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[center “Probably not,” Faustus piped up “But what i meant was that you’re doing well, all considered. I’ve seen... worse.” In fact, he’d seen far worse. “In any case, goodnight.” And that was the last he said before crawling into his bed. The minute he was beneath the duvet, he curled up amidst the mound of pillows and shut his eyes.
Tomorrow they would switch back bodies and get Silveus properly settled in. He and Rossa would make preparations for the coming weeks, and hopefully mother and the others would return. Where had they even gone? In the midst of all of this, they were suspiciously distant?
A cold shiver took his spine, encouraging him deeper amongst the pillows. What if something had gone wrong? What if they were facing an enemy and unable to call for reinforcements? His mind hummed with dark possibilities, and the prospect of sleep would have seemed so far off were it not for the physical exhaustion.
Very much against his will, he soon dozed off, no longer caught up in his anxieties. There would be plenty of time to worry about all of this tomorrow. For now, it was best to take advantage of these moments.
Peace was hard to come by, after all.
Bastion settled into bed once he was sure all else was taken care of in the manor. He’d been sure to reinforce the magick that protected the estate, and it had taken a little longer without Angeleau or Faustus to channel, but he’d managed just fine. It left him a little drained, though.
Stretching out to gaze up at the ceiling, he hardly noticed when their feline resident had entered, mewling away at him and perching purposefully on his chest. The cat looked expectant. As if to say “well?”
“[i Well, that sure took long enough.]” he thought back. “[i It seems you have a traitor in your midst.]”
Bastion furrowed his brows. “Ok, if this were any other house, I’d call for help, but you have my attention.”
Silveus rolled his eyes at Faustus. Like he was going to. This whole situation was ridiculous, but it didn't mean he wanted to sleep with... his own body? Still, it was ludicrous. Not something he was about to do.
"Oh, thanks," he said sarcastically. Just what every man wanted to be called: small. "You're a big, heavy lug yourself, y'know."
"I don't see myself wandering around naked every day," Silveus remarked. If course he'd get flustered. Anyone would! Faustus always seemed to know just how to strike a nerve. No wonder the guy had so many enemies
He was doing well? He ran his hair back. Faustus' hair. "You think I'm doing well?" he asked disbelievingly. His voice cracked a little at the end. Was Faustus serious? He was just barely holding on. With everything that was going on--he didn't even know what to think. It was insane. Completely insane. People wanted him dead. Wanted him as a sacrifice. He was stuck on Faustus' body and Faustus had made some kind of secret pact with a demon and-- He wasn't thinking about it, but that wasn't going to work forever. He huffed out and shook his head. It was tough.
Silveus sighed. He sat down on the edge of Faustus' bed. "Is that really a good idea? People are after my head. Should I really live on my own when I can't even defend myself?"
A dilemma. He watched Faustus bustle around in his body. When he was smaller, he was less imposing. More... airheaded, almost, telling him to go live alone one second and muttering about clothes the next. Silveus let out a sigh and stood, grabbed pajamas from Faustus' closet and started to leave.
Rossa could truly be so terrible sometimes. It took great effort not to laugh at Silveus’ expense. Still, Rossa’s effort to not further mention nay details was appreciated. Perhaps Silveus hadn’t picked up on enough of their conversation for it to be any concern. In the meantime, he worked on continuing to scrub, relatively gently with the task. Not that he figured it felt all that comfortable watching someone wash his body. “I appreciate it. See you tomorrow and take caution on the grounds.” And with that he watched as Rossa departed, returning to the task at hand.
Faustus wasn’t so much fazed, though. Even when he entered, it appeared little concerned by nudity or otherwise. Unlike Silveus, apparently. “I’m sure Rossa was joking. You don’t have to spend the night with me.” A soft eye roll and he was sinking a little lower, perfectly content in the claw foot. Funny, though, considering this wasn’t even his body to be enjoying.
