A gentle, feminine voice laces through the aether, "Yet perhaps, dear, what you need is in fact rest after all."
You curtsey gracefully.
You smile and say, "Perhaps. It has been many long months, but somehow, I feel rested enough to continue with the gift of demiDivinity."
A gentle, feminine voice laces through the aether, "Are you so busy, then, to not allow yourself a single reprieve?"
The cloying scent of rosebuds invades your senses, leaving your eyelids fluttering as half-visions dance before your eyes.
You have emoted: Zyphora breathes in deeply of the scent of roses, her expression visibly relaxing. Soporifically, she says, "I suppose some reprieve would not be unwelcome."
Like a vegetation of murmurs, the voice continues, "To have achieved such demi- divinity is no small feat. I would not be surprised if greater feats were to befall you."
As if challenging, the voice asks, "Do you think you could handle such, Zyphora of Mine? Could you stand tall, become more than demi-Divine?"
You have emoted: Zyphora murmurs as though lost in a trance, "I should be so lucky that I would honour my Lady with such great feats in the future."
As if gaining new strength, you say, "Yes, my Lady. Yes. I can become more than what I am, for You."
Resolute, the voice says in fading decibels, "Then so be it, Zyphora of Mine. I shall task you with something no Undervault can prepare you for. I shall task you with something only I can prepare you to endure."
The city wavers before you in a cloying mist redolent with the scent of rosebuds, whispering of the myriad temptations of slumber. You feel your body lulled into a peaceful reprieve, and your eyelids flutter shut as your vision floods with sparkling light and colour.
A ballroom languid with dreaming. (Unmapped) There are no obvious exits. You are transported by the power of the Divine. A ballroom languid with dreaming. (Unmapped) Twinkling pink tourmaline crystals twist into spiralling columns which connect to a domed ceiling made of that same, pale pink crystal. At the dome's apex, the crystal ceiling bows back to unfurl like a flower's petals before the open expanse of the sky. Gorgeous pastel colours dance and flicker like wispy streamers of blue, lavender, and yellow against the burnt gold cirrus, allowing shafts of muted sunlight to pour into the parlour with glittering motes swept upon perfumed winds. Lush draperies dyed deep violet float from their perch upon the crystalline pillars, their braided tassels swaying dreamily at the playful tease of the morning breeze. Soft, resonant harmonies lace through the air as the silhouette of songbirds pass overhead. There are no obvious exits.
A wavering, girlish voice whispers amidst motes of light, "Step softly...heed the light in the shadows, little one... Remember: what is real is not real, and what will happen has happened but never happened..."
A grand crescendo startles you into awakening, rich in its crystalline cadence and thick with heartwrenching emotion. As the brilliant light recedes, you recognize your surroundings to be an exquisite ballroom - far grander, and far more lovely than any place your mortal eyes have beheld in any waking reality.
A ballroom languid with dreaming. (Unmapped) Twinkling pink tourmaline crystals twist into spiralling columns which connect to a domed ceiling made of that same, pale pink crystal. At the dome's apex, the crystal ceiling bows back to unfurl like a flower's petals before the open expanse of the sky. Gorgeous pastel colours dance and flicker like wispy streamers of blue, lavender, and yellow against the burnt gold cirrus, allowing shafts of muted sunlight to pour into the parlour with glittering motes swept upon perfumed winds. Lush draperies dyed deep violet float from their perch upon the crystalline pillars, their braided tassels swaying dreamily at the playful tease of the morning breeze. Soft, resonant harmonies lace through the air as the silhouette of songbirds pass overhead. There are no obvious exits.
You have emoted: Zyphora glances uncertainly over her surroundings, moving slowly as though caught fast in a dream.
"Are you lost?" a gentle, feminine voice calls to you from across the room.
The sea of people appears to part for you as a beautiful trill maiden steps forward amidst the frivolity, smiling at you with curious eyes. The harder you try to look upon her, the more difficult it is to behold her figure at all, existing yet not in the way that dreams insist upon existing.
