Another POV to @lait
's little log:
Rashar thoughts are like this.
Omei echoes are like this.
Though She clearly speaks in jest, Her touch elicits feelings that are far from any sort of joking matter. You feel the deadening pall within the midst of your chest as you sense Trager falls, and before you know it the memories start flashing through the back of your mind. Stories. Brothers. Revelry and laughter.
Rashar's eyes shut, squeezing that way for a few moments before opening once more. He blinks rapidly, shaking himself as if from a dream. "Eh," he retorts. "I never pretended to be the brightest feller around."
"She only had one leg." You can hear his laugh as you two recount the story. It echoes in the back of your mind, over and over again, its tone deepening with every loop it makes through your ears. Mocking. The laugh is mocking you. You see him now, flesh sloughing off of his cheeks and arms. He breathes no more, and he is happy. His laughter tells you so, that mocking laugh.
Rashar suddenly rips away from Omei's grasp, spinning slightly and glaring at Her. "He is not," hisses the man vehemently, but then collects himself. Reaching up, he drags one large hand roughly through the tangled curls of his hair and glances around, as if realizing that his words were spoken aloud.
You are right. He suffers. He wallows in the power - he's done it before. Temporary power. He's on top of the world right now because it courses through his veins. But where were you to stop him? Why isn't he here with you telling these stories? Why did you let. Him. Go?
Areka. Trager. People that meant something to you, and they slipped through your fingers like grains of sand. Yes you hold power now - esteemed titles. TITLES. What is a title? You HATE titles.
By now you can't even be certain if these words are coming from yourself within the back of your mind, or from some other source. They mix together so easily. So fluidly and rapidly that it's hard to keep track.
Seemingly separated from the light-hearted conversation being held, Rashar takes a few slow steps backward, glancing around with a look that hovers between irritated and pained. "unicorns unicorns," he breathes, dropping his head into his hand and wandering back into the city.
There he goes, again. He's being hunted down. Killed by people you now call allies. Will you call your allies on this? No, no, certainly not. You've all these TITLES you would put at risk should you stand for him. Besides, he's no longer here. He's no longer yours. YOU. LET. HIM. SLIP.
Imagine where he would have BEEN were you there.
Imagine who he would BE with you by his side to guide him.
But you failed. FAILED.
Rashar tilts his head back and roars, his words echoing even throughout the city. "That is not TRUE! I would give it all away to have him beside me. All of it." Sinking down, he settles into a low squat in the center of a particularly thick tangle of brush, not far from the statue of Omei. Hidden from easy view, the Idreth sways back and forth and tries to calm the thoughts - the emotions - rushing through him.
You yell, "That is not TRUE!"
Failure. Failure. Failure. He batters at the feeling as he always does, engaged in his own private war with that ever-present sense of worthlessness. Throws those titles that are meaningless to him at it, and every worthless accomplishment he's piled on top of another in some vain attempt to satisfy the pit within.
She's sitting beside you with Her knees pulled up to Her chest, Her hands left wrapped around them as She glances at you from the side. For a moment Omei looks concerned, though this too is wiped from Her countenance after but a moment as She elects to merely sit quietly at your side.
Quietly, Omei says, "They aren't meaningless, you know. I watched you stare into space, pondering the results. You really did care. You worked for them."
"Of course I care," Rashar rasps, sinking down onto his knees and settling his weight onto his outstretched hands, which are propped up on his thighs. Blinking away the raindrops that have plastered his hair to his head, he studies the Goddess next to him. "I work for everything I do. For everything I accomplish."
And he does. He drives himself, harder than he would drive any other. How else can he accomplish what must be done? How else can he be of worth, in a city full of bodies and blades? There is only one way - to carve his way up, and become the best that he can be.
"You can grow no stronger?" Omei queries with an arched brow. "You would not be stronger by finding the pieces you've lost?" Her tone is far from accusatory as She speaks, no, instead that same level, caring tone prevails in a way that's oddly contrasting with Her overall rather wild looking appearance. "Yes, yes, I know you joked. There was hyperbole, but a part of you felt it."
