“Oh, it seems My Scion has been busy,” the Nameless said suddenly, its echoing voice reverberating off the walls of the Chamber until it seemed as though several gods had spoken instead of just one.
Anis closed his eyes tightly, hands curled into fists atop his thighs where he sat cross-legged on one of the large, thick pillows the god had created for the four of them to sit on rather than the cold, unforgiving stone floor. It had been interesting speaking with a god and an Old One at that, but gods help him, Anis was probably never going to quite get used to the way the Nameless’ voice thickened in the air, as though it endeavored to replace it and choke those who required it to breathe. Though of the four of them, the one that seemed the most uncomfortable with the entire thing was Azhuri and that was perhaps because the Nameless had taken it upon itself to properly scold her for neglecting to visit its Chamber and make manners properly in the last few centuries she had resided in the City.
“How do you mean, Honored One?” Azhuri asked, head tilted to the side, pitch black hair shifting as she did so, the charms that were woven into the locks tinkling as they fell over each other.
The Nameless turned its hood-shadowed visage towards the Lady Queen, body language clearly conveying it was raising an eyebrow at her question before it spoke, “He has returned to the City, Azhuri Rinnae GreySong, some hour passed and is making his way to the Temple now. Given the way the Currents are chortling, This One would say Rhyshladlyn Nhulynolyn Ka’ahne has been mightily busy. ‘Tis near a shameful thing that he will never rule these people; they could do with someone with a strong yet compassionate hand.”
Anis shared a look with Ero who was green along his jaw, having struggled more than the rest of them to get used to the way the god’s presence filled the entire Chamber, the way its voice rattled one’s bones and set one’s innards to quivering. It was probably only by virtue of the rigorous training all of the Soulless race underwent before reaching maturity that kept him from violently spewing his stomach’s contents all over the floor. And even if that was the only reason, Anis was still impressed and vowed to remember to tell the guard that when they got out of here.
Provided they actually made it out. Given that the stories told of how temperamental the Old Ones often were, Anis was not going to tell himself something that may prove to be a fallacy.
“It would seem there was some sort of altercation two blocks from the Temple doors…” the Nameless murmured almost absently, quick hands twirling its Scythe with all the surety of a warrior wielding their chosen weapon. In the last two hours Anis had learned more about his mother and her people and their history than he had throughout his entire life under the direction of various tutors and scholars brought in with the sole purpose of educating him and Alaïs. One major thing being that the Nameless was apparently one of the main Patron gods for the Ancient race, one of the many shared by it and the supposedly extinct Greywalker race which was a deciding factor for those who managed to escape the Cities before the killing began to mix the races’ bloodlines in the hopes of not diluting the power inherent in the one. Obviously it had been a wise decision if Rhyshladlyn’s strength was anything to go by.
“An altercation, Honored One?” Alaïs inquired, voice flat yet respectful, clear blue eyes fixed upon a spot to the left of the Altar that stood center of the wall opposite the doors, having not strayed from that point since she sat down, her back ramrod straight, hands folded in her lap, shoulders squared, head held high in the perfect picture of demure yet strong female. If only Father could see her right now, no doubt that bastard would be proud of her and not in the way that had him needing to satiate himself on Rhyshladlyn, Anis thought with equal amounts of disgust at his Father and pride in his twin.
The Nameless hummed in acknowledgement. “Yes, it seems the City is down one shopkeeper. Not that he will be missed. I personally loathed the creature. He was worthless and undeserving of the blessings that his eight sons and three daughters gave to him. But it is not My wont to seek retribution. Yet it would appear that Rhyshladlyn Nhulynolyn Ka’ahne enacted retribution in My lacking stead.”
None of them had anything to say to this proffered information though it certainly explained why Rhyshladlyn was now going on an hour past the two hour deadline he had given Azhuri to meet him at the Temple.
Just then bells chimed from within the Temple, loud and clear and peeling. The Nameless chuckled, clapping its hands together and Anis jumped involuntarily at the sound, staring openly at the god whose Scythe remained balanced over its shoulder unaided while it clapped its hands together a second time before walking towards the doors to its Chamber as the bells continued to ring. As the last ring faded into silence, the Nameless pulled open the doors with another rolling laugh, the sound what Anis imagined night descending over the land would sound like if it were to have a sound. Turning around on his pillow to look at the doors Anis swallowed thickly at the sight that greeted them all, distantly aware of Ero’s sharp breath, Alaïs’ stifled cry, and the sound of Azhuri clapping a hand to her mouth to contain whatever noise she could not otherwise keep from making.
