Completed [North Ravok Outpost] My Offering to You

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A city floating in the center of a lake, Ravok is a place of dark beauty, romance and culture. Behind it all though is the presence of Rhysol, God of Evil and Betrayal. The city is controlled by The Black Sun, a religious organization devoted to Rhysol. [Lore]

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[North Ravok Outpost] My Offering to You

Postby Evarista on November 26th, 2016, 4:25 pm

47th of Autumn, 516 A.V.


The somber silence of the chapel was inviting. The strategically placed candles were enough to outline the walls and pillars, slow-moving shadows creeping across them as if alive. There was enough light for navigation, but little else. The chapel was made cramped by the narrowly spaced pillars, rising up into total darkness, towards the uncannily tall ceilings. The stone beast opened its intimidating embrace to Evarista, and she entered with anticipation, closing the heavy wooden door behind her and leaving the chilly evening breeze behind.

The sudden isolation from the movement and noise going on outside was most blissful. A small pause to breathe in the surroundings. Just beyond the curtain of pillars was a set of flat stairs, leading down to a shallow depression in the black stone floor. In the middle was an the silhouette of an altar. There were no chairs or benches anywhere. The worshipers were to stand. Today's service was already past, so there was no one here. Even in its empty state, the chapel emanated dignity.

Descending the decorative stairs gingerly, Evarista approached the altar with deliberate steps. There was a looming tension hanging in the air, reminding her of the the Temple in Ravok. However, for some reason, the god's presence couldn't be felt here as strongly. The uncanny tension had another origin, and the girl couldn't tell what it was. The unfamiliar sensation sent a shiver down her spine.

There was no light falling on the altar. Captivated by the beshadowed stone, Evarista traced the surface with her fingers lightly. She flinched when her digits suddenly met resistance. There was something on the altar. Something she couldn't see.

"Take it."

The black-haired visitor inhaled sharply in surprise when a low voice reached her ears. Turning her head to scan the surroundings, she noticed a robed figure standing between two of the pillars that encircled the altar. The broad shoulders and the deep baritone told her that it was probably a man, but the still and obscured silhouette disclosed nothing more. Has he been here the whole time?

Freezing in place, Evarista tentatively waited for him to continue speaking, but the figure remained silent and unmoving. It was her turn. Muscles tense with apprehension, she returned her hand to the altar, feeling for the unknown item that rested on it. Her fingers closed around something smooth and round. A small, smooth ball. No, a whole string of them. The loop of prayer beads rattled softly as she lifted them to her face.

"This is why you are here, is it not?"

His voice reverberated softly in the deafening silence of the chapel, calm and mostly dispassionate, yet carrying the faintest trace of affection. The daily service was long over, of course. The two of them were alone here. Evarista stared at the figure blankly through the prayer beads that still dangled in front of her face. No, she was not here out of piety, but out of social duty. Before departing Ravok, the chamberlain instructed her to visit the temple regularly during her stay here. It would reflect well on her father. She understood this, and obeyed without complaint.

Without answering him, the girl lowered the hand holding the beads, and lowered her head as well. Now that the man unwittingly called attention to the fact, visiting the temple just for show was a little shameful. For some reason, it felt like there was no hope in trying to hide it from the robed figure, as if he could see right through her superficiality.

This is when he moved for the first time. The stillness and silence in the chapel were so all-consuming that her senses felt every movement acutely. Just watching the folds ripple across his robe made her flinch. She was unsure how he interpreted her silence. It was probably rude of her, but it was too late now. She could only watch and he retreated into the darkness beyond the pillars, vanishing from her sight.

A drop of sweat rolled down the girl's temple as she continued standing in front of the altar, still clutching the prayer beads nervously. Once again, her social incompetence has put her in a difficult situation. Should she leave? Should she wait? The uncertainly was unbearable, but she chose to stay still. She simply didn't dare to turn her back on the darkness.
Last edited by Evarista on November 30th, 2016, 11:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Evarista
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[North Ravok Outpost] My Offering to You

Postby Evarista on November 28th, 2016, 5:33 pm

The silence didn't torment her for long. A low metallic rattle seeped out of the darkness, and the priest emerged again, carrying a one-pronged candelabrum. The brass glimmered eerily in the low light as he approached the altar standing across from Evarista for a moment. She didn't hear his footsteps when he walked. She didn't even hear his breathing, and held her own breath unconsciously, loathing to disturb the tense air. Common worship hours were long over. Was he going hold a ceremony just for her?

Without saying a word, the priest slowly placed the candelabrum on the altar between them. The brass scraped against the smooth stone quietly while he adjusted it to stand right in front of the nervous visitor. The girl finally noticed that there was already a short candle planted in the slot at the top. She also noticed how much larger the priest was. The hood covered his face completely, and he towered over her like an emanation of Rhysol himself. His open palm swept over the candle, and a tongue of flame came to life. She idly observed that he wasn't using any tinder.