Rashar cringes, physically leaning to one side as if to pull away from Omei's words. "I didn't mean the pieces I have lost would not make me a stronger man," mutters the man, though he looks directly into the nearby brush as he speaks. "Only that they would not make me a better one." Reaching up, he drags the wet locks of hair from his eyes and settles back onto his unicorns, drawing his legs up and staring over his knees at Her. "What do you want from me, Lady?"
"I want you to be honest with yourself, and to be honest with Me," Omei says through a narrowed gaze that's more assessing than suspicious in the way it's leveled in your direction. "Lay it all out, even if in small, measured doses. Explore those emotions that run wildly through your mind and body, figure each one out and learn how to use it in a way that makes you better," the Goddess firmly continues. "There is so much potential in you, waiting, trapped inside you but stuck within this iron cage you've created for yourself, with chains wrapped tightly around and around and around so that you can shield yourself from those feelings." The Nightmare leans forward, voice lowering as She states, "I want to break those chains, and I want you to break them with Me."
"I am as honest as I can be," Rashar says plainly, looking frustrated. "Goddess, I have -searched- the hidden places inside of me. I don't want to go there, yeah?" Here, his expression breaks - gone is the Knight. Gone the Idreth, and any semblance of strength he may have displayed. Gone is the man, replaced instead by something weak and scared. "I don't want to go back there. Enough to say I am broken in ways that cannot be repaired and do what I can with what remains."
Uncoiling from its resting place is that blessed, familiar red rage. It drives up through Rashar's spine and spreads out into his limbs, crushing everything and solidifying his visage into that of a much more savage creature. Stern, wild. Slightly unstable. "I'd say I have done well enough," he mutters darkly.
"That is weakness," Omei remarks, chin lifting slightly in defiance of the idea as it's proposed. "So a foe stands before you, broad as a building, and you instead run from it?" Her head shakes, and She shifts a hand to lay on your shin which She grasps in a steadying gesture. "Nobody ever wishes to face their nightmares. Nobody," She lowly murmurs. "I faced Mine. I sat and watched as a war waged on while I SLEPT." She goes quiet for a moment, gaze flicking over your face as She studies it scrutinizingly. "We all must face them. Some perish in the face of them, others triumph." Her chin drops as Her head cants slightly to the side. "You do not look like one to perish."
Slowly, carefully, Omei says to you, "You wear a mask, and I see it. I see it oh so clearly. Take it off."
Rashar scrambles to his feet, kicking dirt and grass away from him in the almost frantic haste of his movements. Climbing upright, he takes a step forward and leans down to stare at Omei. "Some foes," he all but whispers, "Cannot be defeated." Water runs off the angle of his jaw, which is slightly canted in that remarkably lupine tendency of his. Dripping onto the sodden ground beneath him. "The Maelstrom's work made me forget it. The Lady gave me the fire to burn it away. What will you do, Goddess? Tear this mask away, and I am not certain anyone would like what they see."
Least of all himself.
"All foes can be defeated," Omei lowly intones as She rises slowly to Her feet. Her eyes flicker, the starry constellations that lie within Her pupils flashing oh so bright for but the faintest of moments. "The Maelstrom made you forget it, yes, but it remained," She challenges, a biting grate seeming to weasel its way into Her tone as Her stance becomes solid. "Fire tried to burn it away, but you cannot burn away an identity - it comes back, just the same, but scarred," the Goddess continues. "No, no, these are bandages on a wound that do not allow it to heal - I will make you SEE it. Face it. Know it and embrace it as part of YOU, because THAT is what it IS," She roars, hands reaching out to grab at your shoulders. "There is power in an identity. There is cowardice in a mask. Are you a coward, Rashar?"
Coward. Coward coward coward. The word echoes within the back of your mind, swirling and repeating itself over and over again. It's a challenge. It could be nothing else.
