(121-06-05) The Fiery Heart
The Fiery Heart
Summary: Parizad takes Alaeyna somewhere she's never been before.
Date: 5 June 2014
Related: Love and Marriage and R'hllor
Players:
Parizad..Alaeyna..

Red Temple
This small stone structure is not seven-sided like so many nearly-round Westerosi buildings, but truly circular. There is no door, and above the arched entrance the Fiery Heart of R'hllor is painted in vivid red and gold.

In the center of the room is a man-sized pyre, set up on a stone riser, with a grate below it for the ashes to fall through and some sizable gaps to allow one to reach into the space below with rakes — the priests of the Red God can clear away the ash while the fire is still burning, and thus there is no need to ever allow it to go out. Directly above there's a hole in the ceiling to allow the smoke to escape, with a smaller roof on iron rods over the gap to keep the rain from dampening the flames.

Spaced evenly around the walls are niches where braziers of burning oil are kept. These are allowed to go out, and lit again each evening according to ritual.

Around the back of the building are a few cheaply-built added-on rooms, serving as sleeping quarters for the priests.

It's an evening. Little, aromatic plumes of smoke that were rising from the fire that is the centerpiece to this building rise high in the round chamber that serves as its interior. They are visible from outside the place, and indeed, the smoke is always present. Because the Fire is always present. Because the God is the Fire and the Fire is a manifestation of the God. Inside, there are several red-clad Priests and priestesses. Some with intricate tattoos all over their skin and some just with the skin their Lord clothed them in (beneath the robes of course). One worshipper has entered this place now, seeking refuge from the endless presence of one number — Seven.

Little bells sewn into Parizad's cloak jingle as he spends an impressive amount of time at the door doffing his weapons. A sword, a spear, a dagger, a wickedly curved Essosi knife, and a throwing knife and second dagger both buried in his boot and laid in a neat little pile. It's a sign of trust, really. As the hawk-nosed man stops, he breathes in the scent of the smoke and flame. There is one word to describe the look on his face.

Home.

When Alaeyna enters, her eyes are for everyone and everything but Parizad, and though she is a mighty woman she bears something of the look of a lamb in this place, for what is home to him is foreign to her. Foreign, but seductive in its own right. This is no monument to avarice like the sept that looms over the town square, and the simplicity of the structure lends it an air of gravitas that the Lady Fowler is duly appreciative of. Standing by the Uller's side at the temple's threshold, she ultimately turns her stare on him, watching the reverence with which he lays down his weapons, and then she does the same, releasing the slender clasp on the sheath she wears strapped to her thigh, so that the whole brace falls to join his offerings.

As all these weapons are piled neatly, the man once of House Uller stops at the very last blade and gently sets it down, wheeling about on one boot in a swift motion to study the woman who accompanied him. "It is — not necessary for you to do this. Or me. The Lord of Light is not a defanged God, and is not threatened by the presence of instruments of warfare in His presence. I do this — for my own reasons." The man smiles serenely. And Alaeyna might notice something here. That smile is much less toothy and fanged than she would normally note. Parizad the Predator might have been supplanted by Parizad the Supplicant. Which is something the Fury of Skyreach has never seen. "Please be at ease, Lady Alaeyna. For this is not a formal Rite." The clergy of this place is, for their part, intent on their own duties. They don't pay much heed to Parizad though who has obviously spent some time here but a dark-skinned woman with a tattoo of a sunburst upon her cheek in a red robe does in fact take note of the Dornish Lady, a little overlong. And then she smiles. "The Fiery Heart embraces you with open arms." She says.

"You've yet to lead me astray. As you lay down your arms, I am content to shed my knives, like a snake sheds its skin, and come before you and your god with both an open mind and an open heart, unburdened by the touch of the seven; be they knives or faces of the godhead." Even as she speaks, Alaeyna seems to study Parizad, regarding him in this new light, finding him indeed a different creature in the glow of R'hllor's holy flame.

