7th of Yaris, 2719
CHURCH of the ETERNAL CHILD | TOO AWAKE
There were voices in the hall and Naul wanted nothing more than to shut them out. He didn't need to repeat himself for the millionth time—he'd described everything he could remember over and over already. Or at least he felt as though he had—perhaps he'd just dreamed it all multiple times in and out of consciousness beneath the work of doctors and the watchful eye of whoever had been making sure he'd been isolated. Athrym was careful in her embrace, cautious of his injuries, but he ignored what stung and ached while he reached to hug her tightly. When she pulled away to look at him, his expression darkened at the admission that sedatives had kept them quiet. He was still horrified by the truth but also insulted that no one even tried to believe them—what reason would any of them have to concoct a story so incredulous and fantastical?
Oxygen deprivation surely did occasionally lead to hallucinations, but his injuries? The loss of some of their party? No—
The pale Gioran wiped his face while he spoke softly, self-conscious of all the emotions shared between them because he knew they were in her home Kingdom and there would be judgment. He swallowed—hard—at her admission that she feared for his life, but only because the Anaxi professor had been worried about hers as well.
"All of them? Begads, I'm not ready—I—" Nauleth was hardly dressed, let alone cognizant enough to navigate the barrage of inquiries he knew would be tossed at them both. He wasn't sure he could be strong enough for the both of them together, here in little more than nightclothes, "—Brunnhold? Wait. What for? No one needs to know what's going on until there has been more studying. We need to go back down there. I need to go back down there. I have to go back—I have ideas on how to—"
The young Siordanti struggled to sit up a little further, hissing and wincing as his side objected to the movement, squeezing his eyes shut with a gasp for air at the pain. He sighed, unable to use the shoulder that had been mauled for much support, and just attempted to settle closer to his pale, petite fiancé instead, better hand reaching to cover hers with his and curl his fingers tightly around all of hers, "—Professor Meakan surely saw something—the clocking coward—but those were definitely Hatch—"
He bit his lip, glancing past Athrym's shoulder to meet the gaze of Lomenak Da Huane while the graceful creature swept into the room with her companions. It wasn't necessarily a respectful silence, Naul drawing his field closer but also tighter together with the woman beside him, not mingling in private intimacy so much as weaving in solid support.
"There was no reason to contact Brunnhold. It's too soon, Your Luminous. If you were at all actually concerned for our well-being, you'd have given us time to recover without the use of sedative-induced silence." The Physical Conversationalist glowered, his tone bordering on groggy defiance. He wanted to make sure those on the other end of the Seerstone heard his words and so he spoke them with exaggerated volume.
He let his gold-rimmed gaze wander the faces of those who filed into his room, who crowded around them without even offering them a moment to gather themselves or have a meal or anything. He was already disturbed and this would most likely push him over the edge into anger, especially once he let his eyes linger on Professor Meakan. Everyone else's fields brushed against his and Naul resisted the nauseated overwhelming sensation it all caused, unable to help but feel the weight of their expectation and curiosity filtering through their monic form of unspoken communication. He looked at the large crystal, a far larger Seerstone than any average galdor would carry in their pockets, and recognized the brief flashes of at least Headmistress Ophelia and possibly Professor Moore on the other end—
The monic theorist? Interesting.
His jaw clenched at the obvious question, about to speak but Athrym began to describe things first. Whether it was as a kindness to him or because the memories of such a strange experience were gnawing at her from the inside out as much as they were gnawing at him, he couldn't tell, but he listened to her description and nodded,
"The body was in front of the door and it had obviously been injured. I was too far away to study details, but it was not in the same condition as the mummified remains on the altars." The young Siordanti added the details, not interrupting so much as finding a space to add his voice into, "There was very old Monite and engravings. Engravings of—oh—"
The petite blonde next to him mentioned the book Maekan had taken off with and mentioned Braeth, the eldest Siordanti feeling the shift in her field. He tangled their fingers together and squeezed her hand as if to quiet her, as if to tell her the professor wasn't worth going after here in front of everyone. Perhaps he was a coward, but he'd also gotten them help.
She said the word hatchers and the whole room erupted. From the stone, Professor Moore and Headmistress Servalis' voices could barely be heard:
"Please don't yell. The strain from this distance."
"What did Miss Bruthgrave say? Hatchers?"
Athrym's father spoke up and Nauleth bristled visibly, face twisting in frustration, right side before the left, "You'll take her nowhere she doesn't wish to go, Sir Bruthgrave." It was a possessive warning, the Physical Professor's field sigiled and buzzing with what threat he could muster for a man he'd admittedly never met before this moment, a man who had arranged a marriage in secret that became an unexpected mutual engagement long before the truth was even discovered. He sighed, rolling his eyes as he talked about hatchers being old stories—he'd believed that, too, just days ago—but he didn't believe that now.
