The blood on the map slowly began to trail around the North America continent, going zigzag every few seconds which was starting to make Malva go crazy at the mere sight of it. Her icy blue hues was trying her very best to keep up with the updates but it kept going around and it was slowly frustrating the Aspect of Magic. It was granted that Malva Ailward was never the most patient when it comes to anything, but her tolerance still had its own level that she still hasn't played with the top. She's been spending her entire day trying to track where Octavia and Vladimir might have gone to before all of this. Before she could even pinpoint any actual location, the trail of blood stopped and the map burned itself, which caused her to step back slightly and groaned out in distress. “What the hell, this is like my 6th map I've used today.” she grumbled to herself and averted her eyes away from the burning map and to a dozen more maps rolled up, standing idly by at the corner of her bed.

To say she was stressed would be an understatement, because she wouldn't even be surprised if she grew crazy because of this one thing. As she watched the map slowly burned itself to ashes on the table, she sighed and massaged her temple before lowering her touch to the bridge of her nose and mumbled a few words of profanities under her breath. Thankfully the fire didn't eat up her mahogany desk, just the map. Which was weird. But since they live in a highly questionable supernatural world, nothing comes as a surprise anymore. Malva decided to do one more try before giving up for today. Yes, for today. She threw the ashes into her dustbin and spread a map on the table.

Taking the silver dagger she usually used for her ritualistic spells and ceremonies, the brunette Ailward made a clean cut on her right palm before letting the blood drip on the map for a while. Slowly inhaling the air inside her room, she wrapped a cloth around her palm, which had unfortunately suffered at least 6 times, from her attempts to conduct a locator spell using blood magic to find out where their two finest guards could have been during their mission. Octavia didn't remember anything and she couldn't get anything that would truly help her with this search, so it was up to Malva to see if she can retrace their steps back. Though her attempts were always futile since her first try. Closing her eyes briefly, she mumbled the spell and fluttered them open once she finished. The blood once again trailed to another continent, this time the same as her first try; Middle East.

Without thinking much of it, due to her repressed state, the map caught on fire, but this time it came from the frustrated Ailward Aspect. She threw the map into the dustbin, leaving it to burn to all its might and plopped herself on the bed, covering her face with one of the pillows. It wasn't until a few minutes later that she jolted back up to sitting position, and mumbled one name and rushed to exit her room to god knows where. Really, that was just her going to get some coffee in the kitchen because her head couldn't take the pressure without coffee to aid her day.

What the Aspect of Magic did not expect to find was a rather particular blonde sitting by the greenhouse while she was halfway pouring herself a cup. She got herself another cup and poured the same amount before she make her way to the location. Pushing the glass door to the greenhouse, she pursed her lips slightly and frowned softly. She hated seeing her so sad. “I planted those carnations a while back.” She stood by the corner, with two mugs in both hands. She was itching to offer the drink, two reasons why; Octavia looks like she's in need of one, and her right palm was still wounded due to her reckless action earlier. Malva took a seat next to the nephilim on the bench and offered her one. “You look like you need coffee.. And someone to talk to.” Her tone was soft, which wasn't always used around, but when Malva cares, she shows them. 

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Vladimir had never been Octavia's single reason, she wasn't the kind of person to revolve her entire life around someone else but Vlad had been her partner, her teammate and without him she felt like she had a lost a lot of her strength, like a piece of her had been taken away with him and she wasn't certain she would ever get it back again. Part of her didn't even want to because the pain was the only thing that was keeping her from going entirely numb. Octavia knew she would survive this, she was too strong not to, but she knew there would always be a scar she carried with her now.

And as sadistic as it probably sounded out loud, having a major threat to face up against was probably a good thing for her because it afforded her no time for sitting in her bed for hours and wallowing and it gave her someone or something to hate. She knew holding on to negative emotions was dangerous but it was all she had at the moment. Figuring out the truth behind what happened was all she wanted to do.

“Unfortunately I don’t think it matters what we want the world to be, it just is” she commented with a shrug of her shoulders, it was a waste of time to wish things were different if you couldn’t change them “We just have to make the best decisions we can with the information we have and hope that we didn’t royally screw it up” and considering all the factors there were, the likelihood of that happening was very high, but they were people, not Gods and if the Gods wanted perfect decisions they should have done the work themselves.

“Is running away from problems normal?” Octavia questioned rhetorically as she pondered it for a moment “I guess it is, it’s always easier to focus on something else instead of the root of the problem” she shrugged a little, it was why people always went around blaming others for their own sadness. The green eyed female shook her head when Malva said she couldn’t afford to make mistakes though “What you can’t afford, is to do nothing, if you make a mistake, you fix it, but not trying is the real crime” she was adamant about that, people who sat and watched the world pass by them because they were too afraid to do anything about it were so much worse than those who made mistakes while their intentions were in the right place. Seeing the way the aspect was trying to shrink herself down Octavia shook her head pressing a finger under her chin and forcing her to look up at her “Malva if I can take the sourest lemon life has to offer then you can get through this” she nodded softly. The aspect was stronger than she gave herself credit for.

