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Difference between revisions of "RP:Roll the Dice and Make the Sacrifice"

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(Created page with "'''Summary''': ''Aira and Orikahn sleep cozily while a blizzard blows its way through Frostmaw outside. Only, the vixen’s sleep isn't restful as she's once more visited by t...")
 
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Latest revision as of 17:13, 8 November 2019

Summary: Aira and Orikahn sleep cozily while a blizzard blows its way through Frostmaw outside. Only, the vixen’s sleep isn't restful as she's once more visited by the great spirits of the Horned Ones. They offer one last piece of advice before Aira’s final test, and the question remains: will she pass?


Hunter’s Lodge

Orikahn sleeps deep and sound. His fluffy body lays curled protectively around his mate. Beneath their pile of furs, cozy within their lodge, they can sleep peacefully through the first blizzard of autumn. Outside, snow tumbles down in fat, feathery flakes and piles foot upon foot in stubborn, indifferent silence. In the morning, they'll have to burrow out, but that's a trouble to be reckoned by daylight. The fire pops. Through the deep, tranquil night they sleep and, perchance, they dream.


Aira had drifted off almost as soon as her head hit a makeshift pillow--a hide she had stitched and stuffed with the feathers of one of her bird-like kills. How could she not when she was so cozy and warm under the furs with Orikahn curled neatly around her body insulating her further? The shadows of the flames danced behind her closed eyes and the crackling of the logs in the hearth coupled with her mate's deep breathing lulled the huntress into an even deeper slumber. She slept blissfully, peacefully even, until the shadows behind her eyes began to twist and turn, elongate and take shape into something familiar.


Out from the chaos of dreamstuff, figures take their gradual form and soon wholly congeal. The Horned Ones tower over Aira. Their featureless eyes blink down upon her. Each of them wears a look of benign apathy, but Aira knows better from her past encounters that these creatures are judgmental and fiercely interested in the life of an elf such as she. Ram, Stag, and Bull, they loom, and their thin, velvety fur shines silvery pale as though by starlight. "Our lookout sends word," they speak in hushed unison. On cue, a little light streaks down like a corkscrew meteor that flips and twirls in tight spirals, darting dizzily down to crash at Aira's feet. There the light takes the shape of a familiar ermine that pauses only to sniff the elf's bare foot before scurrying up her leg and into her lap. The dreamscape grows gradually more defined. Aira is sitting atop a smooth, black, flat rock that stands lonely in a field of salt and bristly scrub. Like enormous specters, the horned ones hover above the ground, the lowermost hems of their flowing robes waving gently to and fro in the air. "See how boldly she has committed herself," Ram Horns begins, "to the creature, her protector. Willingly, she accepts the trial!" "Accepted, but not yet passed," Bull Horns interrupts, "that terrible trial. See how anxiously she bargains!" In the starry sky above, dense constellations replay Kahn with his arrows and Aira trying to reach him with concerns that he, the cat, can never understand. The mute drama plays while Stag Horns speaks. "Your judgement is soon, elf."


Aira finds herself no longer in the cozy bed next to Orikahn, but instead she is perched on a flat, obsidian rock, staring up into the faces of the trio of specters who hadn't plagued her dreams in a long while. She blinks up at them, her lips pressed into a thin line as they inform her that the spectral ermine has sent word to them. The huntress watches as the elongated body tumbles in the air before sniffing at her foot and scurrying to sit on her lap. She is silent throughout this initial exchange, barely breathing as she listens to them bicker about the task she was set, the task she took up, the task she was quite anxious about. "There is no sin in being nervous," she bites back, echoing Orikahn's words to her as she watches the silent replay of their exchange dance across the skies.


Aira speaks, and the starry scene dissolves into twinkling disarray. "Caution is the better part of valor," Ram Horns defends. "The chief excuse of cowards," Bull Horns accuses. Amid the shimmering stars, several versions of Aira pass by, forming and dissolving at a disorienting rate. Visions of herself from every stage of life appear, though in no particular order. Most of them she recognizes as someone she has been, though others seem to offer glimpses of someone she may yet become. A wildling with a bow and fox ears, sighting down an arrow. A subdued girl, burdened by unwilling obedience. A mother-to-be, studying the swell of her belly with inward affection. A desperate woman with a dagger in her belly and the light in her eyes dimming. A cold and distant predator with trophy skulls of her own. A cheeky vixen with a bottle in her fist. "No sin," Stag Horns agrees, "so long as you pass. Tell us," the spirits seem to grow a little taller, "has your mate, the one called Orikahn, chosen your patron for you? Has he decided to whom you will offer your trophy kills?"


