1. Welcome to Black Dahlia, an adult 18+ roleplaying and writing forum! Don't forget to vote daily for BDRP! The more you vote, the more awesome writers find BDRP, so vote each day! Click here to vote on Top RP Sites and here to vote on Top Site List.
  2. Follow BDRP on all major social media! Tweet at us, Like us, Follow us, Pin our Boards, Reblog us, and check out member Art!
    Dismiss Notice
  3. Looking for more ways to find partners? Check out the Fandom Catalogue and Genre Catalogue!

    Sign up and share what fandoms and genres you are interested in! See who's into the same things you are and give them a shout!
    Dismiss Notice

 Male x Male The Space Between [silvermoon + MCLCL]

Discussion in 'Roleplay Execution' started by silvermoon, Sep 23, 2017.

  1. silvermoon

    silvermoon Well-Known Member Member

    Messages:
    170
    Local Time:
    12:12 AM
    Xiomari slept for two whole days while the caravan drew them slowly along the wide open roads between Brecca and Vilmora. Every time they were forced to stop, to rest the animals or to feed the men, Freyis approached the emissary’s wagon with an eager face only to be turned away each time by a simple shake of the head from one of the Rosecrean guards. On the dawn of the second day, Freyis began to truly worry that he had asked too much of the man. That his use of magic or some other dreadful occurrence had robbed Xiomari of his consciousness but the handmaids, one of whom spoke some broken form of his language assured him that the noble was perfectly safe within the dark confines of his cabin. Still, the prince watched for the light of a candle at night or movement from behind drawn curtains during the next morning.


    His time spent alone was not without some occupation. Sister Baal was eager for conversation regarding the dead man, as if she knew there was more to it than simple examination. The gray skies had rendered her talents rather useless as unceasing clouds accumulated overhead and so she sought out the prince ‘for lack of a better purpose’ but her careful words were always full of double meanings. Freyis was careful with the information and did not reveal too much, but the stargazer had an eerie ability to pull at the dregs of his words, implying their truth as if she saw them whole. After a couple of short encounters, he began to avoid her when possible. He was sure she knew this as well as she no longer sought his company without cause. Some time was spent attempting to read the books packed among his belongings or tending to the morale of his men, many of which had come to forgive him for his transgressions, even as they blamed them for the odious weather that had befallen them. He also daydreamed, of his quiet room in the west tower, of his family, of his longing to climb astride Diana and ride far from all of his problems. When he thought of running away, he grew anxious and guilt ridden and so he thought of Xiomari. A smile touched him when the emissary bubbled to the surface of his mind, where everything else faded and slipped away. His heart pounded and his lips burned as images of the man, fully realized, sealed their lips in a passionate kiss. Their bodies quaking and limbs entwined, sprawled across his cabin floor. Secret hands delving into hidden places.


    -


    Despite his best efforts keep them far from the forest’s interior, a bridge along their route had been washed away by the odd storms that followed them from the west. They had mostly ceased by this point, no longer belting sheets of ice cold rain, replaced instead by a fine spray that surrounded them in hazy gloom. The caravan had been forced to detour into the wood where they traded mud caked axels for thick roots that bumped and jostled the wagons as they winded along a narrow road only large enough for them to travel in a straight line. Soldiers had been posted at the front and rear of their brigade and one for each wagon save for Freyis and Xiomari’s which had four men each, two of which were the southerner’s own guards.


    An eventual clearing provided a place of respite after it was throughly scouted for danger some way into the thicket of dense trees. Watchmen were placed on all sides before the prince was allowed to leave the confines of his own wagon which felt more like a prison now with how willing his father’s advisors were to see him shut away from ‘danger’. He prepared for a meeting with them now, his own face caught in the reflection of a polished mirror by tired eyes. He would need to shave if he sought to show his face in Maarben. The rich metallic stubble that graced his jaw and cheeks had grown thick over the long journey as he refused to allow his attendant to shave him. He missed the elder Grisla dreadfully. Her tender touch was the only one to have ever done the job when the fine hairs had begun to grow in during ‘the change’. He did not know how to do it himself and was too proud to ask any of his men. Better to leave it, perhaps it made him look older or more distinguished. That was why men grew breads after all, at least noble men and royalty. His hair too had grown some, though it was not long enough yet to pull back from his face and so, messy curls hung as they wished around his ears and brow.


    A knock at the door urged his attention, to which Freyis groaned softly and straightened his pine green short coat, buttoned to his throat with brass fasteners. He threw open the door to his wagon, visibly aggravated at being rushed to his tent of impatient advisors, none of whom he had wished to speak with unless completely necessary. When his eyes fell on Xiomari instead of his usual guard the bear hide cloak in hand slipped from his grasp to the floor. He looked to his guards, their backs turned from them and nodded, a mixture of relief and gleeful excitement in his stormlike gaze. “Ah, Xiomari! It is good to see you finally awake.” He said through masked emotions and a bright smile which overtook his features, “Of course, I always have a moment for you.” Speaking a bit more clearly to his guard, “Tell Kaspar and the rest that I will be a bit longer to them. Perhaps the trees will keep them company.” Before the soldier had much of an opportunity to reply, the prince ushered Xiomari quickly into the cabin and shut the door behind them.


    Once inside, Freyis merely looked over the emissary and for a long moment it might have seemed as if his voice had suddenly been lost in the intensity of his glare. “You... are well?” A quiet question. Xiomari perhaps opened his mouth to speak, but the prince had lost control over reason well before any words could escape the man’s dreadfully pleasant mouth. He closed the distance between them with one stride and took the Rosecrean’s face into his hands, pressing their bodies together until Xiomari was pinned against the door. He touched his forehead to Xiomari’s, eyes closed as he focused on breathing. “Do not think me a fool... I was full of worry.” They were the only words he could muster before the need to feel those lips overwhelmed him and he kissed the southerner deeply. When he pulled away, his thumb swiped over the man’s cheek, even the smell of his perfumed skin was achingly familiar now. He chuckled softly, “I’m sorry. You had something you wanted to discuss?”
     
    • Like Like x 1
  2. MCLCL

    MCLCL BD's Littlest Bisexual Member

    Messages:
    504
    Local Time:
    3:12 AM
    The glee that lit up the prince’s youthful face, marred by the poor excuse for a beard he’d begun to grow, melted Xiomari’s heart within his chest. He stepped into the man’s cabin without consequence as he was ushered forward and he watched as the prince pulled the door shut behind them. He reached out and offered his own contribution in the form of a closed latch, and then he looked Freyis in the eye with a pleasant smile. He himself hadn’t missed Freyis throughout these last few days. In fact, captured within his dreams he’d come to know Freyis more intimately than he’d ever imagined possible. Of course, he was aware that the experience hadn’t been a mutual one, it had been him and a memory of the young prince wandering his personal estate together, not him and the man himself. But still, the time had been pleasant. Freyis, on the other hand, looked like he’d been going through hell.

    Now the prince stood, staring at Xiomari with an intensity unparalleled by any the man had interacted with before. He didn’t squirm or flinch under his gaze, however, simply remained stagnant and smiling warmly at the nobleman as he allowed him to examine him for as long as he saw fit. The silence between them was shattered by a simple question, softly spoken by timid lips. Xiomari had opened his own mouth to respond, but before any words could escape Freyis was upon him and forcing his body back against the closed door. The emissary’s breath hitched and his face fell briefly, his lips parting and his eyes fluttering shut as the prince pressed their foreheads together whilst they stood there against the door. The young man’s earthy, sweet scent flooded his senses, and the sensation of his lithe form forcing him against the surface at his back was utterly sublime. He still didn’t manage to get any words of his own in as Freyis uttered something more. But the interruption was welcomed by the emissary, who allowed a soft moan to emanate from the very back of his throat as Freyis sealed their lips together in a desperate kiss. He realized then, whilst kissing his northern jewel, that the experiences he’d had within his dream were nothing compared to what he could experience amidst the living. The warmth of the man’s body against his own, the rich flavor of his tongue, the sweet scent of his personal perfume, it was almost more than the foreign dignitary could handle. The pleasure of such a brief, simple kiss shocked him, it sent shivers down his spine and his skin erupted into goosebumps which remained even after Freyis has broken away.

    The emissary stood, leaning back against the doorway with eyes at half past and lips parted ever so slightly. He couldn’t help but chuckle softly and grin as he stood upright and straightened his shirt carefully, clearing his throat. “Yes, I did have a few things I wished to discuss with you,” he began as he moved past the prince, further into his quarters. He appeared to be looking for something as he scanned the young man’s belongings, and he hummed pleasantly as he came across what he was searching for. From a tabletop of grooming supplies, the man plucked a straight razor, alongside which sat a small bar of nicely made soap and a little cup of water that Freyis appeared to have been washing with. He plucked up a towel as well before moving over towards the bed settled against the wall.

    “But while I’m chatting with you about these things, your Highness, I’d like to ask if you’d permit me to shave that ghastly beard? I’m sorry if you’re fond of it, but facial hair is considered bad on the eyes in Rosecrea, so I’d quite prefer if we rid that gorgeous face of it,” he queried pleasantly enough as he settled down onto the prince's bed with his legs crossed neatly beneath him. He patted his thigh with a mirthful little smile, and once Freyis had laid back and settled his head into his lap he began to speak. “I never did like having other’s shave me, so I can understand why you’ve waited this long. I only ever trusted one woman to put a blade to my neck, and she’s long since passed, so I do it myself a majority of the time now,” he murmured as he began the process by carefully winding the towel about Freyis’ neck to keep the fine coat he wore from becoming soiled in any sense of the word. He started by carefully wetting the facial hair with the cup of water he’d plucked from the tabletop. Humming thoughtfully as he dampened the hairs.

    “I had a handful of things I wanted to discuss with you, my Prince, that, unfortunately, have built up over the days I was unconscious,” he murmured as he began carefully sudsing up the prince's beard with the soap he’d found on the bedside table. “First of all, I wanted to ask if the falcon you sent into Maarben had yet to return, but seeing as you haven’t immediately launched into word of a response I’d have to assume that we haven’t received the bird yet,” he began thoughtfully as he set aside the bar of soap and picked up the blade, turning it over a few times in his palm before settling it in a comfortable grip. “Secondly, I wished to inform you that I’ve received word back from my sister that there are no strange goings on within the borders of Rosecrea, everything seems to be functioning as normal. She’s promised to keep at ear out for any word of odd goings on whilst she was working within her husband's tavern, but as far as she knows there’s not been anything out of the ordinary. I haven’t received word back from Marquetto, but with the Festival of Arithia commencing within the next few months I’d imagine he’s beyond busy with preparations,” he continued as he carefully pressed the sharp blade to the prince's throat. He paused in his chattering in order to execute the first slow, carefully upward stroke of the blade. His touch was soft, gentle, but effective. He was pleased to see the clean patch of pale flesh that was left behind.

    “Finally, I have news of something a bit more immediate to us. I petitioned your men this morning before coming to you, and a handful of them, along with my men, are going to go out and comb the trees in the immediately surrounding area a few times over for us,” he began as he continued with careful upward strokes to rid the boy’s neck of hair. “Tomorrow morning, once the space is secured and cleared, the pair of us are going to have a few hours alone to explore the area, and hopefully fell some game for the camp,” he finished as he completed the last upward stroke of his neck before moving on to his sharply shaped jawline.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  3. silvermoon

    silvermoon Well-Known Member Member

    Messages:
    170
    Local Time:
    12:12 AM
    Freyis allowed his companion to slip past him into the confines of his wagon, watched him as he lingered around grooming supplies and lifted a thin razor in hand. The prince laughed, touching the hairs on his chin, “You do not appreciate my new manly appearance?” He chuckled in jest, “I have never been so fond of it myself either, but shame forbid me from asking for assistance. I have never done it myself, and my new attendant does not have the stablest of hands, a boy still without the experience required.” He seated himself on the edge of the bed and fell softly back into Xiomari’s lap, looking up to him with a smile, “Perhaps you will show me how, in time.” Though he was more than content to have the man shave him any time if it meant his undisturbed company.


    The young royal listened to Xiomari hum under his breath as he prepared his face with towel and water and soap. Just the feeling of the man’s legs under him gave a sense of comfort and familiarity that washed over his frayed nerves and set his mind at ease. He would have liked to stay in this moment forever were he able, but the emissary had wishes to proclaim and Freyis would listen to them eagerly. He asked of the falcon which had not returned to them yet. “The weather has not been promising. If the rains pushed passed us towards the east, it may have slowed your messenger’s progress. I also imagine that Danvil will be surprised and perhaps weary of the method of transportation, though once he sees our seal, he will respond in kind. My men are watchful of the skies, we will know as soon as the bird returns. I have faith in it.”


    Freyis closed his eyes as the gleaming blade was adjusted above him, trusting in Xiomari’s skill as he did in every other the man possessed. He was not uncomfortable in the slightest when the edge of the razor touched the base of his throat but waited for the first upward stroke before speaking. “I am glad to hear that everything is well in Rosecrea. Let us hope that it stays so. The festival of Arithia? We have the coming of our own celebration of spring but with the agitation of the Drowning Sea and the unfortunate circumstances surrounding these attacks, I am uncertain of how my people with entertain the day. My hope is that Freya will convince our mother to encourage celebration, to take minds off of the current state of affairs. Tell me about this festival? To have your ruler so indisposed speaks to its level of importance to your people.”