Alaeyna is dressed in crimson silks the deep, rich hue of freshly spilt blood, and her hair is worn in a loose braid, perfumed with scented oils, dark kohl smudged around even darker eyes. She has taken such care with her manner of presentation as she might to go before an especial lover, and though Parizad bids her be at ease, it is not entirely easily done. In the haze of the burning braziers, she meets the eye of the priestess and inclines her head in a gesture of gratitude and respect.

"When one leads, one must go down the same path through the Darkness first." comes a sudden intonation from the Exile. It's still unusually muted and somber for him. Even as Alaeyna looks upon him, he stands straight and proud, his hands clasped behind his back. "And you know, whatever path you will take — you will have to take up those knives once more." He says slowly, still regarding the Lady Fowler.

This said, he turns again and one of those cat-like smiles does make a brief appearance, studying the priestess with a careful, composed nod. "Hello. As I come to you a refugee, fleeing the terrors the Night, I will leave here with the Lord's Light upon my back. This is a — friend." He visibly finds the use of the word odd upon his tongue, as he describes the Dornish woman clad in red.

"I have never hesitated to take them in hand," Alaeyna assures Parizad. "Nor shall I ever." He cuts a fine figure, wearing the air of the supplicant, and the Lady Fowler does not shy from admiring him, nor the priestess, who is a beautiful creature in her own right, and as fine an ambassador for R'hllor as Alaeyna might have anticipated meeting. But when she is introduced as a friend, she suggests an alternative word to that one she knows he so mislikes. "An ally." It is a decisive declaration, a revelation that heralds a conclusion she has reached about him. She knows not what is the norm before these holy fires, and having been corrected once already for a misstep, she awaits guidance.

"That is perhaps — a rarer thing." Parizad muses. There's a lot here that she has probably not seen, both within the temple and from him as he gestures Alaeyna inside. The priestess merely smiles. If a little unsteadily. She's not entirely unused to this sort of thing, even if true converts in Westeros are rare.

"And you will leave just so, with the strength of His Fire. And His Light." And the finishes with the old familiar refrain, which Parizad chimes in on in unison. "For the Night is Dark, and Full of Terrors. Welcome, Black Hand of his Shadow, and his Ally."

This done, the red-clad Priestess meanders a few feet away to tend some oils in an urn as Parizad himself takes a few measured steps, the ridiculous bells in his cloak jingling with each one. He does look back at Alaeyna curiously. "There really is less formality here than you might be used to, no? It is a small place. Not like they are in Myr. Or in Asshai, which I have heard dwarfs even Myr. But I do not know that place." He pauses. "Ally."

It is wholly new to her, and as Alaeyna crosses the threshold, she palms Parizad's forearm, as if to tether herself to a constant in this strange new world, falling in at his side and making herself at home there, first, before she might contemplate making herself at home at R'hllor's side. Though she does not join in with the refrain, she is attentive, her curious, unguarded stare flitting between the faces around the fire. "It is like learning to walk. Every step feels new and uncertain, but a wild thrill." And when he echoes her word back at her, ally, her fingertips press into the flesh at his arm in a squeeze of solidarity. Allies.

While a slight bit surprised, Parizad seems to acclimate himself to Alaeyna's presence upon his forearm cheerily enough as he now spends a quiet moment in contemplation of the red-clad Lady Fowler.

Periodically the Priests chant in some foreign tongue, not quite unlike the Myrish she has heard Parizad and Serdar speaking to each other. It is a ceremonial thing, of course. The priestess brings out some red-painted coals to dump on to the great fire in the center of the room as she performs her duty.

Uller now looks at Fowler quizically and begins, "There is no sermon they will give you, if that is what you are worried bout. This is a small, small place. And there is only the flame. And His Fiery Heart. Sometimes I will come here to remember what is important. And I would ask, Lady Alaeyna — what is important to you? Truly?"

