RP:Quintessa Strikes a Deal
Part of the The God of Undeath Arc
Summary: Still grieving and angry after Gevurah and Lanlan attacked Kasyr, Quintessa finds herself at her home, Black Pond in the Dark Forest. She laments that she is powerless to get revenge on Gevurah who outmatches her in a fight. In the pond there is a visitor, a powerful entity who strikes a bargain with the changeling. If Quintessa injects a peculiar sap into the three Holy Trees of Hollow, then the entity will give her the power to nullify Gevurah’s magic, and more power beyond even that. Impatient, Quintessa wants proof of this promise, and the entity gives her the ability to stop Gevuah’s spells right now. If she fails to infect the Holy Trees in one month, this new power will be revoked.
(ooc note: All of this is a super secret ic! Don’t assume your character knows it.)
Quintessa wanders the Dark Forest, her aura spiking with the maelstrom of emotions that swirled inside of her. She knew something bad was was going to happen with the Drow, she had warned Kasyr, but he went back to Trist'oth anyway. "Idiot!" she screams into the darkness, angry at the kensai for going back there. "Bitch!" she screams, furious at Gevurah for being, well, Gevurah. "Traitor!" she screams, so upset with Lanlan's betrayal that her pale hands tremble with rage. "How could they do this to me?!" Ordinarily, making yourself known in this forest would be a death sentence, but with the waves of malice flowing off of the changeling not even the horrible denizens of the Dark Forest dare approach. Soon the distorted form of Quintessa nears the edge of Black Pond, her childhood home, the place she first met her lover, the location of her father's rotting corpse. Mismatched eyes stare at her reflection on the surface of the corrupted pool, her sharp teeth bared at her own image. "What are you going to do about it, Quintessa?" She says to herself, "You can't let this slight go. You're a Baroness now. You have to do something!" But what could she do? She was barely an Arcane Steward. The gap between her and her enemies was still far too great. With one last, desperate roar, the hex blade falls to her knees at the waters edge in defeat. She wasn't strong enough to accomplish the things she needed to do. As she wraps her invisibility cloak around her body, her aura retreats back to Quintessa. Childish anger wouldn't help her now, she knows that, so she lets despair take hold in its absence, a possibly worse option.
Gevurah :: Quintessa’s reflection bobs slowly on the stagnant water of the Black Pond. As the changeling gives into despair, her reflection begins to move of its own accord. As Quintessa-the-person sulks, Quintessa-the-reflection turns her head away from the canopy and looks down into the murky depths of the corrupted waters, its attention baited by an unseen power that lurks below. The reflection’s black hair shines dimly in the canopy-filtered starlight. A cold voice echoes just behind Quintessa’s ear. “Quintessa (Quintessa) (quintessa)”. The reflection dives into the pond’s depths, her feet kicking the last thing visible until Quintessa has no reflection at all. The wind stops. The sounds of the forest deaden to a silence so pure that Quintessa can now hear her own heart beat. The trees around her fade. There is only the pond, a girl, and no reflection.
Quintessa stares at her reflection, a slow, deep terror growing in her stomach like a lump of ice. Something was not right. The strange girl swallows hard, her head hesitantly turning back in the direction of the eyrie voice that spoke her name. She wants to call out 'Who's there,' but she remains frozen in fear, blue and hazel eyes wide as she looks for a source of the words. Where had all the trees gone? Quintessa forces herself to stand up as she looks around, noticing that everything but herself and the pond had vanished before her eyes. What foul magic was at play here? Had the agents of her demise finally decided to make their move and destroy the hex blade? She can only assume the worst. The pale digits of the changeling tremble as she takes hold of the hilt of her katana. "S-show yourself!" she wants to sound intimidating but her voice squeaks like terrified little mouse. Is this how Quintessa Dragana meets her end? As she gazes back at the pond, and where her reflection should be, she wonders for a moment if she isn't dead already.
