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Thread: [M] The Sword and the Fang [Namingtoohard & Ashen]

  1. #101
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    Watching the Lucet stumble over his words was cute, and Lec waited patiently to hear about his people’s dancing customs. They tried to imagine him dancing with his family, but they only had their own people’s stereotypes about the Lucet’s erratic movements to go off of, and they tried to dismiss those. At the suggestion of his dances not being teachable, Lec opened their mouth to protest. All dances could be taught; their mother had taught them many of the moves they knew, and traveling performers had taught them dances from overseas, and even library books had taught them about dance history and form. But Lec bit their tongue, because now was not the time to be close-minded, not when they had someone willing to teach them, someone they would likely be traveling with for a long time. If they really wanted to learn, they would need to let go of their preconceptions about what dancing even meant.

    Lec closed their eyes to imagine Issa’s dances. They pictured him surrounded by other red-eyed people, or perhaps animals, gathered together under the forest’s canopy. Did they combine movements from their different forms? Lec thought that dangerous, and the scar on their neck itched at the thought. They were pulled from their thoughts when they felt Issa’s hand on their arm. Lec met Issa’s gaze with a start, and they stumbled into the spotlight with him. Was he inviting them to dance? A blush warmed their cheeks, and they cast an awkward glance around the room, as if an audience had suddenly appeared and was ready to judge them for dancing with a Lucet. It was a ridiculous thought, and they scolded themselves for it and tried to pay attention to what Issa was saying.

    If the stage’s wood weren’t so splintered, they might have sparked a flame to replicate the scene he was conveying. They had no instruments to make music, though, and they didn’t even know what kind of instruments Issa’s people used. Even without the music, Lec hoped Issa would show them his dances, impossible as it might have been. With how tense things had been for too long, they could have used the silliness, even if Lec felt weird about blindly dancing the moves of a culture they didn’t understand. But before Issa could talk anymore, they were interrupted by the long, booming groan of a ship finally leaving port.

    It was happening. The idea of really leaving Evimaire was dizzying, but Lec tried to dismiss their doubts. They could feel the ship moving beneath their feet, the slight jostling of a thing on water, and they looked to Issa to see how he was handling things. They replied to his question with a nod, and at his suggestion to see their homes off, Lec hopped off the stage and started towards the doors of the room, forgetting the lights they had left on. They would burn themselves out eventually, and the Evimairian didn’t want to miss the goodbyes either.

    A huge crowd of passengers was already gathered on the deck by the time Lec and Issa arrived. Lec found themselves wondering about them, about how many were Evimairians like them, or how many were returning home, how many were doing business in other lands, or how many were people as crazy as the two of them, setting out on a journey they may never return from. They led Issa through the crowd and squeezed into a spot against the railing, where they could see the sun reflecting on the droplets of water splashed against their ship. Evimaire was getting further and further away, but they were close enough to still clearly see the people on the docks waving up at them. The rest of the city hardly seemed to notice another ship leaving its port. The thick trees beyond that represented the Lucet forest were just visible in the distance, and Lec wondered if Issa’s family was watching, perhaps as birds or other animals no one would notice. They wished they could have seen Soren again, almost as much as they dreaded seeing the poor boy’s face for what might have been the final time.

    As they watched their home shrink on the horizon, Lec felt their breath hitch in their throat. They found Issa’s hand and squeezed it, no matter how it looked to anyone around them. They needed the comfort, and maybe he did too, and out here surrounded by unfamiliarity, they were all they had. Lec was quiet for a long time, thinking too much about the dangers they’d face, and the real possibility of never returning, until their thoughts became too overwhelming. They turned away from the railing, sick not from the rocking of the ship.

    They looked to Issa, whose dark eyes were set on the distant shore. “Hey,” they said quietly, “how are you feeling?” They motioned towards the bright clouds, the sparkling water, anywhere but their homes. “It’s beautiful, isn’t it? We’ll be back someday.” They didn’t know if they were talking to Issa or themselves.
    Thanks to Craze for the beautiful Bravely set!

