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Old Wyrm
Old Wyrm

Joined: 09 Nov 2008
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38195.94 Silver Crowns


PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2018 6:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[OOC: Thanks to the writers of Lexius, Koyan, Rhys and Sira for this scene! Adapted from live play with Rhys' assistance and posted with permission.]

November 22nd, 2015

Few found the cold weather as abhorrent as Mesteno, and if the frigid bite of that November afternoon's winds were anything to judge by, it was going to be a bad one.

He was running the treacherous, cobblestone streets at a steady, long-legged lope in sweats darkened with perspiration and plastered with mud to the knee. Heat curled off his skin like the steam from a Thoroughbred’s hide post-race, and he’d tied the untidy, leonine mess of his hair back from his sharp featured face. Slowing as he reached the yard, he smeared a drop of sweat from the end of his nose on the back of a sleeve. For one perilous moment, his shoe went skidding through a mud patch that almost landed him on his backside. He walked it off like it never happened, offering a lazy salute to Sira and her dog, Bryn, when he spied them on the porch.

Across the street, tucked into the mouth of an alley, the brick wall propped up a heavily leaning Turk. It was possible he hadn't sobered up from a couple nights ago when he played chicken with traffic. Bringing up a silver flask, he’d watched the runner go by, dark eyes bloodshot and lidded. His gaze landed on the woman, the dog, a newcomer passing them all by. Then back to the runner. Koyan had another drink, one hand tucked into the front pocket of his jeans.

Mesteno was cooling down slowly, loath to have his muscles seize up as well as his butchered old knees and in one such idle looking loop around the yard, he spied the loitering figure in the alley.

Spotted, Koyan lifted his flask lazily by way of hello.

There was a moment of indecision while Mesteno considered leaving the man to his self-imposed solitude—and perhaps that would have been kinder—but the necromancer’s eyes were keen, the gloom no obstacle to his sight. Even from a distance, what he saw concerned him. He left the yard behind and made his way over.

“Full marks f’lookin’ like a creeper,” he offered as he neared.

“Maybe because I am one. Run now, while your modesty is still intact.” Koyan’s accent was thicker than usual, the words slightly slurred.

“We both know I’m shameless, and hardly your type,” Mesteno countered, trying to lighten the mood a little despite the fact that he was already sniffing to try and catch the scent of whatever was in the Turk’s flask.

“I don’t have a type.” The Turk managed a very vague grin at one side of his mouth. It was whiskey he drank. And something else much more potent. Magical. The carvings on the outside of the flask were arcane, unusual.

Mesteno’s mouth skewed into an expression more apprehensive. “Things getting worse?”

Koyan, the man who loathed shrugging with a passion—shrugged. “Couldn’t say. The hunters are poor as **** at finding their prey though,” he asserted with disdain.

The necromancer tucked himself against the wall, stationing himself where any incoming breezes would hit Koyan first. Meatshield, wind block—he had no shame. “They really are, because you’re out here halfway to inebriated and they still haven’t jumped you.” There was a mild note of chastisement there, but it was so slight, and gone so quickly, it could as easily have been something imagined.

“Exactly,” Koyan said with emphasis. “For two damn days now. I couldn’t make it any easier.” Didn’t it just figure that the more accessible he made himself, the more he missed his target? Irony at its finest.

“Have you told Eden?” Mesteno asked, choosing to change the subject. He’d delivered the news from Madrid days before, good news he’d thought, of a survivor, though Koyan had plainly felt guilty for having assumed a death too early.

“Told Eden what?” Oh boy.

“About Zharzha—you didn’t tell her, did you?” It occurred to Mesteno that Koyan might be hoping he’d get himself caught in order to make some plea-bargain, have her released and others removed from their list of targets. The speculation sharpened his eyes even more viciously.

Koyan lifted the flask for a long drink. The corner of one eye twitched. “She was gone for a couple of days, and I’ve been...busy.” Being drunk and putting himself in the open. Turning another look on Mesteno, he grunted. “What?”

“Once they’ve picked you up off the street, what’s the plan?” Came the blunt query. The necromancer was wholly expecting him not to have one.

“Eviscerate every last one of the bastards.” Because, clearly, his balance was stellar and so was his aim. “Then find out where the Wyrm is.”

“Just you, on your own, intoxicated.” A statement rather than question this time. Mesteno wondered absently whether Eli was tucked away somewhere close by, watching over him.

Koyan’s gaze had shifted, landing on a familiar figure crossing the lawn.

Having parked some distance away, Rhys was headed for the inn on foot at a good clip, clad in a black peacoat that fluttered faintly in the chill breeze, the jeans and boots beneath well-worn but decent. He was shaking his sleeve back to check his watch.

The Turk glanced at Mesteno again. “I didn’t expect it to take two days,” he admitted.

“You’re going about it all wrong if you’re trying to force their hand,” Mesteno informed him, sliding a look out across the lawn to see where his eyes had fastened. He tensed against a shiver, and inwardly cursed himself for loitering in an alley, foolishly still when he should have been cooling down slowly.

“There’s no other way to go about it,” Koyan argued. “What’s better than taking an easy target?” He lifted the flask for another drink and straightened from the wall. He tilted over, catching his balance with a sharp step. But he did catch it! “I tried to get you a husk.” Out of the blue. “But it broke apart in Tatum’s arms.”

Rhys’ steps had slowed as he neared the porch, until he had come to a complete stop. The back of his neck was prickling. He ran a look across the porch, saw no one he knew, then turned slowly around and looked to the street beyond the yard. It didn’t take him long to spot Koyan.

“All right, let’s put that big head of yours to use with somethin’ smart for a second here,” Mesteno suggested, looking very much as if he were tempted to snag his shoulders and shake him until his brain rattled around in there. “Two days and they ain’t done **** yet, so they’re not looking for an easy target. If you’re going to force their hand, you need to apply as much stick as carrot.” He’d get to the point, really he would. “You’ve got more enemies than just these hunters, right? It’s not beyond the realms of belief that someone else might try and take advantage of you if you just happened to be foolishly wandering around intoxicated. So why not arrange for it to look like someone else got to you first. Let the rumour spread you’ve been apprehended so your bad guys are forced to get involved and come looking to take you from their competitors?”

Koyan faced Mesteno just as a gust of winter cold air rushed through the alley. What timing, that. He stood as still as he was able—slightly swaying—and studied Mesteno with his flask held hip high as if they were inside a library somewhere talking business over a drink. The collar on his smoke-colored button down fluttered as another breeze blew through. Frowning, he looked between Mesteno’s eyes and mouth as the words came like he was having difficulty following all the detail.

“....what? Too complicated.” He waved his flask around. A tiny droplet of very potent drink spilled to the alley floor. “I’m right here. How hard is it?”

“Well, plainly they don’t have an urgent need for you yet. They think they got all the time in the world to take care of you—why would they rush? That or they’re having fun with some psychological warfare…” He trailed off, content to remain in the wind blocked zone that came of having a broader body between himself and the wind.

Rhys had lingered on the walkway, torn between grabbing a beer and stalking over to that alley across the street. In the end, he started walking again. He could get the Brown later. The breeze tugged at his curls, prompting him to run a hand through it to ease the tickle. His footsteps were quick as he came across the street and up onto the pavement that flanked it, heading right for the alley.

“Gents.” He saw Mesteno past Koyan’s bulk.

“It’ll work,” Koyan was insisting. “Today, can’t take too much longer.” Without looking over his shoulder, he said, “That’s Rhys. Rhys, this is Mesteno.” The flask waved hither and to.

Rhys, almost clocked by it, snatched it impulsively from the Turk’s hand.

“Don’t drink that, it’ll knock you on your ass,” Koyan warned.

Moving out of Koyan’s punching radius, Rhys turned his body and raised the flask—and paused. “Who do you think you’re talking to?” Growly, but humored. “He still using himself as bait?” he asked Mesteno. He’d caught just the tail end of their conversation. He defiantly took a sip from the flask.

The name Rhys rang familiar to Mesteno, but he couldn’t place the face. “Hey,” he greeted the man, amiably enough but a little distracted due to obvious drunkenness about a foot away (and the god-awful plan). “You should go home, Koyan. He should go home, right?”

“Hey. Yeah, he should. He needs to sleep it off so he can get some sense back.” Rhys was happy to jump right in.

Koyan scowled when Rhys drank despite his warnings. “Hey, **** you both. If you weren’t so damned scrawny, I’d invite you to a brawl in the yard.”

“I beat your saggy old ass when you were sober. The Hell makes you think I couldn’t while you’re barely able to stand up straight without weavin’ ‘round?” Mesteno asked him, though he angled an appreciative nod Rhys’ way for the agreement.

Rhys sighed happily after his sip, looking rather unphased. Licking his lips, he looked down at the flask. “That’s niiiice. I think I might keep it.” His eyes were bright when he glanced back up. “You’re off your face, old man. A squirrel could beat you in a brawl.”

Koyan gave Mesteno a disbelieving look. “You’re high. When we last wrestled, I won.” His chest puffed out marginally, though Rhys’ threat deflated him soon enough. “...the hell. Give me that.” He snatched for the flask, scowling again.

Rhys skipped a step back, out of Koyan’s reach. “Finders, keepers. Isn’t that the street rule?” He took another hasty sip, then started screwing the cap back onto the flask.

