Warning signs scaled with immortality. What would be a red flag to most people when dealing with a single life time, did not register when you were dealing with more than one. Time was a massive force and few things would actually last through it.
Shatterstar stood at his window and watched those he considered friends as they good naturedly rough housed with each other on the practice courts. It was a small yet vital thing. As Nuka laughed at Bronze, he smiled. He hadn’t missed the flags. In Nuka’s case, it had been more like a seeping of red paint as time exacerbated a sense of helplessness. No, he thought, watching the camaraderie below, it wasn’t that he had missed the signs, but he had misdiagnosed the cause. Hadn’t realized the full extent he’d contributed to it. So much more than he’d imagined.
He took a deep breath and let it out on a count of eight. Breathing exercises he’d learned as a boy to help him concentrate. The eight count rhythm he would use to center himself before prayer, now a habit. He carefully tucked that flag away. Time would handle it, or it wouldn’t matter. He let the mixture of negative emotions flow through him, sampling the depth and strength of each. How heavy the guilt, how dark the regret, how tearing the despair. He folded his hands into the sleeves of his robes as they began to shake, and he turned away from the window.
Self-recrimination, sharp and bitter. The tangled sour worm of years of frustration. The plummet of free falling into helplessness. His meditative breathing grew a touch ragged. He’d had all the time he could spare to explore. He knew it now.
One of the proclaimed gods of an empire, Shatterstar gathered his magic about him. If he felt too much, it would be apparent. If he felt too much at one time, there would be awkward questions. Questions which would derail plans he’d spent hundreds of years creating. Plans he would not abandon, that was the prerogative of his nemesis and at times like this, Shatterstar let himself hate the man. His magic summoned, he set it to taming his emotions, fraying the edges, bleeding it down. The energy wasn’t gone, he just, moderated it down to a reasonable level. A level that left him clear thinking. It would be fine as long as no one figured it out.
Shatterstar looked back at the courtyard through his no longer wet eyes. The warning signs were there, for all he was an expert at misdirection, disguise, subterfuge, and deception. The men in the courtyard were most likely to notice. Not that they could do much if they did… but their notice would be noticed. And with notice came a presumptive interrogation and the walls would come tumbling down. He let his hands down and moved to his desk, pulling out a stack of research he kept carefully tucked away. But he was careful and no one would notice. He flipped to the last page of his well thumbed notes and went over them again. The research had born no fruit in a millennia, but he could not give up on it. Perhaps, like the breathing, and the magical regulation, it had become a habit. But not all of them were bad. Research obsessions were a family trait after all. And while he had no hope that he would find anything, had in fact surrendered the probable discovery to those joined with his nemesis…. He would not relinquish it. He’d made a promise. At least to himself, he would keep it.
Some thieves made off with the line “It would be fine as long as no one figured it out.” Let us count the thieves….