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Mesteno
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Old Wyrm


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 2017 5:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[Adapted from liveplay with Lexius.]

October 18th, 2015


Recklessness was his great Achillean failing.

It was the lacuna in his sprawling list of rigorously wrought self-improvements.

It was not that Mesteno was under any misconceptions about his mortality, and he knew had he reached Dethhame alone it would have been suicidal to attempt an infiltration, but the solo heroics of a simple scouting mission into unknown territory, through rifts unchecked for stability had felt... acceptable.

It wasn’t as if there was anyone who could have denied him after all.

He’d travelled far enough to the south that autumn’s chill had no claim on the climate, and beside him, a river (depicted bold and blue upon the old maps) trickled thin as a stream of piss through cracked mud. The river’s broad banks were parched, and the mud-brick city poking its crumbling rooftops through the sands beside them had long been abandoned by its populace. It squatted toad-ugly and half buried, forgotten for a score of years or more. Beyond it, the desert sprawled immense.

Having ridden along its outskirts, and then cautiously amongst the tumbled dwellings, he'd quickly concluded there was nothing of value to be found. If worship of Sobek had ever been performed there, it had ceased when the river failed.

The damned place hadn’t even had the courtesy to be sufficiently ancient to be interesting.

So he sat sweat damp, astride his equally over-heated Arabian, peering out over the barren landscape with undisguised hostility. The loose cut linens weren’t keeping him as cool as he’d hoped, and he’d made the error of forgetting to cover his head – he hadn't expected to be out there that long.

He hadn’t expected to hear from Lexius again either, at least not so soon.

The Elf normally left it a great deal longer than twenty-four hours when there’d been any upset between them, but it grated on him, this latest divide, and he’d known full well the likelihood was high that the necromancer would get the bit between his teeth.

Lexius was well aware, beyond any doubt, that Mesteno was more than capable of taking care of himself. He knew his own presence was unnecessary and, most likely, and suspected it was starting to chafe on the independent human. He knew that he should give the situation time to stabilize, that he should allow the ripples he'd created to calm. He knew all of that - yet he still couldn't manage to maintain an aloof distance.

The connection came with little warning. The Elf reached out toward the wards he'd built in Mesteno’s mind, reached for the trinket he'd fashioned for the man (and that he knew Mesteno wore more often than he didn't) searching for the location of each even as he wove thought to thought and spoke across the miles that separated them.

Mesteno. His usual, low toned and smooth murmur.

The trinket was where it had been made to hang, skin warmed against Mesteno’s chest a few inches south of his clavicle. Nothing but the slim strip of leather and wire it was suspended from showed at his throat though - it wouldn't do to have people think he wore jewellery.

His posture turned tense astride the skittish horse, and it flattened its ears instinctively in response, positive something was amiss. Mesteno hesitated before replying, and closed his eyes. Nothing to see. He didn’t want Lexius to know.

I'm here. There was no anger in his voice, nothing sullen.

Not so many miles separated them as there should be – Lexius made his home in the desert, and could sense that Mesteno was amongst the sands. The Elf was not surprised. He briefly debated pretending he didn’t know, but decided there was no reason to take that route. He did not yet try to see through Mesteno's eyes.

Which river do you scout? He asked calmly. The excessive remoteness was gone, at least. He was curious if the Sadist had found anything, but more than that, he was curious if Mesteno would be willing to share it.

The question left Mesteno scowling immediately. How had he known!? So of course he opened his eyes, there being no reason to keep them closed.

The light there was blinding, the sands too pale even though he'd turned the Arabian so his back was to the sun. He wished he'd taken the time to use Samiel's old trick with the Kohl, no matter his aversion to looking like one of the emo crowd - the stuff kept the sun from the eyes rather well!

The Hathrem. There's nothing here though. Not even the river, really. A sudden, sharp wind whipped up a lashing of sand to sting his arms, and there came a mental growl of irritation for the sensation. Kohl helped keep dust from the eyes, too.

Lexius could almost taste the flavour of Mesteno's irritation just from the connection of thought. He certainly felt it shimmering like waves of heat off the surface of the man's mind. It waxed and waned, but never quite faded completely away. He was careful to delve no deeper than the surface where he read those things.

Finally, he twisted his thought around to have a look at what the Sadist was seeing, which happened to be sand stinging his face through a squint. Lexius endeavoured not to chuckle.

The sand is fond of you, it seems. Or maybe it was the wind. He kept his tone carefully neutral as he went on. Mesteno had admitted the truth without hesitation, but it hadn't made him happy. He suspected his next question might deepen the man's frustration. Would you like some company?

I think I breathed half the desert in, came the mentally groused reply, and there's a smudge over there that looks ominous...

He was not incorrect. The distance seemed dirty somehow, the air less clear. He suspected a sandstorm, but he didn't say it aloud. Lexius might recognise it better than he. He was busy trying to decide whether to shelter in one of the old buildings or ride the three miles back to the rift he'd reached the city through, but without knowing how fast those storms hit, he hadn't yet reached an answer. He wasted some more time being surprised by Lexius’ question.

Though he said nothing, that surprise, gently pleased, edged toward caution after a moment. Perhaps he was recalling how poorly things had gone when they last spoke. Or maybe he just thought he was going to get a scolding.

Try not to stir up the sand too much, was his eventual reply.

Mesteno's grouchy words certainly did not match the surprise and pleasure, however mild or tempered. It was an interesting dichotomy, one Lexius was certain he needed to pay more heed to in the future. This time, at least, all unknowing, he'd chosen correctly.

Just so. He murmured in agreement before the connection seemed to fade.

He could see the smudge Mesteno meant, beyond the remains of a wall where he chose to appear. The mental connection broke when he teleported, stirring up a minimal amount of sand given the elevated position. The beads chattered a merry greeting!

The Elf's appearance didn't startle the necromancer, but it certainly seemed to have caught the horse off guard. The animal shied, swerving sideways in a stunted rear Mesteno caught short of becoming dangerously full height. Sand went slithering under neat, dark hooves, hissing down the slope towards the river's pathetic remains, but the dramatics were short lived. Accustomed to those theatrics, the red-headed bastard brought the old horse back under control with hands light on the reins, his expression severe until calm resumed.

Lexius had pulled his head covering into place (or maybe he'd never pushed it back) but the veil was still down leaving his face unmasked, but still shadowed by the cunningly wrapped muslin. There was no hiding the bright, colorful glint of his gaze that lingered on Mesteno for several moments before he turned to have a look at the dark marring in the distance with his own eyes. That would develop into a problem rather soon.

The sand comes. He confirmed.

No telling why he'd re-established the mental connection rather than speaking out loud!

"I timed my visit well," Mesteno replied, drolly. Normal speech came naturally to him. It was inevitable he'd use it when he could if there was no one to overhear them. "Some of the buildings are still standing. Might have to sit it out in there if it’s comin' too fast."

He eyed Lexius after a moment, trying to determine whether there was any of that terrible, unwelcome remoteness still resident on his sharp features. At the very least there wouldn’t be any temptation for his fingers to stray. Mesteno had braided his hair. It was a messy rope to be sure, but bound nonetheless, and his cheekbones looked all the more savage for it, the hard lines of his jaw more stubborn.

"The sand is fond of you." Lexius commented again, stepped down off the remains of the wall. "And you are ill prepared." It wasn't chastisement, simply fact. His detachment had certainly faded. He might have even smiled, faint and fleeting. "Come."
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Mesteno
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 2017 6:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[Continued...]

"The scale on the map wasn't accurate," Mesteno muttered, sounding a little petulant. He'd a good mouth for petulance. "I thought I'd be emerging a lot closer from the rift. Didn't seem worthwhile goin' the whole nine yards in terms of preparation if I was only gonna be out here sneakin' around a town. This is..." He nodded to the ruins with disappointment he didn't try to hide. "Useless. It didn't even have the decency to be somewhere ancient I could explore."

"RhyDin has a way of changing the scale of things as it sees fit." The Elf knew Mesteno was aware of that. He also knew Mesteno was aware of the fact he shouldn't go to some place like the desert (no matter how briefly!) unprepared. He did him a kindness, and didn’t mention that out loud.

Lexius turned to stride deeper into the ruins. They had enough time and he'd no wish to further alienate Mesteno's horse by teleporting it anywhere. They could weather the sandstorm here easily enough. "Is this the only area you have checked today?"

The buildings hadn't been made to last. In fact considering their mud construction, it was safe to say the river's death and the sands encroaching were a fairly new thing... RhyDin had strange ways of shifting, swallowing places up.

Lexius smile was a warming thing, usually. Mesteno wasn't displeased to see it that day either, only a little cautious of when it might get replaced by something stonier. Sliding from the horse's back, he drew the reins over its dark tipped ears and walked alongside its head as he pursued the Elf.

"It is," he confirmed of his searches. "I didn't want to be out of the city too long in case anything happened. Have you had any luck crafting a suitable crystal?"

Lexius concentrated on finding a mostly intact building that wasn't likely to crumble under the weight of the coming storm that was big enough to fit them all. Perhaps it had only been a temporary refuge, abandoned with the fickle shift of the river or the changing interest of the people. It had come and gone during the time he'd been away from RhyDin that was certain. He had no memory of it being here.

"Hmm. I have. Here, this one." The roof was gone, but the gaping doorway faced away from the storm and the crumbling walls seemed the strongest they might find. He would enhance their strength, to be sure.

Lexius stepped inside, allowing Mesteno to cajole his steed into the confines all on his own. "We shall have a look while we wait out the storm."

The horse was sensible enough about doorways, and only snorted the once for being crowded through one that clearly hadn't been meant to accommodate something his size. Like all the other buildings, Mesteno had peered through the entrance of this one in the hope of seeing some sign of worship, or at the very least signs that it had once been lived in. If there had been any, they'd been buried by the sands, or picked clean by scavengers exploring the place once the townspeople had left.

Habit had him winding the reins up neatly, knotted so that the horse wouldn't trip on them as it moved about the confines, but he didn't go so far as to try and hobble the Arabian. Flighty though it might be whilst ridden, it had known deserts long before it fell into Mesteno's hands, and knew what the winds and dust heralded. Walls were welcome.

"If it seems like it's gonna be a drawn out storm, I won't blame you for headin' out before me. There's no point in us both bein' stuck here," Mesteno assured as he moved away from the horse and closer to Lexius. "But since we're both here... let's see it."

Lexius remained well back, clear of the animal, until Mesteno had positioned them both inside. He watched them with a quiet serenity that did not change when his focused narrowed to Mesteno as the man stepped close.

Yes, Mesteno had braided his hair, which left his face clean and clear and sharp. The Elf wasn't sure that was any less distracting.

"A moment." He murmured, his Will already twisting into the structure of the feeble walls that surrounded them.

He manipulated the internal structure of the molecules, strengthening the decaying bonds within the weakened mud. He added to the protection in the form of a faint, shimmering dome to spill out of the very air above them. It poured down to meet the walls and glimmered where it fell across the doorway, further trapping them all inside.

"There will be a mild amount of dust, as I am sure you wish to continue to breathe, but that will keep out most of the sand," he explained, then without any warning at all, he reached out a hand and splayed long fingers across Mesteno's chest in a light but steady touch. He neither pushed the Sadist back nor prevented him from moving closer, he just...touched.

When he spoke, his tone was grave. "I apologize, Mesteno, for being...difficult to deal with." That was putting it mildly! "And I would rather be here than any other place." He might have practiced that for as easy as it seemed to come.

For a moment, Mesteno looked betrayed by that simple touch, as if the hypocrisy of not being allowed to reciprocate, no matter how briefly, tempted him to step away from it in protest. Instead he held still, and listened, and dipped his eyes to look at the splay of fingers, probably fanned out right over where the labradorite was resting.

"It's all right, Lexius. I overstepped the other day, got too familiar. I'll behave myself in future."

He’d been lifting a hand to clap it lightly over the Elf’s shoulder, when he thought better of it. He didn't mean to go back on his word when he'd only just given it. As for wanting to be there... "Well it's the desert. I'm sure you're right at home."

The Elf's typically smooth brow furrowed with minute wrinkles. He tapped into that thread he still had woven into the outer shell of Mesteno's mind, listening to the surface of his thoughts, sensing the fleeting blips of emotions that pinged strongly enough to detect. He was absolutely not above cheating in this moment because the answer, that look that had flashed momentarily across the Sadist's unobscured face, had confused him.

Rather than pull his hand back, Lexius flattened his palm, his whole hand, against Mesteno's chest, fingers just brushing the stone beneath the shirt, as if he could push understanding into his flesh.

