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Tiberinus
#11
With a scrunch to her nose, Nimeda wondered why he would choose to taste such a thing, but she said nothing, only looked out across the water as he gestured to its sluggish current.

“There is nowhere here I do not go.” The tilt of her lips took on a decidedly impish cast. Though she had woken with a pall of melancholy to her mood, the glitter of her expression now appeared to have shaken it loose. Indeed, her curiosity was a thing that knew no boundaries, even that of her own disinclination. Nimeda shared such secrets with visitors when they lingered long enough for the adventure of exploration, and she knew many wondrous places in this realm to show them, but Noctua was the only one who had ever thought to offer a similar gift in return. It was the memory of the gardens he shared that lightened her now. A twist of her fingers brought the marked stone idly into her grip, and her thumb traced the engraving there. Straight down, straight across. She wondered what it meant.

“Cities rise and fall and rise again. Their innards shift and writhe. And they remind me I am alone.” She offered it in explanation, not in sadness, the latter being the main reason for her apathy towards them, for they were a glimpse into a world to which she had little connection. Such places were not intended to be so void as they inevitably were in the dream; it made them feel more like graveyards to her. But she thought about his words as her gaze took in the cityscape, and peered anew. “Is this one yours?” Inquisitiveness pulled the currents in her tone. Perhaps the slow turn towards endings threatened something he loved. She was not sure, for his imperious expression seldom gave anything away. Her attention moved back to him, and the storminess she saw now, which nonetheless did not deter the eager question which spilled next. “Will you show me?”
"A river is water in its loveliest form; rivers have life and sound and movement and infinity of variation, rivers are veins of the earth through which the lifeblood returns to the heart."
Roderick Haig-Brown
[Image: nimthallethe.jpg]
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#12
Nimeda’s cynicism was welcome company. Cities, like entire empires, rose and fell. Only the Church endured. Intriguing that she did not perceive the overtone upon the landscape. She spoke as a silent witness to the undulations of time. “Do you die?” he asked. Thalia was certainly as mortal as anyone else, although the notion that she could channel was not forgotten. Did that change her? Did it change Nimeda?

The blurted question touched the air, but without wind Philip’s shiver must have been from an internal chill. He was ready to depart Rome, if only to escape the memory of the dream that brought him here. Neither was he in the mood to float in preferred waterbeds. “And no, I won’t show you. If you want to see the city, you can walk around any time you want.”
Man is like God: he never changes.

Patricus I
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#13
Nimeda blinked curiously at the strange question, but gave it due consideration. “Everyone dies. We are much like the cities that way.” She shrugged away the sagely answer, and added thoughtfully, though a little indifferently too, “Perhaps I do it a little differently to most, though.” Her palm pressed absently to her chest, though she did not choose to pour great thought into her own nature. Death unmoored her. She cared for the anchor of her Other as she cared for her own self. And she did not like to think of after.

“Why would I do that?” She laughed. “Without you there would be no point.”

Her clothes abruptly shifted to dryness, peripheral to awareness of the damp cloth beneath her hand, and perhaps aware too of his dissonance if not the source. Noctua seemed like a crab stung back into the safety of his shell at the slightest disturbance, and apt to bite if she got too close. She itched to cup his face, as she might do with almost everyone but the grimnir, but did not think he would appreciate the affection. Nor, truly, did she think she would weather the rejection well, should he snap.

She sighed instead, observing him through the slit of eyes that discerned a particularly unfathomable puzzle. She did not find his prickly manner offensive, nor even problematic, yet she was dismayed at the sense of troubles he would not share, nor relinquish to kinder distractions. He spoke of being displeased to interpret the meaning of his dream when he woke, and she did not know what he Saw, but she also knew his life in the Waking realm was beyond her influence or understanding. It was why she did not push for explanation.

“When you wake you may be displeased to understand whatever it was the dream showed you. But you are not awake yet, Noctua.” The words were said with earnest simplicity. Irritable creature that he was, perhaps he would push himself to wakefulness out of sheer stubborn grit. A fond smile tugged, for she imagined it was usually others sent scurrying away from his irascibility. If he left her now, she would not take offence. Though maybe she would search his city for whatever it was that disturbed him so. In the meantime, she offered out both her hands. “If you will not show me your city, may I show you something instead?”
"A river is water in its loveliest form; rivers have life and sound and movement and infinity of variation, rivers are veins of the earth through which the lifeblood returns to the heart."
Roderick Haig-Brown
[Image: nimthallethe.jpg]
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#14
He didn’t understand her answer. What he didn’t understand, he disliked, but it wasn't death that was the enigma. Philip’s constitution of the grave was not the solemn, depressing event that lingered over most people’s lives. If anything, the infinite silence from his creator would finally end and he would sleep content for once. Rather, she seemed undisturbed by the query for entirely different reasons from his own. Nimeda described the erosion of cities as blinks of an eye, but such contemplation of time was antithetical to the temporary nature of a single life. Did she die, or did she live forever? Or was it both? Perhaps this was the confrontation of flesh and soul: one enduring consciousness. He rubbed his temple thoughtfully. Why were these dreams always so burdensomely contemplative?

Her arms were outstretched, reaching like the beloved for their mother and father’s embrace. She needed him, he realized as he studied her statuesque pose. Meanwhile, Thalia was dismissive of the need. Two in one, a contradiction. Much like himself. Philip the lost son’s yearning unfulfilled. Patricus, the blessed father of a billion people.

His chin tilted as he stepped within arm’s reach, but he did not grasp the open palms as offered. Instead, he held out his own as he once did for the penitent to kiss his most holy knuckles. No ring appeared, though for a moment, he saw himself standing on the balcony above St. Peter’s Square revealing to Nimeda the wide, empty world below. The dream tried to shift them, but stubborn roots kept his sneakers firmly planted. “When you return, just remember that Rome is a suburb of Vatican City.”
Man is like God: he never changes.

Patricus I
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