Description: "When your time comes to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home." - Tecumseh
== Two weeks ago, somewhere deep in the mountainous wilderness of Greenland. ==
A thick haze of pungent smoke fills the air of a small stone chamber, wafting out of 2 guttering torches set to either side of the dimly lit room. Two men stand beside that door, one young, the other old. Both share the same long black hair, deeply tanned skin, and the cool grey eyes of winter wolves. The older's hand rests lightly upon the shoulder of the younger as he explains in no uncertain terms that the elders have come to a decision, and that the younger will have to leave their fortress home because, well, he's kind of an ass hole. But not to worry, they have a special mission just for him...
== Now, Kangerlussuaq airport, 11:49 PM.
"This is your captain speaking." announces a mellow American voice, its relaxed tambour unaffected by either the crackling hiss of the PA system, or the fact that the plane has been grounded for nearly 50 minutes as one problem after another has been found, flagged, investigated, and subsequently dismissed. "The crew and I are going to have to ask you to bear with us a little longer while the boys on the ground make one more pass over our old bird. The stewardesses will be by shortly with complimentary refreshments. Sorry for the delay, folks, but we should be in the air within the hour."
The announcement ends with a soft squawk and crackle, followed soon by the rising murmur of voices. Geared as it is for an international flight, the plane is packed to capacity with business men and traveling families, most of whom came aboard from one layover or another. Only a hand full of scattered passengers are locals seeking to escape the country, but among them is one particular fellow with winter-grey eyes, his long black hair pulled back in a complicated series of braids that weave their way down his broad back.
Knees jammed in to either side of the seat in front of him, elbows forced in against his ribs by an extremely fat man on one side and an exhausted zombie of a woman juggling a diaper bag and newborn baby on the other, Ejnar's expression has steadily devolved over the past 49 minutes. What had started as a neutral stare of indifference was first replaced by a slight frown of annoyance. That, in turn, was succeeded by a faint scowl of impatience. Next came a harsh glower of frustration. But now? Now the Viking gazes straight ahead with a hard stare of resolution, his callused hands reaching down to click open his seatbelt.
Rising to a low stoop, the muscular man clambers over the legs and belly of the man beside him, escaping out into the isle where he can finally, blessedly, straighten up to his only mildly notable height of 6'0. Still, though he might not be the largest man to ever step out of a Norse legend, his build is rock solid and muscular, shown off to great effect by a brown leather vest with silver wolf pelt across shoulders and back, rugged fur-trimmed leather bracers, and a pair of fur-trimmed leather pants that hug his legs. If the world were any less weird, people might assume he were some kind of savage. As it stands, most people roll their eyes and look away, assuming he's just a wacky cosplayer.
Unfortunately for them, he is not.
Taking only a moment to glance about, Ejnar turns to head up the isle, brushing right past a couple of stewardesses on their way toward the back of the plane. Swerving into the emergency isle, he stoops below the luggage wrack and crab walks over to the door, hands flying through the emergency open sequence with deft efficiency. He is so quick, in fact, that the young business woman seated beside the door has only enough time to look up from her phone and frown before the door bursts open with a loud 'BANG!'
A view of the outside of the plain would show the emergency door flying off to clatter noisily to the pavement, followed close behind by the inflatable tongue of an orange plastic slide. It is down that gentle slope that an honest to god Viking slips, sliding down on his back like an oversized child, braids flung out in all directions.
Moccasins touching earth, Ejnar staggers to his feet and glances around, turning to stride quickly back beneath the wing of the plane he just exited. Soon enough he emerges from the other side, moving across the tarmac with apparent purpose, lips turned down into an impatient scowl and grey eyes scanning left to right.
Prop plane? Not enough distance.
Commercial Jetliner? Too many passengers.
Private jet? ... Perfect.
Angling his course toward the discrete, privately-owned aircraft, the Viking approaches the 2 heavily armed guards standing out front. Cold eyes flicking from their neat blue uniforms, to the guns they both hold, and finally up to the plane itself, he uses that particular gift of his to examine the infinitely complex machine, studying it as only a master artisan can.
"Let on plane."Ejnar grunts towards the men as he steps into casual speaking distance, making no attempt to slow down or remove the frustrated edge from his tone. "Am private contractor here to fix auto pilot. NOL command say nose is drifting down in flight."
