Heart of the Hedge Maze [Estate Grounds - EAST]
[Within Daeth's Aegis]
Wynterleaf wanted to curl up and succumb to the a dreamless sleep but they didn’t have the luxury to spend any more time in this reprieve. With great effort, she rose from the wreckage of the bed and found her bundle of clothing, a simple tunic, and a pair of soft leather trousers, both dark grey to make it easy to blend with the shadows. She dressed with an efficiency born of practicality, tucking her shirt into her pants before setting her cloak and sword on the bar and approaching the chair where Daeth lounged casually having a drink.
Everything and nothing had changed. That acknowledgment in itself felt like a physical blow. She was still mindful of the task that’d brought her to the Syltamul Estate, the promise she had made in the literal crater that was her life - to keep magical artifacts away from the mages that sought to yield them toward their own means.
It had been after the third (or was it the fourth?) round of their bed sport that she’d had a moment of reflection and made the decision to give up that vow for revenge. Not for anything that had passed between her and Daeth (not entirely) but because she was beginning to see how flawed and obsessed her reasoning had become.
The promise she’d made on the heels of her loss was just another form of avoidance. A way to replace her guilt at not loving Wynter enough, she should have committed her full self instead of giving whatever had been leftover, and the guilt for having survived when he hadn’t. But she would follow this last thread through. If the Syltamul Estate yielded none of the answers she sought tonight, and she had no expectation that they would (as very little had thus far), she would leave the Bridgeways. Perhaps make a brief journey to Tenara, there were matters she needed to settle there and then maybe on to Aniada. A year had gone by while dedicated to this trek and it was time to check in on the crew she’d organized.
But she paused too long by Daeth as she gathered her thoughts and she found herself tumbled into his lap with a teasing grin. She couldn't resist his light-hearted manner and gave a low laugh. “The dress could be fashioned into a skirt. Maybe not a replacement for your shirt but I think it would look grand on you.” His lean fingers were already set on undoing her shirt and she forgot all the reasons why they shouldn’t do this again.
Eddellyn dressed for the second time, much quicker than the first, as she didn’t have to look far for her discarded garments. As Daeth retrieved his discarded clothes and dressed, she sought the ruby necklace she had flung at Daeth. Her temper had gotten the better of her at that moment but the gem was Travion’s and her conscience prodded at her to return it to him. Finding the jewel beneath a swath of fabric, she realized couldn’t just take it back, she had to replace it with one of her own belongings - she didn’t want Daeth to scold her for reneging on her ‘payment’. Her sword and dagger would be worth a fair sum but she wasn’t eager to part with them as there was every chance she would need them before the night was over.
The only other items she carried mainly held personal value, a moonstone ring and book (forgotten was the magickal ring she'd purchased to hide her presence from detection). The moonstone was pale and clouded with grey, it was plain but old, she taken to wearing it on a cord around her neck after the loss of her hand. The book was a small journal, thick with various found items and papers stuffed inside its leaves. Reading was a constant struggle and she could barely write, but keeping track of her life events and thoughts had been important to her.
She felt a great reluctance to trade either in place of the ruby but had to choose something.
Before she had time to second guess her choice, she removed the leather cord and ring and set them on the bar counter and tucked the journal into a small pouch.
As she cinched her sword belt in place, her thoughts returned to what happens now? and she tried to remember all she’d already said to Daeth this night. Did she betray anything that might hint at her feelings or her thoughts about the future? She didn’t think so but there had been times when she was lost to the heat of the moment either in anger or passion. A flare of panic threatened as she heard herself saying -I have given you all that was truly mine- had that been out loud? Perhaps it had been a mistake to do anything other than keep him at arm’s length and she would grow to regret that in time. She had to take steps to protect herself and mentally rehearsed what she would say to Daeth.
It was with a jolt when Daeth took the initiative and pulled her close by her belt, his eyes a deep amethyst as he gave her a serious soul searching look, moments before pulling her in for a kiss as if it was the last time. She had already expected as much, this was the prelude to their goodbyes, but was still unprepared for the weight of the moment as it settled in her stomach.
So she was surprised by his rough words explaining he couldn’t walk away again. That he wouldn’t let her walk away.
I have no expectations, she wanted to say, to reassure him, but he forestalled her with a raised hand as he continued speaking.
“Come with me. Please.”
It was the last thing she expected him to say and by his expression, she doubted he even knew he was going to say that until the words left him.
She rubbed her thumb across his brow, smoothing the tension that had gathered there, and then cupped his face and held his eyes with hers. It was not lost on her that the damage she had done by running away the last time still affected them both. Anything she might have said to release either of them from their connection died a swift death.
