Balance

Out of the Ocean and into the Fire Pt 3

They sat in the hall, the mood was tense. The fire folk did not eat or drink, they stood at the ready, prepared to draw and begin battle at any moment. In response Sa’Nara stayed by her mistress’s side, and Aruik never far from her, trying to watch them all, deciding what order they would kill the enemy in when things inevitably came to blows. The Queen of flames sat in a small chair, her flames scorched its surface but did not burn through it, she glowered at Miriel who perched on her thrown, attempting to showcase confidence with little success as unease slipped through the chinks of her emotional armor.

“You are bluster and breath” the Queen of Inferno said at last, as if making up her mind. You sneak into my realm and steal souls from me like a thief in the night. You bed my husband like a floozy or slut. You offer an alliance claiming dominion of Wind and Air and yet you have not challenged or finished stealing those from Aurora yet… when she notices your theft she will come for you… and lastly in a sad attempt to mollify me you offer me what… work as a message carrier? To tell my own servant of the quest I gave her? To urge my servant to do my bidding? This is your grand offer? Words are wind and you are little more” She stood, the chair she was seated on turning exploding into flame and sizzling to ash in seconds. She marched a step forward, menacingly, causing Aruik to draw her great sword and the other creatures in the room to respond in kind. Each step of the Lady of Inferno permanently seared a footprint into the floor. Aruik stood her ground, none would pass her and threaten her Goddess. “I grow tired of your theatrics…. You have wronged me ‘Goddess’ now make it right, or prepare to be challenged!” the words cried out as the temperature in the room shot up.

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Out of the Ocean and Into the Fire Pt 2

Miriel blinked, rising to her full height. “He did not say he was your husband, Goddess, and truth be told we did not sleep as much as we had sex – OUCH!”

“Mistress!” Ariuk hissed, elbowing Miriel in the shoulder before flashing Ymeri a worried smile.

“I am merely agreeing with her Ladyship,” Miriel answered, pointing at her Ordinal and shaking her head at the Lady of Inferno.

The angel’s shoulders slumped in defeat. “Yes, Mistress.”

Ymeri looked back and forth between them in anger. “YOU DARE MOCK ME?!”

“I have said nothing but the truth, Goddess. I am sorry about Flitt though; I should have stayed to speak with you.”

“YOU SLEEP WITH MY HUSBAND AND SEEK TO PLACATE ME WITH THE FROG?!”

Miriel cocked her head, then shrugged. “I do not have to apologize about Kelizandri; he is a grown man, er, God, after all. Petition your disfavour to him, not I.”

Ymeri’s eyes flashed, flames flickering out of those dangerous orbs, causing Ariuk and Sa’Nara to grasp each other’s hands behind their Goddess’ back.

“YOU DARE PRESUME TO TELL ME WHAT TO DO?!”

Miriel winced, but continued. “What would you have me do, Goddess? I cannot turn back time.”

“YOU WILL CEASE ANY FURTHER CONTACT WITH HIM, WHORE!”

“He’s the one who came to me, Goddess.” Miriel’s eyes narrowed, and then she frowned. “I’m hardly in a position to refuse the Brackish Emperor, especially when he obviously has a plan for me. Tell me, Goddess; do you dare presume tell him what to do?”

The sea below them began to churn violently, and a sound much like thunder, driven by waves upon waves crashing in on themselves, erupted in warning; both Ymeri and Miriel flinched back quickly. Ymeri’s flames doused themselves suddenly and the goddess hissed in fear before remembering that she was not alone and righted herself, glaring at the younger goddess before her.

Miriel held up her hands and quickly said “Wait, wait, wait. Hear me out. I have a suggestion on how to make things right by you.”

“AS IF I WOULD LISTEN TO A THIEF AND SLUT,” Ymeri growled; the fire Goddess clenched her hands into fists, her knuckles cracking. The flaming entourage behind her smiled eagerly and moved into obvious fighting stances.

“Ally with me.”

The Queen of the Inferno first stared incredulously at the smaller Goddess, then bent her head over her back and burst out laughing; the harsh sound created tongues of flame that licked over Ymeri’s body and her followers. The goddess’ voice came out loud and echoing, dripping with sarcasm and superiority. “YOU…WISH ME…TO ALLY MYSELFTHE QUEEN OF THE INFERNO! TO ALLY MYSELF WITH YOU?? A NOBODY GODDESS WHO HAS YET TO PROVE THAT SHE WON’T DIE BY A WAVE OF MY HAND??”

“Yes,” Miriel answered, neither amused nor intimidated.

Ymeri’s eyes, still aflame, flickered once to Miriel, then over to her “army” of two Ordinals, before she snapped her fingers. A ball of fire appeared in the air beside her head, churning in a ball that got bigger and brighter before the Lady Inferno casually snapped her fingers again, sending it roaring towards the tree top palace whilst giving Miriel a devilish smirk.

Without taking her own eyes off of Ymeri, Miriel breathed in, and suddenly the fire petered out quicker than it had appeared, to reappear momentarily afterwards in the Goddess of the Night Wind’s breath as she exhaled slowly and deliberately. A towering tornado of blinding fire and smoke spun itself into being from her breath, and Miriel directed the dripping hellfire to blast into the air and oblivion above her. It left her lips with a sigh, and, singed though they were, Miriel cocked her head at Ymeri and smiled back at her.