"You did not overstep." The intentness of his tone, his gaze, was anything but remote. Barely twenty-four hours had passed since their last exchange and it had dominated his mind ever since. He had to repair this. It was important. Still, it took him longer to continue because he hadn't practiced what he might say next, what would follow the apology.

"The place is not the reason so much as the company." That seemed the easiest way to explain it. But when the beads muttered at him, he actually continued! "I was enjoying the ease, the familiarity. But I took your amusement...incorrectly, I think. And so I withdrew."

Lexius struck a landmine, examining his surface thoughts as he did then.

Beyond anything else, Mesteno was confused, and in part by his own responses. For every answer the Elf gave him which eased his concerns, a deep seated pessimism warned him against automatic acceptance. He believed every word from Lexius' mouth was sincere, but didn't necessarily trust the Elf knew his own desires well enough to be... reliable. He was as flighty as the Arabian. Of course he was going to be 'difficult'. The necromancer just wasn't sure if Lexius was ready to be anything but that if his instincts held such strong sway.

Those eyes were damn convincing though, and the tone so dissimilar to how he'd been twenty-four hours before that Mesteno wanted to throttle him a little.

Finally, some acceptance crept in. The apology did not go dismissed, and the hand he'd been going to clasp on his shoulder wrapped warmly, a little gritty in the palm, over the back of Lexius' wrist, thumb skimming along the bone there.

"I wasn't amused by you, so much as y'choice of words." He recalled it well. Someone else had been overthinking it, too. "I enjoyed it too, the bull ***'." Rough-housing, lazy insults - they came naturally as breathing. "But it is all right, really. I know everything's a little *** up."

He wasn't deluded into thinking a little harmless contact meant he was suddenly, miraculously over Koyan, any more than he thought himself lacking any hang-ups over Evander.

By contrast, the Elf was suddenly much less puzzled! He understood pessimism, could comprehend doubt. He couldn't fault Mesteno an ounce for feeling either emotion, for letting it shadow his belief and, thus, influence his reactions. To sense those things in the moment and match them with everything else aided Lexius to a better understanding of the whole.

The taint of acceptance that crept so cautiously into the Sadist's mind was like the cool touch of an oasis breeze to sun tightened skin to Lexius. Accompanied by the circling of fingers around his wrist, he felt the ease of relief rather than an unplanned tightening of tension.

"Very well." Lexius nodded once along with the words, patting his hand lightly against Mesteno's chest.

No, no miracles. He might have felt some alleviation of the pressure, but it wasn't anywhere close to gone. That tidy little flame burned, but it was just a speck in the darker miasma of everything else. The beads chortled suddenly, the sound thickly satisfied but quiet when compared to the sound of sand suddenly assailing the mud walls as the storm swept over that little abandoned village and beat against the shimmering shield the Elf had erected. Lexius slid his touch away.

"The crystal." He murmured, half to remind himself. "Sit." He commanded the Sadist in the next moment, stepping back so he could fold down himself.

As simply as that, student and teacher resumed their lessons.

[End.]
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Mesteno
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 10:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

[Heavily adapted from live play.]

October 19th, 2015

The note had finally come, tucked beneath the Grand Marnier at the Red Dragon. Aiden was calling a meeting.

Mesteno had no intention of going alone to confront the Greek, and the following day, shortly after noon, Lexius teleported them to the edge of the district where they were scheduled to meet, making the rest of the way on foot to arrive at a small park. It was tucked between a pair of skyscrapers in the most technologically advanced sector of the city - the last place Powers (of any origin) might expect to find the trio, which made it ideal.

Here the magic was so heavily dominated by the advanced technology that it almost gave the demi-god hives. There wasn't a scrap of magic to be had anywhere in that five block radius where even the ley lines in the ground had rerouted themselves to avoid the area. A proverbial mystical dead zone. The locals travelled about on all manner of floating, jet powered and dangerous looking vehicles as well as more conventional modes of transport. Technological modification of limbs to the point of grotesquery, cranial implants, even genital 'customisation' were services advertised in store windows both seedy and sleek, whilst overhead, huge carriers blipped into being out of nowhere hauling cargo from space's far reaches, likely en route to Stars End spaceport.

Aiden was standing at one end of the park, throwing a ball for a dog that whined not with excitement for the play, but with the sound of crafted gears and hydraulics that powered its little terrier form. It wasn't his dog, though. The ball had just rolled his way when the group of kids at the other end of the park had thrown it. He looked hale and hearty, dressed down with his tell-tale tattoos concealed and a beer in hand.

The Elf by comparison looked exceedingly out of place, but he seemed to still be able to effect those around them, turning attention from him and Mesteno with a mild weaving of his usual mental web of thoughts as they neared.

In good spirits, Mesteno had taken care to dress himself more in keeping with the locals, eschewing his customary, nondescript scruffiness in favour of dark blue jeans and a grey, short-sleeved hoody with a side zip-fastening neckline, a broad white belt at his hips. He might not win any prizes for style, but no one would glance his way and think the choice worth noticing. Except for an Elf.

Lexius was intrigued by the change, and had spent some time studying the ensemble and how the Sadist had clasped his hair, as if he had not yet decided if he preferred it. Why he’d chose to wear it that day, to meet Aiden, puzzled him all the more.

"There he is," Mesteno nodded Aiden's way, and lifted an arm to wave lazily. Just a nice day for a walk, no elves, necromancers and demi-gods meeting for business.

Aiden did something of a double-take when he spotted Mesteno waving. For a moment he hadn’t been sure who it was, and he voiced his approval with a wolf whistle, sharp and clear, preceding the wicked grin that he shot their way in greeting. Thankfully, despite the attention grabbing noise, there was just the group of kids and a couple other random people (late lunch goers from the nearby buildings) in the small park. No real crowd to speak of.

"Well, hot damn, Whippet!" Aiden planted one battered boot on the bench and eyed the Sadist over carefully, leaning against his thigh as he did so. "Don't you just clean pretty? You should talk him," he uncurled a finger from around the bottle he held to point at Lexius, "into wearing something like that!"

Lexius didn't bat a lash or say a word, but allowed Mesteno to deal with the man as he came to a halt nearby.

"Of course, then you two would both get mobbed walking through this part of town." Aiden added cheerfully. "Mr McDour." He said next, with mocking formality to the Elf.

Lexius ignored him as he tended to ignore his beads. Said beads were snickering.

Mesteno wasn’t particularly appreciative for being whistled at. Shrill as it was, it called attention he’d have preferred to avoid. "You've already seen me cleaned up, Aiden." A reminder, and one it probably wasn't wise to mention given the demi-god's penchant for playing the pervert.

Aiden practically leered at him, leaving off his torturing of the Elf in order to openly eye Mesteno's crotch, then his hand (the one that he'd licked, of course!), then his face. The necromancer had the good grace to look awkward.

"How much action did I get that night?" He inquired shamelessly. "Or did..."

He got no further than that, his gaze aborted on its way to shooting a speculative glance back to Lexius, because his boot abruptly slid through the bench and he nearly took a nose-dive into it.

The bottle he'd held went rolling off into the grass, beer splashing from the neck, right toward the feet of the robot dog. Thankfully, the bench was solid enough along the back for Aiden to catch himself before he busted his teeth. He barked a quick laugh and pushed himself straight, waggling his finger at the still silent Lexius who was regarding him serenely, but steadily, blue-violet eyes gleaming too brightly.

"Tricky *** bastard." Aiden accused the Elf before leaning down again to wrest the ball from the dog’s mouth and send it sailing back toward the kids who were calling for it. Aiden reclaimed his beer.

"Don't call me pretty or I'll hurt you on principle." Mesteno muttered, with a finger thrust threateningly. His tone was remarkably lazy though, as if the threat were idle and nothing else. "God knows how y'got the nickname 'Whisper', y'the noisiest—never mind. You have news for us?"

"I hear you’re branching out to the Hybrids." Aiden stated by way of reply. An internal nickname he gave to the entire Egyptian pantheon since they so loved their animal heads on human bodies pictograms. "Having a little trouble with the snouty, scaly types?"

"That'd be the one," Mesteno confirmed. It was an amusingly accurate description of Sobek. "And this time I didn't do anything even remotely wrong t'get the attention. So what we need to know from you, is why ol' lizard face has decided to help the opposition, who his allies are, and if possible, whether there's anyone else, even if from a different pantheon t'his and yours, that's standing against him. 'Cause if so I should probably go make nice with them."

Aiden used the hem of his shirt to wipe the mouth of his bottle clean while Mesteno laid out what they wanted. He was grinning all over again by the time he’d finished, still keeping an eye on the Elf, but focusing the bulk of his attention on Mesteno.

"Is that all?" He asked glibly, not bothering to inform them just yet he'd already done the work. What fun was that?! "Sure you don't want me to write some letters of introduction? Maybe set up a dinner date with the opposing forces? I'd suggest wearing your swim trunks, *** like to roll in the water way too damn much." His blue eyes sparkled with amusement. "And what do I get out of this, again? Ya know, as a reward for Swimming with the Crocodiles."

Finally, Lexius spoke up. "This particular group has a long association with your own." He pointed out calmly. "It would be in your best interest." The beads had gone quiet and the Elf kept his voice low, meeting Aiden's quick glance head on.

"Does he ever smile?" Aiden suddenly asked Mesteno.

"How 'bout we stay on topic?" the necromancer suggested. He wasn't about to confess that yes, he did, and that really they were rather eye catching.

"That's a yes!" Aiden quipped gleefully when Mesteno avoided the question so bluntly.

Skimming a look over the park to make sure there was no one lingering close enough to hear (even the dog had the capacity to be a spy for the wrong people, if the damn thing was bugged) Mesteno came a step nearer to the bench in order to keep his voice dipped lower.

Aiden was pretty sure the Elf wouldn't put his cruelly beautiful necromancer at risk. He'd cottoned on to that so subtle sense of possession the Elf had for him early on and he didn't mind tweaking it some. Which was why he stepped closer, in turn, to Mesteno and leaned down toward him just a bit.

"He's right,” Mesteno told him. “it'd be in your best interest, and you do kind of owe us for haulin' you out of there anyway. Besides, consider the potential allies you might persuade to your side in this little uprising." He wasn't going to offer anything personally for the assistance. That just had the potential to derail the conversation again. "Now how about you tell us what news you already managed to dig up. The note did say you had some, and the other night you mentioned there was *** happenin' with your people we might need to know about. Fill us in."

"Don't you worry, Whippet. I know who saved my ass and why." Aiden’s expression remained cheerful, his voice sounded happy, but there was a certain darkness lingering behind the shimmering glint in his blue eyes.

There was nothing of a threat in there, just sure knowledge he meant absolutely nothing to the pair of them beyond what he could give in the way of information and assistance. Such was the way of his world. Aiden bounced on his toes as he straightened away, the drained beer bottle tossed into a nearby trash can where it clattered pleasantly. He couldn't stand still for long, so he began to pace a lazy circle around them as he spoke.

The truth was, Mesteno didn't dislike Aiden. In fact he found the man's sense of humour rather infectious at times, and would probably have urged him on had they been in a public place, and his teasing aimed elsewhere. He could see why Michael had liked him, though he'd chosen not to mention how once upon a time a Bookworm had spoken of him so fondly. If the guy couldn't recall Koyan clearly, he wasn't going to remember a quiet creature like his old lover.

It was just a pity Aiden was so tightly linked to the Powers - truly trusting him, ever, would be difficult. So for now the poor guy was a useful acquaintance, nothing more.

"So anyway,” the Greek was saying, “I already threw a little party for some of the snouty worker-bee types. Here's the deal. Mr Snout," That would be Sobek, of course! "is eyeing this place, and there might be some grand plan for world domination at play somewhere amongst him and his family, but he ain’t actually here yet himself. There's chatter about some Honey of his who is here, though, that he's been torturing gleefully for some time now. Guess they're on the outs." Aiden shrugged, not particularly sympathetic with said 'Honey'. That was what happened dallying with gods!

"Also," he went on, keeping his intent gaze steady on them both as he paced about in short, quick strides, "Mr Snout has been doing what Mr Snout does, which is ***' anything he can hold down and get pregnant, but everything is coming out too snouty for his liking. That's pissing him off and amusing his Bees. It's also making for a large population of the snouty and scaly that ain’t lounging around upstairs."

The offspring were being sent elsewhere.

Mesteno, perched on the back of the bench by then, watched demi-god and Elf from his new vantage point. Lexius had moved to stand beside him, observing the restless half-blood while his beads muttered to themselves.