You cannot hide from this.
You cannot hide from yourself.
"Yes," Rashar thinks silently, staring at Omei and shivering with barely checked emotion - with tension that lays across him like the lashes of a whipping as the Nightmare's voice rises. The tension is evident in his voice, which is tight as he mutters in a contradicting echo, "No. I am not a coward, Goddess. You know I am not." More and more he tilts, until his head is nearly sideways. As if the truth of the matter were preventing him from speaking the words as a man, standing tall and proud.
"PROVE IT THEN!" Omei bellows with a forceful shove that sends you sprawling to the ground before Her. "Tell Me you will not hide from yourself," She hisses. "Tell Me you will not try to burn away an identity that will haunt you until you FACE IT." With every demand that pushes forth from Her body She takes a step forward that sends trembles through the ground. She leans down now over your form, lip contorted into a sneer as She regards, "No more ignoring. No more trying to expel it - stand up like the man you think you are and tell Me you are ready to deal with your issues head on."
I'm going to-
Your limbs feel like lead, as if there are weights tied to them, keeping them anchored so closely to the ground.
His thought is stilled before it can even develop, gratefully buried beneath some minute semblance of common sense: Will what? What will you do to a Goddess, idiot? Nothing. If you could, you would have struck down the God-leech already.
Rashar erupts in a wordless growl as he is thrown, loud enough to echo through the surrounding gardens. His eyes bulge, and the cords of his neck are like the threads of a loosely-woven piece of cloth. He writhes in place, conjuring up every bit of will he has to follow those commands - to stand UP, if only to die on his feet. The sounds emerging from his chest and gut would maybe be pitiful, were it not for the presence of the Goddess rendering his mortal form insignificant.
Omei's gaze travels your form a time or ten in absolute silence as She watches. Measures and appraises. Her countenance reveals no particular thoughts, though Her posture remains rigid as it was before despite the struggle She watches you bear. "Look at you," She says, finally, firmly breaking the silence. "You struggle against yourself. Against your inhibitions. Against your -identity-." She takes a step forward, a hand extending towards you. "Take My hand Rashar, and I will help you face it once and for all," She offers. "Or turn away and face it alone, remaining only as They have left you."
Oh, the struggle written across every inch of Rashar's form, which is painfully bare and vulnerable as it drags furrows in the dirt and crushes the brush beneath it. Hatred, fury, resentment, fear, helplessness, hope. Hatred, fury, resentment.. all of it cycling as he stares at Omei and wills himself to grab. that. hand. REFUSE! Don't do it, don't do it, don't open that door, idiot boy.
But he does. Rashar reaches, or tries to. Wills himself to, grasping for that faint hope of becoming something that isn't a facade. Hope rises, and is crushed almost immediately, swept away before it can rear its ugly head. But he reaches.
Where you reach, Omei finds your hand, Her own wrapping tightly around it in a way that sends the nerves in your fingertips skittering ablaze with a myriad of tingling sensations and warmth that spreads down the length of your fingers, through to your arm, then disperses like the lingering traces of static electricity. Effortlessly She pulls you to your feet, and like that the weight that held your limbs is gone - were it ever there in the first place. The somber tones of the Gods' bells punctuate this moment of relief, their dulcet chords lingering upon the air as She holds tightly to your hand. "We will fix you, Rashar Del'baeth. Together, you and Me," She murmurs.
Rashar glances weakly into Omei's face, failing as only a few times in his life to display that crooked smile of his. "We will see, Goddess."
"No," Omei corrects as She releases your hand. "YOU will see." She offers you a nod, one that's simple, but portrays somehow altogether far more than just acceptance of the notion as Her form dissipates into a jagged aurora of pulsating colors that soon get swept away with the dawn's breeze.
Rashar promptly sits back down, rocking back into the hollow he has managed to carve out of the brush. "Son of a unicorns," he mutters, covering his eyes with one forearm.