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[right [pic https://i.pinimg.com/564x/10/f7/a0/10f7a04be7b9c0e699ede00e99ca3356.jpg]] Instead of the gaunt look, Alvér's features were even closer to resembling a normal person's now. His eyes still relatively dark, were less empty and hollowed looking. His mouth less pursed and thin and stretched looking, shifting slightly as he felt her grow still.
His body ached, Alvér feeling the familiar fatigue of having his body change somewhat, but he was barely paying attention with the adrenaline of the near-discovery happening just now.
Alvér's eyes glanced between hers inquisitively, drawing back a little as he sort of came to realize that she was staring at him. His twitched together a little, drawing back as he started to get self-conscious. And with that, he drew into himself, his features shifting again, emptying and becoming sallow again, his eyes deepening*
But he was soon distracted by what Alenia said, eyes turning back towards the direction they were taking again. He nodded, following Alenia as she moved. This time their escapade went much smoother the further they took their trajectory away from the square. It was silly of him to have gone there anyways, but he had ventured anyways to try and see if he could get through town quicker. It was such a mistake. He had gotten too bold, it seemed. And he had immediately paid for it.
It was unbearable to be in the streets now. He wanted to be elsewhere, free, so he could bleed in peace and lick his wounds. Now, he was mostly positive, he had to leave most likely. He would have to find Myhrr and see if he could leave. If he was healed, if he was alright. There was no way he would be traveling if he was wounded still.
And when they reached the outer rim of town, Alvér noticed Alenia falling behind him. He stopped, drawing up under a tree as he had shifted to get off of the main road out of town in this direction. He turned back to look at her, a question in his eyes. "[B Is this as far as you are willing?]" he rasped, swallowing the weak sound in his voice. He hated how his breath and speech was weighted with the pain in his body. How he couldn't stand up straight, how tired he was. It was pathetic.
But the idea that she would leave him now, it left him with an emptiness inside. Hence the question. He would not fight if she would prefer to go no father. He was alone, that was his lot in life at this point. But the events leading up until this point had made him think for a moment about what it was to work together with someone.
[size10 *legit if this makes no sense, like if you've seen [i Howl's Moving Castle], and how Sophie's curse works, that's sort of the idea I'm going for.]
The void-like darkness in one of the already heavily shadowed holes in the wall stood out to her. She wondered if it would have done the same if those guards happened to come this way instead of listening to her. It was a useless pondering, one that she could not dwell on if they wanted to make it out of here, so she pushed it from her mind. When she approached, Alvér drew out of the alcove, but he was different. Or at the very least, not how she remembered. Had she paid so poor attention to him, was the night playing tricks on her, or had he perhaps really changed? Alenia wanted to know, she wanted to ask, but even she was not so forward as to ask a person why they looked that way, and quite frankly that was the only way she could think to put it. So instead, she stayed silent and let her eyes wonder over his form and seemingly newfound features in his face. A look of wonder and curiosity dancing behind her eyes even if she would not act on it.
Snapping back to reality, the amber eyed woman was a little flustered once she realized how terribly she had been staring. Alenia attempted to play it off. [b “There’s no telling if they will come back or not, we should get going.”] Rushing him along, her face was slightly flushed from her embarrassment. She hoped he was not paying enough attention to notice as they continued on their path toward the outer reaches of town.
The farther out they got, the quieter it seemed. Not that it was particularly loud anywhere other than the center of town where the commotion had started, but still, as they scurried closer to the woods a stillness seemed to fall around them. As easy as it would have been for such an atmosphere to become unnerving, that was not what this was. It was peaceful. It gave Alenia hope that they worst had passed.
At the tree line of the forest, the wood elf let Alvér take the lead. She had a good feel for the main paths, but she had the feeling he would be able to get them back to the manor more efficiently and on lesser traveled routes. The only real question would be if he would be safe there. The townsfolk already thought that place was a den of monsters. There was a good chance it would be the first place they looked. But then again maybe not. She did not know how long Alvér had been living there, but if they had not done more than throw rock and make menaces of themselves like that, then maybe he would be okay.
[right [pic https://i.pinimg.com/564x/10/f7/a0/10f7a04be7b9c0e699ede00e99ca3356.jpg]] Alvér fought the urge to grab and hold onto Alenia. Either out of habit, his hands seeking either sensation or more control, something to hold onto while every one of his senses was stretched to their limit, taut like strings, like whiskers, vibrating too loud, too much with every sound, every breath.
