|Skandra Tyullis (roll_the_bones) wrote in adusta,|
@ 2010-09-22 16:35:00
|Entry tags:||aeotha easaahae, singularity, skandra tyullis|
touching the sky (aeotha)
The first thing he noticed about those ominous spires was not the color of them, or the status of the elven houses - quaint little things of wood and stone - that were seemingly hung on the side of the things. It was the texture that he took note of. Running his hand over the surface of it, even through his gloves, felt like nothing he'd ever witnessed. The surface was soft, soft enough that it had give. But it still felt like stone so long as you did not put pressure on it. Rock had never behaved that way that Skandra was aware of. As wide at the base as ten houses grouped together, gradually growing thinner near the top, silver-glowing in color, with those houses hanging from the sides of them as hairs might.
It still made his skin crawl.
Of course, even beyond the obvious, there was something to see and consider. In the middle of these great spires - rising almost as canyon walls might, Skandra thought - there was a sight to behold. A fire. A bonfire, perhaps the least alien thing he'd seen since he'd arrived, circled by rough stones and roaring hot against the increasing chill of the evening. Skandra peered out at this miracle of flame from behind one of the spires; trying not to press too hard against the side of the thing, lest he sink into it. There were voices coming from the fire - and once he was still, once his controlled breath stole the sound from his skull, he could hear what those voices were saying.
"You're awake?" in a voice he didn't recognize.
"More or less," and that was Shantar, groggy as all hell.
For a moment Skandra's heart was caught in his throat. What in the hell was Shantar doing here? And sounding so at ease? It was difficult to make out the shapes of the ones standing and sitting near the flames. It back-lit them, a sun in eclipse, so that all he saw were black voids filled with thoughts and feelings instead of distinguishing marks and faces he might want to see. More specifically, the first voice. It was Gershul's voice. It had to be. And yet Skandra didn't think it was Gershul, it just sounded like him. A cross expression was consuming his face. Skandra made himself ignore the impotent feeling of skulking around, and strained his ears for more.
"I hadn't imagined I would see you here," but it was Gershul, despite his doubts; the distance was playing tricks on him. "The last I knew, you were south, weren't you? In Ordaezel if I recall."
"Well, they aren't as fond of religion, down south," Shantar sounded amused. "Makes it a mite easier to work. As you know."
Silence reigned for a long moment. Skandra didn't dare move. No matter how foolish the fear, he suspected he would have been caught immediately had he tried to escape. And this he would not do. It had to be Gershul, didn't it? Doubting himself because he wanted it to be Gershul, or because he didn't want it to be Gershul? Did it matter? There was only one way he was going to find out. Slowly, very slowly, the Immortal began his forward journey. One foot in front of the other, arms wide for balance, body low to the ground. Slowly. They weren't yet inside that circle of orange light. They would be soon. And he needed to make it to the next spire before light vanished completely, and he would be either totally concealed or totally exposed.
"It's good to see you, boy," Shantar finally spoke quiet.
"You look fit," Gershul's voice answered. "Of course, at the rate you move, I suppose-"
"I brought Skandra with me," Shantar interrupted ruthlessly.
Now there was quiet again, but there were no faces to see. Only one figure standing tall above another. The hat. The coat. They were all the same as Skandra's own, or as Shantar's own, as if they continued to copy one another generation after generation. It was Skandra's choice to favor black over the sand-colored clothing Gershul and Shantar preferred. Let them prefer sand, if they want. Gershul wasn't saying a word. There were other shadows moving, near the fire, gathering food or simply stretching out for a spot of sleep. Skandra wondered how long it had really been since he'd slept. Not that long. He should start carrying one of those pocket watches that someone was always bragging about.
"Should I go and find him, then?" Gershul was glib. "Do you suppose he wants a hug?"
"He'd forgive you, if you asked."
This time it was Aeotha who had to clamp a hand over the advancing Immortal's mouth, lest he charge in and give himself away by protesting that outrage of a statement.
"I don't want his forgiveness," Gershul replied coldly. "You always ask about the same things, Shantar, and they're the wrong things to be asking about. You ought to ask yourself why we don't rule this world all ready."
"So should you," Shantar retorted.
"Magic as a system is alive and well," the evil bastard flung his hands into the air, in frustration; now Skandra knew which shadow to aim for first. "Magic as a philosophy? Is dead, Shantar. This world is not what it was when I was a boy. Kings and queens hold power because their citizens no longer care. As in your Ordaezel, I think. Would not the temple simply love to ruin your queen of Ordaezel? Yet they cannot. They're death priests, Shantar, ten or twelve little children who need huddled masses to carry out their plans. Comparatively speaking, I require few from those masses. This makes me superior in most tests you could apply."
"Except a moral test."
"Which is a test I've no interest in passing," Gershul snapped. "I'll spare your life for being as bright as you are. You can bore me with your sermons when it's done."
"When what is done?" Shantar sounded genuinely curious.
"The end of the world," the son replied, almost gleeful.