#22 - Going Home

DreamWidth Mirror
Mood: Contemplative
Location: At our desk, always
Music: Dark on Me // Starset

What was your home like in your source? Was it a specific building, a city, a landscape, a world? Was it a group of people?
08/01/2022. total words: 1978

   I won't be talking about the sea right now, that's the next prompt, which we need different icons for. I won't talk about the Meikai, not quite, because I am not so articulate that I think I can. But I did gloss wholly over the Pisces Temple before, and it's time now to talk about that. Ptolomea is a different story, and honestly, I think this will be more than long enough.

   The Gold Saints have lived in the Twelve Temples for over three thousand years. We have lived, fought, and died in them; fought sixteen Holy Wars and utterly destroying them almost every time. When we of the Holy War generations are dead, the survivors rebuild. If our temples help rebuild themselves when nobody's looking, well. It is the blessing of the Bloodstained Goddess.
   The fact that I can go from my main kitchen to my library to my bathroom to my throne room all without ever crossing through the Great Hall is decidedly less of a blessing, and more the still-living will of every past Pisces Saint's utter hatred of the terrifying notion of being known.

   The Twelve Temples are not necessarily intelligent, nor can they speak. They are, after all, buildings. But they're sentient enough to have wills, and magic enough to make those wills known. The Gold Saint of the temple controls it. If there is no Saint, then the temple listens to the apprentice, or whoever the most powerful of that zodiac sign happens to be inside the temple. After that, they answer to the Gold Cloth. (Their will can be overrided by the Grand Master or the Goddess herself, but it's rarely, if ever, done.)
   Which means I controlled the Pisces Temple from the day my father Lugonis died to the day I did. The one thing you'll first notice upon gaining ownership of the Twelfth Temple is that you need to clean out nobody's rooms to have one yourself. You just open a door wondering what's behind it and it's a bedroom, perfectly fitted to modern styles if a bit on the plain side, empty and with only a very thin layer of dust. And then you move in, and maybe find your direct predecessor's room, but no one else's.
   Weirdly, despite finding six different kitchens in your first fortnight in the temple, none of them have rotten food. But the fifth definitely had bread that hasn't been made in that style in two thousand years. As if everything was just... put into stasis. Because it was. The temple hides away rooms and hallways and closets you don't need, unless you want them to remain existing. That's why if you travel down hallways long enough, you can still find the bedrooms of the first Pisces Saints, even though the temple's been utterly reduced to rubble repeatedly in the past couple centuries. The rooms don't exist unless you want them to, which makes repair considerably easier.
   It does, however, make the hydro system difficult to understand, considering the technology originally used to make it was lost with the fall of Rome. At least until you discover the library, which if we acknowledge the laws of physics, ought to take up a full quarter of the temple. It doesn't, because it only exists when you want it to, but your predecessors did leave notes on how the hydro system works, and how to repair it, and the various records they kept on the sleeping schedules of the Aries and Cancer Saints, so you can steal their forges when they're asleep to repair pipes and fix the plumbing.

   Here's the funny part: my temple has five floors. Three main floors, an attic, and a basement. If you're searching it and you don't understand how much Pisces Saints hate company, you'll think there's only two. You enter from the Great Hall, which is public and leads straight from Aquarius to the Goddess' Temple. On either side of the Hall is a large stairway leading up to a bridge that crosses the length of the hall. Every railing and banister is covered with roses, and the bridge is about twenty feet up. The entire hall is about thirty feet to the ceiling. And if you go through any of the doors in the Hall on the ground floor, the ceilings are about eleven feet in the air.
   You would be surprised how many people entirely miss the second floor and think that the third floor is in fact the second. It's not. You just have to know how to get into the second floor, which is easier said that done. The easiest, most direct way is through the library, although getting to the library is a major task in of itself.
   Or you could go into the first kitchen you find, stand in front of the sink, reach up, and pull down the light fixture. Surprise stairs, because all the ladders and stairs into the second floor are hidden in either the first floor's ceiling or the third floor's floorboards. The attic is much the same way, except the only access points are through the hydro system, because that made sense to... one of my predecessors, somehow.
   The basement is in fact, even worse. You go through the library or you go through the garden. The garden, which contains the majority of my roses, will kill you in less than ten feet. The nearest entrance to the basement from any accessible area is no less than twenty yards away.

