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It had only been a day or so since Malva Ailward had visited his office. His temporary secretary hadn’t come back into the office after the tongue lashing he had given the temp company. Plus Malva had already called him with an address and time for them to meet. The better part of his day had been unproductive despite being in the office all day but he did have to cancel some appointments for the new few days unsure how long the trip down memory lane with Malva would take.
Taking a half day he left the office early and headed home changing into a pair of jeans and an old Metallica t-shirt. The address he was given was the one for the Ailward manor which was no surprise, it was a building he hadn’t been in before since he had little reason to meet behind the thick stone walls. Pulling his car into the beginning of the drive he had to remember what she told him the gate passcode was. Benjamin should have written down the four number code but he was pretty sure he remembered it for the moment. Punching it in followed by the pound symbol he watched as the gate slowly began to open in an ominous sort of way, the humid and stormy weather not helping his unease.
Parking he stepped out of the car and large droplets of water began to slowly fall from the sky hitting his face and hair, along with leaving dark spots on his clothes. Reaching the overhang by the door he knocked loudly waiting for anyone to get the door. It seemed to swing open by itself no one standing on the other side as he poked his head in and slowly looked around. “Hello?” He questioned, his voice almost seeming to echo in the entrance hall as he stepped inside. Shaking his head some of the water droplets seemed to fly around him before he ran a hand through the sandy colored strands to move them out of his face.
A man who he assumed was one of the Ailward Guard turned around a corner to give him a questioning look. “Huh...I have an appointment with Malva.” That just seemed to caused farther disbelief as the man approached him and Benjamin had the distinct feeling he was about to be thrown out.
Malva reminded herself to send Benjamin her address on the number that was written on the card she received a day ago. It probably made her phone number available too. She didn't even realize that the hour has passed while she was busy burying herself in the library on the ground floor. The amount of times that the spectacles has slid off her nose was countless seeing as she kept grunting in frustration because she couldn't find a better solution other than a seance as their way to get into her head. She would be lying if she said she didn't mind another person getting access in her head, much less her memories. She's lived for 1290 years altogether. She's bound to have hundreds, even thousands of memory doors everywhere and she didn't even know where to start their search.
While she was asking herself with the multiple various questions, she heard a distinctive voice talking outside. Now she did not have enhanced hearing or anything but with centuries long of practice, you actually get a hang of what's happening in your surroundings. Besides, she's been an quite the attentive person all her life too. Closing the book on the mahogany table, she took off her glasses, placing it on the wooden desk before making her way out to find out what the whole ruckus was all about. Be minded, she wasn't a fan of noise at all. And she was sure the guards knew of the Ailwards' preferences. She was sure it was written somewhere in the manual guide when they became apart of the Guard.
Walking towards the source of the sound, she peeked her head from the hallway that led to the living room and the entrance door. There, she saw a tall man by the entrance door. She knew it was raining outside and judging from the slightly wet status he had at the moment, he probably wasn't a member of the guard because they don't usually go through the front door, with the exception of a few like Tatiana or Valentine who treated the manor like it was their own home. That, and given their title and reputation in the Guard themselves. It took her a while to identify the stranger to be Benjamin Vaughn because she thought it was still so early in the morning when it's nearly dusk already. She did say, she worked better at night because no one is there to bother her. As if anyone would do that even during daytime.
"Gabriel..you need to stop intimidating people every time someone wants to see us. It's not a very good impression, you know.." Seeing as the dark diviner has been her apprentice for as long as the Aspect of Magic could remember, it was almost impossible for her not to notice who the guard was. She then, made her way to the two males and successfully identified the stranger to be a new acquaintance of hers that she had made not a day ago. "He's with me. Seriously, how hard is it to notify me if anyone was here to see me? I was just in the library." Narrowing her hues at the diviner, she then pushed him away playfully, telling him she'd take it from there. She was about to say something to Benjamin when she noticed Gabriel has not left them yet. "You know I can sense your aura from the hallway, Gabriel. Be on your way."
Turning her attention back on the Defense General, she snickered before shaking her head. "I could sense the anxiety you have, Mr Vaughn. Sorry about that, he tends to be more protective when it comes to me. I haven't invited anyone else in my home after all. They usually come without notifying me. Although you're a different case, so sorry to tell you that you might go through the same thing again. Come on.." She beckoned for him to follow her as she led him to the upper floors. Now, the flight of stairs they had was surprising yet not shocking seeing as they were old souls and didn't bother installing elevator to go up. But they did install one to go down the basement where most of the technology and operatives worked.
Soon enough, they arrived at the highest floor where the only rooms there were was hers, Argent and Aurantia. The three sisters liked to keep their own company and it would have been a disaster if they placed any of their brother near her room. Seeing as Aureus wasn't that fond of having the new tiger cub anywhere near him, and the others knowing fully well that they do not want to be anywhere near her presence if she wasn't in a good mood. With a simple wave, the wall at the very end of the corridor revealed itself as a room when a dark mahogany door resurfaced. Placing her hand on the door knob, she opened it and didn't wait to invite him in. Like many others that resided in the manor, especially her siblings, her room was very spacious. She made sure there were separate rooms in the room itself where she stored her potions, spell scrolls and enchantments, and enchanted jewelries. Yes, even the wardrobe. She's still a woman and her sisters seemed to make sure her wardrobe looks like one despite her declining it. It's not much of a surprise when the person lived in a manor, and seeing as their influence has been everywhere in the globe ever since a millennium ago, luxurious lifestyle didn't seem foreign to them.
However, Malva didn't prosper herself in the life. Neither did her siblings. They were nothing before today. They lived harsh lives where no luxury was offered. Malva in particular, didn't prefer so much luxury seeing as her parents once sold her off to a duke for her hand in marriage. Once Benjamin had entered the room, the doors closed by itself and she made sure to seal it per usual. "Make yourself comfortable, I guess." She said before entering the other room to get her specific ingredients for the spell. Oh and yes, she forgot to tell him she had her new tiger cub pet, Constance, curled up on the couch. But Malva Ailward being Malva Ailward did not know having a tiger cub in the manor as a pet for her, a resident and civilian of Evermore, wasn't normal.
The young man standing before Benjamin didn’t physically looked to be more than a high schooler, maybe early twenties but there was an aura about him that set the human on edge. It was like a darkness that held a promise of danger and it wasn’t normal for most humans to have, though he highly doubted the man was human, after all he was in the Ailward Manor and though from his studies he knew they would also take in humans as Guards he had the feeling most were supernatural. “I really am supposed to be here.” He said before Malva broke into the conversation and a sigh of relief left him. There were probably many in the past who had tried to break in or catch a glimpse of the mostly elusive species but that wasn’t Benjamin, despite his mom’s later shortcomings in life she had taught him manners and to be polite and breaking into people’s homes was not polite.
“Definitely not a good impression at all.” Ben reiterated since he was already anxious and nervous about tonight since neither he nor Malva knew what the outcome would be, they only knew what they were hoping to gain. “Benjamin Vaughn,” He said holding his hand out to the man Malva had called Gabriel only to have his introduction ignored, “Alrighty then.” He muttered to himself before the Aspect dismissed the Guard who she seemed to know rather well, though he assumed many of the Guard had been with the Aspects for a long time.
As she spoke of his anxiety a forced chuckle left him, “Oh I was feeling that long before I ran into him, not that the idea of being thrown out necessarily helped matters by any means.” Benjamin wasn’t stupid because only a stupid a stupid person would be calm and anxiety free over what was to come. “Well it is his job to be protective and keep those who don’t belong out so I can’t really blame him for doing his job.” The human wasn’t surprised that not many were invited into the Manor, after all there likely wasn’t much point especially when the Ailward Guard was meant to protect the Aspects which lived within, though he had the feeling even without the Guard it wouldn’t be easy to kill an Aspect and the idea of what would come after the death of an Aspect was a terrifying thought to him. As she told him to come on he was pulled from his own thoughts and followed her up the stair case, the floors seemed to pass by quickly and he was glad he didn’t only sit behind a desk or he would be needing a chance to catch his breath after all these stairs. Given he ran everyday and more often than not took the stairs when it was an option he was fine as they reached the final landing.