Gevurah :: There is nothing behind Quintessa except the blinding darkness. “Look (Look) (look),” the voice leads the changeling’s gaze back towards the pond. At its center is a pinprick of light. The line shines upward and expands on the pond’s surface from below. On the oily surface, colorful shapes blossom and writhe like the black-bright imprints of light that dance behind eyelids when eyes are closed. The shapes slowly coalesce into images and characters that put on a play. The play opens with Quintessa as a girl at this very pond, raised by a father whom she did not love and who did not love her. Throughout her childhood, Quintessa’s heart is visible through her chest. It starts red and warm and slowly becomes black and cold. She kills her father, and feels powerful. The character of Quintessa splits into two avatars: Quintessa-the-Powerful, a rarely seen character that appears only twice (when she kills her father and, later, when she seduces Kasyr), and Quintessa-the-Powerless, who is beaten, humiliated, ignored (all actual events from Quintessa’s life). Curiously, when Lady Larewen transfers her title and estate, she transfers it to Quintessa-the-Powerless, who knows those titles were granted, not earned, and she is vulnerable to attack from just about any other vampire house in Vailkrin. The final scene unfolds at a painfully languid pace. Quintessa-the-Powerless and Kasyr stand intimately close in the forest near this very pond sharing a private moment. Gevurah materializes from nothing behind Kasyr, extends her palm outwards and blasts him with a sinister, priestly spell. The Kensai slumps forward as his eye blanche and his skin ashens. Quintessa attacks Gevurah but fails to land a blow. Gevurah quickly summons Vakmatharas (who is dramatized as a 3-story black ghost that hovers around Gevurah’s shoulders) who snaps and kills Quintessa. The scene starts over from the top, with Quintessa and Kasyr in an embrace. Again Gevurah appears, kills Kasyr. Quintessa attacks and again fails to land a blow, but this time when Gevurah summons Vakmatharas, Quintessa summons a dark power of her own. She morphs into Quintessa-the-Powerful and a three-story, insectoid, oily black creature hovers just behind her shoulder. Quintessa and her new patron disrupt Vakmatharas’s magic completely. Gevurah’s magic is nullified and Quintessa finally succeeds in slowly, painfully, torturously killing Gevurah.
Quintessa watches the play in silence, her hands slipping away from her weapon as she becomes entranced by the story. She always had a weakness for theatre, the little stories and acts and welcome reprieve from the hardships of her childhood. Even now, as she watches her life play out before her it still feels like and escape from the stress of her current predicament. Quintessa smiles every time 'Quintessa-the-Powerful' take the stage. She remembers how it felt to be 'Quintessa-the-Powerful' and she hates herself knowing that that feeling was fleeting. Never again did she feel that powerful until she ensnared her lover, Kasyr, but even that had been robbed from her. The changeling laments when the symbolic avatar of Vakmatharas kills Quintessa-the-Weak. She had always been so loyal to him! Why would he betray her for some dirty cave elf? But that wasn't the end! A spark of hope grows deep inside of her when Quintessa-the-Powerful summons the insectoid monstrosity that can somehow defeat even Vakmatharas. This was blasphemy, but it brought much joy to the young mage to see it take place. It brought her much joy to see Gevurah rendered powerless to Quintessa's cruel whims, so much that the changeling is actually moved to tears. "What a wonderful play." she says to herself, wiping a tear from her eye, "But this is just a story... Nobody can nullify the power of Vakmatharas..."
