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Oct 15, 2019 12:18 AM
sky is a bad dm
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The rock he's carried up the mountain is the size of his two fists: large enough to be more than a token burden, not so massive as to be showy. It's a pinkish granite, unusual for the region -- it took him the better part of the day, finding it -- and there's an imprint of some strange scaled creature on the underside.

By any reasonable accounting, it should be an acceptable offering.

He lodges it carefully against the crumbling edge of an ancient stone wall, pressing it firmly into the earth. It'll stay there as many centuries as the wall has already seen, now. Unless, he supposes, some child kicks it down. These things happen.

"I don't suppose you're listening," he begins, still on his knees from placing the rock. There are other people here -- it's a good night for seeing the stars, clear, with some interesting astronomical phenomenon he didn't bother to remember the nature of -- but they're about their own business, giving him enough space to make his quiet prayer in relative privacy.

The rock isn't, on reflection, quite how he wants it. He gives it another nudge, goes on.

"I suppose maybe you're just not answering. Me, or anyone. Maybe you're listening just fine. In either case, I don't know why I'd get a response here and not at the College. But. Just for the record."

"It's not as though I haven't tried. I spent nearly twenty years, just trying to serve Ota. That one -- maybe I just didn't have it in me. Maybe that's all. Fine."

"And then there was Skali. I really tried for Skali, too, you know. Not just the piercings, not just the talismans. The worship I did, the people I worshiped with -- it was beautiful. I swear I made it beautiful. But nothing."

"You -- I didn't think I could fail at this one. Make a foolish bargain, maybe, or not even reach an agreement -- but not fail. Not like this."

"I'd give it all up as a bad job, if it were up to me. But my sister ... she's a devotee. The real thing. Made her bargain, served you well. She sent me here to find you."

"So. If not for my sake, then ... for hers? Please? If you're listening ... answer me?"

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A few yards down the wall, a young man kneels down and places a quartz the size of his palm, bows his head in real reverence.

 

“You,” he says, just loudly enough to be heard from where Yvan is kneeling himself, “are the world’s biggest asshole.”

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...unconventional, but potentially attention-getting.

He drops his voice further to a low, meaningless murmur, listens in.

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“It’s been — a year and a half? You couldn’t have left me a note? ‘Sorry, I had to cancel on the human race’?”

His head is still bowed — his hands work through postures.

“...I climbed your whole fucking mountain. Fine. You said you wanted to see me up here, here I am.”

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...the body language is fascinating. He has to fight not to stare. 

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“...please? Anything. Just — if you just want to tell me to leave I’ll live with it, I—”

His fingers knot together, and he holds the posture, trembling, for a minute.

 

“...are you okay?”

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Yvan has private suspicions about why the god isn’t answering. 

He does not want to be in the vicinity if this man ever finds them out. 

 

Well. This isn’t going anywhere. He concludes his droning with a rapidly-mumbled o-seer-of-secret-orders-hear-my-prayer-or-not-i-guess, climbs to his feet. 

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“Fine. Worm-eating bastard.”

He finishes the postures dramatically, stands and stalks away from his offering, dropping a heavy coin in the dust behind him.

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There’s a small group waiting for him.

One of them is a southern woman in light armor, whose hand keeps drifting to the hilt of her sword —

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— one is a pale, worried-looking man in simple, thin black clothing, whose eyes keep darting around to the assembled worshippers — 

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—and one is, to all appearances, a very devoted cultist of Skäli, judging by the missing shirt and the truly impressive array of piercings.

(He’s getting a few uneasy looks.)

“...no luck, huh?”

He tugs lightly at one of the silver chains criss-crossing his chest.

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“...does it look like I had any luck.”

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They’re on the same mission he is, by the sound of it. 

Yvan loiters, inconspicuously.

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"You have, like, three expressions. It's kinda hard to tell."

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"...that was all?"

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"It's not like I can work a miracle about it."

He glances briefly at the worried man.

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He flinches back a little. Something taps against his shirt from the inside.

"I told you. There's not going to be a point."

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Skäli’s mark, hidden under his shirt. Less competently than Yvan’s own. 

One cultist of Skäli, then, and one — whatever the pierced man is. He doesn’t serve Skäli, the marks are all wrong for that. 

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“If you could not let the whole mountain know.”

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“If you’re that sure, why did you just climb the fucking mountain?”

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“I could work a detection.”

He looks between the other pilgrims.

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“Relax. I’ll cover you.”

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The southern woman glances sharply at the young man, and then turns to watch the gathered pilgrims herself.

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The real cultist bows his head, touches the front of his shirt, murmurs something quietly. He could be mistaken for someone here for his own god.

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When he opens his eyes, they shine blue, tears dripping down his cheeks and leaving white trails in their wake.

He stares out into the sky, searching.

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