Time and Again OUAT Saga

/ By darien [+Watch]

Replies: 1510 / 5 years 218 days 5 hours 14 minutes 56 seconds

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  1. [Allowed] Malachi


The children of Kings and Queens have grown into their own.

Once Warriors, and peasants and forgotten princess... they'd aged and no longer carry their swords.

Those tasks have now been passed to their children, and the once Famous Destiny will be forced to show her colors once more...

For a new darkness is settling across the land.

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Roleplay Responses

“Yeah. I’m useful now…” Odin muttered but Destiny could only stare at him. She was trying to work out how much of him had changed and what exactly Nox had done to the boy. She massaged the skin at her neck that was now perfectly healed and glanced back over at Nox. Finally she grinned at him.
[i ‘You’re fond of him…’] she whispered into Nox’s mind. [i ‘Whatever you’ve done for the boy, you have my thanks, though I know you do not need or want it. You have it.’] She did feel partially responsible for him. She smiled to Odin then and reached out to clasp his shoulder.
“You were always useful, Son of War. Now you have been given an obvious gift, use it well,” She advised and looked him over as if proud of him. In truth she could see he was calmer, more at peace with himself, and it made her happy to see him so. That was undoubtedly Gwendolyn who felt a mother’s pride at the sight of him, while Eris admired the warrior he was. Destiny saw a fine young man coming into his own. “Now, Prince Odin… help me organize the people. We cannot leave this village broken when we are the ones who broke it. Let’s begin repairs, shall we?” She offered him the opportunity to lead, to be the Prince and a leader of Soultice, to be the man he man he was meant to be. Even Destiny could see it: Alexandros was King.. but Odin was their leader.

From where she stood Ursula said not a word. She cradled Freja to her, knowing that the first kill was always the hardest, and poor Freja was undoubtedly troubled by it. Ursula would help her cope and move forward. She had to, they had little time. Freja would have to learn quickly that Death is inevitable for mortal men, and she might soon find herself in a position to kill or be killed. Ursula would rather Freja kill, for may the Gods have Mercy on the poor soul who harmed the child. However, Ursula was distracted. The sight of Nox was a constant reminder that she would have to leave soon. The next full moon was weeks away, and they still had one last Guardsman to find. She watched Nox’s every move, still trying to wrap her head around what it was he had bartered for her soul, and why on Earth he wanted her in the first place. Ursula had been asleep in Arethousa’s armory for nearly three hundred years. He hadn’t wanted her then, why want her now?
  Veros / darien / 1d 19h 35m 52s
It was as if the world was running in slow motion around her. She didn’t even feel the heat from the flames or taste the smoke that filled the air. All she could do was stare down at the blank eyes of the man who lay dead only a few feet away. The man she had killed…

[i “He is guilty… this is what he’s always feared… the day you overcome him. He is a liar and a traitor, and a murderer of the Ta’taran people. You are one of The Amphi’s chosen ones. It is your duty to protect the people and to wipe away those that threaten our livelihood. You want to be a Ta’taran warrior, a Valkyrie like me? A Master Guard of Destiny? Then uphold justice. Protect her, save her, and end him.”]

She felt numb. The same kind of numbness she had felt all of those nights in her tattered tent. Alone. Cold. Battered by the wind and the snow. But this time she was battered by a strange sense of confusion and fear. This man… she had killed him. She was torn between horror at what she’d done… and happiness. Relief that he lay dead before her. Had she made the right choice? “Thank you, Freja... for saving me.” Feeling the hand rest atop her head, it drew her out of her focus and Freja blinked, her lavender eyes shifting upwards to find Destiny smiling down at her. Another hand squeezed her shoulder and she looked over to see Ursula giving her the same smirk of approval. For the first time, she didn’t smile back; not making a sound even as the Vlkyrie scooped her up and carried her outside, the rest of their group coming behind them. Nox and Odin met them in the clearing out front; the rest of the villagers rushing to scoop up snow in an effort to put out the fire that blazed about the temple. Calder and Apollo stood together using their powers to shower douse the flames with water. "Old friend, you have impeccable timing, and my thanks."

Nox arched a brow. “Always in trouble,” he muttered. Destiny merely smiled.
"Will you be traveling with us from here? Now that Kolgrim has been exposed and control of the village returned to Vi'Ktor... there is no more need for us to stay here. We leave at first light tomorrow, and would welcome your company."
“I suppose I could stick around for a while. Make sure you all don’t die. Once you have found the last Guardsman I will take my leave. Escort the Valkyrie back to Winterfey,” he nodded in her direction. Destiny nodded, lifting a hand to her throat where deep gouges and blisters patterned her flesh. “You took damage…” he said. She nodded.
“It will heal in time,” she murmured. Though she had the ability to heal herself, it took awhile unlike her ability to heal others. Without warning, however, Odin suddenly reached out and pressed his gloved hand to her shoulder. A ripple of power went through her and suddenly her injuries healed before their very eyes. When Destiny questioned this, Nox set his hand on the prince’s shoulder.
“I think you’ll find that some much needed changes have been made.”
“Yeah. I’m useful now…” Odin muttered and dropped his hand as he rolled his eyes.
  Freja / Malachi / 1d 20h 7m 1s
Sure enough Kolgrim tried to brush the accusations off and it caused a smirk to grace Destiny’s face. A smirk that only grew when Vi’ktor managed to connect the dots. She saw Kolgrim going to make a run for it, but with a simple wave of her hand the doors slammed shut, and kept him in sight. Within moments, Vi’ktors men acted on his command and seized Kolgrim from getting away even as his threats flew across the room. Destiny remained impassive, allowing Kolgrim and Vi’ktor to have their spat for the whole of the village to see and make their own conclusions. From her seat, Eva watched nervously, and glanced back at Ursula who remained where she stood holding Freja’s hand.
“You’ll be glad if I don’t see you hanged!” Vi’ktor threatened. Suddenly Kolgrim grinned and it was a smile Eva did not particularly care for.
“I’d like to see you try.”
“Watch out!” Eva had just enough time to realize what Kolgrim was to do when he threw off his captors into the walls with a massive gust of air. Destiny’s eyes merely narrowed in irritation, but it was Ursula who hissed menacingly towards the fallen Priest. He threatened little Freja, confessed to her father’s murder and Ursula moved to stand protectively in front of Freja.
“You come near her and I will cut you in half with my bare hands,” Ursula growled. Eva felt a tug on her arm and saw Palo trying to pull her away from Destiny and Ursula. She frowned, but allowed Palo to lead her away to some distance of safety.

“Congratulations. You’ve solved the little mystery.” Kolgrim turned on Destiny who had yet to even react towards him. “And what did it get you?” Destiny said nothing, simply watched as he used his powers to lock the doors and knocked the torches from their mounts on the wall with a single gust of wind. The dry hay on the floor caught immediately, and before long the sanctum began to fill with smoke and screams of the villagers as they panicked and rushed the doors, trying desperately to free themselves. She glared as the smoke began to fill the room and cast it in a flare of orange color. From where she stood beside Palo, Eva and Palo quickly banded together to get away from the spreading flames.
“Mama!” Eva called and caught Destiny’s silver eyes, but before the angel could reach her, Eva spotted Kolgrim. Kyrain had been distracted helping the villagers, and Ursula with the stunned and shocked Freja. “Behind you!” She watched in horror as Destiny barely managed to look over her shoulder before a cord of golden thread and sharp cut quartz burned her skin. Destiny screeched out in pain, causing the rafters to shake from the lightning storm above.

Destiny’s skin was burning, sizzling just like the fires around them, and blood trickled down her chest where the quartz cut into her flesh.
“You will pay for this…” Destiny hissed. Eva was helpless to watch as even Kyrain was stayed by Kolgrim who pressed a knife into Destiny’s side. It was a blatant threat and Eva could feel her blood boiling, and her gums ached to dip her fangs into the man’s flesh and rip his throat out. Eva had no idea what was being whispered into her mother’s ear, but by the look of it, it wasn’t good, and then she laughed.
“You are a damned fool, Kolgrim…” Destiny managed to rasp on a choked chuckle.
“Let her go!” Eva tried ready to spring forward, but Palo grabbed her and pulled her back.
“Eva, no… he’ll kill her!” he tried.
“No, Kolgrim you unhand her!” Eva managed to break away until Kolgrim pressed the blade into Destiny’s side and cause more blood to stain her tunic. Despite all that, Destiny raised a hand towards Eva, halting her in place.
“Shut your mouth, conniving little witch!” he snapped. “Don’t think I didn’t see straight through the game you played with me last night, whore!” His insult caused Eva’s cheeks to flush darkly with embarrassment, and even Palo stepped up to throw his own insult, but neither of them got the chance…

Across the room Ursula stood with Freja, her eyes gleaming a cold and lethal silver that the child could have truly passed for Ursula’s Valkyrie child. Ursula was knelt down beside Freja whispering to her, words Eva could only imagine.
“No Ursula… don’t…” Eva breathed, but even Ursula looked blood thirsty and watched with pride and joy as Freja choked the life out of Kolgrim.
“He is guilty… this is what he’s always feared… the day you overcome him. He is a liar and a traitor, and a murderer of the Ta’taran people. You are one of The Amphi’s chosen ones. It is your duty to protect the people and to wipe away those that threaten our livelihood. You want to be a Ta’taran warrior, a Valkyrie like me? A Master Guard of Destiny? Then uphold justice. Protect her, save her, and end him. If you do not, then I will. By your hand or another, this man will die… and if you do not act soon… he will kill you too.” Sure enough Freja reached out with her powers, and Ursula could taste her anger, her sadness and frustration. Ursula watched Kolgrim rip at his face, trying to pry away the invisible force that confined him to breathing smoke. He dropped Destiny before he fell himself. Only then did Eva rush Destiny, Palo quick at her side to drag her to some semblance of safety and away from the reaching flames. Ursula watched from beside Freja, a glimmer in her eyes and a look of absolute pride when the man finally dropped, and his body twitched before going still. “That’s my little Valkyrie…” Ursula crooned, and wrapped Freja into her arms. For a moment, Ursula and Eva locked eyes and Eva looked worried that Ursula would flee with her prize, Freja, and leave them all behind to burn.

It never came to pass, as the moment Kolgrim finally succumbed to death, and Destiny was able to catch her breath in Eva’s arms, the door exploded open with a burst of power. Eva shielded Destiny with Palo, while Ursula covered Freja. The open door allowed the smoke to be pulled outside, allowing all of them to breathe better, but it didn't take away the fire. The rush of oxygen allowed it to spread faster. Villagers rushed to the doors making a quick exit. Eva lifted her head enough to see Ursula and Freja already gone from the sanctuary, and quickly went to help her mother stand up, with no luck. The fires still moved in on Eva, Palo and Destiny, locking them in the space they were in. Eva did not know how damaging Quartz could be to an angel, and was shocked by how drained of energy Destiny seemed to be.
“Palo help me!” Eva tried, attempting to pull her mother up to her feet.
“Holy shit...it's Odin,” Palo breathed, and Eva finally turned to see none other than Odin standing in the doorway. Or she thought it was Odin. He looked different, and frightening… most certainly darker, and with a glance behind him she saw Nox. Eva knew Nox had something to do with this change and she could only wonder what the Fey God had done now to her precious Odin. How much had he changed again?
“Odin…” She breathed, and reached for him, but a hand grabbed hers and she saw it was Destiny, who had regained consciousness, grabbing both her and Palo.

Eva felt the pressure drown her from all sides and choked in the darkness before reappearing out in the courtyard. Eva blinked at the change of scenery and the change from fire to ice. With the last bit of her strength and a fleeting moment of consciousness, Destiny had phased them from the fires to the snowy courtyard.
“Mother!” She gasped as Destiny fell backwards into the snow.
“Destiny,” Palo called with her and the two of them attempted to wake her. The band of quartz was still around Destiny’s neck, hanging loosely and Palo quickly and carefully removed it from her where it continued to sear her flesh. Palo looked it over, nothing short of stunned and looked to Eva. “I bet he planned to use this the whole time. He knew how to weaken Destiny enough to destroy her.” Eva grit her teeth at that as she cradled her mother’s head in her lap.
“Get it away from her,” Palo nodded and tossed the bloody cord far away into the snow. “Mama… mama? Please wake up,” Eva tried, and sure enough Destiny’s eyes peeled open and looked around.
“I’m not going to die child… Kolgrim was smarter than I anticipated.”
“Mama!” Eva gasped and quickly wrapped Destiny in her arms. Destiny merely laid there and looked up at the sky.
“Welcome back Destiny!” Palo greeted with a grin, and patted his chest to confirm for maybe the hundredth time that Iona was still tucked safely against him.
“Come on, help me up out of this snow…” Eva nodded quickly helping Destiny with Palo’s help to bring the weakened Destiny to her feet.

Villagers still occupied the courtyard, busy listening to Vi’ktor’s orders to put the fire out and save the temple. The other Temple Priests and the Priestess were rounded up and arrested until trials could be preformed, but Kolgrim remained inside, catching fire and burning to ash. Eva, Palo and Destiny were approached then by Ursula and Freja. Ursula said nothing, but simply put Freja’s hand in Eva’s. They weren’t the only ones to approach, because Ursula turned and promptly fell to a knee before Nox, and beside him was Odin. Immediately Eva lowered her eyes and her gaze from Odin. The previous night’s exchange still stung too harshly for Eva, and she had no idea what was up or down with Odin anymore.