His eyes were trained on her back, on the shape of Alenia as she stepped out into the open to see what was going on. He [i ached] to be able to see himself, to not rely on her inferior dark-vision, to have control, to do it himself. Ever a bad habit, never able to trust or relax if he wasn't involved, the standing and waiting chafed, even as he knew its import. He felt as if he, wholly, as a being, was stretched so taut that he too would break, if given the slightest thrum with a touch.
But for the time being, it seemed, Alenia was trustworthy. She was leading him to safety, and he would be in her debt. That chafed too, being in owance to someone, especially someone so brisk and limpid like her.
And suddenly everything seemed to crash down around them. Alvér had emerged once again, the moon on his grey skin, on his hulking, ugly body, and suddenly there was the voice of danger. A chill of panic tensioned him, and his whole being for a moment was completely still. Alenia's turn back towards him snapped him back into action, and the creature made a sharp gesture as he drew back. His body disappeared, as Alvér vanished himself in just a sheer coating, it felt like, completely naked. He held his breath for a moment, pressing himself into the alcove he had chosen between two buildings.
Small. [i Small.] He thought, begged himself. Of all things, of all points, this was the time, now. His body still ached with the magic of before, of the shock of suddenly being healed. It would take time to recover, to stop the taste of blood from entering the back of his mouth. But with his last exhale, Alvér strove to hide with all of his being.
The alleyway that Alenia turned back to when it was over with was empty. Uninhabited. Until the slow slip of a tentacle curled around the corner of the stoop he had absconded into, pressing his body away from any and all light. It was what clued Alenia into where the creature had hidden himself. When she approached the stoop, Alvér's vague shape was within. More of his alien appendages reached as Alvér's body soon followed, pulling out of the shadows of the doorway and towards the wood elf, eyes glinting with the reflection where it hit the backs of his eyes as he glanced around.
Notably smaller, thinner rather, it seemed the tentacles had retreated and lessened their number, and colony over his body. His step was limping, unsteady as a gait, but a gait nonetheless in comparison. But under the length of the dark, fitted robes he wore, there was the clear movement of legs for a moment, if a bit strange still. He was in a word, more streamlined, if one could call the humanoid shape as such. But it was a certain change from the clutter of eldritch character overpowering a body clearly hidden within, hunching it and making it strange, large. The man's arm was still inching towards, protective of his wounded side, still stained with his blood, fingers darkened with it. But his face had begun to make more sense as he looked towards Alenia. It had filled in a little, less the sallow, exaggerated features, but an angular visage.
He looked to her now.
Things were going smoothly, at least she thought they were until Alvér grabbed her and retreated to the corner. His grasp seemed to envelope her. He was unnaturally cool to the touch, even in the brisk night air. It begged the question: What was he? True there were cold blooded races out there, but none she could think of that looked quite like him. Or maybe he was unique, nothing out there that was quite like him. It was a lonely thought, and it brought Alenia the tiniest bit closer to feeling she understood why he acted the way he did.
Adrenaline running through her veins, it took a moment for her to be still enough to hear the sound Alvér had caught while they were on the move. She felt a tad guilty that she had nearly dragged him straight to potential danger. She needed to be more careful... Given a moment, he released her, not quite icy limbs unfurling from around her. She took this chance to also let go of him, but she did not step away yet. She waited until after she caught his soft whispered words telling her to go play look out. Giving him a curt nod, her fiery hair fluttered around her face. Then she stepped forward, back toward the intersection of the paths.
Although it was faint, she heard his footfall behind her. She had half a mind to tell him to stay back and keep hidden, just in case, but her heart was beating at a million miles an hour and there was a minor comfort in knowing she was not alone. Perhaps it was selfish, but she let him stick close.
Coming to the intersection, she stopped short to keep out of view. She listened to the small noises. It helped that they were chatting among themselves. She paid little attention to the words, but the tone was disgruntled. It was likely they were part of the search party. Taking in a deep breath, the woman took a small step forward, leaning so that she could see around the corner. Her amber eyes confirmed their position; they were facing the other direction. It was a short dash to the next alley. If they were quiet and quick enough they might be able to make it across the main street without the men noticing. However, as hopeful of that as she was, she could not chance it. Not when Alvér’s life depended on it. And so, she waited instead. Perfectly still, like a rogue in the night her eyes followed the pair as they went farther and farther away. The silent waiting was torturous, but with patience, the guards turned another corner. They were out of sight.
No longer seeing them, she gained the courage to speak. [b "Alright, they turned off the road. Let's go."] Making sure to glance both directions one last time, just in case someone else showed up, she made sure it was clear before starting across the wide set path. The next section of alleyway was farther than she would have liked, the openness of it made their steps more prone to echoing. She quietly prayed that it would not carry far enough for those men to hear. Unfortunately, her prayers were not enough.
