As the Heavens Return... (1 Viewer)

Moolight

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Quiet footsteps follow the Exarch out of her keep and to the collection of shrines nestled deep within town. It's quiet, the storms over Folset finally broken, and with the late hour, the walkway is dim. Her people have retired for the evening, leaving her awake, restless, and alone. Ciyera comes to halt before the shrine to Vassas... and she sighs, dragging a hand over her face as she looks to the things left there- a few books, an hourglass, prayers written on little blue-tinted sheets. A couple candles sit beside the small pool, and a dish of incense- all unlit. It's been a while since she dared pray- mostly, fearful of what any god would think if she came to them. Yet every time she gives in and comes back around, it's to the Balancekeeper. Maybe she just doesn't know what else to do. What else would make sense. The woman waves a hand and a couple of the candles light, the incense begins to smolder, casting a feeble starscape reflection in the water nearby.

"... I.. apologize that I don't know how.. people usually start things like this.." How many decades has it been since she prayed? The woman hesitates and thinks to herself that she should just walk away. But despite her doubts, Ciyera remains rooted before the shrine, knowing full well that she is a force of destruction and that, without a calm, rational anchor, it is all too easy to go too far. Rubbing the back of her neck with a gloved hand, she sighs, and bows her head. "... I know it's been a while... and... I know you're probably not even listening, either. ... of the gods you're easily one of the busiest, and the most profound and... I understand if I'm just talking to myself like any old lunatic.." She pulls Vassas' Compromise from her robe pocket, running her thumb over its face and, with the presence of the books left at the shrine, the sands in the hourglass begin to turn.
"It's been a good run."

"We've... been making headway," Ciy mutters. "I can't believe only a few septs and... helped take down three of these infernal pillars... I've heard from the saints around that the heavens are returning.. that whatever we're doing, it's helping, it's worth a damn.." She watches the sand go, then turn over and start running again. "All of time and all of order... sitting out there among the stars.. my friends always told me I was silly to follow you.- back... back in the old world... and I told them... that as crazy as the world is, as grim and chaotic... that as long as at least someone up there knows what's going on, that if you know what's going on, then that was enough for me. I was alright with that." A long pause passes, the woman falling silent as she glances away from the shrine and the amulet, with a note of shame. ".. And even if you're not listening, I suppose,... you being who you are, you still know... that I left that path behind.. left you behind, for a while. Lost faith, couldn't take it."

Her eye lifts, roams about, then settles on the shrine once again, on Vassas' crest carved into the marble. "I couldn't wrap my head around how... could your order and plan allow for so much chaos. Couldn't come to terms that it might have been some kind of destiny,- the people I buried, the friends I lost, the faces I've missed. They're all gone now, and for whatever reason,
I'm still here... and I don't know why. Protecting those left." The woman's hand closes around the amulet. "Buying them time. ...That's all these battles are, aren't they. That's all a battle ever is.- buying time for things to go right. Make enough time for a miracle to happen. ..."

"... I suppose it just frustrates me..."

"... Because no matter how much time we fight for, no matter how much I sacrifice, how much I watch my friends sacrifice, it's not enough, is it... because you and the things we fight, you all operate on such a higher scale than us. We must look like flecks of ash on the wind, feebly trying to pull together a dust-storm to cover a valiant escape of a whole civilization from the madness... Will it ever be enough? It seems no matter how many times we fight her, the chaos she sows, she keeps coming back... Is it just a mantle to be passed from generation to generation?
...I would do... anything to help make a world where my children don't get caught in this same cycle of battling her..."

"... Beyond that, I don't know what I'm asking for. ... just praying it's enough, I guess..."

Another long silence passes. The more Ciyera lingers out here, the more of an idiot she feels herself to be. She tucks the amulet away with a note of frustration.. Really, Ciy.. He wouldn't answer. Not really. Big busy god, important things to do- and when he does have the time to respond to mortals, it's only to his most devoted. Joan and Perise come to mind immediately and she envies the amount of trust they seem to be able to place in Vassas... any of the trust people can place in their gods. What's wrong with her that she can't bring herself to just believe in something? ... She doesn't believe in the divines.. she believes in Perise, in Mikael, in Sigal... in the other great people she has known that she has watched mold the world as they please... But never divines... too distant, too apathetic... impersonal. Far and away and beyond her tiny understanding, right? So what place does she, who hasn't paid mind to Vassas in almost two decades, have asking anything of the Balancekeeper. What right does she have expecting anything? There is no god from whom she has any place seeking refuge... her shoulders fall and she starts to turn away from the shrine.

