Red Dragon Inn
Dreamweaver's Lair => The Crossroads => The Scathachian Sanctuary => Topic started by: The Chained One on April 28, 2017, 10:43:47 PM
[size=9]Previous, in the Red Dragon Inn...[/size]
The ethereal chains which bound the chained one rattled softly upon his otherwise unremarkable arrival. One moment there was empty space, the next, it was occupied. Chains and shackles bound him hand and foot, their incorporeal links disappearing into the floor below him. He glanced up through matted, dark locks, and silently scanned the commons. From behind him, he heard a barkeep's utterance.
?Now, have I missed any drink orders?? It had been Annabeth that he heard. He did not remember her from before, and despite being served by her several times now on separate occasions, would go on being unable to remember her ? or any other ? name.
He slipped off the bar stool which he had appeared on, and stretched his arms out before him, at least as much as he could thus fettered. His emerald eyes seemed to flicker from within as he slowly turned around. "Chainbreaker," he murmured softly, inaudible to mundane human ears. He then turned to the woman ? the bar keep - behind him, and responded to her question. "Water," his voice gravel. "Please."
In short order, she provided it and hurried about to her other customers. Testament, one would suppose, to the sometimes odd clientele of the Inn that she hadn't batted an eyelash ? this time. He had bowed slightly from the waist to Annabeth as she had delivered his water. As she left him, he reached out - his hands hesitating before touching it as he focused - and slowly brought the glass to his lips, and drained it in several swallows. After only a moment of apparent relaxation, his spine seemed to stiffen, and somewhere, in some other realm, his skin pebbled. The chains seemed to gain intensity as they rattled, and he turned towards the door. His eyes seemed to gloam under the shadow of his brow. His gaze was focused on the patron who had just entered. A woman whose face spoke of the respite that seeing some of the other patrons gave her as she entered, with a casual smile, and gloved hands resting by their thumbs in the loops of her belt.
Many things were denied to him due to the nature of the geas which kept him chained, but it could not deny his own nature - who he was, and what he was. He had no way of naming the familiar resonance that made his temples throb as she'd entered. Prior to his chaining, he would have been able to name the resonance as Scathachian ? though he'd never felt it this strongly. When he had been at his residence in Battlefield Park, however, he had been able to point in the general direction of their Sanctuary as accurate as a compass needle.
He watched her advance, as she paused in greetings to other patrons, people he did not know, though one of them tickled at the remnants of a memory ? though it was more a feeling. The large, horned one... he couldn't remember Andu's name, either, though he'd met the 'man' several times as well. After she'd exchanged pleasantries and well wishes with friends he watched as the smile faded slightly as she had taken notice of His ethereal fetters.
The emerald of the prisoner's eyes dulled somewhat, and his gaze beneath his dark hair became distant as he tested the shackles which bound his wrists, rhythmically attempting to pull them apart, until Isuelt's gaze landed upon him and he suddenly stopped. His mouth suddenly dry again despite the water, he murmured one, drawn out word, "Chain..." he paused before finishing with an air of grim satisfaction, "Breaker..." He continued to study her without hiding his attention in the least.
Isuelt stole another glance at the man in chains. After all, was she not an extension of the law here? The Judge dragged her gaze from the man who was looking at her - she wasn't ugly by any means, she was used to attention for one reason or another - and turned a sly grin to the man she'd been in conversation with. After a few more moments in conversation, as casually as she could, the tall Scathachian took a look around to see if she could spot a Watchman. Perhaps the man was a prisoner - though what he'd be doing here, escorted or not, was entirely lost on her.
The chained being's regard bore none of the typical male lasciviousness which she might inspire, and he slipped from his position again and moved towards her. Every step drew the ethereal chains out behind him, drawing them tight before they begrudgingly dragged, incorporeal, through the floor behind him. Eventually, without voicing interruption to her conversation, he stood before her - and dropped to his knees, presenting the shackles about his wrists.
After only a moment of conversation, her attention was once again diverted towards the chained one. The sight of him was near unnerving, mostly because it confused the Judge. The chains weren't really chains, at least not the sort that were used by the Watch or the Scathachians. Perhaps it was magic. Of course, with all of this business with the Temple of the Divine Mother and all the prejudice stemming from the magic users vs. humans, the warrior was on her guard. Her dark eyes narrowed down at this man as she took what little of a step backward that she could.
He raised his head enough so that he was again able to meet her eyes, his arms still extended upwards, as if offering custody. "Sister," he spoke somewhat imploringly, "Is this it? Has my Penance expired?" A crease of worry adjusted his face downward. "Or is this one of the manticore's lies?"
