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Volakiri. It was a bond between a celestial and valkyr. Something that the wayfinder had known nothing of until Atticus had returned to the tribe and revealed how he used to have one before he died. From that moment Ophelia had been researching everything she could about it and she had discovered many things, first and foremost, that it was likely to be her best chance of keeping her people safe in a time where tensions were rising and visions were beginning to haunt her and make major indents on her life.
She didn’t know why she felt so nervous; Ophelia had known Gideon for a good 2 years now and he had been a solid ally for her kind, he provided her a shield when she knew he didn’t have to and had been fighting her corner when it came to the other ambassadors since. Ophelia had no doubts in the valkyr’s dedication to the alliance but she had always been questioning what was in it for him, especially because it put Gideon on the opposite side to the Ailward. But hearing about the bond, now it all made sense, they were drawn to each other in a strange way, bonded through their roots and what they were.
And so she found herself walking up the steps to the valkyr faction house. She’d never actually come here alone before, not that she was afraid, the wayfinder didn't really get afraid anymore, not for herself anyway, she was far past that. She was hoping Gideon would be here because she knew there was only so long she could hold onto what she had learned before she needed to take action on it. Truthfully she wanted to deepen the alliance because she knew it was a lifeline and she was starting to feel like she was running out of those.
And so she knocked on the door before entering the reception area and calmly asking for an audience with the Valkyrie. The sweet-seeming male invited her to take a seat while he relayed the message which she took graciously. The raven-haired female’s eyes drifted around the entry hall taking in the decor, it was quite similar to the castle in that it was attempting to be home like but also had a certain aged look to it. Like the people who lived there, in both cases, she supposed.
Gideon had to remind himself that this was a new and foreign journey for both of them, until a short time ago he hadn’t believed in the Volakiri bond. Like ghosts or demons, the Valkyrie had been of the firm opinion that the bond was a myth, something his people had created in order to make the Celestial’s less powerful in the species mind. It seemed as if he had been wrong, however, especially as Celia had come home and announced her Volakiri was alive. He nodded his head, the idea that already his bonded Kira was trying not to be intrusive despite the very nature of their bond was adorable. “No, I have no room to be judgemental and have no intention of beginning to be.”
Her question intrigued him, the thought of having her in his mind was daunting but the more he thought about it he was sure of the answer. “No. Like anything I believe I will grow accustomed to the connection and even rely on it for some things.” Which meant in layman's terms he would be relying on her and that didn’t make him uncomfortable at all. Ophelia, though new to the Ambassador title and job, had proven to be both discerning in her leadership abilities, sound in her judgment of people, and incredibly protective when it came to her people. Loyalty, protectiveness, valor, and honor were all things he had valued in his first life and even more so once becoming a Valkyr so it made sense that they would be drawn together into a bond.
Thinking about the event that had led to his becoming a creature of shadow, Gideon became quiet and pensive. Though he remembered what had lead to the fight and the flash of light that accompanied the swell of power he couldn’t remember anything more until he woke up. Great sadness had consumed him viewing the devastation and realizing just how many other lives had been claimed by the expulsion of power. He’d spent many of his beginning years wondering what had made him so special and what exactly it was that had given him this second life. “It was a very sorrowful situation to be sure.” Despite all of the changes he had been forced to acclimate to it was still the loss of life that hit him far harder than being the progenitor of a new species.
His lips turned up slightly in a sardonic smile as his eyes met hers, “It was surreal at first, like something out of a tale that mother’s told their children in order to make them behave. Then the hunger grew more fierce and the first feeding was terrifying, both for myself and my victim.” Reaching up Gideon scrubbed a hand over his face as the elder male's visage swam in his mind. “Then being able to melt into pure shadow was exhilarating and with more practice, I found that I could disappear into the darkness completely.” He paused, thinking about the right words to phrase exactly what he had felt, “It was overwhelming and yet liberating at the same time. I took things day by day.” His old life had been full of service to a certain degree and he was always less than, but with his new manifestation, he was reborn into his own entity.
Understanding where she was coming from the Valkyrie nodded his head, as her sentiment was one he knew many leaders engaged in. It was always a conundrum, whether forging a brand new path was easier than possibly veering off course from one already traveled by many. “I think that if you characterize it as living in the shadow of another you will always think of yourself as less or lacking in some manner. Instead, look at yourself as a new tree planted in a well-known grove. The soil may have held many other mighty trees before you, but it’s your roots that are spreading there now. The sun shines for you and the rains nourish you, therefore the land is yours to do with as you please. For better or worse.” He had no idea if that helped at all or if she even understood the analogy but it’s what he believed.
