1963-10-06 - Sweet Dreams Aren't Made Of These
Summary: Nightmares strike New York. Amora probably wishes the Norn Queen were only a figment.
Related: New Directions for the Apprentice
Theme Song: Metric - Front Row
amora rogue 

NPC Note: Karnilla played by Rogue, mwahahaha.

The dreams of New York are faulted by black sooty terrors, the sort of dark poison that blackens even immortal minds when they seek rest. Once someone drops out of restless fitfulness or drowsy comfort into the vagaries of the universal unconscious they are prey to a multitude of horrors they may be unable to name.

Amora, apprentice or enchantress, is scarce immune. Stripped of her powers, she is as subject as anyone to the disturbances provoked by a bad promise, a malign presence. She might recall only snippets of the nightmares riding her come the dawn, and it will no doubt remain that way for days.

She is caught in the midst of a harrowing situation, her skin sloughing off her bones in thick, bubbling rills of fat that expose the underlying pink muscle and livid bones beneath. She slogs down a street, slowly losing the fatty tissues of her flesh. At the same time, horrific purple spots and blotches climb up her legs and feet, mottling her calves and thighs in a disfiguring effect. Still the men throw looks her way, measuring her up like a bloody slab of fresh beef. They salivate over her while her limbs ooze and her skin doesn't quite fit, as if the jacket of her epidermis might finally tear free of its imperfect glue and fall to the floor. And all the while, Lorelei cavorts ahead of her, blowing kisses and laughing, the mocking sound blending into a chorus of croaking birds…


The horrors of the dream, so real and so grotesque in image and in sensory details have the magically bound Enchantress trapped within the realm of the sleepers. Try as she might to summon what magic she knew she had, little though it was, nothing worked. Nothing she did, no cantrip, no witchlight, no illusions seemed to cast right.

Perhaps it was that fact that tormented her the most, a fear more real and concrete than the melting flesh and purple rot that plagued her skin. The helplessness that slowed her steps, and stole her breath encompassed her.

It was an odd feeling, given that she was currently without the bulk of her emotions. A fearful, gut-wretching feeling that knotted her stomach and weighed her limbs. Yet perhaps it was because of this, that she was able to separate reality from dream; even if she was not a dream walker herself.


Sleepers across the city toss and turn, wishing their nights would end and the damned siren song of the alarm clock would come. They twist in their winding sheets, sweaty and clutching blindly in unconscious fear. Toes curl and backs arch, the rictus scream present. There is no relief.

The weird ripple of Amora's skin distorts and pulls in the wrong places around her elbows, her joints having a nasty tendency to snare and catch, pinching and making her nerves fizz like pop rocks in Coke. It's distinctly weird, the fraying frizzle of exploding pops and fading sensation. One of the women brushing by gives a contemptible look.

"You actually think you're beautiful? You look like a cadaver," she snarls.

"Who wants that?" A familiar voice, her sister's, lilts over the distance. "She's going to wake up and it's going to stick."

She might step forward, and Amora finds herself with her eyelids sagging down over her bleary eyeballs, as if her face were trying to separate itself like a particularly bad latex mask.


Annoyance, rather than fear pulls at Amora as her limbs refuse to move as commanded. As her joints snag and bend with aching, sharp, pops. The last straw being the failure of her eyelids. Her hands press against the sloughing flesh as her knees give out and she sinks to the road. A snarl pulls at her lips, even as they twist and mold against her fragile and ineffective hands and fingers.

"ENOUGH!" She snapped, the taunts, the insults? They hardly gained traction in her ear, much less stuck.

The failure of her body? Oh that was getting irksome. /Her/ body should never do such things as be an inconvenience. This whole dream, for even as she tried to kindle a spell and nothing occurred, was what this whole mess /had/ to be.


The cry comes out garbled, lips shearing and peeling outwards in a fat, thick tear that distorts their shapes into long strings of sausage going thin from weight.

Her body almost ignores her, stretching and flowing according to nearly liquid rhythms instead of the accustomed material, solid interplay. She can imagine it a dream, but it feels real. Even the depleted pull of magic from a diminished puddle feels real. The grit under her cheek, the exposed muscles twinging and wet, unable to shiver when the fibres are exposed.

