Awaiting Fate (Quest)
Part 63 of Quest
Part 12 of Quest’s Special Event
& Part 12 of Irene’s Solo Quest: A Game of Death
(Previously in Quest —the goddess of fate (Fay) sent Irene to the past to discover the Undeem Queen’s making. She was tricked into playing chess against Prince Death; the game ended with the Battlecrow’s scream. A student had leeched the Battlecrow’s power. Irene released the Battlecrow; the Battlecrow flew off with Irene. Prince Death went to claim the leech. The Battlecrow gave Irene a boon; time snatched her up and flung her into its void.)
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Lost, carried by time,
captured by spells that hurled her
through cracks in the past,
perception tears the present
makes a hole she can fall through…
Reality tore. It spat Irene out. Landing in a crouch, pearl squeezed tight in her hand, old devastation met her eyes. A tower broken by time and treachery, lay half-collapsed and filmed with the dust of neglect, forgotten by all on a scarred plane.
A white shape uncurled from its seat–Phaedrassen–Fay for short–the goddess of fate. Her silk sheathe fell to just below her knees without a single wrinkle or stain despite the fact that she had sat on a dusty pile of rubble for however long Irene had been gone. How had she forgotten about her part in this adventure?
“Did you find what you sought?”
Fay held Irene’s gaze. The petite goddess stood about five feet nothing in her satin slippers. She was a slip of a Goddess, a coffee-skinned wisp of smoke with burning coals for eyes and three feet of flame colored hair. Her shadow towered over them, its black tail tapping its barbed tip to the tempo of its clicking claws.
Mage-sight reveals truth:
a dragon paces inside
a goddess of fire.
Irene swallowed a scream and blinked away her mage-sight. Her mind reeled with the implications of what she’d just glimpsed. Inside that tiny, heart-faced goddess, a dragon paced. One Fay could shift into at any moment. Best she tread with care.
“Are you alright?” Fay laid her small hand on Irene’s arm and concern tightened the skin around her eyes. “Sit for a spell and refresh yourself. I bought some things my children like to eat and drink.” She gestured to a basket that perched immaculate on the rubble with its checked blanket tucked just so to tease the hungry.
Take food from a solicitous goddess? Was that wise? Irene’s fingers parted the cloth without her permission and the site of bread flecked with juicy raisins forced her to break off a piece and stuff it into her mouth. All that detective work had awoken quite an appetite.
“Dear don’t take this as a criticism. Take it as advice from a concerned friend. Never use mage-sight on the god-born. You’ll see things that’ll tear at your sanity. Trust me, it’s never a pretty sight. So be a dear and remember that, okay?”
Irene coughed as the bread she swallowed changed to stones that stuck in her throat. Her knees wobbled and then buckled. Fay caugher her arm and guided her away from the pile of splintered wood directly behind her and down onto a chair that appeared from nowhere. Fay patted her back and handed her a skin of some unknown liquid which Irene drank to clear her throat. Then she drank the whole skin dry of its sweet spring water to parch her thirst.
Fay patted her arm. “I’m not mad at you. That kind of thing doesn’t bother me but my siblings can be a touchy lot and I don’t want them smiting you for something you can control. So keep my advice in mind and curb your curiosity, okay?”
Irene nodded and picked at the remains of the bread and cheese she’d devoured. Only crumbs remained.
“Good, good–you are alright, aren’t you? You’re a bit pale but then everyone looks a bit pale to me.” Fay shrugged. “So, if you’re done eating, how’s about you tell me what you witnessed. The Undeem Queen is a thorn I’d like removed from my side.” Fay threw in a smile; the kind friends shared and her whole manner warmed. So did the ruined chamber that they inhabited.
So the Goddess of Fate would be grateful for the Undeem Queen’s defeat and unmaking? The kind of grateful that earned a boon? What a favor that would be. So Irene told her everything and spared no detail. She ended by opening her palm to display the black pearl the Battlecrow had given her.
Fay’s smile widened but she didn’t look at all surprised that Irene had earned one aspect of Death’s favor. Fay folded Irene’s fingers around the cold pearl; her eyes glowed brighter and flames danced in them.
“You must keep this with you.
Spend Battlecrow’s boon
when need perches on knife’s edge;
tip fate and all’s lost.
Roll Death’s pearl for love and friends;
throw it to unmake a queen.”
Irene dropped the pearl into a pocket in her skirt before that thing froze her hand. It settled against her thigh like a cold weight; its chill communicated itself through cloth to skin but at least her petticoats muted it some.
“But I still don’t know how the damned queen was made. I didn’t see her. She wasn’t there.”
Fay raised an elegant red eyebrow at that. “Are you certain of that? The spell that took you back in time was very precise.”
Imelda had not been one of the fools on the roof who had summoned Prince Death. There was no one else except…that girl who had trapped and siphoned the Battlecrow’s power–could that have been Imelda?
Webs of power caught
in black strands the Battlecrow
tying Death’s aspect
to a sorceress trainee;
blank eyed, she’d leaked black ichor.
Irene reviewed the scene, compared the young mage’s ravaged features to her memory of the Undeem Queen’s visage and sat down hard on a pile of rubble. Oh shit…
Irene stared at Fay. “You knew?”
Fay shook her head. “Not her identity no, I traced the origin of the Undeem Queen’s fate to that point in time, but time travel and the whole of the past is my brother’s domain. So I couldn’t see what happened then. That’s why I needed you. You could witness what I could not.”
“But you can see her fate?”
Fay nodded and her smile turned feral. “Her fate now forks–one path leads to her unmaking and one to a future I would prefer is never realized. I don’t want that bitch preying on the human members of my family.”
Fay stiffened and rubbed her brow. Then she looked up at Irene with worried eyes. She opened her mouth and then closed it as her shoulder slammed into Irene’s sternum knocking her aside. Blue light coalesced into an angry goddess right where Irene had been standing…
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