Dark shadows dance on the polished walls of obsidian, where the flickering torches are planted, flames forever burning about the vast chamber. And yet, the floor is cold, unforgiving to bare feet. Deeper into the darkness, the imposing mass of an absurd seat is guessed more than seen. A tall affair of silver veined marble, a majestic monstrosity, sporting silver rings where chains dangle, sinuously, with a life of their own. Along the walls, small alcoves, darkness dug into darkness, serve as housing for life-size statues. Each one depicts a being, male or female, of many species, including humans, held in the throes of agonizing ecstasy, forever tormented and forever aroused. Upon closer look, one realizes that these statues are in fact actual beings, living, held on the edge of monstruous orgasms, to be released only at the command of the Guardian, to be offered to Kul'tka. The initiation to the cult of a dark god begins at the foot of this throne.
The vast and dark hall is pulsating. Living. Now and then, a tendril unfolds from the obsidian walls, darkness spawning darkness, and whrithes in the thick air for a moment before disappearing. The pulsating construct seems to beat a rhythm, that of a powerful heart, but it's noiseless, only felt through one's flesh, not one's ears.
The Lady of the Pyramid is pacing nervously, back and forth before the grotestque throne, her tail whipping in the air, coiling about her own waist to uncoil and slither about again. Servants can be glimpsed in the shadows, scurrying to and fro, frightened little mice, their tiny steps producing a silky rustle as a background music to the pulses.
Aimend enters the Pyramid and is immediately led into Tamara's presence. She arrives, somewhat damp from the pouring rain outside, and tries to walk calmly into the room. She was here once before, though it seems that was eons ago, and the place feels different from her memory of it. Tonight, the low, pulsing thrum of the walls, the air itself, is alarming to her, though she doesn't show her trepidation overtly. Her heels click gently on the stong floor.
She gives Tamara a rapid, sweeping glance, her quick eyes taking in the woman's form in totality. The tension in her face seems to ease for a moment as she admires the woman's graceful motion about the room. Tamara emanates a powerful tension that Aimend can feel very easily. She gives a gentle bow of her head. "Tamara, thank you for replying to my note with this invitation," she says simply.
Veering on her heels with the swiftness of a feline, Tamara turns to the woman entering the Pyramid, her pale eyes immediately focusing on the Lady, the burning fire within touching the gentle face of the Emir's wife.
"You are welcome" she says, her tail swishing impatiently. "I was about to go and pay a visit to your husband, for the situation is more than alarming" she adds, an arm waving towards the walls. "Something is afoot, and I can barely keep Kult'ka under control." She speaks in short burst, her voice nearly flippant, though her visible anger and concern aren't directed to Aimend. "The things I had to do to contain him these days.." she shrugs, her face straining under the weight of her own thoughts.
Aimend's eyes are full of compassion for this woman, though she's sure she has but the barest inkling of what she goes through in this very dark place. She seems to think over what she might say in reply to Tamara's words. "Something is afoot, indeed. Merared told me to come and see you, as I wrote in my letter. I'd hoped she might be able to come with me, but it seemed best to meet as soon as possible, even without her, for now." She pauses.
"Tamara, I've been freezing cold for a good month. I can't stay warm for very long, at all. The healers have been useless. I thought I might simply be homesick, longing for snow, but I'm happy here. Xyrthia tells me I'm not possessed by anything. She thinks I might be cursed, though she didn't say by whom, or for what reason. I showed Merared a dream I've been having lately. Akashat in the grip of a fierce, cold winter. A polar bear came to the chapel and slashed me with his paw. Later, people running through the streets, chased by the bears, all the way to the Palace. One of them killed Heph. When I got to that part of the dream, I was very upset, as you can imagine. Merared broke the dream-connection, clearing my mind for a moment. Something came through to her and shocked her. She said that Kult'ka had reached her, somehow.
"We think the dream may be a premonition, or perhaps a warning, though whether it comes from Kult'ka or the Dream Weaver we don't know. But Merared felt his anger when she stopped my terror. Does any of this mean anything to you?"
The dark Lady shakes her head, and waves to a tall and strong servant, 'Bring us some comfortable chairs, and hot tea!' she orders, and when her request is met, she shows a chair to Aimend and sit in the other, while a pretty thing of a slave pours steaming tea in two elegant cups. Tamara takes one, and wraps both hands around it, "Cold. It is indeed colder than usual, outside. Here, heat is always the rule, though, what with our volcano heritage!"
She thinks for a moment, sipping on the fragrant beverage, then mutters, "If HE would be freed, it's fire and lava he'd bring to the city. Along with darkness and pain, perversions and plagues. It happened once already. Many died. Good men, good women. Friends. Even myself.. But that is the past."