“Go home, Koyan. And at least call Eden to let her know,” the necromancer sighed at last because they’d argue the outcome of that match until one of them died and could claim bragging rights without the other about to dispute it.

“Mesteno.” The Turk appealed to him with a gesture to Rhys and the flask, as if he expected help retrieving it.

“I agree,” Rhys chimed in. “You should go home. Call Eden. See if she’ll unbend a little.” He was talking about something entirely different, but the outcome was likely the same. He slipped the flask into his coat pocket.

“You’re her brother. You call her.” Now Koyan was entering Belligerent Zone. He scowled at Rhys, then at Mesteno. Drawing himself up, he brushed his palms down his shirt. “I’ll take care of it, Mesteno.”

“I have. Twice. She’s ‘busy’.” Rhys made a face like a cat being clutched in the arms of a small child. Horrified.

The Turk exhaled in frustration. “When is she not busy these days?” He rubbed a hand down his face. Without the flask, he couldn’t keep his drunk on. Regular whiskey just wouldn’t do it for him.

Rhys shut his eyes momentarily as if trying to shut out the imagery. “When she’s asleep, and **** knows when that is these days.” He shook his head and gave a full body shudder.

“Oh, so you’re him.” An epiphany. There would be no help with the flask. Mesteno thought he’d finally solved the mystery of Rhys’ identity.

“I’m who?” Rhys looked at Mesteno.

“Eden and Paiva’s brother. I’ve heard you mentioned but never seen you in say...ten years or more of knowin’ ‘em.” He waved a hand though, it wasn’t important enough to keep either of them. He began to back off down the alley, comfortable enough with its twists to know his way home from where he’d spotted the Turk. “Keep trying with the corpses,” he added.

“Uh...I think you’re thinking of Paul. Eden is my twin, though.”

“Eden and Paiva’s brother is Paul,” Koyan said, in case there was some confusion. “This is Eden’s evil twin.” He lifted a hand for Mesteno, however, since the man seemed to be on his way out.

“She’s the evil one,” Rhys said.

“You’re both evil,” Koyan replied.

“You’d know,” Rhys retorted, inclined his head toward Mesteno.

“Keep that flask,” Mesteno suggested to Rhys as he left, though he hadn’t gone far, the men’s bickering still audible at the far end of the alley.
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Old Wyrm
Old Wyrm

Joined: 09 Nov 2008
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Can Be Found: Rhy'Din
38195.94 Silver Crowns


PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2018 6:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


“Give it to me.” Koyan held his hand out to Rhys, expecting the flask. No matter Mesteno’s advice.

Rhys patted his pocket where the flask rested. Maybe the contents explained the confusion. “No.”

“I will punch you,” Koyan threatened.

“Then come on with it,” Rhys replied.

High above, flying slowly, a giant golden eagle screamed a call that echoed through the sky far too loudly even for that size bird. It turned abruptly on a wingtip, circling back toward the Inn. Some distance off down the alley, Mesteno cursed up a storm and darted towards the shadows, where he intended to take cover until another aerial assault had passed.

Koyan and Rhys were too busy arguing over possession of the flask to notice the eagle or Mesteno’s hasty run for cover.

A sloppily-thrown punch from the Turk was easily evaded, his fist connecting with the wall rather than his intended target. After a moment spent scowling at the offending brickwork, he stuck out his good hand to demand the flask back again. Rhys ignored him and tipped a look up toward the sky after the eagle’s shadow flickered across the alley.

A moment later, the bird screamed again, folded its broad wings, and came streaking toward the ground straight for them.

Koyan was so intent on the flask that he didn’t pay any attention to death from above.

“Get down!” Rhys lunged at Koyan.

It turned out that it wasn’t hard at all to knock the Turk down. He landed flat on his back with a thud and a grunt, finally spotting the eagle. “What the hell?” Something niggled in the back of his mind about Eagles. What was it?

Rhys had landed right on top of Koyan and ducked his head, hoping the alleyway would be too narrow for the eagle to land in. “I don’t know! Who did you piss off?”

Koyan turned his head away from Rhys’ armpit. “The ****? Your armpit smells like cheese.”

“That’s your face, old man,” he shot back at Koyan. He gave him a tap on the ear with his open hand, hard enough to sting.

The eagle was big enough that its wings expanded across the bulk of both men now sprawled on the ground. It back-winged abruptly, rushing cold air over them both, its talons reaching indiscriminately for a hold on either. Long, golden claws tipped those talons, and with Rhys uppermost, it was his coat they pierced, scrabbling at his back before finally closing around his leg.

“****!” Rhys’ efforts to elbow at the eagle’s feet and get off of Koyan at the same time came to no avail.

In the sky, the clouds began to gather together and slowly darken.

Koyan kicked out at the bird’s talons, and grabbed onto Rhys’ coat with both hands, even the one with the swollen, bloody knuckles. “Kick it!” he shouted. And he kicked again too, engaging in a tug-of-war with the eagle.

The eagle screamed its victory, a deafening sound that close, and pulled Rhys back, wings flapping up a storm of air as it tried to launch upward with its prize. The kicking only made it latch onto Rhys all the more securely.

Disinclined to have Eden kill him for letting Rhys be carried off, Koyan pulled harder, teeth grinding. He dug his boots into the ground and tried to scoot back through the alley to bring Rhys with him, fists in a death grip on his coat.

Rhys was kicking at the eagle, but he yelped when a talon pierced the muscle of his calf, made all the worse by Koyan started pulling him in the opposite direction. Momentarily, he grabbed at Koyan’s sleeves, trying to stay earthbound, but the eagle was strong.

“Let him go!” Koyan roared at the bird. His back scraped along the gravel, tearing holes in his shirt.

The eagle beat hard at the air with its massive wings, succeeding in hauling both Rhys and the clinging Koyan out of the alley, and even a few inches off the ground. It was big enough to carry one man, but not two.

Rhys let go of Koyan’s sleeves and touched his hands together, concentrating before drawing them apart again. A slender blade grew between his hands and his nimble fingers snatched it out of the air. He smacked at one of Koyan’s wrists, trying to make him let go of that lapel, so he could twist around and slash at the eagle.

It finally released Rhys’ legs to take to the cloud-heavy sky, shrieking anew. From the clouds, a bolt of lightning came lancing down to strike the Inn’s yard.

Koyan landed hard, air rushed from his lungs, and a moment later Rhys landed right back on top of him with an ‘oof’, the knife extended outward to avoid impaling the Turk. It shattered against the alley floor.

The lightning flashed almost immediately after, forcing them both to scramble clumsily to their feet.

“The **** was that?” Rhys panted while Koyan aimed a two-fingered salute after the bird.

From the alley beside the Inn, Mesteno watched with eyes narrowed against the brilliance of the lightning strikes. He’d reached the spot just in time, via a little shadow stepping, to see the eagle rise up, leaving the men to clamber to their feet.

The eagle might have been taking a moment to reassess, but the lightning wasn’t. Again a bolt struck from the heavens, lighting up the clouds where an enormous, man-shaped figure seemed to be tossing them down at the ground. The next one hit the side of the building right there at the alley entrance, sending broken brick scattering everywhere.

Rhys rolled to the side and threw his hands up to protect his face. “Again, who did you piss off?” He tried to scramble to his feet then, but he was favoring the leg the bird had grabbed onto.

The force of the blast, however, threw Koyan into the street where his body began to vibrate, the palms of his hands beginning to glow. Spotting him lying out in the open, the eagle shrieked and dove again.

Koyan saw what he thought was a shadow in the clouds—and then the bird. He hadn’t gathered enough holyfire to do anything yet, so he ran toward the Inn. “Go, Rhys, go!” He was not the steadiest on his feet.

“Sanctus fut—,” Mesteno curse caught between clenched teeth. Things were getting too bad to avoid a confrontation by this point, so he did the sensible thing and went darting out onto the yard, whooping and hollering as loud as his lungs would allow. Here, birdie birdie!

“****!” Rhys lunged, bad leg and all, hoping to make it to Koyan when the eagle dove. He lurched and careened on his injured calf. Another burst of cold air seemed to emanate from his coat as he reached for another shard of ice and drew it out of the air.

Mesteno’s arrival on the scene was timely. Koyan seemed to have been the bird’s primary target, but now there were two likely victims suddenly there and it caused the massive eagle to hesitate, back-winging again, talons just missing their snatch for Koyan as its head turned toward Mesteno.

Koyan couldn’t have that. Couldn’t let Mesteno sacrifice without making an attempt to dissuade the bird—and the lightning thrower—from another attack. Stopping near the stairs, he rubbed his hands together to create more friction, body vibrating harder. Arcane words, holy words, fell from his lips in whispers. Then he flashed both palms at the bird, sending a bolt of blinding light at its head. Not just light, but heat. The symbols on his back under his shirt glowed as well, mostly hidden by the material.

Fight fire with fire, they say. He knew most likely he’d just made a gigantic target of himself.

Rhys took an abrupt kneel to avoid getting clipped by the white-hot blast Koyan had let out, then scrambled back to his feet and ran toward the porch, and Koyan by proxy.