“You’re so pale... and small.” He noted, mostly to himself, examining both arms. Granted, he was accustomed to being in a much larger form.
Resting a forearm atop the edge of the tub, he propped his chin there and closely regarded the other man. “And surprising timid for someone with so much attitude.” It wasn’t a dig, really. Just amusing.
“By the way, you’ve been doing exceedingly well, considering the shit show this has turned into. Tomorrow we’ll switch back bodies and figure out how to get you set up with a place in town. Perhaps Bastion can look into some good options so you’re not aimlessly seeking. He’s usually fairly good with those sorts of tasks.” After all, he certainly got out more often than his elder brother.
Crossing one leg over the other, he slumped a bit more. At this rate he was going to fall asleep in here. No, no, they couldn’t have that. Instead he rose and reached for a towel, drying off in a very business-like manner before wrapping it properly about his hips. “Hmm, what a dilemma. You’re too small for my clothing.” Then again, maybe comfortably swimming in a pyjama shirt wouldn’t be so bad.
With that having been decided, he stole one of his own from the wardrobe and slipped it on, doing up the buttons relatively quickly despite how dead on his feet he felt.
"O-oh. Right." Silveus started towards the wardrobe, then halted. It was still weird, seeing his own body galavant around under someone else's control. Especially galavant around naked. It almost gave him vertigo, in a weird way. In Faustus' room? The bed he had was huge already, he didn't need anything bigger... he didn't think. Or was this about making sure Faustus didn't do anything... untoward, what with Rossa around? He narrowed his eyes, but shook his head a moment later. That was ridiculous. Rossa seemed pretty over Faustus to him.
"I know," he muttered. "Don't you do it, though." It was his hair. Faustus didn't get to redo his hair after one day in his body.
Faustus shot him a suspicious look. Silveus glared right back. What? He wasn't the one hanging out with his ex naked in someone else's body.
"Anyways. I'll prepare that... thing we were talking about earlier," Rossa said, meaning the preparation to siphon some of Faustus for safekeeping. Silveus glared at him, so he threw the guy a wink. He couldn't help it! He was too easy to tease.
"You two ought to share a bed tonight. I think it'll do you both some good to keep your souls near your bodies." And besides, there was that old wives' tale about an... 'alternate' way to swap back. Not that he expected either of the idiots to be bold enough to try, but what did he know?
He stood and started for the door. "I'll see you tomorrow, Faustus. We've got a lot to prepare."
Silveus hovered after Rossa left. The wardrobe was on the other side of the bath, and he really didn't feel brave enough to cross it with only him and Faustus there. Even if it was his body, he still felt awkward around a naked Faustus. It was just... weird. "Uh, excuse me," he said at last, and risked entering the room.
[center Okay, realistically, he knew it sounded insane, but what other choice would there have been? Let Silveus' body die? And then what...? Surely they could summon new flesh for him, but he wouldn't be the same. He wouldn't look the same. Faustus knew as much from experience. Honestly, aside from keeping his word about saving him, he couldn't fathom any other path besides defeat. Such had not been an option. It would've meant the capture of his soul, potentially, too, and there was nothing worse than being anchored to a place where you couldn't summon any magick.
Head lowered, the other man could only offer Silence in return, guilt reflecting in his gaze when he met Rossa's. Suffice it to say the man was justified in his anger, but he had come back from worse things... far worse things. "I think... we should take precaution. I want to siphon off part of myself for safekeeping before things really progress." They had done something similar in the past, but it was only in the case of extreme circumstances.
Though he knew very well that telling the coven was something emergencies typically warranted, it didn't seem the right move to make. Incite chaos and potentially start a war? Absolutely not. "Look, it's really not so bad, you don't have to be so drama-"
Both of their voices died at once, Faustus giving Silveus a once-over. "They're in my wardrobe. There are some pyjamas hanging there." [i How much had he heard?]
Best to play it cool. No need to get all excited over things or making anyone feel guilty. After all, it had been his choice to make, and he'd made it. There was only so much one could do at that point.
