Avaris

Another Step Closer

Apr 29th, 2021 (edited)
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  1. Handing an immaculate stone basin to you Aeldra says, "Do fill it with the waters of this font and
  2. drink. Then let us discuss what you see." With that she places the large basin into you hands.
  3.  
  4. Aeldra gives an immaculate stone basin to you.
  5.  
  6. Endless cascades of water and light flow into this luminous pool, enchanting in its celestial glow.
  7.  
  8. You think to yourself: "It will be good, to see these memories again, with a better grasp of my
  9. Lady."
  10.  
  11. You fill an immaculate stone basin with water.
  12.  
  13. You take a long draught of water, hoping to quench your thirst.
  14. The luminous, sparkling waters bring a calm clarity to your mind as you receive a vision of the Lady
  15. Lantra:
  16. "I envy you," you sigh to Rhapsody as the winged Goddess holds you in Her arms. "There are many
  17. times I wish for your gift to uplift spirits with words alone. I... rarely know what to say to those
  18. who despair." You shudder at the memories of the bodies on your healing mound, mangled beyond all
  19. recognition by the Soulless. What comfort could you or anyone offer those left behind? As if sensing
  20. your distress, Rhapsody draws closer to you and silences your doubts with a kiss. "You are the Light
  21. of My Soul," She says with conviction. "You uplift Me every moment of each day. If I am able to lift
  22. the hearts of others, Lantra, it is surely due in part to the love you bear Me! Do not doubt
  23. yourself." Even now as She smiles at you, Rhapsody makes it appear so effortless, this genuine
  24. outpouring of compassion that cannot be taught, no matter how diligently you study. You marvel at
  25. Her, that such a selfless Goddess would love you.
  26.  
  27. Aeldra watches you, hovering in the air next to the basin, waiting quietly for your reaction, hands
  28. folded.
  29.  
  30. You think to yourself: A bittersweet wrenching of his heart, the paired emotions of sorrow and joy
  31. twisting at either side of his soul. "I think You underestimate Your ability to raise the spirits of
  32. others with words, my Lady."
  33.  
  34. Lowering the basin, Avaris studies the Font for a time, his manner pensive. His
  35. voice is yet subdued, the hue of his eyes still a deep, rich blue. "I...Did not realise the memories
  36. would change." Turning to regard Aeldra, he asks, "Do you think the Lady still believes that She
  37. cannot lift the hearts of others, as Her love once did?"
  38.  
  39. Aeldra taps her nose thoughtfully at you question, "I am uncertain, but I do think that She can see
  40. that impact She has upon us mortals, Avaris." She nods to the basin, "As for the memories, yes, you
  41. will see different things every time you drink. What insight were you gifted with?"
  42.  
  43. A gentle scraping sounds hisses forth as Avaris runs the edge of his plated thumb
  44. along the rim of the basin, the motion slow. "A most poignant one, given what I have experienced
  45. today. Our Lady in Her love's arms, being reassured."
  46.  
  47. Aeldra smiles softly at you and nods, "I am sure it has been a rather insightful memory." She points
  48. at the font, asking "As this is the font of purity, would you draw any relation between the memory
  49. and the tenet?"
  50.  
  51. Lapsing into silence for a brief span of time that is filled with mute
  52. contemplation of the Font, Avaris studies the statue of the Empyreal, the crimson lines of his
  53. antennae stirring faintly with life once more. "Naturally. There is the Purity of Their love for one
  54. another, of course. The Purity of our Lady's desire to heal, to grant succour to others even in
  55. matters of the heart. So, too, in the Lady Rhapsody's desire to do so for our Lady, and to cleanse
  56. the doubt from Her. They both have such a strong, Pure intent to help others, to heal, in Their
  57. way."
  58.  
  59. Aeldra nods softly at you, "Thank you for sharing your insight with me. Shall we proceed to the next
  60. font, then?" she inquires, "Or do you wish to linger a bit?"
  61.  
  62. Avaris frees his lower left hand from where it supports the basin, gesturing gently
  63. for Aeldra to continue. "I can return here after. Please, go on."
  64.  
  65. Aeldra nods at you, encouragingly "Please, do drink from the font of Purity as well, dear Avaris,
  66. and tell me what you see." She flutters next to the font, "And how you feel it would result in
  67. purity. It is always interesting to see what fresh eyes see in the memories shared with them."
  68.  
  69. The Font of Devotion.
  70. The refined elegance of Lantra, the Blessed Mother is made manifest in this beautiful alabaster
  71. font, the sculpture's eyes aglow with adoration as She stands upon a marble pedestal with hands
  72. pressed to Her heart. Her gaze falls upon the Supernals of Celestia whom watch over these blessed
  73. waters, each sculpted into the chamber's six surrounding columns. A shimmering aureole surrounds
  74. Elohora, her hands extended upwards in a sign of benevolence to the Goddess while Shakiniel guards
  75. her sister's left, her gold-embossed shield raised and sword in hand. To the right stands the noble
  76. Methrenton, his armour imbued with a soft iridescence; Raziela follows, her slight form shown
  77. singing beneath an arbour of yellow daisies. Japhiel emerges from the next pillar, his stern gaze
  78. fixated upon the heavy gilt tome held in his hands. The final column resembles a faint masculine
  79. figure, though its face is faded, as if lost to memory. Golden lotuses stand serenely at the base of
  80. each pillar, illuminated with motes of starlight that cast luminous ripples across the room. Yvai,
  81. the battle sheep dwells here, antler-bearing head raised proudly. Head bowed, an anointed urn-bearer
  82. of water and light holds aloft the blessed vessel here with a reverent, stoic grace. She is
  83. surrounded by a deflection bubble.
