh that has him leaning back a bit but keeping his eyes on the woman. "Right now, the only way to truly describe what is going on, is I am being mopey and moody. A self pity party for no other reason than I want to have one."
He lifts his drink up in a semblance of a toast before taking another sip out of it. "I'll be fine, really. I just need some time and to figure a few things out. It is difficult to be two people at once. Oliver Queen is not the Green Arrow, but when one has problems they filter over to the other."

That she understands, after a fashion. The morality part at least. "I understand the morality part. The separate thing.. that's harder. Coyote and I are one and the same. I never saw the need for hiding that or a disguise or anything because this, it's who I am. Lately though, I've realized that I do need to be.. less known. I'm hopefully going to be around a very long time and I'm gonna make a lot of enemies and with things as they are.." She scowls again. "The less people know about me the better. Especially government people. I'm kinda going about that with uh.. unconventional means though and it's just making me harder to recognize, not a whole other persona kinda thing so not really any help to you I think."

Jes crosses her legs in front of herself and studies her hands. He knows some of her past, some of the things she's done but not all of it, nor really what she's capable of. There are things you might tell a friend that you wouldn't tell a lover, especially not one you were trying to keep at the time.

"I think are concepts of right and wrong are different too. Okay, I know they are. But I still have a sense of right and wrong it's just.." Jes sighs. She has struggled with this. She struggles with it on a constant basis. "Things were.. done to me. I'm not right. I was damaged when i was a kid by how I was raised and it's not an excuse but it's the kind of thing that even knowing about, it's not so easy to change. Then when I was in Hell, i suffered an injury to my soul that can't be healed with anything but time. It makes it harder for me to control my anger and the darker parts of myself. If i lose it and stop caring and shut off the part of myself that is human and feels emotion like I was trained to do, I'll be a monster. I don't care who I hurt or kill or how many. Fenris has promised to end me if this happens and I've been working to fight it. It's not easy. Another reason I'm late with this visit. Something pissed me off really bad and I wanted to.. well." "I wanted to destroy an entire city. Even had a plan for how to do it." A couple of them actually. "But at least I realized I'd be hurting more innocent than enemies I just.. it's hard."

"If it were easy Jesana, then it would not make us stronger. Every year these villains, these people and beings, agencies and groups grow stronger and stronger, work harder and more diligently to crush the innocent along their paths." Oliver speaks quietly to the woman, now finding himself having to power through his own darkness to help. "So we become stronger, and we do this via trial by fire. We are forged. That is why we fail. That is why we fall down, so we can get up and press on."

"I think about hanging it up. I have hung it up but I always find myself back in the mix because even though we struggle with all these questions, there is only a thin line between good and evil. And even if sometimes we cross that line, at least we know there is a line and worry about the line. It is the day when you no longer care about the line that we are truly lost." He leans forward, reaching down to try to place a hand on Jes's shoulder. "You still care about that line."
Jes reaches up to cover his hand with her own. Her brown eyes seem full of sadness and there's a kind of sad acceptance on her face. "I do but what worries me most is that I only care up to a certain point. I would die to defend my friends and family or innocent people. Without a second thought. The people I view as evil or enemies, them I don't have any feelings for other than rage and the desire to murder or torture and I don't fight that all the time. Sometimes I don't even try. I never feel bad for killing those people. I don't think it's within me and I know that's a different kind of evil by some standards. My Father was known as a very cruel god to those he viewed as interlopers when the others first came here to this country. I'm his daughter in more ways than one. I have that cruelty in me and more of my own." She closes her eyes and bows her head.

"That's not all there is to me though and I know it. I'm capable of more. I'm a good friend and a good mother and there is so much I want to do and a lot of it all good. I do help people. I don't want to turn into one of the monsters. I have this friend and has a power of a very bad nature that he accidentally acquired. There isn't a way to get rid of it so he turns it on the monsters rather than become one of them. That might be all I can do for awhile. I hope it's enough." She also hopes some of this helps him with his own struggle, at least he'll know he isn't alone. It's certainly not easy to talk about for her. she hasn't let anyone but that friend in on her struggle. Fenris knows of course but there is very little he doesn't know. "Bah. Look at me. I came here to talk about you, not myself." Jes mumbles and opens her eyes to look up at Oliver. "But I wanted you to know I get it. I'm here for whatever I can do for you. And I still meant it about offering you a place in the afterlife. I don't know if that's any kind of comfort but.."

"Right now, the afterlife isn't my concern." Oliver responds quietly towards Jes. Giving her hand a gentle squeeze with his own, reassuring in gesture. "I'm finding I'm actually a bit tougher to kill than many people think. Because I have good friends who care. And who know where they can come if they worry about where they are going." It is clear Oliver is talking to Jes at that point.

