if you close your eyes; mallos

“Yes, I’m sure, Styx. I know what I saw.” The owl’s feathers ruffled indignantly as he twisted his head to glare at his fairy as she paced. She should have known. There had been hidden shadows in the glimpses of the future for the better part of a year now, and the contractual immortal one did have her ways of hiding. Secrets were easy enough for Styx to root out, but those secrets that were written in unbreakable contract magic were more difficult. Styx didn’t need another immortal one here checking up on her. They’d not been in contact with her since she allowed herself to come over into Shaman when the rest of the originals did. Of course, since then, she also hadn’t contacted them about what was going on either. Teamwork was not a strong point of their race.

But this was too far, and Styx had come to find value in this Podunk little world that Aura had made. She wasn’t always appreciated and the gods were still as annoying as they had been everywhere else, but there were more fairies here willing to accept her magical abilities and seek out answers for them. There also seemed to be a greater use for her magic than simply looking for knowledge for knowledge sake. Several fairies had found their rens through her. Her and not the original fairies who liked to think they were the only ones with access to that information. This was Styx’s abode now, and she was going to make sure to give Esther a piece of her mind.

The moment her feet landed on the soil, Noctis took off towards the mansion where he’d first seen the girl with the tags, where he’d seen many children with tags coming and going and walking through the house. As it came into view, he alighted on a branch near the front door, which Styx stormed up to and through without a knock or pause. When the large dog, Bane, greeted her with fury drooling from his jowls and wrinkled up lips showing his discolored teeth, she kicked him away. That much she had seen coming, and she hadn’t needed her magic to see it.

“Esther!” Styx called through the house, hearing it echo against the creeking walls and through the pits in the underbelly. The house was much larger than it appeared on the outside, magically enhanced with a similar spell to the one used in Poppins Bags. How else would she told so many children to power her magic? “Esther, you must leave Shaman. I have been here longer than you, and laid claim. Leave or face ruin.” It was as much a threat as it was a warning. Styx knew that there were powers here that none of the immortal ones would want to stand alone against. It was, in large part, why she begrudgingly stopped bugging the council about their laws regarding the immortal ones. She stopped bringing up the bans on the race from holding positions without the star chamber or the council because of the split soles and lost divinity, despite the immortal ones being nearly as old and nearly as powerful. If Esther didn’t leave, Styx would make sure the originals got rid of the hag for her.

Esther laughed at the words from deep in the house, where Styx couldn’t see her. “Do not pretend to prophesy at me, Styx. You wouldn’t give that away for free, which means you lie. Now leave.” The echo rumbled and wind, unlikely to be from Esther but perhaps a loyal servant, threw her back from the door and into the woods in a heap. The door shut.

Styx rose to her feet and brushed herself off as her familiar looked on.

“Very well then.”

She stormed through the castle trying to decide which of the new parent originals to put the fear of Esther into first. Although Styx had been a rather aloof parent, acting as more disappointed teacher to Gaiane than mother, there were stirrings that she knew parents would recognize. Rhaegar wouldn’t be much use. He might go in axe blazing, but with no weight behind him. Zed was a good possibility. He had children and Rana cared for everyone, it seemed, and Zed would have the might of the council behind him. Mallos, though. He had a new child and a new life. He had the diplomacy to drive the council to action, and he had the ear of the king to stop kidnappers who might come. Beyond that, Mallos had more children in this world than anyone else. Any part of his bloodline could find its way into Esther’s service and never come out. No, it was important to have a plan to go in and sort the intruder out, and a plan for what would become of the children after. The council had access to many worlds and could send some home. Others might not want to return, and perhaps Arthur would keep them then.

Decided, she strode with purpose through corridors and stairwells, twists and alleys until she arrived at his chambers. Not much interest in meeting the new child of his, Styx ignored what sounds made it through the wooden door and pounded against it with the side of her fist.

“We need to have a talk, Mallos” she said loudly as she could without yelling at him. It needed to be heard no matter where in the complex of rooms he was. Styx didn't think about what state the child might be in as she knocked, but she wasn't interested either. She dropped all the titles and epithets, all of the respectful idiosyncrasies that he would have seen straight through anyway. Styx wasn’t here to grovel for his aid and protection. She was here to convince him this was the right thing to do. Defeating, exiling Esther was the best course of action for him, his family and friends, and everyone else on Shaman.

if you close your eyes
photo by shyndarkly at flickr.com


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