The shadow that falls over her, and Lorelei's laughter halted mid-spark.

"Never did I care for the sound of that girl's voice," says a vision achingly familiar and not at all, viewed largely as a seamed stocking, a red-soled high heel, a violet boucle skirt cut to the knee. "Easier without the interruption, no?"

Karnilla stands in the sunshine, enough to cast long shadows of gold and tarnished copper through the decaying vernal dream. "Apprentice mine, I charged you to discover what you could of Balder Odinson's strategy. Report what you have learned. Think not to deceive me."


From the horror of open nerves and exposed flesh, Amora drags her mind away to mind the shadow. Even as she lay panting for breath against the pain of her body essentially melting beneath her fingers, her focus is drawn to that voice. To the presence that steals the horror of the dream and turns it to the nightmarish reality of her position.

A groan escapes Amora's lips, a shudder twisting her frame as she tried to drag herself up to sit. Unsure if this time her body would follow her commands or not.

"What, you did not scry and watch over me in the Princes' domain? Or do you just desire me to waste my breath?" She rasped, stretching her hands before her as joints popped and rolled, flesh feeling raw and over wrought.


The Queen of the Norns is drawn in finite lines, bright shades against the people frozen in their passage. If Amora were to stare too long, she might see the pedestrians in exquisitely slow motion, their derisive expressions frozen into sneering masks and curled, ugly smiles the sort worn by the mean girls when they beat a fellow student into a bleeding, cut mass. She runs a finger up her cheekbone and flicks away some irredeemably tiny bit of flotsam. "Filthy," she comments, a restrained hint of malice. Her gaze turns outwards, down the grid of asphalt, a canyon in a wasteland of buildings.

"I grant thee no quarter in mine exalted presence." The rapid appearance of runes in a triplicate band forms a notched triangle, the lower placed point-down over the upper. It's almost impossible to distinguish the edges of the magic she pushes outwards to surround them, leaving the air somewhat cleaner. Clearer.

Then turning to Amora, Karnilla regards the blonde mildly. Her pillbox hat has shades of Jackie O, but Jacqueline Onassis wishes she looked that lovely. "No. Despite your protestations to the contrary, I see no purpose to monitoring your every step. Whyever should I, if not to act upon my own agency then?" She slips her hands into the slitted pockets of her coat. "Report, then, of what you learned."


A look irritation flashed on her features, even as she sat back; staring upwards at Karnilla and ignoring the surrounding, blurred edges of the nightmare in her vision. It wasn't anything she hadn't seen at some point in her long life. Nor was Karnilla standing above her, looking so imposing. The outfit was new though. Amora settled her hands on her thighs, settling back as she took her time to catch her breath.

Finally, she exhaled, closing her eyes for a brief time. "Balder has been put in charge of seeing Jotunheim's intentions. Whether the lone creature was a scout, a construct, or some renegade. It sounds more like it was sent here for a purpose, they decided. Especially considering the incursion of Muspell's creatures." Her voice was flat and she hooked a brow upwards as she eyed Karnilla.

"He also fancies that Asgardians announce themselves to Midgard as Gods once more." She rolled her shoulders back in a shrug.

"And he dislikes the idea of wearing mortal outfits.."


Karnilla strikes an imposing presence even merely standing upon the sidewalk. She moves over to a nearby bench and dusts the seat with her gloved hand, then sits herself down. A portrait of elegance, her, her hands wrapped around her knees.

For a time, she is quiet while Amora forms words and does as bidden. The apprentice's skin still feels rubbery and wrong, but the degenerative effect is forestalled for the moment. Around her, leaves still hang in midair and drifting dust keeps blowing past. "What does Balder Odinson believe this to be, or is he taking your counsel upon the possibilities? It would be Loki, not Thor and unlikely he, who provides counsel. Have they made any encounters, or is the realm yet quiet?" She does not share her thoughts in that direction, merely capturing the context of events.

