83

They howled Their fury until the ground shook with the force of it and spun away from the pile of ashes that had once been Lílrt Greymend, the worthless Dhaoine that he had been. Crossed Their domain with a single purpose in mind: to see what this changed. Didn’t care that the entire way there They were shadowed by the only god who didn’t ever ask permission to enter Their home. For once, the implications of this latest upset thanks to the free will the Creator had given its children were far more terrifying than what that god could or would do, never mind had done.

Which wasn’t to say They weren’t afraid of it still, They were, just at that moment there were more pressing concerns than the wonderment birthed at the knowledge that that god walked the Worlds again.

In all of known, and unknown, history an Oathing Sacrifice had only been Spoken on behalf of a Qishir by their Blood Oathed qahllyn less than two handful of times since the Giving Qishir had Spoken the first one eons ago. And every time it had happened, the Sacrifice wasn’t allowed to take. The Speaker was killed for the gods had taught Their children that only Qishir could Speak those Oaths, could handle the amount of raw magick. Always it was only Qishir who Spoke the Sacrifice that successfully completed the Working. Until today, until the moment Lílrt knew that he was faced with speaking a Truth that would see his Qishir dead. Not by Their own hands, no, but what that pathetic un-male of a Dhaoine had misunderstood was They had not asked for the clarification They did because it was They Rhyshladlyn had to fear but rather to protect the Grey Qishir.

Lílrt hadn’t known the true consequences of what he’d done, only that he’d needed to protect his Qishir, to give him enough power to withstand the threat of the remaining nine Shiëtzirs the self-titled Anointed One had created and then loosed upon the Worlds. So while They could respect him for the altruism of that, They could not forgive the rest of it. Not when the sole reason Rhyshladlyn was even dealing with any of these problems was because of the Greymend brothers. Everything had gone the exact opposite of the way They’d Seen or Planned and if They were right, this would make everything so much worse than it already was.

Damn mortals and their stupidity and meddling. Why can they never just leave well enough alone?

They rounded a bend and stopped at the sight of the web They’d been watching for approaching three hundred and fifty years, the largest in Their domain. The one Their brethren had marveled at. The one that was no longer being built upon, only attended to. Stared at it as the orange-amber glow of distorted as though the intensity of the color was draining away, the edges of the webs blurred like someone had smeared the border lines before they’d had time to dry entirely. They watched as Their spider-creatures swarmed towards it but didn’t touch it, unable, or unwilling, to get more than two feet from it on all sides, their distressed noises loud in the sudden silence of Their domain.

And it was in that silence that They realized They were no longer alone on the path. That to the left and just behind Them was that god, the one that hadn’t been seen since the day Rhyshladlyn had vaporized N’phier City and since the day the Grey Qishir’s wings had been ripped from his back.

“You know now what this means,” a voice like darkness given life and sound said, the tone gentle, kind almost. Like the god it belonged to was understanding of Their emotions in a way not even They were. It wasn’t a question either, merely a statement of fact, but They felt compelled to answer anyway as the remainder of Their fury at Lílrt’s actions drained away.

“Yes… We know,” They swallowed thickly and closed Their eyes to stave off the urge to look at the god beside them. Not that doing so posed the same risk to Them as it would to any other god or any Dhaoine for that matter, but it still was an uncomfortable feeling to look at the eyes that gave a visual of its namesake, a future that existed should all false safes to keep the Worlds stable and the ambient magick Balanced properly failed. So while there existed no real danger in looking, They still closed Their eyes. Told Themselves it was more to gather the courage necessary to keep speaking, to ask the question that had been swirling around Their head since Lílrt’s Oathing Sacrifice completed. “What happens now?”

“Well,” it answered and stepped up beside Them, close enough that the power it gave off so naturally like a wave of heat and frigid coldness mixed together; a constant ebb and flow that reminded Them of the tides, “it depends on what Rhyshladlyn decides to do. But… if he decides wrong?”

They shudder as the weight of that gaze slid over and landed on their face. Squeezed Their eyes closed like a Dhaoinic young convinced that so long as They didn’t see the danger it could not see Them and They were safe. But this danger couldn’t be hidden from, could not be felled, so easily. And after several heartbeats, They realized it looked at Them with the quiet expectation of that look being returned. It wanted Them to look at it. But by the Creator They didn’t want to. But want meant nothing at times like these. So when They did what it expected, what it all but demanded, turning slowly to meet those pupil-less orange-amber irises in their sea of deepest black, They wished vehemently that They’d just killed Lílrt the moment he’d dropped into Their domain. Wished even more that They’d never culled Rhyshladlyn’s powers the day the male had Called Desolation from its slumber and marked the Worlds in a way no Dhaoine had managed to do since the Original Children still walked them.

The fear They’d shoved aside because it wasn’t a priority rose from the depths They’d sent it to and became drown deep, full of dangers unseen and unknown, only heard and felt. And for the first time in eons, They wondered if that was how Dhaoine felt in the darkest of nights, wandering adrift and alone, clutching to weapons and Shields and magickal knowledge, hoping that the dawn saw them alive. Because seldom little could kill a god, Desolation was one of those things.

“He can’t decide wrong,” They whispered but not as an answer, more like They were trying to convince Themselves.

“If he decides wrong…” it continued, a small smile pulling at its lips that was all prickly amusement that was more unsettling than the gentle tone it used, and looked away, arms crossing over its chest as it looked at the web of its first Scion in millennia and sighed, the sound making its corporeality shiver and weaken briefly, “then we will have to start over again.”

If They were a betting god, They would say it sounded disappointed. Seems We are not the only god to take such a vested interest in one Rhyshladlyn Ka’ahne.

“I pray to the Creator that he decides rightly,” They answered at length, watching as the edges of its face lose some of their sharpness.

Desolation made a sound that was halfway between a noncommittal hum and a snort. “Aye,” it replied, “as do I.” It turned and walked away with a faintly murmured, “as do I.”

They turned and watched it walk down the path, more of more of its corporeality falling away the further it got until between one blink and the next it was gone as though it had never been there. Fate swallowed and turned back to look at the web that encompassed all of Rhyshladlyn’s possible futures and wondered which section would remain. Wondered if They should start crafting a new mantle to place on the next Greywalker’s shoulders should Rhyshladlyn choose wrong.

The air of Their domain shifted just so and They looked upwards to the swirling colors of the fabric of Existence that served as the ceiling of Their domain with a whispered, “It’s time.” They left Their domain with a prayer to the Creator that Rhyshladlyn chose rightly.

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