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Awani
01-04-2009, 02:11 AM
This is a Phoenix-thread (http://forum.alchemyforums.com/showthread.php?t=7) from the old site (http://alchemy-forums.forumotion.com/forum.htm).

Let's lighten the mood up with the epic story of an Alchemist. I go first and you all continue the story - write as much or as little as you like!

In the middle of a deep entagled forest, at the darkest hour, a child was born into this world.
The child, though unbeknowest to him was to fulfill a great prophesy, for he bore the sign of the snake devouring it's tail upon his back.
Unfortunately the people of the village in which he lived,having fallen into ignorant ways,had no recognition of the insignia he bore upon his shoulder.
"Oh for the love o' Pete." The physician, a generally surly fellow, scrutinized the marking with a healthy crease in his brow, glaring like an owl at the marking. He'd some idea, some inkling from a margin etched in one of his innumerable medical manuals that practically acted as pillars in his home, yet deep within his heart he could practically hear the lead-minded accusations of an infernal nature to the newborn. He wiped the amniotic fluid from the crowing child with a cloth and sighed. The child would find no purchase in village life, especially just after a massive contagion and a series of desperate edicts from the Church to assuage the fury of the masses. He swaddled the child, handed the boy to the midwife and whispered, "Get 'im outta here."

The boy's mother groggily dragged her eyes open. She'd been completely exhausted from a painful birth, having finally caved to the physician's insistance on inducing labor and putting her under with a special concoction of valerian. Her muddy brown eyes moistly set upon the doctor, who wrung his massive square-palmed hands before him, penitently averting his gaze. "Ma'am.. I... I'm afraid yer boy didn't make it. Complications with the cord... got strangled an' died. I'm... aw shucks 'm just plumb sorry."

At first, she stared at him blankly, as if told a basic item from a trip to the market. Gradually, she fell into tremors, her dewy eyes finally overflowing. The midwife could hear the wails of a child-bereft mother, hear the cries derived from the loss of an heir, the loss of all familial status of the mother's family. Her jaw clenched and she pressed on, kicking herself onto her horse with one vault and riding off to hide, once more, and now with a new addition to their strange granfalloon of the extraordinary.
Alithea awoke from her drug induced sleep listlessly.It seemed as though the nightmare went on uninterrupted.To go through a pregnancy,nine months of nausea and tiredness as your body slowly thickens while new life grows within you,with fear and hope intermingling as you approach the birth only for it all to come to nothing seemed too cruel.
She lay in her bed,silent tears trickling down her face as she recovered from from the birth.It had been a difficult one and the tearing took long to heal.But as she began to recover her strength a conviction was growing in her.Her child wasnt dead,she'd have felt that.As hazy as her memory was she remembered the child cry when it had been born.
Her suspicions sharpened for she was a woman who trusted few.She said nothing.And waited.When she had recovered she waited until the night of a new moon and went to the burying ground.She had been ill in her bed when they buried her child.She dug up the small grave and found the evidence she had been looking for.The body of a cat had been substituted for that of her son.'Right,we'll see' she said to herself between clenched teeth.
It had been a hazy night but the doctor felt quite light of heart.It had been a fine time he'd had at the tavern and he swayed as he walked.He turned up a small lane that was a shortcut to his home.Suddenly he was thrown against a wall with a knife at his throat and a voice hissing in his ear 'What have you done with my son,you poxy bastard!'
The doctor's large, boxy hands looked so clumsy and slow, as if carved from sandstone. However, like many things, the doctor's hands were not what they seemed. The young lady's wrist felt a constriction that could crush coal into quartz and a sudden, unnatural twist as the physician deftly manipulated her arm behind her back and took the knife from her hand. "First off, Pa died of infection but my parents were in wedlock when they had me, so I ain't a bastard. 'n my skin's a damn sight clearer than that walking boil you call a husband, so I ain't poxy." He set the blade in a nice, neat underhand grip, fixed nicely between the two ribs nearest to her heart. "So if y' ain't talkin' t'me, don't go tryin' to ply my trade of seein' what goes on unner the skin!!"

With a firm press of his boot to her back, he set her reeling to the other side of the street, away from prying ears and watchful eyes. He couldn't help it if he looked not unlike one of the oft-told stories of Fomorians, with his steel blue eyes and wild, shock-white hair. That said, he still locked up her joints with those surprisingly workable hands, cupping her mouth as he wispered. "That kid y'popped out. Got some crap on 'is back. Not stuff the numbnuts of this burg'd unnerstand. Y'd be shaved, debased an' humiliated before gettin' burned, an' some schmuck'd boil the boy. Yer husband, bless his heart, would be either beaten t'death or stupid enough to follow along. Now I'm guessin' the baby ain't his, as you got the fire in yeh, an' he's a squamus layabout o' noble stock. Either way, I'd hate t'see a foolhearty young lass who's too smart to tussle with a fella of my stature end up with a pike in her unmentionables on account of keepin' her baby here. I'm a rough ol' bastard who's fond o' the aquavit, but I'm help."

Sensing a quiescence, he released his hand from her mouth and undid the intricate knot he made of her arms, handing her a rather oddly-sketched image. "Keep a lookout for starlings in yer yard. Mind their scratchin's and maybe they'll lead you to a nest. Maybe Midweek..."
Alithea waited until the sound of his footsteps died away before she got up.She spat the dirt out of her mouth and inspected a jagged scratch on her arm ruefully.Well,she hadn't seen that coming.His shambling walk,rheumy eyes and yokel accent had made her underestimate him.Still it angered her he had spoken so her so contemptuously,he'd pay for that.Mention her unmentionables to her again and he'd end up choking on his own.
And he'd taken her babe,however good his reasons were,he'd pay for that too.He had no right to take over and deal with her and the child as though they were of no consequence.For their own good he most probably thought.He had no idea what he was dealing with.After all,she had survived all this time with her own mark without discovery.
At the thought of the child her breasts began to ache for they had still not completely dried up of milk.Another grievance to lay at the doctors door.And now some riddle to do with birds to puzzle through at his leisure while her arms ached for her son with an intensity only a mother of a newborn would know.And did that old pisshead care that she grieved and her son grieved.No,because men did not think like that.Maybe her son,if he was the one child,would change all that.
"Prophecies don't say anything about poo." The "midwife's" needly eyes stared down to the changing cloths that seemed to be in constant demand. "You'd think that somehow the kid blessed by Unspeakable Deities would be without the need to make the night soil, but no. Nurturing isn't my calling. Transitions are my calling. Coming into the world, going out of the world, I can do those damned well. This is fucking ridiculous, why isn't the mom here, I want to scream."