It became evident to Isuelt that this man was possibly not even here. Was he a ghost? A trick? She shook her dark head. How could she possibly comment on his question? What knew she of his crime? His sentence? Then the 'Manticore' word came from his lips and her eyes snapped to attention. "What say you of this 'Manticore'?" The last time she'd met with a creature of this name, it took her more than a few months to recover. The prisoner's gaze only became more wary at her feigned ignorance.
"Erebian manticores, our Sister's blood," he'd started loud but finished at a murmur, and he remained on his knees, offering his shackles upwards towards her. Suddenly he seemed to pant and an almost manic expression caught in his eyes. "I must speak without names," he looked towards his shackles, and back to her, "I have no names - the nature of my..." he struggled in frustration, his explanation inexplicably hindered.
Isuelt's eyebrows were decidedly lowered, and her jaw was tight. She listened to this man - this creature, though when he finished, she looked around, seeking a private corner. Her long legs aimed her toward a less crowded corner of the Inn, she glanced at the man once to follow. The sorts of things he was saying, if her guess was right, were not to be uttered in a crowded bar. There was no telling who may be listening. His gaze followed her first, before he assumed his feet and gave what plodding, hindered chase that he could. Each of his steps drew a soft rattle, the nature of which was certain to cut to the core of some of the patrons, despite the growing raucous of the crowd. When he arrived behind her, he would immediately present himself again, on his knees, shackles offered. Due to his situation, he was simply unable to effectively consider the harm of anything he might say being overheard. ?Get up.? Her tone was clipped and terse.
He rose as if accustomed to taking orders, gaining his feet quickly and again meeting her gaze with stoic resolve. Silently, his shackles were again put forward.
The Judge clenched her jaw, her mouth going taut. "Who in the hell are you? What are you?"
The muscles of his jaw clenched solidly as she asked who he was, "A man," he struggled, "Your brother." His eyes began to get wild; he was searching for a way to say it, to say something in a way that she could just take the right meaning from - it didn't have to be right, only right enough. "I have no names!" He hissed at her, starting to get agitated, though it sounded as much like an apology. "Thus bound," he shook his wrists in frustration, "I can have no names!"
Perhaps hearing the plaintive nature of the pleas coming from the chained one, Andu sighed, and lumbered toward Issy and the Chained One. He cleared his throat as he approached.
She let what he said sink in for a long moment. And in that moment, her entire demeanour changed. Her jovial smile and bright eyes that graced the expression she wore earlier had gone. The was little more than the winter's chill on her features now. Her tone had turned stoic and icy. "I have no brothers." Even after nearly all of her life, the sting of saying something like this still pinched at her heart. "Manticore. You mentioned this name. Of what do you speak, man. Why? This Manticore is linked to the woman once known as Renna the Betrayer?" After all this time, Isuelt and Renna had a supremely delicate truce. But to be honest, the Scathachian was no fool and was always ready for that to come crumbling down at any second.
?Hey, Issy. I see you have met one of our resident enigmas and frustrations.? Andu had arrived, if not in time to defuse the tension, then perhaps to offer some kind of explanation. His sudden arrival took her attention for a moment. The minotaur grinned at her. ?I've spent a few hours talking with him, attempting to get even a name from him. All I learned for certain, is that along with those chains, and his ghostly state, an inability to both ask for help or to answer questions about how he got into the state he is in, along with how to get him out of it.?
The chained one's face pinched at the description Andu gave of him; in some cases it was that he didn't know the answers - the memories were blocked from him. In other cases, he knew but could not speak of them. "Yes, no," he took a deep breath as Andu approached, and he turned to acknowledge him, before returning his gaze to Isuelt. He shook his head slowly, what was a little longer, after all this time. "Peace, Sister. They are," he scowled, he needed a way to differentiate. "Sister's blood, but not Sister's." That was the nature of his geas, to make certain things sequestered from him.
Isuelt appeared to consider Andu's words, and returned her gaze to the one in fetters.
The prisoner's gaze had dropped to stare intently at her gloved hand, as if his eyes were pulled magnetically to it. "Brothers in blood, no, not that, but," he fought thickly to go on, "A Brother, yes, only... unknown," he smiled, and it was half relief, half madness. "See, you are barred names as well." The smile was again half triumph, and half mania.
Isuelt's right hand clenched into a fist. It was not so long ago that the scar tissue waved like waves on the shore to reveal once more her scales of justice. The Scathachian licked her lips.
"You wear chains." Her voice was clipped and stern in its tone, though there was something forlorn in it. "In my experience, there is usually a reason for this." Yes, there had been occasions where innocent people were jailed, it had even happened to her. But overall, Isuelt knew that there was cause for this. There had to be. 'Though,' she thought, 'if Manticore had anything to do with this... If Renna had anything to do with this...' She sighed. "I'm sorry... I..." She glanced down for a moment. "I don't think I can help you." After all, what sort of law-keeper would she be if she just went around freeing criminals and prisoners without any real knowledge of what was going on?
