Walking with Aztilios in the moonlight by the beach

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Michael James Watson
The pale moon rises first. Alvah walks out toward the beach, but before she leaves the house she sees () with a basket. With her are a boy and girl bare waist up, in loin clothes.
"My lady would you like your page to carry your night's dinner? I spoke to Master Aztilios and he said to ask. I suggest Raxti here for Lord Vek, and Tixa here for you. They will Serve you well. Their parents wanted to thank you but I kept them below. I've provided a meal of dried fish, flat breads, skewers of running dog, candied peppers, and my private cream flan..."

Amber Bronkhorst
Alvah looks over the boy and girl and nods she smiles warm.
"Yes that is fine, have her carry the basket, thabk you. And the food sounds good. Very much appreciated."
She theb nods to where she came from
"Lord Vek is still up in his room. So you can find him there. "
She looks at the page with the basket and a smile and a nod
"Alright then, we should be going. Shouldn't have Lord Aztilios waiting."
She then moves ojt beforw leaving inclining her head to woman.

Michael James Watson
"One thing...the feathers..they mean status...don't be generous with feathers unless she earns them."

Amber Bronkhorst
Alvah nods hearing the comment.
"Got it"
She then nods the girl and gestures with another nod to the door.
"Lets go."

Michael James Watson
Aztilios waits by the waves, A pair of mastiffs beside him.. He smiles and laughs at the serving girl.
"Little Tixa, don't get too attached to her. She goes to Mictilan in a few days. The night is a fine one. Not too hot...I'm not sure how much of this walk is pleasantries and how much politics?."

Amber Bronkhorst
Alvah nods to Aztilios and looks over the mastifs.
Raising an eyebrow she looks back at the girl then back to Aztilios.
"To where?"
She looks over the water and smiles inhales deep and nods agreeingly
"yes it is a nice night. don't know how they compare to others here though. And i don't know either Aztilios, you invited me to talk. So pleasantries or politics we can talk. "

Michael James Watson
He turns, "Mictilan.the land of the dead. The household must sacrifice yearly of its own servants. she and her brother go to the dark realm in a few days."
He strolls, talking casually."

Amber Bronkhorst
Alvah starts walking along looking at Aztilios.
"maybe for you a strange question, but why does the household have to sacrifice their servants? and why them and not... someone having lived a more full life?"
After a brief pause she keeps her eyes ahead as they stroll she then asks in a mostly neutral tone.
"does this happen during a ceremony or something? a celebration?"
She turns to Aztilios and smiles
"Remember i was only 4 when dad took me away i remember as good as nothing"