“I have no doubt, Ymeri, that you would reduce me and mine to ashes; I do not dispute your power.” Miriel’s gaze hardened. “But do not discount mine. Wind was never meant to extinguish your flames, but to spread them, make them hotter! I can help you.”

“HAH!”

“Your flame in the Fire Nation is in danger of being smothered – ”

“CURSED ZUKO, HIS CORRUPTION KNOWS NO BOUNDS,” the fire Goddess hissed.

Miriel nodded. “Yes, that is known to me. One of my holy Companions was, or perhaps still is, a follower of yours, who I may be in a position to assist. Hikari may not wear his face but she holds Hiro’s soul within her and all that was dear to him.”

At the mention of the fallen hero’s name, Ymeri’s visage softened, and the eternal flames that licked her body seemed to purr and undulate sensually. “HIRO…” the Lady of Flame whispered longingly, eyes distant and wanting. The host of fire creatures behind her squirmed uncomfortably as the flame heated to a degree even beyond their comfort level.

“I will not promise you souls, nor will I give Flitt’s back, but I can remind Hikari that she is Hiro’s successor and that she is needed to succeed in taking back what is yours, when he could not. I would join her, not because she is half stupid, not because she is one of my Companions, but because I would be your ally, and a fiercely loyal one at that. Come in and be welcomed at my table, and we can discuss the terms of our alliance. Without burning my people and stuff,” Miriel added hastily, her Ordinals violently nodding their agreement.

The Lady of Inferno’s gaze flickered over to Miriel and took on a calculating and thoughtful look…

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Out of the Ocean and Into the Fire Pt 1

The Palace of the Evening Breeze sat empty, Miriel sat on the floor in the corner and let out a long low sigh of relief. It was the first time in nearly nine months that things had been quiet. She looked as an air elemental slowly huffed around the room emptying partially drunken goblets into a large vase to later be thrown out. Two other elementals had brooms and were slowly pushing them around the floor sweeping up the deep covering a debris, bones and other garbage that had been thrown their during the feasting and revelry. Aruik slumped into the room with Sa’nara nearly dead on their feet, Aruik pulled a tankard of mead from a table and dropped against a table near her Goddess, Sa’nara laid down on the a relative clean spot placing her head in her goddess lap. The three sighed, content but tired and looking at the monumental task that lay before them.

“Comet Coming for Us!” a voice called from the window. Miriel leapt to her feet and bounded to see what was happening. The serf had not lied, a large red and yellow comet hurled towards her tree, but instead of slamming into it in a fiery explosion, instead it stopped, and from it began to march Fire Salamanders and Azure, Fire Giants and Furbogs, hosts of Fire Elementals and at last, a women wrought of pure unbridled flame. Y’meri, Primordial, Elemental Lord of Fire.

“Oh Shit” Miriel swore, she snapped her fingers and the room righted itself, the waste and debris gone, the mead and wine bottles filled, the floors and tables gleaming. She nodded her head for her Ordinals to follow and leapt from the window, offering but a single beat of her wings to slow her fall and landed gracefully in a neat kneeling crouch to formally greet her guests

“Goddess Y’meri, I …” She began but was interrupted by words of heat and inferno

“YOU SLUT! YOU STEEL MY SOULS AND HAVE SLEPT WITH MY HUSBAND!” She roared, the dry heat emitting from her in waves of anger

“I… What?” Miriel asked, a little taken aback

“DO NOT DENY IT, YOU STINK OF THE SEA, OF HIM!”

To Be Continued

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The Brackish Emporer, and Me Pt 4

When he came to her it was not as expected, she had expected something, more… mortal? But it was not like that. The Trinity did not join, they took up three opposing points, each drawing a weapon of some kind and faced outwards. The Ethereal Seas could be a dangerous place, even for Gods and Goddesses and they would allow no harm to come to the Brackish Emperor whilst he was…. Distracted.

The pleasure was unimaginable, but also hard to put into words, like waves of ecstasy crashing against her soul as tides of pleasure rose and fell in an unnatural sort of harmony. The winds kicked up waves of desire and lust which pulled them together like a current trapped in an unending cycle. It wasn’t until she arrived with him and the Trinity that she realized how long she had coupled, a full lunar cycle! She worried for a moment if she would ever again be able to enjoy the pleasures of a mortal after experiencing… this.

The two walked through the halls of her palace and he spoke to her in soft tones, like ripples of a pond.

“We will need to come to an arrangement, trust I have for you, in this one case, but there are many gods out there, and your realm lacks protection, I have not the time or resources to defend it, and the souls of my son can not be left untended for any ill willed being of minor divine heritage to steal” his words stung, but much as she had shared brutal honesty with him, she knew he was offering now less

“It will be better, I will see to it myself” She vowed, he looked at her hard for a moment, his expression steel; it could not hold, and the green eyes melted to a softer blue

“Those four Citadels, if manned properly would provide excellent defense of the realm” he said pretending to change the subject “but the Cardinals are difficult to tame, I know for a fact Aurora is already trying to sway Iar to her side… the fickle girl, she knows not the guile and malice that the West can hold… many will regret their alliance if forged”

“You think I should go collect them? And steal them from the Goddess of Air?” she asked, Kelezandri gave her the slightest suggestion of a smile, but little more

“I think that we have come to terms, I think that Fargazer may continue his journeys with you, but that until your palace if fit, the other souls of Prometheus will stay under my protection. I think that should you satisfy me with your defenses, then I will relinquish my stewardship to you…” he paused a long moment before continuing “I think we can celebrate this agreement properly however, If the Goddess of the Night Wind will allow me?” she looked at him long and hard, but ultimately decided to trust in the Lord of the Deep giving him a single nod

