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Mesteno
Old Wyrm
Old Wyrm


Joined: 09 Nov 2008
Posts: 354
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Can Be Found: Rhy'Din
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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, tonight...it 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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Mesteno
Old Wyrm
Old Wyrm


Joined: 09 Nov 2008
Posts: 354
See this user's pet
Jobs: Undertaker
Can Be Found: Rhy'Din
38820.94 Silver Crowns

Items

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

[Continued...]

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


Joined: 09 Nov 2008
Posts: 354
See this user's pet
Jobs: Undertaker
Can Be Found: Rhy'Din
38820.94 Silver Crowns

Items

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

[Continued...]

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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PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2018 6:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[Continued...]

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.

[End.]
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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

[Continued...]

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

[Continued...]

"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.

[End]
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 21, 2018 10:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

[OOC: Adapted from liveplay with Lexius.]

November 26th, 2015


A miniature sandstorm hissed across Sanctuary.

The grains rattled across frost hardened grass and lodged in the nooks and crannies of the silver trunked trees. It sent an offended white feline into the bushes to avoid getting pelted, and it found a necromancer, barefoot amongst the branches at the edge of the yard, dislodging some precariously hanging deadfall.

"Such a flair for drama!" came his commentary from up in the tree, as he observed the sandy eruption.

Lexius looked like he'd been buried in a sand dune. The transfer looked far smoother this time than it had the last. The Elf didn't stumble and the air hadn't warped and wavered before he appeared. He stood calmly at what had been the centre of the storm, the beads chortling merrily at his side, then canted a look up into the trees, his blue-violet eyes glittered with fading power.

"Is that a complaint?" The Elf knew it wasn't. Four days absence had been too long in some ways, and Lexius took his sweet time studying what he could see of the Sadist in a long, almost hungry stare. Which just made the beads snicker all the more. He ignored them, as usual.

"Not in the slightest. I might feel compelled to compose some rousing theme music though," Mesteno warned, countering one tease with another.

A faint smile ticked the Elf's lips for Mesteno's rejoinder, though his eyes did narrow a fraction at the mention of the music. He'd yet to sit and listen to Mesteno play, and intended to remedy that soon. "I shall have to hear it before you release it as my official anthem. Why are you in a tree?"

"I'll make sure you find it appropriately stirring," Mesteno assured, before answering question with action.

He braced one arm around a sturdy branch above his head, planted a heel against the severed tree limb with its withered leaves and crumbling bark, and kicked, tipping the balance to let gravity drag it to the ground. There had been some strong winds over the past few days, and whilst they hadn't been able to uproot those suspiciously mobile trees, they had ripped loose some branches here and there.

Mesteno seemed as confident in the trees as he did scaling cliff walls, and moments later, made it back to terra firma without incident (or splinters.)

His smile was sharp as a scalpel, arresting rather than handsome, and despite all its sharkish, predatory quality, there was a definite warmth there for the Elf. His hair was bound, drawn forward over one shoulder, secured with a scrappy little length of leather just below his clavicle, and he was clad in sturdy, brown leather pants and a simple oversized sweater in hunter green that seemed to have developed a few holes in the hem.

"You're 'bout as dusty as I've ever seen you. Been rolling in the sand?" he asked, coming near enough to sweep some off Lexius’ shoulder.

Lexius tracked Mesteno all the way to the ground with only two brief darts of his gaze elsewhere. He picked out the place the branch fell, located the dogs (including the old Doberman sacked out on the porch) and extended a few carefully controlled threads of thought, as well, to inspect the grounds and cabin more closely even as he focused back on the Sadist keenly.

"I've been amongst the dunes." He admitted. He stepped in closer, to share the dust along with the grains that trickled along Mesteno's fingers for his bold touch. His own fingers were touching along the holes in the hem of Mesteno's sweater. "I found your hole in the sands."

"You found my what?" Mesteno asked, struggling to assert concentration when he was running on his usual one-track instincts. Give it a second and it'll-- there it is. "Oh! The one I fell down when I was communing with your protectors..." Statement, not question. He looked puzzled. Instead of reaching for Lexius, he reached for the beads, letting them nestle in one palm. They made no effort at all to avoid his reach, appearing nothing more than a string of old, worn beads. "You know for some reason I never actually figured that was a real place. I thought they were just nudging me along and fabricating something my mind could cope with. That the well at the bottom was just a metaphor rather than something I could physically visit."

He was jumping to conclusions, assuming he'd found the well down there, but how else might Lexius have determined it was his hole? And then... "Why is it mine? Did they never take you there? I thought you must have been shown it too."

Lexius sent a tendril of thought snaking into Mesteno's mind. He felt a twinge somewhere in his brain as he set up the mental link, but that was easily overwhelmed by the sense of ease that came with the establishment of that unseen tie. That Mesteno was currently radiating contentment and pleasure only heightened his own and had a certain sort of tension he always seemed to carry bleeding away into nothing. Better. Far better.

"The well is real." Lexius' voice was grave. "And it is yours because this one appeared for you. Where mine was no longer exists." His long fingers were still poking through holes in that sweater, rubbing slowly along the cloth that covered scarred skin and sleek muscle beneath. "When I was more dragon than Elf, yet during a time I was somewhat lucid, I went to the place my well existed and dismantled it. I made the table from the stones there."

Mesteno’s thumb rubbed back and forth over one of the discoloured beads as absently as Lexius was toying with the holes in his sweater. The news had succeeded in directing his mind from the simple pleasure of the Elf's company and had re-routed his thoughts as surely as had a roadblock been erected.

"So they're just dotted all over the desert? Or under the desert. How many though? And why were you able to locate mine?" There was a strange lilt to his voice when he called it that, as if he half wished it weren't because of whatever implications it might hold. "From me just tellin' you what happened?" He wasn't sure he'd described any part of that vision with particular clarity, and though Lexius had mapped the deserts extensively, he knew there must be locations spread over endless seeming miles that he might have had to explore.

The confession about the table Lexius had constructed was just as surprising, but it was a revelation to know of its origins, something that made sense to his sorry, human brain. "You relocated the stones?" He seemed to be asking for clarification. It seemed strangely coincidental that the well would've been sat there in the rear of the red dragon's lair. Far more likely the psion had used his considerable skills to teleport them from the well site to that place he'd chosen to make a refuge of. "And why dismantle the well? Did you seal it up? Why'd they even let you?" So many questions. Mesteno was never content with ignorance.

Lexius withdrew his fingers from their probing touch through the sweater and lifted them to carefully cup the side of Mesteno's neck, instead. A full, skin-on-skin touch that he didn't seem hesitant to make despite the slowness with which he accomplished the hold. His serious gaze studied the Sadist's face even as monitored the man's mind along that single strand that tied them together. His smooth, quiet voice matched his sombre expression.

"I do not believe there is ever more than one on any given world." That he had such an opinion certainly suggested he'd investigated the matter at some length. "And I was able to locate it from what you said, what you wrote and from the memories I studied in your mind. I know this desert quite well." He added that with a trace of amusement. He damned well better know it given the damn place had created him.

"As for the table, yes. I relocated the stones to create it. Doing so destroyed the location the well once rested. I believe I was allowed to do it because of the purpose I put them to, which was growing and preserving a new body in a somewhat accessible yet guarded location." He did not find Mesteno's questions tedious. Nor did he think the man in any way foolish. He knew there would be a flood of inquiries given he'd only explained the situation that led to his rebirth in the most basic way.

Mesteno let the beads swing loose again. Their lack of activity was intriguing, and he hadn't yet decided whether it was because those they played conduit to wished him to concentrate on the matter at hand, or because they were trying to avoid some sort of blame in case he became belligerent over their manipulations. When he finally looked up from the beads, it was to fix the Elf with another of those shrewdly golden stares. "You're taking me there, aren't you?"

"No." Lexius assured. "Not today. It will wait."

"I suppose it was worth finding, even if it did take you away a while. I'd offer to join you on your jaunts, if I didn't think I'd slow you down." And Mesteno knew he would, if not intentionally, then due to some mortal ineffectualness. "It's about time we sat down and talked about how this might work, and what precautions we should take to keep it from *** up. I know it's not gonna require as much planning and precision as what you were doing before," there was no new body on the cards! "but the risks are still high, and I don't have a perfect track record when it comes to 'helping' people."

He didn't offer examples, but they were there in his head for the taking, flickers of memory; an ill lit place beneath the ground where he wrestled with a dark haired man and slew him with a wooden knife, an image all tangled up with Bjorn's voice accusing him of murder. Taneth ragdoll limp in his arms, wan and bleeding one moment, slashing wildly at him with a blade the next. More threatened, but he seemed to stem the unwelcome flow before his mood could foul too far, and he moved to slip an arm low behind the Elf's back to urge him towards the cabin. There was coffee there after all.

Lexius didn't comment on anything right away, especially those memories flicking through the Sadist's mind. It hadn't been his intention to have such a discussion just yet, but he didn't protest the suggestion out of hand even if it made him tighten up and tense in places that were just beginning to relax.

Easily guided, the Elf slid his palm to rest high along Mesteno spine but over the sweater now rather than directly touching skin. He hadn't had his fill of that, but there was no need to push the matter into dangerous territory. The Sadist had said and asked much that made Lexius ponder, but the offer to join him was the thing most prominently swimming around in his head. His brow furrowed a bit as he considered it, but his mouth didn't really wait for his brain to catch up!

