She knew it was wrong. How many times had she told herself that it was utterly and inexplicably wrong? More times than she could count to. Yet there she was, the now slightly flaxen haired Aspect of Magic was standing her ground on venturing off to the city of Argolis. Malva had placed all hands on deck upon deciding that she shall go off to Greece to search for any other possible answers she could be provided with, regarding the fall and destruction of their home, Isle of Skye. How could the Russian born woman forget about it? How could any one of them forget what happened? There was no way she could push it aside without investigating about it. Only, she knew she had to push the matter aside for a while as she got down and resolved other problems on her plate.

It has been at least an hour since she had let her eyes linger on the the red ruby pendant that laid prettily on the table not far off from where she stood. Malva leant against the wall of her room and crossed her arms in contempt. She wasn’t sure what to do with the petty little trinket that she has had in her possession for almost four centuries now. For such a small thing, it held a certain aura to it and it wasn’t at all near pleasantries. It held all the dark energy she harnessed for some particular missions back in the days. Sometimes, in order to best the darkness, was to overtake it using the lesser known method. One it doesn’t expect you to go for. Life did have a tendency at wanting the most twisted for everything.

Shaking her head at her own herself, she grabbed the pendant and tossed it into the drawer before closing it furiously and sat on her bed, her sapphire hues never leaving the mahogany wooden table. It didn't last as long as she thought it would though, seeing as Malva went back to grab it and pushed it inside her purse. It wasn’t as if she could avert her attention so easily without any reason to do so despite giving herself one very solid one. Which was to forget about the past and move ahead in her life. But it’s always easier said than done, per usual. The pendant might look fancy and pretty, but it was gleaming in a very malevolent light. And if there was anything Mal knew from centuries of dwelling around magic, it’s that she doesn’t go well surrounding herself with so much dark energy as it tempts her. But she needed it for this journey.

But after what Octavia told her that day, she couldn't forget about it. This is something she needed to do, she convinced herself to do it. Her touch with magic in general had been cut off, albeit not fully, but it doesn't feel like how it was supposed to feel and if Malva couldn't cope or adapt to those changes, then what's the point? Especially with the chaos incited as of late, things were hectic and it was slowly overwhelming the purple dragon to the brink of insanity. Mal had rummaged through her closet yesterday to find one particular book she kept locked away until she realized she didn't bring it with her. Keeping it in the manor should have been the safest choice but not to Malva, that book was way too important to just be laying around so she had kept it somewhere else in 1698. 

Mal didn't pack much, she literally only put enough clothes to last for a few weeks because the Citadel had their own clothes to be worn and they can venture to Athens if they want. Her hair was a lighter shade of brown and it was slightly longer, the Aspect of Magic stared at her reflection in the mirror before making her way downstairs with her luggage, to wait for Octavia at the living room. This trip wouldn't be anywhere near a luxurious vacation to Greece, yeah people know they'll stay at a hotel in Athens but Mal was going on a pilgrimage to Mycenae Citadel located in Argolis which would take all the attention away. She perched one arm on the couch and allowed her white persian ragdoll cat, Seraphire, nestle in her lap. 

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She pursed her lips for a moment wondering why something so important to magic would be so impossible to find but then it occurred to her that obviously they must be protecting the magic there because it could be misused if it got into the wrong hands and that made a lot more sense to her “And yet you’re somehow confident that we are going to be able to find the damn thing and get inside” though she did get the feeling that Mal’s plan was pretty much using pure determination. “And without your magic, I imagine the task is only doubled right?” so this was going to be pretty much mission impossible, good to know, not like they had flown for several hours to get here and had a lot riding on it or anything. She let out a sigh, of course she knew this wasn’t going to be easy but she had a little more hope before now which was slowly starting to fade.

“And what of Nephilim?” she questioned with a raised brow because it definitely occurred to her at this point that this seemed like somewhere that the average person wasn’t supposed to be able to find this place or access the magic within it “I don’t exactly fit into the Diviner club after all, should we have brought Iris instead?” she glanced over at the brunette and let out a long sigh, it actually seemed like neither of them actually knew how this was all going to unfold and Mal was hoping for the best. But then it occurred to Octavia that was the only option they really had left, the trip to the citadel was a grasp at straws in the first place and the real kick was that they might go through crazy stuff to get in there and then they still might not be able to figure out what was wrong with her magic “Poetic” she responded at the way Mal described nature and how it flowed.

