|3P story universe|
It was a few days later. After arriving in Corinth and making sure Dawn and Alex were situated, we’d split up and I’d boarded a ship back to Lecce. It’d been an uneventful ride in general and I’d just spent the time socializing, and doing a few odd jobs around the ship for extra cash, since I was on my own now.
Once I got back into Lecce, I made a few stops. One to return a bunch of Alex’s gear, one to check in at Adminops to ensure I was on the level with what I was doing, and they knew I wasn’t AWOL or dead. Robjeet was out in the realms, so I had the flat to myself.
After a generous shower, I situated myself in front of my terminal, turning it on and getting it booted up to a few things I might need. I wanted to check the news, but more importantly, I needed to make sure I had info available for Nick Snider when I called him, as I’d been tasked to do. After I got that all set, I took out my cell phone, took a deep breath, and dialed up the number Alex had given me. It’d be about 4PM there, towards the end of the workday. Good time to catch him, I hoped.
After a few moments and rings, the phone was picked up. I heard what sounded like an American on the other end of the line. “Hello. This is the Tel Aviv ambassador station in the United Kingdom. Nick speaking.”
I paused. Sounded right, but I wanted to make absolutely sure. "Hello. Am I addressing Mr. Nick Snider, Bast representative to the United Kingdom?"
"Yes, you do." came the confirmation.
"Ok, good. My name is Nathan Renfrew; I'm calling on behalf of Alex Iosif and Blossom. I'm a Realmwalker stationed in Lecce." There was no need to be rude or anything, so I gave all my info up front.
"Oh awesome, I looked you up and gave your info to Blossom before she started her journey. Glad to be able to talk with you." Nick said.
"I as well. Do you have anything of dire urgency you are currently doing? If so, you may want to finish that first, because I may take some time."
"I'm fine here." he assured.
Well, I guess he must have some privacy for his work. "Excellent. Do you have any questions for me, otherwise, I've got some for you."
"I do but you can go ahead first, to be fair."
Oh lord. We were trying to out-polite each other. "I would greatly prefer if we got any initial questions you had out of the way first."
"All I'd like to know is how things progressed, because if you're calling me that means you've been there done that. How're Blossom and Alex?" Nick asked.
Great. The question I didn’t entirely want to answer. "Blossom has stayed behind in Selene's realm in order to learn to become a warden and to hear news; Alex is currently in Corinth in the care of a good friend."
"You came back alone?" he sounded disapproving. "Don't tell me Blossom plans on staying there..."
"I can't honestly say at this point. Current plans after I am done in Lecce are to proceed to Athens, then return to Corinth and Blossom."
"Ouch, what's Alex doing in Corinth?"
I took a breath, and went with the full truth. "Alex was forcemarked on the trip back, my friend is helping him adjust."
"Marked by who?" came the reply.
"Forcibly marked by Typhon. I do not wish to sound condescending, but you are aware of the ramifications of a forcible Marking?" I knew he probably wasn’t fully with the program here either, being supposedly another pocket realmie.
"No, not fully." came the uncertain reply.
"As a general rule, if they have to drag you in, they're going to alter your form as well as just Mark you. As a way of keeping you in the Realms."
"What is he?" Nick asked, getting to the point.
"He's a Stormwing."
"You know what a harpy looks like? Take that to human size, of either gender, with metal feathers as sharp as razor blades."
"Ah...so he needs to be rescued?"
I shook my head instinctively. "No, he does not require rescue."
"He was freely allowed to go." I explained. "As said, I left him with a good friend in Corinth to help him adjust."
"As a storm wing though...geez..."
"You have my utmost apologies." I said sincerely.
"It's not your fault, I shouldn't have to send friends to find solutions to my problems." I heard a sigh from the other end of the line.
"This news was, actually, what I called about."
"Ah not just to chat with lil' ol me, eh?" came a slightly sarcastic, if good spirited, response.