In the half mad, half philosophical confusion, Andu left, having given a terse rendition of anything he knew about the man that might help.
The chained one's hands reached deliberately, but not threateningly, towards her clenched fist. "Put aside your anger, Sister," it was as if a realization dawned on him, "Lost Sister, yes, Lost Sister had... these," the chains rattled, "Not her doing," he stopped as she spoke, becoming subdued. "Sister, please," his hands again reached for her fist. "We ALL wear chains." He frowned, watching Andu go as well, before returning his gaze to Isuelt. "I only," he shook his head, he was grasping, if she left him thus he had no idea how long it would take before he would get another chance - and with his memory the way it was, every chance seemed his first, and only one. Suddenly his mien seemed filled with resolve, "What is blind is also bound, please, I seek," the words were slipping from him, but he clawed them back. "Just appeal!"
Her fist was retracted to sit on her hip, as her other hand did. "You speak in riddles, man. Perhaps we should call the Watch? Go to the local precinct and see if they cannot tell me more about this whole thing?" She knew that was utter rubbish. What in the world would the Watch know about stuff like this? This was more magic than corporeal. If Batten or Renna were here, she could bounce ideas off of them. But Renna wasn't, and Ed? Well, Ed had his own crisis going on.
His eyes closed and he sighed, "The Watch," his voice somehow broken, "You would set the jailer to do the judges work." He had no way of knowing if she would be able to put his muddled thoughts together, but he offered. "The jailers. They will listen to you." He glanced again at her covered hand, even hidden away where it was. "That is the trick of," he sputtered. "What Lost Sister became Lost top. To make you think you have no Brother. No Sisters. To make you think you are alone." The less he thought about what he was saying, the faster and easier it came. There were things he could say without intention, that he could not say on purpose. "It is a lie. Grant me appeal," his tone wasn't accusatory, he was simply looking for an 'out'. "You must. Will you suffer to see your Brother fettered without even a trial?"
Off her hip one gloved hand flew at the man to grip a fistful of fabric near his throat. "Don't you speak of my brothers. And don't you speak of whatever incestuous sister-thing is going on in whatever plane or realm or whatever the **** it is thing with Manticore or Renna or whatever!" Isuelt was still bent out of shape a little that Renna had 'stolen' some of her DNA and made a person with it.
He made absolutely no move to defend himself, yet he would not be denied. He swallowed, and his eyes never left hers. "Is this the quality of your justice, then, Sister?" His voice was soft, inaudible to any but the two of them. "Sometimes vengeance and mercy must blend, yes?" Still speaking softly, not at all moved by her anger - at least not intimidated. His eyes darted to the hand which held him, "This," he nodded, "Is why I must be thus bound."
She stepped away from the man, maybe a few paces and muttered some profanity laced comment about her obligations.
"I'm sorry,? Isuelt stated. ?I cannot help you." A gave a decisive nod.
The spot she'd touched the chained one felt as though it were burning, and though the sensation was vivid, he paid it no notice. "I shall apply again, Sister." He spoke softly, sadly. "Fare you well."
Isuelt licked her lips and looked over towards the bar and nodded to all those she'd spoken to earlier, then she began toward the back door. It was a long day and was going to be a longer night, it seemed, trying to figure out the riddle before her.
The chains dragged behind him as he once again turned his attention towards Andu. He approached him quietly, all the while the faint smell of something similar to burning pork wafted through the air, and steam rose slowly from the back of his shirt. "Friend...?"
Andu responded to chained one with nod and a shrug. ?At least some one willing to with hold judgement until you are known to yourself, and a fair judgement can be given.?
Suddenly the chains drew taut, and a look of panic washed over his features. "We make our own chains," the words stumbled out of him, "do you understand? We make our own chains! Mine are made of a blade, but I forged them-" he thrust his hands towards Andu, shackles and all, becoming more manic as the chains drew more tightly, trying to pull him away. "I forged them!" He was hoisted into the air - and pulled apart in a spray of evaporating ethereal plasma.
Andu nods to The Chained One as he seemingly dissolved. ?Ah,? the minotaur answered to the listener now seemed to be gone. ?I shall remember that. And think on it with the other things I have learned. There exists hope, Sir. Hold to that hope.?
((The entire preceding scene was done in the Inn, and the above is edited content contributed by ? in order of amount ? Issy, Andu, and RDI Annabeth. Thank you all for the play ? I'd throw out the date it happened to, if I could even vaguely remember.))
Something had changed.