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  2. #102
    Mistborn
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    Apparently the stage’s small staircase was doomed to a life of disuse. When Lec stepped off the edge of the stage, dropping the short distance to the ground below, Issa was quick to follow suit. He didn’t spare the stage’s lights a second thought as they slipped from the performance hall, and out into the corridors beyond. From there, he fell into step behind his guide quickly, trusting Lec to lead them back up to the main deck faster than he’d brought them down here. The Lucet couldn’t help but be amused by the fact that, even now, he was still relying on Lec to escort him from place to place. It wasn’t like his human had ever been on this ship before, even if they were more familiar with this boat in general. Was it still because he trusted their expertise, or was it now just a habit? Issa found himself pondering the idea, right up until the moment they climbed the last set of stairs, and slipped into the sun once more.

    When they reached the rear of the ship, Issa found himself eyeing the crowd that had already gathered there. It seemed they weren’t the only ones who wanted to bid the city a proper farewell. How many of these strangers had witnessed his earlier humiliation, and how many would object to his presence now? The Lucet had never been shy, had never cared what the other Lucet thought of him – the sense of trepidation he felt now was unusual, in a way he didn’t quite know how to express. Lec didn’t hesitate, of course – they pressed onward, heedless of Issa’s concerns. Perhaps that was for the best, as it forced the Lucet to set aside his concerns and hurry after them. He joined Lec at the railing, tried his hardest to ignore how the person on his other side shuffled away, and turned his gaze to the vista beyond.

    The sight beyond the railing was a unique view of Evimaire Issa had never seen before, even while wearing the guise of a bird. While objectively beautiful, it tugged at his heartstrings in a way that wasn’t entirely pleasant. He’d always wanted to explore the world, but Issa had always hoped to do so of his own volition. This should’ve been a happy moment, but the entire situation was tainted by the knowledge that they’d been forced into this, and thoughts of those they were leaving behind. Such moroseness wasn’t like Issa, and after several days of it, he wanted nothing more than to banish these emotions and enjoy the trip for what it was. Easier said than done.

    Issa was drawn from his thoughts when Lec took his hand, and gave it a gentle squeeze. Their touch was a balm of sorts, and the Lucet welcomed it wholeheartedly. He threw a sideways glance at his human, offering them a small smile, before he turned his gaze towards the horizon once more. This time, the silence between them was more companionable than awkward, and Issa dare not shatter it by speaking. No. He’d keep his mouth shut, just this once, and try to enjoy the moment. Just for a little while longer.

    When Lec did finally speak, their first question left Issa feeling uncertain. He wasn’t sure he understood the full breadth of his emotions himself, let alone how he was supposed to explain them to someone else. And yet, had he not been annoyed with Lec earlier for refusing to speak plainly with him? The Lucet wasn’t sure he liked where this line of thought was taking him, but before he could follow it to its conclusion, his human offered him an easy out with another, simpler question. Perhaps this wasn’t the place, with so many other people about. That’s what the Lucet told himself, anyway.

    “It’s very beautiful” Issa agreed. He spoke in a low voice, given the crowd around them, but his tone was no less sincere for it. “I can’t help but wonder if I’m the first Lucet to ever experience this. It’s weird, but…a good kind of weird. Probably a sensation I’ll have to get used to, right?” The Lucet chuckled softly to himself at the thought, and the pain of leaving seemed to wane, just for a moment. He threw another glance at the crowd around them before leaning in close to Lec. His next words were spoken in a low, conspiratorial whisper.

    “To be totally honest, all this wind and water and open space kinda make me want to stretch my wings a little. I doubt the other guests would appreciate it, though. Or the workers, for that matter.” Such a blatant display of his Lucet abilities would only ostracize Issa more, of course, and angering these people when they were all going to be trapped on this boat together probably wasn’t the smartest idea he’d ever had. Even so, after the embarrassment he’d been forced to endure at their hands before, Issa found himself tempted. He trusted Lec to talk him down if the idea was a little too stupid, which was half the reason he was sharing it now.

  3. #103
    The Ashen One
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    Though Issa seemed fascinating by the scene before them, his words struck Lec as odd. Surely a Lucet had been out here before, seeing Evimaire from this angle…right? The history books they had read had been so adamant about the monsters the Lucet all were, but Lec wondered about a time before any of the politics. The war between their peoples was still young, so what was it like before the massacres, before the hatred, before the only reality they both knew? Could it really be that Issa was the first Lucet to travel like this, among humans, to lands far beyond his forest? The thought humbled Lec as much as it unnerved them.

