A Season 3 Day 27 thread written on December 29th-31st, 2014.
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The Empress: "What a quaint little.. castle…" H’zola and Igl-th were within sight of Perch Hall, the large ice formation surrounded by tents, cottages, and an imposing wall. But an open gate just invited them in. Igl-th steered the stitchers to the entrance, and the guards did as expected and attempted an attack. Mother had only to hold out her hand and they stopped in their tracks, forced to kneel to H’zola.
Igl-th went towards what she thought was the center of town and brought the carriage to a halt.
"Where is my daughter?"
The Warden: No.
No, no, no no no. It wasn’t possible. She wouldn’t dare.
The Warden went into a wild frenzy within Haddock’s mind, a thousand scenarios flashing through her mind. It couldn’t be her.
She shrank down within his mind and sulked, pulling her barriers around her and trying to make herself completely invisible.
The Empress: H’zola stepped down from the cart, her dress billowing behind her. Her head turned, looking at all of the frightened mortals peering through windows and hiding away.
"Do not be afraid, little ones. I am only here to wish my youngest daughter a happy birthday." She grinned wide, her inhumanly white teeth glinting like the snow.
"I know she’s here, you may know her as… the Warden?"
Greg Ericson: Greg emerged from the stables to meet this mysterious lady. “Well hello there.” He called in a friendly manner. “Who did you say you were looking for? The Warden? I think you’ve got the wrong dungeon rebellion. You see we’re the dungeon in the Wilderwest, you want the one in the Wildestsouth. Yeah it’s in the Sea of Dust you go south east of here until you get there. Oh and if you hit the Dread Waters Gulf you’ve gone too far.” He smirked, hiding his nervousness. If this woman was related to the Warden she would definitely be dangerous, really he was just stalling until he came up with a better plan.
The Empress: "Oh aren’t we just amusing." H’zola’s lips pursed as she looked towards the mortal. "Now, if I were you, I would personally go and retrieve Nala… the Warden for me. Unless you wish to continue to insult my intelligence."
Greg Ericson: "Oh I’m sorry I had no intention of insulting you honest. Though I have to thank you for the compliment. I like to think I can be pretty amusing at times but sometimes I just doubt that, you know? I just get down about it, but you saying that really made my day. So thank you!" No plans had come to mind since the conversation started and by now he was just rambling, praying to the gods for an idea.
The Empress: The coloring of the plasma drifting from the hollow in H’zola’s head was turning more and more red as this conversation progressed. “This one seems to be in need of an… adjustment.” She turned to Igl. “Igl, do you have a way of silencing this one without… well, killing it?”
"They don’t need vocal cords to live Mother." Igl bowed her head.
"Perhaps your stitchers would be willing to do that for me… Are there any others willing to fetch my youngest daughter for me?"
Grey Bergman: Grey felt her heart pound as she watched the scene unfold, and she thought she was rash. So, she quickly stepped in between the two demons and her friend. "Okay, let’s not get hasty here," she said stepping onto the scene with her hand on her sword ready to fight. "There’s no reason to call upon your stitchers…or whatever you call them. If you want the Warden…I’ll take you there personally, but first, you must explain what you want with her."
The Empress: "As I’ve already said, we’ve missed so many of her birthday parties… and we’ve made her a present.” H’zola chuckles. “It’s so cute to see the little mortals protecting their patron demon from her own mother.”
Grey Bergman: Grey glared at H-zola. “It’s not your daughter I’m interested in protecting,”she said defiantly.“In case, you haven’t noticed. She’s using our leader as her vessel know, and we will do everything in our power to protect. Nevertheless, I will take you to her, but you have to swear that you will not harm our King’s body.”
The Empress: "I’m allowing your friend to keep his voice, and you to move of your own free will. If you can’t trust me to not harm whatever puppet my daughter is hiding inside of, then maybe I should just force your body to show me to her while you watch." H’zola’s hair was becoming more scarlet as she spoke.
Even talking to the blasted mages is less tiresome than this group of mortals. But I suppose I will play their games…
"But, my manners escape me. You have my word as empress, than no harm will come of your beloved King."
Grey Bergman: "No need for that," Grey said trying her best not to show any trace of fear. "I’ll take you to your daughter. Follow me." She was about to leave when she heard Shadow growling behind her and saw Greg, Warren, and Asha looking at her in worry. "Guys, take Shadow back into the stables. I’ll be back soon."
With that, she gestured for the demons to follow her, and off they went to the King’s quarters.
