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Zor

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Posts posted by Zor


  1. Karen and Nidrak

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    Allies (?): Raine, Enterprise

    Location: Castle

    Current Morph: Karen

     

    Surprise, irritation. He hadn’t expected to just be brushed off like that, and it rubbed him the wrong way. “I know some first aid,” he said, crossing his arms. “She looks- huh.”

     

    From a closer vantage point, he was able to see that the girl wasn’t bleeding as much as the depth of the wounds suggested. More importantly, tubing, wires, and metal plating crossed through her flesh. “I don’t actually think they covered that.” 

     

    He was still annoyed (let it go) (says you), but, well, maybe it wasn’t something as simple as applying some pressure or pinching an artery shut. Clearly Raine had a lot more important things to deal with than him, but something almost felt… off.

     

    Because you aren’t the center of attention?

     

    Shut up. 

     

    So yes. 

     

    No, seriously, don’t you find it weird that something strange is happening and we weren’t immediately caught up in a life-or-death struggle or found some Yeerk plot or something?

     

    ...Huh. 
     

    Natsuki

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    Allies: Hibiki, Stan, Raine, Enterprise, Kardrak
    Location: Castle 

     

    Natsuki sat with their forehead against the cool wood of the table. Unusually for them, for the moment they weren’t thinking of all of the things that they had to accomplish. Stan was lying on the floor, but he was just being dramatic. Probably. The Gateway would be fine with Xander taking care of it, and Natsuki didn’t particularly want to be around Xander at the moment. They knew it was cowardly, and they hated themself for it, but making Xander upset felt different from making other superiors upset. Instead of fear and a drive to do better, it was as if there was a crushing weight on their heart, telling them to curl up and hide. Inconvenient, unhelpful. Useless emotions interfering with the job again. 

     

    Perhaps they should have followed Raine, but it was too late now, wasn’t it? 

     

    As they were indulging in lamenting their situation they heard armored footsteps. Too light and quick to be Xander. They turned their head to the side to see, bleary, then shot upright. A faint tinge of pink dusted their cheeks at being caught in such an unprofessional position. “White hair and orange clothes?” they said, straight to business, unaware that their hair had become even more mussed up than it usually was. “I’ll come with you, in case she needs more help.” 

     

    Did that sound too eager? They weren’t too eager, they just needed to do something. Even if a few seconds ago they’d wanted nothing more than to just lie on the table. 

     

    Not waiting for a response, they strode out of the room and down the stairs. The girl hadn’t said anything about why Raine needed Stan, so they didn’t expect to see blood smeared across the floor or Raine kneeling next to an unconscious girl. Their eyes widened, and for a brief moment a shot of fear went through them. Cold rain and blood on their skin, dark stone and slick plants, fire and blood and darkness. Their fingers twitched towards their radio, but the heavy weight was missing. Sveta wasn’t coming.

     

    They pushed away the images, bothered by their intrusion. The situations weren’t similar at all. They willed shots of drugs to flow into their system and the world clarified, stilled. They took in the scene before them as they rushed towards Raine, letting it chase away the remainder of the flashback. 

     

    Dark fluid, revealed to be oil by scent, smeared bloody paw prints leading away, Stan and the girl not being behind them anymore. The girl’s injuries were partially healed, but they could see cut wires and tubing beneath her skin. That was what Raine needed Stan for, then, like how she couldn’t always heal Natsuki themself alone. 

     

    “What’s her status?” Natsuki asked as soon as they were close enough, ignoring the slightly irritated young man standing nearby. He wouldn’t be any help with this.

     

     
     


  2. Karen and Nidrak

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    Allies (?): Hibiki, Raine, Enterprise

    Location: Castle

    Current Morph: Spotted Hyena, Karen

     

    They yelped as they crashed roughly to the ground, the fall aggravating their partially-healed injuries. They scrambled to their remaining feet, whirling around and snapping their jaws shut to threaten Hibiki’s retreating form. They hadn’t expected to be dropped and left behind like that (did the girl not care for her ally’s safety? Was she that confident in the healer’s ability to protect herself?), but didn’t have the time or energy to dwell on it. 

     

    Hibiki had left and Raine hadn’t moved, so Karen and Nidrak stared at Raine, growling, teeth bared and tail curled under their belly. What was happening? Why? Raine didn’t look like she was in a position to attack them, being busy tending to Oil Girl, but that didn’t mean that someone else wouldn’t come in. Either way, neither of them wanted to start an unnecessary fight with a free human. 

     

    We could ask her, see what her intentions are, Nidrak suggested, unsure. 

     

    No, let’s just leave, he replied, not bothering to articulate the multitude of reasons why he didn’t think that they should stay. It didn’t really matter, when Nidrak could feel his thoughts on the matter. 

     

    Xe agreed and they slowly began backing away, eyes trained on Raine the entire time. When they’d decided that they’d gotten far enough away they turned and bolted, running off and purposefully avoiding the stairs. They saw an ajar door and ducked inside, finding a small closet filled with cleaning supplies. The small space was both comforting and frightening; the lack of secondary exits was concerning, but the out of the way space meant that they’d be unlikely to be interrupted in the minute it would take for them to demorph. 

     

    They nosed the door shut, then took a few deep, shuddering breaths. It served the dual purpose of helping to calm them down and letting them smell for anyone nearby. Cleaning chemicals, dust, blood, Hibiki, Raine, Oil Girl, the stale scent of over a dozen others. A few old scents that they didn’t recognize. There wasn’t anything unexpected, really.

     

    What now? 

     

    Karen took another breath. Honestly? I have no idea. We’ll start by demorphing, I guess. We won’t be able to get out of here without hands, anyway. 


