Context: Mati is a Beyam (GR1) of the Shamans and wanted to learn a bit more about how to conduct a proper ritual. Sib calls on her to meet him at the Blood Tree, in the Temple of Thorns, where he's currently covered in @Illidan
Oh yeah! Boybatti is new. Here's his desc:
He is a typical Azudim of Mhun heritage and has a slight and narrow frame, with androgynous and pretty features that put him in a more feminine aesthetic. His build is lanky but not tall, slender without being muscular, and a way of bearing that speaks of disinterest. His ashen skin is colorless and darkly freckled, its umber shades captured in sharp angles cut by sleek contours of the face. A brooding look results from a persistently cool steely-eyed and glassy glare, unapologetically pouty with feminine lips that puff out slightly. A tousle of generously wild hair wreaths his angular face in a chaos of skysilver hues, shot through with lines of pale pink and purple and surrounding his face like a perpetual storm of blown strands. Cresting amidst it are two horns of charcoal, spiraling out to crown his head like some noble demon prince. Down his dark flesh are painted tattoos of various background and make: a set of Teshen scripture along the inside of either leg, parallel formations of pointillism inside either arm, and a formation of sweeping curlicues and jagged lines like inky liner around either eye. His fists and feet end in wicked dark claws, kept sharp, a black stain against his flesh creeping inward to ghost into ash. Like an afterthought, a slender and snakelike tail follows him at great length, ending in a riot of quetzal feathers of distractingly vibrant hues, far too colorful for his perpetually-disappointed bearing.The Blood Tree.The rain pours down beneath the darkness of night, the clouds blotting out the heaven and stars.
(resting on his bare chest) : a gruesome pendant
(tucked into the boots) : tailored, boot-tucked charcoal trousers
(vertically slit within the forehead) : a pale and otherworldly thirdeye
(through the lower lip) : an aventurine labret
(form-fitting to the legs) : stretchy knee-high boots of black suede
(casting a shadow over his eyes) : a female Yeleni skull with broken horns
(wispy and worn open) : a sheer black robe with occultic symbols in lace
(veil lifted from his face) : the black-veiled crown of the Watcher
(coiled around a forearm) : a pebbly black snake
The jungle parts around the base of this towering, red tree. Its trunk is shattered into perhaps a dozen stalks, from lightning or some other power that can only be guessed. From the splintered wood pours blood-red sap, spilling onto the soil and through the foliage of the garden. The leaves still flourish in the branches however, glistening crimson in the sun as though frozen perpetually in their autumn colour. The sap and wood are both warm to the touch, though the leaves appear rather dangerous - rigid sharp edges have sliced through plants where they have fallen. It seems possible to climb up the widest split in the trunk into the upper limbs of this tall tree, where the growth forms a natural chamber sheltered from the elements. You see exits leading east, southwest, west, and northwest.
Your pose is now set as:
Sibatti stands before the Blood Tree, face and chest streaked with stripes of fresh blood.
Mati enters from the east, riding a majestic white stag.
She is followed by a cougar spirit.
She is a wise Mhun barely five feet tall, her figure dark-skinned and modestly feminine. She hasMati braces the butt of her staff to the ground and uses it as an extra support as she slides from the back of her stag, the creature dancing a few paces away with its lightened load.
large, sea green eyes, with thick lashes and dark eyebrows to match her black hair; an unkempt braid is pulled to the right and it is thick, coarse, and long, reaching nearly to her waist. Her nose is a strong feature, slightly hooked in profile, and her full lips are naturally somewhat downturned at the corners. A splash of a burn scar stunts her right ear and tightens the skin of her squared jaw, neck, and chest as a wound long since healed as best as it could.
(slung over a shoulder) : a worn traveller's pack
(snug and dirt-stained) : a pair of ruddy, fitted hide breeches
(obscuring the face) : a defiant, snarling bone mask
(worn on a finger) : 4 silver rings
(fitted and sparsely tarnished) : aureate ringmail studded with sun motifs
(concealing her neck scarring) : an engraved gorget with a scalemail mantle
(cutting across the chest) : a ruddy-stained leather pauldron
(secured within pauldron strappings) : a draping fur mantle
(affixed at her hip) : a medicinal pouch for ritual offerings
(protecting her feet) : reinforced ruddy leather leg wraps
(tightly cinched) : a sloe-blue leather belt with a silver ring
(on her left earlobe) : a curved claw piercing
(through the upper bridge of the nose) : a barbell of lustrous bronze
(a labret piercing) : a carved bone piercing
Mati gracefully hops off of a majestic white stag.Looking from your blood-streaked figure to roam up the dominating figure of the Tree, Mati says, "Oh."