Benjamin didn’t bother to ask about the living arrangements as he was sure she wasn’t the only one on this floor. Though even if there were all eight of them on this floor given the square footage the rooms would still be huge from what he could factor for what he saw. Just one floor was multiple times the square footage of his house but he couldn’t really complain since he didn’t need much. “Is this place infused with magic to expand or something? Because I can’t believe this is the original size of this place.” His own wonder thankfully took his mind off the anxiety he was feeling as he looked around the hall at the few doors. With a wave of her hand Malva caused a new door to appear at the end of the hall and given she was the Aspect of Magic he had to assume that meant it was her room. Following after her into the room his eyes widened and his jaw went slack as he released a low whistle of appreciation for the mere size of it along with what he was sure for most would be considered antiques, though for the Ailward it was probably just things she had gathered in life.
Ben was took busy taking in the room around him to sit down right away, sure he was being a bit nosy but he was very interested. Turning towards the sound of her voice he gave a small nod considering the fact that he might be making her uncomfortable since he was pretty much a stranger examining her room. Moving to the couch he almost sat down right away before what he assumed was a tiger stuffed animal or pillow opened its eyes. Out of instinct Ben jumped back away from the tiger cub who just stared at him as if trying to see into his soul and spy his intentions. It was unnerving to say the least since other than a zoo setting he had never seen a tiger.
“Did you ever think, I don’t know, you might want to warn people about the small yet potentially dangerous baby big cat?” He asked as the tiger slowly stood and stretched before leaping off of the couch and moving towards Ben who stood as still as a statue while it moved to rub it’s head against his jeans looking up at him with an expectant look. Once that if you’ve been around any felines, said pet me. The last thing Ben wanted to do was lose a hand but he had the feeling that if the tiger cub really was dangerous Malva probably would have said something about it. Reaching he scratched the cub under the chin a loud and rumbling purr leaving the cub before it’s attention fell to his shoe laces. “Should I even ask why you have a tiger as a pet?” The cub laid on it’s side and began to chew on his shoe laces like a large kitten and honestly he couldn't say that he minded that much as long as it wasn't trying to chew on any of his body parts.
Coming back from the room with her hands full with various herbs and ingredients needed for the spell, she raised her eyebrows in confusion as she placed them down on the desk. "No? I mean..I do have cats. Downstairs. But this one was specifically and specially requested by Aureus to be kept inside my room at all times. I don't get why people think having tigers as pet is a weird thing. Of course I know it's a bit unsafe..but- they're cute." She shrugged aimlessly and then pointed at the white furry cub who was chewing on his shoe laces. "See, she's well-behaved. My former tiger, Laurel, did have an issue with my brother, Aureus, though. But then again, she's been with me for 11 years and she was getting bigger. My brother probably thought she'd eat him. What a drama queen." Malva took the chance to scoff at the words his brother made sure to remind her every morning.
"Don't worry, she's tamable enough even though I've only known this one for a week or so. There are a lot of dangerous things in this room and I'm pretty sure Constance is on the bottom of the list. Be careful what you touch though, the antiques and jewelries are mostly enchanted. Light or dark, I'm not sure..I can't recall." Seeing the small shift in his eyes as he tried to recall if he had touched anything or not, Malva could not help but to chuckle. "I'm kidding. Most of them are harmless unless you had any ill intentions. If you had them, well..then you'll probably experience pain or if you're lucky, you'll only be transfigured into a rodent for 24 hours tops." Did she said she wasn't a people person nor does she know how to reassure anyone? No? Well, you can see, she wasn't very good at it.
"I'm a witch, after all. Obviously, all my stuff is going to be laced with magic."
Now that's not something you'd hear every day.
Taking a seat on the couch as she beckoned for him to take a seat on, she placed the herbs and her spell journal on it. Including a knife. Maybe she should have told him but she didn't think it was that crucial? Malva Ailward needed a class on sorting out her priorities. "I hope you weren't offended by Gabriel's actions. He's uh--quite cold. He didn't think anyone else should see any of us so easily and the fact that the Celestials are in town just across the city, he's gotten more paranoid. I guess, we don't really have appointments like these days when we were back in the Isle. The only times when people were brought on to us were when A) They either committed a serious crime that caught our attention and would be punished or B) They wish to seek our audience. Most of the times, it didn't went well. But he's usually a rather witty and fun person. I don't know what changed." Truthfully, she knew exactly what changed. They lost friends and their family. Their home. Their objective. Their own haven. They don't have the numbers they used to and that made a lot in the guard faction to be quite restless.
"Regarding your question about the manor, no. This is it's original size. Ven made sure to go through countless renovations before we moved in. He's quite attentive when it comes to this. I guess it does look a bit luxurious..but since this was supposed to be our headquarters now, we needed a lot of space. That doesn't include the basement too. I wonder how did he manage to fit so much space in a basement." The Aspect of Magic didn't dwell around technology that much since she wasn't so involved in the evolution of mankind in every century. It was evident. Her room was filled with various antiques from different centuries and the arts were all original. A few of the portraits were paintings of her family from early centuries when they needed to venture. A particular one caught her eyes, her favorite. Her eyes lingered on it a bit longer until she noticed she was staring into the space. It was a painting of all 8 of them back in 1675 in Marseilles, France. Probably the city that caused quite the trouble for her.
"Right uh..I got all the ingredients ready. I just need a bit of your blood to link it. A cut from my palm and yours, shake through it like a proper handshake should go and we should be on our way." She lets out a heaved sigh, because it was clearly not something she would want to do unless it was the last resort. Without delaying anything else, she closed her eyes momentarily and lit up the candles she had placed on the floor. Since they'd be unconscious in the reality world, she thought she'd save herself from hitting her head on the desk instead. She threw in the herbs and things it needed while mumbling the spell. taking out the knife and made a clean cut on her right palm before handing it over to him. "I'm sure you want to do it yourself." All they needed to do next was intertwine their hands and the process would start, where they'd fall down unconsciously and start their journey inside. "Hope you're ready.."
Reaching down Ben pet the large feline who was acting just like any other kitten, anytime he moved his foot the tiger cub would follow. “I guess you haven’t seen most of the videos of big cats who end up turning on their owners after growing up. They are naturally predatory creatures after all.” Even if the cubs such as this one were rather adorable. He could understand why her brother would want the tiger cub contained to her room since it seemed safer for everyone that way. “I guess it’s some comfort that you’ve raised another tiger previous to this one.” Though even Benjamin knew that all animals were different so this one would likely be different from Laurel, “Not sure I can blame him for the fear of being eaten or attacked by a tiger.” Benjamin definitely wouldn’t want to be freely walking around a house that a tiger was freely roaming as well.
“She’s a playful little thing.” He stated as she batted at his shoe before looking at Malva as if checking if that was okay. Of course his focus changed as Malva began to speak of other dangers in the room around them. Had he touched anything? He didn’t think that he had touched anything but how he was thinking back and questioning every move that he had made. The chuckle that left Malva caused his eyes to narrow, “That’s not funny.” He said trying to calm his racing heart which wasn’t helped by the fact that decided to explain what might occur depending on what he had touched. “Being a rodent in a room with a tiger cub doesn’t sound good for any amount of time.” It definitely didn’t help to sooth his worry either.
Following Malva’s gesturing he moved to take a seat by her as she began placing down the items she had gathered. What held his attention was the ceremonial knife that glinted in the light. He wanted to ask about it but Malva began to speak once more, “Can’t say that I blame him since his job is to look out for you guys. For all he knew I was lying and a threat.” Which was why he didn’t hold the actions against the other man, “Times have changed it seems since I didn’t commit a crime nor am I necessarily seeking an audience. So hopefully this isn’t one of those interactions which doesn’t end so well.” The only thing Benjamin could assume was that the fall of the Isle of Skye affected the personality of the Guards and probably some of the Aspects, after all it was a big deal and everyone who knew about the supernatural knew about the Aspects and the fall of the Isle.
Ben had to admit that he was rather impressed by the sheer size of this place. “I don’t even want to think about how many of my houses could fit in this one. Not that I really care since it’s just me and I don’t need a lot of space.” Though space he had since it was a three bedroom home with a good sized back yard and a pool. It was all more than he needed but it came with the Defense General job and title. Of course with eight Aspects and however many Guards they had they did likely need a large place. He also assumed that with living so long they accumulated a lot of possessions or in Malva’s case, magical items.