In retrospect, Mesteno knew he really should have started carrying some damn grenades after the other night in the Temple District. Instead, all he had under that oversized shirt was a snugly holstered Colt, which he drew to fire a barrage of uncannily aimed shots at the eagle while a lash of shadows suddenly swarming up from under the tree.

The bullets hit it from the front, Koyan’s fire hit it from the back. The eagle screamed as it was set afire with holy flames. Momentum alone almost carried it into Mesteno as it fell from the sky, lashed by shadows. The shadows were steely things, dragging against the momentum of the great bird. They bound it up as surely as a boa constrictor, crushing any life left in its overgrown body and crumpling its wings up against its sides. It was left so much smouldering meat and feathers, the holy fire leaving a burned patch in the yard beneath it.

Sira had been watching from the porch as the men crossed the yard to the Inn, and pulled Bryn out of the way of the stairs, sending the big dog in through the front door, though she herself stayed out on the porch.

Thunder growled through the heavens, the sound like a million boulders grinding together, the storm localized now only over the Inn. The shadowy figure in the clouds lifted another lightning bolt and sent it streaking toward the desert man and Rhys.

Rhys flickered out of view between one footstep and the next as the bolt of lightning struck. He appeared a heartbeat later on the other side of Koyan—just in time to be shoved out of the way by the Turk’s arm. For a moment, Rhys was airborne, thrown up the porch steps and against the wall there by the blast of electricity. He hit the wall, then the floorboards, and rolled toward the railing, gasping when he came to a stop, sprawled on his back.

The bolt struck the Turk dead on, flipping him ass over ears. Singed, hair smoking, he landed face down atop the hedges near the rail. Sprawled, unconscious. Maybe dead. The soles of his favorite boots were a charred black mess. His favorite boots!

The figure in the clouds was lifting its arm again, another lightning bolt in hand, when it suddenly staggered, sending the zap of electricity to spark wildly across the tops of the buildings surrounding the Inn.

“****!” Sira swore, crouching down to stay small, first moving towards the railing to peer down towards Koyan, then looking over to where Rhys had landed. Then back out to the lawn and towards the bird, or at least its smoldering remains.

With great effort, Rhys pushed himself up from the floor and rolled over onto his stomach, eyes on the yard and on the thing that had once been the eagle. He glanced aside to Sira, noticing her for the first time, then he looked back to the yard with a curse.

Mesteno was spitting more Latin expletives, the lightning’s brilliance leaving his eyes half useless with a wash of sunspots across his retinas. He did manage to make out the prone bodies on the porch though, knew who they’d be, and rather than wait around to see if any further attacks were aimed their way, vaulted the railing (this time sans any showmanship) to check them one at a time.

Rhys was breathing, bleeding and wild-eyed. Koyan looked to be in worse shape; his nostrils were rimmed with what appeared to be soot and the tips of his fingers were black. Wisps of smoke from from different parts of his body and his hair stood on end. He didn’t appear to be breathing. Mesteno grasped him by the back of his shirt to haul him off the hedge, and Rhys got up to help Mesteno as best he could given his injuries. Koyan was heavy.

Mesteno was no healer. He knew at a glance how bad it was though as he eased the heavy man down onto his back on the decking without much delicacy. He only hesitated for a heartbeat before reaching into his pocket, grasping something tucked away there. Lexius, I need you.

“It’ll be okay,” he reassured Rhys vehemently, though his eyes were no less wild.

Last edited by Mesteno on Sat Jan 06, 2018 6:45 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Old Wyrm
Old Wyrm

Joined: 09 Nov 2008
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Jobs: Undertaker
Can Be Found: Rhy'Din
38195.94 Silver Crowns


PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2018 6:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


Rhys was no healer, either. Well, not really. He frowned, looking into Mesteno’s eyes as he reached under Koyan’s chin, feeling for a pulse. The touch lingered for only a moment before Koyan gasped a breath. Koyan’s body tensed, eyelids popping open. Instead of obsidian dark eyes—his irises were blue. Wheeze. His hair still smoked, standing on end. Rhys jerked his hand back.

Meanwhile, an entire flock of gargantuan vultures came spiraling out of the darkness of the gathered clouds only to whirl back into the thickness of the storm, as coordinated in their movements as any specially-trained team of soldiers.

It took too long, the answer to Mesteno’s mental call. Fifteen full seconds passed without a response. And then the air in the front yard seemed to warp and rip before a hot blast of arid air spiraled out, spitting a desert elf out onto the grass gracelessly. Lexius staggered a bit, while in the sky, the lightning danced from cloud to cloud as vultures and man battled it out.

Sira had been still for far too long; suddenly she was moving. She had her messenger bag open and was rummaging through for her small field kit. Eyes still on the birds above, but clearly paying attention to the bodies on the porch. “I’m a doctor,” said hastily. “Not a healer.” She glanced down towards the singed man. He looked far worse off than Rhys.

“Uhn.” Koyan flailed a fist uselessly because he wasn’t sure who was hovering around him, or if the eagle was making another dive. It clipped Rhys in the jaw, knocking him back onto his butt, hard.

Mesteno fixed a splayed hand hard against Koyan’s chest, and though the blue of Koyan’s eyes was startling, his arm remained rigid. “Do not move,” he commanded the Turk, too late to keep poor Rhys from being smacked, but yanking the flailing arm down to keep the desert man from knocking anyone else over.

Koyan laid back, eyes open but unseeing.

From east and west, north and south, more birds were arriving on the scene. Normal doves, winging in by the dozens, fearlessly flying into the storm that was driving wind through only that area of the city and infesting the air with enough static electricity things would be sparking for some time.

One of the Inn’s regulars, a healer, had slipped out to see if they needed help. “Could you get us a few bottles of water? And some juice, or something else sweet?” Rhys asked her. That would probably help Koyan.

The woman didn’t leave him waiting long. She brought them several alchemy arrays, bottled water, and juice. “You guys look a bit roughed up,” she remarked.

“Thanks. You could say that.” Rhys was bleeding from the calf, the lower leg of his jeans gone dark with it. He had a bruise developing down the side of his face, as well as abrasions on his cheekbones and knuckles.

Mesteno distantly heard Sira’s confession that she was a doctor, but it was Lexius his eyes were searching for, and he spied the Elf between the railings. “Over here! He got hit!”

Sira had waited for Mesteno to get a good hold on Koyan before approaching. She didn’t want to get punched. She touched him lightly on his wrist and watched the way his chest moved, but she didn’t want to get close enough to listen. Most of her evaluation was just visual, a quick but thorough scan to see what needed attention first.

The Turk’s pulse was erratic and uneven. Missing a few beats at the current frenetic speed. His breathing was a little better, but not much. He grunted words or thought he did. Trying to say something. He was okay! Sort of.

Lexius caught himself, the beads clattering angrily at his side, and swept a look around to spy the gathering on the porch. He climbed the steps and twisted his will, reaching into the ground where sand still rested between the blades of grass. Not long after, a barrier shimmered up across the length of the porch, dampening the sound of the battle and the violence of the wind.

The necromancer was grim-faced and guilty-looking. Perhaps he’d come to the conclusion coming into the city was a bad idea. Worse, he’d drawn attention to the very man he’d warned off becoming involved, in case he was recognised. “You’re not okay, Scruffy. Do y’best to stay awake.” He spoke with the same, authoritative tone, though his voice was edged with concern.

Blinking, Koyan’s eyes moved here and there, but did not seem to focus on anything. Once again, he tried to sit up. “Rhys, Mesteno, okay?” he grunted. He heard their voices but needed to make sure.

Mesteno shoved him flat again immediately.

From time to time, lightning still hit the ground. One bolt slammed into the still-burning remains of the eagle, shattering it apart into so many ashy bits. There would be nothing of that creature left to salvage, though the shadow of it seemed to glow where it had landed, burnt into the pavement and grass.

The elf finally turned a look toward Mesteno, Koyan, Rhys, and Sira. The beads quieted at his side as he took in that scene with a more critical inspection. Mesteno glanced at him, cautious of finding reproach there.

“I’m here,” Rhys told Koyan. Then he looked to Mesteno. “Think it’s safe for him to swallow some of this?” He held up one of the water bottles. He figured the lightning had stripped most of the moisture out of Koyan’s body.

Mesteno slid a shrewd look across at Rhys—he could smell the blood, sure as a hound on a trail. “Your leg’s **** up,” he informed the man sharply. “Get some pressure on that wound.”

“Yeah, the bird got me,” Rhys told Mesteno.

Sira took two things from her field kit. First, a pressure bandage that she held out towards Rhys. “Wrap this tightly around that leg,” she instructed.

Rhys took the bandage from her and tried to tug his pants leg up. There was a sweetness in his blood, something magical and a bit intoxicating. The healer who had previously brought him the water and juice came over to help him, and he let her.

The next thing Sira took out was a penlight. She touched Koyan lightly on the forehead, found it hot to the touch as she flashed the light across his eyes to check the dilation. There was no response to the light at all and that left her scowling. She didn’t like what she was seeing.

The storm above the Inn began to break up rapidly. No more figures were backlit among the dissipating clouds. Out in the yard, the wind calmed down enough that the naked branches of the trees finally quit flailing about. One by one, doves began alighting in the trees. The cooing began not long after.

