The trip back to the monastery had been the more difficult for the lightning strikes and the injuries and the persistent feel that they were being followed. But they managed to make it back without further significant incident. One look at them had caused the abbess to whisk them all away to get some rest and where appropriate also some medical attention. No magical healers here, sadly, but the people that do have some skill with caring for the physical form can at least keep things from getting worse.
It’s the following day and Aiden is in the main area, a large square room at the bottom of one of the buildings with a fire in the center and paper-panel walls on all sides. He’s sitting on a cushion, meditating. He seems unhurt, though where he may have gone during that fight is a good question. He had been covered with blood or… something like it when they saw him again. But not, from the looks of things, injured.
The door opens and the abbess comes in with a large steaming bowl of… that looks like rice, actually.
Slaine hadn’t mentioned any injuries on their journey back and she’d avoided being hit by more lightning, which is something.
Right now, she’s laying on her side in Aiden’s room with her arms bare, a livid mark from the lightning strike etched into her flesh. That … had to have hurt.
She barely stirs when the abbess enters, she’s been like that all day.
Physically Varos had more or less been fine. It’s an absolute fluke that he hadn’t twisted his ankle for the unexpected landing he’d taken, but his right shoulder had been bruised as though to make up for it, since that’s what he’d ultimately landed on first.
Proper rest had been next to impossible for him, not with whatever side-effects had clung to him from their dealing with the Titan’s energy source. The brightness of how he’d perceived things before while trying to weather through deification seemed dull in comparison to what burned through his mind’s eye now. He felt he might as well be truly blind for how over-saturated his senses felt, and he’d needed assistance not only in returning from the quasi-elemental plane but through everything else that followed.
His stubbornness hasn’t been affected however, and if he hasn’t been intercepted or helped along by now from leaving the room he’d been resting in, he’s still making painfully sluggish progress to the main area, a hand along the wall to serve as an anchor point from everything else.
Also laying nearby — which in an of itself is very uncharacteristic — Zyx is more flat on her back than Slaine is. She also doesn’t really react to the abbess arriving, mostly because that would require moving her center mass and … no. She’s let the humanoid shape slip a fair bit as well, now resembling more of a vaguely human-shaped pile of crystals. She’s healing, and she’s doing so quickly enough, but it’ll still take at least several days to repair the damage, and that’s only if she is able to acquire proper sustenance. Which, as often as not, she can’t.
The abbess is followed by young student carrying a plate of vegetables and meat. And another one carrying a small selection of crystals. The fact that there is an other elemental here means that there is SOME ‘real food’ available for Zyx. But not nearly enough for her to heal on. That’d have to be grown and that could take quite a long time. Weeks at least. It’s honestly probably better to get her back to Vesper and try to find what she needs there.
At least, for everyone who had been affected by it the noise of prayers and the thrum of power seems to be dying off. Slowly. But it’s going away.
“I thought everyone might need some food.” The Abbess says, setting down the tray, with the bowl of rice and several smaller bowls around it.
Aiden nudges Slaine. “Half Pint, food.” He murmurs, looking up as Varos finds his way in. One of the young attendants goes to guide him over to where the food is, should he need that.
“So…” The abbess says, looking at the injured, convalescing group. “You’ve slain the titan. Did you achieve what you had hoped for?”
“I’m no’ hungry …” Slaine winces as Aiden nudges her. They’d not found anything wrong with her except that marking, but she’s not … well. Her tummy growls though as the scent of meat and vegetables wafts through the room.
Had they achieved what they had hoped? The voices were quiet for her but she’ll let the others speak.
It’s a tight smile that Varos grants the attendant who’s found him, but he thanks them, accepting their guidance since he’d figured he’d run out of wall eventually. As voices speak up he tries to focus on those as he feels like he’s swimming through his Sight trying to decipher anything of the room and its current inhabitants from the minds actually there.
He heaves a sigh as he settles in to sit, trying to make out things by feel and scent, by listening. If he were being honest he supposes he isn’t feeling all that hungry either, but he’s sure that food’s probably a good thing considering… it’s probably been a while since the last time he’d eaten anything. Hopefully he doesn’t knock anything over trying to find it.
“No, not really,” Varos says, his smile askew as he turns his head in what he thinks is the direction of the abbess. “I’m not sure what we achieved exactly. Other than making certain we wouldn’t be devoured.”
With the increasing activity in the room, and especially familiar voices, Zyx stirs. Moving to sit up is more a rearrangement of her crystals into a more upright seeming pile. “I–” her voice is still completely distorted, though very slightly less than when they were travelling back through the portal.