She agreed with him, there was no reason to be judgmental, as someone who had lived a long time now and seen many things, she had learned to accept there were many differences in people and how they lived their lives and actually came to respect them “Exactly, we’re both seen and done more than the average person, some of it is good, some of it is bad, but it equates to one overall life” that’s how she saw it, you weren’t just the sum of your mistakes. “Me too, a part of me hates to admit that I need help but I’m also not foolish enough to refuse it at this point either” she was stubborn but she didn’t have a death wish she supposed was the best way of putting it, besides she definitely saw something in Gideon and truly believed they could help one another, there were broken parts inside of both of them but whenever they were together, things felt just a little easier and she felt like this bond now reflected that.
“Aren’t most people’s supernatural stories?” she commented thinking about all the people she had met and the lives they led, either they were fleeting, almost seeming like they had been and gone in the blink of an eye because they were human or they were filled with many years of seeing a lot of the worst of the world, she wasn’t even sure which was worse at this point. “I don’t know about you but I have very rarely met someone with lives like ours who actually had a more positive than negative experience” Gideon quite literally had to go through death in his, that definitely had to take its toll and then there was her, who fell from the sky with no idea who she was or what she was supposed to do only to find her people and discover they were under attack from hunters. All her people had similarly sad stories because of the fleeing and constant fear for their own lives and it was only in the past few years they’d actually had a real chance to breathe.
She nodded slowly as he explained his process of understanding what he had become, she could imagine it was scary at first because the hunger and specifically the food source that hunger was tied to might make someone believe they were now a monster and perhaps in some cases that was true, she had definitely heard of Valkyr going completely off the rails and giving in completely to the bloodlust “I guess it was a lot of power to gain at one time but then also a lot of negative side effects too” the idea of death did freak her out a little she had to admit, there was little known about what actually happened when you died if you weren’t lucky enough to be brought back “Taking things day by day is definitely something I understand” she empathized with a soft smile “In fact, it’s something I still do even now” she admitted with a soft grin, there was no knowing what came next so taking what happened in small manageable bits was how she just about managed to hold it together.
She tilted her head a little as she listened to him talk, he always had this wise and well-spoken way of expressing his thoughts which she resonated with, like everything he had experienced had come together to give him these very broad and very open views on the world “You’re right, I should see it brighter than I do” she spoke it in a soft voice, she definitely had this habit of putting her own self down and wondering why it was her who was chosen to be the leader and what about her made her the best choice. “I guess it doesn’t really help when ghosts from the past quite literally keep coming back and reminding me of how things were before I was me” it wasn’t like people like Emilia were just distant memories, there were many Celestials that knew her, remembered her and no doubt compared Ophelia to her. “I’m working on carving my own path, finding them peace in this city cause god if anyone deserves peace, it’s them” and she really hoped she could deliver it “What kind of leader do you aim to be?” she asked it curiously, he was one but she wasn’t sure how defined his choice in becoming on was.
As his thoughts dwelled on all the stories he had been told, the lives that had ebbed and flowed both with and against time in the supernatural world there were very few that weren’t steeped in sadness and struggle. Her question was no doubt rhetorical and yet there was so much truth in that one question that the Valkyrie couldn’t help but smile. It had always been something he had wondered at, watching how the people with powers and abilities seemed to be thrown in the path of adversity far more than the normal human being. Like the universe was balancing out gifts and immortality with strife and heartache, tipping the scales so that supernatural beings experienced life through a darker lens. “I suppose you are correct.”
Nodding his head in more agreement Gideon sat back on the couch, becoming a little bit more relaxed now that things were settling. The conversation helped both his mind and body ease from the tension that had nearly permeated the air as their bond was forged. “I think that is how most of us live, with each day comes new possibilities and new obstacles. We can take lessons from the past and apply them to today but tomorrow is shrouded in darkness. Why focus on what you cannot see?” Of course most humans didn’t take that view, their mortality making it impossible for them to focus on anything but the present. Regret for past mistakes and planning or fretting over what could be clouded the moment that they were firmly planted in. He’d only met perhaps two or three mortals who were enlightened enough to realize that the future was a wasted endeavor.
Looking over at her the Valkyr grinned, running a hand through his already unruly dusty charcoal locks. Ghosts had a way of cropping up when a person least expected it and there was nothing worse than having to deal with one that was not of your own making. Then again, being the progenitor of his race, all of Gideon’s ghosts were of his own creation. “I think ghosts of that nature should be treated as you would an unwanted relative. Be polite and kind, but ignore them when the mood and time suits you.” He chuckled as he imparted that particular jewel of wisdom, as he had had some wide ranging experience in dealing with that type of woe. What the male had found was dwelling and worrying over the expectations others placed upon you in the force of another’s shadow was about as effective as worrying about the wind.