"You're welcome to join me whenever you wish, though I did not think you would find any appeal in doing so." Lexius knew from what he'd been told Mesteno had made such jaunts before and he'd seen for himself the man was both familiar and adaptable to the ways of the sands. But when compared to his home, it seemed a poor substitute even considering all the dead leaves and branches!

The necromancer's arm tightened about his waist without warning. Levering the elf up against his side for a clumsy bump of bodies might have seemed pointless if not for the kiss he smeared against the side of his neck where once he'd fastened his teeth harshly enough to draw blood. Lexius was caught between a laugh and a snarl, and both amusement and arousal twisted intricately together, came glimmering along the tie.

"I like to explore," Mesteno told him simply, "Its only commitments here in the city that keep me from doing it as often as I'd like. Besides, I'd be lying if I said the opportunity to watch you in your... natural habitat was not appealing."

He let Lexius go so that they could head inside without tripping over one another, and made immediately for the kitchen where he set the water to heating without even pausing to ask whether he wanted coffee. Mesteno left the rest of the task to the Elf though, recalling well his ban on handling it. A perch on the opposite counter seemed to suffice for a place to observe from, as if he meant to learn so that one day he might be permitted to brew it for him.

"You were dead set against what your Guardian suggested when we spoke on this before," he remarked, absently plucking a few scraps of brittle leaf from his ragged sweater. "Not without good reason either. Those reasons no longer bother you?"
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 21, 2018 10:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

[Continued...]

Lexius was unthreading the beads from his belt, and pooled the string on the counter. “They bother me." His tone was grim, but he kept it level as he occupied himself with drawing out two mugs he'd left in one of the cabinets. He was silent as he drew the box of coffee packets closer and twisted his will upon it to open it. Two packets withdrawn, the scent of the spice filtered into the air immediately. Lexius drew in a deep breath of that before he continued, his gaze still set to the task of making the coffee. "It is rare for them," the beads, he meant, "to make such a forward and obvious suggestion about anything. Typically, they are content to let me deal with things as I see fit. The only time they actively interfere is when something not merely threatens, but has the ability to destroy me entirely." He paused and looked aside to Mesteno. "Yet now they are encouraging you to do just that. There are many, many reasons to be concerned with that development."

Mesteno dipped a brief nod, and settled with his elbows against his thighs, chin propped on the back of his knuckles. "Perhaps they need you fixed for some reason, some task," he suggested, his eyes narrowed thoughtfully and his brows severe to match his frown. "Or they've noticed some kind of change in you they don't want to progress, something they're concerned might end undesirably."

He'd his own suspicions about that. Koyan's return to RhyDin had resulted in some uncharacteristic loss of control moments, and if he were to be faced with it frequently, how much before he snapped? "Of course it might just be that they actually genuinely care about you and don't want you suffering any longer." That last seemed a little too innocent for the entity on the other end of those beads, but he couldn't rule it out. Even hoping to discern their reasoning was a fool's task! "So, their desire to see a change, despite the risks, has made you think it's worthwhile?"

Lexius was taking the time to appreciate the sight Mesteno made just then, perched in that unusual position with sand dust marring his skin and intelligence glittering in his eyes as he worked the puzzle the beads had put before them. The Elf spent a long moment trying to decide if the way the man looked now was more or less devastating than the way he smiled. He came to no certain conclusion and turned his gaze away, back to the packets of coffee he was turning and turning between his long fingers. Lexius took a measured breath before he continued.

"Whatever the reason, I am quite sure it is to serve itself rather than me." The 'itself' now referred to whatever used those beads as a conduit. Lexius thought of them separately more often than not, though he knew the two were inextricably tied together. "My concern lies more in what the process will do to you, what It wants from you, how It will change you, than anything that might happen to me." He was sliding the packets into place, letting the hot water steep through them as he spoke, his tone growing harsher.

"I no longer court death as closely as I once might have, and It seems invested in keeping me alive regardless. It is also quit familiar with how selfish I can be. It will use that against me to get what It wants. And the beads have been interested in you since the very beginning." Apparently, he didn't ascribe any altruism whatsoever to that entity or the beads no matter how much he might owe them for his existence.

"Your concern is appreciated," Mesteno admitted, with a smile Lexius wouldn't see since he'd turned his back.

His flippancy had the Elf’s shoulders tightening, and Lexius ground his jaw, wishing for a root.

"And I can't say I don't have my own concerns about the whole thing.” Mesteno continued, apparently oblivious. “I'm not sure how much of that battle between your energies and mine you remember, if any, but when 'It' intervened last time to tell me you belonged to it, to separate us, it did so real easy." He marked the haste with a snap of his fingers, before letting that same, unoccupied hand come to rest lax between parted thighs. "But my energy had only just begun to counteract yours by trying to drain you. If it wants me to do more, to filter out the faults..."

Plainly he was concerned that wouldn't be such an easy feat. Or that separating them was something that couldn't be achieved without more vigorous methods. A filter was easily cast aside after all if it was damaged after all.

"...I'm not sure it'll be able to separate us cleanly, or easily. If I knew how to control it better though, to stop before anything is permanently severed," soul from flesh he meant! "I'd feel better about the whole thing. So I need to know that if we try this, there's always gonna be a lifeline I can't sever. We need to look up some way to keep you safe, because I'm done with making mistakes, and I couldn't live with ending you. What do you think the likelihood of you coming out and not remembering any of this are?" he asked, and if Lexius had turned by then, he might see the gesture Mesteno made between them.

The beads had stealthily migrated their way across the counter to where the Sadist was perched. Even then, they were sliding over one knee, defying gravity as they went. Lexius finally poured the coffee.

"I recall most of what happened that evening." A few days of focused meditation had helped him piece it all together. "Though I am still uncertain how It did what It did." He turned, stepping closer to offer Mesteno one of the steaming mugs.

Despite their blatant manipulations, Mesteno couldn't bring himself to dislike that entity the beads channelled, so when the string had come creeping over his knee, he didn't flick them aside as an irritated man would. If he gave it any thought, he'd probably come to the conclusion that he and the beads were on the same side; both desired Lexius free of all that hindered him, even if their reasons for desiring it were vastly opposed. His fingers curled beneath the string, tipping them into the cup of his palm as he listened.

"Gratius," he murmured for the coffee, free hand curled around the mug and as ever coveting the heat.

"I don't know how things will go.” Lexius admitted. “I suppose it will depend on how much of me is...consumed and how much is recovered. It may well take from you whatever it cannot save." he shook his head, reaching once Mesteno took the mug to brush away the sand dust on the man's jaw. "I have no idea how it will do what it suggests, but I am sure it will not be clean, as you say." He paused a moment before finally offering some small bit of help. "I will use the table, as well, so you might see the way the patterns of energy lay in me. Perhaps the visualization will help you recognize that lifeline."

One might almost be forgiven for thinking Mesteno docile, civilised as he sat there, but when Lexius reached to brush away the traces of dust clinging to his skin, he set such illusions to rest when he turned his head, lips smudging apart against his hand to make way for the teeth which came pinching down on the heel of his palm, close to the sensitive, delicate skin of his inner wrist. It appeared he didn't mind the taste of the sand. The scrape of teeth gentled before doing more than leaving a faint, reddened impression of his incisors behind.

Lexius didn't seem to mind. His fingers curled in hard against the side of the Sadist's jaw in response. His eyes narrowed, a quiet sound rumbled in his chest, but he drew another careful breath and allowed the man to pull away without any sort of retaliation. The Elf lingered close, though his frown was more for the carelessness with the coffee than anything else.

"I wish the *** things would talk to me when I spoke to them," Mesteno admitted. "Maybe if I meditate hard enough they'll answer me." He gave the string a little shake before they could start snickering again, and lifted them from his knee to set them on the counter beside his thigh.

"Do not court the attention so brazenly or you may well receive it." Lexius meant the contact with whatever was behind the beads. Getting its attention was one thing, actively seeking it out another altogether. "Unless you wish your own set of beads to deal with." This he added far, far too mildly. He leaned a hip to the counter beside the Sadist, eyeing him through wisps of steam as he lifted his mug to hover close to his face. His bitten hand he rested atop Mesteno's leg.

"I can't guarantee having you lie on the table will help me find your ‘tether’,” the necromancer admitted, “but it's a beginning. Hell, maybe we should even practice, figure out whether I can draw on you gently as if I had intend to feed and stop without a problem..." Though he frowned as he suggested it, as if the notion of even tasting a little might end poorly.

"Have you ever done something like that?" Lexius asked.

Mesteno observed the Elf through the rising steam, slouching back far enough to rest his head against one of the cabinet doors. "I've drained someone deliberately without killing them, yes. I do it frequently amongst the masses in large numbers where I can be less cautious, but on individuals, less so."