[b “Did you hear that?"] It was almost comical how loud the question was asked. Not to mention stupid if you wanted to try and find someone, but Alenia was not going to complain. At least they would have a chance to respond.
Looking to Alvér, she waved him on. [b "Hide."] The word was practically mouthed as she did not want those guys to hear anything else. There was little time before the armored men were dashing back around the corner, but in those precious seconds the petite elf tried to channel her inner actress. It was time for some waterworks.
Eyes already dewy by the time the guards made it over to her, she did not give them a chance to speak first. [b "Oh thank goodness you are here. Something just ran by, it was big and it looked dangerous!"] Her words were quick paced, as if she might have been running. [b "It ran off that way. I am afraid of what it might do if it gets a hold of someone."] She pointed off in the direction of the alley they had just come from. In truth it would be the opposite direction of who they were looking for.
One of the men eyed her suspiciously, she had not been here just a minute ago. But as soon as she saw that, Alenia took it as a chance to break down into tears. Or at least pretend to. It was dark and a little cover up with her hands would go a long way. Getting flustered, the previously doubtful man backed off. [b "Don't worry ma'am, we will catch the monster."] Neither of them wanting to deal with a hysterical woman, they rushed off in the direction she pointed without looking back.
Wiping the wetness from her eyes, Alenia turned around and crossed her arms. [b "They didn't even offer to walk me home. What assholes..."] She complained under her breath, but secretly counted their blessings that those men were so rude.
Continuing on to where she knew Alvér headed off, she began to look for him among the shadows. Or perhaps he had continued on without her. If she did not find him soon she would head out to his house to make sure he made it there.
[right [pic https://i.pinimg.com/564x/10/f7/a0/10f7a04be7b9c0e699ede00e99ca3356.jpg]] As uncomfortable as he was with the situation, in evaluating it, Alvér understood that in his condition she was the only thing keeping his odds increasing at the present. And as much as he hated to admit that, it was true. She was helping it seemed for now. He could allow for circumstantial reliance despite the stinging of his pride and the shuddering of his paranoid logic telling him this was dangerous, to trust her.
Jaw tight, focusing on her words, the creature nodded. He knew how this had to go. All he hoped for was a lack of barbs on the bolt itself. His other hand moved, reaching across the alleyway to anchor himself now between both the walls, else he may grab Alenia and make her stop on instinct.
His breath hissed in as her hands planted on the wound, holding it for a moment as he prepared himself, watching her wrists, not the site of the injury, her arms, her face, pale in what light they were afforded. He pulled his jaw up then, eyes trained down the alleyway towards the street as he felt her hold tighten. The creature hissed out a hard breath as the bolt was pulled from him, hand wrenching from the wall and closing over Alenia's other hand as it pressed against the wound harder, fingers tight.
As the light summoned around them, bid by her magic, Alvér felt his skin respond feverishly. Too sensitive, uncomfortably hot around the site of the healing wasn't uncommon, but it felt like he was coming down with it all over. His hand tightened on her wrist, biting off a groan in his throat as his whole body tensed. A soft swear was pulled from him, his intonation elven, but the words were different. He felt chills pour down his back, fingers weakening on her arm. He could feel his body responding even as she knit his flesh, the rest reacting as if invaded and tightened his teeth.
Around Alenia came some of the tendrils of his body. One as if following his hand curled around the crook of her elbow, tight, resisting pulling her hand off of him as Alvér pressed her hand as if it were a brand harder down on the wound. Her legs, too, attracted some as they pulled around her. Their touch cool compared to most living beings, but not cold.
And suddenly the singing stopped, as did the heat of the magic on his accursed skin begin to fade. Alvér groaned, releasing his breath softly. His head felt like it was swimming above his head, looking down at his hands for a moment as one was swiftly taken by the elf. Tugged along behind her, it was all he could do to follow.
Underneath the mass of his body was very little known left to him. His limbs twisted and overshadowed by the transformation, it made it difficult to walk, and ended in her doing more pulling to have him keep up than he would like. It was why he hid and waited and watched. He was no longer a hunter anymore.
But he followed her as they made a switchback route in a direction he was assuming was safe. In his inability to pay as much attention, distracted constantly by the either lingering or phantom pain of the wound that was once in his side. He hoped he wasn't going into shock.
But the searing thrill of danger was seizing him as he heard motion at the mouth of their next alleyway, the bare scrape of what he thought was a boot.
