Page 8 of 8 FirstFirst ... 678
Results 71 to 78 of 78

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

  1. #71
    The Ashen One
    Ashen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    A land that smells of sunflowers
    Favourite Roleplay Genres
    medieval fantasy, adventure, psychological
    Posts
    5,543
    Mentioned
    16 Post(s)
    Rep Power
    97

    Default

    The quiet of the night was deafening, and Lec prayed for any noise, strangers’ chatter or dog barking, anything else to focus on. They couldn’t guess at what was going through Issa’s mind, but he had seemed to accept their explanation. Still, his silence left them unsettled, made it harder to tap out their breaths with shaking fingers against their leg. They looked all around in search of a distraction, and their gaze turned skyward. The starts were twinkling, dull beyond the haze of the city smog, yet the constellations were unmistakable. Lec traced the lines, remembered the mnemonics they had learned in school to memorize their names, and for a moment, they were almost calm. Then, they nearly walked straight into a streetlamp. They paused and, laughing nervously, sidestepped the lamp and continued on their way, this time with their eyes not straying from the street.

    Shortly after their blunder, Issa spoke, and his words, though gentle and well-meaning, sucked the air out of Lec’s lungs. They didn’t know how to reply or where to begin to address why he was wrong. Of course, he was right, and his stance had Lec questioning not for the first time whether the humans were the savages after all, but Issa was naïve, did not know their laws. Laws that would protect one person’s freedom of expression over another’s right to comfort, or the laws that would put to death an innocent man for being born to the wrong family, the wrong neighborhood, the wrong status. There were too many nonsensical rules in their city, they knew, but it was most often simpler to play along and not face needless bloodshed for things—words—that should not have mattered.

    And for the first time, the Lucet’s ignorance of human culture angered Lec in a way they did not know how to explain.

    Their hand stopped drumming and instead balled to a fist, tight enough for their fingernails to draw blood from their palms. They thought of all the ways to respond: to tell him he knew nothing of humans, to chastise him for comparing their cultures, to blame him for all the stereotypes their people believed about the violent beast-men who lived in the woods. Lec stopped walking, eyes trained on the ground, breath shallow and malice dripping from its edges.

    If it had been Soren… Was that a threat? An irrational conclusion birthed of their anger, their panic, Lec wondered what Issa meant, what he hoped to accomplish by criticizing them like this.

    They could feel the sparks burning in their tight fist, burning at their flesh. Lec needed to calm down; this was irrational; Issa meant nothing vicious by his words. They knew that. But still their nostrils flared, and they struggled to control their emotions. A part of them wanted to lash out at this intruder, the animal who had encroached upon their city, had started a fight with their people, had left the remainder of his hatred permanently burned against their skin; in their anger, the two had become on in the same. It would be simple to take their anger out on the one who had caused this. Not a single human would blame them, after what he’d caused. Not a single person… except Soren.

    Remembering their brother, his small face, his wide eyes, his endless enthusiasm, their fist loosened. They weren’t a violent person. Where was all this coming from? A headache pounded at their skull, disorienting, and they tried to shake their thoughts. Issa had asked them something. Had he been waiting long? They looked back to Issa, and with a voice betraying nothing, they replied, “Yes.”

    Lec started walking again, eager to pretend they had never stopped. If Issa acknowledged what had happened, they wouldn’t reply, wouldn’t confirm what they’d thought. Their hands now trembled, and they found they were more afraid of themselves than Issa. They guided him back to the border between their worlds, and when Issa walked past where the streets ended, Lec looked away. They wanted to get away from him, pretend this day had not happened, but they had its reminders to clean up at the inn. Beyond that, Issa had intentions of learning more about their marks; wasn’t that important? More important than their safety?

    Eventually, they met his eye. The eyes of a monster, Issa’s gaze held all too much to interpret. Lec shifted, then looked behind him, at the forest shrouded in darkness. “I’ll… see you around,” they said, though they wondered about the truth of their words. They hesitated, then added, “Thanks, again. I… I hope you enjoyed the show, despite… everything else.” Their cheeks burned, and the panic snaked back to their throat. If they stayed much longer, they’d be caught in a full-blown attack, and they didn’t need Issa seeing that.
    Thanks to Craze for the beautiful Bravely set!

    ~Recruitment Thread~
    Spoiler: Ashen's Personal Hall of Fame 

  2. #72
    Mistborn
    Namingtoohard's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    3,392
    Mentioned
    15 Post(s)
    Rep Power
    320

    Default

    When Lec stopped walking, Issa allowed himself to hope, just for a moment, that his words had found their mark. That his human guide would understand, would see sense, and that they could put everything that had happened tonight behind them. That they could continue as they had, meet up tomorrow and go back to having fun. It didn’t take the Lucet long to realise just how wrong he was. Just how misguided that hope had been, and just how terrible of a mistake he had made.

    Despite the smothering darkness of night, despite the safe distance between them, there was no missing the hitch in Lec’s breath. There was no missing the tension in their shoulders, or the way that their hands clenched into fists by their sides. The sparks that began to leap and flicker between their fingers were a strong contrast against the shadows, ones that demanded attention. As he looked upon them, Issa felt as if he were only just realising how upset Lec actually was, and how much danger he was in. The muscles in his arms and legs twitched, every instinct he had urging him to run, to change, to hide, or escape. To do whatever was necessary to escape the violent magic that was about to be unleashed upon him. Indeed, if Lec had so much as glanced back over their shoulder, they would have been greeted with an expression to wide-eyed fear.