While Parizad stands in contemplation of her, Alaeyna stands in contemplation of R'hllor, watching with keen interest as the priestess offers the coals to feed the fire, each nuance of her service to this strange red god seeming to be a fascinating one. As he himself is cast in a new light, so too is she, that of the ingenue, a face she has never worn before him until now. The fire burns in her dark, intense stare, the heat it gives off bringing a flush to her cheeks. She watches the licking flames with a rapt expression, but she is stirred from that reverie when Parizad speaks at her ear. "Freedom. Vengeance. Glory." She pauses. "Love." None of these may be the correct answer, but they are the words she finds upon her lips, and the ones she offers with a sideswept gaze.

"These — these are all things that one wishes for, no?" Parizad is surprisinly hesitant here as his narrowed, dark eyes regard Alaeyna with keen interest. There's a flickering reflection of the flaming centerpiece of the temple in his eyes as he makes this observation, standing straight and still. And thus, he looks between her and the Flame, calmly reciting.

"These were the things I was asked when She who was sent to me first brought me to the temple in Myr. I entered a man who knew only blood. Blood that I wanted to defend. Blood that I had shed. All of it, so much of it Blood. I looked at the blood and saw only Fire. And so, I had learned that I had done everything wrong. But everything right, for had I never taken my first steps, I would have never found that place. And so — I never would have returned here to show another one like it."

"I am a woman, but I live the life of a man. I have been raised to bend the knee to a god that would shackle me to my sex, but also to ever strive to break that fetter. Making peace of the two is nothing I've ever managed." Alaeyna says this absently, looking from the fire to Parizad, and really looking at him, studying his face as he speaks and the shifting of his expression to tell of that aspect of his history. "Perhaps my desires are commonplace. But when I am dead, I would have my son say that his mother was a furious, formidable creature who brought glory and honor to her house and her country. I am vain and proud, and I want nothing half so much as the suffering of those who have made me suffer. These are words that have no place in a sept. I know not if they belong here."

That priestess who was tending the coals is something of a knowing creature, but she does not interrupt, for now, merely arcing her head to a side in a gesture that positively screams 'I heard all that.' She continues about her duties.

As the flame roars, Parizad listens. "And yet — you rule. In spite of all you just said, you rule as the Fury of Skyreach, and the people who bow to you recognize this name." He pauses as he narrates this in a simple tone.

"In the face of 'gods' that did not listen or care. As I said, this is not the place of sermons. But a place of reflection. I would tell you something of the Red God, though. His tenets are simple. There is darkness in the world. Evil. Corruption. For R'hllor has an enemy. The Other. Whose name will never be spoken. For He is the Father of Darkness. Of Demons. Of all that seeks to destroy the good in this world. And do you know what R'hllor is? The Light in the darkness, who stands at the edge of the Hall, waiting to strike that Darkness down. This is what He asks of His followers. Not grovelling loyalty. But a blade in the hand."

Alaeyna wears a contemplative expression, watching the fire that burns before her and the one that burns in Parizad's eye in equal measure, looking between the two. The Other and R'hllor. Light and Dark. Good and Evil. She takes it in, her palm dropping from his forearm to his wrist, ringing it like some bracelet, her hand closing to hold him there. The question she asks is hesitant in a way she so rarely is. "And do you and your Lord of Light never diverge on what is right and wrong, good or evil?"

"That is a thing, Lady Alaeyna." Parizad begins in a chill tone of voice. "We live in a world replete with thieves, murderers, cowards, liars, and those who would not know an honest or just deed if it fell upon them and struck them dead. I've seen good men die simply because weak men do not care." And this — THIS admission that is forthcoming is something Alaeyna has not seen before.

"And there are those of us who have done other things. Some of us have put whole townsships to the torch. For gold. So, Lady Fury, I would answer you thus. I have never come to odds with My Lord over what is just and what is wicked simply because I had already learned…the difference." He eyes her flatly, now.