"[B Leni-]" he rasped a breath of a whisper, hand tightening around hers as he deftly pulled her back against him just before she ventured out into visibility. He pulled her back, hand delivered over whatever noise she might make in surprise, he turned her into a darkened corner around himself and kept still, listening. Enveloped once again by him, his arm held tight around her shoulders as he waited for a moment, hearing the direction of voices. They crossed the mouth of their alleyway and disappeared again. Alvér heard them moving away from them, whoever was standing in the alleyway just now, walking away from them towards the sounds.
Beyond buildings, they were, a street away. He let his breath out softly and released his hold on Alenia, unfolding her from his arms and body so the could move freely again, releasing her hand . "[B Go,]" he breathed, "[B see where they are.]" He didn't expect her to draw him along as she had again.
He wanted to know if they were within view of the back alley they would get onto. Now would be the moment of truth, he supposed, if she were to call out to them and expose him. But he had- hopes she wouldn't. Especially after healing him as such. Right? But fear still strained inside of him. His eyes glinted at her from the shadows where he had hesitated before venturing with her, watching. He drew up nearer her as she looked for him.
It was somewhat surprising to see him back down. But there would be no time to rejoice that she was getting through to him. They needed to stop his bleeding before they could even attempt to lead him back to safety. Gods forbid they take him all the way back to his manor just to be tracked down by the trail left by his injury.
Bringing herself closer to her again, she swallowed. Here came the hard part. [b "I am going to have to remove the bolt or else my spell will be ineffective. Try to keep quiet... And sorry in advance."] With that she swiftly brought one hand to the base of the dowel where it met his bloodied skin and used the other to apply pressure just below that. Alenia wasted no time to pull the projectile from him. It was one quick motion and then she used both hands to apply pressure so that he might not lose any more blood. As much as she wanted to ask if he was okay, the woman refrained herself so that she could get straight to what needed to be done.
With the object dislodged, she was able to begin. No lyre needed, she began to sing. Unlike much of what she played and sang the rest of the time, this was different. It was closer to a hymn, though even that was not entirely accurate. More of a prayer she happened to be singing as a faint holy light glowed around the two of them. With as dark as it was and how the shadows almost seemed to meld into and become a part of his body, it was difficult for the fiery haired elf to discern just how bad his injury was. All she could tell for sure was that the bleeding had stopped, but that was little indication of what was happening within. And so she sang as long as she felt she was safe to, her clear mezzo-soprano voice soft as she tried not to be heard. It was not until something clattered around the corner that Alenia stopped. They needed to leave. Now.
Hoping rather than knowing he was okay to be moved, Alenia grabbed a hold of his hand and started to move in the direction opposite to where they had heard the commotion. She practically prayed that he would be able to stay on his feet. There would be little she could do for him if he passed out from pain or blood loss.
[right [pic https://i.pinimg.com/564x/10/f7/a0/10f7a04be7b9c0e699ede00e99ca3356.jpg]] Alvér, too, remembered looking at her when he had spotted her earlier. It had taken him a moment to look and ask himself, seeing her behind the men attacking him, if she was one of them. It had taken another moment for the magic to weave and for him to leap upon what looked like an opportunity, seeing her gesturing him away. But the words from his lips came as an instinctive reaction still. [i Why?] Or, more properly, to what end?
Betrayed by various others, the creature found himself struggling to place trust in someone so easily, even someone who seemed as genuine as Alenia, who had of all things fed him and come and gone from his home twice now. But that, in the grand scheme of things, felt so small, he felt so afraid now, feeling panic still pressing against his chest. It was hot, like smoke, trying to seethe through him, instead fueling with its embers an irrational part of him he was trying to get under control. To survive.
She reminded him of Teegan, of Elysia... faces he wouldn't see again. And perhaps it was the hurt that those faces conjured that made him reluctant to take at face value the only person who hadn't shot him. He didn't want to open up like that again, when he was so empty now. And so, as she gave him a bewildered, and irate look, Alvér simply stared back, awaiting her answer. What reason?
At first he was startled, bemused by the anecdote and the rushed explanation of drunken men and walking and being removed. But his mind, struggling as it was to catch up, eventually latched onto her words as he stared at her dumbly as the explanation came to him.
[i Let me use my magic to heal you...] Gods, she sounded exactly like her, like the little druid. His face creased in a pain that wasn't physical now, seeing overlaid atop Alenia's features a familiar countenance, a familiar shape, and a familiar impatience with him in a fiery wood elf. He pursed his lips, eyes moving down to his side again where his hand trembled in the air. Was that why he let her inside last time? Because she was familiar? Because she was reminding him so much of what he lacked, and missed fiercely?
His voice wavered a moment as he summoned a response, before he had even opened his mouth, caught in his throat a hum of rushed indecision. He reached for words in common for her, "[B I can't travel like this,]" he responded, even as his arm tried to peel away from his side, releasing his skin to the open air which stung in its very presence against his wounded flesh. It was all the invitation she would get, the relinquishing of his guarded arm as he leaned with one hand against the near wall, voice rasping.
