Rhyshladlyn stepped inside the Nameless’ Chamber in a bubble of peculiar detachment that hit the second he crossed the threshold. He had spent many long stretches of time within these seven walls on his knees before the Altar on the far wall, bare save for his god-Marks and scars while the Nameless spoke endlessly about times long gone by, taught him of magicks arcane and ancient, long forgotten, never written down. Now, with the Awakening of his heritage as a Greywalker and a Qishir mingling, with the knowledge that his ancestors had blended their bloodlines with the Ancients, among other races, in an effort to preserve themselves through the ages, Rhyshladlyn was hard pressed to wonder if what the Nameless was teaching him all this time were actually the traditions that the Greywalkers’ warrior clergy would have been taught before their Blooding ceremonies, before they received their tattoos.
As he walked across the floor, he fisted the front of his ruined shirt and with a tug ripped it from his body, sending an errant lick of coldfire to it where he let the torn remnants flutter to the stone floor to eat the fabric until nothing remained, and strode the remaining distance between himself and the Altar bare-chested, dropping the glamour on the runes that spanned from shoulder to shoulder just below his collarbones. Each line of the slanted, flowing runes beginning to light up a color that matched his eyes perfectly, until they glowed and pulsed in time to his heartbeat. As he reached the Altar, he touched a fingertip to the wicks of each of the thirteen candles that littered the Altar’s surface, the white-blue of coldfire springing up at each contact. Once each candle was lit, Rhyshladlyn picked up a stick of the incense bundled together at the far right of the Altar and used one of the candles to light it. With a gentle puff, he blew the flame out and set the stick in its specialized holder letting the smoke waft up and circle him as his eyes drifted closed, hands lifting to press the palms of each across the opposite wrist, hiding the Marks of his other Patrons in respect to the one to whom he made manners. As the incense smoke thickened until it was all he could smell, even the scents of his mother, siblings, and Ero no longer detectable, Rhyshladlyn let a soft hum escape, growing in pitch and undulating as he picked up a melody, voice eventually ringing out in a low, rich baritone that shifted the smoke that gathered around his head, slipped along the walls like a gentle rainfall, brushed across the skin of those in the Chamber with him like the touch of a lover.
“Et ú Les Suol Endïrk/Meieh shi’irtevach/Nyhien mör kieshú/Mahadahve ii shiema tavelïr,” he intoned in Tengú Elaèy fourth form, the form only used when singing praises to the gods, the form and words he spoke as old as the Worlds themselves. Anis and the rest shivered violently as those words washed over them, Rhyshladlyn’s magick swirling around him and filling the room slowly like the rising waters of an incoming tide with nowhere to drain to. “Oonma vishtè cú/Et na oo kevu/Et naveh kiestzi/Manawemo wa otesoo ut ve ma ek a ner.”
Azhuri’s voice joined Rhyshladlyn’s then and Anis, Alaïs, and Ero looked over at her as the realization that these words were probably a prayer she, too, had learned long ago when she was first Touched by the Nameless sinking in as her tattoos began to glow much like Rhyshladlyn’s Marking had.
Nyhien meieshi vekartem
Et ú Les Suol Endïrk
Kiertshan mirt narvéh
Je duvelk ma et u ve
Ma ek a ner kieshir
Zher’naden ka vèh
Iirt nama oonvät
Et ú ish vootma
Les Suol Endïrk
As the last syllable faded off into silence, Rhyshladlyn let out a slow, deep breath, feeling the Nameless’ hands alight upon his shoulders, the cool touch many associate with the onset of death comforting and warm somehow despite the frigidity of it. Lifting his hands until they rested over top the god’s, Rhyshladlyn spoke once more, “For as long as You call, I, Your Scion, shall always answer yes.”
“And so I shall always grant you Acceptance each time you answer My call,” the Nameless returned and Rhyshladlyn chuckled, nodding as he made to stand, the god stepping back so he could do so. Once on his feet, Rhyshladlyn turned to meet the questioning gazes of the others. “Come and join the circle, Rhyshladlyn Nhulynolyn Ka’ahne, I have yet another story to tell you. Though this one is mightily different from aught I have imparted upon you before now,” the Nameless spoke in that air-robbing voice, waving a hand towards where his family and Ero sat and the two pillows that had not been there previously.