You have emoted: The nonchalant demeanor Sibatti has makes the entire situation look as if this were just another Gosday for him, catching sight of Mati's entrance with a casual, "Ah, hey." There is a bowl half-filled with older blood and a bone-covered book in his hands. You've either walked in on something very interesting, or something very boring - it's impossible to tell.
Her attention reverts to you, and Mati slides the mask up and off her face, resting atop her head. She hesitates, and the uncertainty splits her greeting into half a bend at the waist, and half a raising jostle of her staff that sends the fetishes strung upon it clattering. "It's a..most apt choice for a ritual location. Beautiful." Her tone is soft, either in reverence or fear of some unknown predator bigger than she.
You have emoted: Sibatti doesn't make many sacrifices in favor of approachability, every bit of him looking well-suited for what appears to be an unholy sacrifice of some variety. But his eyes are calm, some anchor of normalcy, and the most expressive thing about him: their default state is to appear disappointed or bored, but there is still a warmth and an intensity buried deep inside. "I agree. It is especially apt for a number of reasons. Beyond the obvious....."
Glancing westward, you say, "The Blood Tree is paired with the Altar of Destruction - and I am its Fang. This is the domain of the Hunter, if that was not apparent."
"It was," Mati agrees, "but I was not aware of your part in it, Watcher. That must mean you are the chosen one for that aspect, but what does that mean of you?" The little Mhun seems wholly unbothered by your suggestion of aloofness, eager to press her questions all the same. She settles onto her knees, legs tucked under her and her rump resting on her heels.
You have emoted: "Ah." Comprehension flickers over Sibatti's face, and he glances helplessly down at hands, which are both full, like he wanted to set them down but couldn't. "What I really am is the Fang of the Serpent, his aspect of Destruction. It means I represent that aspect of the Hunter, and it makes me one of His chosen three. There is also a Claw of the White Bear - Severity - and an Eye of the Raven... Defiance. As for what it means to me...." He straightens his neck, staring straight forward instead of looking at Mati. "I suppose no one's ever asked me that."Mati echoes, "Oh," with a blink. Your words soak in for a quiet moment longer, the outer edges of her good ear suffusing with redness as her gaze casts downward. "Sorry." She digs a fingernail idly into the wood of her staff, picking at it with nervous energy while she looks up at you again. "What is this ritual to be, then? A gift to the Serpent?"
You have emoted: This is an easier thing for Sibatti to speak to, and he glances back to Mati again with an easygoing expression. "In a way. It is an offering of our Listener's blood. He is being tested in strength and mind, and in suitability for the Hunter's fold." He takes a step closer to one of the forked limbs of the split trunk - even a fraction of the tree towers over his form - and begins to paint a symbol after dabbing his index and middle finger into the bowl of blood, spreading it over the bark like paint.
It's possible to gauge by the sound of her weight shifting that Mati leans forward eagerly, the strength of her focus an almost palpable burning on the back of your working hand. "Where did you get the blood from?" comes the voice from behind you, nearly drowned out in the rolling thunder.
You have emoted: "Oh, he offered it freely when I asked," Sibatti answers, easily and casually. The shape he makes on the Blood Tree's bark appears to be some letter of an alphabet that isn't recognizable as any Sapient or Albedi language. "He doesn't know why, but those are the moments you get to enjoy sometimes, as a leader." There's obvious humor in his voice even if his face isn't currently visible.
The sound of Mati's soft snicker mingles with the slowly receding plinking of fat rain drops against the bone mask on her head. Wresting her attention away for a bit, she resituates the fur mantle on her shoulders and ducking a bit under it, providing more protection against the damp, early morning chill. And then she's back to watching you work with as best an approximation of studied patience as she seems to be able to muster - which is to say, you still can detect the scratch of a nail against wood.Mati just thought:
Hm, this mantle smells like wet dog.
Mati just thought:
I wonder what that symbol means.