"A man walking about like he belongs in theatre will be treated accordingly."


Another soft exhale follows, as Amora runs her hands over her arms and her sides, touching each joint and patting down her features. Then her attention returns to Karnilla once more, still kneeling before the woman as she settled upon a bench. A grimace pulled at her lips and Amora rolled her shoulders back. "He requested my counsel in regards to it possibly being a construct. I made it clear that limited as I am, I can only give knowledge, and little in the way of magic. He didn't seem too interested in merely having his brother's advice in the matter of magick." She rubbed at her throat as she spoke, and slowly pulled her hair back from her face.

"There doesn't seem to have been anything new in terms of the Jotun's presence here on Midgard.. but one can assume that eventually he will make a trip to the realm for answers.. When that will be?" She shook her head, lifting her hands up and letting them fall back to her lap.


The roll of shoulders is uncomfortable, pulling and stretching skin out of size. It changes proportions to not fit quite right, sagging and several shades too large. Karnilla's eyes are narrowed in speculation, a slight element of keenness to her expression shown. "I see. Advise him somewhat as you can, it would be suitable for him to know whether this is a thing created or born," she says after a moment. "You may be able to rescind some of your burden owed to the All-father through the youngest prince."

Amora's face is still waxen, pulling away from her skull and askew. Her hair is brittle as wheat, separating in clumps from her scalp when pulled free.

"When he chooses to return is a choice of his own making. Has he suggested plans for it or either of the Princes?" The queen falls quiet, giving time for an answer to that. "It would not be politic to simply assume welcome in the entourage, or that entering Jotunheim will be viewed with welcome. Likely it would not."


A shudder runs up her spine at the feeling of her hair crumbling between her fingers and a shaky exhale follows as she attempts to swallow her rising panic. The disjointed feeling of her flesh, her muscles and bones made her stomach roil and rather than answer Karnilla's questions further, she bent double. Her hands sliding to the ground as she tried to quell the ill feeling that tightened in her throat.

But the compulsion to answer Karnilla was still there.

"He hasn't mentioned it.. I didn't stay.. longer.. T-Thor.." She swallowed a lump in her throat, even as her arms pressed against the ground to support her.


Another floating bit of chaff, the remnants of her hair turned straw yellow, hangs suspended by the art of Karnilla's magic. The Norn Queen flicks her wrist dismissively, and the loose, dried out strands drift out of sight to join the other frozen objects.

"Focus. You know the oldest of your lessons. Focus upon the moment, Amora. Let not the temptation to give way steal your reason from you, when you may focus yourself well," she says, not entirely in a cool tone. More instructive, a lure than one could follow with some modicum of effort. "I would know whether they mean to try the boundaries of Jotunheim, direct or not. It is an unwise proposition, this much you may keep to yourself. It would not help them to know, for they would wish to perceive the reason why and the tidings cannot be clear, for the patterns have not resolved themselves yet. As ever, we must wait that these events set in motion have their proper hour and appointed place. These trials before you by night, I think, shall not cease as yet. They will beset you and rob you of your rest, given opportunity to stand upon your way. Take precautions as may you to prevent interruption, for you shall require yet all the energy you can spare. If the ordeal of a jotun attack comes, truly, then the Prince will rely upon assistance and you must live by your wits rather than your arcane power."


After several long moments of Amora's struggling with her magic, to some benefit and ultimate failure, Amora gives up. She sags back against the ground. Her eyes shut as she lays there struggling for breath. Perhaps it was out of spite for Karnilla's command to focus, perhaps it was exhaustion or a want to deny the woman her answers that she demanded from her. Still, at least, Amora didn't allow herself to melt away entirely for the moment. She simply lay there, slightly more solid the longer she remained but unwilling to pull herself up.

"Do not send me back. Thor suspects that something is amiss. He would not leave me in peace." She muttered, green eyes opening again to gaze at the Queen.

"They will not take me to Jotunheim with them if they go. I am a liability.."


