[ Margaret nearly wrecks the Cathedral, and Melloran turns up. - 10/23/98 ]
[ Cathedral of the Church of the Serpent
The weight of ages presses down upon this amphitheatre-like room, the main part of the Cathedral. Between the myriad rows of pews are gently downward-sloping stairways of frozen flame, each step glowing, yet absolutely still. Every sound echoes, murmurs carrying far across the room when it's not full. The glossy black stone walls shelter a few nooks and alcoves, which clergy can occasionally be seen using.
At the front of the Cathedral is a raised dais, the back of which is open to the Pit itself. In its center is an altar formed of the same glossy black stone as the rest of the cathedral. To the rear of the Cathedral are a pair of massive doors in an arch of frozen flame which lead outwards. Candles are placed at each end of each pew, and in groups on the dais, as the sole source of somewhat dim light.
Perfectly straight raven black hair flows down her back, weighted down with a net of polished grey stone beads. Honey colored eyes, bright with faith, contrast with her dusky skin. Her voice, when she speaks, is generally soft and even; her manner is similar, being not often prone to great displays of emotion. She wears her formal robes of office, layers upon layers of black and grey silk, the mottled patterns of which shift as she moves. The robes fall to just above her ankles; on her feet are soft grey boots. Her waist is girthed by a wide metallic scarlet sash tied in an intricate knot.
Hanging from a gold chain around her neck is a red-gold medallion bearing the image of the Serpent. Her clothes and jewelry mark her as no less than the High Papal of the Church of the Serpent-Which-Manifests-The-Logrus.
Margaret looks confused. The curls of her hair tangle horribly over her shoulders, a rat's nest of snarled and brazen blonde. Her eyes are a deep blue, but flame crawls in an eerie corona around her irises, seething in a bright ring eclipsed only by wide pupils. Her frame and features are rounded and diminutive.
Her face has bloody scratchmarks all over it, as if she's been clawing at herself. She wears the tattered remains of a black silk dress, the skirt charred and the bodice twisted half off her shoulders. Her feet are bare.
She looks positively exhausted, barely on her feet. Her fingers are webbed.
Margaret is collapsed on the dais, motionless.
Ameranth enters the cathedral through the main doors, a diminutive creature on one shoulder, a crow on the other. Her voice soft, she whispers, "This is the Church of the Serpent."
Miwa blinks and looks around, she whisper timidly in Ameranth's ear.
Senusia speaks quietly to a priest, then looks around the Cathedral, nodding to Ameranth.
Ameranth nods to Senusia, slipping down towards the dias. She frowns when she sees the prone figure there, moving forward more rapidly.
Senusia steps up on the dais and over towards Margaret. Softly, "Lady Margaret?"
Margaret moans, a quiet and despairing noise. Webbed fingers clench and relax on empty air.
Miwa sits on Ameranth's shoulder and peers at Margaret, curiously.
Senusia holds off Ameranth with a glance, and sinks down to sit on her knees. "Lady Margaret."
Ameranth stands a few feet back, just looking. Her crow makes an inquisitive sound and she twitters back at it, briefly.
Margaret says, hoarsely, "Leave me alone..."
Senusia watches Margaret closely, her eyes focusing on something not quite there. She starts back slightly after a moment.
Ashnah passes through the grand entrance doors, into the Cathedral proper, and pauses on the center stairway.
Ashnah has arrived.
Ameranth asks, softly, "Is she all right?"
Ashnah's hair ripples, then rises into glassy rigidity, rubbing against itself in a singing tone.
Miwa looks at Ashnah and blinks, tugging at Ameranth's hair a bit.
Margaret tries to claw her way forward over the dais, but she manages to move maybe an inch. Another whimper tears from her throat.
Ameranth turns her head a little, whispering to Miwa.
Senusia says, "Lady, you are in the Cathedral of the Serpent. What have you done?" the last word is emphasized, her voice rising.
