|A meeting of the God(desses)|
The path to this spot is curious indeed. Among the seemingly endless, harshly jutting multitude of bridges, two awkwardly rise toward this distant corner - going on for miles until they are surrounded on three sides by forbidding rock. But the clumsiness ends as they curl gracefully inward; twin tails forming a stylized 's' about a rounded central platform of obsidian. It is wide, with ample space left to navigate this lofty perch.
Beyond the screams, the rattling chains, the creaks, and the moans... the sound of shifting rock echoes through the pits of Hell this day. From a lofty niche amidst the great central cavern filled with the various shrines and residences of the damned, a wind blows forth. Gentle but insistent, soft yet penetrating. Tracing the breeze leads upward, climbing further and further before the pertinent point is reached. And there stands the newest member of the Council, diminutive and unassuming at first glance; radiating quiet, confident power when the senses attune. Emi's own breed of magical talent prickles the air, her dark hair shifting and shimmering in the incessant draft. Purple robes shroud her slender body from view, and her eyes are closed as she works, the occasional glimpse of a hand gesturing from within an encompassing sleeve all that is visible beyond her meditative visage.
At the youthful goddess' command, the rock of Hell has warped and shifted, is even now adjusting itself to meet her requirements. But this process is almost natural. It takes far more of her efforts to create the endless flood of water now trickling across one great wall, soon becoming a vertical river, a fall of aqua merging from and into the stuff it is fashioned from.
And all of this is to say nothing of the dominant feature conjured into being for this 'street' of the underworld. It has begun as the tiniest ghost of a shape, but gradually forms into the very image of a being whose might brought her world to its knees... a being she is only too familiar with. Intimate knowledge breeds a sense of understanding, in this case even a level of mastery. The Devourer of Time takes shape, takes form, at her spiritual insistence. A roar sounds even over the deafening wrench of twisting stone, a primal cry seemingly raised in sympathy to this apparition.
It echoes about the cavernous depths, the shrill war cry oscillating disturbingly as it reaches the lower levels. If a fish taken out of water could feel and express emotion, could expel it's feeling at great volume, this might be the sound it would make...
At the platform's middle rises a set of narrow spiral steps, formed from some bizarre amalgam of ancient woods. Composed of alternating black and white steps around an ashen handrail, the staircase travels a full two dozen feet into the air before reaching its location... the real landmark of this spot. A giant shell, not only unnaturally large but covered in dark jutting spines, made yet stranger still by the effect as it rises toward the lurking ceiling of this impossibly immense cavern. The shell becomes transparent, the ends of those spines and the crowning tip itself all but completely invisible to the eye. As though this feature were not truly there; a ghost, a figment.
It would all be quite unnerving, if not for the calming sound of water. Off to the side of the forbidding shell - away from the thought of what creature may once have lain within - the rock wall warps and twists into thick knots of ice, clear and glistening. These quickly give way into crystalline torrents, forming a wide waterfall cascading down past the stony limit of Hell. It does not fall far below the base of the central platform, however, before it twists back into the rock. Where this occurs, the impact of flowing water upon obsidian sends up jagged spikes of mist, so constant as to seem frozen in a dream state.
There is a strange beauty in this place, the overall effect an odd spell of calm upon the area. Almost as though it were one space removed from the rest of the underworld; an ethereal haven of peace and positivism amongst the endless torment.
Senior Diablo appears out of the shadows not far from this apparition. Looking it over with a widened eye, the demon is forced to take a step back. "What's this, Emeph....um, Emi? A new pet? I must admit such a thing would likely make for a good watchdog. It might even give Alessa's minions a run for their money." Watching the beast scream, Diablo makes his way closer to the Goddess. "I figured I should come and see how you're 'settling in.'" Glancing around at the way the street has reconfigured itself to her forces a smile upon his thin lips. "Clearly you've gotten most of the moving done already."
Alessa can be seen coming, sitting upon a fluid ball of barbed wire, a trusty Pyramid Head at her side. Her deep blue eyes settle on Emi, and a curious smile creases her young lips. Stopping at the entrance of the room, the ball lifts her up and flows downward, setting it's Master on her feet. Looking the newcomer up and down, she raises a questioning eyebrow at Diablo. Granted, she's been off doing things for a while, but she didn't expect someone new to be around once she got back. Her eyes briefly flash over at the beast being created, but other than that she pays it no mind.
"Not a pet."
Her voice is distant, any surprise at being interrupted lost in concentration. Calmly a hand drifts outward; bared fully from the sleeve, palm tensing as the apparition begins to solidify beyond its semi-transparent state.
"An echo of a memory. A dream."
Ruby lips tweak in a smile tinged with pain, and the woman's hand suddenly jerks. A spark of light erupts from that point, and the scream is abruptly cut off. The creature hovers in limbo, between substantial and ethereal. The devouring lips are parted, but close with a downward motion from Emepherea.
"I'm turning it into something else," her tone lightens as she opens her eyes, looking to Senior Diablo as she explains, "A conduit, a means of asking questions and receiving answers. You told me this place would become a shrine... and it will. But not a place of worship or mere vanity. This will be a temple of the soul. A place to commune with oneself." Her fading smile speaks the unspoken; that this does not signify peace and gentleness. This is more serious, potentially far more harrowing.