Unable to really offer her opinion on the topic at hand, she instead just reaches an appendage toward the container of crystals. Any sustenance is better than none, even if this isn’t nearly enough to give her the energy needed to heal quickly.
It will at least… taste good. And heck it might even be enough to get her voicebox back.
Aiden gives Zyx a concerned look as she tries to speak and stops. It sounds like she’s trying to talk through a river. Made of broken glass. It’s actually kind of disconcerting.
A bowl is placed in Varos hand. And then vegetables. Not in the hand in the bowl. And then a pair of… small sticks?
“Slaine. Eat.” Aiden gently reproves pushing food toward her. The fact that they’re not sure that they have what they needed means that-
“Hello, Delicious Friends.” A tall, Slavic looking woman breezes into the room and gives everyone an almost too chipper grin.
Even Varos should know that voice by sound alone. It’s Professor Ingerhast.
Slaine struggles to sit up as Varos and Zyx speak, eyes roaming over the pair for a moment. If Varos can see through Slaines eyes, he’ll see the pain she’s feeling but he’ll also sense the Crown niggling at her even though she’s wearing it.
Taking the bowl from Aiden, she turns the food over with the implements they’re given. Two sticks … how on earth is she supposed to eat with these?
“Professor Ingerhast.” She doesn’t sound overly surprised to see the woman, err spider, here. “Are ye followin’ us or did yer journeys just happen to bring ye here at the same time?”
For her part, Elpida has been getting some help with plucking a few of the more easily removed rocks from her skin. There’s been some ‘ouches’ and ‘ows’ from her when she was doing so. When it’s done, she finally emerges back to the others and OH NO THERE’S INGERHAST.
“Oh fuck me,” she groans.
Oh, it’s like magic. Except not. Once Varos feels the weight of the bowl in his hand he waits patiently as it’s filled. A brow arches at the sticks he’s given. He does his best to get a feel for the shape and length of them, but they don’t appear to be anything more than two thin, tapering sticks. He frowns. And then as he tries to apply them to the bowl of vegetables he scowls a bit.
He wants to laugh. Or stab something with these sticks, although apparently they’re not at all for doing so when it comes to eating. He’s pretty sure he’s missing, anyway. It’s laughable, he thinks, because Saphra’s taught him how to fight and maneuver if ever he should have his Sight hampered, but she never once thought he’d have to try eating under the same circumstances. Or at least, in this case, something somewhat comparable.
When it comes to his Sight he’s not sure what he’s seeing, exactly. He can glimpse the room, his surroundings, the people within, but all very vaguely, overlaid with radiance as it all seems to be, to him. It’s a bit painful trying to make anything out, like staring at the sun.
“Dost my ears deceive me,” he murmurs, head lifting at Ingerhast’s voice, and he finds himself smirking in spite of things. “You do get around.”
“Maybe a little bit, Slaine dear.” Ingerhast says. She walks over to the abbess and kisses both her cheeks then walks over to Elpida and looks at those shards of stone embedded in her skin.
“Be a dear, Elpida and let me…”
Ow. That will hurt. But she has a shard of rock now…
“Hello Master Varos. So nice to see you as well. I came because the Abbess advised me I might be needed and, well, I have ways of getting around.”
“Needed?” Aiden cants his head. “Why?”
“To end the ritual currently upon your friends, Aiden.” The abbess says.
Ingerhast smiles again and sits down near Slaine. “It’s like this…” She says taking up a pair of sticks and snatching a small ball of rice. Varos will feel his hands being guided wordlessly by the child to show him how.
Wait a minute. Is his mind being read?
“So. Who is up to be cured of deification?”
Slaine lets out a sigh. Ingerhast hadn’t suggested the monastery even though she had to have to had an idea where Aiden was from. The Mystic isn’t surprised at that – Gran had basically kicked her in the pants when something needed to be learned. It stands to reason the Spider-prof did something similar.
“So it isn’t ended then?” Slaine asks as she watches the woman eat so effortlessly. Guess what happens to the rice ball she tries to maneuver to her mouth.
This is slightly embarrassing, but Varos feels more annoyed at his current state than upset at having to be helped figure out how to eat. He figures his dilemma was more than obvious that he needed to be shown the proper way. There’s probably a couple of vegetables that have escaped his stab-attempts and the bowl itself. At the very least he proves a fast learner, and once his hand and fingers have been positioned correctly, he doesn’t hesitate to put his newfound skill to use. Eating with sticks. Huh! Who’d have thought?
