RP:The Lady of Maggots

From HollowWiki

Part of the Once Upon a Midnight Dreary Arc

Part of the The God of Undeath Arc

Summary: Quintessa is intercepted by Gospel while she traverses the Dream Realm and is driven into a nightmare. Luckily during this nightmare Quintessa maintains her composure but when the temptation to court the Great Serpent of the Moon once again presents itself she finds herself strongly considering its offer.

The Dream Wilds

Quintessa‘s astral form floats effortlessly through the Dream Realm, a silvery, spectral thread tailing behind her as she navigates the endless foggy abyss, bumping casually across bits of debris and islands of stone that had broken off of some other dreamscape somewhere else on the realm. The changeling isn’t completely aimless; she’s searching for someone, someone whose dreams may be completely forien to what Quintessa expects they’ll be. What do humans who live by the ocean dream about? Quintessa expects ships in harbors and crashing waves, but a part of her hopes that isn’t what she’ll encounter in this reach of the dream wilds. Unbeknownst to her something worse than her inner thaasophobia lingers here, something she hasn’t felt in a long time. Like a careless child lost in the woods, Quintessa continues to drift through the Realm of Dreams, her darkened form floating like a specter.

Kasyr | For those who dwell on the verge of the sea, there is bleaker things to dream about, then the cresting of black waves, under a starless sky. It lives in whispered rumours, and sigils on back alley posts- in the absence left by once-familiar friends, and trade-routes left incomplete. With each subtle thread comes a small change, a sense of stagnancy that overtakes the changelings travels- which sees distant islands slip further way, and debris drift ever out of reach.

Kasyr |As anticipation edges at the haze, it latches hold of something far larger- directing the changeling forward, like a lighthouse aimed at submerged shoals. Perhaps it's then, that the very scent of the air would burn, stagnant and laden with salt.

Kasyr | In the distance, there's a hint of movement- a form carves through the fog, nebulous and bleak- sweeping aside a fractured remnant of coalesced contentment- the sound distorting from a crackle, to something more akin to a creak. A creak which only grows pointed as a sense of gravity asserts itself. Solid ground to be found, though difficult to perceive. And so very, very cramped. It would be with great difficulty that she might be able to maneuver more than an elbows length in any direction, greeted on all sides by sturdy wood, and the scent of decay.

Quintessa is no stranger to this tug, this feeling of being pulled from one place in the dream realm to another. At first it used to disorient her but the strange woman had grown used to being at the whims of things much more powerful than her. She was beyond being humbled by it- now it was simply an annoyance. Fear creeps up inside her when she feels the waves, the crashing of water against her small box, but the spike of panic disappears when she arches her back to feel the thread connected to her. “You’re dreaming,” Quintessa reminds herself, “No reason to panic… Yet.” Her form feels more real here, not so ethereal, as if she’s entered a Dream Kingdom, but this is unlike any Saurian lair she’s ever encountered. Quintessa’s long, spindly fingers trace the wooden lid that’s shut her in, remembering the same smell from her childhood home. She doesn’t mind these cramped spaces. Sleeping in coffins was something she enjoyed even as a young teenager. “I don’t know what you are,” Quintessa calls out from her floating box, “But it’s very rude to waylay a lady without introducing yourself… How bout you let me out and we can have a chat?”

Kasyr |Quintessa's defiance is matched by the ghost of a chuckle, the idea of it lingering long after the box begins to move. At first, the descent is gradual- a placid immersion of changeling and gravebound vessel as it sinks deeper into this abyssal path. Until she denies awareness- and her answer is given in turn. That scent of putrefication briefly intensifies, only to this time be accompanied by the faint sound of splintering wood- ceding beneath pressures it was never intended for. And yet, it's not water that pours in through the crack. Though a tide pulls at her, what she's met with is an oily trickle, replete with the wriggling form of worms and maggots- her boon companions as the descent continues. An ever-rising gravetide, which seeks to blacken and mire the cord, to keep the changeling focused in the present. Until even that gives way- the casket colliding upon an isolated oasis, and sending the murk cascading in every direction, to pool against the obsidian walls, and leave the changeling to collect herself. "And here I thought we knew each other sssso well, -Lady- of maggotssss."