With a nod, Rhyshladlyn did as his Patron bid him. Once he was seated, Anis reached over from his left and gently touched his bent knee, clear blue eyes earnest, handsome face twisted with worry and Rhyshladlyn vaguely wondered when his brother had started allowing the hair on his face to grow in until a soft shadow of stubble showed along his jaw and around his expressive mouth. Likewise his normally closely cropped hair was getting longer, beginning to spike up in all directions and Rhyshladlyn felt a pang of worry that he had not taken note of this change before now. What else have I missed while I’ve been so focused on not allowing Anislanzir to best me?
*Not much, honestly,* Shadiranamen replied and Rhyshladlyn got a flash of her filing her nails with the air of someone who couldn’t give two shits what was going on around them. They were sitting beside an Old One, one of Rhyshladlyn’s Patrons no less, and she seemed as impressed by it as if they sat beside a harmless furry creature.
Well thank you, oh more observant one.
*You’re very welcome, dearest kè.*
“Are you well, brother?” Anis asked.
“Aye, well enough,” he replied, trying to smile but more than certain it never even made it to his cheekbones let alone his eyes given the way Anis frowned at him.
“What happened?” Ero piped up and Rhyshladlyn was grateful for the distraction as he turned his attention to the Soulless.
“A shopkeeper took it upon himself to beat his son to death with a belt in the street for tripping and accidentally dropping, and subsequently breaking, the pottery the boy was carrying at the time,” Rhyshladlyn replied, that detachment from earlier settling back over him as his eyes glazed over as he heard the distant sounds of the shopkeeper’s screams and pleas for mercy as he was beaten to death akin to his son. “So I did unto him as he dealt to that innocent child.”
There was a heartbeat and a half of silence before Azhuri spoke up next, orange-amber eyes wide with a worry that, while he understood why it was there, made Rhyshladlyn bristle, “You did so legally, I’m sure.” It wasn’t a question but he answered it as though it were.
“Of course, Mother. This un-male broke the Etiquette of Fair Punishment so under the Law of Retribution for the Disciplined I sought reparations owed for his forswearing.”
“Good,” Alaïs said before Azhuri could say anything else and Rhyshladlyn turned to her with a start at the vehemence in her voice, raising an eyebrow at the look of banked fury on her face. She hated mistreatment of children nearly as much as Rhyshladlyn so he probably shouldn’t be surprised by her response but yet she also didn’t condone violence in response to violence so perhaps he should be a little surprised.
“But that is done and taken care of. The Green Soul Healers have the body of the boy and will see him properly taken care of,” Rhyshladlyn said, waving a hand to dismiss any other attempts to pursue the topic before turning to face the Nameless whose hooded and shadowed visage was steadily trained upon him. “Honored One, You said You had a story for me…for us?”
It nodded, but for long moments didn’t speak and Rhyshladlyn didn’t press. The Nameless spoke at its leisure but given what had happened just a few handfuls of minutes prior to his arrival at its Shadow Chamber, Rhyshladlyn had no doubt the Nameless was making sure that shopkeeper was kept to Rhyshladlyn’s curse. So Rhyshladlyn settled in for the wait, shifting until he was comfortable before drawing his wings forward so he could get a good look at the feathers that were once again covered in gore and blood and gooier things. It seemed to be a recurring issue for him lately and he frowned at the thought before sighing at the amount of work needed to clean them and his lack of an available shower.
“Do you need some help?” Ero asked.
“No, I’m fine, thank you,” Rhyshladlyn answered before shifting his wings again so he could begin to settle the feathers that had been ruffled and displaced.
“But they’re filthy…and I noticed we have no showers, not in this part of the Temple at least,” Ero pressed and Rhyshladlyn merely raised an eyebrow at him but kept silent.
“Oooh, brother, do the thing with the fire,” Alaïs quipped and Anis laughed as Rhyshladlyn rolled his eyes.
“Aye, Rhys, do the fire thing!” Anis said, voice tinged with his laughter.
“The fire thing?” The Nameless spoke up and Rhyshladlyn jumped slightly, having forgotten for a brief moment that it was still there given it had gone utterly statue-still and just as quiet.
