Author Topic: Welcome to Avalon  (Read 732 times)

Duncan Devereux

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Welcome to Avalon
« on: August 01, 2019, 08:10:51 PM »
There are moments in a man's life when he must be wondering what the hell happened to bring him to this point. Amaris was pretty sure Dev was going through one of those moments the next morning. After waking up and ascertaining that her leg was much better and far less swollen, they'd eaten breakfast, and he'd slipped back to his home to fetch clean clothes and a toothbrush. Back at her house, she could feel him watching her as she set up the black glass mirror in the sigil of the Chalice Well, waiting for the smoke from the incense to obscure the glass. There was only one way for her to visit Avalon, and that required permission.

He didn't say a word, while he watched her. He didn't really need to. From his upbringing with his aunt, he knew there was a certain ritual formality to some things, and he had learned how to be patient a long time ago. He was curious, to be sure, but he knew all his questions would be answered soon enough.

After a while, she leaned back, gesturing for him to come and sit beside her. "It might take a little while for the Lady to respond," she explained. "She has a lot on her mind."

"Because of this?" he asked, as he moved closer, a cup of strong, black coffee in one hand. He didn't bother to explain what he meant by "this"; it went without saying that he was referring to the matter of a new Alpha.

"She's the leader and guardian of Avalon," she told him gently. "She's been the heart of the Isle for almost two thousand years."

"But it's peaceful there, isn't it?" he asked, curiously. She hadn't yet told him much about Avalon, and he really didn't know what it was all about. "When you say Avalon, you mean Avalon as in King Arthur, right?"

"It's the most tranquil place in existence, my uncle used to say," Amaris mused. "Yeah, it's the Avalon out of the legends. They worked really hard to make sure it was forgotten in everything but myths."

"Rhys told me a little, but I'm afraid he didn't answer all my questions," Dev explained with a frown. There hadn't really been time for the hunter to give him anything more than a cursory explanation about Avalon and the Lady. He hadn't even started to explain about angels.

"Maybe the Lady will answer your questions," she suggested, surprised by her own eagerness to visit Avalon for the first time. A single chime rang from the black glass, and within the coiling of the smoke the suggestion of a face formed.

Dev arched a brow as a face began to take shape within the mirror. He was reminded suddenly of Snow White and the Magic Mirror, though he assumed there was no Wicked Queen involved in this story. At least, he hoped so.

The face remained only a suggestion behind the coiling smoke, but there was no denying the reality of feeling a gentle presence touching his mind. Amaris physically relaxed next to him as the Lady reached out to them both.

"What would you will of Avalon?" a soft voice spoke in the silence of their minds.

Amaris slid her fingers between Dev's before she answered. "I would like permission to cross the mists and present myself to you, Lady," she said respectfully. "And to bring with me the man that I love."

Thankfully, Dev wasn't so astonished that he dropped his cup of coffee on the floor, though his jaw had dropped a little at what he was witnessing. He couldn't deny what his eyes were seeing and his ears were hearing, a sense of wonder coming over such as he hadn't felt in years. He blinked again as Amaris' request registered in his brain. The man she loved? He turned his gaze to her, as if to search her eyes to confirm those feelings.

Feeling his eyes on her, Amaris met Dev's gaze with her own, open and honest. "You can't lie to the Lady," she murmured. "I should have told you." She could feel the Lady pondering the request in the back of her mind.

Instead of reacting with shock or even anger, he gave her hand a reassuring squeeze, a soft smile on his face, as if to tell her without having to say the words that he didn't mind at all.

"You told me now," he replied, leaning close to touch a kiss to her cheek, in full view of whoever was on the other end of that mirror. It wasn't exactly a declaration of love on his part, but it was encouraging.

Could he tell that the mysterious presence in his mind could read his heart better than he did? Whatever she saw, the Lady seemed pleased.

"Welcome to Avalon."

As these words entered their minds, the room around them faded into nothing more than mist - a mist that coiled about them, seeming to move them without forcing any motion on their part at all. As it faded once again, the sun was warm on their backs as they found themselves sitting together on the soft grass of Avalon, with the Temple rising to their left, and the village and abbey in the valley below to their right.

Dev blinked again as the room started to fade around them, surrounding them in mist, and then the mist faded, and he found himself sitting upon a grassy slope, Amaris beside him, the coffee cup still in his hand. He'd seen a lot of strange things in his day, many of which were hard to explain, but nothing quite like this.

