User:Arrow Quivershaft/Getting Marked

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3P story universe

Getting Marked

Author: Arrow Quivershaft
It was a few weeks later. The first realmwalk had gone off without a hitch, and now I was on a second trip, into Athens, on a tourist run. I hadn’t gotten my mark yet, and the danger of not doing so was weighing heavily on my mind...especially after our group had gotten attacked by a chimera. Chimeras are like black bears in the states; they scavenge from food that’s left accessible. Bloody tourists not protecting the food properly.

We scared it off without much fight, but there were some wounds, and it’d made off with some of our food, so we were going to need more. I’d escaped unharmed that time, and so I was told to head off to a nearby town on the outskirts of Athens to procure more, along with Dawn, ostensibly for my own protection.

I was in better shape than last time, I could tell. Muscle movements came more easily to my mind and my body responded faster. Even moreso than when I did some of the survival training camps out at home, when in college. I held my crossbow tightly as we headed towards the town.

Dawn broke the silence, shaking me out of my thoughts. “You look tense.”

I jolted a bit in surprise, looking over to her. "Still haven't been out on my own particularly much. And...well, kinda still thinking over the events of last night. Kind of a crash-course in danger.”

Dawn chuckled knowingly. “And you love it, don’t you?”

I smiled sheepishly. “I do. Lots better and more exciting than sitting at a desk 9 to 5.”

Dawn hopped over to catch up, and used a wing to push on my crossbow a bit. “Don’t look so ready to use the weapon; it scares the locals.”

I relaxed my grip a bit, lowering the weapon to point at the ground. “Thank you for the advice.”

Dawn nodded, and then continued. "But yeah... That danger of exploration is why I did this even knowing what could happen to me. Even after what happened to me."

I nodded slightly, looking to her. "I understand that feeling, now. I thought I did, but now I understand it more...also, been thinking about what you said."

"Hm?"

"About the marking."

"Oh?"

I took a breath. "Yeah...looking pretty seriously at Athene.”

Dawn looked at me. "If you want it, kid, go for it."

"It's a tough call, but it looks like a good choice." I nodded a bit. I was gonna have to make this decision soon.

Dawn spoke up again."The gang wanted us to go get lost for awhile... If you want it, now's the time."

Sooner than I thought. "Well, where’s the local temple? No better time than now." I put on a bit of false bravado.

Dawn smirked, seeing right through it. "Typically, in a town like this, you just look for a large ornate stone structure." She pointed a wing towards the rooftops, where I could see some columns supporting the outside of a roof. “There.”

“Alright, then...let’s go.” I started in that direction.

Dawn kept up easily. She moved faster on the ground than I would’ve guessed. "And once you do this, you don't need me escorting you around... Though folks back home won't be any too happy about it."

"Because I won't be captured after this, or because I'm not worth capturing, right? Folks back home don't understand what this is like,” I stated.

"Right, kiddo. And no, they don't. But they understand that the Pope doesn't like it...which makes me a monster and you a blasphemer."

I shrugged a bit. "They can deal with it. If they don't like it, that's their issue...I'm interested in this. And on a more base level, the protection it offers. They’d be more upset the other way, I’m sure.”

“That’s true, but they’ll never know that...just remember that. For what it’s worth, there's some pretty good rewards down the line if you stick with it and perform well."

I headtilted as I walked. "That's a lot more than the Pope can offer."

She continued. "Roj was so devoted to Poseidon that after a few years there, he was given the ability to breathe underwater."

The surprise had to be evident on my face. "...that's impressive. Any idea what Athena offers, or...?"

"There's no offers, Renfrew. There's /earned/. And they like to surprise you with that shit."

"Ah, gotcha. Sorry.” I cut off the blatant self-interest talk and we just made small-talk for the next few minutes as we went to the temple.

The temple was a fairly impressive stone structure, clearly Greek architecture, and looked somewhat inspired by the Parthenon. Then again, that was Athene’s too, so I guess that shouldn’t have surprised me that much. The stairs were polished marble, even. Nice place.

Dawn stopped at the bottom of the steps. "Good luck kid."

I paused, looking back at her. "You can't go in?”

Dawn nodded. "I can, but it's better if I don't. You don’t need an escort up these steps, kid.”

Turning back with a breath, I nodded. “Ok, I'll see you in a bit."