You have emoted: Zyphora walks slowly towards the mysterious trill maiden, stating, "I do not know if I am lost, but I am unfamiliar with this place."
The trill maiden laughs, a high and lilting sound. "Then you have come to a grand place, dear one. All is merriment and beauty here. What a place to lose yourself in!"
You have emoted: Zyphora smiles unconsciously at the sweetness of the trill's voice, saying, "I see. Everything is quite beauteous. I might wish to lose myself here more often."
The beautiful trill grins in turn, and you feel both a sense of familiarity and strangeness in her smile. "I cannot imagine seeing such gaiety and feeling dour! The arts are ever alive here, for the music never ceases, and our company never desires rest. One could spend a millenia in these halls forgetting all the world's troubles."
You twitch as the faintest tear in your consciousness jolts the music off-key, shrieking in its inhuman decibel.
You have emoted: Zyphora turns toward the rest of the room at the sound of the discordant notes, frowning. "I suppose... so..." she says hesitantly.
The slightest sign of a frown flashes across the trill woman's face before fading, replaced by that same bright smile.
The mist returns from before, far more cloying and insistent in its sweet sensation. Your mind is numbed once more as the music soothes your soul, and the vision before you mends itself to appear lovely once more.
Her voice lilting with a melodic soprano, the trill insists, "Dance with me, one called Zyphora. We have stood here sighing too long like two old crones!"
You have emoted: Zyphora nearly falls over from the waves of soothing pleasure washing over her body and soul, righting herself almost immediately. Obediently, she steps towards the lady trill, languorously reaching out her hand for the other's.
She grabs your hands and pulls you into the centre of the ballroom, curtseying once more before leading you into a brisk waltz. There's something romantic in how her skirt whirls about her, in how she laughs as she spins.
"What is Beauty to you, Zyphora?" the trill asks in a playful voice as she draws close to you. "Do you see it here?"
You have emoted: Zyphora waltzes as the trill leads her in whirling circles about the grand ballroom, hardly able to catch her breath to respond. "Yes... There is much Beauty here, it comes from the happiness and joy from those celebrating here, and from those who created the milieu."
The trill maiden beams, pleased. "Oh, how happy everyone is here, too. There is never any reason to leave. And the creator of this place, she is an artist beyond imagining, equalled by very few in this world."
You feel a stabbing in your skull, something screaming in your ears that All is Wrong, that Nothing Makes Sense. It peels back the bewitching sense of security with the cold, metallic chill of terror, and as you reel, your dance partner holds you steady with alarm.
You have emoted: Zyphora gasps with pain and fear, jerking gracelessly away from the trill maiden.
"Are you not well?" she asks, true concern apparent in her beautiful features
Disturbed, you say, "Something... Something is gnawing at me. I... You mean the Lady Aesthete, yes? She made this place?"
The trill maiden freezes, as if unsure how to respond. "The Lady Aesthete?" she repeats. "What a title to take upon. How many of us were artists, how many of us took the aesthetics as our own..."
There's a measured silence as the trill lady contemplates her answer, wings beating slowly in thought.
Insistently, grasping at her own skull with a grimace, you say, "The Lady Isune. The Lady Aesthete! She is the creator, the Heart of all Beauty."
"There was another who came here, a strange face in a sea of sameness," the trill speaks at length. "He found the artist you came here seeking. For She is who you seek, is She not? The Lady Isune."
Nodding slowly, you say, "Yes. She is the only One I seek."
Somehow the music has drawn itself to a more sombre key, and the lights glow softer, like candlelight. The figures around you appear to blur at the edges, figments that shift in colour and shape. You blink, and they rematerialize once more into something defined and whole.
Motes of light around the caldera pulse brightly as a soft voice echoes, "But She was lovely, and all She touched became lovely, too. And She touched the Architect's heart, a place that no other had claimed with their artistry." :: "Or if you pick up something a little too heavy for you, does it hurt? It is only a little pressure on the understood boundaries of yourself." - Sunshine, by Robin McKinley