"What gain would be possessed if I kept you in Nornheim? Would you quietly resume your lessons in hopes of prevailing upon the All-father with a cool head?" Karnilla does not mince words, giving a plain telling of the questions likely to circulate among her own courtiers, much less those in Asgard. "Could you be trusted to recover in the quiet of the meditation rooms, and then take to practice your lessons and refine your concentration through them? Tell me true that you could, Amora, and perhaps we might talk. I am altogether aware of your restlessness, this penchant to refuse yet even when those who hold some inkling of concern for your state upon that benighted realm speak conscientiously to aid you. You are more prone to bite my hand than close your fingers around mine if I dared lift you up."

The merest ultraviolet traces of energy show across her boldly canted eyes, beautiful features diminished to a mortal guise in this, a dream that may be no dream.

"Yet I am not unreasonable, nor am I the cruel taskmistress you persist in imagining me to be. Speak what you wish and consider." She taps her nails upon her knee, less impatient than considering. "Naturally no, Thor Odinson would not believe you well or whole upon seeing you. In his way he is clearer sighted than the father, better tempered to the situation than the brother. What would he take, if you were to say you have been tasked to learn patience thus? Oh, I am sure he would storm my palace and call it an injustice. I would then ask him whether the loss of you to his father's wrath be worth the price levied. Mine, in any respect, is not permanent nor can you be set to painful payment or harm in its duration. You can rest easy, apprentice, that your heart will come to absolutely no harm such as is possible to render. Unto its return it remains pristine, and I swore you would remain under protection of Nornheim so long as you did abide terms. I mean it. I will not incinerate it and leave you a shadow of yourself."


That had Amora rising, a grunt of effort pulling from her as her magic, her focus firmed her frame to aid her in her desire to sit up. She made it to her knees, green eyes fixed upon the Norn-Queen before her. "What are your terms that I would ever regain that damn'd organ, Karnilla? What compulsion was it that you sought me out? I would know these things.. and gladly stay away from Midgard and the Princes if I might yet know. I despise Midgard, her stunted magics, her ignorant masses of peasants that seethe against each other.. the pollution of mortals is disgusting as this dreamscape…" Her voice was barely more than a whisper. Even as another shudder ran up her spine.

"I dislike seeing the Princes as I am.. to be in such a piteous state and have their gazes upon me in such a manner.. I would rather not have it at all." She bowed her head, hair sweeping like straw into her features.

"Bid me not back to their presence with such looks. I would not see the Thunderer again. Not have him search my gaze for what was amiss.. as if there was something he might possibly do or care about in finding me thusly.."


"As if you would be so well served by sitting locked in a dungeon, moldering away, for seven centuries. Never forgotten, the All-Father never forgets. Though surely wasted, even in your dragonfly paths taken far and away from those most precious responsibilities entrusted to you." Karnilla is nearly unmoving, the bench a stationary and tidy point in a world streaked in blighted grime of a deep, darkly troubled source.

"I could seize you forth from Midgard to see out the terms of your practice, until such an hour that you might demonstrate a committed ability to withhold your intemperate desires." It is said softly, without an iota of force present anywhere. "You would remain within the realm of Nornheim and not pass those borders save on service, not required to pursue any diplomatic endeavours. Nor wouldst I require of thee more than that: committed study and purposeful reflection. The Princes need not bother you though you would, naturally, hold visitation with them as did please thine nature. They are but guests to Nornheim; my realm treats you in this arrangement as one of its own, more than respected guest, but hosted daughter. It would not be necessarily brief, this leave, though it might be if thee finally sought to master thine excesses greater than demonstrated. Imagine then the effect did a return to Asgard for consideration come with mastery and proof thine mantle as sorceress be warranted, and thy command over Asgard every bit as potent and profound as any of the nine realms. Would that not give thee satisfaction, to stand apart in thine own right, and further confident rather than dependent upon the words and affections of any single soul? For you could commit your loves where you wish them, but still be replete in your talents."


Amora rose on shaky legs, her hands held out to either side of her as she stumbled once before righting herself and taking the time to find her center. Then she spoke, her gaze lingering on the Queen before her. "I would not desire to return to Asgard. The only merit present in that realm being mine affects that linger on there without me. Those I would have returned and nothing else.." She whispered, swallowing hard.

