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10 mos ago
Current Okay, let's be honest for a second here, if we stop the status bar from being edgy angst land it really doesn't have anything going for it except sheer autism.
11 mos ago
Does anyone know where you can get a white trilby embroidered with threatening messages? Asking for a friend.
11 mos ago
My genius truly knows no bounds. Only an intellect as glorious as mine can possibly G3T K1D.
1 yr ago
Imagine how rapey you have to be to imply you ever need a chloroform rag. Also imagine how stupid you need to be, because that's really not how that works.
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1 yr ago
The government should fear the governed, not vice versa. Bring the oligarchy crumbling to the ground. #Wraith4Mod2k19


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It was finally time. The calamity began to manifest before the God of Truth’s practically omnipresent eyes, the Subtle Web informing it of the happening as it began. It had not expected to simply fade away into uncertainty, severed from that which it was sworn to protect, but as it witnessed the disintegration of its connection to Galbar and the very same phenomenon happening to all of the other gods, its thoughts only turned to its dear twin. Perhaps, alone, Aicheil might feel the impact of this strange phenomenon. Perhaps he could process what it was like to no longer be as one once was--perhaps he would experience rage, or terror, or sorrow. Perhaps it would be like a sudden, tragic accident as so often occurred with mortals, or perhaps it would be a serene moment of acceptance and understanding. There was no way for the God of Truth to know, for whatever strange cataclysm was befalling the Gods had stripped them of their divine unity in that moment. It was the first time that Fìrinn had ever felt truly alone, but it felt only an empty reflection where there should have been terror or serenity.

Its gaze focused intently on the holy Tairseach before it, gazing not into its eternal store of reflected images and thoughts but simply into its reflection. The images seemed to fade into the background and slip away beneath that silvery veil. Each element of the web that it could call upon dissolved into an opalescent mist, dissipating just as quickly as it had formed. Every image shattered itself into nonexistence, and every thought flowed through the god into its embrace as if they did not exist. Very soon, Fìrinn began ceasing to exist themselves, its lustre and sheen sloughing from its body and its colours dripping into the reflecting pool below. Very soon Fìrinn could no longer keep itself aloft, and its true feet rested steadily upon the serenely still waters, and then began to disappear themselves, leaving behind only a reflection of what was.

Fìrinn’s true hand reached out to caress the holy mirror, finding purchase only for a moment. Then, like its feet, its hand simply ceased being able to interact with the mirror before disappearing too. The God stared at the reflection of its former hand before nodding into the mirror and simply walking forward through that glassy surface and leaving its corporeal form behind. It did not try to hold on to what was or to what might have been, simply accepting its departure as a Truth of the universe, or perhaps the lifeblood, or perhaps even a reflection of its own ideas and desires--it simply acquiesced with what was being asked of it knowing that, on some level, what was happening here was right.

It did not know what it expected as it passed beyond the glassy pale, but it did not expect an ocean of never-ending blackness. It attempted to cast its senses into the Great Weave, to see the comings and goings of mortalkind, but found only a distant haze through which it could not perceive. It attempted to touch the mind of one yet living, and was rebuffed by the echoing of an infinite and empty void. Finally it called for its twin, speaking that one anchoring word which had always brought them to one another, and was answered only by the finality of its fate.

Fìrinn pressed its senses against the barrier keeping it from Galbar, never attempting to penetrate the inescapable prison in which it was entombed but rather listening for the reverberations that must surely exist beyond its prison. To its surprise it could still hear the invocations of its name in the very background of infinity--those mortals who had found their way to the deepest recesses of the dream, and the cries of the Night Elves who had so long ago listened to its words and changed their ways. They still called out to the Two-as-One, and with that tenuous connection to what once was Fìrinn could still influence the mortal plane, watching and guiding as it had before. And so it focused upon those threads of creation, pulling them taut and instructing the mortals it had helped to spread the word of Fìrinn and Truth to all that would listen. Time passed by in uncountable and unknowable eons, each new thread piercing the blackness of Fìrinn’s new demesne like an argent spear. Soon, if it focused, Fìrinn learned that it could mould those spears--and, indeed, access the full extent of its deific prowess as it had when it walked Galbar. For each person helped, for each prayer answered, for each Truth aligned with Galbar’s reality a new mirror appeared before the God of Truth, filled with playful lights and images of that mortal’s life. Each a small anchor to what was and a connection to its beloved Tairseach.

It took somewhere in the region of seven hundred mortal years for Fìrinn to be able to access the extent of what it had once done previously on Galbar--access all of mortal perception and experience. It had reconnected itself with the reflections within the Tairseach, though could extend its senses no further than that--it could look through the mirror the opposite way, peering at Tír na Íomhá from a perspective it never thought possible. Soon, the Buaileagan Aimsireil flourished in full force and what had once been an inescapable prison of endless nothing was alive, a tapestry of what could be stretching into endlessness.

Fìrinn traced its entire realm nigh endlessly, gazing into those reflections it captured and aligning what was with what should be. At some point along its infinite journey through infinite reflections, it noticed a mirror that it had never seen before. It peered through the glassy depths studiously, attempting to divine which thread this mirror connected to, before noticing its divine kith from afar. There was yet hope for it to reconnect with its twin, then, it seemed--and with nary a thought it stepped through that divine portal and into Antiquity.

Collab between @Tuujaimaa and @Zurajai

Calamity was in the air. Though unpossessed of a reason, it was something that Fìrinn simply knew to be true--as surely as the sun rose, as certainly as the tides ebbed to and fro, and as assuredly as sleep followed wakefulness: something calamitous was going to happen. The God of Truth had gotten the first inklings of this sensation as it attempted to collate the mortal experiences flowing from the area that it now knew to be called the Aberrant, and as it followed the dreams that resulted from that area’s profane influence it had gotten an inkling of some slumbering wrath deep within the fabric of the world. Mortalkind were blissfully ignorant as to the coming change, but the way that their minds processed the nature of reality had subtly shifted towards a new mode of thinking, a preparatory state as if to shield themselves from some great loss or, perhaps, to welcome a great boon. Which way the scales would tip it did not understand, but the knowledge that they would tip one way or another was never far from its thoughts.

It was this impending sense of… not doom, exactly, but great and irreversible change that spurred Fìrinn on to continue its great work with an ardor it had never felt before. The tangled web of thoughts and feelings stretching out from the holy Tairseach was vast--vast enough to encompass the entire world--but the further from the mirror the threads got, the less deeply imprinted they became. At the very edges of the world one would struggle, even attuned, to glimpse so much as a fleeting feeling that a companion might nurse beneath their breast. If, indeed, change were to happen--and it would--Fìrinn would need to ensure that the Great Weave was as strong as it could be.

To that end, there were two places it needed to visit. The first was the new continent that a storm of ink and vibrant colour had carried many mortals off to, and the second was deep beneath the waves in the hadopelagic realm of Klaarungraxus. From deepest depths the skeins of mortal connectedness could encompass all of reality, casting a wide net ‘cross the entire world, and ensuring that no errant thoughts and dreams escaped the Subtle Web.

It was a simple task for the God of Truth to visit the realm below, if only because it was a place known to it through the dreams of the Vrool. It had never visited the place physically on account of its depth and the uncertain hospitality it might receive from those beings and their patron god. Now, however, it was acquainted with the Old Growth Below. It had no such apprehension about a sojourn to that abyssal realm, and so did it appear there with but a momentary thought at great Ku, the epicentre of oceanic life and culture.

The waters that flowed above Ku that day had been gentle; it seemed that Fìrinn’s passing was welcomed by the ocean’s voice itself. A new power emanated from the rumbling of that most ancient of entities, thrumming with a hint of magic about it. No matter the source of this new sorcerous intent, it was clear the ocean held its arms open to Fìrinn Rux, ally and friend to the Lord of all Oceans. As those gentle currents surged down towards the urstone of the sea, Klaarungraxus rose up to meet this anticipated guest.

”Bountiful riches carried on gyres complex and numerous, Fìrinn Rux, for your return is most expected and greatly warranted,” the thundering siren call of Klaarungraxus shook the oceans for miles though raised the water only enough for ripples, ”We hath much work needs doing, friend of the depths, for I sense you hear that foreboding tone as I do.”

Fìrinn gave a nod of its almost-face to Klaarungraxus as the words registered within its mind. Such a gesture was rare--the God of Truth’s perfectly still form was one of the few constants in the world--but this was an occasion worthy of change and urgent change at that.

”Indeed so, Klaarungraxus Rux. When one is used to a certain level of foresight, events such as these are deeply unsettling--a tsunami beyond vision, beyond knowing. There is only a feeling of trepidation, and it distracts me from the great work. It seems that reality has its own truth, and it will not be denied by our deific works.” came the response, emanating in wavering and unsteady ripples through the water.

”The Subtle Web is unfinished. My presence here anchors it, but if I am to retreat beyond the glassy pale into the realm of the mind to avoid this storm I cannot be certain that it will remain eternal. It must be anchored anew, that our people will not want for guidance should we be absent in any capacity. I sense that you feel similarly--the world thrums with tectonic currents here.”

Fìrinn’s mantle-claws clasped themselves together in front of it, gently pressing into one another as it spoke. Such words weighed on it more heavily than the entire ocean atop its head, and that same weight was evinced in the inflection of its meaning.

”Your thoughts strike clear through brine and dark, Known-Truth-Spoken-Clearly, for the world is waking to things foreboding and burdened with finality,” Klaar seemed to visibly sink inwards through his murmurings, eyes sinking deep into the hide of his dark sea-green body, ”Perhaps an anchor yet exists, simply unbound. Ku, urstone of oceans, sits idly below; it is the epicenter of all the seas and her people. Perhaps, then, she can serve?”