When she heard the aspect talk about leaving her expression faltered for just a second though, Octavia had lost a lot, more than most people would be able to handle normally but she wasn’t just anyone, the Nephilim had always been told she had a will of steel and no matter how hard she got kicked down, she somehow always found a reason to get back up “We all have our selfish moments, I doubt there’s a single immortal out there that hasn't experienced it” she admitted with a half shrug of her shoulders, she had, but she had always been reminded of reasons she was needed. “I don’t think this place would feel the same without the chaos that comes with it” she admitted with an amused look “I know you were chosen to be one of the 8 protectors of the world Mal, but it’s okay to admit you’re not superwoman, it’s okay to need help” Tavia nodded, hell she wasn’t either.

Octavia rolled her eyes a little, she’d had this discussion so many times with so many different people and every time it came down to the not wanting to be burdened topic “I want to be burdened, I quite literally signed on to this cause to be burdened, I, myself, made a choice to do this, same as Vlad did, same as both my children did” her green eyes were stern “None of us need you to protect us, we need you to treat us as a teammate, because that’s what we are” she hated the us and them mentality that somehow snuck in, everyone here was an equal member to the Ailward cause, everyone here dedicated their life to it, aspect or not. “You just have to let people be here for you, as you are for them” she nodded, the Ailward cause and her family was all she had to cling to at the moment so she knew the feeling well.

Octavia laughed when Mal made an attempt to threaten her, she could tell it was lighthearted, she knew Mal’s sense of humor pretty well now, it was dry and harsh at times but then so was Octavia’s so it kinda worked for them. The words she spoke caused the Guard to shrug her shoulders a little “No, I don’t think that’s bad” she answered as she pressed her lips together “If anything it’s just honest” she admitted with a half smile “I’m not happy either” she confessed with a sad look in her eyes, how could she be with everything she had just lost “The question is whether you can see yourself being happy again” and the possibility of that was what got her out of bed in the morning, because she had a son and daughter who still had so much ahead of them.

She could see the frustration evident on Malva’s face and she couldn’t even imagine how it might feel to lose something that you felt like was such a huge part of who she was “No I get it” she stated with a soft nod, but ignoring the message the dreams were trying to tell her was only ever going to make things worse right. It was a really bad time for the aspect of magic to be losing her magic but she didn’t Malva for that, how could she. It was amazing anyone was functioning at all after all they had been through. “I’m not sure what else I can suggest, it’s not like I’m having much luck with my own sleep after all” she pursed her lips a little.

For some reason, Malva was able to resonate better with people who’s known the pain of the world than those who still have yet to receive the ultimatum. It wasn’t that she didn’t know how to interact or talk to those people, she does. Despite her abysmal bedside manner, the Aspect of Magic is nurturing in her own right, it was the better part of her vices; which was understanding and caring. Unfortunately, after a while, only a few managed to see them, most, if not all hailing from one similarity neither one of them differ from, originating from the Ailward faction. The other friends she had outside her own faction would’ve either kicked the bucket centuries ago or they’re off somewhere in the world doing their own business.

So now the only company she had around was that her pet tiger cub, Constance, who sometimes intimidate everyone else from approaching her even more, and the flowers growing in the greenhouse. Her room became messy most of the time so if it wasn’t the library, it’s easier to find the Ailward Aspect in here, instead. Finding Octavia, there wasn’t surprising, seeing as the entire glass-made dome was built on the sole purpose to give them solace. It was a place no one could interrupt their train of thoughts. There were aesthetically pleasing decorations to look around, alongside the plethora of colorful flowers blooming from each corner, and plenty of oxygenated air to go around; the perfect place to rest your mind after a long day.

“That sucks...you’re supposed to do this and that, but the circumstances aren’t helping either. How are you able to succeed in shaping it if neither element would assist you in this said ‘endeavor’?” she asked, it really didn’t make sense to her, in quite a literal one. Octavia wasn’t wrong in any of it, it’s just frustrating for the brunette to think how the world doesn’t seem like it wanted any hand in helping them, even though they were a literally manufactured species created by them. The sudden mention of screwing up did send her spiraling downstairs though, the idea of something going wrong just irks her, and it was more than her perfectionist self jumping out of the bag. “What if we do screw up, though? No, what if we already did? Is there any closure to that?” There were so many questions running through that head of hers, mixed with other stuff she wasn’t even sure if it’s important or not.

Between juggling between her Aspect duties and managing her element, it’s becoming a bit tiring and it’s slowly eating Malva up from inside. Hearing that it was fine to run away from their problems, Mal felt slightly relieved that there was someone else who thought the same. After all, at the end of the day, they were still just people, blessed with a few supernatural abilities that would later become their advantages, but still just yet people. They were immortal, but not expendable, unfortunately. Trying, there were times when all the Russian born female could think of, as other possible solutions to solve from one problem to another. But then again, there was only so much one could do, and from afar, even she could see that her siblings and guards alike were slowly deteriorating. They feel burdened by something, and with the platter getting piled up, there’s only a matter of time when they’d explode.