"I know I can't begin to understand what you do... I've never led a regimented faith... ...And I know I'm probably still just... talking to myself like any old lunatic, but... if you pay any mind... even in my doubt, I have never stopped trying to uphold your order... if I'm to fight to protect your people until the day time finally runs out, so be it...
I trust you, even if I don't know what you plan, or what you're doing..."


...And as dawn falls upon the town, the candles and incense have smoldered out, and the woman cleaned the shrine of any soot or ash left behind... leaving it pristine, tidy, and orderly in the name and manner of her first and still, only, god.

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Moolight

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One stands before the shrine to the Timekeeper, again, watching the soft glow of the lit candles there in dedication- evenly distributed with an equal number to either side, a couple on small dishes and holders of wood, set to float in the water.. The light reflects in her eye, catching and quivering, casting skeletal shadows on the wall behind her as night has claimed the town of a thousand stars... Yet here she stands, once again without answers. Once again at a loss for what to do... Not that she lets on, not that she has ever once let anyone else in on just how deep the fears and worries go. Yet here she stands.

"... Maybe it's just more comforting talking to nothing," she mutters, mulling over. Ciyera's eye narrows, focusing in on the hourglass nestled among the candles. "If I bring these concerns to anyone who actually knows me.. they get worried. They tell me I should... sort things out. Move on, fix things."

"I don't know how."

A pause. She runs a hand up through her hair, expecting silence- and silence is what she gets, but for the gentle rippling of the fountain into the shrine pool, and the flutters of candle flames against the night breeze. A sigh escapes her. "...As much as I know you're here,
you seem.. more distant... less real. My kids, my friends, if I tell them, they get worried. You just don't care. ...And that's refreshing." Ciy scowls, bites the inside of her cheek. Refreshing, sure, and frustrating. She never knows if she is getting anywhere.

"Look, I just need... one thing to go on. I can't do what everyone else does... .. I don't have that kind of faith or devotion," she admits, starting to get irritated with herself. "The world has always been what's there, physically in front of me, alright? What 's physically here. Faith is about knowing there's hope, yeah? And help? Some kind of last-ditch net to catch you when you get to the bottom of it all.
...I can't let myself fall onto a net I don't know is there... 'cause if I'm wrong, that's a long way down to a hard landing." First rule of learning to fly- learn to fall. Learn to catch yourself. For years, Ciyera has been the one to catch herself.. she hasn't been able to trust anyone else to, not really. Not one to pass off responsibility or burden... Never fall without knowing she could land right.

Silence, still. The candles are burning low and the wax ought to be poured out soon. Ciyera dams up her thoughts to go do so, her duty the same as always.. Even if her faith in the gods is broken and bleeding, she still keeps after the shrines and the candles of the city. Since saints and holymen were found dead in their homes at the beginning of Foli's war, Ciyera has been the only one. The wax is disposed of, the soot cleaned, ashes dispersed..
"... Maybe I'm just not suited to follow a god, even you... other people, it always looks so easy for them to get it right. They have so much conviction."

".. And... I want to, too... ...
I want to ... trust you. The way they do- Joan, Perise... ... ...What do they have, that I don't, that they can keep to your path?" Dragging a hand up through her hair, pulling it out of her face. The irritation spikes again and she goes to turn away from the shrine sharply. "Is it because I've gone mad? That I lost my mind before, somehow that's not orderly enough for you?" A harsh, biting tone. The candles flutter and swell slightly in her presence. "When all I've done, all my life, was try to keep the world stable, follow the tenants you set out,- failing, relentlessly, yet still trying- even when I'd forsaken you entirely. I never lost sight of the balance. ... I never lost sight of what was important."