”Perhaps she can. Perhaps she must, ere the Realm Below loses the physicality of the divine? By our combined might the abyssal depths and her people shall never want for guidance nor succour; it shall ensure our legacy for all eternity, and the legacy of our people. Whatever the distant future brings, we shall be remembered as Gods who did all in their power to ensure the best for mortalkind.”

Fìrinn summoned forth a great reserve of its divine power, placing its true hands upon the oily, dark surface of Ku. Its mantle wove itself into the triquetra so-associated with the Two-as-One, and it settled on the ocean floor with a crackle of thunderous energy--as if conducting the sorcery which flowed through this hallowed place. From each of the three tips of the triquetra arcs of that electrical energy thrummed through the water and refracted endlessly, converging upon that obsidian slab as rays of cool, gentle light. From within that light filaments and threads began to weave themselves together into intricate knots and whorls, gyres of ponderous scope and shape forming as they mingled and intertwined.

Then, as the light subsided, the waters surrounding Ku erupted in a seething geyser of force. The wave of energy unleashed from the power carried itself throughout the entire ocean, knitting itself to the threads of the Collective Unconscious that remained down there and anchoring the loci to which they connected. After it was finished, Fìrinn took a moment to rest as its mantle rewove itself around the God’s form and they turned to Klaar.

”It is done. Before I leave to make preparations elsewhere there is one more boon I might bestow upon you, Klaarungraxus Rux: Those deep-dwellers for whom sorcery has awakened and washed over like tumultuous currents shall be able to access the subtle weave while waking, and know one another even across this entire demesne. I only hope their Truth manifests itself as your reality.”

Klaar seemed to consider the thought briefly, rumbling from some place deep within his hide, before uttering a surprisingly laconic response. ”That is the hope.”

”The only true death is to be forgotten, friend. As the Tairseach stands eternal, as the Oceans were the beginning and shall be the end, we endure through what is and what shall be. Though it will be of little comfort to they that are thee--excepting, perhaps, right-forward two-down--there is something I would like to show you. A gift of perception for a treasured friend--the first glimpse of this anchor’s power, and the first true call of the sea ‘cross all mortalkind’s seeing. A memory of that which we leave behind; a memory of that which is yet to come.”

With that, Fìrinn’s mantle-claw reached out across the impossible distance through the waters, cutting through the tenebrous murk like a piercing ray of cool effulgence. Across unseen currents it was propelled until Klaarungraxus could grasp it firmly.

Fìrinn’s true self reached above the oily surface of Ku and grasped at the threads woven into the anchor that it could perceive, and in so doing rendered them plainly visible to the many-minds that made up Klaar’s extensive web of perception. With simple dexterous movements seemingly unhindered by the weight of the water, Fìrinn began to pluck at the strings of the weave, gentle glitters of gold and grey and black and blue manifesting from its careful ministrations. They rippled out across the entire surface of the web and then, for a moment, they were suspended in motion. After that moment passed, a deep thrum could be felt through the entire ocean as each mortal received a brief vision, be it as they woke or within their slumber. To each it would be different in style and substance and form, but all would feel the call of the Ocean and all her people in their own way--all would harbour some distant longing for those abyssal depths and the majesty held within, however briefly. They would feel the will of the Vrool Tyrants pressing upon them as the ocean depths, or perhaps hear the song of Ku. Some might experience a vision from the perspective of an Akua, and some would see Great Klaarungraxus himself in all his eldritch glory, beckoning them to the unfathomable realm below the waves.

Each mortal would experience these visions and dreams differently--it would be impossible to pinpoint what each saw and felt. The only certainty is that the name Klaarungraxus would be in their mouths as they recovered, briny and dark.

Collab between @Tuujaimaa and @Lord Zee

Fìrinn’s almost-gaze peered more deeply into the Tairseach than usual, studying deeply one of the infinite panoply of reflections contained therein. Its perception was squarely focused upon the very moment that the fabric of the Collective Unconscious was repaired and sutured back together, examining every minute detail of precisely what happened. There was no small amount of inspiration to be gleaned from such an event--the restoration of damage, the natural order restored, and harmony brought back to reality. It was a beautiful thing, and though beauty was not a necessary function of Truth, Fìrinn had found that it quite liked aesthetic beauty. Many things in the world captured its attention with their beauty, and it had found itself more drawn to gazing upon their reflections in the Tairseach than others. It was a quirk of character, it supposed, but it did not interfere with its work. It was… Truth.

Reflections were, ultimately, impossible without light. When Fìrinn had melded minds with Aicheil, it had gleaned a passing awareness of its night-self’s interaction with the Goddess of the Moon. It stood to reason, then, that Fìrinn should have a conversation with the Moon’s day-self, that which supplied the light for reflections to exist, and illuminated beauty. It cast a ripple of perceptive awareness through the threads of the subtle weave and found the location of Oraelia quite handily, simply appearing behind the Goddess as if it were her reflection.


She screamed at the sound of his voice, quickly scrambling to her feet where she had been resting next to an illuminated pool in a forest of light. The Goddess turned to the Fìrinn and brought up a hand to her chest as she exhaled.

”You startled me there!” she exclaimed.

“I apologise. When one knows the minds of all mortalkind it is often disorienting to interact with a deity whose perception is not known to me.” Fìrinn responded, its mantle-claws gesturing with open palms as if to show that it meant no threat. With a quick flourish they returned to their original position, clasped together in front of the God of Truth, as Fìrinn began to speak again.

“My twin has spoken to yours. It made sense to me that we should also speak. I suppose I would first like to… thank you. It is through you and your sunlight that reflections are possible, and so your presence has been a boon of immeasurable worth to me. I would like to know your mind, if such a thing would please you?”

Fìrinn’s words were careful and measured, in part to ensure that it did not startle its sibling again, and in part because it simply had to consider how it would go about this conversation. Its encounter with the Tree of Genesis had not gone precisely as planned in its inchoate stages and it wished to avoid another negative response with a deity--especially one like Oraelia, to whom it felt a certain kinship.

Oraelia seemed to relax at his words, a cheerful expression slowing starting to form on her face as she let her arm drop. She tilted her head at Fìrinn, eyeing him up and down. ”You know my name, but what is yours and your domain?” she asked.

”Ah, yes. I am Fìrinn, God of Truth. Perhaps you have heard me called the Threefold God, or perhaps the Watcher Behind, or perhaps the Two-as-One? I am unsure of how much you speak to your mortal followers, exactly--there is simply too much to keep track of. My twin, Aicheil, and I created the Collective Unconscious--the threads that bind all mortalkind in a great tapestry of shared experience, thought, and feeling. It is my prerogative to align reality with its greatest Truth, to enable each mortal and each deity to mould their surroundings according to what it means to be them. Without you I dare say that mortalkind would not exist, and so it stands to reason that I would not exist.” Fìrinn responded with as much information as it thought Oraelia might want to know about it in an effort to pre-empt further questions about its purpose and its beliefs. Its mantle-claws wove themselves into gentle open palms, fingertips against one another, as the God of Truth thought to itself.

Oraelia stared at Fìrinn for a moment. A contemplative look upon her face, she looked around with her eyes, before focusing them back on Fìrinn. ”I can’t say I’ve ever heard of you, or your twin, Fìrinn. But! You are so welcome! My light is for all to have and be nourished by!” she said warmly. ”Now, I’ve also never heard of this, ‘Collective Unconscious’, either. Which again, isn’t surprising because I haven’t really met others. Oh! I can name like… Three other gods? Maybe four? Regardless, that was a good explanation!” she then looked around. ”Where is it?” she asked befuddled.

”Hm. I often forget that others are incapable of seeing the subtle web--I spend much of my time gazing into the holy Tairseach, and within its reflection the web is plainly obvious. I could show you, if you were so inclined?”

Fìrinn’s offer was remarkably casual--offhanded, even--not as if it did not expect for it to be taken up on, but as if it was surprised at itself for offering to reveal the location of the Tairseach at all. It was not hidden from deific perception, so it was certainly not as if the Isle of Reflection were difficult to find, but its experience of deities thus far had mostly been that they were deeply focused upon their own surroundings and goals and had little time or inclination to explore much of the world. Fìrinn was at something of an advantage in that regard, it supposed, as all that mortalkind saw was information it had access to. The God of Truth paused for a second, even its mantle stilling, as it pondered precisely what that small epiphany meant.

She clasped her hands together as she looked back at Fìrinn. ”Oh I would love to!” she said joyfully. ”It’s not like I’m doing much here, anyways.” she mused, dropping her hands and walking over to him.

With a flourish of its mantle, Fìrinn offered Oraelia a hand that she grasped, taking the two of them directly to the Isle of Reflection. Upon arrival, Fìrinn’s true hands grasped the mirror before it once more and, this time, nudged it backwards so that it might catch the sunlight and reveal the presence of the great weave within the firmament above. After a minute adjustment here and there it found the correct angle, and its mantle beckoned Oraelia to gaze deeply within the reflection. Fortunately for the pair, the Tairseach’s reflection was not limited to its physical space--the entire Isle served as a conduit for its power, and with just a little focus Fìrinn was able to ensure that Oraelia could simply see the web when she gazed out towards Toraan proper by virtue of being on the tiny landmass. Her eyes went wide as she looked through.

”Each mortal is connected by the finest filament. It carries their perception across the world, as a ray of sunlight might carry an image, into the Tairseach. Through it, these fragments of mortality enter the Dream and blossom forth, stretching the very limits of imagination. Then, these transformed perspectives are pulled back through the mirror and return to their owners--and occasionally to others. It is the purest essence of Truth aside from myself.”