    Nidrak gave him a nudge to start the demorphing process, clearly glad to get out of the injured body. 

     

    Demorphing was incredibly gross and strange, but that was hardly new. When the process was completed, Karen sat down, arms resting on his knees and forehead resting on his arms. So. No idea where we are except for information that we can’t trust, there’s a good chance that the others are dead and the world’s doomed, we can’t get back home, and there’s apparently a bunch of other people (that might be violent) stuck in a similar situation. That about sum it up?

     

    We can’t worry about all that right now, Nidrak replied. Xyr voice was shaky - even if the rest of the animorphs hadn’t known that xe existed, xe still didn’t want to think about them being dead. It hardly seemed possible, after all they’d survived. We need to decide what to do next. 

     

    Can’t just hide in a closet forever. 


    Exactly. 

     

    Check on magic gal, then? 

     

    Mm. 

     

    They stood and opened the door, peeking around the corner to see if anyone was coming. Karen winced at the smudged bloody pawprints clearly leading to the closet and stepped around them. 

     

    They returned to the room where Raine was still tending to Oil Girl. Karen briefly wished that he had external pockets to stick his hands in. “Yo, I’m lost,” he said, raising one hand in a lazy wave. “Need some help?”

     

    Why.
     

    Like you had a better plan. 

     

    blood and mud in a foreign land, trying to understand


  3. Karen and Nidrak

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    Allies (?): Hibiki, Raine, Enterprise

    Location: Castle

    Current Morph: Spotted Hyena

     

    They didn't stop struggling throughout the journey to the castle, but the armored girl carrying them didn't seem fazed by nearly 150 lbs of struggling muscle. It was concerning, frightening, and frustrating -- how could one small girl be so strong? 

     

    They were too distracted to pay much attention to Raine’s healing of the white-haired girl, but even so it was enough of a surprise to make them stop flailing for a moment. Not that they had enough energy to keep flailing anyway. Even with the hyena’s stamina they couldn’t just keep fighting while spraying blood across the walls. 

     

    The healing was strange and new, but then, it wasn’t even as miraculous as the morphing technology was. 

     

    They didn’t know what to do as they lay panting in Hibiki’s arms. The situation didn’t make much sense. Why was the girl working so hard to hold them instead of just killing them? She couldn’t know about the morphing power, could she? If she did, she could have just disabled them to force them to morph back or at least tried to threaten them.  

     

    Something in Karen tried to whisper that maybe she was just trying to do a good thing, but he’d been too cynical to believe that even before meeting Nidrak. 

    They stiffened at the odd feeling of Raine’s magic washing over them and healing their wounds. It was so different from morphing -- almost warm and alive instead of the wet shifting of morphing. Nidrak would have had some more poetic things to say about it had the situation been different. 

     

    Either way, the magic soothed the pain their were in and sealed up their wounds. Nidrak nearly sobbed in his mind in relief, but Karen couldn’t help but feel suspicious about being kept alive. They’d spent too long fearing being captured alive for him to be comfortable with non consensual healing. 

     

    They didn’t want to be dragged around by Hibiki anymore -- hated the idea of being confined and held for another moment, carried around like a lifeless doll. They couldn’t think of any way to get out without revealing that they weren’t a mindless beast, but they almost didn’t care. They could rationalize their mistakes later. <Let me go!> they growled at Hibiki. 
     

    what awaits has not yet been revealed


  4. Karen and Nidrak

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    Allies (?): Hibiki, Lara, Tem, Utakata

    Location: Gateway

    Current Morph: Spotted Hyena

     

    ...Was that General Grievous? 

     

    Well…. Perhaps it’s as good a time as ever to say this, now that there are multiple of you..."

     

    What.

     

    In terms of strange things that have happened to them it ranks somewhere in the top five. 

     

    Top three, Nidrak argued. 

     

    Top three, then. 

     

    Either way, even if it wasn’t the strangest thing, it was still pretty weird to be teleported somewhere and see Lara Croft (the actual Lara Croft?) explain that she was part of some multi-dimensional organization while they were bleeding out. 

     

    Speaking of which, that still really hurt. Waves of agony travelled up the leg with each labored breath they took, and there was no position they could stand in to lessen the weight of the leg pulling at the remaining flesh. 

     

    Karen did his part to try to distract Nidrak, sending xem a gif of Kronk saying “by all accounts, it doesn’t make sense”. Xyr responding chuckle was a little hysterical and distracted, unsurprisingly. 

     

    Putting that aside, they needed something resembling a plan. Demorphing had to happen soon, no matter what, but there wasn’t a safe place for it at the moment.

     

    They’d be vulnerable during the time it would take, and besides, there was too much risk that even information in an alternative dimension could get back to the Yeerks. 

     

    For all we know, I’m not even the only Yeerk here. 

     

    It was a concerning thought. Unlikely, but concerning nonetheless. 

     

    We can’t last long like this.

     

    Dapsen, I know, but- 

     

    Distracted by their internal arguments, Karen and Nidrak weren’t paying enough attention to Vaccaria as he removed the flask from his belt and dropped it. Nidrak tried to dodge out of the area, but it was too late for them to escape unscathed. They let out an agonized scream, both out loud and in private thought-speak that no one around could hear, from the jerking on their leg and the fresh burns on their hindquarters. The smell of burnt hair and flesh filled their awareness. 

     

    It only got worse when a strong arm gripped them around the middle and leapt. 

     

    Everything was fire and darkness and white-hot pain. 