  84. You see exits leading east, southwest, and northwest.
  85.  
  86. Avaris dips his chin in a small nod, stepping forward to fill the basin from the
  87. flowing waters of the Font.
  88.  
  89. You take a long draught of water, hoping to quench your thirst.
  90. The luminous, sparkling waters bring a calm clarity to your mind as you receive a vision of the Lady
  91. Lantra:
  92. How long had it been you drifted upon clouds of white, watching as Mother drew Rhapsody into form?
  93. How many aeons ago did you watch Her grow, small at first, calling you Elder, though you were so
  94. young yourself? How long ago was it She departed Her creche, shedding off infant essence and form,
  95. molting into a beautiful young Goddess? And when had She first begun to mimic Mother's song, and
  96. learned to sing it so sweetly? All the other Keepers of Song have left Celestia, having failed to
  97. restore the Supernals with their chorus of the Song of Creation. She alone has not abandoned you.
  98. "Do not give up hope, Lantra," Rhapsody says, pressing a kiss upon your cheek. "I have faith in
  99. you." The warmth of Her touch lingers long after.
  100.  
  101. You think to yourself: "Ah. I think there is much of Rhapsody in my Lady's tenets, and Her choosing
  102. of them. She has coloured Your soul, and left an indelible mark upon Your heart, Lady, and for that
  103. I am eternally grateful."
  104.  
  105. Aeldra tilts her head, quietly listening for your answer.
  106.  
  107. Kneeling before the statue, Avaris places all four of his hands around the
  108. circumference of the basin, encapsulating the vessel in a barrier of gleaming white. "There is, as
  109. in the other memory, layers to how it relates to the Font, I believe. Their Devotion to one another -
  110. Our Lady, watching over Lady Rhapsody as She grew. Our Lady's Devotion to Her Mother's creations,
  111. and Her own task of nurturing Them. Her Devotion to the Supernals. The Lady Rhapsody's Devotion to
  112. Her, and to the task of restoring the Supernals. To each Other."
  113.  
  114. A hint of a smile passes over Aeldra's face as she listens to your words. "I do remember that memory
  115. well. It is a lovely one, one that already reflects the bond that forms between the two of Them. It
  116. gives one a lot of insight into the very depth as far as devotion may go." She nods quietly to the
  117. basin in your hands. "If you're ready, let us continue."
  118.  
  119. Avaris nods readily, rising easily to his feet once again. "I am. Please, proceed."
  120.  
  121. The Font of Fortitude.
  122. Cold, argent light filters through this chamber, which is upheld by stark white pillars illuminated
  123. by starry torchlight. The frescoes painted upon this water-filled chamber are haunting in their
  124. black-and-white shading as they depict the horrors of the Elder Wars. Here, countless Elder Gods
  125. hold Their ground before the likes of Kethuru, Crazen and Zenos, held in proud formations perfected
  126. by the Second Circle. Yet the wounded and dying have begun to pile up behind Them, and while many
  127. faces which grace these walls seem familiar, far more are blurred, as if the memory of Them has
  128. finally begun to fray. A statue of Lantra, the Lady Mediatrix looks upon all these images in
  129. silence, surrounded by startlingly bright red lotuses which blossom at Her feet and crown Her regal
  130. brow. A single crimson lotus blooms eternally in Her outstretched hands as water and light flows
  131. forth from beneath its sanguine petals, as if stained with blood. Yvai, the battle sheep dwells
  132. here, antler-bearing head raised proudly. Head bowed, an anointed urn-bearer of water and light
  133. holds aloft the blessed vessel here with a reverent, stoic grace. She is surrounded by a deflection
  134. bubble.
  135. You see exits leading northeast, south, and northwest.
  136.  
  137. Aeldra flits over to the Font of Fortitude, landing on the ground next to it and looking up at the
  138. tall kephera next to her. "You've gained a lot of insight into our Lady and Lady Rhapsody already
  139. today, I am curious what memory the fonts will reveal to you now. Fortitude are often very important
  140. but at times, also very grim memories from Her life."
  141.  
  142. Rather than look down upon Aeldra, Avaris turns his head slightly aside so that the
  143. diminuitive figure remains within his field of view, his left antenna leaning down towards her. "I
  144. have indeed. I will treasure the memories of my Lady's joy, even as I will cherish this glimpse into
  145. who She is, even if it is dire."
  146.  
  147. Lady Aeldra Ladyn, of Cerulean Waters says, "Yes, indeed and each of them gives us a glimpse both
  148. more about who She is as wells about what She seeks to teach us."
  149.  
  150. You think to yourself: He will accept all the facets that make up the peerless jewel that is his
  151. Lady - Even if they are sharp, or jagged.
  152.  
  153. "Drink," a calm, feminine voice echoes through the chamber, "and know of Hope, and that strength
  154. which refuses to be extinguished by despair."
  155.  