   With that all in mind, go on, ask me how you get to the library. Go on, guess. Because once I realized how essential the library is to getting anywhere in the temple quickly, I realized hiding it was one of the biggest tasks I would be set before the war. And also because I had to protect the books, which contain so much information that could bring Sanctuary down that I had to ensure you either had to be me or be with me in order to get in. When I set it up, I couldn't think of any reason why I would allow anyone into the library when I wasn't there. After gaining a best friend (Gemini Mavros) and a younger brother (South, of course), I had to update it to anyone blessed with my magic.
   But it's surprisingly simple: go to the throne room, which is very easy to find from the great hall. From there, open the door to the great hall, and then open and close it as many times as you need until it stops leading out to the hall and instead leads to a very cobwebbed, creepy hallway lined top to bottom with increasingly ugly paintings in ornate frames. The biggest painting will be a very ugly dog with very large eyes set at floor level, about sixty feet down the hallway. Open it like a door, pass through the wards, and you're in the library.
   Degel wouldn't let me throw out that ugly dog, so it got to keep him out of my library. The library itself is grand, spanning four floors and its part of the basement is largely used for holding supplies for the various hobbies and crafts of my line. Someone had a very elaborate castle mostly put together using only scavenged toothpicks.
   But you walk out from under the second floor to a vast space with nothing but a central pillar holding up the roof of the temple, and there's railings and stairways around that central space leading up to the different floors. The books are in bookshelves adorned by roses and behind sealed glass (in case I need to flood the temple with poisoned seawater, which I wish I'd had a chance to do at least once), and if you go up to that central pillar and pull on the right rosevine, it's actually an elevator all the way up to the fourth floor alcove. While you're rising, the roof opens up. First the stone goes, so the stained glass windows can be seen. They're a prism: on one side is roses and doves, another is a sea image, and the third is an image of the Goddess. Once you pass the second floor, those too slide away to nothing but plain glass. Rise past the third floor, and the glass slides back to nothing but open sky. Climbing out onto the roof from the Goddess' side leads to a widow's walk and then to a small balcony, used best when watching the other Gold Saints fight off an invasion.
   There's a small kitchen by the alcove, it's good for keeping snacks and a bottle or two of wine, in case I want to stargaze, or just read without the sun being in my eyes.

   The bathroom - and I do mean bathroom, the bath itself is the size of a swimming pool - is only accessible through the garden. It used to be on the ground floor, but I moved it rather early on for fear someone might walk in on me, because my fellow Saints were... awful! It's only accessible through about a hundred feet or so of thick roses, so there's no chance anyone would follow me in.
   I won't tell you where the treasury was when I left, but I can tell you it once was hidden in the hydro system before I moved it, because nobody is climbing through forty yards of large pipes full of poisonous seawater to find the treasury. And then I moved it because it was hard to get to when I wanted it.
   While I had a bedroom, I only used it until I was about sixteen, when I discovered my ability to shapeshift. Once I could manage the form of a fish, I slept in the aquarium of the throne room as much as possible in fish form. My Cloth did the same, largely owing to that while it couldn't move on its own, it could move the currents of the water to propel itself, and thus could swim around. In the very back of the aquarium, behind a wall that formed a cave, I also had a hammock in case I wanted to sleep in half-form. Eventually Mavros figured out that I could reliably be found in the aquarium at night, and when he couldn't tell me by which fin had pierced fins, he did so by figuring out which one of the many fish I had glowed.
   There's something to be said about having an entourage of lionfish, but that's a topic for the next prompt.

   And then Jesse moved in. Being the person who determines reality in a building goes a long way towards accessibility, considering stairs were not their forte. They were immune to my poison, and the temple understood that 'walking' and 'Jesse' were not friends. So after about a week of trying to explain to it that it needed to find a way to make more elevators, it simply started dropping swingsets instead of stairs, and allowing the roses to aid them in moving vertically through the temple. If they wanted a bath, they were the only one who could call the bathroom from the garden.
   I think even though I did not for the longest time, the temple understood that my insistence to take care of them was stronger than my dislike of being seen less than fully dressed.

   It was home, as much as anything else was. If I felt safe anywhere in a place that wasn't a person, it was there. Some days, I still miss it. If only because it was mine for so long.
   If Hayliel has redecorated the library, I'll probably have few other options but to kill her. I spent way too much time making it perfect for her to redecorate it.