[size=18]Heroes Fall[/size]Ashes floating from the fire
Silent prayers and whispered ends
I hear 'em calling from within
When all the heroes fall
The world plays its wicked games
And I am left defenseless
'Cause I know
The sky's gonna say my name
~ Hidden Citizens (Feat. ESSA)
Darkness swallowed Nim, from someplace unseen another of those bell tones rang out, she flinched, it was the first time Kruger had ever seen her react in any way that wasn't cold or simply put, superior
. He didn't know whether it was the ringing notes that did it, or the way the darkness thickened, perhaps it was simply her own lack of control. She regained that haughtiness quickly regardless of the cause. He knew she thought him beneath her notice and unworthy of respect. He wanted to feel the same way, she was still blood, wasn't she?
"I don't answer to you. I was being kind when I named you stone, but my kindness has worn more than thin." Nim's voice cut across the scant distance between them like ice. Kruger knew she was trying to turn things around, to regain the upper hand, or at least to make him question who truly held dominion here. She'd used that tone with him before, but then he'd been in her world, and she was a long way from her world now.
"Thin or not, you don't have a choice." Once more the sound spread through the air, Kruger could see how Nim tried to prevent it there was still the hint of a flinch. "What part did you play in what happened to my mother?"
Hesitation, it was even smaller than the flinch but in the silence between bell tones it was too loud to miss. Nim didn't know if she wanted to answer his inquiry, that much was obvious. "I told you what happened to her, the white shark took her. She's gone, you need to accept that and..."
An image insinuated itself between the two of them, one that cut Nim's reply short. "Does that look like someone who's gone, grandmother?" The tone sounded again as Kruger said the last word, the flinch that came had him feeling particularly satisfied. "She's not gone, she's being held...against her will
." Kruger touched the image, giving a shove that sent it outward into the darkness. It increased size as it moved past Nim stopping abruptly colliding with an unseen wall and adhering to it. Nim turned to watch it, taking several tentative steps towards it, the look on her face was that of surprise.
"Careful... the floor drops away." Light bit into the darkness, its purple ambience revealing the precipice upon which Nim stood. It revealed other things as well, the tools of Kruger's trade lining the cliff edge in a massive circle were there, as was the prone form of Tahlia. The latter had Nim hissing.
"What is the meaning of this, boy?" Despite her obvious dislike for the blonde on the floor she stepped backwards from the edge even if that meant taking her closer to Tahlia. Nim turned on him accusations written across her features even if she didn't know exactly what it was she was accusing him of, it was enough to draw a tight smile out of Kruger."This...or her?"
He let his gaze fall to the unmoving form on the floor even as a series of bell tones sounded through the air. "This is what happens when you're
incapable of doing what is needed. She is just an added advantage, a hidden weapon...a necessity to keep my errant brother focused. That her presence makes you uncomfortable is just a bonus for me." Kruger slipped the haft of his hammer into a loop at his belt and reached both hands out towards the image of his mother. He pulled them apart hard and swift the movement sending more images outward arcing around the two of them each coming to rest one each above the barely visible tools.
Nim's stomach lurched as the images twisted away, the spectacle momentarily dizzying until they settled into place. There was something familiar about the configuration, a nexus of things happening all at once visible to the two of them, though inside she understood it was there for her benefit not his. She moved to one which held her old frenemy, a pang tugging at her chest as she observed Ysabeau and Kaelin. Seeing it... seeing him still hurt, Nim reached out to touch the image, never expecting what came from that simple action. She was there
, listening to everything, a witness to their conversation and to that force which cut away the light and shattered the Cosain's meditation. She refused to cry, hiding feelings away in a compartment which she would touch only rarely. She was back with Kruger, it didn't surprise her except in the strength of will required to keep her trapped.
She moved to the next one, a chamber not unlike the one she was in currently, with one profound difference. Here it was just Kruger hammering away at a lump of brilliantly heated metal. Curiosity overcame her reluctance, Nim's fingers moved tentatively towards the image even as another bell tone washed through the room. She had time to notice that it rang in coordination to his hammer strike, and then she was there. Her senses were overwhelmed, there was more here than just sight and sound. Nim could feel the heat of the forge, smell the sulfuric emanations from its depths with every imagined
breath. The stimulus was too stifling, and the song crooned by the man working threatened to break the walls she'd spent centuries building. This was reality, someplace she shouldn't be able to occupy, not like this...and yet... Nim pulled back reflexively, her need to put distance between that place and herself compelling her lest she become trapped there.
"You're still awake." It wasn't a question, Nim understood it within as she did her vast underestimation of the form sharing this space with her. "Do you comprehend the danger you place yourself into?"
"Of course. You're concerned?" Kruger's eyes reflected the amaranthine glow, though it did little to alter the amber of his irises. "Ah...not for me. Do not worry, grandmother, I won't leave you stuck here with no way back to yourself."
The boy was an arrogant fool, but he wasn't wrong, Nim couldn't control the thinning of her lips. She'd been about to give him an acidic retort, but he chose that moment to move. He touched that central image, the reality of him, then went to another of the images. The blonde was there and she could only guess at what Kruger was up to. He ignored her, seeing Nim and yet unable to communicate. He repeated the movements first touching on his reality then moving to other images. Nim shut her eyes concentrating on what she couldn't see. It was here that she began to understand, this room was like an operator's switchboard which used lines of awareness rather than cables to connect two places. Nim went to the image of Tahlia, touching it tentatively. This was also reality, hers
, and yet she could sense the subtle influences guiding the land bound woman. He was there too, Nim extricated herself from the place having no interest in what might happen to that particular life. Instead she went to the scene depicting the ocean and the image of a Selkie she was more than familiar with. Here she could hear even more of Kruger's influence, the way his hammer agitated the Livyatan, the almost conversation happening between her grandsons. Then prove it!