Leaving her hand extended, maintaining control over her creation, Emi glances across to the other interloper. This one is familiar only through resonations, what little knowledge she was able to garner by feeling the flow of time around this domain - if not in it. The nature of the underworld makes such a thing impossible. But she has heard of Alessa, and the aura surrounding the girl's savage aspect hints toward her identity. If the Major reminded her of war and bloodshed... this is something far darker... She's uncertain what to say.
Sometimes it's best to keep it simple.
Senior Diablo hmm's at her words. Not that he takes much interest in them, but he does at least ponder what she might have in store from them. His eyes shift over to the approaching Alessa as Emepherea addresses her. His brow falls into a show of indifference as he begins to speak towards her. "Ahh... the Goddess Alessa, time to finally come and meet your new neighbor, eh? Diaduin Empherea, meet Alessa Gillespie. Do us a favor and try not to talk about hospital, okay? It's a sensitive subject with her." He smiles wickedly as he says this. Is he trying to give a polite warning, or intentionally starting trouble? Well, he is the devil after all. His smile assumes the later.
Alessa inclines her head in the slightest, and sweetly says, "Hello. Another Goddess, then? Snap. This might be fun." At mention of the hospital her face darkens, and Pyramid Head with her takes a step forward. She subtly motions the minion back to its former position at her. She's fully aware of the fact that Diablo enjoys stiring the pot, as it were, and it might not be polite to try and start sending waves of Pyramid heads on him in new company. Shifting her attention back to Emi, Alessa asks,"So what did our silver tongued Devil ask you to contribute to our little... takeover?"
Looking upon Alessa and her grotesque minions is not a comfortable experience for the Diaduin. Battles and wars are one thing, having become an essential part of the human condition that cannot be altered. The nightmarish imagery here, and in what deeper impressions Emi is able to make, speaks of things quite unnatural. Potentially destructive and harmful in the true sense of those words; not just to single lives, not only on a relative scale. Alessa's may not be a power that should ever have been wielded. But it is too early to know for sure, and Diablo's judgment... it must be trusted, for now.
The devil's words are heeded with a tight smile, and a slow nod of the head. 'Trouble' is sometimes warranted. If not perhaps in this instant.
"I am not here for a takeover, Miss Gillespie," the Goddess of Balance speaks after a moment's consideration, expression brightening to a degree quite the counter to her emotions. The emotions that seem bidden by this other deity's very presence. "Only to correct mistakes, and ensure reality runs as it ought to! Why is it that you think we are taking anything over? Senior Diablo," she glances to the demon prince, a question to the burning in her amber eyes, "Has certainly not told me of any dreams for conquest."
For all the confrontation in her words, Emi appears calm and contented. If perhaps a little amused. There is nothing in her manner to suggest deception, even; either she is nigh impossible to faze, absolutely set in her confidence, or very clever indeed. Away from the group, the Devourer continues to hang, motionless and forbidding.
Senior Diablo continues to smile that wicked smile of his. "You'll have to forgive our dear little Alessa. She is a goddess created from faith, while it might not be the proper faith, it was certainly a powerful one. Madness, chaos, insanity, and revenge are powerful motivators when misdirected. Something she surely knows much about." His poor explanation for things is left hanging as this devil eyes the guard this creature of darkness has brought with her. "Where's your servant? Valtiel can't grace us with his presence today? Surely this is a good thing. His little lissssssssssp tends to get tiring after a while." He gives no clue as to why his words continue to seem full of venom towards Alessa, perhaps she simply brings out the worst of him.
Alessa says, "The Gods will damn men for their unjust and wavering ways. Well, so my mother said." The venom in her voice is harsh and would cut deep, were her mother to hear it. "I'm sure Valtiel is around her somewhere, doing something. Do you strive for his company? I could call him." Rolling her eyes, she looks at Emi. "Correcting mistakes, yes. Like us being down here, and not up there? Mistakes like those? Have you ever waged war? You will have to take some places to better found your position. So is it not in a way, a takeover? Has our friend mentioned the Council?" She frowns at the thought of them, angry at the denial of parts of the Upper World.
"We were all created through faith, Senior Diablo. It is necessary for our existence. Those who forget this fail to deserve that faith, and slowly it dwindles and dies... there is a reason so few of your opposite number come to conflicts such as these." Does Emi speak of the death of gods? A lofty matter, but it is passed from with a faint shrug, the movement of thin shoulders barely apparent beneath her cloak. Her eyes shift back to Alessa, and a frown mars her brow. Her next words are spoken sotte voce.
"Damnation. Punishment." Already she understands something more of her counterpart's sinister identity and the revelation is far from enlightening. It brooks further confusion - greater curiosity as to this being's history. She speaks in the ill-chosen sentences of the fallen. She seems a creature of myth, possessing the character so often attributed to Diablo by unknowing mortals. It is a disturbing thought.
