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The next sound that came from the transformed cat was quieter, less angry, so Alenia considered that a win. Things were moving in the right direction, but that wasn’t all that was moving. The mound of malformation had started up. More than just the outer edges were moving now. In fact, the shape almost unwound as it looked up. This showed more of the details. They were not pleasant; a more extreme version of what she had seen glimpses of days before. There was not a lot left of the Alvér she had come to know. Apparently Myh felt similarly, because she tensed again when the mass began to move. Hissing again as its intention to come greet them became clear.
Eyes coming from the feline to the dragging smear of a person, the elf was unnerved. This was a greater change than she could have imagined. There was a vacantness to him that didn’t quite feel like her friend. And what’s more, Myhrr’s reaction made her antsy. As Alenia had said herself, she was one to trust the judgment of animals. And if Myh thought something was that wrong here, she was probably right. But the fiery locked woman still did not want to give up on him. Her drive to help him, continued. [b “Alvér?”] She was looking for a response. Anything coherent that would let her know he was still there. She watched the malleable darkness draw nearer, waiting for something, anything to tell her it would be okay.
The animal's head was focused, unmoving on the mound of flesh before her. An ear swiveled back was all that showed she recognized Alenia coming to her. Myhrr was backing away, slowly. Stopping, watching.
She gave another low, humming complaint.
The smell of a living body had come closer. Light shone onto the body as the door banged open. Some tentacles had coiled in response to the noise. The whole body seemed to coil, slipping flesh against itself. The same sound a snake made as its scales softly slid against themselves, like palms, smoothing down one's own skin.
The mass was a great coil. Tentacles and what was revealed to be multiple, malformed limbs moved. One reached forward from out of the coils, fingers splayed, and drew something forward. The stringy hair whispered across the wood floor, shielding what was behind it. They were long, exaggerated. Shoulders with a great, vulturous hump behind them pulled forward after. The patched fabric of the cloaks and shrouding slipped off, revealing bare skin.
The head hung low, the body dragging forward in a great mass, and what coiled behind it righted itself.
Spines along the back that stood up, like a rack of lamb, but blunted and all in a line- perhaps of his own spine- all seemed to pop back into alignment as the neck stretched. The head looked up, the hair finally beginning to fall back. It kept falling, back, and back. That mask that Alenia had seen earlier was all that was left of his face. And it was empty. The jaw opened, wide, too wide, and cracked open like so much plaster.
From inside pushed forward more tentacles, twisted together, with a shudder of the rest of the body, and what sounded like a wet choking. It was this simulacrum of a face that turned towards Alenia. Alvér's teeth were still in what remained of his skull, sharp, white. And more, at some of the ends of the tentacles.
Myhrr hissed again, spitting a warning out that turned into a snarl as the thing became animated.
Seeing the cat continue to struggle after she thought she had given up days ago, Alenia couldn’t help but feel bad for her. Poor Myh didn’t know what was going on. She didn’t know why she couldn’t see Alvér. [b “Come on…”] her voice held more remorse than anything else. [b “At least let your pet in to see you.”] It was with that quiet sadness that the woman did eventually step forward to try to let the little furless creature in herself. But she had no such luck; the door was locked tight. Not by deadbolt, but magic. And unfortunately, that was not the sort of thing she had any experience trying to undo. However, that didn’t seem to matter as the air became charged with a familiar static of magic. Recalling her time in the cellar and the casket that was stashed there, Alenia couldn’t help but look over her shoulder to reaffirm that there wasn’t anyone or anything there. When she looked back, the cat beside her was changing. From that point on, the elf couldn’t take her eyes from her. The leeching of color and swelling in size… what was going on?
Then with a burst of ghoulish power not generally seen in the common feline she jumped forward, playing at the lock much like before. But this time, something happened. With a spark of light, the door actually shot forward, slamming against the wall and remaining open and welcoming. Alenia’s brown eyes went wide. WHAT WAS GOING ON? She was glad that Myh was able to get in, but how it came about left her utterly baffled. She stared through the now vacant doorway, confusion plain on her face. She didn’t even pay attention to the mass crumpled on the floor, as the elfin woman wasn’t looking to intrude on him this time. She just wanted to get Myh in and go, which she as about to turn to do before the sharp sound of hissing caught her ear… that was weird. Alenia couldn’t remember hearing the cat hiss before, especially not at Alvér. No matter the form, she always seemed just fine with him. So finally, her eyed snapped to the shifting of tentacles to try and see what the problem was.