Lexius maintained his place there at the top of the steps, one hand gripping the railing, his expression utterly serene. Mesteno received no chastisement, but he did not crowd in closer.

Rhys could feel the heat radiating off of Koyan. “Should we try to cool him down?” he asked.

“Nnn.” Koyan tried to move his pinned arm. Mesteno was stronger than he looked.

“I don’t know man, I’m not used to making people better…” the necromancer admitted. He snarled a reprimand in old Anatolian at Koyan when he tried to move, but it was to Lexius his eyes returned. Can you fix this?

Whorls and runes and strange shapes began to appear all over Koyan’s singed shirt. On his chest, arms, shoulders, back. It looked as if the designs were made of water, clinging wetly to Koyan’s skin. A distinct scent of overheated flesh joined the charred scent wafting off of him. “Okay,” he murmured again. “Okay.” He didn’t have enough strength yet to get up, but he was breathing, his heart was beating.

Lexius kept the bulk of his concentration tuned to the barrier which still shimmered vaguely across the front of the porch, his gaze resting on the clump of people gathered around Rhys and Koyan. I do not know. He answered Mesteno along a single, carefully-placed thread rather than through the stone. He looked to Sira then, who was working on Koyan.

Rhys knew Koyan ran hotter than a normal, but this seemed excessive. Once the woman had finished with his leg, he offered her sincere thanks as she slipped back into the Inn, then he rolled over onto his hip and stretched out so he could get a hand on Koyan’s chest. “Yes or no: is the heat a good thing?” He wound his other hand, fingertips fanning, then drawing air back into his palm. He was asking Koyan since he seemed capable of single words.

“Yes.” Something else was going on inside Koyan, but he couldn’t at first figure out what. He blinked, looking for any kind of light in his vision. More than anything else, not being able to see was terrifying.

“Okay.” Rhys closed his fist around the energy he’d gathered. He exhaled a long breath. The porch boards felt good under his battered body.

“Your eyes are the wrong colour, old man. What does it mean when they get blue like that? That normal too?” Mesteno seemed to recollect seeing them that way once before.

“...blind,” was the one-word reply.
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Old Wyrm
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2018 6:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


Rhys pushed himself up to sit again, whipping a quick look at Koyan. “Completely?”

Sira looked up at Lexius and her frown deepened. She aimed surreptitious look at the crowd before her eyes dropped back down to Koyan. “Let me look,” she requested quietly, already reaching out with a fine lace of thought through the hand she still had on his forehead.

Koyan just swallowed at Rhys’ question. And blinked a few times, hoping something would happen.

Sira’s attempt came up against a brick wall, one that she did not push against. The doctor shook her head.

There were now clear skies over the Inn. And a horrendously ugly vulture about the size of an elephant was alighting in the front yard. Just one. It folded its greasy wings and curled its ugly red head and neck, squawking at the doves in the trees. Familiar. Mesteno angled a look out at it.

“Up,” Koyan grunted, once more attempting to rise into a sitting position. This time Mesteno allowed it. Koyan grasped the hand Rhys offered, swaying as he sat up. He coughed and winced.

Lexius released his will and the barrier across the front of the porch collapsed abruptly. He tightened his grip on the rail for a moment then finally stepped closer to the group of people clustered about Koyan. The beads murmured softly. So softly. Sira’s frustrated look had not gone unnoticed.

“Koyan, will you let Lexius look you over?” Mesteno asked quietly, backing off to let Lexius have his spot.

Koyan’s heartbeat was evening out, like his breathing. If his entire body hadn’t felt like—like he'd been struck by lightning!—he’d be doing mostly okay. Barring the blindness. “Okay,” he said stubbornly. As if he wasn’t half-charred and singed, as if his hair wasn’t standing completely on end. He sniffed.

Rhys shifted around so he could put a shoulder against Koyan’s back to help him stay sitting upright. There was something he wanted to try, but since an apparent healer—at least, he thought Lexius was a healer—was coming over, he subsided. For now.

“Your hair is standing on end,” was Lexius’ mild greeting to the blind desert man as he stepped near, his grip shifting from the railing to Mesteno’s slumped shoulder to clamp down. The necromancer closed his palm over the back of the elf’s knuckles and slid a look his way that made it plain he knew he’d done something bad.

“...yes,” Koyan said to Lexius, though he didn’t reach up to feel his hair. “Need a smoke.” Which may have been the most ironic statement of the day.

“You are a smoke, mate,” Rhys muttered.

Sira rose up to stand, field kit tucked under her arm in case she needed other bandages. She eyed Rhys to see if he was in need.

Lexius’ gaze touched on Sira as she stood, Rhys in his support, Koyan with his blue eyes. The elf ground his jaw and gathered his will, extending several threads of thought Koyan’s way to investigate, though they came upon the same impenetrable wall that Sira’s attempt had. Instead of persisting, he turned his attention to the physical damage. He kept Mesteno’s shoulder tightly clamped in his hold as if to prevent the man from slinking away.

“That would probably be a very bad idea,” Sira murmured of the desired cigarette.

“The very reason he will do it,” the elf offered to Sira blandly.

“Also, your boots are kinda’ ****, I hate t’tell you,” Mesteno informed Koyan.

“I heard that.” At least Koyan was speaking in sentences now instead of grunts. He exhaled. “Favorite pair,” he lamented.

The lightning, combined with Koyan’s own source of power, had done a number on him. At the same time, his body was using the blitz to slowly heal itself, to store away some of the energy for later. Lexius nudged a few cells here, adjusted a few nerves there, attempting to redirect the priority order of healing

“His ears seemed to be in working order, at least.” Lexius’ tone did not change.

“Yes.” Koyan didn’t quibble.

“Thank David for small miracles,” Rhys muttered.

“He might be more manageable deaf,” Lexius told Rhys.

“I doubt it. He’d just flail around if he’d lost that sense, too.” Rhys’ jaw was still throbbing a little from the accidental punch.

“Yes.” The elf’s bland tone remained unchanged. “Unconscious would be best.” Tempting, but he continued his subtle manipulation to regenerate the man’s vision.

Koyan muttered in Arabic, and despite the guilt, Mesteno managed a low rumble of a laugh that did not help it abate. Rhys cursed Koyan right back in a tongue that seemed to be a blend of Welsh and something much, much older.

The desert man could feel little bits of healing going on, his body knitting itself into better shape. The edges of his vision wavered a little, and he sat up straighter. No bright sparks of life, but the wavering was new and welcome. “All right, you bastards,” he muttered. “Rhys, you hurt? Mesteno?”

“Not a scratch on me. You two’re complete amateurs,” was Mesteno’s quiet answer.

Rhys said, “Bird tore my leg open. Other than that, just bumps and bruises.” It felt like he’d been hit by a truck, though.

The subtlety of the healing couldn’t be maintained, of course. A wild flare restored Koyan’s vision a little too suddenly. “You ran like a chick—ugh!” Koyan had begun to accuse Mesteno, but his spine straightened as everything began to come into sharp focus too fast. He closed his eyelids.

Lexius withdrew his threads with a snap, grunting quietly. The beads gave a quiet, ominous rattling sound—and promptly slapped Mesteno’s hand. The necromancer snagged them sharply and gave them a tug hard enough to pull at the elf’s hip. It earned him a harder squeeze at his shoulder, one to which he murmured a quiet apology.

“Heal...Rhys.” Koyan made a squeak of an appeal to Lexius. This time, when he opened his eyes, he could see. Thank God. Rubbing his lids with the heels of his hands, he finally took a slow look around, placing everyone. He watched Mesteno yank on the beads and get slapped, and took note of Rhys still leaning against his back. Sira was leaning against the rail. Koyan didn’t look much farther beyond that. Drawing his long legs up, he wrapped his arms around his knees—with little spikes of pain shooting everywhere inside—and took a second to just...assess.

Koyan’s request had Lexius grinding his jaw so hard his teeth should have shattered. Nostrils flared on a carefully-drawn breath, he shifted his gaze to Rhys and waited for the man’s opinion on the appeal.

Rhys looked as rough as he felt. Alley debris still clung in his curls. Part of his face was bruised and reddened, and he had abrasions on his cheekbone. The bandage around his calf had stemmed the bleeding, but the stain on his jeans was large and dark. He just looked at Lexius. He had a strong inkling that the guy wasn’t too keen to expend energy on him, and Rhys wasn’t sure he wanted strange hands on him, even if he had just watched the elf work on Koyan. One brow lifted.

“Yes or no?” Lexius asked Rhys directly, tone somewhat clipped. His serenity was starting to crack. Out on the lawn, the doves in the trees chirped with a few branches swayed for no apparent reason at all.

“Do you have the juice?” Rhys’ tone was equally clipped.

“What the hell just happened here?” Koyan finally asked. The question seemed to prompt the vulture in the yard to warbling raucously as if it was laughing.

Tight-lipped, and perhaps a little pale beneath that perpetual tan, Mesteno shot a filthy look across the yard at the vulture, as if it were somehow at fault. There was a pull beneath Lexius’ hand as if he meant to head its way.

Koyan saw the vulture for the first time, recognized the sound of doves in the trees. Now that he wasn’t getting heckled about his hearing and vision, he could concentrate on his surroundings.

