PWD #05: But What Does It Mean?
But What Does It Mean?
Summary: Sera asks Iphigenia to help her interpret a somewhat troubling dream, though she seems to have a few ideas of her own.
Date: 30/12/2012
Related Logs: Going Down to Die
Iphigenia Sebastian Sera 
The chapel is one of the few quiet places to be found on a battlestar. Even rarer still, it's one of the few places that doesn't look like it's part of a battlestar. Heavy blue curtains have been hung from the walls, obscuring the bulkheads. The lights are kept low, adding a certain mystery and gravitas to the space. The central altar is made of a pale grey wood, as are the several rows of pews which extend from it. Laid against the far right wall is a long, low table with several rows of simple white votive candles to be used as vigil lights. Centered among them is a brass plate for burnt offerings from supplicants. Several cushions rest on the floor before the table, where the faithful may kneel to offer their prayers to the Lords and Ladies of Kobol. On the left wall are several compartments which have been sectioned off for private use.
Sunday, Dec 30th, 2004

It is quiet in the chapel tonight, and Iphigenia is praying. She's on her knees in front of Aphrodite's statue, her eyes closed, her brow furrowed as she whispers the liturgical language of Old Gemenese.

Sera arrives quietly, as is nearly always the case. She lingers in the back of the chapel, as is nearly always the case. Forever unwilling to interrupt the prayers of others, she moves in silence — or as close to it as she can possibly manage — to the pews. There she sinks into the very last row, folding her hands and her black prayer shawl neatly in her lap. The offerings she will make rest in a silver box on top of it, the lid closed.

Iphigenia has a good sense for when there are others around her, and so she finishes quickly, kissing the statue of Aphrodite on her feet before rising smoothly. She approaches Sera with care, equally unwilling to interrupt; once she affirms prayers have not begun, she offers a gentle, "Petty Officer Rutlii." in greeting. "Do you need assistance?"

It is not an offer which Sera accepts often. Ashamed of the Lords she worships? No. Aware of how much they may disturb others? Yes. Her left hand turns over in her lap, her right coming to rub at the paler skin of her palm, working it between forefinger and thumb. "I…," she starts, then pauses. Dark brows furrow. "Do you… do you often interpret dreams, Sister?"

"I've had occasion to, when those around me have felt touched by the gods." She gestures at the pew space next to Sera. "May I?"

Sera doesn't answer. Not verbally, at least. She instead turns to the side, moving her knees out of the way in order to make room for Iphigenia to enter the row without impediment. Her fingers, the usually grey-tipped nails currently painted a very badly chipping red, bury themselves into the black cloth of her prayer shawl, keeping it steady so as not to spill the ample fabric onto the floor.

Iphigenia takes a seat next to Sera, her own hands in her lap as she turns toward the woman with a patient, receptive air. "Begin at the beginning," she suggests gently, "And when you come to the end, stop." It seems so simple, so basic, but so often people need encouragement of such nature.

"I was sitting under a barren tree, on a dusty highway," Sera says, sighing softly at the memory. "It was hot and dry, so harsh, so burning, I thought I was going to die. Even my eyes were dry, and my throat was raw, and my feet were bleeding. I gave up hope, when a black car rolled up the highway and stopped. Broke down, really, rusted and dying and gasping for breath. A man stepped out. He offered me his hand, and helped me up, and made me walk."

"Did you recognize the man? Did you know him?" Gen inquires, keeping her voice soft and prompting.

She nods once, mutely. There's a lump that rises in her throat, one that carries a name. She swallows it down before it's uttered. "It seemed we walked forever, with nothing in sight, slowly baking and dying in the head. Until we saw a woman dressed in grey. It was my grandmother. And a man dressed in black. It was his father. My nana, she told me "the river quenches all thirst" and they began to lead us towards it, continuing down the highway."

"The river." Iphigenia echoes, sitting up straighter. Dreams of a river hold only one meaning in the colonies. She doesn't press for the moment, instead offering, "Go on."

"As we walked on, more and more people joined us — followed us, really, all dressed in black and grey. I knew them. Some of them, anyway. Like my nana, they were all people who had passed. He knew the rest." Sera reaches up to brush her hair back from her eyes; even with her bangs freshly cut just days ago, she does it. Old habit. "We were tired, and weary, and parched. But I could hear the sound of it. I kept telling him it was alright. Eventually his knees buckled, so I offered to carry him…."

There's some thoughtful puzzlement on Iphigenia's face, but for the moment, she opts to continue to listen.

"There was a cliff that rose up on the horizon out of nowhere. We could hear the river rushin' inside it, inside a cave openin' up into its face. Everyone began pushing towards it when he realized something was horribly wrong. He tried to pull me away and make me go back, but I insisted we keep walkin'. And then my nana came up to me, and put her hand on my face. But when she started talkin', it was with my daddy's voice. It didn't make sense. She was tryin' to tell me something, something I needed to remember, but then I realized that some of the people pushin' into the cave?," she says softly, her voice cracking, going soft. "They're people I know now. Not like my nana and my daddy and my brother. People… people still alive."