Losing resolve to stay out of the situation, the bard stepped through the threshold and started toward the kitty. [b “What’s the matter? It’s Alvér. You’ve been begging to visit him for days.”] She attempted to reason with the animal as if that might have some real effect on how she coiled back. Her eyes were back on the animal, fully focused on trying to calm her back down, be it with speaking or pets, so that she might convince Alvér to come out of his room.
There was no response. But the cat that had accompanied her this time was weaving around her legs, mewling, crying at the door. She came up to it, standing on her hind legs, planting her front paws on the door.
One came up to paw at the handle. Stretching up, balancing in a squat, she reached with both paws and made quite the deft motion at the handle. It was an oblong oval, and so she could get a purchase on it somewhat. It didn't budge. The door was locked.
Myhrr dropped to all four, smelling at the bottom of the door. She looked up and back at Alenia, crying again, tail weaving in agitation.
At Alenia's try, it was clear it wasn't so much locked as not moving at all. The knob's touch sang of magic.
Myhrr's meowing was turning into agitated keening as she crouched by the base of the door. Her tail lashed side to side.
With one last, disgruntled sound, the cat turned. The taste of magic on Alenia was growing thicker. Myhrr turned in a full circle, energy beginning to crackle along her. But it was low, smooth, chilled. That same old, pendulous, cool feeling that the bard had gained in the basement. It breathed along her skin.
Looking down, Myhrr was staring, fixated at the door. It was almost as if the color had leeched away from Alenia's gaze, like it would in the night. Myh was no longer the same pink, she seemed a cool, even gray. And there was light on the door. It was that same blue, breathing pulse as those fungi had.
Myhrr's throat ground out another keening, concerned sound as she bunched up in that fluid, slow way that cats seemed to. One limb at a time, or wholly and solely her spine. Her body, too, was gaining some mass. Not in the swelling, twisting way Alvér's ever did, but in she literally was larger. Her spine came up, arched, with the cat crouched, to Alenia's knee.
With that, the cat sprang a bit, batting harder at the lock once, twice, and then it finally seemed to give with a static snap of broken magic. The door was shoved open with her weight against it and it bounced off of the wall behind it.
Inside there was a mass, silhouetted slightly in the darkness of the covered windows. The hallway's natural light only gave so much, but it was clear that it was what should have been Alvér at one point. However, there were no recognizable features any longer. The half-formed, in between body with humanoid top half had seemed to have fallen wholly into the chaos this time.
Myhrr bounded in across the floor before sliding to a stop it seemed, paws splayed, and her back immediately shot up. The cat hissed, backing up immediately and growing still with a suspicious, unsettled growl.
The thing didn't move. The tips and ends of tentacles showed the only signs of life.
The room was torn apart. Mirror shards littered the floor, a painting sit, torn open, and half upright against the armoire among dark smears of dubious origination.
Getting down the hall was difficult at first. Alenia knew how she was initially oriented, so that helped, but there was a need to reach out and find the wall to make sure she continued on correctly. Eventually when she made it far enough the dark fog seemed to clear from her eyes and she was able to properly see where she was going. It was easy enough to make the rest of the trip to her room after that.
There she sort of paced about the room for a moment. It was a way of letting off steam while she went over what had happened. All she wanted to do was help him. And it was only a matter of getting him someplace more comfortable, so why couldn’t he just take her hand and walk? Why did he have he be so rude? Why did he have to lash out and compare like that? Even if she had never been in his situation that didn’t mean she couldn’t feel empathy. She knew what it was like to hurt, and she didn’t want that for anybody, but especially she didn’t want it for him. Which led her to an even more tumultuous topic, however she avoided it, continuing to simmer. Though, she had calmed enough to walk herself to the bed and flop onto it as she continued thinking. He had prodded at her for being positive. What did he want? Was she supposed to run up to him and state the obvious? “Oh Alvér, you are changing. You are going to be in immeasurable pain. You’re losing control of yourself again.” It was true, she understood that much. She was not an idiot. But none of it was helpful. None of that was going to calm him down sooth him back to his normalcy. But apparently trying to give him hope and reassurance made her naïve. She wanted to scream.
Then came the sounds echoing down the hall, like a bull running through a china shop. [b “Not too debilitated to throw a fit though.”] Her words were bitter and Alenia immediately regretted them. They were unkind, born from anger. She didn’t really feel that way… he was just trying to find an outlet like she had done with her pacing. Sighing, she was still mad, but she finally made the choice to try not to linger on it. It was time to think of something else… however that left her at the doorstep of another hard subject.