    The news of a hunt provided Xiomari with another smile from the prince’s lips. He opened his eyes to look at the man as he moved blade to chin and cheek. “I have been aching to separate from this camp since we first settled. Some time to escape and reflect is much appreciated, especially if we are able to see some time to ourselves. My advisor’s agreed to this? They grow tired of stored rations just like the rest of us I’m sure but they are so weary of everything these days. Even the clouded skies give them undue cause for concern. Baal says the gloom will break come morning, that this perpetual haze grows weak and thin at last. She is excited to witness the night sky once more.” Freyis cast his eyes to his twin bows, unstrung in the corner of the cabin amidst his other weapons, none of which had been worn over the last few days. “It will be good practice.” He said a bit more solemnly. “It is well enough for weapons to sit impatiently unused during times of peace, but they find themselves idle for too long under growing danger. Are you skilled with the bow, Xiomari?” The steadiness of his hands suggested it, but great strength was also required. Xiomari did not seem the type to fight, born of a gentle and diplomatic nature, much like the prince. He knew little of hunting in Rosecrea, other than it was practiced, but Freyis was taught with the idea of war in mind. Hunting for him was no aristocratic escapade, but a purposeful training exercise.

    -

    Deep in her wooded enclosure, the fire shade watched her emerald flames creeping across glowing stones and singed earth. The crackling light licked at the air like tendrils, casting excited sparks and coiling smoke as they spoke to her. Damabaab had done well enough, considering how far she was required to stretch her influence over the skies, forcing dying tempests across the land to hinder the prince and his foreign companion. Heaven’s Ward was unfortunately unencumbered by the storms due to its protective seals against their magic, something Isra knew very little about. Finding a way to break them was paramount to her goal and yet their secrets remained hidden, even from her powerful sight. Similarly, her shadows were hindered from entering certain cities, walled and lined with obscured enchantments where her many ‘eyes’ could gain no purchase. Powerful enough to deflect her and infuriating in their simplicity. These Osurman did not even know their true lineage, yet they unknowingly barricaded themselves from her influence. An oversight on her part, but a challenge she was willing to face in the name of her dark Lord.


    The storms had served other purposes, however. Rivers overflowed with rushing currents, washing away well traveled roads and flooding farm land. Crops were decimated and unprotected villages and towns were battered to their very foundations by the winds. Further inland, where their effectiveness diminished, they provided excellent cover for Fantika’s battalion of reanimated corpses to move a bit more freely towards Maarben. The simple protection may have afforded the Valeguardian’s some time but when the dead tore down their walls, the full force of the the shades would be deafening and the people’s cries of agony would warm her. Would fill the emptiness where her soul had once resided.


    The dark Lord whispered to her from the shadows around her stone pyre as he did in her dreams. His words were soothing, hiding well their coercive nature even as they poisoned her like so many ethereal vipers. Israkolayah of the sacred emerald flame, harbinger of doom and destruction would laugh in the face of her enemies, both Osurman and Highborn. She would use this hidden power to reap chaos for the Brother, spelling eternal death for those He despised. She would become his rightful Queen and together they would create and rule over a new and terrifying world. Her sisters were tools, she knew this. That they were to be used and discarded, but within her own selfishness there was a quiet thought. Perhaps she would keep them as playthings. A twisted sort of fondness had developed for them, even Fantika and her loathsome counterpart. She would see to it that Callon had life returned to him. That all of their wishes were granted ... in her own favor.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  4. MCLCL

    MCLCL BD's Littlest Bisexual Member

    Messages:
    504
    Local Time:
    3:12 AM
    Xiomari smiled warmly as Freyis questioned after the Arithia. The way the thought of it made his face light up spoke to his fondness for the event, it was clearly something he held quite dear if he got so excited at the mere mention of it. “The festival of Arithia … Oh, I could speak of it for hours and hours, my Prince,” he began with a pleasant little laugh, shaking his head at the memories that arose of the mischief and merrymaking of his younger days. “It takes place exactly a month after the first spring blooming of the climbing roses upon the palace walls. It is our celebration of spring, of rebirth, and of the beauty and art found within it,” he explained quietly as he continued on with his gentle strokes upon the prince's face, easily rendering his skin smooth and clean once again, just how he liked it. “Every single one of L’Aquia’s citizens participate in the Arithia, from the most ancient of elders to the youngest of infants.

    It’s a time for equality amongst us. We all mingle within the winding streets of the city dressed in plain garb, no adornments are allowed to be worn except by the monarchs, and we make merry with festivities throughout the day following a handful of religious rites in the morning, Oh, there’s more color and vibrancy on the streets than you could possibly imagine. There’s a different song and dance around every corner, massive communal murals being painted on all the walls, and even right down on the cobblestones of the streets at times. There are invigorating sermons being offered within every temple, and the food … Oh, Freyis, the food. The fruits from the nearest harvest, along with more varieties of seafood, grains, and wines than you could ever imagine are carted out by the wagonload! There’s also illusionists, who will bend light and other things into various creatures to join in on the fun. Brilliantly glowing stags bounding through the streets, wolves made up of leaves chasing children about. I swear to you Freyis, it seems a land of dreams on the day of the Arithia.”

    Xiomari gushed about the festival with such passion behind his voice, that if it weren’t evident before, now it was crystal clear how passionate he was about his countries traditions. But he wasn’t finished just yet. “After the day's festivities have come to a close we share a communal meal, the whole city all provided for in that evening by the Emperor and his Empress. Poverty stricken peasants sit upon the ground in the square beside some of the most powerful nobles in the city, sharing bread and wine from the same plate and tankard. It’s a humbling experience for all, to be sure,” he commented with a happy sigh as he carefully enacted a series of short, concise upward strokes upon Freyis’ upper lip. “And following the feast, young men and women unencumbered by child and husband continue the merrymaking well into the following morning. We drink, and sing, and dance all together in the market square before the festival’s end is officially marked by the rising of the sun on the following morning. As you can imagine, such an expansive event takes quite a bit of planning on behalf of our benevolent leader, which I’d imagine is why I have yet to receive a response from my dearest cousin,,” he finished, moving on to Freyis’ chin and then his other cheek to put the finishing touches on his shave as the conversation then advanced to the impending hunt.

    Xiomari bit down on his lower lip ever so slightly and he shook his head a bit at Freyis’ question. He paused in his efforts briefly to look down into the prince's eyes before he continued. “I have yet to go to your advisors to consult them on this matter if I’m honest. I spoke with your guardsmen and soldiers, I was turned away at the tent that the advisors are gathered in this dreary morning,” he admitted quietly with one final upward stroke of the small blade upon the man’s cheek. He set aside the razor them, dampening the corner of the towel in the cup and delicately wiping Freyis’ face and neck with the soft cloth. “I’m the authority on this trip, however, so they can throw as many fits as they like, and toss around as many threats as they wish … But you’re mine to do with as I see fit,” the last bit was spoken in a teasing tone as Xiomari set aside the utensils he’d used for shaving and gazed down at the man as he lounged comfortably in his lap. He chuckled lowly at Freyis’ query, and he nodded quietly.

    “I’ve been trained in archery from a rather young age, so yes I am quite skilled with a bow. It’s considered something of an art form amongst nobility in Rosecrea. I’ve little doubt it’s very different here,” he responded pleasantly as he gently brushed the man’s unruly hair from his forehead whilst he gazed down at him fondly. “I have other methods of killing I prefer, that leave fewer marks than bows, but in an effort to use the least amount of my arcane knowledge possible on this trip I’ll stick to physical means of killing,” he added before he gripped the boy’s shoulders and turned him about to face him, smiling warmly and nodding at the sight of the fresh-faced man he knew well.

    “There’s the gorgeous prince I saw in the throne room on that first day … I knew he was still hidden beneath the scruff,” he murmured fondly before reaching out to wind his arms about Freyis’ shoulders and draw him in close. He smiled at the prince in their close proximity, reaching one hand to grip the back of his head gently. “I’m sure your fine advisors wouldn’t mind delaying your meeting by another few minutes, would they?” Xiomari whispered, not awaiting any sort of response before he pulled the prince’s face in closer and sealed their lips in a passionate kiss. Every exchange he’d shared with the prince thus far had been passion-fueled and nothing less than a sheer delight, but there was something considerably more intimate about this exchange. Lounging there, upon the prince’s bed, the soft patter of light, misty rain upon the roof of the cabin, Xiomari felt comfortable, perhaps he could even say at home within the young man’s embrace. It was pleasant, to say the least, and the heated, yet simultaneously steady and unhurried kiss was something he wouldn't have been upset to remain in forever. Alas, time constraint ran rampant in the lives of noblemen and sooner rather than later they had to part from one another. As Xiomari stepped to the door to let himself out whilst Freyis finished preparing for his audience with the noblemen, the raven-haired beauty smiled warmly at him.

    “I will come to fetch you in the morn for our hunt, my Prince. Until then.” Xiomari tipped his head politely to the man once the door was opened and then he was gone.

    ~.~.~​

    The following morning Xiomari arose early to prepare himself for his and Freyis’ trek into the forest. His handmaidens were there promptly, per the usual, and they assisted him with all that they usually did. He was dressed and ready in less than an hour, donning an entirely black set of base clothes, likely the same set he’d worn on their first day of travel. The leather armor he wore a top, however, was this time dyed a deep hunter greet instead of the brilliant blue the other set had been in. It looked quite stunning on him, though near everything did. He looked all the more elegant donning a sleek black cloak that just skimmed the ground as he walked, a beautifully crafted bow strung up and hanging from his body with an ornate sheath housing his arrows. He looked every bit the nobleman prepped for a hunt, and as he moved to the Prince’s wagon to fetch him it seemed that some of the advisors who had gathered to sup together were taking notice.

    Freyis rapped pleasantly on the prince's door before holding his hands behind his back to await an answer. He smiled brightly as the door was opened in response to his summons. “My Prince! I take it you are as ready for our outing as I am?” he commented cheerfully, raising his eyebrows expectantly.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  5. silvermoon

    silvermoon Well-Known Member Member

    Messages:
    170
    Local Time:
    12:12 AM
    Freyis smiled at the excitement he heard in Xiomari’s voice as he spoke about the events of the beloved festival. Eventually he opened his eyes as well to watch the emissary’s face as he spoke. It was clear that it was a special time that came accompanied with many fond memories. Xiomari’s recollection of past moments wiggled into the prince’s imagination as he attempted to piece together a mental image of such astonishing feats and though he could recreate so few of those more magical oriented images, the ideas unity and celebration were ones easily abided. Even the Osurman, as serious as they might be viewed by outsiders were a people who provided for and relied upon one another. They shared a bond within their purpose that was unshakable and reinforced year after year with their own celebrations and festivities. Nothing perhaps as grand as what Rosecrea created, but the importance of it remained true. To sing, to dance, to celebrate new life and old love. To retell and embellish grand stories, morphed into unbelievable legends and epics. To encourage happiness and growth. To feast and drink and fuck. All of those things belongs to them as well.


    “It sounds like a wonderful time to be had, I can hear in your voice how much you cherish it. The way your eyes light up, how I wish to see it myself. Our own celebration of Várheimta (Summoning Spring) pales in comparison, I’m sure, but the importance of such a shared moment is not lost on me entirely. People need as much a reason to rejoice as they do to fight and to persevere. It is not all struggle in Valeguard, despite our harsh existence. There is much we have to be thankful for, though I cannot imagine the common folk feasting amongst nobility or royalty. Still, my people understand the importance of their place in our society and even as royalty, my siblings and I honor and devote ourselves to our roles with them in mind.” All luxuries and simple entertainments aside, the life of a Valeguardian Royal was a life of simplicity in stark contrast to many other countries. Birthrights were a very serious subject and throughout their history were always treated with the utmost importance and respect.


    Freyis felt little dismay over his advisor’s being ill-informed about their impromptu outing. In fact, it allowed him some maneuvering of his own if he were to bring it up with them during their meeting. It was a lovely surprise and one the prince was not keen on letting slip through his fingers despite their concern for his wellbeing. Perhaps they though Xiomari too forward or unpleasantly involved with him, or perhaps they just thought Freyis a fool. Both of these things might be true, and certainly it looked that way but the young Royal was far enough from the castle now that his commands were paramount to all others, even the joint decisions of his council.


    The prince looked up at Xiomari, a sly and slightly suspicious glint in his eyes, “Oh? Is that so?” He half laughed, “Here I thought that I was the major authority in this merry band. To think I find myself dethroned by a magical siren, though I find little sorrow in such a thing.” He listened to Xiomari speak of the artistry of bowcraft and other curious forms of magical hunting that brought an amused smile to his lips, lids falling at the gentle brushing of his hair by attentive hands, softer and fairer than any that had touched him before save perhaps his own mother.


    He was pulled upright, curls falling back over his brow, half chuckling at the endearing comment, “Gorgeous? You jest...” Freyis touched his own face, moving fingertips down the now smooth skin of his cheek. “I suppose that through your careful hand I find my former glory restored. You have my gratitude.” Another coaxed smile as he was drawn in closer, the lingering floral scent of the Rosecrean’s perfumed skin and a hand at the back of his hair made his heart pound in his ears. Slowly, he dropped his hand to the man’s thigh and leaned into their lips embrace. A soft and tender thing now, eased into instead of the former rush of falling. Freyis willed time to stop, yet with no magic of his own it marched forever forward allowing him only the small kindness of a romantic moment shared and the memory of spellbinding sapphire eyes and beautiful face framed by cascading ebony tresses.