"Naturally, you're welcome to sleep in my room as well." Whatever he needed.
Faustus casually slipped into the tub, shutting off the water and seemingly not in the least bit concerned about the other man's presence. At least, not yet. He sank beneath the surface for several moments before his head--Silveus' appeared once more, hair pushed back and out of the way. "Your body needs a haircut." He mused offhandedly.
Then again, maybe not. He preferred slightly longer locks, they were good for-
[i Ohhh, no no no, he wasn't going there in his mind. He didn't recall being this dirty minded before.] The man tossed a suspicious glance toward... himself. What had he and Logan gotten up to in their so-called private time? Did he even want to know?
No one immediately came to mind, huh? Rossa let out a deep sigh. Why'd they have to have so many enemies? It was, quite frankly, ridiculous. "You should shorten that list some. Make some friends," he suggested. Gods knew Faustus could stand to have a few more friends.
"I will," he promised. He paused, thoughtful, then stuffed the spool into a glass jar and sealed it with a spelled cork. It couldn't hurt to be cautious.
Faustus stripped. Rossa snorted at the sight of the man examining his newfound body. "Fancy it? Too bad you've got to give it back tomorrow." He knew Faustus liked the slender ones. He wasn't as petite as Silveus, but he was no bodybuilder, either.
What Faustus said next made him sober. The smile fled his face. "A pact?" And such a short timeline. He groaned and rubbed the bridge of his nose. "Damn it, Faustus. If they realize... What were the terms of the pact? Tell me you didn't bind your life to a lesser demon in the enemy's control. Please tell me you weren't that rash."
It was a common element of pacts between warlocks and demons, to prevent the warlock from killing the demon or otherwise manipulating events to cause its death. No demon worth its salt would leave the clause out, but --didn't Faustus realize that meant his life was in the enemy's hands as soon as they found out about the pact? Rossa could feel the headache building already.
Faustus' gaze told him everything he needed to know.
"Damn it, Faustus! I can't--this is your life on the line! Free a demon by the blue moon--that's barely a month away! Shit!" He rubbed his temples. "Stay between us... We should tell everyone! Get the whole coven involved!"
No... It would only cause panic. He knew it already. Rossa dropped back into a chair, limp, head tipped back. "Honestly, Faustus, you'll be the death of me, I..."
His voice trailed off as he made eye contact with Silveus, hovering in the door.
"Uh... My clothes don't fit, so... I wanted to know where Faustus keeps his clothes..." Silveus said. He didn't know what to focus on first--his own naked body, the demon pact, Rossa and Faustus casually bathing his body together--it was all a mess.
[center Faustus supposed this was the best word to find for it. They were more or less in droves, though. Rossa was right about the cannibalism, so it only made sense that they would be under the control of someone. “Most likely a summoner. I can’t see any other explanation. Worse, no one immediately comes to mind if we are talking enemies. You know as well as I that list is long.”
Unfortunately, anyone involved with the family was subject to being targeted. It was something anyone who became associated would have to be made aware of from the beginning. Faustus rotated the previously injured shoulder. “Thank you, that feels worlds better. I’d hate to return his body in too terrible of a condition. Although, should you manage to determine what that horrid material is, please let me know. Whatever it is has to be poisonous to some extent.”
Still, the more Faustus considered, the more he wondered if this was the doing of their friends across the pond. The rival coven that always seemed to be intent on stirring unrest and turning the tides. Just thinking about it made him seethe. He stripped down to bare ass and turned to fetch a bath sponge.
Oh... okay, Franky, besides all the smudges of blood and whatnot, he was... cute. Faustus turned, tilting hips a bit. With a cute ass, too. He could see the appeal. Logan [i was] an ass man. While he had a good angle, he tried to see if there were anymore wounds to tend to. Just a few nicks and the like where arrows had just barely scathed him.