Just when had her feelings taken this turn regarding Alvér? Why had they changed? Both valid questions, but she hadn’t an answer for either. There had been quiet moments between them, soft ones. He had helped her, saved her at times, and she him. But was that enough to warrant feeling this way? It must have been, considering her fondness for him was what it was… Emotions were seldom logical, but she needed to come to grips with liking him so that she could try and move on. It was sad. Alenia had always thought when she finally found someone who interested her, it would be a happy moment, or at the very least exciting. New things to feel, new experiences to tackle, but here it would all fall to nothing. So what was the point? It was straight to heartbreak knowing he couldn’t feel the same. Well, at least she had put two and two together rather quickly, so that she hadn’t filled herself with any false hope. She was confident she could mope for a bit in bed and be over it, especially since she was still rather mad at him.
However, that moping turned into more than just a little thing. The rest of her day and a good part of the next were dedicated to that. It was a roller coaster of emotions as she switched between this thought and that. Tears were even shred, but eventually, the woman decided she should probably get up and have something to eat. And since her mind had been filled with literally nothing but Alvér for the last several dozen hours, she couldn’t help but make more than she could eat herself. The leftovers dished into a bowl and set with silverware softly outside the man’s door where Myhrr was calling dramatically for her master. It seemed he wouldn’t even budge for her, so it was unlikely something like a small meal would tempt him. But Alenia left it all the same. And she kept leaving him food, replacing the plates and bowls every time she got something for herself. There was usually a nibble taken here and there. On things like eggs and such, but the vegetables were always untouched. Leading her to believe this was actually the handiwork of the cat, who she softly scolded, and not the hermit beyond the door.
Eventually she did begin to announce what she was doing, as if that might change things. [b “I made food. You should eat something.”] It was never loud, and there was no way for her to tell whether he heard her, but Alenia tried all the same. Even if she still wasn’t exactly happy with him, she wanted him to be well. And knowing he was practically starving himself in there hurt her heart. It had been days.
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"[B [i Belittle?]]" came the shock from him. His face fell flat for a moment, though she could not see, it was in his voice. Had he been so grievously misunderstood? He had meant it literally. She had told him on repeated occasion that she was herself. Alenia. Bard. Didn't matter what else. And he hadn't spoken of her mind, he had held back the comment he was going to make about identity. He spoke of the body. Of sameness.
That twisted tight in him, flaring up and making him want to yank her back, to [i make] her hear him this time. But that had gone so well already. Often. It froze him in place. And with that he heard her retreat upstairs. Her door shut. Solid.
He stood in it. Listening. Something dazed made him stand there in a peculiar vacuum until he couldn't stand still any longer. She would not, had not, listened to him.
Alvér made it up to his room, finally, where he had been trying to get this whole time. Once he was in it, he saw the slants of moonlight across the wood floor, silhouetting some of the preexisting mess on the floor. The sight of her light made his teeth grit, a snarl coming up on his face.
"[B You did this to me,]" he snarled, voice breaking.
Everything hurt, his whole world burned around him. He was stinging with what she called him, with how solidly she rejected him, his everything, his being, his [i pain]. After being so sure, so positive she wanted to help, that she understood, that she wanted to know. When he told her, when he [i let her in] she called him ugly. He felt sick. Angry.
Hateful frustration boiled in him, thinking on how she had misunderstood him so. He had called her adjusted. He knew she was. She had told him, and he had not made mockery of it.
He had finally reached her end, it seemed. He could feel it. With a shaken, aching certainty that tasted like dread, that tasted [i spoiled]. Alvér realized, with how upset he was that he had grown used to Alenia being around. And now with it coming to an end, twice in as many days the threat had passed, now it felt real.
"[B My whole life...]"
He felt unreal. It felt like any of what he felt she didn't believe. Alvér bitterly felt unsurprised. As if a bard, so used to life and acceptance and beauty, would know what it was like to be without it. Not having the threat of losing her human face, she called him shallow. As if his countless encounters with villagers weren't proof enough. As if he hadn't suffered and [i survived anyways] with this body, with these scars when all he wanted was to be what they wanted of him.
"[B My whole life!]" he hissed, "[B I have been judged by every single aspect of my body, what I am- what I'm not. I won't [i ever] be anything but ugly.]" His voice ground out from a tight throat, advancing into the darkness. His hands landed on the form of a bureau, putting his weight behind it and tossing it, upended, to crash on the floor.