"It's real," he said, looking around him with wonder and amazement. It was either that or she'd slipped something into his coffee.

The Lady's presence had left their minds as they settled on the grass, but in a way, she was still there. Avalon itself seemed infused with the same gentleness that had been in the touch of that powerful mind.

"It's beautiful," Amaris breathed beside Dev, her own eyes wandering to look around at the serene place they found themselves in.

"It is that," he agreed, adding, "Peaceful." Apparently, she was in as much a state of wonder as was he, neither of them ever having been there before. He'd traveled around the world, but could think of no place that quite compared to this. "If this is the price for being Alpha, it might not be so bad, after all," he murmured, though that was her decision to make.

"The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil."

- Marcus Tullius Cicero

Duncan Devereux

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Re: Welcome to Avalon
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2019, 08:11:21 PM »
Amaris looked up to find what looked at first sight like a child smiling at them. A closer look betrayed great age in the girl's eyes, and a maturity beyond that of any adult she had ever met.

"Uh ... yes?"

"The Lady is ready for you both," the girl said warmly. "If you would come this way?"

Dev blinked again, brows furrowing at the girl who'd appeared before them. Where had she come from? He hadn't seen her there a moment ago.

"But I'm not ..." he started, ready to protest. He wasn't affiliated with Avalon in any way, except through Amaris.

The girl's smile seemed impish, both young and old in the same moment. "You'll see," she said, gesturing for them to come with her.

Amaris blinked, looking to Dev before moving to get to her feet. "I guess the Lady likes you already," she said, mildly envious of that for a split second.

"Or likes you, and I'm just an accessory," he countered, wondering what to do with the coffee mug that seemed to have come along for the ride. He climbed to his feet, pulling her up beside him, mindful of her leg, though she seemed to have healed. "Time to face the music, babe."

Her leg was still sore, but it was more of a bruised sensation than the hot throb of healing bones now. Amaris tucked her hand into Dev's as they moved to follow the strange little girl, only now beginning to notice the men and women who all had their own business around them.

"We can do this, right?"

"Yeah," he replied with a reassuring smile. "At least, no one is snarling at us," he said, unlike the fight with the werewolves the night before. He was only just starting to understand why it was so hard for the hunter to describe this place. It was something you had to see to believe. "Is she taking us to see the Lady?" he whispered.

"I guess so," Amaris whispered back, at a loss herself. She'd never been here before, but she didn't think they were going to fall victim to a hustler here. The girl was leading them toward the tall grey stone building that must have been a temple, glancing back every now and then to make sure they were following. "Everyone looks like they stepped out of a ren faire."

"Yeah, except instead of the cheesy costumes, these look authentic," Dev remarked as he, too, looked around. If anyone knew cheesy, it was him. He'd been raised in a place where cheesy was an everyday occurrence, even if most of it was just dressing for the tourists.

"It's almost like time stopped for them when they left the mundane world," Amaris murmured. "I wonder if all these people were alive when Arthur was." It was becoming clear that she knew as much about Avalon as Dev did at this point; all her life, it had been distant knowledge, never truly real, and yet here they were.

Dev blinked at her statement, not having considered that. "That would make them very old, if not immortal," he said. But if that was the case, why wasn't King Arthur there with them?

"That girl isn't a little girl," she pointed out, though she had no idea where she was going with this idea. They'd reached the wide steps of the Temple, and the girl continued on, turning back at the top to gesture for them to follow her still.

"But she has to grow up sometime, doesn't she?" Dev wondered out loud, brows furrowing in confusion as they looked up to the girl at the tops of the stairs. "Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?" he asked, just a hint of nervousness in his voice as he gave her hand another squeeze.

"This is what we're here for," Amaris agreed in a soft murmur, deeply grateful for the pressure of Dev's hand enveloping her own.

They mounted the steps together, and passed into the coolness of the Temple corridors, passing a wide space that was clearly used for worship that was definitively not of the Christian kind. An incredibly old nun, in a Christian habit, was kneeling before a statue of a kindly woman - the Goddess, no doubt - while a young boy industriously swept up the remnants of incense burned that day.

They were obviously entering a temple of some sort, though it was unlike any church or temple that Dev had ever seen. It looked as though it had been built in ancient times, but there were no signs of ruin.

"Do you think maybe time has stopped here?" he hypothesized.

"I don't know," Amaris answered, keeping her voice low as though she were in a cathedral or library. "My grandpa served under a different Grandmaster than the one in place now, so maybe it didn't. I really have no idea."

