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The city of Evermore was beautiful, Ophelia had come to that realization a long time ago, there was something about how the old times mixed with the new so effortlessly here that drew you in, made you want to stay a while, see everything there was to see. Despite this, Ophelia often found herself staying home at the Celestial castle, spending time with her people and watching the sky from her window. Much like the other celestials whom she lived with, from the moment she had fallen her life had been a series of running, hiding and fighting, that mentality carried with her, always sitting at the back of her mind, always nagging away at her and dictating the life she lead. She knew there was peace in Evermore city but she simply didn't trust it.
This evening she found herself on the streets of Evermore city a few hours after sunset. The wayfinder was dressed far more casually than was her usual presence to fit in with the people walking through the city. Initially she had headed out in search of a sewing kit having realized that one of her favorite dresses was in desperate need of a repair but after heading into a few shops she was yet to find what she wanted. Sighing as she exited the forth shop she had visited that evening she headed down the back alley which would lead her over to the next street where she was told there was another corner shop.
The alley was narrow with no source of light other than the upstairs window of a nearby home and as she walked through it the wayfinder found herself quickening her pace, wanting to reach the other side faster. To ease her worries she closed her eyes allowing her power to flow through her until her skin illuminated with a pale light which was just enough to see ahead and around her as she walked. As she moved however she heard the sound of someone mutter behind her and before she could react a male clasped his hand over her mouth before speaking 'You're one of them'.
Ophelia naturally made a sound of distress as she found herself taken off balance, she heard the sound of more footsteps coming from either side of the alley as she struggled against the male's grip around her reaching down slowly towards her boot where she kept a hidden dagger. She felt her heartbeat begin to quicken and she quickly scanned her mind for logical ways she could get out of this particular situation. Without missing a beat the brunette fought back, her elbow digging hard into the male's chest causing him to release his grip on her long enough for her to turn around and kick him hard in the groin.
Without another thought she reached down pulling her knife from her boot before she turned, ready to take on whoever came at her next.
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It felt like no matter what he did, the Aspect of Realms found himself questioning his actions. Whether it be the imprisonment of Celestials, or his feelings for a certain Nephilim - emotions that he was sure of at one point of time, seemed clouded with uncertainty now at present when both the Wayfinder and the Angel-Child were in the same city with him.
Deciding he needed some air, the male pushed himself up from his chair, circling the giant mahogany table he had spent most of the day behind to reach the staff he had placed against the wall, the bright blue sceptre glowing under the pale moonlight as he stepped through the double doors onto his private balcony. Out of habit, the male looked over his shoulder to ensure no one was watching before he closed his eyes and leaped in the air, transforming into a dragon, invisible to the naked eye.
For the first time in centuries, Venetus felt his thoughts overwhelming him - each worry from the Celestials to his tiff with Aurantia, slowly chipping away parts of his well being. As a leader, he felt lost and the doubt upon his own skills to lead his people was getting stronger. Gliding through the clouds, he dived towards the heart of the city before spotting an inconspicuous building near an alley and decided to land on its roof.
Seating himself on the ledge, he scanned the many faces that walked the streets below him, the crowds of citizens going about, doing their own thing - whether it be buying Christmas decorations or going back home from work. He was almost lost in his thoughts when he heard a distressed noise. Quickly standing back on his feet, he grabbed his staff and jumped in the direction of the noise, turning into a dragon momentarily to help his landing.
It didn't seem like the female needed help with two men already on the floor, groaning in pain. However as soon as she turned around, Venetus stopped in his tracks, recognizing those doe hues and lithe frame. Though without uttering a word, he launched his staff at a man about to attack her from the back, sending the pointed edge of it straight through his stomach. Silently, the male took the few steps forward, past the Wayfinder to retrieve his pole. And once he had unlodged it from the man's intestines, he turned to face the brunette, though not meeting her eyes as he pulled out a handkerchief and wiped the blood of his staff. "You're welcome."
Ophelia would have thought it lucky that she had put in training in combat but it had become more of a necessity than a choice for her throughout the years. As she stood, staring the eyes of her attackers in the face as she fought them off she was reminded of the sad reality of what it meant to be a celestial, always looking over your shoulder and never feeling like you truly belonged in the world. She did her best with what she had to work with though and now she considered herself somewhat of a warrior.