    -

    Freyis pulled himself together quickly and departed for his advisor’s tent. They waited as impatiently for him as ever, even with no where to go or anything to occupy their time. Perhaps just the thought of waiting made them sour, though it could have been any of his actions up to that point but the prince received a rather tepid welcome upon his eventual arrival. Kaspar, the relic, was the most respectful among them, a scholar himself and something of a mentor as well. Freyis was informed of their current predicament. Three days of rest they would be afforded, until the lands dried enough for them to continue undaunted. The thin rain had mostly ceased, but the trees remained dark and soaked and the earth muddy and treacherous still. The soldiers found themselves weary of the foreigner in their midst and remained uncertain of his motives. Yves, a former brigade commander now council elder was the most vocal of his distrust. He felt Freyis too young and inexperienced to understand the situation fully and felt almost certain that the Royal emissary sought to take advantage of these traits for his own gain.


    “You speak true, that we know so little of Rosecrea and its inhabitants but experience does not always equate to truth. We must feel our way through this hardship and place our trust in those who might be able to help us. We seek to break down these barriers built up over time and that cannot be done through a veil of suspicion and malice. Rosecrea may well have had its reasons for not revealing itself until now, but this darkness is as much a burden to them as it is for us if they sent someone in aid. We should look for enrichment in this opportunity instead of deception and manipulation. I implore you, place your trust in me for just a little longer. My will is to our kingdom and its wellbeing, always.”

    -

    Freyis awoke at dawn as he usually did. The beginning rays of morning light signaled the return of the sun through the dappling of tree leaves, a welcome sight. The prince yawned and stretched lazily, slipped from his trappings of smooth sheets and warm plush fur. Blinking the sleep from his eyes he smiled at Baiv, the page-boy serving as his traveling attendant, already quietly preparing for his eventual rise. “Today, we hunt. If luck finds me, I will bring you back a rabbit of your very own to skin.” He had informed his advisors of their scheduled hunt and implored that they keep his men tethered to the camp. Once the initial hunt concluded they might venture out in their own self made parties to procure game for the continued travel. It would be good exercise for them instead of being cooped up within the campsite for all three days.


    He allowed the lad to select his hunting gear as he ate his morning rations. Slate colored woolen trousers, dark tan hunting boots and a simple deep olive jerkin belted at the waist would give him some camouflage without hindering his movement too much. Once dressed he set to stringing his choice hunting bow. It was unremarkably simple in design, a selfbow made from pliant and fine grained yew, unadorned by design and varnished only to moisture proof it but crafted well by talented hands. When the light tap of the emissary caught his attention he grinned, slinging the bow over his shoulder. The prince moved to open the door, page busy at his waist, securing a sleek leather-craft quiver and slim dagger to his belt.


    He laughed at the cheerful greeting accompanied by a simple nod, “Your smile is brighter than the newly emerged sun... and more welcome. Yes, I am quite fond of the idea of escape and escapade on this morning. The skies look upon us agreeably, as Sister Baal suggested.” Freyis stepped lightly down the steps of his wagon looking back to Baiv only long enough to be handed a slim brown bycocket which he pressed over his curls to further conceal his hair. “Any preference on what type of game we are perusing this day?” Small game was usually better left to snares, which his men would set up over their brief reprieve but the prince was happy enough to start with birds and rabbits and work their way up to something larger. “This wood is vast and so a trail should be simple enough to find and follow.”


    Freyis ignored his advisors as he prepared Diana, whispering to her sweetly as he secured the fasteners of her hunting saddle and smoothed his hands over her pale, mottled coat. Two of his scouts would accompany them to the boundary of the predetermined hunting grounds and would await their return for some hours before issuing a search. Perhaps it was more or less borrowed time, but the prince would accept it if it meant he wouldn’t have the sound of a clunky plated guard at his back for the duration of their hunt.

    -

    They rode on horseback for some time through the thicket, Diana carefully picking over large roots and tangled ivy as the forest grew dense around them. “My brothers and I would travel south to the Haspwood as boys when we would hunt.” More accurately, they were escorted. The Black Forest was too dangerous for hunting in most cases, especially for children born of royalty. “Danvil, being the eldest, was always very patient with me and Connlieth was much less distant when we younger, though he was always fairly quiet and reserved. I remember us picking berries and snaring rabbits. Sometimes it would take us all day to find proper game. I think we scared many opportunities away before gaining proper training but it was meant to be more of a bonding experience than anything else.” The prince spoke fondly of the memory but his face held a certain amount of longing as well, “Boyhood was a simple time, perhaps because we had no idea of the world outside of our kingdom’s apparent protection. Father and Mother walked a very different path from the one we were afforded and I think some part of them wanted to shield us from the hardships of life for as long as they could. Our history was always something I was able to see objectively, but the reality was a difficult thing to come to terms with in the end. Once the roles we were meant to fulfill were revealed to us, that closeness dissipated rather suddenly.” Especially between Freyis and Connlieth who were closer in age than their eldest sibling. “What I mean to say is that I value these small moments and sharing this time with you gives me all the more reason to celebrate it.” He smiled, eyes carefully surveying the ground before him for tracks.


    “There...” he pulled against Diana’s reins to halt her and slipped nearly silent from his saddle to the forest floor. “We should continue on foot from here.” He spoke quietly as he pushed aside a few low hanging branches to reveal a pattern of ungulate hoof prints in the mud. “The rain serves us well in this case.” There was a grin on his face as he followed to the tracks with his eyes into the distance. “It has only been a few hours since they ceased and these look fairly fresh. Should luck find us, we will have a proper meal by this evening.”


    When it came down to it, Freyis was a fairly quiet and serious hunting companion. His eyes were sharp and his attention was often drawn to some quiet corner of the wood. He would suddenly crouch and draw his bow with little more than a nod in Xiomari’s direction. His arms were true, back strong despite his slightly lanky frame and beaver fur bowstring dampeners reduced the twang of his bow to a whisper as broadhead tipped arrows sank into a couple of rabbits and resting peasants along their undetermined path. The prince collect each, stringing them to his belt as they pushed forward.


    Eventually he took to a nearby tree, climbing easily into the dense lower branches before offering a hand for Xiomari to join him. There was a small clearing ahead with a gurgling brook rushing over its edges with rain water. “Best to find a perch and wait to see what might come along.” He whispered before settling along a great bough, legs wrapped around and hooked at the ankle so that his arms were free to wield his bow. He plucked a few leaves from his field of view, one arrow nocked and two others held loosely in the palm of his firing hand. “Tell me a bit about this magical hunting you mentioned before. I’m curious how one might utilize magic for such a purpose.” Even if the thought of killing without leaving a mark did frighten him in some aspect, it did nothing to reduce his curiosity.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  6. MCLCL

    MCLCL BD's Littlest Bisexual Member

    Messages:
    504
    Local Time:
    3:12 AM
    “My prince, you flatter me. I must make a note to smile more when we are together,” the young emissary crooned pleasantly at the man’s cheery greeting. He watched as Freyis stepped down from his wagon, glancing backward to receive a slim, pointed cap that he proceeded to pull on over his beautiful metallic mane. Once it was covered up the young prince turned to look at him, offering up a question that put a thoughtful expression on Xiomari’s face. He ran his fingers delicately over the bowstring that was stretched across his chest.

    “Well, I’ve no particular game I was looking to go after. One of my men made mention of glimpsing what appeared to be a sizable set of deer tracks within the muck whilst they were out patrolling. Perhaps we could work our way towards a vantage point where we may be able to scope out such a large piece of game. I’m sure along the way we could pick off a few pieces of smaller game as well if the Sister stands at our side today,” he suggested as the pair of them began making their way over towards the horses. Their pair of animals, who had grown rather accustomed to each other in their time together on the road, were relaxing against one another with their heads hanging low. Xiomari stepped up and ran a hand gently over Alilya’s neck. The stallion immediately perked up at the contact, pulling his head away from his new, beloved companion to turn and examine who exactly it was that was disturbing him. He let out a long, low nicker at the sight of his master, shaking his head about excitedly as he lifted his body up out of its relaxed state to nudge Xiomari. The response elicited a warm smile from the man, shaking his head fondly as he reached up to run his fingers through the horse's thick forelock.

    “Hush, Alilya, I’m here now. I’m sorry I left you alone for so long,” he whispered to the animal as he ran his hand down the center of his face before turning and beginning to tighten up the cinch on his saddle. As his master had dressed down, Alilya too was devoid of any fancy accouterments for their ride out today. His mane and tail had been left unbraided, and the saddle he donned was a well worn, thoroughly broken in plain leather seat with leather straps all about meant for fastening in game and other finds from their outing. It made the process of preparing him for their departure much quicker, and sooner rather than later Xiomari had swung up into the saddle beside Freyis and they’d moved out in tandem with one another.

    ~.~.~​

    Alilya trailed along behind Diana as they trekked through the thick underbrush of the forest. Xiomari found that, pleasantly enough, he didn’t even need to direct the young stallion as to where to step. The creature beneath him was so infatuated with the Prince’s prized mare that he picked along quite carefully behind her in order to keep up with her pace. The lack of attention paid to his mount allowed him to listen rather intently to Freyis’ childhood reminiscing. He didn’t offer any thoughts of his own in regards to the young man’s chatter, he simply leaned forward ever so slightly in his saddle and hung on the man's every word, admiring the sound of the northerner's voice and his exceedingly charming accent.

    The emissary didn’t speak at all, in fact, until Freyis pulled his mare up and slid from his saddle. Xiomari did the same, landing lightly upon the balls of his feet. Before departing, the southerner carefully tied the reins up atop Alilya’s neck so they’d stay out of the animal’s way were he to do a bit of browsing while they were trekking. He stepped up beside Freyis, resting a hand lightly upon the man’s back as he peeked around him and examined the deeply set tracks that he’d spotted. “Wonderful catch, my Prince, I fear I wasn’t paying close enough attention to the ground,” he murmured with a soft chuckle and shake of his head, reaching up to adjust the string at his breast ever so slightly. They set off on foot then, moving along the forest floor in near sync, their steps slow and quiet as they waited for their prey with bated breath. While Xiomari did manage to sink an arrow into the delicate flesh of a pair of rabbits whilst they followed the hoofprints Freyis seemed to be exponentially better at the spying and bagging of smaller game. His companion’s belt hung heavy with small carcasses by the time they reached the edge of a pleasant looking little clearing.

    Xiomari watched as Freyis took to a tree, picking his way up the dense lower portion carefully before settling on a rather sturdy looking branch that held a fairly clear view of the small field below. After a moment’s hesitation, the emissary moved up after him, careful to place his feet and hands where he’d seen Freyis do so just moments prior. It wasn’t long before he’d settled into the crook between three branches, his legs stretched out upon the third while the other two cradled him in a manner akin to a chair. He rested his bow on his lap, one arrow carefully knocked while the rest sat within his quiver, not a thought in his mind about preparing extra arrows should their prey arrive unexpectedly.

    “Ah, yes, arcane hunting techniques. A fascinating subject, really, even for those of us that find use in them,” he commented thoughtfully as he mindlessly picked at a bit of dried blood that marred the shaft of the arrow he had laid across his lap. “There are many ways to fell a beast using magical abilities. There are even ways to kill a creature without having to carry out the physical deed on your own, which are personally my preference. I’ve never been fond of the mess of hunting, though it can be a pleasant pastime on occasion,” he began quietly as he shifted his piercing gaze over onto the prince with a smile. “I’m nowhere near as masculine and capable as you and your brother’s, I’m afraid. I’ve always been adept at handling a bow, but ever as a rambunctious child, I always held little desire to watch the life drain out of a creature before my eyes, to have had it been my doing … So I was taught alternative methods of the sport, as I suppose a majority of my people are … Anyways, enough of my rambling, you didn’t ask to hear more about me, you asked about magic. A far more interesting topic,” Xiomari sighed softly as he turned his gaze back onto the clearing.

    “There are three main ways of killing an animal using arcane knowledge. You can stop the flow of blood, the flow of air, or you can destroy its natural mental processes. A man can stop the flow of a creature’s blood by remotely constricting its heart, and he can stop the flow of air by either constricting the creature’s windpipe or collapsing its lungs. If you can do one, you can do the other, so it’s more up to personal preference how the deed is ultimately done. I never studied such magic, it’s skills are mainly used for offensive purposes and I never had the intention of attempting to destroy anything outright with my particular set of skills. That being said, I know the basic idea is to impose your will on something physical and make your will a reality. It takes some time to become adept enough to use such skill for hunting, as I understand, but even young children have been known to accidentally influence the physical world around them using their unbridled emotions. It simply takes a fair bit of practice and honing in order to use such a force in a directed enough manner as to target a single organ, instead of accidentally crushing and mutilating the entire body of your prey.”

    What Xiomari spoke of was rather disturbing, for if what he mentioned could apply to animals, there was no reason such brutal magic could not have been applied to humans. In fact, though he didn’t mention it, it was a common tactic of execution within the borders of Rosecrea to restrict one’s heart or crush their lungs. They thought it less barbaric than the commonly sought after practice of hanging that they’d heard of used in the many nations lacking in arcane knowledge. The southerner didn’t seem to find it to be a frightening concept, however, he spoke of it rather plainly. It was, after all, just another part of his life having grown up amidst avid magic users within the concealed nation of Rosecrea.