  156. The luminous, sparkling waters bring a calm clarity to your mind as you receive a vision of the Lady
  157. Lantra:
  158. Meridian's screams of anguish pierce the air as Eventru and Carsini stand transfixed, lost to the
  159. spectacle of horror that is the slaughter of Their Circle. Amberle, the gentlest of the Firsts - no,
  160. your First - has fallen. Everything slows as your body glides on pure instinct towards Meridian,
  161. calling for the other Hamadhi to tend to Him at your side. Your leaders have gone. Like Aslarn, you
  162. must ascend to Their place. As you reach for Meridian, you receive a glimpse into His link with
  163. Amberle; with no healing mound, His raw pain is absorbed as your own. A primal terror fills you as
  164. the Soulless's endless hunger flashes into your mind, vast and insatiable. Long after, you weep in
  165. Rhapsody's arms, still unable to shake this infinite dread and sorrow that is not your own.
  166.  
  167. The fingers that grip the basin grow tense, Avaris squeezing down upon it in a
  168. reflexive gesture even as his shoulders tauten, his posture turning rigid. A confusion of colour
  169. whorls in the pools of his eyes - blue, dark as the depths of the oceans, blending and twisting with
  170. threads of vivid red - of the same hue that burns in the glaring eyes of his wings, with an
  171. intensity and brightness to rival the raging sun. The chitin of his fingers groans in protest at the
  172. pressure it endures, the pointed tips screeching along the basin's surface as he struggles to master
  173. himself. His breathing is harsh, and ragged - but with tangible effort, it grows steadier, smoothing
  174. out in tandem with a dulling of the blazing sanguine light. At length, hands trembling faintly, he
  175. lowers the basin and lifts his hands to press them to his face, silent.
  176.  
  177. Aeldra flits over to you, concern clearly visible in her eyes, as she alights gently on the
  178. kephera's shoulder "Avaris?" she asks quietly, "What did you see that disturbed you so much?"
  179.  
  180. With that Aeldra she instinctively reaches out and wraps her arms gently around your neck for a
  181. moment, before senses comes back to her, pulling back and instead watching you with worry.
  182.  
  183. You think to yourself: A flood of surging, overwhelming emotion - That of his Lady's, of what She
  184. felt through the connection to the agonised Lord Meridian, and his own. The immensity of the
  185. combination is fit to drown him, the sheer, infinite depth of the sorrow, the horror born of the
  186. Soulless' hunger carving a deep groove into his heart. There is, of course, rage. A fury of vast and
  187. terrible light, that She has suffered so much - Was Her own pain not enough, that She had to take
  188. that of others within Herself?
  189.  
  190. Avaris's answering nod is a jerking, shaking motion, his shoulder shivering briefly
  191. beneath Aeldra. His voice is a strange thing to hear - Not at all as smooth as normal, but formed
  192. from ragged edges of lingering horror, jagged rage, and a straining note of sorrow. "I..I felt what
  193. She felt. When..." He shudders again, curling his hands into fists. "Lord Meridian. The Soulless."
  194.  
  195. You think to yourself: A quelling of the maelstrom, a gradual restoration of balance as the foreign
  196. emotions ebb away, leaving only his own to master. Aided by the concern of his dear friend, by the
  197. strength he felt through the brief embrace, he grows quiescent within once more, applying his will
  198. with the inexorable pressure of gravity.
  199.  
  200. Aeldra frowns and nods, "I knew what happened back then, Avaris, long before I've shared that memory
  201. of Hers" she remains seated on your shoulder, still looking very worried. "And yet, it did not
  202. prepare me to actually feel it through the eyes of our Lady." She shudders, "The first contact with
  203. the soulless, the loss of Lady Amberle" she sighs, "It is a hard memory to bear, but also an
  204. important one. It reminds us as to why we have the tasks we do have." She taps you shoulder lightly,
  205. sympathy shining in her eyes "Remember that you share this memory with all of us and that we bear it
  206. together dear, every one of us." Her voice grows a tad stronger, losing a bit of its softness "It is
  207. no idle choice that She shows us this below Fortitude, for there is a lesson within, Avaris. What do
  208. you take from having been gifted this memory?"
  209.  
  210. You think to yourself: He focuses upon the question, the purpose. Fortitude, in this, as in all
  211. things.
  212.  
  213. Visibly steadying, the tremors that run sporadically through Avaris diminish until
  214. he is as solid and unmoving as is his typical fashion. The light within his markings dims down to
  215. faint embers of baleful red, while his eyes grow closer to their usual hue - losing all traces of
  216. the invasive crimson as they glimmer with a few fitful sparks of light when he turns his head to
  217. Aeldra. "It is harrowing. But we endure it, for Her. It is, no doubt, but a fraction of the burdens
  218. She carries. I will not be undone by this." Exhaling softly, he considers the query for but a small
  219. time, before responding, his voice smoother, calmer. "There are many displays of Fortitude within
  220. this one. The Lady does not break, despite what She sees, what She is forced to feel. She does Her
  221. duty, even in the grip of the horror of what unfolds. She has the Fortitude to act, and to take Lord
  222. Meridian's agony, even as She carries Her own." A pause, and then there is a slight burgeoning of
  223. light within his eyes, a handful of brighter motes joining those that dwell within the azure depths.
  224. "And, of course, Lady Rhapsody displays Fortitude when She supports Her love. She is a pillar for
  225. our Lady to lean upon, in Her time of need."
  226.  