She moved swiftly, striking them as they came at her and landing neat and powerful blows, as the blood spattered on her face she simply wiped it away. She turned to strike one of them, kicking them down to the floor before she heard the telling whoosh of a weapon through the air. She hadn’t seen the other male in her peripheral but the staff made quick work of his advance. Shocked the wayfinder stopped in her tracks, watching as the last male fell to the ground around her.
Naturally she turned to face the male who had come to her aid, now she was covered in blood and her heartbeat was fast as she slowly returned to reality, realizing the scene around her she took a long and shaky breath, it never got any easier for her, finding herself in situations like this brought everything back, caused a sadness and a rage to bubble up through her entire being.
As her eyes met her mystery saviour however she stared for a moment trying to process everything. Of all the people to come to her rescue did it have to be the person she didn’t want to see most of all and why did he think he had the right to act smug the way he did. Ophelia had been harboring her anger at Venetus for the entire time she had been in Evermore, saving face and playing the polite side of herself for the sake of trying to make peace for her people but if he thought she showed any gratitude to him he really was delusional.
Perhaps it was the adrenaline pumping through her veins or the overwhelming feeling of anger she had from having to live her life constantly on the run but her reaction, almost knee jerk like was to use the last of her pent up energy to connect her fist with his face, punching him hard and cleanly before she recoiled, shaking her arm a little as she realized she had just punched a dragon in the face. She gritted her teeth but stared back at him angrily as she tucked her dagger back into her shoe.
Venetus wasn't sure what he was thinking when he swooped in to save the female, purely going by his instincts to save those in need. However, when he realised the not-so-damsel-in-distress was none other than the very Wayfinder he had been thinking about for the past few weeks, an annoyance took over his mind at fate for bringing them face to face in such a situation.
He knew she would not appreciate his efforts, and he wasn't looking for validation but a part of him couldn't help but remark at her, after all she had accused him of destroying her life once and now he had just helped save her. He noticed the change in her features as she too realised who had been his saviour and he simply retrieved his staff and wiped the blood of its end, ready to walk away as he knew neither of them wanted to be in this situation.
However, Ophelia had a different thought altogether and as her fist met with his face, he could hear the crack of his bones as the sheer strength sent him reeling to the side. He knew he deserved that, so he quietly cupped his jaw and shifted it back in its place, the click making him wince as pain seared through his body. "Feel better now?" He asked, taking the white cloth back in his hand as he dabbed at the stream of blood that oozed down the corner of his mouth. "Or is this going to be our usual form of greeting from now on?"
His icy hues held her cocoa gaze momentarily, remembering all the times they had spent together and guilt rose in him once again for betraying her the way he did. There was not much he could do about it now, and perhaps if he had the choice he would not have done things differently because there was no other solution to their problem, but that was something he knew Ophelia could never understand.
There were a lot of things Ophelia had wanted to say to Venetus at first, she had wanted to yell and scream at him for betraying everything she thought him to be, she wanted to plead with him not to punish her people for something that had never been their fault, her heart had hurt because she had completely fallen from the safety net she thought she had. She’d had a long time to process those feelings and bury them but as she was faced with him, without the need for saving face, they all threatened to come to the surface.
Thankfully they formed in the shape of a physical punch rather than her bursting into tears or something equally ridiculous that she didn’t want to do in front of him. She felt pain radiate through her first and up her arm as she recoiled from the motion almost shocked at her own actions. She shook her own arm a little to placate the pain she was feeling as she heard him speak. She shook her head head in response to his words “No it just makes me even more pissed that you act so calm” she answered honestly as she buried her now throbbing hand into her pocket and played it off.
Things to say kept bubbling up in her mind as she looked back at him, watching as he dabbed at the blood on his nose as though it didn’t bother him. She always thought she could read him and his emotions back on Skye but looking back at his icy blue eyes she wasn’t sure she knew anything anymore “So what you don’t even feel anything anymore?” she asked with raised brows, perhaps he never had to begin with, she had always known she loved him more than he loved her but she had remembered times when he had smiled with the brightness of the sun or shown vulnerability as he talked about his past. Once he had seemed like a person to her but now she didn’t know a thing.
