• Mature • 1. Ars Magna Lucis et Umbrae

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Lars
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1. Ars Magna Lucis et Umbrae

Wed Sep 16, 2020 6:44 am

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Lars' dreamscape in Emea
On the 48th of Ymiden, Arc 720

Warm water moved in gentle waves. Rippling inward and outward at once, a steady current pushed and pulled, and splashed against the smooth siding of the tub and lapped at his ivory skin. In glimmers of iridescent arcs, the glow of nearby lanterns caught in each and every soapy bubble that covered the surface of the water like snow. Leaned forward with his back exposed to the room, Lars rested his head upon his knees and kept his eyes closed while he felt fingers push lightly across his scalp. They drifted downward to cup warm water within their palms, and let it rain gently down over waves of soft white hair. It trickled down over his face, hidden away in the shadows of his arms, and fell back again into the body of water it had come from.

The control he held over his dreamscape had increased wonderfully; no longer confined to the stagnant scenery of a world that stopped and slowed against his wishes, he had practiced dutifully each night until the walls had bent to his will and allowed the imaginings of his dreaming mind. There was to be no more stomping of his feet or cracking of his marbled floors – his dreamscape did not resist the shifting overlay of scenes over scenes, of too many thoughts and endless desires, of contradictions and conflictions and counterproductive conversations. With a lift of his head, he watched the room change, as the darkness all around him filled with light again.

The obvious centerpiece of the large, extravagant washroom, the tub that housed the starlit vision of his soul was crafted of gold and quartz. Like every other fixture in the room, intricate trim lined the edges of the tub, and coiled around the sturdy feet that propped it up. Gilded mirrors lined the walls over marble counters and crystal bowls, but there existed no reflections in the dream. Lanterns scattered about the room provided light enough to see, and if one dared a glance to the walls – they might only find their shadows in their place.

Several men waited near the tub. With eyes of pale blue-grays and hair of platinum blond, each construct mirrored him perfectly, except for the colors they wore. Outfitted in silks and satins that draped like robes, a different one of them moved their mouth every time he spoke; voiceless puppets given roles and idle tasks. The man dressed in blue knelt beside the tub, bringing handfuls of water to his hair, while the man of citrine tones finished scrubbing at his back.

Lars lifted his head and leaned back, until he felt the surface of the water at the back of his head. Heavy, but warm, and he continued his lean until the entirety of his form was submerged.

Beneath the water, he could hear the rest of the dream spinning on without him. As if he had put his ear up to the wall, he heard the beginning notes of a familiar waltz played across the keys of a piano. The grand hall awaited his arrival… but something different awaited his crowd of dancing constructs. As he broke the surface, he wiped a hand over his face and pushed his wet hair back and away. The water dripped quickly back into the tub in a steady drizzle from his elbows and chin, until it quieted itself just as soon.

“We should hurry,” the man in blue moved his mouth, though the voice originated from Lars. “We’ve already made them wait too long. Aren’t you afraid of disappointing them?”

“No. We can’t disappoint them, we made them,” the man in yellow-golds disagreed.

As he turned his palms upwards for both men to take his hands, he watched the rest of them crowd near the tub. Lars lifted from the water while the red-robed construct mouthed, “even if we could, it wouldn’t matter. If they’re disappointed, we destroy them.”

“We can’t destroy everything,” cautioned blue, but the others shook their heads.

Lars was handed a towel from the man in emerald green.

“They will be whatever we want them to be. The show is not for them.”

A hum sounded from the silver-eyed dreamer. The towel was wrapped around him, and as he tied it in place, the soft material changed beneath his cold fingertips. Thread-worn white turned to the smoothest of gold silks, tied at his narrow waist and fitted perfectly to his toned arms and slender legs. Although the sleeves were long, the fabric did not descend into a proper skirt or full-length trousers, but shorts that allowed for ease of movement. Stockings of shimmering, pearly white ascended and came to a halt at the midpoint of his pale thighs, to match the accessories of pearl and diamond and gold that covered his hands and face. All the others fell into line behind him as he walked through the room, and he held out a pearly gloved hand to be held by one of them while he stepped into his heels of glittering gold.

