Vessel Maiden Apophis
|Vessel Maiden Apophis|
Description[edit | edit source]
Apophis serves as the Vessel Maiden for Majasa.
The Maiden's Vision[edit | edit source]
Vessel Maiden Apophis looked into her scrying pool again, the delicate crystal of the bowl glowing in the starlight that passed through the open ceiling of her Observatory. She checked the curve of the bowl for scratches or imperfections, it was perfect. She checked the alignment of the stars, they reflected in the pool without error. Apophis held her breath, dawn was close, she had been doing this from the second she could get the stars to reflect properly. If she couldn’t find what she was looking for she would have to wait for the next evening to continue, yet again. She had to find what she was looking for. She gripped the sides of the bowl with her scaled hands and thrust her face in.
She saw herself from miles above and years in the past, a Nagasa infant pulled from a massive pile of golden scales among many, each one bearing a jewel embedded upon their brow, the one belonging to her was black as night. The older Apophis stared down at her past, her eyes reluctant to focus on the Majasa in this vision, golden scales fresh and soft, flexing her new body, but the jewel that rested on her brow always demanded Apophis’ attention. The jewel of the previous Vessel Maiden.
Apophis righted herself, and focused on the other side of eternity, the pathways of the future. She gazed upon the endless threads reaching from past to present to future, all unchanging and unique. Many of them ended in Rahyeh, the conquering flame of the east, destroying her or subjugating her. If he continued to do the same to Majasa and her people was unknowable to her. Many more threads ended in Rahyeh’s defeat, she did not rejoice in these threads for they all ended the same for her. Majasa’s gold scales and jewels were always bare in places, dull in others, she would rise slowly above Apophis before striking, swallowing her whole. Apophis assumes what would follow in these timelines would be as the Diamond Priests told her the ritual had always proceeded. The golden scales would be harvested and given to the humans, a new generation of True Nagasa would be born from her shed jewels, a new Vessel Maiden bearing her black gem among them, the leftover skin would be reshaped and molded into the witless False Nagasa to toil as the Diamond Priests deem fit. A rejuvenated Majasa would then exult, her body new and gleaming, the previous Vessel Maiden’s black gem resting on her brow.
All the threads of fate Apophis could trace ended these ways, all save for one. A strange thread that ran in the wrong direction, reaching from the future and into the present, a thread that was not her own, the thread she had become obsessed with. She traced this thread like she had done countless times, past her sacrifice, or ascension as the Diamond Priests called it, to Majasa. Into a strange future where the humans had conquered the rest of the gods and extended their lives with cruel magic. The thread continued, the night sky she was falling into growing dimmer and dimmer, the stars fading away into an inky darkness until that was all that was left. She witnessed a future consumed by darkness, where fate itself died, a void.
Apophis pulled herself away from the darkness and dashed the bowl to the ground, its shatter drowned out by her shriek of rage. Oblivion. Void. What use was seeing the threads of fate if this was the only future the world had? This anger she felt inside her, it was familiar, an anger that burned with shame. This was the anger of her youth, rage at knowing her fate as a Vessel Maiden, that her purpose was to supply her goddess a means to the immortality she had refused ages ago, simply to always have wealth to gift to the pathetic humans. Why must she face oblivion for the sake of their greed? For Majasa? She doesn’t deserve this. A voice that wasn’t hers itched at the back of her mind.
“They deserve this…”
Apophis turned to the puddle of water where she had shattered the bowl. It was black. It was spreading.
“This is the fate of all things… you will not be alone…”
She stood transfixed as she watched the puddle grow, a figure rising from it that seemed to drain the light from the stars themselves. Apophis smiled.
The Rogue[edit | edit source]
A Nagasa woman came to the Rogue, scaled snake-like form hidden in robes, she paid the Rogue to assassinate the Vessel Maiden Apophis herself, future body for and conduit of Majasa’s power. The job would be the Rogue's most dangerous yet, and the pay offered justified it.
The day finally came, the Vessel Maiden made one of her rare appearances to the public, stepping out onto the terrace of the temple at the center of the city. The Rogue saw her from her hidden position, poisoned arrow at the ready, but the sight left her taken aback. The beautiful Apophis was none other than the Nagasa woman who had approached her that night. The murder Apophis had commissioned was her own.