"The 'Honey'... Well it can't be Terrell if she's dead and locked up in a glass coffin somewhere, so who's this new chick?" Mesteno remarked, though it was more for Lexius than Aiden. "That might be the things they were riding around on down in the sewers. We killed a bunch, so that's not gonna win us any points with him, either."

"I didn't catch the Honey's name." Aiden admitted, assuming Mesteno was talking to him. "Only that she was his main squeeze and he'd been keeping her in some kind of unhappy situation, which tickles the *** out of him ‘cause he's a sadistic bastard."

He offered a winning grin to Mesteno. Not that Aiden knew the man's nickname or penchant. He only knew the Sadist like to torture him (and himself!) for no god damned good reason. They so could have gotten busy the other night!

Mesteno caught the smile, unaware of the mental processes behind it, but amused enough by his persistence to let slip a breath of a laugh, there and gone in the space of a single sound.

"Last thing," Aiden revealed, "is some talk about raising an army. The not living kind of army, ya know?" It was no coincidence that he eyed Mesteno. "But the Bees aren't convinced anything is going to really get done out of any of this. It's just how he's passing the time."

The idea that a fertility God might want to raise an undead army seemed so disconnected that Mesteno outright scowled, arms unwinding to gesticulate dismissively.

"Well if that's what the Scion wants me for he's *** outta luck. But this has been useful, Aiden. Gratias." Thanks where they were due. The fact he'd gone and arranged the party for the worker bees without needing prompting made him think better of the guy already. "Anubis hasn't been involved that you're aware of?" he thought to ask. The Ammit's presence likely a stolen one, but it was better to know if Sobek had the God on side.

"It also ain’t clear if he's the one wanting to raise this army or if it’s just happening in his name." Aiden explained. “Bees tend to get distracted by other *** that ain’t their kind of flower, ya know? But given the potential nature of said army, yeah, seems like whoever it is might be recruiting. As for any other kind of Family involvement, like I said, there's whispers of some grand plan...but I gotta be honest, there's always whispers of some grand plan when it comes to them types." So the Ammit probably had been stolen and Anubis didn't much care.

"As for other things," Greek things! "I'd just keep laying low if I were you. My folks still aren't strong enough to go off the reservation themselves, but they got enough juice to power some avatars. You might have already heard about that." Because Lexius had inclined his head a bit in response to that later revelation.

"I've heard some reports." The Elf admitted mildly. To which the demi-god laughed.

"Yeah, I'm guessing you're gonna hear more. And some of them might start looking for anyone tainted by all this." Hinting tactlessly, to Mesteno.
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 7:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[Continued…]

There wasn't much the necromancer could do but offer a resigned sigh.

"Thanks for the heads up," he murmured, expression gone grim. He decided not to linger on the topic. "It won't matter in the end whether the crocodile is behind the army, or this worshipper is the one doin' it,” he stated. “I'm only a secondary target. Our friend was the one they were sucking dry," bad phrase to use around Aiden but it was out there now, "and I'm beginning to suspect that's because of the fertility side of things. For an elf she's been pretty... productive beyond normal capacity."

Which was not to say that Gem had been acting in a manner he couldn't respect, just that for a species with such a long life span she hadn't really taken much of a breather between popping them out! "Maybe they were trying to channel the energy into this Terrell bitch in the hopes that ol' scaly could impregnate her and have some non-snouty offspring?"

He glanced at Lexius with that query, because he suspected he'd tell him flat out if it sounded a fool's notion.

Lexius was pondering it, but he chose not comment on Gem or anything else. Aiden hadn't known about that part, and was suddenly looked interested.

"Another pointy ear, huh?" Yes. If she was that fertile, he could see Mr Snout having some interest. He might have asked more about that, too, but something on the ground tripped him mid-pace.

Aiden quick stepped a couple of feet to catch his balance and snapped his mouth shut, holding up his hands before he tried again. "Ok, ok. None of my business. But there is one more thing." He stopped pacing to rock back and forth in place. "At some point, my cousins are going to want to see you two again. You," he pointed at Lexius, "because you're all..." he waved his hand all around as if to encompass the entirety of everything! "...holy or whatever. And you," this time he pointed at Mesteno! "’cause Uncle Asshole has a hard-on for you. And because you’re still tainted." And apparently, they could still use that somehow! "Never mind they feel you both owe them for extending their protection. Just a fair warning."

"We don't owe them ***,” Mesteno retorted immediately. “They recruited us against our will, we risked our necks to pull you 'n your boss out, and we were the only chance they had to do it. By all rights they should be kissin' his feet," he angled his head in Lexius' direction, "an' beggin' my forgiveness for havin' been dicks when they first caught us in the Temple District. Oh and if 'Uncle Asshole' thinks I'm gonna get down on my ***' knees for him again, he can sit on this 'n swivel."

He raised his middle finger for illustrative purposes.

Aiden rocked on his feet again, heel and back, but Mesteno’s tirade only cranked up his grin another notch of two.

"You do know who you're talking about, right? They got... a unique world view." He added, laughing the words out along with a shrug. "But you keep that spine, Whippet. Don't ever let em see ya sweat." He dropped a wink and a two fingers salute from his brow to the both of them, then turned on his heel to saunter across the park, whistling the Tin Man song from the Wizard of Oz.

Mesteno was quietly determined that there never be a next time in which he might have to avoid breaking a sweat around the Powers. He'd been pretty damned insubordinate the last time, and that'd nearly seen him sans soul before Hermes intervened. "Gratias tibi, for the help," he called after Aiden's back as the demi-god took his leave.

Lexius, offered no thanks of own, but did let Aiden leave unmolested. He preferred to keep himself quite tight lipped in his presence, watching more than he interacted. It might be he was still trying to see whatever it was Koyan found so appealing about him. He shifted his attention to Mesteno.

"Do you wish to walk or teleport?" He inquired. "I've more news."

Pushing a palm against the back of the bench, Mesteno straightened up with a sigh, and cast a look over the little park as he considered the Elf's question. Finally...

"Don't often get out 'round this part of the city. Might as well take in the sights and see what the latest fads are."

His palm found the Elf's spine for a gentle, guiding push toward a meandering path that ought to take them out of the park and into the side of the sector they hadn't come via, but he didn't maintain the contact longer than necessary. Both hands went into the front pocket of that grey, sleeveless top he wore so well.

Lexius didn’t protest the touch or its absence, but did slant a brief look aside to the Sadist that could have meant anything at all.

Rather than speak out loud and risk technological detection, he wound his thoughts into Mesteno’s mind and murmured there, his mental voice smooth and quiet.

The woman from the sewers recovered enough strength to allow me to probe her mind without the risk of killing her. She, like all the other women there and the maid we discovered in Gem's home, were his devotees. They were all trained in necromancy in the most rudimentary fashion. It was they, I believe, who marked the grounds, one after another, taking Gem's energy until they were full.

It was evidence Mesteno had become wholly accustomed to that kind of communication, the utter lack of outward reaction. To an outsider it must have looked as if the pair were simply enjoying the peace and quiet of a stroll, with nothing worthwhile to speak of.

Dangerous business, letting them play with things they've so little training for. But it means the Scion must be more powerful, more skilled. It's been some time since I've been opposed by another necromancer. He didn't sound as if he was looking forward to the challenge, either. Too often it reminded him of what he might become with the wrong motivations, with fewer scruples to keep him walking that knife edge instead of stumbling off it into reprehensible deeds.

He said nothing more for a moment, already beginning to ponder the necessary preparations he'd have to make before they left for the city they'd managed to locate, defensive as well as offensive. When he did speak again, it was only to encourage Lexius to continue as they approached the edge of the park. What else?

The beads were still mumbling to each other, but they took the time to slap Mesteno's leg for no apparent reason at all as Lexius responded to the man's comment without even a moment to consider. I shall enjoy watching you defeat him. As if it was a given! He'd never seen two necromancers battle it out, either. Typically, he only ran across the breed singly and in contention with other sorts rather than their own kind.

Lexius slowed a fraction to allow some cyborg looking humanoid dressed in strange uniform to pass along the walkway before he stepped out onto it from the park. Hands clasped behind his back, he allowed the Sadist to pick their direction as he continued.

Jetrell would come to the city, to the sewers, to drain them of their energy, hence the lack of any direct of connection between that place and Deathhame. I do not know how often this happened, but I am sure he knows by now the place had been destroyed.

The Elf looked around as he detailed his fingers, curious but not overly surprised with the stranger sights to be seen in this sector of the city. He wasn't unfamiliar with technology in the slightest, he simply chose not to avail it himself.

She also overheard something about a virus they had been testing on some of the live subjects we destroyed. I had not tested any of the samples I took for such a thing before, but I am doing so now.

Once out of the park, Mesteno aimed them down what looked to be the main street of the district, towards a skyscraper whose facade was being used as a constant broadcast in beautifully high definition, commercials for products incoming from distant star systems, occasionally interrupted by mugshots of known smugglers and terrorists thought to be mooching around just outside of orbit, waiting for a chance to slip through whatever security existed.

Mesteno didn't know how it all worked, nor was he sure he wanted to, but some of the sights were nevertheless distracting. A being who looked only semi-corporeal, humanoid in shape and clad in what, upon closer inspection looked to be a colony of tiny, moving insects like ants, breezed past them leaving the sharp smell of ozone in its wake. The necromancer decided to stay tucked as close to one side of the walkway as he could, because he'd be damned if some alien's bug-clothes were touching him.

That's a lot of women he abducted and drained, he remarked as they roamed. Someone must have been looking for them. You'd think the Watch would have a missing person's list and have noticed some pattern in the looks of the women if that were the case. He hadn't seen anything in the local papers though! The crocodile riders we killed? he asked when Lexius mentioned live subjects. They were unusual. But if you mean the bodies that were still alive but soul-less, all I can think is that the souls are in containment somewhere. How a virus could achieve that, I don't know.

The latter, yes. The not dead things, soul-less but alive. Lexius hadn't had much chance at all to examine those creatures before they'd all been destroyed, so he was somewhat eager to find some more of them to, perhaps, capture and contain for further study! I'd like to collect some of those, if we can.

He passed a look over his shoulder once they'd passed by the bug clothed creature, eyes narrowed and a thread of thought sent off in pursuit of the being. Just for a little while. The place was distracting!

If we can find a matching soul and body, I'd like to take a set, Mesteno told Lexius bluntly. There was an incident a couple of years ago where someone was struck a mortal wound and I needed them alive. I acted in haste to keep them from dying, binding the soul to the flesh even though there had been a severing and the result was not... pleasant for anyone involved. I'm eager to see how someone else has accomplished a true parting of body and soul without the flesh dying.

He'd kept the details vague, but there was a thick sense of failure that came with them, and the mental threads might detect that it had been something to do with the Alfar. Faint image of an auburn haired woman with the same, grey eyes as Ivanya, before he banished the thoughts from his head.

Why did you dress like this today? Lexius’ gaze swung back to Mesteno right on the heels of the question, monitoring him in every way as he answered. He didn't even seem to care when a dozen little silver, flying discs went whizzing by overhead.

Because I haven't done any laundry for two weeks and all my good stuff is filthy. It was a lie. There was a flash of deviance in the necromancer’s too bright eyes for it, too.

The Elf snorted immediately. He didn't have to be connected to Mesteno's mind to detect that deception! He did look forward again, but it was only to mask the faint twitch of his lips toward a smile.

We'll take as many as you wish. He stated of the dead things. It would require a special place to house them, but Lexius was already making plans. He made you uncomfortable. Lexius point out bluntly next. Yes, he was going to bring Aiden back up.

Mesteno slipped a look at the Elf as if he intended to try and gauge the reason for his asking, but he answered inevitably.

He hit me with some lust bull *** at a club the other night, he admitted as they walked, a sudden bass vibration throbbing through the sector as an enormous cargo ship descended, almost as large as the skyscraper it was passing. It did strange things to the inner ear, and the necromancer rubbed at one of his absently. Took some time to wear off, and I didn't have much choice but to attend to it in the obvious way when I got out. He'd been eager to give me a hand. In the literal sense of the word!

Lexius turned a look back to the man, studying his face in silence before his gaze canted up to track the heavy passage of the freighter overhead.

You did not accept. That wasn't precisely a question. He had one of those! Why not?

Hadn't Mesteno been the one to tell him to go out and try some no-string sex? Aiden seemed a perfect candidate for that, interested and eager. It still wasn't precisely clear if the Elf had witnessed any of it, though.