  227. Aeldra smiles at your words, her emerald eyes sparkling brightly as she sees resolve grow within
  228. him, "Yes, indeed. I can wholeheartedly agree with you on this, Avaris." She nods, tapping your
  229. shoulder lightly before lifting up to over in front of you. "This is one of the memories that will
  230. linger with you the most, but it'll also remind you why we walk the path, we as an order, we as a
  231. city, we as a people." She points down to the font and then, with a wide gesture back to you "And
  232. with you, we have gained one more member who understands, who knows, who feels, why it is important
  233. to hold on, to carry out our duties, to move forward and ensure something like this may never happen
  234. again." She clasps a glass ampoule of bottled starlight around her neck, "And in thus, to cleanse
  235. and heal those that have suffered like our Lady does, to provide reprieve and mending from the
  236. suffering the Soulless and those corrupted them have caused."
  237.  
  238. You think to yourself: A quiet ripple of the heart. He has depthless admiration for healers, such as
  239. his Lady, and Lady Aeldra before him, but he knows, in his soul, that he is not one. The best he can
  240. manage, in his eyes, is to excise the corrupted flesh before it infects the whole. To burn away the
  241. rot, purge the sickness and bring purity with the clean, sharp edge of a blade. He is not a healer.
  242. He is a sword - But swords can protect, even as they cut.
  243.  
  244. Unfurling to reveal their starry hearts, radiant lotuses bloom upon these waters with a stoic grace.
  245.  
  246. Avaris listens with acute attention to Aeldra's words, his reinvigorated antennae
  247. leaning in Aeldra's direction as he watches intently. He nods, though the gesture is a slow one. "I
  248. will do what I can, Aeldra. I do not think that I can mend, or bring succour, as you or our Lady do,
  249. but I will serve Her however I can." He extends his upper right hand, the motion gentle, and lays
  250. the tips of his fingers upon Aeldra's arm - his touch cool, but not cold, and hard. The kindly
  251. contact of a marble statue. "Thank you, Aeldra. I did not miss your gesture, even in the grasp of
  252. the memory. You are very kind to me."
  253.  
  254. Aeldra smiles softly, resting her hand briefly on top of your saying "maybe you can not, Avaris, but
  255. my friend, you are still doing a lot. Your very presence inspires the people around you." Her eyes
  256. grow a little distant as she continues speaking, "It is often that those that suffer or struggle
  257. seek comfort in those who stand unmoved and stern against the tides that crash against the shore.
  258. Those that would stand in the fields of battle, may they be of physical struggle, of faith or mental
  259. nature." She turns her eyes upon you, letting go of your hand "You have this strength Avaris, by
  260. your demeanor and your very presence."
  261.  
  262. You think to yourself: "Ah, Aeldra. You see what I yearn to be, I think, not what I am. It is my
  263. very dear wish to be as you describe, someday. I fear I sinpire very little, as I am now."
  264.  
  265. A brief, scintillating scattering of motes glimmer to life within Avaris's eyes,
  266. though there is a note of something faintly sad in the melody of his voice. "Thank you, Aeldra. That
  267. is very kind of you to say. I will aspire to be worthy that." Lifting his hand from her, he lifts it
  268. to run the sharp tips of his fingers through the feathers of his right antenna, the gesture
  269. distracted. "Shall we move on?"
  270.  
  271. Aeldra nods softly at you, "I have no doubt you will. Let us do so, then."
  272.  
  273. Aeldra alights on the rim of the font of Wisdom, saying to you "And last, but not least, we arrive
  274. on the Font of Wisdom, Avaris." she nods towards its waters, "I am sure what you shall find revealed
  275. will be equally enlightening."
  276.  
  277. A bright, almost starkly white figure in the shadowed alcove, Avaris steps forward,
  278. nodding to Aeldra before he fills the basin with the waters of the font.
  279.  
  280. The statue of Lantra, the Empyreal shines with muted light as an immaculate stone basin slowly fills
  281. with luminous waters from the Font of Wisdom.
  282.  
  283. "Drink," a calm, feminine voice echoes through the chamber, "and know of Truth, and that which
  284. pursues knowledge with humility."
  285.  
  286. As the waters quiet, an immaculate stone basin vanishes in a flash of blessed light, returning once
  287. more to your hands.
  288.  
  289. You take a long draught of water, hoping to quench your thirst.
  290. The luminous, sparkling waters bring a calm clarity to your mind as you receive a vision of the Lady
  291. Lantra:
  292. "Compromised." That was the word that Meridian had used. Your heart stills; you didn't intend to
  293. eavesdrop upon the Exalted's conversion, but you cannot unhear what has been spoken. And you cannot
  294. bear to leave. Eventru's warm, golden voice murmurs, "We do not share your concerns, Meridian. We
  295. believe that Lantra would be an asset to such a gathering." There is a deep sigh. "They are not My
  296. concerns, Eventru," Meridian says at length. "But it is Lisaera's wish. You are the only member of
  297. the Hamadhi She trusts. There have been too many... miracles." Once more, Eventru invokes your name,
  298. stubborn and unyielding. And once more, Meridian denies Him. "We both know Lantra has changed since
  299. Rhapsody's death," Meridian says quietly. "And Lisaera will not take any risk." You do not chase
  300. after Meridian for an explanation, nor do you follow the Lord Exalted to ask what He knows. When the
  301. tears come, you only ask yourself what you could have done differently.