Something about the touch of the Judge had fractured him, somehow. Before encountering her, it was as though his fetters were bound only to certain places, notably the Inn, and another place somewhere in Battlefield Park. When Isuelt had seized upon him, however, it had been like a hammer blow on brittle metal, and it had shattered the ends of his would be fetters, spreading them across the city. He still felt the majority of his essence was focused on the Inn ? something within him told it always had been, and would always be, but now fragments spread across Rhydin seemed to call to him, making him manifest, making him adopt corporeal form.
He couldn't place his location, though given what he could recall of himself in general, perhaps that wasn't surprising. An aura seemed to buffet him and eventually pass through him, doing no harm, but filling him with a sentiment of... peace? He frowned, a manacled hand reaching up to touch his face as he did so. The aura wasn't peace, no, that was wrong. The feeling of peace was what was left in it's wake. What was it then?
All of them? Or something else entirely?
Perhaps. He couldn't be sure. He couldn't be sure it was any of them. But he believed it was. Looking around, he had the vague impression he was on some kind of holy grounds. A church, maybe, or a temple. He couldn't remember ever being of any particular faith, which was, once again, not surprising. It certainly added no clues to why he would have manifested here.
He looked down at himself, chained hand again rising to brush the matted black hair from his face. His clothing, once fine and expensive were little more than tatters, their blacks and reds long faded to dark, smudged shades of grey. Without explanation, he felt a sudden urge to remove his boots; their leather would do him little good here, anyway. As he sat, chains forming a pile around him, he couldn't explain his desire ? nor the fact that he was acting on it. One by one, and with some difficulty, the high boots were tugged down through the manacles that bound his ankles. As soon as they were removed and discarded to the side, they vanished. He immediately second guessed his actions, as he'd only manifested onto the grounds ? seemingly not inside the compound, as it were. He still had a significant barefoot walk ahead of him, and as soon as his bare feet touched the ground, a familiar burning tangibility radiated up through the soles of his feet. It was similar to the touch of the one called Isuelt.
Like some sort of strange, macabre, phantom, he set off towards the compound proper.
?The many great gardens of the world, of literature and poetry, of painting and music, of religion and architecture, all make the point as clear as possible: The soul cannot thrive in the absence of a garden. If you don't want paradise, you are not human; and if you are not human, you don't have a soul.?
― Thomas More
He found that his jailers had a harder time reaching him within the Sanctuary. It was much more difficult for them to rend the curtains of reality and drag him back to Erebus. There was something else about the Garden which gave him solace, something he couldn't quite identify, couldn't quite remember, except for the vague reminiscences of dreams. Men, and women, of war; adorned with flowers and flashes of faces set in grim determination. He knew they were called the Gardener Knights, but all other knowledge fled him.
That was not the only thing which fled.
Often times within the Garden he could spend hours on end without being disturbed, his semi ethereal form moving effortlessly through both growth and edifice whenever he heard someone approach. But he was not always observant enough, and more than once he was come upon others; some of those times, the newcomer would flee, but if the newcomer were a judge they would offend demand answers from him, in which case he would discorporate and return wholly to Erebus, until his next chance at escape when he would return. He never seemed to attempt harm, or to react to violence to those that approached, but that could have been attributable to his chains as much as his character.
Like a convict with a case file, he knew the Judge assigned to him. His presence would continue at the Sanctuary, at least, until he was granted his chance to petition her. Until that time, the Gardens were his prisoners docket. The entire situation afforded him further grim demeanor, whenever he glanced the trappings of the Goddess of War especially. If caught off guard, one might hear a gravelly voice mutter, "There are too god damn many gods of war."
Second harvest was well on its way. There were two things that Phin took an extraordinary amount of pride in; one was her outstanding battle prowess, the other was her uncanny green thumb. Already filled were four large baskets (she always referred to them as bushels, though the weight of each basket was something of a debate among her Sisters) of potatoes, parsnips, cabbage and apples. Presently, she had a flat woven tray that was halfway filled with lavender, turmeric and oregano, all of which would be dried and placed in the larder for the winter. At present, the city seemed quiet and she relished in the opportunity to outfit the Sanctuary with reserves that would last until the first harvest in the spring; Phin was always about being prepared.
There was something that drew her attention from her work, however. While she couldn't exactly put her finger on it, she couldn't help feeling as if she was being watched. More than a few times she stopped what she was doing to stand up and look around her, each time seeing nothing but a glint of sunlight or feeling a wisp of breeze. This had gone of for the better part of the afternoon, until the mighty Delphinea grew determined to root out what felt amiss. Once more feeling the eyes upon her, nearly feeling the treading along the soil in her garden, she turned with muscles taut, ready to strike at whatever was taunting her.