As Malva spoke of having the ingredients together, he nodded until she got to the part about needing his blood. “My blood?” It made total sense but that didn’t mean he had to like the idea of it since blood held all sorts of things and giving his blood to a witch let alone the Aspect of Magic put him on edge. “I would rather do it myself yeah.” Though he’d rather not do it at all. Taking the knife from Malva he slide the sharp metal along his palm hissing slightly as it made a clean cut. The blood began to well to the surface as he held his hand out to Malva knowing what was about to happen was going to be something unexplainable and beyond belief. "Ready? Not at all but lets get this going."
She knew it was not easy for someone to just give another person a few drops of their blood, especially to a witch, much less her. She could do so many things with just blood and he was right to feel cautious. After all, they've only known each other for what-two days at tops? Yeah. He had every reason to feel reluctant. But seeing him do it nonetheless gave her a small reassurance that he will trust her on this journey. She hoped to trust herself too and hoped that she will not need him to wake her up had anything occur in the memories. She'll be facing her own past that she tried so hard to bury deep within. It was her own fault for burying it there in the first place.
Once he had made a cut on his palm, she took a hold of his hand and held it firmly in place. The Aspect of Magic wasn't that much of a physical fighter but she has been cutting herself for centuries long whenever she needed to secure her spells even more and traditionally, they were a big fan of blood magic. Sounds edgy, she knows. But it doesn't all come dark. Whilst it might not be light, it wasn't that bad and once she became the Aspect of Magic, Malva was sure to remind herself to be mindful and fair between the two forms of magic. If she had been more biased with light, she can't hold her own balance, much less the world's. A few seconds later, as she closed her eyes, both of their bodies fell on the floor. Their physical vessels were successfully unconscious without any injuries nor side effects thankfully.
Fluttering her eyelids open, Malva saw the light surrounding her surroundings. She was still holding his hand, to which she let go once she realized they were at the same spot. The reason for the linkage was so they would be linked in a way, and if anything occurred, at least Malva would know how to disable it. "Ladies and gentlemen..welcome to Malva Ailward's memory lane." She mumbled as her blue optics scanned the spacious hallway where countless doors were placed at each sides. "Right..it would have been a bit helpful if they labelled the year on the doors. I have 1290 years of memory worth..this is going to take some time. Fortunately, the time stays intact in the real world. So it doesn't really give anyone a reason to go file a missing person report or anything if you are late. Wished I didn't have so much lifeline. Maybe then, it'll be fewer doors." The light haired Aspect expressed her distress on the matter but they were just starting anyways. Best keep that distress under wraps.
"Right. Let's pick one door." She tried to ease the tension but she knew that she too, felt the anxiety building up in her as she tried to pick which door carefully. She did not wish to stumble upon a door that harbored her dark memories. And she had plenty of it despite her position in the supernatural world. Since she was sure she hid that particular memory somewhere where she wouldn't want to go, which could be a bridge between either her past or her bad memories. Hovering her hand over the door knob to the door near them, she opened it and they entered it carefully. At first it was dark, where both their visions were not going to be much of a use. Until a blinding light shone in the room as the door closed by itself behind them. There, she could see the scene before them. She wasn't sure if she should be assured that it wasn't a bad memory or if she would exchange this for another memory.
It was one of her early days. Meaning, her life before becoming an Aspect. Walking even further into the memory, she saw a woman who resembled herself picking up plants by the meadow where her coven usually grew their herbs that was needed as ingredients. But seeing the colour of the hair the woman had, she knew that wasn't her. There was only one clear answer to who she was. Her mother. "Marina.." It wasn't often that Malva called her mother by her name, but given her history with them, it seems like it wasn't much of her fault for doing so. The girl did had a rough and complicated childhood after all. Remembering this memory fully well, she turned her head around and saw herself, who was rushing to the meadow. It was as if she hasn't aged a day, ironically since she only aged about 2 years after this memory. She was 17 and she was already a well known medic in the small village. She seemed to stitch all those scars and wounds she had inside her and wore her mask well.
Her vibrant light auburn hair that cascaded down her shoulders, braided simply and the necklace that hung around her neck, seemed to hit Malva with nostalgia. Instinctively, Malva gripped her necklace, the same necklace she had for centuries long. She wasn't even aware of Benjamin's presence when he really he was with her. It didn't take her long to remember what happened next. She eyed as her past self argued with her mother about the very issue that made her sever their family ties for good, as she ran away from the meadow. She loved her family and though she wasn't sure her parents loved her genuinely, they were her parents. Knowing well that in order to get back to the hallway they were at, they had to go through the memory they were in at the moment. She had to face the same thing again, only this time, she would be a spectator. She beckoned for Benjamin to follow her as she trailed her own steps to where her past self was at. Their home. She saw herself crying. Now, that wasn't a memory Malva wanted to remember. She didn't want to remind herself that she was weak.
And that was all thanks to the teachings of her parents. Being weak wasn't acceptable. "Do I mean nothing to them... Am I some kind of an animal for them to offer as they please? How could they sell off their own daughter to some duke in return for riches. My parents are even more selfish than I thought they were." She recognized the woman to be her mentor, only a few years older than her. Although she had reassured Malva that she'll find her way out of this, Malva knew why this memory was one of those that she was drawn to. The hidden memory was hidden in a place where she knew even she would not dare venture if she didn't want to torture herself with the memories, and this particular memory they were in was one of those which hurts her. A bitter reminder that despite striving to be what her parents wanted, she would never be treated like a daughter. She wished to get out soon because she can't bear to remind herself that she was nothing in the eyes of her own parents that she used to idolized. So much she lets out a sigh of relief when they reappear at the hallway.
"This was more of a test to me. I was smart to put it somewhere in these parts. Because I knew I wouldn't resort to this..because I knew I wouldn't want to go through it again." This had only confirmed her suspicions on the memory she hid being important.
The moment the two linked bloody palms everything seemed to shift, quit literally as their bodies crumpled while their mind entered a hallway which was briefly too bright for the human to see it before the brightness began to dim to a tolerate level. At first he said nothing as he looked both ways down the hall noticing exactly how many doors there happened to be. Within his own mind there were likely much fewer doors but he was only thirty-four opposed to her thousand plus years of life and memories. This was not going to be an easy task to find the specific memory in question especially since Malva seemed hesitant at first to select any of the doors.
If he were in his own mind he wouldn’t want to have to pick a door either since there was no telling if what was on the other side would be one of his fondest memories or his worst nightmares come to life. That was likely the reality Malva was currently facing and no matter what was on the other side of any of the doors she would be viewing it with another person instead of reliving that pain or happiness alone as it should be. After all memories were a private matter which is why you often times kept them to yourself, only sharing them on rare occasions and with special people. Still it was never in a way such as this.
“Well I didn’t necessarily assume it would be like library and cataloged but there has to be some sort of rhyme or reason to the placement of the memories….right?” Maybe it wasn’t right but it seemed like there had to be some sort of pattern to the doors and what they held though figuring out what that might be would be impossible without entering some of the memories. That was the part which made him weary. He was only listening to part of what she was saying about the passage of time. Though that should interest him, it really just didn’t.
Given these were Malva’s memories they were walking into her just followed her leading doing his best to stay out of her way and not mess up anything somehow. It seemed unlike that the first door they picked would be the one they were searching for but the tension and worried part of his brain didn’t care about logic and wanted the first door to be the last. It was clear they were both on edge as she selected a door and they both took a cautious step inside the door closing behind them. The bright sunlight blinding them until their eyes adjusted from the much dimmer hallway. The expression on Malva’s face told him nothing of what was to come or what kind of memory they may have talked into but he was sure that would soon become clear.
Following Malva’s leaded he walked away from where the door had once been and farther into the memory which had been inadvertently chosen. The first person they came across looking much like Malva with a few differences but similar enough for him to guess they were related in some way. The Aspect spoke a name but it meant nothing to Benjamin as he did his best to stay close to Malva and not wander off into the memory. As Malva’s head turned so did Ben’s wanting to see what she did his eyes widening slightly his jaw going slack though why it surprised him to Malva he wasn’t sure. After all these were her memories which meant she would be apart of them. The Aspect appeared younger which meant it was likely before she was an Aspect so Benjamin was seeing her at a time that few had ever witnessed.
