Dee found herself within what looked exactly like the temple of the light gods where she had gained her blessings. Every candle seemed to be lit, and every shrine gave off a faint glow of light, banishing the shadows. Idly she also noted that she was now in her angel form. She had forgotten to pay attention to that when discussing with Umbra, but she was fairly certain she had been in her original form the whole time. Her current form was also the basic angel form, and not the weird form she had observed for a very short period while talking to the old man.
She was oddly comforted by that. Even though she was still less than happy with her angel form, at least it was something she was familiar with. She needed her full focus while discussing with the deities, and the discomfort and distraction stemming from some weird form could potentially take some of her focus away at the wrong moment.
“You seem distracted.” A gentle and warm voice sounded behind her, mirroring her thoughts in an eerie way.
“Lot to think about.” Dee replied, while rising up to look at the goddess made of light, who was casually sitting on one of the shrines within the temple. Not her own shrine either.
“I can imagine. Although I don’t have to, as I’m sure you’re already aware.” The goddess gave a small pout. “The downside of going last, you’re already busy thinking about the other things you’ve heard.”
“At least you get the chance to one-up them.” Dee pointed out a little amused.
“There is that. I’m sure my sister already outlined some of our differences.” The goddess asked, more to just make sure, and she got her confirmation both in Dee’s thoughts and in her nod. “No need to go into that then. She is at the very least practical in such things. Although lies and deceit are an important part of her toolkit, she rarely lies about this. She also knows you’re smart enough to see through it if she makes her case in a too biased way. I might say things differently, but our differences are pretty clear and obvious.”
“She actually did make a pretty fair case. A little bias, but…” Dee confirmed.
“As she should. It’s not in her best interest to mislead you in a way that would make you doubt her. I’m sure she also took her chance to gloat about you already figuring out some of her blessing, while you’ve made little headway with mine.”
Once again Dee just responded with a smile and a nod.
“Aah, sister dearest, you’ve always been shortsighted. That’s actually one of the biggest problems with the ideology she represents as well, you know?” The goddess had a slightly victorious smile on her lips.
“Lack of foresight?” Dee confirmed.
“Yes. The essence of chaos is change, but nearly always that change is sought in the form of short term and individual benefit. This tends to come back to bite them later, and even if it doesn’t, agents of change rarely leave a really lasting legacy. That would require planning uncommonly seen in her servants. Oh there might be suffering and devastation for hundreds of years, but the true legacies that last thousands upon thousands of years are built upon more stable grounds and mutual cooperation. They also don’t usually look far enough into the future, to truly judge the effects their actions will have. But I digress.
The reason you haven’t been able to do much with my blessing is because you haven’t had the chance to. The real benefits will only become obvious much later. While HER gifts might help you in the present moment, mine will help you in the future where you really need them.” The goddess’ victorious smile had not abated, though now she was looking straight into Dee’s eyes to make sure she understood the difference.
Something suddenly occurred to Dee. A weird thought, but one she had to voice now that she had thought about it. “Why is my left wing such weird color? I know angel wings have their colors for a reason, but I’ve never even heard of wings like mine.”
“That’s because the color has only ever been seen twice before. It’s a sign of an angel that has received a direct mission from me. An angel with that wing color is acting under a direct mandate from me, and thus carries a little piece of my authority. You will note however, that not all angels will care, and most of them won’t even recognize it. There are still some however that will recognize the significance and act accordingly.” Now the goddess lost her smile, and frowned as she spoke.
“I’m guessing we’re getting to the point now.” Dee said, noting the goddess’ words about some angels not following her will anymore.
Lumen picked up on the thought and replied directly to it. “Yes, you’re on the right track. Paradisia has lost its way and no longer serves the function I created it for. You could say they’ve got too much Order and not enough light in them now. I’m not just talking about what they call the Holy Purge. That is just the clearest example of how they have lost their way. No, this disease started a long time before the hells fell.
At some point the war against the other three factions in the War in Heavens, and demons in particular, stopped being about defending what is right and building a better tomorrow. It became about power, revenge and dogmatic pursuit of ideals that would be unrecognizable to those that first took up the fight in my name. Now they fight because they like to fight and because it serves their own purposes. They have become just as bad as the enemies I initially created them to fight against.”
