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Dream, Memory, and Blood (Olkhon Island | Baikal Lake, Siberia)
He was tender afterwards. The breadth of his shoulders and fall of his hair veiled the room from view, until there was just shadows and gold and the deep breathing of satisfaction in both their chests. Thalia was unabashed with the simplicity of the intimacy and the way it made her feel. Caresses at the temple lulled a smile to her lips. Still sensitive skin shivered, the sweat cooling. She was in no hurry to untangle herself from either him or the affectionate moment. Beneath the weight of blankets presently pulled over them, and the heat of Tristan beside her, she was content.

“Marked for what?” His touch tickled but she did not try to peer at what he saw; her face was turned to watch his reaction instead, the shadows of loose hair against his cheek, the softened lines of his expression. Even then there were the beginnings of a frightened cadence to her heartbeat, but she let herself drift in the waters of Tristan’s earlier advice. What he accepted she chose not to investigate herself. The impossibility of marrying what she thought he probably saw and the symbol she had seen on the desk was too much to bear. (Sit still now, child. This will only sting a moment, I promise). Her fingers trailed over the peaks and valleys of his knuckles instead, smoothing until she just held his hand close to her chest. Like the pressure would keep everything there from unravelling.

His breathing levelled. Sleep beckoned open arms, and usually Thalia was sweetly lured to such whim, but she only closed her eyes, shifting until her cheek rested against the slow thunder of his heartbeat. She nestled affectionately close.

When his voice eventually rumbled from the cage of his chest she smiled, flushed through with a genuine warmth of happiness. The words made her feel silly and light, perhaps especially because his approval finally made her realise it was not the name he must use for himself in the dream. The offer of the other felt like something else. Not a secret exactly, though she’d never even considered the wolves might use their own names, but like something true. The sharp facets of something precious and whole. The monster, the man, the wolf.

But it was not that which finally convinced her to rouse from the comfort. If she did not feel entirely at ease with the way the room rippled around her, she certainly did not feel the same trepidation of trespass. But it was the second time he had said it, and it moved her from relaxation if he could not share it fully. He followed because she had asked him to, and his unease stirred a care in her, even as it made her remember too why they were both even here. She kissed the side of his ribs before she stirred. The hair was wild about her shoulders as she sat up.

“I don’t really know. I just trust the journey,” she admitted, knowing her various injuries probably spoke little reassurance for the method. She laughed a little. “Usually there’s no one to ask me that.”

She was still thinking how best to offer a better answer when beside them the fire ceased abruptly, a quiet whoosh marking the moment of its death.

A rough mechanical grinding replaced it, and Thalia’s eyes widened. The floor beneath them trembled, like the entire room fell to a momentary slant. In the same instant the lights plunged into almost complete darkness, and silence.
"Rivers are veins of the earth through which the lifeblood returns to the heart."
[Image: thal-banner-scaled.jpg]
 | Sothis Lethe Alethea | Miraseia |
Lids lulled low, the pelts pulled them both. She curled close. Peering up once in a while at first, but then settled a comfortable weight on his arm. The moment was a treasure unexpected. One he would not release, greedy to hold it tight. But amid the soothing breaths escaping her chest and the heat of their tangled limbs, Tristan was drunk on something else. He’d not really noticed it before. Or maybe he had, but the knowledge only freshly woke. She smelled like spring. Like flowers and mead. Fresh rain on dewy grass. As he lay, stillness settled his bones, but it was to let the rise and fall of his chest heave as great as it could. Just to drink in the scent of her.

Her question tugged, but the fog hovered upon the moors of his mind, clinging selfishly.
“Hm?” he mumbled in response. The fog swirled, disturbed, but no wraiths chased it away. A change of season maybe. A memory of ghosts unformed.
“Who knows what the gods do,” he mumbled a response. Spirits or gods, neither held power over this moment. He would not allow it. Even if he was the one chained, it was his gaping maw that snapped their heels, chasing them away.

Sleep lulled its siren song. Thalia stirred and the fog was banished, though Tristan was unmoved, he lazily opened his eyes just to behold the sight of her. Her hair was wild and mussed. She looked like a fairy buzzing from door to door. It made him smile a little. He reached, touching her cheek, wondering about the loneliness that dampened her dewy scent when the fire puffed away suddenly.