    They weren’t built for making history, or they didn’t think they were. They’d tried to live a normal life despite the power they’d been given, and they didn’t like knowing their actions would influence so much about the world. But they wondered too about how they could influence just their city, and the relations between it and the Lucet forest. What would this trip mean for the ties between their peoples? Was it presumptuous to assume Lec and Issa alone could change the fate of their descendants? It was far too much to think about for the already exhausted human, so Lec only responded with a simple smile. All of that would come later, much later. First, they had to make sure they fulfilled this prophecy.

    They looked back out over the horizon, trying to shake their thoughts and think of instead all the new and exciting things they would experience on this trip. When Issa spoke again, they were thankful for something else to focus on. Lec’s gaze turned skyward, and they wondered what it was like to change one’s skin as easily as Issa’s people could. The thought of Issa shifting in front of them still scared them, even if they wouldn’t admit it, and their scar ached with the knowledge of what Issa was capable of. But if they were going to be traveling together, and fighting together, then Lec would need to get used to that. And what better time than now, when all the other passengers were distracted?

    “Maybe not,” Lec agreed in a similar whisper, though a smirk tugged at their lips. They remembered the way these people had treated Issa, between the guard who’d checked them in, and the looks he was getting from people even now. Lec glanced around at the crowd. No one would notice the two of them snaking away. “But,” they continued, ducking away and motioning for Issa to follow them. “It might be fun regardless.”

    Lec made their way to the stern of the ship, where only a few workers were gathered. They glanced towards Lec and Issa, but they didn’t stay long, and they soon went to do their jobs. Once they were gone, Lec turned back to Issa. “Do you remember the last time we were on a ship?” they asked, as if either of them could forget. The chase they’d had through the halls of that cruise liner had been horribly illegal and wrong—but fun. Maybe something like that would help to take the edge off of all the emotions warring for their attention.

    Lec shot a glance back towards the front of the ship, but no one was paying them any mind now. “What if you did stretch your wings? If you did decide to be a nuisance for the people here, it’s not like they could stop you if you were, say, a bird or something. They wouldn’t even know it’s you.” They considered it, and they briefly wondered why they were encouraging this, but they dismissed their voice of reason. Issa brought out the rule breaker in them, but they couldn’t seem to mind when they had such fun together.

    “It would be a good idea to see what you’re capable of,” they went on, a last-ditch effort to convince themselves they weren’t just being children. “If we really are to fight together, I should be familiar with all of the things you can do in your other forms, right?” They motioned towards the group of people who were still waving their goodbyes to Evimaire. “So,” they said, “show me what you can do.”
    Thanks to Craze for the beautiful Bravely set!

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  4. #104
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    Lec’s refusal might have been disappointing, if not for the small smirk that tugged at their features. Even if Issa wasn’t going to get his wish, that sight alone made him glad that he’d voiced the thought. He turned his attention back to the view before them, thinking the matter settled, only to pause as his guide spoke again. He raised an eyebrow when Lec gestured for him to follow, promises of mischief perched upon their lips. It didn’t take Issa long to make up his mind – he’d never been able to resist a bit of playful fun, even when it seemed to go against all wisdom. His familiar smile returned then, and the Lucet was quick to follow his guide out of the crowd, towards the other end of the ship.

    As they walked, Issa cast a wandering eye over the boat’s crew, wondering idly about their roles. Both in this exact moment, and aboard the ship in general. Then the two travellers arrived at the stern, where the Lucet found himself another distraction. The ocean unfurled before them, totally unlike anything that Issa had witnessed before. An expanse of purest blue, stretching all the way to the horizon, and glittering in the sunlight. He’d glimpsed something similar when Lec had first escorted him along the docks, but it didn’t compare to this. Back then, the piers and boats and crowds had narrowed his perception. Stopped him from grasping the true scale of what he’d been seeing. Now, the realisation that the little specks in the distance could be boats just as large as their own left the Lucet feeling very small indeed.

    Issa was quick to turn his attention towards Lec when they began to speak again. The mere mention of their previous escapades was enough to make him grin wildly, even now – something that would probably never change. The Lucet was quick to nod his confirmation, only to pause when his guide suggested an alternative. It lacked the dramatic flair of his original idea, but it was probably a whole lot safer. Issa would fail to make the point he’d wanted, but he’d have his revenge, and it still sounded like fun. As far as compromises went, it wasn’t terrible.