Ashnah's skin fades to a pale grey, its hair glows a deep green, as it strides purposefully forward down the aisle.
Ameranth turns her head, looking over at Ashnah.
Ameranth blinks a bit, then frowns a little. Her lips move softly.
Margaret whispers, "Far away... I don't need help, leave me alone, yes yes yes..." She rolls onto her back, a tangle of hair and ruined skirts; despite her words, her face is pleading, despairing.
Ashnah's chalky eyes swivel to gaze at Margaret, then shift to a clear crystal, two spheres of glass captured in bony sockets.
Miwa just gives a stunned look at Ashnah as Ameranth says something, she then asks, "How?"
Ameranth shushes Miwa with a soft, "Not now."
Ashnah says "Namer?"
Ashnah's voice rings like silver bells.
Ashnah's hair ripples again, ceasing its singing, and lying flat along its head.
Senusia lifts a hand, as if to touch Margaret, but pulls it back tentatively. Still speaking to Margaret, she asks, "Tell me what happened?"
Senusia adds, "With the Logrus, Lady Margaret."
Margaret presses her hands to her face, her eyes, her mouth, webbed fingers flexing. She says, "I don't know you, you can't help me, don't. I didn't go there, I know *exactly* what happened." Her tone is mournful, puzzled.
Ameranth crouches down a little bit, resting herself on one knee. She glances over at Ashnah. "Are you ..Ashnah?" she asks, softly.
Miwa just blinks and listens, seeming to be totally confused as to what's going on.
Senusia leans forward, gently pulling Margaret's hands away from her face. "I am the Ar-- the Lady High Papal Senusia. I am here to help, if I can."
Ashnah's hair each grows a small eye at the end, and then spreads to look at Ameranth, dozens of small unblinking eyes in an oval array.
Ashnah says "We are Ashnah."
Margaret moans again as Senusia touches her, her eyes flaring more brightly.
Ameranth studies Ashnah for a moment, faintly stricken, then smiles. "I am Ameranth," she says to the figure near to her, politely.
Senusia gasps and starts back, dropping Margaret's hands. Expressions flicker on her face, then are quickly calmed again.
Miwa looks at Ashnah, then whispers to Ameranth.
Ashnah says "We are honored to meet you. What passes with Maragret's unity of form?"
Ameranth looks confused, "Unity of form? You mean why is she hurt? I think... something inside her hurts."
Senusia frowns in thought, then speaks precisely. "Lady Margaret, you must release the Sign. You cannot continue like this."
Margaret starts to smear her hands across her face, her body, pushing, clawing, and her body twists. She cries, "... closer," and then, "I know how." Her entire form shudders -- and so do the walls of the Cathedral.
Ameranth crouches down more, one hand rising to shield Miwa.
Miwa holds onto Ameranth's neck, more out of suprise than fear it seems.
Ameranth asks Ashnah, "Do you know why the Catherdral is shaking?"
Senusia looks up at the cavernous ceiling, then back at Margaret quickly. "You cannot win a struggle with the Logrus, with the Serpent. You will only destroy yourself!"
Margaret strikes out with tiny hands at the air, uselessly, feet kicking, her head rocking back and forth. Chips of rock scatter from the heights of the arches, dusty stone puffing in small clouds with a grinding noise.
Ashnah says "No."
Ameranth whispers, "The Logrus..."
Ashnah peers at Margaret, and then its nails grow suddenly sharp and pointed, a clear fluid dripping from them.
Ashnah bends over and lays a hand on Margaret, and begins to flex its fingers.
Ameranth shakes her head a little. "No," she says, to Miwa, watching Ashnah, Senusia and Margaret with unparelleled attention.
Several priests appear in the doorway at the rear of the Cathedral, alarm on their faces.
Margaret continues to struggle, one hand held in Ashnah's grasp weakly; she doesn't have the strength to break free. A few more chunks of rock loosen themselves from the creaking walls, smashing onto the flaming walkway.