    The only thing that stopped Issa from fleeing was the knowledge that if he did, he would be burning his bridges. That Lec would never again walk him through the streets of the human settlement. That they would never figure out the meaning of their shared birthmarks, that they would never finish teaching him to read, that he would never get to see Evelin again, and have his prize from her. And so, Issa mustered his resolve, and forced himself to stay. He would wait until the first blow fell, at the very least. And then, if he survived, he could think about escape afterwards. Until then, there was still a chance, however slim, of reconciliation. And so long as that chance existed, he would gamble on it.

    The single-word answer Issa eventually received was clipped, controlled, and curt. A far cry from the reprimand that he had been expecting. This felt worse, somehow. It was too sterile, too bland around the edges. Even so, when Lec began to walk, Issa followed. He allowed the distance between them to grow a little more this time, but he followed all the same. The Lucet kept his head down and his mouth shut for the remainder of the journey, too afraid by half that a single careless word would provoke Lec’s fury once more.

    When the two of them finally reached the boundary between their worlds, Issa kept walking, even once Lec had stopped. He passed as close to the human as he dared, and kept moving until they were several steps apart again, now both on their own sides of that invisible line. Issa could have kept walking, he knew. That probably would have been the smart thing to do. But again, he stopped. The Lucet turned to face his human guide one last time. He kept his head lowered, gaze raised just far enough to meet Lec’s eye, whilst his hands were shoved deep into his pockets. And then, he waited. Still fearful of Lec’s wrath, the Lucet waited to see if they would speak, and what they would say. To let them set the tone, so that he might glimpse what meaning he could from it.

    Lec’s words were calmer now, but it seemed to Issa that there was a sense of finality about them. The words they spoke suggested otherwise, of course, but there was no mistaking that tone. A goodbye that wasn’t quite a goodbye. Well, so be it. If this were to be the end, then they could at least try and go out on a happy note.

    “I should be thanking you.” Issa did his best to keep his voice calm. A small, sad smile ghosted across his features, there one moment and gone the next. “It was wonderful. The show, and…well, everything else, too.”

    Issa would turn away, then. He made as if to begin the long walk home, only to hesitate for one brief moment longer. “I’ll see you around.” His own goodbye, in the same style Lec had chosen. And then, Issa was off. The Lucet set out at a jog, but it only lasted until he had covered the first few metres. Then, to Lec’s eye, it would seem as if Issa were gone, and a large ,black panther had taken his place. One that quickly broke out into a full run. It was only a few brief moments until he covered the distance to the treeline, and vanished into the darkness beyond.

    Like every other evening, Issa remained in his animal form until he neared the Lucet village. Haste seemed necessary, given the late hour, and by the time Issa arrived, he felt much too warm, despite the evening chill. It was only when the Lucet returned to his human form that he realised that there was one other problem. Something that both he and Lec had forgotten about, that now, with the benefit of hindsight, seemed quite the obvious mistake.

    “…shit.”

    Looking down, the Lucet realised he was still dressed in the human clothes that Lec had let him borrow. His own furs were still tucked away at the human inn, inside Lec’s room. Explaining why he was home so late was already going to be difficult enough, without this added complication. Heck, the scent alone would probably be enough to draw his siblings down upon him, if any of them were in animal form. Still…if he couldn’t go back to the human village again, then it didn’t matter quite as much if he were caught. Issa would have preferred to keep it a secret, and avoid the punishment that would doubtless follow, but…well, there was no point worrying about what you couldn’t change.

    That was what he tried to tell himself, anyway.

  3. #73
    The Ashen One
    Ashen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    A land that smells of sunflowers
    Favourite Roleplay Genres
    medieval fantasy, adventure, psychological
    Posts
    5,543
    Mentioned
    16 Post(s)
    Rep Power
    97

    Default

    Lec could barely keep their body from violently trembling as they watched Issa off. The beast that took his place—dark, sleep, beautiful—was a painful reminder of the man’s power. How easily he could turn around, advance on them more quickly than humanly possible, and use those gigantic paws or those sharp teeth against them. That was irrational, and Lec knew that, but it didn’t stop the paranoia from settling in their throat, stealing their breath. They counted Issa’s steps—one, two, three, four—before turning away and heading back to the inn.

    He had said he’d see them again. They had made so many plans together in the short time they knew each other, simple as they were, but Issa’s tone had suggested finality, a lie to shatter the hope of his words. As Lec made their way through the dark streets of their city, they couldn’t help but think they had ruined things, somehow. That their reaction to Issa’s outburst had been unfounded, or perhaps bringing him here at all had been, and now, they would never see him again. The thought shouldn’t have hurt them as much as it did. Enemy or not, Issa had been their only companion since their life had been turned upside down, and they couldn’t deny how important he and their lessons had been as a distraction. As a hope. For a future Lec was starting to lose faith in.