While Phin was a magnificent soldier, the current Champion of Scathach, as it were, what she saw made her jaw drop and her voice stutter. Of course, she didn't believe in ghosts; though she was entirely sure that what stood before her looked remarkably like one. A man, in tattered clothing and chains. Her immediate disdain for a male on her garden soil was enough to wrinkle her nose, let alone the shabby appearance of this wayward trespasser. Phin was without her blessed weaponry (which she immediately regretted) though most would view Phin herself as a weapon.
"Halt! You are on sacred ground!" She wasn't really sure what she should say next. After all, the Sanctuary welcomed weary travelers and those who needed assistance. Though, what was this man? Was he even a man? Was she seeing things? She shook her blonde head slightly, trying to recover her Scathachian duty to aid those in peril. "What business do you seek here?" Her green eyes narrowed, she could only guess what was coming next.
The figure in chains had settled down onto it's haunches. To add further oddity to the manifestation, the figure's feet were bare, toes curling into the soil. His hands seemed capable of touching the flora, and seemingly deft hands drew tenderly away from leaves which were beginning to yellow and curl.
"Too late, I suppose," he stood as he spoke, apparently in response to her question. "I was hoping there would be blossoms, but the season has grown too late for that by half." He knew something about gardening, at least he thought he did. Gardener Knights, why were they familiar? It didn't matter. The flowering was the most visually spectacular part of gardening, and even food stuffs like potatoes flowered, and the more flowers there were, the greater the set would be under each plant come harvest. Flowers were symbolic of rejuvenation, hope, peace, and so many other things. Having arrived too late to find any here, the part of him which was aware of his situation hoped their absence was not also symbolic. His movement had seemed ponderous, but finally he stood facing her, chains binding his wrists and ankles, coiling around them, and their ends vanishing into the ground below him. He opened his mouth to speak again, and for a moment it seemed as though it would not come, and his gaze appeared to look somewhere distant, only returning to the now when it would seem the Judge's already tested patience would be bound to break.
"A Judge," his head canted slightly to one side as his focus seemed to return to the world of the garden, and her, again. "And a chance to appeal my sentence." His green eyes studied hers for a breath as his toes once again flexed against the ground. Sacred ground, indeed. He wondered what he must look like to draw such a statement. Some part of him knew, not by memory but inherently, that that which sanctified the ground of the Sanctuary was not anathema to him, and the evidence of it was in the way his toes curled against the earth.
"I come not seeking to have these," he hoisted his hands, his forearms, showing the chains heavily weighing on each of them, "removed, but seeking to be Judged worthy of removing them; in this, I come in accordance to the strictures of the Law in which," he raised his wrists again, less high, "I am bound." He studied her a further moment, considering her. She must be a warrior, he thought, obviously. A monk, perhaps? Do such warriors qualify as monks? He was reminded, briefly, of the Aurcanian Monastic Order. They too were warrior-monks, but even with their discipline hardened bodies, their physique paled in comparison to hers. If one such as her managed the garden, surely he came to the right - the only - place he could turn to to begin his path of redemption.
Trial by Combat, he thought, meeting her gaze again, unwavering. The one called Isuelt had been able to touch him with her bare hands. Perhaps, with her and her ilk, for a creature such as he, bare fists were the same as sanctified weapons. He would not speak aloud, though, that it was combat that he came seeking. Would they think he hid something about his chains, something that might aid him? They would be wrong, if they did. Perhaps they would think he was skilled in their use as a weapon, which, would also be wrong. He sighed softly, his green eyes subdued and shoulders, though they had not been of proud bearing before, suddenly slumped.
"It's too bad, I would have liked to see the apple trees in bloom." He murmured softly, almost wistfully, and was again silent. He hadn't meant to talk so much, but he was rarely afforded the chance to, and found once started, he was hesitant to stop.
He was rambling. Still, the dissuasion of his could not hide the fact that Phin thought she could actually see through him at times. To be sure, this was one of the most surreal experiences she could remember. Was this a vision? A ghost? A trick? Of course, the shrewd warrior nearly always defaulted to the latter. Still, she couldn't explain how, if this was a malevolent ruse, he was able to be on their blessed land. Her posture regressed from her battle stance, to something between attention and ease.
"Get you to the Great Hall." Her muscled arm lifted to aim at the Sanctuary proper. "If you must be judged or...." Frankly, Delphinea was at a loss for words. "...whatever, you should be seen by our continuum." Just how she was going to present this wanderer she had no idea. Perhaps her idea would come to her on the short walk to the large room just beyond the large foyer of the Sanctuary. She began the journey, keeping this man in her sights as she led him to the entrance of the Scathachian stronghold.
Alongside of the double front doors of the building there was a large brass bell with a metal clapper from which a rope hung that ended in a wooden ball. She pulled and let the loud clang from the bell toll three times, followed by a rapid ringing. Delphinea had summoned all Scathachians in residence to the Great Hall, though she knew they were not all home.