    “The third method, and my personal favorite,” he continued, “is the destruction of an animal’s natural mental processes. You’ve seen me use similar magic to this, on that unfortunate eve we met at the pub. It’s much more difficult to manipulate a man’s mind than it is to manipulate, say, a stag, however. The man I manipulated could feel me moving about in his mind, he fought it, though not very adeptly seeing as he was never taught how. A stag, or a fish, or even something more aggressive such as a wolf, wouldn’t be able to put up much of a fight once I’d caught their eye. It’s far more difficult with a predator, as they’re less likely to look directly into your face when they’ve spotted you, but once you’ve caught a creature’s eye you can, in a sense, penetrate their mind and undo the faculties that may have promoted their fleeing. From there you can generally force them to do whatever you wish. I’ve walked a number of deer directly through the city streets, and into the butchers. It’s cleaner, and I like to believe more humane for the creature, though I suppose many might not see it as I do,” he finished quietly, a soft sigh escaping his lips as he glanced down at the bow in his hands. The bit of scarlet powder that had stuck to the shaft of his arrow had now stained his fingertips red, and he frowned slightly at the sight. He wiped his hand upon the black leg of his pant, however, before shifting his gaze back up onto Freyis.

    “But anyways, those are the three main ways of killing creatures without leaving marks. There’s plenty of other arcane ways of killing, but all are rather brutal. Using flames, and manipulating the natural environment in order to destroy one’s targets are viable options as well, I suppose, if one doesn’t mind the mess,” he sat up a bit more erect in his seat, leaning towards Freyis and smiling pleasantly at him as he awaited some sort of response to all the knowledge he’d shared.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2018
    • Like Like x 1
  7. silvermoon

    silvermoon Well-Known Member Member

    Messages:
    170
    Local Time:
    12:12 AM
    The more the prince learned of Rosecrea’s strange arcane abilities, the more he feared them. The thought of killing and maiming from a distance wasn’t what bothered him so much as the thought of his mind being invaded. He wondered if it was a painful experience, having one’s head poked around in but declined seeking for an answer he wasn’t sure he was entirely prepared for. The matter of fact way in which Xiomari described such feats stirred him, filled his mind’s eye with unpleasant thoughts.


    It was easy to see other more horrific purposes for what he spoke. Murder, execution, assassination. All with viable alternatives to actual physical acts. Obviously at the forefront of his mind was death by fire. The manner in which the inhabitants of Brecca were dispatched was violent and harrowing. What of Rosecrea’s methods? In Valegaurd, hanging was commonplace in the outer realms for crimes that warranted execution and indeed all forms posed a messy affair, but King Velhund favored beheading above all others. It was true that the suffering imposed upon the guilty was shorter lived but the sight of a severed head with wagging tongue and rolling eyes as blood and life ebbed to nothing was a suitable deterrent for most within the capital cities. After all, without a head, how was one to travel the great fjord after death? They were lost, cursed to wander the in between eternally drowned by the churning waters of the spirit realm. At least those people burned to death in the village were free to seek peace in death. Still, there was that familiar nagging sensation that all was not well, but now was not the time to focus on what was mercifully passed them.


    Freyis nodded his head quietly, trying to remain focused on the clearing before them. Stray droplets of water gathered in the leaves overhead, occasionally becoming too heavy to be contained and would fall around them with a rhythmic patter that helped to ease his nerves some. Small dark spots of moisture appeared on his clothing where they landed or beaded off the varnished wood of his bow. Xiomari brought up their fateful encounter at the tavern, something the prince had attempted not to focus on since his unfortunate witnessing of it. He swallowed hard and trained his eyes on a single leaf fluttering in a mild southward breeze that tousled what little of his hair escaped from his cap. It was difficult for him to come to terms with how normal the emissary made the act sound. How commonly the tactic seemed to be employed. It made the hair on the back of his neck shiver. To have free will revoked... the very thing that arguably made one human to begin with. It was easier to talk about witches and dark magic that existed mostly in legend and myth, but the real implications of magic in their very real world brought too many uncertainties to the surface. Too many possibilities for misuse or exploitation.


    “I know many men who would sell their very souls for the power to control a foe’s mind. Had magic persisted in these lands as they did in yours ... we likely would never have had the opportunity to meet like this.” The Royal looked back at his companion, his eyes full of contemplation. “Perhaps we could have molded something great from it, as you and your people have done. Had we been isolated from the neighboring kingdoms there is no telling what achievements could have come from it... As it is, however, I know what our fate would have held, even without our stargazers... I find peace in the knowledge of its absence.”


    Freyis was silent for a moment, poised and patiently ready for action but also relaxed, like a perching cat idling waiting for a rat to come out of hiding. Similarly, that feline gaze never broke from Xiomari’s. Two twin silver coins in the recessing gloom. “Teach me...” he whispered, “How to fight it. If it is possible to defy such a thing without magic in one’s veins. Teach it to me. I would not have my will exercised by another.” The thought made him sick, the idea of his arms and legs, puppeted like some kind of twisted marionette. The idea that he could be urged to maim or kill without control over his actions. “If nothing else, it would assuage a sudden fear.” He did not mean to lay blame or spout bitterness, but his mental wounds were still oddly fresh. He had been a coward, had refused to come to that man’s aid. Were he to have found some way to absolve the man of his crime, he would never have been able to free him of his guilt. Was it better to have let him go to the butcher’s block a mad man? As the crowd would jeer and cajole, label him a murdered, a lunatic and a wretch; it was the prince who served him the greatest insult. To stand by in anonymity and do nothing as his soul was condemned to the icy waters of death.


    “It’s strange to me, really. That death is truly not the most frightening idea one can face. I had always thought it was the very worst, but suddenly I was ... elucidated. Living a life with regrets. They eat away tiny parts of you, don’t they? Until you feel like you’re full of little holes.” The prince chuckled softly, eyes regaining some of their luster. “My apologies. Such dark conversation is unbecoming.” He looked to the emissary apologetically. He wasn’t looking to ruin the much needed separation from camp or private time with the Rosecrean. “I just wish to ... steel my mind against such things. Now that I know they are poss...”


    There was a sound then, from over Freyis’ shoulder. His ears perked and he swung his head around in time to see a large buck approach the clearing, well within range. A grin split his mouth and his whisper of, “Just as your men suggested.” Was feather light off his tongue to Xiomari’s ears. Instinctively he pulled the string of his bow until it audibly shuddered from the tension and took aim.


    The stag meandered to the edge of the clear and rushing water. His great crown of bone, wreathed in velvet, lowered with his head to the brook and his long and powerful neck shook with each gulp of fresh spring water he took in. Freyis inhaled slowly, deeply until his chest was full but when it came time to exhale and loose his arrow, he held fast, bow shaking slightly in his grip as he forced himself to hold the tension for much longer than he should have. Without warning he shut both of his eyes and released, the soft twang of his bowstring contracting sent his arrow wilding through the brush to bury itself in the soft mossy earth, just inches from where the deer stood, sending the startled animal scrambling into the darkness, tail high.


    The prince did not speak and merely slid his offhand arrows back into his quiver and unceremoniously swung from his perch to the ground. He walked towards the clearing, into the bright rays of light and splashed through the brook to its opposing edge to retrieve his arrow. When he turned to Xiomari, examining the broad head for damage, he was sincere in his apology. “Forgive me, I was preoccupied and wavered...” The truth, he had missed intentionally. Somewhere in his mind a voice called out. ‘No.’ A simple phrase, but it had locked his muscles in place until he couldn’t bare it. Perhaps it was all of this discussion of death, or the image of his Family’s crest incarnate, which defied him. “In any case, I’m sure he will soon be far past our allotted space. We should find the horses and unload our belts.” He smiled sweetly, hoping the southerner perhaps did not notice the sudden lapse, or at least would not question it. Chalk it up to wanting to spend more time together. A heavy buck would force them to return to camp much too soon and there was still so much to discuss. Lighter topics, without the threat of impending chaos. “I hear there are wild boars in this wood as well. They are less flighty but more prone to attack. You must be careful if one charges.”
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2018
    • Like Like x 1
  8. MCLCL

    MCLCL BD's Littlest Bisexual Member

    Messages:
    504
    Local Time:
    3:12 AM
    Following Xiomari’s rather brief crash course on arcane hunting techniques, Freyis seemed to fall abnormally quiet. It wasn’t the concentrated sort of quiet he would expect from a man awaiting prey either. He appeared to be trapped in a spell of introspection following this influx of new information that left Xiomari wondering if perhaps he’d shared too much. Had he frightened the man? Would this be one of the many things that would inevitably drive a wedge between the pair of unlikely lovers? That remained to be seen, and Xiomari did not wish to dwell on the thought long enough to ponder the idea in full. Freyis eventually spoke up, taking on a soft, thoughtful tone as he looked back at his companion once again.

    Xiomari nodded to mark his silent agreement to the young prince’s statement. “If your society had grown with magical abilities, I’ve no doubt you would have been able to sort yourselves out and forge something great. If they were to suddenly spring up out of nowhere, however? Well, I shudder at the thought of the civil wars that would rage.” A sigh escaped the emissary’s lips then, and he slowly shook his head, dropping his gaze down into the clearing for a moment. His eyes scanned the space for any movement but, not registering anything aside from the softly bubbling brook, he shifted his gaze back to Freyis in the end. He was met with a shining silver gaze, held just a bit too wide for his comfort and focused just a bit too intently. A question passed the lips that shared a space with those spellbinding eyes that left Xiomari to ponder in silence for a few moments.

    “I think it would be possible. You won’t become as adept at blocking such attack as someone with arcane knowledge at their disposal, but I can at least make you less susceptible to them. If you can fight one off for long enough to inform me of the onslaught I’ll be able to come to your aid,” he said finally as he settled back into his little nook comfortably again, tapping his fingers lightly against the delicate wooden arch of his bow. He could think of a few methods that weren’t necessary magical; they were methods that noblemen and women were often encouraged to teach to their children in case of a siege or other military emergency. Xiomari had learned them in his younger years, and though he wasn’t overly confident, he had a feeling that he’d be able to teach Freyis these very intuitive, but surprisingly effective protective techniques. He lifted his gaze up from his weapon as the northerner’s delicate voice pierced the silence once more.

    “No need to apologize, my Prince, it’s a fair statement to vocalize,” he murmured, smiling warmly and nodding as the young man began another statement. Xiomari’s smile fell away, however, and his body went rigid at the same rustling that drew Freyis’ attention from him. His lips parted ever so slightly as he sat forward, dropping his legs to wind them about one of the three branches that held them so he could slide forward just slightly to better his field of view. The corners of his lips quirked upwards just a touch as Freyis’ voice wound its way into his ears, the eager whisper just enough to send a pleasant shiver down the southerner’s spine. Xiomari lifted his bow, the ghost of a smile remaining on his features as he partially drew back the string of his bow, breathing deeply as he watched the magnificent beast meander into the clearing.

    He could smell it already, the creatures meat roasting over one of the open flames that dotted their campsite. The mere thought of it was making his mouth water, and he swallowed to keep the saliva at bay. A venison roast over the fire, a mug filled to the brim with some of the fine summer wine he’d brought along, and Freyis seated at his side for an evening of bonding and tale swapping … A delightfully simple vision. He closed his eyes for a moment, no more than a second, to imagine the serene scene and he took in a sharp breath when he heard the dampened twang of his companion’s bowstring. Instead of the hoarse call of a felled stag, however, he heard the distinct sound of fleeing hooves. His eyes immediately flew wide open and he released the string of his bow, causing the arrow to be propelled barely a few feet away before it soared unceremoniously to the ground.

    “Freyis, wha-” he began, but before he could produce any more words the young man had swung himself casually down from the tree and was headed into the clearing. The emissary lingered within the tree for a short spell after the prince had left his side. He was utterly dumbfounded, entirely confused as to why Freyis had botched the shot. Having watched him bag smaller creatures for the entirety of the morning, Xiomari knew it couldn’t have been a case of poor aim. Perhaps his nerves had gotten the better of him, the thrill or anxiety that came along with a more significant kill? Or maybe it was something more intense. Had all of Xiomari’s talk of death and destruction disturbed the princeling more than he’d expected it to? It was such a regular thing within Rosecrean society, and he’d grown so used to speaking casually about such things with Freyis that he’d neglected to choose his words carefully as he usually would have. The last thing he wished to do was hurt or frighten Freyis, and if it was necessary to do so he wished to be there to support and comfort him. So, instead of questioning after the missed shot after he’d swung down from the branches of the tree he walked over to him with a warm smile and shook his head.

    “There is no need to ask for forgiveness, my Prince; these things happen to the best of us. I’ve missed more kills in my life than I’d care to admit, and I’ve been alive for a few more years than you have, with much more accurate methods of hunting at my disposal,” he responded in as encouraging of a tone as he could muster in the midst of his disappointment. “But a boar sounds as though it could make for an interesting challenge for us. At the very least it will give us a bit more time together if we attempt to track one. If we don’t manage to locate one I’m sure we can bag enough small game on the way back to camp to feel our men,” Xiomari finished with a sharp nod, turning and heading back the way they’d come. He stooped down just before stepping out of the clearing, grabbing hold of the arrow he’d accidentally loosed and depositing it back into his quiver haphazardly as he took to the trees once more.