Being treated as more than the Aspect of Magic does remind Mal of the life she currently leads, and especially hearing them from a maternal figure, it means so much more. Most people forget that the Ailward Aspect is still a child, in so many ways, and whilst she doesn’t display any childish antics, that’s only because she wasn’t able to. Malva had to grow up faster than she was supposed to, and maybe once there was a time when she’s lounge around and follows her guard into the world, behaving much like an estranged teenager. But the past is the past. “Let’s hope I can. I don’t want to leave my work undone...That would’ve been awful.” Is it okay to admit she’s not cut out for this anymore?

Mal knew to talk to the younger nephilim was a good remedy, but never once did she think it would be them talking to one another regarding their ‘problems’, but Malva is closer to the Ivakovs and Dimitreus than other guards, so there wasn’t a surprise in that, seeing as they’ve worked alongside each other as one family for a millennium. “I think I do… need help, I mean,” she murmured faintly, her tone barely audible, making it sound slightly more squeaky. “I don’t feel like myself as of late. I thought it’s the whole sleep-deprived state, but turns out it could be more than just that. It’s very likely that it is, and the mere thought of losing control scares me, O.” This was the first time she expressed her worry over her element after 400 years, which the lot of them knew to be one of her darkest time in her life, with Theodor as the living proof of it.

She admittedly nibbled on her bottom lip as she heard Octavia talk how they didn’t need protection, of course, they didn’t. They were one of the strongest people the Ailwards have met, and to survive in this faction and world, it’s not easy. The fact that they were still alive and kicking is more than enough proof to show around. “Other than you guys, everyone that’s known fled, O. It’s hard to open up when you know they’re going to run away after a while.” The upsetting tone she was wearing indicated on the recent fallout between her and Tatiana. It really did affect the Aspect of Magic a lot, seeing as they’ve been this two peas in a pod kind of duo for almost nine centuries. Was she bitter because of it? Yes. Was she able to see things in a new light and be happy again? Just like she once was? Perhaps the idea wasn’t so repulsing once you’ve heard more of it.

“I’m not sure, but there’s definitely some prospects going around to lead into that direction, so can I hold on to it and hope for the best?” Despite her mature physical appearance, there was this a certain youthful air around Malva that everyone can easily pinpoint if they knew her. The brunette had usually been quite free-spirited in the past. “Can you?” Of course, she wonders if Octavia would find the path to be happy again. Vladimir was a huge part in all of their lives, most importantly, in the blonde’s, but Mal also wanted others to recount those happy days again. What’s the use of living if you’re not going to cherish it, right? Following the revelation on her sleeping troubles, a concerned look came across her face, a slight frown creasing her features as she tilted her head to the side. “I can give you a few herbal remedies like what I did with Reus. I’d refrain from giving you sleeping draughts since they’re good to block nightmares and the likes, gives you a good booster sleep, but they’re also addictive. My stuff helps others, but never me, so… I can find the irony in it, sometimes” she chuckled.

The blonde rose and then dropped her shoulders for a moment as she looked back at Malva “Asking questions like that really will drive you insane” she commented with a gentle sigh, she’d learned a long time ago that sometimes you just had to accept a situation for what it was and then figure out if there was anything you could do about it. It was a really big topic to talk about, they weren’t just discussing what happened in their home, after all, they were talking about the whole world as a whole, all the magic in the world. There was no such thing as small when it came to the Ailwards, everything was drastic and important. Octavia had learned that one quickly, you had to think broad and big when you were a member of the Ailward guard, meaning there was little time for people as individuals “Then you screw up Mal, if you live in fear of screwing up then you’re never going to get it right” they couldn’t afford to be afraid right now, being afraid was what they wanted them to be. Whoever was orchestrating all of this, they wanted the Ailward faction to act on impulse.

Octavia wasn’t the kind of person to let anyone wallow too long, she’d just lost her husband and she was even harsh with herself about letting herself get too upset. She missed him, she missed him so much that it made her heart ache, but she knew exactly what he would want her to do and what he’d be doing if things were reversed. He’d want her to find out who was responsible and bring them to justice, which was exactly what she was trying to do. In that sense she supposed that made her an optimist, unlike the aspect of magic who tended on the side of worst case scenario, Octavia had pretty much lived the worst case scenario now so there was nowhere to go but up for her. Things had to get better from here, they had to. The only thing that was allowing her to keep herself together was knowing that.

Unlike all the people in the world who saw them as figureheads of saviors, when Octavia looked at each of the aspects she saw a real person, with a real past and real struggles, she had always seen that. Knowing them in their younger years she saw the personalities they all had, the family they built, she was a part of it herself. She’d always felt like she belonged with them and they’d never made her feel any different. She wasn’t chosen to protect the worlds by the Gods but she had offered up her life to the cause and to her that meant just as much “Don’t talk like that Mal, you’re stronger than you give yourself credit for” the younger version of Malva would have never coped with so much stress and heartache but the woman she saw today, was managing to just about hold herself up under the weight of the world and that meant a lot.

The blonde nodded her head when the brunette admitted she needed help, Octavia knew that she could see it in the aspect’s eyes, she was screaming for it behind that steely gaze, her voice was quiet and weak but the Nephilim heard her clearly and she understood. No one was in their best place right now, losing Vlad had shaken the community to the core, especially because it was only two years before that they had lost most of their ranks “Okay” Tavia nodded “We can figure it out, you’re not alone okay” she commented as she reached out to squeeze her arm, honestly, having something to focus on was good for her, because it took her mind off her own reality “Then we find something to counter it so that you don’t” O didn’t know everything about magic but she did know you could balance it out with mystical objects “Tell me what you think you need to do Mal, I know that you know it up there” the green-eyed Nephilim pointed towards her temple for a moment.

