Lin hunts for and finds Diantha, a lunar nymph taken up residence in the Seer's Wood. She is eager to prove her newfound capabilities to the creature, but gets more than she expected.Content Warnings:
Mild language (some s-bombs), gore/body horror (Akira).Background:
Not a lot of this will make sense, but to summarize...
- Lin is an Idreth. She had only ever built the one body for herself, and did it badly. It tended to come apart grotesquely whenever she was freaked out or otherwise made to lose all of her concentration.
- The lunar nymph is a creature who came into existence from the Chaos Plane, and has been haunting the Seer's Wood ever since. She has gone through several names, trying to find the right one, and can assume the form of other people. For reasons unknown, she can't leave the Seer's Wood.
- Fascinated by the nymph (read: hellbent on eating her), Lin would chase her around the forest - but eventually, the nymph began hunting her down instead. Whenever she got close, Lin would get so scared her body would unravel. It's been a source of shame for her ever since.
- Eventually, Lin gathered the courage to rebuild herself, improving upon her form in every way, and since then...
Color legend:Tomato Sauce:
Lin's thoughts.Colgate Toothpaste:
The nymph's thoughts, and related messages.
You have emoted: Lin's mad ride through the Wood slows; some time around the sixth or seventh loop of the forest. "Where is she," she mutters to herself, scratching at the base of her throat, an oft-used anxious gesture.
Diantha, a lunar nymph tells you, "Were you looking for me...?"
You have emoted: Lin lets out a quiet gasp, then immediately glances around, wary of being seen or heard.--> --> -->
A rushing waterfall. (Seer's Wood) [river] (v62136)
The afternoon sun shines down, its rays broken only by the occasional wisp of cloud. Its prismatic wings fading toward silvery moon at their edges, a moth hovers here and makes lugubrious circuits of the area. Diantha is here, surrounded by a silver aura. The waters of the waterfall plummet southwards and down into a yawning, fathomless abyss.
You see exits leading north, east, and west.
She is a chaotic lunar nymph, currently mimicking Aolin. Fae-like in form and feature, she is ethereal in frame and slight in stature at around five feet in height. Despite the padding of gently feminine curves, she is almost painfully slender. Soft, wavy locks of silver-blond hair tumble down one side of her forehead in thick tendrils, with the bulk of it swept up into a loosely braided chignon woven with multi-colored ribbons. Her face is delicately boned with a daintily pointed chin and high cheekbones, and a rather adorably upturned slope of a diminutive nose. Pale lavender freckles dapple her cheeks and shoulders in generous smatterings against the silvery tones of her pale skin, touched in places with arctic hues of violet and evening blue. Large, vivid violet eyes are thickly lashed and hold a deeply mischievous twinkle, entirely free of malice and startlingly clear and aware. A remnant of her heritage, two tiny silver horns spiral gracefully from her forehead, inlaid with a lacy pattern of qufar that wisps mist-like spirit though her hair as she moves. She smiles often and widely, one missing upper canine giving a particularly urchin-like charm to her otherwise serene and thoughtful face. Sprouting from her back is a pair of large wings, reminiscent to a bat or dragon, but reimagined by an artist- instead of leathery membrane, transparent panels of glittering gossamer in bright colors create a chromatic stained-glass pattern that scatters the light. Here and there, prismatic vapors pool and liquify along her body, dripping to the ground in bright rainbow hues that quickly dissipate back into colored ambient light.
Diantha, a lunar nymph gazes downward into blackness, standing steadfast against the torrential flow downward. A half-eaten fish dangles from one of her Aolin-like hands, droplets falling from its limp tail.
You have emoted: Lin's rojalli plunges headstrong into the river, unbothered by the current, with her atop. She screws up her face at Diantha, a lunar nymph at first, before she remembers herself, and what the creature is capable of. She'd come with such purpose, but now that she's caught the nymph's attention, she stops up short, momentarily unsure of what to say.
You have emoted: Lin lobs off small talk while her brain catches back up to her nervous system: "Ah, lunch?"[She feels perfectly balanced between fear and avid interest.]
Diantha, a lunar nymph turns, looking from the abyss, to gaze instead into you. Her attention turns to the fish - as though only just recalling it, she proceeds to shove it into her too-big maw, shredding skin and shattering bones to edible pulp. Salmon-hued flesh lingers on her lips. She licks them slowly, a most un-Aolin like predatory ferocity there as she considers you.
Diantha, a lunar nymph says, "It was."
A stone shifts under the force of the river and its sudden motion releases a muffled crack into the air.
You have emoted: To be in the nymph's presence imposes a change of rules on Lin; a code-switch of sorts, necessitating no sudden movements, and not one second spent with her eyes elsewhere, even as she lowers herself from her beast's back. "We're... going to build the bridge soon. Do you know where? Do you know it's closer to home for you?"