The light was just at Evarista's eye level, slowly unraveling into a steady glow, making her squint slightly while her eyes readjusted. The fire seemed bright, but it illuminated nothing around them. Even the tall figure on the other side of the altar remained dark, somehow, but she understood that she wasn't supposed to look at him in any case. The priest's voice reached her ears again. It wasn't scary this time, only soothing. He spoke very slowly, drawing out every sound as if to impress it deeply upon her.

"This fire is a door. The door is closed to you, but there is a keyhole. Gaze through, and Rhysol will gaze back at you."

Evarista's eyes were already riveted to the fire. As she watched, she gradually became aware of the swaying motion, and the subtle change of hue. The blue at the base, darkening into a brown rim before sharpening into searing white pillar, outlined by a soft corona. the As the silence settled over the altar chamber once again, time itself seemed to slow down. Evarista's perception narrowed down to only the fire of the candle, picking up every detail acutely.

It was strange how naturally she fell into this trace-like state. No magic was being cast, yet she felt bewitched. The atmosphere of the temple and the obscured countenance of the priest enchanted her with no effort at all. Taking in his words, she wanted to delve into the depths of the fire and see what was on the other side, as if a genuine mystery would unravel itself before her if she looked hard enough. It was an uncanny sensation, and one the young aristocrat rarely experienced, being the unfeeling and unimpressionable bonehead that she was. But this, she could understand.

Without thinking, she delved into the candlelight's aura, wanting to see even more. It is only now she realized that fire had an aura at all. Fire wasn't an object, so why? What little auristic theory she knew spoke against this, and it would have confused her at any other time, but it made perfect sense here. This wasn't just a fire, it was a portal, a gate through which Rhysol himself could receive her attention, and perhaps even return it. Of course such a powerful thing would have an aura. And what a beautiful aura it was. The flame seemed to expand, consuming the darkness around it effortlessly. Something emerged from her memory suddenly.

All the darkness in the world cannot hide the light of a single candle.

She couldn't remember where she came across this aphorism, but she remembered that she had only scoffed at it at the time. It may have been true, but one candle cannot illuminate all the darkness in the world. So what use is it? That's what she had thought as she discarded the overly optimistic expression into a mental rubbish bin. However, now that it came back to her, she slowly began to understand what it meant. The line wasn't at all about hope, or faith, or defiance, or anything else of that nature. Behind those words was a much more daring message. And, by the time she walked away from here, Evarista resolved to understand it.
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Evarista
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[North Ravok Outpost] My Offering to You

Postby Evarista on November 30th, 2016, 7:59 pm

Evarista feverishly clutched the prayer beads in her hands, not noticing the orbs dig into her skin so deeply that they left marks. Her eyes didn't leave the fire for a moment. The priest continued his esoteric sermon, his voice lowering to a barely audible whisper, forcing the listener to strain herself even more to hear him.

"Remind yourself why you are alone here. Some only embrace their faith when others encourage them. They seek confirmation for their beliefs from each other. They feel safe surrounded by those like them. Their fervor is only as strong as the supporting hand at their back. Or the tip of a blade. The weak and the meek are not capable of devotion."

The girl enjoyed the whisper drifting towards her through the flickering flame. She swallowed while he made a pause, but no longer nervously. She was simply focused. A soothing calm and clarity settled over her. The candlelight occupied her eyes so that her ears could better absorb the message. She didn't fully understand what he meant, and why he was telling this to someone like her, but she trusted his judgement. There was a reason for this. A design.

The pause was drawing out. The once-modest candlelight has consumed her vision entirely. She was unable to tell where the real fire ended and the aural one began. Was there a difference? Was she even using magic still? Maybe this was all real. Being unable to see and hear the priest, she idly wondered if he left. She hadn't heard his footsteps when he approached before, so he might as well have retreated just as silently.

However, the young aristocrat wasn't tempted to check. It would be a simple matter to shift focus from the fire to the space behind it. Perhaps she could even glimpse his aura that way. No doubt, it hid colors worth seeing, but the girl felt no desire to remove her gaze from the flame. Clearly, the priest ordered her to maintain her focus. Looking away would be disrespectful, but that wasn't the reason why she obeyed him. Evarista didn't do anything out of respect, because she wasn't capable of it. Not for the priest, not for this temple, not even for Rhysol himself.

No. She wasn't here out of faith, and she wasn't actually here out of duty either. She joined the priest in this unusual ceremony because she saw it as the natural thing to do. In her mind, it made perfect sense, and there had to be no other reason. The prayer beads rattled softly in her clenched fist, as she gripped them even harder. The candlelight flickered wildly, as if in response. The dull pain in her palm helped her stay connected with reality, defying her usual ease of distraction. It wasn't the time to daydream.