Neither man needs to know that this is a bold faced lie. It is likely the plane has a tendency to drift down from time to time, as the pressure sensors on the flight stick are a little too sensitive in the forward position, but they don't need to know that. In fact, they don't need to know anything at all. Sure he might look like a Viking,but this is Greenland. Half the people wandering the streets are eccentric rough and tumble types, and the other half are just grumpy. Besides, why the hell would someone dressed like an actual literal Viking walk up to an armed guard and claim to be a coder if they weren't?
Glancing toward one another, the guards share a silent bit of communication before stepping apart to allow Ejnar to pass. For the Viking's part, he doesn't even break stride. Heading up the steps, he ducks through the open door, pauses just long enough to pull it closed behind, and continues on his way toward the cockpit.
Fortunately for him, both the pilot and co-pilot are out. Doubly fortunate, a sweep of his eyes across the control station reveals everything to be in order.
Face relaxing into a look of slightly less grumpy relief, Ejnar settles himself down into the pilot's chair and begins flipping switches. Doors lock, the cabin begins to pressurize. A moment later, the engines spin to life, causing the guards outside to whirl around and charge back up the stairs, pounding heavily on the door.
Jets thrum, breaks are disengaged, and the plane pivots, guards leaping off of the stairs to avoid being taken out by the wide left wing. Eyes cool and calm, Ejnar guides the plane out of parking and onto a runway with a steady hand. From there, it is a simple matter to gun the engines, pressure forcing him back into his seat as the aircraft roars down the lane. Lips quirking into a grim little smile, he eases back on the stick and coaxes the plane into the air, leaving the realm of Greenland far below.
All of this without once putting on either of the 2 headsets resting on the panel, the taciturn young man having no desire to argue with any so-called air control. If they truly controlled the air, his plane wouldn't be flying, now would it?
The airport is perhaps not as busy as those located in more industrialized, large scale cities. But it is still a hub of activity. All around it, planes are moving back to their designated parking zones for disembarking, or nudging forward into the taxiing lanes en route to the runway.
But when the jet the lone viking has commandeered begins to move, all other traffic around it clears out of the way. One small plane accelerates rapidly to get out of the taxi lane, while a larger jet comes to a sudden, tire screeching halt just before it would have moved into the private aircraft's path. It seems even without coordinating with any kind of air traffic control, all the other pilots are clearly inclined to give deference to the one Ejnar now pilots.
Without any incident beyond a few close calls, the vehicle is in the air above Greenland... a good twnety minutes before its scheduled departure.
There is only one passenger along for the ride on this insane breech of security and protocol. A young woman dressed in layers of flowing robes, gold, crimson, and finally black and gold. Her large, comfortable chair is the central fixture in the larger compartment of the sleek, luxury craft. Smaller but still comfortably accommodating chairs line the sides facing toward the center but all of them are presently empty. Normally, there would be generals, counselors, lawyers, and political experts on board, but right this minute, they are all staring out the window of the reserved lounge inside the airport watching their plane vanish into the horizon.
The next compartment back is where the staff should be, with kitchens, sleeping quarters, and smaller meeting rooms. All empty, as they too had yet to board.
Hands folded beneath sleeves that drape nearly down to her feet, the Imperator Libarius of the Novus Orbis Librarium sits quietly on the stolen plane, crimson eyes glancing over the empty compartment as the roar of engines carry her off without her generals, councilors, or support staff. The dark purple headdress normally worn when seen in public has already been set aside by one of her aids before they stepped off the plane to grab a last second purchase from the airport duty free shop, but the golden circlet that forms her crown remains in place on her head. No ordinary trinket of priceless metal, the circlet is the true Yasakani No Magatama... A powerful relic of mythology... and a powerful weapon when wielded by the one who wears it.
Having the plane take off without its crew or her advisors doesn't seem to have alarmed the Imperator, though her red-eyed gaze throughout the empty does appear to have annoyed her, her expression slipping easily into a quiet glower like it so often does.
The trip had been a successful one - a negotiation with Greenland to secure location for a NOL facility along with a charter to operate within their borders. Another spot on the map for the Librarium to spread its influence and control. Little by little, her ambition was accomplishing her goals while governments and most civilians welcomed them with open arms and eager requests for aid.
The empress of the Librarium endured the taxiing and liftoff without response, but once the plane reaches altitude and is able to level off, she finally starts to move. One slender, concealed arm moves from her lap to the array of buttons available on one arm of her throne-like seat. From beneath the cloth, a single, pale finger presses down upon one of the buttons, causing it to illuminate green, giving her the opportunity to communicate into the cockpit via speaker.