Her hair was a light auburn which seemed to refract the light to give the color dimension and life. It was hard not to notice how Malva clung to the very same necklace as she watched the memory unfold, after all she already knew what was to come and Benjamin was clueless. Soon an argument ensued and as he listened in he could understand why the younger Malva was upset as they followed after the fleeing girl who had tears streaming down her cheeks. Unlike the Malva of today she wasn’t yet hardened by life but he had the feeling that events such as this were what made her that way.
The sounds of the words being spoken were heartbreaking but unbeknownst to Malva it was a sentiment he understood well. His mother might not have sold him off for riches but she had made it clear she only kept him around for the income, that he was nothing, worthless and someone she didn’t want in her life. It wasn’t exactly the same but the feeling this memory likely brought up in Malva was one he understood all too well, it was one he pushed down everyday of his life and he did he best to close off that chapter of his life. Their footsteps moved faster before they once more in the hallway.
“I can’t blame you for wanting to avoid memories like that. Those of mine I try to lock away in a place I’ll never look but they still sneak up on me from time to time.” Or when his mother was able to get his phone number even though it wasn’t listed. “If it tells us anything though it’s that we’re in the right place, right?” He asked as his eyes scanned the halls, each door was similar and yet different, having it’s own distinct look to it though none of them held any clues as to what was locked away behind them. “Guess the only thing left to do is try more doors.” He didn't really have any words of wisdom or encouragement for something like this.
It took Malva a while to regain her breath and compose herself when she noticed they were no longer in the room anymore. They were back in the hallway. Although this hallway was a bit different from the one they were in at the beginning. It only had two pathways. "What is this supposed to be...good or bad route? This is a joke. This whole thing is a joke." She huffed, obviously trying not to act like what she saw earlier did not bother her the slightest when in reality, they both knew it shook her enough. "I did lock them away..I even went as far to have Aureus keep them off the grid. I can't look weak nor can I be bothered by it. I just can't..I can't afford to do that. If I'm jeopardized, then what would become of me? I'm supposed to protect my element but if I can't even straighten myself out from these-- trivial things, how will I be able to focus myself on my duty." That's the sad thing about the current mindset Malva had.
"But yes..we should be in the right place, since this feels like a nightmare." She knew she couldn't have time to mess around, and she's only so young yet ancient at the same time. Despite being over 1290 years old, the Aspect of Magic has yet to feel like she's matured alongside her experiences and real age. She still felt distant from that aspect. Most of the time, it was due to her confusion that she never confide in anyone. Instead, she chose to keep it hidden and bottled up inside so she could figure it out on her own. "Are we supposed to follow the yellow bricked path or something? This isn't Oz, Malva." To say the least, she was definitely ready to fight her own self in her own head. She tried to calm herself and decided to go the path that called out to her the most. Which was the right one. "I hope this right one saved the right memories." Then again, she wasn't sure she had much of it. They took their time, surveying each door as they walk through the hallway until Mal stopped in front of a particular door.
Without hesitating, the Aspect of Magic twisted the door knob and entered, with Benjamin trailing behind her. The first thing that caught her attention was the sight of her younger sister, Argent, running to the house they stayed in when Venetus gathered them to work as a family, helping people. She remembered this one too. It's kinda hard not to get flashbacks when you're seeing them play out like some VOD in front of you. "So much for 'right' path." It seemed like her journeys would be filled with memories she never wanted to remember again. When they get back, Malva was sure to scold herself for making herself go through the trouble again. She went closer to see how things play out clearly. "I guess I should give you a brief introduction on how this goes. This, is how our path as a family started..or ended. I can't find the right word since both suits the situation." Now, Malva was not keen to replay the whole thing again but she didn't really have much of a choice, did she?
Since they were practically invisible in her own memories, it wasn't harmful if she wanted front seat row to see what unfolds. Following them as her siblings seemed to rush over to the city where Virindeus was held captive by the royal guards for no reason, she couldn't help but to frown slightly at the situation. "God I've always hated that guy." She shook her head as she crossed her arms when she saw King Mitus walked smugly. How badly did she want to ruin his parade? Here's a hint. With all her heart. "You let go of him! Why are you holding our brother captive. He's done nothing wrong." Cora was the first to exclaim as they saw how mangled up their youngest member of the family were. It cause an uneasy feeling to stir up in her guts. How weak they were.
"I know what all of you are. I know exactly what you are." He boomed and in unison, both Malvas seemed to be no different because they rolled their eyes at the king. "No need to tell us the obvious, your majesty. We are a family that has gotten on your nerves due to our teachings that we have spread out in your kingdom. Our brother's done nothing. He's stolen nothing nor has he caused harm to anyone. If anything, your petty guards were the ones bullying him." It would have surprised the king seeing Malva speak seeing as she only used her mouth when she needed to snap back a few remarks. Other than that, her piercing eyes would do the job just fine. "You act as if you were one of us, while you devious deceitful abominations walked amongst us with such ignorance!" Malva already didn't like the king that stood on his ground proudly ever since they resided here since he has brought nothing but misfortune to his lands.
"And you, I've heard what my wife has talked about. About you being a witch!" Ok, ouch. Among the many things she didn't like hearing from those people in the long length conversation, this took the trophy for her. And it seems like her siblings knew very well the very word triggered Malva. "You speak as if it's a disgusting and vile thing. We are people too, we have feelings. Now that I've seen it, we're better than you savages." That was one of the many reasons why Mal did not like people referring her to a witch. She would prefer priestess or enchantress. The only times she tolerated such word is when she knew the context wasn't meant to be offensive. She felt like the term has grown to be quite vulgar for their species. After all, the supernatural were a minority back then, most of them keeping themselves hidden. She was glad that today, they could roam more freely. And it does seem like humans were beginning to accept them even easier than the early centuries.
She knew she might have preferred a few things that wasn't much in 21st century but she knew civilization was NOT one of them. They had let themselves be taken captive as they were ambushed in their home and imprisoned. They couldn't fight them. Not because they couldn't, it was because they wouldn't. They live on the principles they had when they became a family. To never cause harm to anyone. They obviously didn't think being too nice could be a problem just as well. But that's a lesson to be learnt from. Struggling against the ropes that was slowly burning through her flesh due to its tight knot, they awaited their fate in the cold cell. Malva had no more tears to cry. And she shouldn't. She should have felt some kind of fear when they were told that they were going to be executed in front of everyone, most of those who caught up to their teachings. Only to be proven wrong. The guards dragged them to the town square where everyone was present. Forcing them on their knees, the old oaf of a king revealed their identities and she was a bit distraught to see those who embraced their teachings turn a blind eye due to their identity,
That was when she felt the resentment slowly seeping in. They were all the same. She was stupid, foolish and naive to think some of them could be different. Maybe it was because she thought there was more to them. When asked if they regretted coming to the town to spread their teachings, alongside her siblings, Malva proudly exclaimed that the only regret she had was not hexing the king when she had the chance. Until the end, it seems like they didn't fear the concept of death. They have done what they have. And if this is going to be it, so be it. It was more than what she had for a life before anyways. It comes to a point where Mal wasn't able to witness the execution that took place because the memory of her siblings being incarcerated permanently would leave her traumatic and scarred. So, she turned around to face another direction as the sword did the work. Why didn't hanging work back then? It was probably because they were slightly smart enough to know hanging wouldn't deliver the sentence they wanted to serve. Then, they were back in the hallway.
"Honestly, there has got to be some pleasant memory somewhere in here."
Benjamin waited quietly as Malva recovered from the memory they had just exited. So far she was taking this all far better than he would have if the memories had been his to comb through. Then again until recently there had been less good memories and more bad. Evermore and the people he had met within it where beginning to change that though and he was grateful for it. “I think the lack of signs is part of the challenge. If we’re going to find the memory you want I have the feeling we’re going to encounter your worst memories before we get there.” It only made sense given that any sane person would turn away depending on exactly how bad the memories got. “Maybe this is the only way to get what we’re looking for because you wanted yourself to have to face the demons of your past and move on.” He wasn’t really sure but so far the single memory seemed far from trivial and even as she said it he didn’t believe that she meant it was truly trivial. Maybe on the grand scale of balance it was trivial but not on a personal level.