The physician's hand shoved open the door to the cozy little cabin, bedraggled and lumbering his way to the foyer. "The mom's gonna try to kill me. She has the mind of a rabid shrew." The overcoat and shirt piled on the floor as he trudged towards the simple straw mat on which he slept. A snap of his fingers and the oil lamp next to his bet illuminated, casting light on his stocky, scarred torso. His eyes slipped to his left shoulder for a moment, eyeing his own mark. Raised melanin etched into the symbol of Saturn, which was now bleeding from a nail scratch the mother had so kindly offered. "She might. If she does, don't let her endanger this kid for selfish reasons. That boy belongs to the World." His lungs filled and hollowed like bellows in a massive sigh, his eyes falling closed. "Now, lessee. Starlings're already talkin'; have Spica record some o' the baby's gurgles so's she can hear her kid. Gotta find Rashid to get this kid on his journey. Make sure all knowledgable players are in order, cuz ol' Saturn's gotta die in the retort to get this started..."
'What does a starling look like?' she thought as she hestitantly stepped out into her muddy yard.The mysteries and knowledge of nature had been of no interest whatsoever to Alithea beyond what she liked to eat.And she liked to eat bird but as they always had no feathers when she ate them she was a little lost.
'Is it that black and white one or that little one over there with the muddy,brown feathers and yellow beak?' she wondered.Damn that old fool,he shouldve been more detailed or provided her with a book but then again that would've been useless as she had as much time for booklearning as she did for nature.
One of the birds began to warble a song that sounded like a baby's cry.She winced as she felt the pull in her breasts and cursed as the milk began to flow,staining the front of her dress.Irritated,she swiftly bent down to grab a rock to throw at the annoying thing but stopped and went still as the mark on her hip began to itch.It always did this when something fey was about and so she narrowed her eyes and watched the bird like a cat.
It was soon clear it was no ordinary bird,like its master,it just masqueraded as one.
It hopped from branch to branch as she watched it impatiently.Her preferred option would've been to gut it and read its entrails but she guessed that it would earn her further disrespect at the hands of its master so she decided to follow it when it moved,if and when,it ever decided to do so.
Eventually it left the tree to fly towards the woods.Looking to see that no one was watching she ran after it.
Within half an hour she was hopelessly lost,without the bird to guide her she would have never found her way.After two hours of stumbling through undergrowth a thunderstorm of expletives was cascading through her head.She'd never had anything to do with nature if she could help it and this was too much.
Her grandfather had sighed when she was born.He was a priest and he'd had high hopes for the newborn of his favourite illegitimate son.He'd immediately recognised the raised symbol on the body of his new grand daughter but,as he confessed to himself later,it was not the one he would have preferred for a girl.
By the time she had reached a clearing leaving behind the interminable trees Alithea was in a high temper.Fortunately for the doctor,as soon as she saw the rustic,strangely shaped dwelling her mood lightened.Stepping forward she crossed the clearing and reached the door of the dwelling.She raised her hand to knock......
The door didn't seem to open on its own accord as it had seriously done so. The tone within the cabin was a bit dark, as if the sun were setting within and the vast primordial darkness were ready to eat the dwelling from the inside out. The more permanent creature comforts of mats and beds were long gone, leaving behind a Spartan layout for a table and kitchen. The floor was painted with a massive circle of glyphs and idiograms of multiple origins, their meanings and placements possibly becoming clearer later.

"Huh. Thought you'd have a shiv an' a phlegmatic regimen of frilly cronies from yer husband." The physician gave a broad grin, showing surprise in a way of complete divorce from the outcome. His grubby clothes had been replaced with a series of dark, lightweight fabrics, shot through with black and red. He sat in the center of the room with his legs folded, as if waiting for this very moment. His squared hand arose to break the silence with a snap. "Now then..."

Although he chose silence, anything he would have said became drowned out by the huffs and gurgles of the newborn, freshly swaddled and cradled in the arms of a slender gentleman of Moorish descent, clad in contrasting fabrics of white and blue. His very presence, from the smooth mahogany skin, to the gently tapering beard, to the endless glimmer of his eyes, radiated the serenity of a trappist monk. "Mother of the Living Waters, as salaam aleykum. Your boy has been very well behaved since his arrival." He approached the bewildered mother with a measured step, as a handler would a formidable wild animal, such as a bear or wolf. "Hold him, but do not leave with him. You may, if you wish, join us. I apologize if my physician friend was... well, unbecoming. It isn't his way, yet here we all are. Please, join me for tea and pilaf. You'll enjoy it."
The watcher stirs on the sill.

It over hears, through the open window, all the words which are spoken in the meagre hut this night.

Inside it sees.

I see the ole' doctor, I do. And that dratted magician, him again. And what? Who's this? Ahh yes a girl. A girl... and also... yes... a child....

Dead still, hidden in the shadows of the window sill, the little bird watches this reunion. Watches and listens.

A child? The child? Who's child? Who is this child? who?

who?

hooo.. hooo... hooo....


The owl blinks. Its master will be most interested to learn of these events.


And farther away still, another watcher is seeing through the eyes of a 3 inch tall brown barn owl with a band of steel on its left leg.

She moves in the darkness of her home.

There is a unpleasant smell.
The door swung open before she had a chance to inform those within she was there.As she stepped across the threshold,her senses quivered.Neither the dark nor the complex pattern of glyphs on the floor disturbed her,in fact,she found them quite comforting for at her core she was a primeval creature.
The things that encompassed her world were quite simple,food,shelter,sex,birth,rearing of the young and then,death.All else was just furtive whispering that fearfully tried to block out the sound of the encroaching dark.
Her eyebrows lifted in surprise at the doctors transformation,even though she knew he was more than a simple countryman,and she grinned at his irreverent sally even though she hadnt forgiven him.
But then the world stopped and the doctor receded into nothing when the slim Moor approached with her son and spoke to her.
'Aliekom salaam' she murmured automatically and held out her arms to take the babe.
She didnt hear anything else he said as the world shrank to just her and the bundle in her arms.She sank to the floor and with a shaking hand undid the laces of her bodice then guided the childs mouth to her breast.He started to nuzzle and as the milk began to flow,her womb started to contract.
She sighed with relief and bent her head over the child.
And all the while the watcher watched.
"Uhhh... huh." Something certainly unnerved the physician as he continued his seated vigil, brows knitting in concentration. "Hey... Alithea. There's some more comfortable seatin' in the other room... y'might be more comfy feedin' the squirt there." The metallic glint in his eye shone for a moment as he turned his gaze to the bonding mother, lips pulling in tightly as the tension in his form implied the urgency that he dare not speak aloud.

The midwife leaned back against the back wall of the hut, dressed in her rather unceremonious trousers and allowing a rumbling belch from between her lips as she sipped from the flask at her hip. The bonding process was something that always made her uncomfortable, in spite of her profession. She'd never say why. Confiding in others wasn't much her forte. Her amber eyes slid left and right in the twilight, unblinking. Almost as instinct, her fingers went to the shockingly red hair that in some locales would have her shaven and drowned, braiding a healthy portion of it into a thick, functional bun. That transitional warble brought a shiver to her petite frame as she realized that none of the starlings had returned. "Ugh." With an impossible backwards step, she slid through the wall, careful to move into a secretive area as not to disturb the mother, or really deal with the maternal process unfolding before her.