Ingerhast’s…administrations? of Elpida’s wounds, or rather the reaction come in sharply enough that even he flinches. No, he doesn’t question the why’s of it. Those of the Academy have strange ways, and Ingerhast’s always been one of mystery.
“Gods, yes,” Varos says with a forced laugh. “-that is, no, rather. I’m done with this.”
“Fuck!” Elpida repeats when the rock is so effortlessly plucked from her skin. “You just wanted a piece of titan,” she contests hotly at Ingerhast, grumbling. But all is forgiven when she says ‘cured of deification and she stands straight up. “Me, me, me. Never, eeeeeeever gonna be a goddess of love.” No offense to Aphrodite who may or may not deserve said offense.
Zyx continues to just sit quietly, eating the crystals slowly but steadily. There’s no chewing involved, just bringing them to what passes for her head at the moment and sort of … dissolving them. Each time she does so, the color of whatever stone she eats diffuses through her crystalline structure for a few seconds.
It might be a bit of a shame that Varos can’t see it.
“It’s almost over, Slaine.” Ingerhast says sympathetically though there is a touch of a smile on her lips as the rice ball Slaine has kind of goes everywhere. “Almost had it.”
Aiden just lifts one into his mouth. Cheater.
“Aiden. Manners.” The abbess reproves though she’s smiling a bit too.
“But yes. All I need to do now is to pull the divine power presently in you, out of you. It… will hurt somewhat I’m afraid. And I do need some accompaniment. A very precise kind of tone. I wonder… my dear elemental you do look rather distressed but I don’t suppose you might be up for it?”
“How much will it hurt?” Aiden asks, wiping his mouth.
“Enough that these injuries you’ve sustained concern me somewhat. But I think getting the power out will help their recovery so…”
When Professor Ingerhast addresses her, Zyx starts trying to speak again. It must be her equivalent of throat clearing, because she spends a moment doing what sounds like a crystalline version of tuning several string instruments simultaneously. Finally, she speaks again and her voice is close to how it usually sounds. “I can try, Professor.” And then she keeps on eating the crystals. Because even if it’s only her voice for the moment, they’re helping.
Slaine sighs as the rice cascades down her front and she takes a moment to fish some of it out of her cleavage. “Shut up, Aiden,” she mutters, knowing full well that even if the psychic isn’t smirking, he’s smirking. Seeing how he eats his rice though …. the Mystic follows suit.
“Let’s jus’ do it. I’m not sure more pain can be any worse.”
Varos’s smile borderlines a grimace, but the consequences Ingerhast mentions come as no surprise. He chews his vegetables, having made considerable progress now that he’s been shown how to maneuver those sticks, now acting as an extension of his hands as he feels with them for whatever’s in the bowl. He also realizes he must have been hungrier than he’d thought.
“It’s seems even more troubling with you admitting concern,” he notes to Ingerhast before nodding at Slaine as he sets his bowl and the eating utensils beside him.
“As she says. I can hardly think straight as it is.”
Elpida’s expression goes into a wince.
“S’long as it doesn’t turn us in to Harvest Nymphs. This isn’t going to leave any… marks, is it? Like, we’ll all be one hundred percent back to normal?” Frankly, Elpida is not sure could bear being changed any more than she already has to make her what she is, so this is honestly a pretty big concern for her. She lets out a breath.
“Harvest Nypmphs? Goodness no, Elpida. You won’t change any more than you already have. Well, maybe your snakes might get slightly more poisonous.” That’s a joke, right? That has to be a joke.
“Alright then, Kythzyx. Can you resonate with this stone? Make that tone? I’ll start the spell…”
The spider-professor starts to move her hands and speak in a resonant, echoy voice. The MOMENT she starts the others can feel a pull. The power is trying to rip itself out of them and it feels like it might take bits, physical and metaphysical, with it.
Zyx listens to the bit of stone for a moment, then starts humming to match its resonant frequency. As she gets a better feel for the tone needed, her humming becomes a bit more audible. It’s like hearing a Tibetan singing bowl made from quartz, a pure clear sound without any variances or hitches. You know, because Zyx doesn’t actually have to breathe air to produce sounds.
“Those…are very good questions,” Varos murmurs as he nods in Elpida’s (at least he thinks) direction. He’s not quite sure how to take Ingerhast’s response, but they don’t seem to have much other choice. At this point he’s already resigned himself to fate.