Heading up the steps with another deep breath, I entered into the temple, cautiously, not intending to show disrespect. I scanned the room with my eyes to see what was going on in here, since I’d probably have to wait my turn.

The front hall contained several shrines, all heavily laden with owl imagery. Up at the end of the room, a centaur woman was chatting with a dark-haired priestess while another blonde priestess was polishing an altar. Both appeared to be young human women in long white gauzy robes. And when I say young, I mean YOUNG. I was sure this wasn’t their actual age, because both of them didn’t look a day above 20.

As I walked forth carefully, I gripped my crossbow a bit tightly, nervously. I was alone in here. I should be safe, but my instincts were telling me to hold the weapon. I stopped partway, not wanting to intrude, just waiting for a reaction to my entrance. I was kinda surprised the temple was this empty.

After a few moments, the blonde priestess stood from her work, and moved to the center of the corridor. She folded her hands and nodded to me to come forward. As I approached, I stood a bit stiffly but formally in front of her.

She seemed a bit amused. “What brings a human of the scientific realm into our temple at this time of day?”

I took a breath, and spoke. “I wish to become a follower of Virgin Athene.”

"And you felt that your weapon and armour were necessary for this?" She didn’t sound angry, just...amused, really. KInda bubbly, though she was suppressing it.

“I forgot to remove them, priestess. My apologies.” I quickly stowed my crossbow.

“Do not apologize, warrior...” She began to circle me, my neck turning to watch her. I let her size me up. “...we are a god of war, we should not think to separate a warrior from his life. ...Why Athene, warrior?"

I wasn’t a warrior, but she didn’t seem to care. “Because I hold wisdom and knowledge in high regard.”

She nodded, then added, "What of courage? Self discipline? Honour?"

I swallowed a bit. "I seek to be courageous as well, and maintain a high level of honor. I already have much discipline, but I desire more."

She stopped her walk, back in front of me "Your hand." She held her hands out, expecting me to offer mine. I held my hand out. She took it, holding it palm-up with both of her own. "To be a follower of Athene is nothing. To truly represent her and act as her eyes and hands and will... That is another. This is your choice... Would you like to pledge your allegiance, and simply wear her mark... Or will you be a devout, representing her and bound to her commands and scriptures?"

I paused, thinking. Finally, I responded, "I will do my best to do the latter as bound by my human limitations."

"You choose then, to be a follower... Or a devout?"

Another deep breath. No going back from this. "A devout."

The priestess nodded, and then squeezed my right hand with one palm above, and one below. Suddenly, my hand was itchy as hell, but I just waited. I wasn’t going to disrupt her, but DAMN was it uncomfortable. Then as quickly as it started, it was over. She removed her hands and lifted my hand up into my view, then released it.

On my palm was a full-face grecian helmet, like Athene often wears in depictions. On the back of my hand, from my wrist to the first knuckles of my fingers, was an owl-blotch feather pattern. They looked like tattoos, if particularly well done ones, but the helmet gleamed a bit in light sources...which is something you can’t do with a normal tattoo. A physical marking, to reflect the divine one.

My thoughts were interrupted by the priestess’s voice. “Go to the Parthenon when you are unfettered by duty. Do so alone, and ensure you have several days free.”

“I shall. Thank you, priestess.”

She reached into her robe and produced a small bronze owl-face pendant. She offered it to me. “In the meantime, Devout, pray to her, and act honorably. You have come to us of your own will; do well and you may be worth a reward.” She helped me put it on, tying it tightly in a slipknot, then stepped back and bowed lightly. “Goodbye for now.”

“Goodbye.” I bowed in return, and then headed for the door as the priestess resumed her work.

Exiting the temple, Dawn was there, looking at me. She noted my hand, but inquired anyways. “And?”

I looked over my hand again. “I chose to be a devout.” I showed my hand to her, letting her see both sides.

Dawn browquirked. "Well that wasn't entirely neccessary..."

I shrugged a bit. “I made my choice.”

She nodded. "So you did. Welcome to the world of split obligations, kiddo. Come on, let's get doing what we're supposed to be doing; food won’t collect itself.”

I nodded. “Alright then.”

Preceded by:
Meeting Dawn
Three Pantheons Succeeded by:
Dinner With Robjeet