I didn't, Mesteno agreed with matching simplicity. It was the second question which took him far longer to find an answer for, and not, the mental link would attest, because he was hurriedly thinking up some deception.

He stopped at a crossing while the freighter passed low enough to make the nearby safety glass with the dazzling, optical displays vibrate worryingly, then made his way across to the opposite path, unhurried, content with their aimless roaming.

Sex is complicated, he began, as if uncertain of his own words. For some people it never has to be, but I've made too many errors not to be cautious of what I do, or who I do it to. It's more than a matter of finding someone attractive. It's knowing they'll settle for what I can give them. That they're not going to be having second thoughts half way through. That I'm not going to be regretting it afterwards. Aiden is handsome, and uninhibited, but I barely know him. His father is... he didn't say it, because he was still quietly marvelling over that revelation. He even shook his head minutely, a smile curling wry at his mouth.

How about you? Have you found an outlet yet? It was only fair he counter that question with one of his own.

The vibrations of the freighter’s passage pulled a minor frown to Lexius’ lips and had the beads wiggling crazily for a moment, as if they gleefully riding the unseen waves of force. He kept easy pace beside Mesteno and contemplated his words as much as he did the displays or technological wonder on and behind the glass fronted buildings they passed.

Somewhat. He answered Mesteno's question succinctly and without any detail. He was only being dismissive because he was far more interested in Mesteno’s answers! The actual sex is not the complicated part, yes? That was a question, in case there was more to it than Mesteno's reluctance to remove his clothing in front of others. He followed it up with a supposition. It is what accompanies it... what must accompany it, for you, which makes the matter more difficult.
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 7:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[Continued...]

'Somewhat' wasn't much of an answer. In fact it was so lacking in being one that Mesteno was frowning.

He should have expected Lexius to be succinct on the issue, and yet he'd hoped for a little more... detail. He had to wonder who of course, had been allowed to touch in ways that he hadn't. Who'd come closer without being pulled away from. It was wrong to harbour resentment for that unknown figure, even if it wasn't so much for the carnal acts they might have been engaged in so much as it was for a closeness he himself wasn't familiar with. He knew without asking that the individual wasn't going to be some dockside whore - a friend then, who'd become more than a friend?

He was chewing that over, as well as his own feelings on the matter, but he did offer a reply, no matter how unfairly taciturn on the subject Lexius had chosen to be.

That is fairly accurate, he replied. But I'm also accustomed to *** someone as unpleasantly filthy about things as I am. Now I find myself wondering if everyone who comes after him is destined to be disappointing. That was probably a too much information, but Lexius had asked.

Now they wore matching frowns. It was no wonder those that did notice them (and they were noticed more often in this part of the city than in others) gave them a wide berth despite no obvious weapons. Even the beads had gone silent and deceptively still.

Lexius allowed the silence to linger between them in the wake of Mesteno's admission for another two blocks, until they were nearing the edge of the sector where things began to transition from completely technological to something less so. It started small. A single tree, its colourful leaves scattered across the grey walkway, where the grains of wood across its trunk resembled the flowing locks of the dryad that struggled to protect it. The Elf was no mage, but even he could sense the spidery capillaries of a nearby ley line as they leaked tiny beads of magic into the area.

You will find another that will match you. Lexius finally offered.

His mental tone remained neutral on the matter, but the frown lingered on his lips, as if the idea might disturb him. He chose to change the subject, even if the bulk of his thoughts didn't turn from the matter at all.

He was thinking it to death.

Have you tried to contact Gem? He suspected she, like Mesteno, probably needed to be watched lest she go try to solve the Jetrell situation on their own.

With their mental tie anchored as it was, there was no hiding the fact that Mesteno was cursing Aiden for making mention of something Lexius could question. No hiding anything, really, particularly that nagging curiosity he felt over this un-named lover the Elf had been so quiet about.

None of your business, he told himself more than once, and made a note not to look at Lexius in any way a friend would not. A friend wouldn't complicate things for another by acting on impulse. No, no, he was happy for him. He'd gone out and done precisely what he'd suggested he do, and besides - Lexius was no masochist. He'd had his time spent accepting sexual situations he disliked, a victim of sorts.

Bad business all over. Mesteno didn’t want a victim.

His thoughts were an overlapping background whisper, hard to make out, never fully formed, sometimes more feelings than words. It came to a stop on a sigh that seemed more resigned than edged in malaise, and on the tail end of Lexius' reassurance.

Yeah yeah, plenty more fish in the sea. I heard that one before, he remarked wryly. Of course he wouldn't take those words seriously from someone who'd been hung up on a break up more than a decade old!

This time, the mental connection wasn't helping the Elf, either. He nearly severed it, in fact.

What he was getting from Mesteno was beyond distracting, beyond tempting. He had the urge to track down each and every faint, fleeting, fluttering unintelligible thought and emotion and pin it to a wall like a bug so he could better identify and examine it. Curiosity he'd expected, especially since he'd avoided the Sadist's question, but the rest of it...what the hell was it? He resisted delving deeper into the Sadist's mind and nearly released a sigh himself, echoing the man, when Mesteno seemed to get it all under wraps again. Strangely, it didn't make things easier in the slightest.

I haven't, Mesteno admitted at last on the matter of Gem. But I trust that Ben would've come and found me if she'd got herself into trouble. She has her baby to care for. She couldn't go anywhere without making arrangements. Have you spoken to her or Pharlen?

The Elf hummed a thoughtful note of acknowledgement. I have not. She may have had trouble reassembling what she destroyed.

Hopefully if she can bring her back, it'll be without memory of being popped like a balloon. Mesteno remarked.

Lexius knew he should be amused over Pharlen’s little accident. He'd known her so long and they had that kind of relationship. He should be gloating (a little!) over having successfully relocated her car. Instead, he was stopping in the middle of the walkway to look at Mesteno directly and actually speak out loud.

"He is a...friend." He'd told Mesteno all his other dirty little secrets. Why not this one? And the man wanted to know. "Young, inexperienced, willing to deal with my particular...difficulties. Trustworthy." Right there was where he should stop. And he did stop, but he didn't step back into motion just yet. He was studying Mesteno's face rather intently. Their link, too.

Mesteno had gone a few strides further before he realised that Lexius was no longer beside him. He turned to look over his shoulder, slowed, and then stopped himself five strides out. He'd been about to ask what was wrong, what had he seen-- instead it was all for that confession.

There was a faint shake of his head, which could as easily have been for the few strands of hair come loose to flutter in his face on an errant breeze as it was for the direction his mind too. No, more like he was trying to shake something loose upstairs, make it gone. His head was a minefield, and he was doing his damnedest to stick to a true course. One that led him to the words...

"Trustworthy is important. Real important. I'm glad you found someone understanding." And it was all true, nothing fabricated. But there lay beside that gladness for him things he refused to acknowledge, things with a bitter taste to them that were unbecoming of an ally in heartbreak.

Those were what he shook his head to be rid of, because he did in truth mean to be a good friend.

He took a few steps backward, hands still tucked safely in that front pocket, as if he thought the movement might draw the Elf back into motion with him, so that they could speak without any intent watching. Not, it seemed, that he had fathomed any way to redirect the conversation to safer shores.

Lexius had chosen to say it aloud simply because, to him, that was less intimate. It put a step of distance between them wider than the five physical ones that separated them on the street. It gave him a zone of safety. Yet, at the same time, he had stopped to dedicate his full, undivided attention to Mesteno when he'd shared, which allowed him no distance at all.

He couldn't miss the response, even if he couldn't fully grasp it.

Mesteno said all the right things, felt all the correct ways (as correct and right as he could fathom, at least!) but there was more. Had he not been so attuned to every nuance coming from the man, Lexius could have ignored it. It would have been better for him to ignore it. Then he wouldn't be inspired to say the wrong thing.

Blue-violet eyes gleamed too brightly. When Mesteno back stepped once, he followed. He damn near stalked. The beads still remained absolutely silent despite how they swayed.

"When it began," he continued, "it was only an experiment on my part. To see if I could." And that prompted by a conversation he and the Mesteno had once shared. "And I find that I can, with enough applied Will, overcome the... instinctive reactions. That I can enjoy it." Well into the too much information zone now! He caught himself before he could say more.

No sooner had Lexius stepped toward him than Mesteno turned his back, moving at a leisurely enough pace that the Elf wouldn't have any trouble making up the distance within the space of a few seconds. Those gleaming, hybrid eyes were not comfortable to meet when they were examining him so intently. He almost wanted to use his own words, tell him to stop looking, but that would be like admitting he was discontent.

He wasn't about to do that.

"Sounds like it’s been worthwhile. Can't imagine goin' that long, personally, without gettin' some."

More truth. Mesteno was accustomed to a certain frequency. The brakes had been applied so hard to it that, if he hadn't been so busy brooding, he'd probably have gone a little loco. "You got some making up for lost time to do," he added, with a knowing look and a smile that would've seemed a little wicked if it'd ever reached past the strange distance in his eyes.

Compartmentalisation. He'd chosen to fix on those 'I'm happy for you feelings'. It let him jest, even be a little rude. Even consider that perhaps he ought to take his own advice and go hire a hooker who catered to screw-ups like himself. It would certainly be less complicated that finding someone to trust.

Mesteno so intently fixated himself mentally that it was Lexius who shook his head, as if to clear the dissonant thrum of one particular thought being stretched across the top of everything else. That frequency was not a pleasant one to the eavesdropping Elf. Mesteno was masking, convincing himself - oh, he heard that last idea loud and clear!

It had the Elf tightening his jaw and reaching for his belt. The beads gave a minor rattle, but he ignored them and freed up that little pouch he carried to pluck a root from within it and give his teeth something to grind. He let the silence rule for several more blocks rather the opening his mouth again lest something unpredicted, unplanned, pass his lips. But he did finally make a comment as the streets turned more familiar and the effect of the root bled a little tension out of his muscles.

"It is something of a process." He finally murmured. "One that is becoming more complicated." He left it at that. He was determined to leave it at that.

Mesteno laughed. One of those gently muted things he kept for public when he didn't intend to draw attention. "Oh it always gets more complicated. Y'don't often get sex where feelings don't become involved. Way you make him sound - young, inexperienced - he'll fall hard. Be kind to 'im."

He was of course assuming that was what Lexius meant by complicated, though it did strike him after the fact that Lexius might have been referring to his own feelings. Lexius falling for his experiment? Yes, yes, that was a good thing.

Which way were the docks? He could probably get there in a half hour on foot, but there were cabs...

Lexius closed his eyes, just a little, all thought pausing, for the sound of Mesteno's laugh no matter how muted. Somewhere inside him, that tiny little flame did a dance to the sound, swaying to the beat of the Sadist's amusement. It left him behind, mentally speaking, when paired with the urge he'd suddenly recognized.

"If we are to be troubled by his family, we should perhaps set up some precautions." Lexius turned his own mental focus to that, but didn't quite give up the mental link he still had woven into Mesteno's mind. It hit him in that moment he wanted to make the tie permanent, which completely derailed everything else he was thinking.

Having taken to eyeing the streets as they walked - perhaps a little slower thanks to the distraction of his thoughts - Mesteno was taken completely by surprise by Lexius next statement. "Why would the guy's family be troublin' us? I haven't done anyth--oh. You mean Aiden's!"

The Elf some few seconds to process what he’d said, to fit into perspective the sudden and vivid image he’d had of the docks filtering across from the tie.

"Mesteno." What about Aiden? Oh, yes. That wasn't important. Lexius reached out (too much root, too fast!) to slide his hand over his shoulder. No docks! "We are going to teleport." And just like that, the very second his hand touched down, they did.

The streets of RhyDin disappeared, replaced a second later by Mesteno's porch. He put them right there, near those pitiful lawn chairs, beneath the protection of the roof. His other hand was already in motion, coming up to splay across the Sadist's chest to stabilize him through the abrupt transition.

The hand kept him from tilting over forwards and smacking his face on the railing, but Mesteno didn't lean into the pressure there, immediately attempting to rebalance in order to stand steady on his own two feet. Over correction staggered him backwards a half-step, where there was a handy wall to prop his weight against. He stayed there a moment, scowling fiercely as the world righted itself.

"You gotta start givin' me some warnin' - hng..."

That sound might have been a grunt of protest about the teleportation, or it might have been because his plans had been cancelled for him.

Whatever the case, he rubbed both palms vigorously over his face and got his damn act together. He was an adult. He could stand up straight. "All right. Precautions? For Aiden's family."

