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Worship  - the old gods and the new

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Played by Offline Kat [PM] Posts: 116 — Threads: 16
Signos: 15
Night Court Sovereign
Female [She/Her/Hers] // Immortal [Year 498 Spring] // 15.2 hh // Hth: 28 — Atk: 32 — Exp: 50 // Active Magic: Energy Transference // Secondary Magic: // Bonded: N/A
#1

Antiope
oh Lord, tell me you love me
am I Lilith or am I Eve?

Antiope climbs the peak of Veneror like she is climbing toward oblivion, or retribution, or damnation. She climbs with a strange, halting purpose, like a machine that is not quite working properly. Several times, the Denoctian sovereign considers turning back. To her people, to her city, to her celebration.

There is so much behind her to return to.

She could walk beneath the pines strung with lights before the arch, watch the fireworks show and make a new friend. She could mingle in the market streets, among the stalls of games and food and laughter and merriment. She could watch someone get up on the temporary stage they’d affixed and expose their hearts to a crowd.

There is so much back there, waiting for her.

But ahead is something that must be done. Antiope has been putting it off too long, facing the demigoddess of the night with all the distrust in her, black and blacker against the gold ichor like magic in her blood.

So the woman doesn’t stop until she crests a rise in the mountain path and sees the entrance to the temple looming before her like the maw of a great beast. For the first time it isn’t the lioness pacing in her bones but her pulse, racing, stuttering, in her chest.

It is dark, the stars are winking in and out of the velvet midnight sky above her. There is a strong mid-summer breeze running its hands across Antiope’s sides, tangling its fingers in her long hair. Her eyes are chips of polished sapphires in the night. She begins to ascend to that wide open mouth until it swallows her whole.

The last time she had set foot inside a temple the sky had been red as fire, red as blood. She had brought with her so much hatred—it had bubbled inside her like lava, like something caustic. She had brought with her death, and left it there to feast.

She enters now with more uncertainty than she has ever felt. Antiope pauses only long enough to locate which of the statues, which altar, belongs to her court’s patron deity. It is not difficult to find, not by her abysmal black speckled with diamond stars nor the offerings laid at her feet. Candles of spiced fragrances, exotic fruits and other treats, all so perfectly Denocte that it hurts her to look upon it. It has taken her too long to do this. Have you been waiting? Antiope wonders, as she steps closer.

She has no candle. There is no light but what filters through the columned openings. Antiope closes her eyes, feels the wind upon her skin and can almost hear the sea. It is almost a different day, a different time, a different her. ”And who am I?”

”You are Antiope.”

The sea-eyed woman pulls her blade from over her shoulder and breathes it to life with a single, whispered word, as it is plunged part way into the ground at her feet. The temple is filled with golden light, it limns her jawline and drops her eyes into shadow. Antiope stares at the statue of Caligo for a long time. The light of her axe does not flicker as a candle would, just continues to glow steadily beneath her.

“Do you know what I am?” she asks, suddenly, “Do you know what I’ve done?” The sovereign breaks eye contact with the effigy to look out between the columns at the lingering night. A half-laugh escapes her, but it is almost sad. When she starts talking again her voice is quieter. “Do you know why I did it?”

Antiope breathes out, and it feels like dying. Or as close to dying as she’s ever come, with a spear between her ribs splitting open her lungs, with her old immortality stitching her back together until she is perfection again. Was she ever perfection?

“I am not sure that I trust you.”

You shouldn’t trust me, the sovereign thinks, eyes back on the blank gaze of Caligo’s stone face. Antiope is not sure if she can be trusted with gods, with a holy thing in a holy place. The last time she had set foot in a temple she had left it bathed in red. Red as the burning sun, red as blood. She wonders how she will leave this one.

"Speaking."





[Image: 13716916_Rc8f5hGvZkB3cYP.png]
a war is calling
the tides are turned




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Played by Offline sid [PM] Posts: 419 — Threads: 67
Signos: 935
Dawn Court Sovereign
Male [He/Him/His] // Immortal [Year 497 Winter] // 16 hh // Hth: 60 — Atk: 60 — Exp: 117 // Active Magic: Nature Spirit // Secondary Magic: // Bonded: Rhoeas (Criost Deer)
#2




flowers grow back
even after they have been stepped on



It sounds like the wind is whispering to him, with each step that brings him closer to the summit. The higher he goes, the more it whispers, the louder it whistles through his ears - he does not know if it bids him onward or if it begs him to turn back the way he came.

He does not think he wants to know.

Once, he had climbed these peaks every time he passed Veneror. Once, he had brought flowers along the way to leave at Oriens shrine, and scrolls he wished the god might bless. His hooves still know the way, they carry him without question, without doubt, without fear. But his heart is another matter. It leaps into his throat now, choking him; his wings flutter like wild, trapped things, straining for an escape. Perhaps if they were bigger, big enough to carry him, he might have thrown himself from the rocky mountain path. What he might give to fly far, far away from the emotions crashing now like a wave inside of his chest, to fly until the horizon showed only rose petals and golden light instead of the shadows he was far too used to seeing -

If he could, Ipomoea would fly until he found a world that made sense again, until his heart did not ache for all the things he could not name. If only if only if only, the words became his lullaby. Even the mountain air unbraiding his mane and caressing his skin can’t shake loose the heaviness and the sorrow he carries with him.