    Lec didn’t know when the tears had started, but by the time they reached the inn, they were sobbing. Not wanting to go in like this, they instead walked back to the docks and sat in the very same bench they’d been sitting in with Issa. Their breaths came in labored gasps as their heart recklessly thumped in their chest, and as their attack finally burst out of them, they were all too aware of the eyes turned to them. Vendors closing late, nighttime fishermen preparing for their days, passersby; everyone at the dock had their gaze trained on the small person crumbled on the bench, shoulders shaking, makeup smeared, trying desperately to not make a scene. They couldn’t return to the privacy of their room at the inn, not without first dealing with the mess Issa had left them, and that thought only made them cry harder.

    They only looked up when a stranger tapped on their arm, face full of concern, voice soft and sweet as she asked if they were alright. Lec’s own voice refused to come out, so they responded in signs, words the stranger didn’t know. They tried charades instead, eventually telling the woman they were okay enough that they didn’t need help. As she left, clearly unconvinced, they wiped at their cheeks and counted their breaths in beats against their thigh. The people around them afforded them some privacy, continuing on with their day, and in just a few more minutes, the tears finally ran dry. They lingered, breathing in the saltwater air, before picking themselves up and heading back to the inn.

    The innkeep was waiting for them, irritated at their delay in returning, angry at their choice of company, and though offered her a million apologies, they knew the kindness they had been shown would soon run out. They swore they would work twice as hard for their room, their meals, would practice their performances all day and bring in their friends for more business, and when they finally were dismissed, they went back to their room with more tears in their eyes. As they did, they could distinctly hear the swears huffed under the innkeep’s breath, curses meant not for them but cut all too deep anyway, and they wondered how Issa must have felt, earlier, before burying the thought.

    They pulled open the door and started to tug off their top, but their eyes caught on something thrown on their bed. They were Issa’s clothes, the leathers and furs of his tribe, the ones he had been supposed to change into before he went home. Lec looked to the window, and they considered returning them to him for only half a second before they quickly shot down the idea. He was long gone by now, likely to never return, and they weren’t going to walk back into that forest themselves. But… what were they supposed to do with them now?

    They picked up his top, ran their hands over the fabric, the fur, stretched it beneath their fingers and admired the craftmanship at the seams. They hadn’t asked him who’d made it, or how, or if it was everyday wear or something perhaps more special. They hadn’t asked him anything about his culture, and with a pang of regret, they realized now they’d never get the chance.

    Lec realized they could use the clothes instead for inspiration, once they settled down enough to buy the fabrics to recreate them in their size, or the machines and needles needed to stitch it all together. They would design a whole performance, The Dance of the Lucet, with their magic simulating the shifting forms of the beast-men. Their mind filled with new ideas, new ways to incorporate all they knew about Issa into their art, but they paused and dismissed the idea. It was stupid, creating a tribute to the man who had marched into their life just as soon as he’d left it, and besides, none of their human audiences would understand, anyway.

    They set his things beside theirs in a dresser and began shedding their clothes. They washed the paints from their face, diligently scrubbing away the hideous streaks. They would bathe in the morning, when they weren’t quite so exhausted; now, they were ready for bed. Lec dragged themselves to their sheets, eager to put an end to such an indescribable day, but as they lay there counting cracks in the ceiling, sleep would not come. They could only think of Issa, of the man with whom they’d already spent too much time, who they wanted here with them as their world continued to crumble around them.
    Thanks to Craze for the beautiful Bravely set!

    ~Recruitment Thread~
    Spoiler: Ashen's Personal Hall of Fame 

  4. #74
    Mistborn
    Namingtoohard's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    3,392
    Mentioned
    15 Post(s)
    Rep Power
    320

    Default

    Crouched amongst the undergrowth, Issa did his best to remain motionless as he observed the human city from a distance. His eyes roamed the ever-familiar shapes of its buildings, flickered over the moving specks that he knew were its residents. Throughout his life, how many times had he sat here, like this, and wondered what it was like over there? Imagined what the humans were like? Tried to make sense of the way they lived? Things were different now. He had experienced it for himself, if only briefly. And yet, the place felt further away than ever. Further beyond his reach, for all the practical experience he had gained.

    Three weeks. It had been three weeks since he had last seen Lec. Three weeks since the incident at the bar. Three weeks since his guide had decided that they had best go their separate ways. And yet, here we was. Praying that one of those small specks would come closer, would separate itself from the masses, and take on Lec’s familiar figure. Issa had told himself over and over that they were finished. That his brief taste of human society had come to an end. That there was no point coming back, because Lec would never appear to greet him again. If they hadn’t come in the past three weeks, then there was no reason to think they would come now. And yet, here he was. Watching. Waiting. Hoping, against all odds. Despite his own better judgement.

    “Come on, Issa. Lec walked you through those streets plenty of times. They showed you how. You can do this.”

    The words dripped from Issa’s lips unbidden, so quiet that they didn’t interrupt the birds and their songs, or stop the crickets from chirping. He wasn’t sure when, exactly, he had decided to take matters into his own hands. Only that he was tired of waiting, and desperately wanted to do something about it instead. He had important information to share, an important message to deliver. If Lec wasn’t going to come and listen to it, then he’d have to go to them, and that was the end of it.