“Is everything ready?” he inquired as he opened the door. In a single step, each construct phased forward into the next, until the last one phased into him.

Everything is ready.

GOOD. I TIRE OF THIS DELAY.


Boarded up in both directions, the only exit from the grand ballroom was directly across – although quite far – from the central staircase that led down into it. The balcony sat with glass doors left open, for any that wished to overlook the shadowed grounds beneath, but none ventured far from the usual gathering space. In a change from their usual full gowns, their dresses and suits were fitted and sleek. Masks in the forms of animals and monsters and everything else covered the voids where faces should have been.

The crowded space had been repurposed for the night, and darkened until the only light came from the stars far above and the scattering of golden lanterns across the floor. Although the hushed murmurs and conversations kept them all from true silence, a considerable quiet had fallen over the dreamscape, as all waited eagerly for the call to seat themselves before the newly-constructed stage. The tall curtains blocked any view of the balcony behind, and from the little orchestra pit, the sound of tuning strings could be heard.

Eyes obscured behind his ivory mask, Lars looked down over the crowd from the top of the stairs. His hand rested lightly upon the golden railing. Over top of his thin gloves, his rings had returned, each a different jewel tone. Long fingers tapped in sequence, and then withdrew, to fold his hands at his narrow waist. In his descent, he needed no assistance.

Downwards he went, golden heels clicking over polished marble. Before long, he reached the bottom, where hushed dancers had begun to take their seats faced away. The blond glanced over all of them again, and for a trill, as his cold hands curled into fists, his frayed nerves showed through. He had never done anything like this before… never showed anyone the work of his own creation, and it did not even matter that the crowd was made of constructs, because they felt just as real as anything else. They could react however he wanted, he knew. But he did not wish for worthless praise.

Lars continued forward. He had a seat of his own reserved, but he ignored it. Beyond the audience, the stage, the velvet curtains – the golden dreamer escaped to the balcony, to breathe in the cool night air. Darkness clung to the dreamscape in perpetual starry night, but a moon shone above – no, two moons – and cast a pale silver light over the mage.

In the stillness of the muted, quiet night, Lars walked to the end. As he reached the golden railing, the final border that kept shadowed grounds from the light, he climbed it gracefully… and sat there at the edge, impossibly far from the ground, to overlook the unknown corners of his dream.
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Re: 1. Ars Magna Lucis et Umbrae

Wed Sep 16, 2020 7:47 pm

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Emea | 48th of Ymiden, Arc 720

Among the many trials since he’d last seen the pale starry-eyed blond from Lowgarden, Llyr considered him – among the many, many other things to consider. So it was that he lounged on a cloud while he observed a construct of the dreamwalker interact with other constructs. He did not understand everything, much of Lars remained a mystery. Even his contacts returned empty-handed, with baffled expressions at the lack of what they were able to find. Despite his network, Llyr found himself in the dark about who the other man was. Which suggested, that there were lies involved.

A different name than Lars; a different face than the handsome blond; maybe even a different location than Lowgarden. Some detail wasn't fitting and thus blocking the rest of the puzzle to come into completion. But one decent clue could provide the key to the rest.

The constructs bored him, though. Ever since he'd walked in dreams, Llyr spent a great amount of time in his own dreamscape, but he now found the control trivial. What did it matter if he could reshape the entire world and all who filled it, if only he got to observe such changes? Still, there were exceptional uses when it came to applying theoretical exercises or to work through his thoughts about this or that. Nothing compared to observing strategy when it came to simulating the various possibilities in the controlled dreamscape.

Yet he could only get so far with the construct of Lars. It was too shallow of an approximation, in its sparkling white gown feathered with oil-black edges. It looked at Llyr, and blushed in exact depiction, but even with the neutral somewhat coy looks… the construct felt obviously hollow. Devoid of soul. An insult, for how Llyr wanted to observe the soul of Lars – not some pretty approximation of the other mage’s body. He glanced at the tapping fingers. The construct seemed keen to repeat the anxious motion, whenever another construct got near. Skittish, almost, except that Lars didn’t actually run off.