Still, he felt the need to clarify. "You know how it gets when I'm not in control, you've seen it. Once when... when I was broken, I dropped a crowd in the market place. A few dozen at least. They weren't dead, but unconscious. It escaped my control. When I go out with intent, and I can keep it on a leash, it feeds only a little and from many at a time so that none are aware. No harm done." The way he preferred it. He did flash a smile though when he added, "The individual I succeeded in performing it on without problems was the Governor’s Minister of Justice. With good reason of course. She didn't like me, so I drained her, kidnapped her and took her out into the Dry with Sam for a few nights. She changed her tune when I got her back to the city." Oh, the smug bastard! The slant of his smile seemed to suggest it had been a rather dramatic change. "If you don't want me to, I understand. You've seen enough that I'd understand your caution."

Lexius squeezed Mesteno's leg, as much to feel the denim pressing into the place where teeth marks scored his skin as to acknowledge the Sadist's admission on past misdeeds and the way he usually tried to feed. He watched in silence for some time, breathing in the spiced scent of the coffee that curled against his face in the steam and pondering their options, of which there were precious few. He braved a sip from the mug before he said anything at all.

"We can try." He finally allowed. "But after the table. And in a very controlled environment." The desert, of course. "Have you been meditating?"

"That all sounds sensible," Mesteno agreed. He might have been the one to suggest it, but that didn't mean he was eager to try. Meditation was another issue entirely. His expression twisted into something sharp and critical, and he drew his eyes from the Elf and down to his own coffee. He lifted it for a sip, surprised when he didn't scald his tongue.

Lexius watched the transformation of Mesteno's expression with mild fascination. He knew the answer just from that observation before the man even spoke.

"I try,” the necromancer admitted. “I've managed on a couple of occasions but things snap me from it more easily than they should. And actually reaching the state is a trial when my head is so full of worry. I don't have your mental control. It's frustrating." Not that he expected to be able to compete with the mastery of a being so much older than he, but it plainly bothered him that there was something he couldn't master.

"I've kept the stones on me at all times though, and I'm finally finished with that damn physics book, so I suppose I'm not failing entirely at everything." It was the last of the loaned volumes to be finished, and the one he'd been caught out with in the rain. "There was nothing in any of those books which'll help our current situation of course. Maybe Mister Snout's son will have something more enlightening in his book."

Lexius could taste Mesteno's frustration in the tie, hear the self-recrimination underlying his words. None of it was surprising, given what he knew of the man's nature and his past experiences. Lexius was not disappointed that the Sadist was having trouble. It was inevitable that he would. That he was trying, reacquainting himself with the mind-set and habits of it, were the more important parts at this juncture.

"You will only master it if you continue to practice. I will give you four more days. At the end of that time I will expect you to be able to calm your mind, build a picture of yourself within it and maintain the state for an hour." Mesteno would do better with more defined goals, he was sure. The man had told him to make it a challenge! "Hold the stones while you practice." He advised. The Elf drank from his coffee again, deep and long, before he continued. It helped drown his smile even if a glimmer of amusement did filter across the tie for the Egyptian deity’s nickname.

Mesteno straightened his head from the cupboard door when he sensed the trickle of amusement, and his golden eyes narrowed shrewdly, accusingly! "I'd rather picture something else if I have to maintain an image," he retorted, setting down his coffee and this time avoiding any spills the Elf might disapprove of. "Four days then. Though I'll be ready in three."

Because he did love a challenge.

[End.]
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 7:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[Taken from live play with Koyan and posted with permission.]

November 29th, 2015


The Red Dragon’s commons were a ghost town that afternoon, which was no deterrent to Mesteno. He’d chose a spot at one end of the bar where no other stools could crowd about him, and an open bottle of Grand Marnier, reliable old poison that it was, had begun the slow business of warming his hollow stomach.

Visiting the watering hole was a risky business lately, and he’d half expected trouble even though he’d arrived via less than conventional means, avoiding roads and alleys and open skies. He hadn’t expected the trouble he did get at all, though in the days that followed, given time for retrospect, he would concede that had been foolish.

Koyan had chosen the lesser known pathways through the city, short-cutting through alleys and behind businesses on his way through town. Several stops later, he arrived at the back door of the Inn, pausing there to stare at the handle with a pensive expression on his face.

This way, there be danger.

Fae wine sat hidden on a low shelf, a bottle he'd kept there for years. Regardless of his own misgivings about alcohol, he stepped inside, already digging a pack of cigarettes from his front pocket. He wore black jeans, buckskin boots, and a coat of buttery black leather. He hadn't even made the bar when he saw a body propped atop a stool. Koyan paused, dark eyes glittering. Glancing behind him, he considered going right back out the way he came.

Mesteno’s fingers stilled an inch from the throat of his bottle, the noise from the back door intrusive after so long spent in his own company. He was confident trouble wouldn't follow him inside the inn, at least not of the sort he'd been dealing with lately, but still he turned to tip his chin towards his shoulder, glimpsing the desert man in the process. Koyan's stillness was telling.

"You're all recovered," he noted, and for once the place was quiet enough even words soft-spoken as his own carried untroubled. He might have said more, but there was a measure of extra scrutiny to the wolf's gold eyes that suggested he was assessing the situation rather than assuming all was well between them.

The Turk’s stare was unkind at best. Hard. Cold. Propping a cigarette between his teeth, he went through the motions of lighting it and stuffing the pack, along with the lighter, back into his pocket. Drawing a deep lungful of smoke, he exhaled and looked over the interior of the Inn. He still seemed on the verge of simply walking out without replying. In fact, he said nothing in reply after all. Nor did he move from his frozen spot.

The silence was cutting. When Koyan made no move to reply, Mesteno turned on his stool to face him, one forearm propped along the edge of the bar.

"I've seen you harmed worse. You're not angry about getting fried," he remarked, ignoring the itch to reach out for the bottle again. "If I offended you in restraining your friend, my apologies. If it's about the Grecian issue, I know I was wrong to hold my damn tongue."

Koyan rolled his head left. Right. Around until he was staring at the ceiling instead of boring holes into Mesteno's face. One shoulder twitched. Glancing down at the cigarette he held between the knots of his knuckles, he cautioned himself over and over about his temper, about the consequences of his actions, his words. He found it difficult to speak. There was no good starting point.

When he did find words, he looked up, right at Mesteno's eyes. "How long?"

Mesteno hadn’t expected that. His expression became severe, as if he were surprised to find Koyan's temper riled over what he suspected, more than all else combined. The frown smoothed though, into something unrepentant, perhaps even curious.

"Two months? Less, in truth." He did reach for the bottle then, and uncivilised as ever he'd been, drank straight from its mouth. "Nothing you ever spoke of to me has been mentioned to him. And if you've still some... claim on him I should be concerned about, you should probably make it plain. I wasn't aware something so long past would trouble you."

Lexius. The discussion had been inevitable, but as he’d naively told the Elf, he hadn’t expected it to matter.

Instead, the second ‘two months’ hit the air, Koyan started shaking his head. Once more, he stared down at the cigarette in his fingers, watching ash curl away from the end. He spent long minutes just standing there, absorbing, dealing. Coping. Then, he laughed. It started as a deep rumble, raspy and bitter.

"No. No, Mesteno, I don't have a claim on anyone. But you should have ****told me." Koyan glanced at the door, the window, the bar top. His shoulders trembled with the need to expend violence.

Growling at one another from across the room didn't suit Mesteno. He was unsure whether anyone renting the rooms above might eavesdrop, and should anyone else wander in he didn't mean for it to end up gossip fodder. He left his seat behind and approached, despite the violence he sensed rippling just under the Turk's skin. He was ever unafraid, to the point of recklessness.

"You didn't care when I befriended Bjorn, or Dair-- granted I wasn't **** the latter, but you've never desired to know who I was bedding. I was supposed to make an exception for Lexius? The pair of you barely speak, and I'm supposed to divine... from what? That this is your business? You still care for him?" Bluntly asking whether he was stepping on toes.

"Don't." The warning in Koyan’s voice and eyes was clear. Don't come any closer. Lifting the cigarette, he drew deep--then spewed the smoke out when Bjorn's name hit the air. "Are you **** kidding me? Bjorn?" Obviously, he hadn't known.

And then, then he exploded.

He took a threatening step forward, using the hand he held the cigarette in to point at Mesteno. "If I had started up a relationship with any of your serious ex-lovers, Mesteno, I would have told you before two months was out. I just figured that was the right thing to do. Not only didn't you tell me, you're standing there acting like I don't have a right to be pissed. I thought we were **** friends. Friends tell friends things like this to avoid awkward circumstances. It's called respect goddamnit. Because if I'd have known? I wouldn't have let you call him to save my life. I wouldn't have allowed him to get involved at all. But you didn't give me that choice, did you? Don't ever do that again. I don't give a **** if I'm bleeding out on the lawn, do not ever call him to save me again."

Mesteno stopped, but it was not due to fear. Merely a respect for the distance the other man seemed to desire. And then he weathered the storm that was Koyan's temper, and stood there unmoving, immutable as a mountain until he paused long enough for him to reply. And it was honest, as always.

"Let me re-word that first part - Bjorn and I never... just fumbled around a bit a couple of times." He was perhaps doing Bjorn a disservice in making the man's intentions sound unserious, but he left the subject behind, eyeing the cigarette without caution despite it being jabbed his way. "And I speak the truth when I tell you I never thought you would have cared. The two of you seemed on good terms when he helped at Alvaka, and you'd clearly moved on several times since you and Lexius parted ways. I was supposed to come telling you about it when I thought you were still reeling over the one you lost in Madrid?" He spared him stating her name - he'd only known it because of Eden. "I won't call him again," he promised quietly, and there was no guile in his eyes when he added, "I misjudged, plainly. I-- I'm sorry Koyan but you were harmed and whether you like it or not, I panicked."