Somehow, through all that, Lexius had let go of Mesteno's shoulder but he hadn't moved his hand from where it splayed across his chest, he just stepped with the man. He was staring at his fingers as if they didn't belong to him. Or maybe it was that shirt he still hadn't decided if he liked or not. His gaze tracked up from hand to face and he decided he very much liked the way that wealth of colorful hair flared around the Sadist's lean face like a hood. Like a cobra's hood. So fitting.

The mental tie betrayed a quiet mental murmur from Mesteno’s end: Not fair...

Not fair that he should allow touch, but be so restricted in turn. Not fair to inflict it on him at that moment.

The necromancer had only minutes ago finished convincing himself not to touch Lexius again in any way that could be misconstrued, but he hadn't counted on how difficult that might become if the Elf touched him first. His chin sank towards the hidden lines of his collar bones so that he could slant a look down at the sprawl of fingers against his chest.

He was damn well going to have to say something, set ground rules even if it meant having to admit to a little jealousy.
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2017 7:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

[Continued. Warning for mild NSFW parts.]

"You told me," Lexius suddenly said, his previous determination now so much dust, "inhibitions were a turn off."

He pressed his hand more firmly against Mesteno's chest, the muscles in his arm and shoulders rippling with that automatic tension he expected in himself, then conquered. Instead, he curled the tips of his fingers against the closed teeth of the zipper angled across Mesteno’s hoody, feeling the metal.

"I know your predilections." He insisted, perhaps reminding himself. "Yet I would end anything else if..." if what? He wouldn't ask or expect Mesteno to change, not so fundamentally, never mind all the strain he was dealing with when it came to Evander. He could not see the other side of the ‘if’, so he left it there and shook his head, a vague smile twisting harsh across his lips as he pulled back. "I like the belt." His traitorous mouth added as his gaze traced down the man's body.

Lexius decided this was all Mesteno's fault, really. He'd laughed. He remembered it full and rich and uninhibited, shared between them not so very long ago. He'd made a mistake then. He'd withdrawn. He was trying not to repeat that without swinging too hard in the other direction.

Mesteno knew he needed to tell him to shut up.

Lexius' apparent change of heart however, his words, were playing siren song to his every filthy urge. His focus lifted to that traitorous mouth, the mental tie rife with lewd intention. The necromancer left it until the last minute to reach out, and only then because Lexius was backing up, opportunity escaping.

He wasn't quite ready to let it happen.

The Elf hadn’t escaped far enough to avoid the hand closing against his nape, the very fingertips hooking there, palm against the side of his throat, thumb angled up against the hinge of his jaw where that muscle was so prone to tightening.

Lexius knew he should pull away, but he didn’t.

He could not ask Mesteno to change, he couldn't see how he could do so himself. It was a chasm of difference yawning between them despite the tenuous bridge of the other things that tied them together. But those others things were ever, ever so compelling. Strength of will, danger, intelligence, the curve of a smile and the splay of bright, heavy hair. And the laugh. His jaw tightened, and he wrapped his hand around Mesteno’s wrist.

"Tell me something," the necromancer demanded of him, the quiet of his voice a dangerous low. "If Koyan came and asked for you back, clean slate, told you he still loved you, wanted you..." He didn't need to make it a question. Lexius was smart. He knew what Mesteno was trying to determine.

The Elf met the man's eyes and spoke without a moment's hesitation, his answer.

"No." It was firm, immediate and absolutely certain. "No." He said it again, with a little more viciousness. "No." For a third time, because there was power in the number three, even here on the Prime. The way that spark flared inside him somewhere just confirmed it. Maybe the way the beads suddenly chortled did to.

The ‘no’ wasn't a new decision for the Elf. He'd made it even before they had gone on their jaunt through the Planes, not long after Mesteno had laid out his choices on the matter. He'd known those choices for decades, had picked one of the three long ago. That hadn't worked out in his favour, after all.

Of the two options he had left, this was the only one that made sense logically, intelligently, even emotionally. The parts of emotionally that he thought he could trust, at least. So it was a no and remained so even in the wake of more encounters with the Desert Man. But that didn't make it any easier.

It wasn't the answer Mesteno had expected. He'd been steeling himself for defeat in the wake of old desires, a yearning that hadn't failed, even ten years later. The pessimistic portion of his mind remained dubious. His scruples chastised him for being the potential ruin of something already half-formed between the psion and this mystery man. In the end he was only human though, and as flawed as any other. His fingers had already begun to tighten over his nape before he'd concluded his choice, as if his body knew better than his indecisive mind.

His thumb went skimming along Lexius' jawline, taking liberties even as he pushed from the wall with a faint arch to his spine. There was very little distance between them then, little enough the toes of his boots were clumsily knocking into the Elf's, the air between them shared breath. He meant to have his mouth. That was all too obvious from the way his hand adjusted, that creeping thumb stretching to tease along the edge of his lower lip. But there was one more question.

"Your friend," more than that, whatever he was, "is he in love with you?"

The path fingers traced along the Elf’s skin stirred streaks of slow pleasure beneath the quiver of protest that flickered madly across a tendon. He kept a hold of the man's wrist, but he didn't deter the motions. His turn, though, to draw a breath and hold it, to go tight in more than just a flawed, involuntary reaction. He could easily read Mesteno's intent now, expression and emotion matched.

He wanted it and he didn't. It was *** maddening and had him splaying his free hand out back across the man's chest, as if to repel him and had his lips pulling back from his teeth in a vicious smile as if to draw him on.

"He knows it will end." Not an answer to the question, but an answer nonetheless. The point was moot. He'd been exceedingly clear before he started anything with the youth. "He will be fine." And then he shoved, hard at Mesteno's chest to slam him right back against the wall, the wood shuddering. Changing his mind? Not with the way he stepped in, followed, crowded. "Do not play."

Mesteno was not subdued by the sudden violence of Lexius' actions. Instead his free arm closed around him like a trap, rigid as an iron bar, while his fingers twisted up viciously into a handful of hair, snatching control unrepentantly. It didn't appear to matter it was his back against the wall, not when he was deliberately pulling the Elf in against the hard, uncomfortable lines of his body. Denying him the opportunity to speak.

He didn’t need to bend or bow to kiss him, angling in to smear his mouth open with lips that were cruel, no matter their fullness. Ruled by impulse and instinctively carnal, the initial, hungry clumsiness giving way to something raw, perverse, his hands no kinder as they pressed bruises into flesh, uninhibited and unapologetically brute-vicious.

Open up, the mental tie demanded, the voice of his mind a growl.

Everything in the Elf rebelled. The flaw demanded he shove Mesteno away, while his own nature required he rip back the stolen control. That flickering little flame he’d been harbouring swelled with the glee of a ravenous want finally being fed. The conflict let Mesteno have his way unchallenged, unchecked, and Lexius' mouth opening wider beneath the bruising pressure.

He couldn’t be sure which it was, the clutching hands or the thrust of the spearing tongue, but one of them finally seemed to wake the Elf up.

His hand slid from Mesteno's chest to curl around throat, high under the line of his jaw where it clamped down and pulled up to angle the man's head more to his own liking. The transient passivity over, he kissed him back, made a war of it. He fed Mesteno the sound of a groan even as he sought to devour every nuance of taste, the press of his body an insistent push as if he meant to crush him into the wall, wedging a knee between his thighs. He pushed with one hand, pulled with the other, and did, for a little while, forget how to breathe.

Mesteno wasn’t disappointed. The eager response was everything he'd hoped for, and he indulged himself shamelessly. He kissed not simply as one step on the route to something more explicit, but because he loved to, found it difficult to stop once he had a mouth under his own, found it even harder not to draw blood with his teeth in his eagerness to taste.

The small wound gave the Elf no pause. It wasn’t unexpected, and only underscored the danger in the man that he found so appealing. There had been others (Mesteno knew them all), but every one, on some basic level, somewhere deep within the shadowed and often unacknowledged parts of their souls, had feared him. But he couldn’t feel any just then in the man he kissed. Didn't get so much as a glimmer of the sense that Mesteno would shy for even an instant should he let go completely.

Fear was something for other men.

In fact, Mesteno’s spine was arching, pushing through the sharp lines of his shoulders, knocking knees to knees, just far enough to give him a moment of breathing space. With the grip he had at his nape, he wrenched him around so he could have things his own damn way, pinning Lexius against the wall where he'd been himself moments before.

The Elf grunted, caught off guard as Mesteno’s mouth moved damp and hot against his cheek, his jaw. There was no disguising the immediate, eager response crushed up hard into the cusp of Lexius' hip. Evidently the necromancer didn't require much effort to spark a response, riled as a damned teenager.

It was when he went after his mouth again that Lexius tightened his fingers around his throat, threatening (achieving for three precious seconds) to cut off his air completely. He kept them apart by inches, let loose the Sadist's hips to catch the man’s wandering hand. His blue-violet eyes were brightly fixed on his face.

Stop should have been what he said. No. Some sort of reasonable words. Because there was still the matter of his body's sluggishness. He could feel the hard evidence of Mesteno's arousal, but his own was nowhere near that ardently expressed. "Enough." Was what left his lips, rough and low in a voice even he barely recognized.

Under Lexius' fingers, Mesteno’s pulse was hard-pounding in his scar-littered throat. He bared his teeth, the faintest pink patina of the psion's blood staining incisors. His head was full of images far worse. Vivid. Blood streaking his jaw like barbaric war paint.

For a moment it looked as if he was going to debate the ‘enough’ physically until Lexius screamed bloody murder at him, his eyes wild-lit and intent. He’d always had trouble stopping, not least when he was as miserably roused as he was then. Allowed air again, his nostrils flared faintly on a hard exhale, and the fingers in the psion's hair bunched cruelly, threatening to uproot strands from the scalp before he acquiesced.

It had Lexius peeling his lips back from his teeth in some combination of grimace and snarl. Yet there was a part of him that revelled in that strength, which enjoyed the fact the Sadist didn't hesitate to use it against him. No, not exactly against him. Between them might be more accurate. Maybe then...maybe.

There was an undeniable sort of beauty to that kind of vicious, carnal lust. The Elf soaked in the sight of it with an appreciative, hungry (and assessing) gaze. Mesteno was as stunning to him in his visceral desire as he was when he put all that passion into violence.

But it was too much, too quick, too hard and fast and raw. That was something he could not yet give.

He should have been relieved when Mesteno relented. That emotions might be somewhere in him. Certainly it was, for this was not the touch he... Lexius snarled under his breath, snapping the thought off. He was careful not to twist the wrist he held or tighten his fingers on the Sadist's throat again, making himself loosen each touch even more, slowly. Carefully.

Nowhere near easily.

"I will disappoint you." He managed at length, doing nothing to step away or push Mesteno back further. Nothing physically anyway. The admission might be enough. "But I still wish to taste you again." Right then. No. Not right then. That would be bad. He rumbled out another harsh breath and straightened.

It was too much. The dissonance was more than he could stand.

Not the touch he wanted…

Mesteno had no time to protest. The Elf vanished without so much as an apology, and left him to seethe his frustration in solitude.

[End]
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PostPosted: Sun May 07, 2017 2:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[Heavily adapted from live play with Lexius, Pharlen and GM’d by Gemethyst!]

October 20th, 2015

It’d been Lan, Lexius’ mongrel-blooded, lab-born child who’d found Deathhame. A view from above made far quicker work of scouting unknown territory than a man on horseback might, and he’d finally struck gold above swampland whilst gliding upon draconic wings.

Lexius had shared the news with Pharlen and Mesteno, and between them they’d agreed not to mention a word of their findings to Gem, even if it was likely to invite her disappointment. It had been as simple a business of finding a rift that would transport them close enough to make the rest of the journey by foot, just in case preternatural security compromised teleportation.

Nothing had been discussed between Mesteno and Lexius of what had occurred the day prior. Pharlen met them at twilight none the wiser, and they’d begun their trek through the muck, sinking knee-deep until the Elf took pity and levitated them all above it. Half a mile through the foetid mire on their way to Jetrell’s home, with the rain adding to their collective misery, a brief and clumsily handled confrontation with a group of sentries remedied by one of Pharlen’s stasis bubbles, and they’d reached the edge of a lake across from the manse.

The building might once have been beautiful, but the ceaseless damp of the swamp and the invasive vegetation had given it a sinister aspect, no matter the elegance of the gothic architecture. Light filtered through grimy panes of glass and the masonry gleamed wetly in the waning light. The trio studied it from behind cover and within the Timelord’s stasis field, monitoring the road that ran alongside the curve of the lake, the one route by land. None of them were keen to attempt to cross through the water.