"Pilot," the Imperator states calmly, "There seems to have been a mistake. The rest of the passengers had yet to board." Her tone only lightly hints at the young woman's annoyance, as if she somehow expects the solution to this insane situation will be to simply turn the plane around, land, get everyone aboard, then take off again, with nothing worse for it than being behind schedule.
Lounging comfortably in the cushions of the pilot's chair, one hand on the flight stick and feet stretched out to nudge lightly at the steering peddles, Ejnar gazes out at the endless expanse of stars beyond the planes front windshield. They appear so close, like tiny diamonds hovering just beyond his reach. And more, they are a symbol. A sign of his freedom. From hence forth he is on his own. No rules, no demands. Nothing but endless possibility stretching out before him.
Life is good.
Upon the cluttered console, one of the many darkened lights glows green. A musical chime rings throughout the cockpit, disrupting the tranquil hum of engines, and a soft female voice begins speaking in a quite imperious tone. A quick flick of his eyes confirms that there is no way to silence the feed from this end. In truth, the very fact that it is being piped in to the cockpit, rather than the speakers, seems to imply that there is Never an option not to hear this particular person's demands.
Ejnar frowns slightly, reaching up to flip the auto-pilot to on while he considers just how to reply. Tone, technology, and gut instinct tell him that this person is important. But, then again, what is an important person to him? What does he care about princesses and oil magnates? One rich fool is much like another.
"Is no mistake." Ejnar responds after perhaps 2 seconds of dead air. By accent alone it is clear that he is not the pilot she expected, to say nothing of the rough tones with which he addresses her. "We go to Canada now. They do not. Bad luck for them."
People have died for less than the two seconds it takes for Ejnar to reply. Already, the Imperator's eyes have shifted forward, toward the cockpit at the front of the plane, the intensity of her glower growing by the instant.
But then the response comes. Not just a response, a correction, a contradiction, an implication that her divine interpretation of the circumstances was somehow incorrect.
The NOL leader's back straightens a little, eyes widening slightly. Did... did this man just speak back to her? She had not actually anticipated a verbal reply but rather the lean of the compartment as the pilot immediately set about banking the jet into a return back to the airport. That is what should have happened. Conversation was for world leaders, and the highest ranking members of the Librarium. Lower ranked or unranked civilians existed to be spoken to, not to... address /her/.
And then the madman continues, possibly sealing his fate, telling /her/, Hades Izanami, where they will be going next.
The Imperator's finger remains pressed against the intercom button, her expression shifted away from scowling to almost a blank slate of internal confusion. Things like this simply just didn't happen in the young woman's life, short as it had been within the confines of the vessel the Mad Architect had forged for her.
"Pilot." Whoever this man was, he was not part of the NOL, that much was obvious. But that didn't mean he couldn't be taught his place.
"We will not be going to Canada." Her tone is regal, imperious, but not overtly angry. After all, this mild annoyance can be remedied by simply giving the lunatic at the stick his orders, allowing him to carry them out, then deal with him once her agenda is back on track.
"You will turn this aircraft around and return to the airport at once."
"No." comes the pilot's blunt response, that one word ringing through the imperator's chamber with pig-headed finality. Up front, Ejnar has taken both hands pointedly away from the controls, arms folded loosely over his chest. Slouched as he is, black braids tumbling down around his shoulders, he offers the spectacular view before him a grumpy scowl. Not five minutes in to his journey and someone is already trying to tell him what to do. Are there no places left in the world free of oversight? When will they learn that he, Ejnar, is the master of his own destiny. Not them.
"Can you fly plane?" the Viking grunts testily, his patience for the demanding stowaway quickly running thin. "I fly plane, I choose path. We go to Canada."
Pronouncement given, Ejnar sits forward in his seat, arms uncrossing and begins scanning the console for some way to shut the young woman up. There is no off switch on his end, of course, but where there is a will, there is a way.
Brow furrowed in concentration, the master smith picks up one of the sets of headphones and tears the cord free, wires parting with a small burst of sparks. discarding the now useless bundle of speakers, he scans the surrounding walls, eye eventually lighting on a small access panel behind and above his left shoulder. Using his fingers to pry this open, he reaches inside, fishes around, and eventually finds the wire he is looking for.