"You can always come find me, and I will always tell you what I see. It may not be right, but it is what I see. Like now, I see someone who is struggling with all of us."

"All these years Jes I have been at this war, I have learned something. The night is darkest just before the dawn. So when you think you cannot take on anymore, when the burden is to heavy. That is when the dawn is coming. And dawn is where hope resides, we have hope. Always."

Again he squeezes her hand.
Slowly, Jes smiles. That's a little cliche of a saying, even she's heard it but it's apt. "You're right. But, you've got to remember that too. People need you Ollie. I know I do. You're a good influence on me. Though I probably never told that before. People also need The Green Arrow. There are things happening and some bad things coming. There always will be, I know but.. someone has to stop them. Or at least stand up for those who can't stand themselves. I do also get the wanting to quit thing. I've been mad enough a few times to just want to tell the world to go fuck itself and let it all burn while I take me and mine elsewhere." She can at times be incredibly selfish and her temper.. really is terrible. "I'm not going to do that though because for all it's problems and flaws this world is worth saving and so are most of the people."

"At least, I'm not planning on it. If things get too heated I'll send the kids there and Frederick even if I have to knock his ass out and drag him. I think I might get involved in some stuff soon that's really going to have people after me."

"Considering that I broke into one of the government's most highly secured facilities, I can't imagine the people after you are going to be too much worse than who is after the Green Arrow." Oliver replies, bringing his hand back to his lap. "But if they are, and it is too much to handle, you know how to get ahold of me." He pauses then and speaks softly, "I'm sorry Jes. About… just the way everything went down." He must be speaking of before. "Can't change the past, but just wanted to say it again. And know that I'm trying to learn from the things I have done."

She frowns. "Don't be sorry. It might have not been the best way to go about it but.. we were nothing running from our problems and in the end it would have ended all the same. I was trying to be something I don't think I ever will and I kinda screwed up some more after that before I got it into my head. "We're okay, you and me. At least from my part. This government thing.. can you tell me more? That's actually one of the things I'm worried about. I mean, I'm an Indian so I've pretty much got zero love for government people but recently I've learned some disturbing stuff about a secret organization going after any people like me, or mutants or metas that are in their way and they've got permission to do it anyway necessary and these people aren't bad guys. I have no idea if they are related to this new DEO stuff that sounds realllly bad. I met Tony Stark a few times. He didn't seem like that much of an asshole to go after innocent people like this but he was also human and humans fear things they don't understand or that are different."

She considers a moment. He's human so this probably isn't a worry but if he's out there again he could run into it. "There's another entirely different threat right now I'm involved with but I think you'll be safe. Unless you have any Were friends, like you know, werewolves or something. Or even mutants with wolf traits. They're all in danger right now."

"I'm pretty sure that I'm ok from the Were stuff, the only one I know is sitting here with me." Oliver offers towards Jes with a smile. "As for the government thing, I don't know. It's possible the two are related but I'm not certain yet. The information I got is still being decrypted and after that I'll know more. I sort of miss the days I Was just dealing with thugs in Star City." He sighs a bit and leans back in his seat to sip his drink. "Thank you, for coming to check on me. To make sure I wasn't completely lost and talking to me."

She smiles again. "Thank you, I know I can on you to help me see straight or at least, help me see human. I don't want to lose that part of myself, whatever else I become. You can count on me to be there and just listen. Or come and kick you out of a funk with my foot to your ass if needed, but I do know sometimes a good self reflection or bout of pity helps." Jes's smile widens into a grin. "And I do like this look on you." Alot better than she does the house actually. "Just don't stay here for too long. You aren't alone. Remember that."

Jes nods and squeezes his hand. That is one thing she's always sure of. "Good. It kinda suits your mood right now but it's uh. Drafty?" The cold doesn't bother her of course but it's better than saying "kinda a hole". Looking around again though another thought occurs to her. "Hey you know, if you want to be somewhere that no one can find you and that might be more relaxing, drop by the boat and go into that closet that I never opened the door to and warned you to be careful of. The first two rooms inside are safe and there's some hot springs. Only a few people know about it and Frederick never goes in there so it's kid free unless I'm home. Which, isn't nearly as often as she'd like but at least her traveling abilities allow her to come and go instantly.

"I'll keep that in mind for sometime." Oliver responds quietly. "Although here, in an emergency, people know how to find me. It just takes an emergency to do it." He pauses and adds, "Plus I'm not completely out of touch with the world."

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