She takes another sip, then mutters, "Now, to combat fire and heat, water, snow, freezing winds.. Any and all these things would be a good weapon." A strange laughter passes through her pulpous lips, "We didn't think of those weapons, back then! But then again, he was out already! And now.. now, he's still fed.. held here, but at what cost! and I'm not sure I'll be able to contain him much longer. There's not enough dark dreams, perverted thoughts in the city!'
Aimend sinks gracefully into the chair and eagerly wraps her hands about the cup of tea handed to her. She inhales its aroma appreciatively, then takes a sip. She seems to relax a bit almost immediately, as though the hot tea were warming her rapidly. She considers what Tamata says very carefully all the while.
"Weather as a weapon?" Something plays at the corners of her mouth, and her eyes sparkle for a moment. "Is the Dream Weaver changing our weather, Tamara? For it's surely begun to cool, outside. There was a very cold, harsh wind last night and much of today. And then the thunderstorm began. Very cold rain, and lots of it, teeming from the skies. This is how winter arrives in the place I came from. Might the Weaver be trying to cool Kult'ka down?" She clicks one fingernail at the edge of her teacup.
"I have been urging the city to dream good dreams, strong ones, to counteract the madness that Xyrthia was encouraging them to feel. I have told the people that they do not need to be subject to darkness and terror, but that they can change it by dreaming of light and hope," she chuckles bitterly. "Maybe we've overdone it? I don't want to strengthen Kult'ka, Tamara. Darkness is in everyone, though. If we ask for the dark passions and dreams, will balance return?"
She ponders for a moment, absentedly sipping at the hot tea. Then she leans over and sets her empty cup on the table. The young woman who was kneeling nearby, immediately crawls closer and still on her knees, refreshes Tamara's cup, then looks inquisitively at Aimend, silently waiting to be told whether or not to pour her some more tea as well.
After a long silence, during which the pulses intensified, Tamara goes to speak, when a sharp cry is heard, originating in the shadows behind the Throne. With a groan, Tamara rises to her feet, 'Forgive me for one moment..' she mutters, striding towards the Throne. She disappears behind it, and some shuffling sounds, wet slithering, and moans are heard. Soon enough, silence returns, and so does the Lady of the Pyramid. As of nothing happened, she sits back in her chair, and takes the fresh cup of tea to her lips. "Forgive me. Ancillary matters." she mutters rapidely, then returning to the matter at hand, she nods, "Of course, if the DreamWeaver has been snatching all the emotions poured forth in the land, that left Kult'ka hungry! No wonder that I had to torment slaves harsher than usual to keep his bounds solid!' she groans. "He needs his fill! And alone, here, I can't do it all."
She pauses for a moment, her tail slowly slithering to wrap about the serving girl's neck, a dangerous caress, to which the servant seems to respond with a blush and a shiver. "I'll need to talk to the Dream Weaver, to make him understand he needs to let some of these strands to Kult'ka's hunger. He used to know though. He used to know that balance is critical if difficult to maintain."
Aimend is accustomed to the ways that slaves are treated in various places throughout the city, though she's far from complacent about it. Having nodded her acceptance of more tea from the nearby slave, her eyes dart across the room in the direction of the cry that seems to ring through the room. She shudders at the sounds that come after that, though only the serving slave is there to notice. Tamara returns and confirms what Aimend has described.
Aimend nods slowly, clutching the cup between her hands tightly when she sees the panther's tail take hold of the servant's neck. She looks away briefly, clearing her mind of that distraction. Returning her gaze to Tamara, she says, "Perhaps the Weaver has been weakened, somehow? If Kult'ka has grown stronger, and the Weaver has needed more resources to do what he does..." she shakes her head as she tries to imagine the balance required, which is clearly far beyond her knowledge. "How can I help?"
Tamara bites on her lower lip, chewing it for a moment, her eyes darkening and sinking in her face under the weight of her concerns, and she starts speaking, but as she does so, all you can hear is another voice, deep in the confine of your own mind.
A deeper pulse resounds around you, embracing you, enfolding your flesh and your mind in its darkness, and a slithering voice, deep, threatening, and yet oh so charming, becomes all encompassing, making you on the verge of forgetting everything else if you're not strong enough, "Such a tender soul! such a vibrant aura.. How tasty it must be to corrupt it! Embrace me, child, and I'll show you the wonders of the darkness, the glorious joy of pains offered.. Feeeed me and I'll feed you emotions you never knew!'
Aimend watches Tamara's consternation for a moment, but then her attention is drawn away from the pantheress to somewhere inside herself. She listens to that dark and oh so seductive voice, feels it sliding sensually through her mind, beguiling in its offer of something she suddenly feels she longs for more than anything she knows or has ever imagined. She bends her head slightly and closes her eyes as she hears the voice speaking in her mind. Her body trembles, though not from cold, now. As she leans forward slightly, the china teacup slides from her hands and falls, along with its saucer, onto the floor, shattering at Aimend's feet. Suddenly startled, Aimend stands up, panting softly. Her hand rises to her throat, and she can feel her pulse hammering near her fingertips. Eyes wide open, now, she looks about the room in near panic. "No!" she says, almost shouting. "No!" Her free hand drapes across her stomach, fingers curling around the belt of her coat. "Tamara! Did you--?"