Fìrinn explained the details while its mantle gently caressed the surface of the Tairseach, filling in some of its prior carvings while rendering new images and filigreed inlays depicting sunlight illuminating the world.

”It’s beautiful…” Oraelia said, breathless. ”I never would have imagined something like this… Existed. Are you able to pinpoint specific mortals?” she asked.

”I am. Is there a being whose Truth you wished to examine?” Fìrinn asked, returning the Tairseach to its upright position as it did so. The presence of the subtle weave beyond the isle persisted, however, as Fìrinn’s mantle glowed a soft blue for just a second. It would likely have to show the collective unconscious to others regardless, and those mortals who found their way here after being Chosen deserved to experience a moment of true beauty before being entombed within a reflection for all eternity.

”Not in particular, I was just curious you see.” she said, turning to look at Fìrinn. ”A truth of a person sounds very… Personal, doesn’t it? I’m not sure how I would feel if someone saw mine.” she said quietly.

”Lucia thinks very highly of you. You are her first thought in a morning, and her last thought as she drifts into slumber. It is touching, in its own way. Truth is personal by nature, Oraelia--but you have nothing to fear. We Gods are above such piercing insight. All that I know of you I know from mortal perspective and from what we have discussed--I could not peer into the mysteries of your truest essence even if I tried. All I seek to do is know you and help you align reality with your Truth, no more.”

The God of Truth’s almost-face reflected a light of deeper, blue hues like that of the ocean. A burst of colour as if to signify a latent wistfulness, a brief reflection of its own internal truth. Its mantle-hands wove themselves back into the claw tips it was used to and gently trailed across the surface of the reflecting pool beneath Fìrinn, somehow not disturbing the images therein or seeming to physically affect the water at all.

At the mention of Lucia, Oraelia narrowed her eyes at Fìrinn briefly, before she gave a small sigh and looked back at the Tairseach. ”My Sunflower…” she whispered to herself. ”I wasn’t afraid for myself, Fìrinn. Mortal life is a precious thing, and we gods are so… Powerful. I try my best not to infringe upon their individuality, but that’s just me.” she looked back to Fìrinn. ”What do you wish to know about me?” she asked, raising an eyebrow.

”I wish to know your Truth, as I do for all that exists. Such is my nature and my purpose.” Fìrinn responded simply, taking a moment to consider before expressing its meaning again.

”Perhaps fear is not the right word. It is not selfish to interact with that which you have made, and nor would it detract from their individuality--mortalkind loves wonder, and are we not the most wondrous beings in all creation? Perhaps one can manufacture love within one’s creations, but the simple truth is that they will find love and admiration of us in one way or another because we created them or we are born of aspects of them. I could find for you each and every feeling mortalkind has ever had about you or your creations since the inception of the Great Weave, but it would not help you realise the simple Truth. You need not isolate yourself from those that worship you as it is not in your nature to mould them. You need not deny yourself the love of your children as you care deeply for their happiness and their truth. The present will give way to the future as surely as you will make the sun rise. The future shall wash away all that is as surely as your sister guards the moon. We cannot know what that future is, all we can know is that it will not be this. It will be Truth, if we do our duties correctly.”

Fìrinn’s monologue was mostly addressed to Oraelia, but it was equally clear that much of this exposition was simply it thinking aloud, absorbing knowledge and context from its sibling, and processing all of reality anew with fresh perspectives. It was an exercise in knowing Oraelia and knowing the self, and also in accepting that which Fìrinn did not--and perhaps could not--know. It was, in essence, reflection. Nothing more.

”I…” she began, but stopped. Her face was a mask of self reflection as she thought upon Fìrinn’s words. ”I think… That might be what I needed to hear.” she cooed. ”So, how do you find the Truth of a god?”

”You ask a lot of questions and you think very hard.” Fìrinn replied, the lights reflecting from its almost-face suggesting a smirk or a sharp intake of breath.

”It is made easier by choosing to link minds with another deity, but it is an… intrusive process. Or, at least, it would be if I attempted to do so. My twin requires such connections to understand the Gods, or requires my presence. Perhaps together we could draw out the Truth from another deity without it being an unpleasant experience? Still, it is perhaps for the best that that avenue not be explored. Understanding winds its way to me with knowledge, so all I require is conversation. I am not sure that you or the others could do the same--even with your sister I expect you do not have the piercing insight of Truth.”

Fìrinn’s response was typically unhelpful when it came to answering the queries of gods about the nature of mortal concepts when applied to them. It was something that it had to work on knowing and understanding, which was still a somewhat foreign concept to it. Still, it hoped it could help Oraelia become closer with Truth in some small way, even if the path was meandering.

She smirked. ”Is it such a bad thing to be inquisitive? Still, I understand. Some Truths take time, just like anything, really.” she began to stretch. ”Thank you, for showing me this, Fìrinn. It was unexpected, but needed.”

”You are very welcome, flower of the dawn. Your inquisitiveness will serve you well, of that I have no doubt. It is simply a matter of time before the Truths of the universe and of we Gods reveal themselves to us both. Before you leave, I do have one request of you? Could you capture a few rays of the sun and store them within the reflecting pool? I tried to reflect the lights of the Luminant, but capturing the true essence of such things is beyond my grasp. I think the Tairseach would benefit from such a display of beauty.”

She nodded, raising her hand up into the sky. From the sky came a ray of sunlight that coalesced as it hit the reflecting pool, where it fragmented into every color of the sun. Vibrant colors struck every surface, refracting and reflecting the light. ”Until we next meet, Fìrinn. Goodbye!” she said with a wave, before changing into her domain form, and streaking off over the ocean.

Without thought, the Dreaming God returned to the vigil of his choosing, his form once more in orbit above the glowing sphere. Behind his chosen orbit there dwelled a second Moon, its surface violet in sheen, its form diminutive in size. He obscured it in his passing observation, the massive form of his star-bound vessel mirroring its orbit. Where before his intent had been outwards and overwhelming, now it was as a feather, tickling at a hair upon the neck--barely felt and easily ignored.

Thoughts turned inwards, Àicheil found himself in rumination, his vast mind unmoored from its cosmic leaning and disturbed by an experience most recent. Gibbou-sister, the Goddess of the Night, creator of the Moon, when they had touched something in him had shifted, alignment forever changed. the stars across his vessel's form grew hazy and indistinct, his fingers twitched and coiled in agitation, and the cloak which limned his vessel billowed and roiled as if taken in by rage and indecision. For though the Dreaming God knew all things, he did not see them in truth, as that was his twin's domain.

Then, in his inability to grasp the new status of his mind, Àicheil railed against his state of stasis and a ringing pulse rang out.

"Twin," the pulse proclaimed, and in it was a summons; in it was a wave.

The weave of Dreams shuddered and many minds called out, but none in response, their voices but a cringing quake only mortal souls could make. No longer restrained, a vast droning scream was unleashed, its deep utterance an echo of true distress.


The response resonated from within Àicheil, a crackling surge of ecstatic certainty illuminating the dark spaces and stars alike from behind its star-speckled form. The shape of the triquetra blazed within it as if the very cosmos emblazoned within Àicheil’s almost-chest had erupted with a reflected effulgence. That divine symbol’s light swallowed up a great swath of Galbar’s aurora-covered sky, merging with the newfound cacophony of colour and light, to reflect the mark of their existence upon the very firmament.

As the brilliant surge faded, the God of Truth assumed its once-celestial form once more, behind its twin, and its godly mantle touched a single tip to Àicheil’s forehead.

”Bring me your mind, Twin, and I shall settle it.”

So laid bare was the fabric of his endless mind and with the meeting of the twins there came a clashing of forces great.

Within the endless Dream there was a storm of thought and in it there dwelled calm and chaos in equal measure. Beauty most terrible; Horrors common and unassuming in their way. A ringing pulse of emotion coursed through the fabric of the Dream, its passing a calming balm to all minds within its hold. It was a signature of unity, unmatched. Their connection, it was a beauty beyond beholding and from the shallows of the Dream it was a gentle flare, pervasive in its presence, yet small all the same. Beyond the hold of that vast and immaterial plane, the Dreamer's form flared across the sky, lit from within with eldritch feylight, a cosmic mind laid bare.

Those who saw the form of the Dreaming God might be struck by awe or madness, twas impossible to tell. In that fleeting time which followed their reunion Àicheil's vessel was a blinding void of white. Expanding from its form was a shroud of gray, so great in its size that it served as a refuge against the stars, blocking out the sky. Yet its vastness could not last. Unstable, it retracted and though it never lost its mammoth size, no more did it blot out the heavens as it had before.

Moments passed and in them, awareness coalesced and with its coming so too did the light of his vessel fade.

Many minutes crossed their path and finally, the Dreaming God felt once more at peace, the void-flesh of its starlit visage returned to harmony again. A subtle song played between them and in its notes rang gratitude and peace. That dancing hymn it filled their eyeless forms and joy became contentment.

"Equilibrium," Ѻs-fhìreach declared. It held every meaning in its constraints, but it was unlike all words he had spoken before it. In it there was depth and simplicity unified, in it there was hope. Àicheil withdrew then from Fìrinn and found himself different, but renewed.

He pondered his existence from conception to the present and found a gulf had formed between him and that which he had once been. It was a sobering thing and it formed in him a sorrow equaled only by ecstatic realization. He had grown!

Moved by this intriguing notion, Àicheil gazed upon the Dream. There within it lay intricate echoes of beauty, greater than those perceived before them. Though wondrous were the movements of those many dancing minds, they could not hide a turning tide, which revealed itself just then. Unsettled by this shift, Àicheil set his mind adrift and through the Dream he seeped and sift’d until he found a rift.