“Seems a smart defense mechanism if I’m being honest. After all, most people don’t want to have to witness their own worst memories in full 4k quality with realistic projection.” It made him feeling like he didn’t belong, like an outside who shouldn’t be tagging along since despite not knowing her he did feel for her. To be used and bartered by your own family was something that stuck with you and not in the good way, making it hard to trust which made sense on why she was so closed off. “I think we’re just supposed to follow your instinct and hope that a house some Kansas doesn’t crush us.” He replied in a dry manner trying to at least make somewhat of a joke in a serious moment.
As the Aspect of Magic picked another door they both walked through and into a new memory which seemed to be set in a time he couldn’t exactly pinpoint. The young redheaded woman seemed to have caught Malva’s eyes though as they both watched her towards a home before following. “I’m thinking the right path it meant to be the hardest one for you. Which means I’m really not sure I want to know what’s to come.” The words she spoke were ominous and he recalled her speaking of her own execution in his office and he realized, this was the lead up to the death of the Ailward before they were reborn as Aspects.
There was nothing Ben could do other than watch and listen to the injustice which left the older man’s lips his eyes blazing with obvious hatred for Malva and her family. None of the Ailward could sway the King but none of them begged, they remained proud as the sentence was given. If they were afraid none of them really showed it and the tears he saw seemed to be for their lives which were meant to end though maybe some were tears of anger.
He had observed the crowd as many seemed conflicted and he imagined that the Ailward had probably preached to them and taught them and yet none spoke up in their defense. It was the like witch hunts of Europe and New England, everyone in attendance too afraid to say anything in fear that they might be next on the execution block. It was a close minded away of thinking but he had no doubt that this ruthless King would have no problem cutting down any who opposed him. Was he any different though? Upon finding out about the supernatural beings in the city he was afraid and considered them dangerous without knowing better. Until he realized they were much like he was, just trying to fit in and have a life outside of what they were but centuries ago he was sure people were too afraid of anything different to care or try to understand.
Much like the saying on a train wreck, he just couldn’t look away as the Aspects were drug to the town square and one by one executed in the only way which would kill a supernatural. None of them begged though, instead they held their heads high and accepted their fate believing in their cause and becoming martyrs. Ben quietly wondered to himself how many in the crowd had continued to secretly carry on the teachings of the Ailward and how many had potentially become Guards in the future. There had to at least be a few. At least that was his hope but there was no way for him to tell one way or another. Instinctively reaching out as she looked away from the scene he gave her hand a squeeze of reassurance before they were back in the hall.
“I’m sure there are pleasant memories I just don’t think we’re going to encounter them on this trip.” He answer in a tone of realism instead of sarcasm. “Though now I can understand why all eight of you were brought back. I’m sorry partially for what happened but more for the fact that you have to relive it with a stranger.” Since that was something most wouldn’t want to share.
"I knew I'm quite the creative one when it comes to twisting things up when needed, but I didn't think I'd be this determined enough to make sure the particular memory stays hidden and never resurface." She mumbled, still in disbelief when she reminded herself that she still did not want to believe it that she was capable to do more than what people think she would. Or things people never thought she would do. Somewhere deep inside her, Malva was sure what she did was mostly unforgivable, and that's something seeing as what she's done to the Celestials. She literally erased their existence so long as they stay under their captive. Now what could be more worse than that alone?
"But that's the thing though. I always trusted my instincts, that's the good part. But nothing good comes without their pretty partners. So there's also a bad part. Which just so happens to be in the same context as well. Apparently, not all of my choices came out to be good nor right. While I prefer that trait because I'm no Mary Sue, I do wish for it to go on a holiday for some time while we're at it. Pretty sure no house in Kansas is gonna land on us though, seeing as I've never been there." She might not have the best selection range of humor, but she had them, somewhere. Most of the times, she doesn't dwell upon it. Made sure to keep her wit elsewhere where it'll be useful and needed. Hearing his said something about the right path they were headed would be the worst path for her, she couldn't help but to wince slightly at the mention of it. "I've lived a long life so far, and I'm sorry to say, I do have my fair share of bad recollections. Not sure which tops which. That's what I'm mainly worried on. My brother says I'm- unpredictable. Even I can't predict myself. And I don't like not knowing things. I like to think knowledge is power, after all. And not knowing just brings the bitter taste in my mouth."
Which was quite the truth. Malva sometimes questioned herself why she was being complicated, even with herself. At some point, she just resorted to the fact that she was just born a complicated child. At least that reason worked well for her. "Don't be sorry. It's done and now I am reminded why I harbored so much hatred for your kind. It's a bit funny, isn't it? When you first came here, you knew nothing about us, the different people lurking in the shadows... And as soon as you found out that there is more than just people like you, you were also quick to judge. You hated us. It's easy to read you when you're linked, which is what we're at. I don't do that though, seeing as no matter how much of a pain I am, I do held respect for privacy. Though suffice for me to say, you're not a hard person to read. Everything about you just oozes out and I don't even have to tap in." While they were walking in the clear hallway, she turned to face him a few times. She needed time to pick the next door, one she hoped she was ready to witness, again.
"Don't worry. I don't judge. I used to, but I grew out of it. I could understand why you hated us before, it's the same for me. After my execution and my resurrection, despite being blessed with more abilities far fetched than we originally had, I wasn't content nor was I happy. Being able to start a new life with my family should have been enough, but it wasn't. I could always feel something missing. I'm just not sure what it was. To answer your not so loud question, none of the audience became a part of our guard. They were all humans. Unfortunately. They did cling on to our teachings and managed to insert them into their daily lives but that's all that it was. We weren't even given a proper burial. We were left like that..like some butchered animal. Where honestly, some animals deserved better treatment than ours. I could still remember them. The days we spent out in the cold cell, we weren't sure if we'll ever get out. If we'll die or if we'll be locked up and used." Letting out a sigh, she shook her head lightly at his statement earlier.
"I don't want your pity, Benjamin. We never wanted any pity from anyone. What we wanted was for people to see that we're not the bad guys here. We never were and despite our mistakes, we never intent to be one. It's a huge character development for sure, from being butchered to being who we are now. It's what you humans call..evolution? I understand it's hard to believe that you had this group of people who could protect you. Who wanted to. Who were powerful and yet they use it to help people. I would find it hard to believe it too. There's a reason why not many knew of our existence. We didn't want to become the center of attention. Because we know, where there is light, there will always be a darkness somewhere. Power is power." Malva understood the concept of power, or at least she liked to think she did. "I used to hate humans. So much. I guess it's safe to say I resented them. No one helped us, and while I understand, we do still have feelings so we could feel all those emotions in one place. And when bottled up so long, it starts to seep out. The fire that runs deep in my blood that held so much hatred for humans never ceased. It got better in time, but I guess it's just me being old soul and didn't want to believe that we could co-exist." She cling on the smile as if it was her last resort.
She wasn't even sure why she's telling him that. Maybe because she felt defenseless and tired. She didn't want to feel the need to justify their actions anymore. She's exhausted. Stopping in front of a door after a while of walking, she stared at the door knob. "I have a feeling that this door is gonna hurt me. Really bad. Please remember to wake me up if I needed it." Twisting the door knob for the third time and entered the room. By now, she's gotten used to feeling the small anxious feeling surrounding herself. At first, she couldn't identify the room they were in. Until she saw a sight of her dragging her dress and cloak with her, obviously furious with the actions of her youngest brother, Virindeus. She was wet from head to toe. But even then, she still couldn't remember which memory this was supposed to be. "When I get a hold of you, Deus, I will turn you into an animal for more than 24 hours, brother." That was enough to send the Aspect of Life on his feet, leaving his oldest sister fuming. Ven threw a towel at her for her to dry herself. Judging from the dress, she could identify it to be somewhere in the late 19th century or so.
