The Alcove of Dream.
This room breaks sharply from the Temple's typical architecture, marble giving way to the iridescent, pearlescent planes of well-cut magewood. The room is laid out in a strange, asymmetric jumble, and light is given by means of the eldritch lamps that blaze forth in a multitude of colors and hues. In all its strange glory, this place is dedicated to the realms of Chaos and Dreaming. A chromatic column commands the area, chaotic candescence churning at its core. Its prismatic winds fading toward silvery moon at their edges, a moth hovers here and makes lugubrious circuits of the area. Like a rippling inferno, a wide ring of conflagrant fire flowers surrounds the altar in vivid oranges, reds, and golds. Amidst the blazing backdrop, thick tendrils of deep, velvety purple of nightshade blossoms swirl and sprawl. Adding the dimension of a winter night's sky, twilight blue roses intertwine with the dusky purple nightshade. Here and there, speckling the midnight swirls like constellations, tiny silver night-blooming star flowers shimmer. In a tribute to Ladies Omei and Ethne, gold and purple primroses are shaped into a moon and an anvil facing the entry.
You see a single exit leading southeast.
Aolin muses to herself quietly. "What does 'pray for Temperance in your time of need' mean, anyway? Does one just stand there and say 'Dear Lady Ethne, please Temper me'?"
You drop a wooden bucket.
You start to wield a rainbow-striped rag in your left hand.
Sparks of ember join the crash of a hammer on an anvil, igniting into a towering swirl of flame. The figure of Ethne, the Rekindled, emerges from the center of the fire.
Your pose is now set as:
Aolin kneels by the shrine, diligently cleaning mud from between the planks.
Ethne takes a moment to look about Her Sister's alcove before focusing upon you. "Ah, you asked for Me, little Imp... raven."
Aolin straightens slowly, dropping the soapy rag. "Oh! Lady Ethne! Not... intentionally. Just thinking about something the Seer told me."
"The one who made Me excellent whiskey?" Ethne asks while she watches you both revert and drop the rag. She stands a bit awkwardly, at the entrance of Her Sister's alcove. "It was about Temperance?"
Aolin nods, then tilts her head, sitting back on her heels. "He is a most excellent brewer." She hesitates, then visibly makes up her mind. "It was. What is Temperance, anyway? How would it help someone.. struggling with old pain, long-buried emotions? Things threatening to burst from their cages?"
Tilting Her head as if in confusion, Ethne ponders you for a long moment. "Before I answer I find it odd, almost. The unwillingness of mortals to face their metaphorical cages. What is wrong with crying, or hurting, I wonder sometimes." She finds a place to sit, the Ogress Smith almost making it look awkward to find a place beside you as She settles in. "One of My tenants is Temperance. To Temper yourself in the Fire of your own forge. You actively seek to become a better person and so you hammer out your impurities or imperfections. This isn't demanding perfection, because I don't believe anyone or anything can achieve that status." She pauses a moment before further explaining. "Sometimes I ask someone separate from something they love too dearly. Or I tell them to face their biggest fear that may hold them back. Or it could be to simply allow themselves to show emotion. To open a door or cage to something they hoped to lock up. Why shy away from pain if it is clear that the haunting thoughts bring more pain and sorrow than simply confronting it?"
Aolin smiles softly to herself, pushing the bucket of sudsy water to the side and scooting to make room. "Ah.." she says quietly, satisfied. "See.. that's the heart of my current struggle. So long ago, now, I shoved all of the negative emotions, the pain, the guilt, the fear- all of it, shoved into neat little cages covered and tied, then buried. They've been there for so long that I had forgotten their presence." She shakes her head ruefully. "You cannot master your inner chaos by locking it away, so I've been.. well.. deliberately seeking out those ghosts and cages within myself, and opening them. The problem is that they are not always so easily tamed once they emerge."