Confoundment. Rage. Àicheil’s mind a rattling cage. Assailed then by a wrongness, an occurrence his mind had no faculty to gauge.

Disturbed by this occurrence, Àicheil bade his twin to follow, and so cast himself into the Dream.

Fìrinn’s mantle gave a dismissive wave, a signal that its twin would understand as a refusal. It was not Fìrinn’s place to enter the Dream in the same way that Àicheil did--it was its twin’s day-self, its anchor in the realm of the real, and eternal custodian of the Tairseach. The overwhelming sensations of an infinity of knowledge were only for Àicheil to withstand, not for Fìrinn to carelessly peruse and get lost in.

Its true hands grasped the sides of the Tairseach firmly, and with the barest hint of effort and energy twisted it upon its axis so as to directly face the Tree of Genesis to the west. It peered closely into the newly revealed depths, seeking to pinpoint that which had thrown its twin for a loop, and viscerally recoiled at the reflection that it found within the sacred anchor. Something had burrowed through the Subtle Weave, and excised itself from the great tapestry--deep beneath the soil where the roots of the Great Tree began there was simply a blank space. Reality reflected precisely as it was to mortalkind, without the perception to which the Twin Gods had become accustomed. A hole in unreality, a gaping flaw in the otherwise unmarred web of imagination--an abomination, anathema to that which the two-as-one held dearest. It would be fixed, or it would be excised.

In an instant it snapped the Tairseach back into place, returning it to its rightful position, before appearing at the trunk of the Great Tree. Its mantle wobbled in the air unsteadily, clawtips honed to razor points, readied as if to meet an unknown threat.

“You have suspended this place from the laws of reality. Return it to Truth at once, or it shall be woven anew atop your roots.” Fìrinn’s almost-voice bellowed, channeling the waves of its intent through the ground and into the very bark of the voiceless deity before it.

The ground rumbled, and the soil gave way. Dozens of massive roots, each at least a hundred meters wide, suddenly rose up into the skies. They were sharp and before the God’s eyes, they became barbed. The sky, previously cloudy, became clear. The Worldsong turned a deep, crimson red, and the sky dulled. Shadows grew longer and the trees around Genesis all of a sudden seemed twisted, as if they recoiled at the mere presence of Firinn. At the tips of the roots, a strange, not-quite-there energy converged. An energy that sent ripples through reality and threatened to break it. The energy felt the same as the blank space within the Subtle Weave, and its mere existence seemed to try to grasp and pull and tear at the Weave.

It was then that a single, relatively minuscule form emerged from the insides of the Tree of Genesis and stood at the great entrance to the hollow God. It was made of bark, wood, fibre and black hay. A thick mixture of black hay and fibre was wrapped around its neck, but its nature as a husk was made evident by the way the strange, intense yellow light from within it spilled out each time it moved. Its black inexpressive eyes took in the form of the God, unflinching, and then it nodded its head with its eyes closed in a show of respect.

The husk was tall, but far shorter than the God. It was strong, but a world weaker than the God. It was fast, but held no candle to the God. It was fully mortal, and so it spoke with a slow, deep, grave voice like that of sumac honey, monotonous but still betraying a sea of thoughts behind its dull eyes.

”The Tree of Genesis, Omnibloom, First Tree, the Roots of Fragrance, has not graced me with any knowledge about you, Master…?”

”I am Firinn, God of Truth. Each second that the weave remains rent asunder, and each attempt the Tree of Genesis makes to break it further, brings us closer to ruin and further from Truth. It will cease this affront to the Twin Gods, or it will find itself forcibly aligned with Truth.” Firinn’s response was terse. It was evident, immediately, that the ordinarily co-operative God of Truth did not appreciate its great work’s disruption, and that attempts to mangle its creations further in its presence could bring it close to a point of brash action. With no access to the Subtle Weave it had no Truth to assign to the Tree of Genesis, and with no direct display of intention from the God before it there was no understanding to be had. Where there was no understanding there was no reason, and without reason reality could not be aligned with truth.

”Cease your perversion of the natural order and all may be forgiven. With context there is Truth--without there is the might of the Two-as-One. My Twin shall not be so open to discourse.”

The husk was taken aback--Not out of fear of the God’s threats, but out of pain. It held onto its head as if trying to keep it from splitting, and after a moment of silent wrestling with its own body, it sighed and attempted to stand straight once more, not looking at the God in the eye. A pulse of energy shook the earth slightly, sending smaller amounts of the Weave-rending energy down every single one of the Tree’s roots. All over the world. ”It has shown me--A world where there was a battle and you killed it. But it did not fall before destroying the world.” The husk almost whispered, then panted for air as more images came into its mind, causing it to fall on one knee.

”You can feel it, can’t you… Master Firinn, Lord of Truth? It is preparing for that outcome. Instead...” The husk hissed as something within its head cracked, and then stood again. ”I-Instead, let us work together. I believe I know what the Tree of Genesis desires.”

Every thread of thought, every mortal mind, all those who lived and breathed and felt, they called out in agony at the dread god's preparation. Their voices could not go unanswered and so a sundered mind, a split-off echo, a Dreaming God of Abstract form responded.

In that horrid moment, there was no single thing which could describe Ѻs-fhìreach's reaction. All that can be said about its occurrence is that it was most terrible and vast.

Like a thousand threads torn, Àicheil ripped out from the realm of dreaming minds, his form was not at all as it had been before. There was nothing so smooth or gentle about its making and where once before had been starlight spackled void, now there existed only black. Sharp angles, impossible, cut into the offensive rift and many seeking blades of void-filled rage filled the once peaceful glen.

Yet, though large, it might appear as if the Tree eclipsed him, but upon the fragile mortal mind of the speaking form there would come to be an image. A vision of endless, formless, fury like shattered crystal blades existed beyond Galbar, throughout the plane of Dreams. It might struggle with this intimation, for truly endless was its form, so far did it spread and each of its mighty unseen blades laid poised against the touch of the Great Tree's mind.


The word was like nails across stone, like a trillion shattering, cutting blades of crystal. It scoured clean the mind, it warped and twisted and bent on angles and traveled too-and-fro. In it was a promise of retribution, but so too did it hold the option of alternative response. Àicheil had come to bargain and failing that, to destroy.

The Voice was instantly knocked unconscious by the display, thick golden sap leaking from all its orifices. A long, thin root snuck its way out of the interior of the Tree and began to pull it back inside. The energy at the tips of its roots became wilder and not as controlled, as if about to be released.

”Twin.” Firinn’s almost-voice echoed, the notes of its displeasure at its twin’s rash actions evinced by a flourish of its mantle. It unwove the pointed tips, and then the arms, the threads of its divine essence cradling the now-unconscious Voice. It channeled its energy into the Voice’s supine form, repairing the damage that its twin had done to the mortal’s psyche with a gentle blue suffusion of energy.

”It is a mortal. It is blameless--do not punish those who are not deserving of your wrath. Wake, child.”

Firinn coaxed its now-restored mind back to the waking world with a gentle mental nudge and erected a divine shield within its mind to prevent further damage. Such a link allowed it to glean some of the proxy’s mind and thus its Truth, and Firinn’s demeanor instantly softened as a result of the additional context. The Voice twitched and took a few ragged breaths, before opening its eyes. The slim root that had been pulling it back into the Tree froze and, in a moment, burrowed underground. After toking in its surroundings and touching its head and its numerous wooden horns, it stumbled up onto its feet.

”I apologize for my twin. We bear you no ill will. Our creation has been disrupted, and we feel its loss keenly--but you are blameless, and we should not have struck you. I have protected you from further assaults against your mind. We would be pleased to reach a harmonious outcome in which the Láidir Suíomh can be repaired and your Truths realized. What say you?”

The twisted landscape seemed to breathe deeply. After a while while the Voice adjusted to consciousness once more, the massive barbed roots burrowed back underground and vanished along with the energy, which was safely dissipated. Soil covered the great holes as if nothing had ever happened; the trees, once twisted beyond recognition into claws and blades, now recovered their peaceful forms. The air was light and clean and thick with oxygen, and suddenly there were all kinds of critters and plants frolicking around the great base of the Tree.

”I… Don’t know what you mean by truths,” The Voice said slowly, as if struggling to form words. ”But I do know that the Tree of Genesis desires privacy, and it desires to connect its creations deeply to one another. It desires for them to feel what others feel and remember what others remember… It was… Afraid? No… Put off, by what was being reflected into the ‘Weave’, by the beings around its heart. And so it wanted to pull away from the Weave.”

”Truth is the limits of perception. Truth is the vision that one wishes to draw into reality--the deepest expression of one’s knowledge and understanding and imagination. It is what you want, given what you can see and understand. It is my solemn oath to draw Truth from the Dream and align reality with desire, and my twin’s solemn duty to corral the infinite vastness of imagination into knowledge and intuition. While the Weave is disrupted--destroyed, in parts--our needs cannot be fulfilled, and nor can mortalkind’s. Even now the raw stuff of dreams threatens to spill into reality like water from severed xylem. The Tree’s roots have destroyed our roots.”

Firinn stopped and paused, setting the Voice gently down, and its mantle dissolved into the ether before re-emerging upon the soil, shaped into a triquetra with the Voice at its centre.

“We wish only for peaceable coexistence and the fulfilment of our mutual purposes--to wit, it would be my pleasure to enable such connections between the Tree’s creations. Know, however, that such is only possible through the Great Weave: its reality cannot be aligned with its Truth unless the damage is repaired and it goes unmolested for all eternity. If you permit me to read your thoughts, I might divine a solution to the Tree’s apprehension?” the God asked, its almost-voice dimming to silence towards the end of its speech as it shifted from sound directly to thoughts and feelings. It communicated its words through waves of intent and understanding, directly to the Voice’s mind, that it might understand the entirety of Firinn’s truth intimately and personally.