Michael James Watson
He laughs, "Pleasantries or politics and you go directly to religion! Very well. Remember, the dogma of all religions sound strange when told bare. Tonocat is the Lord God of Azcala and he requires hearts blood for reverence.
Mictlantecuhtli is the God of the Underworld and he summons the souls of the dead. The Jaguar and the Puma that sit at the feet of Cihuacoa, the sister wife of Tonacat, take the meat to feed the bodies of all beasts.....In life the commoners serve Chicomecoatl by toiling in the fields and when they go beneath the knife they go to serve in the underworld to raise the crops of the dead.. blah,blah,blah.... do you want to spend the whole night at catechism ? Its such nonsense...”
He walks out in the water, running his hand through it, then through his hair.
“To be honest I don't know why Tonacat did things this way. Over the thousands of years Ive had few opportunities to ask. One does not argue with him. It was strange living in Azcala during his absence, his long imprisonment in Chaos. But when he returned, what had long been tradition and ritual became bloody madness for him. That I tell you so should make clear how tiring it all is. Even asking mother why we do these things gets her angry. Make no mistake, Amberite, she is devoted to Tonacat. I can tell you this, I am a warrior, wizard, and priest and though I have my place in the Pantheon as the Jaguar Man and Patron to Snakes, I personally give respect to Mictlantecuhtli, though it angers mother. He has shown me kindness and given me sanctuary in the past. The years of the enclosure were hard but having Tonacat back is worse. My father was outside the enclosure so any humor and love my mother had in her realms was gone. It was he that brought joy to the lands. When he returned it greatly cheered the people, brought games and laughter back.”
A black heavy snake with white markings slithers from the jungle toward the pair. Azti kneels and lets it slide up his arm. Cooing too it, speaking in parseltounge to it.
“So, to your question, why must the servants be sacrificed? Celebrants are chosen in different manners by different priests. Mother tends to keep her staff in line by keeping them off the alter as long as they give deep subservience to her.. Tixa there spilled Chola in her lap, possibly on purpose. So she goes under the knife in a few days to teach Contoxi a lesson...”
he laughs lightly, “Would you like to piss off mother right away? Let's see.. three feathers would just annoy her and Tixa can only earn one a day anyway... You'll need a token to buy her, to keep her from the alter... You have three days to get a Temple Token.. Servants are given one a year for each child they bear in a year. Good luck. Mother won't give you one, and I am unlikely to as well. And...if Tixa shows up with a feather tomorrow it might mean mother will wait till next month, when presumably youll be gone, before putting the knife to her. But be sure, a feather will put her on the alter for sure.”
He stops strolling, turns, pets the snake. Looks at Alvah sideways a bit, curiously.
“How did Tixa even come to be your page? ... ah... Contoxi ...hmmm...Mother will be wroth.. All this over a lap of chola... Do me a favor, sister. Your time in Azcala will probably be short. Your companion reeks of Chaos and has clear malice toward us and there is bound to be trouble. If you flee, try to take Tixa, her brother, and Contoxi. I doubt mother even knows who the children's parents are but she knows Contoxi as House Mate would have assigned you pages out of habit. So Contoxi has risked putting herself on the alter by assigning them to you. i Mother may not care but...Contoxi has been with us for 80 years, child, woman and house mate. Her children have all gone under the knife, her husband died in a war, and mother has grown more and more weary with her taking liberties. This will certainly put her on the alter. She is of an age when it was almost time anyway. Her assistant Kanxa is ready to be house mate and she dotes on mother.. Take Contoxi when you go as a favor to me.”

Amber Bronkhorst
Looking at Aztilios talk she smiles, actually hearing a decent person talk. Or so it seems. She listens intently to his explanation of the doings and happenings.
Seeing the snake come from jungle she smiles wider. LOoking at her own Cicero on her arm and shoulder nuzzling him with her cheek.
"You are right, i won't stay here long probably, Vek says the same thing. When i leave, i will take them with me. I'll see to it that they will be safe and cared for."
She follows Aztilios further looking out to the sea now and then. When Aztilios doesn't look at her she lets her face rest a bit sad. Though when she sees him turn she puts on her neutral smile again while listening.
"Don't think Cihalas even wanted me here to begin with. which is fine, really. But at least i can say i've given it a chance."

Michael James Watson
"She wanted you here on her terms. She may claim otherwise but i think your coming when she offered was something of a suprise. ANd i think had your companion not made it clear he was ready to go to the knives I think at this moment you would be in a deep chamber being prepared for many rituals. One of which would have been holding the Jade Stone of Chalchiuhtlicue. During that ritual i would have worn a similiar stone and would have mounted you hourly for several weeks till you proved fertile. After that you would have born the child and the cycle would have begun again. Along the way, while you were not pregnant she would have taken your heart once a month. Often enough that your body would learn, as mine did, how to simple shape shift your chest open and save yourself the pain. But of course, I can't be sure. Maybe mother would just have talked and drank chola and watched the games..."