In the end though, Eva’s frustrations won out and she glared at her mother. “You underestimated Kolgrim, and you could have gotten yourself killed. What would I have told father then?” Eva demanded. Destiny actually blanched at the severity of Eva’s sweet face.
“He wasn’t going to kill me-”
“Not my point! You allow the half of you that is Eris to be too arrogant, putting my mother in danger. Don’t forget, it’s her body you’re riding around in!” She snapped turning on Ursula who had managed to get back to her feet. “You instigated poor Freja to kill Kolgrim! How could you?” Ursula seemed unphased and shrugged.
“The man was to die no matter what. Freja will have to learn to kill her enemies soon enough. I am ensuring she is capable, something you are still struggling with.”
“I am not a murderer!”
“And you say she is?” Ursula challenged back defensively. “I simply helped a Master Guard save Destiny. I encouraged one of the Amphi’s chosen ones to met out Justice for all of Soulstice. I did not encourage murder, I encouraged the strength to do what is necessary.”
“And what of mercy?” Eva tried.
“Mercy is admirable,” Destiny cut in. “But in times, not possible. Would you show Tierenan mercy?” Eva went silent, as they all knew she wouldn’t. She’d kill him where he stood if given the chance. “I didn’t think so. Return to the cottage, check on your sister and find a method to calm yourself,” Destiny ordered. Eva grit her teeth, once again being treated like a child, and a tool. Without looking at any of them, especially Odin, she turned on her heel and began trekking down the mountainside, but not before she stopped and picked up the cord of quartz….

With Eva gone, Destiny turned to Freja and offered a warm smile. "Thank you, Freja... for saving me," Destiny said and pressed a hand to the top of the child's head before she addressed Nox. "Old friend, you have impeccable timing, and my thanks." She glanced over at Odin, as if appraising him. She sensed greater power in him, and a bond to Nox. "Will you be traveling with us from here? Now that Kolgrim has been exposed and control of the village returned to Vi'Ktor... there is no more need for us to stay here. We leave at first light tomorrow, and would welcome your company."
  Veros / darien / 9d 2h 8m 34s
The group reached the Temple and its doors, but Destiny lingered back, holding Ursula and Freja with her. Ursula frowned to look at her, while the group continued forward into the temple. Freja merely held tight to her hand, her rag doll clutched tight to her chest. “What is it?” the Valkyrie asked.
“Stay out of sight with Freja for now.” The child blinked, her blue eyes wide with fear as she stared up at the two women. “Make certain all the villagers are in the temple before you come to join us. Wait to enter until after the benediction,” she advised. Ursula glared.
“We are not your show ponies,” she warned. Destiny smirked.
“You’re the Pony, not her. Honestly, Ursula…” she shook her head and turned vanishing as well. Freja blinked, looking around; not having expected her sudden disappearance. “Alright, [i litum blomst],” Ursula murmured, capturing her attention as she picked Freja up, anchoring her on her knee. Immediately the child wrapped her arms around the Valkyrie’s neck, hands clutched tight around her toy.
“Where are we going, Lady?” she asked, unable to hide the slight tremble in her voice. Ursula merely smiled, her eyes glimmering with power.
“Hold your breath.” Innocently, the little girl sucked in a deep breath and held it and Ursula smiled at her. Suddenly the air around them warped, but before she could even speculate on what was happening, Freja found herself being compressed by all sides by an invisible force. It squeezed her like a vice, so much so it was almost painful. The world in front of her spun so fast that when it finally righted, only a moment later, Freja could hardly hold her head up.

They had materialized just inside the thick trees that surrounded the temple, and they watched from their hiding place as the last of the villagers entered the temple, Palo tucking Iona into his parka much the same way Nox had. The god himself, as well as Odin, still had yet to even make an appearance. Ursula glanced down at Freja, still holding her and saw the green cast of her face. “Take slow deep breaths, the nausea will pass. You’ll get used to it,” Ursula told her.
“Are you magic?” the girl asked as she was set down in the snow.
“In time I will answer all of your questions, but not right now,” she said placing a finger to her own lips to silence Freja’s curiosity. Above them the bells tolled to signal the start of the service, and Freja bit her lip, peering out cautiously from behind the trunk of a tree. She looked torn between fear and desperation. A hand on her head had her looking up, the silver ornaments in her hair jingling. “Don’t be afraid, little one,” she said gently.
“I’m not there. They’ll look outside in a little while. They always do. If I’m not there…” She fell quiet, bringing a frown to the woman’s lips.
“If you’re not there, what would they do?” Freja hesitated for a moment, as if terrified anyone should find out. “What would they do to you, Freja?” she demanded. Freja swallowed tightly.
“I get switched…”
“Switched?” The child nodded.
“With a branch. They switch me for my sins… I’m not allowed inside but I have to be at temple, cause everyone has to be. It’s ok though. I like the music.” Ursula was not amused. With fire in her eyes she looked over at the temple doors with new determination.

Sure enough one of the heavy doors creaked open and Father Alvasad stuck his balding head out, looking around. Just as the child had foretold, he quickly concluded that Freja was not there and his mouth pinched further into a look of anger. As if deciding that it was a perfect time, Ursula took Freja by the hand and lead her out from behind the trees with definitive steps. Hearing their boots crunch in the snow, Alvasad looked over and his expression immediately changed, seeing Ursula with her. He ducked back inside, no doubt to inform the priests. The Valkyrie smiled, but there was no amusement in it; only dark sadism. “Alright kiddo, it’s show time,” she said and gave Freja’s hand a tight squeeze, but before they went in, she knelt down to be eye level with her. Ursula’s look was stern and serious as she held Freja’s chin between two fingers. “You walk in there with your head high. You understand me? Do not show them any fear. Be like this mountain, unmoving and strong. I will be with you every step of the way, and I will not let them take you from me. If anyone should be afraid of anything, the priests should be afraid of me,” she warned and rose to her feet. Freja’s lip almost quivered.
“You won’t let them take me away from you?” she asked, her voice so strained by fear it was a whisper. Ursula gave a sharp nod.
“No one will ever take you anywhere, ever again Freja. You have my word. And a Valkyrie’s word is sacred.” Freja stared up at her even as Ursula lead her towards the door, a look of awe replacing the fear.

Inside the temple, in the large center hall, the villagers gathered. The temple was built into the cliffside, allowing for a large inner sanctum that fit the entire village comfortably. There were no chairs or pews as in most temples, but rather the men, women, and children sat upon the floor, which was strewn with a thick layer of warm, dry hay. Tapestries depicting the eight celestial interludes of the Amphi hung at strategic points from the stone walls, and at far corner of the room was the large, impressive alter on which sat the goblets, statues, incense burners, and other religious articles. The air was filled with a subtle sweet scent of burning minerals, and Father Kolgrim stood before the alter facing the congregation. In his hands, he held the massive tome of the scriptures. The other priests sat off to the side holding their lit candles.

They were nearing the sanctuary doors when they heard Destiny speak. “High Priest, I do hate to interrupt you before you begin, but not all from the village are here, and I commanded that every member of the Village be present,” Destiny stated coolly. “Did I not say that, General Valdernacht?”
“You did, Lady Destiny,” Kyrain answered. The door into the sanctuary opened then and everyone turned to see Ursula entering the Sanctuary holding Freja’s hand.
“All Accounted for, your Holiness,” Ursula stated. Around the room, the hushed murmurs of the villagers buzzed in the air, and eyes wandered about between Freja, Destiny, and the High Priest.
“Lady Destiny, that child is an abomination, surely you see the corruption in her?” Father Alvasad stated with a furor. Destiny merely arched a brow at him and his mouth snapped shut before he could speak another word. His face twisted into one of confusion, a hand raised and pressed to his mouth as if trying to pry his lips apart.
“I see corruption clearly, and it is not in her,” Destiny answered, her tone laced with an acidity that had the entire congregation silent. Gracefully she lifted a hand and gestured to Freja who all but tried to melt into Ursula’s side, her face rife with confusion and fear. “Look upon her. What do you see? A Child, faulted for the sins of her parents? The last time I conversed with the Amphi, they did not mention love was limited by one’s ability to bend their element. Nor were children to suffer the faults of their elders…” She turned to face the village then, a fire in her eyes and a warning in her tone.

This time, her hand pointed towards Kolgrim; sharp claw glittering in the candle light. “This man who claims to have only your best interests at heart, is a fraud.” Immediately, the word had the villagers murmuring between them, while the priests glanced amongst themselves with nervous gazes. Kolgrim, however, merely stared her down; his blue eyes icy. Dressed in his robes he looked the pinnacle of his usual, holy self; around his waist a glittering cord dripping with pieces of quartz catching the light. Where he stood, Kyrian subtly placed his hand to the hilt of his blade. “He is no High Priest,” she continued. “He does not speak to the Gods and they do not speak to him. He has lied to you when he says he delivers a message from the Gods. He does not have that power… Only I do,” she said, her voice resonating against the stone walls of the sanctuary. Destiny turned to face Father Kolgrim then, a dark glimmer in her eyes. “You call her an abomination, but I have evidence you are no different from her. Born of two elemental parents -the same as you.” The murmur reached a fever pitch, and for only a moment Kolgrim’s stony demeanor slipped; the glimmer of uncertainty flashing across his gaze. Destiny held out her hand and there was a flash of light and a whisp of white smoke over her palm, from which manifested the heavy brown, leather bound census. Without a word she turned and handed the tome to Vi’ktor who was seated in one of the only two chairs the sanctum claimed; Nadja seated beside him in the second. With a look of utter confusion he took it and read over the written notes, before turning the page. Slowly his frown deepened, lips parting in shock as he took in the meaning of the words before him. Where he stood, Kolgrim’s appearance became stony and finally he turned, forcing a look of annoyance. “I haven’t the time for this!” he snapped with a wave of his hand. “I have a sermon to conduct.”
“You will conduct nothing,” Vi’ktor stopped him, glaring at the man as he stood, handing the book to Nadja who held it with a look of fierce determination. “Not in this village any longer. You are no priest.”
“Heresy!” Father Alsvad claimed with a raised fist.
“Shut up!” Kolgrim hissed at him, shoving the priest to the ground as he stomped past, heading towards back door that lead to the offices. Before he reached them however, they slammed shut; courtesy of Destiny’s gifts. Jaw clenched he turned to glare at her.

“Seize him!” Vi’ktor commanded, jabbing a finger in his direction. A few of the men, armed with their blades got to their feet and quickly grabbed the priest.
“Unhand me!” Kolgrim ordered glaring at the chief. “Or you will regret this.”
“The only thing I regret is placing my trust in you,” Vi’ktor growled.
“You should be groveling my feet, you fool!” he spat. “For years this village suffered under the hand of men like you- powerless and stupid. I took it from nothing and gave you everything! And now because some woman claims to be Destiny and shows you a bloody book you think you have the right to treat me like a dog?” Vi’ktor glared at him.
“That woman is Destiny. The one we’ve waited for. She’s opened my eyes to your treachery. And you’ll be glad if I don’t see you hanged!” Suddenly Kolgrim grinned.
“I’d like to see you try.” And with that he suddenly jerked out his arms, sending the men who held onto him flying across the room to slam into the adjacent walls with a gust of air; proving that he did indeed have the power to control air. It made the torches sputter and flicker as his eyes grew silver, and he did not hesitate to train those eyes on little Freja. “I should have killed you the day you were born. It would have easy. Like snapping a twig. Almost as satisfying as when I took that axe and put in into the back of your father’s head.” Her eyes widened and Kolgrim merely looked over at Destiny. “Congratulations. You’ve solved the little mystery. And what did it get you?” He merely smirked and lifted a hand, flicking his fingers. There came a loud clang as the heavy timber blocks fell and latched the doors closed from the outside. He swept his hands out again suddenly several of the torches shuddered and fell from their stays onto the floor. The dry hay caught immediately, and before long the sanctum began to fill with smoke and screams of the villagers as they panicked and rushed the doors, trying desperately to free themselves.

Destiny immediately began to toss out directives to her team, but before she could make a move on her own, Kolgrim was suddenly behind her; the quartz-laden cord gripped in his hand. He tossed it over her head, and suddenly yanked back, the gems gouging into her throat as he yanked her back against him. Kyrian saw it and moved to help free her, but Kolgrim had a hidden dagger unsheathed in and instant, pressing into her side. “I wouldn’t. I really wouldn’t…” he hissed, eyes gleaming. Pressing his lips to her ear, he grinned. “You’ve taken everything from me, you meddling bitch. And now, I’m going to take everything from you. You’ll die with them.” Even as the air grew hazy with smoke, and Eva demanded her release, Kolgrim merely pressed the blade firmer against her, gripping the quartz band ever tighter around her throat. “Shut your mouth, conniving little witch!” he snapped. “Don’t think I didn’t see straight through the game you played with me last night, whore!” He would have continued to threaten them but suddenly his voice cut off, eyes bulged as his brow furrowed. After a moment he began to make choking sounds, dropping the dagger to the floor and releasing his grip on the quartz band. His hand flew up to his throat as he stumbled backwards and after a moment it became apparent that the smoke was swirling around his head cutting off his air supply. As he dropped to his knees, hands tearing at the invisible force, his gaze shifted to Freja who stood there, hands fisted to the sides, tears dripping down her cheeks as she glared at him; her own eyes flashing silver. Finally her powers overcame him and he slumped to the ground; eyes glazed over with death.