Iphigenia says softly, "That is…a dark dream. The river is the Path to the Fields of Elysium, it always has been. For so many to be attempting to reach the river…" she doesn't hide her concern, nor shirk from the interpretation.

"I'd been calm until then. Calm from the moment my nana arrived. But then I felt the same panic he did, and we tried to push against them, and to run. And then… and then I just… woke up." Her brows knot together. The worry it conveys is echoed by the way she begins to chew on her lower lip, sucking it into her mouth to torment it with her teeth. "It was almost peaceful, until that point. Even with him tryin' to convince me turn back. Comfortin', to walk with my family again."

"Of course the possibility of being with one's family is always comforting. But the faces you saw, of the living. That's…" Gen shakes her head. "Sera," she says, switching to the woman's given name. "I will need to meditate on your dream. See what the portents say, maybe cast for a dream of my own to gain a better understanding. I would not," she pauses, and continues, "I would not encourage you to share this dream beyond those you trust to hold their tongues, at least not until we can get a better understanding of what it means. Can I ask you to do that?"

Sera blinks a few times, quickly, her lashes fluttering. "I usually don't tell anyone my dreams. I don't even pay much mind to them anymore. I've always dreamed vividly, ever since I was a little girl. When my sister was born, and my mama took us all to Virgon the once to get our papers properly registered and sorted, she took me to the Temple at Hadrian. She thought that maybe… that maybe it was a sign, you know? But the Oracle at the Temple of Hestia's Eternal Flame read the signs and the portents. The Vestal Virgins declared that the gods had not fated me to be a prophet." It sounds almost as though she is, for a moment, trying to reassure the chaplain. "I was just a little girl, with a very active mind."

"I'd rather ask you and be sure. One doesn't always need to be a prophet to have portent thrust upon you if the needs of the gods are strong enough." Geni is thoughtful. "There is some manner of message here. Death can also mean great change in your life, but to dream of the river - you said you recognized the man? Who was he, to you?"

"A friend," Sera whispers, her eyes dropping down to her lap. "A very close friend, though I haven't known him very long. Somehow I missed him all these months, and then there he was." There's a pause, before she adds, "Or do you mean who was he in the dream? He was himself. Exactly the same as he always is, except… well, except without his cigarettes. Practically everything around us was so hot, it should've been on fire, 'til we reached the cool grey of the rock face and the sound of cold runnin' water. Except that. There was no little red flame danglin' from his mouth."

Iphigenia closes her eyes, breathes in, breathes out. "I wish I could offer you more comfort." Iphigeia admits in more sympathy. "I wish I had answers for you, but I do not…not yet. I need a few days to see what I can uncover. Is this close friend, or any other, aboard whose presence will soothe you?"

"He's on board," she admits, before lifting her eyes from her prayer shawl. "I don't think… I don't think he's the temple-goin' type, though, Sister. I think he's more the sort to say his prayers to life, by bein' alive as much as he can." There's a pause, and a slight smile, as she adds, "And there's Hook, of course. But, well, I think I'd have an easier time talkin' to him than to you — no offense — but that's 'cause I'm seein' him. Except I don't think I can rightly ask him for counsel, as a priest of Ares, 'cause I'm seein' him. That does not make for clarity of thought, in such matters, if you ask me."

"He doesn't need to come to temple, and Judah Hook is a good man. I think if you asked for his comfort just for the sake of it, he'd be obliging. I just want you to make use of your support system." Iphigenia says softly.

The fringe on her shawl. She starts futzing with it, picking at it with her fingertips. "Do you think," she asks in a low, quiet voice. "Do you really think it means anythin'? I mean, I was dedicated to He Who Receives All when I was a baby. He is one of the Lords my parents placed me into the service of. Maybe it's just a sign that I ought to try to bring more people to a Lord they avoid, until they're wailin' out their grief."

"It might be." Iphigenia conceeds. "But I won't know more until I explore the landscape of it myself. I confess, I've never been much of one to try to urge people to finding faith; it's something they need to come to or not as the gods will. But I won't say your wrong if I don't know that to be true. And I don't know that to be true." Iphigenia smiles reassuringly.

"As I said, he isn't the temple-goin' sort. Maybe it wasn't supposed to be him. Maybe it was just a metaphor. Him representin' others like him. I've never been the evangelical sort myself." It's ironic for her to say that, really, in the most understated form of the word. She expends so much time trying to avoid troubling even the faithful with her prayers.

"That could be so as well." Gen admits. "The problem with dreams is that it is often difficult to separate what we should deem symbolic from the literal."

"That's why I clean out internal combustions engines, Sister, and you're the chaplain." There's a faint smile. Oh, Lords. Did Sera just… did Sera just tell a joke to a priestess? In a temple?! Usually, she doesn't say a single word to anyone but the gods in here.

Iphigenia laughs in soft delight. "I imagine that working with machines does quite leave less of an issue with sleep and confounding ethics. But speaking of which…do you need anything to help you sleep after having had this dream?"

"With all due respect, Sister, I have four days to oversee the reconfiguration of ten Raptors, includin' all their —- well, nevermind," she cuts off, apparently assuming that her technical jargon will be wasted on the chaplain. "I don't think I'm goin' to have any problems passin' out in my rack. Stayin' asleep once I'm there? That might be a different story."