Quintessa is too proud to squirm like the worms that invade her tiny little coffin, the tiny place the changeling already felt entitled to and resented the worms and oily mess from encroaching on this territory. She endures this treatment in silence, clenching her fists until it passes. Eventually it always passes. When Quintessa is sent careening into the oasis she doesn’t have time to brace herself, and finally her composure breaks when she collides with the ground a cry of pain echoing out. She sits up but remains seated, pushing the broken lid away and allowing her mismatched eyes to gaze around at the place she finds herself in. She smiles. She recognizes the voice that graces her ears. She feels a shiver run up her spine. “Well well well…” She responds in a tone that was far too friendly than she had any right to use with it, but she did anyway. “That was a long time ago… but I could never forget… What can the Lady of Maggots do for the Great Serpent of the Bloody Moon? You would not bother reaching out to someone as insignificant as me without a good reason, right?” Her tone is coy, flirtatious. Being this close to danger excites something inside of her.

Kasyr | The room is silent for a moment, save for the sound offaint rustling noise, and the echoes of Quintessa's voice as it bounces off the sheer walls. But by bit, the carrion ceases their contortions, their wriggling bodies quavering at the lack of nightmares to sup upon. It's only when those interloping vestiges are gone, that the chamber resonates with an infernal sibilance, "Mercenary asss ever." The words themselves carry power here, pooling in the air like a miasma- only to play out a phantasm of a younger Quintessa, fingers running over the surface of a home-made shrine- whose form distorts and crumbles in time. "Once you knew how to asssk. But then, even asss you lay sssleeping within Chaosss' bosssom, you could not mussster devotion. -Faith-." Here the facade shifts, the phantasms skin sloughing off like some macabre nesting doll, replaced by a mirror to Tessa as she is now- albeit, hollower. The eyes, are emptier, the skin sallow and worn. "It made you a vesssel for that putrid thing. And sssstill, you did not call out."

Quintessa finds the levity of her mood quickly eroding, her smile slipping from her face when she is called out for what she truly is; A mercenary. An opportunist. She’s never been devoted to anything in her life and she knows it. Her pale lips press into a thin line as she stands to rise above the muck. She thinks for a moment, looks for the right way to respond, but she cannot pretend to argue. “Do you miss the obsession of a teenager?” The venom in her voice is reserved for the younger Quintessa and the mistakes she made. “She’s the same girl who bargained with that putrid thing- the same time she was courting you, in fact.” She smirks, not being able to control the breathy way she asks, “Would you have treated me any better?” The disillusioned warlock casts her gaze to the ground and when she parts her lips to speak again there is a real honesty in her voice. “You don’t really want altars built to aesthetics and to hear the shallow prayers of some lonely little girl right? There must be something else I can give you…” Mismatched eyes flicker back up into the direction of its voice. “But if you want a show of contrition you are looking in the wrong place. I’m not your Coiled.”