His reaction was calm, unphased because his mind had gone through this very scenario a thousand times. Venetus had anticipated the first time the two would come face to face with no political boundaries stopping her from lashing out at him. And he had decided he felt guilty enough to let her. What he did to her people, though justified and perhaps the only way out of the situation, was unfair to them and there wasn't a single day he didn't spend regretting his decision of betraying the Wayfinder who did nothing but love him.
He stayed silent as she retorted, his eyes shifting to the hand she buried into her pocket, knowing fully well it must have hurt her physically to punch him. He dabbed at the blood down the corner of his lips with the cotton before placing it back in his coat, his lips drawn in a straight line. He was going to let her lash out at him and he was going to silently endure it.
However as things heated up, he eventually let out a breath. "What do you expect me to do, Ophelia?" He queried, his brows furrowing at her accusing him of being emotionless. "Do you want me to scream at you? Punish you? And then spend another decade of us going back and forth. You hurting my people, me hurting yours?" Taking a step closer to her, he hovered over her smaller frame, "Is that what you want?" His voice was still soft, almost eerily calm. "Or do you want me to apologise for keeping both the world and your people safe?"
She didn’t know what she wanted him to do really but seeing this calm and collected version of him while she felt torn up inside frustrated her no end. Ophelia was absolutely sure she was past the love she had felt for Ven but there would always be a part of her that felt something for him. Right now that emotion laid on the line of hate though. She still found it hard to reconcile with the person she thought she had known and the reality of the decision he made, she didn’t know how to marry them.
“I don’t know Ven, that’s the thing” she responded angrily “I don’t know a thing about who you are anymore” she shook her head “If there was one thing I thought I could rely on when it came to you it was your morals but locking people up in cages?” she shook her head “You had to know that was going to end badly for all parties and yet you let it happen” she couldn’t stop the emotion that was starting to run, it was triggered now.
When he took a step into her personal space she tilted her head back to look up at him, her expression warning him to keep his distance “We are heading to a place where we will either have to fight or we will have to trust one another” she stated with a hard and cold expression “And right now I couldn’t tell you which side that will fall” she shook her head “You know we can’t afford a war Ven” he angry tone faltered, as much as she wanted to hate him forever she knew that couldn’t be her endgame, she wasn’t blind to not see that something was very wrong with the world right now and every time something got like this is was her people who were in danger. And no one here wanted her people to be in danger.
The frustration was one of the many things Venetus had anticipated, but he didn't realise how much it would haunt him to actually come face to face with the Wayfinder and the consequences of his actions, once again. "Do you think I had a choice?" The male let out exasperatedly, his gaze boring into hers, "Tell me, Ophelia what could I have done differently because if there was any other way out of that situation, we would have taken it, no questions asked."
Venetus had once strongly felt about Ophelia, but if he had to choose between his feelings and the safety of the world, he would always choose the latter and that was something the Ailward wished the Wayfinder would understand. He wasn't selfish, he couldn't stray away from the path the Gods put him on, sacrifice the peace the world had been so desperately holding onto all for what he felt for another woman.
"I don't regret what I did." Venetus started as he took a step closer to her, "What I regret is how we went about with it and for that..." Swallowing, the male looked away once, letting out a deep exhale, "For that I'm sorry. But one day you will have to understand that there was no way out of that situation. By locking your kind, we kept them and the world safe from hunters for a century." He then took a step back, his voice firmer, "And for that, I'm not sorry."
The Wayfinder had to bite her tongue to stop herself from completely losing it with him, at that moment she struggled to recall a single thing that she had ever felt endearing or even relatively likable about him, he was tactless and at times cruel “You could have let them live on the isle as actual human beings instead of like rats in cages for a start” she spoke with a snarl in her tone, her people had chosen to go to Skye for their own safety, most of them had no intention of leaving anyway, she never understood why they couldn’t have at least treated them like actual people.
Ophelia didn’t blame him for keeping them there, had she not have been completely locked out of the Isle herself she would have proposed the same thing, she would have helped them hunt down every celestial and she would have convinced them for their own safety they needed to come with them. What really ticked her off about the whole thing was the fact that he took people’s choice away and treated her kind like they were less than human.