Senusia looks back and makes a complex handsign. The priests depart, leading the rest of the clergy outside. She turns back and holds out a hand to Ashnah, "Take care what you do!"
Ameranth looks up to watch the masonry loosening itself, fear beginning to show on her features. She doesn't, though, interrupt the trio on the dias.
Miwa looks up as well and back at the others, her face looks intent on finding out what will happen.
Ashnah's hair stands straight out from its head, glowing a vibrant crimson, an odd crystal ringing emanating from it.
Ashnah's throat works, a grunting, wringing noise spilling from its lips.
Ameranth watches her ...family with some slight dread.
Ashnah's eyes shift to a solid blue, then begin to glow red as well.
Senusia looks intensely at Ashnah, and makes a pushing motion with one hand.
Ashnah sails away from Margaret, its skin shifting into a marbled, chalky gray, its hair ringing against the stones of the floor, and skids into a sudden thumping collision with a pew.
Ameranth ducks out of Ashnah's way, hastily, having crept closer to watch. She settles on the ground, sitting there instead of crouching.
Ashnah's skin becomes marked by spreading bruises, the color of rotting meat.
Ashnah blinks, and keens briefly.
Miwa winces at Ashnah.
Senusia glances at Ashnah, concernedly. "Ameranth, get him outside."
Ashnah says "Ouch."
Ashnah's hair waves languidly, small eyes opening and closing at seeming random.
Margaret whimpers, tears glowing as they run from her eyes, viscous. She claws at her arms, her face and shoulders, shuddering. Stone grinds.
Ameranth pushes herself up. "Yes, Senusia." She moves quickly over to Ashnah, not straightening even once on her two feet. "Come on, Ashnah," she says softly, offering a hand.
Senusia turns back to Margaret, ignoring a particularly large chunk of rock falling onto the dais nearby, its dust scattering over them. She stands, bending over to lift Margaret, her own eyes shining bright.
Margaret slumps weakly into Senusia's arms, feet and arms dangling. She says, "... don't need help. Go away." Oddly, she sounds grateful.
Senusia clenches her jaw, moving Margaret off the dais. A small scarlet serpent suddenly streams out from one sleeve, heading as far away as possible.
Ashnah says "Margaret's brain parts are not speaking to her unity, they are damaged."
Ashnah drags itself to its feet, pulling itself up by Ameranth's arm.
Margaret dangles, weeping.
Ameranth picks up Ashnah when Senusia picks up Margaret, following the woman's cue. "I hope you do not mind, Ashnah," she says, heading /out/.
Miwa has left.
More rock-chips scatter, a pattering of stone on stone.
Ashnah says "The sigil of the Serpent is within her, she refuses to shift to become one with it."
Ashnah limps heavily, bruises spreading over its skin, as it follows Ameranth out.
Ameranth asks, confused, "What does /that/ mean?"
Ashnah leans heavily on Ameranth.
Senusia heads towards the main doors, moving around a chunk of stone in the way. "That. Is. Correct. Child." Each word an effort to control. "Outside!"
Ameranth leaves the Cathedral through the main doors.
Ameranth has left.
Ashnah is dragged out.
Ashnah leaves the Cathedral through the main doors.
Ashnah has left.
[ Entrance Hall of the Church of the Serpent
Just inside the massive gateway to the outside plaza is this redly lit corridor. With a turn and a twist along its length, it isolates you from the noise and distractions of the plaza outside -- the sounds here are the quiet never-ending sounds of the grand cathedral. The ceiling is high and arching between supporting pillars and beams; hanging on the walls at intervals are old tapestries depicting the Serpent-Who-Manifests-The-Logrus.
Smaller passageways and doors lead off further into the Cathedral, to various rooms such as clergy offices, libraries, and classrooms. At the end of the corridor is another immense set of doors, leading into the amphitheatre-like main area of the Cathedral.
Ashnah's hair sings brokenly, flailing at random, eyes continuing to stare blindly.
