User:Arrow Quivershaft/Petitioning Athene
|3P story universe|
After another uneventful boat trip, I got back to Corinth on the 28th. No one was waiting for me at the dock, so I proceeded to the inn I’d left the other two at. I was doing ok, and I had all the equipment rebalanced and reset so that I’d be able to easily carry it. Since I was the only one left able to. Once I got there, I knocked on the door. I heard some movement and shuffling around inside, and after a moment, I heard some fumbling with the doorknob. A moment after that, the door opened, with Alex standing there.
"Hello, Alex." I said, looking down at him slightly.
Alex smiled weakly. "Heyo Nate, any luck?" He moved out of the way of Nathan to let me in. I stepped inside of the room, and wasted no time getting my pack off. Sucker was heavy, and I’d spend plenty of other days carrying it.
"I did have some luck, yes." I affirmed, once I had my stuff off. Dawn was visible on a blob-like object that served as an anthro-friendly couch in places like this. Really, it’s just a fancy bean-bag chair. "There was no news, but I did manage to contact Nick."
"And?" Alex asked.
"He's upset about what happened to you, he's going to try and work on a lure for Nkosi, and gave me more details on the exact events. We'll contact him again after we get back." I said.
Alex followed me over after closing the door. "Good. Well, not good, but good good."
I wasn’t sure exactly what he meant by that, but nodded reassuringly as I found a chair for myself.
"Hope you don't mind, Lex, but I highly intend to highjack Nate for some personal aspects of this trip to Athens.” Dawn stated.
Alex nodded. "Ah, okay. I'll just head out for a bit then?" He turned back to the door.
"We're not in Athens yet,” Dawn noted.
"Oh, sorry. I thought you meant you were going to discuss stuff about it..." Alex said, as he came back into the main area.
I shook my head. "No, we were planning a small vacation to Athens even before you came."
"No problem." Alex nodded.
"So don't be offended when we get you your own room." Dawn paused. "Probably one with less fabric in it."
That was a good idea. I’d gotten the third degree from the management when I tried to check in a stormwing. They’d forbidden Alex from using any furniture that wasn’t metal or stone, and I’d had to sign the damage liability forms in triple.
"I'm not very cuddly, no." Alex said.
"When are we going, Nate?” Dawn asked. “I've been making good progress here, I wouldn't mind another day or two to see if I can get Lexi here into travel-grade flight." Alex looked a bit pained at the statement, but said nothing.
"Well, if you think you can do that, it wouldn't hurt. He's definitely faster above than on the ground, although it'll be a bit lonely on the roads, I guess." I joked a bit. I understood if they both wanted to fly. Save us time, though I wasn’t used to being the slow one in a group. "Have enough supplies for one way of the trip, and we can restock at Athens."
Alex sighed loudly. "Let's just get it over with as fast as we can."
"Alex, you're doing great, don't get disheartened now." Dawn encouraged.
"Dawn's idea may be the fastest, actually." I pointed out. "It'll mean that the slowest person in the group is me."
"That I'm doing great doesn't mean that I like it any more." Alex grumped.
"I know, kiddo, but it was months before I got to where you're at." Dawn noted.
"Yeah, but you had it much harder." Alex said.
"In some ways yes... But in some ways no." Dawn said. I just listened, I couldn’t really add to this conversation.
"Howso?" Alex asked.
"Well, I wasn't pointy on 99 percent of my body, for one." Dawn paused. "That, and I'm a chick, so everyone's inclined to help." Boy, that second bit sounded familiar.
Alex smiled painfully. "Yeah..."
"Either way, you're doing alright for yourself." Dawn reassured him.
Alex nodded, then changed the subject. "Okay, when do we leave?"
"Tomorrow, next day?" Dawn queried.
"Either works. It's really your call. I'd say though, that if we can get you travel-flight capable, we'll make better time." I analyzed. "If I'm the one holding you two back, we can probably make close to 20 miles a day, if not more."
"Why don't you go tomorrow Nate, and then we'll catch up?" Dawn suggested.
"You think you can make it?” I asked. “Not doubting you, just making sure.”
Alex eyed Dawn.
"It's a two-hour flight for me, Nate." Dawn pointed out.
"And me?" Alex asked.
"You’ll go with Dawn.” I explained. I turned back to her. “Since I'll be alone, I'll be doing the stealth thing at night...if we don't meet on the trails, I'll meet you at the Achilion Hotel."
Dawn nodded. "Perfect. But you know that right between two major cities, there's enough traffic that you can tag with a caravan."