“No, of course, you don’t” she spoke a little bitterly annoyed at the very fact that he stepped closer to her. “Really Ven the I’m sorry that you’re mad at me line” she shook her head almost in disbelief “I don’t even recognize you anymore” she snapped as she stepped away from him once more, she didn’t want to be anywhere near him in that moment, mostly because she didn’t know if she could stop herself from punching him again if he did come near “I really have to wonder how you saw all of this playing out in your head because I sure as hell don’t see a way this would have ever turned out well” the moment they turned on their people they made them their enemy.
Venetus could sense the anger that seeped out of the Wayfinder. There was no way that he could convince her that what they did was the only choice they had at that time but she was slowly getting under his skin too. "Suppose we did that." He started, "What would stop one of them from wanting to get out and explore the world and meet their loved ones? What if they decided to team up and revolt to get out of the Isle?" Shaking his head Venetus let out a deep breath and with a sincere look let his icy hues meet her doe eyes. "I know my word doesn't mean much to you but we thought of every way possible before settling on imprisoning them."
Despite the many rehearsals of this scene in his mind over the past few months, her words still managed to hurt him where it mattered, which made him even more frustrated at himself. Venetus had never questioned his leadership capabilities up until now and this feeling of insecurity was new and made him feel vulnerable. "Do you think this decision came easily for me? That I woke up one morning and told the Guards to lock up the Celestials?" His voice was laced with the frustration he felt at himself and this entire situation, "Ophelia, we spent months, years trying to figure out an alternative. Locking your kind up was never going to be the ultimate plan. But after years we realised there was no other way." And that was the truth, the truth that only a few people knew. While Venetus had ordered for the capture of all the Celestials, he had a special task force appointed to find an alternative and only when they had exhausted every one of their ideas that he finally gave up.
He was not proud of himself for giving up, a part of him always feeling like he had failed but he wasn't going to let her know that. "Honestly, I stood by a decision that harmed your kind and the relationship we shared and as much as we want to take it back, we can't. I have to continue to stand by it because at that moment it was the only way out." Clenching his jaw, Venetus finally spoke out the one thing that was keeping him from apologising, "You deserve better than an apology made out of political convenience and I'm not going to insult you by giving you less than half of that."
They kept going around in this circle, she truly believed given the option, a fair majority of her people would have stayed there on the Isle and lived a relatively normal life, they had done so for years before, it wouldn’t have been a big change. The ones who were uprooted from the short lives they had before being dragged to the Isle though, that was a much more difficult topic. Still, she refused to believe that putting someone in a cage which weakened them to the point they could barely stand could ever be considered the best course of action “Don’t tell me you don’t know enough about barriers” she responded, her gaze stern, she didn’t believe for a second that the Ailward would have had any trouble keeping them on the Isle or containing anyone who didn’t play by their rules “You took the easy way” she disagreed with locking them up to begin with, blaming the victims for the problem of greed in the world, that was really fucked up on its own.
And while she didn’t disagree that the decision would have probably been hard for him to make, she wouldn’t have been able to make it. That made him cold and cruel in her eyes, especially considering the relationship the two of them once had. Those were feelings were completely dead and buried to her now, betrayal definitely gave you quite the wake-up call about where you stood. “No I don’t think the decision came easily but there is no way you can justify to me that what you did was right either” she stared him down “If your precious Gods thought this was right my people wouldn’t exist in the first place” she spoke sternly. And yet they did, celestials continued to fall, the world continued to turn. There was nothing moral or right about any of this. She was frustrated because she didn’t understand either, there was no guiding light that told her how she was supposed to handle this or where she was supposed to lead her people. All she had was the odd intuition, one that had told her to save them, which is exactly what she had done.
But he was right, they could go over this cycle over and over, he would still believe there was no other way, she would still shout about there was nothing justified in any of it and they would still be here, in the present, facing the current situation they were in. She closed her eyes and took a long drawn breath just to compose herself and let the pain go for a moment “No you’re right, there is no going back now” she spoke, though her tone still showed her frustration for this whole thing. “So I guess the question we should be asking is what happens next” she had avoided signing the peace treaty so far because it meant finding level ground with the Ailwards and she hadn’t been able to do that but she couldn’t avoid it forever, not if she wanted to stay in Evermore. They were in a stronger place here, especially now the Celestial and Vakyr faction had a strong alliance bound by the existence of Volakiri bonds.