    It was a relatively quiet trek back to where they’d left their horses, and then a silent few minutes after as they had to track where the animal’s had wandered off to. Xiomari paused a few yards back from the horses, chuckling lowly at the scene that was playing out. Alilya was trying desperately once again to push his weight around against Diana; it appeared that Xiomari wasn’t the only raven-haired beauty that had found himself a romantic interest in the midst of duty. The young stud snaked about the object of his infatuation, grinding his teeth, pinning his ears, kicking, rearing, spinning and occasionally even letting out an insistent squeal. Diana seemed more or less uninterested, ignoring the stallion in favor of continuing with her browsing.

    “It would seem that we are not the only ones interested in pursuing a bit of intimate company while we’re all on the road together,” he murmured to Freyis with a soft laugh, shifting his eyes over briefly onto the prince. He couldn’t look at him long, however, lest he begin itching to take the young man into his arms once again, and so he turned and began striding towards the horses again. “Alilya! Cessabit! Cessabit, stultis bestia!” he shouted with a sharp bit of laughter, grabbing ahold of the beast’s tied up reins and giving them a sharp tug to bring him back down from the clouds. The stallion jerked his head back slightly at the tug, his eyes flying wide open as he lifted himself up in a miniature rear before stomping back down onto the ground beside Xiomari, snorting in protest as he shook his head about. The emissary released the horse’s bridle then, moving to unfasten the few smaller pieces of game he’d managed to snatch from his belt. He secured them delicately to the rear portion of his saddle, tying them in with thin leather straps built into the carefully crafted piece of tack. Once that was completed he stepped back, wiping his hands off upon his breeches as he turned about to fact Freyis once again.

    Alilya! Calm! Calm, stupid beast!

    “If we don’t manage to bag a boar we can retrieve a few more little pieces of game upon our trek home. For now I suggest we keep our belts empty, it will be beneficial to us in the long run if we’re able to make this larger kill. The pair of us are already going to have a hard enough time getting the beast back to our horses, I’d imagine,” Xiomari commented as he stepped back over to Freyis’ side. He watched him fasten the last few little carcasses to his saddle before he stepped back and they made their way back through the trees. The pair kept an eye on the ground in search of tracks or any other notable remnants of boars having passed through. Roughly forty minutes into their trek Xiomari suddenly felt compelled to fill the slightly awkward void between them.

    “You spoke of hunting when you were a child, with your brothers. My cousin and Marquetto and I used to be permitted to go on outings as well, though not through any forests. When we were children, we’d often trek out into the cities with a detail of guardsmen trailing a little ways behind us. It was our goal every time we were allowed out to lose that detail, though we didn’t succeed very often. We played so many tricks on those poor men, it’s a wonder they didn’t try to assassinate us themselves,” he chuckled softly, shaking his head at the memories that he was able to produce. “I remember once we couldn’t seem to lose the group. No matter what illusions we cast, buildings we hid in, alleys we ducked down we simply weren't able to evade their watchful eyes. So, Marquetto, the little demon he was, decided that we needed to create a ruckus in order to break free of them. We went to the marketplace and I, Gods forgive me, set loose about fifteen wolves into the square. Of course, they weren’t real wolves, just illusions made up of some vines we’d found on the face of a building a nearby, but I’ll be damned if they didn’t nearly scare half of the vendors to death. We snuck away during the chaos, while the guardsmen were left to clean up our mess. Nobody was hurt so we can laugh about it now, but it was quite dense of us,” Xiomari paused, as though suddenly struck with an idea. His face broke into a wide smile and he reached out to put a hand on Freyis’ shoulder to stop his forward march. “Let me show you! The illusion, I mean, I’m sure I remember how to conjure them. They’re quite entertaining to watch, and harmless, a good bit of fun for children most of the time but I think you could appreciate them as well.”

    There was still a clear bit of tension in the air after what had happened in the clearing, and the conversation that had taken place prior to that. If he was able to, Xiomari wished to dispel it, and to restablish, that sense of wonder Freyis had held about magic. It was something to be feared, most certainly, but Xiomari didn’t wish for that to be the sole emotion the idea of arcane knowledge instilled in Freyis. It could bring beauty and wonder into the world just as it could bring pain and destruction; he wished for his companion to witness that first hand as opposed to merely hearing about it.

    “Now, keep in mind that I am nowhere near as skilled in this sort of magic as others who may specialize in it, but in my years I’ve practiced a fair bit for my nieces, and for the children in the court,” he noted just as a preface to his little show. He then turned and scanned the trees about them for a moment. He hummed thoughtfully to himself before he raised his right hand, twisting it about slowly and gradually forming a fist. He smiled to himself as he felt a familiar pull deep within his chest, as though a rope was running through the flesh of his arm and into his heart from where the illusion was being formed. He glanced back at Freyis and nodded his head in the direction of a particularly large tree. “Watch,” he whispered to the prince.

    Xiomari relaxed his arm, letting it once again hang at his side as he stepped closer to Freyis while they both watched the trunk of the tree. Slowly but surely, from behind the tree, a creature stepped. At first glance, it appeared to be a bull elk just like any other, but as it began to move closer to them, picking its way carefully through the underbrush, it quickly became clear that it was anything but a flesh and blood being. The illusion had been created out of a series of dead branches, but it moved and looked as though it was alive. He’d even gone the extra mile to make its chest expand and contract to give the illusion of breath. Xiomari willed the elk to move closer and closer until it was standing just before them, nuzzling its teacup muzzle into Freyis’ shoulder and shifting about on its slightly crooked, not entirely stable limbs.

    “Not the best illusion I’ve ever done, but then I’ve never attempted anything aside from a wolf or a fox,” he murmured as he looked it over with a pleasantly surprised expression. He lifted his left hand and made a similar motion, and from the top branches of a nearby tree, a fox leapt to the ground, bounding and weaving through the trees around them. A rabbit came next from beneath a protruding knot of roots to their left. The fox gave chase and the rabbit fled frantically, the pair of them putting on a pleasant little show. Xiomari laughed softly as he watched, a grin forming on his features. “My mother used to make little hares for me when I was only a little lad,” he commented fondly as he watched the wooden creatures closely before shifting his gaze over onto Freyis, of whom the bull was still demanding attention. “They seem so real, do they not?” he whispered, but before Freyis had a chance to respond something transpired.

    Xiomari felt a sudden gust of cold air rush forth; it felt as though it was piercing his heart with a single, icy blow. The breath rushed from his lungs and he staggered backward, the wooden creatures all crumbling to the ground with unceremonious clatters, returning to their natural state as piles of unassuming branches and old pieces of bark. His brow knitted tightly together as he stood straight again and slowly moved closer to Freyis as he scanned the concealing woods around them. He reached out and grabbed a firm hold of the prince’s hand, lacing their fingers together to reassure himself that he’d be forced to remain nearby.

    “Come, Freyis, we must go. Now.” Nothing more was said, no words of warning uttered nor explanations offered, he merely began leading the young man back the way they’d come through the trees. Xiomari heard rustling in the trees and he tugged Freyis closer to him, pausing momentarily to scan their surrounds once again. It was then that he witnessed something he’d hoped he’d never have to. He’d seen plenty of corpses in his life, from those of his parents, to his aunt and uncle, to beggars in the streets of L’Aquia. He’d watch men die in countless ways, had even handled and cared for corpses himself on occasion, and yet what he witnessed here chilled him to his very core. Staggered towards them at a relatively quick pace, harboring a very awkward gait, was a reanimated corpse.

    The body was that of a man who appeared to have been quite young when he’d died. Xiomari would have placed him in his mid-twenties if he’d had to guess. He’d likely not been dead for a long time; the skin had only just begun to slip from his form, revealing some of the graying, slimy muscle beneath. His left leg appeared to be bent at an odd angle, likely broken at some point before or after death, and his left arm was missing from the middle of his bicep down. Xiomari had read about necromancy in the past, just as with every other form of magic it benefitted those who opposed it to know a fair bit about it. However never in his life had he expected to see it in practice. Along with the horror, there was a certain level of awe in his gaze as he watched the creature stumble towards them at a rapid pace, he and Freyis were witnessing something that no living man had ever seen, at least no living man of a normal position in the world.

    The academic in him was whirling at the prospect of it, but every other bit of him screamed to flee as fast as he possibly could, at least until he heard a crash to their left. A second corpse hobbled at them from the trees to their left, and soon a third arrived just behind the first. Both of these were in much worse shape. The second to show itself was smaller, likely having still been a child prior to death. Its flesh was grey and mottled, more than half of it missing, having been sloughed off over time by the elements. One cloudy eye was dangling from the horror’s socket, and its jaw hung loosely on its face. The third was another larger male, and it was missing the entire lower half of its face. The rotten, swollen tongue of the creature hung down by its throat, wagging back and forth like a sickening pendulum with each lurching step. It was missing both of its arms up to the shoulder and its torso bent to the side at an unnatural angle. The closer the three nightmares got the more horrific the sight of them was, and the more gag-inducing their stench. Xiomari angled his body in front of Freyis’ as he drew up his hands in a defensive position, though there wasn’t an extensive amount of magic he could perform as far as defending them went. His forte was the mind, and he could also heal the body to a certain extent. In theory, he should have been able to shield them with some of his knowledge, but he’d not put a field into practice in quite a long time.

    “Freyis, darling, stay behind me, remain close to me, and do not allow them to catch your eye,” he whispered as he slowly began backing away from the creatures. “We’ll be okay, just do exactly as I say,” he added in hopes of soothing the man as he pressed back against him and continued to inch away slowly. As they gained ground on the living Xiomari began trying to catch their eyes. Something was controlling the dead; they had to be, the dead didn’t merely walk on their own. If he could force his way into the mind of their attacker, he could break her hold on the dead, or at least the three they saw just before them.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2018
  9. silvermoon

    silvermoon Well-Known Member Member

    Messages:
    170
    Local Time:
    12:12 AM
    Alilya's frolicksome nature brought some life back to the prince's eyes and a faint smile to his lips. The way he pranced around Diana was charming, especially so because she feigned disinterest. He was sure she would love nothing more than to run and play with the stallion, but the saddle on her back meant she had a duty to fulfill. Freyis clicked softly and she responded by trotting immediately to him. He smoothed his hand over her nose, combed fingers through her mane which had been released from its braid some time after the rain had stopped. "Such a steadfast suitor he is. I think even you can agree to that." He whispered into her neck to which she gave a short snort and a toss of her head. Freyis chuckled and began to remove the small animals from his heavy belt, fastening them to the saddle.


    As they walked through the wood, careful to avoid fallen branches and winding roots, Xiomari filled the silence with his own stories of childhood. His cousins and himself trapsing around their royal city as mischievous little scamps with an eye for trouble and a bit of magic at their disposal. Freyis laughed at the idea of such a thing. "Danvil was always the troublesome one growing up, though he would deny it a thousand times. Perhaps it has something to do with the burden of ruling that makes a crowned prince so... Free-spirited." He quietly reminisced on those quiet nights when they would slip unnoticed into each other's chambers, whispering by the fire about their own private dreams and aspirations. Things that had nothing to do at all with castles and kingdoms and thrones.


    Freyis thought it was good when Xiomari spoke so freely of these things. That he was comfortable enough to share the intimate details of his childhood. One that seemed to have many joyous moments. This ebb and flow of information and emotions was a daunting undertaking for the young royal. A thing that was obvious given his introversion on the matter. It seemed that his own memories paled in comparison, a short and fleeting boyhood that had perhaps left him wanting for some miscreant freedom. That silence was broken, however, at mention of more arcane feats of entertainment. Freyis looked curiously to the southerner when he endeavored to show him just what he meant by these illusions.


    "I think I might enjoy a little diversion." He spoke softly, moving to one knee to trace his fingers over the dirt along a small pair of tracks. "Even our boars seem a bit skittish this day. At least we head back to camp without completely empty hands." He expressed of the smaller animals they had felled together, only mildly annoyed with his own reservations about the buck. Rising to his feet the prince watched his foreign companion fall into his trance, twisting his hand into a fist as if it were just that easy. Freyis felt a bit foolish. He had always imagined spoken incantations and poppet dolls. Things the rumored wood witches used to spell people back before magic had become nothing more than a myth.


    Xiomari moved to his shoulder and told him to focus on a large tree before them where a great elk appeared and the royal found himself awestruck. He stared as the lumbering beast moved towards him on legs fashioned from tree bark and branches, all neatly fit together so that it formed a shillouette, stark and complete against the opposing forest. "By the Great Virtue..." He breathed. The bull elk approached him, thumping its nose against his shoulder and he reached up to touch it, cupping the muzzle in his palm and moving up the bramble of its snout. "What absolute oddity." He looked the animal over as it creaked and popped like tree branches bowing to the wind.


    The prince laughed when the wooden fox jumped down from the foliage to chase a newly emerging hare. The sound of wood tapping together made a little song as they ran rings around the tree. "Oh!" He exclaimed and covered his mouth at the excitement that rushed over him. "What a delight your childhood must have been." He could only imagine the charm's application to all of he and Freya's playthings as children.


    When Xiomari commented on their reality the prince pondered the strange question. Indeed, all of it seemed impossible. Like some lost art from a time before their documented history. "They are as sculptures come to life." He was amused as he leaned back into Xiomari, chin moving to press between his neck and shoulder. As frightening as its potential for harm was, it was capable of good as well. Healing, growth, amusement and loyalty. All of these were things the prince could hold in solace. Things he could place his trust in.