Rashid moved in his careful, whirling dance as he prepared the rice and tea, gently tossing in herbs here and there, maintaining an illusion of absorbtion in his task. The others were rattled enough for six people; no need for him to be nervous. Yvgenyi, Olwen and the others were awaiting them. Whatever would happen in the twilight of this locale, whatever history echoed in the eaves of the cabin, the whole would be served. Nevertheless, Rashid looked over his shoulder to the Physician, his beatific expression breaking for just a moment to frown sympathetically at the man who would sacrifice his name and his life, all traces of himself just to make sure that the child would grow without agenda.
And far away, the old witch, watching through the eyes of her little brown owl, laughed to herself.

"Thought they could just slip it past me, eh? Well, we'll just see. I've been watching for a little varmit like this one for a long time.... longer than this ... little cabal... Yes... perhaps a visit from 'Auntie' will be just what the moment demands... yes..."

The old woman, like a neckless, hewn mass, turned away from her scrying bowl, and walked... seemed to hover... across the foor of her old, yet well scrubbed hut. The floor quivered and shook for a moment. Three cats darted out from under a curain, chasing one another.. She just managed to give the last of them a sharp kick, and it yowled.

"The'll be more for you later, Nicodemus..." She crowed, not without a certain malevolent fondness for the animal. "Yess, kill us some vermins, Nicodemus.... Auntie has some visiting to do."

She hovered her way towards a door way, and through it to another room, lined with books... A hovel she lived in, yes, and yet room after room, hallway after halways seemed to unfold, as if the little house, on it's strange foundations were larger by far within than without.

She came into a last room, crowded with shoes, and attended by a dirty, wide eyed girl of eleven, who lowered her gaze when the old woman entered.

"Go tend to the cats, little wretch... and clean out the chicken coop..." The child pressed herself to the floor as if trying to push herself through it.. "Yess... work, little wretch, or I may be peckish, eh?" She cocked her milky eye at the girl, and grinned her smile showing sharp, carnivorous teeth. Three rows of them... The child curtsied, without raising her gaze, and hastily exited the room.

"Aunti Baba's got a house call to make..."

She turned to a corner of the small room in which, covered by an old burlap sack, was an enormous mortar and pestle. With a glower and a gesture, the witch gave a sharp command, to which the mortar and pestle responded, jerked, danced, and jumped into life before her. Frighteningly nimble for a hunch-ed hag as she was, the old woman lept into the stone mortar, and gripping the weighty pestle, as if it were a twig, she pounded the ground and propelled the vehicle spinning out the door into the sunlit yard.

She raised her nose to the air and her yawning nostrils twitched. With a sneer, and a sharp cry, Baba Yaga sped away into the forest in a mortar and pestle, to meet her quarry.

A murder of crows took flight.
Satiated,the child had fallen asleep at his mothers breast.Moving carefully,so as not to awaken him,she readjusted her clothing and focussed her attention back to the darkened room.She sniffed appreciatively at the smell of the food,redolent of spices.
She got up and went to seat herself at the table in the middle of the room.As she glanced at the doctor she noticed he had trouble meeting her eyes.
Realising why,she laughed.'So you don't turn a hair when you're ferreting around a womans unmentionables which are gushing blood but when she's suckling you don't know where to look.'
The thought of the doctors discomfort put her in a good humour and inspired further revelation.Pointing to her son.'You know,I can almost admit you did me a favour taking him.With his colouring I'd have never been able to pass him off as my husband's.'
At this admission,the doctors increasing sense of urgency faded slightly as his interest was piqued.'Hah! I knew that lamheaded squall wasnt the father.So,come on,lass,spill the beans...who fathered this get of yours?'
She paused.Then she looked him straight in the eyes as she answered.'My brother.....He was sent to me when the great malefic and benefic conjoined under the aegis of Aldebaran.'
The doctor was rarely lost for words but this was one of those times.Lost for a rejoinder his eyes met the Moors who gazed back steadily,willing him to regain his equilibrium.
Mistaking their silence for judgement,irritated, she went on to explain.'We are an ancient people......and our ways are not the ways of others.'

Turning her head to the northeast she said dreamily,'My brother makes his way here.....he is very close.Do not be concerned that he will take the child for you are the Allies foretold.....are you not.....he only comes to see his firstborn.'
Softly, a thumping in the distance...
The wind whistled through the trees
The physician's posture relaxed a bit, moving from the stoic, meditative posture to a more relaxed lounge, the tree-trunk arms crossing over his chest. "See, I toldja I was help. 'n the whole sibling-born kid's not that unusual, considering who 'n what he's gonna be."

Rashid still had to take a moment to absorb the data. He was a man of civilization and refinement, yet he still nodded in unfailing propriety as he dished out the pilaf for the guest and poured two cups of tea into very intricate blue cups, the interior wells etched with black suns. Notably, he was abstaining from offering food to the physician, who seemed just fine with the matter. "I do greatly welcome the arrival of your sibling, if only for his safety in the inclement weather blowing over our locale."

"Byelad!! Dermo!! Grandma's gettin' on her way!" The midwife had mobilized almost immediately into fetching armaments for herself, namely a heavy scimitar and a few arcane knives strapped to her side, dancing around the markings on the floor. "Stupid old ljarva ate the hearts of the forest's owls, killed Spica and the other birds, and she's going to eat the baby because she's an obsessive-compulsive old turd. I'll eat her house's legs one day."

The familiar, harsh series of cackles coming from the massive black songbirds flying overhead caught the physician's attention for but a moment. "Hm. Now, Alithea, if you've eaten, Rashid will take you to the caravan with yer son. I got friends in the air, an' they'll catch up with yer brother. Hopefully he likes games an' shiny black birds. He'll know where to find you."

The midwife's eyes narrowed and turned to an unused spoon left on the counter, one she had stolen from a burning house back in Ukraine. True to form, the spoon lifted and spun, gradually slowing before narrowing down and bursting through the window. "Grandma Yaga calls to the spoons of the mother country. She comes from the northwest. We go south. Hot, wet, busy. Olwen's that way." She softly laughed before turning to Alithea, her fingers waving in an informal little salute. "Oh, and I'm Svyeta."

"Krakrawwgh!" The crows swooped and cackled together, muttering in their own strange way as they hopped above and through the branches of the forest, beady eyes spotting a happily land-bound silhouette. But, of course as being friends of the physician, their ominous composure gave way to something far less decorous. One of the birds, larger than the others and sporting a strange white blaze upon his throat, bounded to the front of the murder. "Yeehaw! Looks like we found 'im, hombres! Giddyup!"