Aira and Bull Horns have always been at odds, ever since their first encounter all those years ago. Him insinuating her cowardice naturally causes her to bristle and she narrows her eyes up at him. Somehow, the vixen manages to hold her tongue by quite literally gnawing on the inside of her cheek to prevent biting words from leaving her lips. Perhaps thankfully, the montage of her life, past and possible futures, in the heavens steal her attention and focus away from the most unforgiving of her judges. The scene from her past in Rynvale, of her more subservient life as the abused and broken daughter of a lesser noble house cause her eye to twitch, as does that would-be future self who had not managed to escape her familial obligations and forced marriage. The image of herself, belly swollen with child, pulls her thoughts up short--was that something she desired? Back in Rynvale it was not although it was expected of her, but with Orikahn, the image was like a seed now planted. She barely has time to meditate on that further when the scene shifts and shows further possibilities. It's dizzying and the huntress eventually looks away, dropping her metallic gaze to her lap where the spectral ermine still sits. Their question about whether Orikahn has chosen a patron for her is met with a furrow of her brows before she looks up at the Horned Ones, flicking her gaze to each in turn. "Isn't that you guys?" she asks, confusion in her tone. Hadn't she recently sworn to these three "deities" when giving a statement to the legal authorities in Enchantment when she was asked about the witch Lanara?


The horned one's seem flattered by Aira's assumption, but they shake their heads. "We have chosen you, elf, but your mate has chosen another for himself," Stag horns explains. The great spirit's tone is cautionary. "Do not let him persuade you to serve his spirit patron." "A dismal judge of spirits," Bull Horns grumbles resentfully. "Though a loyal servant, to his credit," Ram Horns offers apologetically. "When the time comes to offer your trophies," Stag Horns continues, "offer them to us. This is the great test, elf." Little flowing streams cut through the salty scrublands around them, but if Aira looks closer, she will see that they flow with blood, not water. Flowers and grass spring up and line the streams in rich, luscious vegetation. "Honor us with your trophies," the Horned Ones urge her in unison, "and we will favor you." The trickles of blood touch the base of the rock, and Aira can feel a warm pulse move through it, and another. From deep within the obsidian, red pulses flash in time with the elf's own beating heart.


Aira feels a cool shiver run down the length of her spine as the Horned Ones warn her of not honoring the patron that Orikahn serves. She's not unfamiliar with his choice of spirits--hadn't his allegiance to the matron spirit when they first met lead to Hildegarde's death and her own imprisonment? Copper eyes blink up at the towering spirits who had been visiting her for years now, following, warning, perhaps guiding her along the way. According to them, the test was not the sacrifice itself but rather who it is given to. Orikahn had never shared with her who he chose to serve after his queen perished, would he pressure her to be loyal to his new choice? He had said it himself, this was her hunt, so she thinks not (or at least hopes not). Her focus falls from the Horned Ones to study the vegetation, the flower and fauna that bursts on the banks of the bloody rivulets surrounding her little island. As soon at they touch the rock where she perches she feels the pulsing against her skin and as it grow stronger, as does her own heartbeat. It seems to thud both within and against her and the huntress finds herself clutching the spectral ermine and squeezing her eyes shut.


Aira closes her eyes, but the heat and light of the pulses remain, undimmed and undiscouraged until, from somewhere beyond her dream, comfort comes in the form of a familiar arm tugging close around her, a familiar muzzle nuzzling softly into her hair, the familiar grumble of a cat disturbed from sleep. "You're dreaming," Kahn huskily alerts her. He shifts and pulls the fur covers closer around them. Nearby, the fire dances low in its pit, and it's red light flickers in soft pulses, like heartbeats. Outside, the snow falls in soft, fat feathery flakes, and the windless night is gripped in utter silence.


Aira does her best to rid herself from the suffocating grasp of the obsidian rock she sits upon, the thudding and pulsing overwhelming her to the point where she thinks she might lose consciousness. But before that crimson, flickering light can consume her senses, she feels her body being tugged off of the island. No longer dwarfed by the Horned Ones, the huntress feels Orikahn nuzzle his face into her hair and her eyes flutter open. The flickering light is nothing more than the dying flames in the hearth. "Right, a dream," she murmurs drowsily, knowing it was much more than that. Aira presses closer to the prime hunter, seeking comfort from the hulking figures of her dreams, the task at hand, the unwanted futures depicted in the stars.