Brutus solace - RPLOG
A dark evening in Eastbank Forest, with the canopy blocking out most of the starlight. Even the luma moths have gone into hiding on this muggy night, save for a few winking here and there on tree branches and trunks. The undergrowth is heavy, the trail is new, and yet amidst the trees a small clearing lies waiting...perhaps for someone, or something.
Brutus had been...told this was the place, and with the altar and the crude statues, thus it looked to be right. But...well, he had never viewed himself as in need of spiritual guidance. And yet, in the past week, he hadn't been the same person aft all--as evidenced by his arrival in his bloody tatters of an outfit.
"Um...Spirits?" he calls out cautiously. Silence. The overlarge Skunk clears his throat and puts on his best Ominous Priest act. "Adrestia! I beseech you to show yourself, that I may follow in your path!"
Nothing, for a moment. A faint forest breeze whistles through the glade, chilling one to the bone, and it appears that Brutus' calls have gone unheeded.
The ignoble-looking noble shivers as the cold wind blows through him--isn't it supposed to be Spring?--and waits expectantly in the pregnant pause. Nothing. Brutus heaves a sigh and takes the bootlicking supplicant tack. "O mighty, powerful Adrestia, Lady of Vengeance, please reveal your form to us undeserving Beings, that we may learn your ways, and...um...be more pleasing to you for it!"
Nothing yet again, but the wind whistles through the leaves, giving the impression of wind whispering. There's the sense of one being watched, but still, no amazing appearance.
As the thoughts of his dead parents, posed in a cruel mockery of affection like some sort of sneering little joke, and those little bastards, who did it for "art," whom he never even got a chance to plead for mercy like his parents no doubt had--as these flash through his mind, his blood boils in an instant and his invective flows freely. "Ohforf--ADRESTIA! Where in the hells are you? Do you not care about those who would seek to follow you? Is my suffering--my pain--my hunger for justice some stupid joke to your ever-so-holy concerns? By my stripes!--Adrestia, you vengeful bitch, SHOW YOURSELF!"
"Justice - or is it merely anger?"
A thunderclap, a faint smell of ozone, and where there was once empty space a throne of bones stands, comprised of skulls - many, many skulls. Perched atop the throne is - why, yes, it looks like a Creator, of the female persuasion - and the resemblence, if vague, to the crude figurine is there. Adrestia slouches lazily upon her throne, propping up her head with one arm, and fixes Brutus with a bemused stare.
"You are not one of my callers, and hence I have no obligation to appear when I am desired. Neither, as any of my kin will tell you, are we obliged to take any who would follow us. That being said, though...you are certainly in the proper mindset for it. You may make your case, Brutus Blackback." No mention is made of how she knows his name.
Brutus stumbles back in shock at the sudden appearance--and here, he'd gotten comfortable in her absence that he was willing to curse about her. His confidence flags for a moment, until he thinks over it. She knew his name--does that mean she already knew about all the times he cussed out the spirits before. Well, can't unring that bell. Despite his staid appearance--well, minus the bloody rags--he begins pacing fiercely, leaning on his staff heavily as he does so, stumping along as he recites his plea. "When they called for the Freeswords to apprehend those, those...scum-sucking little shits who had slain many--including my kin--a companion cautioned me to not seek vengeance, but instead to let time heal the wounds and grow for it. And yet, nearly a week on, and the fire has not diminished--after every time I seek to extinguish, it roars bbudget ack, even stronger. Either I shall control it, or it shall consume me, but I can see no way to simply let it end and move on, this injustice which can never be balanced.
Brutus seems to be huffing like a wild beast--though how much of it was rage, and how much of it was weight, it was hard to tell. "They were slain...they got off easy, one stunned and...struck with a bolt of energy once he fell. The other run through by a soldier, after I had claimed them and seized them in hand--the blood-debt was rightfully mine!" he roars, pausing for dramatic effect (and breath). A wipe of his sweaty forehead. "I admit, in life, I may not have been blameless. But I have worked to right my wrongs. When I saw a close friend nearly die in Mossy Stone, I atoned for my poor behavior to them, and to others I may have wronged...and Fate, in its wisdom, let me to seek the employ of the one I had first offended." He gives a cold, mirthless laugh. "But for all I had failed my parents, I sought there, too, to right the balance. In the employ of Lady Longtail, I worked an honest job, I proved I could contribute, I could be useful--it may have taken me longer than most, but I began to make amends. I was proving myself to them!" The gestures of the rotund skunk begin to grow more wild and hysterical. "We were speaking again, and I was earning my keep. And then these murders start. My family is targeted, and I could do naught! Aunts and uncles I'd loved were slain!" He slams the staff into the ground. "All my life, I've had to tolerate slights, against me, against who and what I am, against my family for what they choose to do, and I wanted to--oh, I wanted to!--defend myself, and could not, for fear of impropriety, or lack of status. And--and here, here I had almost made it right, and--and--those whose approval I sought, that I needed so bad--were taken for me forever, as some kind of sick, sad, prank! And I couldn't even make it right there!" he shouts into the darkness, throwing his staff to the ground and collapsing to his knees. "All my thoughts are of how this scale is stacked against me, and I could never balance it." Brutus slumps into his plentiful self. "I have nothing left, but this tempest inside me, that has led me to you."
"There is one thing I must question before we begin. You complain that the blood-debt is rightfully yours. Yet if you follow my path, by your own merits you will be taking that very same blood-debt from others. Do you not see a problem with this?
