This forum uses cookies
This forum makes use of cookies to store your login information if you are registered, and your last visit if you are not. Cookies are small text documents stored on your computer; the cookies set by this forum can only be used on this website and pose no security risk. Cookies on this forum also track the specific topics you have read and when you last read them. Please confirm whether you accept or reject these cookies being set.

A cookie will be stored in your browser regardless of choice to prevent you being asked this question again. You will be able to change your cookie settings at any time using the link in the footer.

The River Styx
The scent of grass and flowers and fruit and water filled the crisp air. Warming rays of sunlight cut through the leaves, leaving shadows on his arms and legs. He put his head back and rested it against the rough bark, stretched out sensuously and felt the cool earth and the tickle of the blades against his palms and fingers, feet and toes. He inhaled deeply and with satisfaction, the sound of chirping summer birds and the cool rustle of leaves filling his ears.

His entire life, it seemed, he had lived here, was one with the earth, one with life. The memory of a simple life- filled with hard work, with the sweat of ones brow and the soreness of hard-earned muscle- was all there was, all there ever was in this single moment. The sound of children playing. The laughter of friends and brothers and sisters. A connection in the web of life, his roots firm and deep. A lifetime. Peace. Tranquility.

Pop. As if a soap bubble burst. And then things shifted. It was him. And now it wasn't. Or rather, now it was him. The other....a fleeting memory. Even as he reached out to it, to examine it, it vanished like smoke through fingers. The harder he struggled to reform the image- the recreate the scene- the more ephemeral it became. Not his dream.

His consciousness seemed to crest the surface and gradually he became aware of his surroundings. Each sense individually presented itself, one at a time. The warm slightly sulfurous smell curled his nostrils. The sounds of muffled distant voices echoed off stone, the words strange and twisted. The warmth of a heavy furred skin on him trapping his body heat, the feel of hard padding beneath his naked flesh. He opened his eyes to a semi darkened chamber, the flicker of fire light from far outside the room.

The cobwebs of the dream were brushed away as easily as by hands and now he was firmly awake. He listened to the distant voices, making out words here and there. He wondered how long he had slept. He checked his timepiece. 10 hours.

He was surprised. He thought his body would demand much more. Indeed, tiredness seemed to wash over him for a moment, but then it was gone. Or at least was something he could push aside. The ache was there but dull. The medication and burn treatments had done their job and while tender, it was livable. He was sure he'd need more rest later, but it was enough for now.

He sat up, ignoring the light-headedness for a moment, and then stood. His robe was folded on the ground. He stood and stretched out, felt the delicious pain in his arms and chest, felt the warm dry air over his body. It was all very sensual and strange. He dressed in the clothing he had been given, the robe last over his bare shoulders furry and warm, though open at the chest. His packs on the ground yielded his water- untouched- and he performed his morning ablutions as best he could. He also ate one of the energy bars and the rumble of his stomach dissipated.

His strong nose and blue eyes were sharp and alert as he stood in the entrance way. The rest had been good and necessary. He was Armande, Regus of the Atharim. And apparently, amazingly, was some sort of Messianic figure to these Khylsty. What that meant, he did not know. But he was will to trust this much. Something was at work and he had a purpose to play.

The opening skirmishes with the reborn gods had left casualties on both sides- thankfully Apollyon himself included. But the war was far from over. What he had lost he needed to gain. Apollyon's death would not stop the resurgence. The Atharim needed to be strengthened. They needed leavening. These Khylsty could be that straw amidst the clay.

He stepped out into the rock hallway, his robes brushing the rough ground, and strode purposefully to the voices he'd heard.

A larger room- the one he'd remembered from his treatments- came into view. Matvei and his apprentice were there, along with a few others. Valeriya was nowhere to be found. He knew the dynamic here. He had no interest in helping Matvei- the Hand- upset the order. Not unless strictly necessary. Valeriya was the one who had seen and recognized him. She was the Eye. What that meant for him, he couldn't specifically say. Or wouldn't say, anyway.

"I thank you for my accommodations. I found them very restful." He nodded his head a fraction graciously. He studied both men. If they had slept, he did not know it. Now that he had rested, he felt a renewed sense of vigor. Other kinds of hungers squirmed and for a moment he was torn. The map called to him. For a moment, a memory of a scent came to him, familiar. Warm. And then it was gone. He shook his head, returning to his thoughts. What did the map mean? Where did it point? The Eye. A living map, a conduit to otherworldly knowledge. His. He was unsure which to ask to see first.

