There are breezes now that in my youth I could not have appreciated. My eyes are darker for the shedding of tears and my tongue more patient for the grooved marks of teeth where I too often had need to hold it in check.
But no. There is something soft in the wind that stirs me to remembrance. For these eyes were once much brighter. The weight of the scepter of power becomes the weak man's chainery. It is that weakness that refuses to let go. The glitter out-dazzles the weight.
Again, the breeze stirs me. Prodding me to travel back to when these aged hands had not yet held the garden's apple. And of a time before this tongue had savored that fruit.
In my youth, my heritage hid behind the veil of the subconscious, I believed myself to be half elven. The pointed, but only slightly, ears and my apparent luck convinced not only myself but also the contemptuous eyes of pure-bred contemporaries. The sneer on the elvish faces and the derision of humanity... I feasted on these. And yet even those in the camp where I grew up, misfits and outcasts all, kept me separate and apart.
They knew something without knowing...
And it was in the forests through idle chats with Jacek that I learned of me. In that tent where Magda sat unspeaking, where we spoke without even so much as acknowledging each other, I found a little bit of my history. And in those long and lonely walks to the icy plains, I saw my footprints and realized there was more than merely weight to leave such tracks.
And the whispered praises and love in confidence of Syla, my beguiling liege... in the words she chose not to say, beneath that facade of carefree mischief... in those I found my path.
And even then, I suffer from my supposed humanity's weakness in seeing the truth eye to eye and *choosing* to be blind to it. And for all the close calls, the ravaged wounds, and the clumsy acts of magic, it was not until I stumbled upon that gate in the southern forests that I realized who, and where, and what I was.
And then only when He had approached and told me.
The potion you imbibed brought you not to the place of safety you hoped, but into a large, cavernous chamber, lit by irregularly shaped torches. Something chitters high above you, and a faint breeze stirs the air. The light of the chamber dims for a moment, as if something moved past the flames, yet left no shadow upon its walls. Blinking, you look for some cause. From within the darkest corner, a soft, biting chuckle emanates. Chills dance along your spine and your hand involuntarily slides to your weapon.
One pale hand flicks out from the shadows in a gesture of commanding denial. A figure follows; pallid, dressed in clothes that were in style centuries ago, in lands long since fallen to ruin.
"I am Bezil. Rememberer. Guardian. Keeper of this place in the absence of my Lord." The voice is quiet, icy, detached. "In his absence, I bid you gone from here." Noting your pause with tired annoyance, Bezil responds in a dominating monotone, "Now." A gesture, and you are flung from this lost holy place with a violence that leaves you marveling your bones have not shattered but then the ground rises up to meet you, and you know no more.
When you come to, you find yourself in a forest, looking up at the night sky. The view is partially blocked by the face of a male half-elf, and a creature that looks like a cross between an elf and a cat. The male immediately murmurs, "Safe. You are well, and will come to no harm." The cat-thing tosses him a doubtful glance, but leaps back deftly, landing in a sprawling crouch at the base of a nearby tree.
Helping you to your feet and dusting you off, the fellow smiles ruefully. "Bezil took offense at your curiosity, I take it? He is ever more protective, since my Lord Ascended."
The cat-thing nods, and preens. "I woulda been His guard insteada Bezil, but He said I had to keep an eye on him " she twitches one ear meaningfully at the dark haired half-elf, who carefully conceals a grin.
"Where was I?'" you ask, patting your pockets to see what gear you may have lost in your violent travels. "I must have gotten a particularly bad vial from Lestiggen "
With a voice touched with sorrow, you are answered. "The home of Lord Khore, He who was once Lord of the Kindred." The cat yowls, a sound of mourning and twitches her whiskers at the man's response. At your nod, he continues.
"Khore was the one we both served, among others, when He held His rank of Demi and Lesser God. The Kindred waxed and waned in size and strength, like the moons above." A graceful gesture calls your gaze upwards, to the glowing orbs in the night sky. Odd, how his skin is nearly as pale. "Some endured to the bitter end. Others found other paths. Some sought solace in Immortality. But no matter where they walked, service under Lord Khore has touched them forever."
The cat leans forward, until you wonder how she manages to keep from toppling off her perch. "Not gonna give oath to NOBODY but a Kin. If not to Khore, and not to Kin, then not to NOBODY. Combee's nice. He's Kin. Maybe him."
The half-elf gives her a brief caress of comfort, and nods at her fierce words. "For some, yes, that's the right thing. Not for everyone." He turns back to you, and continues. "Khore was our lord for many, many years. He taught us much. Showed us much. Revealed much to the Realm at large. It was His hand that unveiled Sanguinna; His own Kin dwell there ."