“I’m to assume you want to correct their course then? And I’m the one who’s supposed to facilitate that course correction? Pray tell, how should I go about doing that? I doubt they will listen just because I ask nicely, no matter what color my wing is.” Dee was much more acidic in her reply than she had originally intended. Umbra’s task was already bad enough, but it really ticked Dee off that Lumen seemed to be pushing the whole thing in her lap.
“No I don’t suppose they would. You are right in assuming that I would like your help in correcting their course, however, I never said anything about doing it peacefully. If you can do it peacefully, then that’s great, but I realize this is most likely something that can’t be done. Before building something new, sometimes it’s necessary to burn what is left of the old.” Lumen’s eyes contained steely resolve as she spoke.
Dee’s eye twitched as she heard the goddess’ words. “Let me get this straight. You want me to destroy what your children have built? Just bloodying them would not be enough or they’ll go right back to it. I need to do to them what was done to the demons. That I should take my revenge by becoming what I despise about them?”
“I would prefer if it didn’t go quite that far, but I recognize the possible necessity. There are those among the angels that see the corruption and disease at the heart of Paradisia, and they can help re-build a better future from the ashes. They just don’t have the power to act alone.” Lumen gave a small grimace. “If I know my sister and can guess correctly what she has planned for you, our requests aren’t actually mutually exclusive. In fact, her request might provide you with the means to fulfill mine. As an alternative, you could seek out your mother’s old friends and colleagues.”
Dee was quiet for a long time. “You do realize that even if I agree to do this, it will take me centuries to even get started? Also, while this requests isn’t completely outside my own goals and desires, I’m not stupid enough to pick a fight with the entire Paradisia just because you want me to. I might want some measure of revenge, but I’m not sure I want to dedicate my life to it.”
“I do realize these things. I’m sure the old man already mentioned why we were talking to you now? Yes I thought as much. However, there’s another reason why we’re doing it now. You will have to make several decisions that will influence your future. Some of those decisions will affect your potential in the future. We want you to be aware of the stakes, and the possible threats you might face in the future.
It would be kind of bad, if you made choices that will give you great power but will limit you future growth. These are the waters you will be swimming in, if things go as we have seen. The pond you see around you currently might seem big, but being the big fish in the small pond will not be enough when the time comes. You must become the big fish in the biggest waters in the universe. Remember that.” There was actual concern in Lumen’s voice.
“You still haven’t convinced me why I should do it. I have very little sympathy for the darkness within the angels, and to be quite frank I care very little about the wishes of the goddess who created them. Before you say it, I recognize that the disease you speak of is largely responsible for the Purge and my distaste of the angels in the first place, but to be perfectly honest I’m not convinced the feathered freaks wouldn’t have done it anyway.” Dee’s voice returned to the vitriol and acidic tone, enough to make even the goddess uncomfortable.
“That would’ve been one of my points, but fair enough. I can’t give you a reason that would convince the current you. However, I’m confident that won’t always be the case. Luckily for both of us, this is not something you have to do now. I just want you to keep it in mind as you plan for the future. There may come a time your mind has changed, and it might be better if you were prepared for it. It doesn’t hurt to prepare anyway. I’m aware of your goal of becoming strong enough that you don’t need to be afraid anymore. As it happens, that goal works perfectly with mine, and I will help you on that path. Perhaps later on you will help me with my goal as well.” Lumen seemed to have expected Dee’s resistance, and didn’t seem too disturbed by it. She clearly knew something Dee didn’t.
Dee was about to reply, but felt the world twist around her again.
Dee was not pleased while waking up this morning. On one hand it was useful to finally find out what the gods wanted from her after gifting her such copious amounts of holy power, not to mention the other benefits which were still mostly undiscovered. However, she was also fairly certain that the two goddesses had not told her everything. In addition, describing their wishes as unreasonable was an understatement to say the least. Especially Lumen’s wish was just ridiculous. Who would want to pick a fight of that scale with Paradisia? The only reason she didn’t refuse outright was because her own goals also included revenge on the angels.
