- Report Post
- Posted: Tue, 19 Aug 2008 05:11:34 +0000
Aisling didn’t like this. Didn’t like this at all – the lava… fire and brimstone, it all made her feel horribly exposed outside the Forest. Such harsh and uninviting things they were, promising painful death with minimal subtlety. The Forest could be a harsh place – but only if you refused to stop and listen to the whisper of the woods or the babbling of the water ways. Here though, here Destruction reigned and it intimated the dainty Aoide.
Stumbling on a dead root as she approached, her fingers wrapped more rigidly around the necklace that Natasha had given her. The bite of metal into her skin served as a reminder as to why she was here – to resurrect her Lord and Master, Glyph. She still wondered though, if the other had been mistaken in her conclusion; had the gem really reacted to the presence of a possible host? It had yet to even show any sign of stirring…. let alone tug enough to notice.
Hooves clicked against the ground as she entered the Pantheon, echoing hollowly in the shop.
Find Phaedra and you find the Host
Easier said then done.
She couldn’t remember when the last time she had been in the Pantheon was any idea of where to look for the promised Host eluded her – where to start? … How to interact? Aisling didn’t like lying… had agonized over that request for several days and now it was the ending of the week of War, with Plague lurking just around the corner. She had to find the Host soon, before he was taken by illness.
Her wandering eventually brought her by the Throne Room and she paused long enough to look in and see the source of all the suffering. Without having to ask, she knew beyond a doubt what the pod was. Harmodius. Fear and grief warred within her, forcing her to look away. Their Lord, laid low by some unknown force – it felt akin to losing a parent. Backing up, she fled the Throne Room with a chill down her spine, understanding the need to hurry.
In the meantime, Malh’reth had come down from Phaedra’s apartments fresh from their ‘conversation’ and possessed a ruddy glow about his cheeks. Sure, there was a bit of a limp and he was sore in several places but he was satisfied, at least for now.
Phaedra had bid him find information and report back – an easy enough task but it required being out of her presence. Everyone he had met had been willing to speak even if it was just for a few moments so how hard would it be to find an update on the Manacles? Perhaps even find this Gaia person or a belated offering for Phaedra – true treasures and not the trash that sat in her rooms.
Aisling paused, having missed Malh’reth’s approach and departure and blinked at the gem, stirring and straining in the mage’s direction. There was no physical movement… but she could still feel the hope of life emanating strongly from Glyph’s gem. “Could it…” Glancing up, she scanned the hall just in time to catch Malh’reth’s robes sweeping through the Pantheon doors. Why outside? Her brow furrowed as she followed after him – not too fast so he would notice but how… how was she to get in front of him so that they would meet rather then her catching him? Panic gripped her, froze her as she watched him disappear down the steps and nearly out of sight.
“Excuse me!” Shouting, the Aoide winced at the foolhardiness of her actions. She’d likely botched this now…
Something had pulled him, whispered across his consciousness, speeding his step. Was the pod stirring? Calling out for victims? He shivered and hurried on, confidence deflating back to humility as he descended the steps. I am a servant, remember? Arrogance will get me killed. Where but a few short moments before there had been a quiet, confident smile now rested a dutiful look. Gather information and report back. If that lead to other things… then well, they lead to other things. And if not, such was life.
Rounding the corner that would take him to his sweep of the grounds, a female voice called out. Soft, musical… gentle. And again that sourceless tug. Frowning, Malh’reth leaned back so he could see around a statue and peered in the direction of the voice then blinked, another Aoide? What could she want? Definitely seemed like she was in a rush… “Hello?”
Relief flooded her system and she stepped quickly towards him, “I’m sorry. But I’m a little lost… Could you help me?” She smiled, canted her head to the side and tried to keep the look of surprise from her eyes as the gem tugged harder, clearly reacting.
“Help… you? You’re an Aoide. Why are you lost?” Confusion laced his words as he stepped back fully and turned to face her, arms crossed.
“I…” She fumbled for the right words, trying to find something that would hook the mage. What had Natasha said…? Offer him knowledge? Knowledge! Coughing, she smiled apologetically, “I’m sorry. I haven’t been here in some time… but I come bearing gifts and hopefully something that will help – knowledge.”
Odd… lavender eyes narrowed slightly at her pause, “I was under the impression Aoide knew the pantheon. Why not take the knowledge to the one you serve?”
“The one I serve?” She shifted uncomfortably, dropping her gaze with a sad smile, “The one I serve has not returned… So I must bring this to the others instead. Greed was recently on the Throne, I felt, and thought that perhaps speaking to her would be appropriate.”
“Phaedra?” How interesting! “How did you know she sat upon the Throne?”
“I may not have visited the Pantheon in some time but I do speak with my brethren.” She sighed, “Sometimes they come to me when I would rather be alone.” Natasha really could be pushy sometimes…. Especially over the past few weeks.
Malh’reth chuckled, “I see. You dwell far from here? You are a week too late….?” Prompting for her name.