At the same time, the locked door exploded in a flash of light and wood, and standing before it was a figure; hand raised and fingers sizzling with power. It was Odin… but it didn’t look like the Odin they knew. He was taller, more muscular, and dressed head to toe in menacing black, leather armor. His hair fluttered out behind him in a curtain of blood red with black streaks, and his eyes were cut through with a starburst of black and silver; fangs peeking from beneath his upper lip. A little ways behind him stood Nox with his arms crossed and a look of boredom painting his features as the villagers rushed out into the freedom of the falling snow.
  Freja / Malachi / 10d 21h 19m 20s
“You mean… you’re keeping me?” Ursula heard Freja ask as she stepped into a pair of trews to warm her legs up.
“Of course we are,” Ursula stated as if it should have been obvious. She scratched at her head, of course the day would get started and she’d finally feel a bit drowsy. “What the matter?” She asked looking down at Freja when the girl remained quiet and pensive. Without warning she dove for her and buried her face against Ursula’s stomach. She stood there, shocked by sensation of those small arms around her. For a moment Ursula couldn’t move, too stunned by the openness of this small little girl. Ursula swallowed tensely and glanced down at the head of platinum hair and felt her tiny shivers and felt her tunic grow damp. Ursula felt something in her soften, and she reached down to pry the little girl off of her. “Now now…” She chided softly and lowered herself to be eye level with Freja. “What is this about?” She asked, crooking a finger under Freja’s chin and lifting her teary face.
“I had bad dreams!” Freja murmured.
“Bad dreams?” Ursula asked with concern painted on her features and in her voice.
“I was sick and it gave me bad dreams. I dreamed you left me. And I didn’t want you to. Oh I didn’t! I’m so happy! I wanna always go with you!” Ursula merely smiled, though her eyes shone with uncertainty even as she calmed the child.

Ursula knew there would be places Freja could not go with her, and one of those places was going to happen sooner than later. It had been so long since she had comforted any creature other than Juger, and generally it was the War Horse comforting her. The sweet affection Freja gifted her so willingly was strange to Ursula. She could only sigh and brushed the tears from her face, careful of her nails.
“Well Freja, there are times I might have to go somewhere you can’t. Today is not that day,” she offered a small smile, and smoothed a hand over Freja’s head cupping her cheek. “I can promise you, that if ever I am away, you will have others to keep you company. Princess Evangeline I know will take good care of you.” Ursula and Freja were interrupted by a knock at the door. “Enter,” Ursula called, rising back to her full height and saw Yanai walk into the room.
“Oi, little one. You are awake! Is a good thing! You feeling better then, yes?” Freja nodded and Yanai smiled and carried the bowls over, handing one to her and one to Urusla. Ursula took it and looked at Yanai with a hidden grin. Hadn’t they had this conversation already? She set her’s aside to save for Freja should she want it.
“Eat Freja,” Ursula told her and sat her in the chair Kyrain had slept in.
“It’s a cold one today,” Yanai mused. “We must make sure we eat good and keep warm.” Suddenly she spied the uniform and examined it. “What’s this then?”
“Destiny brought it to me this morning,” Ursula informed her.
“So… you are one of us, eh?” Yanai asked Freja. Freja cocked her head to the side, looking adorable with the spoon in her mouth.
“One of you?” she questioned, her mouth full.
“Oi. A Mastergard. It means you’ve been chosen by the Amphi.” Freja paused, her brow furrowing.
“The Amphi? No. I don’t think so.”
“So you think The Pathfinder is wrong?” Ursula challenged. Freja only shrugged.
“I’m an abomination. The fathers say that I was a mistake and that the Amphi doesn’t make mistakes… So they don’t like me.” She was so nonchalant about it, but when you grow up believing one thing, it almost become a basic understanding. Ursula and Yanai shared a look both of them disgusted a child would think so little of themselves and accept it so willingly.

Yanai stayed a moment longer before leaving them to get ready. Ursula let Freja eat to her heart’s content. When her belly was full and bloated from the food, Ursula was content and so was Freja. It had been so long since Ursula had cared for a child. Belle had been too frightened of her -and for good reason. Ursula had tried a couple of times, but Belle only ever wanted Oisin. Freja was open and receptive, and it helped that Ursula’s mind was clear and she was able to redefine herself. Ursula knew Freja need a full bath, and her hair needed cut… if she could get a comb through it. For now it would have to wait, and she dressed Freja in warm new socks, underpants and tunic. She fitted her into the Guardsmen uniform next and helped lace up her new boots. “I’d say you look like you’ll fit in just perfectly,” Ursula teased when the last lace was in place. Freja gifted her another hug before grabbing her doll and jumping on the bed excitedly as Ursula dressed herself. She dressed herself in her own Guards uniform, and brushed her hair out, and began to plait it to cover her ears. She could see Freja watching curiously as she played with her doll, and the questions brimming in her eyes as she was finally noticing the oddities about Ursula. In time Ursula would answer her questions. For now it was time to leave.

Ursula was finished getting dress, stepped into her boots, and donned her silver gauntlets. She wore her weapons at her hips and tucked her hidden knives in her boots. A Warrior first, Ursula never went anywhere without being prepared for a fight. She snatched a cloak off of the dressed and snagged Freja from her playtime.
“Time to go,” She said and held the cloak out. Freja obediently let Ursula snap the toggles together.
“it’s just like Yule came early!” Ursula chuckled, and patted a hand to Freja’s chest once she was finished and the little girl did a turn. “Don’t I look so pretty!” Ursula smiled warmly at her and nodded her head.
“The prettiest.”
“I look like you! And you’re the prettiest in the whole world!” If Ursula had a heart it would have skipped a beat.
She cupped Freja’s cheek and grinned, “And you look like a little fairy, just as mischievous as one too,” She teased and held out her hand for Freja.

They walked hand in hand up the path towards the temple. Mira was still in bed resting, and with the upcoming blizzard, it was paramount she begin to feel better soon. On the walk Eva chatted with Freja, Destiny lingered in the back silently, and Palo carried Iona on his shoulder.
“You had best hide her before we reach the doors,” Eva had warned. Palo only stuck his tongue out as a response, but tucked her away in his pocket all the same. Ursula could see something was wrong with Eva, what is was, she wasn’t sure. She would find out eventually, for now she felt Freja’s feet begin to drag in the snow, and she curled in tighter out of fear to Ursula.

The group reached the Temple and its doors, but Destiny lingered back, holding Ursula and Freja with her. Ursula frowned to look at her, while the group continued forward into the temple.
“What is it?”
“Stay out of sight with Freja for now. Make certain all the villagers are in the temple before you come to join us. Wait to enter until after the Benediction,” she advised. Ursula glared.
“We are not your show ponies,” she warned.
Destiny smirked but informed Ursula, “You’re the Pony, not her. Honestly, Ursula…” Destiny shook her head and turned vanishing as well. Stunned as Ursula was, she noticed where Destiny materialized on one of the spires of the temple. Ursula glared wanting to disobey, but knowing at this point to do so would be disobeying her new master. Not to put too fine a point, but Ursula was far less inclined to cross Oberon than she had been to cross Arethousa. He was still a God.
“Alright, litum blomst,” she murmured and picked Freja up. “Hold your breath.” Ursula gave Freja a moment to take a deep breath and then the two were gone.

Ursula materialized with Freja inside the thick trees that surrounded the temple, and they watched from their hiding place as the last of the villagers entered the temple. The last to go in where Kyrain and a sour looking Odin. Ursula glanced down at Freja, still holding her and saw the green cast of her face.
“Take slow deep breaths, the nausea will pass. You’ll get used to it,” Ursula told her. Freja finally asked how she did that and if she was magic, Ursula smirked. “In time I will answer all of your questions, but not right now,” She said placing a finger to her own lips to silence Freja’s curiosity. Above them the bells tolled to signal the start of the service, and from her spire Destiny vanished once again.

The courtyard was quiet and empty, allowing Freja and Ursula to walk out from behind the trees and hear the High Priest call the congregation to order. The first refrains of music began and Ursula knew it was time to go.
“Alright kiddo, it’s show time,” She said and gave Freja’s hand a tight squeeze, but before they went in, she knelt down to be eye level with her. Ursula’s look was stern and serious as she held Freja’s chin between two fingers. “You walk in there with your head high. You understand me? Do not show them any fear. Be like this mountain, unmoving and strong. I will be with you every step of the way, and I will not let them take you from me. If anyone should be afraid of anything. The priests should be afraid of me,” She warned and rose to her feet. Ursula took Freja’s hand and led her into the temple.

They were nearing the sanctuary doors when they could hear Destiny speak.
“High Priest, I do hate to interrupt you before you begin, but not all from the village are here, and I commanded that every member of the Village be present,” Destiny stated cooly. “Did I not say that General Valdernacht?”
“You did, Lady Destiny,” Kyrain answered. The door into the sanctuary opened then and everyone turned to see Ursula entering the Sanctuary holding Freja’s hand.
“All Accounted for, your Holiness,” Ursula stated. Around the room, the hushed murmurs of the villagers buzzed in the air, and eyes wandered about between Freja, Destiny and the High Priest.
“Lady Destiny, that child is an abomination, surely you see the corruption in her?” Father Alvasad stated with a furor. Destiny merely arched a brow at him and his mouth snapped shut before he could speak another word. His face twisted into one of confusion.
“I see corruption clearly, and it is not in her. Look upon her. What do you see? A Child, faulted for the sins of her parents? The last time I conversed with the Amphi, they did not mention love was limited by ones ability to bend their element. Nor were children to suffer the faults of their elders…” She turned to face the village then, a fire in her eyes and a warning in her tone. “This man who claims to have only your best interest at heart is a fraud.” Destiny turned to spare him a glance, before turning her back on him once more. Kyrain stood close by, guarding her back. “He is no High Priest. He does not speak to the Gods and they do no Speak to him. He has lied to you when he says he delivers a message from the Gods. He does not have that power… Only I do,” She said her voice resonating in the silence of the sanctuary. Destiny turned to face Father Kolgrim then a dark glimmer in her eyes. “You call her an abomination, but I have evidence you are no different from her. Born of two elemental parents -the same as you.” She held out her hand and from nothing came the heavy brown leather bound census. She turned and handed it to Viktor who sat in the first pew. The book opened on it's own to show the little slips of paper notes Destiny had written in it. It was what she'd been hunting for all night. She'd let Viktor connect the dots to the murders.
  Veros / darien / 97d 8h 35m 44s
She was going to be in so much trouble! Wheezing slightly, her body still a bit weak from a near death experience, Freja paid little mind to the fact she was hardly dressed- the tunic dropping to just skim the bottom of her knees- and ran from the bedroom. It was a complete conundrum that as a child, she’d never been able to wrap her head around. She wasn’t allowed inside the temple for mass, except if it were a blizzard; where she was made to sit on the floor against the back wall. She was not allowed to join in the children’s’ activities or partake of the blessed, sweet wine passed around on yule. Yet, if she didn’t show up on temple day, she was punished severely, forced to kneel before the priests and take a birch switch to her palms, her thighs, or even the back of her neck. Yet even so, the thought of punishment wasn’t what drove her fear. She loved Lady and her happy group of companions. If they were caught helping her, they would not doubt be punished too- maybe even forced to leave. And she didn’t want them to go. They were the only ones who were kind to her.

“Morning ewa!” Otto chortled as she ran passed those gathered in the common room. She didn’t answer, too preoccupied with grabbing the front door and wrenching it open. When she did however, she gasped at the figure who stood there; arms crossed over her ample chest as she smirked down at the girl.
“L-lady!?” Freja gasped, shock halting her in her tracks.
“And where do you think you’re off to?” Ursula asked hands on her hips. For a moment Freja was too stunned to speak. How did she get all the way out here?! In the distance, however, the temple bells chimed their first few notes, signaling that the fathers were preparing. They would ring again in about thirty minutes to beckon the villagers to temple, and then once more when temple started. Hearinng the distant tones, she gasped and sprinted forward, the snow on the ground shocking her bare feet.
“I gotta- I gotta go-whoa!” she began, interrupted as a strong arm caught her around the waist and hoisted her into Ursula’s arms. She blinked, settled against her hip like a child with its mother.
“You haven’t even had breakfast yet,” she admonished with a sigh, and kicked the door shut with just enough force it slid quietly to latch itself.