Margaret curls against Senusia, then arches her back violently, pushing into the air.
Ameranth helps Ashnah along, allowing it to limp along beside her even as she hurries it.
Senusia struggles to hold onto Margaret as best she can, a frightening look on her face.
Margaret screams, suddenly, "He PROMISED!" She makes a choking noise.
Ameranth asks Senusia, "Should we go out to the plaza?"
With a peculiar warping of vision and distance, a man clad in gold and tan is stretched through reality into the here and now. It quickly is clear that he is in rapid motion, and he collides into Margaret (and thus Senusia), causing a bit of a mass collapse.
Melloran has arrived.
Margaret shrieks at the top of her lungs, air warping and twisting in a heated mirage briefly before she goes down under Melloran's weight.
Ameranth turns fully at the shriek, gaping at the new man in the room.
Melloran defeats the value of landing atop the pile by hitting his head on a support pillar with a dull thud.
Senusia struggles to pull herself out from under Margaret and Melloran, glancing around quickly at the structure.
Margaret curls into a ball, smouldering vaguely.
Ashnah's ears close, and shift to small nubs, its hair laying flat against its head, all eyes closing.
Melloran seems, for the moment, to be going nowhere. His coat seems to also be smoking somewhat.
Ashnah's hair ripples, rising, and rubs against itself, singing softly, as its ears open and shift back into being.
Senusia sits back, looking now at Melloran. She stands up, and again lifts Margaret, trying her best to ignore any smoke. She clears her throat and says, "Outside. Get him."
Ameranth looks somewhat confused, "The man or Ashnah?" she asks, still holding onto the latter.
Melloran groans, and rolls over onto his back, looking up at the ceiling.
Melloran says "That hurt."
Margaret whimpers against Senusia, says, "He promised... he didn't," weakly.
Senusia looks pointedly at Melloran.
Melloran appears to be inspecting the ceiling. "This looks familiar."
Moderately tall and of unassuming build, Melloran is nevertheless difficult to ignore. Neither his orange-red hair and goatee nor his airy blue eyes are the reason; his slightly elfin features with the eternal hint of a smile are no cause for such attention. Perhaps it is his confident sense of self that causes such disturbance in the currents of social interaction; perhaps it is just a practiced skill.
Melloran wears a long jacket of richly decorated gold and tan; his tights match, as do his vest and the scarf about his neck. Beneath, he wears a frilled shirt of white silk, pinned near the throat with a round blue broach. Below white stockings, his shoes are understated, simply tan and undecorated.
Ameranth turns Ashnah towards the door. "Go on Ashnah, outside." She goes to Melloran, then, not realizing who he is of course. "Um, the ceiling is going to fall on you, Sir, if you do not join us in leaving."
Melloran says "Nonsense. I helped rebuild this ceiling, you know, after... that's a long story."
Melloran sits up. "Hello. Which one of you brought me here?"
Ameranth blinks at him. "Well," she says, less certainly, "Senusia said you should leave and that I should help you... Sir?"
Melloran squints at Ameranth, then looks around.
Ashnah walks shakily outside, limping badly.
Ashnah heads out through the archway to the plaza outside.
Ashnah has left.
Margaret breathes, labored, eyes alight.
Senusia eyes Melloran, as she moves towards the outer doors, half-dragging Margaret along.
[ The Plaza at the End of the World
You are in a wide plaza, open to the ever-changing sky of Chaos. The furniture here, scattered tables and chairs, is made from frozen fire, and it provides any illumination which the sky does not. The obsidian walkway around the Rim comes to either edge of the plaza. Outward lies the Cathedral of the Serpent and, beyond that, the Rim; inward lies the long way to Thelbane. Broad metal gates lie to the southwest, bearing a noticable caduceus emblem. The plaza is huge, though perspective is hard to judge here, as the landscape seems to shift and alter constantly at the edges of one's vision.