Sira moved from the railing suddenly and swiftly moved over to the front door. In all the excitement there was something she had forgotten—Bryn was sitting there by the door, patiently and far too obediently. He wagged his tail as he got up to pad warily back out onto the porch, sniffing the air.

“Mesteno?” Pointedly. Koyan wanted answers. “What happened?”

Lexius bared his teeth at Rhys in some parody of a smile that looked far too vicious. He let go of Mesteno’s shoulder and stepped toward Rhys to lean, clamp his hand down around the bandage on the man’s leg, and squeeze. The inky lines of a geometric tattoo slithered across the back of his hand and over his fingers toward the man’s leg!

“My fault,” the necromancer told Koyan, quietly of course, but not without sincerity. “I didn’t think I’d get tracked here, now they’ve seen you, so...remember what I tell you about the birds.”

“But what is it? Why is it here? And why did that eagle attack?” Koyan said.

The clamp of Lexius’ hand around Rhys’ leg hurt. He narrowed his eyes and moved both of his hands, the air around him turning abruptly cold. He didn’t trust that tattoo that came sliding down Lexius’ hand. His fingers snatched at the air, grasping the hilt of a weapon that then solidified in his hand, its blade growing away from him. “Think twice,” he said quietly, “if that’s meant to harm.” He met the elf’s eyes and held them.

Koyan glanced back again to see Rhys and Lexius, frowning faintly. His eyes had slowly returned to normal, a sharp glittery black instead of blue.

“Because,” Mesteno was replying awkwardly, his focus darting from the barbequed Turk to the vulture in question, and then across to Lexius and Rhys—and oh, how quickly he moved when he saw what was forming in Rhys’ hand. He whipped around and a lashing line of shadows snaked out of nowhere to seize the man’s wrist. “Do not!” Vicious.

Rhys whipped a look at Mesteno as the shout came and the tendrils of shadow coiled about his wrist—and calmly reached over to touch the darkness sliding across his skin. A rime of frost began to spread along the shadow and down it, seeping through. Normally it might have solidified what it touched, but the necromancer’s shadows were already hard as steel.

That tattoo sank down under Rhys’ clothing, onto his skin, the feel of a thousand gossamer legs crawling over flesh. The elf held the man’s gaze with his own just as firmly, the pressure of his hand unchanging until the tattoo was completely transferred. Then he let the leg go and straightened away even as the ground seemed to shiver under their feet. A tiny earthquake that swiftly settled. Lexius stepped back. “Use it if you wish. Press upon the mark and will it to work.”

“Mesteno,” Koyan snarled. “He tried to save my ass like you did. Knock that **** off.” He wasn’t up for another fight right yet.

“If he means me harm, I’ve got the right to defend myself.” Rhys looked pointedly at the tattoo—or at least where it had been. He twitched hard, feeling the crawling sensation seeping over his skin. His gaze came back to Lexius, watched him rise. He blew out a breath. “What will it do?” He took the blade he had conjured out of his trapped hand and lay it across his thighs, then removed his hand from the hilt, a show that he wasn’t going to try to lunge. He was asking because he clearly still didn’t trust what the elf had done. Not after the reluctance and the look. He wasn’t stupid.

Lexius stepped back again, putting himself well out of reach of the weapon Rhys had conjured. “It will heal.” He answered as he turned away from them all and headed for the steps.

“He’s doing you no harm. Send the damn blade away,” Mesteno was insisting, but since Lexius was out of reach, he relented, and the shadows snapped back into place like elastic, leaving the man’s limb free.

Rhys tilted his head, leaving the weapon where it was. His dark gray eyes were hard and stayed with Lexius. “In that case, thank you. It’ll melt,” he added for Mesteno.

The vulture, at least, had stopped laughing, though it was watching the porch rather curiously. Or maybe hungrily. Soon, it spread its wings out there in the yard, flapping them once to launch itself in the air. The take-off was too smooth, too easy, for such a ponderous beast, but it was up and headed toward the sky in seconds. The doves followed after it, dozens of them streaking from the trees in the vulture’s wake. Sira leaned over the railing to watch the flock go, packing away her kit and rummaging through her messenger bag.

The elf did not answer Rhys. He touched Mesteno’s shoulder briefly as he passed, steps steady and controlled, the beads muttering restlessly by his side.

Koyan stared hard at Mesteno, then glanced at Lexius. A complicated look crossed through his gaze, before he rolled over onto his knees, and used the railing to help him stand. Then he reached a hand down to help Rhys up if he needed it.

“You two owe me some goddamned answers,” Koyan said to Mesteno and Lexius’ backs. He sounded...unhappy.

Mesteno offered Rhys a nod and a complicated look which seemed to harbour some regret. It was not how he’d imagined a first meeting with the ‘twin’ might go, but it was a little late to fix things now. “It'll work,” he quietly added assurance to the elf’s. His focus shifted across to Lexius as he made to pass him, and a thin sigh came slithering between his lips.

Rhys tracked the elf for a few moments, then looked to Mesteno. He returned the nod. “I hope so,” was what he said of the mark he’d been given. There were more words poised at the tip of his tongue, but rather than explain himself, he pulled the knife from his lap and tapped the blade on the porch by his hip. A tiny flex of his will sent a crack webbing through the ice, and then it fell apart. Dropping the hilt, which began to melt immediately, he reached up for Koyan’s hand and got to his feet.

Lexius paused at the top of the steps, answering Koyan without looking back to the man. “The titan you raised left its mark. Some now are looking to impose a punishment for that crime and more.” And that was all he planned on saying it seemed, for Lexius continued on and away, down the steps and across the yard. He didn’t vanish in his usual fashion but strode on toward the walkway and the city.

“Keep an eye on the skies,” Mesteno warned. “Storms ‘n big **** birds.” He didn’t think to add metal gargoyles to that. “I’m sorry,” he offered again to both men candidly, and it was probably unsurprising that when he turned to go, it was after the elf. It didn’t take him long to catch up.

Rhys muttered thanks and set about trying to straighten his clothes. He was a lost cause, for the most part. His dark eyes ticked to Mesteno. There was something complicated in his expression, but he nodded once before the guy turned to go.

Koyan was still staring at Mesteno and Lexius. His jaw clenched when Lexius kept going without giving him time to say anything else. “And people wonder why the **** I drink.” Finally, he glanced back to Rhys. He reached up to run a hand through his hair...and realized it was still standing straight up. Jesus God.

Rhys bent to snatch up a bottle of water and a bottle of juice. He also grabbed that little vial the woman had given him earlier. That went into his coat pocket. He held the water out to Koyan. It would help with the frazzled hair if nothing else. Maybe.

“Thanks.” Koyan took the bottle with a shaky hand, ripped the cap off, and drank half the contents straight down. Wishing it was whiskey the whole time.

“Yep.” Rhys cracked the seal on the juice and drank down a bit of that.

Koyan took another drink, stared down at the bottle, then hurled it against the side of the inn. Water blew everywhere, the plastic cracking down the middle. And it hurt, that blip of violence, but it also did him good.

Rhys flinched and turned away from the spray of water and bouncing plastic, holding up his hands. “What the **** Koyan?” More plaintive than angry that time.

The Turk snarled very unkind things in his mother tongue, under his breath. When he switched to English, he didn’t sound any happier. “I’m heading to the Den. You’re welcome to come, or not.” He couldn’t say there was a shortcut to Alvaka from there out loud, but there was food and drink and respite from everything else. Notably, he did not explain his temper.

Sira still lingered there, silent, arms crossed over her chest. Or at least she had been lingering. She and Bryn padded quietly down the stairs. The pair headed off without so much as a goodbye.

Rhys made a face, but he said, “All right.” Yeah, he noticed that Koyan hadn’t answered him. Maybe it was neither the time nor the place. He had noticed a few things and would content himself with putting pieces together until he got some harder answers. Capping the juice, he slipped it into his pocket alongside the flask which was miraculously still in his possession. “Lay on, MacDuff,” he said, gesturing to the yard.

The desert man thought about simply vaulting the rail, but didn’t think his legs would support him. So he took to the stairs, annoyed at the funky changes in his body, at the weakness the strike left behind. Rhys followed close behind, while Koyan veered toward the mouth of the nearest alley, brows furrowed, and his temper darkening with each step he took. Soon, they disappeared into the shadows.

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Old Wyrm
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 13, 2018 9:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[OOC: Continues directly after the last scene. Adapted from live play with Lexius.]

November 22nd, 2015

When Lexius had answered Mesteno’s call for aid, he’d been a great distance from Rhy’Din.

Crossing it, raising the barrier, and finally the healing, had been too much.

No, really, Koyan’s mere presence had been too much. The Elf had been trying not to rely on the roots he chewed to aid his control, but his power was already leaking to his immediate surroundings, and he didn’t dare disappear in his usual manner while it was behaving so unpredictably. So he’d walked away, needing the distance in order to collect himself, and thinking to follow the necromancer when he left the others at the inn. He hadn’t expected to be followed instead.

He was surprised, pleased, frustrated, worried and enraged all at once. It made for a curious mix of sensations along the shared mental tie, and the Elf tried to clamp down on too much of it being passed along. He did slow his steps though, to allow Mesteno to catch up.

The beads weren't done chastising Mesteno. They slapped him across the knuckles, and he made no effort to try and snare them.