He sat up, pulling her close on instinct. The room trembled an earthquake then fell to utter blackness. His heart quickened, awaiting the crumbling of stone and crashing of furniture, but nothing happened. Then the glow of symbols traced eerie lines on the ceiling and walls. Faint as a heartbeat, but enough that his eyes flared wide and he could barely make out what remained.

He gasped. Something moved in the darkness. The tension coiled and he wrapped his arms around Thalia to protect her from whatever was there.

A flash of eyes and it darted quick as a rabbit. Its foots pawed softly as it lept and landed.

And he smelled the beast.
“Something is there,” he explained with a growl.

He had nothing to protect them. Nothing but his own skin. And he cursed himself for being stupid like that.

He stood, a hulking defenseless figure naked in the dark, urging Thalia to stay behind him.

Then a voice tumbled through his thoughts. The word spoken clear as a human on the phone.
“B r o t h e r?”

“What?” he replied, surprised at the rattle in his voice. Behind him, Thalia was tense as a board as he tried to shelter her fears. And he realized the beast did not smell aggressive. It was curious. Bravery stirred, and he took a step forward, hand reaching tentatively forward into the dark. 

Its voice tumbled through his thoughts again:
“B r o t h e r?”

“No,” he replied, certain that Thalia must be hearing only one side of the conversation. 
“Tristan,” he added, but honestly because he did not know what else to say to a beast prowling the darkness of an underwater cave that should not exist.
"Don’t waste your time looking back, you’re not going that way."
Rognar Lothbrok
Tristan +
Fenrir +
[[Re-posting as a collaborated post, for ease. Nemesyne is pronounced like "Nemesis", ending in see-nee. So something like Nema - see-nee]]

[Image: thaliahair.png]   [Image: tristan-gold.png]

The room shuddered and groaned. She felt like she fell for a long time after that, darkness rushing past her ears and spilling the contents of her soul like a dashed glass of water. She cowered, head in hands. Her grandmother was not going to be happy, and she was certain she should not have brought anyone here. Had they broken something? Arms around her tightened like they might prevent the inevitable, and she was glad of the company in that starless place. The island of a heartbeat reminded her who she was without her ever realising she’d forgotten it, like climbing down chains to an anchor.

When everything grew still Thalia uncurled a little, pressing a hand flush against her chest to calm the shrill panic fluttering within. She couldn’t see anything. Only when she shifted tentatively again in the darkness, wondering what on earth had happened, something came loose with her grip. A pale and ethereal thread wound her fingers and wisped to nothing as she watched. A hallucination, surely. She didn’t investigate, only tugged one of the blankets about her shoulders, held it in a knotted fist against her heart.

Tension strung her through. She closed her eyes tight.

She was not afraid of the dark and the things that lived in it, but she did not want to be left behind. The growl of Tristan’s words went unheeded; she was alarmed when he moved, and followed completely blindly, meeting the iron barrier of his arm urging her back. For once Thalia listened without protest. She had no idea who he was talking to, just accepted it in trust. He sounded uncertain. Hardly the strangest revelation of the morning though. For all she knew he was talking to the room itself; it had been whispering to her too after all, since almost the moment of their arrival.

A low hum marked the return of the power. Thalia pivoted to watch the light speed around the study, though it shone gloomier than it had been, like the settling of an artificial twilight. Only, she didn’t think it was supposed to be like that. She leaned against Tristan’s back, not sure who that comfort was for; her or him. Her eyes brushed closed, and a slow sigh left her chest. Now the adrenaline burned away, calm replaced it easily. Though so too did fatigue. The starry blanket draped her shoulders, and she wasn’t cold, but she regretted leaving the tangled warmth of furs and limbs.

“I thought the world was ending. I guess not yet,” she murmured, mostly to herself. By now she desperately wanted to curl up and sleep, which probably had something to do with the pleasant lethargy still in her body. But sleep would only bring dreams and drawings, and her hands were still bloody and sore. She had no paper. No pencil. She should have slept first; allowed herself to be more prepared as Tristan had insisted. But instinct had fired her from the cabin. And maybe the Guardian couldn’t wait.

“Who are you talking to?”

When she shifted and opened her eyes it was to blink at the small creature crouched on the desk. Green eyes were staring back at her with quite some scrutiny.