Gevurah :: The grand manipulator behind the play observes Quintessa’s loyalty to Vakmatharas and responds to her questions and concerns, both spoken and unspoken, through the moving images on the surface. Vakmatharas is shrunken to the avatar of a ten foot wraithen king who demands that his worshippers, Gevurah among them, kiss his hand then his feet. In exchange for their dignity, Vakmathas gives his worshippers trinkets, pathetic arcane toys that make them more powerful than their peers, but ultimately subservient to an egotistical god. Quintessa-the-Powerful watches from a distance and does not beg for the God of Death’s favor. She receives no trinkets from him, not so much as a glance. Instead the unnamed, oily creature offers Quintessa something better than a trinket - real power, the power to nullify Vakmatharas’s spells (and to destroy his petty worshippers). This power has a cost as well, of course, but the cost is not Quintessa’s dignity. The scenery changes. Quintessa visits The Druid’s Eternal Tree in Sage Forest, then The Trembling Tree in Enchantment, and finally The Xalious Tree in Xalious Village. Together they are The Three Holy Trees. On each visit Quintessa injects the trees with a strange sap. The play does not reveal what happens to the trees thereafter. Three vials, real ones (not reflections), bubble to the surface of the pond. They contains a green-black thick liquid.
Quintessa is brought to silence once more as the images on the surface of the water show her things she has always suspected. Of course Vakmatharas was playing favorites! That's why the bootlickers always seemed to have an upper hand. It all made so much sense to the odd woman now. At first she doesn't understand what the trees mean, but when she sees the Xalious Tree she understands that they are not symbolic of something. They were all literal trees. Her slender digits reach down to take the vials and she turns one over to judge what was inside, but it seemed like a simple sap and nothing more. Was the bargain struck? All she had to do is inject the sap into these specific trees in exchange for power? She wants to accept but she fears being betrayed again. How could she trust this strange entity? "How do I know this isn't another empty promise?" she asks, prying her eyes away from the vials of corrupted sap. "How do I know you won't just abandon me the moment I do this for you?"
Gevurah :: When Quintessa questions the entity, the water begins to churn violently. “FAITH! (Faith!) (faith!).” Two thick, oily black tentacles shoot out of the water, grab Quintessa around the legs and torso and drag her into the pond. The water punches into her mouth and nose and forces its way into her lungs and stomach. The violence causes physical pain, but the changeling will not feel as those she is drowning. Images flash in her mind unlocking a deeper understanding of how to disrupt and counter-attack drow priest spells. Most of the unlocked secrets focus on Gevurah and specifically how she casts spells. Of course, that knowledge alone is not enough to defy the High Priestess’s power (a bow and arrow is effective whether or not you know how it is made and shoots). The true gift is that which constricts around the font from when Quintessa’s magic springs. There is a new ability there in-line with what the entity has promised her. Many of Gevurah’s Vakmatharas-enabled spells will now be rendered inert if Quintessa successfully counters with her new ability. The tentacles lift Gevurah out of the water and slap her down on the bank of the pond as is discarding a wet rag. “One month. (One month) (one month)”. She has one month to inject the highly guarded and protect magical trees, or she loses this power. If she delivers, she stands to gain a whole lot more power than just this.
Quintessa opens her mouth to scream just in time for her mouth to be filled by the oily black water of Black Pond. She kicks and tries to pry the tentacles off her body as her body is submerged further and further underwater, but as the realization that she doesn't feel as though she is drowning sinks in she relaxes, letting the forbidden knowledge surge through her mind. Things click that never made sense before. Certain things she has read about in the past and was confused about suddenly all makes sense. Her body floats effortlessly in the water, tightly in the grip on the tentacles until they lift her up and slam her into the ground. She vomits out black water into the mud, coughing, choking for air as she struggles to push herself back to her knees. Mismatched eyes peer out from under soaked hair, black and thick like the water she had just emerged from, to gaze back at the pond. "...One... Month..." She knew she was going to do this, starting with the Xalious tree. Quintessa would distract the mages with the news of Kasyr's attack, provide them with a convenient scapegoat (the Drow), and inject the tree under right under their stuck up noses. That would be the easy part. "I'll do it," she says, not even certainly what she was doing the bidding for. For all she knew this was the Spirit of the Dark Forest finally embracing her as part of it. She scoops the three vials out of the mud before she stands, dripping wet, shivering from the cold. "I'll begin this task posthaste."