     

    They couldn’t see or think. The hyena was terrified by the pain and confinement, thrashing and trying to reach around to bite or claw at their captor. They barely had the presence of mind to reach forward to tear away the offending limb. It’s almost a relief to be rid of it. It dropped to the ground, limp and bloody. 

     

    Instinctively, they started to demorph. Bones and organs shifted with wet noises that they couldn’t hear over the rush of blood in their ears. Their hind ankles unbent, further and further until their snapped backwards and became knees, their bones breaking to become new ankles. They didn’t get much farther, stopping themself before the changes could complete. It was hard to remember why, but they couldn’t reveal the morphing power. Not now. 
     

    so charge and attack, going to hell and back

     

    Status: Heavily Injured
     


  5. Karen and Nidrak

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    Allies (?): Hibiki, Lara, Tem, Utakata

    Location: Gateway

    Current Morph: Spotted Hyena

     

    Nidrak leapt backwards, barely avoiding a Hork-Bajir blade meant for their eyes. Not allowing the Controller to recover, xe lunged forward and crushed her tibia with a powerful bite. The Hork-Bajir fell with a scream, allowing Nidrak to narrowly pivot away from a Dracon beam.

     

    Karen busied himself with assessing the situation while Nidrak fought. It was, to use an understatement, bad. They were surrounded, outnumbered, and most of the Animorphs were already injured. They’d survived worse, but it was a narrow thing. Either they escaped and demorphed soon or they wouldn’t all make it out. 

     

    Nidrak giggled, betraying xyr fear, and charged at the Hork-Bajir blocking a door. The Hork-Bajir Controller balked, making Karen think that she would dodge out of the way. At the last moment the Controller stood firm and struck out with her wrist blades. 

     

    A fiery burst of pain concentrated on their right forelimb. Almost worse was the sickening feeling of the limb falling limp, every movement causing it to sway and tear at the remaining connection. Nidrak tried to look down and the grisly wound, but Karen wrenched it back to focus on the grinning Controller about to finish them off. He pushed backwards with their remaining three limbs, getting out of range of the blades. Nidrak would’ve taken the opportunity to attack, but he lacks xyr boldness and decisive movements. This deadly dance is xyr role, but the shock of the wound is clearly too much for xem. 

     

    For now, Karen just had to buy enough time for xem to focus on focusing. 

     

    It hurt to feel xem so apologetic, panicked, and in pain. Not that he wasn’t hurt too (it’s difficult to move through the agony), but Nidrak was always more sensitive than he was. He’d do whatever it took to protect xem. 

     

    If he even can. Filshig, they needed to get out and demorph, but he didn’t know if they could last that long. 

     

    The next moment the Hork-Bajir and the sound of the battlefield were gone. 

     

    The scent of blood was still heavy in their nose, but beneath it was the smell of wildflowers, clean grass, and the acrid scent of vomit. Harsh fluorescent lighting had been replaced by the softness of dusk. The open sky was speckled with stars. 

     

    They didn’t trust any of it. It’s certainly either a trick of the Ellimist or Crayak. 

     

    What exactly the trick was wasn’t clear. They could see a furry, a teenage girl, some vomiting guy in a kimono, and a Lara Croft cosplayer. None of them looked at all like aliens, and the mix itself was strange enough. More importantly, none of the other Animorphs were with them. 

     

    They giggled, staring with teeth bared and ears flattened. Blood matted their fur, both their own and from others, and their leg hung limp. Karen briefly considered simply ripping it off to get rid of the dead weight and pain of it pulling at the wound, but they couldn’t take their eyes off of their potential enemies. They weren’t at all ready for a fight.
     

    weak or strong, carry on, show no mercy to them all

     

    Status: Heavily Injured


  6. Anders

    Allies: Keaton, Pascal 

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    Usually, Anders would be more annoyed by being jolted out of an attempted nap and ripped from where he was sitting, but he didn’t feel like mustering up the emotional energy to be upset. Instead, he merely yawned at Keaton, more or less ignoring what he said. Something about how he was dying horribly, not important. What was important was that Keaton had pressed him against his chest, which was pleasantly warm. A purr started rumbling in his chest, both because he felt secure and because it’s scientifically impossible to stay angry at a purring cat. 

     

    he sleeps


  7. Jowan 

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    Allies: Duke, Evonna, Chikako
    Location: Kitchen

     

    Jowan peers at Duke, confused by how slow and deliberate Duke’s movements -- OH. 

     

    He’s not sure how he hadn’t noticed Duke bare his well-toned arms, and for a moment he stares with wide eyes. It’s not a sight that he’s used to. Fashions in the Circle consisted exclusively of robes and Templar armor, neither of which showed much skin. His own arms are scared, pale, and embarrassingly scrawny, and he’s glad that they’re covered up. 

     

    Andraste’s grace, he can’t just keep staring, but he doesn’t know where else to look and he doesn’t exactly want to stop, either. The best that he can do is pray that, somehow, Duke hasn’t noticed him staring even though Duke’s looking right at him. He’d think it impossible, but so far Duke hasn’t been the most observant person. 

     

    Fortunately for him, the faucet in Duke’s hands explodes in a spray of water. Jowan blinks, then bursts out laughing, bringing a hand up to his mouth and leaning over as he does so. “Trying to wash your whole front, too?” he teases. 
     


  8. Jowan 

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    Allies: Duke, Evonna, Chikako
    Location: Kitchen

     

    A feeling of delight rises in his chest at Duke’s unbridled enthusiasm (he wants him to tell him about things!), but the feeling is crushed when two girls walk in and interrupt. 

     

    Perhaps a public place wasn’t the best area to have a private conversation. 

     

    Duke drains his mug so quickly that he nearly misses it, and he blinks at the speed and lack of reaction before taking a far more careful sip of his own mug. If Duke wants to scorch his own throat that’s his problem. 