“Every guard who walked through those doors swore themselves to this cause and some even died for it” it was a blunt way of phrasing it but she wanted to jog the aspect’s memory on the sacrifice people had made, the same one her husband had no doubt made “And if we don’t keep fighting and working together then everything they gave up? It’s for nothing” that’s why she couldn’t give up, no matter how much she wanted to crawl under a rock or just tell everyone to leave her alone, all she had was the need to honor her late husband. A drive inside her that told her she needed to keep fighting and standing up for the things he believed in, the things they believed in “And I’m not going anywhere, neither is Tatiana” the green-eyed female gave her a stern gaze, she knew the two of them weren’t seeing eye to eye lately but the aspect had to know her niece would be there for her in a heartbeat when it came to down to the wire.

That statement was probably the most positive thing that she’d heard Malva say in a long time so the blonde took it, a slight nod of her head in agreement, trying to hold onto whatever happiness was all they really had right now. Things were at their worst but Tavia still had a fighting spirit burning inside her, it never really left, no matter how hard life tried to kick her down and silence her, she always seemed to find a reason to get to her feet and fight another day “I have to” she responded honestly, a determined nod following the words “I have to or losing him was for nothing” did that mean she was happy or okay right now, no, of course, it didn’t. But it did mean she would always keep looking forward to a better day. Of course as soon as Octavia mentioned her sleeping troubles the subject was turned over to her, she shook her head a little, she was being dramatic, it wasn’t any worse than anyone else who had suffered a loss “That’s okay” she responded and bit down on her bottom lip “Really that’s the only time I get to see him anymore and I’m not ready….to move on from that just yet” maybe that was unhealthy but it was how she was just about managing to cope.

Sighing softly, Malva hung her head lowly before shrugging, acting as if she’s already dismissing the thought of that but in actuality, was nowhere near such solution. “I know, but I can’t seem to stop asking them, you know? It’s just there, it keeps tugging at you and until you give in, it’s gonna keep poking you, that will drive me mad,” she pointed out, shaking her head in dismay of her words, everything seems so simple yet so complicated, once again reminding her just how ambiguous the world can truly be. “I can’t just accept things and let them go as easily, no matter how many times I tried, I can’t seem to be able to wrap my head around them, and it will bother me forever.” The way Malva’s mind works could easily be categorized as a peculiar case, seeing as the Aspect of Magic leaned towards her mental side whenever it comes to deciding things and whatnot. It’s not her abilities, it’s how she chooses to maneuver them. It’s a complex setting.

Octavia has always had the best things to say, probably not the good ones, but the realist in the nephilim shines through when they’re in a hard time such as this. Just like how she always reminded themselves that they were not saints, they did not stand for good as a whole, just balance, in general. If certain ‘irrevocable’ things were needed to be carried out to ensure the balance, then yes, they would do that. “So much fear, in such a tiny vessel” she grumbled, in reality, Malva is just occupying a woman who looked no more than her early twenties, which is admittedly, still her body, but the soul that grew up in that same vessel didn’t feel as comfortable anymore. Not when she’s a grown person who lives inside a person who would remind her of the youth she once lost. She is already so impulsive, when push comes to pull, just one push towards her and they’ll watch her fall over the tip to god knows where.

Seeing just how strong Octavia was being despite only recovering from losing her husband that’s been her life partner for so long, gave her a small reassurance that if the angel child can get through this, she could too. But she’s not Octavia, isn’t she? She’s Malva, who’s generally a very vulnerable emotional person who’s been hiding behind the shell of the person she’s become, for centuries long. Glancing towards the blonde’s way, she offered a thin-lipped smile that seemed just as weak as she attempted it to be. “Am I really? I don’t mean to be so negative or pessimistic about it, I know that’s the last thing we need, especially after we’ve been very low on the department,” yes she means their work has been going through a crisis, it’s not bad per se, but it’s not the best, which admittedly is quite understandable since, for the past two years, they’ve suffered plenty of problems and losses, up to the loss of their home; the place they built their entire lives around, the guards’ being sacrificed, the number of their fallen increasing, to this.

Vladimir Dimitreu, one of their finest, is now between the fallen too. “Sometimes I feel strong, but then when you think about it, my only battle is with myself, at the moment. If I can’t even find myself, then is there any hope for more?” So many questions, yet so little time to answer. It’s safe to say that they were somewhat racing against time, especially when so much has been occurring from here and there, with them not realizing what’s the cause of it. Finally being able to tell someone she needed help, and not having to hide behind her shell anymore about it, it felt like she just released a whole weight on her shoulders and Malva felt eternally relieved. When the blonde ask what she needed to do, the Aspect of Magic paused momentarily before racking her head with ways to find the easiest possible step to start this road.