    “I’m not sure how much you expect to learn from a couple of pranks, but who am I to deny you the opportunity?” Issa spoke his words with feigned nonchalance, accompanying them with an artfully deliberate shrug. His gaze drifted skyward, then. It settled on the seagulls that drifted around their boat, harrying people as they saw fit. The Lucet’s pursed his lips then, expression souring. “If I’m going to blend in, then I’m going to have to transform into one of those dreadful things, aren’t I? How undignified. They look like they can barely keep themselves from falling out of the sky.” Issa glared at them with obvious distaste for a long moment, before letting out a soft sigh.

    “Nothing for it, I guess. At least it’s for a good cause.” With that said, the Lucet cast a furtive glance around the deck, eyeing the sailors lingering nearby. Once he’d confirmed that all of them were preoccupied, their attention focused on their respective tasks, Issa made his move. He placed both of his hands on the guard rail, and lifted himself up just enough to plant one of his feet atop it. Then he kicked off, launching himself off the side of the boat and out over the water beyond. He seemed to hang in the air, just for a moment, before gravity overcame his momentum. Then, just as it threatened to drag him downward, Issa transformed.

    The Lucet slipped his skin as effortlessly as a human might change their clothes. The whole process was so familiar that it felt as natural as breathing, despite the pain it caused. In the blink of an eye, Issa’s human form was replaced with that of a dull, white and grey seagull. As soon as the transformation was complete, the Lucet spread his wings, both physically and metaphorically, and let the wind catch him. He lurched a little at first, but then his new animal instincts kicked in, and he settled in to the familiar motions of flight. Adjusted the tempo with which he beat his wings and the tilt of his tail subconsciously, until he was stable in the air.

    The Lucet seagull spent a good moment turning and banking, swooping and diving, climbing and gliding, and found himself revelling in the feeling of freedom. Flying was a thrill, no matter how many times Issa experienced it, and apparently the drab form he wore today wasn’t enough to spoil that. Then, once he’d had his fill, Issa’s mind turned to his task. He tilted his wings and banked away from the boat’s stern, veering off towards the crowd that they’d left behind earlier.

    Issa made no effort to blend in with the other seagulls as he scouted out the crowd, searching for a suitable target. He sincerely doubted that anyone would notice that such a small pair of eyes were crimson, especially from this distance, and these birds seemed to behave so erratically that he saw no point in trying to mimic their behaviour. His gaze eventually settled on a short, middle-aged woman that he recognised from his earlier humiliation. Before he could think any better of it, the Lucet tucked in his wings and dipped into a dive, swooping down towards the mass of unsuspecting people below. Nobody seemed to notice his approach until the last moment, and by then it was too late. Issa plucked the woman’s dainty white hat right off her head, and then he was off again, climbing back into the sky before anyone could react. Surprised shouts and angry cries followed him, and Issa delighted in the sound.

    Carrying the hat proved infuriatingly difficult. The Lucet had to put so much more effort into keeping himself aloft than he’d never needed to do as an eagle. Another reason to hate these ugly little things. Even so, Issa persevered. He waited until he was out of sight of the guests before circling back around towards the stern. When he caught sight of Lec again, Issa dropped the hat, aiming to have it land directly on their head. Unfortunately, his aim was poor, and the wind of their passage quickly pulled his prize off target. If Lec was quick, they might manage to catch it out of the air. Otherwise, it’d land on the deck, a few paces away.

    Free of his burden, Issa swept down towards his companion. He pulled back at the last moment, killing his own momentum, before slipping back into his human skin. The Lucet dropped the small distance that remained, and bent his knees to help absorb the jolt when he landed. He performed the entire process with much more grace than the time he’d visited Lec’s room as a bird, thankfully. Once he’d straightened up, Issa met his human’s eyes and grinned.

    “I brought you a present, Lec. I do hope you like it. Maybe don’t wear it in front of the other guests, though. Just in case.”