"Inside." It was more of a command than a friendly invitation as she opened the front door and awaited their 'guest.'
He bowed his head in acceptance. If the figure took offense at her tone, it gave no indication. Indeed, the speed of his compliance may have hinted that his welcome, or its nature, was not unexpected, and he was thus rendered immune to any lack of pleasantry or cordiality. Though his acceptance of Delphinea's directions was immediate, his speed in completing them was hampered by his fetters. Like a man in a chain gang, the distance of his gait was limited to almost three quarters of a whole step before the links of his imprisonment snapped tight. Although he was immediate in his attempt at compliance, his steps were reduced to a hastened, shuffling gait.
Sites such as the Sanctuary grounds were most often consecrated, which would have rendered traverse for one such as the figure - if indeed he were a ghost or other malevolent apparition - almost impossible. If the grounds itself were not enough to this affect, the residents often elevated the divine power inherent in such places further through manipulations of architecture, or botanical designs upon the land; symbols and holy imagery were part and parcel of mosaics, murals, and many a topiary. Yet when and where the man passed any, there was no hint of discomfort, even if he did acknowledge each in its own way. Any symbols found whose dedication was War were passed without a look sideways, and a type of sudden, subtle defiance, only evidenced through the rigidity of his spine and thrust back shoulders and head. There were other dedications, though, that caused a much different reaction. The symbols of Law, Justice, and Judgment as well, and most of them predated those dedications to War by quite some time. Without fail, every one of the latter such 'dedications' was met with a slight bow of his head, which began two paces before and lasted until two paces after he had passed them.
His first step within the stronghold proper yielded a surprising result, though the man himself took no notice, as though for him nothing had changed. But to the eyes of those who met him, a literal substantial change had occurred - his body no longer appeared incorporeal in any way, shape, or form. Indeed, he was completely solid, save for the chains which remain unchanged except for one. Close examination of his fetters would reveal that they were not a single chain looped endlessly, but actually appeared to be nearly a dozen different chains wound together, linked oddly here and there to one another, and the lengths which they allowed him to move seemed to alter themselves of their own accord - stretching or retracting as befit them, regardless of the chained one's needs. One of those many chains was now as corporeal as he was, though not all of its supernatural affect had vanished: along with the other incorporeal chains, it stretched back to the doorway of the stronghold no matter how far he traversed within. The other chains which bound him did the same, but they were incorporeal, ethereal; the shadow and mist they appeared to be formed of could be walked through and kicked asunder - though they would reform so long as nothing barred the physical space they previously occupied.
"I remember the Blade of the Bells," the figure spoke softly as they moved within the Great Hall, some portion of his memory perhaps jarred by the sudden clanging she had instituted before they'd entered. "Not," he frowned, though it was hard to discern with his head bowed. "Not anything specific, but I remember... how it feels. The grip is almost warm. Like it's eager," his voice filled with self directed scorn, if only for a moment. "But who could be eager to wield it, if they knew what it really meant?" He sighed, "Justice. No one really wants it, they want mercy, or vengeance, and want to label it justice to make themselves feel vindicated, or strong, or to avoid humility - they act like humility is a bad thing. I," he looked down at the fetters binding his hands again, and went silent. He'd been about to say something else, but instead seemed resigned to the futility of his thoughts. Instead he changed topics, inadvertently revealing he'd been here for some time, at least, before Delphinea had found him.
"I did not see them earlier in the summer, but some of your plants - foodstuffs and flowers alike - could have been cultivated again." He'd been here long enough to see the crop mature, at least, his presence initially having gone unnoticed since meeting Isuelt had compelled his presence. "Most of them were, but some could have used more earth around the roots. I suspect watering washed some of it away, but if they had been cultivated once more mid season your crop would have improved. Food and flowers alike. The plants spend considerable effort calcifying their roots when they're exposed, rather than pushing into blossom."
An odd avenue of conversation, perhaps, for a man who appeared resigned to the cool nature of his welcome. But perhaps it was just that, although he was in a sense resigned, it was not his preference.
"Hey, Phin did you say that the jerky was ready this week? Because Janie and I think that...oh my..." Sheryl, who had come sauntering into the entryway after hearing her Sister, had come to a screeching halt in seeing...well, she had no idea what she was seeing. "What- uh, who is this?" Her large gray-blue eyes were curious as she stared at the prisoner. "Is he talking about gardening?" Sheryl's mouth was hanging open and it wasn't unlike her curious nature to keep the questions coming. "Is he see-through?" Her facial expressions were nearly responding to her own questions now as she lightly gasped, "Oh! Is this a ghost?" She had heard of ghosts, as spirits of those that had died and had not yet crossed over to their afterlife. While the Scathachian religion did not have an equivalent, she had heard Sir Roland explain the phenomenon to her until he was quite tired of the subject. Such was her natural inquisitive nature to absorb every last morsel of information on any given topic. "Wait, how do we have ghost here? I thought Illea said the ground was consecrated? And Phin, why are you...are you holding him hostage?" Sheryl began to approach, feeling a story coming on.