The grand archway entrance of the Church beckons, dominating the rimward side of the plaza. It is nigh impossible to not be overwhelmed by the grandeur of the massive stone building -- this is the ediface in which ceremonies of weddings and funerals of Kings and Princes have been performed, as well as the more day-to-day events, no less important for their commonality.
Melloran pauses in the archway, examining it.
Melloran says "Senusia, you say."
Ameranth nods, pointing to the Lady in question. "She is my ..."she looks a little uncertain, "aunt?"
Margaret mumbles, "It makes perfect sense, I know just what, what to d-do," forlornly.
Senusia heads towards the nearest set of tables and chairs, helping Margaret to sit, if possible. To her, she says, "Tell me, Lady."
Ashnah crouches, shifting various colors, the large bruises covering its body shifting only slightly, from the color of rotted meat to the color of clotted blood.
Melloran says "I'm sure I wouldn't know." He pauses to look at Senusia. "Say, isn't that Margaret Jesamine?"
Ameranth shrugs a little bit, "She is the Lady of the Church," she explains to Melloran, turning to look at Ashnah. "Are you all right?"
Ashnah whistles to itself, quietly, hair singing small bell-like tones into the air.
Ashnah says "We are cohesive."
Ashnah says "The unity of our selves is not intact, a number of us are dead."
Margaret collapses into a chair, half falling onto the table. She blinks owlishly at the mention of her name, says, "That's not me."
Ameranth kneels down by Ashnah, carefully. "Are you many people too?" she asks, softly.
Melloran walks towards Senusia and Margaret, looking curiously at Ashnah as he goes.
Ashnah's eyes shift down into a deep purple.
Ashnah says "We are one person."
Ashnah says "The Namer has told us this is so."
Ashnah says "But we are also the message of God."
"Then why do you say we?" Ameranth asks, "and who is God?"
Ashnah says "The Maker is God, is the Serpent, is Rac, is Chaos."
Senusia smooths Margaret's hair, sinking into a chair next to her. "Relax and focus, Lady Margaret."
Melloran stops, and turns to squint at Ashnah.
Ashnah's hair stops singing.
Melloran says "Did he say Rac?"
Ameranth thinks for a moment. "Rac is the purple one that Ryder showed me, right?"
Melloran looks at Ameranth. Looks at Ashnah. Gives up, turns around, and looks at Senusia.
Ashnah says "Belike. We said Rac, yes, m'lord."
Melloran says "Look, this is all very nice."
Melloran says "But I was on my way home, and this isn't it...now."
Melloran says "If you'll excuse me?"
Margaret's tangled hair snarls beneath Senusia's hand. She looks up at Melloran, eerie eyes wide.
Melloran pats his jacket, which only smokes somewhat.
Ameranth huhs, frowning a little in thought, distracted by Melloran, "Sir? Who are you, if I may ask?"
Senusia looks tiredly up at Melloran. "You appear to have been...caught by Lady Margaret. She is having some difficulties at this time."
Melloran smiles, without turning, and says, "You have asked."
Melloran says "Well, I wish you luck, and her. I always did like her... but no, I have business. Good turnings, then."
Melloran lifts his arms, and summons...nothing.
Ameranth proceeds to look quite confused, "Well... may you reply?"
Margaret says, agreeing with Senusia, "Everything's fine."
Melloran snaps, "I may, but I haven't," and tries again.
Senusia tilts her head, watching Melloran. "What is your name."
Melloran takes a deep breath.
Ashnah watches Melloran curiously.
Ashnah says "Are you from Amber?"
Ameranth says, vaguely, "He is too confusing to be from Amber."
Melloran says "Melloran of Evets of the House of Ditko. May I go now?"
Margaret says, wistfully, "I didn't... it wasn't my fault." This might be a first.
Melloran attempts again to create Logrus tendrils, to no avail.
Ameranth blinks at Melloran. "/Father/?" she says, in the blank sort of way one might say a word that, until now, never refered to the real thing.
Senusia starts to say something, then looks back at Margaret. "You cannot stay by yourself, this way."