The little girl came to a halt deep in the corridors of the Temple, gesturing to an open doorway that was crowded with vines twisted in and around themselves, barring the way. As they came to a halt, the vines untwisted seemingly of their own accord, opening the way into what appeared to be a beautiful garden. The girl smiled.

"The Lady is expecting you."

Dev sensed there was nothing to fear her. If this Lady - whoever she was - didn't want them there, she wouldn't have brought them. No, it was a sense of pure wonder mingled with utter confusion that Dev was feeling, not fear. This was a place of peace; there was nothing to fear here.

"Thank you," he told the girl, with a faint but sincere smile, before looking to what was obviously some kind of opening into a garden, where it seemed this Lady would receive them. "Shall we?" he asked, looking to Amaris, though it didn't seem like they had a choice.

In contrast to Dev, the nerves were radiating from Amaris as she nodded to him. "Thank you," she remembered to mumble to the girl as her feet carried her forward with Dev, hearing the vines twisting themselves back in place behind them. "I guess we don't get to back out of this now," she managed with an awkward laugh, clinging almost too tightly to his hand as they followed a winding path between trees and flowers beneath brilliant sunshine.

"Do you want to?" he asked. She had made the choice to act as Alpha and contact Avalon. He knew she didn't really want to take her uncle's place, but it seemed she had no choice, at least for now. The only thing he didn't understand was why she'd been allowed to come here, if she wasn't going to remain the Alpha.
"The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil."

- Marcus Tullius Cicero

Duncan Devereux

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Re: Welcome to Avalon
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2019, 08:11:55 PM »
"I want to see it through," she said quietly. "I want to be able to help Hayden more than my dad or my uncle were able to help me with this. So ... I say we keep going."

"Okay, then," Dev said, with a reassuring smile. "Just think about how Dorothy felt when she landed in Oz," he added, though that was probably not very helpful, considering that was just a story. Then again, he'd always assumed Avalon to be the stuff of legends and not a real place.

"But I'm the canine here," she pointed out with a quiet giggle. "So that makes you Dorothy. I'm Toto, obviously." She flashed him a warm smile,  her nerves easing as they talked. The sense of peace seemed somehow amplified here in this garden, the path drawing them toward the soft sound of trickling water.

"Very funny," he told her, smirking. At least, they weren't so worried that they couldn't still laugh and tease each other. Maybe it was the sense of peace here that put them at ease, after everything that had happened the night before.

The path before them opened out onto a small clearing alive with bright colors and warm breezes, and there, standing beside a small pool into which a tiny spring ran, was the Lady. She was tall and golden-haired, dressed in simple green silk that rustled as she turned to look at them. In sky-blue eyes were centuries of life and love and pain, and all of it encompassed in a warmth that was more familiar than either of them could have imagined.

"Welcome to Avalon, Amaris and Duncan."

Dev blinked as he came to a halt along the path, not only at what he was seeing, but hearing, as well. Not only was the garden beautiful to behold, but so was the woman who seemed to inhabit it. It wasn't the kind of beauty that made him long for her, but the kind of beauty that a goddess or an angel might possess. For a moment, he was dumbstruck and unable to response. Not only had she invited him here, but she seemed to know who he was.

The voice was the same as the voice that had touched their minds, that had brought them here to meet with her. Amaris had not given much thought to what she would do when she met the Lady of Avalon, but she had never thought she would burst into tears and run to her, just as she would have done with her mother. The Lady enfolded the weeping lycan into her arms, stroking her hair gently.

"You have suffered much these past days," she murmured, including Dev in her words. "There is no shame in grief."

Dev's jaw dropped open, shocked at the way Amaris had run straight into the woman's arms and burst into tears. He knew she was grieving and possibly even in a state of shock, but he'd no idea how deep that grief had gone and now felt ashamed at his inability to help. He only remained where he was, allowing the Lady to soothe Amaris' grief in whatever way she could.

Even as she held Amaris gently, the Lady opened her hand to Dev, inviting him close.

"There is no shame in not knowing how to help, either," she told him. "I am a mother to this Isle, and all who visit it. You have not failed the woman you love, Duncan Devereux. She does not wish to burden you with her grief."

"But ... that's what I'm here for," Dev pointed out, moving a few steps closer, not but close enough yet to take her hand. It wasn't that he feared her so much as he feared what his own feelings might reveal. She seemed to read his heart, even reading things he might not have been ready to acknowledge there.