While up to this point the Goddess of Death has had plenty of time to make further demands, the speakers in Izanami's throne chamber abruptly let out a loud crackle and hiss as the connection to the cockpit is temporarily broken. A moment later, they crackle, squeal, and the frantic voices of air traffic control begin firing into the room, filling the air with rapid back and forth chatter.
Back and forth chatter that is, unfortunately, one way.
In the cockpit, Ejnar tosses the newly rewired connection to the floor and lets out a long sigh of relief, taking a moment to bask in the near silence of a jet plane in flight. One princess silenced, one problem solved. Now he just has to make it to Canada, and he can get to work in earnest.
It isn't a word the Imperator Librarius has never heard directed her way before. Sometimes it is the answer to a question, such as, no, the darkstalker situation in Southtown has not been contained yet. Or no, no one has gotten eyes on the living weapon Dizzy for some time. Sometimes it is the response she gets from world leaders during heated negotiations and deliberations concerning the expansion of the Librarium's authority. Sometimes they could start off so disagreeable before finally being brought around to the correct answer...
But where the young woman had not encountered such a simple, defiant declaration is in response to a direct command. Saying no to an imperative is the privilege of the powerful, not the right of pissant wouldbe hijackers. Beneath her left sleeve, a delicate hand clenches tightly, while her right hand keeps a finger pressed down on the communications toggle.
Swirls of ebony energy begin to gather around the seated empress, her eyes narrowing into a pointed glare toward the cockpit door.
"Pilot," she intones, her voice not radiating with the budding anger building within. "We are not peers. You have no authority here. I will give you this one last chance to return this plane where you misappropriated it and remand yourself to the author-"
The speaker in the cockpit cuts out as the Imperator continues to speak to no one at all. She pauses at the sound, finger slowly lifting off the button on the arm of her seat. Once again, the overt anger in her expression fades, replaced with a more neutral expression as she sits quietly for some time, her hands resting in her lap. The cross talk prattles on around her though she sits oblivious to it, her thoughts focused squarely on the man flying the private jet toward Canada. Is it a deliberate attempt at suicide? Perhaps he wants to go out in a blaze of infamous glory. Ever since she entered the world, at last occupying a physical form courtesy of the Mad Architect's work, there had been an increase in that... humans finding the most violent, attention getting ways to bring an end to their lives. Death was becoming increasingly a spectacle sport, each lost soul trying to outdo those who had come before. Normally the Goddess of the Grave found it amusing. But normally she wasn't being directly inconvenienced by it.
But that theory only holds if he understands the threat he has placed himself in, she ponders. What if he is simply stupid? It can't be an attempt at a spectacular death if he has no idea what he risks with his fearless disregard for the commands he was given. Maybe she is reading the situation all wrong. Maybe if he was aware of the peril he had placed himself in, he would be overcome with crippling, all-consuming fear...
Slowly a smile works its way across her pale features as the black tendrils of energy swirling about her begin to build.
The viking who seems to be in command would hear an inhuman shriek of dozens of suffering souls through the steel of the cockpit door followed by a loud thud of something heavy and large impacting against it. Steel would begin to squeal next as it starts to crumple in on itself, as if being crushed by an unfathomable force. Hinges snap, steel bends, then finally the security door is ripped free, flying back away from the cockpit and out of sight.
And then, silence as the Imperator simply remains seated where she has been the entire flight.
For some time, blessed silence reigns throughout the softly vibrating aircraft. And, much like the Goddess currently stewing upon her throne, Ejnar takes the time to think. Gazing out upon the endless expanse of stars, he allows his imagination to roam free. Schematics dance across his vision. glorious marvels of war and convenience. All the things that he has wanted to try, but has never found time for in long days of toil. For sure, his people are the craftsmen of the gods. Their works are things of legend. But, in truth, the gods have always tended to have somewhat limited imaginations. A sword that can cut through anything, a trident that allows its wielder to breathe under water. A hammer that is also on fire. Drudge work, mostly.
"Feh." Ejnar grunts to himself, head flopping back against his seat.
If you say but one thing about Ejnar Valgrimsson, say that he is a warrior. For as the area beyond his small refuge bursts into a sudden cacophony of screams, the Viking bounds immediately to his feet, only barely managing to avoid banging his knee into the flight stick and sending the plane front flipping like a wayward high diver. Grey eyes wide and alert, he casts about for the nearest thing to a weapon.
Pilot's chair? Bolted down.
Control stick? Bad idea.
Loose cabling? ... That'll do.