“I second what the Honored One said,” Azhuri said, head tilted, lips curled into a soft smile, eyes filled with curiosity.
“Make me third,” Ero added.
With a sigh that he tried to make sound long-suffering, Rhyshladlyn extended his wings out straight behind him before curving them up and with a thought set them aflame with coldfire in a whosh as the flame ripped into the visible spectrum and engulfed his feathers, dancing down over the axillary feathers where the wings themselves connected to the flesh of his back and up over his shoulders. Beside him to the right the Nameless bellowed what was maybe a laugh as it scrambled in what was definitely a godly fashion off its pillow and away from the flames just in case they decided to get greedy. Across from him Ero made a similar sound but one less like laughter and more like a very unmanly yelp that Rhyshladlyn would definitely poke at him for later if Anis himself didn’t. And to his right on the Nameless’ right side Azhuri’s eyes widened comically as she leaned backwards until her hands had to brace against the stone floor behind her pillow so she didn’t fall entirely. Anis and Alaïs just guffawed and clutched at their stomachs as they bent forward at the reactions of the others. Rhyshladlyn grinned, the look more devious than it was filled with good-natured mirth. Once he felt that all the blood and gore had been cleaned from his feathers he beat them once forward and then back, snuffing the coldfire. In its wake his feathers were clean and shiny with it. He would have to oil and clean them more properly later but for now it was better than what they’d been like and that was good enough.
“Well, that was certainly unexpected,” the Nameless muttered as it settled back onto its pillow, tone full of laughter and had Rhyshladlyn not heard such in the god’s voice before he would probably be a far sight more unnerved. Because a god of death and destruction should not sound so damned amused about anything; it didn’t bode well. Regardless of having heard it before, it still made Rhyshladlyn uneasy but he supposed that was better than his Patron sounding angry.
“A warning would have been nice,” Ero grumbled and Rhyshladlyn chortled.
“Then I wouldn’t have gotten such a priceless reaction out of you, Ero-shahn,” Rhyshladlyn replied adding the honorific that was given to someone who had proven themselves worthy of fighting beside and thus who had earned the coveted title of sword-sibling. “That yelp of yours was beautiful,” he added with a wink.
Ero groaned loudly, dropping his face into his hands to hide the embarrassment-born blush that tinged his cheeks. Anis laughed, reaching over to clap his personal guard on the back.
“We won’t tell anyone else, Ero,” the heir said, laughter making his voice deeper on certain syllables.
“I don’t believe you,” Ero said and this time Alaïs laughed with her twin.
“Alright, children, settle down,” Azhuri said, shaking her head at the four of them before turning her gaze to the Nameless whose shoulders were shaking under the cloak and Rhyshladlyn had no doubt it was highly amused by their antics. “Honored One, forgive our rudeness. You were going to speak a story?”
It nodded, shoulders still shaking, mirth coloring its voice as it spoke, “Aye, I was, but I am not upset. That was truly entertaining and I cannot wait to tell the rest. It will provide Us much amusement, I am sure.”
“Oh great, just what I need,” Ero muttered into his hands, apparently comfortable enough to bemoan his situation whilst in the physical presence of a god capable of ending his life with a look. The Nameless only allowed his laughter to be heard at the Soulless’ words so it obviously wasn’t insulted.
No one otherwise commented, instead turning their attention to the Nameless who lifted its long, thin-fingered hands and pulled back the hood of its cloak to reveal a face that was at once masculine and feminine and neither, eyes a swirling mass of every known color and some that weren’t, lips thick and yet thin, the hair that fell down around its shoulders the same kaleidoscope of color as its eyes. It’s left hand reached over its shoulder to call its Scythe from where it had been left leaning against the Altar when the Nameless had placed its hands on Rhyshladlyn’s shoulders. Once that wicked weapon was once more in its grasp, the Nameless moved the Scythe so it rested across its shoulders in the pose the god was often depicted in. Those eyes alighted on everyone, holding for three heartbeats before moving on as its lips quirked into a twisted smile.
“Sit comfortably, young ones,” it began. “For the story I have to Speak is a long one and began ten thousand and ninety years gone.”