You have emoted: By the time Sibatti has finished, a number of runic letters have been spelled out onto the Blood Tree, still unrecognizable by anything Mati would easily know. He turns about-face, leaving the shattered trunk and stepping a few paces away where he gently sets the bowl on the ground. It's close enough that Mati would be able to see that he's used up most of the blood, the remnants of which paint the inside of the wood like a coat of crude and messily-applied paint.In explanation, you say, "In ritual, we can be more precise in our work by considering the where, the when, and the who. Not all of these factors need to be considered every time, but if you can benefit from the precision, or it's meaningful in some way, it's recommended."
Continuing on, you say, "In this case, we have the 'who' and the 'where'. The when is less important, maybe, but I'll be sure to note when it happens in the event something goes awry..."Mati's eyes are bright under the cowl of fur, and she nods once, accepting the explanation perhaps blessedly without question.You say, "And I have covered the purpose of the ritual already, but it might be helpful to also explain that this is not strictly a ritual to benefit the Praadi, even though it aligns on several spokes, as it does involve our Listener. What I am getting at here, is that a ritual does not need to be penned in exclusively to benefit our work as Shamans alone... it is very normal to oversee efforts that are personal in nature."
With another nod, Mati says, "Yes. I have a purpose in mind for my first ritual, but I am new to the craft still, and so I am..unsure how to express it."
You have emoted: Remaining kneeled, Sibatti trades a shrunken head for several cuttings from his pouch, drawing out a few sprigs of things you could easily identify as reishi and a piece of a cactus plant, amoungst a few greens that seem too generic to be readily identifiable. "But it is Haernos, too, so that is something to be cognizant of. I am in the practice of being mindful of the seasons... the placement of the stars.. all of these small ways that the earth tugs at us, deep in our bones." His tone is one of instruction, and so his expression is carefully schooled.You think:
[He realizes just how boring he must sound].Mati shifts a bit in her spot, easing to the side and giving her toes a rest from their readied stance to lean against her arm instead. The rings of her armour jingle slightly with the movement. "What does it mean, what you painted? I do not recognize the script."
You have emoted: "It is an old tongue only spoken in places like this. The closest translation describes pain turning into strength," Sibatti tells Mati, arranging the offerings in the bowl in no particular layout. "The herbs I have chosen for their knack for drawing energy into the earth, as I hope to draw the Listener's blood deeply therein. And, last but most certainly not least....." He brings his fingers to the ground, bloodstains already drying, and the coiled snake around his arm begins to slowly unwind and descend to the earth.
You have emoted: Sibatti patiently waits for the snake to leave his arm, the small animal encircling the bowl and staring alertly with its tiny, beaded eyes.
Mati's gaze drops to the snake, following its advancement and subsequent coiling with bald curiosity. She waits, breathing stilling in anticipation.In explanation, softly, you say, "This completes the physical preparation for the ritual. My objects, anything that I feel would attune its energy in a favorable way."
You have emoted: Sibatti stands again, rising smoothly and by utilizing the minimal movements required. The Haruspex journal is held between both hands now, leafing through the pages and searching for something. "Now for the words. The words only have the power you give them. It is something like spoken prayer."With a slight nod, Mati demonstrates her understanding.
You have emoted: "This is the part where most struggle, but it is really very simple," Sibatti explains, arriving at a page midway through the early section of the book. "We are not magicians casting spells, after all.... there is no combination of syllables and consonants that unlock anything perfectly... all we are doing here is channeling our energy, speaking things so that someone might listen, and might favor us with an answer."Mati's lips part a touch, on the verge of saying something, but she only nods mutely instead. Where words are absent, there is something alight in her, echoing in the way she straightens her posture and digs her hand into the earth beneath it, quite literally grounding herself.
You have emoted: Sibatti dips his chin minutely in Mati's direction, the most you'll get out of him it seems, and turns back to face the Blood Tree with bowl and serpent at his feet. "Your Fang invites your energy and spirit to connect with the Listener whose blood you wear," he says, apparently speaking to the tree itself. "In these days where we rest, before the end of Haernos, before the breath of this year gasps its end, a question remains."Mati's gaze falls once again to the bowl, and her brow furrows. She glances up at you, back down again, back up again, then the girl half scrabbles forward, dipping two fingers into the mixture. Here she pauses, waiting for some further inclination--or disinclination--one way or the other.