"... Is that just not enough for you... ...Look, if the answer is no,... then at least reject me properly... Don't leave me hanging for another hundred years like I have been... I need to know.. There's too much that 's all uncertain and up in the air.. You know everything, don't you... you know that your silence, it... it seeps into my mind. Makes me question what I still do wrong... the God of Order shouldn't give chaos to the minds of... those who wish to follow him."

"... And yet still... I don't leave you.
Still when I seek answers, my steps bring me back here. Does that tell you anything... ...I don't... have anything else when it's all gone. Just You..."

Hours pass... Ciyera remains rooted in the spot. Until the last candle goes out, until all the light fades and leaves her before a dim shrine. Desperate and fuming and wounded. Doubting herself, praying for guidance. Apologizing for thing she doesn't even know if she's doing wrong. Longing to not feel so alone every time she comes here... yet still she lifts a hand and the candles are set alight again, illuminating the shrine to the Balancekeeper... Bitterness spikes up in her heart, towards herself and her own shortcomings, and a silent pleading to know if she is even on the right path at all, or has she been striking into the dark for a century of her life? Fighting and protecting and bolstering against the chaos, fruitlessly, to no end?
Perhaps that scares her the most... that everything she has done for the shreds of faith she kept in her heart, might all be for nothing. That, at the end of it all... she has no true purpose.


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Moolight

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Everything goes away, eventually. Sometimes with a loud sound or a bright flash, sometimes with a wrenching and tearing that leaves a
gaping pit in your chest. But most times, these disappearances, these sudden vanishings.. there is nothing to denote their passing. There is no

warning, no indicator. All you notice is the absence. Someone was there, once, and, no longer...
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Sunlight falls in curtains over Tyr'Arien, the jewel of the Folsetian coast soaking it up as spring makes itself known. Already the forests are a deep, lush green and already, the smell of fruit and flowers hang in the air. The Exarch emerges from her workshop through a tunnel she'd made through the cliff face, coming out to the rocky, barely sandy shore. Waves pummel the stone around her and the spray splashes up over her. She squints and turns her gaze upward. A brilliant, vibrant cloudless blue shows overhead, a blessed day for any bird in the sky or anyone seeking to be outside. A stark contrast to the gaping darkness leading into her workshop under the city. She takes a salty breath and sits down on a stone mere feet above the crashing waves, watching the breath of the ocean pull back, exhale... the deep rhythm of it the vibrates even the rock beneath her but it does not give way. Were it not here, she would surely be swept out by a riptide in an instant. Could always fly up and back, sure, but she'd be soaked, cold... Ciyera pulls her robe closed around herself. The rushing wind of the sea shore chills her yet the seagulls above sing their short cries and catch bluffs and gusts on their stark white wings. Picturesque? It's nice, being this far down.- that from the woman working tirelessly to spellcraft flight. Her gaze looks up to the great pillars and the bridge to the massive glyphic circle, the pillars and the slate of stone that she raised from the ocean floor on her own. A feat of magecraft and sheer force of will, of bending the ground to work for her, to make this... her mind wanders.

Though the woman doesn't remember her trial, the gambit, nothing clear... there is one sensation she has held onto. The kind that clings to the soul... the searing pain of pure, unbridled magic... and the infinite wonder of seeing the ties that hold the universe together. Witnessing the endless weave, the cloth of reality, and feeling so small and lost within it. She chuckles quietly, and the sound is lost in a roaring rush of water. In seconds, she is soaked. Is that where this is going? Some day? No, Ciyera knows.. she isn't that kind of mage. It was a beautiful glimpse of eternity, and one she will never see again. She thinks of working on the Nexus Tower with Mikael.. on Perise's wedding venue. Something as simple as her twist of flight spell imbued into a floor or a ballroom, it seems so small and far away now. How far has she come? When she was young, Ciyera thought always of the long road ahead. Now, it's the long road behind.

Faces come and go, but still the relentless pace calls her. She wonders back on it all. What would Godswill say? Pft, he'd scold her for being so wistful and introspective when she isn't even old. But of the humankind, how many lifetimes of theirs has she seen? Ciyera hangs her head with a smirk. Gods if she keeps on it, she'll lose track of time... she has work to get back to. But Ciyera sets her gaze on the horizon.. slowly, movement catches her attention and her eye drifts to a passing seagull. It skims down by the water, then catches a gust and soars, circling higher and higher. There was a time that she was marveled, awed by the grace of birds...

