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Old September 16, 2020, 01:27 AM   #346
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Sounded reasonable! It wasn’t as if any of the Ves’Alithean had really had anything much to do with the Zyrgran or Turtans at the Temple. They’d kept to themselves, and readily fallen in line under the influences and directions of the Hayans as was expected of them. Even associating someone like Sliucha with Zyrgra was a very big stretch of the imagination and not a one of them could even think of a pretty fox-tailed Elf with very much not-Elvish assets as belonging to the Zyrgran Cult. That kind of person would have surely stood out!

That Sliucha didn’t know if she knew Mission Vale before she’d been Mission Vale however was dreadfully curious! Hushed whispers, seeming to think it only appropriate even that the two Champions of their Goddesses might share a History with a capital H!

Outside! A place with very limited experiences for the Ves’Alitheans, and with the exception of Rielle? Quite unpleasant indeed. Rielle? Seeming mostly embarrassed that she didn’t share in the others various tragedies and when pushed on the matter would only shudder and mention something about a ‘Water Park Mishap’. Someone bathed alone as often as possible ever since.

“Mission Vale is a title though, not a name so they could be!” Stai’see offered up, not quite willing to let the possible connection go. Just how good a look had Sliucha received of the incredibly bored woman when beneath all the bright white lights? “She doesn’t, well, none of us know her actual name anyway. Just that she’s the new Plaguebringer and Mission Vale and that she holds the Goddesses’ protection.”

And Lusamine adding, “Some of the Hayan servants think she has the Eye of Haya too! But that’s like putting all your eggs in one basket kind of stupid.”
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Old September 16, 2020, 01:53 AM   #347
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Hm!

It was interesting to think about. Only, Sliucha really couldn't come to any conclusions. On the one hand, Mission Vale definitely seemed to have a sadistic streak that matched her memory of the Hayan priestess. On the other hand? It felt like everybody who held some power here likely could have matched that. The whole "bored with life" sort of thing that Mission Vale seemed to have going on? Not so much. But then again, people changed!

But elves didn't usually change that fast. Unless it had something to do with becoming Mission Vale? Sliucha didn't know! But at the moment, she was chalking it up as "not likely." A shame!

"Anybody else of note around here that came back to the Temple?" Sliucha asked, having finished off her second plate while the others had been talking, and starting on her third (which she'd delicately balanced above the other two while coming back!). "There was, like, a necromancer that summoned me? And I guess they help guard the entrance? And, um... dunno! Now that I think about it, I guess I don't actually know anybody who was really that important before?"

Besides, you know... the people she'd already poached.
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Old September 16, 2020, 04:46 AM   #348
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People of importance? Uh, that one drew a few questioning looks amongst themselves as the Ves’Alitheans didn’t really know how to answer Sliucha. ‘Important’ was subjective, and who knew what grievances the High Priestess might have held as a former Zyrgran.

“Most of the important people were killed during the initial assault against the Temple” Rielle offered up before the other girls even had a chance to try to figure out Sliucha’s motives. Guile and the possibility of politics just wasn’t in her, not seeking to find some leverage that might encourage the High Priestess to potentially provide them with a better life elsewhere.

“Most of the unimportant people were too.” she added with a trace of sadness, “And those that weren’t tended to be taken as spoils of war, sold off or retained for their services. It’s not like anyone on the surface believes a Vysstichi can be an Imperial Citizen, so nobody looks too closely at the slave charters.” Throw in that the instigator was one of the few Imperial Citizen Vysstichi and now Governor of Arium and well, there hadn’t been much in the way of hope.

Just surviving until hope could be found anew had been everything.

“Mission Vale, some of the other Hayans were here before too.” Lusamine added, “I mean, I recognise a couple from the old days. I haven’t seen any member of the Ves’Alithean that’d been more than a Maiden from before… not a single Priestess.”

Stai’see, ever the optimist, “I mean, there’s probably some still alive in Har’oloth. Just if you were going to claim a prisoner as a personal slave of that nature, you’d want to go with the prettiest and most skilled… good luck finding them though without tearing the Houses apart.”
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Old September 16, 2020, 02:28 PM   #349
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Important! Surely, in a general context, it wasn't really all that subjective? There was a hierarchy, after all, and the closer to the top you were, the more important you were generally regarded to be? But then again, there was a context, in that Sliucha was the one asking it. At that point, a person's personal preferences came into play. Somebody you were close to was probably more important than somebody who was higher-ranking, but you didn't know.