“I promised Vincen to steal the Syltamul’s business seal, in part for exchange for the dress. Beyond that, I was looking for evidence to the Bridgeways to some destruction in Kiana.” She made a motion with her hand and shook her head as if it were unimportant. “But that’s proven to be a dead end.”
He’d asked a direct question, paired with the word please (the second time that night) and she couldn’t refuse, which bode ill for her tender emotions.
“I will go with you, Daeth. Wherever your journey leads next.“
She inhaled deeply and tried for a smile but it came off as uncertain. “I promise not to disappear again, not intentionally and not without speaking to you first. And so you will always have means to find me again if you
wish need, look for The Ivy Hand or Wynterleaf; there are very few that know me by Eddellyn anymore.”
Eddellyn sealed her pledge with a soft touch of her lips to his, a kiss to mark a fledgling and fragile start. Anxious to lighten the suddenly somber mood, she brushed the ends of his hair just above his ear. “I’ll admit I was upset that you no longer had your braids but the truth is, I think I’m more upset at how you are only more attractive with short hair.”
AT THE HEART OF THE HEDGEMAZE
[Outside of the Aegis]
They left the Aegis hand and hand, crossing from the pocket realm and back into the worlde proper. The air was cool across her heated flesh, the night still young with only about an hour passing here while they had enjoyed the leisure of several hours. Even so, as the guest of honor, she thought Daeth’s absence might have been noticed by the nobles, but they may have been assumed he was engaged in a tryst. Her upper lip twitched with amusement, as the assumption wouldn’t be wrong though they may be surprised to learn it wasn’t one of their own.
But touching foot to the soil again brought a new awareness that Eddellyn hadn’t realized was missing until it returned. A sixth sense that stretched outward connecting to a far-off place east and some of her aches eased. The sensation was unexpected but not unwelcome and it gave her something to consider going forward. As the feeling of restoration washed over her, she sensed the other change to the atmosphere, the one that had agitated Daeth as he snapped to attention.
The night was eerily calm and scented with the smell of crushed ozone, unpleasant as it caught in the back of the throat. A shiver of premonition coursed down Eddellyn’s back, whatever was happening out there was not linked to the masquerade. She wasn’t certain what his wards were meant to do but if he was upset they were being destroyed, it couldn’t be anything good.
She curled her fingers around his hand tightly, putting her trust in him.
┠ DAETH ┨
The Bearer of the Mark
╺ ✽ ╸
“Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people whom we personally dislike.”
– Oscar Wilde
[OOC: from the Hidden Garden Clearing]
╺ ✽ ╸
WITHIN DAETH’S AEGIS
In the end, Daeth sent Travon home before he’d returned to the estate and confronted Callon and Amarice. Things would already be complicated enough for the young Lord Winterlow; there was no reason to add to the list by also being seen as standing in opposition to the Syltamuls (presumably) aligning himself with their former house guest and bedmate. There was already sure to be plenty of
gossip discussion about Travion’s outsider date being—in the eyes of his fellow Nobles—at the center of the night’s misfortunes, without the dark angel adding to the young Lord’s hardship by openly associating with him.
Now Daeth stood next to the bar amidst the wreckage that he and Eddellyn had wrought within the Aegis, and stared down at a moonstone ring fastened with a worn leather cord that’d been carefully set upon the bartop next to his unfinished glass of rum. There was no doubt as to who had left the ring—after all, there's only been one other person aside from himself who has ever stepped foot inside of the Aegis. He could even guess why it'd been left, too, as he noted the conspicuous absence of the extravagant ruby and diamond-encrusted necklace that she'd thrown in his face at the height of her high dudgeon, as “payment” for his time and information.
Daeth reached out and gently ran the tip of a callused finger over the smooth cabochon, tracing the edges where grey clouded its pale translucence. The moonstone clearly didn’t hold a lot of monetary value, but it wasn't its material worth that made it valuable. He knew that Eddellyn traveled smart and therefore tended to pack lightly, typically choosing to carry only her equipment and essential gear with her. He’d never known her to be the overly—or even mildly—materialistic type (a little avaricious, maybe; even then it was mostly a knee-jerk reaction that passed quickly enough). From what he recalled, neither did she cleave heedlessly to random objects that passed through her hands or fell into her possession. Which meant that any keepsake that Eddellyn carried with her had some kind of sentimental value and personal meaning, making every kept memento—no matter how unusual, innocuous, or mundane—invaluable.
Although he could only guess at the ring's sentimentality and significance, Daeth imagined that it wasn't easy for Eddellyn to leave the keepsake behind. He has little doubt that the moonstone held far more value to the bandit than the jewel encrusted necklace she'd worn to the Masquerade, gorgeous as it was.