“MY TRINITY!” His voice boomed, and at once he was the Brackish Dragon once more “I WOULD SHOW THE GODDESS OF THE NIGHT WIND SUCH SPORT THAT THIS REALM HAS NEVER SEEN! EACH OF YOU WILL HAVE THREE MOONS, TO SHOWCASE THE GREATEST SPORT, SONG, PLAYS, DRINKS, FOOD AND DISTRACTIONS THAT YOU MAY CONCIENVE! ALEAU, THEN ANAMACHARA, THEN HANSEL…. SO SAY WE ALL” like a burbling wave that resounded in every particle of moisture Miriel could feel the call come back to her

“SO SAY WE ALL”

And then it began in earnest, ships by the dozens appeared on the horizon, bards, and foods, drinks and Ambrosia. During the first three months Aleau filled their days with music and laughter, their evenings with fruits and ambrosia, their nights with orgy after orgy, and their mornings with spa’s and massages. Masters of all of these arts were imported from across the realms to fulfill every desire of any who so wished it. Miriel had never experienced such stimulation, and as the time of Aleau began to wane, she began to worry and feel remorse for what was to leave, but she needn’t have feared

The time of Anamachara began and things were again new, the mornings were filled with great hunts of mystical beasts let loose into frozen sections of the either, they would fly and stalk their prey, each day proving more cunning ferocious or difficult. The afternoons were great Melee’s as they would armor up and enter the battlefield, fighting and slaying evil beasts in arenas of old. Then the sport would begin, jousting, spear throwing, discus, archery, races of all sorts… into the evening they would feast upon their hunts as well as thousands of other meats as the greatest bards and storytellers would tell tales of hero’s of old, of legendary sports, or of great hunts in time near forgotten. In the evening should one not be too tired or too drunk soldiers would be found to couple, and love would be made is quite corners in a fierce needy celebration of the here and now.

At Last it was Hansel’s time and again though the style changed she did not lack for entertainment. Mornings were spent with wizards who would open portals to new and strange places of the universe and show creatures or worlds yet unknown to mortals. Afternoons had entire troops of players come forward and present the greatest of plays, the final days showcasing some entirely new, and one about Miriel herself and her alliance with the Brackish Emperor. The evenings were filled with tasting concoctions, different amazing potions that would open or expand you brain, or give you perspective of a different creature, Hansel’s potions could make you feel or become almost anything, they would create flavours unfathomed, textures unimaginable… they in a word were divine. The nights were wild and unlike anything ever felt before, as he would call upon his friends from the fey realms, and the waters would become a hazy mist and intoxication would settle as the primal music would play and they would find themselves in savage furious dance, only to snap out of it ravenous and lustful to begin another day anew.

Through it all the Brackish Lord watched form his throne, laughing and smiling, pleased by what his Trinity had brought forth. Upon the waning of the final moon of Hansel’s final month he at long last stood and spoke once more

“We thank the Goddess of the Night Wind for Her hospitality, and wish her realm be richer for our coming, but now as with all tides, we must go”

Goodbyes were shared between her angels and his saints, between her staff and his retinue. The goodbye between the two gods was little more than a look, one that spanned days, and said all. At long last the Brackish Emperor’s retinue boarded their great ships, and slowly set sail sinking over the horizon of the ethereal plane and leaving the palace quiet as it had not been for nearly a year.

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The Brackish Emperor and Me, Part 3

“Oh, shit.” She said it again, and continued to mutter it under her breath.

Quickly she flew to the head of the table passing undines, sirens, and other aquatic beings, a growing worry in her chest, and when she got to her throne, it was as she suspected; the Holy Trinity weren’t there, either.

“Ah, there you are, Goddess of the Night Wind,” Saint Nigel said as she winged over. “The great Kelizandri and his gods wish to speak with you; privately.” He pointed across the clouds. “You will find them over there, in the horizon. Also, I don’t mean to bother you but the ale seasoned chicken; it is amazing, and also almost gone…might you have more? And perhaps introduce me to your chef that created it?"

“Thanks the winds…I mean, thank you, Saint Nigel, I will attend them swiftly. My Ordinal, are you able to assist Saint Nigel?”

She flashed a look of thanks as both Sa’Nara and Ariuk rose immediately with promises of more ale bottle chicken and flew off looking for her distinguished guests. A thought brought her exactly where they were, at the edge of her realm; while it did not look different, the feel of the aether around her whirled in patterns that promised a level of chaos even she was uncomfortable with.

The big dragon dwarfed her, with the trinity floating beside his head. She bowed low – her respect and admiration were not feigned – and righted herself when she heard a low whuf from the dragon. As she watched, he changed form into that of a reef giant and regarded her for a long while, ignoring the Trinity’s sudden peaked interest. She did not fidget but instead returned his gaze with one of her own, though her knees shook a little.

“You. Goddess of the Night Wind,” he said at last, each word slowly rumbled out of his throat as if a storm rolling out to sea. “You have taken a soul from my son. You have offered to take many souls from my son. You. A goddess so newly born that your birthing fluid still drips from your body, and the material plane, your womb, still clutches at you as an umbilical cord connects you to its mother, all the while not knowing how dangerous its new world is.”