As the spider professor begins, he braces himself for…whatever is to come next. In truth nothing can possibly prepare him for what happens once the tone is spun, and Ingerhast begins her spidery chant. Varos gasps at the sensation, gritting his teeth, perhaps even fighting back out of reflex. Hopefully he doesn’t find himself face-first in a plate of food as he starts to hunch over, arms curling around himself as though to hold himself together.
Slaine snorts at the Harvest Nymphs. That hadn’t been funny at all. When Ingerhast’s spell begins, Slaine lets out a grunt but fixes her eyes on Aiden’s, holding them, using the techniques he’s been trying to teach her for months now to compartmentalise what she’s feeling.
It’s not working very well and the small Mystique starts to whimper, paling even more than she is. Will something shatter? Will she ever be whole again after this?
“…oh no, not more poisonous snakes. Whatever will I do with more of what I already have,” says Elpida with sarcasm. Deep sarcasm.
Then she groans and drops to her knees. This hurts.
This hurts a lot.
There is a string of unmitigated cursing come from her and she’s in far too much pain to be creative, though at one point she does wish to ‘jam her foot up the ass of that lizard lady priestess so hard that she’ll be tasting shoe leather in the back of her throat’.
Aiden rises to his feet but there’s not much he can do. As Kythzyx holds the tone and Ingerhast continues to chant the power visibly flows out of them. It’s like a fine glowing mist and it’s all flowing into that little shard of rock.
The pain from this is incredible. As the power flows out the prayers come back even louder than before and all at once, in a hideous jumble. The pain isn’t just physical either. There’s a sense of tearing deep within the being. Mental pain perhaps or… metaphysical.
None of them can escape the fact that they’re losing something as the power flows out of them. Losing the power itself, which had started to BECOME them. In a way, they’re losing part of themselves, even if it’s a part they didn’t want.
“Just a little more…” The abbess says quietly.
Slaine watches Aiden, a distant look coming over her. Whatever this spell takes with it, it won’t be good for the already beleagured Mystic. Anyone riding her senses will feel the presence of the Crown as it lurks, waiting for its chance to ensnare her.
Tears run down her cheeks but still she endures. They’re saying not long and they wouldn’t lie, would they?
Pain’s something Varos had been trained to deal with, but nothing compares to what tears through him now. A cry escapes his lips, brief as he clamps anything further down as his teeth grind against each other, the pain deeper than physical, pervading his very being. Any and all sense of his surroundings is lost to him in that moment, and hopefully he doesn’t surprise or land on the attendant that had been helping him as he briefly convulses, jerking sharply to the side.
He senses all and nothing, feels his strength being sapped, feels the world going dim. It’s downright frightening, and that he’s probably inadvertently experiencing things from Elpida and Slaine as they go through much the same isn’t helping in the slightest.
“NGngngngngh,” is what Elpida says. It’s a very elegant and intelligent sound. She drops to her knees and slinks to the ground. Losing part of herself makes her old wounds feel all new all over again. She tightens her fists into balls and just silences herself, enduring like the rocks that embed her skin.
Or like Kthzyx. Who is also rock. Sort of.
There’s one more searing moment of pain and then the spell ends. The last of the glowing mist flows into the shard of the titan. Ingerhast looks somber now, looking around at the clearly pained subjects of her latest working.
“I am sorry there was no other way. But it’s over now. You’ve defied fate. You will not be gods.”
They still have a cult, that might be inconvenient. But their cult won’t be changing them into actual deities.
“Rest.” The abbess says. “Eat if you can. I’ll have the healers come in to check on you soon.”
Slaine doesn’t hear what Ingerhast or the abbess says, she’s curled back on the floor trying to block the pain out.
As the spell ends and the pain eases, her eyes drift shut and she sobs. Sobs until she sleeps. She’s not going anywhere.
There’s no response from Varos. He seems to have passed out, lying where he’d fallen, empty bowl upturned and chopsticks scattered beside him. His face is streaked with sweat but he’s breathing, panting really, now finally able to get some real rest.
He might appreciate not being on the floor for that duration, but at the moment he’s dead to the world.
“What are you going to do with that?” asks Elpida, when she recovers, a nod towards Ingerhast and the stone. After all, it contains the stuff that was going to make them gods, right?
Then she falls face first onto the earth. WHOMP.
The group has made it back from defeating the Titan and have been recuperating, but there's still one more thing to do before they can completely halt the process of deification.
March 11, 2412