Kasyr | As Quintessa's mood evaporates, so too does the effigy, ruin creeping through it's form in a patchwork of old wounds which swallow it from the inside out. Once more it takes on a shadow, but it's not of the changeling. No, as she speaks of obsession, a multitude of images take form- a disheveled figure ofin a trenchcoat, hazy and fading faster. A vivid snapeshot of the demi-feline, Karasu, a more youthful expression twisting from anger into horror and sadness, from whatever she'd finished thrusting a blade into. And then Gevurahs figure emerges from that chaos, ichor tainted digits grasping at her legs and arms. "Ssso many obsssesssionsss." There's a pause here, and the drows form is pulled down into the ground with such violence that it smears into a murky paste, one which rapidly spreads to coat the rooms floor. A fertile ground for the twisted tree which begins to sprout in the midst- a rotting effigy of Quintessa's sin against Lithrydel, realized. "-Each- one so easssily dissscarded." The wood shudders and shakes, as figures begin to fall from amidst the foliage, vacant eyed husks of those she offered words of affection for. "Perhapsss I -did- expect more of you, than to sssell yourssself ssso cheaply." It's here that the walls shift, layers of sheer material grinding against each other in a slow moving circle, all to facilitate the narrowing of Quintessa's Oasis. "And yet- I wasss not the one to abandon you. Even when you traveled my trailsss night after night -lossst-.When you beckoned to a moon heedlessss of my mercy." There's a taunt there, a dare for her to try and invoke some semblance of Ahr'nuks might in that moment- or look for a silver cord, now lost within the thread of the nightmare. "You are not my Coiled. They want to see tomorrow."

Quintessa is much too provoked to try and use the powers of the moon or to search for her silvery cord, she is angry, the hot coals in her core sparked by the words of Gospel, by what it shows her. “Sell myself?” there is a low chuckle, one that drips with hostility. “You think I’m loyal to that rotten beached whale named Alithyk Caluss?” She spits out the taste of its name upon her tongue, ignoring the shirking world around her in her haze of madness. “It tricked me- Surveills me, but it cannot see me here. Cannot follow me, and one day soon I’ll have my chance to escape its clutches. I won’t let it steal tomorrow from me- you can bet on that.” Determination rolls off her voice. It’s present in her eyes… but it gives way to despair. “You were the one who stopped answering my prayers…” She says, her gaze down cast yet again. “You left Arh’Nuk, came to Hollow… I could not hear your voice when I searched for it there. I thought you had abandoned me.” Her anger returns, this time cool and bitter. “So what now, have you come to save me?” Her tone is full of sarcasm, “I used to fantasize about you strangling the stillborn godlet- snuffing out Vakmatharas’ biggest mistake.” She watches the walls move carefully, unsure what to expect. “But unlike the Coiled I don’t need you to guarantee the future for me. I make my own luck. Your thralls cannot achieve what I’ve achieved, be I a disappointment to you or not. How many other disappointments do you entertain? Not just me, surely. All us mortals are failures but I know my place in the world; I’m an insect. A hornet. A mantis. A creature of destruction. You’ve always known that about me…” She pivots on the spot, trying to follow the walls with her eyes. “So what this is, an offer of atonement or are you just taunting me for my failures? I’ve got lots more, I’m sure you know all about those too, but it's a waste of time to review all of them. So just tell me what you want, Gospel. Why has your focus narrowed upon me now?”

Kasyr |The beast bristles, and for the first time, there's a hint of pale red light trickling into the chamber washing away miserable memoriams until there's naught save obsidian sand left in it's wake. "Loyalty isssn't -needed-, if the tool still performssss." As the light deepens, there's a sense of diminishing space, not from the walls, but beyond them, as though the world were collapsing upon itself, some dreadful event horizon forming, "Ceasssed to anssswer your prayersss, yet ssstill deigned to anssswer your needsss? Without a price?" The light which erupts in the center of the room blazes, as though it might strip fresh from bone, and reduce deserts to oceans of molten glass- and yet, the changeling remains intact. What's born is a glittering starry sky, which drifts down to the familiarty of the mages tower. And yet, there's something askew about those once familiar passages- a palpable sense of emptiness, made worse by the desolation that accompanies the ascent. It's not just that the corridors lack a sense of life, it's the sheer sense that it's been removed. Irrevocably contorted. Worse, however, is the sight revealed after an office door is opened. For what awaits is not a mundane slice of academia- but unhinged madness. The walls lie etched with serpentine signets, And perhaps, a perceptive eye may even catch sight of a name plate, tossed into a waste basket- the name amidst the many which Lanlan had declared as missing in the aftermath of the tower assault. But, how would that explain mixture of dessicated flesh and snake skin wisping across the floor? It's only as the focus is drawn back to the door, and a stuffy magistrate enters that the first sign of life emerges. But there's no face shown- his details are hazy. The only element of clarity that exists is the lamen about his neck, and the tinge of peeling skin that lies adjacent. "I have been sssaving you thisss entire time. Among othersss, who carelesssly call on me." And yet, as much as she aroused the creatures ire, the display is short lived, the room cooling once more. "You have made yourssself it'sss creature, but you are not -yet- lost. What I need from you, is your sssurvival. And if you truly harbour that dream to sssee it'sss life ssstrangled from it'sss form- I require true faith. It isss a gateway, even to placesss that might otherwissse be closssed to me." This time, when the creatures voice echoes through the room, the sound emerges as though it were behind her ear, "But isss true devotion within your meansss?"

