there's no earthly way of knowing

TW: Aura's posts invariably contain strong death themes.

For I had believed what I was sold, I did all the things that I was told
But all that has changed, and now I'm bold.

Aura leant her staff carefully against the wall, bracing herself for the automatic wardrobe shift. Her floaty, ice-blue robes vanished, replaced with the greyed-out shorts and tank top she’d died in. She slipped her hands into her pockets and surveyed the small, poky room with her mouth set in a grim line.

“I didn’t even know the Granadan penthouse had an office.” She told the cat.

Sperantia, who was sat bolt upright beside the lit fireplace, tend her head to observe the newcomer. Her Siamese blue eyes reflected the flickering firelight, flashing briefly.

“Neither did I until a few weeks ago.” She admitted. “To be honest, I don’t know if it even existed before.”

The room certainly had the air of one which had been squeezed into a space which didn’t really exist, probably by magic. It was big enough only for a relatively small desk in front of the only wall with a window, a fireplace opposite, a small armchair and a rug. Aged books in a variety of languages were stacked neatly on the mantelpiece, above which hung a photograph of a cheetah running across a dry grassland. Aura smiled slightly at the sight of the picture. Mallos didn’t like animals, but he’d’ve been fascinated by the movement of the cheetah’s body.

Mallos himself was slumped over the desk, his head resting against one of his arms. The other arm was bent at an angle over a half-written document, the pen still resting in his slack hand. Aura couldn’t read the document from where she was stood, but she could see that it was composed in the ancient language, the official language of the Council of Originals.

“He doing alright?” Aura checked with Sperantia, lifting her eyebrows slightly. The cat sighed.

“Never thought I’d say this,” she answered grimly, glancing over at the desk, “but I think Mallos is over-working.”

Aura nodded, taking a couple of steps towards the desk so that she could peer down at the papers scattered across it. The mess of paperwork was a clear sign, if nothing else, that something was wrong: Mallos always kept his desk tidy. She could empathise. The role of Chairman – even Acting Chairman – wasn’t one she’d wish on her worst enemy. She’d barely seen him, not since…

“Have you found Arthur yet?” Sperantia’s voice was cautiously hopeful but her ears dipped when Aura sighed by way of explanation. “You will.” The cat added confidently. “You found your way back to the Realm of the Living. You can find one king in the Realm of the Dead.” She paused. “It’s not your fault.”

Removing her hands from her pockets, Aura leant over and picked up her scythe again. As her clothes shifted back into the Reaper’s robes, she frowned at the metal blade, twisting it so that it caught the light of the flames.

“Be honest,” she said solemnly. “Is all this work really necessary, or is he just avoiding me?”

Sperantia released a little sigh of her own.

“He didn’t fall asleep on purpose because he knew you were coming, if that’s what you’re asking.” She answered with a hint of resignation. “But I do think he’s avoiding a lot of people right now, you and me both included.”

Aura ran her thumb down the length of the staff. It quivered minutely under her fingers, alerting her of half a dozen upcoming deaths – and one, very distant voice, blurred beyond distinction by space. A medium calling for her attention. Aura gripped the staff tighter, preparing to swing it, and glanced back at her friend’s familiar for the final time.

“It’s not your fault either.” She reassured her, before swinging the scythe and leaping through the resultant portal into the grey, smoky world between the realms of life and death.

The Realm Between Realms, Aura had learned, was the best place to go to hear the call of the dying or the magical across any of the worlds of the living or the dead. Pushing the end of her staff into the grey, loose soil, she gripped it tightly with both hands and closed her eyes, pushing aside the upcoming deaths to hone in on the medium’s request. From here, it was clearer, easier to recognise.

She hesitated.

Mallos wasn’t the most open of people at the best of times but he had, usually, confided in her. Few of his secrets were kept from Aura – or had been, before she’d died. Their friendship may have survived her death, but it had come through battered and frayed. When she’d first found him after Arthur’s passing he’d snapped at her and vented some of his feelings, but had stopped short of expressing everything. Aura knew, from his persistent silence on the topic, that his relationship with his older daughter was worse than strained. In context, she suspected she knew why.

The call faded. In the Realm of the Living, time would be passing. Aura passed the staff between her hands, undecided, before finally settling on a course of action. She swung the scythe firmly, jumped through the resultant portal and stepped out into the shadows of a warm, homely room. A second woman was present, but Aura’s vibrant, penetrating eyes were focused on Morgana as she pushed the hood slowly back. When she’d last seen the princess shortly after becoming the Guide of the Dead, she’d dropped the staff to resume her old clothes; now she kept her grip on it, maintaining a sense of professionalism and distance.

“Can I help you?” She asked politely.

A u r a
They thought I was weak, but I am strong; they sold me the world but they were wrong
And now that I'm back, I still belong.

image by ankur sharma at flickr.com


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