Awani
01-04-2009, 02:18 AM
cont.
Alithea smiled at Syveta's greeting but the smile rapidly drained away as the import of her words made their impact.As the magician helped her to her feet and took her arm to lead her out to the waiting carriage her distress was visible.To already be under threat when she had only just enjoyed the sweetness of the delayed reunion was causing a reaction she was hardput to control.
As violent as she was she could hardly conceive of the horror that was threatening her son.....to eat babies!....what abomination could be capable of this.Her muscles were twisting and writhing under her skin as though longing to be free of its containment.Her breath grew laboured and perspiration stained her brow as she fought the change.
Capitulating she turned to Rashid and said,'Please take my son and get into the carriage.Do not witness this,its a distressing thing to watch.Take care of him and tell the others not to attack the wild cats they'll see.'
As the magician closed the door of the carriage,she breathed in relief and leaned her head against its side.The familiar nausea came over her and as the ripping,tearing agony began she lifted her head and let a bloodcurdling snarl burst forth from her throat.
The unearthly sound that echoed in the forest sent the riders horse into a bucking frenzy.'Fuck.'he said as he sought to control his mount.Then as he felt his own change begin in response to the fear and anger he recognised in his sisters yowling call he gave up all thought of trying to control the horse and leapt from it completing the change in mid air.There was a visceral tearing sound as he landed on the forest floor.He shook his head and charged towards the source of the scream.
Meanwhile, Baba Yaga pounded through the forest on her mortar and pestle. Time seemed to contract as if somehow she offended its very prescence, and yet commanded it to her will. Old she was, stern, and cruel... and hungry. Around her and ahead of her ran her three knights. The Red knight ran out in front, blazing like a lazy day's glow, or a gorge-ed ember. The Black and White knights, atired as morning and midnight, rode at her flanks, each of the three a third of a circle away from the other forming a moving triangle which seemed to maintain its form matter how fast the old witch sped. Behind her a broom danced, whisping away the marks she left as her heavy pestle thump, thump, thumped the earth beneath her.

Wailing winds rose up all around her, bullying the trees which bowed and ached and groaned at her passing. And all about a rich, dark, chorus of crows...

She was almost there.

"Come, come little friends"... She wheezed to the forest around her... "Come come."

The leaves quivered in the lips of the wind...

"There's a new one in the world... Goblin, goblin... Goblins listen..."

...

The forest moves, like a mind of hornets.... A buzzing chorus of unspeakable, innumberable, cacaphonous malice.

"There's a baby, yess yess. Bears a mark, indeed it does. Bring it presents, yes we will."

And so the hosts of the shadowy places, cooed on by their sinister mother, arose like a storm of chitterering locusts and drove, with ever loudening thunder towards the little house.
Three times the size of a normal panther his sleek form emanated a brutal malevolence that was more human.Or rather,inhuman.
Rushing through the undergrowth on his way towards the cottage he was set upon by a swarm of goblins.Unsheathing his claws he set about ripping through them.Unleashing his murderous rage,heads parted company from their owners body,limbs disappeared as the goblins were torn apart.
The smell of blood was heavy in the air as he surveyed the carnage that satisfied his soul.The clearing was strewn with the bodies of dead and dying goblins.'Plenty of food for the birds' he thought laconically and continued on his way.
Another panther,smaller than the huge male, stood in front of the carriage guarding the precious bundle within.She made no move as she waited for the battle to come to her.
"Lady of the Moon, I shall veil him for now. Tell him when he can understand speech, please." With the sparse reply, Rashid dashed out of the house and into the caravan, tossing a small pyrite stone into the besieged cabin. "Physician!! I know your part, but get this to the Mother!"

The inside of the cabin continued to darken, vast sections of the interior becoming totally indistinct, half-lit memories. The Physician still sat in the center, uncharacteristically unnoticeable amidst the external chaos. The pyrite caught in mid-air and gravitated towards the seated, shadowy man, orbiting him as he remained still as a carved altar. "This is it."

"Feedin' time, muchachos! Vominos!" The crows dove in ungodly formations, shredding through the insectoid hordes that spat out from the hidden places in the forest. The parents were reunited, yet as easy prey, they were loathe to convene upon them, instead thinning the onslaught as best they could to relieve the cause of their transformation.

Svyeta perched quietly in the branches of the forest, amber eyes constantly shifting, constantly adapting to the changing lights of the forest. The three riders were all set in their triad, as clockwork as the tales she remembered as a child. White shall die first. The Day's life becomes hemmed by twilight. From its lodging in the tree below her, she loosened the spoon that had flown from their kitchen, tying upon it a tiny satchel with an idiogram etched upon the leather. She released the spoon on its course to the corrupted Grandma, her lips tightening as it closed in on the three soldiers. With a snap of her fingers, the satchel burst into a sickening blue fire, the explosion's usual punch replaced by a caucophony of screams. She lept swiftly away: her sifting between worlds seemed unwise, as Grandmother choked both worlds with bogeys, strigoi, and other unholinesses. "Veles blessed my birth. I shall not die by these hands, this night." The shadows beneath her cracked, fissures forming in the air around her, spilling forth serpents of blackness. Svyeta nodded to herself as they enveloped her form, whisking her away.

"Three horses, two riders..." Staring glassily before him, the Physician readied. The entire interior of the cabin had become a pall. The massive samsara upon the floor began to glow, an unforgiving, hungry red. The sounds of hoofprints quickened, the infernal smells of the Grandmother's sorcery scorched the air, and the Physician smiled. "May naught be left but my bones as proof. I stand awaitin' my fate. This flesh I cast away, and to the worlds of Bone and Lead I entreat them. Might I drag these wayward spirits with me, I entreat. Impede. This imperative has been placed." Hooves kicked in the door, and the fundament shook with a subsonic warble. The red rider charged the servant of his seasonal foe, sword raised, flame spitting from between the eaves of his armor, and downward he swung.

Square hands caught the blade between them, and then all was pandemonium within the cabin. Thunder, Fire, Luminous Fluid, Flesh, Song, and Angels, an eternal moment, a fleeting eon, all things were One and Nothing within the cabin. All things Began and Ended in fits and spurts. Time and boundary were no more. Red became a collapsed gray sphere. Black simply faded into an indistinct, ethereal vapor, then to elements unseen.

In the aftermath, a single skeleton sat, hands clasped around a hot blade, a piece of pyrite still nestled before him.
Baba Yaga felt the blow like a jarring whiplash.

"Kaaa" she screeched, and the mortar quivered back and sank to the ground. Ahead in the forest, the cabin erupted in a fisurous flash, as if, in it, the fabric of the world, the tapestry itself had been torn. She felt her three knights, released from their token forms, and run speeding, in the spirit light, back towards her House. "They've broken the formses. A curse, a curse upon them!". She spat onto a nearby stone...

The hewn mass that was Baba Yaga unfurled like a great, carniverous fern into a skeletal frame of six, eight, twelve feet tall. She cocked her nose suddenly towards the south, and the rest of her long, boney body slowly turned to match it.

Spring-like, she gathered herself together and then lept into the air and caught an overhanging branch. Swinging herself up and into the trees, she fell into a run, leaping from limb to limb at a fearful speed.

The trees rippled with movement as she, mother of the living forest, and queen of it's death, sped towards the source of the smell...
As the cabin in the clearing exploded in a blazing flash the big cat was momentarily blinded,the light searing his retinas.It took a moment for his eyes to adjust again and a desperate alarm went through him when he realized his sister and son could've been inside.
Bunching his muscular hindquarters to spring across the clearing he went as close as he could to the flames before frantically searching around the burning cabin.
His relief was enormous when he saw his sister in front of a carriage behind the house.He felt weak when he realised how close to death they had been.Collecting himself he padded over to her and touched noses briefly before taking a defensive pose in front of her and the child within.
More alarming to them now was the noise of the disturbed forest coming towards them.
"Mmmmmmgh." Rashid stirred uncomfortably at the reins of the caravan, still fleeing the massive Crone that bent the world as she went to accommodate her, that broom handily returning all things to their regular state behind the warbling space-time that bore down upon them. "May I be forgiven for my trespasses and my misunderstandings, O Lord."