"Now, with that out of the way...you have been through, what it seems, to be the whole cycle of vengeance. And yet here you are, as you are. My vengeance is measured, justified - onefold for the repentant, fourfold for those who are not. No more, no less. You are expected to be level-headed in your convictions - if a wrongful vengeance is called, restitution is expected. I have little use for an indiscriminate tempest.
"Now, I can sympathise with your story, but that does not diminish my purpose. If I am to accept you, you will need a considerable change in your approach to things. A chance is what I have to offer, and hopefully, you will not squander it."
Having poured out his Soulless soul, Brutus almost seems...deflated and empty. Perhaps it's for the best, though--only by being an empty vessel can he be filled again. He raises his head as if to argue, though he shudders as he meets her gaze momentarily, looking down once more. Her patience in the face of his fury, her immaculate reasoning soothing his rage...and the sense of true, honest sympathy from a figure sitting on a throne of bones. It was all rather...uncanny, and it had nearly shocked him into reverence. "You...would take one such as me?" His tone makes it quite clear he's placing himself below her, not above.
"Not as you are. As I said, it will take considerable change in you. Perhaps a little more self-awareness to spot your contradictions. Perhaps a little more temerity, although in your case, you were personally involved. Many, if not all, of the vengeances that you will be enacting will have nothing to do with you, yet you will be bound to not leave them be. For those which are, you must restrain yourself. It is a fine line to walk.
"But perhaps something can be arranged. A trial. A probational period of length unknown to you, at the end of which you will be evaluated on the merits of your actions. Perhaps it will spur you to improve yourself. This is as much as I will offer now. Do you accept?"
Brutus squirms uncomfortably as Adrestia picks him apart--did she have foreknowledge of him, or were his flaws really so obvious? "A gently raised eyebrow as he peeks up from a corner of his eye. "May I ask somewhat of you before I pledge myself?
Adrestia nods. "Ask. To deceive you would make me no better than those you call the Old Ones."
Brutus says, "What would you say to she who told me that vengeance was folly and would not grant me resolution?"
"In a way, she is right. And yet again, she is not right. You were hardly at peace when you came to me. Although those who murdered your parents had retribution visited upon them, it did not erase the fact that they are no longer with you. In such a way, resolution was not granted - there is no guarantee that my vengeances can ever bring peace to the wronged. That is something they have to seek themselves.
"But she would be remiss in claiming that it had no purpose. Now that your parents' killers are gone, you can begin the path that leads you to that end. I cannot force you upon it, but it is there. Which, in turn, brings us back to the point..."
A look of confusion crosses Brutus's countenance. "And you would have me exact venegance...without being vengeful?" he asks.
"If you mean vengeful to excess, yes. And yet a sense of vengeance and justice is required to galvanise one to action." A sigh. "It is a fine line to walk. Do you not think you can do it?"
Brutus notes the impatience in her voice, and though he doesn't seem to move, his breath quickens in fear--both of losing this opportunity and of taking sn irreversible step into an unknown future. "I...will follow you...though I beseech you for guidance on how I may satisfy your probation."
"It will be given in due time. Very well, then. Let us dispense with the formalities, first." The spirit draws breath, perhaps the first time since she has appeared. "I bid you to enforce. I offer you justice against those who would wrong you or yours. Remind those who draw breath that their word is bond. Enforce the law upon them by returning their injustice four times. Forgive those who have been punished, but always watch for further treachery.
"Follow the spirit of these words, and you will be unlikely to stray from my path."
Brutus takes to one knee--it's the proper way to take benedictions from courtly superiors, after all. A big, meaty hand strikes his fleshy chest over his heart, his tone was almost...gentle. "I shall."
"Then we are done. You are mine. I am yours. Call to me, and I will come. When I call, you will come." The spirit reaches into the air, and draws forth a thin pendant of plain steel. On the front, her visage, on the rear, smooth, blank metal; this she hands to Brutus. "You may keep this for now. Do not give me cause to desire its return."
Brutus takes the pendant into two cupped, open hands. A sense of awe not often found on one like him crosses his face, and he gazes as far upward as he dare. "I...I wish to apologize. To you. For calling you a 'bitch'...twice. Among other things." His gaze falls and his voice shrinks with each addendum. "It was...rage telling, but it was my rage, and...well, it's the sort of thing I need to change, isn't it?" He gives a faint smile as he dons the pendant,
"If it pleases you, you may allow yourself to be insulted eight times. Or maybe two, since you are repentant." It's hard to tell from the spirit's straight face as to whether she's serious, or simply jesting. "I will be watching in on you from time to time. Now, it is late, and you must be tired. Return, Brutus Blackback, and take this time to contemplate what you are going to do now. I suggest you think hard." A faint breeze blows through the clearing, and when it passes, Adrestia is no longer there.
This time, the breeze does not chill him to the bone, and a measure of clarity long-absent from his face returns. For the first time in a week, the full spectrum of emotions comes flooding back--not just the alternate crying jags and blind rage, but awe at the world, fear of himself, the grim satisfaction of knowing those who had upset him could do no more harm...perhaps a touch of shame at those he had wronged, even after he thought himself reformed. It was quite a headay mix, and not knowing whether to laugh, cry, scream, or sing, he picks up his staff and pushes up onto his feet, knowing one thing for sure: Supplication sure wore a soul out. Glancing to the stars for contemplation and orientation, Brutus slowly leaves the clearing in a spirit as uneasily calm as his arrival had been loud and violent.