“You know those sabbatical leaves people take? Back in the early centuries, we used to do this pilgrimage once every a decade or so, to reconnect with our spiritual essences, usually with our ancestors magic that still runs underneath the ground. Each family had their own representatives to take, and we usually return back with more will and strength to overcome things,” she started, trying to recall the smallest detail about those journeys that now has not been practiced by modern-day diviners unless they came from old families. “Most of us conduct those trips to citadels since they’re considered sacred grounds. I remember my coven usually arranged theirs to F**aras Citadel, or Rasnov Citadel, both in Romania. But, the oldest is quite possibly the Mycenae Citadel in Greece” she told her, no one really takes up them anymore because of the things needed. “It’s very exhausting though, I can’t even remember how I survived my first, and the last time I venture to citadels, that was like what, 700 years ago?” Admittedly, it tests your mental and physical, so it’s not surprising.

“I need to find my spiritual road again and giving myself back to nature is one of the ways, the best place with such energy is located in citadels” she explained, it’s not something a lot of people knew of since faes and necromancers liked to keep their pilgrimages a secret within the coven. Speaking of Tatiana, “I would’ve taken Tati with me, but I don’t think that’s the best idea now if anyone’s coming, I need to be in tune with them, a diviner is the best choice but Gabriel is in a bad place now, I don’t want to interrupt his mourning, and honestly, I don’t think I should ask you to come with me, don’t you need to rest, O?” The road for her to find herself is something she wanted to do, but she wasn’t going to put her concern for the nephilim away. “We’ll find who did this, and they will pay for it, I promise you. I’m not going anywhere until we get to the bottom of this.” And just like that, Malva feels the spark she thought she lost. She wasn’t about to steal Octavia away from the only time she had solace, so Mal didn’t prod more on it.

“I can’t tell you how to stop questioning them but eventually you have to” she responded with a shrug of her shoulders, eventually you had to resign to the fact that you were a part of this world but you were not a deciding factor and that things would happen around you outside of your control, you had to focus on the things you could control and let the rest go, otherwise you just got lost in the injustices and you got yourself into such a bad place that it would be almost impossible to crawl out again. Octavia coped by focusing on the little things she could change and working on those rather the occupying her mind with the things she couldn’t “Maybe try starting with the things you can grasp, focus your mind on the little things and let the larger things wait until tomorrow” that was the best advice she had for the aspect, though she could understand how hard it was.

Octavia looked over Malva as she commented on fear, one thing that the blonde didn’t really get affected by was fear, Vlad had always called her fearless, she wasn’t, far from it actually but she never let it get to her the way it did most people. Most people experienced fear and it shut them down, made them cower but when Octavia faced something she feared it only spurred her on further to prove that she wasn’t afraid of it. Which probably got her in a lot of danger she didn’t need to be in, but it was a part of who she was. “Turn it into something else” she suggested with a shrug “Take the fear and feed it into determination, that’s what I do” it was much easier for her than most, she’d been through so much that not much scared her anymore, she knew loss and death and dire situations too well for her own good.

Octavia gave her an encouraging smile “I know I give the impression of strength pretty much all the time, I think that’s part of being a mother and knowing you have to look out for others” she nodded a little “But that doesn’t mean I don’t struggle sometimes, I just..I find ways to deal with it, I push it aside because I tell myself what’s important, I focus on goals and people who need me” she shrugged, there were many ways of showing strength “The fact that you’ve seen and been through the things you have and yet you still get out of bed in the morning, that’s strength” she commented with a nod, maybe that was just trivial to most people but she saw all the things the aspects had been through with her own eyes, experienced some of them offhandedly for herself so she could be honest when she said they were strong “Give yourself more credit” she prompted again meeting her eyes for a moment.

Octavia wasn’t the type to put up with self-pity, she had plenty of reasons to wallow in her own and people wouldn’t blame her for it but she just couldn’t stand it, there was always something you could do to better your situation if you stopped to think about it and she was sure that if Malva moved past her own walls she was putting up around herself then she would see that too “You said it yourself, your battle is with yourself so maybe you should..” Octavia shrugged a little “Start accepting that this is your reality right now” as pessimistic as that might sound, you had to admit you had a problem and needed help before you could find it “And then start looking for ways to move forward” she always believed there was a forward, something you could do, whether it was big or small, to better your situation. She knew for a fact that Malva had the ideas in her mind, she just needed to search for them. Octavia watched the look of relief cross the aspect’s features as she admitted that she did need help and the blonde nodded gently “See strength” she prompted.

The green-eyed Nephilim sat quietly as Malva explained things she did in her past to feel connected to their magic and nature, she pursed her lips as she took in the story she was being told and imagined it in her mind, it made sense to her, she knew a lot about diviner communities and all supernatural species really, part of being a guard was being well versed in anything you could be up against after all and she had served for a long time now. The story about the citadels was very interesting, she’d heard legends about getting magic from sacred places like those before but she’d never really been able to reconcile whether it was myth of legend, it was very old, very traditional magic after all and not something that most people troubled themselves with when they had access to modern magic.