The chattering voices currently drowned beneath the chorus of the damned cut out abruptly as Ejnar reaches down and grabs hold of the recently rewired cable, jerking it free of the panel and spinning it into a loose coil. Thus armed, he rounds on the metal door sealing him in, watching with grim determination as tendrils of inky black energy peel it away.
The door falls, its landing echoing throughout the plane with a loud 'BOOM!'
Ejnar stands, ears alert and grey eyes fixed through the opening.
Handsome features pulling into a look of abject grumpiness, Ejnar creeps forward toward the empty frame, takes a careful moment to peek through, and steps out onto the door beyond. metal wobbling beneath his moccasins, the warrior strides over the discarded twist of steel and toward the shadowed throne room that holds his latest nemesis. He is still frowning, cord still coiled around one hand, when he emerges into the chamber, eyes falling upon the oddly diminutive form of the Imperator.
"You are bad passenger." Ejnar grunts, not looking relaxed exactly, but still far from a gibbering pile of fear. "Loud noise will not make flight any sho--"
In mid grouse, Ejnar's brain finally catches up with his eyes, mouth left open as he stares in wide-eyed wonder at the young woman before him. Mind racing, brain humming with the sheer complexity of it, he is struck temporarily dumb. It is only after a couple of starts and stops that he is able to ask, gaze locked upon his newest fascination with avid interest.
"Where did you get crown?"
As Ejnar enters the compartment housing the jet's lone passenger, the only noises are the steady whine of the engines, the sound of bent, crumpled steel wobbling beneath his feet, and of the crackling of sparks from some of the torn wiring left back in the cockpit.
The lights are on in the compartment, and should be sufficient to illuminate it properly... but as the warrior takes in the sight, he will discover that light does not seem to behaving itself properly. Shadows without source creep along the walls, stretching, moving, watching without eyes. Living, silent observers of the thief.
The seat in the center houses a beautiful woman of diminutive size and young age, enveloped in layers of regalia of exquisite material and design. Around her, light seems to be sucked away, creating an area of darkness incongruent with the artificial lighting built into the area. Two crimson, glowing eyes gaze upon the viking as he steps into the presence of the dangerous creature living as the figurehead of the Novus Orbis Librarium. Her hands remain on her lap, hidden beneath sleeves that drape down over the front of her knees, nearly reaching the floor.
Standing before the kind of creature the most terrifying legends in history are inspired by, the gifted craftsman issues the declaration that she is a bad passenger. He continues to chide the empress like a spoiled brat when finally he cuts himself off, a look of profound realization seeming to render him incapable of speaking, shaking him to his core.
Hades Izanami leans forward ever so slightly, her face lowered just enough that her quiet glower remains fully visible as she rolls her eyes up toward the man. At last, he recognizes the grave offense he has committed. Surely, his mind is on the verge of fracturing as he bears witness to the Goddess of Death made manifest before him. Slowly, a grim smile works its way across her features. Has this man thing been reduced to a mute beast by her mere presence? Such would not be unexpected.
Well then. She will reward him for this diversion with a death worthy of his offense. Shadows stretch out along the compartment's floor, expanding out at an angle before closing in on Ejnar from both sides. He could flee to the cockpit if he was swift, but that simply be delaying the inevitable as the woman prepares to put an end to this farce. Killing the only one on the plane who knows how to actually fly it seems to be of little concern to her.
He opens his mouth. Perhaps to gasp out his final words. Maybe he will plead, beg her to forestall the doom that awaits him. She has born witness to the last moments of so many souls, heard every dying wish, every last regret. What could he possibly say-
The braided man asks where the Imperator got the golden circlet worn around her head, the symbol of the sun emblazoned on the front part of it. There is no answer, only the woman, shrouded shadow, glimmering red eyes focused intently on the next soul to be added to her infinite collection... And then the shadows withdraw back along the floor into the base of the throne, the light in the compartment starts to actually cut through the darkness and illuminate the space naturally. The sense of pressure all around wanes as the small woman stares at Ejnar, her expression neutral rather than glaring.
What did he ask in the final moments he was to experience what mortals call life? Where she got the crown?
The question is unexpected. Who would wonder such, in their final, fleeting moments? Intrigued, she grants a stay of execution. She would know more of what compels such an inquiry.
"You presume to demand answers from me?" Izanami retorts, though she seems less offended and more curious at the mere audacity of it. "You steal my plane. Ignore my commands. And then insist I account for the Yasakani No Magatama which I bear?"