"That works, so long as they move fast enough." I said. "Then I guess that's settled."
Alex yawned and unfolded his wings slightly, stretching them carefully.
"We'll give you some time to catch up with your priests, and meet you there on the afternoon of the 31st." Dawn said.
"You'll meet me in the hotel, then? Gotcha."
"That should work well.”
Alex looked to Dawn. "What now?"
"Now we go to bed, and you play with the Stupid Knot." Dawn replied.
Alex sighed and headed off to practice with the rope some more.
"I'll need to get to bed, yeah, in order to leave tomorrow morning." I said. I headed for the bed, and I was out before long.
A few days later, we had all arrived in Athens. I’d spent the day before catching up with a few priests and debriefing on some of my recent activities. Just a general courtesy for the devouts, and I made sure I was staying on the right path. Then in the evening, I got everyone situated in our new hotel room in Athens, and prepped up for the meeting today. Got Alex a shower and everything, which was a bit difficult, as stormwings are hydrophobic, but we managed it eventually.
So now it was about 10 in the morning the next day, and I was leading Alex towards the temple I’d been checking in at yesterday. Athene has many temples inside Athens; in fact, most other gods aren’t allowed to have temples inside the city limits at all. Forcemarking in Athens is verboten, and Stormwings aren’t looked highly upon, so I had to do a bit of fast talking to keep Alex out of trouble. I’d chosen a temple that was out of the way, so we wouldn’t run into tourists or such coming through the place.
Alex fidgeted nervously as we approached the temple.
"Relax a bit, man. The clergy won't hurt you." I advised.
"I dunno ... I don't have the confidence Blossom has ..."
"Well, all I can suggest is to do your best."
Alex nodded. "Yeah ..." He sighed. "The fact that I'm /this/ isn't going to help ..."
I wasn’t pulling any punches at this point. "Unfortunately no, it isn't.
He sighed again. "Well, let's do it. The worst thing that can happen is eternal torture ..."
"I doubt that, personally." I said reassuringly.
"Hmm? It's worse?" Alex smiled very faintly.
I shook my head. "No. I don't think you'll be eternally tortured."
At this point we were standing on the front steps of the temple. I looked up the steps, then to Alex. "Any other questions before we head inside?"
"A two week crash-course on petitioning would be nice, but we don't have time for that..."
"No, unfortunately not. And I wouldn't be able to instruct either."
"I'll just ask nicely then." Alex nodded with resolve.
And so, I led him up the steps of the temple. The inside was like you’d expect from any place of worship. Clean, well maintained, and orderly. Lots of white, around. There were some individuals around, praying at the altars. There was even a group discussing with one of the priests in Hellenic. Still have to learn that. But it was overall pretty quiet, and reverent.
As Alex stepped in, a few of his feathers scraped along the floor, making some noise. A few people looked up and over to the noise, and then glared as soon as they saw what he was. I tried to motion he was with me, but I don’t really think that bought him much credit. Alex looked incredibly nervous and just stayed close to me, feathers puffed up a bit. After a moment, one of the priests stepped up to me. I recognized him; he was the resident English-speaker at this temple.
“Nathan, welcome back,” he said. He spread his arms in a greeting, his plain white tunic and kilt spreading a bit as he did so. The material was a bit thicker than a lot of the priest robes I’m used to seeing, but I think Kossus liked it that way. Really, it just looked like a heavy robe...which was probably the intention.
I nodded back. “Thank you,” What was his name? Oh yeah. “Kossus.” I stepped over in his direction, making sure Alex was following me closely.
"I'm to presume there is an interesting story to tell today." he said with slight amusement.
"Your presumption would be correct, yes." I agreed. Alex glanced around nervously.
"Private?" he asked me.
I nodded. "That would probably be a good idea."
Kossus glanced around. "Ah, nobody here speaks the Outside Tongue, anyways... But as you wish." He turned and made the local equivalent of the 'follow' gesture as he headed for one of the side rooms. I followed along, and motioned for Alex to follow me as well. He did, but remained silent as a tomb, eyes darting around in fear.
Kossus led us into a small, simple room, that was set up in a way similar to a sauna, although there were no hot rocks and it was generally a pleasant temperature inside. He had a seat on the ledge against the wall, and turned to look at us both. "My attention is yours, sons of Athene and Typhon."
Alex made a face at the last name, then looked to me. I guess he wanted me to lead on this...I took a seat facing Kossus, and took a deep breath, and then began.