She found a new resolve appearing in Malva as she spoke, like she had finally found a straw to grasp onto and it made the Nephilim glad to see, the aspect of magic had seemed so lost in her own mind this whole time and now it looked like the mist had faded just a little and she could see clearly again. Octavia was glad she had been able to help her with that, even if it was quite a big adventure the aspect was now talking about going on and they had no idea if it would actually help. For the first time since she’d come back from that mission, she felt like she was actually needed, not someone they were keeping around like a broken shell and maybe that made her more enthusiastic than she should be but she truly believed Malva was their best shot at figuring out what happened to Vlad. “You don’t have to ask me” Octavia insisted “I’m there with you if you think I can help” she affirmed with a slight nod “Honestly anything to focus on that’s not the fact everyone’s looking at me like I’m broken is welcome to me” she spoke softly as she heard the other woman talking about figuring this out “There’s the Malva I know” she spoke softly as she nudged against the aspect’s side “You’re right, they will pay” she affirmed with a nod, tenfold.

Malva hummed in response to the blonde’s words, she’s always been wise around those parts, it was no wonder that even the Aspect of Magic found it in herself to stop and sit down, to hear Octavia out. Both Ivakov sisters had that charm to them, one even Mal couldn’t comprehend how it came to life but never questioned it too much because she likes the energy and air they exude. The definition of strong and powerful women, indeed. Here she is, Octavia, looking fine and strong as ever, despite only after losing her life partner and love of her life. Mal might not understand much about romantic love since she chose to forget every single memory of it that was imbued in her head, so long ago.

Her first love, Karlisle, was killed brutally and with no justification brought to his tragic manner of death, she’s left to frown at the idea of it, forever. It doesn’t mean she doesn’t appreciate it for others. “Larger things can wait tomorrow,” she mumbled to herself, nodding slowly as a small smile crept up to the Aspect of Magic’s lips, lighting her face up by a mile. Instead of being the one to console the nephilim, it was the other way around. Octavia was comforting her, and it felt nice to have a maternal touch to some things, namely this. Arching a rather amused eyebrow towards the blonde sitting next to her, the Ailward Aspect scoffed lightly before falling into her own pit of sn*****s. “Easy for you to say, Mrs. Fearless, nothing ever scares you, I swear. Obviously, I could be wrong, but at least you don’t let it show. I don’t think anyone can read it off you unless you want them to, I can’t” she mused, twirling one of her dark locks in her finger and sighed heavily. “I’m nowhere near that. Talk about insecurity…”

Thankfully, Malva didn’t have to deal with the inferiority complex she had to deal with back in the early centuries, much like many others. But still, she still had the same problem; her head. Sometimes, the Aspect of Magic tends to overthink a lot of things, and once she’s deep in that pit, it takes a long time for someone to reach out and pull her out. That job usually falls on either one of her siblings or her guards. “But you’re right, you know. People need you, O. I do.” Her tone was accentuated with sincerity and genuineness, there was nothing that would mistake it as something else. The Ailward Aspect respects her very much, and perhaps she does crave a maternal touch for she was deprived of it from a young age and never knew much about it until she met Aurelia and Octavia. But was it really something she should be ashamed of? She is still a child, in so many ways, she stated it herself. Countless times, too.

Receiving the words of wisdom from someone she trusted though, that’s a big booster. It caused her heart to lurch happily, and now she has a smile tainting her features, her blue hues were no longer dull and solemn, but rather lighter for some reason. “You think highly of me, O. Not that I’m complaining, it’s nice to know someone really looks up to that” she held both hands up defensively before shrugging casually. Ways to move forward, and that’s exactly what the Russian born female is doing. It occurred to her, that perhaps, she needed someone to push her. Unfortunately, since she’s very prone to lashing out, most people wouldn’t dare, but she’s glad to see those who stayed behind. This fight is with herself, and she couldn’t help but find the irony in it. Once ago, Malva said that the will of a person is very strong, even strong enough to change how you perceive things. Now she’s eating her own words.

“Of course, you can help, O. You’re one of our best, I can’t say the best or Rei would rip me off,” she whispered distinctly, sn*****ing just at the mere thought of it. The fact that Octavia saw the other people’s concerns as a nudge to her broken shell did make Malva purse her lips sadly. She could relate, hell even her brothers see her as a broken shell, sometimes. But, unlike the headstrong blonde, Malva can actually find peace in being considered broken because somewhere deep within her, the purple dragon knew she’s broken. That doesn’t mean someone couldn’t patch her up, it won’t be the same as new, but perhaps, a better-modified version of her. Like what Tavia is doing now, bringing her back to the road and delving into what she’s good at. Maybe once she has access to her magic like old times, she could see what happened to Vlad. It remained as the biggest unresolved mystery.

“I forget this trip is going to take a lot of strength...ugh, I’m like bad on my cardio already” she grumbled and threw her head back as she leaned against the bench. “You’ll get to bully me too if I slack, which I know you would…” peeking one eye open to the nephilim, she groaned in annoyance. “Does this mean we should start packing? And… do you think I should tell, you know...the others?”