“But- but!” Freja attempted as she was carried back into the bedroom. Ursula plopped her down onto the bed where she stared up at her with big violet eyes.
“Don’t you remember last night? What Destiny told you? You’re with us now.” Turning, Ursula reached out for the pile of clothes and held them out. “So, let's get dressed and eat some breakfast, yes?" Freja, took the clothes with a confused look, setting them on her lap, and she unfolded the first piece, which revealed itself to be a warm, masterguard top; its’ silver threading glittering in the firelight.
“You mean… you’re keeping me?” she finally asked, her voice a tiny, unsure squeak. Ursula assured her they were. For another moment Freja seemed speechless, but she broke it in an instant and all but flung herself at the Valkyrie, her tiny arms wrapped around her waist, while she buried her face in her stomach. When Ursula felt her own tunic grow damp, she coaxed Freja’s head up and found it wet with tears. “I had bad dreams!” Freja murmured. “I was sick and it gave me bad dreams. I dreamed you left me. And I didn’t want you to. Oh I didn’t! I’m so happy! I wanna always go with you!” Ursula merely smiled, though her eyes chone with uncertainty even as she calmed the child. She wasn’t used to comforting anyone, and it was obvious that the sweetness and affection Freja had bestowed on her was something altogether alien…

A knock at the door interrupted them and they looked to find Yanai there with her hands full of two bowls. “Oi, little one. You are awake! Is a good thing! You feeling better then, yes?” Freja nodded and Yanai smiled and carried the bowls over, handing one to her and one to Urusla. They were filled with steaming porridge, cream pooling amongst the sticky oats. “It’s a cold one today. We must make sure we eat good and keep warm.” Suddenly she spied the uniform and blinked. Reaching down she picked up the top and held it up to examine it while Freja dug hungrily into her breakfast. “What’s this then? So… you are one of us, eh?” Freja cocked her head to the side, looking adorable with the spoon in her mouth.
“One of you?” she questioned, her mouth full.
“Oi. A Mastergard. It means you’ve been chosen by the Amphi.” Freja paused, her brow furrowing.
“The Amphi? No. I don’t think so. I’m an abomination. The fathers say that I was a mistake and that the Amphi doesn’t make mistakes… So they don’t like me.” She shrugged and went back to eating, causing Yanai and Ursula to share a glance. The child had said it so nonchalantly. As if it were common knowledge. The idea was disgusting to them both.
“Well we like you, don’t we?” Yanai smirked at Ursula before setting the top down on the bed and reaching out to ruffle the child’s white hair; making the ornaments jangle. “I will see you two when you’re ready. We’ll go together.” She made to leave but paused to turn to Ursula. “Oh. Kyrian said to tell you to go on ahead without him. That he would meet us there. Said he had to go get something…” With that she closed the door behind her.

It was like having a mother- and Freja reveled in it. When she was full, only managing to stomach a third of the bowl thanks to a night of vomiting, Ursula helped her wash her face and pull the uniform over her head; tugging it to right. Freja thanked her the only way she knew how, hugging her tightly before grabbing her patchwork rag doll, and running around the room giggling while Urusla dressed. “it’s just like Yule came early!” she exclaimed as Ursula did up the toggles on her cloak. Spinning around she held out her arms. “Don’t I look so pretty! I look like you! And you’re the prettiest in the whole world!” Taking Ursula’s hand she skipped as they made their way into the great room where the others stood ready to go. Only a few faces were missing- Destiny’s included. When Ursula questioned her whereabouts, Otto hitched a thumb towards the back rooms.
“Mira still isn’t feeling well. Hana a’kur is seeing to her before we leave.”
“We’re going to have her rest up again today before we leave tomorrow,” Yanai commented, as she stood behind Evangeline, braiding the girl’s black hair.
“She’ll need to be at her best. They say another blizzard is on the way, and we should have just enough time to leave before it strikes…” When Destiny emerged, the group followed her out, Freja included, who skipped and hummed, and all the while kept her hand wrapped tightly around Ursula’s. The closer they got, however, the quieter she became, until they climbed the path and came to the temple grounds. By then Freja was all but hiding in Ursula’s side.
  Malachi / 97d 20h 32m 14s
Ursula didn’t sleep that night. Her mind was too preoccupied with the news Nox had brought with him, and the revelation that Kyrain was in love with her. Instead she laid in the bed, propped up on an elbow watching both Kyrain and Freja sleep. Kyrain had taken the chair beside the bed and wrapped himself in a thick wool blanket. He was so different -so unlike the other men she had met in her many years. Yet he reminded her of only one. She wasn’t lying when she said they did not make Ta’taran men the way they used to, and Kyrain reminded her of the Ta’tarans of Olde.

She frowned. This wasn’t supposed to happen. She wasn’t supposed to get attached to any of them -even Eva. She had come to act as a silent party and nothing more. Funny how things never went as planned. When she woke up her mind was focused on securing Tiernan’s victory against Man. Now here she was trying to save it. As she should have been. It was what she was created for. She could no longer deny that she was attached to these people. She had come to care for them, they were the coven she had been missing for so long. She saw Yanai and Eva as sisters in arms. It was uncertain where she saw Freja, but she knew what she could give Freja -if given the opportunity. She felt the same way about Kyrain in a sense. If given the opportunity to truly have the ability to offer him what he deserved from her -she knew she’d find the one man to let her experience the closest thing to love she would be able to. No heart and no soul, she was cursed -even if she did love him, and could love him… she wouldn’t be able to die.

 The sun began to rise before Ursula was ready for it to. Kyrain had already awakened, dressed, and left to go in search of Odin no doubt. Just before the light could break through Destiny entered the room silently. Ursula tilted her head back looking away from the little figure she looked over and stared at her.
“You must bring her to the temple for Mass,” Destiny whispered. Ursula around as Destiny held out a set of clothes, and boots.
“Where did you-“ Ursula stopped mid sentence at the look Destiny gave her, and Ursula pouted. “Nevermind,” She muttered and took the gear. It was just the right size for Freja, as if made for her. It was all white like the others with silver embroidery.
“The Amphi provide me with what I need, when I need it.” Destiny settled with in a quiet voice. They both spoke quietly not to wake the others, and Destiny wore a soft smile towards Freja. “You did well.” Ursula blinked and turned to look at Destiny shocked. “You found her, not us. Do not question fate. Your paths were meant to cross,” Destiny whispered and placed a hand to Ursula’s shoulder before stepping out of the room. Ursula was rendered speechless, but not enough to climb back in the bed and attempt to wake Freja up for the day.

Freja slowly came awake, and Ursula grinned, calling her name softly. The sweet thing lifted her sleepy face with confusion, and dried droll on her cheek. It was endearing and sweet.
“L-Lady?” she murmured looking to Ursula. By her tone and the dark glimmer of her eye, Ursula could smell the fear rolling off of her.
“Good morning, my dear,” she greeted.
“I gotta go!” she breathed.
“So certain?” Ursula asked watching her go. She wasn’t running away so easily this time.
“I gotta! It’s temple day. And- and if the fathers find out you let me sleep here inside, you’re gonna get in big trouble! And I’ll get switched!” She quickly made to leave the bed, bare feet padding on the floor. “I gotta go!” She shrieked on last time before throwing the door open.

Ursula lazily got up from the bed, enough to toss the sheet before she vanished. Freja had managed to the front door, but upon opening it, she found Ursula just outside the doorway.
“And where do you think you’re off to?” Ursula asked hands on her hips. Freja was stunned for a moment, but was certain she had to leave. Ursula easily plucked her out of the snow and walked back inside the hut with her. “You haven’t even had breakfast yet,” She admonished with a sigh, and kicked the door shut with just enough force it slid quietly to latch itself. “Don’t you remember last night? What Destiny told you?” Ursula gave Freja a look as she set her back down in the bed. “You’re with us now. So let's get dressed and eat some breakfast, yes?"
  Ursula, Valkyrie of the Fey / darien / 97d 21h 35m 41s
"You're coming with us, right Calder?” Calder half-sighed, half-yawned; his silky dark hair sticking up in the back as he pushed up from the reed-stuffed mattress into a sitting position.
“Yeah. Right. No. I’m just gonna hang out here while you guys go get cozy with scripture. Catch up on my sleep”
“What?!” Eva demanded, jerking her hands on her hips. “You can’t be serious! Destiny told us we [i all] had to attend.”
“Yeah well she’s your mother. Not mine.”
“Aw come on,” Palo smirked from where he sat, scratching Iona behind the ears. “You gotta be a little curious why Destiny wants to meet with this whole village, when she pretty much went into hiding in yours." Calder arched a brow.
“To be honest? I could give a crap.”
“Calder!” Eva admonished. He crossed his arms and returned her look with one of his own.
“Look, I may be a master guard, but I ain’t no errand boy. I’m a prince. And just because she says something doesn’t mean I have to listen. If I wanted to do that, I would have stayed home and taken up with the rest of my father’s advisors!” For a moment there was silence, and even the little kitten in Apollo’s hands had frozen, staring at him in surprise. Calder suddenly looked embarrassed, though no less angry, and without another word rolled over and pulled the blankets up over his head. Palo and Eva glanced at each other in confusion, and finally Eva scooped up Iona and brought her out of the room so Apollo could change. Calder didn’t say another word.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Freja didn’t remember ever having been so warm in her life. She woke slowly to the feeling of a hand on her back, rubbing gentle circles while a familiar voice called her name and coaxed her awake. Peeling her eyes open, she gave a tiny yawn and blinked, the room coming into focus. Ursula sat at her side, smiling gently. Immediately Freja’s eyes widened and she pushed up onto her knees, head turning around. Her own hair, having dried over night from the dampness of the storm, was frizzy; the metal clips that decorated so many of the braids catching the fire light. Her skin was pale, the tunic she wore slipping down to bare a bony shoulder, but her cheeks were flushed with life; something they hadn’t had when she’d come close to death just a few hours before. The bed was crumpled from where she had slept, and the chair beside it was draped with a blanket where Kyrian had spent the night so that Ursula could tend to the child. “L-Lady?” she murmured looking to Ursula. Something in her eyes was incredibly fearful. “I gotta go!” she breathed. “I gotta! It’s temple day. And- and if the fathers find out you let me sleep here inside, you’re gonna get in big trouble! And I’ll get switched!” She quickly made to leave the bed, bare feet padding on the floor. “I gotta go!”
  Freja / Malachi / 97d 22h 25m 58s
Eva listened to Yanai’s words closely. She’d tried to be patient with Odin, but every time she thought she’d made improvement, they were back to square one all over again. Eva didn’t think Yanai truly understood. She hadn’t see that dark fire in Odin’s eyes on the mountain pass. She hadn’t heard the hatred in his voice. Still she took heed of Yanai’s words, and tried to gleam a lesson from Yanai’s own life experiences.
“I love him,” She finally said and Eva nodded. No one ever doubted that about Yanai and Bowen. “That never changed, even when the world around us did. And he changed too. He went off to war, and when he came back... there were demons inside him. There still are.” Eva felt her heart hammer at that. All Odin seemed to do was fight demons in his mind these days. She saw them, but she didn’t know what to do about them. He seemed to fight with himself, and her when she got too close. It was heart breaking to watch, and heartbreaking to be on the receiving end of his madness.
“What did you do?” she whispered, desperate to know if there was a way to fix it.
“At first I tried to fight them. I demanded he change… because I thought that he had chosen those demons. But when I stopped and looked- really looked… I realized that he was fighting them just as hard as I was fighting mine.” Eva’s brow furrowed in thought, as she contemplated those words. They had changed in more than the physical sense, they had changed mentally too.

“So, instead of demanding he change… I helped him.” Eva looked at Yanai lost and confused.
“I don’t know how to help him… I thought our love would be able to fix it. I thought being together again would be enough… but it’s not.”
“Listen to me ewa… there is ab old Zabine proverb that has helped me in many grave times. Mesha fas-han ei’ejha novi’meh.”
“What does it mean?” Eva asked 
“A boulder does not roll uphill.’ It means… if you must force something you are doing it wrong. You can push a boulder uphill and expect to it to move. Push too hard? It will crush you.” Eva sighed.
“Trust me, I think I’ve been crushed already…” Eva was stilled from falling into her own self pity when Yanai placed a hand on her shoulder.
“Instead, you must work around it. And you cannot expect to simply come to the answer. You must look for it. And find it.” She shrugged with a smirk. “Odin is your boulder. Don’t push him to accept you. Don’t push him change. Help him instead. And maybe, you’ll find a way to help yourself. Oi? Now then…” She got to her feet, dusting her trousers off and offering Eva a hand. Eva reluctantly took Yanai’s hand to stand. That didn’t mean she was any closer to figuring out how to handle Odin. She wasn’t even sure what she would say to him tomorrow, and what if he spouted more hurtful words? What if he confirmed he meant what he said, and that he was done with her?
“Now then…” Eva breathed as if agreeing with Yanai, but she had other plans.
“It is late. You must sleep. Besides, no man will fall for you looking like a drowned sparrow.” She certainly felt like one. “Stop your tears. You are Valkyrie! Take pride in yourself. But do not forget- you’re still you Evangeline. You may look different… you may feel different… but you are still you. If you lose yourself… its only because you let yourself go…” With that she dragged her face in for a harsh kiss on her forehead. “Into bed!” she demanded then, spinning the princess around and smacking her bottom.

Eva was stunned by that. Yanai hadn’t let her argue, and had told her to get to bed. Eva looked at the bed and frowned. She’d gotten so used to sleeping at Odin’s side, sharing his warmth, that she could already feel the cold creeping in. Yanai took the spare bed in the room and Eva stripped down for bed, cleaned her face, and climbed under the sheets. Try as she might she couldn’t sleep. She had no idea where Odin was. Was he warm? She hoped he hadn’t done as he had in Troth’lenka and went to burry himself in a mug of ale. She was too focused on what he was doing that she couldn’t sleep. She thought about sneaking out, looking for him… when a terrible fear struck her, and it was only for a moment before it had faded away -but none the less it had crept into her mind. The horrific reality that if Odin was done with her, he could do as any male would in a bachelor state: find a woman to bed for sport and fun.
[i -What do you think he was doing while you were in fey?-] Eva felt a darkness whisper in her mind. [i -For all he knew, you could have been dead, only way for a man to take his mind off a woman is to bury himself in another…-] Eva shook her head of the thought. No. Not her Odin. He might have said he was done, but she wasn’t, and while he had hurt her feelings, she didn’t believe Odin would hurt her that way -despite what her insecurities were telling her.