The black serpents rose forth from the cracking strata, netting together in the vacant seat next to the erudite Sufi. A pair of familiar amber eyes peeked out from between the coils, and the bright sanguine bun emblazoned like a setting sun on the back of Svyeta's head. Her tiny frame de-tensed as she settled in next to Rashid, the energy washing out of her like a spent lamp. She didn't even want to see how close Ol' Grandma was. She didn't even question the two panthers nestled around the baby. In her exhausted stupor, it all seemed natural. "Ngh. So when's the fat little squishy thing going to show us whether or not Yaga's gonna anoint him or serve him up with rice?"

The murder slid in from above, with their bizarre mix of unruly caws and vulgar Spanish, speeding along with the caravan. The old bird with the white blaze set upon the edge of the wagon, his curious little beak poking in with a disarming "Howdy, Folks! Wanna see why yer kid's so 'mportant? Jes' watch..."

The gurgling pink infant reached up from his swaddling, tiny, delicate fingertips touching the beak of the crow. From that contact, a ghostly light spiralled down the finger to envelop the helpless form of the newborn, forming a bright vortex around the emblem of the serpent upon his back. Then, the child began to float, his expression curious and serene toward his tremendously harried mother as if to reassure her. This is meant to happen. Do not be afraid of this.

A giant, gnarled hand unfolded toward the child, attached to the withered old limb of the Forest Witch. With no hesitation, the baby floated slowly into its palm...
Baba Yaga slid out of the shadows, her arms outstretched as the child floated into her grasp.

She grinned her sinister, iron toothed grin, and with a single stride, stepped into the centre of the glade. Behind her a scuttling, as shadowy forms gathered in the trees all around. The skeletal old crone held the baby up and inspected it, peering at, almost through the mark on it's back. Disregarding the people in front of her who seemed to be moving somehow out of phase with the witch as if they had been slowed down to the point of paralysis, she spoke to the child, and to the surrounding darkness.

"Oh little one, oh little one, death greets you at the door to this world, little one. I see you clearly, and remember when last you walked this earth. Yess, we do remember you."

She stared upwards into the canopy of the forest, blankly, as if scrying the very wind which stroked the silent, silent trees.

"The line of your fate, little one... most laden, child... most laden..."

She sniffed.

"I will name you, child..."

She seemed to be fingering through the invisible worlds as if they were a cabinet of files, and age-old memories... A grin like a great wound open across her puckered, hallow face.

"Ah, child... You will be called Giordano. After an ancestor."

She laughed as if sharing a private joke with herself...

Suddenly the others sprung to life, as if released from a prison. She turned to them.

"And as for you... you have chosen most poorly this evening... Think you to ignore the earth itself? Think you to ignore the blessing of Death's company? This one will teach you, it will. Goblin folk, do not forget, do not forget, no no..."

She sneered. "This is a child most sacred. He will visit the interior parts of the earth, he will, the stone he will find... And he has my blessing... but you?" She glared at the others, and fixed her fury upon the midwife...

"What reason have I to allow your continued existence? You would deceive them, yess? Tell them that Auntie Baba eats the babies, eh? What reason to live do YOU have?"

Like a great spider, poised to strike, Baba Yaga loomed over the company of mortals...

From far above a circling owl gazed down upon the scene below, the witch, the chariot, the house... Softly, glowing, a glimmer of four great paths seemed to converge on the little house. Like roads, or rivers, somehow not in the world, and yet somehow also at its very heart.
Even though the child had done his best to reassure his mother the tension Alithea felt as he floated towards the witch was unbearable.
Intellectually she understood what he meant but in her present form she more instinct than thought.Even in human form she found the world of reason,intellect and control a difficult undertaking and now,in the body of the cat,reason's grip on her was tenuous at best.
Every muscle trembled,every nerve strained to protect her son from the danger she perceived and she tensed her muscles to leap.

A massive paw landed on her back,pinning her to the floor of the carriage.

Angarhad knew his sister as well as he knew himself.Less primeval than her he found it easy to retain his human intellect with the change and he realised how important it was that calm prevail.For death was staring at them,eager for company.
His breathing came fast and shallow as everything depended on a newborn.

And he was damned if he was going to meet death in the form of a cat,no matter how big it was.Moving slowly from the carriage he stopped and willed himself to change.It was an impressive if disturbing sight.
The change completed he got up from his knees and stood.As magnificent a cat he was so was he in human form.Long black hair fell half way down his back,well defined muscles under gleaming olive skin.
He touched his fingers to his brow and to his heart and then bowed in respect to the witch before him.'Greetings Mother'
"Yeah, go fuck yourself you old whore. You aren't the Earth!!" Svyeta stood defiantly, thumb placed firmly under her index finger as she jutted it scathingly at the old bag. "Today you bless the important baby, but what about a certain young Irina Russalkya, ten years, six months, three days ago, Huh??"

Rashid's eyes went wide. For the first time in a while, he was rattled, his hand lifting from the reins towards his friend. "Lady of Shadows, please... forget this slight."

But... Svyeta was inconsolable. She lept down from the safety of the caravan and glared up at the old witch, prowling back and forth like a barroom brawler. "Her head was on your fence. You chased goblins into my village to root around in our kitchens and steal spoons, which led to the heart attacks of nine babas and three apus. You took away the child of Sergei and Mila Kosygin on the Autumnal Equinox six years ago and ground her in your mortar."

With a deep sigh, her eyes cast down, form settling with arms straight at her side "My reason to live is to see you die with your ligaments slit, bleeding slowly into my chalice so that I might undo myself and undo your lying hubris." She spun around and hopped back into the seat with that strange, effortless spring. "Bless the child, do whatever you need to do with him, but after then... you and I shall have business."

"May Allah protect us and grant us safe passage..." Rashid's hands clasped and pressed to his damp, worried brow.
By the Goddess! Angarhad started slightly. He hadn't noticed that delectable piece of femininity before.And she was a redhead.He did have a weakness for them.

What a pity they were all about to die.....he would've liked to have the opportunity to try to get his paws on that one.

He sighed inwardly than stiffened as he heard the carriage door open behind him.Alithea had come to join the fray.....he hoped it was in peace but he passed that off as wishful thinking.Turning to catch a glance at his sisters stonyfaced mien he cursed silently.With the redhead going off like a fireworks factory all that was needed was for Alithea to start.Between the two of them they had a snowballs chance in hell of surviving this unscathed.

Alithea came up beside her brother and hissed 'Keep your mind on the business at hand.I'm going to need you soon.'

He glanced down unperturbed and mentally shrugged,well,she knew what he was like.Sex,death,never was one the sweeter but the other close to it.

He glanced sideways, 'So,how are you going to try to get us killed today?'