“Oh, I know that, but for once I would love for a mission to just be a trip to a damn spa” she was just complaining because the stress of it all tended to get to her more these days, ever since Vlad had died she had felt herself questioning every move made, wondering if there was something else she should be doing “I know how much trouble loves you and honestly I sometimes wonder if you love it right back” whenever she heard something crazy happened she tended to hear Mal’s name along with it and at first she thought that was because magic was unpredictable but she got the feeling the aspect of magic was also pretty unpredictable. She laughed a little nervously at the specific way she described fighting a hydra-like monster “That sounds way too much like you actually fought a hydra-like monster” she glanced over at Mal who was looking pretty suspicious and sighed again “Do you actually have any good news to say?” she could really use some right now.

She didn’t even say a word about the people loving working with her thing and just focused on driving, thankfully the first part was mapped out well enough that she could figure out where they were supposed to go because Mal hadn’t given a single directional instruction again “The one where we tracking down that Celestial” she responded and shrugged, there had been a lot of those over the past century and it had definitely been an experience. One which felt almost unsettlingly familiar. “Well as long as the car is good who cares right” she rolled her eyes because the picture Mal was painting was only making her more jittery for what was to come “Alright less scaring the hell out of me and more reading the map” she instructed because they had come to a dark, quite windy road which was already unsettling her.

"Hey, you told me to stop being so pessimistic and for once, I actually am confident we'll be granted access inside" she shot, technically, she was granted and access, it wasn't the first time she's been there. But then again, it had been centuries before, someone new was bound to take over the order, right? "And I am confident. We'll get there." She won't stop until they were. Her magical connection relies entirely on this journey, so messing it up is not an option she wanted to have. "Without my magic, things will get harder. But I'm not cut off fully, the more I surround myself with magical properties, the easier it'll get for me to hold myself stable. The problem had been me tipping off the lid whenever I try to cast a spell, it overwhelmed me and well, too many cooks spoil the broth? Is that what people say?" They, at least have a car to go with it now. 

"At least we have a car for transportation... " She remembered they had to actually walk through all those roads on foot. "If I wanted to bring a Diviner as my personal conduit, I would've brought Iris or Bexley. But they'll end up being more of a damage than help. Not everyone can say no to temptations" she murmured, especially not when those two prominent witches are also eyeing more magic to learn better, "I would know that." After all, Mal almost didn't survive that hit once. "I brought you with me because I trust you, Tavia. Admittedly, you are my personal guard but that's not all. You're strong, strong in a sense that I'm not. And I need that to help me here. Desperately." Perhaps, all the Aspect of Magic wanted was a company that would be with her through a possible outlook on what was the darkest period of her time.

 "I know I said I have no idea what's going to happen and whilst that may be true, I'm not entirely clueless either. I know the price to go in and out. And no diviner can get past that one. Believe me." To enter, they have to give something up and she may be willing to do that, but Mal wasn't sure others would be on board with it. The last thing she needed was an argument breaking out. "After this is over, let's take a trip there" she murmured gently, a trip to a spa is something that was long overdue for the likes of them. Mal was confident that they may be able to find something in this trip, it doesn't have to be the answer to everything, she just needed a hint, a kick, anything. "I try not to love it right back because I don't want to hear nagging but… we don't always get what we want."

A heavy sigh escaped her as she glanced over, "I know… That I'm not the easiest person to be around. But I don't want to push people away more than I have. I'm sorry if you feel like I'll bring us more trouble than needed" But that's just how Malva is. She can try to curb her temper but she can't do that alone, either. As independent as she thinks she is, it wasn't necessarily the overall truth. "Good news? I found us a shortcut" She beckoned for the Nephilim to follow her gaze, they were nearing the three roads. "It'll cut us 2 hours of journey." It didn't look all that welcoming but that's the point of a secret shortcut. It was dark and gloomy, it's giving even the Aspect of Magic chills. "I know it's a harsh road and doesn't look as appealing but… trust me, it's not that bad." 

“Pessimistic is kinda your default Mal, it’s strange to see you acting differently” she admitted with a somewhat sheepish grin and then shrugged her shoulders slightly “Not that I’m complaining it actually feels refreshing” refreshing but weird because she was expecting to hear all this doom talk and how it was basically hopeless and yet now the aspect was speaking with decent confidence that they would make it inside “Well then I guess I look forward to seeing it, though I’m not sure the significance will quite know, it might get a little lost on me” she admitted with a somewhat sheepish grin towards Mal. “So your magic is basically rebelling against you because you used it too much?” she questioned, she didn’t really understand why Mal had lost touch with her magic in the first place, for as long as she could remember she always had it and used it.