Octavia saw the smile that took over the aspect of Magic’s face when she heard what Octavia had to say, though she did say so herself, O often had good advice for others, she’d experienced a lot in her long life and none of it had been sheltered, being born into a hunter family had made an immediate fighter out of her and those traits and that upbringing stayed with her even now, several centuries later. She tried to spread her message as best she could and better the lives of others, it was how she kept going she supposed, whenever something got her down she would try and balance it out with good, no matter how hard things got in her life, that always seemed to stay with her “The only thing I’m afraid of is losing people” she admitted as she pressed her lips together, which told you just how hard losing her husband was for her, Octavia would often prioritize other people’s safety over the guard’s mission as a whole which she knew would get her backlash “If they can’t see it they can’t exploit it” she responded with a shrug of her shoulders, didn’t meant she didn’t feel it though.

When Malva spoke about people needing her the blonde parted her lips for a moment before she closed them and nodded slightly, that’s the reason she had come home in the end, as much as it hurt and she felt like she couldn’t breathe sometimes without him, they chose this life because they wanted to do something better for the world and with the dangers out there, her family and the Ailward cause did need her. Octavia reached out to hold onto the aspect’s shoulder for a moment as she shook it slightly and smiled at her “I’m not going anywhere, they’re going to have to literally drag me to hell and back before I give up” her fighting spirit, it was who she was, it always had been, she’d be damned if anyone or anything managed to take that from her.

She knew that Malva doubted herself, all the aspects were guilty of that except perhaps Tia who was very unapologetic for the person she was. Reus and Ven though, they were much more like the aspect of Magic in that respect, always wondering if they’d done everything they could, blaming themselves for the world’s problems and more often than not, suffering in silence. If she hadn’t been there to drag it out of Ven half the time she was pretty sure he would remain with his mouth clamped shut forever, thankfully, she knew him better than that. “Yeah well I didn’t give up my entire life to follow all of you because I thought little of you” she commented with raised brows, they were the figureheads of the idea of peace and balance in the world, that was more significant than most of them gave themselves credit for, sometimes she wondered if they’d become desensitized to it “Sometimes you gotta kick back at the world and insist who you are, even when it tries to tell you different” she admitted with a shrug, no point letting it kick you all the way down.

Octavia did laugh when Mal called her one of the best, she was right, her sister would not take kindly to being called anything lesser than the best and O would gladly admit that her sister was one of the most dedicated and lethal guards she had ever met. Her judgment wasn’t as clouded when it came to the morals as Octavia’s was which meant she always got the job done without question “You’re right, she would have both our heads” Tavia teased though she pressed her lips together, she hadn’t really managed to talk to Rei since she got back from the Isle, except those few moments after she had handed over Vlad’s ashes. The blonde loved her sister very much but the two of them were very different people and O didn’t want to unload her problems on her because she knew she had a lot going on in her own life.

“You mean to say you’ve been slacking on your training?” Octavia asked with a gasp of breath and then laughed, the green-eyed Nephilim never missed a training session, she was one of the most disciplined and dangerous fighters the guard had, even her husband lost to her at times and it was well known that you didn’t mess with her. That’s why she had been given the position to guard the leader of the aspects himself “No one is allowed to shirk their work around me Mal, you know that already” she gave her a slightly expectant look, Octavia was a kind person but she didn’t take excuses and any guard would be able to affirm that statement as true.

When Mal asked if they should start packing the Nephilim nodded “The sooner we get there the better right?” Octavia asked as she pushed to her feet “I propose that we leave in the morning, after I brief Ven, he should know where we are, just in case” she pursed her lips “I’ll leave it up to him to inform any of the others who might need to know” aka the personal guard who was supposed to be with Mal but always seemed to be somewhere the aspect wasn’t.

Often she sees Octavia in another light, the Aspect of Magic truly does admire and look up to the blonde. For she holds a lot of titles, from a guard to a sister, to a mother. Yet she’s able to hold herself up. Tavia saying that if they can’t see it, they can’t exploit it, it does make sense. “You’re right, if they can’t see it, they can’t exploit it” staring at the flowers on the glass table, she heaved a sigh and grumble to herself how she couldn’t make things work, much like how a child would tell herself off. “I’m scared of a lot of things, I think” why shouldn’t she? She’s afraid of losing herself, she’s afraid of losing her family, above everything else, she’s afraid that people would leave her, or if she would be the cause of her own demise. Mal spared Tavia a thankful smile upon hearing her words, she was grateful that they were blessed with these people as their guards. Truly, it was another chance at trying to be the savior in plenty of situations and problems occurring here and there.

In the front, Malva might not seem like she’s easily tampered or broken, but in reality, she’s held every hit and attack sent her way and it has slowly begun to eat what’s left of her. “Of course, you didn’t think little of us, or at least you probably thought the world of us because you look up to those ideals we preached. But I often wonder if it’s just that, sometimes. Are we really preaching it rightfully if not all of us are incorporating it in our lives?” It was one of those questions that kept bothering at the back of her head. “But I do feel that perhaps, some of us, I included, needed to find the peace in doing what we used to do. For all our sake.” Which is true, in so many ways, seeing as such as Malva’s case, if the purple dragon didn’t seek help immediately, she’ll probably cave in until she explodes. Nobody wants that, especially not now when they should be mindful of what they do due to the impending danger brewing from afar, or near, who knows. One hit was all that it takes, to let their centuries worth organization to crumble to the ground, decreased to nothing but dust.