“Rossa.” He began once more, as if remembering himself. “I made a pact.” As he said it, he was already running the water for the bath and lowering himself onto its edge. “A lesser daemon had me in his grasp at the very last. It was... unavoidable.”
Faustus’ gaze fell to the other man’s feet. “I have until the blue moon to free him of his summons or shoulder the consequence. Naturally, I would prefer this information stayed between us.”
The crease between Rossa's brows depended. His fingers feathered over the wound, barely touching, like a butterfly's kiss. Slowly, he gestured as though he was gathering filaments in the air, then pulled. Dark aura wound around his hand and collected there, dark threads invisible to any but skilled aura-seers like him. With his other hand, he drew an empty spool from his pocket. Ever so slowly, he spun the threads around the spool.
"Whatever it is, it's nasty stuff. I'll have to take a closer look at it later." Rossa drew the last of it from Faustus' shoulder and tied it off around the spool. "That should be most of it. How does it feel now?"
"The imps?" Rossa guessed. No... The image that sprung to mind wasn't an imp. "A ghoul." Many ghouls? He frowned. Those nasty creatures that ate souls and tainted everything that got too close? How did they have so many in such a small place? Usually they would end up cannibalizing each other. "There must be a summoner. Maybe an enclave of summoners. Does anyone spring to mind?"
Faustus had plenty of enemies, and that wasn't even counting his family's long-term feuds. It was possible the coven had targeted Silveus alone, and had nothing to do with Faustus and his family, but Rossa doubted it. Silveus had been Logan's husband. He was already linked to the family. Anyone targeting him alone would reconsider, once they knew who he was linked to. No, it seemed more likely that the family factored into it somehow.
Silveus wandered into his bedroom. He sat down on the edge of the bed, then shifted awkwardly. He had to piss, but... he'd feel guilty after Rossa's jokes. But he was going to be in this body for a full day! He couldn't not pee.
He glanced left and right, then rolled his eyes at himself. What was he doing? No one was going to judge him for using the toilet. It was a natural human function. Nothing to be ashamed of. Besides, they were both dudes. It was okay.
He stood. Stiffly, he wandered into the toilet. It was just natural. Perfectly acceptable to see his brother in law's-- ahem. He had to. No options.
The door shut behind him. Time passed.
Silveus emerged slightly frazzled, his eyes wide. Well. Okay. Now he knew where Faustus' cockiness--uh, confidence--came from.
[center Faustus chuckled, tossing Silveus a sly look. "Not to worry, Rossa is good for his word. Besides, I'm too tired to misbehave, as tempting as it is." Why not mess with him? Heavens, he looked so [i salty]. And here he thought he was too tired to be laughing, but he managed another chuckle. So this was what he looked like upset? No wonder other's flinched. Had to admit, it was interesting viewing himself from another's perspective.
Faustus clasped hands with Rossa once he was caught up, silence falling between them as he contemplated how to broach the subject. Maybe he'd wait until they were settled into the task of cleaning Silveus up. At least, so he thought. He caught himself, a smile suddenly dawning on his features. "Don't be ridiculous." He cast a nudge with just as much force and groaned. "That's not fair... I need my body back. Were I my true size, I'd make you pay." He threatened playfully.
Still, once they were alone and Rossa took to giving him the once over, he felt monumentally more self conscious. "He's probably furious." Faustus reached down and divested himself of the tunic, grimacing with every stretch. He didn't bother to look down, mostly out of courtesy. He'd seen plenty of naked bodies, so it wasn't like he'd be up to no good.
"Back there... wherever that place was, it suppressed magick. It was like something was actively consuming it. The mosses leant me their strength to heal what I could, but this," He gestured. "I've no idea what that horrible place is infused with."
Thank goodness it was warm in the house, but even so, he shivered. It felt odd to be this bare and aching practically everywhere. The more he considered it, though, perhaps the man could use some iron.