Fair enough!

"Hmmm." Sliucha nodded along at the explanations that the others provided. From the sound of it, then, anybody who might have been of particular note - simply based on the career ladder, anyway - had likely a) died b) been nabbed by Sliucha already, or c) wasn't in a position to return to the TCL. While it might have been interesting at some point to, with (c) in mind, perhaps fish around Har'oloth and Vortex to see if those who had been taken as spoils of war could be "liberated"? It wasn't much of a priority for Sliucha at the moment. Considering she hadn't really known anybody, how would she proceed with gauging the worth of any particular individual?

"Is Maiden different from shrine maiden?" Sliucha asked. The term had been thrown around quite a bit and at this point Sliucha was too afraid to ask Sliucha really felt like that would do some good, having that clarified.

Actually...

...was Sliucha's understanding of hierarchy even correct? Thinking about it, she'd never actually asked anybody what it was, nor had anybody corrected what she'd set up at the TSD. The general faithful, up to shrine maidens, then the priestesses, and the High Priestess at the top. But maybe there was all sorts of stuff in between that she hadn't known about, simply because the captives she'd rescued hadn't included any of them!

(Or maybe she was overreacting.)

Speaking of former Ves'Alitheans, though? Sliucha would glance at Dynne expectedly. Surely an actual former shrine maiden had something to offer to this particular conversation?
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Old September 16, 2020, 10:33 PM   #350
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“Yes.” Rielle stated,
“No.” Lusamine and Stai’see said over the top of Rielle, both looking at the young Vysstichi with a slight frown.

“Kind of.” Eventually they corrected, only for Lusamine to wave a hand in a dismissive manner. “One has been assigned to a Priestess and a Shrine and the other hasn’t. It’s really quite rare, as the Ves’Alithean structure tends to necessitate a Patron. Occasionally though you end up with a Maiden that has no Patron, or has multiple of whom both seek the rights to. They end up in something of a nebulous state, their… advancement becomes rockier, more prone to Aeternian Politics.”

Aka, everyone wanted a piece, or nobody did. Very little middle ground there.

There was a few little titles and structures that were based around a combination of semantics, experience and whether one was suited towards being shared between the various Priestesses of different Faiths. Such as say, Sliucha being raised by the Zyrgran’s, but being taught by the Hayan’s was a strict implication that she wasn’t a complete ‘throwaway’. That even if the Zyrgran’s had seen her as little more than meat and pain, there’d been a Hayan who saw her potential as a Priestess of the Plague Goddess.
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Old September 16, 2020, 10:54 PM   #351
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Yes? No? Maybe?

Sort of. Technically.

Sliucha didn't quite breathe a sigh of relief, but it was good that it didn't seem like she'd missed an obvious bit of the Ves'Alithean hierarchy. Not that it really should have mattered - the TSD was her thing and she was free to do with it as she wanted - but when people still remembered what the TCL was like? It was just easier to have a direct comparison to make, for things to more or less be the same. Knew exactly what to expect when you heard "shrine maiden" or "priestess!"

Thinking about it? Sliucha didn't really have "shrines" for her shrine maidens, so that was already moot. Patrons? Technically, kinda, sorta, that was a thing, but there was no real official way of going about it. Maybe that was something that would develop as the ranks grew, but for now? The differences between a "maiden" and a "shrine maiden" just didn't work at the TSD!

Granted? Maybe Ninuka and Origa-Kuroi had completely different way of doing things. They were provided a fair amount of autonomy with how they ran things, after all! For all Sliucha knew, they had a completely different sort of hierarchy in place!

Nom nom nom! Third plate devoured! Sliucha? Going to grab some more! "Anybody want me to grab them something?" she offered to the surrounding Ves'Alitheans as she rose up to head back over.

And while doing so? Scope the dining hall out for anybody that looked interesting! Might be worth a followup!
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Old September 17, 2020, 12:14 AM   #352
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What had been the Temple of Carnal Delights and the Ves’Alithean might have been a structure that some amongst Sliucha’s faithful were familiar with, but none had ever bothered to elaborate. Content to see what the High Priestess of Alithea wished and moving on from there. Certainly, Dynne was all for listening as she nibbled away at a salad, but seemed to be more wistful of the explanations provided to Sliucha rather than adding anything else to the mix.