"And were your places reversed, would you not try to suppress the worst, thinking that to show it would be to distress or burden her?" the Lady asked, still in that soft, gentle voice. "Love, the connection that comes with it, is not instantaneous. It takes time, and communication."

"I suppose so," he replied, frowning thoughtfully. But he hadn't lost anyone in the fight; she had. He hadn't lost anyone in a very long time. "I don't know what to do," he confessed, the frown deepening.

The Lady's smile was warm, and somehow a little sad as well. "Stay with her. That is all she needs to know your heart, and to open to you as you wish."

In her arms, Amaris hiccupped, surfacing out of her storm of tears with a bright red face and an ashamed expression. "I'm sorry ..."

"There's nothing to be sorry for," he assured her. he closer, so that he was almost close enough to touch them. He still had that infernal coffee cup in his hand and glanced down at it as if he'd only just remembered it.

Amaris saw him glance down at his hand, and let out a quavering laugh. The coffee cup, emblazoned with the Cookie Monster, seemed incongruous here in Avalon. But it made her smile as she stepped back from the Lady's arms, tucking herself instead under Dev's arm and wrapping her own about his waist.

The Lady's smile warmed.

"Please, be comfortable," she said, and as she gestured, vines slithered from the greenery around them to form living chairs for the three to sit in.

He echoed her laughter with a chuckle of his own. The coffee mug seemed very out of place here, and for some reason it struck him funny that he hadn't thought to put it down before the mists had claimed them. He didn't have much time to think about that though before the living vines around them formed chairs for them to sit on.

"You don't see that every day," he murmured to himself, one arm around Amaris, while the other still held that coffee mug.

"Magic is an intrinsic part of Avalon," the Lady explained, seating herself gracefully. Two of the chairs had been set together, close enough that Dev could keep hold of Amaris if he wanted to. "Magic is what brought us into the mists all those years ago."

Dev paused a moment to set that ridiculous coffee mug aside before reaching for Maris' hand. He wanted to give her as much comfort as he could, whether she needed it or not. He touched a kiss to her hand, as if to reassure her, and reached over to brush the tears from her face before turning back to the Lady.
"The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil."

- Marcus Tullius Cicero

Duncan Devereux

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Re: Welcome to Avalon
« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2019, 08:12:20 PM »

"I have to admit, I'm not really sure what to make of all this."

"What would you like to make of it?" was the Lady's calm answer. She seemed content to give them as much time as they wished with her.

Amaris smiled up at Dev, calmer now herself after her embarrassing storm of tears, drawing him to sit with her.

"The girl who brought us here," she said hesitantly. "She called both of us Guardians. What does that mean?"

The Lady's smile did not falter.

"It simply means that you are a part of the secret known as Avalon, and that, should we need you, we will contact you."

He didn't think she had anything to be embarrassed or sorry about, but he'd already told her that and saw no need to repeat it. His gaze remained on Amaris, watching her intently, until the Lady drew his attention with the response to Amaris' question.

"Wait, does that include me?" he asked, uncertainly.

"It does. But should you choose not to take this role, your memories of Avalon will be taken from you. You will not have to guard a secret you do not know."

Amaris stared at the Lady.

"You can't do that," she objected, shocked. "You can't just violate a person's mind like that!"

Dev gave Amaris' hand another squeeze, as if to calm and reassure her. "It's okay, Mar. I haven't decided yet, but I don't think I want to forget this," he said, taking another look around at his surroundings.

"I have done many things in my lifetime that I would rather not have had to do," the Lady said quietly. "But Avalon comes above all else. Avalon is the reason I exist."

Dev turned back to the Lady, a ready answer on his lips. "I think perhaps we should know what it means to be Guardians before we decide," he said, though he realized he might only be speaking for himself, as Amaris might already know that.

"A Guardian of Avalon is a person who lives on Earth, under the direct command of the Champion of Avalon,  and is aware of the existence of Avalon itself," the Lady explained in her gentle way. "Most live out their lives without ever being called to Avalon's aid. Should you choose the role, you may, indeed, never be asked to come to our aid at all. By aid, it could be that you may be asked to falsify records, or join a fight. We will never ask any of you that is amoral, though perhaps it may be illegal on your Earth. Everything Avalon asks of a Guardian is in aid of protecting the secret of Avalon."

"The secret of its existence," Dev said, clarifying for himself what she was saying.

He was slowing putting the pieces together, given what the hunter - no, the Champion of Avalon - had told him, along with Amaris and now the Lady. He also knew that Adam, as well as Amaris' pack, were all Guardians, but he wasn't sure how that had come to be.

