2018-05-06: Faces of the Goddess
- Cutscene: Faces of the Goddess
- Cast: Neriah Parringer
- Where: ????
- Date: May 6, 2018
- Summary: Caught in a place of madness, a Hyland soldier makes a plea to Althena.
Reality had come unhinged around him. It had begun to unhinge Mederic de Courcey, too.
All his training as a soldier in the service of the Army of Hyland - all his discipline - none of them were up to the task of facing what he faced. What he felt. The way his nightmares seemed to scratch their way out of his soul and weave themselves into a world that no longer made sense. The way things followed him in his peripheral vision but eluded him when he turned his head.
Horrible things. Things he could barely describe without breaking down into tears. Things reft out of the old fears of his youth - terrors from a troubled childhood, scars of rejection, the laughter of mocking peers. The things he didn't want to remember.
Things that the young soldier confronted the only way he could.
By backing himself up against a wall with his sword drawn, tears standing in his eyes as he stared into chaos and nonsense. Waited for it to come to him. Or for the madness to take him, as it had taken Sergeant Bazile and the other members of his scouting party. Or perhaps it had already taken root in him - pouring fuel into the whirling morass of fear swelling in his chest, flooding his veins with racing blood, driving his breathing to a rapid hurricane that rushed in his ears. In, out, in, out.
"Althena," he gasped, clasping his free hand to his chest and bowing his head. All that could save him now was the Goddess. "Please... please, help me...."
"You have been tested."
The quiet but clear voice of a woman echoed around him, from everywhere and nowhere. With a yelp, Mederic dropped his weapon, his green eyes wide and wild. "Who's there?!" he shouted, though he could hear his voice breaking with something between panic and shock. A tiny corner of his mind clung to the unreal hope that Althena herself may have actually heard him.
Brilliant white danced through the flickering madness before him. It swelled suddenly, pouring from a source several feet in front of him. The starkness of the pale hue forced Mederic to shield his eyes with his arm, dropping his guard and wincing.
"And yet, you have it within yourself to appeal to the most high," came the woman's voice, low and throaty. The light shifted subtly, the intensity of it waning, revealing the figure of a woman in the snowy cloak and dress of one of Althena's Priestesses. The deep drape of her hood shielded her eyes from view.
She held one slender hand out towards Mederic, fingers curling slightly.
"There are those in life who receive more than their share of fear and sadness," the priestess intoned. "This I see in you. Those fears have brought you here, to this place... girt in the arms of a soldier. You carry the scars you have borne and gird them in steel.
"But they emerge so easily," murmured the priestess as she stepped slowly forward. Mederic's lips trembled as he felt the woman's fingers brushing across his cheek, then moving down to take his chin, as if to still the way he shook.
"Do you wish to be free of your fear?"
Mederic swallowed the lump in his throat, trying to find her eyes in those hooded shadows. He could find only the most subtle glint of some pale colour - like a glint of orchid behind glass. "P-priestess," he breathed, trying in vain to batten down the panic and madness. "Please... please... I don't want to be afraid...!"
She seemed to digest the answer, staring into his face from behind that shadow. And then, blood-red lips curved into a small, slow smile.
"There are paths you can walk that will show you faces of the Goddess you never knew existed," she murmured as a subtle energy began to flicker around her. A ghostly light radiated down her arms, tracing through her fingers. Mederic could feel the way it tingled as it touched his skin - began to flood into him, like cold air. He breathed in slowly; felt his heartbeat beginning to slow.
"Walk them with me," the Priestess uttered.
As his breathing leveled off, Mederic closed his eyes a moment, finding himself a moment's solidity in her presence. A foothold in a storm.
"Yes," he murmured, opening eyes that danced with sparks of red.