She lives in a house that stretches from the depths of Realms Beneath to the upper reaches of the stars. She built it long ago on foundation of tears.
Long ago, she had a family. She had a father who betrayed that family to seek his own power and immortality. He sold their souls to the one of the seven Lords of the Realms Beneath. When the Lord revealed that the bargain included the father’s own soul, the man broke his contract and went wandering across distant worlds, distant realities.
She swore she’d find him, although she did not know why. Nor did she know what she would do upon finding him. Once she’d loved him. Now she hated him. Now he was gone, to a place where love and hate could not touch him.
He had left his books behind, so she studied them. She was just a child, but a precocious one, and before long she knew what she had done in gruesome detail. She journeyed to the Realms Beneath and found the Lord of Hell who had been just as betrayed as herself, the Lord who by rights owned her soul.
She bargained cleverly and honestly, pointing out her potential, pointing out his need for revenge. Pointing out her connection to a world full of souls that could be persuaded to come down, although she didn’t intend on persuading them herself. Instead, she’d build a bridge, something easier, a way-station for his subjects to traverse through should they feel the need for safe passage.
She received permission to return to do such a thing, and also received her own plot of land on which to grow the flowers that would keep her young and unaging.
The Realms Beneath are full of dangers, even if you have leave to be there. The souls there are little more than hungry beasts, wanting to feast upon your mind. Every minute there drives you closer to madness. The voices will not stop whispering, will not cease in persuading you to stay. Perhaps if you listen you come to think that you were always there, that there was never any other world than this.
But the moon that shines there shines full always, for the night is everlasting and unchanging. This is why the Realms Beneath are the perfect place for the moonflowers of immortality to grow.
Eleanor set up a greenhouse on her plot on which to grow them, and set up wards that would hold for a time while she was away. The Lord had given her a small plot away from his sphere of influence. It was a test: could she withstand the forces of hell without his protection? If not, then she was useless to him.
She proved herself. She tended her flowers without becoming mad, without being overrun by shadows, without forgetting that she had a home in another world, without forgetting who she was. So the Lord taught her and entrusted her with minor errands, and in time, sent people to her world through her bridge, through the long staircase that began in his throne room and ended in her basement.
She built bridges to other worlds too, as she began to learn more. After all, her father, the one who betrayed her, was not in the Realms Beneath. There were other places to search. So she searched them.
This was how she had remained free, not subject to the Lord. She had convinced him that if she was to search properly, she could not be his envoy. That would bar her from many places. In the end, he had agreed. He did not, ultimately, control her. (Although he swore one day she would be his, that he would count her among his subjects, when all this was over.)
She studied her craft and searched the cosmos, and met many strange people in many different worlds. She does that still, in that strange house of hers. It looks small, that house, but it is easy to get lost in.
She has not yet found her father. Many are sure, including the Lord of Hell, that her father is already dead. After all, he had no moonflowers with him. But she is sure that he isn’t. He is her father. He is clever. He does what he sets out to do. It’s a family trait.
And one day, she will find him.
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