He gathered his wits about himself, forcing his countenance even as his lips parted, panting softly with hyperventilation. "[B Be quick.]"
Why, he asked? The fiery haired woman had thought it was obvious she wanted to help him. He must have noticed her weaving her magic earlier. She remembered him looking right at her, but maybe not. Perhaps the dark had played a trick on her mind. Either way, she was not super appreciating the tone in his voice, though she could not say she did not understand it.
Coming in closer, he backed away from her. No doubt if she continued forward again he would do the same and they would be caught in some frustrating dance. And so she stayed still, letting the distance remain between them. He barked out the beginning of an accusation, but in the end it morphed into something else. Alenia wondered how disoriented he was. [b "I was out for a walk. Believe it or not, drunken men are not exactly the most pleasant clientele. Whenever I get frustrated, or need a break, I take a walk. That's what I was doing when I heard the commotion and decided to make sure everything was okay."] It was the truth, but whether or not he believed it remained to be seen. The little wood elf decided to continue. [b "I am trying to help you, let me use some magic to heal that up a bit and then we can get you back home. We do not have much time. My cantrip from before is already wearing thin. They will be looking for you again soon... please, Alvér, let me help you."] Amber eyes looking up at him, they caught the light of the moon. Her iris nearly shone as she practically begged him to let her assist. She did not want to see him die here, least of all because others were unwilling to see that he was more than a monster.
[right [pic https://i.pinimg.com/564x/10/f7/a0/10f7a04be7b9c0e699ede00e99ca3356.jpg]] Alvér had to take a moment, feeling the edges of his vision blur just a little in panic at the bright, distracting amount of pain thrumming from the wound in his side. The bolt had sunk in wide, and high, tucking just under his rib cage on the left side. A potentially safe area to be shot, he figured, trying to recall where important things were placed inside the body... It was just panic, he repeated to himself in his head as his eyes searched around, as he listened for anything that told him what was going on in the village around him.
He peeled his arm from his side for a moment, fighting the instinct to just press it against the area tightly. Just to see. Just- crap. It hurt a lot. He was trying not to hyperventilate, but it was difficult. He needed to stay quiet so he wouldn't be spotted.
Alenia's voice startled him, Alvér realizing how badly he was paying attention if she had managed that. His head snapped around to look at her, stance hunched, defensive.
"[B What are you doing here?]" he rasped, tempted to back away from her. He hated being seen hurt, showing weakness. He still didn't know if he could trust her.
"[B Why?]" he asked, unable to quell the suspicion in his tone.
The bolt was still in his side, the creature shifting away from her as she came up too quickly towards the wound. His elbow was pushed against his side as if to protect the wound, bloodied palm opening as she came closer, moving to stop her even as he backed away.
He pulled in a hissing breath through his teeth, "[B Did you- what were you doing? Did you-?]" [i -have anything to do with this?] he wanted to ask, but his breath was short, and some form of self-preservation, some hesitance towards suspecting the woman who had come into his home stayed the second part of the question. The implication was there, however, in his tone. He certainly was getting soft, now, wasn't he? It was this complacency that let this happen. How did he know she wasn't helping look for him so that the townsmen could find him easier? Would she expose him as soon as she coaxed him from these shadows? [i Here he is! I found the monster!] It was all that was running through his mind at present.
With things calming down, Alenia was able to get a clearer picture of what was happening. Or at least that Alvér was injured. But before she could see the extent of it, he disappeared into a burst of shadowy mist. It was dramatic, but it got the job done. Unfortunately, there was still the matter of her getting out of there before anyone put the pieces together and noticed that she was the reason their monster got away. They probably weren’t going to be too happy about that. Slipping away, she looked back to the spot Alvér had last occupied. In his wake she caught a glint of light. Red in hue, the lights of the mob’s lanterns seemed to reflect off a pool of crimson liquid. It was blood. Her stomach clenched, that might be a problem if he was actually planning on getting away. Or at the very least not being tracked all the way back home.
Biting her lip, the fiery haired woman debated on what was to be done. Getting out of town herself was pretty high priority, and had she not actually spent time talking with this guy and trying to become his friend, she probably would have turned tail and ran. Saving him from the towns gnashing jaws would have been enough, but that was not the case. Feet carrying her quickly, she changed course to circle back and have another look at the situation. Alenia did her best to stay out of sight as she looked for any more drippings. And damn her luck, she spotted another glistening in the pale moonlight. Rushing that way, she started the process again looked for the distinct sparkle of fallen blood. As she went, the small elf did her best to cover the thin pools with dirt or whatever else was around so that the trail wouldn’t be quite so easy to follow. In this manner she came across an alleyway, dark, damp, and occupied. The shadows seemed to converge on the writhing mass hidden within them and she knew it was Alvér.