  302.  
  303. Aeldra watches you with a mixture of concern and curiosity.
  304.  
  305. Again, red. Again, the markings within his wings burgeon with light - but this time
  306. it is a slow, gradual seeping of roiling, dark crimson that flows and throbs through the glaring
  307. eyes that adorn Avaris's wings. Again, the basin is subjected to terrible pressures as his grip
  308. contracts with the inexorable, unhurried force of a coldly burning star. The texture of his
  309. displeasure is much different, as he appears very much to be in control of himself - this is
  310. obviously not the reflexive, primal reaction of the previous font, but a deliberate, dreadful anger
  311. born of intelligence, of awareness. His voice is as cool and perilous as icy water, flat and hard as
  312. a blade - a judge, damning someone to the gallows with a single, uncompromising word. "Faithless."
  313.  
  314. Aeldra's eyes shine with sympathy as she nods in understanding. "You've seen one of those where She
  315. is just discarded, locked out, out of mistrust, is it not?" she asks, her voice dark and rich with
  316. anger, "I do remember those well and they are hard to bear." She looks up at you, "Or ... it could
  317. be that you've seen the ones that ... I hope not, not yet." She tilts her head sideways, "What did
  318. you see, Avaris?"
  319.  
  320. You think to yourself: How dare They judge Her? How /dare/ They suspect Her, when She has done
  321. nothing but give all that She is in the name of others? Spineless, faithless wretches, abandoning
  322. Her so easily, when She has shown unwavering Devotion, an unending charity of spirit.
  323.  
  324. You think to yourself: A note of concern flicks within the dread star of cold anger, pulling his
  325. attention aside. "What memories await that she would speak so?" How much has his Lady suffered?
  326.  
  327. Endless cascades of water and light flow into this luminous pool, enchanting in its celestial glow.
  328.  
  329. You have emoted: The fell quality of his voice remains, as empty of understanding as the Void is of
  330. light, of warmth. Avaris's grip upon the bowl eases, if only marginally, as he answers, "You
  331. inferred correctly. They shunned Her." He studies Aeldra for a time in silence, the quality of his
  332. voice softening a shade, "Do the memories grow more terrible still, Aeldra? Is there no end to what
  333. pain She has endured?"
  334.  
  335. Aeldra nods softly at your "You have yet only glimpsed the terrors of what the Elders' endured and
  336. why the Twelve of them are so shunned and why it is so horrifying that They have aligned themselves
  337. with Magnagora and ... Glomdoring." She taps her nose thoughtfully, "I am unsure how deep your
  338. knowledge of the annals of Mugwumpois go, that tell of the Elder Wars?" She inquires from you, her
  339. eyes still fierce and determined "Some of the memories here tell of the tale of a Healer that
  340. betrayed Her art, witnessed from our Lady's very own eyes, Their name Malmydia."
  341.  
  342. You think to yourself: The abrupt, clear image of a statue, the figure thin, slashed and stabbed in
  343. the grip of a terrible anger. "Ah. I see it, now."
  344.  
  345. Shaking his head fractionally, Avaris responds, "I have been distracted from
  346. reading through them, with the matters of the Wyrd." He frees a hand, the upper left, and uses it to
  347. indicate in the direction of the Isles. "The sunken building. The statue that has been marred.
  348. Malmydia?"
  349.  
  350. Aeldra says to you, "My dear friend, I have to leave you here for a bit, as much as I would wish to
  351. hear what you have to say of this. I have sworn duty to the city and there are things to tend to, as
  352. a time quake has manifested itself. Let us finish this as soon as I am free, yes? I will tell you
  353. about Malmydia then."
  354.  
  355. Avaris dips his head in a curt nod, lowering his hand again. "Of course. Do not let
  356. me keep you, Aeldra. Fight well, and see clear. I will be here."
  357.  
  358. Luminous waters dance about Aeldra and carry her away in a stream of light, taking with them a
  359. glissade of water lilies which drift along to the west.
  360. Falling into a light trot, Yvai, the battle sheep trots out to the west.
  361.  
  362. Luminous star lotuses brighten the flowing waters of the Font of Wisdom as a calm, feminine voice
  363. emanates from the statue of Lantra, the Empyreal, "I wonder. What Wisdom do you find in such a
  364. vision as this?"
  365.  
  366. The sanguine curves of Avaris's feathered antennae snap to attention at the sound
  367. of the voice, and he immediately lowers himself to one knee before the statue. "My Lady. I..." He
  368. grows silent, the straight lines of his antennae curving forward and down. "This is a difficult one
  369. to derive Wisdom from, my Lady. There are, I believe, many ways one could interpret it."
  370.  
  371. Luminous star lotuses brighten the flowing waters of the Font of Wisdom as a calm, feminine voice
  372. emanates from the statue of Lantra, the Empyreal, "Perhaps. And yet you need only express one."
  373.  
  374. The rounded bottom of Avaris's smooth face dips down in a nod, brushing against the
  375. dense white of his fur. "I think that, of all that I could take from this, my Lady, I feel that it
  376. conveys that no matter how much of yourself you give to others, no matter how hard you work, how
  377. good you are...People can always spurn you. But that does not matter - It is the good that you do
  378. that matters, not the recognition, not the love or praise you might get. Even if it hurts."
  379.  