"We've hardly heard a thing." Ophelia's voice snapped from the stone, sounding crystalline and sharp.
The ginger galdor groaned more than sighed, hissing through grit teeth as he raised his hand despite the strain of stitches in the flesh of his shoulder, "Enough then! If you want to know everything, then you clocking well better listen and stop arguing. Were you there in the Maw? No, no you weren't. Professor Meakan was—but his silence is his problem. I know he saw what we did, all the same. Anyway, we've got no reason to lie and none of us were suffering from oxygen deprivation, so here—ah, clock the Circle, my notebooks—there was ancient monite on the burial stones as well as engravings, engravings of hatchers—I need my notebooks—I took notes and rubbings—there—could someone—could you just—"
Wincing, leaning as if he wanted to get up, he instead pointed to his belongings piled on a small stone desk carved out of the wall, looking to Illustrious Peak because he knew her and purposefully ignoring Professor Meakan. Perhaps it was just simply easier to address a passive with such sudden impatience, "My notebooks—there—can you get them? Please?"
Even if she didn't, he continued, visibly irritated and obviously full of far more thoughts than he was capable of putting into words, "The doors shouldn't have been opened until the body was properly examined. We all advised against it, but, again, there was no interest in heeding our caution. Once opened, there was mist or steam or something that curled out of it. Perhaps there is an underground water source? Well, we didn't hear anything that I can remember, but there was a curious sensation. Even before the door was opened—Professor Moore? I've only hold rumors about your research, but as we drew closer to the doors, it felt as though something, somewhere was attempting to pull at the mona in our fields. It was magnetic almost—"
"A pulling sensation? Was it strong?" Harper's voice was almost metallic given the distance between them and the images of the two Brunnhold galdori flickered across the face of the crystal.
Ophelia's voice murmured in the background but it was impossible to make out her words.
"Yes. Well. Not at first. It was hard to cast—once things unraveled—but I think—wait. Let me not get distracted." Nauleth ran a shaking hand through unkempt hair, biting his lip at the pain of the motion, "There was mist once the doors were opened and while I cautioned others not to go inside because it was so incredibly dark, no one listened to the male Anaxi professor." He let that hang there, not looking up, and didn't miss a beat continuing, "Something shimmered in the room. It was strange—"
"Shimmered? Like sun on water? Like gemstones in bright light?"
"Yes. Only it was solid black. A nothingness. The pull was so strong—but then—"
"Was the shimmering darkness large?"
"N-no, Sir Moore, it was perhaps the size of a rickshaw. I didn't get a good look at it because there were—there was—they came!—there were definitely hatchers. Braeth speared one. We ran. A wall was barely enough to keep them back and there were too many after I tried to shove them away, into the Maw. It attacked me. I was only trying to keep Athrym safe—all of us safe—there were too many and they moved like ants. Together. But, something happened—the Maw was filled with light, with fire—bright and blinding—"
"The Maw's a volcano? How many hatchers were there? Mister Siordanti—"
Nauleth had stopped talking, staring at the seerstone blankly, tears burning the edges of his vision and shaking. Memories of the great mythical beast rising from the seemingly endless void of the Maw flooding his senses, coupled with memories of searing pain. His breathing sped up, his face contorting into some mix of terror and frustration as if he struggled to believe the very things spilling from his lips. He spoke them with a measured rhythm, the cadence of his voice almost deadpan, sea glass-colored eyes glazed over with the memory of every scene playing over and over again in the depths of this thoughts.
"There were too many hatchers to count. I—my magic wasn't enough—our magic seemed far less responsive so close to them—we should have died—Daegerote. The whole Maw was filled with fire. Filled with the mythical beast and it kept them at bay."
"Dae-what? How is that even possible? Hatchers haven't been seen in decades, centuries; if they are even real at all. Did you not just discover new wildlife?" It was Headmistress Servalis' voice through the stone, but she was halted by Harper Moore. The two began to bicker in hushed tones that couldn't be understood given their tenuous magical connection. The young professor gasped for breath, not aware he'd been holding it. He spoke louder than necessary, desperate to be heard above the din of many voices,
Slowly, he looked up toward Professor Maekan, "Tell them about the creatures that attacked us! Tell them the truth. And someone give me my godsbedamned notebooks. I have drawings and notes. The rubbings. The Monite. Over there—look for yourselves. We're not mad."
This isn't Brunnhold anymore, ersehat, and you're not going home.