Book VII Ch 5: Moon Eyes
Scenario Space,The Reverie
"It's been too long since we all had a nice little get-together," Nigel said glibly as he flitted across the scenarios withNefirian, their arms neatly intertwined-- not entirely by choice. "And all the better to have a chance to do it here, on your grounds, hmm?"
"I'd hardly consider the entirety of the Reverie to be 'my grounds'," theChaptersaid cautiously, watching as the world around them spun and rippled, flashing through forest and desert, mountain and sky, trees and clouds shifting and melting away to reveal towers of shining gumdrops and pits threatening to swallow them up forever.
"There are places here where my kin and I don't wander, just as in Valenth proper, and I'm comfortable keeping it that way.
I've never been one for trying to take over a world, be it a world of dreams or otherwise."
"Fair enough, fair enough. Still, you'll be among friends today. No worries, eh?"
"Yeah," Nef lied. "Friends. No worries."
The Reverie grew calm and still at last as a plain of endless golden grass spread wide around them.
Nigel clicked his tongue, shielding his face from the brutal sunlight. "This's the place. Now, let's see if I can still do this. You ready?"
Despite its reputation as a chaotic, constantly-shifting realm, the Reverie had its static places, hidden far behind the Scenario lands. Dreamers would never wander this way on their own, leaving the native Revere to carry out their duties away from the eyes of outsiders.
The savannah was a place Nef had never wandered across; he tended to remain in the deeper forests, and caverns where the sunlight rarely struck earth.
He watched cautiously as brilliant flashes of pure color danced through the fields.
"Let's just go, Nigel. I don't feel... welcome here."
"As you wish, sire," the old man said, rolling the syllables around on his tongue.
Raising his hand, he murmured a few magic words and spun on his heel--
--and as quickly as they had come to the savannah, they were whisked away again, standing within the center of a great temple carved of sand-colored stone.
Hundreds of odd, leonine people rose their heads to gaze at the newcomers from outside of the circle, eyes narrowed with distrust and teeth bared in threat.
The hair on the back of Nef's neck stood on end-- something unpleasant was here.
Something worse than these cats.
"Here, puss puss puss," Nigel cooed. "Don't be shy, Uncle Nigel's here."
"...and you come bearing trash, I see. Why?"
"... Nigel, I'm going to kill you if this is your idea of a prank," Nefirian hissed, watching in poorly-disguised horror asVagarystepped forth onto the platform to tower over them. The Dreamwaker and the elemental lord exchanged venomous stares.
"Ohhh, do you two know each other already? And here I was thinking I'd get to introduce you!"
"Step aside, Artemio. I intend to finish what I started earlier," Vagary snarled.
"I wouldn't touch the cute little creampuff if I were you, Vaig. And it's Nigel, by the way," he added.
The beast was unamused. "What sort of name is--"
"HEY. Not your place. Call me by my name, or don't call me, kapeesh? People are so damned rude. It's not about what you want for me, it's about what I want for me.
Anyway, I brought you a present, so shut up and leave 'im alone."
The enormous magic elemental sighed impatiently, oblivious to the fat Aeneski as he stuck his tongue out at him behind his back. "Well?"
Nigel carefully removed a tiny black bat from his coat, letting the creature flutter into the air briefly before settling on the floor nearby.
It groomed itself briefly, then sat up on all fours, and the room seemed to bend and distort around it.
With a triumphant, keening shriek, the little bat transformed into an immense and shining violet dragon, her hide glimmering with thousands of tiny golden stars.
Aeneski and elemental alike gazed up at her, cowed.
"...fucking Dreamwaker," Nef swore unironically.
Vagary moved to kneel before the Elysian goddess, visibly shaken.
"Ch-chira. Is it truly you? I believed you long gone, with the others. How..?"
"Patience," she said softly. "Far too much patience. Come to me."
He did, gently kissing her claw. "Are the others... isMaena..?"
"No, my pet. The others are long dead. I'm so sorry."
The corner of Nigel's mouth twitched ever so slightly.
"Vagary, I have been ill since our people fell. Nigel has been helping me recover enough to return to the material world again someday, but disaster has struck, and I require your aid.
And the aid of the little creature here, as well," she said, gesturing towards Nef with her head.
Vagary followed her gaze, scowling. "Why him? Do you have any idea what he's done to the world? He is no better than Symphoni was... if not worse! I beg you, Night-Queen, let me kill him and be done with it!"
"No!" Nigel shouted, and everyone turned to stare at him. Nefirian blushed faintly.
"...we need him," he elaborated meekly.
"As I stated," Chira said calmly, "I need both of you if I am to recover fully. Nigel recently attempted to recover theEyeso that I might absorb it... however, he was intercepted byDilndrou, who corrupted the crystal and broke it into fragments.
We were able to obtain and purify only a few, and the remainder are missing."
"What's this Eye thing, if you'll excuse the interruption?" Nef asked, raising an eyebrow.
