even when the sun comes up, I'm in trouble

POSTED: Tue Jun 11, 2019 11:16 pm

She dreamed of dark water, still and cold and deep. When she looked into its face for signs of life, all she could see was a blackness that bore no light, not even a reflection. Around her sat a heavy fog, steeping all directions in a muted grey.

A long time passed before a figure materialized in the distance. Tiamat knew their name before they arrived; she had always known them. She steadied her breath and let the tenseness of anticipation fall through her arms and out the tips of her fingers. As they came closer, they rose to two feet - an action which brought to stand the hairs on her neck.

"Mafdet," she said, and the immortal looked on her with eyes as round and baleful as the desert sun.

"Why do you wear Laevisa's face?"

"It was promised," she replied.

Tiamat reached for her axe, but it was gone. She had no weapon at her side, no armor - only the curl of her fists. She bared her teeth and Mafdet stared back.

"Glistening one," without moving her lips, Mafdet's voice surrounded her. It reminded Tiamat of Laevisa's old tricks, though she knew this was nothing of the sort. She checked her surroundings and found that they were no longer alone. Around her were the reflections of the immortal as she had been in life - a cheetah, a hawk, a hare, a beast with two wicked black horns, a pale maned lion, and now her old mentor, Laevisa.

Mafdet opened her palm, Laevisa's palm. "You have come to ask. I have come to answer."

"You have nothing for me." She swallowed the desire to lunge at the immortal, and her breast burned with the notion. "You're a liar, and a thief."

Mafdet's lip curled into a strange and stiff smile, a corpse of an expression. She offered no response but upturned her palm. Three things dropped at her feet. Tiamat kept one eye to the immortal as she bent down to pick them up. The water did not ripple when she touched it, and her hands did not feel wet when she rose again.

"What are these?" she asked before she saw them. Her fingers unfurled around the lock of hair, a vial of red, and a coin.

"A fair trade." Mafdet answered.

"I don't want them." Tiamat was not a trusting person by nature, and she was especially wary of the deals of devils. One had tried to kill her, one led her to war, and this one had betrayed them. She believed Mafdet would not have wanted anything to do with her after she had taken her head off with an axe, but standing here now (or wherever they were), she supposed the immortal had gotten what she wanted all along. It curdled her stomach to think that she had any part in it.

"A soul sought justice, and you delivered justice."

Tiamat looked away.

Even if some good managed to come from Bedaya and Onuba, Laevisa had deceived her. No...that wasn't entirely right. She had many chances to act differently, but she didn't. Griffin had been right about her and her need to fight - about how she loved it, sought it, craved it. These conflicts had been a way for her to be angry, and she supposed that was what she had wanted all along.

"I don't want them." She repeated.

"You want what was taken from you," Mafdet said. Her eyes were wide, and Tiamat could see herself shrinking in the dark swell of her pupils. As the immortal stared, the rest of her body began to fray, as if eaten by an invisible fire. Soon all that remained was her head, bloody as it was in the Amaranthian halls, her words echoing before this image too was consumed by fire, "Three lives you lost, three lives you gain. And when the debt is paid, we will meet again."

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