Iphigenia's mouth quirks. "Fair enough. I'll call on you in a few days time, if you've no objection? To let you know as to the progress I've made regarding your dream."

Sera nods once, then reaches up, tucking a few phantom curls back behind one of her ears. "And if I keep wakin' up in the middle of the night?," she asks with a hint of a frown, one touched with concern about the possibility of being forced into medbay when she's already got so much work to do.

"Come to me if you like, but you could ask medbay to prescribe you something to help you." Gen says. "I was actually going to suggest that. You don't need to be in-patient for that."

"…They're not goin' to ask for a psych eval, are they? I mean, I was just dreamin'. It was a little off-puttin'. I'm sure I'll be fine unless I have another one like it." Her lips press into a thin line, their color slowly draining. Their natural color, anyway. The slight peach shade of the gloss she somehow manages to wear, even on deck, remains.

Iphigenia lifts a brow. "Seeing as how I'm one of the accredited psychologists on board, all you need to tell them is that you are having trouble and just need a minor sleep aid. It's not uncommon. If something stronger becomes needful, we'll re-address it."

There's a swallow and another nod, which causes her rather preppy ponytail to bounce. It's an adolescent gesture, one that doesn't fit in with the rest of her sober tone. "Thank you, Sister," she says quietly. Her foot starts to tap the pew in front of her, suddenly impatient. Awkward. "Could I ask you one more thing?"

"Of course you may." says Iphigenia, breaking into a smile.

"Is there a, ahhh, standard offerin'? To your lady, I mean. She wasn't prayed to often, in my house when we were growin' up. My mama had her ladies - Hestia and Hera." It's a question which Sera obviously finds rather embarassing to ask. She's slowly turning pink in the tips of her ears.

"I'm not beholden to any of the gods in particular; priests may align themselves to the entirety of the Lords if they so choose." She smiles. "If you want to make an offering," she gestures to the various gods, "Give to He or She you feel best merits it given your dedications and the situation."

There's a slight cough, and another touch to her ear, before she murmurs. "I meant to Lady Aphrodite in particular. You were prayin' to her when I came in."
Sebastian has arrived.

Iphigenia ah's. "Oh…no, there's no need, unless you're so inclined. I have need of her, on occasion." Iphigenia is sitting in a pew with Sera, the pair talking quietly.

"That was why I was askin'. As I said, she wasn't one that was prayed to much in my home when we were growin'. Or, well, if she was, my mama made a point of none of us ever knowin' about things like that, bein' children and all." Gods, she's starting to fidget. Could she look any more uncomfortable without straying into downright mortified?

Probably. And to see in comes a lanky man in his early thirties, dark haired, dark eyed, and slightly olive skinned. Sebastian pauses when he sees the temple isn't empty. Oops. An audience. "Ah. Pardon." He says, accent Canceroni.

Iphigenia's eyes go wide as she -gets it-. "A prayer, a kiss to her feet, is acceptable. We don't exactly have access to flower petals or doves or sea shells on board. If you want to burn something a love letter, a bit of poetry, such will do." She rises, placing a hand briefly on Sera's shoulder. Her own accent is of Virgon - aristocratic Virgon, full on received pronunciation. "No need. How may I be of service?"

Yes. Yes, as it turns out, Sera actually can look more awkward, pretty much as soon as she realizes someone else is in the room. The only reason she's not standing already is Iphigenia's hand on her shoulder. Otherwise, she'd be out of the temple like a shot. The evidence lies in the way she's knocked the silver box from her lap, its cover opening and a bottle of oil rolling out onto the floor. "Shi—-" she starts. Then stops. Mortified? Yeah. There it is.

"Er." Sebastian says eloquently, rubbing the back of his neck. He then ducks down to snatch the bottle of oil up as it rolls towards his feet and, with several quick strides, discreetly offers it to Sera. "If I'm interruptin' I can leave." He suggests, not looking at Sera as he offers her back her bottle of luuuuuurv oil. "I.." He rubs the back of his neck again. "I heard you did grief counseling, Sister." That to Iphigenia, his dark eyes intent on her and most certainly /not/ looking at the mortified Sera.

Iphigenia would have picked it up herself, but Sebastian beats her to it. The best way to help someone deal with their embarrassment is to ignore it so they can recover. "That's quite true." she admits to Sebastian. "I offer it from both a secular and pastoral perspective, depending on your preference."

The oil is a bright shade of red. Crimson really. Like blood. It isn't snatched from his hands with the same mortification she's otherwise displaying — it's taken carefully from his fingers, and tucked away inside the box, along with her prayer beads and a set of rusted keys symbolic of those that open the gates to Hades. A fitting match, for her black prayer shawl. And totally inconsistent with the line of questioning he walked in on. "Please excuse me."

Hey, Sebastian is from a city named Hades. He's not one to judge a person's patron Lord. "Don't let me interrupt." He says to Sera, holding his hands up helplessly. "I can find the Sister later."

"We'll speak again soon, Sera." Iphigenia calls after her, and then gestures for Sebastian to join her in a pew."

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