Perhaps mollified by the words of their twin, Àicheil’s angular form withdrew in part from the solid world. Still, the Dreaming God did not depart, unsheathing itself once more as it emerged about Firinn. In this way Ѻs-fhìreach did declare, that he would wait and watch and listen, but act if once more he was provoked. Poised behind his twin, Àicheil appeared as if petrified, so motionless was he, but within his mind, there churned a tide, beset with agony.

It was pain and disconnection to be apart from the endless Weave. In his eyeless, starless gaze this could be felt and heard and seen. The act was not simply one of wrongness or even disrespect, no instead, it cut the threads and severed intellect. So, unspoken Àicheil would remain, but in his visage there was clear a message of intent.

Repair my child. Reflect upon the weave. Understand that in this moment, I wish not to be bereaved.

Though more was held deep within that silent utteration, Àicheil did well to hold it back, for the presence of his Truth-made twin kept his self-restraint intact.

The Voice wavered slightly, ”At this point--” He suddenly stopped speaking, as if his tongue had been seized by something. It only took a moment for him to resume, however. This time, with an exhausted look on his face. ”Genesis desires a fruitful result to this less-than-desirable meeting. It has shown me… An image, and a feeling. Of a people so great that most did not require sustenance as Humans do. So great, that they could avoid undesired results by looking at the past and studying their actions. So great… That they would live forever. This is what the Tree of Genesis desires. It wants to be a part of the start of the Age of Sapience, and it wants to do its part well.” The Voice said breathlessly, soon dropping to his knees on the ground to rest his weary body.

Firinn took a moment to pause. Perhaps it had not been clear? Perhaps the mortal Voice of this God had suffered too much. Perhaps the Tree was not an intelligence capable of understanding, like of most deities? The God of Truth took a moment to contemplate the thoughts it had before speaking again.

”I can help, but first I must repair the Weave. Each second it remains in this state it is a pain to us both like the Tree being cut off from its roots--please, allow us to fix it now, and we can help you when the natural order has been remedied. We cannot align reality with Truth until this has been completed.”

Pain could not register on Firinn’s mirror-blank face or on its motionless form, but each word carried an undeniable heat and ardour deep within it as if emanating from a shard of agony laced into the meaning of each word. Lights of red and orange and yellow found themselves reflected from its face without intent, bathing the area around it in a desperate glow.

The Voice was silent, but while it didn’t speak, the force keeping the Weave split vanished. After that was done, a single, tiny root came out from the ground and slithered its way up the Voice’s body, and in through its nose. The Voice either didn’t notice this or didn’t care, as it started to speak. ”... It is done. I believe you should be able to repair your roots now.”

Firinn’s true arms moved the moment it felt the Tree’s influence recede from the fabric of the Great Weave, rumbles and pulses of energy emanating from it with a frantic urgency. It connected the extant fragments that yet remained and pieced them together almost lovingly, bringing the elements of the subtle web that waxed closest to the physical together and stitching the torn tapestry back together. With its careful ministrations, it took only moments before enough of the damage that it could repair was no more and its Twin could set about repairing that which lay beyond the pale of reality.

Jagged blades of pitch, they twisted on themselves and as the Dreaming God awoke they withdrew into not-shells. Knowing then that the calamity had gone, Àicheil sheathed itself within the Dream that was its planar song. The weaving web of Truth's distinct visage remained and upon it did he rest, and so he reached out bladed planes into his realm's distress. Though forgiveness was a far off thing, he relented all the same, and so endless blades retracted their planes, and withdrew from roots unmaimed.

Gazing then upon the work that his twin had laid for him, Ѻs-fhìreach knew what he must do and so set to remove the pain. So with formless mirrors of dreaming whim he cleaved, and in response the Dream's expanse caught upon the war torn seam. Like blades writ as weaving tendrils his mind healed the once-deadly rift, and once he'd done what could be done he moved back and felt adrift.

Yet, it remained empty, blank, few minds to fill its depths. Thus released was Àicheil's form and from it sprang his mind, so that it could expand into that rift, which had existed for a time.

So from him, unfiltered sprang three words, and their utterance was unrelenting to all who heard. Yet no simple words were these, those dancing songs, for they were his names in truth.

"Ѻs-fhìreach," he called out and the words echoed across the vast expanse.

"Àicheil," he intoned, and within the depths grew a mass.

"Neo-Àicheil," he concluded and from that mass grew thought.

So it was the Dreaming God renewed the weave from naught.

Returning then, to mortal ken, he unfurled about his twin. Where before his form had been a bladed expanse of blackened void, now across his vessel their expanded stars, like subtle noise. Gently coaxed out from his mind those far-off lights were born and so he gazed upon the maze of the Tree God's rooted form.

"Accord," rang out the sharp voice of the Dreaming Twin, and in that word could be heard a request of contract to prevent further sin.

The Voice furrowed his brow and turned to look at Firinn, confused.

”We wish to ensure that such misunderstandings do not happen again. We wish to reach an agreement to ensure the safety of the Weave before we can align what the Tree desires with what is. I will show you.”

The triquetra around the Voice erupted in a pillar of silvery effulgence, engulfing it within a veil of rendered consciousness. Firinn’s true hands emulated that divine symbol with a single gesture, and with it the context and understanding that the God of Truth personified was at one with the Voice. It was not an Anchor to the weave, but it was the beginning of a threshold that may, one day, evolve into an Anchor should the Tree agree to the terms of their contract.

”You are at one with the Weave. Countless Dreams stretch out before you, and infinite Truths pave your path across them. The feelings and experiences of those around you are yours to peer into, the context of perception yours to divine, and the grace of connectedness with all around you yours to cherish. You need not be alone in this status--we may impart such gifts to many of the Tree’s creations. Our only stipulation is that the Weave go undamaged, and be safeguarded from harm. Without the Weave, such gifts cannot exist. Without the Weave, mortalkind is alone in the world.”

The Voice recoiled and winced at the sudden awakening of a sixth sense, then closed his eyes and nodded, his mouth stretched into a grim line. ”I see. How… should the agreement be set?”

”A pact, bound in the unity of our essences. There is a deific sibling of mine, Tekret et Heret, whose purpose it is to vouchsafe such agreements--we need merely agree, and a contract shall be made. It shall enforce the terms we have discussed. Look into the Weave and see the Truth of Kaarnesxaturl and you shall know its presence and its weight. Perhaps you will have to sleep, to dig so deep below the waves? I am unsure of precisely how far across the great weave your mortal mind may stretch, but during slumber you will find your reach greatly enhanced. If you have need of me, simply call my name and invoke the holy Triquetra--I will answer your call. Do not think ill of me for granting you this enhanced perception, child--it was your Truth to fulfil the desires of your creator. If you do not wish to be connected to the Weave, it is a simple task for me to unstitch you from it.”

With that, Firinn used its true hands to pick up its mantle from beneath the Voice and focused upon it once more. All of the Voice’s brethren that the Tree of Genesis created would have their perspectives similarly expanded and the Weave stitched more closely to them. The next moment, the God of Truth was simply gone--but the First would always feel its presence to the distant east, even if it could not understand why.

Fìrinn’s mantle traced the various etchings and carvings of the Tairseach, gazing intently at its own reflection within, and a flicker of light across its almost-face gave the distinct impression of a smile. Completion from without and within; the harmony of Truth through Reflection. Such musings were not uncommon for a god of understanding and context, but few things were as pleasing to Fìrinn as endless introspection before the great Anchor and the only reflection so powerful as to encompass the divine that currently existed. There was a sense of calmness and completion that filled Fìrinn while it gazed into the depths of its mirror-self that none of the chaos of reality could offer, and while it was tempting to simply lose itself in that sense of serenity there was still much of reality to align with deepest Truth.

Chiefly among the God of Truth’s priorities was reaching an accord with its divine brethren whose domains it had, or eventually would, trespass upon. It would need to make accords with the Gods of the Land and Sea, whose space it had borrowed for this most holy Anchor. It would need to make an accord with the Lord of the Afterlife, for those souls whose reflections would be unmoored from reality. It would need to make sure it had the blessings of Sun and Moon, that the Tairseach’s light would never dim--and though all of these things were necessary for it and its twin, it could not trust Àicheil to entreat the others. They would not yet understand until it had learned to provide its own context.

So it fell to Fìrinn to beseech the Lord of the Deep, upon whose domain the Anchor rested. Fìrinn followed the threads from the Tairseach down into the deep, descending and descending, until it was unsure of where to go next. It knew not the purveyor of this demesne’s name, but the word most venerated through the collective unconscious was simple:


There was an impenetrable silence that descended upon the oceans around Fìrinn at the utterance of those most elderly of syllables. Several deafening moments later and the undersea world began to shake. The surface above churned with activity while massive riptides pulled something in Fìrinn’s direction. Out in the blackness of that deep void, visible to the divine senses of the God of Truths, floated the immense shadow of the Old Growth Below. A return to Fìrinn’s perceived challenge came soon, the thundering declaration roaring like a clarion through the deep.

”What unknown entity is this that assails Our realm?” bellowed the massive cephalopodal god, ”What does it want so deep below? Challenge is met, little godling, and we will not be deflected from our fury.”