The woman did not hesitate as she stepped into the darkness, though she did feel the need to announce herself, even vaguely. [b “Alvér, it is me.”] She didn’t want him panicking and lashing out at her because he thought she was one of the guards. [b “Let me see your side.”] She moved in close to him, attempting to get a better view of the wound. So long as this bolt was stuck there, he was not getting anywhere fast and time was of the essence here. Who knew how long it would take for that mob to catch on to their shoddily covered tracks.
[right [pic https://i.pinimg.com/564x/10/f7/a0/10f7a04be7b9c0e699ede00e99ca3356.jpg]] He was surrounded, and he was locked down. Alvér knew about his mortality now, and what it limited him to, and he could no longer disappear, melting into the shadows as well as he used to. It was maddening, but it was the truth. He was trapped.
Alvér was shaken out of his focus by- of all things- the pluck of strings that he heard nearby. His eyes snapped around at the men surrounding him- at a distance as they were, but looking at him with malintent- he could taste their hatred, practically, like the blood in his mouth. Like the pain in his abdomen where the bolt had gone in.
And he saw her- Alenia- in line with [i them]. Hot rage shot through him like a bolt of lightning. Of course- of [i course] this would happen. She would enchant and beguile him so that she could trap him for them. He could feel the tendrils of her magic around him.
She was motioning for him, the creature's eyes glinting as they stared hard at her, seeing her waving him away, away. His eyes narrowed, feeling shame at being seen, being found, being [i saved] push hot and sticky through his veins now. And with it he dropped his hands and vanished in a swirl of mist. It would not carry him far, but he could use the moments of confusion to seclude himself somewhere until he could get his body under control again.
Alenia would have seen him tall, dark, monstrous again as he was hunched, body writhing around him- shrouded under his cloaks, but his bulk unmistakable.
And now he was in an alleyway, cursing again under his breath as he looked towards the wound in him again. His hand hovered by it, asking himself if he had the strength to heal himself here and now, to risk taking the time to pull it out... No. He needed his strength for as long as possible, and the gods knew how long he would remain hidden.
So, pushing off of the wall he peeled himself from, the creature looked around to gain his bearings. Where was he? And how long would it take for them to follow the trail of his blood and find him again?
The night was still, almost eerily so as Alenia walked about. She had had enough of the drunken lechers in the tavern for one night and decided a walk would better fill her time. The small woman took to lesser-used paths through the woods; there was little reason to it other than she was curious to see where they led. Turns out most of them just turned around and came back to the main road, so it was not all that exciting, but it did help her to cool her head.
After being out for a good long while, she started her way back into town. And as she got closer that unnerving silence started to fade away. In its wake, there was shouting. Though, at this distance it was little more than whispers in her pointed ears, a soft rumble on the wind. She wondered what was going on. And even though she had a bad feeling about it, Alenia continued on and let the sounds build around her. Soon they were loud enough to be made out, and they were clearly sounds of fear and hatred.
Her stomach twisted. This was not good. The fiery haired woman sped up some, praying that this commotion was not directed at who she thought it was. But that hope was quickly dashed as she heard it.
[I "It’s the creature!”]
Oh no. She moved a bit quicker again. Her optimism was growing thin. As she got closer to the action, she brought forth her lyre. And it was a good thing too; because things had already gotten very out of hand by the time she got there. Shadowy tendrils sprouted from every which direction, grabbing hold of terrified looking guards. Those that were still free held crossbows, aimed and ready to fire. Their mark was a figure just as dark as the tentacles that had their friends. Though it was hard to tell in nightfall, she was almost certain it was Alvér. And it looked as though he would soon be trapped, exits blocked off by the armed men.
With all the commotion, no one noticed her on the edge of it. There was still a chance for her to do something. So she did the only thing she could think of, play her instrument. This melody, unlike what she had been playing for the last week or so, had magic laced into it. It was a serene tune, one that found its way into a person’s ear and when straight to their heart to calm them. Be they full of fear, anger, or hostility of any kind, the listener would be placated. But it would be short-lived. Alenia needed to work fast.
Watching as the guards lowered their crossbows, they whispered to one another. Some of them questioned what they were doing, while others seemed content just stand there. Still trying to keep out of sight, the bard, peeked around them until she caught better sight of Alvér, confirming it was him. She hoped he could see her too, as she motioned for him to get out of here.