"Mea culpa," Mesteno murmured, and the sentiment of it echoed through that pre-existing tie. While Lexius endeavoured to guard against feelings passing between their minds, the necromancer was doing the opposite, and hunting for them clumsily to know the state of his thoughts. "I wouldn't have called on you if I didn't think it was desperate. I couldn't do a damn *** thing to help though and I know-- *** I know this probably just set us back and made you wonder what the *** you're doin' with me."

Rambling, trying his best to apologise, and really not sure what kind of response he'd get given the complexity of what escaped Lexius’ mental constraints. He knew it was too soon to touch him, but he did anyway, catching his wrist, eyes guileless and his expression undeniably earnest.

The discord in Lexius’ mind was going crazy. It always did when he made himself walk away from Koyan, defying the internal urge to stay and help and heal and touch, to do whatever the man might ask. The flaw had its own little voice during those times, and it screamed at the Elf to go back, that Koyan was in need, that he should do all he could to aid the man, that he should rip down the world to fix whatever problems Koyan faced. It was a driving need, a twisting of feelings he no longer honestly felt, a perversion of the things he would do when so thoroughly invested in somebody else. Lexius managed (barely) to temper those things when in the Desert Man's presence and typically handled them by avoiding the man altogether.

It was all of him that had been left until, somewhere along the line, Mesteno had teased out a little more.

The demand of the faults remained, but underneath it now were those things he was certain were more real. Once, he'd watched Mesteno and Koyan together and been only concerned he would ruin a long lasting friendship. Today, the Elf had come to realize how much more deeply the issue now ran. How much of a problem it was going to cause.

The clash of emotions was suddenly spiralling hard enough it tested his control in all new ways. For a moment, the Elf was fairly certain he'd never be able to breathe again as the honest want clashed viciously with programmed desires. He barely heard Mesteno's words, wrapped up in the cacophony of the internal struggle he was doing his best to keep suppressed to a whisper. He really should snap the mental link, but Lexius thought doing so just might set him adrift and turn his feet right back around to a place he knew he had no wish to go.

The touch to his wrist had jolted him and he was drawn to a stop easily as a lamb. The breath rushed into his lungs. His gaze seemed dazed, but it was far, far too bright with power. Power that crept along Mesteno's skin from his own, unshaped by his will, draining right out of the Elf through touch.

"What?" he sounded no better than Koyan had not too long ago.

Mesteno had known the risk he was taking when he'd called for Lexius’ aid. Had it been anyone else lying there, lightning struck and charred and unseeing, he likely wouldn't have shown any hesitancy in asking for it, but with Koyan, despite the man being one of those few friends he possessed a deep and unconditional loyalty for, he'd faltered.

It wasn't just that Koyan was different, capable of surviving more than a mortal man could, or because he'd thought someone amongst the others on the porch might be able to assist. It wasn't because he thought he'd be chastised for recklessly returning to the public eye after the previous week's fiasco, either - he just hadn't wanted to draw Lexius into the desert man's presence. He'd dreaded the old programming seizing hold, been a little terrified that, when faced with it again, Lexius might succumb.

When it became clear the Elf had heard none of what he'd said, his expression dissolved into a miserable grimace, and he let go Lexius’ wrist to clasp his shoulders, turning him so that they faced one another squarely, right there in the middle of the narrow street.

"Focus on me," he told the Elf, both hands sliding up, framing his jaw, then his temples as if to guide his concentration. His fixed his own eyes on the wild brightness snapping in those of the dazed elf, and kept his voice low and level, despite his own damnable, jittering nerves. Focus, he urged, mind to mind, so that there the mental and the physical both vied for his attention with the discord. "It's done, finished, and you fought against those false instincts and won. Don't drop the link. Stay with me even if it feels wrong." His thumbs swept back from his temples and into his hairline, a soothing sort of gesture.

Mortifying for Lexius, being unable to concentrate. It would haunt him later. That, and the uncertainty behind what had truly driven him to the actions he'd taken that day.

Every time he managed it walk away from Koyan, it was a victory. Every time he succumbed to the man's requests, it was a defeat. That day, the tally of wins to losses was muddled. It had been Mesteno who asked him to help Koyan in alignment with urges he tried to resist. He would have crumbled if the Sadist hadn't been there, he knew, and aided the Desert Man in his injury regardless. So was it a win that he'd done so this day because Mesteno asked? Or was it a loss that he hadn't been able to deny the Sadist's request for his own damn good and at Koyan's expense? Lexius knew for sure it was a loss to have helped Rhys in any way, shape or form. He'd done that because Koyan has asked it, pleaded it, and he'd cost Mesteno something in the exchange, he was sure. But how wild the pleasure had felt for a moment, when the Sadist lashed out with shadows on his behalf.

He'd managed to keep that to himself, as well, along with all the contesting emotions he'd been experiencing up there on that porch. Now, however, his control of it was chipping away like bits of stone beneath the touch of his tool. He latched on to a certainty that suddenly drifted through his fractured thoughts; Mesteno should not look so miserable.

The Sadist's touch finally drew a shivering reaction from his muscles, denial and enjoyment tied inexorably together in that reaction. He wanted this touch, no other. And Mesteno should not look so miserable.

Lexius growled, stepping into the man, his own hands lifting up to latch around the man's wrists with a kind of urgency that might suggest he was going to rip his hands away. A large part of him wanted to do just that. Demanded he do just that. But there was the man whispering in his mind. Focus. Focus. Focus. So Lexius focused.

Several more threads of thought lashed out, too strongly, to race along the currents of power streaming off the Elf and along Mesteno's body. They delved into Mesteno's energy, twining through it on their way to his mind where the Elf set more hooks in place. The connection between them seemed to expand, exposing more of what the Elf was trying to keep hidden despite his best intentions to hide it.

"Mesteno." His voice came rough, intent, echoed along the tie.

The threads latched into the Sadist's brain began to gather together into a single, thick strand that grew hot. He should ask, he knew. Somewhere way down deep in that small little part of him the Sadist had brought to life, Lexius knew he should ask before he forged the tie permanently in place. No. He shouldn't do it at all. Not the way he was now. His power fluctuated again as he tried to pull back, looking away, break the connection no matter the urging.

"Right here, I'm right here with you. Don't you dare go rushing off anywhere. Don't even think about it." Mesteno wasn't aware that Lexius had expended too much energy in all his struggling, and still suspected he might vanish in a mad whipping of desert sands.

He, or rather than sentience inside of him became aware of those invading threads, and like a woken lion might observe the passing of some small, harmless thing it had no interest in devouring, it watched. Mesteno was aware that something had roused it, felt it's shift from dormancy to a state where he might readily wield it should he wish, but unaware of any immediate danger he ignored it, and remained blissfully ignorant of the energy currents streaming from the Elf. Not for a moment did he suspect that he was on the verge of a permanent tie. Nor had he ever been aware of the fact it was something Lexius had found himself desiring over the past months.

Despite the urgent grip around his wrists, he lowered his hands, and instead of simply holding fast with his fingers, one arm went snaking around Lexius’ waist and the other about his shoulders, sliding hard over his back to pull him tight to his front. It was bruisingly possessive, head turned to press his face in against the side of his throat, and it didn't matter in those moments even if the Elf stood there with his arms slack at his sides, so long as he felt the determination, the defiance against all the dissonance he knew was churning.

Oblivious to the permanent link threatening, he gave himself attentively to the task of learning the Elf’s turmoil in greater depth, and attempted, in that unskilled way of his, to make the embrace, that leaning into him as much a mental thing as was the press of their chests and the constriction of his wiry arms.

"Take your time. I know you can control it. Your Will is greater than anyone else I've known," he urged, a vehement whisper near his delicately pointed ear.

Mesteno was making it worse, unintentionally. Yet, at the same time, he was making it better. The full body hold earned the buck of another physical shudder from Lexius, rejection wrapped up with acceptance. The Elf growled again, fully unaware he was making the noise, and transferred his gripping fingers deliberately (defiantly!) into Mesteno's hair, tangling in the knotted mass of it. His second hand latching at a hip, a punishing grip. Each hold mirrored the same possessive intent radiating from the Sadist both physically and mentally. All of it only encouraged him on in forging the link from mind to mind.

Mesteno said the exact right thing. He was stronger than this. He could control it. His Will was great. Great enough to prevent him from making a beginner’s mistake. Strong enough he would not succumb to instinct over intent. Mesteno's breath against his neck became another point of focus. The words the man had whispered echoed again and again in his mind. The Elf took his time, as advised, and meticulously shut it all down.

The burn of that thick, ropey tie eased first, and then the strands broke apart into the more delicate strings he usually used. Some of them dissolved away into Mesteno's energy, bits of himself that fed to the watchful beast of the Sadist's soul, little morsels of power. The Elf picked apart the struggling emotions next, his teeth grinding near Mesteno's ear quietly as forged together his control anew and calmed the war going on inside him.

Parts of the battle persisted (they were hugging, after all), but as a whole everything seemed to calm and settle enough for Lexius to give a low, long sigh of relief and a few murmured words of his own.

"My thanks." Sincere, that. Most especially for the way Mesteno was so clumsily leaning in as best he could mentally as well as physically. "It is better." He assured.