She pushes up to her feet then, her arms still hidden, her hands folded into each opposite sleeve. At her full height, she is still barely over five feet tall. There is a timelessness to her features, making it difficult to pinpoint her age exactly, but to estimate her even close to thirty would be generous.
She falls quiet for a moment, gaze steady on the viking cut loose from his ancestral home. Her expression remains neutral, joyless, lifeless as she speaks again after seconds of silence. "I see... Then you recognize it for what it is. The true Magatama. The original... I brought it with me." she states, as if that was enough of an answer to explain where it came from.
"Hm..." the young woman states, her purple hair draped behind her back in a long, high pony tail that expands out into almost a knee length cape behind her. "You are going to die tonight, alone in this world. Your people, your kin will never know how your journey ended. There will be no more work for you. Does this trouble you?"
She pauses for a moment, closing her eyes then, hmming to herself. When her eyes open again to fix on Ejnar, she continues, "But I am no monster. I will allow you to see the Yasakani No Magatama in its true form before you pass from this life so that you may take the image of its perfection with you as you meet your final fate. Tell me, man, what manner of death you desire from me, and I shall grant it as a reward for your... remarkable... if rash temerity."
Whether suicidally brave or infinitely foolish, the looming presence of death seems to hold little sway over this particular young Viking. Though initially caught completely flat-footed by the sight of such an artifact, she can see when awareness flickers back in, the slight twitch of his eyes as he takes note of the deepening shadows closing in from either side. Though a foot taller than the girl and quite a bit bulkier, it is obvious to both of them who has the greater power.
A crease forms between Ejnar's dark brows, lips pressing together in a contemplative line. Winter gaze coasting across the gleaming surface of the mind-bendingly intricate artifact, he takes a moment longer to absorb it, to digest, before addressing the more pressing concern of the red-eyed creature who has only temporarily decided to spare him.
"Fegh."He grunts, eyeing Izanami with the same wariness a lone wolf might eye a bear. "You are not simple princess. Too strong. Goddess, maybe? Did not think goddess would need plane to fly." This is delivered very matter-of-factly, as if Sunday was laundry day and today is the day he runs into a god. But at least he has stopped talking to her like a spoiled brat.
"Do not think is good time to die. Am Ejnar Valgrimsson, bearer of the Flames of Creation, artisan of gods. Have things to do. Crown is interesting. Very good work. Perhaps even I am unable to copy. Perhaps...But must go to Canada. Is work to be done there."
While he speaks, one hand idly twists the length of cord between his fingers, grey gaze sliding off of Izanami, around the plane, then back, seeking something that only one with his particular sight would be able to find. Even at this distance, feet between them, Izanami can likely feel the gentle warmth that radiates off of the warrior. The feeling is not oppressive, in fact, to any normal soul it might even bee vaguely attractive. That sensation of warmth and security that comes from sitting next to a campfire or hearth during a cool evening, innately comforting to mortals, though maybe not comforting enough to get past his utter lack of personality. But what is gentle can turn violent. That which warms can burn, melt, and scorch.
On the other hand, Ejnar is one pissant Viking with some old blood in him, and Izanami is the Goddess of Death. The difference between them is vast and unknowable.
The Imperator has no immediate response as the viking standing over her considers whether she is or is not a manifestation of a goddess. Only when he declares it isn't a good time to die does one side of her mouth curl up into a faint smirk. "Mortals rarely do." she states, eyes drifting to the side, paying little attention to the man for a moment. "At first..."
He introduces himself and she looks back, expression neutral once more. "I know what you are, foolish man. If having a sense of purpose was enough to stall death, then all the world would be immortal." She lifts her arms slightly though her hands remain clasped beneath her voluminous sleeves.
"I have been quite reasonable here. I even offered you a choice in how you wished to end your life's journey. Precious few receive such a boon, to choose the form their final moments will take." Her eyes close then, shrouded hands lowering back to resting position. "But... you are in denial. Perhaps you think if you forestall answering, it will delay your fate."
Her eyes open again, mouth curling into a smile, eyes beaming slightly as if amused at some great secret. "Very well then. If you will not say, then it is left to me to decide. My imagination runs wild with so many possibilities, so many visions for how your flame will be extinguished."