The chill in Parizad's tone prompts Alaeyna to fix her gaze on his as he speaks, and though it is attentive, there is nothing of judgment in it as he makes his admission. "Some never do," she says of learning the difference, but it's all she has to say, his answer having served to satisfy her question. It was the skepticism borne of years attempting to understand the fickle will of the Seven that bid her ask it, but this Red God is one of finality, and resoluteness has ever been a trait she has admired in others, and so why not a god? It puts her at ease, and she at last lets go her hold on him, her hand skirting his before falling to her side.

"Enough never do." Parizad states, with a slight, dismissive wave of his hand. "There is a certainty to the Faith of My Lord. Time is an eternal struggle, you see." He begins, conversationally narrating a little timeline of faith, here. "And in the end, Azor Ahai, the Great Savior, will rise, as he did once before, with a sword of Fire and tempered by the greatest sacrifice will do battle with the forces of the Great Other in His name."

He pauses some now, staring again into the flame. The Fiery Heart. As her hand skirts his, he steps closer to her, continuing. "And a lake of fire will rise, as did the Flames that consumed old Valyria. And it will be dark. Horrible. A thing of nightmares." Pause. Such a pause. "And at that moment, Azor Ahai will rise and strike true at the heart of the Great Other, undoing all that the demons have done. And instead of slaying all? This is R'hllor's greatest triumph." And here, Parizad smiles wide at Lady Fowler. Not smug, but wide. "All shall be redeemed. All of it. From the wickedest creature to the highest."

Alaeyna follows his gaze back to the fire, as if the story he tells unfolds within the licking flames that snap and crack in the relative hush of the small temple to the Lord of Light. When he pauses, at that close range proximity, she cannot help but steal a look at him, evidence that she hangs on his every word, even if they are overwhelming ones. "Redemption," she echoes, trying out the sound of it, caressing the word with her tongue, forming each component part of it with deliberate care.

"Not for sad little men alone. Redemption." Parizad echoes, breathlessly as he stands tall and lets his hands hang limp at his sides. "For all of creation. For all of the world. This is what is promised. It is not only a punishment of the faithless and wicked, but a promise of things to come." And how he affixes Alaeyna with a gentle stare. "That's just it. All are redeemed, all are saved. But that is the mystery of Azor Ahai."

This idea of redemption for all gives Alaeyna contemplative pause, and the way she stands unmoving before the flames, bathed in their golden glow, renders her statuesque, all long limbs and flowing silks and graceful, effortless carriage. When she looks, at length, at Parizad, she asks him another question, this one in a low voice. "And when night falls, so dark and full of terror, do you ever long for a warm body with which to seek out the light?"

"Times. Countless times." This response does not come right away, but it does come, as Parizad's dark eyebrows lift to study and regard Alaeyna in a harsh angle. "Long before I met the Lord or understood His Path, even." The brightly-colored clothing of the Dornishman shifts a little as he leans forward, placing his hands upon the thick iron railing.

"And tell me? When you stare into the eyes of the Gods I once followed, what did you long for?" He counters.

Rather than meet Parizad's stare in light of the question he puts to her, Alaeyna lifts her gaze skyward, to the aperture toward which the hazy smoke climbs. It harkens the distance she feels from the Seven, some intangible mystery she's no hope of solving. "Praying to the Seven, to me, has ever been like reaching out for a lover in the middle of the night and finding they've quit your bed and left it cold. I do not remember the last time I reached."

"It was a lover that brought R'hllor to me. But that is such a poor name for her." Parizad finally confesses, but it takes quite a while for this to come out. "These are not simple things, and simple words often fail us, no?" He lingers on this topic for a long few moments as he finally indicates, "I had left her behind in Myr. Our paths lead elsewhere, and we both knew that."

"Friends. Lovers. Words that serve to cut complex bonds into simple ones and do justice to no one." In so saying, Alaeyna agrees with his sentiment. Though she seems unsurprised by his revelation, she is intrigued, craving the insight into the man she stands to gain from a picture of the woman that was his lover. She gravitates to him, to the railing, to the fire, coming back to rest at his side as they speak. "What was she called?"