The God drew itself up and pointed at her, and the clouds surrounding them churned violently as his voice boomed before her. “WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR FARGAZER AND MY SON, THE MIGHTY PROMETHEUS!!!”

Shaking, she fell to one knee (she tried to do it in a way that conveyed it was her choice, but she was honest with herself to know it was pure fear and intimidation) and looked up at the furious god, willing herself…several times…to speak. “To journey with them, my Lord. To see the world as they do, as a friend and ally; to protect them from their enemies who cower in darkness and plan in secret to upset the balance in unspeakable ways.” Her voice dropped to a whisper, and she looked at His feet so that she would be able to continue. “My Lord…Do you mean to stop me?”

She said that last defiantly, much to the chagrin of Aleau and Hansel (and an icy cackle from Ananmachara), but she did not back down. The silence grew heavy until the Lord uttered a single word.

“No.”

Miriel blinked and looked up, confused. The reef giant shook his great head. “No, I will not stop you. You…You are truly something different, Goddess of the Night Wind. I find that I am wont to trust you; I hope you are as honourable as you sound.”

Miriel’s head snapped up in shock as she heard the familiar words; she blinked, once, twice, hard, before realizing what was going on, but did not speak as the God raised his hand for silence. Kelizandri chuckled, the sound reverberating through her body and heating her blood, and she could tell by the sudden intake of breath and squirming from the Holy Trinity that mirrored her own that it was meant to do just that.

He chuckled again. “Do not fret, Goddess; I told you you’ve not seen the last of me, and I mean what I said…I do not grow legs just for anyone. Now, we shall have a celebration that is without bounds! ”

“Oh, shit,” Miriel whispered.

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The Brackish Emperor and Me, Part 2

Miriel watched from her throne as the three gods of Water chatted together on her right; she’d learned early enough not to sit too closely to the beautiful Aleau, who was very friendly but every time she asked to “cuddle and make up” with her, the other two of the Holy Trinity clutched their weapons or grumbled. Ananmachara really didn’t like her and made it clearly known by proclaiming loudly and often to Kelizandri that she knew an enemy when she saw one and to only give the word to fix the problem, all the while pointing her frozen spear at Miriel and glaring.

Hansel was fairly calm, engaging her in conversation all the while with hands heavy on his goddesses (a bit distracting but if Miriel could survive her grandfather Samurn mating with his friends during the drum dances, she could ignore anything these water gods could throw at her). She felt that it was his word Kelizandri would draw heavily upon and so she was brutally honest in all of her discourse with him, though Ariuk kept assuring her that so far there was no difference from her normal honesty.

On her left sat her angels, who for once were waited upon, and the Herald Nigel; the handsome halfling definitely captured her Ordinal’s attention, and quite often clutched him to her bosom in her eagerness to agree with whatever he was saying – Sa’Nara watched them in great amusement, and Miriel would catch her eidolon watching her, taking every opportunity to blow kisses in human fashion to her, with a large amount of winking to follow.

Down and down the great table went, with every space filled with Kelizandri’s great retinue, feasting, drinking, and making merry throughout the room. Air elementals, summoned to act as servers for the retinue, zipped around the room carrying food and drink from the Prom Pavilion to the Great Hall, with her hound angels directing them via barks and growls.

The Prom Pavilion; Miriel tried not to look bored as she looked everywhere but in the direction of the opposite side of the table. How she would much rather be there then up here, where she had to be careful in what she said, what she revealed; the complex was full of the little taverns and restaurants and bars that Flitt said would please the followers of Prometheus, and there should could relax amongst the shared tables in the middle of it all, filling the gaps in knowledge with her angels, playing fetch the plate with her raptors, or flirting with Augustine.

Reluctantly she trailed her gaze from Aleau’s intriguing hat (really the only safe place to look when speaking to her, and even then, Hansel had to make steam from behind Ananmachara to indicate the ice goddess’ displeasure) to the end of the table and into the deep brineful eyes of Kelizandri. The dragon had not spoken in two months, and she feared he was not happy with her hospitality; Saint Nigel swore that when the Brackish Emperor was ready to speak, he would make it known, and that the fact that she her plane was not invaded and destroyed spoke volumes with the Emperor’s satisfaction at her hospitality.

A bell gonged from the highest point of her palace and she breathed a sigh of relief; it was midnight, her holy time of solitude, and she was able to take her leave for a few hours of much needed privacy. She rose from her throne, bowing deeply first at the dragon lurking at the end of the table, less deeply at the Holy Trinity, then nodding at Nigel and her angels. She leapt into the air, beat her wings a few times (mostly to blow Aleau’s hat off her head, with the water goddess’ peals of laughter echoing in her ears and a new torrent of oaths from Ananmachara – Miriel flashed an amused grin at Hansel, who quickly returned it before smothering the ice goddess with passionate, and distracting, kisses.

Miriel flew down the length of her tree, heading towards the boardwalk and pavilion she’d created two months ago. She still wasn’t sure about the decision to offer safe haven to the worshippers of Prometheus; while she was fine to be allies, his lifestyle was too indolent for the warrior spirit within her to reasonable with her. And she was adamant that she was not a thief; he was welcome to take his souls once he woke up. She hoped Prometheus’ father will understand that, once they finished with taking salt and speaking of general affairs.

She neared her destination, and at once the sounds of suspenseful music filled her ears, and for once Miriel landed quietly so she did not disturb the scene before her. A crowd of people sat in crude bleachers in a circle, and in the centre stood a halfling in rugged clothes – Roger Pratt, her lost soul. He held out his hands to her five raptors, whistling and barking at them, and with each whooping sound they changed formation or ran about the circle.

