< A Dark Meeting | Red Ice Logs | Madness Lays Claim >

On the trip to meet with Kinqueduran and Iron Horse in Ur, Anstice often work before Mendhari. The Southron woman enjoyed her beauty sleep a bit too much and often refused to wake until the sun was at least several hours in the sky. The trouble of waking her and dealing with her had proved far more troublesome then the lost time.

Taking advantage of the hot spring they had camped near by, one of the few places warm enough on the trip to allow for real, unhurried and comfortable bathing, Anstice found himself almost ready to let Mendhari sleep a few hours extra to catch a nap himself in the warm waters.

Only when a cold current began curling around his right leg did Anstice notice anything was wrong with the spring he'd choosen.

Anstice moves slowly, only his arm doing anything out of the ordinary as his hand slides closer to his spear.

An arm solidifies from the current and fingers wrap around Anstice's ankle, pulling him under the surface of the water with inhuman strength. He can feel no flesh on the fingers and as he descends and the water covers his eyes, he can make out the skeletal figure pulling him down into a dark layer of water where the weak morning sunlight does not dare.

Anstice gulps in a last breath as he goes under, hand scrabbing momentarily at the stone before going limp. He stares at the thing, forcing himself into a meditative state and letting his mind grow open, more reflective. Just a little longer before he fights...

The water around Anstice is suddenly icy cold instead of steaming warm. The hand lets go, but Anstice finds himself unable to swim upwards. A bubble forms around him, filled with dank but clean air. From the inky water without, a form emerges.

Anstice coughs, wiping the water away from his eyes and managing a surprisingly intense glare, even in his state. "Was this drama really necessary?"

Poseidon: "You must be within my realm before I can seal the agreement, Anstice. And I myself can not manifest easily in the waters of Creation. Therefor, it was required to bring you to me. We are in the Sea of Laments, off the edge of the Dead Isle."

Anstice: "Necessary, then. But a warning would have been nice... or is that forbidden to mysteries?"

Poseidon: "For one with such an interest in learning the mysteries of others you have no patience with those presented to you."

Anstice: "I am often tense when I believe my life might be ending. Death puts certain things off limits, after all."

Poseidon: "But only a few. Tell me, do you know the difference between Mysteries and Secrets?"

Anstice: "Hrm... they are synonomous words... Offhand, I'd say mysteries are spiritual, and secrets facts. This is obviously not the whole truth, however."

Poseidon: "Someone must know a secret, Anstice."

Anstice closes his eyes to consider this.

Anstice: "That has... odd implications."

Anstice: "I'd ask more questions, but I do believe we are here for more than a social meeting."

Poseidon: "I rule things lost and never found, the secrets that have passed from memory and all things unknown to the living. Would you serve me before secrets, knowing that you can never know what I do?"

Anstice thinks for a moment or two. "I have always believed it is impossible to know everything... it's just that hasn't stopped me from trying. Still, I make no claims as to serving you before secrets. I will not insult you by claiming I am immune to her own requests."

Anstice smiles wryly. "I suspect that I will serve you both as best I can, and who is predominant will vary by my abilities."

Poseidon: "You must choose. Serve the known, or the unknown. Once you choose, you will be bound. The magic is immutable."

Anstice: "What happens should I choose to serve you? I have been told of the dark stars, but details are few."

Poseidon: "Oh, that is no longer a choice. You have agreed, Hades has witnessed. You have only to choose if you shall serve me or my elder sister first and best. Unlike Jupiter, I am not jealous. All things will pass into my realm eventually. The Dark Stars are secrets, not mysteries. I will tell you of them. A few of your comrades in Heaven work their magics through theivery and deception. We clean them out as we find them."

Poseidon: "You will work their magic with our blessing. The first ever. A new thing, you will be. They are not reflections of the stars you know, they are themselves. Fashioned whole-cloth by my father, a better work then his first."

Anstice tries not to consider how often he relies upon "borrowing". "Why are we the first?"

Poseidon: "We have never offered this to others. We have never stirred ourselves before. Now our father grows angry and he commands that we remedy the situation."

Poseidon: "My touch will be light, but firm. I will impress upon you my gifts and they will change you forever. But they will not over-shadow those of Jupiter. Does this comfort you?"

Anstice: "It does, to an extent. I would be more worried if I was truly comfortable making deals with Celestines. Still, Jupiter has her servants already... and your aims coincide at least for now. I will pledge to serve you before her."

Poseidon smiles. "Then come out of the bubble. Join me in the waters and I will give you what you have pledged to accept."

Anstice closes his eyes to steady himself and makes his way forward, flinching at the caress of the stygian waters.

Poseidon presses a hand to your forehead, his touch is strong and damp but you can't quite feel the pressure, as if he was just barely touching you, despite being able to see the dark form of a powerful arm outlined in the water by a faint trace of light.

The fingers of the Dark Lord press hard against Anstice's skull, making the Green gasp in pain. As the cold, dark water rushes into his mouth it seems to take on a life of its own. It surges down his throat and into his lungs as well as his belly. It spreads, moving through all the systems of his body, each one growing cold as the water claims it.

Faint forms appear in the formerly bright mind of the scholar, darkening into shadows and then black holes. Minor details float away, lost to the living. A moment of pleasure known only to Anstice evaporates, one of his hidden, secret failures is eaten away. The holes in his mind form into a twisted lacework that frames the Exaltation within his soul.

Anstice would choke, but his body seems to refuse his commands. He would cry out, but the cold has frozen him. Instead, he reflects on the irony of the situation, and hopes to content himself with learning while he forgets.

As the green of Anstice's eyes fades to black, he finds himself once again dozing in the hot spring. Faint light ripples around him, a pool of black water that shines now, tinted by the green of his old anima. The water of the springs shows his Castemark as it twists. The mark of Jupiter shifts, growing darker and adding an extra arm. Slowly, it changes into the trident mark of Mystery and flares.

Anstice stretches, shuddering a bit at the ominous look of the change, and resolves to do something to make his eyes less noticable. Neither secrets nor mysteries are really meant to be glaring, after all.

< A Dark Meeting | Red Ice Logs | Madness Lays Claim >