Fìrinn’s first reaction to the perception of its announcement as a challenge was one of shock. Was it also the nature of divinity to lack the means by which intent could be fundamentally understood? Was it perhaps that mortalkind lacked these traits by virtue of their creators’ lack of intrinsic understanding? For a twin deity whose other half was simply able to convey intent and understanding by virtue of existence, it was unsettling to learn that they were the exception and not the rule. Later, when this was over, Fìrinn would have much to contemplate on the nature of godhood and the apparent limitations it entailed.
”I am Fìrinn. I am the God of Truth, and I have travelled to your depths to seek your permission and to further my own understanding of the divine. No challenge was meant.” came the reply, rippling through the deep in waves of light and sound. Much of the light was swallowed up by the inky blackness that heralded Klaar’s domain, but the intent that they conveyed was left behind--perhaps that would be enough to stay the apparent fury of the depths.

Ironically, and perhaps most fitting for his character, the words of Fìrinn rapidly diffused the situation. Klaar took in the words and intentions put out by Fìrinn with a trust born from a more recent interaction with a very different god from this one. Nevertheless, what was at first a response to a potential foe was replaced with curiosity.

”Benevolent tidings, soft currents, sensations most pleasing. You have said my name so you must know me. This pleases they who are we. Gods must be considered before being trusted, Lord of Truths; that is a truth for thee. Through that I offer further understanding.”

”Your name is known to me as a Truth. It is the Truth of the Vrool, the means by which their perception influences their reality. It is this Truth that they choose to draw through the Tairseach. It is this Truth that permeates the Gréasán Treòir.” Fìrinn replied with an explanation simply because it was in its nature to do so--and the still-young God of Truth had no metric by which to measure the degree to which the other deities would tolerate its boundless capacity for introspection. Klaar would prove a useful benchmark for the future, if the way the current interaction was going was anything to judge by.

”Though your trust would please me,” Fìrinn began, its mantle beginning to unweave itself into the symbol of the Twin Gods, ”it is not a necessary function of my current presence here. My purpose is threefold, as is my aspect: I desire to understand the Truth of the divine; to align reality with the Truth of mortalkind; to pay due obeisance for a request I must make of you. I fear that I have trespassed by cleaving from the Lifeblood an island that holds something of great importance--something that rests atop the cusp of your demesne. I come to ask your permission that it may reside where it does, and perhaps in time that you may protect it should trust emerge from this interaction.”

The monumental column of divine flesh that was Klaarungraxus seemed to sink inwards on itself as the deep concepts shared between the two inhuman gods found purchase among the other. Numerous minds danced and twisted among each other, twisting and testing the thoughts shared between the pair before chewing them up and regurgitating them back. Klaarungraxus was fascinated.

”Born of purposes three, worker of wills and willer of works; I understand thee. But, ironic, for thou hath not understood me.” Klaar seemed to roll on himself, twisting inwards and closing the distance between the two deities with surprising efficacy despite his seemingly ponderous bulk. ”The Gods above seek lands for their own making; I have rock to spare. All creation begets destruction which begets creation in turn. To take of my salt and rock and water, I do not mind; to deny the ocean such impartiality, that is where wrathful riptides tear. The land will be as sea once more, given time; let it be so, and I shall turn blind eyes to your boulder from below.”

Fìrinn’s form, though utterly dwarfed in proportions, exuded an equally ponderous weight as though reflecting the divine nature of the god approaching it. The Triquetra that its mantle had become thrummed with this weight, gentle threads of ocean-dark energy climbing its extreme luminance like the seemingly infinite tentacles of Klaar. The same effulgence registered across the God of Truth’s almost-face, reflecting both internally and externally.

”Truth exists in the realm of the personal and the subjective. Your Truth is not mine; my Truth is not yours. Reality must needs be aligned with the greater Truth, and the greatest Truth of all is that of harmony. There is a great wisdom in the utterances of your form, but not only this great demesne must remain eternal. The ocean may reclaim my isle in given time, as is fundamental to your Truth and now to mine--but the Tairseach upon it stands eternal. It is the gateway through which Dreaming Truths may manifest upon this world; it is the anchor to which the Gréasán Treòir is bound. Without it, mortalkind could not reflect or be reflected.”

Fìrinn’s explanation was not one of misunderstanding or pointless conjecture, but one of explaining fundamental Truth--the Truth of Fìrinn. As the almost-words left its form the ocean around it would vibrate with the writhing and coiling tendrils of intent that only a reflection of Klaarungraxus could make. Fìrinn did not imitate Deepspeak, for it could not do such a thing, but it could reflect those sounds whose utterances were known to it through the Truth of the Vrool and of Ku. It was meant as a deferential gesture, to bridge the gap between their Truths, and to explain precisely what it was to be Fìrinn in the context of Klaar.

”The Tairseach must be preserved, just as Vo must. In this I hope we may find harmony.”

Klaarungraxus, for all of his failings, seemed intent to give the reflection-god its due; eyes peered unblinkingly and tentacles flicked and danced at the edges of perception to understand every minute detail. By all accounts, the great kraken seemed to thoroughly and completely understand. There was something about Fìrinn that spoke to the mind of Klaar, a similarity in purpose and form of thought that the vast entity could empathize with. The addition of a note about mortals and the nature of the Tairsearch seemed to have a particularly evocative effect on the deep divine as well, as if gears and cogs were turning upon themselves deep within his numerous minds. In addition, the due deference presented to him seemed to placate his more intense moods to placidity.

”Preserved it shall be, by sky and light or depth and weight soon enough; this I swear by all my minds. I see common purpose in the nature of things; though your nature is one of distant thought, they are one in the same as the ocean that flows and the roots that grow. The Tairseach, this anchor of minds and thoughts, shall remain where it was placed so long as the oceans are deep.”

In that moment Klaar began to change, his form turning from something more organic to a far more eclectic body. As he took on his form as one of the prime nature gods of Galbar, the creature of stone, of growth, of smoke, and of water rumbled. Though it was not a threat, not by a longshot, it was most certainly a visual promise of what he was capable of.

”For this troth, I beseech another. The Truth of Vo is not mine but Nature’s; you will place its knowledge into Dreaming Truths, this threshold to unreality, and that of its creator. Mortals WILL dream of the sea. Then and there it shall remain, so their mindseye cannot forget the depths it has seen. Have we and thee an accord, worker of wills, God of Truths, Fìrinn Rux?” The final word, the added title of Rux, bore implications of friendship with the murmur of two separate currents mixing to one. Its meaning and the offer behind it would not be lost on Fìrinn, of that much Klaarungraxus was assured.

Fìrinn’s almost-face looked upon the new form with the glimmer and gleam of new perspectives and sudden epiphanies, the gentle beads of light flickering across it as the movements of currents. Its mantle responded in kind, the threads of it dissipating into smoke and reforming around the God of Truth’s shoulders as masses of writhing tentacles.

”The Gréasán Treòir has already aligned reality with this Truth. All mortalkind shares its experiences; the primal strength of the Vrool and the call of Vo have already been seeded within the first Dreamers. It is my divine twin, Àicheil, who shapes the Dreams of mortalkind--I am merely the force which provides context and perception. I am Truth, and he is Dreams--nonetheless, we are twins, and our wills are unified. We agree to your terms, Klaarungraxus Rux. A covenant is formed; a pact is bound through the unity of our essences. Call our names, and we shall answer.”

In a moment, Fìrinn’s form surrendered its claim to physicality and seemingly disappeared into the infinite depths, returning to the world of light and air above. Once more the God of Truth’s visage peered into the depths of the Tairseach, and another element of reality was aligned with Truth.

The web of consciousness had been gathered and bound, but its effects on mortalkind across Galbar were yet to be observed and understood--and it was Fìrinn’s nature to both observe and understand. Its divine twin had work to do within the web of dreams that had been spun, and so it fell to the God of Truth to ensure that the mortal races could sleep, and dream, and live out their truths. Tracking down the creations of its yet-unmet deific siblings might have ordinarily been a fairly perilous task, but Fìrinn was capable of perceiving the vast web that linked all thinking minds together, and so following its many strands was certain to lead to results.

Fìrinn’s journey across the continents and oceans of Galbar was fairly peaceful--the animals that noticed its presence saw themselves reflected in its shimmering form, and there were no deities that had chosen to make their presence known along the path. In what felt like mere seconds, Fìrinn had already made its way to a vast hub of busy minds who seemed to be on the opposite end of the circadian rhythm that most life seemed to follow. A creation, perhaps, that signified rebellion against the Sun? Perhaps friendly rivalry? Fìrinn could not draw a true context without further knowledge, and this lack of knowledge spurred it on with even greater speed towards the group of beings it had detected.

Divine eyes were sorely needed to observe the ongoings of the inhabitants of these canyons. Neither torches nor other forms of lighting were used, and the still soundscape was only occasionally cluttered with the pitter-patter of wet feet against stone, the odd snap of a twig or vine, or soft, quiet whispers. It was as though whoever lived there made every attempt not to be noticed. Even children's cries and laughter were quiet as sobs and snickers. Shadows in the moonlight revealed the return of a small band, possibly a hunting party, which was affirmed by the droning drag of something large behind the group. Divine eyes could see evident signs of a landshark carcass scraping up the stone floor of the canyon. The party was met with praises and laughter, though none of it would’ve been audible over an adjacent distance.

However, it didn’t take long for the celebrations to pass. A very powerful presence was near, and while none of the elves could actually -see- this presence, its unmistakable smell made it quite clear that it wasn’t one of them. Hasty pitter-patters of feet trickled upwards from the canyon below as the villages’ young, frail and old were helped inside the deep cave networks the elves had made their homes. Then, led by a tall, powerful female, a small hunting band approached the source of this scent.

