The Emissary

JP with Winteroak and White_Caribou

As Shalia Nix entered the walled-off area of the courtyard, she caught the scent of the roasting goat and her mouth began to water. While walking, she watched closely as the meat sizzled on the roaring fire. Sounds around her then faded to only the intense crackling that seemed to grow more deafening as she looked into the flames. The bright reflection flickering against the emerald green of her eyes filled them with loathing, further characterized by the subtle sneer that felt instinctual. Shalia snapped out of the fixation when she was led to the table where the leader of the Ihlara, the seneschal, and others were seated now.

She bowed her head to Yashker graciously and thanked him for the clan's hospitality before taking her seat at his side. The night air felt relieving as it enveloped her with a cooling ease, reminding her that this was just the feast and to lighten up a little. The more diplomatic part would come later.

Shalia sat with a tall posture and neatly arranged her hair over her shoulders, expecting to untangle the loose locks from her shoulder guard's horns, but the armor was not there. Right. She decided to wear it for the meeting instead, but tonight she wanted a bit of an escape from the ruggedness. Always concerned about presentation, vanity remained a part of her daily life. She wanted to look pretty in every civil circumstance possible.

~A sunburn is not doing me any favors~, she thought. Blemishes on the otherwise pale and untouched surface of her skin, the splash of snow-white where her shoulder guard had blocked the sun. Beauty was a seemingly shallow value to still hold so dearly out here--a fact which she knew well-- but it remained an important and shameless part of her identity nonetheless. One thing not sacrificed to get where she was.

Guests were softly chattering and some still getting settled in as she spotted the smiling man. A smile…how unexpected. But his attire was much more enticing. Dressed in long flowing robes, Shalia had never seen the likes of which before. Elegant, not tattered and dirty nor littered garishly with decoration. She silently craved a garment like it, a new addition to her growing collection of strange and rare apparel.

But she had stared awestruck at him in observation for too long. Shalia offered the man a friendly smile before quickly shifting her eyes away. She leaned toward Yashker.

“What do you know of the emissary?”

The old man looked at Shalia with a smile on his face. Her accent was still thick but she spoke clearly and confidently.

"His name is Agizul, Water-Bearer of the Twin Gods." He said leaning close to her not hiding, as he gazed upon her, admiring her beauty.
"He is one of the youngest priests of their faith and the eldest son of one of the largest Septs leaders."

So that's what went on in the desert. Septs, another faith, priests. Shalia had known vaguely that the natives developed their own beliefs across Arcadia, each one more different than the next she assumed, and yet this faith already seemed quite organized from how Yashker briefly explained. There was a distant familiarity to it.

Shalia thought it over as a plate of goat and steaming vegetables was placed in front of her. She would have to ask one question at a time for something that surely had deep roots.

"Water-Bearer of the Twin Gods...could you tell me what that means?" Her eyes lit up in curiosity.

The old man nodded, clearly enjoying the company of such an exotic beauty.

"Their religion is known as 'The Wandering' faith and worship the twin Gods, Dust and Water, who represent Life and Death in the Desert of Skulls." He stared slowly picking at the meat in front on him sparsely. "They believe all other gods are false. Demons they call them disguised as gods to fool and control mankind."
A slave approached from behind pouring wine into their cups.

"The priests and priestesses of 'The Wandering' are known as Air-Weavers and Water-Bearers. They are said to have powers gifted to them by the Twins. Much like you draw yours from Noraura." He continued with a beaming smile.

"Their leader is said to be an immortal Prophetess..."

"Immortal? Well then, surely there's time enough for me to meet her one day," Shalia said with a smirk, lifting the cup as soon as the wine was filled and drinking deeply from it, marveling at the taste against the aroma of savory meat.

"If they knew how close I was to the goddess, they may think me a demon as well." She chuckled softly.

Her catalogue of death gods was steadily growing. Not surprising in a world fed by corpses. Immortality though...was unlikely. Unheard of. There had been enough death for her to grasp that even when she was younger--everyone aged and passed on. Maybe her doubt only came from a desire she angrily couldn't figure out how to achieve yet. With magik, anything felt tangible, so she could not suspend the possibility that this Prophetess had everlasting life so soon.

And this man, the emissary Agizul, was allegedly gifted. If that were true, his status among his people was impressive and a similarity they shared. Touched by gods. What were the odds that Shalia would meet even more of her kind on this journey? Was it meant to be promising or ominous?

Yashker looked intently at her when she spoke with a warm smile to match, a gesture that was genuine like Islana had been. It set the mood of the feast to be inviting and jovial, something still difficult to reintegrate into her life after living among the Aghul who, even in their celebrations and feasting, stunk of blood and aggression.

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