Enraged at Aimend's resistance, Kult'ka's spirit writhes and slashes through the room, engulfing Aimend in a whirlwind of nefarious emotions, making papers fly, objects tumble, and the pretty thing serving the tea is suddenly thrown flat on her back, on the obsidian floor, heaving, crying, begging for mercy, her clothes yanked off her and thrown away in shreds, revealing her tender breasts being mauled by something invisible.
When she realizes, Tamara jumps from her seat, her face pale as death, resolve burning in her gaze, and she takes her dagger, slashing her own wrist open and slapping the open wound against the nearest column. The obsidian column shimmers, as if alive, deforming itself to half swallow Tamara's hand and wrist. Not a drop of blood falls to the floor. Tam doesn't say a word, doesn't wince, just standing there, fused to the stone, her face impenetrable. But the pulse slowly receeds, to become near indistinguishible. Meanwhile, both Aimend and the servant feel the dark presence leave them be and while the girl scurries to garner her ravaged clothes, Tamara finally is released and returns to her seat, her wound dry, already closing.
"Forgive this unseeming display, Lady Aimend." she says, her voice cold, visibly straining to remain calm. " I don't usually do that, but the urgency called for immediate action. It wouldn't do that the Emir's wife be harmed while under my protection!"
Aimend does not frighten easily, in general, but the Pyramid is not a place that encourages anyone to feel calm, at the best of times, one of which this is not. She reels in horror as she feels the dark, malefic force rage through her, driving her across the spectrum of her darkest thoughts and feelings, leaving her so rattled she can scarcely stand. And then it roils through the room, havoc in its wake as it takes possession of the slave. She cries out and seems on the verge of diving toward the girl when Tamara leaps up and feeds the god, uniting with the stone wall.
"Unseemly display?" Aimend says weakly as Tamara returns to her chair. Aimend sits down on the edge of her seat, still half out of breath. "Thank you," she says fervently. "I'm at a loss, Tamara... I don't know what to say, or do... I should leave, I'm sure..." she looks about rather blindly, clearly out of her element entirely.
Tamara tilts her head to the side, watching Aimend intensely. Reassured that the woman will have no lasting side effects from Kult'ka's little incursion in her mind, she says, "Please forgive me. I should have known he'd try something. But, so far, he has no power over anyone out of the Pyramid. I do hope it will stay that way, if I can help it." Then she calls the servant girl, "Go to Amaranth. Tell her to give you new clothes, and a good meal. And rest in the nature deck for the remainder of the day, if you wish. But before that, bring us some cordial, Lady Aimend needs something to soothe her nerves."
She then turns to Aimend and smiles poorly "Please accept a cordial, something to give you strength. I don't think he'll try again while you are here. This time, that is. And if you return here, I'll make sure he's fed and soothed before your arrival."
She pauses and murmurs, 'Now, it's becoming more and more difficult to keep him under control, as you have seen.. I need to find dark and powerful emotions to feed him.. Maybe you can help.. with your connection to the Dream Weaver.. Maybe you could ask for perverted dreams to be channeled towards the Pyramid.. I'm not sure though. Maybe it'll make the DreamWeaver react even stronger.. Who knows?'
Aimend accepts the cordial gratefully. She looks very thoughtful as Tamara speaks. "Merared thought he had a connection to my dream, Tamara. It shocked her that he could be so angry with her when we were in the chapel," she says, cautiously. She drinks the cordial and colour returns to her face again. "I'll ask for those dreams. We'll hold a ritual, some orgies, whatever might work." Looking into Tamara's eyes, she says, "I've no idea whether the Weaver is very connected to me, at all. It never speaks to me. I don't expect it to, either. I just think that if people can help, I'd like to be one of those who does," she shrugs a bit weakly. "So, we'll try." Brightening a bit, she smiles. "We did drive back Xyrthia's monsters, after all, didn't we?" She sets the glass down on a table nearby. "I'll be in touch. Thank you for meeting with me."
All blood seems to flee from Tamara's face at the mention of Kult'ka touching Merared's dreams outside of the Pyramid. "His strength has grown. Too fast. Too much." She stands up, incapable to remain immobile. Pacing once more the length of the hall, she mutters to herself, shaking her head, her tail fanning in a trepident rhythm behind her, then she stops before Aimend, "The urgency is more than I thought it was, Lady Aimend. Do all you can, and so will I."
As the Lady takes her leave, Tamara bows her head to her, "I'll await for news from you, Aimend. And I'll do whatever I can, on my side. Be well, and dream glorious."
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