"Unfortunately not, no. The next stop on our list is a petitioning of Athene, and I wanted to know the exact specifics of the situation before I went ahead. So, if you will allow me, I'll give you a brief rundown of what I know."
"Alright go ahead."
"You arrived from a pocket realm, and in some way got mixed up with Bast. You chose to be Marked, which somehow gave rise to some sort of evil twin by the name of Nkosi."
"That's the extremely simple way of putting it." came an affirmation.
"Unfortunately, that's all I've been given." I said. "I can't force you to do anything, but...any information would improve the chances of a successful petitioning."
"Oh yeah no prob, I'll tell you everything. Especially since it sounds like we'll need to ask Athene..." Nick responded.
"Because I want to help, and things for me have been terrible lately. Anyway I'm trusting you fully here so you know...especially with what I'm about to say. It's a semi long story but here goes..." He said, answering a different question.
“Alright.” I listened, prepping to take notes like I was back in school.
"I arrived here in the same manner Blossom and Alex did. I even landed in the sea. Once I'd dragged myself out of the water I headed for a city I saw which happened to be Tel Aviv." Nick monologued. "I didn't speak any Egyptian so I was really confused up to the point a Sphinx landed in front of me, demanding to know who I was loyal to. I said no one, I just stumbled upon the city...so she demanded I go with her to a tower. After showing force I reluctantly agreed."
I winced audibly, but Nick continued unabated.
"We flew up to Bast's tower, where I waited a bit but some Nekos took me in due time to meet Bast herself. She marked my paw and we talked...a lot." He paused for breath. "Spent like three days together talking about stuff, and eventually she asked me if I would stay with her forever. I told her I had problems with that because I am a newlywed at home."
“I can empathize with that,” I said, looking up “Neko” on the computer. The entry for Basthept came up, but I could see the reason for the nickname. Little girls with cat ears and tail...that’s pretty much exactly what they are, and it’s a favored forcemark of Bast.
"She said she had a remedy to that problem, and offered me the solution. At the time I agreed, because... well, what do you say to a powerful goddess who wants you, and you're looking at her face. I thought saying no was suicide, shrugged and went along with it."
“With a mark to her, it probably would have been.” I interrupted. Wasn’t completely sure on this, but even a brief perusal of documents showed that Bast wasn’t known for her...understanding.
"She pricked her paw and told me to lick the blood, I did so and felt this /amazing/ pain. When it was over...Nkosi and I looked at each other. Identical twins sitting next to each other. The biggest difference is the fact I wear my wedding ring." I kept typing notes down furiously as Nick talked. "I was dismissed and walked down the forty or so flights of stairs, where Bast later flew down with a Sphinx and talked about my future. I didn't know where to go or what to do, she recommended I come here to England and I jumped at that opportunity. Figured networking here and the databases would help me find Laurie...she's had Nkosi since. He's obviously changed his name and attitude." I assumed Laurie was his wife. "It was a short time here before I was getting weird gifts as well, when I knew he was changing for the worse. He'd sent me the skull and some bits from a snake man with a letter detailing how he executed him, same thing with a Sphinx in a box later. Incredibly gory descriptions."
I dropped the phone in shock. That was barbaric! I picked it up quickly since it’d only fallen to the desk. "Sorry about that..."
"Uh...yeah anyway, it's only now I fear just what happened that day. Would I do what Nkosi's done in his position, are we just physical copies and most important...what about my soul? Am I soulless because I really doubt Bast would let a soul go...or did she halve it? I dunno, I'm afraid of the answer and I just want to re-fuse with him and try to go home..."
"I can see where you have those questions..." I said, sympathetically.
"So you see my problem? I'm not an evil person, I don't wanna destroy Bast or Tel Aviv...I'm simply lamenting my wife and what I had. I want to be whole and go home to her. I like this world a lot I really do despite the dangers just...I can't leave Nkosi here when he's doing such things."
"I don't blame you. At all. You got caught in, from what I can tell, a bad position."