Very little panicked the necromancer. Apparently a dying Koyan did.

The cigarette burned all the way to Koyan’s knuckles. When the skin singed, he snapped the filter out into the room, careless where it landed.

"I don't give a rat's ass about Bjorn. That's an entirely different situation." Raking a hand back through his hair, he expelled a rush of air. "Yes. Yes, you were supposed to tell me. But I guess that's how I do things, and not how you do them. And yes, it's been a year since I lost my fiancee, a year this month since my family died. That notwithstanding, I really did believe you'd be the type to at least mention something I consider important to me. Because there's a lot of bitterness there on my part, and, like I said, I would have chosen a different path the day of the eagle." Some of the inner rage eased. Not all, but some. "I can't for the life of me figure out why you'd panic over me, but so we're clear--no more."

He took another step closer, like he might say something devastating and private. But he checked himself, checked the urge to tell a hard truth. He hadn't gotten the truth up front, after all. "Good luck with all that." Indifference entered his gaze after the rage had gone; the shutters came up, the coolness came back. Things had irrevocably changed between Koyan and Mesteno.

"You can't figure it out?” Mesteno asked, apparently not willing to let matters drop. “Either you're assuming I think you're indestructible, or you have no **** idea of where you rank amongst those I call friend, in which case my past actions have never spoken clearly."

He wouldn't speak of them, but if the Turk's memory was still sharp and he cast his mind back, perhaps he'd pick over their lengthy acquaintance and realise how often the secretive bastard had offered his aid unconditionally. He wasn't sure what it was that went unspoken just then, but likely he mistook it for some violent whim taken back at the last moment rather than some hard truth.

"I knew it would be hard for him too, yet still I called him," he reminded darkly. Certainly he'd pleased no one that day! "Making sure you stayed alive was more important than the history between you, even if it meant you'd both be angry. I've upset you in a way I didn't know I would, and I'm not blind, I see what I've done." That change. There was a certain rawness to his voice now, a regret he couldn't hide, and he didn't look at Koyan then, because the indifference was worse than anything. "Your opinion of me is changed. At least know you remain in my affections whether you wish it or not." Stubborn.

"I could **** punch you a thousand times right now," Koyan snarled. "No, I don't know where I rank, Mesteno. But certainly higher than not telling me something like that. And of course it was hard for him--he's treated me like utter **** since I first saw him around again. He can't even be bothered to extend niceties to Eli, who happened to be there for Lex when Lex came back from the dead. Oh, I don't know, you'd think that would buy someone some kind of loyalty. But no. So I imagine he was far less than pleased when he realized you'd summoned him to save my sorry ass. If you just would have told me."

Once again, he raked a hand back through his hair. He really wanted a drink. Then he cut a hard look aside again when Mesteno talked about affections. "All I ever asked for was to be a respected friend. That's it. I've confessed so much **** to you, Mesteno, and yet I get hardly anything in return."

He waved a hand dismissively, unable to maintain his indifference and coolness in the face of their ongoing conversation. He dug out the pack of cigarettes again and lit up, dragging down a deep lungful of smoke. Koyan fell to silence then, toying with the lighter before pushing it and the pack into his pocket.

Mesteno knew better than to offer to let work off some of that violence. Better than to think he'd have the restraint himself not to retaliate! Koyan had his cigarettes, Mesteno had his drink. Just then he'd have given anything to slump into a pleasant, chemical stupor, the cowards' way out of things. Worse yet, that he couldn't even explain the reasons for Lexius' behaviour without spilling other people's secrets. So he said nothing of it, and made no apology in his absence, lifting his bottle to swallow and ease some of the tightness in his throat.

"I have a great deal of respect for you, Koyan. And perhaps I haven't been as open on some matters, much to my current regret, but I've never hurt you with intent. You know full well I'd do anything for you, you bastard, and you can't forgive me this one thing?"

Even as he asked, he suspected he knew what the response would be. At least he was braced for it.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 15, 2018 6:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[Taken from live play with Koyan and Ransom, posted with permission.]

[Continued...]

Koyan had cut a look aside as Sabine arrived, then back to Mesteno. Smoking in long draws, he studied the Sadist pensively. The words abraded already open wounds, leaving him feeling weirdly exposed and raw. Silence stretched for long minutes while he thought about it, about his own response, about how their dynamic had changed.

"Yeah, Mesteno. I may be **** pissed off, but I admit not all of that is at you. Twelve or thirteen years or whatever it's been is a long time to build a friendship, and I'd hate for it to be burned to the ground over this. Too much ***'s already been burned to the ground." Finally, he leaned against the edge of the counter, tilting his considerable weight into the wood.

Mesteno had been so intent on the Turk during those last few minutes that he'd barely registered there was someone else in the inn with them. For a heartbeat only, his attention ticked across to Sabine, but he thought her harmless enough judging by the immediate return of focus to Koyan. Surprised that Koyan had chosen not to shun him after all, yet cautious in his relief, he did not immediately relax as if he assumed forgiveness. "I would have the air cleared between us completely," he warned. He was well aware that keeping one secret had nearly sabotaged their friendship, but he seemed to be willingly offering another.

"I expected to hear that," Koyan said, unsurprised at Mesteno's warning. Smoke curled toward the ceiling. He tried not to think about Gwyn in the aftermath of all this, or Sebastian. Or every other person he'd lost last year. It was difficult not to since everything was currently in the open. His thumb stroked the empty spot where a ring once sat on his finger. Gwyn, with her feisty disposition, the one person in the world who could put him in his place with a look.

The necromancer hesitated, but then leaned near enough without imposing on his space that he could speak without being overheard.

Bringing himself out of his reverie, Koyan tilted his head when Mesteno leaned over. The hard twitch of his body proved that was the last thing he expected to hear. Reeling back, he sought Mesteno's eyes, frowning.

"What? What the hell? Did you?" He felt like he'd been struck in the gut with a sledgehammer.

"I wasn't given an option. To retrieve one, the other had to be freed first," Mesteno muttered, having confessed the small matter of Aiden’s return to Rhy’Din. He'd been recruited unwillingly to the cause, and knew he'd potentially increased the likelihood that Koyan would go against all his advice about avoiding the new Grecian temples.

Ransom had been listening quietly to the sounds emanating from inside the Inn; if he couldn't hear the shapes of actual words, the timbre of voices was likely enough. At last he pushed his way inside and shut the door quietly behind him. His unnatural blue eyes picked out faces automatically, and since Koyan, the man of the hour, seemed otherwise occupied, Ransom made his way toward another part of the bar.

"This is unfucking believable." Koyan stated, though spying Ransom, he lifting his chin in greeting.

Ransom returned it with an inclination of his head and the barest curve at the corner of his mouth.

"Yes. Free.” Mesteno confirmed. “His memory seems to've suffered a little." He’d asked Aiden whether he'd any recollection of the desert man and found the reply... unsatisfactory. He took another swallow from the bottle, and strained his ears, expecting to hear thunder, or maybe the raucous noise of more eagles outside.

Koyan looked back to Mesteno. Could his day get any better? Or worse? Eagles could attack again, or more lightning could strike. Shutting down his inner devil, he lifted a hand to rub at his eyelids. "That's for the better. The memory. Jesus." He had to just take a minute to absorb the hell that had become his life.

Ransom’s gaze flicked across Mesteno, absorbing details in a heartbeat of stillness. He began to unbutton his coat, while a flustered Sabine distracted his attention from the two men.

"That's all of it. I'm keeping nothing else to myself." Of relevance to Koyan, Mesteno meant. Doubtless he'd countless other secrets he'd never confided to anyone, but the Turk hadn't asked for those. "That's why we were attacked the other day, for releasing them. That's why I'm still being hunted, and probably will remain so. The titan is just an added irritation to the pantheon."

Quiet now, as if the encounter had drained away all his usual attitude, he watched Koyan as if still expecting some terrible fallout, the discontent coupled with the autumn-borne sleeplessness nudging him toward further bad decisions. He didn't know Ransom, but Koyan's acknowledgment of him had seen reciprocation of that brief study, one which ended unremarked upon.

Koyan studied Mesteno thoughtfully, his surprise waning to an unpleasant frown. "Now I've got to apologize for ever involving you with the titan to begin with. Who knew it would have repercussions ten years later? And honestly, I don't have a damn clue how to help you fix it."

Bringing the cigarette up, he chin-gestured to Ransom when Mesteno glanced that way. "Ransom, this is Mesteno. Mesteno, Ransom." He rubbed a hand down his face, mind spinning with implications and repercussions.

Ransom was easing out of a black, knee-length coat of fine wool, a change from his usual leather. Beneath, he had on a close-fitting henley the color of a day-old bruise and a pair of worn-in jeans. The clothes were obviously chosen to accentuate more than conceal. He left his scarf bundled around his neck, and helped himself to a glass and the bottle of Maker's Mark. He glanced over toward Koyan and Mesteno, belatedly registering the sound of his own name. "Mesteno," he replied. "Charmed." Oh so mild. He poured the bourbon.