     

    He stands around awkwardly and waits for a gap in the conversation, completely unsure as to what he should be doing. He has some vague idea about how cookies are made with flour and sugar and baked, but he’s never done it before. It couldn’t be too difficult, right? “Is there anything that I should do?” he asks, a bit hesitantly. He doesn’t particularly feel the desire to help, but he doesn’t want to just stand around doing nothing, either. That and, well, maybe if he helped the girls would go away sooner. It wasn’t as though they’d done anything wrong, exactly, but he couldn’t help but feel ruffled by the way they’d barged in and started loudly rummaging in the cupboards.   
     


  9. Anders

    Allies: Keaton

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    They weren’t at the Gateway for a moment when Keaton dropped the box and took off after Pascal. Anders sighed and ran a hand over his face. Keaton didn’t stop for a moment, did he? Stifling a yawn, he picked up the box (careful to keep his hands outside of it this time) and followed after Keaton at a far more sedate pace. 

     

    Keaton was long out of sight by the time Anders reached the castle, but it was easy to follow the trail of dirt and Keaton’s wails. He soon found Keaton curled in a pathetic heap on the ground in front of a door. 

     

    He stared for a moment, too tired to decide what he was supposed to do in this situation. After a moment, he decided that the only thing he could do was join Keaton on the floor. He set the box onto the floor, then using what little mana had recovered, he dropped into the shape of a cat. 

     

    It hadn’t been his original plan, but as a cat he couldn’t help but notice that the warmest place to sit was on top of Keaton’s back. Without warning, he leapt onto Keaton’s back, tucked his paws under his body, and closed his eyes. 
     

    nap time


  10. Jowan 

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    Allies: Duke
    Location: Kitchen

     

    Really? He could just take whatever he wanted? The idea is foreign and more than a little daunting. He’s sure, rationally, that Duke wouldn’t try to trick him (even if he wasn’t kind, Duke is too open to be able to manage any kind of subterfuge), but his instincts still scream trap. Maybe the rules are different for newcomers like himself, and Duke simply doesn’t know. Duke seems so sure about it, but there has to be some sort of hierarchy at XDRE.

     

    Once Duke is done with the cinnamon he takes it and adds only a few shakes to his own mug, less than Duke had. He’s wary about taking too much (whatever Duke said), but mostly it’s because he doesn’t know how strong the spice is and doesn’t trust Duke’s judgment. 

     

    Attentive? He didn’t think he was that attentive, it was something he noticed. Something he couldn’t not notice, really, when he’d been in a life-or-death situation the first time and had an attack fail the second time. “Well, that sounds useful,” he says. An understatement. “I’ll keep that in mind.” 

     

    “Well,” he says, pausing for a moment and trying to think of a way to put it delicately. “Your explanation was disorganized, and it didn’t actually make much sense or explain everything.” He winced and took a sip of his cocoa. Maybe that wasn't that delicate. 

     

    Then he remembers why they hadn’t pressed Duke for more information back then. He’d acted so oddly and looked so sad -- this was a bad idea. “I mean -- you don’t have to explain more if you don’t want to. I got the gist of it, really. Fairies, right?” Whatever a ‘fairy’ was. “I don’t think I explained much about my magic -- if you wanted to hear about it.” He hopes that Duke says yes, but he doesn’t want to bother him with useless prattling if he isn’t interested. 
     

     


  11. Jowan 

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    Allies: Duke
    Location: Kitchen

     

    It’s a lot to think about. He feels both drained and rested, like after a long day of magic practice, a deep feeling of peace in his bones. He doesn’t doubt that there’ll be setbacks, but for the moment that seems okay. 

     

    “Sure, thank you,” he says, accepting the offer of another mug of hot chocolate. At Duke’s request he glances around the table and picks up a small glass bottle containing brown powder. “This it?” he asks, shaking it a little before sliding it across the table. “Could I try some? It’s… been a long time.” Neria had somehow managed to get ahold of a few sweet cinnamon-spiced buns a few years ago, probably by convincing Cullen to give them to her. 

     

    When Duke passes him the mug, he speaks again. “So… we never actually had that magic discussion, did we? I’ve got a question; during the fight with the Inquisitor, I thought I saw my Arcane Bolt go through your barriers, but then during the fight with Kelsier it didn’t. Am I misremembering…?”
     

    you can't fix a broken heart in a couple of days


  12. Jowan 

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    Allies: Duke
    Location: Kitchen

     

    “Oh,” he says. 


    It’s an entirely inadequate reply to Duke’s speech, but he needs a few moments to process it. Duke speaks of grand plots, of wars and succession and justice, of weighty decisions and commanding armies, and it makes all of Jowan’s problems feel small and foolish.

     

    He’s no prince, commander, or Warden, just another arrogant mage. He’d been a pawn to larger things, yes, but never the one to make the decisions, too blinded by the moment to see the larger picture. Loghain had told him to poison the arl and he’d done it. Neria had told him to sacrifice Isolde with nothing but complete conviction in her eyes and he’d done it. He doesn’t regret listening to her, not really. He trusted her to make the right decision (and truthfully, Isolde had never given him a reason to mourn her death, not after she’d ordered him to be tortured), but the whole situation had stemmed from his mistakes. 

     

    “I... had this fantasy, while I was imprisoned, of… escaping somehow, I don’t know, and helping refugees. Becoming a healer, picking up a new name, protecting people. Being selfless for once instead of just making things worse for everyone around me, you know? It was silly. Idle thoughts to keep myself sane,” he says, voice hushed. “I still want to help, however I can, but… what if I don’t get any better, and just keep making the same mistakes? There’s a pattern here, I’d have to be blind not to see it.” 

