“I know“, the alchemist confirmed as Llyr remarked that he already knew his view on most mages. He agreed with it. Over the centuries, he had met few mages that had managed to impress him. Alistair had been once such mage, to some extent. His apprentice Sintih had been hot-headed and unaware of the dangers that came with giving oneself to the spark though, and Balthazar, for all the interesting, philosophical conversations they had shared, wasn’t much better. In some ways, he was strangely clueless.
“In that case, I apologize”, he remarked somewhat dryly. “And yet there are likely people imprisoning mages, torturing them and killing them using similar devices now”, he spoke. The tone of his voice was relatively neutral and emotionless. He was not passing judgement on those sought to cause mages harm – the issue was too complex to make a quick decision, and he had not picked a side - he was simply stating a fact.
He left it at that. They had already discussed the matter before, in his dreamscape, and he had no interest in repeating what he had said and, perhaps, ruining what had been quite an enjoyable meeting so far. There was something else he felt the need to react to. He couldn’t help but notice that the younger man looked almost angry all of a sudden.
For a moment, he wondered if that was because of his mentioning the Order of the Mantis – or if it did in fact have something to do with Llyr’s mutations. Upon seeing the blush on his face and hearing him stammer, he decided that the latter was more likely to be the case. Unlike Llyr, he didn’t avert his gaze, but kept on looking at the younger man, calmly and somewhat curiously as he couldn’t help but wonder what exactly he was hiding under his clothes now.
“Then show me – or at least tell me”, he finally asked. “I cannot make a definite decision without knowing about all of them. You already know what I’m hiding under my clothes”, he remarked, referring to Syroa’s Blessing that manifested as what seemed to be nothing more than a large tattoo of wings on his back for the time being.
No matter whether Llyr decided to reveal which other mutations he had or not, the alchemist then turned to focus on the matter of the source of mutations. “So, a revealed mage’s humanity really is gone”, he mused, the look on his face utterly thoughtful for a moment as he remembered one of his meetings with a Rupturer from Rynmere. “And yet the man I met looked almost like he used to. He was still recognizable. I met him long before his revelation – when he was still a relatively mundane man, working a relatively mundane job - and after it”, he explained.
His voice trailed off as he considered the matter further. In spite of his long life and his studies of alchemy and the supernatural, he found it somewhat hard to wrap his head around those concepts. He knew more than Balthazar and definitely more than Sintih, but there were still so many pieces of the puzzle missing. Llyr had spoken of his sparks as if there were real beings, as if there were separate entities. Most of the mages he had met so far had barely known what the spark was – and not tried to find out more about it either.
In a way, it seemed as if their roles had were reversed once more. During their last meeting, he had tried to explain alchemy to Llyr. Now it seemed as if the etherist was the more knowledgeable of the two of them again. He didn’t mind though. Rather than being irritated because there was somebody that might know more about a certain subject than him – a Mortalborn who had brought an Immortal to his knees once - he was fascinated.
Llyr provided him with an opportunity to find out more about the world they both lived in.
“So, it is some sort of symbiotic relationship?” the Mortalborn asked as Llyr told him that his mutations helped him. He didn’t try to curb his curiosity, for the time being. What Llyr had told him sounded so different from everything he had heard so far. Before, he had always considered the spark to be a parasite, something that you ought to fight and suppress as much as you could. Even some of the mages that he had talked to had thought such. He had never thought of the spark as something that had desires of its own and that you might want to nurture rather than ignore.
Had he been a little younger, a mortal man instead of a man of divine blood that he had lived for centuries, his mind would without a doubt have been reeling now. A few bits in Llyr’s company had turned out to be far more enlightening than everything he had discussed with the mages that he had met so far, and there didn’t seem to be an end in sight.
“Tell me, Mister Magpie”, he slowly said. “Do your mutations resemble the ones that the man – or woman – that initiated you had? From what I understand, the teacher imparts their spark into the body of their student. Do the two of you have anything in common besides your domains?” He met the younger man’s gaze as he said that.
“I do realize that”, he replied curtly and inclined his head as Llyr spoke of the threat involved in allowing certain mages the potential to get of their mutations, but still be able to cast. “I didn’t say that I would share my research with others and distribute such items freely. I only stated that they would without a doubt be coveted. I am well aware of what happens if a spark is abused too much. Rest assured that I intend to tread exceptionally carefully, and if the risks turn out to not be worth it, I will stop immediately”, he remarked somewhat dryly, wondering what kind of man Llyr took him for.
Some sort of power-hungry fool that rushed into a dangerous venture head-first, not caring about the consequences and who and what he abused along the way?
He didn’t follow the etherist to the other side of the laboratory. Instead, he remained where he was, simply watching the other man thoughtfully and with a certain amount of curiosity. Llyr’s moods, he observed, were somewhat fickle and unpredictable. He had gone from being serious and seemingly angry to being almost flirtatious and slightly coy.
Such was somewhat foreign to the alchemist who kept his emotions carefully under control most of the time.
As Llyr wondered why he didn’t research Mortalborn, his lips momentarily twisted into the semblance of a smile, even though he had been somewhat worried that the younger man would touch upon that topic before. “My interest in the arcane stems from the fact that I am not a mage. There are still a lot of things that I don’t know about magic. I want to understand, what it feels like to have a spark inside of you, what it is like to change irrevocably and inevitably and what kind of abilities mages have. The way you spoke about your sparks was quite enlightening, for example”, he remarked. It was not an apology for talking about something that the other man apparently considered to be a form of abuse, but the closest thing to it that Llyr would get, for the time being.
“I do not research Mortalborn because I already know most of what there is to know about them”, he spoke. The tone of his voice was exceptionally calm now, as if there was nothing out of the ordinary about what he was about to say, and he met the other man’s without blinking. “I am Mortalborn myself, Mister Magpie. I am quite familiar with my own kind. When we last met, I told you that there were some things that I didn’t want to talk about in Emea lest someone listened to us. This was one of them. I’d rather some people didn’t find out that I’m not human”, he added dryly.
He didn’t trust Llyr completely, not yet – trusting someone after only three meetings would be nothing short of foolish – but considering the gift that he had given to him – Emea – he would give him the benefit of the doubt for now, he decided. Besides, his revealing some things about himself might make the other man open up in turn and make him more willing to talk. There was something quite fascinating about him. So far, each of their meetings had raised just as many questions as it had answered.