"Salve," Mesteno returned the greeting to Ransom, though he looked puzzled over the name. Maybe he'd misheard. Even after all these years his common wasn't one hundred percent accurate.

He turned back to Koyan and offered a mirthless smile for the apology he’d been given. "I called you a pussy, you had your reputation to defend." Call up the giant or have an incorrigible, twenty year old Mesteno accusing him of cowardice for the rest of his days. "You can't fix it," he added for Koyan's benefit, "but avoid the Temple district like I asked. You've enough to worry about... though I note they still haven't caught up to you." He meant the Assamites, this time.

Koyan actually laughed. Raspy, guttural. "And we were just stupid enough to do it." Youth! Notably, he did not make any promises not to visit the Temple district. He smoked, exhaled, then addressed the Assamites. "I found out why they didn't find me when I was wandering around totally drunk in the city. It appears that there was an uprising in Madrid, and they all went back to fight it. Don't think it's the end of it all, but that's why I'm still here and breathing."

Ransom took a long swallow of bourbon, then poured himself another few fingers' worth before he placed the bottle back on the shelf and returned to the patron’s side of the bar. Of course he was eavesdropping. He didn't bother to hide it, either.

"You were old enough to know better," Mesteno averred, and though the smile had evaporated, his tone had warmed a little, lost that raw edge it'd possessed whilst they argued. He took note of the lack of promise, but that came as no surprise. What did was Koyan remaining willing to keep him informed of what'd happened in Madrid. "Well that sounds like it might have benefitted you. If they're down on numbers, your chances improve. Please tell me you're not gonna play martyr again and walk around hoping they'll confront you..."

The Turk’s attention shifted to Ransom, lingered, and then landed back on Mesteno. There was something sitting on the end of his tongue again, something more serious than walking around town looking for confrontation. "No, I'm not." The laughter and any hint of amusement was gone.

Koyan's lack of concern for the eavesdropper's attention was enough to reassure Mesteno that Ransom was somehow involved, so he didn't lower his voice to exclude him. "A relief," he admitted, but there was hesitation before he spoke again. Where once he'd have badgered for details relentlessly and unrepentantly, he no longer took Koyan's willingness to talk for granted. "You have a plan?" The details, or lack of them, would guide him.

Koyan met Ransom's gaze again, though if there was a message to be passed over, it was difficult to tell what it was. Finishing the second smoke, Koyan reached over to snuff that one in an ashtray. "I do, but I don't want you to panic," he said to Mesteno. He'd worded it just that way for a reason.

The necromancer wasn't oblivious to the choice either. He slid a look sidelong, though it was along the bar in the Turk's direction, rather than eye to eye. "Understood." He conceded, and poor actor he was, couldn't quite conceal the disappointment.

Ransom lowered himself onto a stool and set his glass aside before reaching for his coat. From a pocket, he drew out a package of cigarettes and a polished lighter. One was tapped out to perch between his long fingers before the pack was put away again, and he lit up. The lighter closed with a quiet snap, and again he glanced to Koyan and Mesteno, meeting the former's gaze.

Koyan had taken note of Mesteno’s disappointment. "Why the look? I thought you didn't want to be any part of that."

"I may let you mock my concern for you," Mesteno informed him as he nudged the half-empty bottle of Marnier away along the bar by a few inches, "and you may have my promise not to involve certain individuals in the future, but that doesn't mean I'd prefer to be oblivious. Or idle, if I can help."

"I'm not mocking you. Promise." The desert man needed another cigarette or booze. "I prefer to let someone do it who can and who won't be as affected as you might be." Koyan's brows arched Ransom's way; he didn't speak aloud, however, letting the look stand for itself. Perhaps they needed to revisit an earlier discussion.

Ransom raised his glass in a vague toast to the look Koyan gave him. Certain things were starting to make more sense now.

Mesteno followed Koyan's look towards Ransom. "Who you choose to trust with such things is your business, but sometimes it’s not a bad thing to have someone who cares at your back." He wasn't chiding him in any way for leaving him out, nor did he seem sullen over Ransom's inclusion. He was however easing away from the bar, pushing with the heel of a palm. "Try not to get yourself killed," he told him, heading not for the door but for the stairs leading up.

"See you." Koyan couldn't respond to most of that without avoiding the truth, so he avoided it altogether. Koyan marked Mesteno's path to the stairs, then stared down at his boots for long minutes. His shoulders rose and fell with a deep breath. Then he pushed off from the counter to step between the break and behind. Booze was in order after all.

Ransom tracked Mesteno's departure from the bar. After a few moments, his gaze returned to Koyan. He traded off between the bourbon and the cigarette.

Moments later and the necromancer had disappeared into one of the rooms, though he was doubtless not within them long.

[End.]
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 11:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

[Adapted from live play with Lexius.]

December 5th, 2015

"Mesteno." A murmur, soft and low.

Lexius was haunting the doorway to Mesteno’s laboratory, poised on the threshold.

Had he a moment of indulgence to do so, he might have stood there for some time, simply contenting himself with watching as the man peered into the eyepiece of the microscope. After all, he’d been absent again, secluding himself to the desert sands and avoiding all contact save for brief exchanges at the Red Dragon.

Mesteno had known he was approaching though, simply aware of a change in the morgue’s stillness, and he’d turned about on his stool before his name had really even left the Elf’s mouth. The necromancer was about as ragged and ill-tempered as he could get, and the darkness about his eyes made the brilliant, wolf's gold of them seem fever bright in their intensity.

He did not ask why Lexius had stayed away, though it was not for lack of caring. His very nature decreed the question go unspoken. "Well there are no holes in you... I take it Sin behaved himself." One corner of his mouth twitched towards a smile.

"He asked of you first." Came the smooth, serene reply. Maybe too much serenity, there.

"He probably wanted to know whether I had any intention of hunting him down," Mesteno suggested simply. The Ravnos was a survivor, and didn't need a surly necromancer hounding him when he had superiors to answer to already.

Lexius had decided to try something new (a habit Mesteno kept driving him to). He came prowling into the lab without an invitation. No tendril of thought preceded him. Instead, physical touch came first. There was no haste in the way Lexius reached out to sink his fingers into the messy braid he wore his hair in, the way he leaned in to have his taste of the man's mouth.

Mesteno offered no obstacle. He could appreciate the novelty of Lexius instigating, and for now abandoned his work to hook an arm up about his shoulders, closing his fist around a handful of fabric and hair and fast forgetting the kindred for a long, indulgent moment.

Finally, Lexius pulled away several inches, breathing a little more swiftly and hand still buried in the man's hair. His smile was full and slid easily across his mouth. He was not yet willing to go back to the subject of the vampire. That Sin had asked about Mesteno first had irritated him. As if he had some right. In truth he expected Sinjin probably had far more rights than he did, which only made Lexius a little bit more annoyed.

"A worthwhile experiment." His gaze flicked down to the front of the hoodie Mesteno wore. "You have paw prints on your shirt."

"An experiment?" Mesteno’s tone suggested mock-disapproval (ill mastered as always). "I'm curious t'know what your hypothesis was.” He glanced down at the stained front of the garment without any concern for the mess. After a moment, his fingers released their possessive grasp, arm falling slack from Lexius' shoulders. Instead his hand resettled at his waist, a safe zone.

"So the two of you conversed like civilised men? You didn't chide him for putting holes in me?" It appeared Mesteno had no intention of letting him forget the subject.

The incident he referred to had been more than a month ago by then, a moment of blundering violence that had left Mesteno with a bloodied neck and the Elf harbouring the first unsettling suggestions of jealousy. He’d been of a mind to rip the vampire's fangs right out of his head at that point, though now he was mostly past that urge.

"I'd spoken with him not long after the incident happened,” Lexius admitted, “and did not chide him then. We have always managed to be civilized. He mentioned something of secrets, asked after you. I told him you were stubborn, reckless and ill-tempered. That seemed to ease his mind."

"You make me sound like a keeper," Mesteno remarked wryly. He couldn't argue the points!

"He managed to bait me, however." Now the Elf's smile was gone, the frown entirely self-directed! "There was not much else of note beyond the fact he thinks himself human. And his interaction with your brother. He's quite fond of the youth." Lexius thought it too bad, really, that Sal was Mesteno's brother. Lexius couldn't really use him against Sin given that fact.

For Mesteno, it was nice to know some things never changed, and for Sin and his here again, gone again lifestyle, perhaps it was a comfort. Mesteno hadn't realised that Sin and Lexius had much of an association, but then he hadn't expected there to have been one with Gem, either. Civilised indeed... they could play at it, but he wasn't sure either of them fit the bill precisely.

"Sin has always been far removed from what you might expect of kindred. I don't know whether it's just because he's young so far as undead are concerned, or whether it's his mentality, but in many ways he still seems human. He's deadly, and he's not exactly the most grounded creature, but in his affections he's..." He sought for a word, and his smile skewed crooked, fond. "He doesn't do well alone, and my brother has been a refuge to him for a long time." No, killing or tormenting Sin would not settle well with Mesteno either! Too much history. "How'd he manage to bait you?"

Lexius sensed Mesteno’s amusement in that question, and bared his teeth. He got another tug to his hair, even if the Elf knew that was no sort of punishment at all. It might be he just wanted to hear the growl again.