"Indeed." The Lady considered him for a moment, allowing him time to absorb what he had been told. She turned her gaze onto Amaris. "I understand that you are now the Alpha of the Shaw pack."

"I don't intend to be for very long," Amaris said quickly. "I just ... Hayden's not old enough to take on the responsibility, and I don't want him to have to take that on when he's still at school. I'd like to be able to help him transition into it."

The Lady nodded.

"A noble choice, indeed," she said softly. "Nevertheless, the bond must be re-established with you for the time being."

Amaris sighed, nodding. "I understand."

Dev hadn't been sure he'd understood or even believed what Rhys had told him, and yet, he could not deny what his eyes and ears were telling him. He blinked, something Amaris had said drawing him back out of his thoughts.

"The bond?" he echoed, looking from one to the other. "What kind of bond?"

Amaris glanced at the Lady, but it seemed clear this was her explanation to give.

"You remember I told you about my ancestor? The one who married a lycan woman, and swore himself and his bloodline into Avalon's service?" she said. "That oath was accepted on a magical level. There's a mental bond between the Alpha of the pack, and the Lady of Avalon. It's the reason my bloodline, the Shaw pack, have better control over the wolf inside. The Lady gives us some of that peace, through the Alpha."

Dev nodded his understanding, but her explanation didn't answer all of his questions. "But how?" he asked, unsure how such a bond would be formed, and just how deep that bond might prove. Would the Lady share Amaris' thoughts and feelings and vice versa or not?

"It is not a telepathic bond," the Lady offered, since Amaris had no way of knowing how it worked yet. "It is simply a link, a connection. Unless she specifically wishes it, I cannot see into her mind, nor communicate with her."

"It's like holding someone's hand in silence," Amaris mused, trying to make sense of it. "You know they're there, but unless you tug, they don't do anything more."

"Like a telephone," Dev murmured. There could be no conversation until one or the other initiated contacted. It was a poor analogy at best, but maybe he understood it better than she thought. "My aunt ..." he started, looking to the Lady, though he had a feeling she already knew everything there was to know about him, either from Rhys or Adam or some other source. "She's a medium, but she can't make contact beyond the veil, unless there is a spirit willing to speak."

"It is very similar, yes," the Lady agreed, and laughed at Amaris' amazed expression. "Oh, my dear summer child ... I may have lived here in Avalon for two thousand years or more, but I am aware of time passing. The Champion and the Priestess have been very educational in their explanations of modern technologies."
"The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil."

- Marcus Tullius Cicero

Duncan Devereux

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Re: Welcome to Avalon
« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2019, 08:13:27 PM »
Dev understood who she meant by that - Rhys and his wife, Natalya. How they'd come to be who they were though was not something the Champion had shared. It wasn't that that got his attention though, so much as the length of time the Lady claimed to have lived here.

"Two thousand years?" he echoed, brows arching upwards. She didn't look more than twenty-five, at most.

"A little more than two thousand, actually," she said warmly. "Vivienne, my predecessor, was Lady of Avalon for around the same length of time. The powers that guide us and protect Avalon seem to believe in stability. The Lady provides that."

"And what powers are those?" Dev asked, her answers only prompting more questions. Not that of Heaven or Hell, he assumed. They seemed somehow separate from this, more connected to Earth than to Avalon. "How did this all come to be?" he asked, gesturing with one arm to take in all that surrounded them. Perhaps that was a question better left to the scholars, but he asked it nonetheless.

"They have no name that I have ever been told," the golden-haired woman said. "They simply are. I do not even know if they are a single being, or many. But every faith that gives a name to their deity is naming but one aspect of the powers that guide existence. Avalon was founded to venerate them, but evolved into the one place where they were remembered, once gods and goddesses were imagined."

"Some things aren't meant to be understood," Dev said, honestly enough. As a man who walked the tightrope between the logical and the supernatural, he understood this well. There were things that neither science nor superstition could explain, and Avalon might be one of them.

"That is very true," the Lady agreed. "But not even they have the power to confer immortality. My life will end, and a new Lady will take my place. I believe it will be less than a hundred years before that time comes."

One brow flicked upwards at what the Lady was telling them. One hundred years was longer than the average human life span, and yet, it was short in comparison to two thousand years.

"And what will happen to you?" he asked, wondering her spirit, at least, would go on living beyond the veil.