She ignored him,her full attention focussed on the witch and the child in her hands.The ancient crone was watching the redhead intently as though undecided as to how best deal with her.
The witch fixed Svyeta a long, silent gaze. "Russalkya rots upon the boundary, yess, but you.. there's more, eh?" Her mouth opened into a grin. "You would curse me? Kill me? Yes.. hubris, yes?" Baba Yaga nodded evily towards Rashid and gently placed the child upon the grass. Her long, spiderlike frame drew within inches of the midwife... She licked her lips. "You will come with me, yes. Needs I an apprentice... Murder, yes?" Her eyes glimmered "You will serve me for seven years, yess. Iryana Kosygin will to her home return yes, ? and you... you will scrub. scrub scrub scrub..." Svyeta's hate blazed, but a quiver of uncertainty passed behind her eyes... " Murder, you will have your chance, you will... yes..." Baba Yaga slowly encircled the furious woman and she seemed to grow smaller and smaller. "Courage courage, but no respect... will give you that, dear girl, and decide, decide, yes you will..." She picked up the woman and held her, paralyzed, in the palm of her great, spindly hand... she overturned her other hand, and out of it, a small speck fell to the ground. Growing, growing, the speck became a shape, a person, a young girl of about ten years, dressed in rags. The girl fearfully scampered away from the witch, eyes lowered. "Iryana, you are relieved. Taken by another, your place your place has been. Remember the words and names, yes?" Iryana looked up for the first time with hope in her eyes. "Grandmother? Grandmother. Thank you." She lowered her eyes again. She curtsyed "Remember the words and names..." cooed the old woman...

Baba Yaga stood up to her full height, tucked Svyeta into a pocket, smiled, and then leapt into the trees. The forest hushed, as the menacing aura of the Witch of the forest drew further and further away. It seemed to whisper. "Giordano".

Like a bubble bursting, the company in the glade awoke to full lucid awareness, as if from a dream. The midwife was gone, and in her place crouched a young, ragged girl, with a deep, deep stare.

"Remember the words and names..."
It couldn't have been more perfect. To be set next to the old Grandmother's heart was almost too easy. Tucked in the darkness, she remained still, catching in the horrid scent of the old hag. She felt that shift and weight in movement, she listened as the broom swept and the mortar churned, counter to the direction she wished to head. Then, as her ears judged her out of sight of her companions, she smiled in the dark, damp nook.

Rashid glanced over his shoulder at the frail, pink little girl standing behind the caravan, her gaze cautiously dragging up and down the party. She seemed innocent enough. That's what made him squirm. "Beloved children of beasts, please, although the temptation may be great, do not touch the girl. I... have my reservations."

The shadows began to churn in Yaga's pocket, turning in on themselves, coiling and undulating until numerous duets of pinprick white stared down at Svyeta, awaiting her instructions. "Find the vampire, and we'll switch fiends. I bind my mind to the dead friend. Memory binds spirit to flesh. Let distance undo, let us stand in each other's path."

The child peeked down at the girl, his large brown eyes watering in unrest as she approached the caravan. The flowers died at her feet, and the birds scattered at the lack of sustenance. Then, all too suddenly, her body began to fold, turning in at angles unknown until once more, the massive old crone stood before them. "KGHAAAAAAGH! Eat all yer eyes, I will! I'll keep your souls in a nut and sprinkle them on my toast!!!"

The final constonant came with a spray of blood from her lips and a darkening at the breast pocket. "You played too soon, Baba. You play with the restless dead. Alithea, hot brother guy, got some stuff you wanna do?"
The siblings turned to each other and smiled.Swiftly,Alithea went to Rashid and laid the child in his arms.
Her brother had the presence of mind to call out "Dont touch the redhead" before his own change began.
By the time she turned back to deal with the bloodied crone the change had occurred in a fluid instant

Finally,freedom to be.

With an effortless,almost casual,spring the smaller of the two cats sunk her bared fangs deep into the witches head,covering her face with a fountain of blood.The smell of blood incited both of them into a frenzy,no matter the witches power she existed in a temporal form that obeyed the laws of physical existence.Pieces of her body,followed by gouts of viscous,thickened blood flew into the clearing.

In a matter of moments all that was left was a mutilated carcase from which life had fled.

The cats changed back into human form.

'Call yourself a mother' Alithea spat on what remained of the body.

She calmly walked to Rashid and took her son from him.Angarhad joined her.He lifted the boy and looked into the depths of his clear,brown eyes.

'So finally we meet,my son.' The father cradled his son to his chest. 'I think we will find another name that fits you.'

'You,magician' he called to Rashid, 'I think you would find something better for my son,yes?'

Awani
01-04-2009, 02:20 AM
cont.
The massive corpse curled in on itself, the spray of blood drying and flaking along with the rest of the body until only a massive pile of black leaves swept through the wind, curling around the young woman who sat shivering amidst them. Her ears pricked as if catching pieces of conversation from each passing leaf, hands trembling and bone white. "Ohhhhh boy..." With a solid shake of her head she stood, weakly stumbling back to the caravan. "That was... something." So much she'd keep to herself, that lass...

The duitful Rashid stepped down from the carriage and brought the child to his parents, beneficent and serene in his disposition. The leaves seemed to brush aside with his step as he brought her back to the caravan, his dark eyes sliding gently to Angarhad. "Your child will have many names, friend, given unto him by many faces. Let us find ourselves to some lodging before we discuss this further, yes?"
The shattered atmosphere around the small group as they left the site led to an all encompassing silence as all the members reflected in their own way on what had occurred.Striking out west,away from the village and the forests where the journey had started everyone felt,for the first time,that the story that they had invested so heavily in was truly beginning.
By nightfall they entered another drab mountain village.It was quickly decided to find whatever lodgings were available.A small tavern was discovered in what passed for the main street of the place and welcomed the travellers for the coin they would bring.
Alithea and the child remained upstairs apart while Rashid,Angarhad and Svyeta ventured into the grimy,smokeblackened main room.They sat in the wooden booth farthest from the bar and its customers who regarded them with an intense curiosity.Travellers were few in these parts and this party aroused especial interest,Rashid particularly.The villagers had never seen a Moor and his dark skin and exotic clothes excited curiosity.
They were served and they waited until the barman had left before speaking.Angarhad leaned back and looked intently at Rashid, 'So,our gentle magician,you think the name the witch gave serves?"
A sudden woosh of air, looking up Rashid saw a
... starling alighting in the rafters, his eyes taking a gentle glitter. "One can be given many things, yet the recipient decides what to do with the gift." The swarthy, impeccably-skinned fellow toyed with the stein before him, turning it by the handle as he watched the scant head on the ale ripple. "I would say that the name that the witch gave him has great power, yet her expression of the language seemed a bit uneven."

Angarhad's nose scrunched as he tilted back his ale without much of a blink, taking down the brew in a swallow. "Psh. I have no idea what to make of it. It sits too much on the tongue and not enough in the throat. I mean, Bruno." His lips sneered and his brows furrowed as he sounded the name "Brooooo Nohwww. I don't like it."

