Polydius smiled sympathetically at me as I shifted from foot to foot, restless and waiting for Nepech. My shield hung at my back, the hot sun reflecting off of it, causing small children passing by with their mothers to stare wide eyed at the patterns displayed behind me on the marble wall. The new mace was an unfamiliar weight at my hip where it hung at my belt and I shifted impatiently yet again, in an attempt to settle it. I heard whistling and looked up from my fidgeting, it was Nepech, and he strode up the Exalted Path in my direction idly turning pages in his spell book, finally stopping before me.
“Morning baby doll.” He said nonchalantly raking his eyes over my appearance, inspecting my condition.
“Good morning sir.” I murmured.
“None of that Sirona, I’m just Nepech, no need to call me ‘sir’ or anything else formal for that matter.” He laughed. I nodded and waited for my orders. He scratched his beard and scrutinized me further. I held still though I wanted badly to shift from foot to foot with my impatience. He jerked his head indicating I should follow.
“Verteron Citadel, Polydius.” Nepech tossed the man a bag of kinah to pay our fare and Polydius opened a portal. I swallowed hard and followed Nepech through. We emerged into a bustle of activity, Shugo porters carried boxes and pushed carts to and fro, their complaints kept low and their small squeaking voices calling out warnings to those that managed to get in their way. I stepped back to allow a pair to pass by their tails held high, and rushed to catch up to Nepech.
“Wings out Sirona, we’re going to Teminon.” He let his wings appear from the aether and stretched them taking to the air with a few powerful strokes, dust swirled up behind him and I closed my eyes willing my own wings into existence, extending them carefully before stroking them against the wind myself. The flight muscles in my chest screamed with disuse and I grimaced, I had a moment, a sharp pang of worry which soon turned to relief as I lifted off from the ground. Though the short flight up to the stationary portal to the Abyss left my chest and back aching, it was a good ache, dull and bittersweet, the return to an activity that I did so love. I missed flying.
This early, Teminon wasn’t as busy, I followed Nepech across the wide expanse of marble that was Teminon’s Landing and basked in the silvery white glow of the stone. The hot winds of the abyss stirred the hair at the back of my neck and with wings out I yearned to let them bear me up and out over the void. Nepech called over his shoulder
“You want to take the lazy way or the cheap way?” Nepech called over his shoulder. I grinned impishly, I knew what he meant.
“The cheap way of course.” I called back, and smiled broader as he passed the teleporter on duty. We stepped to the edge of the landing. Nepech looked at me, and the look he gave me was sanguine. I smiled and spread wing, tipping myself over the edge content at the snap of feather on wind as I bore up into the air. I heard the boom of deep laughter and turned to see my temporary commander winging his way after me.
“You don’t even know where we go Sirona!” he called over the rushing wind.
“So tell me! Where do we go?” I called back.
“Head for the Western Shard of Latesran, take the layer port up to the Ridge, do not go further and stay close, we are in the Abyss never forget what that means.” He glided near me and I swallowed the joy that flight brought me and reigned in my senses. He was right; this was the Abyss and what better way to prove my worth then to allow myself to be owned by some random Asmodian or Balaur because I was too far into my own mind to pay attention to my surroundings.
I drew in my wings slightly and made for a straight line to the Western Shard, slipping through the aether infused flight rings where they appeared to ease the strain on my body. I double checked my cube’s supply feeling foolish that I may have left anything behind and found a good supply of vials, the silvery liquid of wind serum swirling within. I smiled to myself, I had forgotten nothing per usual.
I banked right and swung a lazy gliding circle down to the ground and willed my wings away for the moment. Nepech landed heavily beside me.
“I didn’t know you were such a good flyer.” He said, between gasps for air. I smiled barely winded and said nothing. Nepech paid our way topside and we flew between the layers of the abyss easily, and in silence. At the top we both sobered and I clicked easily into the role of silent shadow to the imposing sorcerer.
We flew and my nerves set on their edge when I realized where we headed. I had never been to the core, but it was very clear to me that it was Nepech’s intention we should go there. Only the most powerful Daeva fought in the Eye of Reshanta, rife with Balaur as it was, and powerful Balaur at that. This was no mere test; this was going to be a baptism by fire. As we went into our dive to slip passed the upper layer of red stone and down to the core, I fitted my shield to my arm and loosed my mace from my belt. Nepech looked over his shoulder to make sure I followed, and when he caught site of me, ready and armed something in his eyes hardened and he inclined his head slightly in what looked like respect. There was no time to delineate the meaning of the sorcerer’s expression for when we landed, the fighting began, and for me the struggle to survive for I had forgotten something after all… I had forgotten to bind my soul to Teminon’s obelisk…