Unable to sleep, Eva sat up quietly and left the room. Everyone had long since retired, but one lonely candle and figure remained at the table in the common room. Destiny sat awake going over the census book in further detail. Eva didn’t get a chance to speak when a chair beside Destiny moved on its own, out from under the table for Eva to sit down. She steeled herself and made to sit down, holding her night robe tightly around her.

“You should be asleep,” Destiny said distracted.
“I can’t sleep,” Eva answered taking up the seat. “How’s Mira doing?”
“She’s sleeping, like you should be,” Destiny turned another page and skimmed her finger down the rows of names, obviously looking for something or someone.
“Can I just speak to my mother?” Eva finally asked. Destiny stilled and turned to look at Eva.
“I can’t do that,” Eva’s heart fell at that.
“Why not?”
“Because if I did, without proper aid and close proximity to the Amphi, your mother will waste away in this place and die. I will be unable to return in time to finish my work here. When we reach Soulstice once more, I promise I will release my hold and let her heal and regain strength until the battle is to start.” Eva glared at Destiny for that, but didn’t argue the matter, instead she sat there and reached forward for the tea pot on the table and poured herself a cup.
“And if my mother dies bearing your burden?” Eva asked coldly.
“Your mother already understands what can happen to her. She is at peace with it.”
“You will destroy my father if you destroy her,” Destiny surprisingly scoffed.
“Nicodemus dooms himself. A Dark sickness lurks in the recess of his mind as it does to Odin right now,” Eva tensed and stared Destiny down.
“What do you mean? A Sickness?”
“Nicodemus has a sickness… Odin has a [i parasite]. Why the Amphi used that foul creature I will never know, but it is not my place to question my creators.”
“Can I help Odin get rid of this parasite?” Destiny looked thoughtful and shrugged, looking back to the book.
“I think you should focus on yourself. War is coming, and you are still not yet ready. I need you stronger, more focused. Just be patient with Odin and remind him that you love him. He will come back around. He is a man, and men need to be alone sometimes.”
“You… you don’t happen to know… where he’s at do you?” Destiny pinned Eva with a look.
“No. I do not. I see many things, but I can not see that. You worry too much. Now, [i Go to bed].” Eva felt the pull of Destiny’s command and Eva found herself standing up against her own will and walking towards the door, unable to argue or fight. “I have work to do…” Eva walked back into the room and directly back into her bed, where the moment she hit the pillow, Destiny’s powers took over and Eva fell fast asleep.

[center ~*~*~*~]

The morning came with a bright sun shining through the windows and illuminating the space. Palo felt something soft against his face, and when he opened his eyes he could see Iona curled up in a ball on the pillow. She was nestled right next to his head and he stared at her as she slept. What he wouldn’t give for her to be returned to her body, returned home… He just wanted to find Iona and take her home. At least for now he had her soul safe with him, and that was at least a step in the right direction. He could hear Calder starting to come awake in the bed beside him, and Palo sat up, starting iona from her slumber.
“Sorry, Kitten,” He whispered and leaned over to nuzzle her head wit his nose. “Go back to sleep. I’ll bring some food and water for you,” He said.

He shuffled out of the room to see that Yanai, Otto and Eva were awake making breakfast for their group, and Nox was seemingly no where in site. “Hey,” He said to Eva saddling up beside her. “How’d it go last night?” Eva shrugged her shoulders, the sparkle in her eyes gone and she looked exhausted. Palo tensed and dropped his voice. “That fancy priest didn’t get handsy with ya did he?” Palo demanded rolling up the sleeves of his tunic like he would go and fight for her. Eva actually grinned and shook her head.
“No… I’m just tired. I had a long night,”
“Odin?” he asked knowingly. Eva just shrugged, and turned to smile at him.
“I heard you got Iona last night. Otto told me.” Palo lit up excited.
“Yeah! She’s still asleep on my pillow, wanna see her?” Eva nodded, but quickly put a small spoonful of eggs on a plate and filled a small saucer with water. Palo knocked, poking his head in and saw Calder was at least decent. “Hey Iona,” Palo called, waking the kitten up. “Look who I got,” Eva smiled holding the small plate and saucer of water and set it down on the trunk at the foot of the bed.
“I had no idea it was you last night,” Eva said sitting on the edge of the bed and picking up Iona into her arms and hugged her. “Oh my sweet cousin. I’m so sorry I couldn’t protect you better that night,” Eva said looking into Iona’s eyes. Iona put a paw on Eva’s lips, and Eva blinked down at the cat. She yawned, showing her tiny sharp fangs and Eva knew without words what Iona was saying to her.
[i “Oh shut up will yah? Gosh this is a boring conversation, and too early in the morning to be so serious. I smell food, let’s eat some food.”] Eva only smiled and set Iona back down on end of the bed to pad over towards the food. “You’re right, it’s too early for that,” Eva said watching Iona. Palo chuckled.
“I think she’s more interested in the food right now,” As if agreeing Iona gave a strong mew. “I wonder if Nox even fed her,” Eva grinned.
“Probably not. He probably expected her to hunt her own mice-“
“Shh,” Palo hissed. “Don’t put ideas in her head. Then she’ll start doing cat stuff just to mess with me. Like…dropping dead mice at my feet or something.” He eyeballed Iona as she ate her food innocently.
“She just wants you to know she’s an accomplished hunter-“
“Oh Gods, why are you two so chatty this morning?” Calder asked rolling over to look at them. Eva looked contrite and grinned at Calder.
“I’m sorry Calder. If it makes you feel any better there’s breakfast in the common room. Destiny has already left, and the village is already gearing up for Mass.”
“Do we have to go?” Calder asked curiously with a hint of dread in his voice. Eva shrugged.
“She said the village had to attend, but we did not… I have to go though. Father Kolgrim is expecting me,”
“Then it’s settled, we’ll go with you!” Palo exclaimed. Iona mewed again in agreement. Eva grinned at him, and Palo reached out to take her shoulder in his hand.
“Thank you,” Eva murmured.
“Of course, what are friends for?" Palo turned to Calder then with a determined grin. "You're coming with us, right Calder? You gotta be a little curious why Destiny wants to meet with this whole village, when she pretty much went into hiding in yours." Palo had a point, and even Eva was curious to know what Destiny would say to the congregation considering all the evidence she found last night.
  Prince Apollo Moab"nahuatal / darien / 118d 6h 5m 13s
“After the next full moon,” he said. “We must cross when the veil is thin so we do not arouse suspicion.” Ursula gave a curt nod of her head in understanding.
“You will go with her, then?” Kyrian demanded, Ursula frowned gazing over at him. “Protect her?” Suddenly it was Kyrian on the ground, dropping to his knees. She moved to pick him up but Nox spoke, his voice distorted with power, and Ursula dared not move another muscle.
“What the hell is it with you mortals and desire to question everything I do?!” he snapped, his black eyes flashing.
“Please, Ri Ruirech, he does not know who he speaks to,” Ursula tried, but Nox ignored her again.
“Who are you to make demands of a god?” Kyrian grit his teeth sweat pooling against his brow as he fought to keep from collapsing completely. He was foolish, but his resolve to not give in had Ursula feeling a sense of pride.
“I do not… question you,” he managed between gasps. “I only wish to…. Argh!” he finally fell into the packed dirt floor. Nox let up then and it left Kyrian gasping for breath as he laid there.
“No. You do. You question me because you love her.” Ursula sucked in a stunned breath. When she looked to the ground to see Kyrain with a defeated expression, she knew Nox spoke the truth. Loved her? She knew he had some level of feelings, she knew she did too, but she had never realized the depth of those feelings. She’d so far considered herself lucky he never did cut her down. They had been ready to rip the other’s throat out when they first met, and now this? Love… a look in her gaze hoped he would confirm it, and in a way he did via his embarrassment. She knelt down beside him and collected his shoulders in her hands to help him back up. “I do not have time for your pathetic feelings. There is a war brewing and it will not stop for your emotions either.” Kyrian swallowed, managing to sit up. He wouldn’t look at her, ashamed his true emotions had been revealed. Shockingly Ursula wasn’t frightened of that, if anything it was going to make leaving him all the harder to do.
“Come on,” She whispered softly to him and helped him to stand up on his own two feet. Her gaze lingered on him, and it was heavy with sadness and guilt.

From where she stood, Destiny had finally managed to regain her composure, and she did not look happy. “You should do a better job of keeping a leash on your party,” he said coldly. Destiny’s eyes narrowed on the Fae God King, but she knew her enemies and who were not her enemies. Nox was not her enemy, and he was a God. She might have had god-like powers, but she was no God.
“Mortals are willful. I find it is better to request their assistance then to demand obedi-“
“Spare me, angel,” he muttered and was about to say something else but paused, his gaze landing on a distant doorway. They all turned to see what would have left Nox speechless and Ursula glanced behind her to see Freja, awake and poking her head out of the doorway. “You complain about a cat, yet you have a mouse on your team I see,” he murmured.
“She is the newest member,” Destiny said as Freja bolted from the room towards Ursula. Ursula opened her arm and Freja locked herself into Ursula’s side.
“She is stronger than she looks,” Ursula told him. “Do not be fooled by her tiny stature.” Nox frowned and bent over, his hands on his knees as he examined her.
“What is your name?” he asked. Ursula looked down to Freja with a nod of her head that it was safe to answer.
“Freja,” she said, and though she held onto Ursula’s hand, her voice held no fear.
“Well Freja. What are you doing out of bed?”
“That is a very good question,” Ursula murmured in agreement.
“I missed my Lady,” she answered truthfully.
“Your Lady?” She nodded and hugged Ursula’s arm.

Ursula sighed heavily and turned to hold Freja closer against her. “It’s a long story, Ri Ruirech.”
“Ursula found Freja,” Destiny suddenly said, and Ursula tensed to know what the angel would say about her. “Before we could even see her glyph, Ursula knew she was the one. They’ve formed quite the bond in just a few short days. Freja makes Ursula far more tolerable.” Ursula glared over at Destiny’s slight grin.
“What would you do if I told you, your Lady had to go away soon?” Nox suddenly asked Freja, having considered their words.
“Is she going with you” she asked. He nodded once. Freja seemed to consider it and then shook her head. “No. I don’t think so.” He arched a brow.
“Oh really?” Freja nodded and released Ursula and stepped up as if to protect her. Behind her Ursula smiled warmly at her, and rested her hands on Freja’s small bony shoulders.
“You’re mean. I don’t like you. You hurt him,” she pointed at Kyrian. “And you hurt Destiny. She might not be able to fly cause you might of hurt her wings.” Nox straightened and looked to Destiny who wore a mildly amused expression from her comment.
“How do you know I hurt her wings?”
“Well… you can’t see them right now,” Freja stated plainly, and then gave Nox an adorable look full of sass. “They’re invisdible. So how do you know you didn’t hurt them?” she demanded. Destiny chuckled from her place as Nox attempted a thoughtful expression.
“That is true.” He looked to Destiny. “Tell me Destiny, did I hurt your wings.” Destiny merely smiled.
“No. My wings are perfectly fine. My Pride on the other hand, is a different story all together,” She grinned looking to Freja. He nodded and looked to Freja expectantly. Freja wasn’t about to give up her argument though.
“Well you still could of. And then I would have had to hurt you. And that’s not nice,” she said.
“Freja,” Ursula whispered in warning, but Nox waved a hand and smirking asked Freja if she truly believed she could hurt him.
“I could,” Freja warned. “I’m an abomination. The priests told everyone I could hurt them real bad. So maybe I can. And if you try to take away Lady, I’ll make it so you hurt real bad. She’s a good person. And he is to. So you can’t take anyone away.” Suddenly she swallowed and backed up, until she was pressed against the Valkyrie.
“Freja?” Ursula asked, lowering herself into a squat, to see what the matter was with Freja.
“Please don’t take her away!” She begged Nox. “If you do I’ll have to go back. I don’t… I don’t wanna… I don’t wanna go back!” She was on the verge of hysterics and Ursula turned the little girl to face her and held her tight.
“Shhh little one,” She cooed, rocking her gently.
“Don’t go away!” she sniffled into Ursula’s shoulder. 

Ursula glanced over Freja to Nox and frowned. His expression was one of firm resolve, to do what needed to be done, and that meant having to explain things to Freja.
“Oh my sweet Freja… listen to me,” She said softly, cupping the little girl’s face and forcing her up from her shoulder to look at her. “Do you know how King Alexandros is your king?” Freja nodded her head and Ursula gave her a sad smile. “Nox is my King. He is my…. Master, and I must do as he commands,” Ursula told her gently, and wiped away a few rouge tears from Freja’s cheeks. “We have until the next Full Moon, but by then you’ll already be so far away from this place the Priests won’t be able to find you anymore. But I have a mission to do. I am a Valkyrie, and Valkyrie are warriors. We are soldiers. It is in my blood to fight and conquer, and if I do not go everything Destiny is trying to accomplish could be destroyed before she gets the chance to make a move. I have to go so I can make sure beautiful little girls like you do not have to live in a war-torn world.”