He tries not to look at the sky as he climbs the mountain. They are too close here, too real, too alive for him. He feels small beneath them, dull compared to their light. He feels like he is entering their world, now, a world he does not belong to; here was where heroes were recorded in the constellations, where stories of triumph and greatness were immortalized. Here live the fables he had grown up with, the odysseys he had dreamed himself a part of, the childhood tales he had wished to become. Ipomoea does not remember now when he grew up and lost sight of those dreams - he only knows he feels like a dying star, ready to fall from the sky and admit the end had always been inevitable. His lungs start to ache alongside the aching of his heart, but still he climbs.

He climbs until the temple winks into existence ahead of him - and then, he stops.



The light flooding through its windows is bright, too bright. And for one long, trembling moment he stares and stares and wonders if one of the too-close stars have made the summit its resting place. But stars - like gods - did not lower themselves so, lest they be confused for mortals.

It is not until he hears a laugh, or rather half a laugh, splitting through the light that he steps forward again. The distance between he and the temple feels like infinity, like each stride a century, each step piling on more aches, more dust, more water in his lungs. It feels almost as familiar as it does wrong, but it seems to him in that moment that the gold of the light is waiting for him, if only he can reach it, if only he can fall into it like a baptism.

But it is not salvation waiting him in that temple, nor gods, nor stars, nor the pieces of himself he had hoped to maybe find. He finds only light, and a woman with the same uncertainty in her eyes that he knows, and Ipomoea wonders if the mountain temple sets her heart to throbbing in the same pattern as his.

Perhaps some gods are not meant to be trusted, he thinks as he steps into the fringes of the light, as if the gods would not still hear his blasphemer’s heart.

“The night is dark, Antiope,” he says quietly, eyes fixed now on the goddess’ stone face. How strange it looked, bathed in gold, void of the shadows Caligo so loved. “I thought a star had fallen asleep in here.”

And there he stands, halfway through the entryway, unsure if he should step into the warmth of her light, not knowing if the gods might toss him from the mountain if he tried.




@Antiope
"Speaking."






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Played by Offline Kat [PM] Posts: 116 — Threads: 16
Signos: 15
Night Court Sovereign
Female [She/Her/Hers] // Immortal [Year 498 Spring] // 15.2 hh // Hth: 28 — Atk: 32 — Exp: 50 // Active Magic: Energy Transference // Secondary Magic: // Bonded: N/A
#3

Antiope
oh Lord, tell me you love me
am I Lilith or am I Eve?

Antiope stares at Caligo’s face for what feels like so long that she begins to wonder if she is imagining the expression on the figure’s face, in its stone eyes cast in shadows so deep by the bright light of her axe shining from beneath it. And then she bares her teeth like a trapped thing, like a cornered beast, afraid and trying to flee. “Of course you are not going to answer me.”

“At least the ones that made me, the ones that broke me, had the courtesy to face me in the end.”

There is no remorse in her voice when she says it, and that, of all things, scares her far less than it should in that moment. The Denoctian sovereign seems as though she is about to speak again, a strange, considering look in her too-sharp eyes, when the voice rises up behind her. Out of instinct Antiope draws on her magic, pulling on the energy of the summer wind drifting through the temple, and her eyes are already gold, gold, gold by the time she turns to face it.

When she finds Ipomoea there, bathed by the light coming from her axe, the Queen forces herself to relax. Slowly, the ichor bleeds from her eyes until they are blue again. Antiope half turns away, still too tense, still too angry. “I am no star, Ipomoea,” the words are quiet, her voice low, “and if I were I would be a fallen one, besides, I am sure.”

She’s stopped looking at the statue, stopped searching for answers in its empty stare and abysmal star-shine. Now the sovereign is looking down at the items left before the altar and wondering; wondering which of her people had brought these gifts to Caligo’s feet.

Wondering if she answered them, if they found the answers to the questions they’d had.

Perhaps it is only her, that is not worthy of the demi-goddess's attention. Perhaps Isra should have chosen someone else to lead her court when she left. Someone her patron deity would have approved of. If Isra had been hand chosen by Caligo herself, why not the unicorn’s successor?

“If you are here to worship, I will go,” Antiope says, looking over her shoulder at the man half in shadow and half in light, lingering by the entryway. Something in her darkens, something in her eyes deepens like a sea at storm. “I am not sure what I was expecting, coming here.” There is a sigh on her tongue that she cannot let escape, a shivering to her skin that she hopes is almost imperceptible.