Once more she gave him a question that made him think, his brows knitting together as his mind chewed over that particular conundrum. “To be perfectly honest I hadn’t ever really thought about it.” His lips pressed together as he ran through the Valkyr that were currently residing within the city as well as those who were abroad. “I would like to think that I am an effective and compassionate leader that provides stability and support for my people.” The thing was, leadership wasn’t always that simple. “Unfortunately I believe I come off as a hovering parent to some, disciplining and building boundaries as well as enforcing self control. I am a therapist to others. A law man to a very sad and misguided sect. And…” Gideon heaved a great sigh, “A villain to the idle few who didn’t have a choice in the tapestry of their life.”
His mind specifically centered on Aurelia, her hatred of him far outpaced the sadness she felt as being left bereft of her wings. Then to Elijah who had been on a continuing crusade to retain his magic of an unfortunate explosion had wreathed him from the shadows. Followed by Fiona whose untimely murder and resurrection as a Valkyr had robbed her of her own child and the fires that had once burned so brightly within her soul and at her command. There were of course countless others that he didn’t want to name that had been stripped of their once supernatural identities and quite literally been tossed into the shadows.
Another deep and forlorn sigh escaped him as Gideon’s eyes met Ophelia’s, “Sometimes we don’t get a choice, we have to deal with the cards we have been dealt and forge on ahead.”
“Unfortunately” she echoed when he pointed out her correct statement, she did truly wish that people could live normal and happy lives but it very rarely seemed to be the case and the longer you lived the more likely you were to experience hardship. He was right though, dwelling on a future you could not see or predict was exhausting and put you in this state of constant worry that you would lose what you currently had, she hated that feeling but she was sure they were all guilty of feeling it sometimes “It doesn’t stop us from wandering there subconsciously though, does it?” sometimes you just wished the future could be better or that you could know what would happen in the future so you could prepare for it “Then again, I’m able to see the future from time to time so maybe my perspective is skewed” sometimes it was even hard to tell the difference between a dream and a vision.
She laughed under her breath at the way he described ghosts like they were unwanted family “Can’t say I know the experience of an unwanted relative but I certainly understand having people you are polite with but also don’t have much liking for” she had to play nice with the Ailward faction because of their power and the risk they posed to her people but that didn’t mean she had to like them or tolerate them longer than necessary. She glanced at him wondering about his own experience with facing people from his past “You must have experienced a whole range of people in your life huh?” she had seen many of them when they were forming their bond but she was almost certain there was more to it than that.
Whenever she asked herself that question she found it hard to separate her own wants from this desire to follow after the Wayfinder who came before her, to her, Emilia was this legendary figure who had done so many things to protect and care for her people and it honestly felt impossible for Ophelia to live up to her, despite the fact she tried to anyway. She nodded thoughtfully at the way he described his leadership and she got this certain impression from him “So what you’re saying is that mostly people see the thing they want to see” and that meant there was very little you could do to change their impression “So you’re the strict and a little overbearing parent huh?” it was all out of care though, she knew that without him saying it. Sometimes she felt she wasn’t fierce enough which it came to being a leader but a part of her would always be compassionate first.
She gave a slow nod of her head as she took in what he explained “It means sense, it’s kinda like a lose-lose situation because no matter what you do, someone is going to see it the opposite way” for example she had been working to ease relations with the Ailward faction for the overall safety of her faction but it came at a cost of tension with those who would rather take a stand against them, leaving her trying to mediate.
“No I suppose it doesn’t. I believe that is part of the mortal in us all, the unstoppable and unquenchable curiosity that has all of us straining to pierce the shrouded veil of the future.” It always amazed Gideon how even those of his own species were constantly trying to see and guess what was to come, even after failing over and over again. The Valkyrie even found himself pondering on that subject occasionally, even with all of his time and experience he still fell prey to the urge. His hazel hues looked over her face as she talked about getting snippets of the future, “Even that I believe would be tempting and yet deceiving, as things are always shifting and changing based upon choices.” It was the universal constant, everything based upon the whims of each and every individual that was living at each moment.