Amber Bronkhorst
Alvah looks sideways to Aztilios.
"And you would just accept that, you would go ahead with that. Eventho earlier you made things really clear that that is nothing you wish to happen."
She looks forawards again and shrugs
"honestly i surprised myself with going with you and Cihalas. But at that moment staying seemed a worse idea. Guess i'm nowhere really at my place."
Alvah then chuckles soflty
"well she could have tried cutting my chest open till she weighs a pound but i can't shapeshift. so couldn't learn it like you have. "
SHe kicks her shoes off and then curls her toes in the sand. SHe kicks in a playful turn some sand up, ofcourse as graceful as ever, being the dancer she is.
"You are strange, somewhere you sound like you want to defy your mother. but on the other hand you speak so plainly of things as if her every wish is your command. "

Michael James Watson
"I consider defiance when she is not present. Is it not the same in Amber? I read that Benedict demands absolutely loyalty from his troops? Tonacat never gave the details but there is a belief that the trouble that caused Oberon and he to fight, that caused Swayvil to take Tonacat and enclose Azcala was because Tonacat refused subservience to Oberon. Are there not those whose will, presence, psyche are so strong that even questioning them is impossible?" Cicero slithers out, arching to regard Azti, who responds by extending a hand for his tongue to taste

Amber Bronkhorst
Alvah chuckles and shrugs
"Different per person, i barely listen to anyone and go where my gut feeling tells me to go. I don't blindly follow people. and especially not my father. "
Alvah looks viciuosly angry at the moment but after a deep breath let is slide again.
"It is all well possible that that is the reason for the war and the closing off of Azcala. i am not that schooled in history. and really history is only written up by the victor. so... how much of it is really true. "
Holding still so Cicero can sense and taste she smiles looking lovingly at Cicero.
"And no, you always have a choice, ALWAYS. " SHe then pauses and grins
"It just depends. are you willing to accept the concquences your choices will carry. THat is usually the problem. there is always a choice you can make. But the choice is often affected by the fear of the after effect. Or you are like me..." She twirls around ahead of him and shrugs
"I just don't care. i'll take it as it comes."

Michael James Watson
He sits at the water's edge, "Tixa, set the table out over by the mango lime tree.. We will take a bit soon"
Tixa hurries over to obey.
"If I ever didn't care it was centuries ago. As much as Tonacat likes to think himself all powerful there are a great many foes still. The wars tendeed to be more regional during the enclosure but Zictla has a great many warring states. Zictalas may be the ruler here but he has many foes. He was not very happy when Xozla returned. Father is the only true challenger he has. Mother and Zentalas hate each other but always seem friends in person. "
Cicero slithers up Azti's arm, exploring. Alvah gets a sense that the dufiro in cicero may be taking a reading on Azti.
"As for choices...Yes, you make a choice, you pay the price. Till recently there was really no place i could go. I've only been out of Azcala twice and you saw one of them. In my youth i defied mother.. Alvah, i don't know what horrors you grew up experiencing under such a monster as Delxi, but think carefully before you earn punishment here. Mother is away now, probably won't be back till the new moon, that speaks to her surprise you came here. And it means when she returns, she will have decided if she wishes to go to the knives with your companion. I have rarely seen her as scared as she was when he threatened to call the Ambassador of Chaos. I guess she went to Tonacat to get permission to seize you."

Amber Bronkhorst
Alvah smiles to Tixa.
Hearing Aztilios she laughs maybe a bit to loud
"Horrors? with Delwin? seriously... hah no... i have been kept safe and sound in my golden cage. Sure i could explore, on that specific shadow. usually when we travelled it was together.
Sure i learned things. but nothing really powerful less that would break the limitations and bounds he put on my abilities. "
Walking with her feet in the water she smiles and enjoys the feeling
"No i had teachers teaching me, ballet, dance, music, fighting. Thieving. but no horrors. I was always protected. Basically i was constantly watched over. "
She smiles to Aztilios
"So for the first time really i am loose and making my own choices. Yes that might mean i will get in trouble. Like burning almost alive from trying to trump to here. The first time."
Alvah inhales deep and lays her head back in her neck .
"And when i woke up, again, so many people. fuzzing, worried. scared... as if it was all so bad... and i don't think they all really cared for me... but more what effect it might have had on the whole order of things. "
Turning to Aztilios while still standing in the water she smiles and shrugs.
"If Cihalas will attempt to seize me i'm gone. I am willing to stay here on my own terms... if i'm treated like a normal person. not like a possession or nuclear freaking bomb that can go off anytime."
Alvah laughs again.
"OH when Xozla found me during my shadow walk to Vulsara... the look on the face of Bleys at a point.. when he realised he could just find me. HE actually called in help from everywhere. Delwin freaked out... the only one who remained calm was King Random"
SHaking her head she chuckles again.