"That's good. See, I knew it." There was no patronising suggestion that Mesteno was proud of him in those few words, but he did sound relieved, and the hand splayed wide over the Elf's shoulders lifted to smooth over the back of his head, where the worst of the turmoil had been cantered. The final step in helping settle his mind was to put an end to that very contact he'd used to brace him, so Mesteno eased away, though not far, one hand still resting on his shoulder.

"Come on, we shouldn't stand here in the middle of the street. It might not be as safe as we think."

There had been birds and lightning bolts, but just because they'd retreated didn't mean that there weren't gargoyles slinking about in search of them still.

The fever bright gleam of too much power in his strangely coloured eyes had lessened, replaced by the usual edge of sharpness with which Lexius observed most everything. He was studying Mesteno right then, as if seeing him anew. Finally, he gave a nod and turned to walk, and the beads at his side reached out to brush along Mesteno's leg much more nicely than they had before, like a reward for a job well done. That snickering rattle they made immediately afterward might somehow sound a little smug, as well. Lexius ignored them as he usually did, slanting a look across the people and the buildings.

"It would be better," the Elf finally murmured, voice smooth and even, "if you took us back along the Shadow Paths. Then you can tell me what happened."

"All right. Let me get us a little closer to the marketplace though. The further the distance to travel, the trickier it is if I'm dragging someone along with me."

It wasn't far to the marketplace at all, the road they were on a direct route, and Mesteno stayed close enough that there was the occasional bump of shoulders or brush of arms, even if it wasn't intentional. His attention took to the skies here and there, tracking the clouds as they dispersed to something more natural, but always on the lookout for high-flying specks which might be avatars on the lookout.

It was in one of those cramped little alleys that he stepped out of the crowd, drawing Lexius with him by the wrist, and within moments into the familiar pitch of the Shadowlands. Rhy'Din's November weather felt positively summery compared to that chill! They were spat out onto the porch of his cabin.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 13, 2018 9:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


Lexius paused before he allowed Mesteno to go any further, staying him with a curl of fingers around his forearm. He'd gathered enough serenity back to allow an extension of power and the Elf used it to double check not only the cabin, but the grounds surrounding it, as well. Only once he was certain things there were as they should be did Lexius finally relax.

"All seems quiet." The Elf had no intention of lingering outside once he was satisfied, and herded Mesteno toward the door and inside.

The necromancer made right for the fireplace, leaving a muddy trail of half-frozen footprints, and absently dusting aside the lingering chips of ice that'd formed in the Shadowlands. He'd dragged a small, burnished urn of dry scraps of wood, thin enough to snap up for kindling beside the hearth, and crouched to start stacking them in the centre of the fireplace, hair sweeping untidily forward over one shoulder.

"In case y'weren't right in y'head to hear me before, I'm sorry," he told him, with the same gentle candour of earlier. “I guess I wasn't doing a lot of smart thinking. The attack came out of nowhere and I wasn't expecting Koyan and Rhys to be targeted. I was leavin', heard the eagle and the storm starting and figured I'd better get out of there. Only I just skipped from one spot to another to see what was coming this time, and when I came out, the *** eagle was all over them. Maybe he has the taint, too." Grimly!

The Elf stood at Mesteno’s side as he worked, ridding himself of his satchel and unwinding the beads from his belt, nudging Mesteno lightly with one knee to the side in response to the apology. "Do not be sorry for calling me." He could feel the flickers of guilt still sparking in the man. It was effort enough to get Mesteno to seek any assistance. Lexius was grimly certain this night would put a crimp in getting him to do so in the future. "I would rather you did, than not. It may well be Koyan carries something similar. But they have other reasons for being displeased with his existence. They simply haven't had a reason before to care about it." The grimness was in his voice now, but for those unnamed reasons and for the mere fact they were talking about the man.

Lexius crouched, and reached to draw that untidy mass of hair back over Mesteno's shoulder to better see his face...and keep it from going up in flames when the guy lit the fire! "You did nothing this night I should not have expected beforehand."

"He thought he might have something else that erased it, but thinkin' back on it, the way that eagle fixed on him..." Mesteno’s mouth grew pensive as he carefully arranged the kindling to make sure there'd be enough air to the stack. The profile revealed when Lexius drew his hair back was one of a jaw set firm, of brow pinched to knotting above the pin straight line of his nose. He didn't look up from his task despite the unexpected contact, and fed in a few scraps of paper, making sure there was plenty for the flames to consume hungrily from the offset - torn up notes, music half written he'd become frustrated with.

"I guess you're right though, his involvement with Aiden probably displeased some of 'em, so it could just as easily have been a case of him being in the wrong place when the attack came... ***, at this rate there's gonna be nowhere I can go without gettin' chased out or endangering someone."

More wood, larger pieces, all mounted up into a well-spaced pyramid over the original kindling, though nothing particularly heavy still. Enough to get the fire going, and so down came the matchbox, the faint sulphur stink and curl of smoke as he struck it, its illumination leaving angular features harshly limned before he tipped the little flame into the space he'd left. The paper caught, and the narrow, split sections of dry wood shortly after, and once the flames licking along the larger pieces had begun to catch, he added a few short-cut, sturdy sections of log before easing to sit back on his haunches.

It was then he tipped a look across at the Elf, his expression faintly resigned. "It's still so strong, that old need in you," he murmured. "I don't know why, it's not like I wasn't aware it hadn't been fixed, but I think it's the first time I've felt it churning in you while he's been around and it caught me off guard. I thought--," he caught himself, as if he were second guessing the wisdom of letting such things be spoken. He'd always been impulsive though, and he could only keep it contained for so long. "I thought after you felt it again, realised what it was to feel that way about someone, about him, you might think you were makin' a mistake takin' up with someone else. Don't misunderstand," he lifted a hand to caution him against speaking, "I don't expect much at this stage, it's early days, and I'm the last man in this city to rush things, but what you felt for him was very real. I wouldn't blame you."

Lexius couldn't deny a bite of frustration at seeing the resigned look, but he welcomed that emotion because he knew it was relevant, current, real. He allowed the silence to linger before he responded, gaze steady on Mesteno's face and the tie nudged open a little wider as if to better capture the man's feelings. He even allowed that expansion on his own end (no easy thing, purposefully doing so!) so the Sadist could be sure of the words he spoke next. The dissonance was quieter, but it was a constant thrum of discontent.

"What I felt for him was real decades ago." Decades for him at least! "What I feel for him today is not."

He stated it flatly, firmly, no matter the parts of him that recoiled for such an admission. Lexius endeavoured to ignore that and it was easier to do when not face to face with the man. Instead, he focused on that smaller part that cheered approval beneath the grumbling of the rest.

"That I have chosen to allow it to linger so long has only entrenched it deeper within me, but all of it is false. Such things no longer belong to him, Mesteno, and it is well past time I see about purging them." His resolve felt strong somewhere beneath the stab of pain he received for voicing the intention. Lexius tightened his eyes and bore it. "You will not be so easily rid of me." He'd said it before, but the Elf thought it worthy of repetition just then. A niggle of fear did accompany the words, though. The current proposed solution could well wipe out not only that flaw...but everything inside him. Lexius had somehow gotten to the point he wasn't sure he wanted to risk what was growing in him that he came to rely on more and more as being real. The Elf took a breath banished the the fear. First things first.

"Have you kept the stones on you?" A few days might not have been long enough, but it may well have to do. They really couldn't afford to linger much longer without attempting to identify and try to remove or mask that Titan's taint from inside Mesteno.

Mesteno wasn’t unwilling to hear reason, but that didn't mean those suspicions he had would be easily purged. He wanted them gone, wanted to accept all that he heard, especially when it was spoken so candidly, but pessimism had a foothold.

What if we rid you of it, and it comes back despite it, a natural want for him, something more than the programming? That would be the real test, facing the desert man and the Elf feeling his heart sit quiet and unstirred, to see him only as another man, another friend perhaps.

Of course that it was Koyan made everything so damn complicated. Mesteno might mock Koyan at any given opportunity in good natured banter, but he wasn't blind to the qualities which'd attracted Lexius, and Dair, Bjorn and Whisper. He could still remember how Dair had returned for him, the Scotsman’s misery in the wake of being spurned. And here was Lexius, their relationship a thing long past, still struggling. It would appear the Turk was not an easy man to get over, and Mesteno did not wish to resent somehow he thought so much of for being an obstacle.

Not oblivious to the train of Mesteno’s thoughts, Lexius shifted towards him. "These feelings I still hold, they are not for the man you know today. They are not for a man you have ever known. You remember my choices, yes?" He only paused a moment so Mesteno could recall that conversation they'd had months before. "One of them involved pursuing what is within me, in discovering if there is something there in who he is now that I could feel the same for. I did not choose that route, Mesteno, because I know there is not. We have both become different people. My only fear is that I might lose this thing between us in purging the rest."

Mesteno studied him as he spoke, and finally reached to touch a hand lightly to his thigh. "I'm selfishly pleased you want to," he told him, "but what your protectors suggested, we still don't know if it’s something I can do safely. I risk harming you, and you were so sure about not wanting to before..."

The Elf dropped his hand over the Sadist's, the skin to skin connection plucking the strings of that disharmony, but Lexius didn't allow the warped vibrations of it to deter him from trapping the man's hand in place so it could not easily be withdrawn.