Rashid politely turned his eyes to the serving girl, flashing his bright smile to perhaps lighten the shock of his appearance to the untravelled villagers. The serving girl similarly brought a grin to her lips, maybe taking Rashid's etiquette for something a little more romantic. "May I have some of your fine potato leek stew?" With a smile and curtsie, she began to head towards the kitchen. "Well, you do have a say in his manifestation. Perhaps you and your sister might find a name more fitting to your sensibilities to call him. It's not uncommon for figures such as he to have many titles." Surreptitiously, he pushed his stein towards his new companion.

Without any hesitation, Angarhad gave the offered the same treatment as his own, downing it in one gulp as he slaughtered his way through the massive plate of ribs before him. "Huh. Guess you have a point, but I'd rather forget the whole Bruno thing altogether. Crazy, dead old ladies slapping something on my kid's forehead isn't really something I can really find common ground with." His eye peeled up to the comely redhead across from him, nudging her shin with his boot. "Eh, Svyeta? You've been pretty quiet since we left the forest..."

"Huh? Oh... Yeah, I have..." Her arms crossed over her abdomen as she looked down to her own stew, thick as the dickens and barely touched, although her share of the aquavit had been consumed. Her lower lip gently tucked between her teeth as she finally took a spoonful to her lips, as if to forcibly silence herself in regards to the conversation. In spite of her non-interventionist actions, she maintained a very expressive eye contact with the newcomer.

"HAY! What's a bird gotta do to get his hermanos to pay attention to him! Aqui! Aqui!" The starling hopped onto the table and pecked at a fallen millet seed. "Spica esta aqui! I am too handsome to be killed! You have the baby? Huuuuuh?"
'What is it with these birds,will someone explain to me what they are....are they familiars?....if they are,I've never seen some so chatty'

Angarhad good naturedly pushed his plate towards them,allowing them a decent space to feed comfortably.He was always concious of the fact that most animals felt uncomfortable around him,sensing the unusual mutability of his morphic field.He turned his attention to his companions for he had many questions to ask as well as his own story to tell.But for that he needed the company of his sibling so he was content to watch Rashid eat elegantly of his soup and Svyeta push her food around.She had obviously been shaken by the place the witch had taken her to.

He turned his head and watched his sister move smoothly into the room carrying their son.She came and sat beside him and sat silently.It was not an awkward silence,more patient as this was the time that important issues would be resolved.So they waited for the others to finish eating and the servants to clear the table and leave them alone.Alithea was the first to speak.She was straight to the point,the questions tumbling out in no coherent order.

'Where are you from?How did you know when and where Giordano would be born? Are you and the midwife from the same sept? Do you know who we are? Have you known about our people all along?What were your plans for him?Where did you plan to take him? How did you intend to raise him? What and how were you going to teach him?What are your connections? Are they powerful?'

Angarhad started,surprised at the use of that name by his sister.She turned to him,half snarling:'I dont like it any better than you....the name rolls off the tongue to get no further than the mouth.....where's the power in that!" she threw up her hands in disbelief..." but she named him first and there is nothing to do but bear it....anyway, it's better he keeps hidden the name we call him.More power for him that way.The magician is right,he will be called many names of which this is only one.'
Angarhad laughed at the fixed expressions on Rashid and Syveta's face.Yes,faced with a barrage like that it would be hard to know where to begin,what to divulge,how much to trust.He intervened,teasing.

'You dont need to tell us everything but certainly we are interested in the plans you have made for our son,you must have had one beyond stealing him from us.'

He laughed again as they shifted uncomfortably when reminded of their actions surrounding the birth of the chosen one....Giordano!...that was going to take some getting used to.......
While Svyeta sat in slow process of the question, Rashid's silence came from patience, waiting for the volley to subside and for Angarhad to append his sister before allowing his laughter to grow, from his belly to his chest in full glee at her urge for information. Yet, before he could take in a breath to reply, the little starling Spica jumped up from the bits of rib marrow he was pecking at to puff up and reply.

"Hoi! We burds are allies!!! I'm just about as familiar with Rashid as I am with having thumbs. The Physician met us once in a field somewhere outside of Andalusia and took us on a journey, perhaps by accident. Sent us all around the backstage of the world, and none of us came out the same." The little bird's head tilted for a moment to catch some of the changes in posture by the various individuals, all of the slumps and shifts, the exhalations, and Angarhad's befuddlement at the intensity of everyone's reactions. "Bah! You don't lose a son of Saturn! You act like you left him in a back pocket of a coat you took to the stream to wash!!!"

"Thank you, Spica. Perhaps you and Formalhaut would like to continue eating?" Rashid's laugh was a little more nervous, his emotions becoming pulled a little taut for his own comfort. "Ah, we found him from old astrological records and from Yvgeny's trances. Svyeta, if she doesn't mind me speaking out of turn, had been plying her various trades with the Physician for some time, yet we're all less of a solid unit and more of a loose confederacy of individuals." Rashid gave a knowing smile and shook his head "It's highly indicative that many of us met in the month of the Chalice. But, back to your questions. We knew only of his birth, and little or no details of your people or involvement. It's a failing on the part of societal expectations, I suppose."

Svyeta coughed softly, feeling the need to exercise her throat a little. "We were going to take him to Naples, where he'd be tutored by Olwen and Yvgeny, and hopefully from there find his own purpose, free of all bonds." She sighed a little forlornedly. "That was our presumptuous hubris in excluding you, Alithea. With no family, he'd have no obligatory duty outside of his own. As one fellow had said, perfection and power are often overrated. We were going to teach him rudiments underpinning existence, such as how language develops, how existence gives messages, how the mind thinks... hopefully we'd give him enough knowledge that he'd be able to acclimate to any culture and thus travel independently." She pivoted in the booth to rest against the wall as her eyes became heavy-lidded, pondering the gravity of their endeavor. "We really, really did this all half-cocked, but it was the task given to us by one form or another. It brought me to Grandma Yaga, which happened a lot sooner than I was expecting, and forced Rashid into some interesting situations while travelling through Europe as a Sarracen. The only one who seemed ready was the Physician... Shit, we don't even know his name."