Llyr had given it however many trials it took to finish his physical travels in Idalos. As much as he could have sought out the other's brand, he wanted certain possibilities available that he could not risk otherwise.

On the 48th of Ymiden, though... he could.

A snap of his fingers. The dream fell to shadows at his feet, destroyed within an instant’s moment. All the world, all constructs, everything but the mortalborn himself. The void would remain, in his absence, but a trap of non-sensation it would be.

He entered the Veil. His gossamer wings spread out, as if to bask in the ether-filled atmosphere. Llyr closed his eyes and tilted his head up for a meditative moment to acquaint himself. Deep breath, then he opened his eyes. Many stars sparkled among the twisted glass and crystal structures of his increasingly distorted perception of the Veil. His reflection bounced in multifold figures through the warped iridescent mirrors. He turned, flew up, and headed toward the one brand…

…built from gold, the device hovered over an abstract sculpture of glass. Engraved with arcane symbols, his own symbols of ether, and embedded with gemstones of all sorts… citrine and…

Llyr entered Lars’ dreamscape.

As he stepped through, he Cloaked himself. Llyr found the same ballroom around him, or… was it the same? He surveyed the constructs in his slow invisible walk. There was something different. Llyr examined the walls and noticed the removal of certain pathways. Except the balcony doors remained open. The constructs seemed to have changed their attire – or, more accurately, the dreamer had likely changed the wardrobe of his dream. When he glanced past the constructs, he saw the dreamer at the top of the stairs. Llyr remained hidden and silent, hands folded at his lower back. He surveyed the attire; so gold, so ivory, so coated in pearls, diamonds, and beauty. Gemstone rings that appeared in the varied color of the respective stones. Llyr looked then, toward what appeared to be a stage of some sort from how the constructs sat.

How Llyr hoped that Lars hadn’t slipped into allowing the dream to run its course without control… that he hadn’t fled from lucidity for the comfortable illusion of non-waking in the dreaming world. That he hadn’t closed his eyes…

The etherist followed, unseen, a few steps behind while Lars walked to the golden railing. The fair human climbed it to sit at the edge of the visible dream.

Llyr considered many options before him. Far more than he likely should have, while his thoughts ran in quick multiple paths. In the end, however, he climbed over the railing and sat beside Lars. He kept Cloaked, but as he drifted a hand over, and let it cover the other’s hand – the warmth of the touch and gentle pressure would be felt all the same by Lars.

“Lars, did you create that?” he asked in his deep, southern-medley accented voice. The Cloak molted away from him like a serpent’s skin in flakes of ether. He appeared visible, then, with his wings folded along his backside. His silken blond hair had been combed so the long bangs hung to one side. Along his pointed ears, an assortment of metal and gem earrings pierced through the sharply edged cartilage. Over his youthful face, he wore an opaque mask of silver that covered his expression from view. Only his multicolor eyes could be seen. Not his mouth, not anything but his eyes. The irises housed warm colors of amber and violet, but they soon cooled into the oft-familiar ice blue. “You enjoy gold, yes?”

Llyr glanced at the pearly white stockings but said nothing of them. His own attire proved simple by comparison; a tailored but basic cloudy-gray suit. With a high collar, and fitted sleeves, it forced his posture to remain tall – or perhaps, he truly did keep such a prim posture as if it were second-nature. His hands weren't gloved, but rather the fingertips glinted in reflections off the various rings that he wore.

“Your eyes are already open, that is good.” He turned his gaze toward the darkness and asked, “Have you yet practiced destruction for purification of the dream?”
word count: 1077
Please — consider me a dream.
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Re: 1. Ars Magna Lucis et Umbrae

Thu Sep 17, 2020 12:25 am

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Lars' dreamscape in Emea
On the 48th of Ymiden, Arc 720

No matter what form he took, dreaming or awake, there were a few things that never changed about Lars. Things that had burrowed deep within his mind and soul, that had become fundamental pillars of what made him… the many differing things that he was.