"I did not know why he was asking me about you beyond having glimpsed us speaking. I'm fairly certain were I to chide him about putting holes in you, he would actively seek to do so at every opportunity because he will then know it bothers me." The explanation had eased his frown, putting something more wry in his expression as he continued. "He noticed from the first the distance I keep between myself and others and constantly pushes the boundary seeking a reaction. I should have continued to refuse to give one even when he came in too close, but I was...out of sorts." So Sin had gotten his reaction and won the round! “He does seem more human around your brother." Lexius gaze shifted from Mesteno's face to watch his hand as he withdrew his fingers from the man's braid only to sink then into the mass in a different location. "He accused me of despising humanity." He murmured.

"Well perhaps if he knew your history of human... companions, he'd reconsider that," Mesteno remarked, reaching to claim Lexius’ wrist and prevent any further tugging at his hair. "On the whole there's plenty of reasons to dislike us as a race though, so I wouldn't blame you if he were right. He likes to play games," he admitted, his tone warmed by his amusement. "Some of which're *** ridiculous. But anyway... why were you out of sorts?"

The Elf’s hand stilled. A single, slanted brow twitched upward, but he allowed the man to do what he wished without resisting. "My dislike isn’t limited to humans." He was an equal opportunity bastard. "The less he knows about me the better. I do still wonder what he meant about secrets."

Lexius finally reached out with a thread of thought, snaking it into Mesteno's mind precisely to establish a link. The Sadist's amusement might have driven him to seek more information from whatever he could glean along that tie. He certainly had himself together well enough to give nothing beyond a certain sort of easing once the connection was made. Better. The unwinding of the tension might be what prompted his next words.

"Once I am recovered, I would seek to make this mental link more permanent. Do you oppose that?" He finally asked! Better to know now, though, if Mesteno was opposed.

With the tie rooted, and an immediate, impulsive nudge from Mesteno's end welcoming it, Mesteno finally let go of Lexius' hand. He was frowning though, at the mention of permanence. "What would it involve? Could it *** my head up?" A rare moment of personal concern. He'd suffered too much damage over the years not to want to know of any risks.

Lexius brushed his palm over the Sadist's shoulder and down the outside of his arm before the touch vanished completely. He didn't step back, but he did fold his hands behind his back as he studied the man and pondered his reactions.

"It would be much like it is now, but always there and somewhat stronger. Distance thins the connection, but does not break it. I will be able to mute it at will, but I believe you could learn to do so, as well. That you know the moment I establish the link and can produce a mental nudge in response, however slight, shows the promise of that possibility." He paused, brow furrowing faintly, before addressing the second question. "I will not physically or mentally damage you." he wasn't quite sure what Mesteno constituted as '*** up'! "It can be dissolved without permanent damage, though it is best I be the one who does it rather than another or you will risk a backlash."

"The thought of it being more permanent doesn't scare me. I like having it there," Mesteno admitted candidly, adopting a slouch, weight on one elbow. "And if you say there won't be any mental damage as a result, I trust you." Why did it sound like there was a 'but' coming, though? "Will it mean you go deeper in than before? I know that if you really wanted to you could go roaming through it all anyway, and I don't for a minute think you'd deliberately go poking about up there just because you could. But there's some things I'd rather confess to in my own time. Some secrets I can't share, and I wouldn't risk them being stumbled across, either because I happened to dream them while we were linked," the way Aoife had seen things, "or because I didn't shut my thoughts down as effectively as I should.

"Any time I am in your mind, the potential for betraying your secrets exists." Lexius wasn't using that as a reassurance. "I have the ability to establish the connection as deeply or as shallowly as I wish. I would not tie it into your subconscious, but when you sleep any dreams do become the active part of your mind and I may well be able to view them." All of what he said certainly argued against the idea. And Lexius knew it. He hid any disappointment very well, indeed.

Mesteno nodded his understanding, but his own disappointment was less easily hidden. The mental tie had often proven a comfort, and yet somewhere in the back of his head he'd always known it had increased the risk of accidentally betraying someone, or many someones in fact, who'd confided things to him.

"Safer that we continue using it as we are now then," he suggested, his smile a trifle weak. "But I do intend to learn. Don't think I don't." Adamant. His determination was a vicious thing.

"Perhaps when you feel you have enough mental control of such things." The Elf allowed. "The meditation and the work we do with controlling your energy should help to establish how much control you will be able to enact and wield upon yourself." Thus Lexius shelved the idea for a later date.

He eyed Mesteno critically for a moment. "Did you tell your brother about us?"
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 11:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

[Continued...]

"I spoke to no one about us," Mesteno admitted, though words were past tense of course. He hadn't gone gushing to anyone about such personal business, and nor would he. But there had been Koyan, too shrewd for his own good, and he was momentarily disheartened at the recollection. "One person guessed," he allowed.

"Who was it that guessed and what did they say?" Lexius didn't often go to the inn these days, but he might well run into whomever it was and didn't fancy being at a disadvantage dealing with them!

The necromancer sighed, and stared past the Elf's sleek form to stare disheartened into the lab. He was making a concerted effort not to let it slip across the tie just how hard he'd been hit by the confrontation, because he suspected nothing good would come of Lexius knowing.

"It was Koyan," he confessed. He should probably have told the Elf earlier, in case he ran into the Turk and had a similar experience.

Since the tie was still there, Mesteno caught the certain grimness his admission induced. Lexius wasn't exactly surprised the Desert Man had guessed, only that there had since been some discussion on the matter. The expression on Mesteno's face, the sigh, spoke enough about how it had effected the Sadist. He really did need to work on his acting skills! He didn't look away from the evidence his predication had proven true, but kept a close watch on Mesteno's face.

"What did he say?" No emotion whatsoever in the Elf's tone. The beads made up for it by wrapping themselves furtively around Mesteno's calf, though they were still attached to Lexius belt.

Their movement inevitably drew Mesteno’s attention back from the nowhere-in-particular they'd strayed to in the morgue proper. He wasn't sure why, knowing that they'd their own agenda, he found it a comfort. Perhaps because Lexius' voice had taken on that bland, impossible to read tone. Mesteno hadn't heard that in a while.

"He asked me how long," he began. He didn't think it worthwhile mentioning how Koyan had been glaring daggers at him from the moment he'd set foot in the inn. "He thought I should have told him straight away to avoid... potentially awkward situations. He thought it was disrespectful." That alone had been bad enough. That he was sure their friendship had been irrevocably damaged by the secrecy he didn't intend to mention. He had no outward evidence of such a thing, only a hunch. "He thought it was unfair of me to keep something like that when he's told me so much in the past, and he was angry that I'd called you to help. He told me never to again."

And there he stopped, and he didn't look up to see whether the Elf's expression had changed, because he suspected all he would see was that terrible serenity. No, he paid attention to the tie instead. For as long as it was going to linger.

Lexius was silent for a long, long while in the wake of Mesteno's explanation. There were, without a doubt, tumultuous things going on inside the Elf, echoing faintly down the tie without offering any clarity of the specifics for how closely Lexius was now guarding himself. It was telling that he did not break the tie altogether as Mesteno's suspected he might. Outwardly, he remained utterly still, as good as stone, as he processed not only what the Sadist told him, but his reaction to it. All of those inward responses required close scrutiny given Lexius couldn't trust the veracity of most of them.

Lexius caught himself in the middle of that inner war and everything suddenly seemed to still. To indulge too long in the miasma of his own feelings wasn't doing Mesteno any good at all. Lexius released a slow breath through flared nostrils and broke his stillness to reach slowly with one hand and brush a thumb across the Sadist's brow. There were words he should be saying here that had nothing at all to do with himself, and he knew it. Lexius finally dredged a few up from a place that he was certain was real, thus investing them with quiet sincerity.

"I am sorry." Perhaps Mesteno would be surprised by an apology rather than an 'I told you so' from the Elf, but Lexius couldn't quite bring himself to remind the Sadist of the price he was currently paying. He was quite sure Mesteno had left key details out of the telling! What Lexius could glean from the emotions he could sense along the link and could see in the man's posture, the refusal to meet his gaze, was enough to tell him all about those omissions. He'd known Koyan quite well, after all, and there was plenty about the Desert Man that hadn't changed at all. Even if he'd predicted this outcome and been proven correct, it made it no easier to witness the results.

"He should not have wounded you." Lexius added with a bit more steel beneath the words. He hadn't actually meant to say them, but he certainly didn't regret it. They were driven, he thought, by something far more real than anything else. That same something that made him broil when a vampire put its fangs in Mesteno's skin.

Lexius' concern for him was genuinely touching, but Mesteno wished he'd given him no cause for it in the first place. His eyes closed briefly for the pass of thumb across brow, but he shook his head defiantly for the apology, denying its necessity outright.

"Don't be sorry for me. You've done nothing wrong. In fact you *** warned me long before this ever happened that there might be repercussions. I should've listened to you. I should've known you knew better." Time did not heal all wounds it seemed.

Lifting his eyes from where the beads had wound about him, he reached up and closed his fingers lightly over the Elf's shoulder. "You listen to me, though. Even knowing it might make for awkwardness between he 'n I, I still wouldn't change where we are now. Nothing would change except that I'd have warned him to keep this from happening. He was right, he's earned the knowledge with the amount of trust he's put in me over the years. It was thoughtless of me, and less than he deserved. I'm wounded through fault of my own."