"But Sanguinna that's full of vampires " you frown.
The cat-thing snickers, bearing fangs that you thought were simply the normal teeth of any hunting beast, but when the half-elf's smile bears similar ivory weaponry, you take a step back. Again, he makes a gesture of peace.
"Aye, the Kindred was a following 'cloaked in the crimson' as my Lady would say but a following of honor. I've given you my word of safety. Besides " He flicks his fingers, and the aura about him flares into brightness - a reassuring purplish light. "I have other Oaths now . But that is neither here nor there we speak of Khore, and the Kindred-That-Were."
"Khore's the bestest Immortal ever. That's why M'Lord Tynian grabbed Him and made Him an even BIGGER god!" The cat nods smugly, assuredly.
The vampire's lips twitch slightly as he hides another smile. "I would agree that my Lord Khore is certainly worthy to have been raised up by the Lord Implementor, Tynian."
A soft chuckle emanates from the woods, frighteningly close. A ghastly voice whispers, "A worthy toy, as well "
As one, the three of you whirl, looking for the source of the new voice, but to no avail.
"Puny mortals. If I wished you to see me, you would. I remember Khore as a mortal the fun I had sending the angry guards of the northern human city sailing down the river after him! Oh, how he yelped!" A nasty chuckle. "That, and watching him swim for his life, when the Great Implementor of Insanity would dump Khore into Bluto's swimming hole "
The vampire-elf bows in a fashion that is carefully controlled and precisely polite. "Aye, Arch-Lich. And our Lord rose above those mortal torments to Demi-Godhood, and Lesser Godhood, and now " His voice softens, but has a tiny edge to it. "And now to Godhood above many in the Realm. Even above yourself."
A snort. "True enough. But he is not here, now and I.. and mine are!"
The air shimmers and a tattooed blonde woman with piercing, jade green eyes appears, floating in the air.
She chuckles, "Carrying on about your little horde of Nashite murderers again, Molo?"
Someone glares around him.
"I remember quite a bit about Khore as a mortal. I owe my own introduction to Bluto to him. Too bad I never did quite finish off that over-grown sardine. . ." The Goddess of Chance grins maliciously and edges closer to you, speaking in a conspiratorial whisper. "You want to know about Khore as a mortal? Let me tell you . . ."
"Khore had this thing for traipsing along with this mage named Kaern. I think there was a hero-worship complex or something there. Anyway, he had two tendencies that cropped up again and again . . . bad run-ins with 'dargons,' and a penchant for getting himself turned into a female. Why, there was one time there for months on end when it seemed any draconic beast in the realm was drawing from a lottery to get a piece of him. He kept getting himself patched up, and headed back out, though. Quite persistent for a bony little mage."
She smiles at you and winks knowingly, then flicks her eyes towards the bushes to the west, alerting you just in time. Before the black clad figures can leap out, the bottle is already raised to your lips and quaffed, wrenching you a third time to .
Perhaps your luck has turned for the evening
You scan the chamber, making sure that none of the attackers have followed, and see only a woman standing statue-still over by the door, staring out into the Guild hallway. She is breathtakingly beautiful, with skin like the purest marble, and silken hair that falls like an auburn waterfall down her back. As you stare, unabashedly, it seems that she can feel the weight of your gaze. She turns. Her eyes meet yours. Suddenly, vertigo swirls over you. A tiny sound escapes your throat. She lowers her gaze, releasing you. A tiny frown creases her perfect skin, and she leans forward slightly, looking at you. Her nostrils flare, and as her eyes dance over you fully, the questioning look upon her face is replaced by one of understanding.
"I thought I caught the scent of Bezil upon you. I see his mark upon your chest."
Blinking, you look down, and see where the Guardian Vampire's talons raked four perfectly even slashes in your tunic, but did not disturb the skin beneath. A blush colors your cheeks.
"Hello. I'm Saphyre. I see you visited Khore's temple uninvited." The tiny pause before she speaks his name must have been your imagination. A single syllable could not possibly hold as much meaning as you thought it just did love, loss, desire, longing, the weight of years of knowing.
You nod, holding back the questions that leapt eagerly to your tongue, wanting to know more, teased into overwhelming curiosity by the myriad shades of tone upon that one, single word. You glance around the room once more, just making sure that none have followed, and when your eyes return to the doorway, she is gone, moonlight driven away by the rising sun.
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