“That is a very ugly cat,” she said, surprised, just as its tufted ears twitched. It chirruped and stretched, flexing a sinuous tail she was quite sure even in the lingering shadows actually forked at its end. It was too tall for a housecat, and sleek to the point of being skeletal. [Sister?] But it was the gleam of something ruby red at its forehead that was the most markedly strange, like a third eye. Curiosity bloomed more than fear. She glanced askance up at Tristan, though she couldn’t fathom why he might hold an answer.

Once the cat thing settled on the desk, Tristan relaxed. They were twin creatures after all. Both of the night. If it wasn’t respect, then perhaps mutual understanding.

Thalia’s description was spot on. The thing was ugly.

“Y O U  U G L Y  T O O” the voice rippled across his head.

He smirked, but Thalia didn’t react. His expression settled. “Can’t you hear it?” he asked. She clearly didn’t.

When he looked again, its tail was twitching, but it hadn’t moved otherwise.

“I’m Tristan. This is Thalia,” he moved just enough for her to be more clearly observed.

“I  A M  T H E  N E M E S Y N E.”

Tristan looked down at Thalia, “Its name is Neme... Nemesyne,” he shrugged after that. The word was difficult to pronounce.

After he introduced Thalia, it seemed that Nemesyne was staring those unblinking cat-like eyes at her fully.

"W H E R E  I S  M O T H E R ?
W E  M U S T  F I N D  M O T H E R
M O T H E R  W I L L  K N O W  W H A T  T O  D O
M O T H E R  W I L L  K N O W  H O W  T O  H E L P !"

He watched the interaction. Nemesyne shifted on its paws, ears twitching in irritation. Then it looked back at him.

"S I S T E R  D O E S  N O T  H E A R,  T R I S T A N ?"

He frowned.
“It wants its mother,” he said for her benefit, but he didn’t know what it meant himself. He certainly wasn’t its brother. Thalia wasn’t the sister of a cat. A minx maybe…

Was it trapped down here? Alone? He pushed a hand through his damp hair, confused.

Tristan's dishevelment made her smile a little to behold. Damp hair poured down one side of his face. The gold of his eyes was intense. He called himself a monster, and plodded ever forward on this strange journey of odd, but he seemed hesitant every new step. Though she was not sure if it was that he did not fit the world, or the world simply did not fit around him. She blinked a little at the question, but did not seem disturbed by the revelation that he claimed to be talking to the cat. Amusement rippled as she beheld the creature anew, and Tristan meanwhile stumbled over its strange name. "Well, hello then." She laughed a little, but only in bemused curiosity. 

It was then she noticed something.

“Everything’s moved.” She slipped past Tristan to run her fingers over the desk’s carved surface, unperturbed by the creature puttering across its surface. An artist’s attention caught the shift of composition, which shouldn’t have been remotely possible. As her hands explored, the soft resonance of power answered. Not that she called. And then she remembered the light she’d poured into it earlier. One of the nodules now flickered faintly, and when she glanced up the constellation above their heads had likewise shifted into a new pattern. It was a map; she knew that like she knew her own name, but the origins of the knowledge made her shy naturally away from it. She had not looked at the closed door with the star on its surface since they arrived and the whisper curled into her mind. She still did not.

In the same moment the strange cat shot off into the darkened archway; the one from whence they had originally come. Though Thalia knew it no longer held the path back.

He was a cautious follower, but it wasn’t the items on the desk that held his attention. He was watching the cat. It hadn’t strayed from the desk even as Thalia approached. He smirked to himself when it reacted affectionately to the pet of his palm. Its fur was softer than a wolf. Its body was warm.

The moment passed as Neme’s attention suddenly flicked aside.

"T R I S T A N, S H E  I S  H E R E. T R I S T A N, S H E  I S  H U R T!"

“I think its mother is here?” he still didn’t understand. If it was alone all this time, how had it lost its mother? But then a scent wafted in. Something he had never known before.

Thalia looked in the direction it darted. “Follow it, I guess? Makes as much sense as anything else.” She reached for Tristan’s hand without thinking. Eagerness pulled its siren song, thumping a swifter cadence of her heartbeat. But she might as well have been tethered to a boulder for all the shifting he did.