  380. You think to yourself: "Especially if it hurts. Being good, and kind, is not always easy. And there
  381. is the Wisdom of why You are so guarded, now, my Lady. Ah, how You have been wounded, time and time
  382. again. You did not deserve any of this."
  383.  
  384. Caressing your ear, the voice of Aeldra whispers, "I think this won't take too long till we can
  385. continue this."
  386.  
  387. Luminous star lotuses brighten the flowing waters of the Font of Wisdom as a calm, feminine voice
  388. emanates from the statue of Lantra, the Empyreal, "It is a pity that what is right and what is easy
  389. rarely align, is it not?"
  390.  
  391. You tell Lady Aeldra Ladyn, of Cerulean Waters, "Take your time, Aeldra. Our Lady speaks to me. I do
  392. not lack for company."
  393.  
  394. White water lilies glide in from the west upon a flowing stream, their gentle procession heralding
  395. the entrance of Aeldra in a burst of water and light.
  396.  
  397. Avaris's voice is firm, but not cool, or unkind. "It is, my Lady. If they did, the
  398. world would be a much brighter place. One of the greatest advantages that evil possesses, is how
  399. easy it is to fall within its grip. The choice to be good, to do the hard thing, is not one made
  400. often enough."
  401.  
  402. Aeldra exhales, as she flits in, panting "Uh... Am sorry Avaris. Forgive me for having to leave you
  403. so suddenly." she says as she catches her breath.
  404.  
  405. Luminous star lotuses brighten the flowing waters of the Font of Wisdom as a calm, feminine voice
  406. emanates from the statue of Lantra, the Empyreal, "Forgive Me, My Immaculate, for continuing in your
  407. absence."
  408.  
  409. Aeldra smiles softly and shakes her head slightly, "Nothing to forgive, my Lady. For after all,
  410. these are the things You taught me and You have a lot of insights to share that I can only hope to
  411. still learn." She curtseys gracefully.
  412.  
  413. From where he kneels in reverence before the statue, Avaris's antenna flicks in
  414. Aeldra's direction - though he does not turn to face her. "You have nothing to apologise for,
  415. Aeldra. I would be content to wait, even if our Lady was not present."
  416.  
  417. Luminous star lotuses brighten the flowing waters of the Font of Wisdom as a calm, feminine voice
  418. emanates from the statue of Lantra, the Empyreal, "On the contrary, it is My Avaris whose insights
  419. have been shared. Tell My Immaculate what you have told Me, child."
  420.  
  421. Aeldra turns fully to you, curiosity plainly on her face as she quietly listens for your words.
  422.  
  423. Avaris bows his head in immediate and unhesitant acquiescence. "Yes, my Lady."
  424. Shifting the angle of his head so that Aeldra can see his profile, he does as he is bidden, and
  425. speaks, "In essence, that acting in a good and right manner is rarely easy. It does not always bring
  426. friendship, or trust, or faith - but that does not matter, in truth. It is the good that you do that
  427. matters, whether those you help laud you for it or damn you." He lifts his lower left hand, turning
  428. it to encapsulate both Aeldra and the statue of their Lady. "No matter how it hurts, we must endure.
  429. We must do good, no matter the cost to ourselves."
  430.  
  431. Aeldra nods solemnly to you, "yes, the right path is seldom the one that is the easiest to walk."
  432. She shakes her head slightly, "I would say that this is, in part, why the people within the basin
  433. look so strangely upon us. Not that I can say that all our decisions are right, but that is another
  434. decision entirely." She flutters a little higher bringing herself onto the same height as you, "You
  435. however have shown from your first steps after the portal that you have the conviction to do what
  436. you know is just and right, despite the costs in popularity it may bring you."
  437.  
  438. You think to yourself: "Popularity means little to me, my friend. The warmth and love of others is a
  439. good and fine thing - But it is nothing, if the cost is permitting goodness to fade, or the Light to
  440. grow corrupted. I would become the most reviled creature in all of creation, for the right cause."
  441.  
  442. Luminous star lotuses brighten the flowing waters of the Font of Wisdom as a calm, feminine voice
  443. emanates from the statue of Lantra, the Empyreal, "You well know that it is a lonely path to walk,
  444. indeed. And yet you do not walk alone, do you, My Avaris? For you walk in the radiance of the Light,
  445. and among Mine."
  446.  
  447. Aeldra nods softly in agreement with the Goddess' words, "We do stand with him, yes."
  448.  
  449. Lowering his head in quiet acceptance of Aeldra's words, Avaris returns his
  450. attention fully to his Lady as She speaks, placing both pairs of his hands upon the natural armour
  451. of his chest. "I do not, my Lady. I have the Light with me to guide my way. I have those of Yours
  452. that see clear and true. I am grateful for it."
  453.  
  454. You think to yourself: "And I have You, my Lady."
  455.  
  456. Luminous star lotuses brighten the flowing waters of the Font of Wisdom as a calm, feminine voice
  457. emanates from the statue of Lantra, the Empyreal, "I look forward to seeing where this path leads
  458. you, My Blessed Avaris."
  459.  
  460. The voice echoing in the Font of Wisdom quiets, until all that can be heard in the stillness is the
  461. susurrus of running water.
  462.  
  463. "Yes, my Lady. Thank You." Avaris responds, maintaining his kneeling posture for a
  464. time even after the stillness descends - both within the chamber, and upon the kephera himself.