That disturbed him.

It was the eyes that decided him.

"Please take me to the things that have been taken from the hidden chamber."

Matvei's assent was followed by his leading the way.
What was time to the Khylsty? There was nothing to gauge the passing of moments except one's own breath. The Eye knew no more about the passage of time than anyone else, nor even completely understand the concept. Babies, rare as they were, came to be, they grew to children, who grew to adults. Age was irrelevant to them. Size, determination, strength and the time of Awakening was all that mattered. Valeriya craved more, though. She craved what the Eye within saw Above their world. While Regus slept, Valeriya was busy. She spoke with dozens of Khylsty, and toured all the factions of their group. Except the poor wretches that worked the pits. Nobody ever saw them. Or those that did descend to the pits were never seen by the others again. She wrinkled her nose at that thought, as though the putrid smell wafted across her senses just then.

Silly. She thought, and pushed the fear aside. She pushed aside the little bowl from which she'd eaten and wiped her hands on her dress. It was black, her favorite one, torn and mended a hundred times over. She'd added her own beadings to the bodice herself. Skulls and crosses that she carved from chunks of bone or teeth, sometimes the softer stones, but those were not easy to find. Among them was a shape that none of the others recognized, though. It was a circle of folds that each came to a point, and a smaller circle was nestled at its heart. She didn't know its name, but the Eye saw them growing far and wide in fields Above in all kinds of brilliant colors. She liked the blue ones best. She cradled it between her fingers just then as Illarion approached. As always, his footsteps were quiet, but she sensed the presence of her twin brother with senses that stretched beyond hearing.

"He's awake, great Eye."
he spoke, taking away the bowl and offering her another filled with water. She drank greedily.
"Has he said anything?"
She asked between sips, wiping the moisture across her sleeve.
"He wants to be taken to Rasputin's things."

Valeriya hissed, "he IS Rasputin! His things, Not Rasputin's things!"
Her glare was daggers. Illarion's shoulders hunched. "Certainly sister! He was taken to his belongings. That's all."

Seeing her twin wounded by her words, Valeriya went to him and pulled him close for a hug. She nestled her face into his shoulder and twined her arms around his chest. It was almost like she could feel what it was to share their mother's womb again. The closeness was rare. All the more so for being an abomination. Twins were a sin to the Khylsty, but they were allowed to live given that it was unknown which of them would bear the Eye.

When she felt him relax, she tilted his chin aside and pressed her lips to his briefly, smiling. "It's alright. I forgive you. Go watch over him. I do not trust Matvei and the others alone with him."

Illarion nodded, released from her grasp. For a moment she missed his presence, but reminded herself that someone much better awaited.

She took her time in finishing the meal, however long that was.
The Eye of the Khylsty
Armande stood in the center of the larger chamber. There were four crates, including the one he and Valeriya opened. None of them were alike. He began with the first one, gently and reverently removed the reindeer skin before taking out and examining items one at a time. As he did so, his mind continued to ponder. It all made sense. Rasputin's flight and subsequent death, had happened quickly. His relationship with the Czarina had gone on for a long time and his influence over some of the Czar's advisers had become more and more tenuous. Resentment had built. If Lenin and his comrades had not staged the revolution at that moment, the Czar and his family would still have died in fire and blood along with the aristocracy.

Historical inertia was a real thing. Most of the historical "greats" merely riding that historical wave, surfers on the tsunamis and winds of resentment and hope. In riding those waves, they acquired some small power to control those forces- but only within a certain range of tolerance, as many learned to their horror. Pushing too far in the wrong direction always led to chaos. Those philosopher-architects of the French Revolution- Rousseau, Paine, Jefferson and Voltaire- could not have anticipated Robespierre's Reign of Terror that would follow the tearing away of the protective layer of control that had tamped down and repressed a 1000 years of social resentment and competition. Reformers Luther and Hus and Calvin could not have foreseen the 100 Years War that decimated Europe under the guise of religious wars.