...You asked for it, brother.
Pride filled her as she observed the way the big Leopard seal outpaced the monster. Nim spent time admiring his determination, never willing to admit that it was exactly the same as what she called arrogance in Kruger. She'd not been present with the latter as he connected
other scenes. Eddie to Lumira, Tahlia to Eddie, she could sense the change, as it happened, the guiding force which drove them all towards each other. It took effort to pull herself free this time not because she didn't have the ability, Nim always enjoyed watching Eddie. Free herself she did, not that Kruger seemed to notice. He stood facing Lumira, his hand placed delicately on the image of the red head. The sight hadn't made her unaware of another scene happening in a distinctly different place. The image of the destroyed temple confused her, especially since Kruger seemed to be paying it no mind at all. Nim ignored it too, for the moment her interest lay in whatever was happening with her daughter. She knew she shouldn't intrude, but the boy had started this, and he would have to suffer her presence. Her fingers slid into place on that image.
"They're coming for you..." Kruger's voice was disembodied, it seemed to come from everywhere at once, in palpable vibrations which had Lumira looking at every corner of the room.
"Shale?" Lumira's eyes began to well up with unshed tears.
"Do not call me that."
"It's your name. How are you here?" The rebuke hadn't changed the loving tone from Lumira, even as laughter shook the room.
"He died a long time ago." The voice of Kruger snapped harshly at Lumira and left Nim feeling cold. "I'm everywhere right now mother, but I need you to listen. They'll be here soon, you need to follow Tahlia. She knows the way home." Kruger's words were enough to make Nim want to hiss again, but she held it in listening to the exchange.
"You can't be here, Sha... Gaia will come for you." Worry wove through the words, the kind only a mother could give for a child.
"I'm aware of her, taking steps even now. Just do as I've said and everything will be fine. Get ready. They're here." Kruger's presence disappeared, catching hold of Nim and removing her along with him. Things had changed, several of the scenes were the same if seen from a slightly different perspective. Kruger had moved again, standing now before the image of the temple with a look of concentration. Caution had Nim wondering if she ought to observe this one. Would Gaia be able to sense her? Lumira hadn't, but she was obviously in need of recovery. Nim had to know, had to see more. She tripped in her attempt to move to where the smith now stood, looking down at the object which impeded her she discovered that the form of Tahlia was now holding to a sword hilt of Daedric design, and that its blade was...of all things...ephemeral. There wasn't time to contemplate what it meant, what any of this actually
Shattered glass crackled beneath a heavy booted foot, the sound bringing Gaia's head up to stare daggers at the figure intruding on her. "Who are you?"
"No one of consequence...you should think of me as just another stone." Nim was familiar enough now with her grandson's voice to know that the hooded figure that entered was his.
"Why did you do this?" Gaia's voice was sharp as daggers, but the question had the hooded figure looking around.
"This? Not me, you and yours just lost concentration. Not that it bothers me any, you've taken something that you shouldn't have and this is a small recompense for that." He took another step forward, and it was only now that Nim saw that the chairs were occupied by at least thirty acolytes. The fool didn't even pause in his advance.
"I've taken nothing that the mother hasn't given me freely." Gaia's words were heated, but they were just a prelude to the attack she sent towards Kruger. A thread of fire spun its way out of her outstretched palm heading right for the hooded form. It coalesced on top of him, and yet he simply strode forward unmarred by it.
"Truly? That doesn't sound right. Since when has fire been a part of your arsenal?" Kruger came even with the first of the acolytes, touching her lightly with a finger and bringing a shrill shriek from the woman half an instant before she disappeared.
"You are attached to her
in some way aren't you? You ought to know better than to challenge me here
." Another jet flew towards him, this one scalding water. It too was ignored as he repeated the process on the next acolyte.
"Where exactly do you think we are?" At his words the landscape changed, bits of glass disappeared into a deep purple abyss that Nim at least recognized for what it was. He'd brought Gaia to him
, much as he had brought Nim herself.
"This is NOT possible!" Gaia screamed it to the darkness as though the words would change what was. "You'll never overcome us!"
"You're right, but I will hinder you. I will hold you here to me until it is too late for you to stop us." One by one the acolytes disappeared at his touch until it was just the two...the three of them and if Nim had possessed a body its heart would be pounding. Why was the boy showing her this? She'd come to realize that was exactly what he was doing, and that he had a purpose behind it.
Gaia opened her mouth to speak, but the hooded figure's hand covered her mouth. "Soon you'll lose that which you took, and I won't need you anymore."
Gaia did not scream like all those others had, behind his hand she began to laugh. His hand came away from the woman as though the reaction startled him. "Is that all? Fool, Jax is waiting
for them. You've already lost!"
"Jax?" Kruger asked the question, but it wasn't Gaia who answered.
"The White Shark... the one who took her." Nim's voice was a whisper which held no more force than a draft.
"Thank you... that was all I needed to know." Now Gaia did squeal at the touch of his hand, her metaphysical manifestation dissolving into the darkness like she'd never been. It was followed quickly by the dissolution of the place in which they stood, leaving the two of them together looking at the remaining two scenes. One holding Nim's daughter, grandson, and that woman
, the other held Kruger's already exhausted form. That transcended to this place as well. This Kruger flickered once returning translucently.
"You need to end this." There was a note of concern in Nim's tone that she had no idea where it came from. "The strain of dividing yourself so many times..."
Kruger held onto the anvil as he lowered himself to speak softly into Tahlia's ear. Her murmured response brought another from him. "I'm not done yet." His hand trembled with the effort to lift it to the trio, Kruger's index finger dropping heavily to the scene which pulled him right inside of it even as his corporeal form fell to the floor barely breathing as his lips mouthed the words...She Want Me...