"Speaking."
| @Ipomoea my girl ;c





[Image: 13716916_Rc8f5hGvZkB3cYP.png]
a war is calling
the tides are turned




Reply




Played by Offline sid [PM] Posts: 419 — Threads: 67
Signos: 935
Dawn Court Sovereign
Male [He/Him/His] // Immortal [Year 497 Winter] // 16 hh // Hth: 60 — Atk: 60 — Exp: 117 // Active Magic: Nature Spirit // Secondary Magic: // Bonded: Rhoeas (Criost Deer)
#4




flowers grow back
even after they have been stepped on



He watches her, as she stands in the light of her own axe, of her own making, and comes apart. As the ichor drains from her eyes and leaves behind only blue, only the storm, only a flicker of the lightning that came with it.

Ipomoea knows that feeling.

He wonders what it says of them, a king and a queen who have given too much of themselves. A man and a woman who need to dig their way out of fresh graves each morning and rise, rise, rise, if only to prove they are still alive. Sometimes he thinks his grief will crush him, that his past is there dogging every footstep he takes, ready to consume him anew.

Does she see it, too? The way time was chasing them all down, a hunter after a prized doe? And there they were again and again, coming to lay themselves down at the altar like they had forgotten they were the sacrifice to be made all along.

“You don’t give yourself enough credit. Even falling stars burn the brightest.”

He had said as much to Isra once — hadn’t he told her that? It all feels so long ago, the days have all begun to blur together sunset after sunrise. Again and again and each day, the same as the one before, the same what if’s coming back to haunt him each time he was alone.

Antiope looks down at the gifts and offerings left at Caligo’s feet and he looks with her. A bundle of drying lavender wrapped with string. A candle long burned down to nothing. A weathered stone carving whose face has been erased by time. His heart hangs heavy in his throat when he sighs.

“I think I’ve forgotten how,” he admits, whisper-soft. “I keep thinking that Oriens can’t possibly have the heart to listen to” someone like me “false praises.”

Not that he is sure when exactly his worship took on a sense of irony, when he began leaving foxgloves and rhododendrons on the altar, instead of lavender and morning glories. He thinks it may have been when he stopped cutting the thorns off of his roses. “If it’s all the same to you, I’d like you to stay. Please,” he adds, and maybe there’s a bit of warmth shining in his eyes still despite the cold grip that has encased his heart.

He draws forward into the temple, feeling paper-dry petals crumble to dust beneath his hooves.

“I often come here when I feel like I’m searching for an answer I don’t know the question too. Even when they don’t answer, I find enough in the sunrise coming over the mountains.” He presses his muzzle against Oriens’ altar — breathes in. And out. And pulls away.

There is nothing stirring in his chest. No grand worship bubbling like a song from his chest. His blood does not hum or roar or beat itself like something wild against his ribs, his lungs do not tremble to take in something holy.



“Sometimes it’s better to let things simply be as they are, than to expect something great.”

He is simply tired.




@Antiope
"Speaking."






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Played by Offline Kat [PM] Posts: 116 — Threads: 16
Signos: 15
Night Court Sovereign
Female [She/Her/Hers] // Immortal [Year 498 Spring] // 15.2 hh // Hth: 28 — Atk: 32 — Exp: 50 // Active Magic: Energy Transference // Secondary Magic: // Bonded: N/A
#5

Antiope
oh Lord, tell me you love me
am I Lilith or am I Eve?

She dampens the light of her axe until it is a soft glowing, like a flame or an ember. Less of a burning, more suffused. Shadows become thicker, heavier, soft-edged. They rush in to swarm around them, to mold to their curves and hollows like a skin.

Antiope does not know how to say that she was born on an altar, and how she has killed on one, and how those two things make no difference to her. She has already been sacrificed, she thinks, long ago. Sacrificed and risen, and come to claim the things that she had lost.

“And I think that you give me too much,” the woman responds with a weak chuckle, “They are only bright while they burn up and fade away.” Until there is nothing left of them but a memory, but a trail that, too, will fade. When Ipomoea sighs, Antiope turns to look at him.

His voice is so quiet that she finds herself leaning a little closer to hear him, finds herself buried in the shadows and the whispers. And then the Denoctian sovereign smiles something fleeting, something gentler than she’s felt in a long time. Like life, or love. Like spring blossoms. “I cannot imagine a heart that would not listen to you,” Antiope says honestly, “And, in any case, at least you once knew how. Far easier to remind yourself of something than to learn it anew.”

She has never known how to pray, to worship. How to fall to her knees and give herself over to something greater, bigger, more than she is. She was born on an altar, and it was as much for her as for the gods that made her.

She was not praying when she killed them.

When he asks her to stay, the woman does not know exactly how to respond, but she does not leave. Antiope feels that she is intruding upon something intimate, as she watches Ipomoea press his muzzle to Oriens altar. Something familiar, and friendly. And she wonders if she ever felt that way about gods, even her own. Though she tries, there is no memory of such.

“To tell you the truth, I never expected to set foot in a temple ever again,” the woman says, turning away from the altars, the effigies, to look out into the night. Everything is red, like blood, like a sunset. “I know why she does not speak to me.”

"Speaking."
| @Ipomoea





[Image: 13716916_Rc8f5hGvZkB3cYP.png]
a war is calling
the tides are turned




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