“Well true, can’t say I was a fan of horse and carriages, always so bumpy and it only took one getting scared and you weren’t getting any further” how the times had moved in the last 100 years, everything had developed so rapidly that it felt like another world almost. Now they could fly to new places, communicate with others without needing to send a letter and wait for months and there were even human weapons capable of doing real damage to the supernatural, something completely unheard of just a few decades before. “Temptations huh?” she pressed her lips together for a moment, maybe she did work for this because what did she even want anymore? “Well I’m not sure there’s much I can even be tempted with” she admitted with a shrug, maybe Mal knew that already, maybe that’s why this was her. Her gaze softened when she said she trusted her, it felt nice to hear that and made a small smile appear on the blonde’s lips “Don’t worry, I’m here with you 100% and I never do anything by half-measures” she assured her with a nod of her head.

Her words made the Nephilim wonder what could be so hard to resist that it would trip up any Diviner and yet Mal seemed to have the confidence it wouldn’t affect Tavia the same way, perhaps it was about motivation or perhaps it was simply because she would be an observer, there was no real gain for her to make by visiting the citadel directly, she was here to support the Aspect. “Is that a promise?” she asked when she said they should take a trip to the spa when they get home “Because I’ll definitely hold you to it if that’s the case” she jested it with a slight grin, a break seemed like something they were all overdue and yet didn’t have the luxury to actually have. “I’m sure there’s a little peace there in the chaos, you can probably just...lose yourself for a while between all that complexity” in that sense it might be easier just to give into it and Octavia could understand why she may.

Tavia pressed her lips together and then smiled “Don’t worry I’m just complaining, I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t believe in this and you” she assured her with a curt nod of her head, she had no doubt in her mind that in order to face up to whatever was threatening her people and her family they needed the aspects to be of clear mind and it had become evident to Octavia that the loss of her magic had taken such a toll on Mal. Her eyes widened a little when she told her she had spotted a shortcut and she took a long shaky breath, well this was going to be a leap of faith, a big one really, given the ominous-looking road that Mal wanted her to turn down but she did so without questioning it, heading down the path “Harsh roads are no match for my driving skills” she spoke semi-confidently but placed both hands on the wheel just in case she needed the additional control.

She let out an amused chuckle in response to Tavia’s remark, “Mhmm, I know I can be quite pessimistic, too pessimistic for my own good” Though that was just her way of seeing things, it’s the definition of realism. Malva has a tendency to close herself from everything and everyone, too afraid to open up since she’s been hurt every time she tried. She didn’t need to be approachable, that wasn’t her intention anyway. “You know, someone very close to me told me that for a doctor, I have an abysmal bedside manner.” Okay, maybe she’s missing that human defense general a bit. It’s been a while since she’s last heard of him. “That’s another way to put it, yeah. I’ve never had any problem with it due to the endless source I have, everything and everyone seemed to be magical so even if I didn’t have the space I had before, I could’ve easily used anything or anyone. But this isn’t about me not being able to channel the magical energy, I can still do that. I just couldn’t… make use of it as I will.” 

It’s frustrating for the Aspect of Magic since she needed it now more than ever. “I’m in a vulnerable space here, anyone could take a hit. That’s why my brother probably didn’t want to let me off alone on this journey, I know my siblings secretly tried to hide that they know what’s going on with me but they’re terrible liars” she snickered wryly, “I risk myself and everyone else coming here with little to no protection but I have you, you’re all that I need in this.” Someone she trusts with her life. “I used to love riding, carriages weren’t it for me.” Things have changed so much she remembered being a bit weirded out by the technology but was slowly coming around it.

 “See, you’re not even sure what you can be tempted with anymore, you’re the perfect company. It also helps that I don’t feel like I’m about to turn you into a rodent, not that I can do that without leaving it to malfunction in the first 3 minutes” she teased playfully, sometimes Octavia acts like a mother-figure and other times, an elder sister despite the Ailward Aspect being older. Age doesn’t define maturity, indeed. “Yes, I promise. We could have a full 24 hours away from our everyday life. Or at least, try to. I’ll try my best to make it a reality for that.” God knows how much they needed one. Or a dozen. “There is” she nodded in affirmation, she found it to be easier to lose herself amidst the chaos because it gives her peace and tranquility sometimes. “That’s what makes it dangerously tempting, I guess. Because I know at the end of the day if, given the choice, I’d probably opt for it.” 