     

    He sighs. “But… thank you. It feels a lot better, to not keep it hidden.”
     

    build the road in front of you


  13. Jowan 

    f4r0Deq.gif

    Allies: Duke
    Location: Kitchen

     

    Duke seems so surprised to be told that he’s pretty -- had he really not known? He seems so surprised by the revelation, and the words spilling out of his mouth don’t make much in the way of sense. He… also thinks that he’s pretty? Well, that’s good. Someone that looks so good should know that about themself. 

     

    There’s another possible meaning to Duke’s words, but it’s too fanciful to consider. 

     

    He listens carefully to Duke’s speech and nods. He’s not sure that he agrees. Intentions are all well and good, but the actual effects of actions can’t just be ignored. Not when people are hurt because someone was too selfish to think things through. 

     

    He’s not really thinking of Kelsier anymore. 

     

    All the same, it’s nice to hear Duke validate his feelings. Some part of him expected to be mocked, though he’s not sure why when Duke has been nothing but kind and understanding. 

     

    His eyes widen. Duke was serious? He turns the words over in his head, trying to see if there’s any way that he could be misunderstanding, but no, Duke really does seem to be interested in him. Romantically. “I -- really? I mean, me too --”

     

    Duke runs over to the sink, and Jowan doesn’t understand why until Duke explains that no, he hadn’t meant to dump a spoonful of salt into his hot chocolate. He laughs and takes a mocking sip of his own hot chocolate, relishing the flavor all the more. “I told you that you should pay more attention,” he teases. 

     

    There’s a light, giddy feeling in his chest. Talking to Duke is so easy when they don’t need to discuss heavy topics. But it can’t last, can it? He thought that he’d be with Lily forever, and he’d managed to mess that up so badly that she was locked in Aeonar. 

     

    It’s so tempting to just ignore it all and have a few days or weeks of happiness before it all comes crashing down, but what’s the use in delaying the inevitable? It’d only hurt Duke more. 

     

    “Duke, I…” he looks back down at his cup, his smirk replaced by knitted eyebrows and a forlorn expression. “It’s not fair to you, I’m not a good person.” He inhales, glad that he doesn’t have to see whatever look of disgust is on Duke’s face. “I betrayed my girlfriend and best friend -- my girlfriend didn’t do anything wrong, but now she’s in prison because I was selfish. I poisoned a woman’s husband, got her son possessed, and then killed her -- it doesn’t matter what my intentions were.” 

     

    Status: Refusing to Stop Angsting


  14. Jowan 

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    Allies: Duke
    Location: Kitchen

     

    He looks up a Duke’s words, surprised. As many times as he tells him, it can’t seem to stick in his head that Duke, for some reason, seems to want to be around him. Seems to care about him. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t know or understand what Jowan’s done. The blood magic, yes, but nothing else. 

     

    Still, even if Duke’s wrong to think so, Jowan can’t help but feel… complimented. Warm, in a way that has nothing to do with the hot mug in his hands. A bit of the weight comes off his shoulders at the knowledge that Duke isn’t upset with him, that the touch hadn’t been unwelcomed. 

     

    “But I saw what happened. How horrified you looked at Kelsier. You’re my friend first and foremost, and I would never wish anything that makes you uncomfortable happen.”

     

    He thought -- ? 

     

    Duke finishes, and Jowan is finally given a chance to explain. Maker, but they had a lot to explain to each other. “That wasn’t your fault,” he says. “Kelsier, he -- I wasn’t expecting it, but he said it would, um, intensify emotions that were already there. So it, well, was true. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean for you to think it wasn’t. You have very nice eyes,” he finishes, a little too quickly, scared that he won’t be able to say the words if he doesn’t get them out quickly enough. Somewhat worried that his blushing face will catch fire if he doesn’t change the subject, he continues. 

     

    “I just… couldn’t stay around him. Playing with emotions. How can you trust someone like that?” How can you trust a blood mage? It's too uncomfortable of a look in the mirror. He readjusts his grip around his mug and lets out a quiet chuckle. “I overreacted, didn’t I. He was just trying to show me how it worked. He wouldn’t do that, right?” Another stupid mistake, but if Kelsier did mess with him again, more subtly, would he be able to tell? What if he’d been lying about how his powers worked all along?


  15. Jowan 

    f4r0Deq.gif

    Allies: Duke
    Location: Kitchen

     

    Vylcan’s presence is still unnerving, but he supposes that if Duke trusts him there’s nothing else that he can do. Aside from cutting off Duke completely, of course, but he has absolutely no desire to do that. Rather the opposite, really. The kind-of-spirit would just have to stay. 

     

    “Chocolate,” he tries again, committing the word to memory. He’s not sure if he should trust Duke to cook (suspecting that he knew who someone was), but the actions that Duke performs seem simpler than making tea. Surely even Duke wouldn’t be able to mess that up?

     

    Cautiously, he takes the mug from Duke and slides it across the countertop towards himself. Following Duke’s instructions, he blows on it carefully before taking a sip. His eyes widen. The liquid is rich and sweet, like Duke described. He takes another sip, larger this time, and burns his tongue. Hissing to draw cool air over his tongue, he sets the mug down on the table briefly, then picks it up again because he refuses to let a small burn stop him from enjoying the drink. 

     

    Duke watches him while sprinkling salt into his own mug (perhaps he likes it that way? It seems like he’s sprinkling in a fair amount, but all he knows is that salt makes things better). “Yeah,” he says, taking another, more careful sip. “Thank you, I’ve… never had anything like this before.” Sweets were a rarity enough, and the thick unrecognizable flavor must be the chocolate stuff. Why would Duke give him something so delicious? 