    Just then, a bitter gust of wind ripped the hunting cap from his head. It felt as if it passed through his very bones and a moment later the warmth of Xiomari's hands lacing through his fingers made him jerk to attention. The elk lay crumbled to firewood and kindling at his feet as the emissary urged them quickly back in the direction of their horses. There was a shambling in the brush, an eerie rustling and bending and snapping of twigs. Something heavy and lumbering was just beyond the rain soaked leaves and Freyis knew it had to be quite unordinary when he witnessed Xiomari's face.


    They halted in a small clearing, both men scanning the trees and bushes around them for potential danger. When the first rotted corpse burst through the cover of forest, the prince tightened his grasp on the emissary's hand. The smell of it made him throw his arm over his nose as it approached and he gagged deeply; eyes watering at even the sight of the deranged and twisted form. "If this is another of your illusions, you have a poor understanding of humor my friend."


    He knew the southerner was not behind this. It was as if he could feel the shadows of the Gloom pressing against him. The emissary stood out before him with nothing but his hands as defense and so Freyis pulled his bow to the ready, unsheathing three arrows from his hip quiver when another two revenants threw themselves from the trees, skuttling and surging along on broken joints and mangled frames. To his horror, one of these monstrosites had been no more than a child at violent passing. The villagers...


    Xiomari'S warning had come too late. The horror of that hideous dangling eyeball, bouncing against swollen and fetid cheek-flesh was too much for the royal and when the sickening orb met his own he froze suddenly in place as if every joint in his body had suddenly been stricken by paralysis. Something squirmed sickeningly behind his eyes, shifting his gaze unwillingly to the other half blind eye in its socket. There was a voice in his head, no more than a whisper. A woman speaking in tongue he did not recognize, an old language composed of words that bid his body to submit. He could not move, as if a rolling fog had passed over his consciousness. His eyes shifted to Xiomari, attempting to call out to the man when his mouth failed to produce words, horrorstricken by what was about to transpire.


    Freyis felt his hands go numb as the first villager pushed forward, the stench of rotting flesh growing around them. He felt his bow and arrows slip from his grasp, thumping softly in the wet grass at his feet. He was helpless and trapped; an unwilling participant forced to watch as the three wretched creatures closed in on them. Was this the potential of their new emeny? Was it even possible to counter such a threat?
     
    • Like Like x 1
  10. MCLCL

    MCLCL BD's Littlest Bisexual Member

    Messages:
    504
    Local Time:
    3:12 AM
    The pleasant warmth that Xiomari had held in his heart just minutes earlier had vanished, replaced by an uncomfortable chill that made his hair stand on end. He continued to step back slowly, taking their movement pace by pace as he focused closely on the monstrosities before them. He knew he was approaching a breakthrough when the unpleasant sensation of a prying mind erupted just behind his eyes. It was as though a worm had burrowed directly through his pupil, and was now wriggling around in a desperate attempt to find its way back into his brain where it could wreck as much havoc as it wished.

    “I’ve got you,” he breathed out, gritting his teeth to refrain from vocalizing even the slightest bit as he experienced a piercing pain in his head, just above his brow. Whatever was on the other side of these corpses was determined, but Xiomari was a force to be reckoned with … Or, at least he was when he focused fully on the task at hand. He became distracted, however, when Freyis suddenly ceased following his slow retreat. The young man went stuff behind him, and Xiomari heard his bow drop to the ground with a dull thud.

    “Freyis, are you still with me?” No response, and in this moment of distracted weakness Xiomari experienced another sharp pain in his head. The little worm that had worked its way so meticulously through his eye had lunged forward and was digging its way with unparalleled zeal through his skull as Xiomari let out a garbled scream. Freyis hadn’t experienced this pain, thank the Gods, because he had no barrier up to protect himself from the attackers will. He had also likely been gazing into one of the more morbid looking, rotten eyes among the group. Xiomari had intentionally chosen to stare into the clearest pair, it might have made it easier for the aggressor to manipulate his mind, but it also made it easier for him to search out her own. That logic was now backfiring spectacularly on him, however, as he stumbled backward and accidentally sent a rigid Freyis careening into the underbrush behind them.

    He was on his back then, and the first and most well maintained of the three corpses had fallen atop him. It began clawing at his flesh in a disturbingly eager manner, and the stench of it was entirely overwhelming. Xiomari might have vomited were he not so focused on surviving the unfortunate encounter. He struggled to lift his arms, and finally, he managed to secure a grip on the thing’s rotting head, his fingers digging fiercely into rotting flesh as he struggled to maintain eye contact with the thing. He felt it, the spasmodic wriggling of the little influencer in his head as it wildly attempted to grab hold of something within his mind, anything that it could bend to its will, though it would find nothing. The struggle there on the ground was brief, and it was over as quickly as it began once Xiomari managed to sever ties with whatever, or more appropriately whoever had held a spell over these unfortunate souls.

    The dead weight atop him was sudden, and it tool all of the lean man’s strength to shove the massive corpse off to the side. The first thing he should have done after freeing himself was assess the situation, make sure the bodies had truly departed from the land of the living, but that simply wasn’t the first course of action that popped into his head. He hurriedly scrambled, on hands and knees through the mud, to where Freyis had fallen back into the underbrush in the midst of the chaos. He could see that the man was beginning to stir, and he hurriedly moved to kneel by his head, lifting the Prince’s head into his lap as he started to check for physical injuries. It seemed that the Prince hadn’t suffered from anything more than a mental attack, not that such an intrusive act would truly be any less damaging to the northerner, who was completely untainted by the forces of magic up until their fated meeting.

    “Freyis, darling? Come back to me, my Prince, the threat is gone. I’ve taken care of those creatures; now you need to break out of this fog,” he knew it would be anything but easy to do, with Freyis having had no training on mastery of the mind. It was certainly something they’d have to go over, and sooner rather than later following such an incident. “If you can hear me, darling, I need you to focus … I want you to think back on a memory, my dear, something you remember fondly, something that fills your heart with warmth, can you do that for me?” he whispered, gently stroking the Prince’s hair back from his face as he gazed down into his eyes, examining his abnormally dilated pupils.

    “Come back to me, her hold on you is weak, and you are far stronger than any coward who attacks from beyond such a barrier could ever hope to be,” he continued as Freyis began to stir in his lap, his eyes struggling to focus and slowly but surely managing the difficult task. “There we are, darling, that’s the worst of it over,” he muttered as he carefully lifted the Prince into an upright position so that he could regain his bearings. They needed to get moving sooner rather than later, he wasn’t sure how many of those creatures were milling about in the area, but he was sure that whatever laid on the other side of them wasn’t only equipped with three seeing as they had killed far more than merely a few.

    Xiomari lifted Freyis to his feet once he became more cognizant, murmuring encouragements to him as he held him close, his arm latched securely around his waist to keep him upright lest he grow woozy in the aftermath of his first direct experience with mental infiltration. “We’re just a short way from the horses, Freyis, you’ve just got to hold on until we can get you to Diana,” he instructed softly as they made their way through the trees at a snail's pace. Of course, Freyis didn’t feel well after the encounter with their enemy, Xiomari was sure he was terrified as well as completely and utterly beaten down following the confrontation. He said nothing more on the subject until they’d managed to reach their mounts. He carefully helped Freyis up onto his horse, making sure he felt entirely secure in the saddle before he released his hold on him entirely though even then he seemed hesitant to back away lest the man keel over. He rested a hand on Diana’s shoulder before he backed away, the other moving to grip the northerner’s thigh delicately as he gazed up at him with a furrowed brow.

    “I … I’m sorry you had to experience that Freyis. I suppose looking on the positive side, we’re a little closer to understanding our enemy now, and their tactics, but I wish you hadn’t had to be there for that,” he commented consolingly, an extreme sadness dominating his normally cool and composed features now. “We shall have to sit down and discuss this incident, but that will have to happen at another time. For now, we need to get you back to camp, so you can wash up and get some rest. Sleep will clear the remainder of the fog from your mind, and if you come to me in the morning, I’ll have my girls prepare you some tea that may also help to any after effects.”

    Xiomari stepped back from the prince then, unsure of what else he could say, or what comforts he could offer. He clucked his tongue sharply, turning to grab hold of Alilya's reins as the stallion pranced up to him with a delighted toss of his head. The emissary vaulted up onto his horse, patting the creatures neck appreciatively once he’d settled into the saddle. He gave Freyis one more backward glance before he urged Alilya onward, and the group made their way at a reasonably brusque pace back into their temporary encampment. Nobody had heard all of the commotion; thankfully, they’d been far enough out into the trees that what had happened could remain entirely between them. Xiomari did stink quite heavily of rotting flesh after his hands-on encounter with the reanimated corpse, but he explained it away with a simple story of having found an already dead stag and having picked at it a bit in hopes of finding salvageable bits, of which there were none. A plausible explanation, or at least plausible enough that nobody questioned after it. Xiomari handed off his horse to one of the stable boys, and he saw to it that Freyis got off of his horse safely before he saw him back to his quarters. He stood at the door as the Prince made his way inside, and the emissary watched as he got settled.

    “I will be available, my Prince, should you need anything from me. I”ll be in my wagon, washing up and seeing to a few letters that need writing. You take care of yourself, try to get some rest if you can,” he said in parting, and without another word he turned and strode off to his own quarters, eager to be away from prying eyes to tend to his aching head.
     
  11. silvermoon

    silvermoon Well-Known Member Member

    Messages:
    170
    Local Time:
    12:12 AM
    Xiomari’s words were as muffled breath caught within a thick cushion, or a scream from beneath water. Words rendered unrecognizable by the bog consuming his mind, unable to be deciphered beyond the thickly accented voice that whispered directly into his mind from disembodied lips. Freyis slipped underneath them. What a strange sound they made, this language like a song sung by the voice of a sharply plucked harp. They wrapped around his form as a lullaby, a soft and sleepy embrace made all the more disturbing by the chills that rung up and down his spine. ‘This is wrong’, he thought, but resisting felt like eyes pressing against the darkness of night with no flame to guide the way. Like being twisted and wrapped in a wet sheet. The more he pressed against it, tried to escape it, the more it felt like drowning.


    The prince struggled within his own body, bound as if held by some invisible sleeve, choking the breath from him. With his struggle, visions swam before his eyes, his new and beloved friend falling underneath the first corpse. He attempted to call to the man, to yell his name, but the force constricted his throat until the darkness of the unconscious world bled into view. When Xiomari screamed in anguish the prince fell into that darkness, buried deep within his own mind.


    -


    Freyis awoke with a start, clutching his neck as he coughed and gasped for breath. The cool touch of water lapped gently at his cheek, soaking his hair and clothes. As the prince pushed himself up slowly he could feel his fingers sinking into wet sand and as his eyes adjusted to the gloom around him he saw that he sat, half submerged, on the edge of a dark riverbank. The water as it washed over his fingers was crystal clear, a shoreline of fine gray sand and ink black river rocks disappearing into a endless and reflection-less abyss before him, its rippled surface obfuscated by a thin and pale mist. He struggled backwards, lifting himself out and away from the water’s edge. The sky was dim and full of mountainous clouds that rumbled softly in the distance as they danced and rolled across one another against a blanket of twilight with no definitive source of light. Their weaving motions were almost hypnotic, as if they whispered of some deep meaning just beyond his understanding. Similarly, the slippery gurgle of the shoreline gave him a similar haunting feeling, enough so that he wanted to retreat from it quickly.


    As the prince pulled himself away from the river he found a flat plain of pale reeds reaching to his thighs. Perhaps it was a trick of the light, as everything surrounding him seemed colorless and dull with only varying shades of granite and jet to provide any kind of dimension. The plump feathered heads of the reeds brushed against the flats of his palms as he walked through them, feeling as real as the ground beneath his feet. The air smelled faintly of something ... sweet. Freyis knelt in the field to press the grass to his nose but it smelled only of grass. Something in the air then. He continued forward, or what he assumed forward to be. Perhaps it was backwards or sideways... anything to escape the darkness of the eerily still river behind him.


    A shallow breeze combed through his wet curls bringing with it a chill to his bones. He was forgetting something... something important but just what escaped him entirely. As he searched his mind for this lost memory, a fog crept through the grass like a mass of slithering serpentine bodies forged from liquid smoke. It crept around his ankles and climbed to his knees before he noticed that he was sinking. Panic seized him as he began to run, pulling his bare feet from the bog that now threatened to swallow him whole. He could not see where he was going as the fog had lifted up around him like a shroud. All he could do was run, faster... faster... FASTER. He screamed when his foot caught on something and sent him sprawling into soft dirt.


    The young royal felt blindly around him. Soil, moss, dead leaves, knotted and twisted tree roots. A forest... a pang of guilt, a fading feeling of happiness. That ever pervasive scent penetrating the air around him, the sharp sweet smell of over ripe fruit or was it rotting flesh... Freyis heard a rustling in the brush behind him, or in front of him. He heard the snapping of twigs and the howling of a distant wind carving its path through the trees; bending boughs and snapping branches. The fog around him grew thicker, sealing away his view of the tall narrow trees until he could barely see his own hand in front of him.