It was easier than anything to make him blush. Whether the warmth of the expression connected in his eyes or not, even the most subtle of comments were often enough to turn him red. Words were not the only things that earned such reactions, either. A sudden spray of scarlet blood, the sight of something intricate and pretty, the smallest glimpse of a woman’s natural form – from awkward, embarrassed discomfort to giddy excitability, his fair features revealed what his expression did not.

His delicate fingers were both greedy and restless. In all things, they wanted to take more. To grab, to touch, to hold, to keep. To destroy what they could not. They tapped, and scratched, and moved over his skin as if they simply could not be stopped. The incessant movement served a purpose that Lars had never divulged to anyone; one that he could not truly explain regardless of conscious intention –

– and though it was far from the last of the many things that made Lars Lars, one of the biggest annoyances in his life was the fact that he was always, always cold. He could have raised the imagined temperature within his dream, he could have bundled in blankets and layers upon layers but it would have made no difference to the blond. His hands, especially, were sensitive to this cold… so when he felt a gentle warmth over his long fingers, it pulled the dreamer’s attention to the side immediately.

“Lars, did you create that?”

There was nothing there… not at first. But it did not take the ethereal emergence at his side for Lars to recognize, immediately, the owner of the deep calming voice.

“Lord Charon,” he greeted, with a respectful dip of his head.

“It’s lovely to see you again.”

His upper face was hidden away behind the layer of his smooth ivory mask. Painted in vibrant shades, the cheeks had been granted bright red circles, while the rings around his eyes were painted blue. Doll-like, more than anything, and fitted easily to allow his silver eyes to pierce through. It had taken far longer than expected for Lord Charon to visit him again… but there had been nothing for him to do but wait. He knew not how to find the other blond; he was not sure that he would have, if he could. Some things he dared not bring about on his own…

...but it was not up to him if Lord Charon found him first.

Lars’ fingers tapped gently against the golden rail beneath Lord Charon’s hand. Steady, slow. He regarded the cloudy-gray suit and opaque silver mask, and did not indicate his thoughts one way or the other about any of it.

“Yes to both,” answered the human, and he smiled. He could not tell if Lord Charon approved; he had seemed to appreciate the details of his dreamscape before, but now that it had conformed somewhat to the dreamer’s own will… was he disappointed? Would that disappoint Lars, in turn?

The other blond’s glance downward brought Lars’ legs to move, kicking slowly at the cool air beneath. His stockings glittered in the moonlight and stole his attention, if only for a trill, before he gave a quiet hum and looked back to Lord Charon. Curious, his soft voice inquired, “destruction?”

Pale, silver moonlight fell against them at an angle. Through the open glass doors, shadows cast over the tall white curtain just inside, a dark projection of the dreamers’ seated silhouettes. Each and every construct had retreated to their seats, and watched behind their masks as the shadows multiplied. From beside the shape of Lord Charon, the projection of one shadow became many.

“I haven’t,” Lars confessed. A deep breath was drawn into his lungs, and with a tilt of his head, he gazed up at the moons. Slowly they moved, in subtle rotations. “I like it here. It reminds me of something I can’t remember.”

Underneath Lord Charon’s, his gloved, ringed hand turned so that their palms rested together. Without glancing to the other dreamwalker, his shoulders lifted and fell, in the softest of sighs. Their shadows wavered on the tall stage curtain behind. Then the moons crashed together.

Muted in their brilliant catastrophe, the massive rocks split and shattered apart from the force of one another. Silver clouds of dust spanned the night sky around them like clouds, or collections of dense, tiny stars. It would have been beautiful, if they were not thrown out of orbit and sent to the ground. Lars watched them plummet downward through the sky.

“We used to wonder if the stars could fall,” he murmured. In a scattering of fiery broken stars, the moons fell over and crashed against the dreamscape, and from within, the audience gasped in a collective oooh. Lars’ fingers pressed against Lord Charon’s, held on, and he fell forward over the ledge as the ground began to ripple beneath –

– and in the next trill, maybe less… his golden heels tapped against a pure white floor.