“Are you coming back?” Freja asked with a whimper. Ursula’s brows furrowed and she glanced to Nox. His expression left nothing to guess from, and so with a heavy sigh Ursula looked back in Freja’s eyes.
“I hope so,” She answered truthfully. “You are too young to truly understand, but we are going to war. People get hurt and sometimes they don’t come home when they go to War.”
“Can I come with you?” She turned to look at Kyrain then, a sadness and longing in her gaze. She knew how he felt now, and a similar question was probably brewing in the back of his mind.
“No, it is too dangerous for you, She said, speaking to both Kyrain and Freja in that moment. “I have to go alone, it is the only way.” She looked back at Freja then who looked supremely depressed by this news. “Oh now,” Ursula said forcing a smile, and crooking a finger under Freja’s chin. “Do not look so. I am strong, you said so yourself. I can defeat any enemy in my path. And while I am away at War, I will be happy in the knowledge that I know you are still safe. With them,” She nodded her head towards Destiny, Kyrain, and Nereus who still remained in the room. “I am not going to leave you alone, you are now in the Company of Destiny and therefore surrounded by friends. They will take care of you while I am away, but I have a mission for you now,” Freja seemed to perk up at that.
“What can I do?” she asked so innocently, that Ursula smiled fondly at the little girl.
“Your mission is to push yourself. See how strong you truly are, and to not fear your powers. I want you to flourish, little one… and I want you to keep smiling. I think Mr. Kyrain is going to be a little bit lonely,” She murmured looking at him. “I know I will miss him terribly, but,” She turned back to Freja. “I will feel better if I know you are there to make sure he does not grow sad… or grumpy. Yanai was right, we are both Grumpy old fools, and we need some goodness, like you.”
"We will do our best for you while Ursula is gone, Freja," Destiny suddenly said. "She's right, you have much to learn, and a great deal of power to learn how to control. We will help you, you're part of our team now."
  Ursula, Valkyrie of the Fey / darien / 118d 9h 8m 27s
“When do I leave, Ri Ruirech?” Nox sighed, trying very hard not to rub at his temples. It was absolutely exhausting constantly keeping his composure. He turned to look her dead in the eye.
“After the next full moon,” he said. “We must cross when the veil is thin so we do not arouse suspicion.”
“You will go with her, then?” Kyrian demanded. “Protect her?” Suddenly it was Kyrian on the ground, dropping to his knees as sheer fire enveloped his injured leg.
“What the hell is it with you mortals and desire to question everything I do?!” he snapped, his black eyes flashing. “Who are you to make demands of a god?” Kyrian grit his teeth sweat pooling against his brow as he fought to keep from collapsing completely.
“I do not… question you,” he managed between gasps. “I only wish to…. Argh!” he finally fell into the packed dirt floor. Nox let up then and it left Kyrian gasping for breath as he laid there.
“No. You do. You question me because you love her. I do not have time for your pathetic feelings. There is a war brewing and it will not stop for your emotions either.” Kyrian swallowed, managing to sit up. His leg was throbbing and his hands were shaking- but he dared not meet Ursula’s gaze even as she helped him to his feet. The pain meant he was forced to lean on her slightly. Nox had revealed the truth; one he had tried so desperately not to reveal. He felt utterly foolish that he had indeed fallen so far for a woman in such a short time. Only a matter of months… Nox shook his head, and looked to Destiny. “You should do a better job of keeping a leash on your party,” he said. She gave her apology but it made him roll his eyes.

“Spare me, angel,” he muttered and was about to say something else but paused, his gaze landing on a distant doorway. A tiny face peeked out, a rogue lock of hair clinging to a rosy cheek. “You complain about a cat, yet you have a mouse on your team I see,” he murmured. They turned to see what he was talking about, and when Ursula caught sight of Freja and their gaze’s met, the little girl slipped from the confines of the room and ran to her, curling against her hip. Nox frowned and bent over, his hands on his knees as he examined her.
“What is your name?” he asked.
“Freja,” she said, and though she held onto Ursula’s hand, her voice held no fear.
“Well Freja. What are you doing out of bed?”
“I missed my Lady,” she answered truthfully.
“Your Lady?” She nodded and hugged Ursula’s arm.
“What would you do if I told you, your Lady had to go away soon?”
“Is she going with you” she asked. He nodded once. Freja seemed to consider it and then shook her head.
“No. I don’t think so.” He arched a brow.
“Oh really?” Freja nodded and released Ursula and stepped foreward to stand in front of her. As if to protect her.
“You’re mean. I don’t like you. You hurt him,” she pointed at Kyrian. “And you hurt Destiny. She might not be able to fly cause you might of hurt her wings.” Nox straightened and looked to Destiny and then back to the child.
“How do you know I hurt her wings?”
“Well… you can’t see them right now. They’re [i invisdible]. So how do you know you didn’t hurt them?” she demanded. Nox pressed a knuckle to his chin.
“That is true.” He looked to Destiny. “Tell me Destiny, did I hurt your wings.” Destiny merely smiled.
“No. My wings are perfectly fine.” He nodded and looked to Freja expectantly.
“Well you still could of. And then I would have had to hurt you. And that’s not nice,” she said.
“You think you could hurt me little one?” he smirked.
“I could,” Freja warned. “I’m an abomination. The priests told everyone I could hurt them real bad. So maybe I can. And if you try to take away Lady, I’ll make it so you hurt real bad. She’s a good person. And he is to. So you can’t take anyone away.” Suddenly she swallowed and backed up, until she was pressed against the Valkyrie. “Please don’t take her away! If you do I’ll have to go back. I don’t… I don’t wanna… I don’t wanna go back!” She started to breathe hard, tears threatening to fall, until Ursula scooped her up. She hugged her tight. “Don’t go away!” she sniffled into Ursula’s shoulder.

~*~*~*~~*~*~*~*~*~

Palo glowered for a moment and snatched Iona back to cuddle her close. She immediately went back to nuzzling his face. “No, she’s positively hideous. Not your type, shoo shoo,” Palo said with a grumpy tone. Iona purred in his hand and nibbled at his fingers, while his other hand waved at Calder humorously. The norse prince rolled his eyes.
“Whatever,” he muttered as he made his way to his bed, but when he started to undress, Palo was reminded of how well-cut Calder was.
“Hey!” He barked, shielding Iona’s face. “There are ladies present. She doesn’t need to see you.” He scooted around to block Iona’s view of Calder and glanced over his shoulder. Calder gave him a look.
“How do you even know that thing is really her, anyway? Some weird looking guy shows up and you just automatically take his word for it?” Palo blinked and for a split second concern flashed in his eyes. No sooner had it appeared, however, did Iona let out a mew, causing him to look down and see the kitten standing, her front paws pressed to his sleeping tunic. Her Large green eyes shimmered like spring grass, and in them he could see a plea. Suddenly Palo smiled, cupping the back of her head with one hand while the other pulled her close.
“My father and Destiny trust Nox. I know about him… I don’t think he would lie about something so important… Besides- you saw the kind of magic he can do; the things he pulled out of thin air. I believe him. And when I look at her… I can see it in her eyes. You’d know if you were Aquarian. We know our mates.” Calder rolled his eyes and flopped back on his bed, staring up at his ceiling.
“Mates? Seriously? That sounds boring."
"It's not boring- it's... wonderful. Someone chosen just for you..."
"Someone being chosen for you? That you don’t have any control over? I mean, doesn’t that make you think… that the other person- like your girl, there- only loves you cause some higher power told her he had to?”

There was a long silence, and Calder knew he had hit a nerve. “I don’t care,” he finally said, and Calder sat up and looked over at him to find tears in his eyes, catching the candle light. He was holding the kitten to his chest, the little creature’s eyes closed and breathing softly. “You don’t know Iona like I do… No one does. I know she would love me even if we weren’t mates. I love her. And I’m going to save her… I’m going to save you, kitten. I swear it.” Calder swallowed silently, a lump in his throat as he watched him reverently kiss the kitten's head. She woke up enough to swipe her tongue against his nose before settling back down to sleep. What was that like? To have someone love you like that? To love someone so completely you wouldn’t care? He laid back down, hands resting against his stomach over top the blankets as he stared once more at the darkness above. The realization was pretty daunting. Apollo was right. He wasn’t an Aquean. He didn’t have a mate, and he wasn’t going to get the opportunity to know what it was like to love like that. So what did it matter? And why should he want to know what that was like anyway? After all, love didn’t keep you alive. His father had loved his mother- hell, [i he] had loved his mother completely. But she had still died. Anger replaced the sadness and he let out an irritated huff as he closed his eyes.

“So now that we’ve found the last guard we’ll be leaving this village pretty soon. Any idea where we might be going next?” Palo asked, breaking the quiet. Calder rolled his eyes.
“Nope. We’ve got fire. Water. And now Air, apparently. Not that I think some stupid kid should be on our team. I mean, they say she kicked Odin’s ass, but then [i I] could kick Odin’s ass. So it’s not that impressive.” Palo snorted as he too bedded down with Iona snug beneath his chin.
“You apparently don’t know Odin.”
“I know he’s an asshole. And I don’t get it- why are you kissing his ass all the time?"
“Hey! I’m not kissing his ass! Odin’s been my friend since we were kids.”
“You’re still a kid my friend.”
“I’m literally two years younger than you!”
“Still a kid.”
“Yeah well- I’m the kid with the fiancé, which you don’t even have, so how’s that?!” Calder’s eyes snapped open and he rolled over to peer through the shadows at Apollo’s head.
“Wait… you mean you guys are engaged?”
“Of course we are. We’ve been engaged since we were five.” The complete acceptance and non-chalance in his voice struck Calder as crazy.
“Holy, shit five? When do you psychos get married?” Palo turned his head and gave him a look.
“Um last time I checked, you norsemen tied the knot at, like, thirteen. Trothian’s can’t even get married until the girl comes of age so…”
“And when is that? Six and a half?” Calder blurted out. Palo looked ready to deck him.
“Um no. Iona has to come of age. That’s fifteen for Trothian standards. And then they have to wait a year until they can consummate the marriage- so sixteen. And Iona is gonna be sixteen in exactly seven months so…” he shrugged. Calder snorted.

“Yeah. And she’s a cat so... good luck with that.” Suddenly Palo’s gaze darkened.
“She won’t be. Not forever.”
“Oh yeah? Where’s her body, then?”
“With my grandmother,” he replied, and his voice was like ice. It made Calder pause.
“What’s she doing with it?” Palo looked down at the sleeping kitten, and if Calder was hoping to tease him anymore, he lost the will. The look the blue-haired prince war was full of a molten kind of hate and dread.
“I don’t know. But whatever it is… it’s bad enough to separate her from her soul.” After a moment she shook his head as if to clear it. “It doesn’t matter. She’s still alive. And I will find her, and I will rescue her.”
“You gonna kill your grandmother then?” Apollo smirked, and Calder had never seen a more vicious smile in his life.
“I doubt I’ll even get the chance. My father will take her for everything she is. And if he doesn’t? Then I’ll be the one destroy her!”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Because Ursula is preoccupied with the little one who needs her. So you need someone and I am it… Sorry I do not compare.” Eva blushed and looked away, ashamed.
“I- I didn’t…” she sighed, her shoulders slumping. “I didn’t mean to offend. I’m sorry,” she murmured softly. Yanai stared at her for a moment and finally smiled, turning to sit next to her, her legs stretched out as she rested back against the side of the bed. “I didn’t have a very good night,” Eva finally confessed.
“So I can tell,” Yanai smirked. “Odin was not a happy man. Then again. He is a man…”
“I just wish I knew why he’s so angry with me,” Eva said, and her voice began to waver as a fresh round of tears filled her eyes. “What did I do?!” She broke on another sob, dropping her head into her hands.
“Come now mina ewa- it cannot be so bad? So you argued. All coupled do this, yes?”
“He said he was done. He… he doesn’t want me anymore,” she cried and turned into Yanai, burring her face into her shoulder and crying. “I’m so sorry!” Yanai sighed and tipped her head back, staring up at the ceiling while Eva clung to her shoulder and drenched her tunic in tears. After a moment she let out a soft giggle and it grew until she was gently laughing, causing Evangeline to pull away and look at her in shock, her face red and puffy from her tears. Finally Yanai shook her head with a sigh and grinned.
“I am sorry,” she said when she realized Eva was staring.
“It’s just… you so remind me of… me.”

Eva didn’t understand and Yanai held up a finger. “Let me tell you something, Evangeline. Odin is a man. And more than that he is a prince. He is basic, and needs basic things. All men do. They think with only two parts of their body. Their stomachs- and their cocks. We are women. We need more than that. It frustrates them… and you. But until you are willing to find a compromise, you will not know true happiness.” Eva tried to argue with her, saying that she gave him is basic needs. She loved him and why wasn’t that enough? Yanai smiled. “Because you are wrapping the gift of your basic love in a whole lot of unnecessary paper and bows. Odin is a man. He likes his basic, no frills love… but he has you. And you’ve changed. You’ve grown and you’ve changed, and what had become of you? You are… not like you,” she gestured to the girl. “You are different. And he is used to loving the not-you. He must learn… but you are not teaching him. Your are simply changing and expecting him to love the new you the same way. This does not work. No. You must help him. Show him. Help him grow and change the way you do.” She tucked a lock of hair behind the girl’s ear with a motherly smile. “And Eva… you do not see. He has changed too. He is not the same as he was. So he must learn to love the new you- in a new way. And it scares him. I know what this is like.”
“How? How do you know?” Eva begged.
“Because my husband was, as he is.”