Michael James Watson
He turns, "Wait, you have met Xozla? In Shadow? He has seen Bleys, Delxi and King Random?"
"Till today the only Amberits i had met were Delxi when he was here. And Relmapator, when i was summoned by an idiot Jaguar Cult priest. We had words but did not engage in combat...But Xozla.... he spent many years outside the enclousre.. we have no idea who he met, spent time with... because of that, he is not trusted by Tonacat..."

Amber Bronkhorst
Alvah shrugs and nods
"Yes and after that i used a pattern to go visit him again to ask some questions and he then talked to Vance. And two other officers of the AMber Star Fleet were there as well."
She turns to Aztilios and smiles
"that is actually where my curiousity became more tangible. He told me of Tlatlayeni, that he is still around somewhere. And we talked about the hearts and the guess how many Cihalas had made of me. and how things might have gone before i was pulled away by Delwin."

Michael James Watson
He lays back, sighs regrettably..
'oh father...."
He stands and walks to the picnic, settling and filling a glass.
Afte Alvah joins him he says, "Father has met with Vance of Star Fleet and those in his command. At Vulsara.? After Tonacat told him not to speak to them without his permission after the mess he got into at the Oracle of Night with Quetzal meeting Vance, Benedict, Bleys and Relmapator... treason.. if Tonacat finds out it will be war for sure.. on him...damn....oh damn... mother will not be pleased..."

Amber Bronkhorst
Alvah tilts her head
"Maybe is hould not have told you that then. "
"it was actually not even his idea. But Vance... i think Vance just wanted to make things easier for me as well."
She shrugs and stares out over the water.
"But you think that Cihalas is asking for permission to seize me, possible? Because if she doesn't ask Tonacat and she does seize me... and it starts trouble.. he might be mad?"
ALvah sighs deep and pulls up he rknees looking down at the ground wrapping her arms around her knees.
"guess i should leave here soon as well then. " She says with a softer voice.

Michael James Watson
"I might not be good at giving advise, but when she is away my mind is clearer. I would tell your chaosian friend to be on guard for small mental changes, new choice methods. I don't know what she's going to do from day to day. Tonacat says Never make plans. Plans hinder your ability to makes unbiased choices. Mother is like that, No plans...."

Amber Bronkhorst
Alvah nods she shrugs
"i'm sure it would be noticeable enough, when behaviour changes... but thank you, i'll keep that to heart. "
She looks sideways to Aztilios and smiles
"I'll look it day by day as well, if need be, Vek and i and well the rest are gone. "
She lays her heads on her knees and smiles warmly to Aztilios
"So actually, you know your mother is manipulating you... you know that you are less free with her around... perhaps.... you need more time alone. without mom"

Michael James Watson
He laughs, "Indeed! But i don't really have much choice. The ritual.. it can be hard. But so much comes from it. I was bonded to her in my youth. At this point she isn't manipulating me anymore. I am manipulating myself in the manner she would have me behave. Untara fought it and managed to escape in the Chaos surrounding the Enclosure. I didn't. In the time since it was just to hard.. Even if I got out, I wouldn't trust me to not try to get back in. " He eats a bit, "Tell me about Amber? Nothing secret. The city. The people. I have a Deck of the Amber trumps purchased in a boutique in the Dramaturge. Non-magic of course. "
He pulls the deck out, shows her. "Acoza, our ambassador to Mandalay tells me the commoners play a game called Charge Deck. Where people get those in the deck, to sign their cards. TO impress each other over who they have met long enough to get a signature. It sounded foolish till i looked at Acoza's deck, and the signatures of many of the Mandalay Amberites.. Then i envied him the travel..Tell me about any of these people. or any of the places..."

