The Invisible Elite (Priscilla)

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The Invisible Elite (Priscilla)
Date of Cutscene: 15 October 2017
Location: Lordran
Synopsis: The events following the kindling of the First Flame have lead her to this moment. To them.
Cast of Characters: Priscilla
Tinyplot: Song of the Deep, World Within the Canvas

~~18 months ago: Royal Chambers, Anor Londo~~

     The setting sun filters through the curtains of white silk, casting the the golden glow and the long shadows of the end of day across the room. A faint, warm, breeze stirs from the balcony, carrying the scent of evening flowers from the celebrations winding down far below. Priscilla sits before a crystal mirror removed from the Archives, her property now by inheritance. Princess Gwynevere stands behind her, brush in hand, and marveling at Priscilla's reflection in the same way she sometimes does herself, when she forgets to recognize it. It's the first time she's been alone with her mother in over a thousand years.

“Ever does it lie still? It is as if the wind hath fixed it permanently so.”

“Thou shalt be here the rest of the year, if thou hope to comb away the ten thousand times I had neglected. I doubt thine husband shalt wait the rest of the night, never mind so much longer.”

“If it take me a hundred years to do it, so help me I shalt. Else I shalt never be able to forget how much I never was able to teach thee.”

“There shalt be all the time in the world to learn later. Alas, I must confess thou now hast a daughter very well used to it, and who may hath too much independence to bother. What was it? Raised by wolves, thou wouldst sayeth?”

“Perhaps I had worried far too much, if all of these long years were powerless to do ought but leave thee with windswept hair and handmade dress. Perhaps I had worried too much even now, if thou had such strength inside thee all along. I cannot help but see the beautiful little girl I once knew, however. Forgive a mother that, If I deserveth so much.”

“I certainly cannot hold such old embarrassments against thee. Didst I tell thee that so many out there believeth this tail to somehow be adorable?”

“I had always told thee it was thine most charming feature!”

“Yes, but . . . well it is different whence thine own mother sayeth so, no?”

“Sweet child, thou had never been in need of sympathy. Thou were always in need of confidence.”

~~15 months ago: Cathedral of Gwynevere, Anor Londo~~

     The glittering stars are just visible through the vaulted arches and stained glass of the cathedral gallery. The the marble effuses ethereal, dream-like glow of the moon outside. The dark is only the deeper for it, layered across the length of the grand floor, and shrouding the balconies above in blackness. Priscilla stands in the shadow of a great, fluted pillar, though the light would pass right through her, without so much as leaving her own. Her breathing still, and motionless as the statues that stand guard along the walls, she looks upward to grid of rafters that run across the chambered ceiling. Ciaran had returned again, tonight. The seventh in a row. The Knight of Gwyn remains seated at that dizzying height, just across from the robed guardians in white that haunt this place, as if it were their silent game to play together, one guardian in the shadows to another. Priscilla often wonders to herself what kind of camaraderie she thinks they share. If, perhaps, she seeks new recruits. If only she misses her fellow Lordsblades. These things fill her midnight hours, when the gods of the day slumber. It is a surprise, then, when she sees the gleam of the Hornet's precious, porcelain mask let down from her face.

“Go in peace, dear Latria.”

The words only puzzle Priscilla more.

~~14 months ago: Citadel Palace, Anor Londo~~

     The sun streams gloriously through a break in the midday clouds, lighting up the city, the mountainside, and the forests beyond, in the vivid hues of a painting. An eagle could see its prey for miles around under this crystal clear sky, but barely glide for one with the winds so still. The giant who stands atop one of the Citadel's many ramparts can likely see further, and the weather is the ideal set of conditions for an archer. It wasn't long ago that Gough was completely blind; stricken sightless by the conspiracy of bigots who would be put to death by Lord Gwyn himself, officially for their disrespect of his authority in appointing the Hawkeye the fourth Knight of Gwyn, but as much out of grief for his old battle friend as else.

     Priscilla watches from a far railing, invisible even in the bright daylight, as the old giant strings with gnarled bow once more. The stone heartwood of the fledgeling Archtree barely flexes under even his prodigious, rippling might, as if testing its old master. The string, as thick as a man's torso, finds its ancient notch, and soon after, an arrow of ancient redwood, bark and all, groans against it. Broad, muscular, rough and long-armed as he is, Priscilla can't help but find the silhouette he cuts with his bow to the heavens somehow majestic. The tremendous thwack of a ton of wood and iron being launched causes her to flinch, and she quickly loses track of the tree-sized shaft as it sails off miles into the sky. Giving up on finding it again, she turns back, and sees a knight in fluted gold plate walk out to the rampart, tapping his fist against the giant's elbow. They're too distant for Priscilla to hear what Gough's captain has to say to him, after all these years. She had never gotten a good read on Ornstein's personality, as he had never let down that Lion's helmet. She can't help but notice, however, the massive oaken plaque, polished to a sheen, held under his arm. Has the Dragonslayer a new trophy? And one so large that he would ask Gough's help in mounting it? How odd. Priscilla hadn't seen a drake grow to that size ever before.

~~13 months ago: Streets, New Londo Ruins~~

     Neither the sun, the moon, nor the stars ever reached this place. Wedged in the deep, dark, crevice that splits the mountain beneath Firelink Shrine down to the roots of the world, the city of New Londo had forsaken the light of day and the glow of night when its iron doors had closed for good, and its people had drowned beneath an ocean, such that the millions of tons of water could hold down the things that crawled out from the Abyss, when no magic nor force of arms could. Even drained of its cold waters, and with its streets cleared of corpses, it is a place no one will live again. A sad reminder to what can become of even the most ordained kingdoms when there are no heroes left to guard them. Only the dead frequent this place; pale, forlorn shades, driven mad by their unjust demise, seeking nothing but to make the living feel the same terror in their last moments as them. Since blades did them no harm, lacking any skilled exorcists, and any pressing reason to come here, nobody had taken up the task of being rid of them.

     Priscilla is only present, even more transparent than those wandering shades, because she had followed the knight Artorias, thinking himself alone and excused on an errand. Even without tailing him, she had a suspicion. After all, New Londo was a testament that the Abysswalker's work was not finished, and surely a reminder to all of the severity of the dark powers that the Knights of Gwyn had drawn their swords against, to all those who had been born centuries later, and known it only as myth. Surer still, it must weigh heavily on the Wolf's conscience, what had transpired after his disappearance. She can see it in him. The earnest desire for absolution in the luminous arc of his gleaming greatsword, wheeling blue and silver through the dark as the blessed blade of legend lays to rest the dead that flock to him. Priscilla would think it admirable for him to take responsibility in such a way. He had needed only announce it for the people of Anor Londo to sing his praises once again. That he had come here alone and unspoken makes her feel differently. Is it survivor's guilt? That in the end, he was dredged from the Abyss, and these poor souls were not? Or is his war simply not over?

~~12 months ago: ???, Unnamed Mountains~~

     The air is cold and dense with fog, frigid as much for the mountain heights as it is for the pale, grey mist that shrouds even these lofty reaches. No matter how high one stands, one can barely see what lies thirty feet ahead, never mind the lands all around. To all the senses, it is as if the craggy, grey peak exists in a world of its own; an island of barely expressed form in a quiet ocean of ashen nothing. Surreal as it is, lonely as it is, and desolate as it is, Priscilla finds it tranquil, in many senses. Even if there is nothing here, it is a tiny universe all to herself, and the fog-shrouded shape of the Archdragon's descendent beside her. At her full height, she barely reaches to the immortal's shoulder, even seated in pseudo-lotus as it is, gargantuan tail coiled around the knife peak below it, and four wings spread to the elements. To any observation, even to Priscilla's innate sense of the soul, the old one is nothing more than an extension of the mountain; a sculpture of scaled granite, horned onyx, and white moss fur, that could not be called living by any definition. Even so, every so often, over the course of days, she hears the whispers of its mind touching hers. The thoughts of the grey crags and the ashen mists, that it remembers from just after time began. This remote peak is a poor facsimile, but somehow, even the half-dragon feels at ease here. She had barely begun to think so, when the rising chorus of incomprehensible voices and reverberations comes to the forefront of her thoughts, shimmering like the ring of a bell played backwards, without beginning or end.

“. . . this one will not see it . . . while the rage of the tyrant . . . burns so brilliantly . . . it cannot be seen . . . by eyes clouded . . . with a black dragon's hate . . . which only pierces into fate . . . and sees that which it no longer has . . .”

“Neither the first, nor perhaps the last. I knoweth as much, and yet still. It is little easier to relinquish than the sun-scar upon mine breast.”

“. . . fallen to the Dark . . . the tyrant was no better . . . than the traitor seduces by the sun . . . and in the end . . . no less mortal . . . this one is neither of them . . . and the Everlasting within . . . is a greater . . . and more terrible dragon than both . . .”

~~11 months ago: Catacombs, Firelink Shrine~~

     The neither sight nor sound world outside cannot penetrate this deep. The time and the seasons matter not at all to the bones of the dead, rested within these once hallowed halls, now desecrated by the cult that sought to avoid their fate. How odd it is, to consider that those who had entered these Catacombs so long ago, had concerned themselves so greatly with the idea of resurrecting the dead, and then become trapped when death had ceased to mean anything. Priscilla wonders if the poor creature she had slain before had any idea of the curse that had befallen the world beyond these stone coffins and weathered walkways. She had come here in the trail of a party of clerics, armed to the teeth with Andre's first round of arms after being appointed Divine Blacksmith in apprentice to the giant; the sole smith who had stayed, whether of dim wits, loyalty, or love of his art. She has no doubt that the weapons are effectual; she had personally overseen the retrieval of the golden Ember that had forged them, and so her contemplations drift to what that miserable soul had sought back then. She alone had peered beneath that cloak, and seen the hideous truth. Just as she had back then, however, Priscilla does not trouble the men and women that wade into the tombs below, lanterns in hand to scour for lost relics, with it. It's better that the Undead be thought the worst of all fates, as a thing of the past.

~~10 months ago: Royal Chambers, Anor Londo~~

     The full moon leaves the chambers awash in fairy tale light, casting silks and gold and royal accoutrements in their counterpart forms. Even as a kingdom of the sun, the people of Anor Londo had always taken great care that their city be transformed by the moon, rather than lessened by it, as respect paid to the last born son of Gwyn. For a very long time, Priscilla had hated it. The night world only reminded her of the uncle that despised her and the father that had lost interest in her uselessness, rather than the mother that loved her. After Gwyndolin's death, it had become a more solemn reminder. Even without the Dark Sun himself, the moon waxes and wanes, and the world turns, without noticing the difference. Thus, Priscilla wonders, watching invisibly from the door, if there ever was a need to hate and fear him so. Since the day before, her thoughts only twist inwards and consume themselves, endlessly biting mental tails as she tries in vain to puzzle out why such a person had kept secret and protected a creature just like her. Gwyndolin had died so silently and stubbornly, without his Darkmoon Blades, that it had confused Priscilla even at the time, so how is she to feel about the girl that had just now been revealed, hidden behind his private sanctum? Even looking at young Yorshka, her little sister, even if only technically, the Crossbreed has hardly an idea of where to begin. Seated before the mirror she had loaned her, being fussed over by Gwynevere just as Priscilla had been in her youth, all she can wonder at is where she had come from, and what separates her from the little half-blood so.

~~8 months ago: Grave of Artorias, Darkroot Garden~~

     In the stagnant air, the dappled green shadows, the creaking trees, and the cloying humidity, under the reign of Gwyn, in the long years of the Age of Fire, during the terror of the Darksign, and now in the new world after, these woods have not changed a bit. Oblivious, uncaring, even hostile towards everything outside the green, the Darkroot Garden has always looked after its own. Few have any comprehension that its name stems from a long-distant tradition of the same, careful caretaking, rather than a fanciful local choice. One of those very few is now dead; at least as much as it would ever be possible to tell. The woods, if they are a different place, are only so without Alvina. The eyeless things that peer from the dark are hungry and uncertain. The things that rustle the brush, and the brush that rustles by itself, does so with furtive, predatory intent. The glow of strange flowers, which provides the only light to see by under such dense, black canopy, illuminates only the faintest flickers of shadowy things at their periphery. Even as quiet as she can, and hidden to the eye, the ear, and the snout, Priscilla feels watched in this place. That might only be fair, though. She had come here to watch another, after all. She gives the two their space, standing well back, and watching from the bracken as she belonged here as well, the backs of the Abysswalker and the Great Grey Wolf. Reunited at last, there had been much jubilation, and all the charming play-fighting one would expect from a giant man finding his giant hound once again. As synchronized as the two always were, however, it seems that they had both made the choice to come here. To this field of swords. This meadow of slain warriors. This monument to pay respects to the knight that had given his life to the civilization that lays buried beneath these woods. Artorias runs his hands over the time-worn words carved on his own tombstone, brushing aside the centuries of moss, to read the epitaph that Sif had guarded all these many years.