Then it hit her. This was a day before everything went sour for the Aspects. "No.." If you think the previous memory they went to was enough to send her off the edge, this one wasn't even starting yet and the Aspect of Magic wanted to get out desperately. "Get me out..Get me out of here." She turned to Benjamin and tried to find the door but to no avail, all her attempts were futile. Malva managed to figure out the pattern a while ago, if there was no door for them to return to the hallway to, it means they were on the right track to retrieve the hidden memory. But she felt like she would end up having a panic attack if she goes any further into this particular memory. However, she knew she couldn't get out of this one and the more she delayed it, the more it will stretch out. Willing herself to go through the memory, she closed her eyes for a while before getting back to herself.
That was the only sentence she needed to hear from herself when she asked Venetus, to know how terrible things are going to go down next. Next thing she knew, it warped into another scene. Malva was in her room, back in the Isle of Skye where she actually had a few good nights of sleep and that night was one of them. For a while, at least. Mal leaned against the wall as she watched her sleeping figure. She never knew she looked so serene with tranquility when she's rested and sleeping. Her light blondish hair was tied into braids, something she seemed to take from her mother. The only good thing she remembered learning from her mother. All of sudden, she saw as Malva shifted in her sleep, a sight very usual for her siblings but never her, whenever she had a nightmare. A while later, she woke up from her sleep with a jolt. Her piercing blue hues scanning the whole room as she tried to compose herself. It was as of then, the rain poured down heavily accompanied by the storms.
She lets out a heaved sigh as she tried to gather herself back up. Staring at her reflection in the mirror, she wrapped a cloak around her body and went to seek out the first person she usually does whenever she had any troubled dreams. Aureus. Although she felt like she could fall down the steps any moment, she dismissed it, thinking it was just her being sleep deprived again. The moment she got to his room, she didn't even bother to knock before coming in. "Reus..it happened again. Only this time--it's different. It felt so real and instead of past memories or common nightmares, I felt like I was momentarily trapped in the astral plane. I felt a bit of light and then the darkness seeped in and--I couldn't get out. I couldn't get up." She didn't know how to explain it but she was frantically doing so. That was when she saw Aureus fell down from his bed, clutching himself and grunted out in pain. It took the younger sister by surprise as she tried to check what was wrong with her brother. When she couldn't get any response, she told Aureus to wait there as she went ahead to find help. Which was to seek out her siblings, no doubt. She went to the living room only to find her other siblings scattered there, where one by one was beginning to feel the same effects as Reus did. Slowly, even she ended up staggering in her steps as she clutched on to her head. She felt like aneurysms were being given out to her, only a hundred times worse. Maybe more. Her whole body felt weak as she ended up screaming out in pain soon enough. Her other siblings tried to help but they too, ended up the same. She saw from the corner of her eye, Aureus using his every strength to crawl his way there.
They felt helpless. They felt weak. It felt like they were being torn apart..over and over again. She knew it was one of the memories torturing herself again. She couldn't bear to see her siblings hurt and this time, this one actually brought tears to her eyes. When was the last time she cried? Ever since the fall of the Isle. Every day for months. When Ophelia failed her mission, the course of history was upturned and ruptured, leaving every aspects of the world being jeopardized. And who, better than the people guarding it to feel the damage? Malva clenched her jaw and balled up her fist as she watched how they twisted and turn in the never-ending pain. "I remember being so helpless..useless..everything. Before you people start pointing fingers at us for causing the Celestials their loss to freedom, this was what hit us first. I couldn't even help myself no matter how much I tried to, much less my siblings. We lay there, for days long because none of our guards knew what was happening to us. The imbalance..the rupture. It tore us apart internally. I could still remember screaming for it to stop. But it never did, not really. It only subsided for a short while until we were forced to get back up to our feet and mend this problem." She seethed, her voice holding so much pain and regret. It made sense for the Aspect of Magic to feel more emotional in there, seeing as it was supposed to overwhelm her. And that was only the third step. Who knows how many more she needed to trudge through.
Then, they were back in the hallway where she finally lets out her burden and slumped down against the wall. "I didn't mean to take their rights of freedom..We just wanted nothing like that to happen again. The fact that we couldn't die from it makes it even worse. I could tell you that I would prefer death than what happened back there. It broke us. And I'll be damned if another strike like that ever happens again." She wasn't even noticing the tears streaming down her cheek. "I did what I did because I can't see so many deaths occur again..nor do I want to feel that pain again. I will never survive it if I were to go through it again. Even when we mended it, until it was properly cooled down, we still got shook to the core from the same wave. A century..that's how long it took.."
At this point Ben was just doing his best to follow along with everything which was occurring as they jumped from one memory to the next each one getting worse and it was clearly taking a mental toll on Malva whether or not she wanted to admit it or talk about it. First her parents trying to trade her to further themselves in life and then the execution of herself and her siblings. Neither was the sort of memory which filled you with love and joy. They seemed to be necessary memories to pass through though or he assumed that the doors would remain, it was like breadcrumb trail of the most painful and bitter memories that Malva possessed.
Malva was right, there was a flip side to everything good and bad, light and dark, day and night, happiness and sorrow. Apparently in their travels all they were going to encounter were one side of her memories so it seemed only fair that her instincts would at least help them in this endeavor. The wicked witch had never been to Kansas either,” The look she shot him was not one of amusement, “Just saying.” He responded before shutting himself up before she really got annoyed with him. “I think regardless of the amount of time a person has been alive, everyone has bad recollections but judging by the ones I’ve seen so far yours are worst than most. In some cases unpredictability is a good thing but I don’t think it’s going to do us much good in finding what we’re looking for.” He did have to agree with the fact that not knowing did make them rather powerless at the moment since they were just hoping they were on the right path if there even was one.
Glancing towards her as she told him not to be sorry he couldn’t help but raise a brown in question before wincing at her words. “Linked or not you aren’t exactly right. I didn’t hate you or the rest of the supernaturals I was more afraid than anything else which is a natural response to the unknown. I understand why you would hate humanity though since at least you have a reason for it but we aren’t all bad we’re just…a little misguided at times.” Which was why it was so easy for him to change his stance and belief on the supernatural even if it wasn’t necessarily a popular opinion on the Privy Council or in the Organisation. “I’m not a person who likes to hide much other than a few personal matters. My thoughts are usually pretty clear to read on my face but I guess I’m just that honest.” He said with a shrug since she was far from the first to tell him he was easy to read. He really wasn’t a judgmental person for the most part but he had judged and made assumptions upon finding out the truth of the city he lived in.
“I made some snap judgements and once I figured that I changed my way of thinking, if I hadn’t I wouldn’t believe in Valentine’s innocence or be here with you. Regardless of species we’re all living beings and yeah there are some bad apples in ever bunch but that doesn’t spoil the whole thing.” Ben already felt guilty enough about his original thoughts and opinions on the supernatural he didn’t need a reminder. Though he had the feeling Malva wasn’t intentionally trying to make him feel guilty, it just happened since she could feel and sense his probably very loud thoughts and feelings. He quieted and listened as she answered the question he wasn’t too sure on how to ask, “They may not have become part of the guard but even though they didn’t speak up, they didn’t allow your teachings to die either.” He knew it wasn’t much in way of righting that very large wrong but at least some had done something after. A deep wave of sadness washed over him as she spoke of how they had been left not even being given burial rights but left to the elements and wild animals it was sick and far from what they seemed to deserve.
“You’re mistaking sympathy for pity and I can promise you Malva that those are two different things. No one should know that kind of suffering before having their own life taken from them and then to be discarded as if they’re nothing!” Pity held such a negative connotation to it and he wasn’t trying to come off that way, “Forgive me for trying to be compassionate where some humans before me obviously weren’t.” He wasn’t trying to sound so bitter over it but Malva was so closed off and didn’t seem to know how to take offered comfort so instead twisted it. He understood that the Ailward Guard and Ailward Aspects had only ever been protectors wanting to help people and once they became Aspects they were tasked with people balance and protecting a world which had turned on them and that had to be hard to stomach. “Power corrupts and causes good and bad men to either want to harness and use those more powerful than them or completely wipe them out. That’s not something that’s only a part of human nature though that’s part of everyone but not everyone acts on it or wants that power or to be above others. I’m sorry that humans royally screwed you over in the past Malva but I do believe we can co-exist but not if we hold things that others have done against entire species.” Malva’s beliefs apparently going against the very thing he and Sariah were fighting so hard for but unfortunately the Aspect’s feelings were held by many at the Organisation as well.