     

    He doesn’t want to ruin it by bringing up bad emotions and he’s too cowardly to want to start the conversation, but they’d come to talk, right? They couldn’t just keep putting it off with sugared drinks, right? He coughs and sets down the mug, looking down into it. “About back there. I’m sorry, I didn’t… mean to be too touchy or make you uncomfortable or…” Maker, this is difficult. Why, out of all of his regrets, is this the hardest one to talk about? 
     

    chocolate > thinking about rejection


  16. Jowan 

    f4r0Deq.gif

    Allies: Duke
    Location: Kitchen

     

    When they arrive Duke busies himself by pulling dishes out of the many cupboards that cover the walls of the kitchen. Sitting still while he works is awkward, but Jowan wouldn’t know how to help even if he did know where to find anything. 

     

    "Don't bring up my embarrassing sexual history."

     

    Jowan startles and they look at each other with the same wide-eyed expression. Duke laughs and Jowan laughs with him; it’s quiet and a little hysterical, but it’s something. He doesn’t understand what… sexual history (something that he shouldn’t be thinking about) has to do with talking, but for all he knows it’s some kind of in-joke. 

     

    Duke’s… head-spirit, Vylcan, is still disturbing, but for another reason. “Is he… always watching, then?” Duke can’t help it, he knows, it just feels strange to have a not-quite-spirit spying on a private conversation. With luck Vylcan wouldn’t make any more helpful comments and he’d be able to forget about him. 

    He’s deflecting, anyway. Vylcan isn’t why they’re there. 

     

    “Sure,” he says, then blink. “But what’s… chokolat?” Some strange drink from the multiverse? Duke’s world? 
     

    Status: not thinking about Duke's sexual history


  17. Jowan 

    f4r0Deq.gif

    Allies: Duke
    Location: Kitchen

     

    “Yeah, okay,” he agrees, biting his lip. He’s not sure he wants to talk about it or explain why he overreacted so much, and he definitely doesn’t want to hear Duke reject him, but he doesn’t have much of a choice. Running away from problems doesn’t work. It’s something that he should know by now. 

     

    They walk in awkward silence. He wonders if he should say something, but his throat is dry and he doesn’t know what to say. At least the walk isn’t too long. His thoughts are unpleasant enough; he doesn’t want to be left to stew in them for too long. 

     

    Inside the kitchen is a high counter with several tall stools beside it. He picks one and sits on it, then looks down at his hands, not quite sure where to start. An apology? Had he already made too many of those? 

     

    where to begin
     


  18. Jowan 

    f4r0Deq.gif

    Allies: Duke, Kelsier
    Location: Outside

     

    Duke holds him, and they breathe together. 

     

    He doesn’t understand why Duke is bothering when he doesn’t deserve it, when he’d done nothing but hurt him, but for the moment he listens to Duke’s commands and focuses on the sound of his voice. The points of contact between them, shoulders to hands and forehead to forehead, are grounding, and he finds himself wishing for more. 

     

    He wants to reach up and hold Duke, and the words hugging practice flash through his mind, but -- no, he can’t do that. He’s already taken so much, from Neria and Lily and everyone else he’d met, and he can’t take more from Duke when he’d already given him so much. If XDRE is supposed to be a new chance at life for him he refuses to keep being the leech he once was. 

     

    Duke turns away from him, and it’s like dropping a bucketful of cold water on Jowan’s head. He’s not ready to let go, he wants to beg Duke to keep holding him. 

    Duke doesn’t let go, not completely. Jowan clings to Duke’s hand like a lifeline as Duke defends him, even as he doesn’t understand why Duke’s doing it. Duke had respected and admired Kelsier, he could tell, so why would he turn on him so quickly? Just because Jowan had been hurt? 

     

    He’s too surprised to keep holding Duke’s hand after Duke lets go, and though his hand trails after Duke’s he doesn’t move to grab it again. If Duke doesn’t want to touch him he can at least give him that much, as much as he wishes it could be otherwise. 

     

    "Don't worry. Just a spell. It happens. No hard feelings." 

     

    What --? 

     

    He follows after Duke, despite feeling horribly unsafe with his back turned to Kelsier. It takes them some time before Jowan speaks, his voice quiet and hoarse. “It’s not. Not just a spell. Weren’t you --” No, of course Duke hadn’t been listening to Kelsier’s explanation. “Maker, I’m so sorry, I.” 

     

    Something had changed with Duke, he can tell. His smile had been so brittle, so forced, and the only explanation that Jowan can think of is that he’d done something wrong. He just doesn’t know what or how to fix it, or if that’s even possible. 
     

    but it wouldn't mean a thing if i told you how i feel


  19. Jowan 

    f4r0Deq.gif

    Allies: Duke, Kelsier, Dynarst, Fiddlesticks, Typheus
    Location: Outside

     

    Jowan nods, engrossed in Kelsier’s explanation. Zinc and brass sounded less powerful and versatile than the mental applications of blood magic, but perhaps faster to cast and more subtle? Far easier to block, though, if any allomancer could just eat some copper to stop it. “Do you think copper could be used to block magic from other worlds?” 

     

    Kelsier finishes his explanation, and without warning Jowan is hit with a sense of awe. Wow, that was amazing -- the Lord Survivor didn’t even look like he’d done anything and just -- wow. “Um, y-yeah, think so,” he mumbles. 