"Dibs on the house once we've cleared out the bad guys," Pharlen declared, “Where to?"

"You know it’s probably full of mutant crocodile eggs," Mesteno reminded Pharlen. From what Lexius had told him, the God had been rather busy impregnating things out there.

"High protein omelettes," she replied thoughtfully.

The Elf removed four crystals from his belt and set them floating around waist level, one at each point of the compass. He studied the structure that resolved from the mists, the lake before them, and twisted his Will in a new way. The hounds that coursed this time, searched for thoughts. "Across the lake is most direct."

Their attempt was cut short, the stasis bubble impeded, demanding an imminent return to the time streams by which all around them moved. To make matters worse, Lexius’ mental fingers found nothing, as if they were encased in cotton wool. Damp cotton wool. Another force directly countered his, something very much like his own skill.

"They've a psion." Lexius noted.

"And we've more company," Mesteno informed them both. He’d spotted movement across the far side of the lake. "Judgin' by how bulky it is, I'm havin' suspicions it may be some swamp-nasty rather'n just your average human, too."

Despite the constant din of the rain, movement became audible, loud enough to suggest an entire phalanx, at least, of beings between them and the lake, and the manse itself, though mostly well hidden by swamp, trees, vegetation, and darkness. Something was growling, barking commands.

"I am going to attempt to phase between planes once you disperse the bubble,” Lexius informed Pharlen, uncertain yet of whether there might be some warding to prevent against it now that he’d detected another psion. Out of sight, he’d be able to get that much closer.

"On three, then," Pharlen nodded, fishing the Calico out from under her coat. She looked it over critically before cocking it to ready and then... "Three, two - one."

Time. It returned in a flow like water pouring by, until that rushing sensation was merely the atmosphere around them.

Lexius established a connection with Mesteno's mind then twisted his Will upon himself alone as time flowed smoothly back into its normal rhythm around them, phasing his physical form into that sliver of space that straddled the Prime and the Ethereal.

I will look ahead, he told Mesteno, his voice echoing strangely, the words prolonged one second, rushed the next, distant than close. It was much the way he saw the world, in shadows of silver and grey, washed clean of colour, where reality was echoed.

All right, tell me what you see, came Mesteno’s mental reply to the Elf.

There was a moment of silence for Pharlen as Lexius reported the numbers, positions and armaments diligently to him. Finally: "Thirty-three to one chances for each of us," he reported to the Timelord cheerfully, his voice nothing more than a whisper. "Not fantastic odds. I might be able to get us past 'em so we can avoid a firefight, but there's always the risk these guys might flood in after us later on if we don't take them out now."

"Wait. Would a largish dragon help?" she inquired quietly, because those odds were a bit rich for her blood.

The necromancer’s mouth opened and closed. Nothing came out. He was staring at Pharlen as if he wondered where she meant to pull one of those from.

Lexius pulled Pharlen into mental connection, sharing the images of the reptilian army he’d been watching. A dragon would be distracting, he told them both.

Pharlen handed a stunned Mesteno her adorable little machine gun. Another magazine of bullets. Her coat. Her hat. A few grenades. Shoes kicked off. Pants off. And then the shirt. Underwear remained for a few moments -- until it was just scraps of lacy cloth and a good sized white dragon was shaking out wings and stretching out her neck. Pink eyed and frothy feathered around the neck. Pretty as can be. About the size of a Special School Bus.

I will provide a distraction. Lexius informed them. Pharlen's idea was such a good one, he set about crafting a dragon of his own, though his was in illusion. It approached the enemy from the back, complete with stomping footsteps that rattled the tress, splashed through water and a roar that made the air quiver.

Mesteno was restraining the 'what the ***' commentary, but not one to waste time unnecessarily, as soon as the enemy were busy trying to not get stomped on or eaten, he was aiming for the fastest route across the swamp, pulling the shadows along with him for some extra concealment.

A hail of arrows had begun to fly at the illusory dragon, to utterly no effect, though it didn’t stop the bowmen in the trees from attempting to make a pincushion of Pharlen as she approached, bellowing a roar, a huff of flame bursting from opened jaws. Head down and wings flattened back, she marching in steadily.

Lexius was already in the thick of the mess, albeit still straddling the planes, but he moved smartly along while keeping his construct in view and active, closer toward the manor.

The army was beginning to fall back under the onslaught of the draconic pair, though now without having done some damage of its own. The illusion Lexius had skinned over his construct began to fall apart, leaving peels of shiny ectoplasm shimmering beneath. The construct, though, was quite real, if not as scary looking as a dragon. It shook trees and crushed the crocodile humanoids even as it slowly fell apart under the assault.

Had he wished to, Mesteno might have called up any number of dead things from amongst the creatures that Lexius and Pharlen crushed, but in doing so he was likely to attract the attention of whatever was inside the manse. There was nothing undead, but there was plenty of death to make up for that, tainted with a particularly great evil, like a tarry pit of black poison crawling through his senses. Fleet footed and unmolested as he was, he made it to the flagstone paving in front of the mansion first, and took cover, crouching behind one of the pillars there with his back to the double doors.

Nothing rushed out to meet him.

Bite, shake, fling. Grab, bite, shake, fling. Pharlen was decimating the ranks, her flames taking out whole squads and finally shaking the courage from enough that they fled into the trees rather than face her. It gave time for Lexius to snap back fully into the Prime, abandoning the phasing well behind the lines of the battle, closer to the manor where he crouched behind some scraggly vegetation.

The construct dragon abruptly exploded into gloopy ectoplasm as it was swarmed by the remaining few enemies who hadn’t had the sense to flee. The crystal hovering beside his right hip cracked and disintegrated, falling to the ground in little slivers, while Pharlen finished off what was left of the opposition, tossing them about like ragdolls.

Lexius left them to Pharlen's tender mercies and turned his concentration on the dampening field as he straightened from his crouch. The first, and all too obvious thing he sensed was vast amusement that sent the beads at his waist quivering.

Unaware, Mesteno set Pharlen's gear down in readiness for her switching forms, and turned to slink towards the front door, keeping to the side of the glass panes so he could lean around and peer through.

Pharlen ranged closer, content with a job well done, and was just in time to see him step on the flagstone directly in front of the glass when he vanished, grasped by something unseen. She lunged a claw after him to no effect. Whatever door had opened there had just as rapidly closed behind him.

Lexius was a few steps behind the Pharlen-dragon, but he’d seen the vanishing plainly enough. Mesteno? He asked along the mental tie. Calmly!
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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 7:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[Continued...]

Mesteno was disoriented.

Snatched mid-step, he staggered as the shift from one place to the next stole away his balance, and he was forced to lock his knees to stay upright. Eyes wide-round like a pair of shiny new coins, he struggled, through juddering vision, to assess his whereabouts. Lexius’ telepathic link remained intact enough to carry his voice.

I'm fine. Of course he was. Basement maybe? Or... can you see any outbuildings?

Closer examination suggested it was a chapel of some sort, and a good sized one. Rigid stone underfoot, blessedly dry and lacking in draughts. Empty pews and an altar backed up the chapel theory, and yet there was a scent.

A chapel or something? He suggested to Lexius, and then, Oh...

There was a pool, some ten feet across and surrounded by natural rocks. Within resided a crocodile which, despite the predictable scaliness somehow managed to have a very feminine quality. It was watching him, jaws parted and a sibilant and dangerous little hiss disturbing the quiet.

It struck Mesteno that this might well be the mate that Aiden had been talking about, the one that Sobek had been idly tormenting for the simple pleasure of it. Naturally, that meant his gun was trained on her, safety off.

"Now, now. Mesteno." It was an unfamiliar male voice, and irritatingly it pronounced his name perfectly.

His gun began to rebel, a thing come alive, some mental force trying to wrest it from his grip.

The speaker moved into view, situating himself between Mesteno and the crocodile. Red hair flowing to his hips, rich robes with metal armor here and there to buff it up, and oddly leaf green eyes. His hands were behind his back, as he slowly paced towards the Sadist.

Mesteno tightened his grasp on the gun, entirely unwilling to relinquish it, and even beckoning forth a few threads of shadow to keep it bound against his palm. His intent to kill the she-croc had become of somewhat lesser importance.

"Jetrell, right?" He held his ground for the moment, narrow eyed but collected.

Above ground, Lexius and Pharlen were at the doors, listening via the mental link.

Pharlen tipped an ear, considering the step that had stolen Mesteno away. "That does seem to be the quick way down."

"Together then?" Lexius suggested. “If not, then you may destroy the door." For the first time in a long time, he could not tell where Mesteno was in relation to himself. That was not good. Keeping his hand on Pharlen’s dragon-snout, he strode onto it.

Nothing happened.

The double doors waited before them, with windowed panes and solid wood. Beyond the foyer was visible, with cobwebbed furnishings and a stairway that led upwards.

"I'm getting the feeling that it knows what we can do, for the most part." Pharlen murmured to Lexius. And it'd been years since Pharlen actually used the albino to dragon charm! "Into the Umbra and find Mesteno's shadow?" she suggested. "Or shall I knock?" She offered a toothy grin.

Lexius' jaw had tightened as the seconds ticked past. He was listening to something else as well as Pharlen.

Meanwhile, six feet of nothing Mesteno wanted to get close to was coming closer. Lips set in a perpetual sneer fully matched the disdain bleeding from those eyes. Skin of a dull parchment color showed slight signs of premature aging, though he couldn't be older than his mid-thirties. The man halted his forward progress as the gun battle equalized. The tug was kept up, but Mesteno was holding his own grip for now.

"Yes. Jetrell. I am so very pleased to meet you, finally. I have much to say to you."

Mesteno had no doubt Jetrell would be able to manipulate the path of a bullet should he manage to squeeze one off, so he didn’t even attempt it.

"I'm gonna translate that to 'I'm going to bitch about my mother with some dramatic flair for good measure'," he replied drolly. Because he never had been good at keeping his mouth shut.

Lexius let go of Pharlen’s snout and unwound the beads from around his belt before looping and laced them around the dragon's frilled neck. And then he Plane shifted into a shadow right there by the door.

Pharlen chose a less furtive route of joining them. She belted out a glass shattering roar and came ploughing through the doors on a rampage! Fire and brute strength took her so far, before another spell-trapped spot beyond the foyer snatched her away as surely as Mesteno had been, planting her not in the chapel, but in a long corridor, lined with alcoves on either side. Another set of doors awaited her at the end of the hall.

The trio were well and truly separated.

Reach into the shadow, Mesteno. Lexius advised down that mental tie quietly. With the words came the chill of the place the Sadist so often traversed. He was searching for him already, looking for the unique signature of him.

Before Jetrell could come any closer, Mesteno brought the shadows lashing up off the floor like a wall of dark ice, intent on sending him sailing into the pit with the she-croc, and a moment later calling that same, inky blackness back towards himself, reaching through at the Elf’s behest.

Jetrell raised his arm, a vast shield forming that swept between the necromancer and the pool, all the way across the chapel and the altar. Cursing as he felt the sting and chill of shadows, his eyes snapped with ire and irritation.

"No, you do not understand. I have an offer to make you. Will you not listen to it at least?"

I have you. Lexius murmured with the vaguest sense of relief. It was a fleeting thing. Already the chill had sunk deep into his bones. The Elf stepped on through the darkness toward the flicker of blacker flame that marked Mesteno's location. He moved back onto the prime, and right out of Mesteno's shadow, though he kept it closely cloaked about his body.

"You tried to kill Gem," Mesteno told Jetrell bluntly. "No offer you can make will interest me unless it involves your immediate execution."

The crocodile was hissing and snapping, flicking her tail and rolling over and over in rapid, maddened motions.

Jetrell settled himself on the throne beside the altar. "You cannot mean to throw away pure, raw power for such a...such a creature?" He leaned forward, as if he were trying to lead the Sadist to a clearer understanding, actually appearing earnest. "She is a mere nothing. She is a nobody with pretensions to grandeur she does not deserve! An accident of birth who happened to be born to wear the crown of her mother's blood! An accident which the very circumstances of her sordid beginnings denied her the opportunity to wear! She was born into slavery, into whoredom, and her continuing to breathe the same air as those of us who are better is an affront to all!"

And that was when he noticed the Elf lurking in Mesteno’s shadow.

"You! Begone!" He commanded, irritated. A wave of one hand sent a blast of psionic power hurtling towards him, a personality parasite to keep him occupied. A second, agitated motion and a gong sounded somewhere. Back-up was being summoned.