The Valkyr male smiled, knowing what it was like to not have any family so in that regard they were in the same boat. Then again there were members of his faction that he considered his family, individuals who had been with him since near the very beginning. His memories of his human life were faded, like old photographs in a photo album that had been left to age in an attic. After all the many many years he had been existing as a Valkyr, yet he could remember that he hadn’t had a family then either. Sitting back against the cushions Gideon stretched his limbs, his head tilting a bit as he considered her question. “I believe I have. People of all ages and species and variations in nationality, sex, and beliefs.” That thought made him chuckle a little, all the many faces he had encountered filtering through his mind in a slide show of humanity. “I would have believed that like events in history people who eventually start repeating themselves, similarities would emerge and ultimately living beings would become redundant. The truth is I have never met two individuals who have been exactly alike and have yet to. It’s fascinating to think about.”
Shifting to the subject of her predecessor the Valkyrie could see how much his observation had bothered her, feeling a bit of sadness through their link. “Unfortunately yes. There may be some that you can sway, your actions breaking through the picture they may have of you but the truth is most will continue to see what they want to see. No matter how hard you may try to show them otherwise.” He knew that fact first hand and had come to terms with it long ago. “The trick is to not care. Move past that need to have them see you as you would like, and simply...not care.” Of course he knew that was easier said than done but it could be done. The male laughed out loud at her summation of his leadership style, knowing that she had hit the nail on the head. “Yes I suppose that is accurate.”
He could feel and knew intuitively where her mind was dwelling while she voiced her response, the situation between the Ailwards and her own people was tenuous at best. He could imagine that many of the Celestials held a pretty substantial grudge and who could blame them. Her struggle to bring some sort of peace and security for her species with the people who had held them in captivity was an ambitious undertaking. “I wouldn’t characterize it as a lose-lose situation. You are doing what you believe is best for you people and no matter who may disagree in the end it is your choice that will lead the way.” Perhaps his viewpoint came on the heels of hundreds of years as a leader but it was the only perspective he knew. “Your judgment is ultimately what will lead the way for the Celestials, do you think what you are doing is the wrong move?” It was a serious question and one that would tell him all he needed to know about her state of mind.
“I guess it’s only natural to wonder what the point is huh?” even if you weren’t mortal and everything continued endlessly, you still wondered if there was a point, something you were supposed to achieve, some sort of goal to reach. “It’s frustrating more than anything, knowing that the world wants to tell you something but not knowing what to do with that information, it's overwhelming” she let out a soft sigh, it could be exhausting at times she had to admit but she had managed to learn some things which helped her so she supposed it wasn’t all bad. She smiled as he talked about the range of people he had met in his years, she had made the same observation over the years, no matter how many people you met, they managed to make a different, unique impression once you got to know them “There’s a certain peace to that, knowing that no matter how many thousands of years pass, there will always be one you” she liked the idea of that, it reminded her of a certain significance she held.
She nodded slightly, he was right, the only way to ever get past the fact that other people tended to jump to conclusions was to stop caring what they thought and find a way to move forward, of course, that was much easier to say than it was to practice “Perhaps one day I’ll figure out how to perfect that” she responded and chuckled under her breath, she definitely wasn’t great at it right now but she had improved a lot over the years. “I find it easier to disregard the thoughts of strangers but there’s always going to be a part of me that cares what the people closest to me think” when she made a decision it normally didn’t affect her only and she always felt keenly away of that. “I don’t think it’s always a bad thing to care a little though” that was what made you a leader over a dictator after all.
There was always going to be a part of her that questioned her decisions because of where her previous ones led, she had to wonder if was doing the right thing for her people at every turn, she definitely wasn’t the perfect leader, sometimes she even wondered why she had been chosen to be the Wayfinder and not someone else “I believed the choices I made before were for the best and look where those led us” she spoke softly and then grimaced slightly, still, she put her everything into this part she had to play “I guess what frustrates me is having no idea if this is the right call” she knew that was a part of making decisions, not knowing how they would turn out but you could say she was paranoid that she was cursed to make the wrong decision by now “Leadership isn’t easy huh?” she made an effort to offer him a slight smile
“But I have a good feeling...Evermore feels...different” she nodded slightly and the alliance with the Valkyr would only help her people to feel more at ease in the city. “I’m going to tell the others about the bond...so they can make their own choices about whether they want to seek one for themselves” she imagined some of them would, because of the protection that it could offer them, something they had been lacking for a while.
“Just one.” He echoed with a smile, knowing that many people took comfort in knowing that there would never be another like them. It made each choice and each mark they left upon the world at large and the people around them all the more important. For beings such as himself and Ophelia, the knowledge was even more special, that their actions would leave ripples and waves through time that could not be duplicated. It also meant he wasn’t going to run into some younger and mortal version of himself later on down the road. The very thought made him shiver.