A lightning bolt streaks down from the skies, full of fury and anger.
A light rain wets your surroundings, falling pleasantly around you.
You have emoted: "From his veins to your roots, deep into the bowels of your creation. May our dark moon move it inward and through your culling of the Rhythm..." If Sibatti notices Mati's fidgeting, he does not acknowledge it. The snake moves over her hand as if it were just another object to slither over, dutifully engaged in the process. "The veil is thin; reveal it to me."It's an open enough invitation, it seems, as Mati lifts the dabbed fingers to her and paints very simplistic marks on her own skin, mimicking as faithfully as she can those that Sibatti has streaked on himself. The replication is far from perfect, but the spirit is there, a small smile touching her lips as she stills again to listen. Still drawn up on one knee, she plants her quarterstaff to the earth, leading smudges on the wood with her grip.
You have emoted: Without an iota of warning, Sibatti puts his quarterstaff into his hands and turns, summoning lightning directly at Mati's feet!
You start to wield a Shamanic quarterstaff in your hands.
You use Primality Lightning on a pebbly black snake.
(Damage done: 0, electric, magical)
A lightning bolt streaks down from the skies, full of fury and anger.Mati yelps, scrambling back inelegantly and falling backward into the leaves and dirt. She looks up at you, prone and rapidly getting drenched in the rain, the heart-hammering fear contorting her face highlighted dramatically by the crack of your lightning and those above.
You have emoted: The lightning channeled from Sibatti's staff streams into the snake, and not Mati, even though she sat terribly close to the entire thing. The electric jolt is seemingly absorbed into the snake harmlessly, though it does have a bit more of a pep in its proverbial step afterward, its perpetual looping path around the bowl taken at a quicker pace now. The Azudim's brows raise mildly, signaling his surprise at Mati's close call, but he is not interrupted from his work.Raising the staff up in solidarity with the furious storm, you say, "Speak to me your terrible and awesome judgment! Reveal it to me!"Mati blinks rapidly a handful of times, fighting the swirl of fear, indignation, and pure adrenaline-fueled laughter that threatens to overwhelm her all at once. Slowly, carefully, and definitely with more than a touch of reproach as she glances at the intended target, she rights herself and continues watching, the marks she made nearly unrecognizable and drizzling away into the crease of her gorget.
You have emoted: Sibatti is less impacted by the downpour; the veil he wears covers all but the extensive, snake-like tail that drapes over the ground in repose. Through it, you can see the blood streaks over his chest and face have taken on an eerie, fell glow tinted a sickly green. Should Mati tear her gaze away from the Azudim, she would see the blood in the bowl has taken on a similar quality, tinting the interior as well as the proffered herbs.
Mati gathers her furs over her head again, doing her best to shield herself from looking too much like a drowned rat. Still, with the moisture the mantle is taking on, there is the unmistakable smell of wet dog lacing on the air now. As her pulse calms, she seems more easily settled into the atmosphere of the ritual again, soaking in the fell glow of the mixture, the dramatic underscoring of thunder, the exclamation points of lightning cracks. The previous emotions melt away with the last smears of her paint, their own glow sputtering and muted, looking up at you with only admiration and awe.
As the last of twilight fades, the stars become visible in the vault of the heavens, shining down upon the land.
You have emoted: As the stars reveal themselves finally, Sibatti lowers his arms as if he were deflating, his chin dropped as he turns to examine the bowl with an expectant and eager look. He catches Mati's look only long enough to stall his movement, dipping back down to seize both bowl and snake back into his possession.
You carefully gather a pebbly black snake into your arms.Glancing at you, you say, "This is the gift we have been given in return - a chance to enter the spiral of her stars, the dreams of her portal."Mati seems jarred by the sudden flurry of movement, confusion evident on her face as she hurries to her feet if only to echo the deliberate haste with which you act. "I...how do we do that?"
You have emoted: "She is the wisest of seasons, winter...." This is spoken like a prayer, reverently, as Sibatti lifts away the front of his veil to better examine the bowl's contents, dipping his finger in exploration. "This is the way of the Haruspex, Beyam. Traditionally, it is done with the blood of an animal. Deviations from what is tried and true are risky, but I encourage you to try."Mati nods, watching, her gaze growing furtive with the prospect of seeing you unveiled. After only a beat, she turns her chin sharply out of some guttural urge of respect that even she doesn't seem to quite fully grasp, as her lids flutter with the effort not to look again.