Being an Aspect wasn’t an easy job and she was sure all her siblings knew, for them to last this long without any side effects would be an absurdity. They were starting to struggle. “If it makes you feel better, I’ve been down this exact road last time. Nobody dares to venture here though, but it’s nothing we couldn’t handle.” It’s just a series of self-checked tests, often they may even hear whispering voices attempting to divert their focus. “We just need to focus on getting to the citadel, which is our goal. So if you hear anything, just ignore it. It’s not all ghastly and bad, it’s just siren-like voices trying to tell you it’s a lot better to go home.”

The blonde glanced over at Mal for a moment when she spoke about her own pessimism “Well at least you’re aware of it” she responded with a slightly sad smile “Maybe you should start challenging it, ask yourself why you always default to the darker choice” she believed that you could change your state of mind if you tried, if you sat back and considered your own thoughts for a moment and chose to focus on the good. She needed to do a lot of that lately. “Well then it seems like they know you pretty well” she teased with a laugh, for someone who was a doctor she could be quite prickly and sarcastic to deal with and she could see why that might put other people off. “Well...I imagine that must have been pretty hard for you, you must feel like you lost something right?” and she could imagine that she would really want it back too, it was a part of her, an important part of her.

“Well I’d argue that even if you think you’re vulnerable right now, you’re tougher than you look” she reminded her with a stern glance, Mal wasn’t the kind of person who just broke and she was very good at putting on a brave face for the world. Octavia saw past it but only because she had known her for so long and so she noticed the little changes in her which others would completely overlook “I think for a group of people who aren’t supposed to put ourselves before the world, we’re guilty fo getting too attached and wanting to take care of each other” she responded honestly “But if the Gods wanted emotionless and unattached people, they would have just come down themselves” so she believed looking out for one another and worrying over one another was the right thing to do.

“I will take it as a compliment that you don’t want to turn me into a hamster” she commented as she glanced over at the brunette knowing it would probably make her laugh that she chose that specific rodent rather than a rat which was probably the go-to choice. “24 hours not having to worry about the possible end of the world or whether people are going to go crazy and lose their minds” she commented, it sounded crazy but it turned out that was their actual reality “Sounds kinda impossible to achieve doesn’t it” they were so used to crisis scenario that it now felt odd to be able to take a break from it. “I think you should give yourself more credit, I mean you’ve lived this long without going entirely insane” she teased it with a laugh, the aspects had made it through a lot and they deserved to credit themselves more in her opinion.

The focus right now was getting to the citadel, down this very strange road which she wasn’t even certain was going to lead there but Mal said that it would and she had to put her trust in that. The idea of these tests did have her nervous because Octavia didn’t really do well with magical things, sure she might be supernatural but her life had always been that as a half-angel, it was surrounded by light and weapon training and fighting but she never had to worry about anyone messing with her head or any creepy lights flickering that Diviners had to deal with. “Siren-like voices, sounds ominous, so this the citadel’s defense system right, to ward off those who accidentally walk the wrong path” which made sense because it was filled with power the average person shouldn’t stumble upon.

“I’m surprisingly aware of a lot of things that happen, I just tend to overlook them most of the time, I guess” she murmured, Mal wasn’t someone who cared too much nor was she the person who cared too little. Stuck between the balance of both, she tries her best to stay neutral in most parts, even though the pessimism does end up latching against the Aspect of Magic. When Octavia told her to challenge herself by asking why she always leaned towards the darker one of the two, the brunette glanced over to the blonde briefly before returning her gaze on the road with her lips pursed, “That’s actually a good suggestion.” Why did she? “Maybe I’m too used to having… no particular hopeful expectation? I don’t know how you’d phrase it but trying to catch a glimpse of that hope, isn’t as easy as it’s said to be” she spared her a knowing look, Tavia of all people, who’s been through plenty, should know that better than anyone.