"[B Nothing I do is ever good enough! Always too little, too much, too this, too [i anything]!]" Alvér snapped. "[B Even when I [i try] I do her wrong!]"
He had tried to respect the boundary that she had given him, at least that. Don't touch her. He knew he had lost control. She could have very easily called down the village onto him. He had tried to abide, and he had made it worse. He couldn't [i win].
The feeling was back again. The need to sink his teeth into something, his fingers. And he wanted it alive, he wanted it screaming. His thoughts turned to Alenia, his senses alive, awake to her proximity. Only yards down the other wing. Defenseless.
A senseless, pained, confused sound tore from his throat. He grabbed at a framed painting on the wall, fingers tearing with ease into the canvas. The sound of tearing was cathartic. The frame was pulled from the wall, its support snapping and that too hit the floor.
Alvér gasped, his hand flying to his chest, fingers clenching in the fabric as he felt another spasm. He wheezed, reaching for breath, and felt his arm twist. His shoulder dislocated as if someone had grabbed it, the man croaking out a cry as he stumbled again, falling to his one good knee and slumping to the side. The sliding, white hot feeling of something crawling under his skin and the dull split of skin told him it was a growth that had thrown his shoulder out.
Groaning, he braced the limb on the ground, hissing, and spit the blood in his mouth. Sucking in a breath, he pressed his hand on the joint, feeling what was where, and twisted it back into place, grunting with the effort. Hand wrapping around the thing that had twisted out from his skin, he pulled. Pain shot down his back. Alvér whined, gritting his teeth harder and yanked. It popped out with a wet, hollow suck and he threw it. Heavily it landed against the door before disappearing into so much dust.
"[B It's not even real,]" he wheezed, crumpling onto the floor. His voice trembled as his body did. He felt cold. Too much. His nerves were on fire. "[B It's not even there. Nothing is real.]" Oh, he could only wish. As if he could sink into this darkness and cease to be. Out of the absent, vacuous nothing that he had to haul himself out of when life had banished him in the first place, he now wished he let himself succumb.
From there he caught the reflection of something in the corner of his eye. Looking up, he saw the moon's light reflecting on the vanity mirror.
He dragged himself upright and to it. Looking in it a moment. He took in his features. The sagging, rotting skin on him. The tentacles like black leeches in his flesh, the missing, bleeding eyes, the twisted hunch to his back, the blackened, rough skin. Looking at it made his stomach twist. He could smell the rot on him. Sickly sweet. He could feel the fluid.
"[B Am I a man...?]" he rasped, voice hoarse from his shouting. "[B Alenia is this what you want?]" His hand pressed, rough, up the side of his face, and took with it some flesh off of himself, his eye socket misshapen and sagging.
That hand curled, squishing the sloughed tissue in his hand, and he broke the mirror, feeling the immediate bite of the glass on his knuckles, the heat of his blood. Alvér gasped, opening his hand. That was gone, too. Just blood now was in his palm. He pulled in a breath that sounded like a sob.
Now in fractals, he spread his hand, looking at the shards. Alvér drew back from them with a shudder. Still the same. He was still rotting, but he could not die. He could taste his own bile, his decay, but was immortally aware of it this time. This cross between these things. It was all devolving now. The accursed magic that had kept him in one piece was gone, but not all of it. Not the part that would let him die.
The knot of feeling that had been choking him all evening was becoming sweet, acrid, and made his hands shake.
He turned away from the vanity and looked upon the black mass that was the shadows in the bed. His chest hurt. Not in a physical way, but in that bitter, horrible, hopeless twist. He sank to the floor, hands bloody and stinging. It focused him for all of a moment, Alvér vaguely recognizing the heat in his face before his vision blurred.
"[B I can't do this,]" he whispered. "[B I can't- I'm beyond help.]" One of his palms spread on the floor as he hunched towards it, his face in his hand. "[B I knew that. I [i knew] it, she didn't believe it.]" His hand smeared across the floor as he crumpled in on himself.
His shoulders shook with barely suppressed tumult of confusing, multitudinous emotions. Everything hurt to think of and it was circling in his thoughts like buzzards. Nothing mattered of him, about him, he had sunk into nothingness and he knew that.
Perhaps it was finally time that he relinquished his mortality, if he would not die. Why did he try and live like Alvér? That man no longer existed. It was something that had been dying since he had drawn that first, undead breath. He had been [i warned] about 'playing mortal' as it had been explained to him. Perhaps it was time to consider them little more than food...
