Everyone at The Rise noticed what’s up between Kebab and Nubbins and had a little titter at their expense (bc they just SO cute now or something); except Hattie, she wasn’t super impressed about the cuteness, but seemed pretty glad the bickering’s done?
Sabit had a looong chit chat with Deshret about men, and babies, and magic, and primordial beings etc, but mostly Desh just freaked out about her hair and had to go take a nap and try not to have a mental breakdown.
Later, Pili went to offer Nubs some advice on how to bang better, but ended up using it as a teaching moment for Amazon Morality, bc he’s everyone’s daddy, ok…also, turns out Queen Kebab might not be as much of a sure thing as we (and she) thought!
Gone, they said, and didn’t know where.
“I want to see her.”
It had to be a trick.
“I want to see my daughter.”
“Ah–” Primrose and Belladonna exchanged a look, “Cassandra, that is–inadvisable, at present–”
“I don’t care.”
Their excuses wouldn’t work on her.
“My dear, she isn’t herself, do you understand?”
Bella’s face looked sympathetic, but Cassandra knew better; it was all a lie.
They’d been lying this whole time.
“I. Don’t. CARE!”
No one was going to lie to her anymore.
“Show me my daughter.”
“She is being kept in Oly’s old room,” Prim sighed, “come, I will–”
Liars and tricksters and SPIES.
“No, you will stay here,” she snapped, “I want to talk to her alone.”
Selene needed her mother, not spies…
“Cassandra, we cannot allow–”
“Yes you fucking can allow!”
Cassandra tried to swallow the anger; they would make her drink tea and go to sleep again if she got too angry.
“I have–questions. Private questions.”
They wouldn’t let her see her daughter if she got too angry.
The liars looked at each other. They were probably talking with their minds where she couldn’t hear them, isn’t that what tricksters did?
But it didn’t matter; they weren’t going to trick her again.
“You must promise to stay well away from the perimeter of the cage,” Primrose said after a moment, “and know that we will be watching from a scrying bucket, for your safety, agreed?”
More lies. No one cared about her safety.
Spy buckets were irrelevant; let the spies watch.
Perhaps it was not unexpected, finding the house empty.
At least their parents had thought to leave a parchment?
“Well?” Orion had never been one for patience, “what does it say?”
Aries, for his part, was not surprised by the contents of the letter.
“It would seem they’ve left for some sort of holiday–”
“Without us? Where did they go?”
Orion’s protest lacked bite; perhaps he, too, had anticipated this on some level.
“Granite Falls, apparently; mother desired to see the great forest.”
Even saying it out loud, he felt a pang of jealousy; not that their parents would leave without notice, but that they were, perhaps, already walking beneath sun dappled boughs–
“They’ve abandoned us for…trees?”
The wind had, apparently, gone out of his brother’s sails as well.
“We are grown fae, Orion, we do not require parental supervision–”
Perhaps they’d both known this day would come sooner, rather than later, since their father had returned.
“We will be perfectly fine on our own, brother.”
Now that the surprise of it had subsided, Aries felt the stir of exhilaration in his belly…
…Orion’s frown tugged up at the corners; he felt it also.
“I suppose that’s true.”
Orion was startled by his twin’s impulsive kiss in the middle of the crappy mortal-fashioned rental house, but he did not protest.
“Come, I will even let you choose where we go.”
Aries fairly vibrated with excitement, and it was contagious; all the hurt at being left to rot while their parents ran off to frolic in the woods, faded away.
“Go? Are we leaving The Woulding?”
He hoped the answer was yes; truth be told, a fairy only really needed their sibling, but adventure was a nice thing to have also.
“I think we ought to, is it not high time we made our way in this world?”
It was! Why hadn’t they seen it earlier?
Too wrapped up in their mother’s quest, no doubt.
Orion loved their mother, of course, but her will had consumed them for long enough.
“Very well, what have you always desired to see?”
Everything. They would see everything…
“Oh hey there my little chickadee!” Smiled The Woulding’s most cheerful witch, “how you been holdin’ up? Can Aunty Holly get you a stiff one? Heh, drink, that is! Though, you know, might be able to scare you up another kind of stiff one if you really–”
“Thanks, Aunty, but I’m actually good on all things stiff,” the knot in Artie’s stomach tightened; what if Holly said no? “There is, um, something else you can help me with, though…”
“Sure thing, jellybean! You going hiking? You want me to come with? I’m totes up for it; only have 5000 steps today so far!”
“Ah, actually, I was hoping you could help me find something–well, someone…”
“Hello mommy dearest.”
It was like a splash of cold water in the face.
“You–you are not my daughter…” for the first time in a while, the anger went utterly silent, “are you really–my husband’s mother?”
“Straight to the point! Delightful,” the throaty chuckle sounded strange coming from Selene, “perhaps I once was, after a fashion; I am afraid it cannot be made any clearer than that, my dear.”
“Do you know what happened to him?” The question was barely a whisper, but it filled the cavern left vacant by the anger’s hiss.
“Yes, I do,” the young woman’s smile was eerily saccharine.
“He left you to return to the past, I’m afraid,” Selene’s voice echoed off of the walls, though she spoke softly, “he rejoined his remaining sister, gave her babies, helped her rebuild their mother’s legacy–”
“Gave her babies?” Cassandra felt her gut clench; she couldn’t mean–?
“Yes, dear, that is their way, the ancient Al Simharans; did you not know? Their mother had no male relatives to do the honours, but at least sweet Raet had a good and dutiful brother to fuck her–”
“Shut up!” A gentle hiss seeped into the room.