Fìrinn made no effort to explicitly reveal itself, per se, but mortals intrinsically had a sense of the divine--at least, if they were only a few feet away from one another. It took a moment to observe, first, clearly sighting the glittering threads of the Gréasán Treòir that linked each of them to one another and to the Tairseach. Each filament was a mote of smoke, spun into an almost ephemeral haze, twisting and turning upon itself as thoughts and feelings and aspirations made their way across its spidery surface. Fìrinn admired, for just a second, the quality of its handiwork and the successful completion of a task before it made its presence known.

”I am Fìrinn. I am here to determine the success of the Gréasán Treòir and its anchoring to mortalkind. Will you permit me to examine your thoughts?”

The words echoed out through the air and the ground, carried by waves of a soft, crackling energy that was something akin to sound but not quite there. It was more akin to knowing that something had been said and being able to recall the memory than actually hearing and processing words, and it might have been jarring at first. If any discomfort registered on their faces Fìrinn would reach out with its mantle apologetically (and perhaps a little sheepishly) to signify its regret for such a careless action.

Discomfort was a mild adjective to describe what the elves felt. The echo hammered in their powerful ears like war drums, and half of the hunters dropped the crude weapons they were holding to clutch their ears. Their leader hunkered down momentarily, but was quick to re-assume her stance, could considerably more defensive, with a low point of gravity and a spear stuck out forward. She and some of the others who were beginning to recover, gave sharp hisses and the leader spoke in a sharp whisper, “You stand upon chieftain Pinae’s land - the site of the Moonwell and its keepers. What manner of plague are you, to disturb us so violently in the middle of the night to, as you so claim, ‘examine our thoughts’?”

Fìrinn’s expressionless face was not one capable of showing emotion, but if it were, the current emotion upon it would quite plainly be confusion.

”I am Fìrinn. Is this not enough?” Fìrinn asked, its voice emanating from it in a wave of sound rather than a direct transmission of thought. It was shaky, at first, but by the end of the second sentence it was the sound of silence broken by a droplet of water, or a gentle exhalation, or perhaps the gentle rustling of reeds in a light breeze.

”You lack context. The Anchor has not permitted the sharing of thought and experience--perhaps these things must be dreamed? You might call me… Truth, or perhaps Understanding. I am akin to the one that spun you from the infinite ether, a being of divinity. I believe the word you use is… God?”

Fìrinn paused for a moment, its mantle-claw retracting and resting gently in front of the god’s torso, as if cradling something just out of perception. This had been an unexpected result of the weaving--perhaps it would take time for them to understand? No, that was against the nature of Fìrinn’s truth. Perhaps the weaving had not been powerful enough? Fìrinn did not know how many siblings it had, but if the number was considerable enough it simply may have been a matter of the dilution of its Lifeblood. Perhaps they had been created after the threads were woven, and integration into the grand design took time, or a catalyst, or both?

Questions illuminated the God of Truth’s face like tiny flickers of dancing lights, playing off one another for suddenly-long seconds before another response came.

”Do you view the unknown as a plague? Do you dream of mysteries beyond comprehension as you slumber?” the Watcher Behind wondered aloud, its thoughts coalescing into sound as if by instinct rather than by intent. Though it had not meant to ask the questions aloud, they were questions that demanded answers--it waited patiently for the reply, unmoving.

The elves flinched at the noise again, though they were less taken aback this time. The others behind the leader closed in with wooden spears at the ready. The leader remained as tense as before. “We have been visited upon by godkin before - neither time was particularly pleasant. A plague to us is whatever disturbs the Great Peace - a crime which your presence, Fìrinn, perpetrates.” She straightened up and dunked the butt of her spear into the ground twice before resuming her combat stance. “... And I, Cilantra, won’t let you approach any closer.”

”You are motivated by a desire to protect from the unknown, as the unknown has proven dangerous to you and that for which you care before--but to close yourself off from the unknown is to live half a life, and it is not your truth. You must shed this delusion if you are to achieve enlightenment and complete your purpose.”

As Fìrinn spoke, its mantle began to gesticulate and weave back and forth, the threads of its tri-tipped claws snaking apart from one another and weaving themselves into the form of a triquetra--the symbol of the Twin Gods. The mantle’s divine essence sparkled and shone with a glint of the moon and its cool light, before Fìrinn reached down to touch the ground with its true hand. As it did, the waters of the canyon swirled and churned beneath the surface of the ground before bubbling up in a neat circle beneath the God of Truth, the soil crumbling away beneath the surface and rising moments later as a neat ring of silvery crystal. The waters of the valley rushed in to form a shallow pond, maybe a centimeter or two deep at the most, and as Fìrinn withdrew its digit the waters stilled themselves completely.

”Through Reflection you may see Truth. Look into the pool, and see the truth of what path your suspicion shall forge.” Fìrinn’s words, though phrased like a command, carried none of the authority one would expect of such a statement. It was a soothing balm against the infernal heat of doubt and suspicion, a gentle application of water against a burn--a promise of safety and sanctuary, unintentionally much like that of their beloved Moonwell.

Contained within the pool was a vision of Truth, and of what a world closed to the new would bring. As the tribe became increasingly insular they would find themselves beset within and without by perils of every make and design, and the peace they laboured to forge would elude them at every turn. It was not the future, and yet it was also not false--a single glimpse at a single facet of the infinite jewel of possibility, a warning of what might happen and simultaneously a warning of what would.

“Close your eyes!” Cilantra commanded, but curiosity ensnared one or three of them. The hunters approached the pool, but Cilantra and the others stepped in front of them as if they could see them clearly. “No,” another hunter pleaded.

“Look, it’s just trying to show us--”

“Don’t be a fool, Parslie! You never know what these things can conjure forth. What if it’s like the Light, hmm?”

The whisper brought two of the approaching elves to a halt, but the third one glanced over Cilantra’s shoulder into the pool. “H-hey! It’s our cave!”

“Damn it, Dyll, I said don’t look!” commanded Cilantra and reached out towards the elf in question. She grabbed him in a hold and tried to pull him away, but the young man then said, “No, wait! It showed death! Death and decay!”

This made Cilantra freeze. Another hunter slowly turned her blind expression to face in the party leader’s direction. “Cilantra, you aren’t actually--”

“Fírinn,” Cilantra whispered as though a shout. “You said this pool conveys the truth?”

”It conveys your truth. Truth is understanding; Truth is context. It is the limits of your perception, and how that perception influences your reality. It is a glimpse of what could be, what will be, and what might not be. I cannot show you the future--I show you Truth, the Truth of your existence. It is both real and nothing more than a vision in a pool.”

Fírinn’s answer was not designed to be cryptic. To Fírinn, it was as simple as what it had said--but it had the perspective of eternity, and it was the very embodiment of that which it spoke. Cilantra might never have been capable of understanding the words that Fírinn spoke, but she would understand in no uncertain terms that the words this god spoke were Truth in its purest, most personal form. Perhaps they could never be understood by Cilantra, or perhaps she was the only person that could ever truly understand it. Neither of them would know for certain until she gazed into the pool and saw.

Fírinn gestured with its mantle to the pool, offering the elf nothing but choice and possibility.

The night elf scowled at the god, an expression every bit as furious with closed eyes as with open. But even though her party members all whispered for her not to look, the chance to see what lay beyond was too great and too important to ignore. She opened her eyes and gazed into the pool.

The instant that Cilantra looked into the pool, she would see nothing but the reflection of the God of Truth before her and her brethren, pushing against her in an effort to look into the depths of the pool. After a second she would see her friends fade into the background, their silhouettes the shape of moonlight, until they were simply a feature of the night sky and nothing more. From the blank depths of the night sky a gibbous moon came into being, swallowing the silhouettes in the background with its passage, each adding a new layer to its ever-growing form until the whole pool was naught but the glimmer of a full moon in the sky. A rush of sensation would overcome her, like the sharp shock of an unexpected fall, as the moon rippled itself across the pool and faded back into the empty canvas of the night sky. She would see a vague form approaching the cave, bloodied and haggard, each sharp inhalation of breath the acknowledgement of a wound and each exhalation heralded by a wheezing cough and splutter of silvery blood coating its tongue and spraying through the air like pollen.

Cilantra would know, immediately, that this was her.

The caves that had once been teeming with life (however furtive) were a barren and desolate mockery of their former glory. The stream had run dry, replaced by a coppery film of barely-dissolved sediment. The huts crumbled to little more than piles of rotting sticks, crumpled hands and legs peeking out like leaves from a macabre tree. The moonwell, in the centre, blackened and scorched by some terrible light from deep within--what little fluid left within its cadaverous remains leaching out like her own vital essence. She would be drawn into it, staring deeply at the loss of the peace she craved, and as her lungs burned and her heard hammered in her chest and her legs quivered with the overwhelming weight of her body there was an almighty crack deep within the base of her skull. Blackness trickled in from every angle until there was nothing left but that same night sky, now devoid of moonlight and starlight, and the blinding glare of that infernal Light seared the empty hollows of her eye sockets and she was jilted back to consciousness.

"A glimpse of Truth. A moment that will come to be, in your dreams or in the waking world. Dreams do not remain Dreams forever, Cilantra. Which Dream crosses the Tairseach and becomes real is a choice that you can make. Which Dream becomes Truth is for you to decide."

Cilantra collapsed to one knee and her comrades swarmed her to see if she was alright. Chalky tears dripped out of her eyes sockets and she made considerable efforts to wipe them away on her wrist before looking back at the god, colouring it a twinkly alabaster. “Is this… What’ll come to pass if we shun interaction with others?” The others followed her gaze towards Fírinn.

"I show you one path of many. There are infinite possibilities as each second moves on to the next. The path changes with the moon and the sun. Which path comes to pass is a function of your Truth, Cilantra. What I have shown you is one possibility of many. It is not the future; it is merely your Truth.”