For Rhyshladlyn stood in the doorway, blood smeared across his face and staining his shirt heavily in places, slippery chunkier things than blood dripping onto the floor, hair wild and looking more like fire made into locks than hair, eyes no longer a defined sclera and iris but merely a swirling maelstrom of orange-amber, sapphire-blue, and ice-blue lightning with flecks of jade, garnet, violet, and white swirling in those turbulent depths. His face was a hardened mask of boiling rage that made the muscles along his jaw clench in dancing intervals, eyes staring unseeing at the Chamber but Anis knew they cataloged everything from the second the doors had opened even if they never moved. His lips trembled around a barely swallowed down snarl of fury that made his hands shake where he had them curled into fists at his side, shoulders tensed and wings puffed and vibrating with the power that made his eyes, skin, and feathers glow as his wings sent out plumes of golden dust with each twitch.
“My Child,” the Nameless said and Rhyshladlyn’s eyes alighted upon the cloaked figure and a jolt ran from his feet to his head and between one eye-blink and the next, he dropped to his knees, hands resting palm up on his thighs, head bowed, wings flared to show the vulnerable underside in a sign that was as submissive as one of the winged races could get, something Anis had never seen Rhyshladlyn do. “Oh, Rhyshladlyn Nhulynolyn Ka’ahne, you need not show such supplication to Me. We are of a likeness, are We not?” The Nameless murmured, reaching forward to cup a hand on either side of Rhyshladlyn’s face, lifting it so that the redhead looked up at the god. Anis averted his gaze at the tears that stained his brother’s cheeks, at the haunted look in those eyes, at the waves of tangible disgust that rolled off him alongside the rage that had hardened his expression into one of careful blankness that didn’t fool those who truly knew him.
Anis didn’t have to ask and hear the response to know what had happened out in the streets beyond the Temple, what the Nameless had meant by ‘an altercation’ that had delayed Rhyshladlyn’s arrival at the Chamber.
Only one thing could have resulted in his brother being covered head to toe with the blood and gore of another Dhaoine and wear such proudly while simultaneously be breaking apart with the aftermath of it: the un-male that the Nameless had mentioned was a father who had to have done some harm to his child, probably a son, and Rhyshladlyn had witnessed it. Given the amount of gore and blood covering the other heir, Anis surmised his brother had enacted the Etiquette of Fair Discipline’s corresponding Law and personally meted out the punishment.
Rhyshladlyn’s voice rang out through the still air of the Chamber, sounding utterly unlike him, discordant and echoing as each word was spoken, not unlike when last Anis and Azhuri were with him at the Temple and Rhyshladlyn learned of his Other-who-would-have-been-his-flesh-and-blood-twin, Nhulynolyn, and spoke to them in the Temple Gardens, “Nameless, He who is benevolent yet merciless, She who is the Ferryman and the Gate Guardian in equal measure, Ey who is Death and Destruction itself — an end and a beginning existing in tandem, ’tis I, Your chosen Scion, Marked by You, come to make manners at Your shrine and speak with You if it is allowed.”
Anis could not see the Nameless’ face, regardless of the fact that its head was covered by the hood of its cloak, but the way its body language shifted, Anis had no doubt that it was smiling benevolently, almost bemusedly, at Rhyshladlyn.
“Of course, My Scion. Rise and join Us,” came the reply and it was then that Rhyshladlyn seemed to realize that Azhuri, Ero, Anis, and Alaïs were also in the Chamber. Blinking once, slowly, Rhyshladlyn did as he was bidden and rose to his feet, albeit shakily. “Come, My Child, and let Me tell you a story of how you came to be,” the god said, beckoning to the Chamber behind it with a sweep of its right hand, Scythe once more clutched in the grip of its long, thin fingers.
Without another word, Rhyshladlyn nodded and stepped inside, the doors closing behind him with a sound that made Anis uneasy.
It was a sound not of Truth and Finality but that which marked a Change; great and terrible and frightening. And the Prince of the Sinner Demons truly hadn’t the faintest idea how to feel about that.