"She was a Priestess of the Red God. Who I found in Myr. Or she found me." Parizad narrates, seeming unusually candid here in this place of worship. "She was Ulviye. Ulviye of Myr." He finally lets the name loose here, his arms affixed to the bars circling the Fiery Heart. "She had brought me something I was not seeking."

Alaeyna watches the fire, and then in turn watches Parizad, and in that same spirit of candidness, she says to him, "You brought me something I was not seeking." She delights in the kiss of the blaze's hot heat, letting it envelop her as she basks in its holy light.

"And — that is the way of these things then, no? When I had stepped off that ship, I had expected to do something that I now would have believed was foolish." Parizad admits. "And in the space of my God's vision, I will tell you this thing. I would have sought assistance. And the might of Sellswords, which is something that you must believe I know better than almost anyone you have treated with."

He sharply turns his head in the manner of a sort of raptor now, staring down his nose at Alaeyna. "And there. As I was seeking a man from my past, I had found that it was you, here. I now believe you have kept me from making a mistake, no?" Cold, charming grin is still somewhat charming but maybe a less cold.

She listens rather than speak, her fierce stare searching Parizad's face as he turns to regard her in kind. Alaeyna says, "That is the manner of allies, is it not? I expect you will repay me a hundredfold, rash creature that I am." His grin is infectious, and she flashes him one of her own, baring her teeth to him like one predator might another. "You have given me very much to think about, when I lay abed this dark night. I shall leave here with the ghost of understanding, of your Lord of Light and of you, too, and for that I am especially pleased."

"I do not keep obligations lightly, Lady Alaeyna. I would normally not even try to say this or explain it, but I think you are in one of the —" He raises one hand in the air and makes a gesture, squeezing his fingertips together and looking through the tiny gap they make — "smallest of numbers that would know. Know what I am saying and why it is that I say it."

The Fury is fully and sharply regarded now by the previously named Black Hand. And there is finally a grin, a predatory one to match the hawk before him. "This world may burn. But I may yet repay you, if you should ask." He waves the rest of it away dismissively. "Sleep, sleep then, and I will linger here, and remind myself of what it is I must do in this world."

And Alaeyna preens like the prize hawk she is, to be so regarded in his sights. "I expect I shall," she says in her low voice, rendering it an intimate whisper she imparts as she leans in to Parizad to kiss either of his cheeks in her customary manner. But she lingers longer than is her norm, letting flesh brush upon flesh, her lips landing so close to his own as to nearly kiss him outright. Is kissing allowed in this temple? She is of the ask forgiveness rather than permission mode of thinking, unabashedly conferring the affection on him as he bids her leave. "I hope to hear about it anon," she says, "and discover what part I shall play in it."

Maybe it is. Maybe it is not. But here, Parizad is letting no secrets slip. Nor does he press any strange claims or agendas, merely standing his ground and allowing Lady Fowler to give him a customary parting gesture. But the smile. Oh, the smile. It is a smug, content sort of thing with heavy-lidded, dark-eyes. "I believe that you will. Lady Fury. I believe you will. Journey well through the Night." He finally advises. Because at this point? She knows what is said about the Night.

And the Lady Fowler takes her leave, venturing out into the night, yes, but with a newfound awareness of it. She retrieves her brace of silver knives as she crosses the threshold, slinging it over her shoulder so that the blades glint against the dark, sanguine silk. With a wayward glance over her shoulder at the man by the fire, she leaves the temple, the cool kiss of the evening air making her yearn for the warmth indoors with each and every step away from it.

And there is no sound left in the temple, save the slight jingling of the silver bells weaved into Parizad's cloak. Oh, and chanting. Always with the chanting.

Uller does glance in askance at the departing Lady, but his thoughts will not be shared further at this time. There will be plenty of time for that later.

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