She set her hands on her knees and sighed, staring at the far wall as she recalled. “When I was born… I had nothing. My mother abandoned me, not knowing my destiny. When my father’s tribe took us in- my brother Vanderhoff and I, I was but an infant. I grew up being taught how to be one way. You know this, yes? You were the same. Your parents planned your future. They directed your past. I was the same this, yes? I was… on strings. A puppet. I was even told who I was to marry. And then I met my Bowen. My yovna. And oh, how I loved him.” She smiled, and it was a smile that Eva knew all too well, for she wore that same smile when she thought of Odin. “And he loved me too. But one day something happened. And I was forced to go to a new land. I was hated and shunned there, save for by a few. I was forced to learn how to survive. And my Bown was in turn, forced to learn how to love a new me. I was different. My soul was… not the same. But one thing remained.” She looked at Eva. “I love him. That never changed, even when the world around us did. And he changed too. He went off to war, and when he came back... there were demons inside him. There still are.” That struck a chord with Eva, for Odin seemed to have nothing but demons inside him these days.
“What did you do?” she whispered.

“At first I tried to fight them. I demanded he change… because I thought that he had chosen those demons. But when I stopped and looked- really looked… I realized that he was fighting them just as hard as I was fighting mine. So, instead of demanding he change… I helped him. Listen to me ewa… there is ab old Zabine proverb that has helped me in many grave times. [i Mesha fas-han ei’ejha novi’meh.] ‘A boulder does not roll uphill.’ It means… if you must force something you are doing it wrong. You can push a boulder uphill and expect to it to move. Push too hard? It will crush you. Instead, you must work around it. And you cannot expect to simply come to the answer. You must look for it. And find it.” She shrugged with a smirk. “Odin is your boulder. Don’t push him to accept you. Don’t push him change. Help him instead. And maybe, you’ll find a way to help yourself. Oi? Now then…” She got to her feet, dusting her trousers off and offering Eva a hand. She pulled the girl to her feet and grabbed her face, forcing her to look at her. “It is late. You must sleep. Besides, no man will fall for you looking like a drowned sparrow. Stop your tears. You are Valkyrie! Take pride in yourself. But do not forget- you’re still you Evangeline. You may look different… you may feel different… but you are still you. If you lose yourself… its only because you let yourself go…” With that she dragged her face in for a harsh kiss on her forehead. “Into bed!” she demanded then, spinning the princess around and smacking her bottom.
  Freja / Malachi / 118d 17h 45m 26s
Eva had long since stopped sobbing, but that didn’t mean her tears had stopped. They continued like a steady stream down her cheeks, making her eyes bloodshot and tired. She didn’t want to get up, she didn’t want to dress for bed. Just wanted to lay as still as possible. Maybe if she didn’t move she would disappear, and no one would see her. She had done this in Wintercourt, laying stone still, playing dead. The only problem was, the one thing that had carried her through those dark times… only brought up sorrow now. Odin’s smiling face brought her little comfort. She almost broke another sob, but instead sucked in a ragged breath. It was silent in her room, but her hearing was good enough to pick up the conversation in the other room. Ursula was free from Arethousa? Oberon now had her soul? That had been intriguing. Ursula had once said she did not posses one, Eva thought it had been a figure of speech. She didn’t even have the energy to get up and see what it looked like. She just laid there without the will to move. She had never felt so crushed before.

It was then she heard the door open and heard the footsteps of someone coming to side beside her. “Alright now, Evangeline.” She heard her Aunt Yaya say, grabbing her shoulder and bringing her to sit up. “You’ve cried yourself out. Now it’s time to pick yourself up, yes?” Eva could only sigh as she sat up, with her crumpled dress and mussed hair. She looked utterly defeated. “Come now. Dry your tears.” She wiped them away with her thumbs, and Eva didn’t stop her, just slowly turned to look upon her Aunt’s face. She was lovely, with warm brown skin, dark doe eyes, and laugh lines etched in her face.
“Why are you here?” She asked tiredly, and Yanai met her with an equally tired smile.
“Because Ursula is preoccupied with the little one who needs her. So you need someone and I am it… Sorry I do not compare.” Eva blushed and looked away, ashamed.
“I- I didn’t…” She sighed, her shoulders slumping. “I didn’t mean to offend. I’m sorry,” she murmured softly. “I didn’t have a very good night,” she confessed. “I just wish I knew why he’s so angry with me. What did I do?” It came fresh again for Eva, and she broke on another sob. It was clearly more than just a simple lovers spat as Yanai had assumed and when she asked what on earth could be wrong Eva hiccuped with an answer. “He said he was done. He… he doesn’t want me anymore,” she cried and turned into Yanai, burring her face into her shoulder and crying. “I’m so sorry,” She apologized, certain Yanai did not want to have to deal with this after such a long day.

[center ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~]

Palo was all smiles as he ran his finger along Iona’s spine. The silence of his content was only marred by Calder entering the room. “Your girlfriend is a cat?” Palo looked up from where he leaned, and moved to sit up. Calder looked tired, and maybe annoyed. He came to sit down at the edge of Palo’s bed and looked at the tiny animal who mewed and crawled over towards him to investigate.
“It’s alright Iona. This is Calder, he’s my friend,” Palo told her. Calder stuck a finger out and she flipped over backwards, green eyes catching the light from candle on the table. Palo could only grin
“She’s not a cat,” Palo told him. “She’s a lion,” Apollo said with a look, and obvious pride. Calder glanced down at her as she wandered about sniffing and biting at the rough threads of the blanket.
“Doesn’t look like a lion to me. She looks like a cat.”
“I promise you, she’s a lion. She’s a Trothian shifter, and her beast is a lion,” Palo told him, he sat up taller and watched as Calder picked her up, Palo shifted uncomfortably, not sure if he was alright with that. She didn’t seem too sure either as she swatted at his nose.
“Pretty eyes. I bet she was a real babe…”
Palo glowered for a moment and snatched Iona back to cuddle her close. “No, she’s positively hideous. Not your type, shoo shoo,” Palo said with a grumpy tone. Iona purred in his hand and nibbled at his fingers, while his other hand waved at Calder humorously.

Calder of course relented and jumped over to his bed to turn down for the night, but when he started to undress, Palo was reminded of how well cut Calder was. He was sure by female standards, Calder was considered very good looking.
“Hey!” He barked, shielding Iona’s face. “There are ladies present. She doesn’t need to see you.” He scooted around to block Iona’s view of Calder and glanced over his shoulder. “So now that we’ve found the last guard we’ll be leaving this village pretty soon. Any idea where we might be going next?” Palo asked.
  Prince Apollo Moab"nahuatal / darien / 118d 20h 59m 13s
“No you do not,” Nox answered Destiny with an air of indifference. “Tiernan is on the manhunt. Apparently he has caught wind that his prize has been pilfered back to the mortal realm.”
“Damn,” Ursula hissed under her breath, and glanced to Eva’s door.
“He’s also aware that there is a mole in his midst,” Ursula's head snapped up at that, but before she could ask, Nox finished, “though he has not discovered who.” His gaze shifted to Ursula.
“I will have to return to assuage his suspicion,” Ursula said, her eyes glaring with an unreadable emotion. Inside she was a mix of nerves and emotions -never settling. She knew she had to go back eventually, but with Freja and Eva, it made things just a touch complicated. She had two people relying on her.
“Yes,” Nox agreed. “I’ve come to escort you over the border.” Ursula made no comment against his request, but Kyrain on the other hand, surprisingly snapped at Nox.
“Now?” Kyrian demanded. Ursula tensed, if Nox attacked him, there would be literally nothing she could do to help him.
“Forgive him, Ri Ruirech. He does not know who he speaks to,” Ursula bade the Fae King. Nox didn’t even spare her a glance, just glared at Kyrain, who matched his.
“Would you deny him? A Fae king?”
“I would deny any bastard who is not worthy of my respect.” Much to Ursula’s shock, Nox actually smirked.
“And how do you think I feel? Tiernan is an annoyance and a problem. One I have full faith the lot of you will eradicate with duplicitous fervor.”

He looked to Ursula then, and she met his gaze. The humor was gone from his eyes as if it never happened.
“You will return, and it will be into even more dangerous territory than before.”
“I had anticipated as much,” Ursula told him, still standing at attention in her gown. “I will not fail you, so long as Tiernan does not suspect me, we should be fine, and I might get to keep my head. Hopefully Arethousa out of my head. She is not aware of my motives, and so far I’ve been able to keep her from puppeteering me, and from seeing too much of my thoughts. I will ensure this missions success,” She fisted a hand over her chest where her heart should be and bowed once more.

Nox arched a brow. “As much as I appreciate your motivation, that’s no longer an option for the sea-bitch.” Ursula frowned at his comment.
“What? I don’t understand. Why?”
“Because she no longer owns you.” Ursula blanched, her breath catching, a hopefulness in her gaze until… “I do.” Ursula swallowed nervously, and her body tensed up. Lifting a hand, Nox twisted his fingers in the air and she watched with baited breath as a flash of miniature lightning struck, bringing with it the smell of burning ozone and a puff of black smoke. It hovered over his hand burning white hot in the shape of an orb as lightning and smoke leeched off of it. She felt it call to her, every cell of her body desperate to be reunited with it. For a moment it looked like she might attack him and steal it back, but she stilled waiting to see what he would do.
“I have not seen that in nearly eight hundred years…” She breathed in awe of it, her gaze filling with sadness. Would it ever be hers again?

“Your soul. You’ll notice Arethousa is no longer in possession of it. I bartered for it. And for the soul of the Summerfey Princess. They belong to me now.”
“A brave thing to do,” Destiny commented, but Ursula’s gaze did not leave the gleaming orb of her soul in Nox’s hand. “What did you give her that made her agree to it?” Her soul vanished into thin air in an instant, and Ursula gasped out to see it gone so soon. Beside her, Destiny began to choke on air, her eyes wide and confused, while Nox glared down at her.
“You dare to ask that of me?” he demanded, Ursula did nothing to help her, not that she could have helped… if she wanted to. Destiny’s curiosity had caused him to take it away. “It is none of your concern, angel what I or who I barter with.” Destiny continued to choke on her breath, her eyes gleaming a dangerous silver as she fought against him.

She didn’t have to fight him for long, as Yanai suddenly pelted a roll at the Fae God. “Baka dai’yoh,” she snipped. Destiny gasped, coughing as she finally caught her breath, and hunched over, nails digging into the dirt floor. Ursula blanched and was ready to jump in front of Yanai and protect her, but she was shocked further when Nox chuckled.
“Yanai… no…” Ursula warned under her breath.
“Well, well, well… Yanai. What a delicious surprise. You’re looking as lovely as ever.” Yanai rolled her eyes and made her way towards them, in an attempt to cross to the other row of rooms.
“I’m going to bed,” she yawned. She paused in front of Nox and reached up to pat his face with hard slaps of her hand. “Stop being an asshole, yes? No one is impressed.” Ursula cringed at the first slap, looking like she might keel over and die right then and there.
“Do you want me to join you?” Ursula’s face was priceless at that. Her jaw slackened and she looked wide-eyed between them.
“Certainly,” she replied with a flip of her hair in his face. “You can be my footrest.” And with that she made her way to the room Evangeline had disappeared into.

Ursula made quick work to snap her mouth shut and looked to Nox uncertain of what was about to happen to her. He had her soul in his possession. Owned it now, which meant he owned her. She wanted to know what Oberon would have traded for her. Others had tried to buy her off of Arethousa in the past, and she had turned them all down. On loan? Sure no problem, but it would cost you. Arethousa had traded her… Ursula was ecstatic and terrified at the same time. Perhaps with time Nox might tell her what the price was, but for now… even she wondered why Destiny would dare to ask that question. If it was anyone’s place, it was hers alone. It was her soul after all, and though it had come in a puff of black smoke; it still looked as pure as virgin snow. Just like the day she gave it up.

What a fool she had been.

“When do I leave, Ri Ruirech?” Ursula asked, her solemn tone drawing the group back to reality. She met Nox’s gaze, accepting the transfer of ownership. He hadn’t mentioned what he would do with it, and for as curious as she was to know her price. She wanted to know why [i he] wanted her. He informed her she would have to be back in Fey by the next Full Moon. She gave a nod of her head. The last full moon was three nights ago. Good, she had time to prepare. She had to finalize her ‘offical’ report for Tiernan, and she wondered if Tiernan would be made aware that Ursula no longer belonged to Arethousa. Would she have told him?

What was worse… Ursula suddenly realized she’d been allowing herself to build a future, and place among these people. She knew going into this at the end, if she failed she either died or went back to sleep. She forced herself not to look at Kyrain, she knew it would be too painful if she met his gaze… realizing she might very well not get to spend much more then the next month with him. With any of them… As if realizing that Nox was now her Master, her entire disposition melted into a somber, docile, and obedient servant. She no longer served some fallen-from-grace Goddess clinging to power, she now served the High King of all Fey, and a God to be respected and feared.
  Ursula, Valkyrie of the Fey / darien / 118d 22h 3m 11s
Ursula caught sight of Nox though and her eyes widened for the briefest of moments before she suddenly dropped to a knee before him, head bowed. “Ri ruirech,” she breathed, and planted a firm fist to her chest. From where he stood, Nox regarded her with a bored look, and it was beginning to become apparent to the others that those of a higher power just seemed bored with everything.
“Valkyrie,” he greeted, his tone indifferent.
“Whoa…” Palo mused from where he sat, still holding Iona in his arms, his eyes wide to see Ursula kneeling before the incarnate of darkness. “Who are you?” Palo asked finally intrigued to know.
“This is Nox,” Destiny reminded, quickly answering for him.
“I know who he is, I wanna know what he is for Ursula to do that,” he said pointing where she still knelt. At Palo’s words, Ursula tossed him a steely and cold glare that had him shutting up and swallowing past a nervous lump in his throat.
“He is an old friend and ally,” Destiny said and walked over towards Nox. Palo was still smiling from his gift.
“Hey, it’s whatever, you don’t want to tell me,” he shrugged. “I don’t care, he brought me Iona. Thank you,” he said looking to Nox. The giant of a man nodded, his white hair shifting against his brow. Palo muttered a good night then and carried the kitten to the room he’d been sharing with Calder.