Quintessa finally cast her gaze up as the crimson light spills in, her eyes dilating like snake eyes involuntarily in its influence. There is a certain tug Quintessa feels in her core, something familiar, something she logically knows she should not follow. The changeling approaches Gospel, passing the tossed out name plate with a familiar grin, the grin of the insane urchin who first was blessed with the Moonlit Glow of Arh’Nuk. Suddenly it all makes sense to her. Perhaps it has been here this entire time. Quintessa steps up to the desk, hands behind her back and grin shrinking into a smile fit for a business meeting. The question, however, is a curious one, one she has no correct answer for. “I’ve always been a survivor,” she says, sounding sure of herself, “And I -will- outlive that wretched abomination- These things I can promise you, but true devotion?” She asks rhetorically, as if needing clarification, “I have no way to prove such a thing- I’m doubtful anyone can, but I can offer you something in exchange.” Was Quintessa really going to suggest this? “Perhaps a contract can be outlined detailing our expectations. A Pact, if you will.” Her voice is wary but serious. “But if you threaten the lives of my friends and family I cannot do your bidding. Kasyr once told me it was your goal to see Hollow burn in the fires of Perdere and if this is still the case then you might as well move on; I have no interest in monsters that wish to destroy the things I hold dear and tear me from those I love. There is much I’ll tolerate, but mindless chaos and destruction is not something I’ll abide by anymore.” She pauses, thoughtfully, “But if you have goals beyond wanton mayhem… Well I might be able to help with those.”

Kasyr || The great serpent appraises the changeling, and more particularily, the offer of fealty being made. She was a survivor, independance her lifeblood. While the idea of religious faith may rest beyond her, The pact was a vulnerability- an anathema to how she had existed before. And a worthy sacrifice. "It sssshould sssuffice, Tessssa. As for your...warnings." Here the creatures voice begins to drift, as though it were encircling her form, "Once, perhapsss. But, there isss nothing for me in Perdere now, not when my faithful reach out to me here. " That might be the first hint of possessiveness it's displayed, one which continues with the curt, "Your mate may find sssafety in my sssshadow- but If your appeal extends to the sssswordsman-" It doesn't finish the sentence, only providing a more benevolant, "I'll leave him to othersss, if you are -sssqueamissssh-." And yet, there is so much more to discuss, enough that from the vestige of memory, a desk solidifies, along with a chair, "What I require is sssimple enough. You yet have influence in Vailkrin. Provided you don't sssquander it- I would ssseek my sssymbolsss, incorporated into your fessstivities." A proper consecration. "But it isss not jussst Vailkrin I ssseek. You benefit from my pathsss- I would sssee you tend to the gardensss." From amidst the scattered ands, a fountain of scales blossom up- caliginous nightmares made solid. "I asssk that you leave these landmarksss assss you wander deep into the dreaming, to find them new homesss to nessstle deeply into."