But something, when his thoughts turned to the nearest mortal, made him resist. It was wordless, weak, and crying. And in his stillness, flesh grew over like moss. It was fine. He didn't need to breathe anymore, not like this. He let it swallow him.
Something finally wiggled through the cracks.
Alvér's door didn't open that next night. There was no sound from the room during the day, which wasn't uncommon. The door was locked. The cat rubbed against it and cried. She scratched under the door.
[size10 [u if applicable:] (Alvér's door didn't open the next night, either. If a third day happens, Myhrr now stays away from that door.
The quiet that came made Alenia wonder if he was thinking about it. Weighing the idea of accepting her assistance in his head before giving an answer. In all honestly, she expected a resounding no and to have to keep pushing. So as she waited, she stepped in closer, but kept her hands to her self and did not reach out for him just yet. However, before any words came a motion. The quick snap of his fingers left them without light. She expected it to take a moment for her elfin eyes to adjust, but they never did. She felt his hand on her face, but there wasn't so much as a silhouette before her. He was being bitter again, but this time he hit a nerve.
[b “Whole?”] Her voice was laced with a deep seated rage. [b “Is that what you call it? When someone can’t remember some half their life… This face has never changed and I will probably never know what it once was. But yes, I am sure that is some great luxury. I’ll try and be more grateful from now on.”] Hand coming up she grabbed a hold on his wrist and pushed it away from her face and back toward him, or where she assumed he was. [b “There is a limit to how self centered one can be, Alvér. Just because others aren’t suffering in the same way as you, does not mean you get to belittle them.”] Alenia’s expression remained even despite her tone and a fire behind her eyes betraying her anger. [b “Appearances are shallow, but the way you are acting is ugly. You can help yourself to the couch... That’s what you wanted anyway.”]
Having quite enough of this, the woman relinquished her hold on the drow’s wrist and turned to leave. She wanted to help him, more than anything, but she also knew that it was impossible to help those who don’t want to be helped. Change can’t happen from just the outside. So, for the time being she decided to go back to her room. It was probably better than sticking around and continuing to act out in anger, though it would be a task considering she was blinded for the time being. There was a lot she wanted to sort out.
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His shoulder twitched. He heard her. Something about her not caring stung. He cared. He had been judged on his appearance his whole life, always what he wasn't, and when he reached the surface for what he was. Simple words couldn't just change that. It [i hurt], even more, because it distracted from some of what was already binding his thoughts.
His head came up a bit, his hair obscuring most of his face, but Alenia could see the torn swathe of exposed flesh and teeth on the side of his face. It seemed the tentacles were sliding in between the tendons and his teeth.
In a blur of motion, the man's pale hand came up and he snapped his fingers. With that they were both swallowed in complete darkness.
The creature's eyes adjusted, however, to his magic, and he turned.
"[B You speak,]" Alvér growled, "[B like someone whose face hasn't ever been taken from you.]"
His hand found her, brushing briefly on her shoulder, to make sure she didn't shy away. Long fingers framed her jaw. She was so petite compared to him. "[B It hasn't changed in decades, has it? You've had the luxury of being the same. You haven't been unmade. Your body hasn't been [i taken] from you.]" It [i angered] him, how she pushed it away. How she didn't understand, she didn't care.
"[B You sound so well-adjusted, so [i sure] about yourself,]" he said, the tension dropping from his voice, leaving it empty, hollow. "[B Must be nice to be whole.]"
His finger stroked down her face, briefly. Smooth skin, soft. Whole. She didn't even have any scars he could see. His touch dropped away.
As much as she hoped he’d find some stability, Alvér deteriorated from there. He fought her presence for a short time, but as the next crippling wave of pain came through him, he lost his will for that. Alenia wrapped an arm around him as he curled into her. With how tall he was, she expected more difficultly in keeping him off the ground, but his thin body proved easier to keep upright than anticipated. That was a problem in its own, but obviously not at the forefront of her mind right that moment. There were more pressing things happening, so she stayed like that, even though he was still asking that she leave him be.
The woman soon found herself enveloped in a tangle of tendrils and ash. She was holding someone who looked nearly unrecognizable as a person, let alone the man who started in her arms, but it was still Alvér. That she knew for certain. So, as odd as it was to be prodded by his new form, Alenia did not worry about it. Instead, she stuck close to him, continuing to try and help him. For a moment he had looked over to the couch and she knew he wanted to sit. It was just a matter of getting him there. But before she could even try, he gathered the strength to push off from her.