 A chuckle escaped her upon hearing the Nephilim exclaiming how she was exactly like what those people depicted her to be, “Yeah, I’ll try to work more on that.” The best part of knowing this was that she’ll try to do better, right? She nodded in agreement, it does feel like something was lost and she couldn’t even find what they took from her, “I feel like someone just pulled off the biggest heist of the century on me without me knowing and even after that, I didn’t even know where to start to retrieve what was stolen.” Tavia believed in her so much, it was almost painful to let this go to waste. Mal was determined to find the cause of this and get better. If she failed she would’ve felt like she was failing not just herself, but everyone else. She didn’t bring the blonde with her for no reason, after all. “I can’t believe you just implied that the Gods were emotionless” she giggled, it was funny to her, “I mean… they’re not the best in that emotion and empathy department thingy but, I get where you’re going with this. Thanks, you made me feel better.” 

Knowing that someone believed in her this much was impactful towards the Ailward Aspect, she felt like she received a boost of energy, ready to take on whatever would pose a problem to her. “Hey, hamsters are cute” In her defense, they were quite the cute creatures. “Impossible to achieve… but haven’t we always had the tendency to defy the greatest odds ever? That’s pretty much in the job description, no? To prove people how wrong they can be, most of the time?” It was strenuous work but it was worth it, in the end. The word insane had her grimacing because she remembered how close she was to that phase over and over again, “Ugh, please don’t remind me that I could’ve gotten crazy at any time of the year with the right amount of push. The fact that we’re still sane… doesn’t that make it, you know… insane?” She was surprised they lasted this long too, to be honest. 

The road to the citadel wasn’t going to be easy, she already knew that. But she was positive that the two of them would be able to get through it with ease. Okay, maybe not the ease part, but close. “Mhmm, some people wander off and they accidentally entered those entrances that weren’t theirs to enter. As an attempt to ward off humans from their territory, they make it scary for them. You know, like ghost stories that travel around in the ancient days? Ghoulish siren-like voices? Yeah, they’ve gotten creative over the past few centuries. It’s meant to intimidate you but that’s not going to work on us” when she turned to face Octavia, she cleared her throat awkwardly, “Right?” She wasn’t worried about her, she’s more worried about the Nephilim. Once they were halfway down the path, she eyed their surroundings and patted Tavia’s shoulder as an indication for them to stop, “We’re gonna have to walk, though. It should be just right up ahead.”

Octavia cracked a small smile and shrugged her shoulders slightly “That doesn’t surprise me, you’re more aware than I think most people give you credit for” perhaps Mal created herself this somewhat nonchalant and dismissive person but that was just a front and anyone close to her knew that. She actually cared a lot and let a lot of things weigh her down. She nodded slightly when she tried to explain her rationale for choosing to be less hopeful “But arguably you are one of the few people in the world who actually have the power to try and change it for better, perhaps you should start there when looking for hope” the aspects were chosen for a reason and she believed that reason to be that they were trying to save the world and make it better.

The blonde nodded her head slightly, she could imagine losing your magic could be just as traumatic as losing a person, because it was a part of you all the same, something which you relied on, something which made you the person you are “Well it’s okay to be angry about it and feel cheated” she commented softly, she always noticed how Mal would continue on like it didn’t matter but it was clear that it did. “And hopefully we’re starting to take the steps needed to get it back” she spoke and nodded her head slightly, they couldn’t be sure because it wasn’t like it was something that had happened before which they could just repeat the steps for. Tavia laughed softly when she pointed out what she said about the Gods and grinned, shrugging “I mean they’re not attached to us, it’s kinda their job not to be” she smiled softly when she said she made her feel better “You know it’s not a crime to show you care right?” she commented it softly because she was sure Mal had her doubts about that.

“Hamsters are cute, indeed, but they also only live 2 years” she laughed softly under her breath and shrugged, when did their lives become so crazy that the very idea of taking a day off seemed foreign? Still that was where they found themselves right now, comparing the idea of taking a day off to defying the greatest odds “It seems a little funny to me that we are comparing doing the impossible to a vacation right now” she chided and rolled her eyes, they really did live this crazy life. She gave her a pointed look and nodded slightly when she said it was insane to still be sane after all this time “I think eventually you just become a little numb to the scale of it all” she commented, you kinda had to otherwise you would be constantly thinking about the pressure and that wasn’t healthy “But it helps that we all had each other, keeps us in check you know” she was sure people would have lost it all alone.