[right [pic https://i.pinimg.com/564x/10/f7/a0/10f7a04be7b9c0e699ede00e99ca3356.jpg]] Alvér felt his stomach tighten and turn at her words, telling him he wasn't all that bad. His immediate response; an internal, twisting feeling that on instinct responded to what she was saying; was to feel ill, to feel frustrated. His face tightened, the feeling worsening as he saw her smile. She thought she meant it. Or did she? She didn't know anything about him, what he was, anything from his past, what he had done; nothing. She had just caught him on a good day.
Alvér knew if she continued it would only be a matter of time until that opinion changed anyways, so he didn't put anything behind it. He just watched her go. Back towards town.
He hated the town. He hated the people in it. It was only that he needed its existence to get by that he didn't go farther. Alvér hardly had the ability to provide for himself like this, so it was all he could do to steal and sponge off of their community as much as he could. It was all he was capable of now, because he couldn't fight this condition anymore so he could earn it otherwise. As if they would have taken him then either.
All of his worth was stripped away from him when he left House Xa'n'athir, and his life, and his place. Rather, when he was forced to leave. Since then it had only been what felt like placeholders to just get by. No direction; detours from whatever meaningless space was left; punctuated by faces, by events, by further ruining himself.
It made him turn away from the warmth the pitiable woman gave him, even as he stared it down with a hollow expression. He didn't believe in it. There wasn't even anything to exploit that he could think of from her, any reason he could think to try and seduce some form of something out of her, as if he was capable any longer. Her words would do nothing, her presence would do nothing to change him and soon when she lost interest or hope, or could no longer stomach him she would fade away. It was just pity that brought her here. Pity and curiosity, and likely some form of stubborn resolution. She was like Rune that way, like Teegan.
That made his chest tighten as he stared after Alenia, and made him not answer her as she left. And when she turned around with that last departing shout, he closed the door. Some part of him was frustrated by her; not knowing if it was her mere existence, her energy, or whatever fetid need he had growing in him to show her exactly what he was already. He hated the waiting, he hated the potential for hope, for attaching himself again. He wanted it to happen now and be over with.
That night a lone figure made its way through the emptied streets of the town...
It wasn't a moonless night, but a temperamental, shifting bank of thin, piecey clouds that veiled the sky and would cause the moon's face to be hidden, and revealed. The handful of trees scattering the winding alleys and roads of the town lent a speckled, patterned aspect to the night when the moon would show again.
The shifting form meandered in an uneven, limping at times or smoothly shifting for a short distance as it would shift as if on vapor. Long fingers with a gesture opened latches and the doors on sheds would creak slowly, items walking out on their own two feet, animate, towards him to be stowed away somewhere.
But that, inevitably, caught the attention of an individual who witnessed this and who, when she gasped in long and horrified as she recognized the vague shape of the creature, drew its attention. Glittering gold eyes angled towards her as a high pitched, horrified shriek tore from her throat, drawing the attention of others. His magic was too slow as it cut off the shriek without even echo, leaving her figure, shaking with the effort of her panic, in complete silence.
The creature turned, then, just as the bolt of something sank deep into the flesh of his shoulder above his chest. The shouts of the local guard as they pointed him out now rang across the streets. The creature's eyes widened in fear and rage as his hand released the bolt and flickered out towards them as the static snap of magic leapt through the air on the uttered words of a foreign language that reflected elven tongued roots- and following its direction, black tentacles leapt up from the earth and from the stonework walls and grabbed at the men approaching. It did not catch all of them as more moved in towards him with hesitant aggression.
"[i It's the creature!]"
[b “Come now, we may have been off to a rocky start, but I feel like we got over it. You really are not as bad as you are trying to make yourself out to be.”] Her smile didn’t fade as she was speaking the truth. By the end of their chat she was having a pretty good time. Though, they probably had Myhrr to thank for that. Alenia couldn’t help but wonder if that little kitty was actually a guardian spirit looking after him. Based on his situation and temperament, Alvér needed one. What’s more than that, he really did look like he could use some company. So when he gave her his permission to return, her smile widened all the more. It was a warm and welcoming sort of expression. [b “No, I don’t think I will. I will definitely be back here in the next few days.”]
That commitment meant she would definitely be staying in this town a little longer. It was unusual for her. Years had passed since the last time she lingered in a single place for this amount of time, yet she had a goal of sorts so it did not feel confining. Plus, the local area was rather pretty. She was sure that helped.
[b “Well, goodbye for now, Alvér.”] She gave a slight nod then stepped out and fully into the light of day. The sun was immediately warm on her skin. A pleasant experience, she hoped the sun would stay out. Autumn was fast approaching, so she was certain there weren’t too many bright days like this left of the year.
