Viira had spent most of the past several months keeping to herself and caring for Avalin while she struggled with the voice in her mind and the will that sometimes moved her limbs without her permission. The Voice, this Ashanti, had remained relatively controllable but there times when she wondered if she hadn't been possessed by a demon - what else could claim to be a god and demand the tribute worthy of such?
She was no slave and no priestess either. The Captain and her adoptive son were the last of their ship and their people for all she knew and they'd been through too much for her will to simply be snapped by a childish inner voice.
The return of the Sky had been something of note, the woman had grown too used to the never ending twilight and it had struck her as bizarre to wake blinking in sunlight. The Voice, however, had stirred immediately at that and had simmered beneath the surface ever since, pushing against her will, demanding to soak in the warm and be away from the cool of the shade. If nothing else, their mutual enjoyment of vast open places and heat was the reason she obeyed.
Used to closed quarters and confined spaces, Viira would often retire into small spaces just to shut the Voice up - oh how he loved to ramble about his own importance, the pompous, arrogant prat. Avalin had watched this all along and had learned to avoid his 'mother' when the sour expression that wasn't hers creased her brow. It wasn't a war, exactly, but rather two souls trying to inhabit the same body... and neither taking too kindly.
Perhaps that was why Viira was so strong after so long with her gem. She'd met Winter of course, and Famine, but she wasn't quite convinced of the existence of gods - only demons.
Her first trip to the Pantheon itself was this one, her foot steps made confident by the eagerness of the Voice, almost childish in his haste to go 'home'. There were others here, she was assured, and the sky's return meant events were afoot he would likely be interested in. Viira had fought him but her cuirosity had been the crack in her armor and she'd lost out, resigning herself to the trip. Such was their uneasy relationship.
The grass and trees and life didn't interest the Voice as they passed through the lush gardens but it awed Viira. The Pantheon grounds fairly pulsed with life, like an eden... she'd never seen such a thing before.
Look for someone. Ashanti demanded as they rounded a corner and entered a hall. He'd never been one for pleasantries, thank-you, please were foreign words to a creature that took obedience for granted.
"What do you think I'm doing?" Viira shot back with an irate toss of her hair. Her steps had slowed, grown more her own the further in they went - it seemed both Host and Gem were drinking in the sights as they searched.
Maddie was asleep finally. And Taj was avoiding the forge for the day. He needed at least one day uncovered in soot and grime. They needed a god of the forge. Mystery was quite certain that more could be accomplished if they had such. But as far as he knew, there was no god who delighted in heat and grime and pounding on metal all day long. Eid seemed to but his purpose like Taj's was protection more than anything else.
As he moved through the hallways towards the exit, he was thinking about the pieces of eggshell he had gathered from the phoenix. The plan had been to use the fragments in several weapons to add to the power of the blades themselves. He was still working on that plan. One was meant to be for Harmodius and another for Aris. There would still be enough to do something for himself, and a few others. Somehow he was sure it was important to use it to protect with the grigori. Maybe.. there would be enough for Arc also. He had gotten injured the last time.
Mystery was so lost in thought that he nearly ran into someone as they were coming inside. He reacted, his wings reflexively pulling him backwards so that they would not collide. His tail twitched from side to side. For a moment he simply gazed at her. Taj did not remember meeting her and his lips twitched upwards. There was something about her and instead of continuing, he merely waited for her to say something.
Viira grunted as a purple creature nearly walked into her, the rustle of feathers and flick of furred tail drawing her attention only after she registered the bold purple. Her gaze found the feline face with the quirk of a grin and a flash of recognition in the eyes. That puzzled her... they'd never met before. She didn't even know what this... man (?) was!
Fool woman. Can you not tell? The taunt came unbidden and smug from some corner of her mind, making his features twinge in displeasure.
"Tell what?" She shot back, her tone scathing and irate but her gaze was turned inward, the tension gathering in her shoulders.
Sigh. A feeling like hot wind seared across her conciousness, making her mentally flinch, Kin. Though whom, I don't know yet. Ask. The words flowed into command as Ashanti continued to speak, pushing against her will, wishing the freedom to speak for himself. Of course, be it pride or stubborness, Viira refused and set her jaw, a serious expression settling into her features.
"Oh for heaven's sake. Does it matter?" She turned her attention back to Taj finally and quirked a brown, tone more polite though no less confident, "And you are? I've not seen a purple.... cat-person before. This is the Pantheon, yes?"
Taj's lips twitched upwards in amusement. She was obviously talking to someone else first. He watched her a moment, then pulled out his tablet. < Tis the place you seek. To find a Mystery could be considered a great deed. Few know where he is and fewer still find him unless wandering aimlessly with purpose. > Holding it out to her, he bowed after adding, < Tajnevaki. > His words were a riddle, but not as cryptic as he could have been.
His tail twitched back and forth much the way a cat's did when it was amused and possibly even planning to pounce. Instead he tilted his head to watch her, his expression quizzical. Then he simply waited on her to tell him what she wanted of him. His amusement increased though at the thought of himself as a purple cat person. It was an apt description and he was sure others might think so as well. Perhaps it would be a good way to hide himself at some point. Changing into a purple feline might very well be amusing and distract those he meant to from their true purpose once he was fully himself again. He suddenly grinned at the thought, tail flicking even more rapidly.