     

    It’s a little terrifying to be in the presence of someone with so much presence, so he steps back and clings to one of Duke’s arms for some measure of protection, then looks up and -- 

     

    Seeing the Lord Survivor didn’t prepare him for Duke, with his infectious smile and sun-touched hair and wide, open eyes. "You’re really pretty, aren’t you,” he breathes, amazed that such a person could exist. So powerful, yet so kind and willing to help -- how? And he’d even managed to remember how to spell ‘hug’ the first time, despite how little attention he had seemed to be paying! He’s smart (well, maybe not really, but there’s hope) and incredible and -- 

     

    The effect ends and the awe drains away, leaving in its place dregs of horror and betrayal towards Kelsier and disgust at himself for being so easily manipulated. No wonder Loghain had managed to trick him so easily, if he practically fell at Kelsier’s feet as soon as the man used a bit of magic on him! 

     

    “Y-you -- what is wrong with you!” He means to yell, but his voice comes out strangely hushed. “Maker, you didn’t give any warning, you just!” 

     

    He tries to take a step backwards, away from Kelsier, but he’s still clinging onto Duke’s arm. Shocked, he drops it, even as a voice in his head whines at the loss of contact. A fresh dose of horror runs through him as he remembers what he’d done under the effects of the spell. “I need to --” 

     

    He doesn’t know what he needs. To get away from Kelsier. Anything. 
     

    maybe it's a dream maybe nothing else is real


  20. Jowan 

    f4r0Deq.gif

    Allies: Duke, Kelsier
    Location: Outside

     

    Jowan blinks at Duke, surprised. Did he not understand what a joke was -- ow, ow, ow!
     
    Too quickly, he jerks his left arm away from Duke’s grip. “Watch it, injured,” he says, then immediately regrets snapping. The bandage had mostly been covered by his sleeves, and he’d already established that Duke has the memory of a finch. He was always flittering to the next thing that caught his attention, always with the same captivating intensity. “It’s fine, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it, it’s just a little sore,” he says quickly. 
     
    “I know what a bloody hug is,” he says, ignoring the pain to laugh. “Wait -- F-H? Huff? Right, right, Duke didn’t know how to read. Enough mocking him, then. It's as good a time for an impromptu reading lesson as anything. “It’s H-U-G. The G makes the guh sound, right?” He doesn’t know how much Duke already knows, and hopes that he isn’t insulting him by dumbing it down too much. Then again, if Duke doesn’t know how to spell ‘hug’ he’s probably fine. 
     
    He wonders if it’d still be okay to accept the offer of hugging practice. No, sweet Andraste no, that’d be weird, Duke had made the offer when he thought that he didn’t know what a hug was. Besides, it had probably been a joke anyway. 
     
    Maybe he should have just gone along with it and pretended that he didn’t know what a hug was. 
     
    He doesn’t understand where that thought came from, or why his brain keeps insisting on finding excuses to touch Duke.
     
    Fortunately, Kelsier cuts off both that train of thought and Duke’s story. Jowan smiles at the older man’s words; not only was he not upset at him for going overboard and setting him on fire, but he’d called it fantastic!

     

    At the appearance of the bots he glances at Duke, but when Duke doesn’t react other than touching his arm he decides that it’s safe to pretend that the bots won’t hurt them. 

     

    (Later, when Duke calls being stabbed “fantastic”, he realizes that he shouldn’t have trusted Duke’s self-preservation instincts. By then it’s too late to run away screaming, so he resigns himself to probable death.)  

     

    He listens to Kelsier’s explanation carefully, clearly interested. Manipulating emotions? Wasn’t fear of manipulation one of the reasons why blood magic was so hated and feared? Magic is meant to serve man, and never to rule over him. There was a draw towards flashy magics, admittedly, but he could understand the value of subtlety. “So then, you could manipulate someone’s emotions, and the with copper they wouldn’t be able to tell?” he asks. Maker, he wouldn’t want to picture Orlesians with that kind of power. 

     

    wait, he hadn't been manipulating duke this entire time, right? nah, duke's just like that


  21. Jowan 

    f4r0Deq.gif

    Allies: Duke, Kelsier
    Location: Outside

     

    Duke approaches him and Jowan expects him to stop at any moment so that they can talk, but he doesn’t. He keeps approaching, and before Jowan can do anything more than make a startled noise in the back of his throat Duke embraces him. 

     

    He instinctively tenses at the touch, and for a moment he doesn’t understand. Neria hadn’t been that tactile, saving hugs for special occasions (like when she found you and you had to tell her to stop because it was too much on your fresh injuries), and he hadn’t spent that much time with Lily (because you ruined it all). Other than that, touches had always been related to pain. The strike of a templar’s gauntleted fist, the lash of the whip and the cut of unwanted knives as his torturers demanded knowledge that he didn’t have. 

     

    Duke’s touch isn’t like that, and when he realizes it he relaxes. Duke’s touch is soft and warm, gentle and harmless. He can feel Duke’s heartbeat through the cloth between them and his breath tickling his ear. It’s nice, and yet it ends far too soon, before Jowan can decide whether or not he should return the embrace. 

     

    The blush is back on his face, and he hopes that Duke attributes it to the running and the heat. “Yeah,” he says, unsure of what to do with his eyes and he’s still so close to Duke should he step back. “I guess we’re done sparring now, then? Unless that was some strange form of attack from your world.” Stupid, stupid, don’t joke about it like that, he might think that you didn't like it. 

     

    what do


  22. Jowan 

    f4r0Deq.gif

    Allies: Duke, Kelsier
    Location: Outside

     

    Kelsier flings himself into the air, far higher than Jowan would have thought possible. He can’t help but watch the path of his flight, which ends in a loud splash in the nearby pool. For a moment his stomach drops in the concern that the combination of Disorient and the fire spell had hurt Kelsier, but the man stands up grinning and victorious. 