"It's an oldElysianartifact, used to create the gods. We were hoping to find it and use it to restore Chira-- and possibly the others," Nigel added at Vagary's glance, "but Dilndrou apparently caught wind of it and decided to seize it for his own use.
It's all but lost to us now."
The Dreamwaker narrowed his eyes. "Of course.
He only recently attacked my son in an attempt to draw me out and demand I hand theFatis Mirajinover to him, and attempted to kill me when I refused. He's gone mad!"
"It's true. If not for me, the old alligator would have done him in for certain," Nigel said matter-of-factly to his goddess.
"With the other gods gone, no doubt the Avatars have taken up their own agendas," Vagary growled. "It was Inneglio's bear who banished me again when I freed myself from the God-Emperor's spell at last.
There is no telling what Dilndrou may have planned... but that still does not excuse the damage this Mirajin has done to the material realmandour world!"
Chira shook her head. "Calm yourself, Vagary.
A little planar disruption is nothing that cannot be healed once the mother leupak's mission has been completed.
What we need is an even dispersal of energies to reverse your ancestors' manipulations."
Vagary's face grew dark.
"With all due respect, milady... I choose not to acknowledge those ties. I serve only the gods, now and forever--"
"And so you shall continue.
The Elysians' mistakes do not change the fact that they are responsible for my own creation and your transformation, Vagary. Shunning the elysians and thechimaerawill not burn away your lineage."
Nef frowned, eyeing Vagary curiously; he dared not voice his thoughts, but the goddess followed his eyes.
"Vagary as you see him now was enchanted by my twin sister, Maena. He is the elemental lord of arcane magic, but he was once merely a chimaera-- born of a union between elysian andvareli, the feline creatures which surround us.
He detested his form, and so in return for eternal loyalty to my sister, she recreated him to her liking."
Vagary closed his eyes and hissed in quiet fury.
Nefirian nodded his thanks to the violet dragon and edged slightly closer to her, certain the magical beast would smear him across the floor if he asked so much as a single question out of line.
"So the chimaera are descendants of the elysians? Hybrids, even? That explains why breeding them yields such chaotic results."
"Chimaera are wastes of flesh and an affront to the majesty of the vareli," Vagary spat. "Elysians are little better, though they at least managed to summon the spirits of the planet in their ignorance."
"They're crude and violent at times, yes," Nef thought aloud, "but isn't everyone? I find them pleasant enough.
Granted, it took a great deal of mental showmanship to convince them to bend the knee when they came to conquer my country, but I can hardly blame the modern people for the actions of a past ruler.
"Even less so when he died by... well, his own hand, if you want to be technical," he added grimly.
Vagary eyed him. "If the chimaera were bested by a creature such as you, you deserve one another."
"You're too kind," Nef said icily.
"Children," Chira sighed, rising to her feet. "I have kept my young charge waiting for too long; I should like to return to tending to her studies. I trust the two of you will refrain from violence in my absence?"
"Of course," Nef said, somehow less than convinced Vagary would agree.
"How isOpusdoing, lady?" he added hopefully.
"Poorly, if I am honest. She learns slowly and brokenly, at best; she will never take up magic.
Your crystal has all but consumed her mind, and what remains is more suited to wild dreaming than supporting a creature of her sort in any true semblance of life."
"...what do you mean by that?" His tone was cautious. "She just needs some extra time, and--"
But Chira was unsympathetic. "She is in an unfortunate state, as the last surviving member of her race.
I would warn you to make your peace with her while you can."
"You just don't understand her. She's perfectly fine-- make my peace? What are you even saying?! Chira!"
"Be merciful," she said simply. "We will speak again soon. But later."
And with that, the dragon-goddess withered away into a tiny, insignificant bat once more.
Nigel carefully retrieved her and placed her safely in his breast pocket, and nodded to the Chapter and the elemental.
"Nefirian, Vagary? It's been fun.
Remember, we're all on the same team now. No violence! Peace and love!"
Laughing, he exploded into a cloud of inky smoke and drifted through the temple windows on an idle breeze.
As the vareli watched with unfriendly, hungry eyes, Vagary glowered down at the fat little elf.
"I like this not, make no mistake.
If you step out of line, if you anger my goddess, or if you test my patience... I will kill you without hesitation or remorse.
Chira can find another hero if she wishes."
The Dreamwaker closed his eyes and spread his cape behind him, white brocade fabric and skin fusing and stretching into a pair of great wings as his body swelled and his face grew monstrous and blunt.
Fully transformed, he met Vagary's baleful gaze eye to eye, his fleshy spines flaring atop his thick, scaly neck.
"Try if it pleases you then, by all means," he purred, his three eyes shining bright with anger.
"It will never be like it was inAensdounagain."
And with a flick of his wings, theWhite Boralionlaunched himself through the temple ceiling and into the skies beyond, showering Vagary and his servants in shards of glass.
Next Chapter: Book VII Chapter VI
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