The two fell into silence as the Aspect picked another door and honestly he had the same feeling even if they hadn’t passed into the memory yet. With each one progressively getting worse he knew the latest memory would be no walk in the park. Even though he nodded as she reminded him to wake her if necessary he had the feeling they were getting incredibly close to where they needed to be, but he didn’t want to push her past her mental breaking point to get there either. The two once more stepped into the memory the door disappearing and he watched the expression on Malva’s face as she tried to place what memory they were in. The words which left her lips in the memory caused him to chuckle since that seemed very much like her and he imagined that only her siblings ever got away with tormenting her though surely they paid a price as well even if it was lesser than what others would get.
Before his very eyes the color seemed to drain from Malva’s face as she seemed to realize what memory she was in and what was to come. She swiftly turned and began to yell at him to get them out but there was no exit, she knew that and trying to wake her from such a state could do more harm than good so he did the first thing he could think of. Reaching out he slowly placed his hands on either side of her face and forced her to look at him. “Breathe, Malva breathe, this isn’t real. It may have happened but it isn’t real right now.” His clear blue eyes were full of concern and strength and he stared into her own panicked ones having never expected to see her in such a state. “Malva, this is going to be over soon, just look at me, I’m not going anywhere, I’m right here with you and you aren’t alone.” His heart ached for her since despite being ancient she looked so young and frightened in this moment.
As Ben watched the memory changed to Malva sound asleep in her room, a youthful and light expression on her features, it was such a change from the woman he had met a few days ago and now stood beside. The sleeping Aspect suddenly jolted up in bed and he couldn’t help but actually jump having been caught off guard, the urge to give a nervous chuckle was strong but he had the feeling it wasn’t the time for that. After a few moments she got out of the bed and left the room though she seemed rather unsteady on her feet as she walked calling out for one of her brothers. Aureus, one of the few he actually knew of. She spoke of what she experienced in a quick and frightened tone as she watched the elder Aspect fall in what seemed to be some intense form of pain and torment, he could almost feel her panic growl as she went to check on her brother who he was sure hadn’t been in this shape since their rebirth.
The Aspect of Magic left the room to seek help and as he looked over at Malva as it all played out he could see the tears beginning to well in her eyes. His attention was split between the Malva of the past and the vulnerable one beside him as she seemed to be going through some sort of excruciating pain as she clutched at her head in the way he assumed most would do should a Nephilim use their powers on you. But this was one a wide scale a tormented scream ripping from her lungs and echoing around in his head which almost caused the tears to gather in his own eyes as the same thing over took her other siblings none of them able to help each other the pain incapacitating them.
Turning towards Malva as she spoke the empathy was clear on his features since as she had previously stated, he didn’t hide things very well. Stepping closer to her he reached up and gently wiped at her tears as she defended herself and her siblings for their actions against the newest species in the city. The truth was that no one knew why the two species held such dislike for one another nor why the Ailward had trapped them on the Isle of Skye but this cleared up so much for him. “The myth about catching a star and being granted a wish is partially true isn’t it? But like all myths and fairytale beginnings the truth of it is much darker.” He said trying to wrap his head fully around what had happened, “If you’re all meant to be in charge of balance for each of your elements and this happened to you….what happened to the world?” He asked softly, almost afraid of the answer.
The truth was that most of them knew very little about the Celestials other than they were a species of pure light being actual fallen stars. Ben had no idea they could cause any sort of damage let alone down all eight Aspects for days and change the very course of history. Clearly he had been naïve to think that a species of light couldn’t or wouldn’t be destructive. He hadn’t even noticed they were back in the hallway as he stared into Malva’s tear filled cry trying to sooth the emotions torment which was ripping through her from the latest memory. “Malva, I think we need to take a break or throw in the towel, you can’t keep going like this or you’re going to have a mental break.” He was no psychologist by any means but the stress of the last two memories alone couldn’t be good for her and they have no idea what was to come. Of course he wanted to know the truth of what happened to his grandfather and what Malva had hid from herself but he didn't want to destroy her mental state to get there.
It might have seen as if Malva turned a deaf ear to whatever Benjamin was saying but truthfully, despite the torturous form of mental pain that washed over her, she did remember every single word. That was how attentive she was. So when he asked if the whole description of a Celestial being was true, she nodded weakly. She was still slumped against the wall as she wiped away her remaining tears. However, the Aspect of Magic seemed to have taken his advices on slowing down. For a while, at least. She did feel a certain struggle and strain on what was occurring to them as of that moment. "Yes, it is. It's supposedly something superstitious that even I wouldn't want to believe. But the world works in mysterious ways ; ways we can't even imagine despite living your whole life, having yourself dedicated to fixing it. Nothing was ever all light..not really. You saw my story, my parents were Faes, they were what you would call light diviner these days. And yet, look at the way they abused their power, they were no where near the word kind and light-hearted. They were deceitful, conniving people."
As she spoke about them, she stared at the wall across her, where it would seem she might even glare a hole in it. But instead of being angry, she was more to being traumatized by what she witnessed earlier and felt rather tired, as if all the energy was slowly drained from her with every door she entered. It was a mental war. She might've been smart and intelligent, but she didn't get them without any price. A price she's paid, or at least, is paying for. "We didn't want anything like that to happen again. We didn't want any problems that occurred within the course of time. It's not easy to fix them. It's harder when you're not at your full strength too. We don't just snap our fingers and poof, problem's solved. Sometimes, I wonder if all of this was worth it. Was living my life in such contempt worth it? All the sufferings that came with it? And for what-- to help the world that maybe didn't want to be helped. I've encountered so many who didn't want to be saved."
Malva often spoke of the exhaustion and deprivation that slowly clung on her as the centuries pass off. More than anything, she wanted to help those who needed them. Because she was just as lost as they were, only she, is fortunate enough to be found by Venetus and the others. But as the years go by, she too questioned, what if they didn't want to helped? Why do they help them so? She's lived for quite some time yet her mindset still had the thoughts of a younger adult. She never had a chance at curiosity all her life, maybe that's why everything is coming back to her. "You asked the same question I did about a century ago. What happened to the rest of the world? I wasn't sure about the others since we had our own individual aspects to look after and not enough time to spare. I knew a few soon enough --nature was torn. It was ruptured. Some who shouldn't live, lived. Those who were supposed to be below the ground, didn't die. The people who were supposed to live, they died. History changed its course, the events that was supposed to happen, happened. The elements were unrest..tsunamis, flood, earthquakes.. the natural disasters that shouldn't take place. And of course magic..immortality..that one was tricky."
The point was not to remember those painful memories but Malva couldn't help to see all those small figments in her head the more she spoke of it. Maybe for the better. "The wars that happened because of the change..it was countless. Which meant- countless souls were reaped off them on the battlefields. Since magic was everywhere in the corners of the world, it was single-handedly jeopardized alongside others. When we fixed one problem, another arises. It's a never-ending cycle. I swore it felt like it'll never end. Until, one day we finally settled them all. They were stable enough. A few weeks later, we were called to intervene to the hole conflict that rose up in this city. There, a peace treaty and agreement was struck and everything was well. We were able to go home." Her voice was hollow, her eyes boring into the floor like it was the most interesting thing she's seen.
"Then that happened. Our home. Destroyed. Tragically. Without any reason. We were lost once again. But we couldn't be weak, because we just couldn't. We had a duty and it won't stop to give us time to mourn. So that was what we did. We mourned and grieved..we were taken over by emotions. We didn't have a home anymore, we didn't have a body to bury or burn because there was none. Imagine, one day you were just weeping by the memorial built for the souls that was sacrificed in the Isle, when suddenly bodies started to fell down.. Parts of them. Who belonged to your friends. Your family. No wonder I broke down hysterically." She chuckled coldly, sniffing slightly from the train of emotions that decided to pour down on her. It was taking a toll on her, being where they were. Malva proved to be unpredictable again despite the Aspect of Magic thinking she's got her pattern figured out. She knew she might be hit by the past memories that tormented her but she had no idea that the longer she lingered, the more weaker she'd end up.