He was the boulder that Thalia tugged against. “Me first,” softly spoken, but insistent.

She had been about to plummet fearlessly into the darkened archway, and momentum alone almost carried her onwards, but that his grip tightened. Not hard. Surprise flooded, but she did still, unwilling to abandon the connection. A frown flickered but cleared easily. In almost the same moment her mouth parted in memory. “I promised that, didn't I,” she agreed. Thalia didn’t quite know what to make of that overbearing protection. From the time she’d left home at eighteen she’d been independent; no one had ever caged her in, even for her own good. But a promise was a promise.


The passageway was short where before it had been long. It flared out into a wide chamber. Water lapped the ground, squeezing cold beneath her toes. The walls were dark glass, like they had stepped into the centre of an underwater bubble. Thalia’s eyes rounded wide from where she trailed behind Tristan’s shoulder. She’d had no real concept of how big the creature would be, or how the awe would fill her up enough to spark tears to her eyes. Because she was real. Impossibly real. Tentacles writhed across the pool’s surface, though she was mostly submerged. Patterns scrawled her skin. The scales glinted bright. No drawing could really convey the wild, inhuman beauty.

Onyx dark eyes marked their entrance, and a snarl curled the guardian’s lips. The tentacles behind her spiked crown coiled in agitation. But it wasn’t the fear Thalia had drawn from the dream. It was pain.

“No,” she murmured. “No no no.”

Pink stained the water. “Tristan she’s bleeding.”

She foolishly ran almost as soon as she spoke, surprisingly fast. Her feet slapped the shallows. The light burned cinders beneath her skin, brighter than she’d ever felt, spinning a frantic desire to help.
"Rivers are veins of the earth through which the lifeblood returns to the heart."
[Image: thal-banner-scaled.jpg]
 | Sothis Lethe Alethea | Miraseia |
Thalia was ready to plunge into the unknown wearing only a fur blanket. He smiled at that, but one of them had to keep their head. First thing he did was grab his pants and retrieve hers as well. Everything was damp. He’d rather keep to his skin but they were clearly in someone else’s house, and he was sure their combined nakedness was the source of Nemesyne’s 'ugly' comment. Such a cat.

After arranging themselves, they followed the cat. He didn’t understand the scent. Didn’t understand the cat’s murmurings about its mother. Didn’t understand why the things moved or why the doors were different. He didn't even understand where they were. Together, these unknowns might otherwise be accepted as things of the world he was not meant to understand. He might have been more trusting but for every step carrying him forward, a wrongness of his being here was leaking into his heart.

The sound of water in motion met his ears before he saw why. The room was permeated by the scent of lakewater, but it was the fishy mixture of animal, woman, surprise and blood that mingled together into the scent previously unrecognized.

The head of the creature was bobbing in the water. The pool overflowed around the edges with her motion, which explained the sounds. Tristan was a man raised with fairies, trolls and sea monsters. The government didn’t build roads without consulting with fairy-experts. The trolls were blamed for rockslides. There was even a museum dedicated to the sea monsters in the Westfjords. Everyone knew someone whose relative or neighbor or friend was an eye-witness to the supernatural. Tristan himself spoke with the Grey Lady. His uncle was encased in a Trollstone. Now, he was in company of a Hafgúfa. It wasn't disbelief that he stared. The golden eyes of his gaze was wild with fascination. Despite the blood, she did not smell overly concerned. She was mostly curious until Thalia darted forward before he could stop her. There was a strange spike of concern despite the defensiveness of her posturing. Before Thalia could reach her, a tenatacle sprung from the water and swat the rushing girl aside. 

“Stop!” he told it, hoping it understood like the cat did and rushed to her aid.

He eased his arms around Thalia, checking her carefully. His wolfish gaze accused the creature with betrayal for harming her.

Almost immediately, the hafgúfa retracted its offensive tentacles. Its spines flattened and she sank under the water to the level of her eyes. He thought he smelled shame? More things that made no sense.

He brushed Thalia's small chin with his fingers, gently moving her hair aside to study the former and recent injuries. He grumbled to himself. He shouldn’t have allowed her to come here, but she rushed over cliffs like tumbling waterfalls unheeding of rocks below.