With acrobatic grace, you quickly hop off of an immense, three-eyed rojalli.
The moment he is unburdened of his rider, an immense, three-eyed rojalli scrabbles back to shore.
"Yes." Diantha, a lunar nymph turns again to the waterfall, staring into the blind, rising mist which turns the uncompromising abyss to soft, slate greys. "Can you see it?" A long claw extends, forgetting for a moment to have less than seven fingers. The index indicates some empty space. "There's a shape. It isn't real yet - but it could be.""Why are you stalling. Show her what you wanted to show her."[Because her heart won't slow down.]
You have emoted: Instinctively, Lin turns her head, breaking eye contact with Diantha, a lunar nymph, casting her sights to the yawning nothingness that delineates the southern loop of the Wood. Her hand splayed across the base of her throat, she gives it more than a cursory glance, her eyes set, focused, as if willing herself to -see- something.There! There, through the mist, when the light of afternoon strikes it just so. It's fuzzy, indistinct, a mere mishmash dream with no clarity nor cohesion to it, but nevertheless there, possible, as surely as an uncertain prophecy. Rainbow hues, ranging away from pale pinkish red to a pale lavender, and beyond... you cannot yet see.
You have emoted: For a second, Lin's concentration falters, disillusionment threatening to win out, as if she's coming to the realization that she's only playing mind games. But then she startles visibly where she stands, thigh-deep in the water, her eyes open wide, mouth ajar, and begins to wade crashingly into the water, rushing precariously for the drop- off.
You have emoted: "I see it!" Lin exclaims, "It's here!"
"Told you," Diantha, a lunar nymph replies, smirking smugly. Her arms fold again, claws clasping over her forearms.
You have emoted: It is a testament to Lin's growth as a person that she does not simply plunge into the abyss like a lemming; instead, she is given ample time to notice the way the vision flits in and out of view in the light, and stops up short just before she tries to stomp into the dangerous currents. She is breathing hard from the exertion, gazing into the empty air, visibly crushed.The beginning of the bridge flickers in and out of visibility, at times near as dark as the underlying abyss, at others too bright and insubstantial to become. Ever fluxing, never real, a tantalizing lure to doom for a Lin less learned than you. The vines and boughs which weave and flare forth to form the not-bridge are flowered thickly with poppies, and sanguine grass thrives forth in ground that cannot seem to decide whether it is bark, plantflesh, or earth.
Diantha, a lunar nymph says, "Isn't that your portion, there?"
Diantha, a lunar nymph points due southward, toward thin, misty air.
You have emoted: The return to less turbulent waters is rough-going and meticulous, with Lin sort of sidestepping, struggling against the current on her way back toward Diantha, a lunar nymph. "I was assigned red," she affirms, "I have my sacrifice prepared, but with no instruction... I- I don't know what to do." Comprehensively drenched from heel to collarbone, she cuts a less dramatic figure, winded and just a little cold."Lost your chance to show her. You are of the Court. You must be better."
"You're supposed to do it together," Diantha, a lunar nymph remarks. "Maybe that's why you don't know alone." The water slides straight from her sleek, silvery skin, dropping once more into the river to rush on, on, into darkness. Then she turns, regarding you with a cool stare.
Diantha, a lunar nymph says, "How come your thoughts are so noisy?"
You have emoted: Perhaps it shouldn't surprise Lin that her private mind isn't as private as she expected, but the news still chafes, seeming to deflect physically off her face, for the way she turns it. "Because you frighten me," she says, "And I came to..." A thick swallow, and a faint, chilly water-induced shiver that propogates through her arms. "Compare myself to you."
"Oh." Diantha, a lunar nymph stares at you for several blank moments."She doesn't give a unicorns. Just do it."
Diantha, a lunar nymph morphs in a blur of silver stars, assuming the form of Lin.
She is a chaotic lunar nymph, currently mimicking Lin, one clinging to the last vestiges of her humanity. Of hardy, gladiatorial muscle, predatory gait, and dark kawhe skin, she is like a creature from a cautionary Mhojavian fairy tale, a desert demon equipped with long, black claws. She has a rebellious empress's face, capable of fondness and cruelty in equal measure. Her eyes would have been a striking gold, but something has happened to the left, replaced as it is with a strange, black-hued jewel. They are shaded beneath a spiky and unkempt mass of black hair, styled rebelliously with pronounced bangs and a long thicket of a ponytail, but with the majority of her scalp cut down into dark fuzz. From her skull protrude a pair of fat spiraling horns, twisting around the shape of her ears: long, elfin, transitioning from dark skin to wispy black fur. From the base of her spine depends a long and ropy tail; it seems to do the majority of the talking for her, acting as an extension of her body language.