So what was he? A chip? He looked back at Matvei and then through the opening into the larger room. He couldn't see it with his eyes but he knew it was there. His image carved into the wall. No, not a chip. He couldn't help but smile at the realization. He'd always seen historical inertia as the only real manifestation of fate or divine providence. 'Psychohistory' one writer had termed it. Prediction based on trends. The existence of prophecies though- whether collected by the Atharim or buried in ancient religious texts- indicated that once there had been other sources of knowledge, a way to touch the divine, to see that future and control it.

How much power did that give a person? How much control? He could feel the hunger coming off Matvei, the stink of it. What would he use it for? To rule a small group of people? Stuck down here below the earth was real power- the power to know hiding behind green eyes. Cut off from the world. He was the conduit. He would bring her- bring all of them to the surface. Armed with knowledge, with her at his side, the war for humanity would be won.

Even as his mind wandered feverishly, imagining what was coming ahead, he cataloged. Not surprisingly, the boxes contained a mixture of useful and useless things. With Rasputin on the run, he'd not had time to organize what was important. So ancient books, skins, and heavy medieval tomes sat wrapped amid toiletries and blankets and trinkets. Heavy coats- furred or woven- along with black robes were bundled among gold candlesticks, sacks of jewels and gold and silver coin. Not a large treasure, but definitely not something to dismiss.

As he worked the number of people in the room grew. Valeriya's companion with the cross-shaped scar was among them. Their eyes gazed at the items on the ground in fascination. Their robes were all the same- skins made from Oni and other denizens of this caves. Everything came from what they hunted or could collect in this dark place. Valeriya's clothes had been the only exception.

An idea occurred to him, something he'd need to think on. If these were his people then he needed to start binding them to him. His eye ran over the reindeer skin. And to hold them. Because the skin was a map. To what, he did not know. But it was no accident it was here. He did not open it here. The hunger from Matvei was still strong. No sense in giving him more power at this moment. Not until he knew what the map was.

It was time for answers. He stood, picking up the folded skin. He directed his words to Valeriya's brother. "Please take me to the Eye." He used that term on purpose. He needed to see, to understand. The future was before him.

He felt his heart beat in anticipation.
Illarion hurried from the comfort of his twin's arms. As the distance opened up between them, he grew colder, and folded his arms deep within the sleeves of his robes. The body beneath was lean, but warm. His hands warmed themselves against his abdomen, but he scowled when his fingertips grazed the ridges of old scars. Unlike some of the Khylsty, he took no pride in their presence. They were signs of defeat, not of glory or Awakening.

The scowl etched his face with crags and crevices by the time he reached the chamber where their savior worked. He filed in among the others, watching their reborn Rasputin work. The man was an enigma to Illarion. All his life he heard of the wonders of their founder, the magic of Foresight and science he posessed. This new form he took now was strong, that was without a doubt. Illarion saw it when they killed the oni. But there were daggers in his eyes that made Illarion wary. Valeriya did not see them. For all her gifts, she did not see all. She threw herself into vulnerability with this Regus, but Illarion would watch carefully, to see what she could not, and protect her from herself.

He was silent all the while Regus worked. Illarion held no fascination for the things that occupied Regus. But when the man demanded he be shown to the Eye, it was Illarion that pushed his way forward.

"Allow me to show you the way, Great One."
He bowed his head, voice softened, and led the Regus toward his twin.


After Illarion departed, Valeriya paced around the room. She had been dreaming of the Above again. The visions inspired her to imagine the cold stone to be soft grass between her toes. She longed to see blue pools of water. To hear the rustle of leaves as they shivered in winter. Snow. So much snow and whiteness awaited.

Jaw sore from grinding her teeth, she swore at herself, picked up her skirts and hurried from the chamber. As she passed the corridor, the putrid smell of the Pits wafted through the air. Her throat clamped down, but rather than cover her nose and hurry on, she stopped and turned. There in the side of the tunnel was a crag in the rock. The scent wafted from the opening, but despite its presence, she made herself go closer. The crag snaked into the darkness like it plunged all the way through the earth, and fearlessly, she stuck her hand into the opening. The rock was slimy inside, and she loathed to imagine what the Pits were like themselves.

Footsteps approached, and she yanked her hand away and hurried off the way she came. The Pits were left behind, but she had the feeling that the memory of the smell would be with her for hours. They were all used to the need for the Pits, but if any one of the Khylsty were to find themselves thrust in their center, they'd be sick instantly. From that thought came an idea, a dangerous idea, but she had no idea how to pull it off.