    But the last time they had spoken, Lec had seemed glad to be rid of him. Even if Issa did manage to find them somehow, hidden somewhere within that sprawling expanse of streets and buildings and bodies, there was no guarantee they would hear him out. There was every chance that they would ignore him, or yell at him. That they would call the guards, or worse. Memories of Lec’s magic, so powerful, so graceful, so fierce, rose up within his mind unbidden. What would he do, if…

    No. Issa pushed the thought aside. Shut it down before it could go any further. How long had he spent, psyching himself out like this? Letting his fear get the better of him? The Lucet could have tried to visit the human settlement any time, growing up, but had always held off. He had claimed it was because of his instincts. Because he knew better than to throw himself into an unfamiliar environment, with no working knowledge of its pitfalls, dangers, or predators. But was it really instinctual, or had he just been afraid? Rightfully so, perhaps, but it had been fear nonetheless. It was fear now. And he was done letting it control him.

    He needed to see Lec again. He wanted to see Lec again. Despite how badly their last meeting had ended. No matter what they might say. He couldn’t spend the rest of his life wondering what might have been. And if his village elder’s stories were true, that might not be too much longer anyway.

    It was now or never.

    Issa closed his eyes and focused on his breathing for a moment. Once he had steadied himself, he mustered up his resolve and rose to his full height, slipping from his hiding spot. The forest fell silent around him now, but the Lucet paid it no mind. He strode forward, shoulders pulled back and head held high, as he set off towards the city with purpose. It was difficult, but once he was moving, each step seemed to come a little easier than the one before it.

    Then, when he was ready, Issa became a bird. Between one step and the next, his human form vanished, replaced by a white-collared kingfisher. Hardly the most inconspicuous city bird, he knew, but his pride wouldn’t let him adopt anything so mundane as a pigeon. The mere thought ruffled his feathers, at strong odds with the fear of discovery he had been warring with just moments ago. Still, there was no more time to second-guess himself. He’d simply have to hope that none of the humans looked a little too closely.

    The kingfisher that was Issa worked hard, beating its wings quickly to gain altitude, and speed its way towards the human settlement. It wasn’t long before he was sailed over the city’s outermost walls, past the outskirts, and into the more crowded areas beyond. The thrill of flying was exhilarating, even if it keeping himself aloft was hard work without an updraft to aid him. Issa might have lost himself in the sensation, if he hadn’t reminded himself of his purpose, and turned his attention to the streets below.

    It didn’t take Issa long to realise that he wouldn’t be able to conduct his entire search as a bird. Most of the human buildings already looked the same to his untrained eyes, and the fresh perspective simply wasn’t doing him any good. The small kingfisher dipped downwards and alighted on the second story of a nearby building. He had planned on taking a moment to relax and consider his options, but his rest was quickly cut short. Acting more on instinct than from conscious thought, Issa leapt from his perch and took flight again when something large flung itself towards him. He circled around, only to find that he had apparently picked a windowsill for his seat, and that a middle-aged lady had just thrown the shutters open from within. He chirped at her angrily for a moment, but she took no notice, so he quickly gave up and sped off again.

    With no better ideas, Issa began winging his way towards the harbor. All he needed was to find one familiar place, and he could try and retrace their steps. Searching the shoreline seemed like a better idea than trying to search the entirety of the city for the marketplace, or the library, or the inn itself. He also needed a quiet spot, away from prying eyes. Somewhere he could change back into his human form, without raising the alarm. With any luck, he’d be able to kill two birds with one stone. Metaphorically, of course. The last thing he needed right now was somebody throwing stones at him.

    Is that…the park?

    As it so happened, luck were on Issa’s side. A flash of green caught his eye, and the Lucet dived towards it on a hunch. A few moments later, he found himself perched amongst the branches of the same tree that he and Lec had sat beneath for his reading lesson, all that time ago. Unable to believe his luck, the Lucet observed the park from his new vantage point temporarily, before deciding that this would do. An instant later, he was a human again. After giving himself a moment to adjust, Issa slipped from the branches of his tree and fell to the grass below, landing in a crouch. He ignored the strange looks that the few humans scattered about gave him, and headed off in what he thought was the right direction.

    Navigating the city streets proved much more difficult with without Lec around to guide him. Much like the buildings, many of them looked similar, to his untrained eye. Was this how one of the humans felt, when they were lost within the forest? Worse yet was the fact that he dare not stop anyone to ask them, lest they inevitably meet his eyes, and realise what he was. The Lucet had little choice but to stumble onward and hope he was heading the right way. More than once, a new sight threatened to distract him, but Issa was quick to remind himself of the task at hand.
    It didn’t take Issa long to realise that something was seriously wrong within Evimarie. That, or something significant had changed during his absence. There were less people walking the streets, and those he passed seemed more…downtrodden. More sombre. There was no music, or laughter. None of the stall owners he passed called out, trying to draw attention to their wares. The few people he did pass kept to themselves, or spoke quietly, within their small groups. On more than one instance, he passed a person covered in dirt, dressed in little more than rags, seated along the sides of the street. A far cry from the vibrant, cheery atmosphere that he had grown accustomed to.