Delphinea, however, simply rolled her eyes lightly. She had always felt that Sheryl's exuberance for knowledge bordered on draining to those who were the target of her exhaustive lines of questioning. "I think it best, Sheryl, if you go and fetch Illea."
"She's...she's not here." Sheryl lifted her brows. "She's due back any minute, but she had gone out on patrol last night and hasn't come home yet." Sheryl delivered the report not as a worried little sister, but as a matter-of-fact debriefing.
Delphinea had one brow that arched at that statement, though she let little else give her thoughts away. "This...man," the tall blonde began, "I found him wandering the garden. He..." Delphinea looked to the prisoner, "He speaks in riddles, never making any sense." Green eyes looked to Sheryl, figuring if anyone could deduce what in the world the man was going on about, it would be Sheryl. "Maybe you can figure out what he is talking about."
As if she was a child being given a new toy, Sheryl grinned with delight. "Of course, let's see what we can figure out, shall we?" Puzzles were her thing, and she was all in with this one as she moved to the man and looked him over.
There was an oddly kind look in his eyes as he regarded Delphinea as she handed him over to someone apparently more qualified to deal with the mystery of the man in chains.
"She thinks me mad," the look was not altogether kind, perhaps more accurate to call it fond. "See her," he gestured towards Phin with his chin. "Her facility with combat training overshadows the kind depths of her heart, I think. Otherwise," he turned to his new keeper, Sheryl. "I would be more the worse for wear than my already considerably substandard condition." The little speech that rattled out of him made his voice sound rough and in desperate need of wetting; old finery hung off him in tatters, and like the man himself, appeared initially translucent. The closer one of the priestesses, judges drew, however, the more solid he became, likewise with his apparel.
The chains, often appearing animated in some capacity, appeared subdued. It was as if they were not eager for the inspection of the Judges gaze, or the verdict they might render.
"There is little and less mystery to me," the man spoke to Sheryl, drawing his wrists up before him as if in offering. The bindings of the chains seemed to not only encompass each wrist separately now, but bound the two together. Perhaps the chains were moving while in the Judge's presence, or perhaps it was all moot, and the chains were merely symbolic in everything but appearance. Perhaps. "I come seeking judgment, and trial in the old form; trial by arms, by combat." A look of confusion passed briefly over his face, it was as though he were trying to remember something, some detail, that just wouldn't make itself known to him. He nonetheless tried to continue. "Only the Judgement of a Chainbreaker is valid, and there is one such among you, for it was upon her presence that the chains became ensnared, allowing me to claim Sanctuary here; otherwise the Erebian Manticora would take me. Here, though, even their savagery must yield to greater powers." Scathach, perhaps? Who knew, in some ways he did speak in riddles - but not when it came to what he wanted.
"I seek appeal," his brow furrowed. "Though I concede I may have been justly bound, nonetheless I seek appeal. Test me in what ways you would, to determine my worthiness of a new trial. As the saying goes in one of the many Volumes of Sacred Law, 'ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you'." He held up his hands again, his bound wrists, lashed together, between them. "You must knock," he murmured, unintentionally cryptic.
"Right. Appeal. That's something that I absolutely have the authority to...point you in the right direction?" Sheryl's light brow wrinkled. Delphinea was right. The creature did speak in riddles. Sheryl was always factual and most often serious in all matters, even when it did not warrant it. Still, she felt is was best to have the facts at hand in every situation. And this creature did not appear as a man to her. He appeared as if he was at one time a man perhaps. "Are you a ghost? A paranormal apparition?" As if the word 'ghost' did not somehow cover the question. "And if you seek appeal, you must have been convicted of a crime. What was this crime?"
As Sheryl began to find her questioning groove, Delphinea simply rolled her eyes lightly.
"Oh! I know! You've been unjustly accused and then you were executed! And your spirit has come back to set things to right!" Sheryl was quite thrilled at the potential for a retrial via seance. "Or...ooh! Wait! Was it that you did a wrong to someone in a past life, and you are here on holy ground to beg their forgiveness? Oh, we've got to find that someone if it is." Sheryl excited pointed in Delphinea's direction. Though the big blonde was simply standing there, arms folded over her chest and she did not look in the least bet interested on going on some wild goose chase for a ghost. A ghost of a man, no less!
Sheryl's curls bounced as she moved closer to the creature, "Please, do tell us as plainly as you can so that we may help you. I'm afraid that speaking in riddles is only something that I find amusing. The rest of the girls just get annoyed." She was trying to be helpful, really she was.