Finally her hands unclasp, her left hand falling to rest against her side, still hidden from sight. Her right hand lifts, however, bent at the elbow, the long sleeve slipping down her forearm enough to reveal her pale fingers, her perfect nails, long, flawless, untarnished with paint.
Inky black energy flows over her hand, coiling around through her fingers. It radiates no heat, no comfort. It is the energy of annihilation. If the concept of erasure could be given form it would feel no different than to set eyes on the young woman's power.
"Now. I shall entertain myself with your soul for a little while as payment for such inconvenience. And when you can take no more, when the crushing realization of your folly finally takes hold in that naive mind of yours, I will grant you rest."
As if expecting him to simply stay put, the purple-haired woman reaches out for Ejnar's chest with her ebony power encircled fingers.
Who would have thought that the end of Ejnar Valgrimsson, infamous son of the chief, only heir of the venerable clan of artisans who have served the gods for these long millennia, would end here. Thousands of feet above the Pacific ocean. Face to face with the physical manifestation of Death herself.
Winter-grey eyes flick back toward Izanami's serene face, staring at her with an icy sort of focus. He does not look like a man who thinks he is about to die. In fact, if any one word could be given to his expression, lips tilted down at the corners, dark brows furrowed, chin dipping forward so that his long black braids fall over his shoulders, it would probably be 'Annoyed.'
Within that singular sound is packed all the scorn and disinterest of an entire species. A complete disregard for the near certain demise that is coming at the hands of the goddess. With it, he verbally rejects the very notion, metaphorically, and very nearly literally, spitting in the face of Death.
As Izanami's hand reaches forward with the slow deliberation of one used to ritual, Ejnar steps back, a single, casual step that carries him out of range of the hand, if not out of range of the shadows that could strike from any direction.
"Stupid god." he grunts, and releases the hold on his power, allowing flames to roar out and greet the air.
The highly compressed, oxygen rich air.
Thousands of feet above the Pacific ocean, the endless expanse of stars are briefly joined by another. A tiny flower of brilliant orange that blossoms from seemingly nowhere, spreading its short-lived pedals out to greet the moon above. Soon after the mysterious bud has faded, the quiet rumble of distant thunder rolls out across the waves. What is unseen, however, are the tiny specks of light that fall free of the flower, each one a precious seed of potential. A wingtip here, a spinning wheel there, all of them mere fragments of a thing that once was. Down and down the flaming seeds fall. And in among them, tumbling, flailing, long braids of black whipping out behind him, a human figure clad in the brightest light of all plummets toward earth, a familiar look of grumpy discontent twisting his unhappy features.
When will they learn?
Only Ejnar is the master of Ejnar's destiny.
The mid-air explosion is as brief as it is violent. The initial detonation of concentrated oxygen triggers the second, more destructive ignition of the jet fuel storage. Coupled with the fierce winds at such an altitude, the smoke, embers, and flames are scattered throughout the atmosphere within moments. The heavier pieces will plummet from the sky in turn, some carried along by the wind a ways before hitting the ocean below, other, heavier chunks of the destroyed aircraft pursue a more direct course down through the sky, creating large splashes before sinking away.
In the space occupied shortly before by a private jet, a black sphere lingers, opaque and solid, yet not affected by gravity's insistent tug. Slowly it unfurls, its form becoming two gigantic, skeletal hands, their fingers unclasping over their precious cargo. Only when fully opened does the bone shield fade away to black mist.
The Imperator hovers there, her robes whipping about her slender form, her long ponytail wrapping around her, her hands once again concealed by her sleeves, her feet still hidden by the length of her attire. The threat of falling holds no threat for her and it is with surprising serenity that she gazes down after the falling pieces of wreckage and the burning meteor of one insolent, stubborn man.
Slowly, a bemused look crosses her face, her eyes half closing as she ceases to pay attention to the lost Viking's final destination. A soft, short, closed-mouth giggle is the only audible sound she makes, hardly carrying over the whipping noise of her layered clothing.
Of course she could have left the jet at any time and left the man to his own devices, to let him achieve whatever he was hellbent on doing in Canada. But that wouldn't have been nearly as interesting as this outcome. What an onerous but interesting specimen. Perhaps he will have a part to play in the end game after all.
It takes only a thought to beckon her enslaved mage to see to the Imperator's needs, a swirling, empty black circle opening in the sky around her then closing just as suddenly as it had appeared, leaving empty sky.
Log created on 00:40:51 06/03/2019 by Ejnar, and last modified on 02:02:50 06/05/2019.