Amber Bronkhorst
Alvah take a bit herself to eat she nods thoughtfully
"i think i get it, if you feel like you still belong here, and are okey with things as they are. "
She thinks for a moment, the sad realization comes over her her face showing her sadness for just a moment before putting up her smile again and looking at Aztilios.
"Had not heard of that game yet, but yes i can tell you of som Amberites that i've met. nothing secret ofcourse, just common knowledge. "
She thinks of a moment where to start.
"Alright, one of the first i've met and was so friendly to me, and actually gave me the first sense of having a mother figure in my life. Dame Margot, she has been in the castle for.... well forever really. She manages alot, she manages the kitchen she is in control of the room assignments.. and as a new amberite if you have not come to her for at least one cooking lesson she wil take that as a personal offense. I"ve been to her several times. She is great with the animals as well, keeping them fed and healthy. "
She smiles
"You want to know anyone specific. mind you i don't know them all "

Michael James Watson
"Margot..She sounds like Coatoxi. Maybe this ancient Margot could use her?"

Amber Bronkhorst
Alvah nods
"was actually thinking if i manage to take them all away, to at least discuss it with her. she knows. and yes when i saw Contoxi she actually reminded me of Dame Margot. "
A moment she takes another bite to eat and somethign to drink she thinks of all the cards in the deck.
"you know the deck is extensive and it keeps growing, but that should not be strange, the Azcalan deck does the same. i know i recently have been added in there."
Alvah leans back a bit more looking up at the sky
"But if i undersatnd correctly, you have wanderlust, but you always know you will come back here. Why? not that i say you shouldn't, but what makes you want to return? is it mom... Cihalas... is it the place? the memories? that it is known territory?"

Michael James Watson
He thinks a moment, taking a big drink..."I think tis authority. There are countless souls in the 9 tiers of Azcala. Especially since all the dead live on in Mictala.. I am in the top 20 individuals of the royal family. I can't say how it is in Amber, but here, i could go to a thousand kingdoms and raise a million warriors willing to slay their families if I asked. Eager to take to war against Amber, of Mandalay,. or Cynasure, or any place I ask in or out of Azcala...You...You are in that 20 as well, once you are known. You could raise such an army..Having done nothing other then swear to Tonacat and be added to the family tree of the Royals of Azcala. I need not raise an army either.. I could go top a 1000 kingdoms and the kings would gladly offer me their daughter's or their wive's or their mother's beds if i asked. I can call a thousand people to climb the alter for me. Zictalas sacrifices a hundred willing souls a day... Authority and power.."

Amber Bronkhorst
As she leans back only resting on her lower arms she looks at Aztilios and raises her eyebrows.
"really? authority? "
She pauses a moment contemplating it then shaking her head.
"well if that is it for you, i can't imagine. But then again, i have not been raised with that idea of authority over people. and i absolutly see no need to it. "
Sitting up she looks at Aztilios with a serious face.
"I doubt that is ever going to happen. me being added to the family tree. Swearing that fealty to Tonacat. Like you said. Will be gone before that, and i doubt Tonacat would want me hanging around here long... it could bring strain to the already straining relations there is between Amber and Azcala. "
Laying on her back she puts her hands behind her head and just stares up at the sky smiling.
"and what is the fun of being able to command for anything you want... i'm actually dating someone, well i was.. don't know how we are standing now. "
She looks at Aztilios and grins
"and that is the fun thing. I have no authority over anything really, and i actually don't know if the relationship will work. I don't know if the people i ask will help me or stab me in the back... it makes things exciting..."

Michael James Watson
he nods, "Your name will be added. Too many people will know soon. Your namemight be written in blue, like Untara and Alcona and Quetzal, but it will be written. Im afraid for you."

Amber Bronkhorst
"Blue? oh i can guess what that means... " She nods hearing the names that are written in blue.
without looking at Aztilios she adds
"why are you afraid for me? for events that might happen in the future? things that not yet have happened. and sure might happen but also.. might not happen? Do not waste fear or worries for things not certain yet."