What has her life been? Long road behind. She remembers cold nights in Al'Sel, crashing in the tavern by the fire. Far from home, a Void-consumed mess of the forest it had once been. Forced north with her old hunting spear in hand, fighting for what scraps of the world remained. Another wave crashes and breaks over her, for a moment surging past to her ankles before draining away, back into the ocean as it began its slow recoil. Ciyera had made friends, come to the new world, set up a little camp that grew and grew until it became.. home. Illu. Fights broke out, she took the helm. Illu became Casimir and above their flag flew the Reiklands- then, also, a different name. Exiled, killed, fled to Folset... She rekindled her friendship with Vulmar, who would one day be her husband, father her children... They made this place together. The sparkling walls of Tyr'Arien, and the great plans they'd had for it... And her days as a fledgling mage...

Ciyera remembers how long ago it had been, when she first called a gust into her hand. When she first made light from nothing. Now, of course, she knows better. It's not from nothing. Just as the ocean pushes and pulls at its shores, just as the wind whistles through every nook and cranny and leaf and branch, just as the sun rises and sets on each bright blue day, so too does the fabric of the universe bend and change and flow. It lives and breathes as does any natural process. A breeze became a gust, then a razor wind, then a storm. Light became a flame, then a fire, then an inferno. The very ground she now stands barefoot on, she could twist to her will in ways the woman had thought impossible all those decades ago. Teaching Finn has reminded her of what it used to be like- in a bittersweet kind of way. What will she teach him, when his studies progress? ...What will he ask to learn...


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"You have broken every code you ever lived by."
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She learned that wind can cut, fire consumes, earth can split and give way to a yawning grave. Does the woman regret it... As she closes her eye and folds her hands behind her back, welcoming the next arc of water to douse her. The one thing in the physical world she can't control. The one force of nature that continues to evade her grasp, and awe and terrify her. Does she regret what she keeps in her grimoire ? Sure, some of it is utilitarian... some of it is profoundly, but harmless- like the seawall of Tyr'Varune, her windboards, the Bulwark. Yet everything else she has done... The defense of her home, the razing of Tyr'Kasimir, the sundering of the Ocean Pillar. ... The lengths she has told herself she is alright going to, all to keep her family and her people safe...

The ground beneath her cracks.. Another wave crashes over her, drowning out all sound. Then the stone splinters and the woman shoots up into the air, catalyst alight. A streak, headed towards the altar to Vassas. The shrine in town. She's not old, but her life has been so full... of everything but the gods. Ciyera soars up over the town, over the trees, up into the clouds. Flames spiral out behind her. She's raced a Phoenix and won, flying faster and more brilliantly than true wings of fire. She's done great things and more. Is it arrogance? Ciyera has never had arrogance. She has been so laughably frightened of what she can do. The woman's mind wanders again. To every time she has stood before that altar far below and spoken out into the nothingness. ... What listens. Anything? Anyone? Her family is fractured, her first beloved is gone... Her love now, the joy and smiles he brings her.. she is grateful, truly, with all her heart, but her heart does not beat the same for him... it's love, through and through, but different. Would she always feel alone when the lights go out and the world is quiet?


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"Anyone can make lights... Anyone can make a breeze rustle some leaves. I want to bend... the foundations of this world to my whim."
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Ciyera closes her eye and lets herself fall. Through the clouds, past the leaves, the stone of her home city racing nearer. At the last second, the woman's eye snaps open and she conjures a gust beneath herself, coming to a short but gentle stop.. the smoke of the incense burning at the shrine wavers slightly, but Ciyera rights herself and sets her eyes on the hourglass sigil over the reflecting pool. The All-Father. A father she never had? Or a father she has always had, that has never heeded her existence. Even as a mother, grandmother, Exarch of the mighty kingdom of Folset, she's still a bastard... a bastard kid raised by her uncle, because neither of her parents wanted her.