He picked up the necklace and dangled the ring from the leather cord, admiring the cabochon's unique, milky blue adularescence as the Aegis' warm, mellow light diffused across the moonstone's smooth surface. Curiously, the dark angel measured the size of the band by seeing if the ring fit over any of his fingers, and chuckled after a moment, slightly incredulous. Eddellyn had incredibly slender fingers; Daeth couldn't even slide the ring past the first knuckle of his pinky!
He set the ring down for a moment, absently studying its simple design and tiny imperfections in the moonstone, without really taking it in. His amethyst gaze was pensive, the full curve of his lips pressed into a thoughtful frown as his brow momentarily furrowed. Before he thought about it too deeply, the dark angel scribed an invisible sigil onto the bartop with a finger. The Kingship Bands faintly hummed as the lines of the glyph began to shimmer with a soft, golden glow, before abruptly flaring up in an eruption of blinding, white light. Both the light and glow quickly faded, leaving nothing behind…
…except for a small, black, leather-wrapped box that now sat on top of the bar where the sigil had previously been.
Daeth picked up the small box and studied it, carefully running the pad of his thumb across the exterior until the rim of his nail found an invisible seam. He pressed lightly with the edge of his nail, causing the hinged lid to swing open with a quiet click!, revealing a red-lined interior. The dark angel stared at the contents of the box for a moment or two as a memory steeped in nostalgia and tinged with varying shades of ennui and regret, rose to the forefront of his mind. Even now, Daeth both knew and didn't know why he bought…it, to begin with. It was partially on whim, but also not, and his reasons, whatever they’d been, were likely nebulous at best—as were his reasons for holding onto it, all these years.
Before he could second guess himself, Daeth removed the object from the box and grabbed Eddellyn’s necklace, before turning and leaning against the bar. He deftly undid the knot, slipped the object onto the cord next to her ring, and re-tied the whole thing. He slipped the necklace over his head without much thought and then froze as he felt a sudden and unexpected feathery caress against the borders of his perception.
At first, the ethereal touch on his consciousness was so faint and muted as to be almost imagined, the sensation like the gossamer, barely-there whisper of a kitten’s whiskers ghosting across the sweep of your cheek. Then sound suddenly began to oscillate through his thoughts in waves, like echoing reverberations moving along a plucked guitar string. Daeth could only make out the droning buzz of formless noise at first, but as it arranged into a more recognizable pattern he was able to make out words vibrating through the now-familiar resonance of Eddellyn's mental voice.
Daeth. If you c an hear me... a wizard has taken mecapti ve, perhaps somewhere`in the Bridgeways. I t's a keepsurroun ded by alake.. There’s som eone else here w ithme… Iri hi .
Unfortunately, there was a lot of interference messing with Eddellyn's mental transmission, so trying to make sense of her psychic dispatch was a little like randomly picking words out of the crackling jumble of a staticky radio station, and hoping they formed some sort of (coherent) message. Nevertheless, the dark angel managed to piece together enough of it to make a decent guess at what the bandit had tried to tell him.
an ar me... zard has capti in idgeways. surroun lake.. 's som e w me… ri
(Well…he got the gist of Eddellyn's message, at least.)
When he should have been focusing on Eddellyn's fragmented communication, Daeth was instead overcome with an irrational urge to try and connect with her, if only to allay his own worry. Because he needed her to understand that he was coming for her, despite any barriers put in his path to stop him. He was coming for her, regardless of any potential obstacles or delays. Daeth would pursue her no matter what Greymaster did to
try to keep him away.
He walked away from Eddellyn twice. He won’t do it again. He would get her back, no matter what; even if it meant paving a path made of ash and bone and teeth and tears, and sealed with the mortar of harvested souls, in order to reach her.
It's not a matter of "if," but "when," for Daeth had become a sword of Damocles hanging over Greymaster’s head and those of everyone around him, as a consequence of the wizard’s actions at the Masquerade.
And once he did, once he got her back—once he’s torn out the souls of every.other.person within the fortress—Daeth was going to unwind Naith Tuillin. He would destroy Naith Tuillin entirely, unraveling it down to its very molecules—down to its very concept—as he unwound its past, present, and future potential, until not even its name remained inside of thought and memory.
Daeth scrubbed a palm over the Brand on his neck in agitation. It took some effort, but he managed to force aside his retributive thoughts, at least for now, and instead turned his attention towards how to send a message back to Eddellyn. Greymaster had specifically warded Naith Tuillin against him, which meant that, by proxy, Eddellyn was also temporarily shielded from him. Therefore, he had to assume that just because Eddellyn was able to send a mentally transmission out (to him)—the mystic wasn’t shielding against her, after all—didn’t mean that Daeth would be able to send one in (to her). Nor did he think that any of the other typical means of metaphysical communication would be likely to work.
He’d have to get creative.