    Issa’s plan to retrace his steps soon bore fruit. He soon found himself standing out the front of a very familiar building – the same inn that he had been kicked out of two weeks ago. The place looked much quieter than Issa remembered it being on that night, but even so, he hesitated before heading inside. His last visit hadn’t gone over all that well, and this time, he didn’t have Lec to vouch for him. If any of the people inside recognised him, what sort of retribution could he expect? There had to be a better way.

    His gaze slowly drifted along the building’s face, before coming to rest on one of the street-facing windows. His abilities hadn’t been super useful with his search, but perhaps they could help him find another way inside. Before he could think about it too much, Issa glanced around, before slipping into the alleyway between the inn and the next building over. As soon as he was out of sight, Issa quickly transformed back into a bird.

    Moving with purpose, the kingfisher that was Issa flew up to the nearest windowsill, and peered in through the glass. The room beyond was empty, so Issa quickly moved on, flitting across to the next. This time, he was greeted by the sight of a man and a woman tangled up in bed together, both in various states of undress, and both preoccupied. Again, Issa was quick to move on, glad that his animal form wasn’t able to blush. More empty rooms followed, the monotony broken up by a few that were occupied by strangers, until…

    Lec.

    All of a sudden, Issa found himself staring into a room that was occupied by a very familiar face. His crazy plan had worked out – he’d traversed the human city on his own and found them, against all odds. The Lucet spent a brief moment reveling in this minor victory, before turning his mind to the next problem, How best to gain their attention? This time, it didn’t take Issa long to decide upon an answer. He rapped his beak against the glass three times in quick succession, waited a little, and then repeated the gesture. Each individual knock produced a sharp tapping sound – one that would hopefully be audible within the room. Issa would repeat the pattern until Lec took notice, or until he was forced to assume that it wasn’t going to be enough. Whichever came first.

    With any luck, the strangely persistent, distinctly un-birdlike behaviour would convince Lec to look close enough to notice his eyes, which remained their distinct shade of scarlet, even in this form. Failing that, maybe he’d annoy them enough that they would open the window to try and shoo him away. Then he’d just have to seize the initiative, slip inside, and take human form again before Lec realised what was happening.

    Then he’d just have to hope that Lec’s reaction didn’t involve any fire magic.

  5. #75
    The Ashen One
    Ashen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    A land that smells of sunflowers
    Favourite Roleplay Genres
    medieval fantasy, adventure, psychological
    Posts
    5,543
    Mentioned
    16 Post(s)
    Rep Power
    97

    Default

    The weapon was a stunning piece, thick iron molded into a curved, sleek shape and dusted in a dark blue hue. It was branded with the same swirling symbol as was sewn into all the city flags, the crest of Evimaire. The handle was sturdy, held together with thick rope and adorned with small gems, and its handles on either side allowed it to fit comfortably in the hand. The back of the blade even had the blacksmith’s signature imprinted just above the handle, a cursive E. The dagger was a beautiful work of art, one worthy of the pride that had shown in Evelin’s eyes as she handed it to Lec, oblivious to what had happened at the inn just three weeks prior. Lec had thanked her, and as their cheeks burned, they promised to give the weapon to its intended owner and scurried off before Evelin had a chance to ask after him.

    Now, as they paced their room at the inn, blade in their hands, they didn’t know what to do with it. Maybe it was a mistake going to the smithy at all, and so thrown off by Evelin’s gift to Issa, they hadn’t accomplished what they’d set out to do. Lec hadn’t seen their father in weeks, and after finally bolstering the courage to speak to him, they cursed Evelin for her distraction. They had left before telling their father where they’d been staying or what they’d been doing, or before they could ask after Soren. They would try again another day, they told themselves, someday soon, once they’d forgotten about Issa and could convince themselves their father cared at all.

    Lec couldn’t help but think they were on a bit of a time crunch. It was unexplainable; even looking out the window, they could see the ashes flurrying through the city like black snow. They had heard stories from the sailors about the lands across the sea, whole towns decimated by miasmas unknown to the history books. Soil had gone dry overnight, rivers had dried up, and even the most studied scientists could not wager guesses about what was happening to the world. Lec saw it in Evimaire, too; florists and farmers had been forced to shut down their shops for good, and even the ocean seemed more restless than they had ever seen it. They didn’t believe in the apocalypse, or they didn’t want to, but if they allowed themselves to think about it, they could feel the air squeeze out of their lungs, their hands clam up, until they couldn’t think of it anymore.

    His blade in their hand, they wondered how Issa’s forest was doing. They had ventured to the border between their worlds too many times in the weeks they’d been apart, always with the childish hope of seeing him again, and they always left with the confirmed disappointment that he would not be coming back. The forest didn’t look any different—maybe their goddess was protecting them from whatever was attacking the human civilizations, or maybe the damage was too deep for Lec to see from so far. Either way, they hoped Issa would be alright, even if they cursed themselves for thinking of him at all.

    They needed to do something with this dagger. Lec pulled open a drawer and wrapped the blade in the clothes Issa had never come back for, another relic of his now borrowed for good. They were eager to move on with their afternoon now that the thing was out of sight. But as soon as they turned away, they felt it call to them, insistent. It was stupid, entertaining the thought of going into the forest just to give it to him, and they tried to shake it. Besides, the man-beast likely wanted nothing to do with them anymore, anyway.