"I do not see Asgard as a home, no longer does it seem a place fitting of such a title. I would leave such behind.." Her gaze fell and she pursed her lips together.

"I feel nothing in regards to my position in your court. Tis simply a different place than that of Midgard's filth. I have nothing here to hold me. For I feel naught for the sons of Odin.. Bid me not remain here." She hung her head then, her hands limp at her sides as she swallowed further words.


The Norn Queen's gaze tracks Amora where she perches elegant and composed on a bench, the very picture of an uptown woman of quality and class. Her counterpart is a ruin of melted flesh over trailing fat, her beauty no more than a fat candle repeatedly lit and cooled too quick. The terrifying dream closed around them cannot touch her, held at bay by eldritch power, and she still exudes a faint sheen when the turbulent dreamscape bites deeper, stirring, hitting emptiness.

"You see Asgard as no more your home? Then do you not claim the title as supreme in that realm?" This news does give her pause, sitting up the straighter for it. "Or you see nothing there but your past, unwelcome and unwanted? I ask not to torment you. I would understand your words clearly."

Her expression remains a chilly and thoughtful mask, made cool by the flickering witchlight of runes flaring when the nightmare settles like a thick puddle. "Am I to cast you to Nornheim? Sanctuary is not for wanderers to realms far and wide. I keep you, away from Midgard, it will be home to Nornheim. Not even among my court do you wish. You have a long life. Do with it as thou wilt."


Amora struggled to stay standing, her brows pinched, her jaw clenched in effort as she strained to draw herself together on will alone. Her hands curled and joints groaned beneath the pressure she exerted on them. Finally, after some time, she seemed to regain some of herself; enough to speak again.

"I would speak to both." She spread her hands out wide towards her figure. Her head dipping as her gaze hardened at the exposed flesh and muscle that rippled in a disjointed fashion.

"What home have I to a king and princes that disavow me and my presence? To be used unjustly, unfairly time and again with little hope of relief? If I stay there, I shall bare witness to the rise of one whom I shall never reach. To be seen as little more than wilding cur, one in which is known to bite but has uses if a collar is thusly attached with a leash upon her. What home is that? What place is that? I have no interest in watching another Queen, mortal born, rise to such a place of honor while I am relegated to such a role. To be at his mercy for all the ages and only there on his good will? One temper and I should be cast aside for all my years. He won't change such a tempestuous mood.. that much he has shown.." She muttered, looking down at the ground with a peel of her lips.

"No, Asgard is no longer a place I desire to call home.."


Karnilla waves her hand. A wave tinted lilac banishes one of the ephemeral figures encroaching upon them, and the dreamspun effigy disappears. A minor waver runs through like a stone hurled into a still pool. Two ripples cover the empty space, painted in with Amora's own unconscious projections of a place.

"Thou may obtain a position lofty and high," she replies, "albeit not in any time perchance to thine preference. True, thou shalt observe another placed above thee, thy seat of affection empty whilst he takes another to wed. Asgard hath a queen. The Norns declare not whom to thine company, but thy skills permit such insight upon the deep well of wisdom. Have a care not to drown thyself in its ice-cold depths. A sip is enough; he will not dwell in love with thee. Affection of another sort, perchance, but will that satisfy thee? Is that worthy of Asgard's premiere sorcerer? I say not. I say fie upon such a secondary position if that leaves a sickly humour curdling and twisting in thine belly. Will the Odinson to mount the throne look kindly upon thee? Yes, but that is not sufficient, nor desirous. As you say." The sudden shift to modern nomenclature and syntax is near instant. "You live at his sufferance. Your position is subject always to his authority."

Her heavy-lidded eyes glitter, shielding the thoughts there. "I would not stand for it. Indeed, never have I. Nornheim is proof of independence. Even Svartalfheim, under its queen, enjoys unparalleled freedoms. Unlike Hela, we are not required to know our place, like some scolded child. Would you prefer such a path, to carve out your own realm among the Nine, separate of Midgard and peer to your prince rather than subject? Consider your talent. It would be enough perhaps. There are realms in disarray, realms not of Midgard. Places enough you could raise your own profile. Not Nornheim. But Alfheim, Vanaheim? The places within, the Shining Plain, the Glittering Arbor? Perhaps you have never considered it. Perhaps you might now."