The dark angel thought, and his amethyst gaze lit up after a moment. Even though it wasn’t ideal, it could probably work. After all, Greymaster was the head of the Order of Light. And where there’s light, there’s…
╺ ✽ ╸
Daeth restlessly drummed his fingers against the Brand as he watched the brume of shadows* disperse to complete the task that he’d given it: deliver his message to Eddellyn in Naith Tuillin. Shadows usually made poor messengers, but they could go anywhere. He told himself to temper his expectations. Besides, there was nothing to do for it now, but hope his message was delivered as intended.
That done, the dark angel spent a little more time in the Aegis as he made preparations for his next step. A little while later, Daeth shouldered a battered rucksack containing some supplies, personal items, and Eddellyn’s gear. He wore a pair of soft leather breeches and a forest green, loose, half-buttoned up shirt made of some thin, expensive fabric.
And therein lay a minor dilemma: his current wardrobe wasn’t exactly geared towards…well, anything other than languishing around an estate, really.
Of course…he did have one option.
That decided, Daeth stepped out from the Aegis and disappeared.
╺ ✽ ╸
*“a brume of shadows” – an agglomeration of shadows that have been intentionally brought together for a specific purpose or task
So I decided that a “group of shadows” should have a special group name, hence ‘a brume’ which is a mist, but is also synonymous with gloom, murk/murkiness, obscurity, etc. I liked the way ‘a brume of shadows’ sounded, since it sort of has an old magicky or ‘witchy’ feel. *shrugs*
[BONUS] These are some of my favorite 'collective group' names: a Pounce of Cats; a Cackle of Hyenas; an Unkindness of Ravens; a Conspiracy of Lemurs; a Malignancy of Goblins…
…okay, so I created that last one, too. ❤️
TOM-CAT: [KIANA BEACH: ★First Stab - POUNCE (★1/2) - WATCHER BATTLE (3/★4/5/6/★7)] – [GOBLIN SLAYING: (1)-(☆1/2)] – [ICE CAVES: CLIFFHANGER (★1/2) - POWDER KEG (★1/2/3) - HYPOTHERMIA (4/5/6) - BONDED (7/8/9/)] – [SUNSTEALER:(1/2/3/4)-(1/2)] – ★Miiya & Cat-Tom – [SPARRING: (1/2/★3)] - ☆The Great Tipsu Hunt! - ☆Stolen Kiss – ☆Overwhelmed by Intimacy – Returning to Her – ★Bath Time Bonding – ☆Wings, Tails, & Love – ☆Cave Storms – Climbing the Walls – [1st KISS: ★Chase-(★2/★3/4)] – ★Cat-Tom: Rescue Kitty! – Cat-Tom vs. Skaven – ☆(Forced) Shift Back – 9 Lives – ★A Beast in the Darkness – Reuniting w/Teleskela – ☆Bored Nihilism – Cat vs. Dragon – ★Emotionally Exhausted Bath – ☆Catboy, Interrupted – All For Her – ☆Bellissimo Gato – [BATH-HOUSE: Confessions(1/2/3/4)] – Catboys Can Purr – ★Bagels, Love Poems & Catnapping – Love Poem – [FIGHT PIT: CHAMPION SUITE (★1.No, no, no.../2a-2b/3.Prostitution/★4.Tipsu/☆5/☆6a-6b/★7a-7b.Holden's/Proposition) - GRAND ARENA (Leona/☆F#1/★F#4/★Cat-Tom vs.Werewolf: 1/2/3) - LOST (1/★2) - FOUND (3/4a-4b/5/★6.Swansong Kiss) - RESCUE (★1.Teleskela, MF'er/2/☆3.Reawakened Bond) - ESCAPE (4/5/6/7)]
DAETH: ☆Breaking Callon - ☆Pleasure w/Pain - Teasing Amarice - [DAYTRIP: LAVISH HAND (1/2/3a-3b/☆4.Sensing Death] - Kissing Fate(★1a-1b) - Precariously Balanced Nature - ★At Long Last, Eddellyn - Soul Searching - ☆Into the Maze - ★The Minotaur & The Labyrinth - ★Heart of the Maze - Before the Storm - ★Thunder & Honey - ★Ripped Gowns - ★Sensual Poetry - Warding Sigils - ★Hedonistic Filth & House-Sized Party Crasher - Confronting Maarazaar(1/2/3) - ★Ash Bunny Irihi - Cormeum MIA (stolen heart) - A Vow & Shadowy Msg
RISQUÉ: ★Fun with Fisticuffs!
[CHATTE] ★Enter Chatte - Chat w/Castor - ★Proposing the Race
[ASMODIEL & GALVINA] ★A Celestial & Demoness Play Cards - Asmodiel Smites a Feeder - An Angel & Aeros Walk Into a Bar... - Undaunted Spirit - Benediction
[☆ = favorite / ★= extra fave]