“He’s been training them well,” Augustine said behind her, and she turned at the feel of his hand running up her back and over her shoulder – the roughness of his hand made her shiver. They’d coupled many times but she still felt a thrill of mystery when he looked at her, eyes flashing power and passion.

“I am happy that he’s done so,” she replied. “They will be more dangerous when I summon them the next time.”

He laughed as the big one, Blue, jumped from where he stood into the stands, causing the cooks and servers from the Pavilion to jump away and scream in terror. “I don’t think you’ll have to worry about that, Goddess.”

She returned his laugh and led the way into the pavilion and her private table near the back of the tables. Her space was directly in front of a simple tea shop, her table of Fire Nation design and low to the ground, surrounded by pillowed seating. The server, a summoned human whose were-form was a bull, came forward and delicately poured tea into their small cups before bowing low and slipping back into the tea room. She sipped and watched Augustine from below her lidded gaze, but he knew she was looking and stuck his tongue out.

Miriel laughed and touched his hand gently. “You’ve been a good friend, Augustine, you know?”

“I certainly hope so, I don’t grow legs just for anyone,” he answered, eyes sparkling.

“I hope that his Lordship is pleased with the hospitality I’ve given him so far. I know that time spends itself differently in godly planes, but I am eager to rejoin my party.”

“What is so special about them? Are they not just regular mortals?” He toyed with her fingers, making her answer absently.

“They are more than mortals, they are my people, my Companions – my Story, if you would. They are as important to me as my family and ancestors.”

“Important enough to die?” he asked, his voice deepening in concern. “I mean; take this Flitt Fargazer. His person is a battleground to be won, not just by the Brackish Emperor but by his own enemies.” Augustine waved above him, where the Holy Ship floated in the air high above them. “Is he worth risking the wrath of an Elemental Lord and God, not to mention the god and goddesses that follow him?”

“Yes.” She answered simply, without hesitation.

He regarded her in puzzlement, pulling her fingers to his mouth and laying kisses on her knuckles. “You are an enigma, my dear. I wonder what His Lordship’s son would say, if he was awake.”

“Flitt Fargazer is a child of my ally, Prometheus – but even if he wasn’t…” She paused, considering. “I do not ally myself to just anyone, and so far he has been my only ally, all without even knowing it. With the Lord of Darkness actively looking to destroy both of our followers, I would dishonour myself should anything bad happen one of his; mark my words, that frog is destined for something big. I can feel it in my bones. All of them are, really.”

“You are truly something different, Goddess of the Night Wind.” His gaze turned thoughtful, and he gently laid her hand down. “I find that I am wont to trust you; I hope you are as honourable as you sound.”

“So serious, Aqua Man,” she teased. “I built this pavilion in Prometheus’ honour so that any lost children of his would feel welcome to wait until he wakes; I hope it is someplace Prometheus himself would feel comfortable in it as well, when he at lasts visits.”

“I am sure he would,” he replied quietly. He stood abruptly. “My dear Goddess of the Night Wind, I must take my leave of you tonight; I have some thinking to do and the sea calls me.”

“Of course, my apologies for taking up your time.” She tried not to sound too disappointed, which caused the merman to laugh and cup her chin in his hand.

“Do not fret, Goddess; you have not seen the last of me.”

She watched him go, shaking her head; mermen! She enjoyed herself for an hour after that, watching her raptors do tricks before falling asleep sprawled on top of her. She promised Roger that she would send some special steak for when they woke and kissed each on their nose before taking her leave back to her throne and Great room. When she got there, however, there was a turn of events that she hadn’t considered…

The Brackish Dragon wasn’t there.

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The Brackish Emperor and Me, Part 1

Miriel could feel His presence the moment she entered her realm, a rolling thunder deep in her chest that reverberated down her spine; the feeling gave her a thrill before she guiltily snapped herself onto one of the beaches at the bottom of her realm. When her feet hit the sand, she dropped into a low bow in the direction of the vast power waiting for her in her palace; a tendril of acknowledgment answered her, touched with impatience and a hint of interest that disappeared when her eidolon formed into shape beside her.

“Mistress.” Sa’Nara melted against Miriel’s body, pooling at the bottom of her legs and nuzzling against her knees.

Miriel smiled down at her eidolon, caressing the top of the angel’s head and up along the ridge of her pale wings. “Good day Sa’Nara. I trust you are doing well?”

Sa’Nara blushed. “Oh Mistress.”

“We have guests, dear one; poor Ariuk, left alone to fend for herself.” Miriel waved her hand and Ariuk appeared, surprised and relieved. “Mistress! You are here! The gods have arrived and are demanding libations and banquets!”

“I am indeed, my dearest. Just in time, it would seem.” Miriel scrunched her nose in thought. “I’d thought I would be able to put things in order first, before their arrival, but I suppose it makes sense that it would be at their earliest convenience and not ours. I trust you were able to find enough rooms in the palace so they are comfortable?”

“Yes, Mistress, of course, with a little room to spare, at least. But I am unable to provide them with all the food and drink they need.”

“That I can take care of.”

What are you planning on doing, Mistress?” Ariuk asked.

“Oh – just something a little fun,” Miriel replied. The strix goddess raised one of her arms and pointed to one end of the beach. Boards appeared floating in the air, moving slowly and they crashed together to form a massive boardwalk that led to a large compound leaning against the Tree. Old wooden panels and crystal bricks sheathed the outside in a strange yet intriguing contrast of lower class and wealthy worlds colluding together.