    They had the rest of the day off, a rarity between their various jobs at the inn and a new one at a bookshop not far. Despite how busy they were, they were still scraping by, though they knew that would not change until they could find more reliable employment. But things weren't so bad. The innkeep had agreed to let them stay, even after Issa’s fight, as long as they picked up additional shifts as not just a performer but also a server. They were welcome to any leftovers from mealtimes, though, and they supposed that was where they should head now.

    Before they could go to the kitchen, though, Lec took the dagger from the drawer and sat on the bed, running their hands over it as they had been doing for the past hour. Evelin had made it for Issa; it was wrong of them to keep it, but they couldn’t throw it away after all the work that had gone into it. They gnawed their lip, frustrated. It shouldn’t have mattered. They couldn’t understand why it was creating such an issue.

    A sound across the room got their attention, distracting them from the dagger. They went to check the door, but no one was in the hall. The sound came again, and Lec approached the window to find a strange bird hitting the glass. They hadn’t ever seen a bird like this in the city, and its crazed behavior suggested it was unwell, the poor thing. “I’ll have to pay for this if you break it,” Lec mused, but they paused, their brows furrowed. Amid its vibrant feathers, it was easy to miss its tiny eyes, beady and impossibly scarlet.

    They tore the window open and ushered the bird inside, all too aware of how overeager they now were. They didn’t even know if this was Issa; what if it was a different Lucet, one who had come for their life? That was irrational, they scolded themselves, but what would Issa be doing here? Maybe they had seen it incorrectly; they looked back at the bird, but its eyes were unmistakable. In their new panic, they nearly dropped the dagger. Jumping back, they grabbed for their chest, and before they could even catch their breath, they gasped, “Issa?” Worry and excitement fought for control in their voice, and they tried to swallow their emotions before continuing. “What’s wrong?”
    Last edited by Ashen; 11-04-2021 at 06:24 PM.
    Thanks to Craze for the beautiful Bravely set!

    ~Recruitment Thread~
    Spoiler: Ashen's Personal Hall of Fame 

  6. #76
    Mistborn
    Namingtoohard's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    3,392
    Mentioned
    15 Post(s)
    Rep Power
    320

    Default

    The first few taps alone were enough to make Issa start regretting his chosen method of communication. His beak was sturdy enough, but he was no woodpecker. The body he had chosen simply wasn’t made for this sort of repetition, and it wasn’t long before it started to get uncomfortable. Whilst he had never actually tried it, the Lucet imagined that this was what it felt like to bang one’s head against a wall repeatedly. That his brain was being scrambled, just like a pair of freshly cooked eggs. Before Issa could second-guess his approach, however, Lec began to move. His human checked the door first, before making their way towards the window. The reaction was enough to spur Issa onward, despite his growing discomfort.

    When Lec stopped just on the other side of the glass, Issa finally ceased his relentless tapping. His small bird form stopped and looked up at his human, silently hoping, praying, that they would pay close enough attention to notice his eyes. The bird ruffled its feathers slightly as they watched each other, a strange mix of excitement and anticipation bubbling up inside Issa’s chest. They were so close. All he needed was for Lec to open the window, and he could say that he had done it. That he had successfully navigated the human city on his own, and achieved his goal. That he had found Lec without being attacked, or beaten, or chased, or thrown out. One small little gesture from them, and Issa could say that he had overcome his fears. Succeeded in spite of them, and the dangers this unfamiliar place brought.

    One little thing. That was all it would take. Issa willed Lec on, as if his thoughts alone could drive them to action. Make them hurry up and Open. The. Damn. Window.

    When Lec threw the window open, Issa felt as if the breath had been stolen from his lungs. Relief and exultation washed over him at once, their mixing leaving him borderline euphoric. He rushed in through the now-open window, only partially due to Lec’s urging. A quick glance around was enough for Issa to reacquaint himself with his surroundings, before the small bird turned its attention back to Lec, good and proper. He tilted his head to one side slightly as he regarded his obviously-flustered human, and had he a proper mouth, Issa doubtless would have smiled. Avian amusement was written into all of his body language, though he doubted Lec had the necessary knowledge to read it as such.

    Issa was tempted to try and mess with Lec a little bit, but common sense quickly prevailed. He was here on urgent business, and any attempts at scaring them would probably end badly. They hadn’t parted on the best of terms, after all, and the unspoken threat of Lec’s magical still hung over hm like a bloodied sword, just waiting to fall. Instead, he took wing again, flying the short distance from his new perch to the vacant space near the center of the room. He transformed whilst in mid-air, as easily and naturally as a human might flex a muscle, making the leap from bird back to human.

    His landing, however, was far from graceful. Issa had plenty of experience changing in mid-air, but today he proved much too eager, and much too nervous. For all his practice, the Lucet failed to get his feet beneath him in time. He crashed to the ground with a loud thud, landing in a messy tangle of limbs. A soft groan slipped past his lips, mirroring the pain he felt. He briefly considered staying there, just for a moment. Partially so that this new ache might fade, and partially so that he wouldn’t have to face Lec, and see the laughter in their eyes. Let their judgement and his embarrassment wash over him. Then, against his better judgement, Issa slowly pushed himself up into a sitting position. He brought his right hand up to rub at his temple briefly, while he greeted Lec with a wry smile.