"You really picked the wrong necromancer to go making offers of power to,” Mesteno growled, “You should've done your research better, you stinking vulva grease. Not interested. You flap your lips once more about Gem and I'll peel the *** off your fa--"

Pharlen hadn’t been slowed down by the little teleportation trap. In fact despite her size, she’d ploughed on through the mansion like a wrecking ball, and burst through the doors beside the throne in a shower of debris while Mesteno stood there insulting their would-be killer.

The necromancer did his best to manhandle Lexius out of the path of flying wood and glass, even as the Elf, countering Jetrell’s telepathic attack, sent one of his own across the chapel that sent the throned bastard staggering as chaos erupted around him. The scent of the desert flooded the space, and a second gong sound rang deafeningly over the noise as Pharlen, charging over the pews, wrapped herself around the two men protectively.

And not a moment too soon. The back-up had arrived, filing in through the battered doorways while Jetrell, staggering back at the mind blast Lexius had sent his way, grit his teeth and hurled a Catapsi at the Elf, veins standing out at his temples.

The beings that thronged the room now (along with five nubile, dark haired, and lovely women, who stayed back, ringing Jetrell with their barely clad bodies) were grotesque.

They had once been men and women. Now there were caricatures of the bipedal form. They lived. A sense of vast, starving hunger emanated from them, great, corrupted evil, and no sense of thought or control. Their nude bodies had little hair on head or anywhere else, and thick, parchment-like skin pulled tightly over the swollen muscles that remained behind. Some of them had bony protrusions, spikes along the spine and over the shoulders, at the elbows, wrists, and knees and feet. Every joint protected by bony shards that had sharp, razor edges and out-thrust spines.

It was the women though, that Mesteno sensed were the real problem. They were piloting the deformed army, and despite their un-lich-like appearances, seemed to be doing so with alarming ease. They’d sent their minions rushing at the dragon, with not one bit of evidence to show they felt any hesitation or fear. Some ran on the walls, some on the ceiling, and some on the floor. They were almost insect like in their motions.

Mesteno didn't like what he was feeling from those women one bit, and he didn't waste time trying to figure out how they accomplishing that control, or what they'd done to the bodies to distort them. Instead, he opened fire with the Colt, not too picky about what parts of the women he hit. Trying to control the dead whilst full of holes was difficult, and if he could maim the women at the very least, perhaps it would cull the numbers of scrambling masses.
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PostPosted: Mon May 22, 2017 9:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[Continued...]

What followed was a mess.

The abominations continued to flood the chamber, scrambling over the debris caused by Pharlen’s arrival and the fallen bodies of their malformed brethren. For every two that she succeeded in crushing beneath snapping jaws, a half dozen pressed in, some scrambling for her eyes and others wildly attempting to sink claws and fangs into her underbelly, to devour her where she stood. The quarters were too close for her to spill fire over them without risking the Elf and the necromancer she continued to protect, tail lashing aside those who managed to scramble too close.

Not that they were cowering inactive behind the wall of draconic scale.

Mesteno’s shots at the women proved woefully ineffective while they remained behind the shield Jetrell had constructed, and he hadn’t even emptied a full clip when he holstered the guns and unsheathed his scimitar instead. Over Pharlen’s foreleg he leapt, carving a path through the reptiles and igniting the blood they spilled with a sickly, spreading rot that began to eat at them from the ground up. He’d intended to try and reach Jetrell and put an end to the shield, but even between his efforts and the occasional blast of flame Pharlen dared to clear his flank, it was slow progress.

Still protected by the draconic bulk, Lexius battled with Jetrell in an entirely disparate display of skills to the brute force meted out elsewhere. So immersed was he that he didn’t even seem to register the presence of his allies, nor the chaos rampant about him.

The crystals hovering about his waist were one by one dimming, shattering as he drew the stored energy from within them, and mental static buzzed through the room as psion warred with psion, mind-whips countered with energy leeching, the thrust of one mental giant clashing vigorously with another.

Somehow, despite the monumental effort required, Lexius managed to spill a single word into the minds of Pharlen and Mesteno.

Duck.

The Elf twisted around and thrust his palm against the ground, sending waves of concussive force whipping out in every direction.

The necromancer, who’d been hard pressed as he scrambled over decimated pews and not come through it entirely unscathed (dodging and avoiding as often as he’d been managing to deal damage thanks to sheer numbers) obeyed Lexius’ command without hesitation, sinking cat-like as the force fanned out and helping with the addition of a wave of shadow lurching up off the ground to knock down those who’d managed to keep their footing.

Pharlen, claws dug deep into the stonework was laughing despite her wounds, and Lexius’ attack afforded her time enough to induce a healing spell, a brief flare of greyed out light seeing to the worst of the damage she’d sustained even if not extending so far as to deal with the superficial cuts.

Jetrell, furious and far from idle himself, snatched up a staff from beside the throne he’d stumbled back into. He thrust its carved head at Lexius, a black aura spilling across the ruined chapel that clashed with the concussive force still at work, resulting in a spinning vortex of power, unexpected by all parties and dragging the two psions up into the air, a good twenty feet above the heads of the combatants.

Debris began to rain down from the ceiling, easy enough for Pharlen to shrug off given her (temporary) size, but Mesteno caught a blow from a piece of falling masonry on one shoulder – and was glad for it when the swing of an axe over his head from an armoured crocodile mutant missed his head by a hair’s breadth when the blow knocked him off balance.

To make things worse, the trapped crocodile in the pool had escaped her enclosure and come scrambling with alarming speed through the fray.

With Lexius no longer on the ground to be shielded, Pharlen spun in a broad circle, lashing over everything in range with her tail and sending another controlled gout of flame out to further cripple the surviving attackers. There were few left by then, but more importantly, it was evident that the wall protecting the female companions who’d been piloting the mutants was gone, the women themselves looking afraid.

Mesteno was delayed in reaching them by the crocodile who seemed to be intent on reaching him. Having dealt with the two axe-wielding giants closest to him, he’d attempted to leap out of the crocodile’s path only to be caught in the back of the knee by another piece of falling masonry. Her jaws snapped closed just short of reaching for his arm, and in no fit state to put distance between them, he dropped bodily onto her snout, using his weight to pin her jaws closed while she thrashed and tried to roll beneath him.

She’d dragged herself straight through the spilt blood, straight through the rot though, and like everything else foolish enough to sit foot in it, it began to eat through her scales, a maddening sensation as she sought to gain space enough to snap again – and failed. Mesteno’s scimitar found the sweet spot at the base of her skull, plunging through the spine.

The beast went limp beneath him, and breathing hard, he looked around, expectant of something further in need of dispatching.

Thanks to Pharlen, there was nothing. Only Lexius and Jetrell far above them, in a fight none could attempt to unbalance. The women had fled screaming through the demolished doorframe.

While Jetrell attempted to drain the life from his opponent, Lexius had simply let him, serving it up to him until there was enough within the sadistic bastard to trigger his will and set it to an attack within him. Instead of the healing energies he’d thought to find there, he was assaulted by the razor keen mental teeth of the Elf’s Will, ripping him apart from the inside no matter the personal cost.

Jetrell shrieked, agonised, but evidently wasn’t done for as a change was wrought mid-air.

It was not a mere mortal that Lexius faced, but a demi-god, born of a mortal mother and the Egyptian Sobek whose influence had been so obvious in the creatures they fought. His strength multiplied as he stretched to meet the potential, body warping into something decidedly more reptilian. His laughing was unhinged, blood spattering from his mouth and he worked to consume the energy so determinedly on the offensive.

Unable to act physically, Pharlen could at least intervene energetically thanks to her authority as a firetaker. She sent him what she could along the mental tie keeping the trio locked together, and Lexius didn’t turn it away.

His own energy (at least that still within his body) was little more than a sliver. The chain connecting him to the demi-god however had become inexplicably unbreakable through it rippled and undulated in a barely seen, serpentine twist of... spheres. Small wooden spheres, stretched long and connected by a simple seeming twist of strained twine. Pharlen was no long in possession of the beads.

Within the demi-god, Lexius clamped mental jaws down around the massiveness of its mind, an adder sinking fangs into its prey, pumping its vicious venom into the thing from the top down.

They spun up there in the air. The whirlwind that held them more tightly massed, the circling smaller, the blend of their bodies a visual nightmare and almost impossible to pick out. Jetrell’s screams had grown louder, convinced him of the inevitable; the link was not going to break. There was a sudden shattering, and the true form of Jetrell suddenly went limp, the powerful staff falling to the ground. The whirlwind abruptly ended, and Lexius’ energy snapped back, hurtled into his own body, with a sense of severing.

Jetrell’s body hitting the floor was surely empty of life, the head ruptured grotesquely, but the soul that had occupied it had escaped. Towards that left set of double doors at the end of the room, where one of the women had fled in the chaos.

Mentally knocked for six by the severed connection, Pharlen twitched and jerked, but not without lunging beneath the body of the falling Lexius to save him a collision with the ground. He landed gracelessly across Pharlen’s back, out cold, barely breathing, and ghastly wasted – all too like the skeletal creatures they’d encountered elsewhere. The beads had fallen with him.

Fleeing souls were the kind of things that immediately blipped on Mesteno’s radar, and his immediate impulse was to try and restrain it lest Jetrell find some way to animate a body, infest some other flesh and bring more trouble their way. His energy went snaking out after it, a greyhound after a bolting hare. For a moment his eyes seemed a little absent – what he was sensing had to be wrong, because alongside the escapee, he could sense something of Gem.

"Oh great spirits," Pharlen muttered, twisting around to catch Lexius in her claws. She cheated, as it were, since he had accepted her energies, amplified his own healing ability. She turned and snatched up the beads, careful not to rush the energies dangerously.

Perhaps it was her voice that snapped Mesteno from his mental excursion, because his voice was joining it far more coarsely not a moment later.

"***!" King Eloquence was heading for dragon and Elf, looking more than a little concerned over the state of the fallen Psion.

The sounds of screaming came from the left hand doorway.

"What is it?" Pharlen asked Mesteno, lowering Lexius to where the necromancer could see him. "...Get them."

Glass shattered.

Mesteno knew what he should do. That didn't mean it was easy! In the end, and with enough prodding, he left Pharlen to watch over Lexius and bolted off through the doorway towards the source of the noise, feeling outward the better to track down what he'd thought had eluded him.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2017 7:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[Continued...]

Mesteno was following a trail like a sure-nosed bloodhound, and with as little caution.

Had there been traps waiting, or lingering remnants of Jetrell’s forces, he’d likely have fallen prey to an ambush, but luck (for once) was on his side, and as he navigated the unmapped halls of the manor, leaving Lexius to Pharlen’s healing talents, nothing stepped out to confront him.

The pursuit was desperate.

He’d felt something of Gem as he’d tracked the fleeing soul, and they’d all thought her safely back in RhyDin city, far from Deathhame and in safe company. If she were here now, if she’d reached the place before them…

He turned into a square room, a door at its far end, a pentangle drawn on the floor, and a glass coffin residing on a heavily carved wooden support. The glass at one end was shattered, and a trail of blood led from the room, through the exit opposite.

In the glass coffin rested, with the fluttering lids of someone newly waking, a woman. Above her, on the remaining glass, lay a gem. It glowed a brilliant green, and it was from here that he could sense Gem.

Her soul in fact, or at least a large part of it.

Mesteno made for the sleeper’s coffin to retrieve the gem, albeit not without due caution. Jetrell had come this way, and he wasn’t oblivious to the fact that the woman seemed to be regaining consciousness. He recognised her, even if it had been more than a decade since their confrontation. Terrell. The Scion’s mother, and the cause for the whole debacle.

Not that she was wholly herself. This, he sensed was where the fleeing soul of her son had retreated, and the moment he took the gem from atop the coffin, the eyes flashed open completely.

She sat up. And banged her head on the glass over her head.

By this point, Pharlen, with a weak but at least conscious Lexius in her grasp, had caught up with Mesteno, and watched with no little amusement as the reanimated body floundered in its confusion. The necromancer, wary of what the newly housed Jetrell might be capable of, was guarding the gem he’d stolen.

"I am well." Lexius was insisting, though his voice was barely a voice at all. The beads Pharlen held snickered right aloud in a disturbingly sentient sort of voice.

"Your beads don't seem to think so," the Pharlen dragon noted dryly, collecting up a long sliver of wood from the debris she’d made of another doorway.

She didn’t hesitate to approach the newly awoken woman, and thrust it straight into her chest.