You have emoted: In the short span that Mati would be able to see Sibatti's face clearly, she would see an expression as dour and downturned as his overall nature - whether it's permanently like that or not is unknown to you. He inspects the contents of the bowl with scrutiny, pushing the contents of the bowl around with his digits, ocasionally drawing them out to examine the effect the mixture has on his terribly long claws. "Hm..... interesting."Mati's pupil drifts to the corner of her eye, chin downcast, struggling to see and not see all at once. "What does it say?" she asks, almost breathless with eagerness.
You have emoted: "Interpretation is an art of its own, in haruspicy," Sibatti explains for Mati's benefit. "Here, I have an answer, but what I read from it might be different from what another might read. Such is the imprecise nature of what we do... the portent here speaks of something significant and .. unthinkable." He frowns at the bowl. "Maybe even impossible."Mati edges up closer to you, craning herself as much as she can in an attempt to peer inside the bowl. She frowns, far more out of concentration and attempt of divination than of displeasure. "Impossible?" she repeats, barely a whisper. "Is the Listener to be harmed?"
You have emoted: Sibatti lowers the bowl so that Mati may more easily view its contents. "Harm is not in the cards, but risk... struggle... most certainly is. What I see is some eventual awakening. A journey. His path will have some great impact, spilling over, but the precise details are not for me to know. Not yet, at least..." The grip of his claws on the underside of the bowl tightens, threatening small ruts in the wood.
Mati hums her concern, brow remaining knit as she eases back down on her feet proper. "Do you tell him of this?" she wonders, "Or is it a journey to be had untampered?"
You have emoted: "Now you are thinking with the wisdom of Srahda," Sibatti says to Mati. Briefly, his countenance lightens, the downturned corners of his lips reversing into a blink-and-you-miss-it smile, though not so far as to show any teeth. "Our vision is a gift. What we choose to do with it is our mission."
Your words seem to both please and frustrate Mati. She tightens her grip on her staff, thinking long and hard in silence. Finally, she says, "She tore the gauze from my eyes, in returned gift for my offering. But I have never felt much wiser." It's a confession tinged with disappointment. "I want to live up to her expectations--I will," she corrects with a shuddering breath, "but how, when even inaction is a choice that sways outcomes one way or the other?"
You have emoted: The bowl and ritual are both forgotten for the moment as Sibatti rewards Mati with the full weight of his attention. His gaze is heavy, and leaves no room for scurrying beneath it, nowhere to avoid its intensity. "Perhaps that is a question you should ask of her," is his suggestion, his pseudo-feminine voice free of the same weight.
Mati does not shrink from your scrutiny--on the contrary, she seems to draw herself up all the taller, and resolves succinctly, "Yes." She thinks on this a moment longer before adding, "Thank you, Watcher. I think I...well. I understand more now." Her chin lifts with her gaze, then, as far up the Blood Tree as she can comfortably manage. The young Mhun does not shy from the raindrops then, either. "I did not expect to find one of us as the leader of the new home I claimed. But I am glad for it. Very glad. I don't know much of my heritage, in truth--I did not grow up with the kin. Did you?"
You have emoted: This is an unexpected question, and gives Sibatti just as much pause as the question that was asked of him earlier. He is just as ill-prepared to answer it now. "Ah.... I did, in fact. The old home in the mountain, beneath Bloodloch's heel, even. A story for another time, though, if you would afford me it. I promised my wife I would make her some tea to ease her ills." It does not seem likely for the Azudim to lie, as earnest and apologetic as his gaze is now.
Hastily, Mati says, "Oh, of course. I do not mean to take any more of your time. I only..." Mati pauses, nervous again, but giddily so this time. "I have a proper name, too. Matiyentesh. That's all." She nearly swells with the pride of it, adding, "I only wanted you to know it. Know that I have one."
You have emoted: "Matiyentesh," Sibatti repeats, the Mhun word arriving naturally on his tongue. It softens his features, something reflective of a deep inner peace summoned by the exchange. "Esrytesh," he says with a lift of his hand, fingers draping elegantly over his bare, blood-stained chest. "I will remember - and we will speak more on this again."