A screech pierced the the air. They both looked at the hafgúfa, who had lifted up out of the water near to her navel. She was holding something jagged but when his gaze fell upon it, she pulled it protectively closer to her body.

Then after a moment, an automatic-sounding voice filled the room. It was mechanical and neutral of gender, like something out of google translate.

{I S  S H E  O K A Y}
"Don’t waste your time looking back, you’re not going that way."
Rognar Lothbrok
Tristan +
Fenrir +
Pain jarred her spine at the heaviness of her landing. Thalia was a little dazed. She didn’t cross the dizzy bridge of memory to discern exactly what happened, but her skin smarted and Tristan was fussing. Thalia’s eyes remained wide, pulled to the fantastical vision she could barely take a blink from, at least until he gently gripped her chin. A few murmured “ows” punctuated his grumbling exploration. She had an impressive threshold for pain, though it was easier to ignore when someone wasn’t poking every bruise sustained since leaving Moscow. Eventually she wrapped her fingers around his tree-trunk wrist, though not to pull him free; it was to get his attention. “Have you ever seen something so beautiful?” she asked in earnest. He lived fully in the light of a world she had only ever seen in margins, and the glimpse of such a marvellous truth left her breathless. Wonder blossomed the beginnings of a smile.

The screech a moment later made her flinch, though only in the reflexive way of something unexpected. She looked back to where the creature rose high from the pool. Water slewed down the curves of her torso, and she held something, though Thalia barely glanced at what. Captivation left her senseless until a monotone voice filled the air around them.

{I S  S H E  O K A Y?}

“Are you okay?” she replied, surprised. The surreality struck her hard for a moment then, but she barely missed a beat before she simply adapted. “I’m tougher than I look,” she added. ”And I guess maybe so are you.” She was vaguely aware of a weight on her shoulder then, needle-sharp claws pinching a perch with a little more ferocity than was strictly necessary. A head pushed through the wild tangle of her hair to butt against her cheek. She felt it, but in her peripheral the cat was like mist, almost incorporeal.

[Stupid deaf Thalia. Stupid slow Tristan.]

{T H E  L I G H T  B I N D S  M E.  I  C A N N O T  D I S O B E Y.  D O  N O T  T O U C H  I T}

Confusion reigned for a moment, before her hand reached to clasp the tentacle-shaped blotches on her ankle. Memories lit like dull sparks in the darkness. Oh,” she said in apparent understanding, though a moment later her brow lowered in the consideration of what exactly that even meant. She shifted her weight to sit on her knees. It was cold where the overspill lapped, but she wasn’t sure she trusted her feet, and she was wet anyway from having fallen. She looked at Tristan for his reaction; wondered at what he had imagined to find when he travelled across continents on the whim of a dream, and what it meant to him.

“We dreamed of you,” she said to the guardian. “You were afraid. You have a child. Who has hurt you?”
"Rivers are veins of the earth through which the lifeblood returns to the heart."
[Image: thal-banner-scaled.jpg]
 | Sothis Lethe Alethea | Miraseia |
“She is Vatnavættir. I’ve never seen one in all my years, though I have had encounter with álfar. That means you found Álagablettur. A place of power and importance. I will help her.”


As Thalia shook away her injuries, Tristan’s mind was bubbling with dreamy memories. They had found the Vatnavættir that haunted the wolf dream. Beneath the water, she had darted and spun in agitation and fear. Her distress summoned Thalia’s soul to seek to offer help. They both answered the call, but here in the enchanted spot of Álagablettur, he knew it was him who must be roused to act.

His gaze swept the area, settling intently upon a round object nearby. He recognized it from the dream, and once he was certain Thalia was well, he rose slowly to retrieve it.

He stretched his senses outward as he approached. The drips and laps of water was most prominent. Then there was the hum of machinery scratching behind the walls. Even the swishing of the cat's tail prickled his ears. The scents of fish and mammal were mingled with caution and urgency. Through the cloud of sensations he walked, purposefully, pointedly.

It was with reverence that he knelt before the egg. The paw of his hand palmed its surface. It was cold and damp despite being far from the water, and he had the sense it had not been in the water in a great deal of time. It was as if it was preserved.

It was heavy when he lifted it. At least forty pounds. So heavy it might be mistaken for stone if it wasn’t for the seeming fragility of its surface.