A slow exhale of air left Amora's lips as she watched the magic tint the air at Karnilla's wave and she drew herself as straight as her spine could possibly go. Her arms crossing over her middle, as she watched the regally perched woman from beneath her eyelashes.

"I would not desire such a place at his side as a pet. As a second woman to bow and scrape at the side of some mortal Queen on the throne. Nay, to be his loyal hound does not satisfy me, the thought draws ill. For I would forever be relegated to a last resort. Never trusted, not fully.. for he will recall my tempers of the past. He looks for foul when I was and have been nothing but fair to him." She shook her head, a hand rising to comb through brittle strands of gold that fluttered in her grasp.

"I do not seek a lesser throne than that of Golden Asgard. For all realms needs must fall into the line of the realm Eternal in some manner of speaking. Asgard's power and strength of arms give them that diplomatic vein. I do not seek anything.. other than to be forever from his sight and that of those that have known me thusly.."


Karnilla listens to this with care, every last sound reaching her ears and filling her thoughts, her words. "Then you have a conundrum. You either must sit the throne of Asgard without the sons of Odin, whom you cannot stand, or have no throne at all. You wish no more to be seen by Thor Odinson and all who know you?"

The Norn Queen laughs. She can't help herself; it is not unkind, simply the sound taken by a surprise is delivered. They are rare in her long, long life. "I can render you invisible and unknown to them. You have not the power to sustain or foil them yourself, because of the All-father. Is that what you wish, me to cloak your presence, or to give you the means to truly vanish forever from him? That means as long as you live, Amora. It means not even holding your name if you stay on Midgard because he will know you."


A shrug, a roll of her shoulder lightly at Karnilla's laughter followed. "I would desire my own place. Perhaps not of the realms, perhaps elsewise. I know it not, for I have yet to find such a place. A place beyond the eyes of Heimdall. Beyond the reach of the golden Prince and his damn'd eyes." If she had her heart, she'd swear she hated those eyes. Those perfect blues that sunk into her like hooks on a line.

"I want that.. to be subject to no one besides myself. That is what I mean. That is what I desire. And power enough to keep it."


"An extraplanar abode. Ah, those are worth their weight in gold. Heimdall is a fool to turn his eye upon my realm lest he irritate my denizens, especially mine sisters who welcome nothing of his bearing." Karnilla waves her hand. "Demonstrate you can achieve these without falling subject to Odinson, any of them, and you may have what you seek faster than you know. Open your hand."


Amora's brow furrowed as she stared at Karnilla, her lips pursed into a thin line as a golden brow hooked upwards. It took far too long, but eventually she opened her hand before her, green eyes seeking out Karnilla's features in a critical manner. "Speak plainly what it is you mean.. to achieve these without falling subject to any Odinson..?"

Her head cocked to the side as she glanced down at her hand in silent question.


"Show that you can be sovereign to yourself. That you are not going to fall prey to your unrequited love or need for revenge, but will keep a clarity of mind. That will be when you achieve your potential as a sorcerer and decide your own fate, Amora, when you are able to act without thinking 'Will Thor love me?' or 'I hate him so for not loving me.' There is more to life than this love, as hard as it may be to conceive now. I have counselled you clearly." Karnilla stands from her bench, and smooths her already pristine skirt. "Stop thinking about the sons of Odin All-Father. Indulge your lost relationship for a few days, and then start forward on a brighter future."


Amora's hand closed and she stepped forward toward Karnilla. "Why do you care so? Why do you hold that cursed organ of mine still? What purpose is all of this Karnilla, Norn-Queen? After two thousand years, what is your business in aiding me? Tell me. Do not hold me by the collar and tempt me with delusions of what might be or might not be. Why do all of this?" Even as she spoke, her voice remained soft, flat.