Such thoughts cannot be dwelled on long, and Emi files them away as she gives a firm nod in reply to the dark goddess. This subject brings back a spark of the resolution she displayed before Hell's overseer in their initial meeting. It is the reason she is here; the reason she is forging this mysterious temple from blackened stone and summoned beast.
"The Council must be stopped, Miss Gillespie. We all agree on this. If you truly wish to know what I intend to do, then I shall tell you... in no uncertain terms, I will seek out these beings and end their lofty ambitions. I will attempt to do so without resorting to violent means - because I intend to preserve the balance between worlds. Even as they come together, if that is what must occur, all sides must be accounted for. We must all make sacrifices, but as Senior Diablo has wisely seen... with the hells such as they were, with this opposing council as it was, the chance of what you may see as 'victory' was remote."
"But please understand. This is not about triumph. We will not be 'winning'. If necessary we may even lose our very existence. So much is unclear at the moment, but we must all be prepared for that eventuality." Emi pauses, offers a serene smile, "Are you prepared for your own destruction, Miss Gillespie?”
Senior Diablo listens quietly as Emi speaks. With most of the conversation so clearly directed at Alessa, there is little he can do but brood over those words and see the reaction it brings from the dark goddess. He knows of the importance of faith and has seen both its advantages and flaws. Taking a sip from a wine glass once more in his hands, the demon looks upwards pondering the worlds foolishly thought to be above them. How much longer will it be before he shows himself in a fashion without hiding in the shadows like a criminal? Soon, he hopes. But there is much to do before then.
Alessa shrugs. She knows that there will be need for bloodshed, as there always is in battle, even among Gods. Her army will stand at the ready. Surly Emi must know this. The newest member seems a bit naive, for a Goddess, but Alessa reminds herself that this woman could not have suffered the way she has at the hands of 'faith, and that of Faithful Men'. As to Emi's question, looking her in the eye, Alessa speaks softly, but sincere. "Diaduin Empherea, I welcome the end with open arms." Her eyes reflect her desire to be ended and the infuriating power of being held in a place of life, of any kind. Casually waving a hand at Diablo, she asks,"Well, do you have any new plans to go topside? I recall the last one didn't go so well." And she had the hospital just the way she remembered. Such a waste.
Only suffering begets a true need to inflict punishment. A law which applies to the least of lowliest of beasts, and the most minor of human criminals. Where Alessa is concerned, to achieve that need, that desire on such scale requires a terrifying force. A devastating emotional impact, repeated time and again. At this thought, Emi's gaze drifts to her servant once more, viewing it as a critic views a piece of artwork, tracing the image back to the creator. Analyzing.
After viewing those eyes, this is hardly a necessary process. But one she performs as it to verify what she has seen. Alessa's stare is as striking as even Diablo's yet.. different. Almost worse; for those eyes portray more horror with so much less knowledge and wisdom. So much less experience. To behold that quantity of pain, in so short a time; it is a prospect that could make a god weep for their own creation. Emi has enough humanity within her that she feels a wave of sympathy over base horror. Emotions she is used to processing, dealing with, yet none the less affecting for it. Perhaps all the more.
"Then," she speaks at last, shifting beneath her robes to bend at the waist, offering a small bow to the other goddess but keeping her gaze fixed to that face, those eyes, "We can work alongside one another, despite our differences. And I will admit to those; for you trouble me, Alessa." She speaks all of this softly, yet without hesitation, allowing the dark mistress of nightmares her honesty. This said, she settles back into an easy stance and allows her attention to drift between the two councilors, taking the back seat herself as Senior Diablo replies to the query. She already has a great deal to muse upon.
Senior Diablo can only laugh at Emepherea's admition of feelings. "I myself have a few reservations against Alessa. Troubling people is her nature... no one else seems to have the same skill of finding that which torments someone's own mind and making it manifest. But enough of this." He turns to face the dark child himself, addressing her question much more specifically. "I'm aware of our failures in the past, and a plan is already in the works. What we need is a permanent stronghold. A place upon Twisted from which we can branch out. There are many goods and evils we could each bestow upon those who dwell there, and it is our duty to do so. I'm afraid it may involve exploiting the corruption that already lays dormant in those souls and forcing it to fester. I regret that it will likely come to this but we must use every advantage we have. Once I've shown 'Emi' here of the waiting room that's anchored itself there my focus will shift to advancing towards those goals. Perhaps you and some of your minions could come along for the ride and keep attentions from noticing my actions in time? You have little worry of death, after all."
Alessa ignores Emi's comment of how she troubles her. She troubles many people for many different reasons, and chooses to not dwell on what she knowing and unknowingly bestows on people. "All you have to do is say a word, Diablo. I've got enough at my disposal, I'm sure I can distract." A smug smile settles on her face. "Now, if you'll excuse me. Valtiel needs to report." She bows slightly to Emi, a sign of respect that is very rarely seen from the girl, and walks back towards the exit, pyramid head in tow. Her fluid barbed wire lifts her and settles her back in as she rolls off to make sure everything is ok in her area. Calling back towards the pair, “Remember Diablo, just say a word. In your fashion, though, it'd be a great many." She giggles, in her standard creepy little girl way as she disappears off into the vaster areas of the underworld.