     

    It’s a little intimidating, how Kelsier could go from being on fire to looking completely in control, as if he’d planned the entire thing. 

     

    He draws his attention from Kelsier and back towards the maze, hoping to find a way out before the blue fades from the walls, but he’s met with the sight of the ground in front of him being partially on fire. Right. That. 

     

    Before he can decide how to proceed (would he have enough mana to cast enough ice spells to quench the fires?) he notices Duke running towards him. The barriers drop as he approaches, and Jowan feels a small stab of frustration. He almost had it -- ! 

     

    “Wait,” he says, having an idea and holding up a hand. The fires, though kept small and patchy by the thick dampness of the grass, leave an outline of where the maze’s walls had been. “You don’t care too much about these shoes, right?” 

     

    When Duke doesn’t respond immediately, Jowan starts running along the path revealed by the dying fires. There’s a few moments where he feels heat on his legs, but he reaches the exit with boots only a little ashier than they’d been before. 

     

    “I beat your maze,” he says, panting slightly from the exertion of the fight but with a proud smile on his face. “And I didn’t cheat like he did!” he says, pointing to Kelsier with a somewhat soot-stained hand. “Not my fault that you dropped the barriers too early.” 

     

    “...Though I guess that could have gone a little better,” he finishes sheepishly, looking at the blackened grass and rubbing his cheek with his hand. 
     

    jowan 1 / maze 0 ??


  23. Jowan 

    f4r0Deq.gif

    Allies: Duke, Kelsier
    Location: Outside

     

    Jowan smiles, surprised that his words actually managed to work. Neria had always said that being polite and talking through things was often the best way to get what you wanted, followed by fighting for it, and maybe she was right! 

     

    He steps forward confidently, crashes head-first into the barrier, and lands with a painful jolt to his tailbone. 

     

    “Maker damn you,” he mutters without much heat, rubbing the throbbing spot on his forehead and standing back up. Maybe he deserved that -- he had been planning on shocking Duke again if he was actually let through the barrier. Time to fight for it, then. "Alright, I'll go for it." Not that he has any desire for Duke to do his paperwork, but the competition sends a pleasant thrum through his chest. 

     

    Not giving himself much time to think, he shakes his hands a few times as if shaking water off of them, then holds them out in front of him, palms out. A bright torrent of flame shoots out of them in the direction of Kelsier, bouncing off of the walls and leaving bright patches of glowing blue on them. It’s quite beautiful, a distant part of him notes. 

     

    When the flames die out he nearly falls over again, surprised by how tired he is from the effort. There’d been a bit more fire than he’d meant, and the barriers trapped the heat around him. 

     

    Also, some of the grass was on fire. 

     

    Whoops. 
     

    our flame will grow 
    tonight I'm letting go

     


  24. Jowan 

    f4r0Deq.gif

    Allies: Duke, Kelsier
    Location: Outside

     

    With Kelsier dealt with for a few seconds Jowan has the chance to turn his attention to Duke and his barriers. Realistically, he knows that he should deal with Kelsier while he’s incapacitated. Duke seems like he’d be content watching the two of them smash their faces into the barriers, so Jowan could deal with him later. At the same time, he hates the idea of ignoring Duke’s challenge. It’s petty and plays right into Duke’s desire for attention, but Duke’s someone that’s difficult to stop paying attention to. His golden hair and bright, excitable eyes have an uncanny ability to keep him from looking away. 

     

    That, and even Disoriented Kelsier scares him a little. 

     

    The last maze (had it really only been a few hours ago?) hadn’t actually been solved, he remembers. Duke had called Jowan a masochist and dropped the barriers after some of the new arrivals got a little too violent for him. That wouldn’t work, but he figures he might as well take advantage of his presence last time and try taking the easy way out. “Hey Duke,” he yells. “I already got the new arrival maze treatment. Can I skip it this time?” 
     

    negotiating tactics


  25. Jowan 

    f4r0Deq.gif

    Allies: Duke, Kelsier
    Location: Outside

     

    Duke’s distraction causes him to be hit by both the lightning and a spoon -- if this is him “paying attention”, he really needs to work on his situational awareness. Perhaps another shock would help teach him. 

     

    Before Jowan can do anything, Duke leaps out of the dome completely. Jowan's eyes widen in surprise, Duke’s actions completely unexpected. Weren’t they fighting? 

     

    The barriers begin to crumble around them, and with a lurch of his stomach Jowan realizes how much danger he and Kelsier would be in had this been a real fight. He’d seen Duke destroy a bridge with his barriers; the violent imagery of him doing a similar thing to the dome comes easily to his mind. 

     

    More pressing is the matter of the spoons Kelsier scattered around the battlefield, but the only way he can think of to deal with them is to hit Kelsier first. Remembering how Arcane Blast had passed through Duke’s barriers earlier, he throws one towards Kelsier… 

     

    ...and the purple energy splashes harmlessly against the barrier. 

     

    It’s unexpected, and Jowan doesn’t have much of a plan to deal with it. He takes a step back, the surprise evident on his face. Why didn’t it pass through now, when it had last time? Had he misseen what had happened? 

     

    Hoping to buy himself some time, he hurriedly casts Disorient on Kelsier. A faint shimmer appears in the air around Kelsier’s head, but the spell otherwise lacks the flashy visuals of his previous ones. Too late, he realizes that he may have made a mistake. His mana is running dangerously low, being disoriented probably wouldn’t stop Kelsier from pelting him with spoons, and Duke’s still free to try something with his barriers. 
     

    oh no