Before making it all the way to the gate, she turned around and brought her hands up around her mouth. [b “Next time you will have to give me a tour, your place is amazing!”] She shouted across the courtyard, hoping rather than knowing the gentleman could hear her way off in the distance. Alenia could not see him to confirm it either way, but she waved. A final farewell before passing through the gate and traveling back down the path that brought her here. She was giddy the whole trip; there was a spring in her step. Sure, there were parts of that visit that did not go so well, but despite it she felt like it was a success. The woman might even be able to walk away from this with a new friend. It was an exciting prospect.
Following the thin and winding path all the way back to the main road, she came across a small group headed out of town. They saw where she had come from and looked at her with eyes filled with trepidation.
[b “It is not haunted you know, I made it in and out just fine. The man who lives up there is just grumpy.”]
Almost as though her comment fell on deaf ears, the party began to whisper amongst themselves, giving her no response and shuffling to continue on their way. Alenia shook her head, letting out a long sigh at their rudeness. There was still such a long ways to go before people started believing the manor and the man who inhabited it were harmless.
[right [pic https://i.pinimg.com/564x/10/f7/a0/10f7a04be7b9c0e699ede00e99ca3356.jpg]] Alvér nodded softly to her thanks before letting her lead the way. Behind himself, he heard Myhrr leap up onto the counter, glancing back to see her exploring the pie now that the activity had quieted down. He would let her for now, if she wanted to.
The house was a generally dark-wooded interior that now shone with the treatment on it with the sun allowed inside. Dust motes hung in the air as ever, and the carpets on the floor lay with their colors exposed so Alenia could see them. It was a house full of all the niceties of a grand family having lived there, now somewhat overwhelmed in places with collected books or a blanket used in a favored spot, and what looked like magically related items. Being closed up, generally, with very little exposure, the interior was in good repair.
In the foyer, passing beneath the upper walk and the staircase, Alvér lingered, not drawing too close to the door, and not standing in the light, but standing to the side of it. He still didn't draw very close, but he was less inclined to ensconce himself in such complete darkness for the time being. But his eyes squinted towards the light of the day, face creasing as his pupils darted closed.
But even in their dart away from the sunlight, his eyes returned to Alenia, glimmering dimly from their recesses with the reflection when she referred to him as a person. The creature's brows drew together at her choice of words, quietly clearing his throat as he glanced towards the outside again.
"[B I do doubt that,]" he admitted with an airy tone, a brow arching. "[B My company is rarely hailed as something worth repeating,]" Alvér's gaze filled with the proof his mind's eye so conveniently offered him.
If she knew who he was, she would know that fully. It was only the guise of ignorance that the wandering stranger had of him that kept inquisitiveness on her face, and a ghastly amount of what he shuddered to think was hopefulness. "[B However,]" he continued carefully as something stopped him. "[B This has certainly been- different.]" the slender creature's eyes drifted again, reaching for the proper word.
He wouldn't dare mark upon his curious, confusing feelings about the situation she brought with her. There was a lot that ached, that hurt really, inside of him about it. He still had very little reason to trust she wanted more than to ingratiate herself for one or another reason. There was no doubt she could see his current possessions, or his magic. There were even things and individuals that had wanted to harvest what of his body they found some form of meaning or use in. Invasive, dehumanizing. But he was hardly a person anymore. That didn't mean he would allow them the power over him, however.
He felt the familiar weight of discontentment falling in his stomach, winding tight in his chest as the miserable heft of it tried to collapse him. His shoulders hunched again, something crackling softly in his back as he did so. He could feel something crawling in his skin, suddenly and violently aware he was under scrutiny. The tightness of his mouth returned momentarily at the sensation before his gaze returned to Alenia, shock crossing his features when she proposed her return. He blinked, letting a breath through his teeth as he shifted, hand reaching for the door to take the weight off of his back.
There were precious, horrible moments of silence as he processed that. Confusion passed over his face at how [i close] her words edged to his thoughts. It was chilling. Was he seeming so desperate? So terrible destitute that he could no longer control his own composure? He hated feeling so exposed, suddenly regretting the moment where he had [i almost] asked where she was staying. So he would know. So he would see her walk out of town instead of letting himself continue thinking about today.
Alvér swallowed, lips parting as he sought language again. The ever-present frown on his face was unmoved as he spoke again, dropping his eyes resolutely to hide any more expression they might glean. "[B I'm sure Myhrr would appreciate the company,]" he hedged, pushing away his other thoughts.
"[B We shall see if you don't think better of it with time.]"
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