“Gosh, this is so tiring. To deal with all of this… Sometimes I really just wanna lay back for a few days, and revel in teaching and learning magic, rather than feeling like I’m bound to it solely because it’s my duty” she murmured softly, leaning on the bench as she slumped against it, with hands crossed. She loves her family, there was no doubt in questioning that and times when they could spend their quality time together like this, it brought back what it meant, to the Aspect of Magic. If Octavia who recently lost her world could come back stronger, why couldn’t she? She owed it to at least try. “I would prefer being perfectly intact please, if I’m going to go on that long hellish journey, I need to be on my perfect health, which means no headless escapade” she chided playfully and succumbed to the land of laughter alongside the Nephilim.

Once Mal noticed how the blonde took her words seriously as she should, the Russian born female coughed and cleared her throat awkwardly. “I mean...I didn’t really do that?” Oh, Mal. “I’m still pretty competent around accuracy okay… but sparring, yeah, no one’s brave enough to call me out for any sessions ever since you guys went on missions the last time. Can you blame them?” They all knew Mal would always make sure to bite them just as hard, if not worse once she was antagonized in a fight. It usually was delivered in the form of a hex, which most would pass. She knew that Tavia was right on wanting to inform Ven, after all, he is their leader and it’s only right if he knows where they would be. “Do you think he’ll assign any other guards to go with us? I mean, let’s be real, you alone are more than enough, but I feel that itchy protective brother mode would be enabled and he’ll end up sending more than I thought."

Don’t get her wrong, it’s not that she didn’t like the idea of being protected, but sometimes it does bother her since their numbers were not as many as before and they need all they could to run other missions. “Please tell him I would only accept a small party. The journey is long and exhausting. There will be plenty of tests lying all around, I would prefer knowing everyone arrives at the location intact.”

Octavia didn’t really know at what point in her life she had taken a maternal role in the guard, it just seemed to happen one day, became a part of the person she was and it had stuck since then. She didn’t mind, caring for people and looking out for their best interests, that was something she would always do without question, they deserved at least that. Hearing Mal repeat her statement the Nephilim pursed her lips “But also in the same point, just because you cannot see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there” she spoke with a nod of her head, not everyone showed signs of being in pain, or they may do so in unconventional ways “There’s no shame in being afraid, only letting it cripple you” she spoke softly, when you gave up fighting, that was when things became a problem. Feeling fear, that was part of having humanity.

Tavia clicked her tongue in thought as Mal asked about the ways the aspects and guards led their lives, the blonde was very much on the opinion that while, yes, they were doing something very important and necessary in the world, they also weren’t these perfect beings that people tried to make them out to be “I hate to be the one to break it to you but” the green-eyed Nephilim gave her a stern glance “You are not a God and you are going to fuck up and make bad decisions and struggle just like the rest of us” sometimes she felt like the aspects were trying to hold themselves to impossible standards and become somewhat arrogant in the process and often she did feel the need to remind them that they were never going to be perfect no matter how hard they tried. Same as she wasn’t perfect, far from it. “You just have to find the strength to keep going even when you do screw up and fix it, like anyone else would” or any decent person anyway. Octavia didn’t sign on to the Ailward guard because she saw dragons or beings who met the Gods, she did so because she saw 8 people she believed were capable of pushing towards a better future. And they had done that in so many ways, ways they often seemed to forget.

“I’ll agree with you there” the blonde ran a hand through her hair “It’s absolutely exhausting” for everyone involved, physically and mentally, the more people they lost and the more hardships they went through the more she saw reality chipping away at them all and slowly taking what they believed in from them. She hated it. But if she gave up now, she really may as well be dead which was why her only option was fighting back. “You can still do that” Octavia pointed out as she glanced over at the brunette “I’m sure there are a lot of diviners in the city that could use some help, people who don’t have a coven or never learned from the old ways” she didn’t think the aspect of magic’s time would be wasted “It might be good for you to go back to basics” she shrugged, when Octavia felt at her worst, just focusing on the small important things was how she found her way back to herself. She laughed at Mal’s teasing about Aurelia “Deal, no one has any time for that” she admitted with a playful roll of her eyes.

Octavia gave Mal an unimpressed look when she spoke about her sparring sessions “Well that’s because you rarely spar on a level playing field” she insisted with a shake of her head “What are you going to do if someone gets your staff away from you?” Octavia arched a curious brow, Mal might be one of the strongest users of magic Tavia had seen but the moment she lost touch with that, it was going to be much more dangerous for her. “Pick the training back up, for your own peace of mind and maybe leave the magic at home for it” she shrugged, take it or leave it but Octavia saw the benefit in facing up to it. As they spoke about Ven the blonde rolled her shoulders back “I couldn’t blame him if he wanted to bring back up, we lost so many people already” but she understood what Mal was asking “I’ll talk to him, I know an audience isn’t going to be in your best interest” it could get pretty ugly after all.

She nodded softly “Get some sleep, you’re going to need your full strength for tomorrow” she warned the other woman, as hard as sleep was to come by nowadays, they were both going to need it so the blonde intended on getting the mission sanctioned and then heading straight to sleep. Hopefully with new resolve on moving forward and finding a way to deal with what happened rather than spinning around aimlessly in the dark like she felt she had been for weeks now.

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