Octavia had to admit she had her apprehensions about this journey and what they may face, maybe it was the way Mal talked about it or maybe she was still on edge after losing her husband but things definitely felt direr now and she even felt fear, in small amounts. “Well it makes sense to want to keep random humans away or even humans with ill intent away, I imagine they could get themselves seriously hurt or worse” so to make you have to be determined to get in knowing where you were going made sense. Mal’s apprehension made her bit her lip for a moment “Right” she agreed as they came to a stop and she parked up at the side of the road, her eyes searching ahead for anything in the distance but she saw nothing. Still, she took the key out of the ignition and got out of her seat, opening the door and then locking the car after they closed it. It was then she noticed a certain ringing in her ears which made her lift her hand to her ear “I’m guessing that sound isn’t just me having an oncoming migraine” she commented as she shrugged her bag on over her shoulders and she unsheathed her sword, just in case.

Hearing those words coming from Octavia herself made her stifle a small smile, she could feel the genuinity that radiates from the Nephilim and the Aspect of Magic knew her well enough to know when she's just saying things for the sake of it. Besides, it wasn't like the eldest Ivakov to sugar coat things. "Sometimes I wonder why they picked us, or me, but I think I've accepted that fact long ago, that we were a group of people who wanted justice for both sides and look where that got us" she chuckled dismissively, it was still a memory one could never truly get rid of. Though, it also serves her a good reminder that even when her life was hanging by the thin thread, Mal didn't give up, all of them didn't. "I want to show how mad I am when I felt I couldn't do something to help, it's hard to act like you're fine when you feel like you've been stripped bare of everything you were from the beginning. Magic may not have been the thing that created an entire me, but it was a very big part of me that I relied on. Those days I wished I could just yell and scream in anguish, you know like those people who cry when they lose someone?" 

She felt that similar effect when she could no longer feel the pulsating energy flowing through her veins one night, it made her feel like she was walking an endless bridge descending into the darkness below. Blind. "But if I do that, what example would I pose to the others? Besides, I think it's better to keep the screams in, we don't want to have another case of earthquake going around the residence another time" she jested, Tia had done that too. She was sure at this point all of them felt weirded out by it. When she reassured her that caring isn't a crime, Mal glanced over to the blonde and smiled sadly, "I'm getting used to it. Maybe I'll melt down faster than we think." Caring too much had been the source of her pain 400 years ago, it was around that time that Malva started closing up once more. It felt like all the development just vanished. But she is ready to open up again, with the right push, she'll be fine. "Crazy life, Tavia. The world is mad enough for the lot of us but we… are probably the craziest bunch. Who would wanna try to save the entire world? Could you imagine telling everyone that?" The absurdity would invite laughter. Plenty of them.

 Mal squeezed the other female's hand reassuringly and spared her a sheepish grin, "Helps that we have you guys around. Nobody else was gonna handle our crazy asses." She was the first to get out of the car, walking a few steps ahead in with her back facing the car's hood, her dark choice of clothing attire makes it easier to blend in the surroundings but the chill she didn't delete before was starting to creep in. Before long, the wind started to blow harshly. "Well that's a fantastic welcome… " With her hand gripping her bag tightly, she beckoned for Tavia to follow her, preferably walking next to her instead of behind her, "Alright, so we're gonna walk… just a bit. And there should be no problem or obstacles if we keep to ourselves." She lowered her gaze and pressed a reassuring hold over the Nephilim's shoulder, "Whatever you hear, don't try to look for the source. They'll try to deceive you, it's what they do best. Whatever happens, stay by my side and keep walking. I'll even hold your hand if you want to" she was ready with her hand outstretched. 

Octavia wasn’t there when the Ailward cause was beginning before the aspects were aspects but she had her own thoughts on why she thought they were chosen, she had seen their development over the years, she met them when they were still figuring how their second life worked and she had seen them grow as people and protectors “I think it’s about intention..I mean you were willing to die to speak for equality...that says everything to me” not many people were that brave, nor did they believe in something so strongly. She reached out for a moment just to place her hand over Mal’s and squeezed gently as she listened to her talking about the way she felt losing her magic “It’s grief” she responded in a soft voice “A different kind of grief than normal but grief none the less” and it was valid for her to feel grief for what she had lost, because it was so important and integral to her.