Mirroring you amidst silver light, Diantha, a lunar nymph lets her silvered arms drop to a loose swing at her sides. She stares. She waits.
You have emoted: Lin raises an arm momentuously - that's as far as she gets, for a moment. The sheer sight of something else wearing her body instills a dread that she cannot define, nor one that she can keep from showing on her face. She pauses for what seems like forever, before crashing her way back into the water, coming just within arm's reach of the shape-stealing she-creature. A clean split races down the length of her bicep, zig-zags through the inside of her elbow, and ramifies through her forearm in a fantastically complex craquelure, such that her hand blossoms open like the exposed stamen of a rare and bloody flower. Ropy arteries, insensible jags of bone, and a mass of dense, cable-like organs dribble from the abnatural wound, as if extruded from some factory hidden in her flesh with one singular purpose. She doesn't threaten, doesn't growl, doesn't try to somehow weaponize this awful display, but simply lets it speak for itself.
Diantha, a lunar nymph is silent in the face of the grisly display. If it shocks her, her impassive, Linlike face fails to show it. Instead she sniffs, chin cocking back a touch, her tail poised and flitting like an anxious scorpion's stinger. Where your frame fails, her own reflection remains unbroken - at least, until she lifts a black claw. It divides with a soft, wet sound, parting gracefully to reveal sevenfold silver digits and hanging hollowly about her wrist. The quicksilver flesh is soft, amorphous, responsive as though it were some small statuette - nevertheless, she reaches forward, touching her argent, featureless fingers to your wound with characteristic boldness.There's a tentative waver of light at the direct contact - nerves upon nerves, placing her own alien mind at odds with your own. Her thoughts race like shooting stars, bits of gray and silver building as the touch is maintained.
You have emoted: Lin goes stiff, shows her teeth in an instant of learned pain, but the pain fails to come. She is left with its symptoms instead, breathing hard through her fangs, gazing avidly at Diantha's exploratory touches as if, at any moment, she could sprout deadly blades. It becomes apparent that whatever is happening to the Idreth's arm is a willful act, or perhaps the exact opposite of willful, something happening passively if she lets it happen. The bloodless gore continues to dribble from her limb in slow motion, extruding exotic networks of veins and unusual glands, all held together with muscle and lymph tissues, now beginning to trail into the water like a hideous streamer."Do... you see what you taught me?" "Do you see what I improved?" "You did this..."
Sanguine droplets curl down Diantha, a lunar nymph's arm, washing away her Linness as they go - leaving her smooth, silver, a mirror nearly indistinguishable from the water's surface. Her eyes are wide, rapt, fascinated, flattened to a deep black hue as she focuses. Impassive lips part to a slow, fascinated O, and her fingers coil through the gore, imparting the mess with a silvery light that livens it to chaotic red."...I see," she whispers, someplace far, far past hearing. The words are an electric race across your nerves, carrying with them a precise, mathematical grasp of reality - the precision with which she holds herself, undone, unraveled, by her awe at your lack of composure. Is that hunger, lurking aback her words like cold fire? Desire? Nothing of your mortal dissolution makes sense to her, but she cannot tear herself from you.
You have emoted: The water rushes by in an endless and fathomless roar. Lin can't or won't move, given wholly to this strange and intimate act, having moved well past base instincts like fear and dread. She is instead the one mimicking Lin, her face slowly confirming to the same shape as Diantha's, wide-eyed and mouth ajar. There is simply no way for a mortal to read her face, all that comes through is astonishment. Her arm is tugged, ever so slightly, by incidental movements wherever the nymph should happen to touch. "I... I- I feel faint," she whispers, after an eternity, her eyes beginning to roll unhealthily back into the lids.[Her heart is slamming in her chest. She can feel an unbearable pressure in her throat and in the pit of her gut. It's too intimate, far too intense, as if this creature could bypass her sensory systems and communicate instead with her spinal column]
Her right hand stained irreversibly crimson, Diantha, a lunar nymph draws back her grasp. Silvery sparks dance about her as she does, ensuring that she disentangles herself with minimal difficulties. Even then, the stare stays, and her arm is so bloody - so Human - an unchanging constant affixed to her flat silver. Only once the contact is broken does her breath leave her in a rush, a starry stain in her cheeks. Mere mortal words fail her in the aftermath, though notes of surprise linger in her mirror visage, nose and lips and eyes all shifting, fluxing, through pale pastel hues.
You have emoted: Lin stumbles, nearly loosing her footing in the water, her hair tossed aside. The flesh, the organs, the bone, all retracts into her arm with horrible speed, acting upon her shoulder socket with what seems like tremendous, shaking force, until the whole grisly seam vanishes, leaving her flesh virgin, unsplit. Whatever message she had intended for Diantha, a lunar nymph seems to have been lost - instead she is left tottering on her feet, gazing at the nymph with anxious, wary eyes, her face drenched in red from cheek to brow.