    The roar of the wind grew deafening, grinding and pulverizing the surrounding forest, ripping entire trees from their foundations. Eyes found him in the gloom and they felt familiar somehow. He coved his ears because the wind was now a stomach churning scream. “Who are you!?” He called out to no one. “Why are you doing this!?” The prince stood and finally closed his eyes. Beyond the lashing winds and leaves and bits of debris that tore at his skin and clothes there was another voice. Distant, gentle, calm... strong. It flickered at the edges of his mind instead of being heard by his ears. Faintly calling to him from beyond the darkness, beyond the fog. It urged him to think, to recall something ... important to him.


    -


    Silence. Freyis is a boy... a child sitting on a cold flagstone floor in front of a blazing orange hearth. The fire pops and crackles beyond its wrought iron grate, casting its soft glow throughout a large room. He looks to a girl his same age, they share the same face. In fact, they share everything, perhaps the same soul as well. There are books all over. On shelves, against walls, or strewn across the floor in precariously stacked piles. Another boy is there with them. Older, sitting in a cushioned chair with a book obscuring his face, a halo of messy flaxen hair framed by the light.


    Silence. Freyis is an adolescent... a rebellious creature slipping out of his tower at night for the first time. The streets are much louder than they seem from the protection of the castle. The taste of bitter ale on his tongue rings like a song throughout his entire body. The warm, soft lips of some emboldened lass placates him as she rips the buttons from his tunic in a quiet garden, lost to the grass beneath their warm bodies.


    Silence. Freyis is not yet a man. He looks out from his wooden throne, the pinch of his laurel crown digs into his temples giving him a headache. The raw silk of his finely tailored garments itch and everything is buttoned much too tightly but when he looks to his right he sees his mother’s smile. Her deep gray eyes glimmer as she assesses him and suddenly he is filled with pride. Perhaps the discomfort is not so bad.


    Silence. Freyis is himself once more. He sits in his saddle astride Diana idly stroking her pale and mottled coat as he addresses a man with long black hair. He finds the man’s profile to be stunning, but he would never tell him this. Surely such beauty is wasted on him, but truly it is the least of his concerns. The man speaks with such surety and resolve. An intelligence that obscures some hidden truth.


    Silence. They are on a bridge overlooking a merchant town. The man with the black hair has mesmerizing blue eyes. He is impossibly beautiful with his hair down, catching the strong winds like a silken veil. Freyis can barely look at him. They have duties to tend to after all, but damn it all... what a gorgeous smile.


    Silence. The man with the black hair is right in front of him. He can feel the warmth of those lips like a tingle ... can taste him, smell him. Freyis’ body screams at him to fall into his urges but he mustn’t. There are grave dangers at play both domestic and foreign. They must keep their wits about them... but he could feel those arms around him as they were when he fell unconscious on that fated night. When magic was revealed to him. It was the same then as it was now and the prince’s eyes stirred behind their lids before fluttering open. His vision was blurred, overwhelmed by the light and color that flooded his dulled senses but as they came into focus the prince found himself in a pair of familiar arms.


    Xiomari sat him up, for that was the black haired man’s name. How could he have forgotten it? Eyes hollow as he looked around them for the reanimated dead. He could still smell their powerful stench and no amount of assurances from the emissary could persuade him that they were in any way safe. “I don’t understand what happened...” he offered weakly. “How did you manage on your own?”


    The Rosecrean led them to their horses, though he did not seem all there himself, despite helping the prince into Diana’s saddle. He slumped miserably, weak and shaken to his very core. Mumbling under his breath, “It was like a dream... I can see it in hazy detail but the more I try to focus the less I can call back.” Freyis pinched the bridge of his nose either ignoring or not really hearing Xiomari’s apology. Recalling the dreamscape was like trying to hold water in his cupped hands. All of the details slipped through his fingers and all he could see was fog. “I was frozen... I could see everything happening around me. I saw one of those ... things fall onto you. Then, nothing. I can remember nothing. How is that possible?” The prince’s voice was hoarse and strained, gaze vacant. At least it was until he noticed the concern on the southerner’s face. He reached out to cup the man’s chin, turning his face side to side. “You are well? Unharmed?” Freyis took a deep breath which he huffed through his nose, “I find myself feeling more concern for you in this moment than I do myself.” Looking over the scratches the man had sustained. “You are correct though... the time to discuss this is later. If I haven’t the energy for it then I’m certain you are in need of rest as well.”


    All Freyis could hope for was that his attempts to remain calm in light of recent events was convincing enough to set the southerner’s mind at ease. He wasn’t so sure it would be so for his men, however. Upon their return which must have been much overdue by now he refused to speak more than necessary, slipping uneasily from his saddle. “Our hunt was unsatisfactory. Aside from what we’ve returned with, there is little else out there.” His words rang hollow, even to him but he commanded his men to distribute all of his catch to the camp and refused anymore hunting parties from departing. “Be ready to move at dawn.”


    The prince walked with the emissary to his lodgings, thanked him and wished him a pleasant evening all per their usual pleasantries around the armored guards but Freyis was more than distracted. He was positively terrified and it showed in his eyes and the shaking of his hands through his unwillingness to embrace the haunting emotion.


    -


    Freyis did not emerge from his carriage the next morning. Instead he gave orders from within the vessel or communicated via his personal guards, refusing audience with even the head advisors. He did not emerge as they traveled even when the weather had broken and sunlight streamed down through the trees. Not until they were on he open road again did he open the slatted windows of his wagon to let the daylight in. He slept through most of the day and remained vigilantly awake during nightfall. His bow and sword felt useless in his hands so he relegated them back into their trunk. There was no way to fight something like what he had seen. Perhaps Xiomari had the strength and the knowledge to do so, but so did he possess the necessary skill of magic. Valeguard and it’s inhabitants had no such talents ... no defense. A shadow beast that burns without flame, dark omens in the sky obscured by unusual storms, and lost villagers coming back from the dead as revenants to stalk and kill all in their path? The very worst of it all was the complete and utter lack of control Freyis had over his own mind. Had Xiomari not been by his side... would he have become just another casualty? Would he have returned from death to savage his own people?


    When the caravan stopped to rest many voices approached his doors and he ignored them all. He would speak to none save for the good Sister. Baal was the only one who could provide that which he needed. An ear without intent to comfort or a purpose to entice and for all of her mystery and mysticism she was as normal a person as any. This in itself was a great comfort to the prince and he lay with his head in her lap like a child. “My dreams are all nightmares, Sister and they are vicious monsters that lay wait at the bulwark.” He sighed, playing with a bit of the fabric of her starry robes. She did not ask him questions or offer advice, she merely listened as she stroked his hair. “I see them when my eyes close, even just to rest them. How am I to call myself brave or courageous when I am a coward in my own fitful sleep?”
     
    • Like Like x 1
  12. MCLCL

    MCLCL BD's Littlest Bisexual Member

    Messages:
    504
    Local Time:
    3:12 AM
    Her defeat was unprecedented, never before had anyone managed the feat of breaking ties between her and any of her legion of corpses. Despite her track record, however, the penalty for her failure was swift and violent. The Brother was a good and merciful master in many respects; he cared for his wards as though they were the fruit of his loins and he protected them with all of his power, limited as it may have been from his position trapped behind the veil of reality. All of that paternal instinct seemed to disappear, however, as soon as a mistake was made. His retribution was always swift, and often deadly, but unfortunately, Fantika couldn’t be disposed of just yet. To have a necromancer at Isra’s disposal was paramount, and to produce one as adept as Fantika would take hundreds of years. They had nowhere near that long. The stars were aligned, the fates spoke to their success, and the souls that weren’t already in their grasp lingered near. It wouldn’t be long until a true punishment could be administered. For now, though, a moderate amount of suffering would have to do.

    She knew she deserved it, this banishment of the mind, and yet all she could do was desperately try and claw her way out. Tendrils of fog slithered up her legs as she stood, completely rigid, in a dimly lit forest. She could hear nothing but the ringing of her own ears, though had she focused more intensely she may have been able to conjure up whispers amidst the deafening silence. She tried to take a step, but something invisible held her foot fast against the obscured ground. All at once the ground fell away as something jerked her beneath its surface and she was falling, plummeting through a morning sky until she fell flat within a cobbled square. The noise was more deafening than the silence, the incessant chatter of excited people all around them. It wasn’t until she heard one particularly familiar voice, however, that she recognized the scene at hand.

    “You stand accused of crimes against the state on the grounds of the immoral sexual relations, and conspiracy to abduct the fair Lady of the Wood Arafanti. What say you, boy?”

    Fantika’s eyes shifted to the side, though she wasn’t the one causing them to do so. A voice passed through her lips, but it was not her own.

    “Our union was bathed only in love, mi’lord, and so I have nothing to say. Only that I love you, Arafanti, and we will be together again.”

    She heard a wail, and this time the voice was her own. She wasn’t the one producing the scream, however, at least not her as she was now, transformed. She felt a strange pull deep within her chest, as though someone was cinching a corset far too tight. The air rushed out of her lungs at once, and she felt an all-encompassing pain.

    Suffer. Suffer as he did, as he still does. Experience this agony so that you may better understand what is at stake, my dearest Fantika. Die as he did, and then perhaps you will work more diligently to end his pain.

    She could hear the familiar whisper slither into her ear like a little worm, as the body she inhabited shuddered and convulsed. She could hear his whispering, and the mutterings of amused execution onlookers, the grumblings of the man who had once been her father. Above all though, were her own bitter screams. They filled her soul with a sense of dread as her nose began to bleed.

    ~.~.~​

    Xiomari hadn’t spoken to Freyis since he’d left him at his quarters that evening. He’d been turned away by his guardsmen at the door, and he hadn’t attempted to press the issue. If Freyis had no desire to see anyone, then surely he must have been the most vehemently opposed to seeing him. He’d been the one to get them tangled in that mess on the trip, it was his fault for conjuring the illusions. The arrival of their enemies hadn’t been entirely random, whoever was behind the attack must have been tracking them, and he’d led that individual directly to the prince. He went through a brief period of extreme frustration regarding his own lapse in judgment, but a morose resignation quickly replaced it. He pushed all of these emotions to the side, however, the second he was given word that one of his birds had returned.

    The creature was weathered to be sure, having traveled farther than any animal naturally would have in such a short period. There was a note fastened to its leg, which had already been removed by the time Xiomari arrived. He snatched it up from the table and pried off the wax tubing that encased it, haphazardly discarding it onto the group as he strode back towards his cabin. Though he walked with an expressed sense of purpose, his eyes also scanned the page eagerly as he moved, and the soldiers around him couldn’t help but take notice to how he frantically consumed whatever was written there. Not an hour following the arrival of the carefully sealed letter, another small written sentiment would be delivered to Xiomari by a guard dressed in particularly ornate armor. It read:

    My Dearest Prince,

    I pray this note finds you well rested and recuperated following our hunt. I must convene with you, but wished to respect your desire for privacy in this trying time. I have received word back from my cousin regarding unrest in Rosecrea, and I believe it is information that you will find value in.

    At your earliest convenience, I would have you send for me. You need not worry about timing, no matter my state at the time you will find me prepared to engage in discourse. I hope to see you soon.

    Fondly Yours,
    Xiomari Marquezini di Abria ent L’Aquia, dux di Adavequilae


    Xiomari awaited word back patiently in his quarters, reading over Marquetto’s words over and over and trying to decipher each and every bit of what he’d said. What could it all mean, in regards to what he was finding there in the North? There must have been connections here somewhere, but he couldn’t be sure. There was no conclusive evidence, and yet something in his gut was telling him that it was all linked. The emperor seemed quite concerned, that much was clear from the tone of his letter. But what did the vague assortment of words truly mean in regards to the catasrophe he was tangled within?

    When Freyis finally sent word for him, the dignitary had presumed that their conference would take place the following day. He had stripped down to a silken navy robe, secured with a simple ribbon fastened about his waist. His hair was down from its strictly confining braids, and he was pouring over a rather hefty ancient tome in his bed when the knock came at his door. Freyis’ servant-boy stood at the door, shaking like a leaf as his eyes darted from the guardsmen at his sides up to Xiomari.

    “M-Mi’lord, the Prince would see you now.” His voice trembled terribly, and Xiomari smiled warmly in hopes of putting the boy at ease.

    “Lovely, send word that I will arrive at his quarters presently.” He tried his best to sound kind, inviting, but he wasn’t sure that he had any success.

    The servant wasted no time in turning on his heel and scurrying back towards his master's wagon, all but abandoning his ingrained pleasantries. The emissary sighed softly, shaking his head slowly as he stepped back into his own quarters briefly. He donned a black cloak, so as to offer some semblances of modesty whilst moving freely about the encampment, though he left his hair down and didn’t bother to look through his trunks for shoes. He had a feeling this would be a relatively informal meeting, seeing as it was the very middle of the night by that stage, and a majority of the camp was sound asleep.

    Xiomari gathered up a few things prior to departing. He took up multiple scraps of parchment, each littered with notes involving necromancy and it’s possible relation to shadow sculpting, the letter from his cousin, along with a translation he’d written up in the common tongue, and finally a corked bottle filled with an unknown, dark liquid. He looked down at his little armful of items and hummed softly, nodding his head as he moved to push out the door. The stroll over towards Freyis’ tent was short, and one of his guardsmen accompanied him while the second remained by the door of his wagon. He stopped in front of the lone guard stationed there, offering a polite smile up at him.