“Aisling. I know I am late, but there is no one in the Throne Room for War and I would avoid Plague.” Aisling shrugged her dainty shoulders, offerings jingling in her bags – gems she had guarded for Forest.
“Agreed.” This was most fortuitous. He hadn’t really even left the building yet and an opportunity had presented itself. “I am Malh’reth. I serve Phaedra, I can take you to her, if you wish.”
“Oh! You are?” That confirmation was just what she needed – she had the Host. No acting was required in either the relief at finding who he was or the hesitation that soon followed, “Take me to Greed? That’s quite alright. I can give you the offerings and the knowledge if you like… She intimidates me.” A sheepish smile turned the corners of her lips up as she shifted once more.
“What were you going to do if you could not meet with her then?” He frowned, wondering why she had picked Greed if she could not meet her – it seemed a foolish thing to him. Phaedra was an interesting creature.
“I was going to give it to her servants… once I found her room.”
“Ah. Well, I can take it for you. She will enjoy your offerings and make use of the knowledge. What is it you know?” He stepped forward, holding his hands out to take her bags from her.
“Not what I know, but rather an artifact of great power. Within it lies answers.” She spoke softly as she handed him her bags, filling his arms up before producing the necklace, “This pendant contains ancient knowledge that should help restore Him. Here, it’s important so I’ll put it around your neck alright?”
Almost there…. So close. She stepped forward then pause as he pulled away slightly. Couldn’t he feel the draw? The gem was aching, hungering for renewal.
“Just put it on top of the pile… “ He trailed off however, as he did feel the tug but caution, as always, overrode his curiosity.
“What? No. It’s important. Wear it so it doesn’t get lost.” She took another step, raising the necklace as though to put it over his head, “I wouldn’t want to face Greed’s fury if I lost it after all.”
Very true. And it was such a pretty thing as well… His eyes began to track it, watched it sway and glimmer in the rosy light for several moments before nodding and bowing his head, “You have a point.”
Her eyes lit up as his horn came down and it wasn’t without a great deal of will power that she kept her hands steady as she carefully put it over his head, brought the chain down to rest on his neck and the pendant on the pile. “There…”
Straightening back up, he smiled at her, “Are you sure this is an artifact? It’s just a neckla-“ He cut himself off as the open back of the pendant brushed against his skin, making every hair on his body stand on end. A brief touch as the pendant settled…
Then the weight rested fully against the base of his neck, just above the meeting of the two collar bones and stuck. Malh’reth couldn’t see, could only feel with a shot of dread through his spine as the gem sank into his flesh, sliding through the holder to push against his throat. He resisted, eyes going wide as he dropped the baubles in his hands, some shattering upon the stone.
It felt so weird.
It felt so good.
“No….” Gasping, he stepped back to try to claw the stone from his body but it would not budge, remained there stubbornly as his eyes lifted to meet Ailing’s tearful ones. “You…”
She shook her head, both infinitely happy and utterly disgusted with herself. He was the Host… but he did not want it. The anger and betrayal that shone in his eyes stung more then she thought it would. “I… I….” She didn’t know? That was a blatant lie…
Fear, panic, hatred… a deep need for violence rose then and he stepped forward.
Only to stop.
Soothing sounds… quiet and peaceful ones echoed in his mind. The whispers of leaves, the burble of a brook… they rose then, drawing his attention inward.
Something had settled, embraced him and curled at his very core.
There was no cataloging.
No forceful explosion of will.
Just the quiet sense........
........................Of a single leaf
..............On an unknown wind
To settle on the surface of his mind..............................
He stood like that, soothed and quieted lavender eyes distant as he reached for that gentle presence and found it elusive.
The words were faint, mere echoes of a stronger voice.
But he obeyed.
Blinked and found himself in need of air.
Inhaled deeply and relaxed.
Aisling stood before him, more then a little anxious. “Malh’reth…? Are… you alright?” She stepped forward cautiously, reaching out to him.
His first instinct was to slap that hand away and run her off but again, the somehow familiar embrace of the mind inside his heart washed away that violent intent, more forceful this time.
It left him feeling… neutral.
“I… am fine.” Absently, he pulled the chain from around his neck though his fingers lingered on the gem that now resided where the pendant fell. Shaking his head, the mage let his hands drop and he looked down at the mess at his feet… shattered crystal, cracked glass… tragedy. Guilt tore through him and he dropped to his knees to gather up the portion that was still whole, “I’m very sorry. Your gifts…”
She shook her head, a weary smile playing across her face as she rested a hand on his shoulder, “It’s alright. Take them to Phaedra for me?”
“Yes. I should do that.” He seemed to refuse to think on the subject of the necklace, the so-called knowledgeable artifact.
Rising, he turned and started back towards the Pantheon, “I will tell her these are belated offerings to her glory.”
“Thank-you.” Aisling nodded but remained where she was as she watched the mage disappear back into the Pantheon.