You have emoted: "I-- I didn't think... y- you'd... touch it," Lin manages to stammer.
"I-" Diantha, a lunar nymph stops mid-word, lifting the ruby hand toward you. It still seethes, lacking any measure of stability, silvery blood racing along pinkish veins to illuminate the whole of the half-Human limb. Her voice has caught - to her surprise, she's choked upon tears, tears that come in a rush so sudden they're like the waterfall writ miniature. "I wanted to know how it worked." There's something naked, unguarded in the gaze with which she now fixes you. "I wanted to understand."
Diantha, a lunar nymph says, "If I don't, I can't be in the Court."
You have emoted: All Lin can do is stare back, transfixed, her brain struggling to crunch whatever figures, consult whatever facts and ideas, could be necessary to reframe Diantha, a lunar nymph, and make sense of this unearthly conversation. The mere sight of her crying makes her own eyes well up, misty and occluded with glistening tears. "It's... it's generative," she claims, "You taught me how to be like quicksilver. Diantha... I should be asking -you- how it works. I am only ever catching up...!""What do I do? Do I... hug her? Would she devour me?""She looks so freaked out..."
Diantha, a lunar nymph gives a shake of her head, so fierce and sudden that it's a wonder her visage isn't separated from her shoulders in the instant. Glittering tears fly out into nothing, spiraling downward toward whatever must lie so far, far beneath. She stares at her right hand, the flesh wavering as if threatening to give out. Instead, however, she holds its form - holds its humanity - and clasps it so a perfectly ordinary fist. "I don't know how to not."
Diantha, a lunar nymph says, "She said I take chaos for granted. She said I have to become more permanent to go past the Wood."
You have emoted: "But Diantha--" Lin closes in, acting on some impulse to come closer, but to approach Diantha, a lunar nymph is, to her, like trying to come near a cornered animal. She's close enough now to simply fling a wrist and flick the nymph, if she wanted, but all she can do is tremble nervously. "I don't understand. If-- if you're not permanent... then what am I?"
Diantha, a lunar nymph edges away - as though more than contented by the close contact from before. A ruddy stain marks the water where she strides, last lingering bits of your ichor drifting from her. First to shallower water, then shore, emerging in a flux of unsteady silver.
Diantha, a lunar nymph says to you, "How am I supposed to know what you are? I don't even know what I am, anymore."
You have emoted: "What do you want to be?" Lin calls out. Left alone in the stream, she must yell to be heard over the surge, and draperies of mist occlude the pair's vision of one another intermittently. "You have a name! You have to have a -self-, now!""Just please, gods above, not that form. I don't want to see my face."You glimpse her, through a curtain of rolling mist - glimpse her, just long enough to see her by other eyes. A roiling mass of rainbow, bound to the shape of a hound, wild-eyed, teeth bared. How many durances had she seen before, so bound? Summoned to the Prime by one Indorani or another, only to return and dissolve away into the sanguine seas of Golgotha's domain? Now she's shimmering and pale, a creature of silver through and through, indecisive and multifarious, faceted by mist. Only her eyes are the same, silvery and portentous.
"I want to be Her Princess," Diantha, a lunar nymph admits at long last. The words are leaden with dread, tense with terror, and she can scarcely speak them before she bolts deeper into the wood, unwilling to risk yet more of herself to your appraisal, your touch - unable to keep from fluxing while she remains in view.
You have emoted: Lin is rendered speechless, and unmoving, safe for a nearly invisible quiver in one of her hands as it rises to her throat. Tears roll down her cheeks, her crying spontaneous and completely unfelt, failing to resolve an expression on her face. Left alone in the river, she gazes into the air at nothing, seeming to peer into another world, sight unseen."I'll find your crown..."[She has abruptly decided, then and there, that she loves the creature.]
An immense, three-eyed rojalli opens his mouth in an enormous, soundless yawn, beginning to grow restless, a rare show of agency and individuality from the beast.
Knight Aisling dur Naya tells you, "All well, Miss dur Naya?"
You tell Aisling, "I just-- I need a moment..."
Knight Aisling dur Naya tells you, "Oh, okay."[There is no point in her moving, and no one to see her there, wading in dangerous waters like an idiot. She is lost wistfully in her head, her conscious thought a passive observer as subconscious mechanisms place new components into what has become a long-standing and vivid daydream. Her place in the Dreaming; her grotto, the one the moths lead her to, made for her; the days she would spend, engorged on color and music and sensation; and a piece of reality, stolen, gifted to Diantha...]