    “Well. That didn’t go according to plan. Can I start over?”

    Not particularly keen to start moving again just yet, Issa would rest there for a moment, until Lec reached out and offered him a hand. He’d reach out to accept, and let the human pull him to his feet. Once he were standing again, the Lucet would take a brief moment to try and straighten out his furs, before turning his attention to Lec good and proper. He looked over their familiar form once, almost unable to believe they were together again, before finally meeting Lec’s gaze.

    “Hey, Lec. It’s been a while, hasn’t it?” The words sounded awkward to Issa, even as he spoke them. What had happened to all of his friendliness, all of his easy charm? The Lucet couldn’t help but cringe at his own ineptitude. Unable to bear it, he looked away, as if the rightmost wall had suddenly become the most interesting thing in the world. Silence reigned for a long moment as Issa tried to gather his thoughts, before he looked back at his human, determined to try again.

    “Lec, listen. I…” Issa started, before trailing off. He wanted to tell them about it all, everything he had learned during their time apart, but the words wouldn’t to come out. They perched on the tip of his tongue, but refused to go any further. All the ways he had imagined this conversation going, all the ways he had planned on explaining, rendered moot. Issa tried to force it, but the words that dripped from his lips weren’t the same ones he intended to speak. Far from it.

    “…I missed you, and I’m sorry for what happened. Last time.”

  7. #77
    The Ashen One
    Ashen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    A land that smells of sunflowers
    Favourite Roleplay Genres
    medieval fantasy, adventure, psychological
    Posts
    5,543
    Mentioned
    16 Post(s)
    Rep Power
    97

    Default

    As the strange bird began its transformation mid-air, Lec held their breath. Could it really have been Issa? Or were they about to fight a stranger in their inn room? What if their hands shook too severely to properly cast their magic? What if they accidentally hurt someone? The scenarios cycled through their mind until they saw that familiar face. Issa. Lec let out a sigh, but their relief was short-lived as the now-man fell to the ground and landed with a loud crash.

    They jumped back, and for a moment, they only stared at the slump of man their companion had become, not knowing what to do. When their common sense returned, they reached out to grab him and help him up, but they decided against it. They thought of the memory of him, how he had acted all those weeks ago, the black eye on the face of the other man days after, when he’d returned to the inn. Lec imagined their own skin in such shades of red and purple, and their hand twitched to return to their side. But they shook their head, remembered Issa had done that for them, and they offered him a hand to help him up.

    Once Issa was back on his own feet, Lec got the chance to look at him. There was a worried look in his eye, and Lec searched his face for clues as to why. Had he ventured all the way through Evimaire to find them? Alone? Why? He couldn’t have come all this way just because was missing them… right? No, Lec scolded themselves. Issa had come all this way because he had something to tell them, something dire; they could see it in his eyes. They straightened, and their grasp tightened around the dagger that was not theirs, waiting to hear what Issa had to say.

    And whatever they had been expecting, it hadn’t been that. The polite formalities seemed foreign in Issa’s mouth, lighthearted words meant for friends who had spent some time apart, not two strangers whose paths had only crossed by mistake. Issa seemed to notice it too, how unlike himself he sounded, and he corrected himself. He turned away, as if embarrassed, and Lec wanted to bring his gaze back to them, dare him to meet their eye, but they didn’t dare, not with their hands shaking like this, not without knowing where they stood. So the mage remained still, breaths consciously kept even, as Issa spoke again.

    He… had missed them. It was Lec’s turn to look away, choosing to concentrate on the threads of rug under their boots. They tried to reply, but they didn’t know how, couldn’t find the right words to tell him how badly they had missed him too, or how they regretted their last conversation, how it had played over and over in their mind, how they’d chastised themselves for all the ways they could have handled it better, all the ways they could have called after him, chased after him, invited him back to their room so they could thank him properly for standing up for them, and how they could have made plans to meet up again, and again and again, continue their adventures through Evimaire, continuing building what had already bloomed—

    “I have your dagger.” Of all their warring thoughts, Lec cursed themselves that that was the one that made it out of their mouth. Their gaze dropped to the weapon in their hands. They had been holding it all this time, since they’d gotten back from the smithy, and now, they awkwardly held it out to its rightful owner. They turned away to hide the embarrassment painting their cheeks. “Evelin made it for you,” they continued, masking the silence with their voice. “The blacksmith? From the market? She gave it to me—today, actually—to give to you. I also… Your clothes? Last time, you forgot…” Their fist tightened at their side as frustration from being unable to speak bubbled inside them. They held out his dagger for him, and when Issa took that, they retrieved his clothes from a drawer and also gave him those. Once Issa had his belongings again, Lec only watched him, waiting, begging to find something to say, something to make this any less painful.

    But as the moments ticked on, Lec realized this was not going to get any less weird. To make matters worse, they could feel tears pricking at the corners of their eyes, born of shock or embarrassment or any of the nameless emotions whirring through them. They wiped at their eyes with the back of their hand and shifted. “Issa, I…” they started, but the rest of their sentence died in their throat. They swore at themselves under their breath, and, finally, abandoning their caution, they let themselves do what they had wanted to since they first saw their Lucet return: they wrapped their arms around Issa.