Much like what Benjamin said, she was slowly hurting her own mental state. She was too overwhelmed by the burden that came along with it. Especially when she's sealed it off for long. "You're right..I need to take a break. If I go on any longer, I'll probably go crazy. As if I'm not already insane." She got up to her feet with the help of him and stared at the many doors down the hallway before sighing. "Come on. Let's go back. I'll find some other way to get through this soon." With that, Malva closed her eyes and when she fluttered them open, she saw the ceiling of her room. Getting up from her spot, she made sure Benjamin wasn't left behind as well. Thankfully, he wasn't. She sat there, on the carpet, where Constance came plopping on to her lap and her hand finding its direction to the fur. "I didn't know why I did what I did. I didn't even want to disclose such information to anyone else but I just felt tortured to the point I felt like I needed to confess." She knew, with such information, it could be a huge part on him. He possessed knowledge not many had. Yes, not even all of the Guards knew of it, much less someone she's only just met. She wondered if she shared such content with his grandfather but she figured, he was a different case.
"I hope you'll keep it to yourself..If anyone else finds out, especially my siblings, they will find you and I'm not sure what'll happen then. Not to worry though..I think I have just the thing to make sure you're cloaked and protected from any harm." She got up and took something from her jewelry box before tossing it into his hand. "I don't give protective charms. My sister, Argent does. Wouldn't want to give a run on her money..But, as Aspect of Magic, those enchantments do come in handy. It's not my siblings that I'm worried about, it's the people out there. While we do have allies, or at least I think we do, we also have enemies..everywhere. Who knows how many we have in this city, much less around the world. It wouldn't necessarily protect you, but it will give me a heads up if you're faced with supernatural kind of danger. So sorry to put you in such a tight situation. I hope it'll be worth it in the end. I've been around false hopes more times than I count."
Silence seemed to echo around them neither speaking for a few moments in the empty hall where doors seemed to taunt them. He had no idea how many more they would have to traverse before they got to the memory they needed but he could tell Malva was in a delicate and fragile state of mind and she didn’t even try to hide it though he doubted that she could even if she tried. The tears spilling from her vulnerable light blue hues began to slow as she wiped at her own tears. Listening to her words he released a sigh. “By the time I moved out I’m pretty sure my Mom would have traded me for a regular sized bottle of Jack Daniels so I understand the useless and ladder climbing parents thing.” Though he honestly wished that he didn’t since it wasn’t something he wished on anyone. “After my father’s death my mom got the pay out for his life insurance and paid monthly by the US government and I never saw a dime of that money. So when I enlisted I took out a life insurance policy on myself to be paid to the order of a charity because even in death I didn’t want her to make anything of me.” The beneficiary was the same for the US military to pay should he be killed in combat which thankfully hadn’t happened.
Malva had been lucky in regards to finding Venetus and finding a new family. After all even if they didn’t always get along it was clear from her memories that they cared deeply for one another and not because they felt it necessary due to blood. Though blood didn’t always mean anything to some obviously. The closest thing Ben had to anything like that would be the Privy Council but honestly that was like traversing a mine field somedays since few of them agreed on anything. He and Sariah often sharing looks of strained patience while trying to make it through another meeting. However much like the Aspects, the Privy Council was meant to be about balance and protection, a voice in multiple sectors of the city human structure. “I can’t imagine that anyone who went through what you all have would want it to happen again. I can only imagine that it was a major catastrophe if all of your elements were knocked out of balance and it’s not exactly the sort of thing you fix with duct tape and maximum effort.” Her bitter and cynical view on things wasn’t that much of a surprised to him, not anymore since he felt like he was able to better understand where that all came from. “Just because no everyone wants to be saved or help themselves doesn’t mean that the world as a whole doesn’t want that help. There’s a saying about not being able to help a person who won’t help themselves but in the same turn you move on and you might just find someone who wants to be helped and saved. We aren’t all hopeless or cynical.”
Benjamin tried to hold to the belief that people were mostly good and wanted help and to survive but he also knew there were those that no matter how hard you tried to save you eventually had to step back before they took you down with them. Benjamin was tasked with the balance of protecting all species in the city and doing right by them all, the Aspects pretty much had that duty for the whole world. At least for once Ben had asked a pretty good question since he had the feeling that other than the Aspects themselves very few knew what really happened or what changed. Though as he listened to her answer horror washed over him which was evident in his features and slackened jaw since he had no idea what to say. Malva was right, everyone judged the Aspects harshly on what was done to the Celestials but no one understood why it had been done and when put in this way it truly opened his eyes. It might not have been the most ideal of solutions but it had been for the greater good.
The pain of her words washed over him as he could tell that despite it happening long ago it still haunted her mind as if it were just yesterday. Though for an immortal maybe it was pretty much just yesterday wasn’t it? “The whole course of history changed because of a Celestial.” He said speaking more to himself than Malva as he tried to wrap his mind around it since he never believed that anything could be destructive and dangerous on such a wide scale. As she spoke of going home he knew at the time they idea of it had likely been a happy one but he also knew what had happened to keep the Aspects in the city and the loses it had caused. Well he didn’t know personally but he had learned through the Organisation’s archives.
The human would never fully understand the twisted recollection of events that Malva was telling, there was no way to truly feel that sorrow without having been affected by it or seeing it first hand. After all the first time the Aspects had lost their home they weren’t even Aspects yet and had been brutally and thoughtless murdered out of fear. However when the Isle fell no one could given them rhythm nor reason for it. How many had been lost? How many had they believed to be lost who had somehow escaped destruction by not being on the Isle at that time? He couldn’t blame her for breaking down since it meant that she was sane since insane people didn’t break down. “I’m not going to say I understand because no one can fully understand what you went through without going through the same thing but I am sorry and it’s not pity Malva, it’s sympathy since your life is not what anyone should have to go through.” The fact that she still maintained balance and did her job as an Aspect and didn’t end up completely insane was astounding.
The two weren’t giving up, they were merely going to have to figure out something else since the fact that Malva had remained strong to this point was impressive but he knew it was due to sheer force of will. “Temporary insanity I can handle, full out insanity, not so much and I’m not sure there’s an Aspect of Insanity so I don’t think your title can be changed.” He said giving her a small smile as he tried to lighten the heavy mood when rested on them both. Before he could say anything else they were back in her room as his eyes were focusing on her ceiling as he stretched his back which seemed to have grown stiff. “If we have to go back in I’ll go in with you Malva, I just don’t want you to over extend or strain yourself if there’s another way. I want answers and I know you want them too but I’m not going to risk something happening to you to get them, they aren’t worth that to me.” After all nothing was worth someone’s sanity and it wasn’t worth putting Malva through her literal version of hell. “No one can hold everything inside for eternity Malva, pain, torment, sorrow, it has to come out eventually or it will ware away at us until there’s nothing left.” It was already clear Benjamin knew more than any human should but it was all very personal to Malva and despite them meeting recently he didn’t want to break her trust.
“I’ve kept my own fair share of secrets for the better part of my life Malva. What I saw tonight and what you told me, they aren’t my secrets to tell regardless of the threats that might rise if I run my mouth. You trusted my grandfather and he trusted you so I think it’s best if we trust each other too.” He watched her stand and moved to get something as he scratched under the tiger’s chin a deep purr coming from her as her tail swished and he couldn’t help but smile even if he was living dangerously by petting a man eating beast. His focus shifted as he caught what was thrown his way as she spoke, “You’re afraid that whoever caused my grandfather’s death and was looking for your spell book might not be done yet.” He should have phrased it as a question but why ask when you already knew the answer? “With being a human City Defense General when isn’t my life in danger? I’m not exactly everyone’s favorite person. Then again I think some tend to see me as a waste of tax dollars since they have no idea what I really do.” His tone was light as he tried to ease her worry over putting him into danger since he seemed to do a fine job of that himself.
“Hope tends to go one of two ways and you don’t know which way it’ll go until it happens. I know you are the optimistic type but I wouldn’t mind it too much if you tried to be just once.” He joked as he slid the charm into his pocket. “I might not be my grandfather who knows Latin and hung on your every word to learn by but I do want to do the right thing and help. I know I said I wasn’t going to bring you his full journal but I’m not really sure I have a choice if we want to find answers and that spell book.”