“I’m sure he cared a great deal for you, of course,” Selene sighed, “but after having watched them together, and then you and he later on, I’m sorry to say his appetite for her was the more insatiable–”
“I said shut up, you liar!” She was just like those witches, full of trickery and false words!
“Why would I lie?” The liar gasped with false hurt, “you came to me seeking the truth, did you not? I cannot help if you do not truly wish to hear it!”
“Pili loves me,” she croaked, “he didn’t want to leave us–” right? Cassandra searched for the memory of him, happy, loving–he had been happy, hadn’t he?
“I am certain a part of him did not, but surely you could see how being in this time and place was effecting him, yes? He felt useless, emasculated, listless…”
“…it all seemed so very wonderful in the beginning, of course, as things always do, but time has a way of wearing away gilding–”
“It’s not true, we were happy!” Weren’t we?
The anger was gone again…what was this thing in it’s place?
“You were happy,” snapped Selene, “Pili was a hostage! Stolen from the duty he was born to; I promise you, that he did finally find peace and happiness, surely this must please you if you truly cared for him.”
Cassandra felt her throat swell and her eyes water. Did it please her? Shouldn’t it?
“There there, child, I did not mean to upset you, ah! Me and my clumsy words! At least you have three beautiful children to remember him by–oh!”
She gasped, “how insensitive of me! For they too are lost to you now, my what a pity.”
“That’s not true, I have someone going to rescue Mosi as we speak, and the witches have promised they can cure Selene of your taint,” Cassandra tried for confidence she did not feel, “and Artemis–”
“–has gone to be with her father, I’m afraid,” the creature’s exaggerated sympathy poked another hole in her heart.
“W-what? No, she’s at home, I saw her earlier today,” dread filled the cavern, mixing with the new feeling, the one that made her eyes leak–
“Earlier is earlier, however; and it is earlier no more, yes?”
Cassandra scrambled to dial her daughter’s number, the dread swelling with each ring…
“Oh dear, not picking up, is she? That is a pity.”
“She must be–busy, or–” fatigue pulled at her bones; how could one person carry this burden of feeling? They couldn’t, she couldn’t, soon it would have to be laid down…
“Artemis is gone, Cassandra, and you will never see her again, nor your son, Mosi; the vampire hunter means to betray you, did you not know? For he cannot suffer a monster to live, and your son will die by his hands,” her voice dripped with honey, “I would, of course, be most pleased to allow you your last child if you will but open the door to this cage, of course, otherwise, I will be forced to destroy her, I’m afraid.”
Selene’s laughter filled the room, sweet, and wicked, and louder than anything Cassandra had ever heard before–
It stopped suddenly, leaving the older woman’s ears ringing.
“Just open the cage, Cassandra, and all will be well, I swear it.”
She was just so tired now, tired of fighting, tired of feeling…
“That is quite enough of that!” Primrose’s voice cracked like a whip, “Cassandra, back away from her immediately.”
A scream of anger tore from Selene’s throat as Cassandra stumbled away from the cage.
“You will never see any of your children alive again!”
Mosi could not say what he had been expecting. Truly, he had not even thought that far beyond following his Sire, as though his mind was incapable of processing anything else until they were reunited.
The Temple of the Goddess was far removed from civilization, and the young vampire was not certain that it did not exist in an entirely different plane from the mortal world, much in the same fashion as The Woulding, for it had that same stillness that he had come to associate with being ‘mortal-adjacent’.
Or maybe it was just the isolation.
The bowels of the temple were filled with tomes, and artifacts of the ancient world, and Anubis assured him it would take him many mortal lifetimes to read and examine everything in their possession.
There was no need for a proper washroom, now that he was no longer human, and Anubis said he could bathe in the stream if he wished, which left him to wonder what the Priestesses did for themselves.
The Priestesses lived in the temple quarters above, and moved around in the daytime; they cared for the grounds, saw to any supplicants that (somehow) managed to stumble their way into the clearing, and left offerings of ripe plasma fruit for the vampires to share.
Mosi hadn’t seen any of them yet, and the older vampire said he seldom would, for they did not venture into the crypt; but he could hear their hearts beating, nearby.
It was rather…unsettling, truth be told.
His quarters were austere, to say the least, though there was also a desk set aside for his use in the common room.
Anubis mostly ignored Mosi in favour of research, an activity which the younger vampire would normally applaud, though he found himself frequently seeking out the other man’s attention.
“Must I, too, wear a skirt?”
“You are free to wear whatever you please.”
“Do I have to get a tattoos like yours?”
“Do you desire tattoos?”
“If someone came to steal from the temple, would we have to kill them?”
“It has occasionally been necessary, in the past.”
“But I do not wish to kill anyone.”
“Then, do not.”
And so went nearly any conversation he attempted to engage in with his stoic Sire.
Frequently, since leaving The Woulding, the young vampire wished his mother were here. Not because he wasn’t grown enough to live on his own with a roommate, of course! Most assuredly not!
It was only that mothers knew so much about creating a comfortable, yet efficient work and living spaces. Yes. Clearly, needing a maternal furniture consultation was the reason for his…disquiet.
Or, perhaps it was his research notes he was missing? He’d been far too distracted to grab them before leaving The Woulding; though, now he had endless years to replace and refine them, for there was little else to do.
All things considered, being a Temple Guardian was a rather uneventful existence.
Heyyy, it’s that temple Haids made again! Well, the upstairs, anyhow.
One of these days I’m going to stop threatening you all with Oberon, and just unleash him; that will be a glorious day indeed 😈
Speaking of things that need proper unleashing…