Getting a straightforward answer from the God of Truth was, it seemed, not nearly as simple as its moniker might suggest. Fírinn placed the tip of its mantle-claw upon Cilantra’s shoulder, its presence as gentle and soft as the kiss of moonlight upon one’s skin. It offered her a support to stand, if she wished, as Fírinn spoke again.

”Truth is not a matter of what will or will not come to pass. It is a matter of possibility, and far-off certainty. While I cannot say which of the infinite paths of your Truth will manifest, I can tell you that if you progress as you are now the paths where this eventuality does not take place will fall away into nothingness. Perhaps only the path you have seen will remain. Perhaps it, too, shall remain a Dream. Only you have the capacity to know. Only you have the capacity to decide.”

“B-but… What will we do, then? The world has only shown us that strange powers bring unrest and threats, and yet we should open ourselves to them? Why should we? How can we know if this would even come to pass if we keep on as we do?”

”Enlightenment is your goal. You must align reality with your Truth. But Truth requires experience. Truth requires context, and understanding. While you close yourself off to these elements you will never allow Truth to cross the Tairseach. Dreams will remain Dreams, and your Truth will consume you from within. You cannot know what is to come--such is not the fate of mortalkind. Such is not the fate of godkind, in most cases. I only offer you the certainty of what may come to pass. I only offer you a chance to become the you that your Truth demands you be--and I offer this to you freely, without reciprocation, and without hesitation. You may call upon me in any moment, at any hour, and I will align Truth with reality, and Dreams with Truth.”

Fírinn extended its mantle out towards the others, beckoning them closer as if to embrace them. Its offer was not limited to Cilantra, and its pool was not only for her. Even after it left this place, some element of its reflection would remain--and where there was a reflection of Truth, Fírinn would answer the beck and call of any that spoke its name. Gods did not have to be cruel. Perhaps this could become Cilantra’s Truth, and in time, the Truth of all of the Night Elves.

The other elves, choosing to offer their trust to this being, closed in around the pool to see. Squinting eyes scanned the visions for details, and these were shared between the hunters - making enemies of the gods out of fright would leave them poor and undernourished while the rest of the world would surpass them thousandfold. The populations of odd-shaped shadows that looked nothing like the children of night would grow to be millions, while the night elves themselves would hardly exceed a few hundred. In the end, as per Cilantra’s vision earlier, nothing would remain except for midnight blood and shadowed corpses.

It was unlikely that none of this would come to pass, some of them agreed, and yet, enough of them confessed that the possibility was just great enough. Their discussion grew from soft hisses to full-blown voices, and Cilantra knew a decision had to be made. She quieted her companions and faced the god, though her spear had long since been left on the ground. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes. “What is this… Tairseach? Will our contributions to it keep these shards of doom from cutting into our Great Peace?”

”You need not concern yourself with the Tairseach. It is the Anchor that binds the Gréasán Treòir, and forms the bridge between Dreams and Truth. I will show you.”

Fírinn reached down once more with its true hand, the very tip of its finger barely impacting the unnaturally still water of the reflecting pool. As it did the visions contained within passed without like steam and it shone with a glassy silver luminance. Those who looked within would see the threads connecting them to one another, the vast web of collective unconsciousness that allowed mortals to Dream, and though they could never begin to understand its intricacies without their minds breaking beneath the strain they could at least contextualise the information that Fírinn had provided--enough to know that what it spoke was true.

”I do not desire your worship or your obeisance. I do not require tribute. Your Truth and your reality do not currently align--all I can give you is the understanding to bring these disparate elements together, and to safeguard your Dreams from my Twin’s unchecked influence. Have you begun to Dream, yet?” Fírinn’s question stood in the air, almost returning the conversation to an earlier point in time. The Elves had never answered it, after all, and it could not leave until its purpose for coming to this place and these people had been fulfilled.

“I-I’ve had a dream,” mumbled one of the hunters in the back. The party turned to her. She shrunk together timidly out of reflex before restoring her stance. “Y-yeah, I woke up with the weirdest feeling that, that something happened in the night, but…”

“You probably just woke up and saw someone going to take a leak,” one of the other hunters rationalised. The first was taken aback.

“Nuh-no! I definitely saw something really, really weird! It’s just…” She groaned. “Ugh! Now I can’t remember it!”

Cilantra sighed. “Forgive her, Fírinn - she’s like this sometimes.”

”It is to be expected. I could not be sure how mortalkind would interact with the web, so I followed it to you to check. Alas, my purview is not over Dreams--I am only the force which provides context to the realities you might experience amidst slumber. My Twin, Àicheil, is the God of Dreams.” Fírinn explained, pausing for a second between sentences to consider its words carefully. Mortals without the understanding inherent to the Divine were more difficult to adroitly communicate with than it had imagined, and each word carried so much less weight than it was used to with Àicheil.

”A dream is… a reflection of reality. A warped image, flooded with thoughts and feelings far beyond your own--they are the sum of all mortalkind’s experience rendered abstract and filtered through sleep. What you experienced was very real, but it is not yet a part of reality--that is the purpose of Truth. Perhaps this will help you understand?”

Fírinn’s mantle drew a lazy figure-eight in the air with a clawed tip, gently pulling at the weave that linked that particular hunter to her fellows. As it continued to strum the chord of dreams hovering in the air, visible to the elves only through the pool, Fírinn’s other mantle-claw dipped itself into the pool and gently stirred its contents, bringing forth another vision. This time, it was simply a repeat of the Dream that the hunter had experienced.

”I can only repeat what you saw. My mastery of the weave is limited--it is not my place, and I am yet to do more than simply create it. I apologise for my inadequacy in this regard. Perhaps, in slumber, if you call for my Twin they may be able to explain? A word of caution, however--do not interact with them without my presence. I cannot guarantee the safety of your mind without being there. Call our names at this pool before you sleep, and we shall endeavour to guide you from beyond the Tairseach.” Fírinn paused, expressionless, though a glint of moonlight across its face suggested a degree of pensiveness.

”It seems that I have fulfilled my purpose here. You are more closely aligned with Truth, and the Gréasán Treòir appears to have been a success. Is there aught more you would ask of me before I depart?”

Cilantra looked to the others, who nodded back. It was likely that they were thinking of the same question. “How do we call your Twin?” she asked in an almost humble manner.

”As you slumber before a mirror, you need simply call my name. I shall summon my Twin for you, lest his presence overwhelm you. May your Great Peace be woven into reality and your Truths realised.”

And just as quickly as it had arrived, Fírinn simply departed. From the elves’ point of view, it would not even be that it moved--it would simply look as if the world had rearranged itself in some small way, and that a function of that change was that the God of Truth was no longer with them.

Penelope continued to tap the keys on her laptop as the situation progressed. She didn't look down at it as she typed, keeping her eyes firmly glued to the live feed, and her power trained on Matthew. As he turned to address her more directly, she knew exactly what was going on. She figured that John did too--but he was too high strung and too occupied to act on it. A stupid little soldier who only knows how to follow orders indeed. she allowed herself to think, a small indulgence given that the situation was admittedly high octane.

Matthew's words had something frantic about them--something mirrored in his emotional state. She was a little surprised by that fact, given how he normally acted and reacted. Matthew had a quiet kind of control on many situations, as if he were simply unaffected by what was going on. The state of being of an impartial watcher, something almost inhuman in its asceticism, but that was likely just because of how... enervated he always felt to Penelope. Now he was very much in, well, not outright panic--but something close, in his own little way. She made a mental note of the situation, something to file away and dissect later. A piece of the puzzle to be examined and slotted neatly into place when there was the time and the inclination to do so.

"Not a distraction. She isn't making enough noise--she couldn't know how we'd react, so the only way to reliably distract us would be to make too much noise for us to deal with, proverbially." Penelope replied, offhandedly. She shot a glance at John, briefly, that carried all of the intent she needed it to: Your mind has failed you and now you must rely on mine. If you value the First Guard, shut up and let me talk. Whether or not John let that slide would give Penelope more information for her evaluation of him, but right now she knew that he'd let her have the floor if only for enough time for her to work out what was going on.


Penelope went silent for a moment before standing up and closing her laptop, moving to stow it away in its case as her eyes went wide and her pupils dilated. Her breath hitched in her throat and her mouth was left slightly agape as the wheels turned in her head.

"It's a stress test. That's all they're doing--they want to know how we'll respond, with whom, and what our limits are. This is all just a puppet show--the cards that Shaker is holding are all blank. I can't tell you how to react, but we've already given them information--I think that our best course of action is to continue and deliberately mislead them as to just how we operate, what we can do, what our decision making looks like. They know full well that we can't disband the First Guard on the drop of a hat, and that negotiator you sent out... S.W.A.T?" Penelope paused, as if in thought, to remember his name. "has done you a great disservice by acquiescing to ostensibly save a life. That said... it works to our advantage in this instance because they are now under the impression that we operate emotionally and not logically. We have to consid--"

Penelope was cut off by a vibration in the right pocket of her trousers. It buzzed once, and then twice, and Penelope took it out of her pocket and immediately answered it.

"Make it quick." she hastily said, turning on her heel and moving to leave as she did. She made the motion of attempting to cover the mouthpiece of the device, though utterly failing, before looking directly at Matthew and saying "Emergency. Kelly needs me to review something urgently--I'll be back later."

"What've you got?" would faintly echo through the door before it was firmly closed behind her. Penelope made a waving motion to Sandra and mouthed a "thank you" for the coffee before making her way to head out of the building and down to her car. Kelly only used the burner phone for serious matters, and she was already running on the adrenaline of--to her mind--working out the Shaker's plan.

"Let’s all keep a cool head. Well, except you."


"Let’s all keep a cool head. Well, except you."

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