The slow whisper finally resumed. The priest hadn't moved at all. He seemed to not even have breathed during all this time. That was fine with her. She wasn't at all interested in his humanity. She expected a continued exposition, but what he said suprised her.

"Touch the fire."

A brief command, as if it was something casual. No, not a command. An encouragement? No. Something much more cordial. The subtle softness in his whisper left no ambiguity. It was an invitation, extended to a friend.
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[North Ravok Outpost] My Offering to You

Postby Evarista on November 30th, 2016, 11:05 pm

The strange request was followed by more silence as he waited for her to comply. Evarista didn't hurry. The delay wasn't because she hesitated. On the contrary, she mentally accepted the directive as soon as she heard it. Questioning or protesting would serve no purpose. She doubted it was a test of devotion or anything similar. Rather, her normally dull intuition told her that he wanted to teach her something. She was eager to learn.

The girl was surprised by her own lack of tension. Shouldn't she feel anxious about doing something painful? There was no apprehension at all. Holding the prayer beads close, she reached up with her free hand slowly. The black silhouette of her digits outlined itself sharply against the psychedelic glow of the candlelight and its overflowing aural corona. It looked like a strange pool, making her curious to sink her hand in and feel around in there; maybe find what's at the bottom.

Evarista lost her sense of space. She was reaching out towards the fire right in front of her, but it somehow seemed so far away. As if she wouldn't reach it even if she ran after it. Eventually, her fingertips touched a surface, and a thousand needles prickled her skin. It felt like she was sinking her hand into hot water. A pool, just as she imagined. The fire was a pool...?

Then it struck her. She was touching the aura. A concept she had never even entertained as possible. She was touching something that didn't exist, emanating from an object that wasn't an object. The otherworldly heat flowed against her skin as she sunk her hand deeper. She resisted the urge to step forward and dive inside the surreal portal completely. Disappear into another dimension.

Just as she was about to lift her sole off the ground and attempt just that, an intensely searing pain pierced her fingertips. Inhaling sharply, she jerked back her hand instinctively. The rapid surge of adrenaline brought her back to her senses. Dazed, the girl blinked in confusion and looked around her, singed hand still pressed against her chest awkwardly. The overflowing light was gone. On the altar in front of her was a completely mundane candle, with the beshadowed figure of the priest standing behind it.

The man spoke, no longer whispering. His tone was different from before. None of the edge, and none of the intensity, only warm and even. Almost fatherly.

"You have experienced the essence of Rhysol."

Evarista stared silently at him, still with a mildly disoriented expression. The cleric explained patiently, the small flame leaning from side to side in front of him.

"You live among people. You meet them on their path, and maybe you reach out to some. Your friends, your family, your lovers. You discover how they are. Beautiful. Repulsive. Enthralling. Terrifying. You discover that, and you are satisfied. A mistake. There is a layer underneath. Real pain. Real passion. Thoughts and emotions beyond the mundane. Beyond the human. That is where Rhysol waits. Look for him there..."

Listening to him, the shivering visitor finally regained some composure again. Thin trickles of sweat lined her face, and her breathing was still somewhat uneven, but there was clarity in her eyes. The priest slowly raised his hand and pointed at the prayer beads she was holding. Now that Evarista's attention was called back to them, she had to put some effort into relaxing her hand. Her knuckles ached and there was a large bruise on her palm from gripping the loop too tightly. As if she has been drowning, and they were a floating straw.

"Take the beads with you and count the days. We will meet again. Rhysol will guide us."

With those eerily prophetic words, he snuffed the candle in front of him, seemingly with his bare hand. The chamber was instantly submerged in near-total darkness, and the girl lost sight of the robed figure completely. That was fine. She had nothing left to do here. Holding the beads and her singed hand close to her chest, she turned around on her heels and walked towards the door with large strides. Her hips and shoulders collided with two different stone pillars on the way, but she was completely indifferent to the pain. Her mind was fully occupied by other things. Much more important things.

She hadn't uttered a single word during her entire visit, and there was no need to. She was not a speaker.

She was a seeker.

LedgerPaid (donated for IC purposes) 50 gm for prayer beads.
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Evarista
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[North Ravok Outpost] My Offering to You

Postby Rufio on January 30th, 2017, 12:33 pm

Image
   
  
  
  
  
  
  
g r a d e


xp

Observation +3
Socialization +1
Meditation +1
Auristics +1
Intelligence +1
Philosophy +1

lores

Socialization: Meeting a question with silence is rude
Auristics: Fire does not have an aura of its own
All the darkness in the world cannot hide the light of a single candle
The weak and the meek are not capable of devotion
Meditation: Using a physical sensation to ground self in reality
Evarista: Not driven by respect
The Essence of Rhysol


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