He put an ear to the egg, then, but if he heard anything within, his expression did not betray the awareness. His golden gaze flicked tentatively to the Vatnavættir.

He was here to help the Vatnavættir. From her vantage, her black eyes were wide. Tentacles slowly rose behind her as if poised to strike. Yet she did nothing. His golden gaze slipped to Thalia next, as well as the cat on her shoulder.

His heart was pounding, brow drawn low, and hair falling around his face like a curtain. The task set before him was enormous, but he bore the burden with duty. Even a sense of honor. He just hoped this was the right thing to do. Gods help him if he was wrong.

He nodded and with some small strain, hefted the egg above his head.
He looked up at it briefly, “Ég frelsaði þig”*.

Then with a roar, thrust the egg to the ground.

It shattered, and something slithered out.

*I set you free.
"Don’t waste your time looking back, you’re not going that way."
Rognar Lothbrok
Tristan +
Fenrir +
{T H E  L I G H T  B I N D S  M E.  I  C A N N O T  D I S O B E Y.}

The words repeated. There was no inflection to them and she couldn’t tell if it was a separate answer or a glitch in whatever enabled the translation. As she stared up in wonder, a thousand questions swirled through Thalia’s mind. Did the creature have a name? Did she remember dreaming of them too? The curiosity blossomed with such earnestness she only ended up sitting unusually mute. Everything she wanted to share and everything she wanted to know drifted into silent acceptance of the moment, and a hope the guardian understood why they had come.

Meanwhile Tristan stood, and Thalia’s attention diverted to watch what he did. He was moving slowly, both quiet and thoughtful. When he knelt she recognised what he’d discovered, and the sight of it tightened in her chest. The egg looked different in the flesh. A tracery of light webbed its surface, bound in tiny whorls and knots that were resonating just like the walls, though the shapes were different – and this time she daren’t answer the call. The reverence with which Tristan placed his hand against it soothed fears she couldn’t even name. Yet above them the guardian had fallen into predatory stillness, her eyes flared wide. Her lips remained peeled back from sharp teeth.

Thalia’s expression finally drew into concern when he lifted the egg from its stand, though she continued watching on in wary trust. His gold gaze swept them all like witnesses, expression heavy with burden. But as Thalia trusted the unknown journey, she trusted this too. The softness in her gaze spoke of faith. It had to; she’d been the one to bring him here.

Though she only understood what his intention was the moment he hoisted it above his head.

She flinched bodily at the impact. As the egg shattered the threads binding it snapped free, and when the jagged pieces of shell fell they abruptly disintegrated into piles of sand around the motionless creature that had been within. With a disturbed swish of its forked tail, Neme immediately bolted from its perch on Thalia's shoulder and darted back into the darkened archway, just as the guardian screamed and thrust herself deep into the pool. Every tentacle slammed down hard.

The waters rose fast.

Thalia gasped as an ice cold tide swept up over her lap. She tried to find her feet but when the wave returned the momentum dragged her forward like a riptide, washing clean the wet piles of sand and claiming the creature birthed within. Translucent tentacles began to writhe with life as it unfurled to the water’s pull. Thalia slid alarmingly with it until its mother’s thick tentacle gently barred her a moment before she would have slipped right off the edge. The wriggling infant disappeared below and Thalia tried to catch her breath, eyes saucer wide in awe. She searched for Tristan, relieved to find him safe.

{T H E  P R O M I S E  I S  F I N A  L L Y  F U L F I L L E D}

The disembodied words intoned around them. The guardian’s black eyes were still intent on Tristan, while beneath her a small pale shadow zipped through the water. She was half reared out again, her crown flared wide and protective. Despite her form there was no recognisable human emotion on her face, just a striking ferocity. Her scales rippled with colour as she moved, as slow and reverent in her actions as Tristan had been moments before.

{M Y  D U T Y  I S  Y O U R S}

She laid something carefully down on the edge of the pool. Then she dived.

Silence descended in a swift and sudden rush. Just the persistent lapping of the water remained. And to Thalia’s own ears at least, the rapid beating of her heart.