Mesteno waited, keeping his distance, but he was feeling outward for another escape. This body might not have been the only one a well-prepared necromancer kept on hand to receive him after all.

Thankfully, in this instance, that appeared not to be the case. The soul neither fled, nor detached to anywhere that he might be able to destroy it.

Instead it sat there, contained.

Lexius, determined not to be carried about by a dragon for the rest of the day, had pushed his way from Pharlen’s claws, though he looked as if he should have been confined to a hospital bed.

"Spirits above, this guy's spirit sure as hell took its vitamins!" Pharlen complained, as aware as Mesteno that Jetrell was not yet eradicated.

The feel of all that lay within that very feminine body was all wrong. Sliding the jewel with Gem's soul energy away into the safety of a pocket, Mesteno stood frowning down at the remains until... his eyes fixed on her, way down low where generally he didn't tend to look. Then? He snagged up one of those shattered pieces of glass and started silently mutilating her corpse, carving her open right above her pubis.

Blood spurted, richly red, staining the frothy white dress she’d ben clothed in. On an aesthetic note, it matched the roses she’d been surrounded with beautifully.

After a moment, with Pharlen watching for artistic merit, and Lexius leaning against her to keep from swaying, Mesteno tossed aside the shard of glass and reached into the innards, closing his fingers around the soul jar that’d been secreted in her womb. He brought it out dripping, and pleased. What was left of Jetrell was trapped within it.

Turning away from the mutilated corpse to Pharlen and Lexius, he examined both with keen eyes, though the Elf's obvious ill health kept his focus fixed there longer.

"Pharlen, can you fix some kind of stasis around this? That bastard is in it, and I'm pretty sure as soon as he's strong enough he'll try and slip from it to a new body. I can't be awake twenty-four seven to keep him all tied up in there. I'll need to study his sygaldry first. Are you gonna be okay?" he asked Lexius, after a moment.

He did well to make his concern seem casual.

"Aye." Lexius replied, as evenly as he could manage. He even took his hand off Pharlen and managed not to fall over.

"Let me lock him in there." Pharlen went him one better than stasis. She reached her claw out to touch the jar. The singing sounded eerie and odd from elongated jaws, but still had its desired effect: the jar, the glass and lid, sealed around the soul and was bound into it. Points of light danced around as she spoke, spirits whom never slept - spirits of wood, stone, animaes. She laced those in turn around it. Mesteno's name spoken within her singing would key him to the glass and allow him to work with it.

Satisfied with her work, she gave a good shake, wings rattling, and peered at the pair of men. They all looked pretty sorry at that point. "Healing or I can channel energy into you?" she offered wryly, eyeing the Elf.

Lexius closed his eyes a moment, centering. Breathing. Checking all internal parts. When Pharlen spoke, he slanted a narrowed, sidelong look to her then nodded. "The energy, if you will." He reached out to the beads, coiling his claw-like hand over her actual claw! Mesteno and that jar became the subject of his attention next.

Mesteno feigned disinterest in Lexius’ condition now that he was being helped, and tucked the soul jar away into the other pocket of his jacket. "You got any more crystals prepped?" he asked Lexius, noting the absence of those around his waist.

"One." The Elf admitted.

"Well then use it!" It was hard to tell whether that tone was stern encouragement or demand.

Lexius closed his eyes again as Pharlen’s energy seeped through the connection of flesh to scale. Of anyone, hers was the closest, the best. That desert tang was just what he needed. "It does not work in that fashion." He told Mesteno calmly.

Mesteno didn't ask for Lexius to clarify, but since Pharlen seemed to be tending to his energy issues, he relented, with one last shrewd glare.

The trio took to moving about the manor once Lexius was sufficiently recovered, investigating Jetrell’s private quarters, his laboratory, stumbling over as much to add to their revulsion as they did to satisfy their curiosity for his odd combination of talents.

The final crystal Lexius had mentioned proved to be an aggravating little spindly-limbed scout which they ruthlessly sent ahead of them to alert them to traps, more than once saving them the swing of a blade, or worse. The results of Jetrell’s experiments and perversions laid bare, the sheer scale of the operation proved far more than they could tackle at once. The place was empty of anything living by the time they’d collected what few valuables they deemed too risky to leave behind and put their minds to getting back to the city.

Mesteno had been watching Lexius surreptitiously, now and then passing a palm over the pocket where he kept the Gem-infused jewel in his pocket. Finally, something felt amiss when he did so. It had brought attention their way, and he couldn’t be sure from what. Rather than do the sensible thing and mention it to the others, he gave the pocket a few experimental pats.

The crystal jabbed a leg at Mesteno. "Excessive patting!"

Of course he ceased, since it sounded perverse, but not before he’d drawn Pharlen’s eye.

The pats produced a response, surprisingly. Cool, emerald green eyes the exact shade of Gem's soul crystal peered down at the necromancer from a height of perhaps an inch over six feet. Long blonde hair the colour of ripe wheat in the sun, with golden strands reflecting like gleaming metal topped the head and face that were looking at him. Just a head. The green eyes narrowed while lips used to being in a grin pursed in thought.

"Giant head!" The crystal alerted them belatedly.

A body grew beneath the floating head.

"Body! Alert, alert!"

"..." Pharlen glanced to Mesteno again, as if his patting the crystal caused all this.

The necromancer looked displeased with the crystal. "Will you shut up for just a-..." He did the sensible thing and ignored the compulsion to smack the newly formed stranger with the staff he’d stolen from the wrecked chapel. "You here to grant me wishes or something?" He asked, but did not sound hopeful.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 02, 2017 5:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[Continued...]

The stranger looked as if he had come from a recent battle, a newly pink scar running down the left side of his face. He looked over at the crystal and then at Pharlen, before turning back to the Sadist.

"Why do you have my little thief's soul in your possession, scrawny one?" There was a particularly bright sword in his hand, difficult to ignore.

Mesteno. That was the Elf, ever so calmly in the Sadist's mind. Alas it had come too late to stop the initial damage, but he meant to attempt damage control, in case the sword wasn’t good enough reason for the necromancer to set aside his usual recklessness.

For once, Mesteno responded positively to the warning, and didn’t reply to the man at all.

"That really is not a very satisfactory answer, you know." The stranger leaned a shoulder against the stone wall behind him. There was gathering wrath in his green eyes, though thus far it was still checked. "It is only that I know the place you hold in her heart that you are not even now bleeding on the floor."

"Your thief?" Mesteno asked, avoiding further urges to deny the stranger's claim on Gem. "You're Erevan." Blunt certainty.

There was silence for a golden moment as the demi-god took the trio in, as if he felt that thread of connection. His head turned for a long moment in a direction that was indisputably Lexius'. His smile tilted a little as he snuffed the air. "Lots of dead things. And, I think...reptile?" He leaned in towards the Sadist and snuffed again, the proximity ill received. His nose wrinkled dramatically. "Woof. Well, then. If you will just let me have that bit of the thief, I shall be off."

He didn't say please.

Lexius quietly scattered sand from a pouch at his belt into a circle around him on the floor, murmuring under his breath in tune with the rhythmic rattling of the beads at his side.

"Hold on there, Spanky," Pharlen piped up, head tilted, brows knit. "This is Eveready, the thieves’ god?" She asked Mesteno.

Green, green eyes slid aside to fix upon the Time Lord. A rather wary stance was taken, no longer leaning against the wall behind him. "Careful, witch. I know your kind."

"I owe you thanks, for what you did a few years ago." Mesteno admitted. After all, Erevan had brought Gem back from the dead. "But why the *** didn't you turn up and help before now, huh? Intervene amongst the Powers? Slap ol' scaly snout's wrist? Fat lot of he-- hnn." He reached into the pocket protectively. He was looking particularly surly. Particularly uncooperative.

Would she wish it? Lexius asked, a whisper of mind to mind to Mesteno.

Mesteno didn’t reply, sure enough sign he wasn’t certain.

Erevan turned an amused look at Mesteno. "This place was only very recently not in my realm of observance. Some other force had it shielded." Not that he had to explain himself, but he did like to be on good terms with mortals when it suited him.

Pharlen wasn’t convinced however, pale pink eyes flickering angrily. "Don't you dare bust in here and demand the gem when your smokin' hot little ass should have been here way before we got here. We don't work for you, we don't work for Gem, we're our own concerns and you don't get dick."

"Don't make him angry!" The crystal whispered (loudly!) from somewhere in Pharlen's hair.

Emerald fire flashed in the demi-god’s suddenly narrowed eyes as they turned back to the Time Lord. "She is my worshipper. Her soul is already mine own. Do you dispute this with me?" Warning lay in the sound of his words.

Mesteno wrapped his fingers tight about the gem. "We give it to Gem, and she can decide what she wants to do with it," he stated.

Pharlen flashed her best Hostess with the Mostess Smile. "Sorry, darling, but we've had a bad day." Twinkle. "Gem can decide."

Erevan’s narrow look rested on Pharlen for another long moment, but when the woman backed down, he raised a brow and then turned that look upon Mesteno. "Do you understand that the longer part of her remains in there, the harder it will be to rejoin it to her? Already it is almost a soul of it's own. Gem is dying slowly. I did not know why, could not figure it out..." He bit off his words with a harsh sound and straightened to his full height, which was some six two, poised and proud.
The Changeling shrugged. "Do you even know how to rejoin them?"

There was a breath of silence, tight, uncomfortable, but in the end Mesteno had to concede with a shake of his head. "No. I don't." His fingers were so tight about that gem that it was leaving impressions in his skin. "You'll take it straight to her? Fix it right away?" How difficult it was to trust these creatures!

Pharlen interrupted before the gem could be handed over. "I know how to rejoin souls."

The Trickster raised his chin, eyes tilted up to the ceiling and then over towards Lexius' direction again. "There is trouble in the firmaments." A sly look was sent over to Pharlen and suddenly he was grinning again, a charming thing, and carelessly cruel in its sweetness. "The bargain we have means I am foresworn if I do not help her when such is needed. Though there are things that block me, now and again. And sometimes it is best if it is not I that does the helping." He gestured to Pharlen. "Rejoin her, then, before the night is done. Come the morning light and it will be far harder to achieve."

The Time Lord had that Betty Furness smile down pat. Though she might be singing the bastard bastard bastard bastard song in her mind. "Give me four hours. If I can't, you take it. If I can, all's good. All debts are even, yes yes?"

Mesteno trusted Pharlen a great lot more than he did a trickster God. The gem came out of his pocket, and was offered immediately over. "Sooner the better," he urged her quietly.

Erevan smiled once more, even as he faded out like an old painting, the wall behind him seeming to grow stronger and thicker while he vanished. His voice remained. "A bargain is a bargain is a bargain...until it isn't." That last bit whispered away like a trail of fae light dancing off into forest's night.

"Let's hope that deal holds, love, or I'm going to be up to my neck in pissed off elven gods." Pharlen remarked. Because firmaments slip. Another hand of pinochle was in progress. She took the gem carefully.

Lexius did not relax. He closed his eyes, extended his sense and waited, swaying just a bit where he stood.

"So ***' tired of Powers lately," Mesteno sighed, leaning his weight on the staff.

"Tell me about it,” Pharlen muttered. “I am going to Gem. Summon me if you need me, or come with me."

Mesteno hesitated in the wake of the offer. He trusted Pharlen to see things right by Gem, and Lexius was still frail. Too frail, so far as he was concerned, to be left in a mansion full of traps and trouble. He turned a speculative look his way.

I am well. The Elf murmured across Mesteno's mind. Go if you wish. I will finish here.

No, come away from here, you're exhausted. Don't be stubborn. Mesteno chided him.

You're far too busy cornering the market on it. Came the droll reply. He wasn't going anywhere. There were samples to collect!

"I think Lexius is probably too tired to do any teleporting,” Mesteno told Pharlen. “Or at least he shouldn't be doing any. Can you get him home? I can at least make my way back to the rift so you don't have to cart us all about."

"Take my card..." She handed that to Mesteno. "Call my name thrice, I'll bring you back to the inn."

He accepted it with a mute nod, and sent the equivalent of a mental scowl back Lexius' way. "Get her better?" he asked the Time lord, his tone gently pleading.

"It will be done," she murmured, as if she took Mesteno's words as a legitimate Order. She summoned the Eye, for ease of travel, and to leave the desert energies in her wake to shore up Lexius for more seeking. The 'eye' blinked, and she was gone.

[End]

[The story will conclude over in the Den of Iniquity when Gem’s writer gets around to some log edits!]
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