“Your son is quite inquisitive,” Nox said with a look towards Nereus.
“He’s of my blood. Of course he is,” he replied, proudly.
“Or stupid.”
“Nope. That’s only your kin.” Ursula looked shocked at the ocean demi-god, as if she couldn’t believe anyone dare speak to him though. Nox looked amused however.
“Great Nox, to what do we owe the honour of your appearance?” Destiny asked. Nox turned to look at her, his hand coming up to flip open the clasp on his cloak. It fluttered down to the floor and in a flash of light transformed into a brilliant snow white stoat that crawled circles up his leg and came to rest at his hip. “Any news if Tiernan knows what we are up to? The year deadline he gave Bayadair is nearing its end… I don’t suspect we have much time left?”
“No you do not. Tiernan is on the manhunt. Apparently he has caught wind that his prize has been pilfered back to the mortal realm.” Ursula muttered a curse and Destiny did not look please. “He’s also aware that there is a mole in his midst- though he has not discovered who.” His gaze shifted to Ursula.
“I will have to return to assuage his suspicion,” Ursula said, her eyes glaring with an unreadable emotion. Where he stood, Kyrian’s hands tightened into fists.
“Yes,” Nox agreed. “I’ve come to escort you over the border.”
“Now?” Kyrian demanded, surprising those around him. Nox paused for a moment, regarding the general with an icy stare.
“Would you deny him? A Fae king?”
“I would deny any bastard who is not worthy of my respect.” Nox actually smirked.
“Sand how do you think I feel? Tiernan is an annoyance and a problem. One I have full faith the lot of you will eradicate with duplicitous fervor.”

He looked to Ursula then, and the humour was gone from his eyes. “You will return, and it will be into even more dangerous territory than before.” Ursula claimed she wouldn’t fail. They did not know she was the mole, and she had not allowed Arethousa the opportunity to puppet her. Nox arched a brow. “As much as I appreciate your motivation, that’s no longer an option for the sea-bitch.” She was confused. They all were.
“I don’t understand. Why?”
“Because she no longer owns you. I do.” The look on Ursula’s face was priceless.
“What!?” she managed. Lifting a hand, Nox twisted his fingers in the air. There was a flash of miniature lightning, bringing with it the smell of burning ozone and a puff of black smoke, and what appeared was a shimmering globe the size of a fist. Ursula could feel a tug from the very core of her being. Tiny bolts of lightning zipped to-and-fro around it.
“Your soul. You’ll notice Arethousa is no longer in possession of it. I bartered for it. And for the soul of the Summerfey Princess. They belong to me now.”
“A brave thing to do,” Destiny commented. “What did you give her that made her agree to it?” Suddenly Destiny’s eyes grew wide and she dropped to her knee, hands going to her throat as if being choked. Nox stared down at her, and his gaze was filled with fire.
“You dare to ask that of [i me]?” he demanded. “It is none of your concern, angel what I or who I barter with.”

Without warning something hit him in the side of the head, sprinkling his hair with crumbs and it fell to the floor to roll at Ursula’s feet. It was the roll that Freja hadn’t eaten. All of them turned in shock to look at the direction it had come, and none other than Yanai stood there with hands on her hips and looking mildly annoyed. “[i Baka dai’yoh],” she snipped, crossing her arms over her chest. All eyes turned to Nox then, expecting him to react in an even worse way then he had with Destiny, but he did something none of them expected... He chuckled. It was an odd sound coming from someone as dark as he, and it revealed the hint of very white, very sharp fang. Closing his hand, Ursula’s soul disappeared.
“Well, well, well… Yanai. What a delicious surprise. You’re looking as lovely as ever.” Yanai rolled her eyes and made her way towards them, in an attempt to cross to the other row of rooms.
“I’m going to bed,” she yawned. She paused in front of Nox and reached up to pat his face with hard slaps of her hand. “Stop being an asshole, yes? No one is impressed.”
“Do you want me to join you?” he asked her with raised brow.
“Certainly,” she replied with a flip of her hair in his face. “You can be my footrest.” And with that she made her way to the room Evangeline had disappeared into.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Yanai opened the door and stepped into the room, trying to ignore the irritation that came with seeing Nox’s stupidly handsome face again. Her mating mark tingled in the crook of her shoulder letting her know Bowen had felt her emotions, but she ignored it, looking instead at the lump of silver satin and lace huddled in the center of the room. Eva had long since quieted her sobs, and now merely lay there looking like she had died. Yanai rolled her eyes and sighed. Coming to her side, she crouched down and forcibly gripped the girl’s shoulder, hauling her to a seated position. “Alright now, Evangeline. You’ve cried yourself out. Now it’s time to pick yourself up, yes? Come now. Dry your tears.” She wiped them away with her thumbs. Eva sniffled and asked her why she had come, and Yanai gave her a tired smile.
“Because Ursula is preoccupied with the little one who needs her. So you need someone and I am it… Sorry I do not compare.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Your girlfriend is a cat?” Palo sat up and turned to look at the doorway to find his roommate Calder enter, looking tired and a touch annoyed. He came to sit down at the edge of Palo’s bed and looked at the tiny animal who mewed and crawled over towards him to investigate. Calder stuck a finger out and poked at her, and the little cat flipped over backwards, green eyes catching the light from candle on the table.
“Not a cat- a lion,” Apollo said with a look, and obvious pride. Calder glanced down at her as she wandered about sniffing and biting at the rough threads of the blanket.
“Doesn’t look like a lion to me. She looks like a cat.” Hearing her new, he glanced down to see her pawing at his hip, and grabbing her to lift her up so he could look at her, she cocked her head and batted at his nose. “Pretty eyes. I bet she was a real babe…” To be honest, Calder wasn’t sure why he hung out with Apollo as much as he did. Sure, they were both princes and could both sway water, but Apollo wasn’t really the kind of person who Calder would have ever chosen to associate with back in the village. In fact… Calder didn’t really have any friends at all. Not that he would ever admit it. Somehow, getting stuck with him had made him open up a little more.
He brought gifts with him too, Palo looked on curiously as he set the little kitten on the floor. Palo grinned as it rolled around, content to wander between everyone’s feet.
“It’s cute,” Palo said kneeling to coax the kitten over. “Hey kitten,” The cat looked over hearing his voice and seemed to jump up excitedly, pupils dilating and came pouncing towards him. The little creature weaved around him happily, purring loudly and pawing at him to be picked up. Palo grinned petting the kitten on the top of her head, and stood up, taking the kitten with him into his arms.
“You bring my son a cat?” Nereus asked skeptically.
“It’s for me?” Palo asked excitedly, while the kitten licked his face.
“You do realize it’s going to end up trying to eat him? He smells like fish, after all.” Palo glared at his father with a pout.
“I do not!” he snapped, but his father only grinned. “Then you smell like fish too,” he grumbled under his breath.

Palo had to pull the kitten away from his face as it wouldn’t stop licking his chin. “Hey now,” He told the kitten. “You have to be a good kitten, you can’t eat me…” His voice trailed off seeing something painfully familiar about this kitten. The eyes were large and emerald green, with a rich red fur coat that reminded Palo of Iona. All of a sudden his smile vanished. “She is a pretty cat… but… I sense something different. Why?” Palo asked looking over to Nox.
“That is not a cat,” Nox informed them. “It is an [i astaron.]” Palo blinked, he’d never heard of that before.
“Astaron?” He questioned.
“And a very mischievous one at that. I have the bite marks to prove it- thank you very much,” he grumbled. From the other side of the room, Destiny actually wore a face of interest and walked over to study the cat. That definitely shocked Palo, as Destiny had seemed disinterested in about 99.9% of everything that had happened so far on this trip.
“An Astaron is quite rare,” She told Palo. He looked to her curiously, offering to let her hold the kitten, but Destiny turned the offer down.
“You, know what that is?” He asked. Destiny nodded and crooked a finger out for the kitten. It nibbled at her knuckle and licked her finger as she explained what an Asteron was to Palo.

Palo was shocked at the truth. He was holding the manifestation of a living person’s soul. His hands started to shake then as he turned the kitten back around to look at it closer. “Just…. who is this?” He dared to ask, his heart aching with hope it was who he hoped it was.
“Wow… and they say that fated mates have an unbreakable bond,”
“We do,” Palo told him plainly.
“Are you gonna tell me you can’t look into its eyes and see it?” Palo looked from Nox to his father and then down to the Kitten. He looked down at her, her big green eyes, happy expression, soft fur and when he brought the kitten close and caught her scent, his heart jumped.
“Kitten?” He asked hopefully. “I-Iona?” his expression hopeful, when the cat mewed happily and licked the tip of his nose, Palo laughed. He quickly tucked her close against him and held her tightly, kissing her fur, and hiding his face within her and his body trembling as he fought to not cry in a room full of warriors.
“What!?” the rest of them explained from the reveal of the kitten’s identity.
“Wait… you mean that’s your girlfriend?” Calder asked skeptically.
“No,” Palo said softly, lifting his head as his eyes glimmer with joy and love for the kitten. “This is my mate,” He said, but his eyes never left the kitten. “You’re still alive…” he whispered happily and found a chair to sit in, and absorbed his attention into the kitten.


“Oi!” Yanai’s voice exclaimed and they turned to see her and Ursula exiting the bedroom. Ursula looked calmer and more collected than she had earlier. Earlier she’d scared the shit out of Palo, silver eyes, claws out ready to kill. He’d taken one look at her from the doorway and had decided not to enter at all to see the little girl. Freja was finally asleep in the bed, and for the first night in her life probably sleeping in a warm one too, with actual stuffing, and in a safe protected place. Ursula caught sight of Nox though and her eyes widened for the briefest of moments before she suddenly dropped to a knee before him, head bowed.
“Ri ruirech,” She breathed, and planted a firm fist to her chest.
“Whoa…” Palo mused from where he sat, still holding Iona in his arms. His eyes wide to see Ursula kneeling before the incarnate of darkness. “Who are you?” Palo asked finally intrigued to know.
“This is Nox,” Destiny reminded, quickly answering for him.
“I know who he is, I wanna know what he is for Ursula to do that,” he said pointing where she still knelt. At Palo’s words, Ursula tossed him a steely and cold glare, that had him shutting up and swallowing past a nervous lump in his throat.
“He is an old friend and ally,” Destiny said and walked over towards Nox. Palo was still smiling from his gift.
“Hey, it’s whatever, you don’t want to tell me,” he shrugged. “I don’t care, he brought me Iona. Thank you,” he said looking to Nox, and carried Iona with him to the room he’d been sharing with Calder.

Palo set Iona on the bed and let her paw around on it as he began to undress and ready for bed. He kept staring at her and she at him. He grinned, still a bit stunned that this was no ordinary cat. “Can you really understand me?” He asked. Iona mewed back, raising a paw at him, and he smiled. “Meow twice if it’s really you,” He challenged, the kitten glared at him, and then made two obnoxious meows for him. Palo felt giddy and quirky crawled into bed, bringing the kitten close to the warmth of his chest. He even tucked her under the covers with him to help keep her warm. “I miss you so much,” He whispered stroking her with a finger under her chin. Finally alone and allowed to express his true emotions his voice began to waver with tears. He was overwhelmed with emotions and stress. “Things can’t be good for you if this is what you’ve been reduced to… you do make an adorable kitten though.” He grinned and nuzzled his face against hers, and kissed the top of her head. “I will find you Iona, I’ll help you be whole again,” He told her gently, and hugged her closer. “I’m not letting you out of my sight, Kitten.” He told her softly, and though he was tired, he couldn’t bring himself to fall asleep and was content to lay awake, stroking his fingers through Iona’s soft downy fur.

Out in the common room, Ursula was granted permission to stand by Nox himself and she did so. Rising to her full height, and remaining at attention while he conversed with Destiny and Nereus relaying the news. She was shocked to learn he had met with Arethousa. She glared, he went alone? He was smarter than that, he knew how cunning and deceptive Arethousa was. He knew how dangerous it was to meet with her alone, not to mention if she had Sarkham with her. Her nose wrinkled at the thought of that putrid whale carcass. While she’d slept, he’d taken great joy in visiting her glass coffin and tapping on the glass, talking to her with explicits, and reminding her who she belonged to. She didn’t voice her displeasure at knowing her High King had put himself in danger like that.
“Any news if Tiernan knows what we are up to? The year deadline he gave Bayadair is nearing its end,” Destiny asked. “I don’t suspect we have much time left?”
  Prince Apollo Moab"nahuatal / darien / 119d 7h 17m 44s
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