"Yeah I mean I appreciated Bast's kindness too. It sucked...suddenly you're homeless, exploring a strange world. She took me in, fed me, protected me from the desert, because tigers are jungle cats and fur plus desert equals death...very soon."
I nodded instinctively. "I'm sure. I haven't operated in the Egyptian Realm as yet, but my training has covered some of the hazards."
"Yeah...see I feel really bad right now for putting Blossom and Alex in danger...especially for Alex, hopefully Blossom's still a vixen. I mean it's just my luck too. A few days before I'm set to leave with those two I was at a bar with a friend of mine and some drunk guy beans me in the back of the head with a glass. Doctors orders to stay out of it for a bit and...well they went instead of me." Nick sighed a bit with remorse.
"Blossom has chosen to be Marked by Selene, and so will remain safe from such occurrences." I reassured him.
"That's good, did Selene say anything?"
"I didn't speak to Selene directly. Nor to her representatives. What I do know is that Selene said she can give information to Blossom."
"That's good, very gracious of Selene to do so."
I didn’t comment on that. "As for actually curing...Selene's representative said that in order to even have a chance at doing anything, they would require both you and Nkosi." I paused. "I'm fairly certain that Athene will say the same thing."
"Of course which I'll get to planning that after all the info's been gathered."
"There are a few advantages. And I've had a few ideas myself."
"Oh? I'd be curious to hear them just because I've been here sweating it for a week with those two gone." Nick said, sounding curious.
"I wouldn't have brought it up if I wasn't willing to share." I said.
"Nkosi is, by your stories and some other mentionings, quite, quite powerful. However, he's also shown that he's willing to leave the Realms on occasion; this is uncommon, because he is greatly weakened while outside the Realms." I explained.
"Probably his naivety...he did something strange a while back. He "exiled" Blossom and Alex from Tel Aviv personally. Which why he didn't take them in I dunno, but he sent them directly to me...so I don't think he's all evil yet."
I made note to ask Alex about that. Could be a trap? "That's a possible useful bit of data. In any case...outside of the realms, he's deprived of several benefits, and can be subdued with more modern methods."
"Ah, of course." Nick said in agreement.
"So that would be a productive line of thought; how to enact the luring."
"Something hard to figure out, might have to go with myself...he's made it clear he doesn't want me around Tel Aviv ever again." Nick said resignedly. "Overall I don't know yet, something'll have to be figured out. Anything you'd care to share?"
"That's about all I had at the moment. I have a two day boat ride back to Corinth in the next few days, then the trips to and from Athens, and back to Lecci."
"Ah, any idea if/when everyone can come to England or will I need to plan a trip?"
I certainly wouldn’t be headed to England in the near future. Probably not Alex, either. Be diplomatic. "No idea at the moment. Although...given what happened to Alex, it would likely be a wiser course of action for you to plan a trip."
"Where?" Nick asked.
"Lecce is where we're basing our operations out of at the moment. I'll call you again when I get back."
"Alright...thanks, Nathan. I really appreciate this a lot."
No skin off my back to work, really. "It's my job. Did you have any questions for me?"
"Not really, quite honestly I'm still worried but feeling better...though I owe Alex a lot, maybe someone can transform him back later...*sigh*."
Probably not. Hope springs eternal. "Is there any more information you could possibly give me at the moment, regarding Nkosi's movements or somesuch?"
"I know nothing of his movements, he's been doing whatever in Tel Aviv for a while. He hasn't sent me any letters or packages so that's good, could be bad." Nick said.
Well, not like that was my primary concern at the moment anyways. "Alright. I'll be in Lecci until tomorrow, you can reach me by email at the following address.” I gave him my contact info. “After that, I'll be Realmwalking again, and I'll call you when I return; hopefully with both your friends. If there is nothing else you have to say...?"
"Nah that's it...for now. I'll keep in touch, thanks for calling me. I wish you luck Nathan, thanks a ton." he said.
"Again, it is not a problem. Until later."
"See ya." Nick said, and then I hung up.
Birds of a Feather
|Three Pantheons||Succeeded by:|