Chuckling the Valkyrie nodded, knowing exactly what she meant. “I don’t think it’s quite an art that one can get down, or learn to perfect. I believe it’s more a..practice.” He paused trying to find a parallel, “Like yoga. Just when you think you might have learned it all and mastered it all they find some new way to test your body and skills.” A slight blush slowly worked up his cheeks as Gideon revealed a small piece of himself that not too many people knew. It was a small thing, but yoga was one of his secret obsessions. Her comment sobered him a little, his dark head nodding in response once more. “Caring a little is essential but there is a balance. Taking into account what others think while also remembering that the decision is ultimately yours. Those on the outside may not have the bigger picture and thus might not have in mind the long term goals.” Even the Valkyr fell prey to hubris and many of them had been his very dear friends, believing that they knew better than he did and yet their minds were so very short-sighted.
Gideon scooted closer to Phe once more, gently taking her hands in his while he stared into her eyes. This decision they had made was irreversible, now that they were bound there was no taking it back and they would reap the effects and rewards for the rest of their unnatural lives. “Do you believe in your heart that what has been done here today was the right call? Not just for your people but for you?” If he could teach her anything it was that once a decision was made the consequences were out of her hands, she needed to stick with it and see the entire thing through. While he had had his misgivings in the beginning the Valkyr now knew that this was the right path. Not just for their people but for them as individuals and now as a bonded pair. He smiled at her rhetorical comment, the smile on her face both knowing and genuine. “The person who says it is needs to step down. When other lives are in your hands nothing is ever easy, or completely right.”
Nodding as she affirmed what he already knew the male rubbed his palms along his thighs and thought about the logistics of letting his own people know. “As will I. I have a feeling more will undergo the bond than either you or I can guess at. It’s a scary step but once it is taken the benefits far outweigh any trepidation one might have had.” On that note he reached into his back pocket and pulled out his wallet, extracting a business card from it’s depths. “This is my personal line. Put it on speed dial, at least until we can communicate through other means across long distances. Do not hesitate to reach out for anything.” He paused, thinking for a moment, “In fact we should probably find a time soon to get together and test the capabilities of our bond. Practice, after all, makes perfect.” He shot her wink as he slowly rose from the couch, stretching languidly.
She nodded slightly, it was important to remind yourself sometimes of your own importance and acknowledge your own achievements and progress. Otherwise, it became very easy to get stuck in the negative and wonder what your places as and how other people saw you when compared with others. That bubble was one that was hard to break out of it so she tried to think positively where she couldn’t. She agreed when he said it could be hard to ever perfect something “I guess you could see it as continually growing as a person” she liked to think she was a stronger and better-balanced person now, someone who was able to stand for what she believed in and hold true to her belief “Same as becoming more flexible” she teased noting that the way he had mentioned yoga definitely seemed to be from experience rather than a random analogy he pulled out of the air.
She nodded slightly, being a leader, it was much like what they were talking about before, there was no guarantee the decision they were making was the right one and there was no predicting every knock-on consequence or how someone might feel about what happened. That was the reality of the world they were in and to deny it was to spend your time striving for a perfection that didn’t exist. “I just want to be happy” she confessed in a soft voice “I want them all to be happy” but herself too, even if that was a little selfish, that was the only thing she had been searching for. She glanced down to his hands in hers before lifting her gaze to his. There wasn’t a doubt in her head that she had made the right choice, she could practically feel the empathy and strength coming from him now and it made her feel stronger for it “Yes” she responded without needing to contemplate it “It’s going to be an...adjustment for both of us but I already feel better for it...stronger” she was sure they made up one another’s shortcomings in some way.
She laughed when he said people who believed leadership was easy was not fit for the role “I guess I’ve spent a lot of time wondering why it was me that was chosen” she commented thoughtfully, she didn’t see herself as particularly charismatic but perhaps her own view of herself wasn’t what others saw. “But then I think...probably every Wayfinder before me probably thought the same thing” she laughed under her breath. Deciding to tell others about the bond, she knew it could be risky, she could already sense in small ways the negative effects it may have and having only experienced it herself today, there were still a lot of unknown factors “It’s their choice, just like this choice was ours” she wasn’t going to make anyone but it was hard to deny the additional safety and closeness it brought to both factions.
She took the business card from him and laughed slightly “Very professional” she commented as she tucked it into her pocket and nodded, she would send him a message later so they could contact one another whenever they needed to. She got to her feet, it still felt a little surreal but she knew in her heart that this felt right, that she would be stronger for this and that would help her to become a better leader in return. “That sounds both intriguing and terrifying at the same time” she commented as she hovered around the doorway “Thank you, Gideon, I don’t take the choice you made today lightly” she nodded her head slowly, it was a scary leap to make after all, for both of them.