"... So here we are again," she mutters. "... Alone again.." Ciyera lets her hands fall to her sides, slings her staff over her back.. the glows fade, residual wisps of magic leaving her. ".. I've finally done it, you know. ... Airships will be returning to the continent- not the great balloons as before... but by sheer weaving of magic." Her head tilts, regarding the sigil.. before her eye falls. Why are these always so awkward. "... Is this my purpose, then?"

"...Everything has its place, its order, its time... have I done enough yet... to make you proud... ...to be worthy of your notice.." The woman falls quiet, thinks, hums. Contemplates. Has she made up for everything she has done. For all the hurt and pain and suffering she has caused, might there finally be deliverance? Redemption for her actions? Atonement for her sins? She doesn't know what to call it- the woman has never been religious. "... Well, even if it's not... thought you might want to know anyway." Ciyera comes to sit down in front of the shrine, as she so often has.

"I won't sit around and waste your time repeating myself... ...You know the questions I want... I need answers to... Is my purpose just to guard this town? This nation? I've got at least another hundred years ahead of me. I need to know.- Why am I doing all this..." The woman falls to her knees. They hit the flagstones harder than she thought. Dimly, Ciyera wonders, is this the first time she has knelt before the shrine. ".. I know I don't ask you for answers, my problems are too small for you, and you're too busy to say anything... but... I'm lost." She sighs... the words leave her mouth and she realizes that's.. it. Ciyera has lost sight of so much, in her way down the road. She was working tirelessly, but to no end. What would come of all this? She has no legacy. She has nothing but what she has built, and all of it will be gone in the wind once her time is done. There is no one to give it to.

All her friends... Ciyera pulls her hand up through her hair, pulls it out of her face. Tears blur her eye. Is this the first time she's cried in front of the altar? She gets up and staggers back from it, trying to compose herself. Perise and his beautiful, wonderful children. Mikael and his utter lack of loyalty to anyone but himself and those who are useful to him, but still he can manage to pull together some kind of legacy. Something that will outlast him. She wants to be happy for them. She wants to be happy for their families as she clutches at her stomach, her broken womb, the bits and pieces of her heart. Her joy scattered around the world. Wanting to be happy with Sigal, but missing her husband even still. They shared more years together than she can count, and more hardships than she dares take for granted... Her sadness turns to rage at Bishop- how could he have let a wedge drive between himself and his son? Does he not understand what a wonderful joy it is to have a child? Does he take so much for granted that he would let that slip away?


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"...Is it achievable... ...Will I ever know peace... can't I rest, one day, and know they are safe..."
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Ciyera turns away from the shrine. On the off-chance something is listening, she doesn't want to be seen or heard like this. She drags a hand across her eye, her cheeks, rids the tears. Steadies her breathing. Soon enough, the broken smile returns on command. Ghosts and shifting mirrors. What was it her mother had said?- or at least, what did her uncle say her mother had said? How rare and beautiful it is to exist. Every life is a bundle of happy oddities. Did she make them proud? Would they ever know? Or did the Void consume even the barest hint of their souls... They didn't have a star to watch over her. Even among the dead, Ciyera is alone. Faces come and go, and hers changes, but never leaves. Never fades. She looks around the citadel. It will all be gone one day. When her skin goes cold and the breath leaves her lungs... Nothing will follow her. The bell will toll and the birds will fly away... the trees will grow through the roads, vines through the walls. Given a few hundred years, it might even crumble into the sea.

She hears it, in the background again. The crashing waves that had drawn her out to see the sun. Does it still shine? Up there in its bright blue sky. It doesn't mock her, but it offers her no comfort as she turns her gaze upon that brilliant azure. Hears the waves. Is it too much to ask for? Something to follow her... something to continue what she built.


A glimpse into an eternity of things that will never happen. A woman without purpose... A legacy with no future. The history of one. A mountain of achievements that will be forgotten. Is this what you planned for me? Is it your plan that... all I make will turn to dust scattered over my grave?

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You can never tell ahead of time. Sure, there might be signs. Or they might just leave on a whim and not come back. You can never know. But,
even still, you always blame yourself for it. For not noticing. Once they're gone, it all becomes so clear. It all seems so... preventable. So unnecessary.
You never forget them, even if everything related to the disappearance was unremarkable. For you, it means everything.
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@Kyle1322 or whoever if a god feels like answering any of these 3 posts...
 
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