    “I was summoned by Prince Freyis, good sir, if you’d allow me to–”

    He wasn’t given a chance to finish his thought, for behind the guard the door was pulled open by none other than his northern jewel. The polite expression on his face softened considerably, though his brow furrowed ever so slightly at the distinctly uncharacteristic dishevelment of the man.

    “My Prince, it’s lovely to see you again. Might I come in?”

    Xiomari glanced briefly up the guard before slipping past him carefully, hugging his materials tight to his chest as he stepped up towards Freyis. He moved into the wagon and over to the prince’s bed, laying out all that he’d brought along carefully and sighing sharply.

    “We’ve much to discuss, I’m afraid … But before anything, I must ask,” he turned around to face the prince, though he didn’t make any move to step closer. “How are feeling, my darling? Any better?” He certainly didn’t look any better, but then Xiomari was sure he looked a bit worse for the wear as well.
     
  13. silvermoon

    silvermoon Well-Known Member Member

    Messages:
    170
    Local Time:
    12:12 AM
    Within his cabin Freyis sat in bed, he held a book in hand but his eyes did not move. Instead, they remained fixed at the center of a page as his mind wandered to the limits of its own imagination. Baal watched him intently, his refusal to grant her leave was of little concern for had he forbade her to keep him company she merely would have lurked outside his wagon instead. Keenly aware that something had transpired but unsure of just what it might have been. The young royal mostly spoke of his woes, worries held for his people, those around him and for himself as well. He mumbled of unseen shadows and the call of crows outside his confines and though she assured him there were none, it did little to appease. The suddeness of his condition shocked her, seemingly sprouting for nothing but she thought perhaps the prince put on a better face than she had expected of him. Something had broken the facade, so much that he could not bare to look upon those closest to him and so she respected his silence.


    "His grace is unwell... A fever, brought on by a chill during his hunt. Rest and time are required." It was with this excuse she turned all away. It was mostly true. Freyis both looked and felt sick but she knew it to be a sickness of the mind that overtook him and the best she could do was to provide what little comfort he found in her presence. She remained at his side for three days. In this time he ate very little and when he awoke from fistful dreams she was at his side in an instance to wipe the sweat from his brow with a damp cloth and to reassure him that all was still well though she barely believed it herself.


    He had given his orders to have them on the move again, using her as his mouthpiece. Pushing beyond limits, displaying urgency in his will for them to rest no longer than a day in any one location. To stay far away from the forest's edge. To keep the campfires lit throughout the night. The men would complain but with his commandments there must have been some reason. The only other soul to bare witness to events within the wood remained silent on the matter as well. If she could persuade Freyis to speak with him, perhaps he could break through the cloud that held the prince's thoughts and shed some light on the situation at hand.


    Her opportunity came as if ordained, a letter from the emissary delivered by one of the Lord's ornately armored guards. She accepted it gracefully before returning to Freyis' side. "A message for your Grace from the Duke of Adavequilae." She pressed the note into his slack hand. "Perhaps it would do his Highness some good to speak with him. I'm sure he is as concerned about your well being as anyone." Freyis took the envelope from her, opening it. This time his eyes moved across the flourished script as he read and the words must have move him to some degree as his next order surprised her. "You may send for him at dusk."


    Baal sent Freyis' page boy to request for Xiomari's presence, taking leave herself to prepare for her duties. The night sky was due to be clear tonight as it had for the past few and though she hadn't a high perch from which to read the stars she did have an open field and required their guidance more than ever.


    -


    When Freyis heard a familiar voice outside his cabin he jumped to his feet and headed for the door pulling it open wide. He would now be able to pick his voice out of a crowd of hundreds. The prince stood there dressed in nothing but his nightgown with an oversized embroidered coat draped over shoulder; that copper mane hand-mangled and fuffly with frizz hanging now just passed the nape of his neck. He was bathed at at least, before their meeting but there was stubble to his chin again and circles under his eyes. They grew cheerful, however, as they met the southerner's. "You look well my friend." He smiled but grew quickly distracted, eyes darting off to a tangerine hued horizon. He ushered with his hand for Xiomari to come quickly, "Yes, of course. Do hurry in, there is danger in the dark." He clucked guiding the man in by his shoulder.


    Inside the floor was littered with books both new and old. The collection he brought with him was yet another feeble attempt to learn what he could from their past, specifically in regards to forbidden elven texts. Many had been transcribed over time but their understanding of the culture was narrow and regarded mostly as myth. The prince picked through them as Xiomari laid out a plethora of items on his bed. "You've brought gifts! How lovely. The crows aren't too bothersome I hope. They make a dreadful racket all day but no one seems to mind." He wore a manic sort of smile as he spoke, somewhere between worry and amusement. He answered Xiomari's question with a wave of the hand. "This very moment I feel fine. I've unfairly hidden myself away but I required time to ruminate." He paused a moment to look around the space. "I've been reading." As if it wasn't obvious. "These awful books. Would their pages whisper some secret to me should I stare upon them for an hour or a day? Verily, I say." He chuckled, holding his face as he peered through spaced fingers. "Just look at you..." He sounded astonished. "You are an infinity of beauty to behold."


    Freyis moved in, closing the space to take the man's hands in his own, squeezing them perhaps a bit too firmly. "Another me would be worried that I've imposed an inconvenience. I find myself at odds with the excitement I feel. You have news from the Emperor? Something, enlightening?" He looked as if in anticipation of Xiomari's next words in particular when in truth he only wanted to hear the man speak again. It had been too long without the comfort of his measure. "We shall sit and converse..." He motioned for the Rosecrean to sit on a cushioned stool occupied by a stack of loose parchment which he pushed without regard to the floor. He found his own seat amongst his spread of leather bound tomes on a nearby carpet.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  14. MCLCL

    MCLCL BD's Littlest Bisexual Member

    Messages:
    504
    Local Time:
    3:12 AM
    “I did bring a few gifts, nothing particularly exciting, but hopefully you will at least find them to be of some use.” Xiomari murmured as he began separating the items he’d brought along into a few separate piles. The vial full of nondescript red liquid was sat on its own among the folds of fabric, then there was one extremely thick pile of parchment accompanied by a second, smaller one. He grasped the shorter stack, which consisted of the letters, both original and copied, and then Freyis commented on the existence of some irritating crows. Xiomari froze for a second, his mouth hanging open in preparation to speak again. At first, no words escaped as he stood there and mulled over what had just been said to him. He had known the attack would affect Freyis; of course, there was no way that such a severe infiltration of a pure mind wouldn’t leave a mark. It was decidedly different, however, thinking of the potential consequences and seeing the object of his affections in such a sorry state. He wanted to fix him right then and there, to grab hold of his head and withdraw the nasty memory, but he knew that would do more harm than good. No, this territory had to be tread lightly, lest he permanently damage the poor boy.

    “Luckily, my Prince, I grew up amongst racket. L’Aquia is so loud and boisterous; I find myself able to tune out any excessive noise. Perhaps I can help teach you to tune it all out as well, hm?” It would only damage Freyis further were he to deny flat out the existence of his hallucinations, this much Xiomari knew from his years studying the secrets of the arcane. He couldn’t play directly into their existence either, and so the safe zone was an uncomfortably thin line, but it was one that Xiomari had walked along a handful of times before.

    “I’m glad you feel well, though, at least well enough to convene with me.” He continued, maintaining a pleasant, calm tone of voice as he looked over the neurotic man. “I do appreciate you sparing your time, despite having all these novels consuming most of your day with their whispers. I hope they’ve at least whispered something useful into your pretty ear.” The emissary paused then, merely observing as Freyis peered at him through parted fingers. There was a note of astonishment in his voice as he breathed out a soft compliment. Despite himself, Xiomari felt a gentle flutter in his stomach at the words.

    “You’re too kind, my Prince, I am unkempt, and in my evening robes now, there is nothing remotely infinite about me.” The southerner laughed softly, taking a gentle hold of Freyis’ hands as he promptly closed the distance between them. Xiomari nodded in agreement to the Prince’s next command, and he settled down carefully upon the plush stool once its surface was cleared off for him. Freyis plopped down onto the ground in front of him, and Xiomari hesitated for a moment. He held the words of his cousin in hand and scanned over them briefly before he stood once again. Only a few steps separated him and Freyis, and he promptly closed the distance between them, pushing a few of the tomes away with a delicately pointed toe before settling in. He sat just in front of the prince, so close that their knees touched; clearing his throat softly as he set the letter down into his lap, looking to Freyis once again.

    “I pray this is acceptable, my Prince, I’d rather not raise my voice any more than necessary while we are discussing such delicate matters.” Xiomari smiled warmly, his brow knitting together for a moment as he looked at Freyis unnaturally twisted features. He was quiet for a few seconds, pondering how precisely to help his dear companion, but that was a topic to follow the discussion at hand. He wiped the pad of his thumb lightly over his lower lip before he lifted the letter again, focusing in and beginning to relay the message withheld to the prince.

    Most Esteemed Xiomari,

    It fills my heart with unparalleled joy to hear from you, dearest cousin. It pleases me greatly to know that your travels have so far found themselves without incident and that you’ve found some time for rest and respite throughout this expedition. I pray that you will continue to maintain your health and vigor throughout the remainder of your time in the north. To assist in this matter, I have ordered multiple tonic vials enclosed. You will find a label upon each; I pray that the Mother guides them through your body to ease your aches and pains.

    To answer your questions, there are a handful of sensitive topics that I do not feel comfortable putting in writing. You will need a full debriefing upon your return to Rosecrea, which I hope will not be terribly delayed by your detour within the borders of Valeguard. I feel comfortable enough to write here that there have been abnormally high levels of activity detected within a handful of the Brother’s temples. There has been a notable shift in the arcane aura surrounding these sites, and I have each of them under strict supervision as we explore the possible threats against our people as well as those of Valeguard.

    Regarding your desire to be accompanied by one Prince Freyis Mavienne Gaelvinius-Vensaro when you return to us, I have a few reservations. Ultimately I accept his forthcoming presence, as I feel it will prove invaluable to our cause, but I plead you to tread lightly once you are within our borders. I fear there is unrest brewing here, my sweet cousin, and it wouldn’t be truthful were I to claim I didn’t harbor a sense of anxiety regarding it.

    Your family here in Rosecrea eagerly await your return, Axylia sends her love, and Lucerin sends his affectionate regards.

    With Love,
    Imperatre Marquetto Marquezini di Inareth ent L’Aquia, Custo di illis Illustris, Domine di Rosecrea

    P.S. Take ample precautions upon your return to this fine nation, dearest Xiomari. Were any harm to befall you, or the Prince of Valeguard, I would never forgive myself for it.


    As Xiomari read, his voice hovered just above a whisper, and he leaned in close to Freyis from his spot there on the floor. He paused for a moment after he’d finished, allowing Freyis a brief spell to absorb everything he’d just heard. He handed over the transcribed and translated version of the letter so that the Prince had a copy of his own to hold onto were he to desire to look back on it.

    “So, in short, we will know more when we arrive in L’Aquia. Clearly, there is cause for widespread concern if Marquetto is censoring himself in such a casual letter, and so we know the threat is not contained to your nation alone. Of course, this seems to be the central point of conflict, but it is not the sole area under siege; at the very least, it isn’t the only area which is going to be targeted in this.” Xiomari sighed softly as he finished, shaking his head slowly as he reached over and grabbed the original draft. He gazed at his cousins flourished script and ran his thumb gently over the edge of the crisp parchment. He set it at his feet, lifting his body into a proper, erect posture once again as he looked to his companion.

    “I realize that your men are working hard, and the pace we are maintaining is already rather strenuous. Given the tone of my cousin’s letter, however, I might ask that we increase our pace at least a touch. Even if we only ride for an extra hour at a time, it will shave a day or so off of our estimated arrival date. That is ultimately up to your orders, of course, if you feel it isn’t possible I will respect the decision, but in my opinion, we need to start thinking about how the timing will work out for the next legs of our trip. We may not be able to depart for L’Aquia directly from Maarben. In fact, I suspect we won’t be able to. We will likely need to return to Heaven’s Reach to convene with your parents once more before I am permitted to bring you across the border. That will add … An extra month onto our timeline at the very least.”

    Xiomari sighed softly at the thought of it all, all of the back and forth, up and down. He suddenly felt a sense of wariness rise within him. It wasn’t any sense of physical exhaustion, but rather the feeling of a massive amount of weight bearing down on his shoulders. The young dignitary slowly grabbed hold of his knees, abandoning his proper posture to draw them up to his chest and hug them there, resting his chin down upon them as he looked across at Freyis thoughtfully.

    “These aren’t things that require our immediate attention, however, merely a few things to mull over for the next few days before any orders are handed out.” A sigh escaped him as he averted his eyes from the prince, blinking slowly at the thought of it all. “I’m sorry I must bring all of this up with everything that has happened, Freyis. I wish for you to know that it all bears down on me, painfully so. What happened to you especially, I should have been more prompt in my defense, and for that, I sincerely apologize.”

    His gaze remained trained on the ground as he spoke, pouring out just a small sprinkling of his feelings to the beauty before him, made ragged by a tortured mind. He’d been able to ignore the guilt before he was sat in front of the prince, but the longer he remained in that cabin, the iller he grew. How could he have expected to meet with him under normal circumstances, to discuss normal things, following such an experience?
     

Share This Page