Margaret struggles with words, says, "I know what to do, everyone helps me."
Melloran still declines to turn around. "If that's Shwetha, I have to ask what you've done to her, you know."
Senusia doesn't look up, but says, "That isn't Shwetha; that's Ameranth."
Ameranth just stares at the man turned away from her, emotions washing across her face too quickly to be discerned.
Melloran says "I don't think I know an Ameranth. Regardless, if my inability to leave here is a joke, it wears on my patience. I can't _be_ here."
Senusia tries again, "Lady Margaret, you are still struggling. You will have to survive this on your own, but you should have your family to guard you. Where are they?"
Melloran, despite his words, leans over and looks curiously at Margaret.
Margaret blinks up at Melloran.
Margaret says, pleased suddenly, "I don't remember you!"
Melloran says "How charming. I do remember you, though."
Ameranth finally pickes one emotion, a thread of laughter escaping her lips for a brief moment.
Melloran straightens, and looks at Senusia.
Margaret looks frustrated for a moment, and her eyes droop.
Senusia sighs and leans back, looking up at Melloran with a slight frown. "You are here now."
Melloran says "So it appears. But I shouldn't be."
Melloran adds, "You've grown."
Senusia says "That happens with time. Why shouldn't you be?"
Melloran says "I can't tell you that. Ask your father."
Senusia grunts, and looks down. "My father is dead." After a pause she adds, "Or at least quite gone."
Melloran says "Is he."
Melloran considers this, then diplomatically says, "My condolences."
Ashnah whistles to himself, in a two-toned counterpoint.
Margaret's bright gaze wanders, fastens onto Ashnah, distractedly.
Senusia looks back up, her eyes yellow. "Thank you."
Melloran waves his hand loosely behind him. "Family members, or wards of the Church...?"
Senusia says "Family." After a moment, she asks, "What were you doing, just before you arrived?""
Ameranth glances over at Ashnah. "Are you feeling better?" she asks it.
Melloran says "Going home. What has befallen the lady?"
Margaret says, apologetically, to Ashnah, "It wasn't my fault. I don't care one bit."
Senusia turns her gaze on Margaret. "She struggles with the Serpent's Sign."
Ameranth asks, a little exapirated, "What is the Serpent's Sign?"
Melloran laughs. "Don't we all. But I suppose you mean this is worse."
Ashnah looks at Margaret levelly.
Ashnah says "Shift, m'lady."
Ashnah says "The Serpent has given you a great test, prove you are equal to it."
Ashnah says "Or fail, and die."
Ashnah's eyes clear, becoming again crystal spheres.
Senusia gestures at the Cathedral, where broken bits of masonry can be seen.
Melloran says "Point taken."
Margaret says, unhappily, "I didn't even tr--" That frustrated look again, and her flaming eyes drop to her webbed fingers.
Ameranth sits back on her heels, looking about, confused.
Melloran runs his hand over his fairly short hair. "I seem to be the worse for wear, myself. I can't get where I was going, and I can't -- talk to your father. Is there still space for me?" He waves his hand at the Caduceus Gates.
Melloran doesn't wait for an answer, but turns towards the younger family members.
Senusia says "You were traveling--how?"
Melloran says "Ameranth, wasn't it? Give me time, and I will be glad to hear your story, hmm?"
Senusia says "And yes, of course. N'nok can show you to quarters."
Margaret's skin runs briefly, weakly, with flushed and distinct spirals, and her eyes droop further.
Ameranth looks up at Melloran, searching his face. Somewhat suspiciously, she replies, "All right." She faulters on a name to call him, subsiding into silence instead.
Melloran tells Senusia, behind his back, "The same way I just tried to leave. And I am glad to hear N'nok has not given in of age."
Melloran turns around yet again. "You know, this has left me quite thirsty."
Ashnah watches Margaret with a detached curiosity.
Senusia looks curiously at Margaret, but speaks to Melloran, "I do not think you have that gift any longer."