"Whatever the case, those terrible creatures were there. The faceless ones." He snapped, trying to put an English word to the symbol that came to mind. It wasn't in a mortal tongue, and as sluggish as his mind was, he couldn't quite place it. So instead, he thought it, very clearly, hoping Rossa would pick it up. There was little he ever missed, whether you wanted him to or not, after all. ]
Silveus' eyes narrowed at the kiss. Just on the cheek, but still. Those were his lips, not Faustus'. And that was a very long hug. He better not get any funny ideas.
Tomorrow night? Silveus bit back a groan. Seriously? How long did he have to stick around in this body? Any longer was too long. But then, his body did look dinged up. He didn't want to have to deal with that pain.
Wait, what? He wanted the ex to give him a hand with Silveus' body? Righteous fury poured from Faustus' face. Though it was more used to displaying ordinary fury, it was still a fearsome expression.
At the sight of Silveus'distress, Rossa laughed aloud. "Don't worry, I won't do anything weird," he reassured the man. He and Faustus were through. "If it'd make you more comfortable, I could have Bastion...?"
"No, it's fine," Silveus sighed. He didn't think Rossa would actually do snugging. The man had his own sense of pride, or whatever it was. Besides, he was pretty sure he wasn't Rossa's type. Not if Faustus fit the bill. He shook his head and wandered off towards bed. He'd worry about things tomorrow.
Rossa grinned. "So, Faustus, curious about what's under the hood?" He nudged the other man a little too hard for Silveus' slender frame and sent him staggering. "Maybe you'll finally figure out how he seduced your brother, maybe?" He waggled his eyebrows suggestively.
More seriously, he narrowed his eyes at Faustus to better see his aura. It was faded, as he'd expect after what the man had been up to lately, but it flickered away to almost nothing around the arrow wound. "Let's get that shirt off. I want a closer look at that." He wasn't great at physical healing, but he could mend auras like no one's business. This wound looked right up his alley.
[center Despite how wonderful it would've been to have his body returned to him and to relinquish Silveus' form, at least it was safe. "It may take a bit before everything returns to the way it was... sorry about that. I assure you, though, I'm happy to return it, albeit in better shape than this." He wrinkled his nose, eyes heavily lidded.
Shuffling forward, Faustus very gently hugged Rossa, lingering much longer than he might've under different circumstances. His lips brushed the man's cheek in cursory thanks. Best not to be getting himself into any trouble with Silveus... well, any[i more] trouble.
"Bastion, let's take care of this body situation by tomorrow night's moon. I should get most of this body healed by then." He murmured, moving for the stairs. Fates, why had they installed so many? He took them slowly, determined to sleep.
"Rossa... actually, if you wouldn't mind giving me a hand?" He was still sore, honestly, and thought it best to at least tell someone about what was happening. Especially given at this point in time he'd crawled out of one grave to potentially crawl into another.
"Besides, who knows if I missed something." He barely glanced over a narrow shoulder, pausing mid-step to emphasise his point before continuing on his path up to the second floor. The sooner he got cleaned up, the sooner he could sleep without the guilt of sending the man's body to bed rough [i and] soiled. So much dirt, and blood, and... who knew what else.
Silveus crowded over nervously. It looked ridiculous on Faustus' huge frame, Silveus all huddled up like he was still the narrow-framed, slender boned artist he was used to being. "Is it okay? Is my body fine?"
There was a wound still. He winced at the sight. Scars, up and down the backs of his arms. Silveus leaned close and pored over the wounds. What if his hands were never steady again? What if he couldn't hold a brush anymore? He couldn't trust Faustus with it a moment longer. "Give me my body back."
"Are you sure? Don't you at least want to take a piss first? Maybe a nice long shower, relax and... let it all out?" Rossa suggested jokingly.
Silveus blushed violently. No! He didn't want to see that. He didn't want Faustus to see his, either. "Give it back," he demanded a second time.