Moirai also noted Dee’s distraction during the day’s training. Just because Dee would be spending most of the day with Mina, that didn’t mean the whole day would be free of training. Today Dee was also learning to read the surface thoughts and feelings of others without alerting their mental defenses. It should be noted that even while distracted Dee was a quick study. Moirai knew psion were better students than most, but even by psion standards Dee was quick on the uptake.
“Do you want to talk about it?” Moirai asked, referring to whatever was distracting Dee.
Dee felt a slight sting of disappointment in herself for getting distracted to a point that it showed. “I had a visit from my deity last night.” Dee decided to just go for it instead of dancing around the subject.
“Your deity?” Moirai asked, having not expected this at all.
“Yes. I mentioned that I can use holy power when you took me in as a disciple, right? So I need to have been blessed by a deity, as that holy power has to come from somewhere.” Dee explained a little sarcastically.
Moirai decided to ignore the sarcasm for now. “Now that you mention it…but aren’t you a little young for receiving a blessing?”
“Details, details. Anyway, no I’m not telling you which deity it is, but suffice it to say I got visited last night, and I wasn’t too keen on what that deity had to say. Nothing you need to worry about, just something on my mind. Please carry on with the lesson; I won’t let myself be distracted like that again.” Dee made her intention about that subject clear.
Moirai was curious to ask more, but decided to let it slide. For now. Dee wasn’t distracted enough to really hamper the lesson, and Dee might decide to tell more with time. It wasn’t really her business anyway, and as long as it didn’t affect the lessons…suffice to say there would be a better chance to pry in the future.
As Dee went to meet Mina and the other Jun musicians, one of the other Jun women, a slightly older lady, spoke even before anyone managed to exchange greetings. “Wait a moment, Mina you said someone was coming with us to the Three Spears community as protection. You didn’t mean her did you?” The way the woman said ‘her’ suggested that there was something wrong, but that she herself didn’t have anything against Dee personally.
“Yes, is there something wrong?” Mina asked with a frown. She too had heard the lack of emphasis on the word, but wasn’t keen on anyone disparaging her friend.
“You don’t know?” One of the younger musicians asked. “The Three Spears strongly dislike all beastmen. They had several bloody fights with beastmen communities, and apparently they lost a lot of people in those fights. That’s one of the reasons they came to this area, not that many beastmen. Your friend won’t be allowed inside the party zone.”
The Three Spears was a community that mainly consisted of Genasi, a blue skinned race of humanoids related to genies, djinns and distant cousins to Rakshasa. They were originally a race from another plane that migrated to Pantheon, and their current form and nature was the result of millennia of mixing with the other races of Pantheon. Unfortunately for them, they were also a fairly aggressive race and had several run-ins with the more martially inclined races, chiefly the beastmen that were one of the most numerous type of races on Pantheon.
“She’s not a beastman though.” Mina pointed out. Dee had told her a little of her background, and her heritage was one of the things mentioned.
“Not the point.” The older lady said again. “She looks like one, and that will be enough for them. They won’t care enough to really find out. They’re not bad people, they’ve just had too many bad experiences. Sorry Dee.”
“Eh, I also have races I’m not too fond of.” Dee just shrugged.
This was news to Mina, who was about to ask for more information before Dee continued. “I’m guessing they wouldn’t be too keen on Mina bringing in a pet either.”
The older lady chuckled a bit. “I’ve seen your other form. Even when you’re lazing around on top of Mina’s head, you don’t really look like a pet. You can be cute, but you don’t completely lose that menacing air of something that could rip a person to pieces.”
Dee gave a deep sigh. “I suppose I can’t help it then.” It was time to pull out her third form. With her wings and halo hidden, she might even pass off as Jun herself.
Dee was momentarily surrounded by light, before a pair of large wings stretched out behind her. The Jun women looked on with surprise, as Dee closed her eyes for a moment, before the wings and halo disappeared again, leaving Dee in a form that was not that different from the Jun surrounding her. She was wearing the clothes she had last used in this form, which consisted mostly of a white silk dress open from the back to allow her wings full mobility. It had been a gift from Sarfina.