Nothing surrounded them. Nothing existed in the dream, but them.

“Pure,” said Lars, “like this?”
word count: 929
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Llyr Llywelyn
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Re: 1. Ars Magna Lucis et Umbrae

Thu Sep 17, 2020 4:02 am

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Emea | 48th of Ymiden, Arc 720

Of Lars’ mask, faint reflections could be seen in Llyr’s silver mask so that the dreamer might look upon himself while he also looked at Llyr’s covered face. Engraved symbols etched through the mask, bizarre abstract designs that gave texture to what otherwise would be smooth metal. An arcane mask with no intention to portray anything or anyone, other than whatever the symbols might mean. No moldings to pretend for the shape of lips or a nose, but rather a flat surface. The holes which were cut for his eyes were not round, but rather geometric diamonds set a sharp angle and yet somehow seemed to fit the shape of darkly lashed eyes perfectly.

The familiar tap of fingers under his hand, Llyr noticed the smile but he didn’t respond. His expression hid behind his mask.

Confirmation for his first couple of questions brought little acknowledgment, one way or the other. Whether a sign of disappointment, or simple acceptance, would remain a choice of Lars’ perception. Nor did he hum or nod when the curious soft voice repeated: destruction

Instead, he watched Lars – while the other dreamer gazed up at the moons.

…reminds me of something I can’t remember…

The hand under his turned for a closer hold. He considered this, in silence, until the moons crashed together. That caught his attention, but slowly. In languid manner, as if moons shattering were as common as raindrops falling from the sky, Llyr looked while the glimmered literal destruction plummeted.

…we used to wonder if the stars could fall…

Llyr remained quiet, but not due to any distaste or resistance. When he felt the press against his hand, he returned it with instinctual understanding. As they fell forward, his wings spread out, but he didn’t bother to fly.

They landed quick and though it could not be seen, that brought a smile to Llyr’s lips. His eyes glittered; colors drowned out by a white as pure as the floor they stood on. Llyr turned slightly while he looked around, but he didn’t let go of the other man’s hand.

“Close,” he answered the inquiry if that is what he meant by pure. “You are still allowing yourself familiarity, though.”

Free hand pointed downward, he gestured to the floor that they stood on. “Complete destruction, you will not be able to fully accomplish while I am here – but you should attempt it sometime. It is quite exhilarating. Just be certain that you remain in your dreaming state like as you are now…”

Llyr brought his hand up through a gesture then landed it against the shorter blond’s chest. Another smile, hidden behind his mask, while he peered down at Lars. Eyes of milky white churned with starlight glints. He said in a clear voice as to be heard, “…unless you consider yourself pure? Then by all means, Lars, pay me no mind.”

He turned away, and if Lars did not follow, he would detach their hands from one another while he walked through the nothingness. Llyr waved his other hand in a flourished gesticulation while he said, “There is something talked about called the psyche, or anima if speaking the language of Immortals, and yet as much as it is talked about, no one knows what it is. Not truly.”

“What makes us, Lars?” he asked, in a rhetorical but gentle tone. He widely spanned his arm in a gesture to the bright void that surrounded them. “You may have nothing, but light and dark, and yet you still exist, do you not?”

“Think of that. In nothing, you exist. And how much of you can be peeled back and stripped away until you are no longer you anymore?” Llyr shrugged in a flippant manner. His hand concluded its various gestures to brush through Lars’ hair in a curious touch. His warm etherlit fingertips explored the shape of the round ear, then down to toy with the large golden earring that dangled from the lobe. The touch was delicate, but noticeable – perhaps even more so, for how gentle it was. “and that is only like this, in here. You might be able to feel, but it resides within a place separate from your waking self. There is your worldly vessel to be considered as well, is there not? Your body. To an extent, perhaps… I suppose that is a possible debate, yes?”