A loud shriek resounded from above and a grin crossed Miriel’s lips as she watched four green raptors following a large blue one launch themselves onto the various balconies and decks on the sides of the building; they climbed haphazardly over the wood and brick, their back claws digging in deep until they smashed through various windows and disappeared inside. Screams, then voices raised in anger screeched through the openings, and the sounds of broken crockery and thuds followed in the raptors wake.

“By the Night’s Wind,” Ariuk muttered while Sa’Nara winced and said “Should we chase them?”

Miriel laughed. “We should indeed.” The goddess led the way to the front of the giant complex; the entry to the building was a large wrought iron barn door that slid on rails rather than swung outward, and was surrounded by panes of bubbled glass that went up the four storey, cottage-style façade.

The three were about to step inside when Miriel noticed a familiar bearded face leaning casually against a large rock buried half in sand and half in water, his shimmering green and gold tail undulating slightly in the waves, massive bare and tattooed chest flexing suggestively, and large metal trident clutched loosely in one hand. He watched her, eyes hungry, as she stayed her faithful angels and approached him cautiously.

“Gus!” she greeted him, hands facing palm upwards in blessing. “You look…not eaten! Would you accept my blessing and thanks, Gus? Hmmm, my apologies if that sounds abrupt, I do not know your full name to bless you.”

“Goddess,” he replied. “You may call me Augustine, if you wish.”

“Augustine,” she murmured.

“I would greet you properly, Goddess, and accept your blessings, but with the Lord of the Brackish Sea in attendance, I dare not challenge his edict, even if I’m ever your creature.” His long black hair echoed his fierce beard and hung in rolls about his face, splaying over broad shoulders; that, and how the skin around his eyes blackened in a way that made her heart flutter.

She nodded. “It is best to pay respect to those that came before us, and it does not cost the young much to pay it.”

“You do not go to greet them?” He asked cautiously, eyes staring hard.

“My Ordinal has already done a fine job in greeting and housing them; I would be remiss as a host if I appeared with nothing to offer them.” Miriel smiled at Ariuk, whose answering smile warmed her. When she looked back at Gus, however, her eyes were just as hard. “I’ve also made a promise of safe haven to one of my Companions; would you bear witness for his Lordship? I dare say by the laws of Hearth it will take a long time before we are able to speak of the reasons of his visit, so I would see that promise fulfilled.”

Gus stared at her for a long moment before nodding. He pushed himself off of the rock and from one second to the next his tail split in two with a splash of water and dust, and he walked proudly towards her in scaleskin pants. He half-grinned when he saw her surprised face, and patted her cheek as he passed her to join the angels, leaving her to follow in awe and, she had to admit, arousal.

What did she get herself into?

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Too Handsy Pt 3

19th of Wealsun 383ONT, Deck of the Champions Fist

Captain Thalion Alfrin sat behind the table that had been set up on the bowdeck. Beside him sat his First Mate Flit Fargazer, to his left sat Second Mate Aurellia Ouellette.

“Bring forward the accused!” The Captain called stiffly. He was not impressed, there were a thousand things that needed his attention but his afternoon would be spent sorting this out instead. Maddax and Rick Turred brought Jaxon up from below. His right stump tightly wrapped with a clean bandage. The man seemed surprised to see a lion’s share of the crew assembled on the bowdeck, even some of the littles had gathered in the rigging above, Thaden acting as translator. Rick guided Jaxon into a stool that sat a few feet in front of the Captains table, then stood behind the man at the ready. The Captain looked down at the sheaf of papers laid in front of him before addressing those on the ship. “We have all been through much, we have all suffered, and we are not yet to safety” Thalion began reading from his prepared statement “It is easy in these times to think that the rules are all corrupt, that they no longer apply to us and that we can and will take whatever we can, whenever we can” The Captain looked up from his pages and allowed his eyes to drift across those assembled, the werewolves, his crew, the littles, the escaped slaves, slowly his eyes rested at last on Jaxon. “But I will remind you all that this Ship and those who take passage upon it will abide by the rule of LAW” The Captain leaned forward, glaring at the man who sat on the stool before him “Mr. Jaxon, you stand accused of assaulting an officer on my ship, how do you plead?”. The man looked up confused he tentatively held up his stump.

“My hand was cut off… I was maimed by a man on the ship… what about him?”

“Mr. Jaxon… The law will come to each in its own turn…” Aurelia said, a slight throaty growl in her voice “Today we are looking at your actions, and the Captain has asked you a question, now answer it!” Jaxon stared around the ship looking to the unflinching gaze of the Captain, to the anger and contempt of the 2nd Mate to the impassive barley interested slitted eyes of the First Mate.

“I…” he gazed around looking for anyone who would support him, no advocates showed themselves “I didn’t do anything wrong, I was just flirting with her, and a madman came and chopped my hand off for it… Ask the Bosun, he was there, he saw the man attack me!” Jaxon said pointing at Ku-Aya

“Mr. Jaxon” The Captain said in a voice that called order to the ship “I have spoken with the Bosun, and the Mate, and many of the crew and passengers about your behaviour. The Bosun told me he did not see you attack the Master Carpenter, but had heard you bragging in the mess earlier about crude things you were planning on doing later. He also informed me that were this his ship, you would still have your hand, but would have been left on an island, I doubt his is the advocate you wish to bet on. Now, how do you plead?”