He didn't want Lexius getting the wrong idea about how things had ended, either. He sensed the tumult, and didn't desire for it to spark into anything confrontational if Lexius and Koyan ran into each other again. "It wasn't so bad when we parted ways," he told him, frowning faintly as if he didn't think it safe yet to be too optimistic about things. "I managed to talk him down, make him aware it wasn't due to lack of respect, but bad judgment on my part. I told him what I told you - that I didn't think all this time later it would matter to him. He stated outright he didn't want our friendship burned up like everything else he lost. I just need to tread carefully, give him whatever space he needs."

Lexius dropped his hand again when the Sadist shook his head and made no move to withdraw from the clasp to his shoulder. He was satisfied to see Mesteno's eyes again and hear the heat warming his voice rather than having to watch something close to desolation. That he had caused the issue (been the root of it, at least!) did not sit well at all, but a little more of his serenity bled away with Mesteno's seeming certainty of what was developing between them. He only ground his jaw briefly, little sparks of anger escaping the veil he'd put on his twisting emotions. They weren't caused by anything the Sadist had done.

"He was not right." Lexius bit those words out, because the discord wasn't even happy that he thought them much less spoke them aloud! That might be why he didn't pursue the subject more than that, but let it lay as it was, He gave Mesteno a single nod of understanding, his finger toying idly with one of the strings dangling from the hoodie the man wore. More breathing, slow and controlled.

"Very well. I shall not make the matter more difficult." Lexius was perfectly capable of making sure he wasn't ever around when the pair were together. He did, however, narrow his gaze on the Sadist somewhat fiercely as he spoke his next words. "You will call me if you need aid, Mesteno." It didn't sound like he was willing to debate that! "You will not allow his presence to be a barrier to that." The Sadist had heartened him with his assurance he would not have done things differently between them despite the problems it created. Lexius was keeping the man to that even on into the future.

Mesteno decided it wise not to argue whether or not Koyan was right though. He felt he owed the man. Felt that after having pried the better part of the Turk's history from him, he'd fed him only the barest scraps of his own. The balance had been well and truly off, and he'd always assumed, foolishly, that it would safely remain that way.

"If I need aid, I won't hesitate," he reassured. Of course Mesteno rarely thought he needed aid, as had been proven by the incident with Hephaestus' creations in the Temple District. "But when I say that I mean personally. I can't, won't call you for his benefit. I promised." He suspected Lexius wouldn't want to come out to save a fried Turk again anyway. Not after it had been such a trial when he'd last begged his aid.

Seeing that his breathing seemed to be deliberate in its slowness, he smoothed a hand down his chest, and finally south to his hip. It was an idle touch, one which came of familiarity and simple pleasure in being able to, rather than designed to try and around any ardour. Perhaps mirroring the way the Elf fiddled with the string of his hoodie.

"Let's go upstairs and out of the cold. I figure you've decided to test me, right? You can grab some coffee to keep you alert while I prove myself. But you gotta tell me why you were out of sorts while the water's heating." And so the topic was left behind, and all the focus neatly swung around and onto the Elf.

This time, Lexius bit his tongue before some inappropriate words escaped. Pathetic, really, that he had to resort to such a tactic to police himself. More of those hot sparks flared up as another log was thrown into the fire of his simmering rage. It was bad when his emotions were at odds, when what was real fought against what was encoded into him. It was far worse when those things aligned, but the Elf was doing a fine job of keeping the blaze well in hand. He'd defintiely moved beyond out of sorts!

The Elf jerked a nod for Mesteno's assurance. It was already difficult enough to get the man to seek his assistance. Lexius didn't need one more thing barring the way. No matter what the Sadist said, Lexius knew the man would hesitate now. The damage had already been done. A promise had even been given about it. He'd probably die before he called Lexius into any situation at all involving Koyan for fear of breaking that vow or just further damaging the relationship.

Lexius stepped away, and damn near snarled at the beads which pulled him up short since they were still wound around Mesteno's leg. They did untwist themselves, but lazily. Lexius waited until Mesteno secured whatever he was working on then shut down the lab. He didn't speak, in fact, until they were in the kitchen and he was busy making his coffee. By then, he'd got a better hold on himself.

"Sinjin’s cryptic remark about secrets and inquiry after you put me out of sorts. You also did not seem to take the news about Taneth well." That right there was the real reason. That and his own decision to not follow Mesteno home rather than lingering at the inn.

Things were going about as badly as Mesteno had suspected they might. It wasn't just that he could sense how wrong and ill balanced everything was now, it was there in obvious ways, from the jerked nod, not nearly smooth enough for Lexius, to the aborted snarl. Up in the kitchen, Mesteno’s cat Kalari joined them and proved welcome distraction from what he sensed simmering and unspoken.

"I didn't handle the Taneth situation well," he confirmed, accepting blame. That whole foul mess was his fault - his and Cris', though the nephilim had been a rare sight of late. "I'd just thought that of all people, Pharlen would see what I did. The girl can act the part of Taneth, but isn't truly her. I felt the rest of her beneath the ground, and it shrank away when she sank a knife in to scare it off. It's a *** farce." He wanted things fixed. The problem was, he wanted them fixed months ago, hadn't the patience to see if, in time, the Gardener would set aside her fear and welcome back her splintered parts. What she'd said had convinced him she never would, and seeing how her safe little world had changed, tangled and warped, he felt even surer something needed to be done.

Lexius turned and pinned Mesteno with a hot look once the coffee was set to brewing. If he'd just stared at the pot that way it might have been enough to get the thing working without the need for flame! He could feel Mesteno heaping load after load of self-blame onto his shoulders and, for a second there, he looked like he might have a sharp word or two to say about it. Lexius recognized, though, that his ire with other matters was bleeding into their current topic of conversation, so he managed to tone his response down a bit before it left his lips.

"You cannot control all the variables of such a situation. You did as much as you were capable of doing. The blame is not yours that the outcome did not meet expectations. As Pharlen does have some small mastery over time and is suggesting that very thing may well resolve the matter, it seems prudent to allow that to play out. There are precious few, Mesteno, who have died and returned to be the same as they were before." And well did he know it! Never mind if he was being a bit hypocritical. That wasn't the point!
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Mesteno
Old Wyrm
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 11:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

[Continued...]

Mesteno was faced with the unwelcome reality of the fact that he'd have to wait about ineffectually, and potentially watch Taneth further deteriorate. What if there had been some small window in time where he could've helped? What if opportunity had been missed? Too many possibilities. He wished he didn't resent her for having asked him to help in the first place, without fully explaining the risks.

"Gem was the same," he mumbled petulantly about those who'd died and returned. Bjorn had been different though. Taneth certainly was.

Lexius gave Mesteno a narrow look as he stepped closer to deliver a mug of coffee into the man's hand. He was trying to decide if the Sadist was trying to pick a fight with his petulance or if he was just being himself. The Elf decided it was the latter, though he was fairly sure Mesteno wouldn't have been opposed to a good physical altercation to work out some of his frustrations and banish a few ‘what if’s. He was probably fairly used to a partner being able to give him that kind of release, one that fit in so well with his natural tendencies. Lexius knew he couldn't give the man that kind of outlet, though. Especially not now.

The entire concept of it all put the furrowed lines back into Lexius' brow. He did ponder a session with the sticks to help settle Mesteno's mind, but there was a part of him that thought it would be an extra challenge to see if the Sadist could achieve his meditative state still while his emotions and thoughts were in this much turmoil.

In truth, Mesteno was ashamed of how autumn was pulling him thin, making him act unduly. He recalled having growled sullenly at Lexius at the inn, and now stood frowning while the cat swatted at the hoodie strings Lexius had been absently playing with only minutes before, arms folded and jaw set. At least he understood why Lexius hadn't visited him that evening. He'd as good as chased him off.

"I was out of sorts because I chose not to come spend time with you while I knew you were in that mood." Lexius admitted. Instead, he'd chatted it up with a damn vampire. His tone mellowed a bit. "More often than not, I wish to spend time with you rather than alone." He murmured that admission.

"If I happen to be... 'ill-tempered' in the future and you desire my company," Mesteno was fairly sure that was the word he'd used, "rest assured I wouldn't remain that way long if you came along to distract me. You do a great deal t'put my mind at ease. You're good at reminding me when I'm being an idiot." A little late to tell him that now, but for future reference. And then.... "I've missed you." Perfectly simple.

Those all too simple words doused a lot of the heat coming out of the Elf's churning mind and rather than keep his distance, he stepped right into Mesteno's space, all but caging him against the counter.

Lexius nudged aside poor Kalari by shifting his coffee mug under her face. The scent of the spice seemed to have positively offended her, and she skulked away with a quick-blinking, narrow eyed glare. It left the Elf room to bend his head and turned his face into Mesteno's neck just there where the hood of the hoodie was bunching in folds over his shoulder. He didn't quite touch skin, but breathed in the scent of the man with his body mere inches away. There was a lot of calm to be found in that simple act and Lexius took it and sent it skating along the tie, directly in opposition to his idea of keep the Sadist somewhat riled!

"And I, you." Quiet enough to be a secret, those words. Mesteno knew them all. What was one more?