He stumbled back, making her skeptical that he was solid enough to stand on his own, though he managed not to completely fall over. All while demanding she turn eyes away from him. [b “Alvér…”] Her brow furrowed as she stepped to close the gap he was attempting to create between them. [b “I’ve already seen you. What difference does it make if I stop now or not? And besides, how you look doesn’t matter to me. Just let me help you get someplace you can be comfortable. Please.”] She didn't mean to sound neglectful to his feelings, because it was likely not that he cared what she thought about his appearance, but how he felt about it himself that was the issue. But she was determined.
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He barely heard the patter of her feet on the floors over the noise of how loudly he was thinking and feeling. Too much, it was all too much. A blind hand went out as if to stop her, thinking she was still behind him, but it left her open a space to slip in front of him instead. He felt her hands press, moving from briefly at his stomach to his chest. Alvér felt another shiver roll through him, making his breath catch.
His head pulled back a bit, shocked with the sudden heat of her proximity, her voice, her presence and its overall warmth. She filled his senses like a sharp, bright reminder of where and who he was. As if dragged into reality from his thoughts, he was reminded that he didn't- he had [i just] said it wouldn't happen again.
He put out his free hand, putting it between them, but his grip was nonexistent, and his touch soon slipped away to grasp at her shirt as he felt another cramp run through him, making him gasp. It was a grasp for balance, white-knuckled, desperate against her. He writhed with the warring desires to push her away and to hold on tighter. Her voice in his ear gained a weak, small sound of acknowledgement. The creature nodded.
But he said he'd be good.
"[B Leni-]" he tried, "[B don't.]" He reached for words, but he felt his back twisting, the muscles cramping and [i making] him lean like that, toward her, bowing underneath it. It stole his breath, pushing it out as those muscles contracted. They fought for him, and lost, every time.
"[B I can't,]" he warned, breathlessly, which devolved into a pathetic moan at the end. His head dropped toward her shoulder. He tried to list toward the couch. The grip on her shirt weakly tried to move her back from him.
His teeth clenched, teeth baring with the effort. Alenia could see lines, cracks break across the skin of his face. Before her eyes, Alenia saw Alvér's face fracture like so much porcelain, as if it were a mask over him, and run down his neck. Beneath it she saw fluid. She had seen this fluid before, and now it pushed from his wounds like they were just that. And his skin. It didn't fall off and hit the floor like porcelain. It fell, but did not shatter. Instead, mid-fall it seemed to dissipate into ash, and beneath it on that side she could see his teeth, his raw, bare, blackened muscle and the threading, alive things underneath. The black seethed between his teeth now, the man gagging a bit on it. That hit the floor. The inkiness.
His eye that she could see widened as the iris was eaten, filling with and sinking into the blackness of the rest of his eye until it seemed the orb had disappeared altogether. And it bled, like it had been devoured, sucked away. Alvér turned his head away from her, trying to hide. He coughed, pulling an unclean breath. His throat was tight, unforgiving.
Under her hand, she could feel the crawling movement of something underneath his skin. It threaded along his chest, underneath what ill-fitting cloth he had shrouded himself in. And she saw it move from that hand to the other on his arm. It pushed out the back of his shoulder, the joint swelling and giving him that unsteady, bent back, listed to one side. As if a snake had crawled under his skin, alive, and entirely alien of him, it coiled like muscle all its own.
And the chilled, gently tacky sensation of tentacles reached out from the depths of his cloaks. They moved with more animation than she had seen, threading, thick, around her arm, winding tight. They were seeking the warmth, seeking the grounding that she offered in her presence.
His ribcage expanded, Alvér sagging towards her a bit. His fingers tightened in her blouse. Around her, she could see the profusion of warping, extra flesh that changed his silhouette, encroaching even closer to her than she had come to him. His body was big, strange now.
As soon as Alvér recognized the sensation that he was focusing on- that soft warmth- was bare skin his hand snapped out to seize the appendage. To him it felt like bare skin contact from him. "[B Oh gods,]" he breathed. His face showed fear, his brows arched, high, pressed and shaking his head.
He used that hand to try and push her back, snatching at more to try and keep from her. They had found her ankles, her legs, the hem of her skirts.
"[B -'m so-]" sorry. His voice broke. He backed away from her, shifting, stumbling toward the stairs and into the wall. His limbs were failing him, what of his humanoid skeleton he could feel. Alvér had to find what he could stand on again, what he could move with. The groan that came from him was an unfamiliar voice, warping just as the rest of his body. Unrecognizable.