The air around the table darkened as the group grew quiet, laden with the truth and weight of their endeavors until the child glanced from his mother's arms to the bird... and released a hearty belch, far beyond his little form's capability. Angarhad was the first to begin laughing, starting in a slow snicker. "From the mouths of babes..."
Their son's belch was timely in breaking the tension the information given out by Rashid and Svyeta had aroused in the siblings.Quite the diplomat,even at six weeks old,was Giordano.
Angarhad had needed the distraction in order to collect himself and restrain his sister.Outrage had warred with disbelief on Alithea's face as she had listened to the pair's casual explanation of events and plans.Being of a more sanguine temperament than his sister,Angarhad was not so intensely upset but his private thoughts mirrored his sisters and he struggled for a few minutes to regain an equilibrium.
He returned to the subject and coughed delicately. 'I'm afraid we view the idea of family differently from you.For us it is a source of comfort and strength,whereas for you it seems to be an impediment.Your experience of family seems to have been unfortunate given your views.'
He paused,considering what else he wanted to say, 'I believe it would be deleterious for Giordano to grow up in isolation,living only with adults,learning esoteric lore,no matter how extraordinary a being he is,he is still human.I believe you have not considered the possibility that the way in which you intend to raise him might stunt in him in ways you have not considered.However I am open to debate on this.'
He stopped again,it was incredible to him that this ad hoc group of seemingly itinerant magicians and witches could be the allies foretold by their people's prophecies.Ye gods,they were planning to bring him up in the manner of a hedgerow wizard.....when he compared it to the careful and meticulous planning of over a millenia by the group of people he considered his wild and farflung family he was stunned and grew silent.
Alithea could no longer restrain herself. 'Half cocked!.....loose confederacy of individuals!.......there is no people,no clan,no family,no sept,no power,no money,no way.....and this is how you have prepared for the chosen one!......all I can say is thank Sekhmet and bless Bast that we took the prophecy seriously' she moved her hand in a swift,cutting motion...'For over one thousand years and 418 generations we have bred bloodline to bloodline to prepare a vessel worthy for the one who would be reborn.We have moved the clans and their septs from Khem until our people live in all the places Alexander conquered and more besides,for we have Albion as well.We have prepared ceaselessly for this child so that he would have all that he needs,should he but ask.
And you would dishonour that dedication by removing the knowledge of it from him.And the freedom for him to choose it.All I can use to bank the fires of my anger is the belief that you could not conceive that the chosen one would be born into a family like this.That you thought he would be born into a family of no account and no knowledge of who he really was.....That has been your mistake and one best rectified if you think we could seriously consider entrusting his upbringing to you.'
With that said she leaned back against the cushion and gazed intently at the two opposite her.
Angarhad looked at his sister,irritated as always by her lack of control and losing his own,said sharply.
'Its not as though we have any choice,Alithea.These are the guardians of the child's early years,these are the ones who will teach him the things he will need to know.They are no more unlikely as guardians as you were to be the mother of the chosen one........there is not one s'shure I know who would've wagered money on that happening for fear of losing it.....'
He stopped and thought about something that had been bothering him for a while now. 'Unlikely guardians,unsuspected mother.....hmmm....it seems to me one or maybe more of the clans has been compromised.......our grandfather suspected as much but never found proof......I think this situation might well be it....
Svyeta simply stared at the mother. Her eyes were that blank, cold air, so still yet able to freeze blood. She duitfully tucked her hands away from the flatware, deliberately moving in the controlled manner of a tree-dwelling serpent attempting to settle itself. "Yeah. We knew, and we would dare. You can blame us, and you can try to kill any manner of us with idnignant rage, and I could see an entire nation beg for my blood, and that nation, that smattering of apes grasping at their thumbs would be but a single blip, a single scale on the back of the serpent of time, just as the mark on your son. That power and structure's absence would have let him choose his own path, and be damned if we were going to barr him from associating with the world. In fact, that was our hope: he'd be the World's child." She simply climbed over Rashid, who sat in silence, fully ashamed of their actions. "I had a powerful family with plans for me, who had waited on my every need." Her heels thumped on the ground as she landed, taking measured strides towards the door. "Don't you want him to grow up just like me?" She pushed her way out without further noise.
'Was that a rhetorical question?' Alithea asked her brother quizzically.
Angarhad sighed and gingerly pinched the bridge of his nose between his eyes in the forlorn hope that that the pressure might ward off the migraine he felt beginning to build.He had always suspected his sister had a touch of Aspergers because of her lack of ability to be able to sense anothers emotional state and he had pitied her for it but now he could see the positive aspects of not having an ounce of empathy in one's body.Both Syveta and Alithea could be counted upon to be a tower of gelignite in any crisis.It was quite wearing,especially for someone whose life's ambition was to lie in the sun,be handfed whatever took his fancy and breed with any relatives directed his way.
This ragged little band of disparate individuals...barring Rashid of course,the Moor's elegance and serenity of being precluded him from that description....were the ones to undertake a task of enormous responsibility and it was very clear to Angarhad that they leave their individual thoughts and ideas of how it should be behind to work in perfect unison to that goal.

Also his whole body tingled with a frisson of alarm that began when he realised that one of the clans might be compromised.....of the 33 women of his people impregnated with that crucial 418th generation Alithea bore the chosen one.Alithea...the flawed one...the one they had had to send away....if anyone had seriously thought she was capable of bearing the nonpareil she would never have been allowed to go.But they did and she had and that had to mean something.'He stared at her speechless,suddenly struck by a terrifying presentiment.

Although of very superior intelligence,Angarhad was typically masculine in his approach to the world.Men proceed by leaps of the intellect,whereas women are guided by an instinct of cosmic foresight.Men bound forward like the big cats.For a long time they remain motionless,sometimes stagnant,causing anxiety by their refusal to move,then suddenly they leap forward,reading the skies,discovering in a single flash,all that the eye can see,and penetrating still further,pushing back the limits of the horizon.
Yes,they were faced with a grave peril,and yet his male logic rejected the onslaught of the occult but his intuitive sense was not mistaken.'
He came out of his reverie and looked at his companions,struck with an urgency to reconcile with all members of the party.He looked across to Rashid and saw an understanding in the man's eye and demeanour and Angarhad realised that the Moor had come to the same conclusion he had.
He turned to Alithea who had been watching him with interest, 'We'll stay here tonight but we really must leave this area without trace as soon as we can.However we need the witch for that so do you think you might stop upsetting her?'
Alithea nodded in silent assent,eyes glinting faintly in amusement,she did like teasing the witch.She blew her stack in a most satisfying way.
That matter settled Angarhad stood up,excused himself and made his way through the tavern to look for Syveta.He crossed the yard and made his way to the stables.It was not long before he found her.
ps I took the paragraph in quotation marks from 'The temptation of Angelique' by Serge and Anne Golon
The sorceress wasn't too hard to find, if she weren't thinking about not being seen. The whole situation had her rattled in ways she could never truly express without choking on how linear human speech was. On occasion she wished she were the toad that the Physician had occasionally extracted venom from and made into a brew, so that she could communicate in the pictures and sensations to forego the plodding rationale of language. She could feel Angarhad approach before she either heard or saw him, and such became evident in her posture. Her neck stiffened, yet her limbs became more loose, her gloved fingers lightly sorting through the hay to pick out a weevil. "I have some diviner's sage, if you'd like. It'll probably help with that terrible hemicranial you have going, and probably give you some better idea about the kind of flora that's around here as a little bonus."

Maybe a little nonplussed by the matronly response, the laconic fellow strode behind the slight witch, his fingers taking her shoulder. Under other circumstances, he wouldn't have hesitated handling her form, catching her scent and taking her on the hay, yet with the quick onset of the gravity of their meeting, he left it at the touch. "Look... we're... Alithea and I have a lot of bullshit politics at home, and she's, well, bless her heart she's an animal before she's a person, and right now she knows kith, kin, and instinct. We're going to need you. The child, Rashid..."

Svyeta's hand shot up before he could finish his statement, the backs of her fingers just lightly touching his lips to silence him. Her shoulders rose and fell as her head dropped, still unwilling to turn and face the man. "Okay... I won't run from this. It's just... a lot had to happen in a very, very short window, and it isn't like all parties aren't carrying more baggage than their spirits can handle without taking care of the Big Magic Baby. I'm just afraid that my own luggage would make things worse for the task..."