"I weary of this talk of my past and my future when I know not the why of it. I have carried out the nonsense task you gave me on keeping eyes upon Balder, I have stated what I learned in regards to Jotunheim.. Why?"


"I have told you. Do you lack the means to listen, Amora, or do you require me to repeat myself?" Karnilla is unaffected by the golden shadows around her, illuminated by her own light, seized from some indistinct source while it mellows and softens the lovely shape of her skirt suit. Chanel only wishes they had that balance of texture and immaculate tailoring. It only stands to reason a great weaver would produce something that good.

"I dislike this treatment, the precedent it sets. I dislike that you have fallen so sharply upon a singular fixation and fail to reach your potential." The Norn Queen inclines her head. "I hold your heart because you heretofore have shown no ability to withhold the hate or the love that commands you rather than the other way 'round. Feel again." A painted line radiates out in a Freyja wheel, forks and branches shaped around a central lozenge burning with Raidho. The others are too intricate to easily distinguish before they burn out. "Jotuns on the move and you ask me why? Are you Asgardian or were you born in the fields of Alfheim? They have moved against all of us often enough in the past, and Jotunheim or Muspelheim are warlike, uncouth, and belligerent. I prefer not to discover a violation of my realm."


A hand rises to rub against the ache of the hollow where her heart once beat, her lips pulling into a grimace. "You didn't care about my potential for ages, and now you feel it pertinent because of the punishment the All-father wished to mete out onto me?" She a golden brow hooking upwards in clear confusion.

"I listen and hear you in regards to why you took that organ, but the reasons for you to take me still ring hollow to mine ears. I believe it not that it was out of of some need to see my potential as your student grow. When you dismissed me as a child."

Amora pursed her lips together, "I both desire and do not desire that which you took from me, I feel nothing at all.. and find solace in it just as I find it maddening to the extreme. To be at your mercy in such an intimate manner? I dislike it wholly. But I do not wish that organ returned either.." Her gaze dropped. "For it does control my actions utterly."


Karnilla utters a long, tired sigh. "You were driven to distraction then. You had twenty centuries to refine your craft, twenty centuries to show your aptitude. You have demonstrated it in maddening glimpses, and too you have been thrown asunder."

She tosses a stone into the air, a simple rune cut from smoky quartz. "When you wish your heart returned, awaken this. A breath of power, you can manage that. Then it will be yours. I have given you your choice. Return to Nornheim to learn and be freed of this desire. Receive your heart and master it yourself. Be gone from them as you have asked, invisible or repelled whenever they are. Have you another idea, say it. But I have other tasks to pursue."


Amora hadn't been under Karnilla's tutelage in many a long year, but in those time she had never once seen the Norn-queen so.. generous. Each and every spell, each new task had been set with cold and demanding odds stacked ever against her. Often each coming with its own price what Amora had to learn in turn. Yet there was the stone that Karnilla held out in offer. A hesitance pulled at Amora, and she stared down at it for a long time after Karnilla had fallen silent. A hand rose and veered away from the stone to try to grasp the Queen's wrist.

"Do you speak true, or are you a figment of my mind? To offer me every desire? To offer it freely upon a golden platter? In a nightmarish dream sent from a rift in the veil of the realm?"


"Then awaken, apprentice mine."

Karnilla's irritation is clear, and she vanishes out of sight. The conscious pressure bubbles up as the nightmare surges in, and any sense of colour and form blur together as Amora's mind's eye bubbles and seethes under the dominion of another power in New York. It might feel as though she is drowning in the weight of despair and gloom: emotions that should be denied when her heart is gone, but the mind remembers feelings. The psyche is not the same as conscious emotion.

When Amora awakens — an hour? A moment? A lifetime? — there is a stone lying on her forehead, the same smoke quartz already present, with a thin rune sliced into it. And across her room are reports printed on paper, recounting this failed lesson, that failed lesson, that lesson failed over there, every last infraction endured over a season at some point when Amora was about 900. No doubt those aren't reproductions. She had a filing cabinet dumped on her.

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