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21 March 2011 @ 09:01 pm
The Game (I)  
Rating: PG13
Wordcount: 1,530
Story / World: Morgan's Game
Community: 
runaway_tales
Title: The Game (I)
Prompts: Cotton Candy #22: interruption. Peppermint #6: card. Strawberry Banana #2: inside joke.
Toppings / Extras / Other: Root Beer Float.
Characters: Morgan (various), Tricia (the narrator!), Kistley Dahlquist. Tanesha. The First. Mention of someone and you aren't allowed to know who yet! *sticks tongue out at* Neener neener waaait I think I've already mentioned him. Never mind. *insomniac has very little logic due to insomniac. hello!*
Notes:  here, have the third out of Idon'tknowbutI'mthinkingatleastthirty pieces of canonical Morgan's Game. This story is going to make you lose the Game a lot, by the way. (Fair warning is fair. Loss included in warning is... fair play.)


Most importantly, now, there are three of us.

Morgan is the Morgan, of course, and he has been since he was seven years old, the youngest ever (except for the one no one talks about). He was born James Dahlquist (no one is allowed to know this) and he is the Seventeenth Morgan to have had all the Magic of the world in his head.

Kistley is his older brother. He is tall and strange and likes history, and unlike most Dahlquists is near-uninterested in the ever-present all-consuming Game, and this makes him fairly special to be honest. Almost unique, even.

I'm Tricia. Morgan found me when he was nine, shivering and with no memory; I don't even know where. He fixed me, which is all I know really.

(He dabbles in surgery and in modifying people, and more than dabbles. For example, he and Kistley are nearly indestructible, as am I.)

In case this is read in the far future, where things are more different than I can imagine and you don't have the Game: Morgan is the name and title taken by that generation's chosen to run the world - the Game - for the common inhabitants (like me) and the players (like Kistley) and Lords (like most Dalhquists, and other people who aren't related to them actually). Sometimes people are born with an aptitude for it but truly anyone can be a player or even a Lord, it's only being the Game Master that comes by luck and inheritance and the Magic having liked you for some reason.

And, says Morgan - he'd know - poor you, then, if it does.

The Magic is what keeps our world going. It's the force that the First unleashed to change everything and that they say she embodied (Morgan won't tell me how close to the truth that is; he says she was less magic than they say but he swears by her name and begs her grace like anyone else, and she's in his head), and these days it's...

I don't know. I'd have to ask Morgan.

Maybe of belief. Maybe of the sense that stories should go a certain way, because what the Morgans do is pretty much tell stories.

Tanesha once said it's made of all the other Morgans.

- - -

She's Morgan's mother, by the way, and she was Morgan the Sixteenth. In a way she still is, because while he has almost all the Magic she doesn't lose everything, and he doesn't get the strange and convoluted and really easy to exploit political rights (people have to ask him before they start wars and things, before they do anything important really) officially until his eighteenth birthday. It's said that the First thought this was enough of a safety system.

No one would ever criticise the First but really, it's a terrible one. Better than a lack of one, probably, but still a terrible one, because from the moment the Magic gets fickle and picks someone else a Morgan can do whatever they want.

Warp reality? Sure. Change history? Of course. Control people's minds? Always.

It's all part of the Game.

That was the point.

- - -

The creation of the Game has passed into myth and legend and people not really talking about it, which is not very advantageous, and following this trend Morgan's never really told me outright how it happened. Of course, because pretty much all I remember is the House (which is, properly, a small town - there are really a lot of Dahlquists - but oh well) and that one year when Tanesha thought she should send us to school (which didn't end well). Maybe even he doesn't know.

All we know, really, is that Morgan - the real Morgan, the first, the one who was born to that name - wanted to make a game, one with stories and monsters and everything else she could think of, one set in a future that couldn't ever happen and wouldn't really be fun to live in but that would be wonderful to play around in. She wanted something she could use to drag other people to where she lived, maybe (namely: not there, wherever the common there happened to be).

Something made it real.

- - -

TRICIA: [looks up] Yeah, what?