His eyes rolled almost insensibly at her request that he stop talking in riddles; it wasn't a choice, it was part of his binding, part and parcel of the chains which held him. From the moment the newcomer made mention of him being unjustly accused and executed, a peculiar focus blazed in his eyes. His gaze rolled away from Sheryl for a moment, towards Delphinea.
He found himself second guessing the Judge's decision to use the Scathachian's as his jury. When the initial decree had been passed and bound into the chains which in turn bound him, he'd thought their warlike nature might lead to easy provocation, which would force the issue of his trial. Delphinea's restraint, despite his natural tendency to aggravate those he interacted with due to his inability to restrain himself, had once again impressed upon him the breadth of the nature of justice.
His mouth moved silently, as if at a loss for words to answer Sheryl directly. The chains which dragged behind him, ethereal and seemingly endless in length, their terminus being his origin point in the gardens, began to writhe, seemingly of their own accord. His mouth continued to move, somewhat pitifully, as the ethereal links formed a rough pool on the ground before him. It seemed that one chain was disentangling itself from him, losing it's coherency as chain links and sembling into something else that began to take the misty form of a person just as he managed to croak something.
The mists that had been the rogue chain hung in the air, forming into a small silhouette. As the chain began to dissipate into silvery vapor, the form began to slowly grow in size and mimicked the appearance of a person coming towards them, though the mists stayed in one spot hovering a few feet above the ground.
As the last semblance of the chain dissolved, the fog formed a willowy feminine outline of roughly five and a half feet tall. A woman emerged, or what looked like a woman. Her skin was almost as pale as the silvery mists that lingered around her and her long platinum hair almost seemed to float much like the surrounding vapor. Her long, off-white gown seemed to drift on the same phantom breeze that gave a subtle motion to her hair. With her head facing down in respect, her arms were at her sides with elbows bent perpendicular. Open palms were faced up in front of her with fingertips pointed downwards, passively exposing her hands to show she meant no harm.
?Please forgive my intrusion. I would like to speak on behalf of the prisoner,? she said softly and with the upmost respect for the ground she hovered over and its people. Like the chained one before her, she felt more at home on the Sanctuary?s hallowed ground. She had always been a woman of faith, though she considered herself to be far from saintly.
?If I may, I would like to help offer some insight into his state,? she said hardheartedly before looking up to reveal pale grey eyes. As his steward, the lady was responsible for the property of the prisoner?s estate, and felt responsible for him as well. Given her role as a mediator in a past life, she thought she might be able to better represent his case.
?The prisoner was tried before a group of his peers.? The lady formally recited his crimes, as if reading from some unseen docket, ?He has plead guilty to negligence causing inhumane suffering and death; complicit in war crimes which lead to genocide; and aiding in the destruction of an entire people by the forces of oblivion.? All of which she knew because she had been one of the peers that had tried him. She paused a moment for a moment, letting the gravity of the charges linger in the air before continuing.
?Just as he admittedly caused great loss, one aspect of his punishment is the loss of his memory, though he is sometimes able to gain some insights as he atones. Because his crimes were largely caused by his inaction, he must return to balance by taking action. He is here to stand and fight. Only then, may his chains be weakened. Only someone who can adequately bear the burden of his accusers is eligible to judge.?
Always quick to battle, the looming Delphinea's hands quickly went to a readied position as both of the Scathachians watched the specter appear before them. Her brow lowered in a disgusted expression at having what she would refer to as ghosts on their property. And though she was not superstitious, nor a believer in the afterlife or spirit hauntings, she could feel her waning patience thinning further.
It was Sheryl who stayed her hand by lightly resting her fingers on Phin's forearm. And without saying a word, the gentler, younger warrior was able to calm the behemoth's temper. Delphinea nodded softly, nearly taking a half a step back. She could tell that Sheryl was eager to see what this specter had to say. Though as the Daughters of Scathach listened to the verdict be repeated by this ghostly woman, they exchanged glances. War crimes were not something unknown to the women who followed the goddess of war; nor were they taken lightly. There were rules in all things, even war. And all too often, the victors make the rulings, whether just or not.
As Sheryl pondered the words spoken by the feminine ghost, it was Delphinea who surprisingly spoke first. "Inhumane suffering and death? Genocide? These are heavy crimes. And you have been already tried by a group of peers?' Her focus shifted to the male form. "How long ago was this? For you are dead and should not be in this plane." The words seemed impossible for her to form, but she did so anyway. "What is it that you want from us Judges? For you have been judged but once already?" Dolphinea's bodily posture, already monstrous, took on a different stance; one of a sentinel. For it was at this moment that she began to view this vision of the prisoner as if he had escaped. Escaped death? Escaped punishment? She didn't even know how to rationalize it.