The Temple of Carnal Love was hardly ‘The Good Old Days’, but Dynne’s past was also hardly the disastrous affair that Sliucha had experienced in Zyrgra’s Priesthood or even subjected to the kind of drama that the other Ves’Alithean had. No, the Gods and Goddesses had evidently been kind in throwing her in Sliucha’s path and the besotted Vysstichi was only thankful for it.

“Lutefish please!” Rielle called out,
“Some of the salad with goats cheese and olive dressing!” Lusamine added,
A few odds and ends called out,

And Dynne finally deciding to interject once it sounded like Sliucha had heard everything she wanted to hear.

“It wouldn’t hurt though, having Shrine Maidens be expected to go out and create Shrines. Places where people could have pilgrimages.” Dynne offered up, “Sure, there might not be many Sacred Sites to Alithea in Moonstone… but that might be that we just don’t know where they are. Or they could be in Lauryl or Centripax!”
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Old September 17, 2020, 12:26 AM   #353
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Rielle wanted this? Lusamine wanted that? And you? Ahuh! Okay! Right! Sliucha? In an alternative timeline where perhaps all of that terrible stuff hadn't happened to her, and she'd grown up more normally with her family? Perhaps she'd have made a great waitress in New Coldmoon somewhere!

As for Dynne's input? "Or failing that, we just make some sacred sites." Nevertheless, setting up shrines definitely sounded like a rather interesting idea. But then again, Sliucha didn't know if she liked the idea of people having to trek particularly far, to dangerous places. Sure, maybe it defeated some of the point if the shrines were easily accessible, but at the same time... was that a bad thing? That just meant more people got to visit! Very pious!

Food for thought, though!

Speaking of food? More food! Sliucha carefully balanced grabbing everything she wanted and grabbing the various orders that had been asked of her, spreading them out through a few plates. Mmmhm? Yeah? This felt about right! Set it up so that balancing wouldn't be too difficult... nom! Eat a bit while she was grabbing, that'd just make things easier for her, too! Lessen the load!

And with any luck she'd return to the table without a problem, ready to dole out the foodstuffs she'd brought to those who had made requests!
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Old September 17, 2020, 01:13 AM   #354
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“Definitely!” How hard could it really be to make a Sacred Site anyway? Surely as the High Priestess of Alithea and Champion of the Goddess, she could just declare certain areas Holy? Was it possible to bless an area in Lust? Curse an area sacred to Love? (and if so, what places were Holy Sites to Olysera anyway?).

“You could set them up at like, travellers inn’s and the like, crossroads along Moonstone, or dot them about Ziel Aerca and it could be like a big scavenger hunt!” Dynne continued, not really sure how it would all work. But the idea of them being able to spread the Goddess’ influence throughout Moonstone rather than being so contained in the Temple of Sinful Delights did sound so very grand. Just that there was also the reminder that such activities did also tend to draw a whole lot of unwanted attention too from Aetherians and some Planetars.

Food! Lots of food and very much welcome. Spending time with Sliucha did so tend to drain one’s energy given the rigour that she put them through. And while Rielle might (and still was) wary of being caught up in all of the High Priestesses lust-fuelled shenanigans? The other servants of the Ves’Alithean were quite on board for ensuring that she had a wonderful stay at the Temple.

Origa-Kuroi deigning to stay in the stables outside was increasingly becoming something of a sensible move; and who knew where and what Sliucha’s other people were up to now.

Not a one of them could be seen however at the dining hall. Otherwise occupied!
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Old September 17, 2020, 01:36 AM   #355
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Probably! Sliucha definitely recalled that she had consecrated (desecrated?) an altar in Alithea's name, and it had been on top of said altar that she'd received one of her brands from Alithea, so... probably had done it right? Considering the process from what she had recalled had involved lots of "anointing" with the "holy fluids" that came out of her? Uh, no, blessing a holy spot definitely seemed like it was quite possible for the High Priestess and Champion to accomplish!

Having volunteers to help would definitely make it more fun, though!

Dynne's idea? "Maybe it could work in collaboration for my idea for the Court..." she mused. "Spread it out to involve those sorts of establishments, you know? Brothels, crossroad inns, all those sorts of places where, you know... a bit of whoring goes on. All in dedication to Alithea's name." A Court whose presence could be felt throughout the land! Sliucha was working on it, but that was the long-term plan. And some of those Court members could definitely hold shrines to Alithea in their establishments, beyond just dedicating the very wholesome activities they plied in to Her!

Nom nom nom!

"...so!"