Luckily, Illarion was on his way back.
The Eye of the Khylsty
The monk was silent after his initial words. But his eyes spoke volumes, despite the softness of his tone, the meekness of his bow. Curiosity and suspicion seemed to war with each other even as he bent his neck.

Fiery, this one. Protective. Armande smiled to himself. He would not be won over the with trinkets, not like some of the others. Armande found himself liking this man. Not a lickspittle. Within reason, of course. His authority was his auctoritas, the clout he wielded. He would not allow people to diminish that. But he expected intelligence from his followers. Those who chose to believe, chose of their own free will based on the undeniability of his logic made the best and most useful of tools. And proof was forged in the cauldron of challenge.

Anything of strength was. As they walked, the stench of sulfurous gases and rendered waste wafted up from time to time. The heat was ever present, the vast weight of the world above- miles and miles of earth- pressing down around them, making the air perceptibly dense. A forge indeed, deep in the bowels of the earth. What was this but a place where the hardiest survived, extremophiles in human form. But instead of bacteria flourishing in the ozone layer or at vents at the bottom of the ocean floor, they were Khylsty, stored away and preserved, forged and shaped, for a future time.

His smile became real. Rasputin's vision seemed real to him now, undeniable. He was looking forward to speaking to Valeriya- to The Eye.

As if by magic, the next turn took them to her room. He looked at her, the chipped blue ice of his eyes taking her in all at once, surprised at the excitement he felt. The fall of her hair framed her sharp green eyes. Piercing. And he felt that hand of prophecy at his back.

"I thank you, Valeriya, for my accommodations. The rest was needed. However," he nodded to the folded skin that draped his arm, the white and grey mottled fur soft and downy, "there is much to be done." Then, without preamble, he settled to the ground in a meditative pose, inclining his head and inviting her to do the same in front of him. It was a gesture of respect. But also an invitation to share, as equals. He hoped she was wise enough to see the difference.

He settled the skin across his lap, parts of the skin side- and the writing and map- showing, but did not refer to it. Instead he studied her. She was a mystery. Or Mystery. Sophia flashed across his mind, as philosophies categorized themselves in front of him, explanations of the world around him. According Neo-Platonism, and the later Gnostics, the emanation of the Monad, The One, the embodiment of wisdom. Elements of the Mother Goddess worship attached themselves to her, as she birthed the Demiurge. Others too. Kali Ma. Mother, Whore, Destroyer. Daughter, Wife, Crone. Herald of the end. All myths, archetypes, he believed, referring to the ancient gods the Atharim destroyed.

And yet...another power was afoot. Prophecies whirled about their heads like a storm. A pregnant storm, filled with potential from their union. He could almost see it. "You have a power. You see. Tell me how you see. What do you see?"

He studied those deadly and seductive green eyes, watching. Waiting. Wanting to see what had been forged down here, what had be vouchsafed for the last days.

Edited by Regus, Mar 23 2017, 07:26 PM.
She sat down with him, sinking into a puddle of black. She was searching his face while he messed with the object in his hands. Only after she saw the intensity of his concentration fixed upon it did her eyes sink. It was a curiosity, leathery and soft. It drew her fingers to graze the surface, where she found it pliable. It was all marked up, strange drawings and symbols that she didn't understand. The ignorance furrowed her brow deep with frustration, a spell that was only broken when Regus probed into her powaer.

"I see as the Eye before me saw, and the Eye before her. All the way back to Rasputin. His Eye saw much."
She blinked, eyes dry, pinched. How did she see the things in her mind? Not even Illarion knew the extent of her visions. There was a time that she doubted they were real at all, but perhaps a figment of her imagination. Sometimes it was hard to decide when the vision ended and imagination began. Proof of her sanity sat before her though. Regus was as she saw him her whole life, the flesh and blood proof.

"I see much. I see the Above, a place that some of the Khylsty do not believe exists. I see you taking us there. I see death, far and wide. I see..."
she struggled for the right word. Fighting? Death? A smile slowly wormed across her lips.

"War. I see war."