  465.  
  466. Lady Aeldra Ladyn, of Cerulean Waters graciously grants you entrance into the the Divine Order of
  467. Lantra, the Empyreal. Congratulations, and may you serve your God well.
  468. In a flash of Divine power, a glass ampoule of bottled starlight appears in your hands, marking you
  469. a member of the Divine Order of Lantra, the Empyreal.
  470.  
  471. (The Avowing): Aeldra says, "Welcome Avaris within the Avowed of the order of our Lady Lantra."
  472.  
  473. (The Avowing): Faragan (from a temporal rift) says, "Be welcome young one."
  474.  
  475. (The Avowing): You say, "Thank you, both. It is beyond an honour, sincerely."
  476.  
  477. Stirring at the light that leaves the ampoule within his upper left hand, Avaris
  478. turns the long, chitinous appendage over and unfurls the cage of his fingers so that he can study
  479. the glass with fascinated wonder.
  480.  
  481. The translucent glass of this fragile ampoule has been blown into a small, spherical vial, its
  482. delicate shape fitting perfectly into the palm of one's hand. Within the glass vessel, a luminous
  483. swirl of argent light and mystic waters coalesces to form bottled starlight in an effervescent and
  484. sparkling elixir. At the apex of the vial is a platinum seal wrought into the likeness of a sacred
  485. star lotus, its immaculate petals gleaming as the flower unfurls above a fine chain of enough length
  486. to secure the vial loosely about the neck. Cradling the vial protectively is a round celadon
  487. receptacle, the smooth jade jewelled with the image of two pearlescent koi fish, one a stark white
  488. and the other a dark ebony, encircling the ampoule in a graceful dance of duality. A celestial light
  489. suffuses the glass ampoule with a soothing glow, emanating a sense of inner peace and calm.
  490.  
  491. Aeldra smiles softly at you, "I left you with a lot of questions, Avaris. When you're ready, I'm
  492. most certainly willing to answer them."
  493.  
  494. Lifting the bottled starlight, Avaris presses it against the cool, unyielding
  495. surface of his carapace, just over his heart. He holds it there for a long moment, then rises,
  496. turning to Aeldra with a nod. "If you would not mind, Aeldra, I would greatly appreciate that."
  497.  
  498. Aeldra nods at you, "Of course. Maybe lets change scenery though? There are many places within this
  499. tower."
  500.  
  501. Avaris nods decisively, falling into step beside Aeldra.
  502.  
  503. A balcony overlooking the Vanishing Isles.
  504. The vast panorama of the Vanishing Isles stretches before this balcony in a limitless expanse of sea
  505. and mist. Only a delicate balustrade of marble and glass protects against the steep fall from the
  506. ivory tower to the world below, which seems at once beautiful and insignificant from these heights.
  507. The water gardens of the Isle of Polaris sparkle enchantingly beneath the ever-present starlight of
  508. this place, as does the bruised ocean, which shimmers like black glass under its quiet light. Every
  509. so often, a distant island can be made out as the veil of mist parts to reveal gold and silver sands
  510. on the horizon, beckoning beyond the temple's safe confines. Head bowed, an anointed urn-bearer of
  511. water and light holds aloft the blessed vessel here with a reverent, stoic grace. She is surrounded
  512. by a deflection bubble.
  513. You see a single exit leading south.
  514.  
  515.  
  516. Aeldra turns to you as she enters, looking up to the kephera beside her. "How about here, what do
  517. you think?"
  518.  
  519. Each step giving rise to a click-clack of hard chitin and talons impacting upon
  520. marble, Avaris makes his way over to the balustrade, the breeze stirring the thick fluff of his mane
  521. like dense, tufted cotton. Placing his upper pair of hands upon the barrier, he gazes out over the
  522. expanse that spreads out below them, and nods slightly, his tone warm and peaceful. "Perfection. I
  523. come here, sometimes, to meditate."
  524.  
  525. Aeldra flutters up and sits herself on the the edge of the balustrade as she begins to speak "Do you
  526. know, anything at all, about the Elder Wars, or would it be better if I would give you a general
  527. overview, Avaris?"
  528.  
  529. "I know quite a bit, in broad strokes, but if you wish to set the scene, by all
  530. means." Avaris shifts his lower set of hands, bringing the left to the flaring chitin that guards
  531. his hip. Pressing the point of his index finger above where it has been pierced through to secure
  532. the loops of his scabbards, he stabs the sharp digit into the gleaming surface, puncturing it with
  533. no small amount of effort. Wiping the modest flow of blood from the hole, he takes the fine chain of
  534. the ampoule and loops it through with great care, cinching it tight. After checking that the glass
  535. does not have sufficient freedom to bounce against him with enough force to shatter, he settles it
  536. reverently back into place, and listens.
  537.  
  538. You slip into a glass ampoule of bottled starlight.
  539. Celestial light pours forth from a glass ampoule to anoint you in the name of the Empyreal Goddess,
  540. dancing about you in rivulets of mystic water and rays of argent white. As divine energy ripples
  541. about you, a soothing calm purges all doubts as you receive the sacred blessing of Her Anointed.
  542.  