Mesteno reached into the pocket of the muddy sweatpants he wore, and drew the stones out in his palm, still wrapped, and a little warm from the heat of his body. The fire was roaring by then, devouring the wood hungrily, and he shifted to rope his knees with both arms, leeching the heat shimmering outward and up in waves, "How long do you think I'll need to keep them with me before we try the damn table?"

"I would prefer you held them a month. But let us try within the next few days. If the tie is not strong enough, we can try to wait a little longer. The more I learn about this and you and the way your soul and energy are tied, the more I can learn if perhaps this method of helping me will be suitable." Lexius gave no ground, but remained close through his explanation, his thumb brushing along the back of Mesteno's knuckles as he spoke.

It wasn’t exactly comforting, knowing Lexius considered it so risky, but they’d little in the way of options. Mesteno hadn't once considered the potential for erasing more than the lingering programing, and there was a new sharpness to his eyes which was vastly different compared to the normal, predatory intensity lingering about them.

"It would be selfish of me to refuse what your protector's think we should try, simply 'cause I don't want to risk what we have," he admitted quietly, his voice almost lost beneath the low roar of the flames and the occasional, startling snap and pop within them. "When I suggested findin' a way to remedy your problems back then..." There had been Evander, and Lexius had been a friend, new and still someone to step lightly around as they learned one another. "...never would've thought it'd even be something that would need to be considered." He squeezed lightly over the flesh of Lexius' thigh. "S'for the greater good though. There's no contest if it means riddin' you of all that mental ***; the remnants of those things are gonna hold you back forever." Longer than Mesteno would be around at any rate.

"I'll keep the stones with me, and I'll come lie on your table whenever you want me to." There was a grave finality to his voice.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 13, 2018 9:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


"Be selfish." Lexius encouraged, quietly droll. "Then I shall not be alone." He spent some time in silent contemplation of Mesteno's face, lit by the flickering flames, playing out the possible outcomes in his mind. He had to wonder if, given another chance, Mesteno would choose to act differently, if his obstinate, defiant nature was what kept him on this path.

"Very well." He finally stirred himself from the stillness and study, shifting his body to settle onto the floor beside the Sadist, facing the opposite direction. He still hadn't relinquished the man's hand, but his thumbed had ceased to caress across the scarred knuckles. "It will take me two days to prepare." And recover some lost sanity from this night's events! "In that time, I wish you to remember how to meditate. How to form an image of yourself in your mind and to know it is real. You understand?"

"I remember how it's done," Mesteno assured "though I can't promise I'll be much improved even if I practice. Why do I need to be in a state of meditation when I'm on the table?" He hadn't been the last time, and though he knew he'd reacted poorly (not just to the unexpected nudity, but to the table itself) he wasn't sure he'd find his nerves jangled so badly now that he knew what to expect.

Lifting a knee, Lexius nudged it under the man arm to lean against his side and finally let free the hand he'd held trapped against his own thigh. He reached for Mesteno's hair again, long fingers brushing through it, tugging out the knots patiently as they spoke.

"Part of learning to control yourself, every part of yourself, comes from knowing those parts intimately. What is in you, Mesteno, is vast and more than a little wild. You have experience manipulating it through your necromancy, but there is more in you, more to it and, thus, more to yourself to come to know. That is more easily done when you meditate. I will need you to be aware and focused to help me interpret that which I see and find. And I want no more surprises between us, as we had that evening on the cliff."

His gaze shifted from the work of his fingers to Mesteno’s face as he reached (fingers still coiled about with hair!) to lay his palm light on the man's chest. "Sometimes, I think, we consider what is in you as something separate. But it is as much you as your hair or your eyes or the breath in your lungs. Both of us must come to understand all of it is you and, perhaps, in that harmony, you will better align with the true depth of it."

"I'm not sure aligning with it is wise," Mesteno admitted, and there was an edge to his voice which was not harsh, but was certainly stubborn, had the potential to become outright difficult. "It's usually compliant when I call on it, and I won't deny it protects me when I'm unable to consciously make the choice to, but it's the source of my appetites. It revels in violence more than I would alone." And he did already. "It's far too attentive when I'm cruel, when I kill, when there's blood on my tongue. The way I am now, I'm in control of those urges, I can uphold my scruples without worryin' I'm gonna do something really bad. I don't think there's a way to harmonise with it. That it'd just overwhelm my better judgment and push me down that stereotypical route most necromancer's take. I don't know whether it can be reasoned with, and I sure as Hell don't trust it."

He exhaled sharply, as if his fear of himself and what he might become was an irritant, but he understood why it was so important to have it under his control, rather than wild. "The way I am now, I function without too many problems." His heart was noticeably quicker than normal under the press of the Elf's palm, and not from some adolescent-like excitement over simple, physical contact. "But if you think it'll help when it comes to getting you fixed, I bow to your better judgement."

Lexius resumed his finger combing, drawing more and more hair forward past the Sadist's shoulders to work out the worst of the knots. He considered what the man said carefully before he spoke again.

"To align yourself does not mean allowing it to control you. I understand your concerns, and they are valid. But as it is a part of you, it is you that will maintain the control of what is acceptable and what is not, what you will allow yourself, through it, to do or not to do. To exercise that kind of dominance over it, you must understand as much as you are able and build your own will as strongly as you can. What I propose should allow you to sense the shift and play or those darker desires you do not wish to indulge earlier and to temper them to your wishes more completely. As much as you do not trust it, it is a part of you that does not trust the rest. If we strengthen that within yourself, you may well have far less trouble. To be in synchronization with it is to master it. Not for me, but for yourself.”

"You got this way of making even the scary *** sound reasonable," Mesteno complained, though there were threads of amusement to be heard in that soft-spoken voice. "The idea of mastering it, I like that. Self-control is important to me, believe it or not."

"We shall go as gently as possible, building upon the foundations you have already established and expanding them as needed." A sudden smile quirked the Elf's lips, curling them slowly at the corner. It had nothing to do, really, with their current conversation. He was simply processing fully something Mesteno had said earlier and finding a renewed pleasure in it. A good sign that his brain was multitasking again, if a bit more slowly than usual. "Are you warm now?"

"I have to admit," Mesteno murmured, tightening his arm a little around Lexius' knee and leaning into him as if he half intended to push him over (he was bullying, albeit playfully) "the idea isn't so worrying as it should be. If I know you're in my head, it's like I have a focus if I start feelin' unsteady in things. A landmark in the fog." The playfulness dissolved though, sliding fluidly back into something deadly serious, and the lean was put to use for an intense look, the sort of fixed and determined stare not to be questioned. "I don't want it to take too long if in the meantime it means you have to struggle. I might not be feelin' particularly brave about ***, but push me, challenge me. If I fail at something it makes me hungrier for it. If this thing can be done by anyone, I'll be the one t'do it." Lexius was spared the cockerel puff of chest though, because he nodded, easing up on his lean. "I'm warm."

Lexius braced his free hand to the floor, his smile deepening even and eyes narrowed for the playful pushiness. A part of him was undeniably thrilled by it, even if it stirred up a bit of the discord alongside the appreciation. Not about to be easily moved about, the Elf pushed back with his knee to hold his ground.

"I can tell," he murmured the words, but there was a sharp humour in the dry delivery, "you've completely lost the talent for seduction, comparing me to a lighthouse."

"I was thinkin' somethin' a little more impressive," Mesteno drawled, though thoroughly amused by the lighthouse idea. "A mountain, something that stays stubbornly the same while everything else shifts 'n changes around it. Also real old." Oh! "But if you'd rather be somethin' shiny like a lighthouse, I suppose that suits your sunny demeanour." Now he was just being an ass. He enjoyed those occasions Lexius chose to be playful, and he was revelling in the opportunity to tease him, welcoming it after such a grim evening.

Reaching in again, Lexius turned his fingers not toward Mesteno's hair, but to curl then up high and firm around the man's throat, just under his jaw with enough pressure to tip his head back a bit. The Elf was the one leaning forward this time, blue-violet eyes glinting with the same intent look Mesteno had offer him as he brought his mouth close to the Sadist’s ear, whispering his next words. "You will go at my pace in this." It was not a negotiation. "You will also go shower," he went right on, not even allowing Mesteno a chance to retort as he doled out the commands, "so I may lay with you this night and walk away un-muddied."

Mesteno didn't pull away. In fact he stretched his neck as if to prove his lack of fear, something proud about the up-slant of his jaw, the way he gazed at him, not somnolent despite the hooding of his eyes, but certainly challenging, insubordinate. Let's see you do worse, it seemed to say as he watched him. If you mean to take charge, persuade me you mean it. And he could expect rebellion along the way, even if Mesteno did remain still for the words breathed warm beside his ear.

Commanded to go and shower like some filthy child come indoors after playing in the mud, he might have snorted, smacked away the hand at his throat if not for the obvious intentions. It was probably a bad idea. No, it definitely was a bad idea after what'd happened, but the thrill of it quickened his heart, stimulating him as surely as a hand at his ****.

To say he was ‘eager’ would have been a kindness, considering the speed of response. He was on his feet and in the bathroom before Lexius had chance to persuade him of anything.

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