Placing his mug aside next to its twin, Mesteno slipped his arms around the Elf, palms settling over his shoulder blades before skimming down to latch loosely to either side of his waist. Harmless, and not intended to inflame, he was simply fulfilling a need to touch him, offering very positive reinforcement for every time Lexius chose to make an approach with physicality in mind.

"Autumn's almost done." He sounded as if it were something momentous, something he couldn't have arrive soon enough even if he would spent it shivering. "I promise I'll be less of a *** come the new season. For now just know it's not my intention to be difficult deliberately. And that I appreciate you waiting it out instead of throwin' y'hands up and decidin' I'm not worth the effort."

His brow touched down briefly on Lexius' shoulder, the nearness of that sun darkened face beside his neck, and the calm he felt bleeding through the tie, all contributing to easing his mind. He'd need that if he was to have any hope of living up to his boasts and managing the meditation without needing a second shot at it. He was even reconsidering not drinking the coffee, knowing it would make his mind more alert, but the smell of the spice was too tempting, and he wouldn't waste something so valuable.

The Elf's muscles tightened and twitched and the discord did ripple somewhere distant in the tie (it was always there to some degree!), but none of it seemed to outweigh the peace Lexius found for himself in the touches Mesteno doled out so willingly and easily. He was training the Elf well!

Lexius kept one hand around his coffee mug on the counter, but he brushed the palm of the other along the Sadist's side as he breathed a quiet laugh against the man's neck. "Your words could be my own." He murmured with no little bit of knowing and a trace of amusement. That Mesteno chose to persevere through his own issues was a small miracle, especially for the fact continued contact with him risked further damaging a long term friendship. The anger still boiled inside the Elf, but the sparks of it shooting off inside him had calmed. It allowed Lexius to ask his next question more calmly.

"I wonder, though," he pulled his head back enough to glimpse Mesteno's face, "if you would be happier with someone to give you a fight."

Mesteno searched Lexius' face intently in the aftermath of that comment, leaving his coffee too cool, hands retreating to lace loosely as he propped an elbow against the counter.

"I'm going to take a shot in the dark here and guess you think I intend to make you mad sometimes so we got an excuse to throw punches at each other." And perhaps he wasn't entirely accurate, but he didn't think he was all that far off the mark, either. "Let me elucidate," he went on, without offering much of an opportunity to intervene with a response. "I don't think any problem ever got fixed between two people doin' what we're doin' by throwing fists or tryin' t'beat one another senseless. In fact if you took a swing at me for that kinda reason, I'd be reconsidering things between us." Mesteno's notion of a healthy relationship might not meet all the usual social standards, but in this he was remarkably level headed!

"Do I like to fight for fun though? Yes. Sparring matches, wrestling, for bragging rights. To decide who gets to have it their way when there's a potential for sex. Any and all of the above. But I won't engage in a fight with intent to do real harm with a lover. I save that for people I dislike, for the pits, for the alleyway *** who come at you in packs. Does all this make sense, or worry you further?"

Resting his palm around the sharp blade of a hip, Lexius rubbed the front of the bone with his thumb as he listened and studied Mesteno's face. It wasn't exactly what he had meant, but it was close and the answer the Sadist provided was illuminating. The Elf's nod was easy, almost absent. It was a good topic to further distract him from other things.

"I did not mean precisely that, but something close. Your explanation both clarifies and confirms." He had decided it was more Mesteno's nature rather than any real intent and what the Sadist had just said certainly confirmed that. "But you do favor the physical and it does help to clear your mind at times."

"I won't be offended if you're not interested in combat of a physical nature. You're under no obligation to play rough with me, Lexius - the sticks'd work just fine if I felt like letting off some steam." And they'd never had an issue with those, save for the occasion he'd been fighting to win his own set of sticks. Maybe the audience had played a part in it too; to lose without landing a single hit would've been utterly humiliating. The breaking bones though, had not been his intent, even if the predatory side of him had been immediately piqued by the sound of crumpling bone.

Lexius canted his head, lips curling in a half smile. "I considered leaving your mind in turmoil to present a greater challenge to calming it."

Mesteno laughed, a low-level rumble of a sound, and he angled a knee in to knock the Elf's in half-hearted reprimand. "You can try that another time. Though it's good to know you're so scared of me winning that you felt like you had to swing the odds unfairly in your favour." His brows arched challengingly, and the angle his chin tilted towards was mock-arrogant. Yes, he'd implied that Lexius was scared of losing.

Lexius snorted and scowled at the accusation, long fingers closing in a hard pinch against the man's side.

It resulted in another laugh from Mesteno, though this one was a bark of a sound, and came with an instinctive withdrawal. Lexius' pinch at his side had uncovered another weakness. Evidently he was ticklish. He shot him a half-amused warning scowl, and tucked his elbows close to his sides as if he feared a follow up. The arrogant posturing hadn't lasted long!

"You say those words, then raise your chin as if begging me to knock it down." Lexius was teasing! He did know how to do that on occasion, though he often missed the mark on it. It was the beads (they were still there, if mostly inactive) that slapped back at Mesteno's knee even as the Elf slid a little to the side and took up his neglected mug of coffee. His, at least, was still steaming.

"Not so. Only wanted to play pompous," Mesteno corrected, reaching for his coffee now that he'd decided the worst of the steam was gone. He watched the Elf over the lip of his mug as he did so, with eyes still flashing deviance. Maybe he was calculating payback.

"I had thought of the sticks." Lexius admitted, raising the drink to his lips. He might well be learning the Sadist just a little bit. He indulged in a long taste of the spiced brew, which seemed to further ease whatever other tensions still coiling inside him. No more sparks at all flickered along the tie. His anger was now at a low simmer somewhere way in the background, something he would pull out later and examine quite closely.

"Are you ready then?" He'd no intention of doing the test here. He'd be taking Mesteno to the mountain once he finished his own coffee and putting him on the table. What better way, really, to truly test the man? Of course, he didn't volunteer that information just yet.

Mesteno nodded on a swallow, oblivious to the plans for a relocation. "One hour. Hold an image of myself in my mind." Declaring the challenge so that Lexius couldn't go making any last minute amendments to it. "You're going to be sat there bored." Not for the first time, he sounded too damn sure of himself, despite the fact that on this occasion, it was something he knew himself to be inherently lacking in talent for. "Got the stones, ready when you are," he added, with a pat at his pocket and another gulp of spiced coffee.

Lexius narrowed his slated eyes into fine slits, but the smile still lingered on his mouth, half obscured by the steam and the mug. "Do you have any appointments tomorrow?" This could well take all night and there was just no telling what condition either one of them might be in afterward. "Will your friends be well left alone overnight?" He meant the dogs, of course, something Mesteno might get by the way his gaze flicked down to the paw prints on the front of his hoodie.

"I will not be bored." He assured as he raised his gaze back to the Sadist's, the blue in them glinting more brightly than the violet for a moment.

Fingers splayed and soaking up the heat from his mug, Mesteno arched a dark brow. Lexius' questions seemed to imply something more than an hour might be required. "Only work come the evening," a whole twenty-four hours away, so he wasn't concerned. "And the dogs are with my friend Iberus. I think it's safer they be with him for the present. Just in case Aiden's people somehow track me down to here in numbers enough to get past the wards." Or just burn everything from the sky with thunderbolts. Of course those weren't Aiden's people, but they were Greek, and that was what he'd intended to suggest. The cat was a law unto herself, and seemed to escape everything with greater talent than he or the dogs ever might. Trying to move her would've caused unnecessary chaos.

"You're making it sound like this is going to be more than expected. You planning on trying to distract me or something? Gonna sit there being rowdy?" Lexius, rowdy. Laughable!

Lexius flashed his teeth at Mesteno before he spoke, a slim glimpse of white past the steam rising from his mug. "I may well test the depth of your sensitivity." Yes, the Sadist really should have hidden that particular weakness a little longer!

"Should've known," Mesteno muttered, the untidy (particularly since Lexius had sunk his fingers in it) length of his braid snaking as he shook his head. "But it's fine, I take it as a compliment that you've such confidence in my abilities that you want t'cheat." He returned the flash of teeth, though his had an effortless sensuality despite all its sharpness, right along with that serving of killer-crazy that served to keep people at bay. Usually.

"It is not cheating to test you fully." Lexius advised Mesteno gravely. His own humor still lingered, which was proof enough to himself that he, too, was ready for the rest of the evening.

Tipping the mug, the Elf drained the last of his coffee from it while the beads snickered out their amusement at his side. He set the empty into the sink nearby, his expression more serene now. "I would like to bring you back to the caves once we are finished." And that was the truth, as well. Just not all of it.

Loath to waste his share of the brew, Mesteno tilted his mug to finish it off with a few impolite swallows. "Your overseers are in a fine mood today," he remarked for the snickering beads; sometimes they quietened when people paid them attention. He expected them to be contrary just to keep him guessing. "What've you got planned in the caves? Finally gonna finish showing me around?"

"My only plan for the caves is to have you with me until you must go." Lexius said that as he stepped in close again. Just as in the lab, he did something unexpected. The same something, in fact!

Lexius leaned to take Mesteno's mouth in a hard kiss, and teleported them, mid lip-lock, from the cabin the mountain.

[End]
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