In somewhat morbid curiosity she crawled forward a little, wondering at what point the ground actually fell away into what she imagined must be a fathomless drop. The ends of her hair swirled on the still roiling surface, at which point she considered that face-planting into oblivion was not a wise lifechoice. Already there was nothing to see below but a distortion of her own reflection. It left her feeling stranger than she thought. Satisfied, but sad. She’d told Tristan she’d wanted to find some lost connection in this search, but all she discovered was ghosts. A world unphased with her own, which wasn’t even whole in the first place.

The guardian was gone, and Thalia realised that somehow she had thought she would stay. That this was different from the pinecone and its burn box or Patricus and his warnings.

Tristan had come to likewise peer down at the pool’s edge. She felt his feet splash the shallows; saw the wavering of his reflection beside her own. “Imagine how long they must have been kept apart,” she said. Her fingers trailed the surface before she sat back. The realisation warmed her when she put it into words, whatever of her own emotions stirred. The enormity of it was only just dawning; that they had done something good here. She grinned and leaned a little to try and read his expression. “You did it,” she told him.
"Rivers are veins of the earth through which the lifeblood returns to the heart."
[Image: thal-banner-scaled.jpg]
 | Sothis Lethe Alethea | Miraseia |
He had previously padded closer to the pool, though unlike Thalia, he did not tempt those waters a second time. Every part of this journey left him unsettled, like the months he passed attempting to live the life of a fisherman at sea where the rocking of the ships underfoot were endlessly difficult to catch his balance. The Vatnavættir did not so much as look at him once the infant was released. 

Instead, he crouched, retrieving the thing that the Vatnavættir left behind. He was turning it over in his hands. It seemed to emanate nothing but the scent of seawater and fish, but when he put it to his nose for a long, drawn in examination, frown lines drew around his mouth. There was something he could not quite put to words, but it crept under his skin like a warning. Tristan placed the object back where he found it and returned to the broken egg shells. They had the same scent about them. He disliked the coincidence, and now their task was through, was eager to leave. Amid the wafting smell of blood, Thalia smelled sad. He offered a hand to help her up. “Are you okay?”

Eyes piercing, he studied her face, tilting her chin side to side to study her injury for himself. In the isolation of the Westfjords, he certainly knew how to tend to his own scrapes and cuts. They only visited a doctor when bones were broken, but even the invisible wounds to the head could be the worst. He did not smell anything like that, but she was still bleeding. “We should leave. That needs binding and maybe a few stitches,” he was serious, but he did not want to frighten her.

"You really are clumsy you know."
"Don’t waste your time looking back, you’re not going that way."
Rognar Lothbrok
Tristan +
Fenrir +
While Tristan padded off to his own investigations, Thalia was content to wade quietly in her own thoughts. Scales still glittered distraction behind her eyes as she sat in the cold shallows and watched the empty water. By now even the ripples had faded to stillness. She might have stayed there a long while had he not offered a hand to hoist her up, which she took without hesitation as it floated into her peripheral. They’d witnessed something beautiful and sublime. Tristan seemed more interested in ascertaining whether she was hurt though, while she was still lost in the etherealness of the encounter and reluctant to let it slip so quickly away. “We did a good thing,” was all she said as she stood, voice soft as summer rain at the change of the season. Sad for what had passed, but glad for the memory it left.

“We should ask the cat how we get out. I suppose it lives here, so it must know,” she added after. The creature had fled back the way they came the moment the water had risen. Sensible thing. After her unceremonious slide through the tidal wave Thalia was soaked through again, but not much else had changed since the last time Tristan examined her injury. She was content to let him look though, and lacking distraction this time she peered back up at the study he made. Water droplets rolled down the curves of her face, and by the piercing way he was frowning down at her she wondered if it was bleeding again. A small price, really, and not one she regretted. Thalia wondered at the gravity of his expression though.

She laughed a little at his bluntness, and it pierced through the veil of her quietly sombre mood. “I do know that, yes.” Her eyes crinkled in a smile. “Don’t you feel anything?” She reached to tap a finger light against his chest to illustrate what she meant. The question was made in utter earnest. He’d touched the egg with too much reverence to be unmoved, surely, yet she thought he could wrap the entire moment up, fold it away, and never consider it again. It left her feeling adrift in the wake of her own emotions.
"Rivers are veins of the earth through which the lifeblood returns to the heart."
[Image: thal-banner-scaled.jpg]
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