  5. #105
    The Ashen One
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    When the mischievous smile returned to Issa’s face, Lec couldn’t help but meet it with a grin of their own. Even though they knew this was a foolish idea, it was worth it just to relieve the concern from their companion’s expression. They nodded along to his voiced logic, played up at it was, and wondered just how much they could learn from such a silly situation. Dull fear ran through their veins as their imagination ran away from them. This was just a prank; surely Issa wouldn’t do anything he’d soon regret…right? Lec tried to shake the thought, and they followed Issa’s gaze to the clear skies.

    Issa’s complaints about the less than graceful birds surrounding them interrupted Lec’s anxious thoughts. They turned to him and the scowl on his face, and laughter bounded out of them. “I guess hating seagulls isn’t an exclusively human experience,” they joked. “I’m sorry.” They giggled at Issa’s inconvenience. “I think you’ll manage.”

    Issa launched himself from the side of the ship, and a wave of panic still rushed through Lec, as if they’d forgotten what the Lucet was capable of. They wondered what might happen if something were to go wrong in his transformation, and if he couldn’t catch himself in time. Would their magic be quick enough to save him? They ran to the guardrail and peered over the edge, neglecting to check who might have been watching them. There, just before the water’s surface, they saw the end of Issa’s transformation. He shed his human shape so effortlessly, and the bird that replaced him held no sign of his former self save for his dark eyes. The whole thing was as beautiful as it was unnerving, and Lec wondered if they would ever get used to it.

    Issa rose in their air, and Lec stepped away from the guardrail to watch him embrace this new form. He seemed like he belonged in the sky, a natural among the other birds. Despite his earlier complaints, and despite Lec’s dislike of seagulls from living so close to them all their life, Lec still thought Issa beautiful. He didn’t act like a normal seagull; his small form commanded a confidence that the other klutzy flying rats did not, and Lec sighed as they watched him approach the other side of the ship. He was unnoticed by the other passengers, and Lec leaned against the guardrail to watch the chaos ensue.

    In his heart, Issa was a lover of mischief. Lec hadn’t known him long, but they knew that in the way his face lit up at the chance for a new prank. Even as a bird, Lec could almost make out a smile on his beak, and Lec delighted in watching him play. No one would notice how different he was from the other birds if they weren’t looking, and no one was looking, so Issa was able to get close to the crowd without a problem. When he plucked a hat right off the head of one of the passengers, the crowd turned to him with angry shouts and frantic motions, as if they could catch him out of the air. But Issa was too swift for that, and he flew away with the hat, all the while leaving Lec doubling over in laughter.

    They needed to stop themselves left they make the woman even angrier, but it was hard not to laugh at the situation. The way Issa struggled to carry the hat bigger than him, or the way the woman’s face was red with anger, or the way she nearly knocked people to the floor to try to get at him; all of it made for a hilarious time. Lec tore their gaze away from her, glad she hadn’t noticed them laughing at her. They looked instead to Issa, who dropped the hat. It fluttered in the wind, heading past the edge of the ship and towards the lapping waves below. Lec was quick. A subtle use of magic was enough to lead the hat back to the ship and into their hands, and they held it triumphantly with another chuckle.

    Issa reappeared beside them, no longer a bird, and unnoticed as the crowd took off in search of the lost hat. “Are you insane?” they asked, though their voice held more laughter still. “You’re framing me!” They waved the hat towards him. Lec knew the smart thing to do was to return it. To claim that the wind had taken it to them after a weird bird had dropped it overhead. It wasn’t even a lie. But Lec remembered the woman, and how she’d sneered along with the crowd at Issa’s mistreatment, and they weren’t feeling particularly inclined to give the thing back. Instead, they slipped it under their shirt and motioned for Issa to follow them as they avoided the crowd in search of a hat they now would not find.

    On the way back to their room, the hall was filled with their giggles. “Did you see her face?” Lec asked, then imitated the wild, angered expression the woman had word. “She was so mad, as if someone had killed her family, not just taken a dumb hat. I thought she was going to start climbing people to get it back.” They arrived at their room, and it was only when the door was shut behind them that Lec pulled the hat out of their shirt and soothed its new creases. “How sweet of you to steal a present for me,” they teased. “I’ll have to find you something nice in return.” They placed the hat atop their head and stuck their arms out before spinning, modeling it for him. “How do I look?” they asked.
    Thanks to Craze for the beautiful Bravely set!

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