"My soul will go where all human souls go," she said, and there was a sense of eagerness underlying her tone as she spoke. "Perhaps I will be granted another lifetime, perhaps I will not. I have done my duty as I have seen fit, and Avalon thrives."

Where did human souls go? Not even Dev could answer that. "Beyond the Veil" was all his aunt had ever told him; perhaps it was all she'd ever known.

"Rhys ... the Champion ... he ..." Dev trailed off a moment, licking his lips as if he needed a moment to gather his words. "Amaris was hurt, and he called upon an angel to heal her," he told her. Or more accurately, to call her back from Death.

The Lady's eyes flicked to Amaris, who blushed at the intensity of the gaze.

"I thought I sensed the touch of Heaven on you," the woman murmured, raising her voice to a better level as she continued. "Rhys has a special relationship with Heaven, and a particularly formidable reputation in Hell. He is an utterly unique being."

That didn't do much to answer Dev's questions; in fact, her statement only made him more curious.

"I'm not sure I understand," he said, though maybe he wasn't meant to. All of this was new to him and much of it defied explanation.

"It is not my tale to tell, but his," the Lady said gently. "You are here to decide if you wish to be a Guardian of Avalon. You are welcome to explore the Isle, if you so wish."

"I mean no disrespect, Lady," Dev told her, in a sincere and calm tone of voice. "It's just ... well, it's a bit of a shock," he confessed, honestly. "I am not new to the world of the supernatural, but this? I could not have anticipated to be invited here or to be asked to become a Guardian."

"It often takes people that way," she assured him with a smile. "Indeed, Rhys was much as you are when he first came to Avalon. We are a place out of time, though time does move for us."

Amaris glanced between them, venturing to interject.

"My ... my uncle said that he had to report to the Grandmaster when he came here," she said tentatively. "Do I need to do that?"

The Lady nodded to her.

"Sir Lionel will want to be able to put a face to your name," she said. "Do not let him intimidate you - he is all bluster."

"I may need a few days to absorb it all," Dev said, unsure if they had a few days.

Then again, there was nothing waiting for him back home but work, and he assumed Adam would cover for him. As far as he was concerned, he would need a little time before he could make his decision. He wasn't sure Amaris was entitled to make a choice.

The Lady nodded slowly.

"Be aware that I cannot allow you to cross the mists with your decision unmade," she warned. "I am sorry for it, but that is the way it must be."

"I understand," he replied. After all, she couldn't have people running around New York blabbing about Avalon, even if most people would probably think him mad. "What do you need from us?" he asked, other than an answer to her request.

"Just a moment's touch with Amaris, to secure the bond and calm her pack once more," the Lady told them. "And for the other? Your promise, your oath, would suffice. You may never be able to return to Avalon after this visit - otherwise, you would have to drink from the Grail."
"The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil."

- Marcus Tullius Cicero

Duncan Devereux

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Re: Welcome to Avalon
« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2019, 08:14:41 PM »
Dev's mouth dropped open again.

"The Grail?" he echoed. "Are we talking about the Holy Grail? The one that Jesus purportedly drank from at the Last Supper?" he asked. Of everything he'd heard so far, that was possibly what shocked him the most.

She chuckled gently at his sudden shock. "Indeed, the legend is true, to a point," she told him. "The Grail is kept beneath the nave of the abbey, in the valley below. If you ask to see it, and invoke my name, the abbot will allow it."

"I can see it?" Dev asked, further shocked by this revelation.

He had no reason to believe she was lying to him; in fact, given everything he'd seen and heard since arriving, he did not doubt she was telling the truth. He paused a moment to rub a finger against his temple, not because he was getting a headache, but because he was still trying to process it all.

"What happens if we drink from it?" he asked, having to know.

"You will either be bound to Avalon, or you will die."

The words were spoken with a strange sense of detachment, but not because of any indifference. The pain that flickered in the Lady's eyes hinted at too many friends lost over the long years of her life, and not all of them lost by natural means.

Dev winced. That wasn't the answer he'd been expecting, but it did prompt more questions. "The Champion and Priestess drank from the Grail?" he asked, putting two and two together. That seemed like a logical assumption to make, but what was it about them that caused them to live and not die?

"They did, though it is an ordeal to do so." The Lady seemed to consider Dev sharply for a long moment. "Drinking from the Grail forces you to confront yourself. Every flaw, every regret, every mistake or bad deed done. The Grail brings you to forgiveness, but only if you are prepared to forgive yourself for all that you have done in your life to this point. If you cannot forgive yourself, the Grail will kill you. It is a form of cruel kindness."