She shoved to her feet and padded away, rivulets of lace and shredded hem cascading behind her. When she returned, she offered Regus a bowl. It was filled with a thick, tar-like oil, of a sickly green-brown hue.

"This is the way,"
she spoke softly and carefully let him examine the oil. "It is added to the fires of Radenyi. Only then."
Her smile returned, secretive this time. The fires and ritual did help, they cast her visions far and bright, sending her into long trances that required much sleep afterward. But she knew the truth.

"It comes from the Pits."
She offered, finally, in case he wanted to know the origin of the oil. "Its very precious. Radenyi is sacred. The oil is costly. Would you like to see the Pits?"
She felt Illarion circle nearby, following her every move, but he held his tongue. Good he did, for she would hate to have it severed. She did enjoy the sound of his voice.

The Eye of the Khylsty
He watched carefully as her gaze seemed drawn to the skin in his lap. Her hand reached out, the fringes of her sleeves a seaweed of tattered lace, and gently traced the markings with her fingertips, as if hypnotized. It was only his words that drew her deep green eyes up to his. And she answered him, voice filled with pride echoing off the walls of the chamber.

And he felt a stirring deep within at that one single word, the one she struggled to find. War. War indeed. A vision shot through him. Kalki at the Kali Yuga. The Archangel Michael and his angels. The Rider of the White Horse. War. Holy War. A smile tinged his lips and his eyes were alight. The gods would not rise again. The Atharim, with an ironwood heart of Khylsty at its core, would stand as the guardians of mankind as they hadn't since the godwars.

Then she rose from the depths of her once fine dress and walked to pick up a bowl. She was queen here, the Eye of the Khylsty, her hair a haloed mass around her head. Her old and shredded finery seemed to hint at madness.

A bead of sweat trickled from his temple. He felt the pressure of air on his ears, the quiet almost palpable, pressing in around him, the stifling heat and moisture of the air making him feel clammy despite wearing just a robe with the hood down and chest open. He longed for the openness of the desert, the dry air that would blow at his ears and back, the vast vista laid out before him a contrast to the claustrophobic tunnels deep within the bowels of the earth.

Who would not be touched with madness living down here? Nor was the wildness off-putting. He'd been around men and women who had claimed communion with the divine.

He looked at the liquid. The smell was sharp and tangy, something he could almost taste in the back of his throat. He looked back up at her, looked into her eyes, listened to her words, the rhythm of her cadence. A smile played on her lips. Yes, he had met those who communed with the "divine" using pharmacology.

But in her case, it was real, a knowledge that came from outside this world.

The hairs on the back of his head bristled and was aware of the power that lay before him. The pressure of the quiet in the back of his mind had become a humming beyond words that was interrupted only by the footsteps of the robed man. It bothered him. He swung his icy gaze onto the man. "Leave us!" The man's eyes widened and then flicked to hers for a moment. Armande refused to look away or see whatever signal she might give. This was his command. The man met his gaze and then, after a moment, dropped it- not without anger- and then slipped back out into the halls, leaving the room quiet again.

He was aware of more sweat trickling down his temple, the quiet pressure pulsing around him. Before him sat Valeriya, bowl of liquid in her hands.

Finally, he spoke. "Radenyi." He frowned, looking from her, to the skin in his lap. He opened it so it covered both of their legs, the markings now clearly visible. He looked at the bowl, then at her again. His vision seemed fogged, now. The pressure and heat were pounding. And he thought he saw, reflected in the emerald or her eyes, a hidden flashing, in time with that in his head. The sharp tang of the thick liquid was redolent, now. It was all he could taste. Even as he looked at her, the image from the skin- the markings and lines- stretch out, became three dimensional and seemed to float in front of him.

It called to him. Knowledge called to him. War called to him. She called to him. His purpose. Their purpose. The future. Destiny.

He reached out a hand tentatively (tentatively? he wondered.) and touched her hand. It was warm despite the heat of the room, warmer. He asked, not as a penitent, not as leader. As himself. "See for me. Please." He nodded to her, a small smile on his lips. Watched. And waited to see what Destiny had set for him.

Edited by Regus, Apr 10 2017, 02:02 PM.
His request of her gripped her heart to painful stone. She did not know what it was that he gave over, but if the Regus needed its secrets revealed, she had the power to give him that gift. Reveal as much or as little of it as she deigned.