Bastion shot a look at Faustus uncertainly. The man was wiped. He could tell from how thin his presence felt that Faustus was barely conscious, let alone able to conduct complicated magic like that. "Maybe you should rest first. Let's not risk anything here at the last second."
Silveus frowned, but ultimately, he was powerless. He could barely cast any magic, let alone swap bodies back. Nothing he could do but wait until Faustus wanted to swap back.
[center Even Bastion cheered when his brother came back into view. Still, for Rossa to be interrupted that way, it didn't bode well for future discussions. What exactly had they missed?
It was like inhaling a lungful of air. Dizzy with the return of his Magick, Faustus willed the wings to repair themselves, at least enough to carry him a good distance away from this place. It wasn't until his feet touched the ground that he realised how truly exhausted he was. Still, [i he'd made it]. Well... mostly.
Gazing down at his wings... which used to be Silveus' arms, he realised there was no way he would be able to return like this. Drawing a deep breath, he made his way through the woods until he could find some mosses. "Sorry... I just need to borrow a bit of you." Eolande would never forgive him for disrespecting the wood.
He carefully squeezed their essence along the wounds and with magick renewed, a deep shudder overtook him, feathers molting and shedding along the ground. This process continued for several minutes as he walked. He would take care of these wounds first, and once he had enough magick, he would mist himself back.
Still, the pact weighed heavily on his heart. It was too much to really think about in great detail, but it didn't stop it from looming. He would have to face it at some point.
[i Not now...] A soft voice chided. He glanced about himself, confused but too tired to really question it. Losing his mind wasn't the worst thing to happen today.
It wasn't long before he'd taken care of that arrow wound, painful though it was to remove the remainder. Still, it was clearly infused with something that inhibited magick. He burned it to be safe before moving on, misting his way lazily back to the manor. It took so much longer as low as he was.
The door was open before his feet had even touched ground, and without hesitation, he misted straight into the foyer. He just wanted to get back into his body and sleep for a week, damn it.
"[i Nonono-]" Bastion launched himself at him, scooping him up in a tight hug. "You idiot! We thought the worst." His brow furrowed. Jesus Christ, he was so...big. So Silveus really was puny. "Fates, how miserable."
"Yep. Definitely still you." Bastion rolled his eyes. ]
As soon as the man agreed to the pact, the creature smiled. He whipped around and tangled with the man, pretending to fight without landing any blows. When Faustus wriggled, he released him and fell back as Faustus flapped toward the exit.
An arrow whooshed past. It shot unerringly after Faustus, a magical glow buzzing around its head. If it hit, it would bring Faustus down, no question. It would sap his magic and leave him helpless. Even blood magic would do nothing.
The creature lurched in the air, seemingly dragged after Faustus. The arrow pierced its body, and it dropped from the sky like a stone, growing smaller as it fell until it vanished out of sight into the trees.
John let loose a curse and notched another arrow, but it was too late. Faustus exploded out of the dome and into the open air. Magic rushed back to him like an old friend.
Back in the house, Rossa's scrying mirror cleared. It revealed a bloodied Faustus, limping away from the dome. "Yes!" he shouted, despite himself. Silveus let out a little cheer as well, but his heart wasn't in it. His arms. Were they ruined forever?
Faustus grit his teeth. It was a raw deal, but he didn’t have time to argue about the details. He would accept the consequences. “[i Yes.]” Faustus could feel the weight of his decision. The sooner he was out of here, the better.
John took his shot. Fine, if that bastard wanted to become a target himself, then so be it! The sacrifice could not be allowed to escape— wait, what was he doing? John practically screeched to a halt, kicking up clods of earth.
Faustus was still attempted too wrench free, wings flapping desperately. “Release me!” He demanded.
A pact like this... it would no doubt have to be honoured. He would return here, as much as the prospect pained him, to complete the task of freeing this creature. Until then, it was time to return home.
John watched on from the ground, unable to believe what was unfolding before his eyes. How could they have failed..?
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