Octavia sighed softly as she pulled her hand back to rest on the steering wheel, she felt apprehensive about this whole thing, but it wasn’t a feeling which was foreign to her, being a guard you almost constantly found yourself facing these new and scary situations you had never faced before “The example you would pose is that we’re not superheroes, that sometimes things hurt and are hard to get through...but we do” that truly showcased strength and determination in Octavia’s opinion. She laughed under her breath, what they were doing often felt impossible, how could a collection of people such as them really make a difference? But then she looked at places like Evermore and the way things had changed over the past few years and she was reminded that it came from small steps towards a bigger goal and the staircase was always getting longer but she supposed that was the point.

She laughed when she spoke her thanks for the guards “Yeah, it can be a lot sometimes, but we’re all like a weird family now” she had connections to pretty much every single other guard and aspect now. There were some she was closer with of course, but she definitely felt a sense of community between all of them. She pulled her coat closer around her when the wind started picking up, she definitely got the feeling like they weren’t supposed to be here, which she was expecting. She took a deep breath as she locked the car behind them and then started walking. The more she moved the more it felt like something inside her was pushing back, her feet started to feel heavier as she got closer but she kept moving. There were voices calling out to her, she could hear them trying to lure her in but she continued to try and separate herself from it, she was succeeding at it at first but then she heard it. She heard his voice. Her body halted the moment she heard it “Vlad?” she spoke softly, her voice sad because part of her knew it wasn’t real while the other was desperate for it to be real.

When she reminded her that they were once willing to die to speak about equality, Mal couldn’t help but purse her lips at that, it felt so long ago, she couldn’t remember how things went at all. But it did good for the Aspect of Magic since the blonde took her time to remind her that they’ve already done a few things already. “Back then, nothing else seemed to matter aside from preaching about equality” she chuckled dryly, “I don’t think either one of us had a good life to live on, we were all suffering. We were a group of neglected people…” Her parents were twisted, that’s one way to start. “I had a father who loved me so much but was greedy for power. And a mother who probably never loved me as much” she murmured softly. “Families are so damn complicated.” Her sapphire hues glazed over Octavia when she squeezed her hand reassuringly, support never felt better now, “We’ve had a lot of mourning period, I just want this one to stop. Hopefully, we’ll be able to solve this after today… maybe not fully but if I am able to get a gist on what I have to do to get better, then that’s a start.”

 Telling a natural born pessimist such as her to think positively usually won’t get anywhere near what others expected but surprisingly, Malva was doing better at it, compared to the past. She could only imagine how tiring it was for guards to always come face to face with dangerous problems like this. “We’ve lasted this long, anyway… surely we could bear to stretch out our streak longer now.” Holding in her screams of frustration would be nothing compared to that. It was a problem for another day. Octavia was right, they were very much like a weird family now, everyone had formed their bonds together and they’ve built something else; solidarity and loyalty. It helps that the Aspects also tried their best to never dismiss the Guards’ opinions and thoughts, they didn’t work like employees and employers. No, they work like a team. “And family sticks together.” 

The sudden change in the temperature and weather was a bit deliberate and sudden, but it didn’t strike her as a surprise, some diviners could be extensively creative, especially those who resided within the citadels. They’ve renounced their freedom to the outside world and most likely took an oath to serve nature instead. The kind of knowledge they withheld was something else when compared to the other countries of the world, it was probably because they keep to themselves. Modern diviners don’t bother to go on pilgrimages now, anyway. Nobody would bother them. Mal was halfway walking at the front as she tried to gauge where the road was taking them until she realized the Nephilim had halted just a few meters behind her. “Tavia? You okay?”

 Judging from the look on her face, perhaps the blonde wasn’t okay, especially when the Aspect of Magic heard the name being uttered a few moments later, “He’s not here, Tavia. It’s not real. You have to fight it, they’re just trying to trick you. They’re trying to lure you into a trap.” She took a hold of her hand and stepped in front of her peripheral vision, “You can fight this.” She couldn’t say a lot because Octavia was the only one who could hear the trickery.

Octavia had definitely seen a lot in her time in her guard but one of the most important of them was how a group from nearly every background had come together in search of a better world. The numbers had grown, every species was welcomed, everyone who was a lost soul and needed a place to call home, they trained to be the warriors who protected others. “It was about a belief that everyone should lead a good life, regardless of who they were or their pasts” she nodded slightly “It became bigger than just 8 people” even bigger than the guards, it was an inspiration to others around them. “They are” she responded and nodded, her own was complicated too, looking back on her past there was a lot she went through at a young age, things a young girl never really should have “You’re right...this loss, it’s one we can do something about and me hope” perhaps hope was a dangerous thing to have but it was one of the only things they had to keep holding on to.