"It's a form of judgment," Dev said, breaking what she was telling him down into its simplest form. "But I don't have to drink from the Grail to become a Guardian," he added, as if he was looking for confirmation of that fact. He turned to Amaris, who had turned very quiet, his fingers tangled with hers. "We are together in this. If you are to be a Guardian, then so will I."

Amaris' smile lit up her face as she squeezed Dev's hand, surprised but grateful that he would be so willing to link himself to Avalon for her sake.

"Thank you," she breathed. She wanted to kiss him, to throw her arms around him, but she thought she had displayed more than enough lack of control over her emotions in front of the Lady thus far.

Her smile was enough to tell him he'd made the right choice, though it wasn't entirely for her. If they were going to be together, he didn't want any secrets between them, and that meant he didn't want his memory scrubbed. Besides, he'd always wanted to be one of the Good Guys.

"It's not me you should be thanking," he pointed out, with a nod of his head to the Lady.

"Not at all," the Lady corrected gently. "It was Amaris' decision to ask for you to be given permission to come here. She is thanking the right person." She chuckled quietly. "All I require is an oath of you, Duncan, and a moment to establish the bond with your mate."

Duncan arched a brow. "Here? Now?" he asked, a little startled by her statement. Though he'd asked for a little time to think it over, it seemed he'd already made his decision. What was there to think about, after all? If he listened to his heart, he already knew what he wanted.

"Before you leave Avalon," she clarified with a smile.

Amaris, on the other hand, had come to Avalon precisely to re-establish the bond, and did not need to think it over. She squeezed Dev's hand once more before letting him go.

"How do we do this, Lady?" she asked.

The Lady's smile warmed once more.

"A simple touch is all that is required."

"A touch?" Dev echoed, unsure what that meant exactly. Did he need to touch the Lady or did she need to touch him, or was it Amaris he needed to touch? He wasn't sure exactly what it was he was agreeing to, and yet, somehow it seemed his whole life had led to this moment.

Amaris chuckled gently.

"Not you, baby," she explained. "Me."

She rose from her vine seat, lowering to her knee in front of the Lady. "In honor of my ancestor, Sir Helaine, and the wife he took for strength, and every Alpha before me, I swear my allegiance to Avalon, and to you. When you call us, we will come, always."

The Lady inclined her head formally.

"I accept your vow, and welcome you to the embrace of Avalon, Amaris Shaw."

She laid her palm gently against Amaris' forehead, and for a moment, both women were absolutely still. Then the Lady's hand fell away, and Amaris smiled, some of the tension in her frame fading as she rose to take her seat once again.

Dev's mouth formed a silent "Oh," silencing himself and withholding any further questions, while he quietly watched Amaris pledge herself to the Lady and to Avalon. He still wasn't too sure what was involved in making this pledge or what he'd be pledging to do, but he was sure these were ancient forces of good and not evil, and that was good enough for him. He noticed how at peace Amaris seemed now that she'd renewed her vow, even if she didn't want to be Alpha. "Is that it?"

More relaxed now than she had been since her uncle's death, Amaris nodded.

"The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil."

- Marcus Tullius Cicero

Duncan Devereux

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Re: Welcome to Avalon
« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2019, 08:15:05 PM »
"Yeah," she assured him. "I don't have to exert my will on my pack to keep them in line and in control anymore. The Lady's touch does that. It's a different feeling, being the conduit for it."

That got Dev's brows arching upwards again.

"Are you going to remain the Alpha then?" he asked the first question that popped into his head.

It seemed a logical choice and one he thought a wise one. He knew she didn't want to be Alpha, but despite her doubts, he thought she was a born leader, even if she didn't think so herself.

"I, uh ..." For the first time, Amaris was questioning her constant insistence that she would only be Alpha for as long as it took for Hayden to be ready. "We'll see," was all she could say to that for now. "It all depends on how things go with the pack."

"Fair enough." Dev knew better than to question her further. Whatever she decided was up to her, after all, and he didn't know enough about either the pack or Avalon to argue the matter.

"Let's just say I'm not as wholly against it as I was," Amaris offered, patting his knee gently.

The Lady looked away, allowing them the illusion of privacy for this moment. Even if they had not truly declared their love to one another, it was clear that there was a bond between them that would not easily be broken.

"There's no need to decide today," he assured her, realizing he should probably take some of his own advice. He didn't have to decide whether or not he wanted to be a Guardian just yet, not until he'd spoken to the Grandmaster and found out what was expected of him anyway.