Llyr continued the trace of his curious fingers while he touched over the necklace accessories. His index finger curled into the metal loop that hung from a collar. Behind his mask, a smile twitched on his pale lips. It almost showed in his eyes, the white (that blanketed over even his pupils) glimmered with vivid specks of purple and amber. He gave a testing tug, as if uncertain what the collar would do if he did. A pause, for a few trills, then he let go.

“Of course, it requires certain sacrifices to be made for such magic like entering this world while in your physical host,” said the mage as if it were a simple matter to cross worlds. He set his hand at his lower back, a soldier-like prim stance to his tall height. “I believe last we had spoken, I told you that I could be with you in Lowgarden, if so desired. That remains the case, but the reverse is also quite true. You could be with me, where I am, if you wanted.”

He glanced away to survey the dreamscape around them – as if there was something to look at – and he spoke in his forcibly-disinterested tone, “…If you remain in residence at Lowgarden? Or have you already moved away, at the behest of your husband?”
word count: 975
Please — consider me a dream.
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Lars
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Re: 1. Ars Magna Lucis et Umbrae

Thu Sep 17, 2020 5:14 pm

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Lars' dreamscape in Emea
On the 48th of Ymiden, Arc 720

CLOSE, said Lord Charon, which only meant to Lars that it was not what he had wanted. The dreamer’s starry eyes were downcast with the point of the other man’s hand, and a soft noise of acknowledgement followed his glance to the floor. Of course… the final point at which his mind clung to the safety of what he knew, and rejected the possibility of impossible suspension. Before his tall companion had finished speaking, the floor beneath began to splinter and split in crystalline cracks.

Complete destruction, he would try in the depths of his next night alone – but while the other masked blond remained there with him, he was far from concerned with the makings of his dream. Silver eyes followed the movement of the biqaj’s hand until it finally came to rest upon the shorter dreamer’s chest. In the silver mask of Lord Charon, Lars only saw himself reflected back, amidst the eyes of pure white… and it took everything within him not to look away. His discomfort with the vision of himself showed only in his hesitance to glance upon the silver, his unwillingness to break from the other man’s gaze.

“...unless you consider yourself pure? …”

The corners of his mouth curved subtly upward. No, he would never claim anything close to purity. Lars opted not to respond to the comment, and it was forgotten within mere trills of Lord Charon’s turn away from him. Quick to adapt but even quicker to follow, he held onto the other’s ringed hand with one of his own, a joined collection of gemstones and metals and shells and bones – and he walked alongside Lord Charon through the white nothingness of his dream. The quick, flourished movements of the other man’s free hand captured the human’s attentions easily, and he did not bother trying to reply to the questions he was asked.

All rhetorical, he knew, intended only to incite deeper thought. Lars was no stranger to such questions himself. And for how little he truly knew of the world of Idalos, or of any worlds beyond it, he did not shun the understanding. It had simply never been offered in any real form.

Lord Charon’s gesturing hand was reigned in; brought to comb through the soft, white waves of his hair, Lars tilted his head to lean into the touch. Starry eyes bright and attentive, he peered through the half-mask that covered his rose-tinted cheeks, even as the touch of etherlit fingertips descended to trace the shape of his pierced ear. He felt the warmth in his face only worsen; ever sensitive, the lord’s warm, gentle touch could have distracted him from thinking completely…

“There is your worldly vessel to be considered as well, is there not? Your body.”

Lars did not interrupt. His eyes slowly fluttered shut, and he gently shook his head, but he waited for the winged biqaj to finish speaking before he dared to add to anything.

“No… I don’t think so,” came his soft murmur. Lord Charon’s touch travelled downward still, to brush against the golds and metals of his necklaces and collar.

If the worldly form took such importance… then he had lost something big along the way. While his dreaming mind took on the heightened image of his natural-born body, it was only because he clung to that same familiarity the younger man had mentioned, and not because he supposed it was required of himself.

Even so, the dreamer said nothing more of it. Distracted by warmth and gentle touch, he finally allowed his eyes to open again when he felt the ring of his collar being tugged. His expression did not shift, though his cheeks again blushed beneath his mask. Lord Charon seemed almost… curious, in the way his finger held to the golden loop. Lars could not see his face to truly know, but he watched the featureless silver mask as if he could. When he felt the proper tug, Lars raised his chin, as his neck was bared and pulled a slightly closer to Lord Charon.