One of the younger Jun gave a small whistle. “You sure clean up well. That dress might be a tad bit too formal though.”
Dee thought she heard a couple of murmurs from the others that sounded a little jealous. By what she heard, they were jealous of her appearance, but that wasn’t really something Dee understood all that well. Her appearance had never been too important to Dee, except in the sense that it could bring trouble to be too attractive. If it wasn’t for her height, which wasn’t much shorter than her normal form, she could pass off as Jun-elf mix. Angels tended to be rather tall as a race as well.
“Dee, you’re beautiful! Why didn’t you show me this before?” Mina asked surprised.
“I’m not too fond of this form. Mina, can you lend me something more practical to wear? I’m afraid most of my own clothes wouldn’t fit all too well.” Dee made a small gesture towards her chest. Mina was actually one of the more ample Jun in that area, so her clothes would fit Dee in her angel form better than her own clothes. Her angel form was significantly bustier than her original form and shopping for the angel form had never been high on her list of priorities. Dee thought she might have heard someone grinding their teeth in displeasure.
“Err, I’ll see what I can find. You’re a fair bit taller than I am, but I think we can figure out something out. If not, we can ask one of the Dagon girls.” Mina replied a bit hesitantly. The Dagon girls were the only ones capable of competing with Dee’s current form.
Dee finally ended in a fairly typical light warrior gear with leather chest armor and heavy boots. Even so, she drew quite a bit of attention when she entered the venue with the Jun musicians. They weren’t asked too many questions as the Jun were expected, and it was not uncommon to see them bring a bodyguard along even to a friendly community. It was a dangerous world after all.
Dee also noted that her ability to keep herself from being noticed didn’t really work when she was already the center of attention. She could try slipping into the shadows, but that would be too conspicuous. It was much easier to just remain undetected than it was to vanish when people were already paying attention to you. She had to settle for being gazed at for now.
Unknown to Dee, even though her clothes covered skin as well as any armor should, her form fitting clothes brought out her alluring figure almost as well as a revealing dress would. It didn’t help that Mina’s clothes really were a tad too small, and as such even tighter around certain important areas. Her purple-whitish hair also drew attention, as it was tied into a long braid that ended just below her buttocks.
On the positive side of things, Dee really enjoyed Mina’s music. Mina specialized in stringed instruments and her playing was most of the time accompanied by one or two of the other Jun musicians. She was clearly one of the best musicians in the group. Dee especially enjoyed the current instrument. It had this vibrating melancholic sound to it, great at evoking feelings in the listener.
‘I think Mina called it erhu.’ Dee thought to herself. The music was calming yet evoked emotion at the same time. It took her mind to places she normally didn’t even think about.
She was so mesmerized by the music, that she almost missed it. Her reverie was interrupted by beings at the edges of her senses. She could feel several figures approaching the venue, which was a large ballroom within a large mansion surrounded by gardens. Dee frowned when she noticed the approaching figures. They didn’t feel like Genasi, though at this distance she couldn’t be entirely certain. It was hard to recognize the race of a being when that being was at the edge of her detection range. They didn’t feel like guards either judging by their movement. They were moving carefully and slowly, not in a pattern like a patrol would. She could sense thirty figures approaching.
She closed her eyes and viewed her surroundings using the Mindscape ability. Here the figures showed clearly, and she could sense them surrounding the building on all sides. She decided to test her new ability and gently touched the surface thoughts of those figures. She drew back immediately as she sensed the bloodlust and aggression. ‘Well, it’s clear that they aren’t here for friendly purposes.’
She held no interest in protecting the Genasi, though she didn’t have any particular desire to see them come to harm either. Though she didn’t have any desire to protect the Genasi, she did want to keep Mina and the other Jun safe. She could alert the Genasi, but she couldn’t see that many guards within the room, as most of them were supposed to be guarding the perimeter outside. Many of them were most likely dead now to allow the trespassers entry. Either dead or bribed somehow. Bribery was difficult against a community made up of single race though, so death was more likely. There was also the risk of the Jun getting caught in the crossfire if a fight started.
‘Now what should I do?’ Dee though to herself.