KISTLEY: [confused] I didn't say anything. I didn't hear Morgan say anything, either.

MORGAN: [smirks]

TRICIA: All right, was that--

MORGAN: [blithe] So, let me see that. [reaches over to Tricia for the pages she's already written]

KISTLEY: [crosses the room and leans over Morgan, ostensibly reading everything upside down]

MORGAN: [turns the paper around to face him so that it'll be easier and keeps reading, not seeming bothered by the fact that it's all now upside down to him]

KISTLEY: Why are you explaining things everyone already knows, Tricia?

MORGAN: Oh, we're going to need that. It's exactly what I asked her to. In fact it's going fantastically.

KISTLEY: I didn't hear you-- Why does it seem that this is a bad thing?

MORGAN: [mock-hurt] You say every idea I have is a bad thing.

KISTLEY: That's because they are.

MORGAN: No, they're awesome.

TRICIA: [reaches over and pulls the looseleaf sheets out of Morgan's hands while they argue; no one notices]

KISTLEY: That's the Magic talking, you know.

MORGAN: [smiles] Oh, of course it is. It always is.

KISTLEY: ...You're being creepy again, kid.

TRICIA: [mild, which seems to be normal for her, and near-inaudible, which also seems normal] He's not much of a kid, really.

MORGAN: Oh, that's all right. It's just that Ki's ancient, you know? And really I am sorry. I can't seem to turn it off any more.

TRICIA: [still mild] You couldn't in the first place. [licks her finger and pages ahead to where she was last, not really paying attention to this anyway]

MORGAN: Point.

TRICIA: [still very, very mild, and smiling] You made me lose my place, you bastards.

MORGAN: That we did.

KISTLEY: That we did. And I'll have you know our parents were married. I think.

MORGAN: I could find the records--

TRICIA: It's not important.

MORGAN: Yes it is, you called me a bastard and I'm fairly sure I'm not!

TRICIA: Different sense of the word. Anyway. You continue to interrupt.

KISTLEY: Broad definition of interruption, that.

TRICIA: Yes. [turns and grins at him] Stop walking into it.

KISTLEY: [deadpan] Not walking.

TRICIA and MORGAN: [muffled laughter, despite the lack of any apparent joke]

MORGAN: That works.

- - -

The kind of game that Morgan - the First one, that is - wanted to make was one where you got to be someone else. This was a very important part of it, for her. She didn't like being who she was. (Maybe that was why she was so adverse to the idea that people wanted her to be their god.)

Somewhere, wrapped and sealed in plastic and strange air, the care bizarre considering the dog-eared fingerprinted nature of that which is being protected, there's a deck of cards. Large ones, each the size of a book, because they were only a first attempt and also because trying to shrink the art on them very far would be a crime.

Not the kind of crime that gets you killed (unless, maybe, the artist was over your shoulder) though, just the kind that you feel terrible about, that you go around thinking "it's not very important, but I feel like I killed something".

No one is allowed to touch them, not even in a special sealed room with gloves and care and everything.

Maybe five people in the world are allowed to see them without going through so many attempts to get permission that they might die of old age first (although, eventually, almost everyone's requests are granted; they're just usually granted fifty, sixty, a hundred years later: another of the interesting ideas of the Morgans as far as what qualifies as a safety measure).

They're not hand-painted, or -drawn, most of them - two or three are, more are reproductions tweaked and washed over with colour to get the proper look back. The colours are thick like syrup and deep, very unambiguous: they know what they are and what they're making.

On the back of each card there's notes, handwritten and edited later in blue and purple and orange-red pen (the handwriting is sort of gangling, unsure, with tall capital letters that the rest crowd around like children around a parent's legs, and thin, gawky lines for its limbs), on what each one means and how it's used.

Together they're the first draft of the Game. (We are the second.)

It's known, though, that Morgan the First had no love for the kind of art that's made of pictures, the kind that has to look like something real. She said it wasn't something her hands did. Her hands did math and words, and never together.

So who painted and drew the cards, so carefully and as such a perfect match to their purposes and descriptions?

I don't know, but then I don't know much of anything.