“This isn’t my homeland, this isn’t how we do things, this court… it’s a farce see, the judge is friends with the victim… I’ll see no justice here… I demand my right to trail by combat!” Jaxon called to the crowd. Aurelia visibly sighed in annoyance her hand unconsciously reaching for her revolver, until the Captain put a hand on her to subtly slow the motion

“A very human custom,” The First Mate murmured

“Indeed,” The Captain said to the First Mate, before addressing those gathered “I will warn you all in advance,” He said as he drew his sword and laid it on the table before him “That I am the Champion for every member of my crew… does anyone here wish to Champion for Mr. Jaxon?” there was a bone chilling silence across the ship as Thaden’s translation echoed the Captains words… only the creaking of the wooden ship, groans of the rigging and splashing of the surf could be heard. At one point little Anna Dancestream, a Scurious in the rigging began to raise her hand until her father smacked her upside the head and gave her an earful… no volunteers stepped forward. “So be it” The Captain said looking Jaxon up and down “I am afraid you will be at a disadvantage… in the future, when molesting people, it would be advised not to use your swords hand” The Captain said with cutting sarcasm as he lifted his sword from the table and began to walk around it towards the seated man. Rick pulled his own sabre from his belt and offered it hilt first to Jaxon. The man stared at it, then at the armored elf slowly striding towards him, with his stump and good hand he pushed away the sabre

“I withdraw my request for trail by combat… I withdraw my request” he cried throwing himself to his knees. The Captain stopped and looked at the First Mate

“Can that be done Mr. Fargazer? Can one withdraw?”

“It is not a common occurrence…” Flitt put in “I would say Captain’s prerogative”

“So be it…” The Captain sheathed his sword “How do you plead Mr. Jaxon, and know that my patience is nearing its end” The man looked around the deck, he saw no sympathy from the crowd, he hung his head

“By elven standards… I suppose I plead guilty” Jaxon mumbled

“Agreed” the Captain said, the first hint of real menace coming into his voice “You molested and assaulted an officer of my crew Mr. Jaxon. You did this after my crew risked life and limb to free you from slavers… know this, you are getting off extremely light…” The Captain took a long breath his eyes burrowing into the soul of the man who sat before him “Jaxon will be confined below decks and kept in chains whenever not under guard, he will be restricted to half rations for the remainder of his time with us. His hand will not be healed, He will be caste of the ship penniless and with only the clothes on his back in the first non-slaving port we come to, from there his fate will be in the hands of the gods… So Mote It Be!” As the Captain said the words he slammed his fist on the table marking the decision as final. Rick and Maddax each took one of Jaxon’s arms and dragged him away below decks.

“The Court will recess for five minutes before our next case” Flitt called to those assembled before slamming the table twice

To Be Continued

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Godliness

Aruik gazed out across the endless seas of the ether she watched the purple and golden ocean roil and turn as the winds danced across them towards the life tree of her Goddess. She watched as the great gliding manta’s leapt from the water flinging white spray into the winds as they soared for a few precious moments before diving back into the deep sea below. She remained perched as she watched with envy, her Goddess had designed her for something, she just knew it. But what was she meant to do? What was her destiny? She yearned for a cause, for anything to show her service and devotion.

GLURPs

The Manta’s scattered and the ocean began to spin and swirl. A large maelstrom began to burble and roil from the depths as waves cascaded violently away in all directions. From the centre of the maelstrom emerged the prow of a great ship, a mighty six masted schooner lead by a carved wooden dragon in the prow. Its sails were a greenish blue as undine, and creatures of all aquatic types scurried along the decks to man the rigging and keep the prow straight. Atop the tallest mast held the insignia that sent a chill down her spine. The Holy Vessel of the Brackish Emperor. As the ship at last surfaced, the water gathered beneath its haul and lifted it from the ocean, slowly it began to rise and approach the Goddess’s Palace. Aruik hopped down from her perch and soared towards the palace gates unsure if she should be preparing for battle or not. She landed on the thick branch road that led to the entrance of her Goddess Palace, the ship moored softly beside the road, and endless wave kept it aloft while a bridge was lowered into place. As the bridge secured into location Aruik could hear the sound of singing as a choir of sirens called out over the din of the docking ship

PLEASE LISTEN WHILE READING

Down the bridge ran twelve men and women, a mix between undine and aquatic elves. Each had a coned helm of silver and held tridents of gold. They formed up, six on either side of the bridge as four Selkie took up conch shells and blasted a horn call worthy of kings. Down the bridge came a curly haired Halfling wearing robes of aqua.

“Good Day” he said bowing to Aruik

“uh… Hi” she said, still unsure what was happening “Can I… er… help you with something?” she offered. The Halfling offered her a warm smiled a warm that made her feel more comfortable immediately

“Thank you; that is very considerate” he began “I am Saint Nigel, of the Holy Court of the Great God Kelezandri, Lord of the Oceans, King of all Waters, Brackish Emperor and Primordial of the Watery Realms” Aruik offered a brief nod, starting to get an inkling of what was happening here

“I’m Aruik, defender of the Palace of the Goddess of the Night Wind” she said, a slight frosty tone entering her voice as she started to weigh just how many people were on that ship