It felt like the topic hadn't quite cropped up yet, but it was sort of the giant in the room, wasn't it?

"...anybody interested in sneaking out with me back to my Temple?"

Nom!
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Old September 17, 2020, 01:55 AM   #356
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Conspiratorial looks shared amongst the girls, none of them wanting to be the first one to speak up lest this was some kind of trap. Looks cast towards where the few Hayan’s in the dining hall sat far away and at the front of the room where the best food was available. No, there was a few worries and concerns to be found, unvoiced and unspoken. That if Mission Vale was indeed the Hayan from Siiucha’s professed past? Then what if this was just a way of trying to find out which amongst the Temple of Carnal Love were disloyal.

Purging of the herd as it were.

Only, for better or worse, it was Rielle that was the one to speak up.

The others, far more invested in the Ves’Alithean lifestyle within the Temple of Carnal Love naturally had far more to lose. Job opportunity aside, there remained a good measure of healthy paranoia when it came to how Aeternian cults tend to function. Namely, low life expectancy was a common feature amongst most of the Aeternian factions. Really, that Alithea’s was the only one that didn’t seem to encourage fanatics and death seekers in one form of another truly did make them an outlier.

Jorel? Burn the world! (War and death…oh no!)
Meephos? Eat the world! (Gloated and gout and oh no!)
Haya? Scour the world! (In plague! Oh, now I’m dead!)
On and on, Aeternia might have had some positives to it, but they didn’t tend to come with a longevity plan until one was truly well-advanced the initial culling.

“Kinda. What’s it like there anyway?” Rielle queried innocently.
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Old September 17, 2020, 02:13 AM   #357
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"I think the main thing to consider is that you'd be in a setting where you're not underground, the Temple complex is very much on the surface," Sliucha started, taking into consideration the fact that she was talking with a group of Vysstichi here. "Dynne might be able to better go into the particulars of that considering she's the one who has to deal with it, of course. I feel like the others who have gathered there would be more than happy to provide tips and pointers if it's a problem."

Um, what else? "It's... the culture is definitely different, I want to say. For somebody who's been raised in Har'oloth and this is all you've known, it's a lot more... open? You won't just be surrounded by Vysstichi. Humans, light elves, dark elves... dorin, katta, lutran, all sorts of races, all sorts of people. And not just women - men, too. In general, it's..."

A sip of her wine. "Open. Tolerant. And I wanted to move away from the politics and the backstabbing. Didn't want people to think of themselves as being greater, or lesser. Higher, or lower. Obviously, there's a hierarchy. It's not a perfect sort of thing. But you shouldn't be afraid to say hello to a priestess, even if you're a servant. There's an air of cordiality, camaraderie, friendship, that I try to encourage." Sliucha also chose her language carefully there. She didn't want to paint too idealistic or romantic a painting, after all. It was best to be realistic. She tried, but reality wasn't perfect.

Nevertheless, even just the intent likely spoke quite a lot.

"We don't provide our tributes to Alithea because it's expected of us, we do it because we want to," Sliucha shrugged, continuing her little recruitment pitch. "And I think that approach just makes things more... pleasant? The people, more pleasant? We're all having fun, we all want to be there. You're encouraged to pursue your own interests, whatever they might be. Sure, whatever role you play, you have your responsibilities, but your life shouldn't just be your work."

Um, hm. "And, like... no... killing?" She made a face. "No pits. Like obviously there's people you don't like and who cross you, but there are so many better punishments. No arbitrary murder, no... sacrifices or whatever, no gross blood rituals. I imagine some of the old guard I recruited - some of the Hayans, some of the Turtians - maybe they don't like that? But... that's just how I roll. Not a fan." Never again.

"Oh! But there are, like, groups of Vysstichi. So it's not like, uh, you're forced to hang out with all the other sorts? Like, that probably sounds bad, but I won't actually judge if you're more comfortable just sticking with other dark elves. A fair amount of people there came from the Temple of Carnal Love. Like Dynne!" She'd point at the priestess, who could perhaps also add on anything she might want to?
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Old September 17, 2020, 04:36 AM   #358
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It was a lot of a sales pitch, and throughout most of it Dynne was nodding her encouragements that Sliucha? Very much on the level. Really, there was only the one part of it that she disagreed with, and that was mostly because Sliucha didn’t really have to deal with the problem in the same way that the Vysstichi amongst the Temple’s population did.