  543. Aeldra nods gladly "I am glad that you have a general idea as to what has happened. But then, Alarin
  544. did decide to take you under their wing, the y wouldn't have let of off to anywhere without a broad
  545. idea of history." She nods firmly, her expression darkening. "The particular incidents we're
  546. referring is about Lord Krokano and... about the one of the traitors that is now known as the
  547. Machine." she pauses for a moment, "Both are names familiar to you, Avaris?" She dangles her legs
  548. over the edge of the balustrade, watching the scenery below.
  549.  
  550. A faint note of humour slips through Avaris's words as he says, "This was
  551. unprompted, as it happens. I am inclined towards arming myself with knowledge by nature, and more so
  552. now than ever - The pursuit of Wisdom. You understand." The subtle levity fades in its entirely, his
  553. mien growing sober as he dips his head in a nod. "They are."
  554.  
  555. Aeldra turns to look at you, her expression turning lighter for a moment "You know, Alarin is my
  556. father in law and the only father I have left, even if by extension. I'm very used to his, well,
  557. particular way of approaching things." She winks, before turning more serious again, straightening
  558. her posture as she begins to summarize "In short, Avaris, Malmydia is the one that twisted the art
  559. of healing, using the accursed Elixir that the Masque and His accomplices devised from the essence
  560. of the soulless Nemach to 'cure' and 'strengthen' the Elders from the Soulless assault. She used
  561. this twisted, accursed thing to treat the wound of Lord Krokano's eye, resulting in immense
  562. suffering to Him and in that twisted eye His shards now bear." Her left hand clutches her right,
  563. around the ankles, the white on her knuckles coming forth for a moment, before she forcefully
  564. relaxes. "And she molded the remains of the god the Machine used to be into the traitorous thing He
  565. now obviously is, that has earned Him this name."
  566.  
  567. You think to yourself: A throb of anger as the memory of a spear being buried into Her brushes
  568. against his mind, summoned by the talk of the Machine. "I hope His twisted prison pains Him, for all
  569. that He has done, for hurting Her. It is the least He deserves."
  570.  
  571. The stylised depictions of eyes that flood Avaris's wings, as well as adorning his
  572. brow and either shoulder, fill with a low, sullen light - not a blazing fire, but the quiet heat of
  573. embers that burn on and on. "That explains much. I have no doubt that turning the healing arts
  574. towards such abhorrent ends is anathema to our Lady, and to you."
  575.  
  576. Aeldra nods seriously at you "Many memories you'll see, Avaris, will reveal to you parts of this
  577. foul corruption of the healing arts. Some of it is visible from the beginning too."
  578.  
  579. Avaris lowers his head in a somber nod of his own. "I am certain that they will
  580. bring much Wisdom, though I feel that there will be much pain in them, for our Lady. What...Happened
  581. to Malmydia, Aeldra? I have not read that far, I confess."
  582.  
  583. Aeldra gazes out over the balustrade, speaking in a muted tone "They were rounded up and condemned.
  584. There were twelve all and all. They were judged by three of the third circle, chosen to speak
  585. judgement over them. Lord Hoaracle, Lord and Lady Mysrai and Lady Jadice were chosen to speak their
  586. judgement. The twelve were rounded up and sent for the void beyond the first world." A hinge of
  587. sadness seeps into her words, "Eventually, that was a fate that would befall all elders, though not
  588. in punishment, but in desperation. Those that did not splinter left for the void beyond our world."
  589. She looks back now at you, turning her body to better see you as she sits on the edge of the
  590. balustrade "There are memories of how it was for Her to be in the void, those are memories that will
  591. give you a new understanding of nothingness my friend."
  592.  
  593. You think to yourself: He strives to imagine what that might be like - Suspended in an endless
  594. /absence/. No heat, no light, no sound. Nothing at all. She would have been alone, would She not?
  595. "How terrible it must have been." Never again, would She be so bereft, so alone. Not so long as he
  596. remained.
  597.  
  598. Tilting his face up towards the firmament, Avaris gazes upwards for a time, a hand
  599. drifting upwards to brush at the dense fluff of his mane. "Is Malmydia still within the Void, do you
  600. think? Might She return sometime, or has She been devoured?"
  601.  
  602. Aeldra shrugs softly to the question, saying "I do not know, Avaris. I doubt that even the Elders
  603. know."
  604.  
  605. Avaris's fingers curl slowly about the balustrade, gripping tightly. There is an
  606. edge to his voice, a touch of cold steel in his words, as he replies, "We must remain vigilant,
  607. then. She will no doubt seek to harm our Lady, if the wretch ever does return."
  608.  
  609. Aeldra nods seriously at you "And we'll be there to aid and defend Her, however way we can." She
  610. nods seriously at you. "For now, however, I need to seek rest. I am pleased that I was able to teach
  611. you about the song of Lady Rhapsody and guide you into the order proper. I'll see you soon, my
  612. friend."
  613.  
  614. Freeing the railing from being subjected to the pressure of his grasp, Avaris turns
  615. to offer Aeldra a bow, tucking his right pair of arms against his abdomen, while settling the left
  616. set against the small of his back. "Thank you, Aeldra. I deeply appreciate the Wisdom you have
  617. shared with me. Rest well."
  618.  
  619. Lady Aeldra Ladyn, of Cerulean Waters smiles and says, "It has been my pleasure, Avaris."
  620.  
  621. Rising slowly from his bow, Avaris returns his gaze to the vista that spreads out
  622. before him, his manner serious.
  623.  
  624.  
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