"This is Alex, one of my current clients. He wishes to petition Athene...please ignore his form, that's somewhat my fault." I said.
"It's a difficult form to ignore." Kossus remarked, matter-of-factly.
"Yeah, for me too." Alex said, with a pained look on his face.
"I understand. I have a nephew by my older brother who was made a merfolk." Kossus said. "I can well appreciate the challenges you face."
"Thanks." Alex said, falling silent.
"What is it that you gentlemen wish to ask?" Kossus asked, after a moment or three.
I looked to Alex. "Go ahead, Alex.” I encouraged. “Preferably from the beginning."
Alex nodded and swallowed, then began. "Umm ... well, I'm not of this world."
That wasn’t the beginning I had in mind, but it was too late now.
Kossus held up his hands. "The question first, and then the story." He had the same mark on his right hand that I did, and Alex eyed it slightly. I glanced to Alex, and we both just waited for him to continue.
"... oh ... err, well. A friend of mine ran into a bit of trouble with Bast, and we were hoping that you could help out."
Kossus looked at me. His look was hidden from Alex, but it was clearly readable. 'Please tell me you didn't come all the way for this.' I returned it with an ‘unfortunately, I did’ look, again hoping Alex didn’t notice. Fortunately, he seemed way too nervous to have noticed.
"It's about Nkosi...." Alex stammered out.
Kossus looked to Alex. “Go ahead, I'll not interrupt."
"My friend Nick and Nkosi are basically the same person, just Bast split him into two people and turned one into Nkosi. I didn't even recognize him when I met him." Alex explained. He took a breath while Kossus waited. "We were hoping to ask if Athene could get him back into one piece."
"Unfortunately, Alex, our concerns are closer to home. As interesting as it would be to deprive her of Nkosi, what transpires in Egypt is really beyond our reach." Kossus explained. Alexei sagged visibly in disappointment at that answer, but nodded. "Our duty has to be to our homeland. Starting a war would not go well for us."
Even I nodded slightly at that, partially against my will. I knew he was speaking the truth though.
"If some brave mortals acting of their own free will happened to bring a fractured soul here, however... Something might be arranged, but we cannot actively send our devout there." Kossus stated.
Alex nodded. “Okay.”
"The gods can only help those who help themselves, Alex." Kossus stated.
"Okay, thanks." Alex said. Kossus headbowed in response.
I held up my hand. "I have a few questions if you have a moment, Kossus. Alex, I'll meet you outside."
Kossus nodded. "Of course."
Alex nodded. "Okay." He headed for the door and left.
I waited for Alex to leave, and once I heard the door click shut again, I spoke. "I wanted to check, mainly, if there was any issue if I continued to accompany him. I am fully aware of what he intends to do, and I do not wish to cause problems."
"What you do of your own volition, Nathan, has always been for your own self to decide." Kossus stated. "However, if you are caught somewhere you are not supposed to be, there will be very little we can do to help you."
"I understand that." I nodded. I weighed options in my head for a moment, debating if I had another question to ask. Eventually I decided no, and said, "Thank you for your time, Kossus. I apologize to have disturbed you."
The man chuckled. "I have dealt with far worse, Nathan. Athene grace your blade."
"And she assist you as well." I said as I stood and exited. I picked up Alex waiting outside the door and then left the temple, with Alex following me out.
After we got outside, Alex looked to me. "Damn, I fucked up, didn't I?"
I looked back, shaking my head. "You did your best, Alex."
Alex sighed. "Yeah, I guess so..."
"I can still come with you if you desire." I said.
"Hmm?" Then he got it. "Well, I guess so."
"Then we'll need to take care of shopping and such for the trip back to Selene's realm."
"Okay. ... how much do I need to pay you?" Alex asked with a wince.
I told him a rough estimate on how much it’d cost. It wasn’t the cheapest I could’ve done, but it was cheaper than anyone else would give him. “I can pretty much guarantee you that there's noone else willing to take that price."
Alex nodded. "Just take it from my money."
"If you're sure. We should work out the plan from here..."
"Okay, what do you have in mind?"
"We go to Selene's realm from here, pick up Blossom, then return to Corinth and then Lecci, contact your friend, and get him down here."
"And then we can figure out from there."
"Yep. We'll have to figure out to get our hands on Nkosi."
I nodded at that. “You head back to the hotel. I’ll meet you guys there in a few hours, ok?”
“Sure thing.” Alex nodded, and we split up as I went to restock supplies.
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