"I don't believe they ever are. That is why Tempering oneself is so important to Me." Ethne agrees with a nod. "I do not ask nor want worship, in fact I frown upon My Siblings that do." The Forge Lady brings Her palms resting behind Her, taking on a rather casual stance for a Goddess while she admires the shrine. "I simply ask those who follow My path become a shining beacon. A role model. For all to admire and aspire to become. So that they might lead others to excellence." She turns Her head to focus on you now. "So what shallow grave has been dug up then, little Imp? What brings you sorrow of late?"
[A whirlwind of chaotic emotion rises at the casual question, images and emotions flickering and fading almost too fast to process. Whips, lashing out. Splatters of blood. Tiny, tiny, motionless bodies. With great effort, an Imp-Atavian self-reflection of shining silver leans into the wind, reaching out to touch the maelstrom. It slowly sputters and shrinks, finally condensing down to the form of a little black rojalli cub with fathomless eyes, which the self-reflection buckles a collar around and pats on the head.].
Aolin swallows, and looks down, formulating a reply.
The Imago awakens in a chorus of ethereal, fluting notes, and moths rise from the Seer's Wood to herald Her presence in silent silhouette against the stormy skies.
Finally, Aolin makes an odd little head motion somewhere between a nod and a shake. "To enter my Lady's Order, the Seer set forth to me a very... harsh.. challenge. It involved accepting the passing of my infant son and moving on. That... opened up a lot of things I had deliberately forgotten, is all."
Ethne tilts Her head to the side, pursing Her lips deeply with a sharp exhale through Her nose. "Yes." She finally agrees. "I cannot imagine." She trains Her gaze back upon you and is silent for a moment. "I do not believe in false sympathies, and I am not a mother but... I have lost many followers. Those who I saw all the potential in the world in. Future leaders, aspiring guild masters, future parents and they fall under the temptation of Shadow. Corruption." Her visage darkens visibly with the last word. "The hurt is very real and sometimes I turn to My Forge. I build and create until I cannot anymore to feel that I have done some good in the moment." Her lips turn into a thin smile and She returns to the present and your sorrow-filled face. "I am sorry you lost your child."
Aolin smiles more genuinely now, shaking her head. "Creating helps. So does music. In either one, you can hear all sorts of things your inner self is trying to tell you if you listen for it." She draws her knees to her chest and wraps her arms around them, resting her chin on the support. "It was a long time ago, and it was something that happens everywhere. Plague. I have made my peace with it now, as much as anyone can. It's the things before, and the things after.. that's where the struggle lies. You see, of all the emotions, grief is is easiest to diffuse, if not the most pleasant. You embrace it, let yourself truly feel it, and it slips away. But anger.. bitterness.. guilt, and hate.. those things are poisonous, and I fear letting them out all at once."
"Why?" Ethne asks blankly. Her arms adjust behind Her, leaning back comfortably to look back at Her Sister's shrine. "Those things should come out. You should let it out. It's when you let them remain. Let it control you. Those emotions become a problem. Shadow slips in and it becomes a state of being." Her words are careful and deliberate. "It is only poison if you let it be, yes? When those emotions feel too good and you lose sight of your Temperance."
Aolin looks down at her hands. "I did let them control me once... so long ago, now, but not long at all in the grand scheme of a life. I made the deliberate choice to let them go and change. To be the light in the world I wanted to find. I just.. did it the wrong way, I think." She places her hands down behind her and leans back on them, contemplating the Divine Ogress beside her, dwarfing her in every way. Determination enters her face, creeping in like a heat from a newly kindled hearth. "I suppose I'll just have to do it again, the right way." A twinkle of laughter enters her eyes. "And won't that be a surprise to those who expect only the saccharine sweetness from me."
"It will be a surprise, and you will do it. The right way." Ethne affirms and stands up with a Divine stretch. "My Sister and your Lady holds court. Shall we attend?" She asks you curiously.
Aolin stands along with Ethne and nods firmly. "I think that's an excellent idea."
Ethne smiles fully.
The towering form of the Rekindled dissolves into swirling trails of flame, each gradually dimming and cooling to embers.