His fingers scrabbled at the wall, trying to find a grip on it, and turned his head away.
“[B ... don’t look at me.]” He wasn’t okay. Nothing was okay.
As she sat stewing in her ocean of emotions, the woman’s hands balled in her shirt. Gripping tightly to the material, it was a reflexive action. Her mind was whirling. Alenia didn’t even know where to start unpacking what she was going to do. Well, aside from nothing. It wasn’t like she could tell him any of this. There wasn’t any point to stressing him out about it to. She’d only become more of a nuisance to him, which was the last thing she wanted. Some time alone to think about it would probably do her some good, but soon a low growl echoed back into the library. It was a sound of anguished pain and it filled her with worry. Knowing them to be the only ones here, it had to have come from Alvér. Setting all her thoughts to the side, the elf stood and immediately went to the door without hesitation.
No more than a step outside the doorway and she was able to see him. He was twisted toward the ground, almost crumped in the place he stood. His body was devolving to madness once again, meaning he must have been feeling terrible. At least, that was when it always seemed that his ailment worsened. And this time, it was all her fault.
She continued forward, closing the gap between them. [b “Alvér…”] Despite everything that had just happened, she did not short stop of him. Rather, she came in beside him, almost under him with her chest to his, so that she might act as some sort of support and hopefully lessen the demand of gravity on his gnarling body. [b “It’s okay.”] Clearly it wasn’t, but she was trying to tell him that she wasn’t angry with him or anything like that, in hopes that it might help. [b “You are okay.”] Alenia kept her voice even. There wasn’t any magic in it, but there was calm, soothing quality to her tenor.
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Alvér managed to fluidly stride out of the room. His thoughts were racing. Most it was how she couldn't look at him. She somehow wanted him to open up to her, but he didn't feel comfortable interacting. More than anything all he did was disappoint her, he disgusted her, or he embarrassed her, he could see it on her face.
Nothing, nothing, nothing he did panned out, nothing he did was [i human].
He made it into the parlor before he felt his stride falter. The man's hand went out to steady himself as he felt as if his skin started to split over his face. As soon as that happened, he saw a twitch in his vision on that side, sending a sting through his socket. That dropped his head, hand stopping just shy of putting his brow in his hand. His skin stung, feeling raw, and his head ached like it was splitting.
His shoulders hunched, Alvér's fingers tightening on the back of the couch he had gripped onto. A second push in his head, that seemed to radiate down, just under his skin, made him ache. It was harsh enough to push a groan past his teeth. He tightened them against it, hoping Alenia didn't hear. He hadn't made it very far away from the library.
The bend of his back worsened, the pop of his spine he could hear as well as feel made it harsher. He knew what was happening... and his stomach twisted tight, dread flooded him, knowing what he was turning into.
There was silence for a moment and Alenia wondered just what he was thinking. She didn't dare glance at him to try and discern it though. Not until he broke the stillness. It won’t happen again, he says. Perhaps that should have been a relief to her. That he would be more thoughtful about his presence relative to her, so that she might not fluster herself over trivial things. However, that was not what she felt in majority. Disappointment wriggled its way in as well. Maybe he was right. She was a walking contradiction.
And as she finally looked up at him, she saw his unhappiness. It looked to be a complete and utter distaste for the topic. Her stomach twisted. Had she still not gotten through to him? No, this was something else. And then something dawned on her. When he spoke of his past before, he mentioned someone who had once held his affection. A man from the Underdark... suddenly she felt rather stupid. No wonder Alvér seemed so frustrated by her babbling. It was so off base that it was offensive. Not to mention how self important it made her sound, just assuming that he would be interested in her and that [i he] had to be certain not to do anything to give her the wrong idea, even after already mentioning his past beau. Yes, she was feeling pretty terrible, and over more than just her own oversight. The knots in Alenia’s stomach only grew tighter and it dawned on her that his apparent disinterest was also to blame.
Mind whirling for a moment over why that was the case; it slowly sank in. Oh... she wanted him to be interested because she was interested in him. Thankfully her face was already red, or else it might have stuck out even more as she came to her realization. The wood elf felt naïve that she hadn’t noticed it sooner. But how would she have, she’d never liked someone that way before. It was all foreign to her. But she supposed that explained her want to stick near him and help him, at least the excess of those wants she has been dealing with.