Senusia says "We will talk later, I am sure. I must see to Lady Margaret."
Melloran frowns at Senusia, but nods.
Ameranth asks, no one in particular, "Gift?"
Margaret takes a big, shuddering breath, and her skin darkens to gold in uneven, scattered patterns, then stops. Her head thunks forward onto the tabletop.
Melloran's face brightens again, and he says, "Then I'll be off to find that drink."
Melloran looks concernedly at Margaret, then looks at Senusia and shrugs.
Melloran wanders off towards the House.
Melloran walks through the open gates and into the courtyard beyond.
Melloran has left.
Senusia signals an acolyte, who runs off in the direction of the central Courts.
Ameranth asks, softly, "Can I help, Senusia?"
Senusia rubs her forehead. "No, thank you, Ameranth."
Ameranth glances over at Ashnah. "If you wouldn't mind," she says, softly, "I would like to go to my rooms."
Senusia says "Of course."
Senusia beckons Ashnah over.
Ameranth smiles a little. "I... hope to see you again soon, Ashnah."
Ashnah walks over to Senusia, limping.
Margaret mumbles something incomprehensible against the tabletop.
Senusia considers Ashnah. "You will heal?"
Ameranth bcks away from them, heading towards the gates to Amblerash's abode.
Ashnah says "We will."
Ameranth walks through the open gates and into the courtyard beyond.
Ameranth has left.
Ashnah says "We have been through much, much worse."
Senusia nods. "I was concerned."
Ashnah says "Will Margaret shift soon enough?"
Margaret opens her eyes blearily, looks up at Ashnah and Senusia from
behind the tangle of her hair.
Senusia says "If the Serpent wills, yes. Pray that it is so."
Ashnah says "We will."
Margaret can't manage words for once; her face's expression is full of sorrow and regret, weariness.
Senusia says "Why do you struggle against the Sign, Lady Margaret? I do not understand how..this can be."
Senusia looks almost lost, for a moment. "If my Father were here.. but no."
Margaret's mouth opens, closes, and she says, with effort, "... pen?"
Senusia starts to raise a hand, then stops and looks at the nearest hovering acolyte, making a quick few signs. The acolyte runs into the Cathedral, and soon returns, bearing pen and paper.
Margaret tilts onto her side, a vague hopefulness floating over her face. She says, "It was pink."
Senusia hands Margaret the pen. Grey, plain. "Like this?"
Margaret takes the pen between trembling webbed fingers, and pulls the paper over. She takes a breath, then another. She guides the pen around, ink in a decreasing circle, spiraling inward.
Senusia watches Margaret draw. "What is it?"
Margaret's eyes close, open. She writes, barely legible, "feet".
Senusia repeats, "Feet."
Margaret scrawls a line between the word and the spiral, connecting them.
Margaret says "It had ribbons on, on i-it."
Ashnah looks on curiously.
Senusia says "Feet, or the spiral?"
Margaret shakes her head, frustrated again. The pen taps on the paper, sending ink-blots scattering.
Senusia takes the pen from Margaret. "No, you must calm yourself, so you can focus. And rest."
Margaret makes a whimpering noise as the pen is taken from her. She says, "Yes..." and reaches for it.
Senusia hands the pen back after a moment of consideration. "You should rest, so your mind may clear easier. Then tell me what you can remember."
Margaret clutches the pen, panicked.
Margaret wraps her webbed fingers around the pen tightly, and puts her head back down on the table.
Ashnah's hair sings briefly, then it bows to Senusia.
Ashnah says "Good turnings, mother."
Ashnah turns and limps towards Amblerash.
Ashnah has left.
Senusia sighs and murmurs to herself. Then calls the last waiting priest over, and gives him strict instructions to watch Margaret until her family comes, and to call her if anything changes.
Senusia stands up and heads for Amblerash's gates. "May the Serpent Bless you, not Curse you, Lady Margaret."