Illarion left them alone, something that irked Valeriya to hear someone else order him away. But the challenge before her stoked fires of curiosity within. She accepted the parchment, sat and sprawled it across her knees.

The gift of the Eye was not something she could control completely, although she would never admit such a weakness. That was where the burnt oil aided her senses, but the key was relaxation. She had to quiet her mind, empty her physical eyes of their work, and expand her senses. The world was so much larger than any of the Khylsty knew, and she had only a glimpse of it, but it was enough to toy with her obsessions. She practiced often, her entire life, as such was her purpose.

Time passed, but like all moments in the Below, it was fluid and vague. She was quiet of mind and voice. Soon, blurry images arose around her, like spikes rising out of the ground. These spikes were not of stone, though. Nor were they white as teeth. They were brown, topped with a color rarely seen in the Below, but prominent in the Pits - green. The brown spikes split into dozens of smaller ones, ever-splitting, smaller and smaller, as they grasped toward the blue expanse Above.

"I see brown pillars crowned in green,"
she spoke quietly, of a mind separated from its body. "A clearing opens up."
She went on to describe as though she walked it herself.

At its center, she gasped, both of soul and of body. She saw Regus, as he was now, but stronger, more vibrant, cloaked with strange robes reminiscent of Rasputin's portrait, and in its hands held a shining blade. The head of an enemy was severed and a crown fell to his feet. He knelt and took it up, but did not place it upon his head. Instead, he held it aloft like an offering to the divine.

The vision collapsed and she blinked, finding the face of the current and present Regus before her. How much to tell him? "This is the place of your victory. It is there you will win your war."

She smiled and returned the parchment to its owner. "You must take me with you."

The Eye of the Khylsty
At his request, she closed her eyes and her breathing became regular, hypnotic, a metronome's scale. Time seemed to telescope and the room seemed to fade. All he could see was her face in repose, the steady glow of the lantern casting rays that traced her facial features, cast shadows, throwing sparkles into her hair.

Layers of himself shaved away with each breath, fell into the mist, stripping him to the core. And yet it was not the chong rann. He did not detach from his body to ascend to the plane. He did not create the inner world as he normally did. He was here, present in the flesh, hyper-aware of everything in the room.

No. Of her. Her breathing- tick, tock. Tick.....Tock. He was aware of his pulse, slow and regular, the steady lapping of waves against the shore. And his senses extended, quested into the darkness. He felt the press of the silence around him, cocooning them, enveloping them.

And then there were two heartbeats- point, counterpoint- in opposite rhythm. The same rhythm, staggered in time. The smell of the cavern, the odors and the dust seemed to disappear until he only noted hers, musty and sharp. Memories shot through the expanse- a tent in the desert. A warm body beneath him, bright green peeking through lids lowered in ecstasy, the musk of her powerful and sharp. Other memories. The library of the monastery. A hot summer near the sea. And so many others, all playing across his mind, a mind clouded with the heady scent of her.

And then she speaks, voice soft and yet thunderous after the silence of a thousand years. It is just a voice and yet a vision is painted across his mind, now, erasing the memories of the past. Giving a glimpse of the future.

And he sees a clearing in a forest. No. It is not a forest. A garden. And yet wild. Peace is all around him, the air redolent with promise and power. And he can hear her voice drawing him, painting him in the scene, can see himself walking in the clearing, hear the stirring of leaves, sunlight flashing in shafts as it cuts through trees so ancient that their very existence exudes the air of millenia.

His heart now accelerates, seeing her vision, feeling the sword in his hand. And hatred. An enemy. His enemy. Triumph. A head severed from its body, the crowned head now rolling in the leaves and grass.

He picks up the crown and...what does he do? He holds it up. An offering? It is jarring. Somehow, the thought feels wrong. The feeling skitters away when he tries to track it, like smoke through his fingers.

And then the vision stops with her words, returning him to elation. Victory in the war.

It is as if a bubble has popped and the world, such as it is, rushes in on him. The cord to the divine has been cut. They are human again. And he feels....empty. Curiously empty. As if he had been alive in a way he'd never imagined. And now it was gone.

For the first time in his life, he feels awe. A thread of fear seems to worm its way through the core of him. The Author- the Divine, God, Fate, Maya, the Universe- whatever it could be called, had been in this chamber with them. And he realized his heart was pounding, his breath fast and sharp.