“Uh, all true! Well mostly all!” Dynne added, throwing Sliucha a slightly apologetic look at having to contradict her slightly. But some surprises were best handled out in the open. Especially when Rielle had already confirmed that she’d spent time up on the surface.

“So uh, like, waaaaay more people about, lots more variety! Its like the Slave Markets, except like all the best stuff is readily available rather than just the one curiosity every month or two.” Buffet? Not so much bigger given Har’oloth brought in a good amount of exotics, so much as Sliucha’s Temple was ‘refilled’ with a far, far greater frequency!

Next? Yup! Definitely not tolerant. Could talk to Origa-Kuroi and not end up with her mouth sewn shut for her troubles! Sure, some of Sliucha’s other non-Alithean people were kind of scary sometimes, but everyone generally got along and that was just wonderful.

No killing? Totally a thing! You wouldn’t believe how much getting rid of that threat hanging over one’s head helped with the whole ‘Tolerance’ aspect too!

But the bit that Dynne very much disagreed with, “There’s no way around this one. Being on the surface though during the day is absolute misery. You’ll find a lot of us are mostly around in the morning and evenings and we siesta during the day so it’s manageable. There’s an Arakmatian paste too that you can put on your cheeks, just beneath your eyes, plus a little bit of kohl and it helps with the glare a lot. Plus, most people don’t notice because it’s pretty complexion friendly for us Vysstichi.” she added with a friendly smile.

“But don’t do stuff around midday, you’ll end up with your eyes feeling like they’re being boiled, and nobody will even notice because yay, red eyes. Can’t even have a good pity party.” she added morosely, forking some more salad into her mouth. “But other than the whole suns thing? It’s pretty amazing, best thing I ever did was not come back here to Carnal Love until now.”
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Old September 17, 2020, 12:04 PM   #359
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Sliucha had made mention of the fact that the Temple would be on the surface, but Dynne rightly elaborated that it really did mean that for Vysstichi, it'd be quite the excruciating setting to be in. What could you do about that? Well, unfortunately, not all that much if the intent was to keep things as "open" as possible. Catering to the dark elves meant potentially blocking out every other race that didn't have dark-vision as they did.

Perhaps there was a happy medium, a "dimness" that everybody could tolerate? But it still probably wouldn't be ideal for either side. It definitely wasn't intolerable, but the problem itself certainly existed.

More or less, though, it was nice to hear that Dynne agreed with everything else that Sliucha had blabbed about.

"Thanks for the input!" The High Priestess would blow a kiss to the dark elf's way. Mwah~!

"I suppose another way to compare it would be like this..." And she had to make the comparison, after all. The situation was very much TCL vs. TSD. "Did Mission Vale ask for volunteers to deal with me, or were you simply ordered to do it regardless of how you felt?"

No need to be shy, Sliucha wouldn't be offended if their first inclination hadn't been that they terribly wanted to serve her. "And to clarify, I would only send people who wanted to do so for a task like this." If a vaunted guest deserving of attention arrived? Make sure whoever was sent over to entertain was willing to do so! Consent!
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Old September 17, 2020, 11:51 PM   #360
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‘Mwah~!’
Whatever issues Dynne and the other Vysstichi had with the sunlight? They’d quite clearly already made arrangements to combat the unpleasantness as best as they could. More so, when their activities tended to result in late nights anyway? It wasn’t as if the Alitheans who served at the Temple hadn’t adjusted their lifestyle to match. No complaints? No runaways? Life at the Temple of Sinful Delights was deemed far lovelier than anything else that they’d had as options.

True, none of them really knew the Temple of Carnal Love was also up and running again either outside those Sliucha had brought with them. So perhaps time would tell, and allow Sliucha to weed out those who were nostalgic for being under the thumb of the Hayan sect.

Sliucha’s question brought a few more shared looks and a couple shrugs before Stai’see stated a simple, “Neither really. Miss Vale is above our station. None of us would be allowed to speak to the Plaguebringer.” The gap between them wasn’t even one of orders or volunteers, but bridged by social hierarchy even wider yet. The ‘help’ did not converse with their betters.

Dynne, quite nodding her head, “One of the Hayan’s was asked to and she was very much not wanting to go anywhere near here.” Which given the Plaguebringer was about? Increasingly sensible. “She figured whatever had removed the Dragonliche was Bad News, like, reeeeally Bad, and Sliucha was okay for it and came along too! No sending us out to scout it and well, likely not return!”
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