She laughed a little dryly when Mal pointed out they had managed to last this long already “If people think we’re really that hard to get rid of, they have another thing coming” even if they did manage to take them out somehow, they would never be able to kill the movement they created and the spirit of what they believed in, that would be their legacy. She nodded softly when Mal said family sticks together, perhaps when she first joined the guard it had been a job and a role she wanted to fill in the world but now these were the people she called her family, they were the people she sought comfort in, they were the people she wanted to care for and protect “Damn right they do” she commented and nudged against her shoulder.

She had to admit she got an eerie feeling about this place and chills felt like they were creeping up on her as they started to head down the path to the citadel. Octavia had faced dark magic before and it always seemed to come along with this chilling feeling you couldn’t shake, like something wasn’t right. But this experience was like it had taken it up another 5 levels and it was a lot to face. She felt like her feet were heavy and despite the fact she kept telling herself it was an illusion, things felt like they were real. She halted the moment she heard his voice, first he spoke her name but then his voice became more desperate, as though he was holding back pain he was feeling.

She was looking for where the voice was coming from, staring out into the distance and then she heard it, the sound of a scream which sounded exactly like her husband’s, Mal was talking to her but she barely heard her as she pushed off towards the sound of the voice, but just as she reached it, it sounded like it was coming from another direction. This time she didn’t move, but tears welled in her eyes because she could barely stand to hear it “ no no no” she kept repeating the words with a look of helplessness in her eyes. Then she felt Mal’s hand in hers. She closed her eyes for a moment trying to block out the noise but it was near impossible “Mal he sounds like he’s in pain” she spoke in a soft, weak voice.

“It’s hard to believe a second chance is something you can achieve, I know. I was in that spot once upon a time ago. Second chances felt like it’s too good to be true” she murmured, she knew it took her forever to believe it’s even real or there for her. Eventually, she managed to accept that the Gods really gave it to her and so she tried her very best not to disappoint the people who put their trust in her. That applied to the Guards and Ailward Aspects alike. “You’re right, it did become bigger than 8 people. We grew bigger and now it feels so much more than what we were once.” Feeling grateful is the least of what she should be feeling. “We can try and solve it bit by bit, maybe then we’ll be able to find some answers. I don’t expect for us to solve it at one strike, that would make it far too easy to tackle and we’ve never had such luck with tackling problems so early on without any repercussions. I mean, look at what happened to us when we locked the Celestials away.”

 She still would do it if it meant minimizing whatever damage that was set but still, she felt guilty for doing that to a group of people who only ever wanted to live their lives. One’s mistake should be one’s mistake alone but they were hurt and furious back then. It was one of the times when Mal knew she shouldn’t let her heart dictate her decisions, or even play a part in deciding anything without another backup plan in motion. She couldn’t help but smile when the Nephilim said they were not going to go away anytime soon, which gives her reassurance. Sometimes, even the strongest people needed a few words of wisdom and strength to keep them going. Today’s trip was supposed to give her closure and help ehr get closer to reclaim and reignite the connection she lost a while ago. 

Things seemed to be going well so far, until it started going a bit bumpy when she realized Octavia found herself slowly being tricked by the many illusions and tests the priestesses of the citadel placed. Mal knew they were strictly for security measures but the women there didn’t exactly have any other form of communication so she couldn’t let them know she was going to arrive today. Not when her own magic has been dwindling for the past few months. “This is one of the times when I really wished they knew how to use cell phones…” she grumbled to herself. Well, they probably knew. They’re smart. But there was no reception at where they were. The problem with this is that only Octavia was able to see whatever illusion that was conjured, unless she gets into her head or the blonde tells her what’s going on. From what she could understand, Tavia was hearing her deceased husband’s voice. 

She was halfway trying to hold onto her and tell her to snap her out of it, but Tavia had already pushed her away and ran to another direction, only to halt as she stared in the opposite direction. That’s when she noticed the tears welling up and Mal could feel her heart breaking into two, “Tavia… that’s not real, it’s not him. It’s just a trick” she pulled her into a hug, embracing the Nephilim as she stroked her hair, “Shut it out. Only you can do it, Tavia. I can’t do it for you because only you can hear it. Only you are being tricked right now. What you hear, it’s not real. How do I know? Because I can’t hear him. Shut it out, Tavia.”

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