The Empress: The Empress was humming a dark melody as she followed Grey. Igl stayed back with the cart and the Stitchers. She was safe as long as they were by her side. "I apologize for my temper, it has been a very… long time… since I last spoke with mortals. My patience is not used to being tested." The scarlet had faded, and the royal purple smoke was drifting from her head again.
Grey Bergman: Grey turned anxiously to the Empress again not showing her fear. “Oh, don’t worry about it,” she said trying her best to sound…cheerful…perhaps… “I’m sure you’re just so anxious to see your daughter after probably not having contact with her for a while. However…I did have one question to ask you, if that’s alright.”
The Empress: "Ask away my dear, I’ll answer almost any question you have." The Empress opened her stride up so she was now walking next to Grey.
Grey Bergman: "Well," Grey began trying to sound as casual as possible, "a few days ago, the ruler of Helheim, Hel, had appeared to your daughter and our King. A few scouts had said that they appeared to be making a deal. I guess what I’m asking you is…do you happen to know what Hel could possibly want with your daughter and a group of rebels?"
The Empress: "I have never been one to keep up with my mother’s whims…" H’zola trailed off as if to continue, but never finished her thoughts.
Grey Bergman: Grey widened her brown eyes and stopped dead in her tracks. “I’m sorry, what? Hel is your…what?”
The Empress: "I believe you understood me. Although, to clarify, the demons were created, not born in the traditional sense. Whatever traditional would be to gods… But we still refer to her as our mother, well, the three firstborns, that is." She stopped next to Grey. "Are we here? Or have you forgotten your way?"
Grey Bergman: "Uh…right…right…um…we’re just about there," Grey quickly said realizing she was still talking to a demon, who could kill her or possess her within seconds, and not with Warren, Greg, Asha, or even Skye or Asuka. She quickly cleared her throat. "This way." Soon enough, they reached the King’s quarters. "Uh…hello? Is…anyone in there?"
The Warden: There was a moment of silence. "No," Haddock said acidly. "Leave."
The Empress: "Oh Nala, you know it’s impolite to refuse guests." H’zola proceeded through the doorway. "You look dashing, my dear."
The Warden: With an infuriated snarl, the Warden dropped Haddock and manifested in front of the girl and the Empress, eyes burning. Why are you here? she snapped, clenching her fists. No, her mother hadn’t even shown up in her mere insubstantial form, she’d come with her entire body this time.
The Empress: "I can’t visit my own daughter?" H’zola puts her astral form in front of her body and goes to hug her daughter. "I’ve missed you."
The Warden: The Warden pushed her mother’s arms away and stepped back, glaring. And I suppose you’ve missed me enough to finally rescue me from boarding school. She bared her teeth, ears flicking. Or is that not it? Have you just come to deliver cryptic comments about learning lessons, like Kiaama did?
Grey Bergman: Grey was completely lost at what to do. All she could was hold her breath as she watched the two demons hug. This was probably the strangest thing she had ever seen, and yet there was something about it that was kind of sweet…and awkward… But it was still weird…especially when King Haddock’s body was lying completely still. She finally gathered the courage to speak. Thor help her…
"Umm…this is getting very awkward for me…" Grey suddenly said. "…Clearly, you two have some mommy/daughter issues to work out."
The Empress: "Ah, you may go. But, I did not catch your name." The Empress’s body turns around and speaks while her astral form speaks to the Warden. "I’m not here to continue to torture you as your brother did. I brought you a birthday present." She smiles wide.
Grey Bergman: Grey widened her eyes at the empress. Should she give her name to a demon…the Warden’s mother…? “Um…you know, I really don’t think you need my name,” she said starting to back out of the room. “So, I guess…I’ll just go…”
The Warden: You’re not? Sarcasm pooled in the Warden’s words and she rolled her eyes. Oh, what a lucky day for me. It’s what I’ve always wanted. Thank you ever so much. She turned away, her temper causing swaths of shadow to begin streaming off of her tail as she lashed it. Dare I ask what it may be?
The Empress: "Grey, if I ask for something, I’m giving you the option to tell me freely under your own power. Remember that for next time, little mortal."
Her astral form shimmered, “If you’ll follow me, your sister is keeping watch over it. Otherwise I’d have to have the stitchers carry it all the way up here…”
Grey Bergman: She made no effort to hide the fear. This demon…the empress…knew her name! How did…? Where did…? She couldn’t stand it anymore. She had to get out of there. She quickly nodded and ran out of the room leaving the Warden and the Empress alone.
As soon as she was alone, she slid down to the floor. She couldn’t believe how she acted like a coward and just ran out. How could she do that? She could’ve tried to save King Haddock. She could’ve tried to interrogate the Empress on how she knew her name. No…it was too late. She already ran out. Now, all she could do was get back to her friends.