    After only a moment, they recoiled, the blade of Issa’s dagger making contact with their arm, and they pulled back to check the damage. When they saw that the thing hadn’t even broken skin, they laughed, a small sound that filled the room and sough to relieve some of the tension in it. “Sorry,” they membered. “It has been a while.” They met his eye, and the smile fell away from their lips. “Issa,” they said again, “why are you here?”
    Thanks to Craze for the beautiful Bravely set!

    ~Recruitment Thread~
    Spoiler: Ashen's Personal Hall of Fame 

  8. #78
    Mistborn
    Namingtoohard's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    3,392
    Mentioned
    15 Post(s)
    Rep Power
    320

    Default

    Issa’s impromptu outpouring of emotion was quickly followed by a wave of regret. He certainly had no idea how those words had managed to slip free, in place of those he had wanted to speak. They held truth, of course, but his silver tongue usually eliminated the need for such boldness. The Lucet might have forgiven himself such a mistake, had Lec felt the same, but it quickly became apparent that wasn’t the case. The silence that stretched between them afterwards, and the way his human guide averted their eyes…both suggested a truth that Issa didn’t want to hear. The clumsy way Lec tried to change the topic, too, seemed like all the confirmation he needed.

    Eager to move on, and forget his embarrassment, Issa’s gaze dropped to the dagger in Lec’s hand. He’d been so caught up in the moment that he hadn’t even realised they were holding a weapon. What of all his fears that they would respond to his presence with violence? His awkward entrance aside, Issa likely would have died, if such an obvious thing had escaped his notice. Suddenly feeling thankful for Lec’s apparent benevolence, the Lucet reached out to take the blade when it was offered to him.

    Glad for such an obvious distraction, Issa spent a long moment examining his new blade. He held it up towards the window and slowly turned it one way, then the other, admiring the way the light danced across the blade’s edge. “I remember” he muttered in response to Lec’s prompting, distracted. Even to his untrained eye, the blade was vastly superior to anything the Lucet were capable of making themselves. Issa wasn’t experienced enough to know how it compared to other human blades, but he wanted to imagine that it were better quality than most. Evelin’s delightful friendliness made him want to believe in her…and the idea of all humans wielding steel of this quality was slightly terrifying, besides. Of course, now he needed a way to repay her. Or Lec, if they had settled any outstanding debt on his behalf. Another thing to add to his rapidly growing to-do list.

    It took him a long while to realise that Lec was still standing there, holding out his old clothes. Feeling his cheeks flush, Issa quickly moved to collect them. He bundled them up in his arms, feeling slightly awkward. The human clothes he’d worn home were still hidden away, waiting to be returned. With so many other things on his mind, the Lucet hadn’t thought about returning them. He had no easy way to carry his own dirty clothes around, either. He’d just need to leave them somewhere for now, and hopefully remember to pick them up when he left. Issa had just set them aside when is human spoke up, drawing his attention once more.

    Issa had barely realised they were speaking before they stepped forward, and wrapped him up in an unexpected embrace. The Lucet froze, caught entirely off-guard by the gesture, which seemed strangely at-odds with everything else that had happened up until now. When he finally managed to recover his wits, the Lucet finally raised his arms to hug them back, only for the knife to graze against one of their arms carelessly. Issa’s hands had barely done more than brush Lec’s sides before the human pulled back, and was away.

    Lec’s laughter finally drove home what the unexpected hug suggested, shattering the tension in the room like a hammer striking glass. For the first time since his earlier bout of oversharing, a small smile graced the Lucet’s features. Issa’s easy smile settled back into place, like it had never left. Just for a moment. Lec’s next words were a poignant reminder of Issa’s purpose – of the grim circumstances that had brought him here. His grin faded, replaced by a more serious expression.

    “I spoke to my village elder, Lec. Asked her to repeat the story she told me when I was a little kid. The one about my…our…birthmarks.” Issa lifted his free hand a fraction, as if about to gesture to their chest, before catching himself, and lowering it again. Feeling a touch restless, the Lucet turned, and took a few steps towards the window. “I waited by the forest’s edge for days, hoping that you would come back. When you didn’t, I decided that I had no choice but to come and find you. That you deserved to hear it, even if you wouldn’t believe it.”

    Without any real sense of ceremony, Issa removed one of his old knives from it’s customary place, hanging by his waist, and set it down on the windowsill. He let his hands work whilst he spoke, going through the motions. He slipped the new blade into the old one’s place, and set about making sure it were secure. The work was a welcome distraction, and made it easier to keep talking.

    “To be honest, I’m not even sure I believe it. She certainly seemed to, though. And if she’s right, things are going to get a whole lot worse, and soon. The way things looked outside…it almost seems like it’s already started.” Issa was aware that he was babbling. Now that he’d started, the words didn’t want to stop. They flowed out in an endless torrent, and the Lucet couldn’t be sure how much sense he was making. He forced himself to stop and take a deep breath. To try and get himself back under control, before he turned to face Lec properly again. The look in his eyes was slightly distant, now. Concerned, perhaps. Haunted. “All the people lining the streets out there…that’s not a normal human thing, is it? Something happened here, while I was staying home.”

Page 8 of 8 FirstFirst ... 678

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •