“Seems you can’t control Nalin half as well as we thought you could.” Neptune points out when Topaz appears in the middle of his home. He doesn’t look up at her as he carefully lights the small fire pot. “There’s another way to get her back of course, a few actually. I suppose you’re here to ask about them?”
Topaz’s relief is clear across her face. “Yes! I need to find a way to bring her back as soon as possible. The Reaper spoke to Nalin and said Winter belonged to him so I need to step in to keep him safe. Start listing ideas!”
Neptune’s face falls as soon as she mentions the Reaper. “Wait, you say the Reaper spoke to him directly? He claimed Winter’s soul as his own? Has Nalin seen her ghost since then?”
Topaz shrugs. “I wasn’t even aware he could see her ghost before. But he has been acting very silent since I took away his table.”
“My child... the Reaper is a very professional man. He was created with only one purpose, to ferry souls to the Netherworld, but he still has two weaknesses. His wife being one of them, his collection being the other. If he’s claimed Winter, she’ll be in his personal collection. The price of getting her out is too high for me to suggest it. I’m sorry.”
“Are all the gods as weak and wimpy as you or were you neutered after fathering my line? Have some balls! I don’t CARE how high the price is! You know I’ll do anything to keep my family safe, so just tell me how I can make a deal for her soul!”
Neptune steps back from her, holding back his anger at her disrespect. “I know you’d do anything, that’s why I have to protect you as much as you’re trying to protect your brother. Please Topaz, forget about this.”
She isn’t listening to him. Instead her attention is captured by the sight of a woman in white watching them from the bushes.
With a single step the woman is the house, and instantly Neptune makes his repulsion clear. “Epsilon... eavesdropping again, were we? How many times have I told you to stop-”
“Spare me the lecture, Nep, you know it does nothing.” She turns her attention to Topaz once Neptune has closed his mouth. “Topaz, right? My name is Epsilon, I heard you were looking for an audience with the Reaper. Is that correct?”
“Yes!” Topaz nods enthusiastically as Neptune groans. “Can you help me?”
Without a word they both disappear in a blast of light. Neptune contemplates going after them, then thinks better of it. With Epsilon there, Topaz might just escape in one piece. After all, even after so many generations Epsilon always puts her family first.
Topaz takes teleportation far better than any of her ancestors. She feels a bit queasy, but otherwise fine when she finds herself in a dark room. Empty shelves line three walls, a book shelf taking up the entirety of the far wall. A few scattered urns decorate the floor next to a mahogany desk.
“My husband’s office.” Epsilon smiles. “He’s out right now dealing with... matters. My distraction won’t hold him for long though so let’s get started.”
She takes a seat behind the desk and motions for Topaz to sit down. She does. “So wait, you’re the Reaper’s wife? How did that happen? Were you created by Gaia as well?”
“If I was, so were you.” Epsilon smiles. “I was born of two humans, many many generations ago. My dear husband was sent to ferry the soul of a young human girl and instead fell in love with her. He gave me eternal youth long enough to watch my children become adults in their own right and in return I joined him here as his wife.”
Everything Topaz thought she knew about how the gods worked just went out the window. “But... then... what are you?”
“A fate. The fate of romance, to be precise. I decide who falls for whom, and if its true or fleeting. May we move on now?”
“Uh y-yes...” Topaz takes a nervous breath, wondering if she touched on a sensitive nerve, before beginning the reason for her visit. “When I was younger my half-brother Nalin made a machine that brought snow to our world. He had intended it to be a temporary thing, but he made a mistake and the snow was unending. My brother’s girlfriend, Winter and I stayed with them at my father’s request and a few days after the snow began Gaia appeared in a flash of light. She saw myself and my half-sister and attacked us in rage but Neptune appeared and protected us. Nalin came in and she when she attacked him Neptune allowed it. Winter stepped in front of him and took the full force of the attack and died instantly. I think it was her death that saved us all, since Gaia looked truly shocked. She called for my parents and told them she needed two life forces to fix what my brother had done. They... they sacrificed themselves after making her swear she would not touch us, and after they were gone she made the town disappear and my siblings and I were left alone. Nalin still held Winter’s urn that appeared after she died and he’s been trying to bring her back ever since. I believe your husband claimed her soul for his collection and I wanted to bargain for it.”
“I know exactly the soul you’re looking for!” Epsilon squeels in glee. “The little girl who gave her life for her love! I worked so very hard on designing their romance, tweaking it so he would be brave enough to make the first move... oh it was one of my favourites... you would truly make the ultimate sacrifice to reunite them?”
Before Topaz can answer the question, Epsilon waves her hand and a golden urn appears on the table in front of her. Topaz takes a step closer and senses Winter. “Oh my gosh... she’s really here.”
“She is.” Epsilon smiles. “And she’s all yours once you’ve paid the toll.”
Topaz sighs at the mention of the toll. She knows what this means. “What will happen to me? Will I be a ghost or will I take her place in the collection? Will my family be alright?”
“Your family will be fine! I never said the toll to pay would be your soul. Don’t be silly!”
Suddenly suspicious, Topaz steps back. “Pardon? Then what’s the toll?”
“You won’t need to worry about that just yet. It won’t be your soul, nor will I touch your siblings. I will allow you to enjoy your life, and at some point in the future I will take from you one soul you know, but have not watched over. Agreed?”
As much as this deal frightens her, Topaz knows she has no choice. And honestly, this deal is sounding pretty good. “Agreed.”
When she opens her eyes again, her body is stiff from her journeys, but not much time has truly passed according to her clock. No more than an hour! She sees a body take shape next to her, and almost sighs with happiness.
... Sort of.
Winter backs away in fear as Topaz approaches her. “S-stay back! Who are you? Where am I? What’s going on?”
When Topaz finally pieces together that her Winter’s soul came without any of her memories she understandably freaks out. Which of course only scares Winter more, but at least it brings Nalin running.
He can’t believe his eyes when he sees her. It’s as if his heart is going to jump out of his throat, so he approaches her slowly. Winter quickly pulling her knees up against her chest as he nears, trying to keep her legs between them. Understanding the gesture, Nalin stops where he is and kneels down so their heads are level. “Winter? I can’t... how did you get here? I thought you were dead.”
“Is Winter my name?”
His heart breaks when she asks him that, but he tries not to let it show. “It is. Do you know who I am?”
She shakes her head. “No. I don’t know what’s going on, or who you are, or why I’m here. Are we friends or something?”
He sighs, but then smiles to himself. “Or something about sums it up. But don’t you worry, I’ll be here every step of the way until you remember who you were. I promise.”
It takes a moment, but eventually she smiles too. “Okay. I think I’d like that.”
Apparently girls can inherit the "Makes stupid decisions" trait too! Ah Topaz... and here everyone was thinking you were the smart one.
Epsilon = Totally the devil.
Okay she isn't. Has anybody figured it out yet? No? No worries. Last time we saw her she did have a different hair style and awesome tattoos I forgot to recolour/add. Still nothing? Okay one more hint. Still no?
... Epsilon was once Serenity Starr, the Gen 4 heir of my very first completed legacy. The continuous legacy of which Topaz is current generation 25. It's been a fun ride. : )
Yay! Winter's back!