Quintessa considers the offer carefully, her eyes drifting away, a finger gently resting on the edge of her bottom lip. The changeling doesn’t answer for a long time, considering the hidden meanings and pitfalls that might be present. There are some things she wants to clarify. “The swordsman? Kasyr Azakhaer? No, it isn’t affection for him that keeps me at bay. I simply lack the power to adequately destroy him, as such he remains my last real threat in Vailkrin. A thorn in my side. A revenant thorn of immense powers that I can only scarcely comprehend. Facing him directly now would surely result in my political influence being usurped from Vailkrin. Neither of us want that.” Quintessa can feel herself becoming intoxicated as the voice of the serpent coils around her mind. “You want to use my seat in the Dark Forest to spread your influence… I can abide by that. I will subtly insert your iconology into my symbols. Propagandize the influence of Arh’Nuk more so than I already do. I will shield your followers as I have shielded Vailkrin for the last three years. I will reinvigorate the devotion of Queen Reginae of the Naga and inspire her to build a new following in your honor. I will wield the Moonlit Glow of Arh’Nuk as a beacon for all those who recognize the glory of the Great Serpent…. But I require the strength to maintain my hold on Vailkrin. I need the ability to survive the onslaught of a vampire revenant. Once he sees your symbols on my banners he will most certainly raise the level of aggression. I need insurance that I’ll survive long enough to see my plans come to fruition once he comes for my head.”

Kasyr | The serpent waits, and watches, grains of sand begin to dribble out from the desk, first in a trickle, and then a stream. It's not so much as to flood the area, but it's enough to coat the floor near the changelings feet, where they are left to shift and shuffle at the behest of the changelings dreaming mind. And yet, it's no mere spectacle, but an act of practicality- for their purpose is not to reflect her words, so often laced with duplicity and double meaings, but to reflect the thoughts that would simmer beneath the surface as she says them. Though, whether she takes note of that element is something else entirely, given it's words pick up pace, slithering in as she accepts their once familiar tune, "Sssurvival. . . If mortal flesssh is weak, you need only ssshed it." Those words may as well be a curse, as one eye would turn liquid, a molten mess of primordial goo now dancing to the tune of a new master- so that it could draw upon the memory of Tessa's Nightmarish guise from the past. Etching it not only to her dreaming form of the moment, but a physical body soon to be wracked in pain. "It ssshould give him paussse, and you the ssstrength to sssurvive. Though, I would not ussse it long. Unlesss you -wisssh- that guissse to last." There's a pause here now, before the voice silently issues, "Take my ssscale and ssspill your blood. You've a pact to ssseal."

Quintessa merely watches, her lip trembling slightly at the glimpse of her nightmare form. Her long black hair flattened into a cobra’s hood. Her eyes were terrifying and slited. She had a feeling her connection to the naga was powerful when she met Reginae but now, seeing this, she knew for certain. She wants to cry in awe of it. “For this new form and purpose I will gladly shed my old ambitions and once the Putrid One has been discarded I will construct a grand monument for you.” Quintessa comes forward to claim the scale and to shed her blood in the pact, the spark that gave her so much life when she was younger rejuvenated. Her disillusionment had been thwarted. “Gospel, The Great Serpent That Coils Around The Blood Red Moon, I Quintessa Blackwell, The Orphan of the Dark Forest, The Lady of Maggots, The Betrayer of Balance, and the Swain of Snakes. I shall be your prophet and spread your word. I will prove myself useful if nothing else.” As the blood drips from her once mutilated hand, she clutches the scale tightly, uncertain the path that she has just wholeheartedly stepped foot on. “This I swear to uphold or risk everything that is dear to me.”

Kasyr | As the blood flows between her fingers, and pools upon her palm- there's more than just a spark. The feeling would be quite like when Ahr'nuk had chosen her once before, renewed and intensified- peeling through the darkness. "Then wake up." Until there was no more, the sole momento of that long nightmare, the eye that would await her in the mirror, and the fresh pulse of power running through her veins.