~~5 months ago: Depths, Former Undead Burg~~

     As if the rekindling of the Flame had never reached this place, and the curse of the Undead still gnawed away at the bleak and uncertain foundations of this world, the leaden grey ceiling of impenetrable clouds hangs over the Burg still; at least, that which used to be the Burg. Once merely placid and wan, the skies overhead have circled into a slow, rumbling vortex of steely thunderheads that have yet to break, nor ever discharge a flash of brilliance. It is as if a hole were torn in something beyond, and the sky circles around it, like it may plunge into that dim void at any time, and begin drawing in everything else with it. For a city laid waste by fire, the twisted floes of stone and metal that paint the surreal, melted landscape are bitterly cold. The shadows are long and deep, and seem to flicker and crawl on their own. Priscilla walks amongst them, hidden from view despite the lack of any other life; even so much as a bird in the air. Her purpose here is not curiosity, nor is not quiet reflection, nor is it an attempt to divine the story of another. Scanning the warped and fire-blasted ruins, her left eye throbs in her skull, perhaps resonating in some way with the lingering, malignant taint the breath of Kalameet had left on this land. She ignores it, as best she can. She must keep her eyes open.

     After all. The reason she is here is that she had seen a shadow that walked on two legs.

~~3 months ago: Scribing Chambers, Royal Archives~~

     With the cloying crystal scraped from the varnished wood and polished flagstones, and the sounds of unsettling chanting and deafening silence replaced with those of scholarly research, the Archives are more believable as a place of learning, if not even welcoming, than Priscilla had ever imagined. Of course, she had never imagined that the Duke that owned them would ever leave them. Seath the Scaleless may have been mortal, but he was the most permanent and intimidating fixture Priscilla had known for her brief life in Lordran proper. Without his massive, pale, and alien form slithering through these halls, there is no need for her to hide, but with her subjects pursuing their arts amongst their peers, there is reason for her to observe without interference. Their natural habitat, and all. Pilgrims dutifully print out revised copies of their Multiversal mythos. Vinheim sorcerers try in vain for the hundredth time to crack open the sealed grimoires the Paledrake had left behind. Historians thoroughly ransack the shelves for tomes related to the Allfather Lloyd, recently slain in his own form of ritual combat, and declared apostate. In one corner, a furtive but heated discussion transpires amongst young apprentices, around a grey scroll of ancient lore, detailing how one may hide their presence by partially becoming light. The topic appears to be how Priscilla's invisibility is physically possible. By all the breadth of magical lore, such a feat should dissipate the caster into millions of inchoate particles. Perfect invisibility, without trick of sleight of the senses, has been held as unachievable since the days of Oolacile, and considered particularly inspired sorcerous suicide, never mind the various accompanying effects she exhibits. Apparently, this has been a topic of casual debate for some time. A hobby of theirs, almost. Truthfully, Priscilla wishes they'd arrive at an answer. She'd like to hear it herself.

~~1 week ago: Elysium Apex, Grand Dorado~~

     Priscilla has the audience chambers to herself. Without need to impress, intimidate, or appeal to anyone, she repurposes the panoramic wall screens to remote conference. Preferring to keep her Concord and Lordran duties separate, she had declined any real warpgate commute between the two, and thus the trappings of her ancient home are few and sentimental at most. In these times, while she is far away, her time allotted to another responsibility, she likes to have these private conversations with those close to her back home, without any implication by her presence. An hour flies by with the company of her mother Gwynevere, only slightly less of a strange experience after more than a year. It will take a very long time for two women so long-lived to catch up, but they work at it diligently nonetheless. It is partway through one of these sessions, that the Princess suddenly thinks to ask the question.

“Now that I am made to think of it, what is it like, now, within the world painted by dear Ariamis? How are they, now that the Fire is lit once more? Thou hast spoken very little of them as of late.”

“In truth . . . I knoweth not. I am . . . afraid . . . to find out.”

“Sweet child, they were thine people and thine kingdom long before any of us. Dost thou not feel that they are owed at least so much?”

“I . . . perhaps.”