Viira's gaze shifted to the tablet and she frowned, wondering why he chose to write instead of speak. Was he mute too? She rolled her eyes without meaning too and caught herself midway through the gesture, mentally slapping away Ashanti's influence much to his displeasure. The spirit was a burr in her side - he knew nothing of manners or tact. A child, really, spoiled and arrogant.
You consider it arrogant to demand what is rightfully mine? The voice cut in, huffing and angry as it scorched the back of her mind.
"Yes." She hissed, lifting a hand to rub at her head - the headaches were starting up again, it seemed. The damned Ashanti knew it only took time to wear her down - sometime it was longer, sometimes it was shorter.
I want to speak. He insisted and was cut off as she tossed her head and tried not to cut her tongue on the gem embedded in her mouth. Neva had been wicked to implant it there, where she could feel it constantly.
"Tajnevaki?" She echoed, attempting to sound out the name and shook her head, "Are you mute? Is that why you don't speak?"
Taj nodded, his tail twitching still. < Tajnevaki I am. A purple smiling cat once teased Alice. I am no less. > He wrote so that it was easily read by her. < Silence usually has a good reason for stealing a voice or even when accepting one that is given instead. Mute I am not, but voiceless I am. > He had given his voice after all and did not want her to think that he had been born this way. There was a difference. Although perhaps he was simply confusing her more.
< What god defines you? > Taj raised an eyebrow, a half smile on his lips. His fangs had grown and he did not want to fully frighten the girl. Someone would receive that image of him; the smiling cheshire with fangs gleaming until all that was left was a toothy smile. He wondered what it was she was looking for and thought that perhaps he should help her out. The other person she was talking to was either someone she could hear that he could not or a voice in her head that perhaps was not there at all. His lips twitched upwards at the thought that it could go either way. He wondered if he should try to figure it out. Finally in amusement, Taj decided that it might be best if he simply stood there listening until a clue came to him. Perhaps she would simply tell him. Stranger things had happened.
She read his words and frowned, "You have no voice but are not mute? A strange line to draw... where I am from, one is the other. You are mute if you do not speak..." Viira had no idea who Alice was, either, but didn't think it important.
His question made her eyes narrow and she regarded him with firey confidence. This was a woman who looked after herself, capable and strong, "No god defines me, I am behold to no one. Is that the lay of the land here?"
I define you wench! The voice seared across her mind, whirling and furious at her denial of his existence, forcing her to wince, scouring her thoughts until she finally relented and he slipped into control.
The contortion of pain eased a few heartbeats after it started, her features evening out into spirited confidence marred by arrogance, "Desert takes this one. You address the Eternal Dune - Ashanti in this life. My host is uncouth and untrained in the proper deference of her superiors." There was obvious disdain in his tone as he spoke, displeased by Viira's willful defiance of his command.
Taj nodded in understanding, bowing to Ashanti. He had suspected a stone fused, but not tried to see beyond the surface. It was an invasion of privacy unless permitted even if his domain although he took creative license with his own servants. < Mystery often walks the Eternal Dune finding things hidden; I greet you, Ashanti. And yet hosts are the essence of godly needs. Mortals are not as selfless as they could be when wandering godly roads, but then neither are we. > Jaster had been selfless to the end, but he had also taken pleasure in the things that he could see even if he would never speak of them. Taj himself had not been selfless. He had taken Jaster’s life from him even if it had been given freely.
For a moment, Taj felt the need to explain his voice further to Ashanti. His handwriting was clear and easily read as he practiced constantly, but the cryptic words remained the same. < Mute I was not born. Silence is my dogma and freely given to another, for how can Mystery be mysterious if he voices his thoughts? > He was amused at himself. He had never truly thought to explain it to others as a matter of faith until now. And it was. He had freely given his voice to the Twin Crown. Even Jaster had agreed with the choice.
Ashanti grunted, loathe to acknowledge that simple truth. His spark would be reignited if it weren't for Viira and yet... if Viira rejected him, she'd be all but murdering a god. As far as he was concerned, the host had an obligation to return the god to glory's path for they maintained and guarded all that was, their presence gave order to existence and lack thereof saw ruin's approach. "Indeed, but we are the True Gods. It has been too long - they do not recognize greatness... too much honey does not breed belief, I've no doubt we were once respected and feared, is it too much to ask the same now?"
Within herself, Viira listened and bristled, her voice sharp as she spoke against Ashanti, Respect is earned, you brat, and fear breeds resentment. If you were great, you've clearly fallen because of your pride - you need a lot of honey.
The frown deepened when Viira spoke, unable to dismiss her words - if nothing else, Viira's strength of character was admirable. He waved a hand at the explanation of the other's voice and shrugged, "What Mystery chooses to do with himself is Mystery's choice."
Taj nodded at Ashanti’s words but added, < New races know not of the paths gods once walked. Their fear and respect comes with their sight. If to be feared and respected, gods must indeed prove themselves as such anew. Old or new path, neither are easy. New paths open gods, growing more watchful and respectful to the Twin Crown. Gods learn by His example, so too do children and their children. No path is forever easy.>
Mystery decided in that moment he liked Ashanti, and even Viira, as she was called. He indicated the alcove nearby where tea waited on them, wondering if Ashanti would join him. Triq had done this for him a short time ago, and he was slightly surprised that none had taken his place there. The thought of any of them being replaced amused him for some reason and his lips twitched upwards. < Tea and conversation is always welcome. >
((OMG... so sorry, Skie, I missed this thread in my subscriptions listing for some reason and only came across it as I was cleaning the list. ))