The Warden: My sister. Her voice was flat. Wonderful. Well, it appears I don’t have any choice, now do I…
She kicked an insubstantial foot through Haddock’s midriff. Should I bring this puppet along with?
The Empress: "Only if you wish, daughter. Although I doubt you’ll be needing it." The Empress receded back into her body. "Come Nala, it’s only a short distance."
The Warden: The Warden rolled her eyes and cut all her ties to Haddock’s body but one very thin, very faint one, through which she was constantly bound to whomever happened to be her anchor at the time. Very well. But I am still not returning home just because you brought me a present. I am not that shallow.
The Empress: "I didn’t expect you to dear." She began heading towards the carriage and the center of town, the Warden in tow. "But, you are learning the lesson I set before you admirably, although begrudgingly. My offer to return home still stands, whenever you’re ready."
The Warden: Now there’s something I’d like to talk about, she growled, flicking an ear. Were Kiaama’s tactics your brilliant idea of a lesson?
The Empress: "Oh no, that’s his own invention. I just let you live among them until you begin to understand them. Kiaama just… accelerated that process with you…" They were in sight of the carriage now. "Your sister has improved her stitchers, these two are some of the strongest ones yet."
The Warden: The Warden frowned as a large cart came into view, and the familiar grotesque shapes of stitchers surrounding it. She didn’t dare admit it but her curiosity had begun to grow. Mother…?
The Empress: "Ah, Igl, darling? You can come out now. Have your pets bring the gift out." H’zola turned to face Nalaagura. "I do hope you like it." Igl-th emerged from the carriage and signaled the stitchers to come to her. She looked at the Warden and her eyes brightened.
The Warden: Sighing, the Warden looked pointedly to the side. Hello, Igl-th. Did Mother drag you along? But she kept an eye on the cart, attempting to discern what lay inside of it. She was anxious to know what the Empress was so pleased with.
The Empress: "I wanted to see my sister getting the present I made her!" Igl gave a shiver of excitement as the stitchers rumbled out of the carriage, hefting a body. It was a feminine form, made of the Shapers cracked porcelain, and bound together with living tissues. It had a flowing stream of the celestial hair, red and orange in hue, cascading down its back. The eyes were closed, and it held a curved sword in the seemingly frail left hand.
"Happy birthday, Nalaagura." The Empress smiled to her youngest daughter.
The Warden: The Warden tried to act nonchalant, she honestly did.
Stepping up carefully, her mouth dropping open a bit, she ran a slim, invisible hand over the porcelain, tracing the cheek, the forehead, the collarbone, sliding her fingers down the length of the arm. She hesitated, and then pushed her hand inside of it like a glove, filling the fingers with tiny threads of her essence and the hand rose, fingers flexing, wrist rotating smoothly. She was reminded of her first body, but that was smaller, not as strong. Not made for warfare like the specimen she now beheld was made.
Dropping the hand, the Warden glanced up at her mother and sister, who were watching her expectantly. I… She looked down again. Deities, I’ve grown so emotional over the past few days. I don’t know what to say.
She suddenly realized she now had a place to go for when Haddock finally came to himself, and a thrill coursed through her. I could get out of this alive.
The Empress: "That’s quite alright dear. Oh-?" Igl came up and whispered to H’zola. She pursed her lips and nodded. "Well, I suppose.. Only if you feel safe."
"I have my stitcher, mother."
"Then it is alright by me, I can make it home myself."
The Empress looked back up to her youngest daughter. “Your sister wishes to stay until she’s satisfied with the body. She can’t predict for all of the little flaws it may have while she’s building it until it has an inhabitant moving it around. So she, and her pets, will be staying with you until she’s confident in her… work.”
The Warden: The Warden looked up hastily. Now wait just a minute, I—wait—
But the Shaper was looking up at her so eagerly, and the Warden was loathe to antagonize her family after they had come all of this way to give her the very thing she’d been dreaming of. So she sighed in exasperation and put a hand to her forehead.
Very well, she finally said. But it will be a little bit before I may live completely inside. I have a…an engagement at the present, and it must be completely taken care of and concluded before I can leave my current vessel.
The Empress: "Well, it has been good to see you, daughter. But, I have matters to attend to at home. Be safe Igl." The Empress gave a short wave and turned about, making her way back towards the gate.
"I will! Uh, little sister? Is there a place I can have a workshop? This… snow.. makes it awfully easy to lose parts while I’m outside."
The Warden: Flicking her tail, the Warden answered curtly, I believe there is a large space inside of the fortress that the humans use to store books. However, there is an enchantment on the room to expand the space past its physical boundaries that could be toyed with.