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“For although nepenthe has calmed me,
I know always that I am an outsider; 
a stranger in this century 
and among those who are still men.”
H.P Lovecraft, The Outsider

Nimeda regretted the loss of control immediately, and by then it was already too late. She knew enough of Noctua now to understand that her flight would wound him, and that he might not even forgive her for it, but realisation only unravelled her further from corporeality. She did not understand the reason for the reaction, and she felt shame for it that only pushed her further away from the source of the pain.

The irascibility of his nature had never phased her, and she did not take such slights deeply even when she thought they were probably meant to cut. His kindnesses, though; those were hoarded carefully, treasured, and perhaps that was why the very congenial manner in which he pushed her away instead stung her to surprised hurt, for he had looked so ashamed as he did it.

Noctua had told her with certainty that they dreamed for illumination, and she did not think he was wrong; but, Nimeda also believed they dreamed of the things they Needed.

Melancholy lingered when next she woke. The dismay tinged her solitary wanderings, until she found herself amidst the landscape she had last discovered Noctua escaping. Her feet dangled from the bridge he had jumped, her gaze wide upon the looming city while her thoughts churned as sluggishly as the turgid river below. Her chest ached to behold it, perhaps because for now it felt like loss more than invitation. She felt grieved more than anything; for the way he closed himself away, and for the way she had made things infinitely worse.

She cast out several times for evidence of his presence, but either he was not here or he did not wish her to find him. If he were asleep at all, she hoped that this time it was at least peaceful.

For a long time she stayed in silence, emotions passing like tides into stillness. Noctua had told her to remember something about the city, but this night she couldn’t bear to step foot inside it, afraid she would find it unfathomable. She had told him how such places only exemplified her isolation, and thus she usually chose to haunt the wild places instead. The burbling of a stream might be conversation; ocean tides a game of chase; submergence to the deepest watery depths an embrace. But sometimes she wondered what such vast concrete places might be like with souls to fill them.

It was why she had asked him to show her (and why, when he refused, she had shared something of herself instead) -- a wonder revealed in the light of another, and a tangible connection forged in the weightlessness of her world. In guideless exploration Nimeda might wander the entire dream and understand nothing of what she saw, and tonight such a prospect was too much of a chasm to do more than contemplate from a distance. In fearless pursuit she would yet follow. But first she must reconcile that he may never really let her in.

Loneliness could be a most terrible poverty.

She closed her eyes, and willed for solace; until, finally, she shifted away.

Nepenthe /nɪˈpɛnθiː/ (Ancient Greek: νηπενθές, nēpenthés) is a fictional medicine for sorrow – a "drug of forgetfulness" mentioned in ancient Greek literature and Greek mythology.
"Rivers are veins of the earth through which the lifeblood returns to the heart."
[Image: thal-banner-scaled.jpg]
 | Sothis Lethe Alethea | Miraseia |
Distraction drained her to something wild and simple. Water was not just her home declared, but her family in this place too -- especially when the eons stretched out to the horizon in silence. Nimeda’s feet dangled from the cliff edge, the cold spray of the fierce waves below tickling her feet until the barest edge of a smile summoned slow as sunrise to her reluctant lips. Somewhere distant she was aware of observation, but if it stoked some pleasant sense of the familiar, she also knew by now that the spectre would not reveal themselves. It had been a game for her, once, chasing through the shadows of trees like she might lure a reaction. By now it was just another oddness of her world, and if she might wish sometimes for more corporeal company, she did not appear to mind the occasional intrusion. Always, it faded.

“You always were too busy,” she told the sky. “Too busy to live.”

She slipped from her perch, but not to sink beneath the water’s surface; instead she padded atop it, cold waters seeping little kisses between her toes. The waves twisted and rose with unnatural grace, catching the light like diamonds as they arced over her head. Droplets spattered her grinning cheeks as she watched it fountain above, curling and shining in the twilight. For a while she danced laughing and breathless beneath the arching waters, making a game of staying dry in the crevices beneath. A game to chase melancholy. A game to forget. And she was good at forgetting.

It ended when a wave finally caught her full in the face. Nimeda yelped and spluttered as the cold gripped to her core, like a playmate tackling arms about her waist. She stumbled, suddenly finding cold stone beneath her feet, and the curve of a cave wall beneath her outstretched hand. A waterfall roared behind now, like a peal of laughter. Her gaze slitted mock indignation as she slid the soggy curls from her face, and she stuck out her tongue before humming brief laughter of her own.

Her eyes adjusted quickly to the new gloom. Shadows beckoned like crooked fingers, and she followed their charm, briefly imagining them wreathing about her limbs like smoke to draw her onwards. She wandered a long time. Curious fingertips followed the curves of stalagmites thrust from the ground, and sometimes she stretched upon tiptoe to graze the stalactites dripping from above, or paused to capture the moisture beading at their tips and watch the droplets speed instead down the line of her finger.

Eventually her toes curled upon a ledge, the water below inky and motionless, stopping dead a mere moment before she would have tumbled whole into its stillness. The cold of the shadows nipped her skin, ignored, as she crouched and stared into the darkness. Rippling within her own body disturbed her, shivering out into trepidation as she realised then that in the water’s shine there was movement. Not the waft of any natural current, but images, ghostly pale and sluggish as the pale-bellied scales of fish. Not the promise of prophecy either, which brought with it a queasy feeling she long recognised (for when, in all the Ages, was prophecy ever a thing of goodness or comfort).

Nimeda pressed a hand to her chest, like she might stop the disconcerting sensation of unravelling, half expecting it to sink beneath the flesh as though sinking into warm waters. But all she felt was the alarmed thudding of her heart. Surprised, she inspected her palm, wondering if she might discover the tendrils of her binding to have looped like seaweed across her fingers. Nothing but the grimnir’s scar peered back, and when she examined the skin of her chest, no marks glowed iridescent like they had under Tristan’s investigation. Something was not right, though. She leaned back to the water, shifting to her knees. Wide eyes absorbed it all, but she did not understand what she saw. When she could bear it no longer she reached out her hand to break ripples through the vision. The waters glowed strangely a moment before she overreached her balance, and fell in.

Then it was only darkness. An empty oblivion.

She woke.
"Rivers are veins of the earth through which the lifeblood returns to the heart."
[Image: thal-banner-scaled.jpg]
 | Sothis Lethe Alethea | Miraseia |

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