"You will have accommodation provided for you so long as you are on the Isle," the Lady told them. "The Champion is still here, with his family, as are the Merlin and the Enchantress with their daughter. Lionel will be in the library - anyone will give you directions should you need them."

"Merlin?" Dev echoed again. "As in the Merlin?" he asked, referencing the only Merlin he was familiar with, which was the legendary sorcerer. He wasn't sure who the Enchantress was, either. She couldn't be talking about Aurelia, could she?

"The legend on Earth has taken the title and made it a name," the Lady explained in amusement. "The first Merlin was Taliesin - the title of Merlin simply means the holder of knowledge. Our current Merlin is Ian Evans."

"The witch's husband?" Amaris looked surprised.

"Then that would make Aurelia the Enchantress," Dev said, putting two and two together. He'd met her briefly, but he didn't know her very well. "What about Adam? He's a Guardian, too, isn't he?"

"He is a Guardian, yes, as is his wife also. They have visited Avalon just once, for the wedding of the Champion and the Priestess, and we have not needed to call upon them at all these past years since they came to us." The Lady smiled. "I am sure he would answer any questions you have, as will Rhys and Natalya, and Ian and Aurelia."

"I'm sure he would," Dev remarked, confident Adam would tell him anything he wanted to know, but Adam wasn't here and he needed to decide before they left this place. "We'll talk to the Grandmaster," he assured her, as that seemed their next step. "I, uh ..." He looked a little unsure of himself for a moment, as though he wasn't quite sure how he should behave in her presence.

"There is no formal leave-taking," she assured them, rising to her feet. "Please, you are very welcome here in Avalon. When you wish to speak with me again, simply tell one of the priestesses, and they will contact me."

"Thank you, Lady," Dev said, moving to his feet and offering her something of an awkward bow. He wasn't too sure what was proper in this place but had a feeling he should show her some measure of respect. "I will have an answer for you soon."

Inclining her head, the Lady smiled once again. "I look forward to it."

Amaris rose with Dev, choosing to copy the Lady with a nod of her head as she claimed Dev's hand in her own once more. "We'll, um ... we'll leave you in peace."

Dev hesitated a moment, still feeling a little awkward. Was this really real and not just a dream? It felt real and yet a little surreal at the same time. He looked over the small glade once more, as if committing it to memory, just in case he was dreaming.

Amaris gently pulled on his arm as she turned to retrace their steps, glancing back just once to see the vines slithering away into the garden as the Lady returned to stand beside the pool. And just for a moment, she felt a pang of pity for the woman. What must it be like, to live for so long?

"Are you sure you didn't slip me a magic mushroom or something?" he murmured as she led him away. It wasn't that he didn't believe what he was seeing so much as it was just a lot to take in, especially for someone who knew very little of King Arthur legends.

"Even if I did, how do you explain me being here as well?" Amaris pointed out, keeping close as they followed the path back toward the twisted vines that kept the world out of this fragrant garden.

"I guess you fell down the rabbit hole with me?" he ventured, though from the tone of his voice, it was clear he wasn't serious. "So, the hunter is the Champion of Avalon, and his wife is the Priestess. But you've known that all along, haven't you?"

She nodded. "I didn't know about the Merlin and the Enchantress, though," she assured him. "I'm not exactly clued in on how everything works here."

"You may be now that you're Alpha," he remarked, as that seemed to have changed her status here somehow. "Let's hope the Grandmaster has some answers," he murmured, alluding to the fact that he had more questions.

"Perhaps." Amaris shrugged, coming to a halt briefly as the vines untwisted themselves to allow the couple entry to the Temple proper once again. "So where do we want to go?" she asked Dev. "Do we want to find Rhys, or find this library on our own, or what?"

"I, uh ..." Dev paused a moment to look around again and try to get his bearings, but it wasn't an easy task for someone who'd never been to this place. "The Lady said we should talk to the Grandmaster," he said. "So ... library?"

"We can do that," she agreed. "There was that kid tidying up in the main bit of the Temple, wasn't there? We could ask him." She wasn't about to suggest disturbing the nun they had seen; the woman had not appeared to be aware of anything or anyone around her.

"Lead the way," Dev said, though this was her first trip to this place, as well. He realized with surprising disappointment that this might well be his last, even if he did agree to become a Guardian.

« Last Edit: August 01, 2019, 08:18:33 PM by Duncan Devereux »
"The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil."

- Marcus Tullius Cicero