And with all that came a wave of more definite pain. Alvèr was not interested, and he would never be interested in reciprocating. It hurt.
By this time he had already turned to leave, but the caramel-eyes woman couldn’t think of anything to say to stop him. Not anything that wasn’t just as selfish as she’d already been, so she stayed put and stayed silent, arms wrapping about her stomach as if that might somehow soothe the torrent of emotions ripping through her.
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Alvér's face initially gave a near twitch to confusion, but he fought it back.
His stance tightened as she spoke and he tore his eyes away. His paleness speaking in confluence with her flushed face as a deep horror sank into him. Muscle leapt in his jaw and his eyes stayed resolutely away from her. His head turned away, fingernails digging into his palms as she spoke.
Internally, vengefully, he seethed about being ‘mindful’, speaking to these endless social ins and outs he had never, would never master. He wanted to fixate on it, to deflect, to do anything to escape. But the rest of him was too humiliated to want to think anymore, or allow him to process.
A part of him wanted to demand of her what was appropriate, but the rest of him didn't want to risk touching on this ever again so as to save himself the indescribable pain he was feeling. Standing there, before her, burning with hatred and shame like this it was unbearable. She sounded ashamed, and he saw in a glance how she hid her face from him and his eyes remained stolidly away, feeling a familiar, deep pit in his stomach. Where horror had carved, shame fermented and then turned into a rancid feeling of disgust.
It didn't matter what his intentions were or weren't. He wanted to defend himself, the instinct rose, belatedly, only to fall away as he held himself firmly there to receive her. Lesser bred men had been executed for less.
Just let her say it, endure it and all of the revulsion that comes with. It didn't matter that it didn't occur to him not because she was a bard, or a woman, but because she was [i alive]. The fact of the matter was he had lost control of himself, for those moments, and in his vindictiveness he had wanted to do exactly what he had said. Split her skin. Her mortal, salted aliveness had suddenly come to be too much in its proximity on that bench. He wanted to scare her, and it had worked. And now it was there again, facing it, when he had thought he had fixed the problem.
Yet again, his being a man was the root of so much strife. Alenia didn’t need to say it to make it clear. A very particular part of him was wounded at that. A part he told no one of.
"[B Think no more of it.]" His eyes moved to her. "[B It won't happen again, I can assure you.]" the elf said, voice a subdued reach for the neutral politeness and dignity he was trying for. His eyes remained as he spoke, the man’s eyes turning away from he immediately after. He was too tense, too disgusted with himself and this situation to think of anything else but escape, to do anything to stop the further detail. He spoke clearly, though his voice shook with the effort.
He needed to hunt something, he yearned to kill something and be in control and to make [i something] hurt less, at least. Alvér could feel the fearsome swirl of one emotion feeding into another and the panic waiting to overtake him in the wake of it. The familiar, carnal depravity of sinking his hands and his teeth into something hot and alive would be a perfect place to put all of that energy that was threatening to overtake him. The turmoil of what she was bringing up, mixed with him not having fed in so long, or eating that previous night until now was suddenly coming to a head and he could feel parts of him shutting off. Dissociating to handle the sudden influx. His skin practically rippled with it in how his body, despite his humanoid body parts being stiff and rigid, wove with agitation.
Swallowing that as best he could for another moment, the creature inclined his head stiffly to her, folding his hands, and turned to leave the room...
Brow furrowing again, Alenia tried to think back to having said anything of the sort when she recalled what he must have been referring to. Oh. [b “…I never said that… I told you to be more mindful of touching me, not that you couldn’t.”] Her mind went back to what she could remember of the moment. It seemed like so long ago now, but her face still heated up from the memory of his breath on her neck. [b “I know you were just being vindictive at the time, and probably weren’t paying much attention to what you were doing, but you were breathing on my neck and even before that you were touching my leg…”] Her face grew hotter, the embarrassment coming back, but this time more due to the hindsight of her blowing it out of proportion. [b “And I know that you probably assume since I am a woman who travels alone, and a bard no less, that it isn’t a big deal… but I am not used to that sort of thing… I was embarrassed.”] By this time, her hand came up to cover the lower part of her face. She had already looked away from him, but she knew it was a useless gesture all the same.
There was a moment’s pause before she composed herself enough to speak up again. Her voice was quiet. [b “It never had anything to do with what you are.”] Other than a man. [b “I just made a mountain out of a molehill, that’s all.”] Of course, there had been other things going on at the time. More tension causing the situation to escalate the way it had, but in the here and now that was how Alenia saw it.
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