Xenofos — Murky Waters
????, Earth Season, Movement Week
Earth Season, Movement Week, Iceday – on the night following return from the Queens judgement Xenofos sleeps restlessly. [[[s02:session-16| Session 16]]]
SPOILERS – it is all in his mind
There is nothingness. Vast swathes of nothing. And I am alone. Except there… in the distance. A small, dark figure. Maybe it is Berra.
I walk towards the figure, with caution.
Whoever it is, they are walking away from me, deeper into the emptiness.
Place reminds me of plains of Death.1 pass Truth to pierce the Darkness
Maybe it’s not so empty after all. The distant figure stops by a pool of water and beckons to me urgently.
Water? Then it is not the Lands of the Dead. I think. Hell was dry.
I Wave at the figure and follow it.
The figure waits for me to approach, still beckoning urgently. They point towards the water.
I approach and try to figure out who it is.
The figure is shrouded in darkness. Shorter than me. Not looking at me, instead they stare into the water. There, where their gaze is turned, is that a person beneath the surface? Look carefully, Xenofos. You must see.
At least it is not the wings this time. I gaze at the pool.
There’s a heavy rope leading down into the water. It is coarse and wet in my hands. Below the surface there is something grey – the figure of a person?
“Who is that, Darkness, old friend?
I am mystified and curious and beginning to feel slight unrest. But I am not afraid, I don’t hear
the wings or the heartbeat of he wyrm.
Will I pull the rope that is in my hands?
I will look at the shadow with a silent question.
What shadow? It is just me, the rope, and the pool of water.
But the rope is here.
I will test the weight on the rope.
Was there ever anyone but me here? The rope is heavy in my hands.
I will take good grip and put my back and legs into it.
As I pull, the shape below the water begins to rise.
The weight of it does not ease. Rather, the more I pull, the heavier it gets.
Put more sweat into it and try to see what emerges.
“Are you sure that is wise?” A woman speaks from within the pool. Long black hair floats in the pool around her shoulders. Her eyes reflect the water’s depths as she peers up at me.
She looks like one of my watery rescuers?
“No, milady, I am not sure. Do you advise me not to?”
She shrugs. “The decision must be yours.” She glances at the figure beneath the surface. “I don’t know if it’s still breathing. A funny thing it is. It seems to have trouble with water and yet it wears the rune.”
“I think I once knew someone like that.”
I continue pulling.
Is this a dream? Yes, I am dreaming.))
“Is this wise?” A deep voice, familiar but long silent, speaks from somewhere behind me.
” I don’t know, uncle Sestar “
The thing is closer to the surface. The rope is coiling around my feet, wet and heavy.
“But if I stop now, I will never know.”
“You must do as you see right, sister’s son. You must always choose with honour and truth in your heart. But it will not be easy.” He sounds distant.
“There are things best left uncovered, in the Earth. But I have started now – I should finish if I can, even if it were unwise. You taught that too, though you never finished your journey.”
There’s silence for a moment, then very distant, “You are still looking out for her. Thank you, sister’s son. I know she doesn’t make it easy.”
“I said I would…”
The thing is closer to the surface now. Pale and still. Not yet fully visible, but it is person-shaped.
A small hand pulls at my sleeve.
One more tug. I usually wear short sleeves or vambraces, why dark season hunting tunic now?
Look to that side. Inquisitive grey eyes stare up at me. “What are you doin’, Xe?”
” I am not sure Ranie. I thought I am trying to get you out of that pool.”
She peers into the pool and wrinkles her nose. “That’s not me, Xe. At least, I don’t think so. I’m here.”
“Yes, you are here. But I have known older you, too.”
If I am not careful, that rope will slip. It’s wet and the burden is heavy.
She laughs. “You don’t make sense. If that’s not me, who is it?” She stands right at the edge to peer into the water.
I look for something I could wrap the rope around. ” We are in a dream Ranie. It does not make sense.”
“I’ll go look for you. Then you’ll know if you should keep pulling.” She flips her plait over her shoulder.
” Don’t! Enough that one of you is in the water, if it is you.”
Childish laughter meets my protests. “I can do it. Don’t worry so much.” She leaps.
I close my eyes, open them again. Let go of the rope. Dive after.
Berra’s eyes stare blankly at me, growing further and further away as her body sinks back into the depths.
A flash of red hair catches my eyes. Ranie dives.
I hesitate for space of one heartbeat that feels like a whole day, then I grab hold of the rope and sink. With armour I should go down pretty quick.2 Failed loyalty Varanis
I plummet, deeper and deeper.
The rope is in my hands. Berra’s body, at the other end of the rope, drags you down. 3 Failed scan
My attention is focused on the woman beneath and so I do not notice the teeth until too late. Each tooth is more massive than Rajar and there is row upon row of them. They close around us both. We are swallowed by darkness and the smell of brimstone. And then there is nothing.