Michael James Watson
He nods, "I am not afraid of what might happen. I am afraid that people i know will act as I expect them to. In the Tree of Lives, part of our faith, Tonacat, Cihu, mother, me, Zictalas, Zentalas, Xoxotl and even father are painted in red. Mixcoatl and Coatlicue are in green as neutrals, approved neutrals. Apanectl and Cuilton are gray, as dead. Zolton is yellow, missing. And Untara, Alcona, and Quetzal and blue-rebels...You will find its like represneting thousands of families and conflicts across Azcala"

Amber Bronkhorst
Laying on her back she then sighs deep and sits up
"Aztilios, come on.... do yuo think i'll still be here when that happens? It is clear i am not really wanted here either. So... i'll be gone soon enough. "
She stands up and stretches her body full length which in her case is not that impressive.
"I just wanted to see where i'm from. Perhaps see if i can find Tlatlayeni... then be on my way again. "
taking a few steps towards the water she stares
"I represent nothing... Aztilios. even when written in blue and people hating here on me. i will be nothing compared to others that are fully of hte family. "
She turns and smirks.
"i find it nice of you that you warn me and are worried for me what the other smight do. And i take your warnings to heart. Really. Just means i have to plan my next place to go to soon. Doubt i should return to Vulsara right away."

Michael James Watson
Azti says, "Where you were born...It certainly wasn't here in Zictla. As I understand you were born in Untola. Mother spends time there often.. to, relax? Be someone else for a time. She met Delxi there.. A scholar? He was involved with the Corn Cult, wasn't he? That means Hasnasa.. Where Centeotl rules. He is a green, nuetral.. everyone needs to eat.. Mother will be gone for a time, I need not stay. Why dont we go cee Centeotl? Bring your Vek, and the pages. Contaxi is allowed to leave the realm with mother or I.. take her too. It would be reasonable to see the God of Maize, his wife Xilonen, goddess of tender maize...He would know of Delxi if anyone would. "

Amber Bronkhorst
Alvah looks at Aztilios and nods.
"Alright yes we can do that, and yes ofcourse i'll bring Vek. But... he is not mine. He is his own. We are friends "
She grins a bit
"But yeah what you say i heard as well. Doubt we will find things there we wouldn't know yet. But they lived together there.
She folds her arms over eachother and the page and smiles doe that so the rest can.

Michael James Watson
"She loses herself for a decade here and there. Forgets who and what she is. But it always returns. She is the Woman in Fire and Feathers. She can't be anything else for long. "
They talk for awhile and he talks of cities across Azcala, (basically anything on the azcala page) In time they make their way back to the house.

Amber Bronkhorst
Alvah genuinely enjoys herself talking to her brother. Talking learning. And getting to know her brother.
Back at the house she will thank her brother for time spend and food and drik shared. She will then excuse herself to her appointed room.

Michael James Watson
She finds Vek sitting in a chair in her room. "Any new deaths?"
She sees several trumps freshly sketched. A dark skinned boy in trousers comes in the room next door bearing a bag Vek usually carries. A drawing of the logrus glows on his chest

Amber Bronkhorst
Alvah raises an eyebrow seeing Vek in the room and moreso seeing the logrus on the boys chest.
She shakes her head
"No, we just talked. Actually a plan was made to perhaps visit Untola. Since i was born there."
She points to the boy and looks questioningly to Vek....

Michael James Watson
He smiles, "Its just glowing ink but it will scare the hell out of the Azcalans. They won't dare touch him. And whatever happens I'm taking him with me when we leave here."

Amber Bronkhorst
Alvah nods and gestures to girl with her.
"Aztilios actually asked me that as a favor. He was very clear on not staying here to long and when we leave. Take these two and Contoxi. Make sure they are out and safe. "
Alvah walks to the window and watches outside.
"So there is a chance Cihalas is or doing something random she had to do. Or.... telling and asking Tonacat about me. "
She shrugs slightly.
" If the latter we might need to leave sooner then later. "