He hungered to fill that void, that ache. To feel connected again. For a moment the memory of the garden came to him- his own memory of her words, now faded, the colors dry and washed out.

She was the key. Valeriya. She was the muse, the conduit, the source. He tried not to notice the perfect curves or her face, the passion in her eyes that weighted her request. "Yes. I will take you. You are my people." And he meant it. This was his people. Prepared for him, it seemed, from times long ago. He looked at the skin, at the map. Time enough to figure out where. The final destination was unknown, excepting that it was his place of victory. But the first leg was easy enough.

The Regus Armande Nicodemus would ascend from Hades back into the realms above, reborn amid ashes and devastation and death back into a world awash in sunlight and life. And Valeriya would be by his side. His muse and prophetess, to lead him to his destiny.

He stood and looked down at her, blue eyes bright with excitement, and extended his hand to her in aid. "Come, Valeryia. We do this together. You and I."
The cauldron of a plan churned in her mind once Regus took his leave to go rest. He was still wounded and weak, compromised. His magicks would take the time to coalesce. For what bubbled in her mind, he would need his strength. The climb to the world Above would be fraught with dangers, least of which came from the creatures of the tunnels, the animals they hunted for their survival: food, oils, fur, and contents of the Pits.

Valeriya stalked along a corridor. The bone beads braided into her hair clacked with her heavy steps. She needed to find Illarion and Matvei. For one of the men, she would need him at her side. For the other, he would need to be contained. The best method might be to take him with her, but he was too unpredictable. Despite Illarion's protection, he could end up sinking her into a pit rather than the other way around. No, he was too dangerous a beast to take. He needed to be caged.

she smiled when she saw the very face hovering in her mind, as though the intense focus on his being conjured him before her. He was walking in his shrouds in the opposite direction as she, no doubt going off in search of Rasputin. He would cling to their Father if he could. Or more, Matvei would take his place as their patriarch. But Valeriya was the Eye of the Khylsty. She drew up her strength and her height, and planted herself before him.

"Regus has requested all his belongings be repacked into the trunks. He has requested you oversee this personally, as he does not wish any other hand but yours to touch them. See to it, yes?"
Matvei hid a smirk, but Valeriya wasn't sure if it was of pride of victory or if he saw straight through her. But she was the Eye. Yes, he was taking the bait. He departed to carry outyes, the mission she concocted.

Once Valeiyra located her twin, she bid Illarion to go to her chamber to retrieve a satchel and secure it to his back. She would meet him outside the throne room, waiting.


"What are you doing, sister?"
Illarion whispered into the cowl of her hood. She pulled it low even as she wrapped a rag around her face. Only the whites of her eyes showed between the two layers of darkness. She hissed behind the mask.
"I am the Eye, my beloved. I will remove your tongue if you do not use it correctly."

Illarion nodded, accepting of the perpetual threat he'd endured since they were children. Otherwise, she offered him a rag of his own, "wrap this around your face and pull this shroud over your ears and eyes." Without question, he obeyed. The satchel on his back swayed as his arms expertly wrapped his bald head with cloth. With the paleness of his skin and eyes, he appeared ghostly as a burial shroud. Even the scars of the cross burned into his forehead were covered.

None questioned their adornments as they passed, although she felt eyes burning into the back of her head. As soon as Matvei was located, he was likely to hear of their strange behaviors and he would come investigate. Luckily, it would be too late by then.

Illarion's unflinching loyalty was being stretched, however. She could sense the anticipation in his stride. Where was she leading them? To what purpose? She carried a small torch in one hand and a vial of green liquid in the other. They walked a long time. All sounds of the Khylsty were gone. The only light that of her torch. As she took a rarely traversed tunnel, a sinking feeling grew in the pit of his stomach. The smell hit them like a rock to the head. His eyes began to water. "Eye, please tell me your thoughts,"
he whispered, nervous.

She stopped before a narrow crag in the rock wall and turned to him. From it wafted the bowels of hell. A smog of poisonous air that waved up from sheer darkness. The gleam in Valeriya's eyes made his stomach sink. "To go Above, we must descend Below.
" With that, she turned side ways and squeezed into the crack.

The Eye of the Khylsty

Forum Jump:

Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)