“No need for aggression Aruik,” The Halfling offered putting his hands out in a consolatory motion “We have not come to make war…” Aruik relaxed a little at that “… If we had, it would be over by now,” Nigel continued, causing the angel to tense all over again “No, we have come with diplomacy in our hearts, the Brackish Emperor feels that your Goddess has unknowingly wronged him, and thus as an extension of his infinite understanding, mercy and wisdom has deemed to come and be hosted until such a time that terms of agreement can be forged” he finished with a warm smile. Aruik looked at him hard

“The Goddess comes and goes with the winds, I know not when she will return…” Aruik started

“Worry not noble Aruik, The Great God Kelezandri is as patient as the Oceans are deep, now if you will show us to quarters so worthy and begin preparations of feasts, I will announce the Court” Nigel said

“ummmm….. ok” Aruik said, not sure what else to say, she opened the doors to the palace of people began streaming off the Ship, many were saints or nobles of some realm or another, the river of individuals continued to flow until at last Saint Nigel’s voice grew louder as he announced the Holy Trinity of Ice Water and Steam. The three Gods wandered past her, the Ice Goddess leaving little frozen slicks where ever she stepped. The lady of water leaving puddles in her wake, the God of Steam bringing warmth and humidity into the air. Finally he called forth his mighty God, the list of titles and accomplishments spanned a good fifteen minutes. Aruik was awed as the God, in the form of a great Brackish Dragon swam through the air and from the ship gliding effortlessly into the Palace towards the wing that he and his people would occupy.

“You will probably want to get the feast ready, have your stewards coordinate with ours and let us know when you shall be ready. Thank you Noble Aruik and Good Luck” with that the Saint of Kelezandri turned and joined the retinue, leaving Aruik to wonder how to cook feast for two hundred and fifty, with only herself and three raptors to work on it.

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Choices And A New Perspective

18th of Wealsun, 4:23pm, Deck of the Champion’s Fist

What had started out as a simple mission, well simple in relation to most of their escapades, to save Thaden and bring him back to the ship had been anything but. If someone had asked Hikari if it would fundamentally shift her perception of the world or her place in it she probably would’ve laughed and said no. And she would be very wrong. Hell, even the idea that Thallion would have to carry some strange cube into the temple and put something right seemed normal to Hikari as they’d made preparations to leave the ship and crew once again. After all that was what Thallion did, make things right, one way or another. Even Miriel with her burgeoning goddess-like abilities affecting the world around them and those in it was normal enough now to Hikari that she would have shrugged and gone on as normal with the work that needed to be done.

But then the universe decided that it was time Hikari found her place in the fabric of the world and more so her place in the universe and what her role would be. Oh, she chose to follow the path once on it and was determined to see it through. Though the blinding and the chair of thorns were not something she was prepared for she endured both to the best of her abilities and even managed to quiet the scream of pain as her eyes were pierced by long thorns blinding her. What the chair of thorns showed her was still something her mind was coming to terms with in the sheer scope of the size of the multiverse.

She touched the sensitive round scar at the back of her head just under where her skill met her neck in sad remembrance of the lives she’d had to take to restore balance, the millions she’d watched die because of her choice. She hated doing it, hated herself for making the decision that because those with power had reached too far and upset the balance that innocents would die to restore it. But in the end knew in her heart it had to be done. Could she do it again? Could she do it to those she knew personally? Hikari hoped to never have to face that choice and deep down knew what her answer would be. But Hikari vowed silently to the gods and the weave that she would never forget the price of those choices nor the need for them to be made and would follow the path she’d set foot on.

That was not the end of the changes hidden within the temple nor the surprises awaiting Hikari. Having passed the trials of Bendu and taken up the mantle to help maintain the balance of the weave despite her not being a druidic type, Hikari thought her part done save to support her friends as they challenged Bogna to finish repairing the weave and the temple in an effort to save Thaden. Facing a beholder and being saved again from a life as a statue, Hikari found herself faced with another choice to save the life of Aurelia and a young arachnid creature that had latched onto her friend. It needed a host competent in the use of the arcane and though Aurelia was impressively skilled in many areas, arcane magic was one of the few things she was not. And so Hikari had voluntarily offered to host the creature in Aurelia’s place assuming it to be a temporary measure. She has since learned it was not.

Maybe it was because she was the amalgamation of two souls, memories and all to begin with but Hikari found it easy to accept Phobia and saw it not so much as an intrusion but as a chance to share knowledge and grow as a person. Phobia was alone and possibly the last of her kind and was a churning mix of emotions and thoughts that at times mirrored things Hikari had worked through. So she let Phobia what support she could promising she would search for what became of her people and opened her mind to the newly awakened arachnid so it could experience what Hikari had and in doing so feel welcomed and not alone. Whatever happened from here on out they would face it together and protect the balance. Of course the shift in how she spoke would take some getting used to and not just for her.

As gently as she could under the guidance of Auri-cat and Thaden, Hikari landed on the deck of the Champion’s Fist shortly after Bitey had taken the others back. She was quite the sight to behold with the elaborate headdress, tracks of dried blood down her face and numerous freshly healed perfectly round scars patterning her skin where the tattered dress did not cover and an arachnid creature stretched around her torso and chest. But as she stepped foot on the deck of the ship Hikari smiled and said, “We’re home.”

Turning to the side that had Auri-cat on it Hikari asked, “Could you please guide us to Tar Di? We’d like to check on her and there is much we wish to discuss if she is up and about.” Much to talk about and prepare for beyond introductions to Phobia and showing her apprentice the new path they would be walking. Even blind HIkari was looking forward to it…

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