The disappointment he felt (however slight) was left within the confines of his chest when the tall blond let go. The golden accessory mattered greatly to Lars, and he would not have even thought to allow anyone else such permission. In a quiet little clink, the metal loop fell back against the collar.

What sort of sacrifice could Lord Charon mean, when it came to being physical in a world such as Emea? Sacrifice of mind, of body, of soul? He fixated only because he did not trust himself to think properly of the rest of what was said – the return to conversations had before, of being with one another, if they desired. Lars had spent time enough thinking of what he desired, and he did not need to dwell, when it stood right there in front of him.

Lord Charon looked away, to gaze upon the great expanse of nonexistence all around. Lars watched his elfin, ether-filled eyes even so… and without any movement or acknowledgement from the starry-eyed blond, a panel shot upwards from where the floor had once been, to block off the space Lord Charon watched. In slow, golden swirls, intricate trim began to spin into existence and gild itself to the dark structure.

“I have not moved,” answered Lars in a soft, but certain, tone.

“And I am not afraid of sacrifice,” the human stepped back and away from Lord Charon. The tall, dark wall that had only recently been brought into existence disappeared in an instant. Lars turned, and his hands came to rest before his narrow waist, colorful rings glimmering in nonexistent light. Delicate fingers remained still, though he glanced over his shoulder to finish with, “if I am getting what I desire because of it.”

He watched the younger man for just a moment. Then, carefully, Lars raised a hand to remove the doll-like mask from his own face. Colorless hair fell over his forehead as he did. He dropped the ivory mask into nonexistence.

“Do you mean the soul, Lord Charon?”

Lars lifted his silver-eyed gaze. He continued, “what you called the psyche; anima. If the body is cast away, or replaced, does the soul remain the same? Is my soul the same now as it had always been, before?”

Did Lord Charon even know? The dreamer shook his head in dismissal of his own question, as if he was bothered with himself for simply asking. He stepped back to the biqaj, close, but did not move to touch. Unmasked, his delicate features failed to give away his thoughts.

“How?” Lars’ fingers gently tapped against his slender waist.

“If I wish to be where you are. If you wish to find me here. How?”
word count: 1168
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Llyr Llywelyn
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Re: 1. Ars Magna Lucis et Umbrae

Fri Sep 18, 2020 4:49 am

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Emea | 48th of Ymiden, Arc 720

Llyr observed the other dreamer; and how swift he cracked apart the elegant floor beneath them - just as quick to make the floor initially. He hadn’t even needed to ask about either. Since their last visit, Lars had not sat around in confusion or worse: suspended non-lucidity to avoid confrontation. Such observation heightened the value that Llyr assessed in the human. Already a mage, and a dreamwalker, and so very 𝔴 𝔦 𝔩 𝔩 𝔦 𝔫 𝔤 to look upon horrors of the subconscious without recoil. The nervous giggling had been a sign of possible discomfort, but Llyr did not fault the other for that. In his time as an initiator to the mysteries of dreamwalking, he hadn’t encountered anyone with such seemingly calm ambition combined with that willingness to observe reality for what it was.

There had been Doran, and much of the similar had drawn him so quickly to the older mortalborn. Llyr trusted Doran to not need guidance in the art of magic. Not when the professor proved capable of research and great accomplishments in alchemy. It had not been his intention to leave the older, at the beginning, but then Llyr did not understand reasons for why he needed to be around in such capacity. Doran was nearly 400 arcs old. What could a 20-arc-old teach someone like that? He might have been the one who spliced his spark into Doran’s soul but how arrogant it would be of him to even try to teach someone so much older and more accomplished.

When it came to Kasoria, the mortal had been a lot easier for Llyr to look past the age difference. He had thought that his lessons in Emea, and outside in subtle comments, had been for the benefit of them both. But teaching the assassin had not resulted in what he had hoped… that had only ended with a dangerous man made even more dangerous with the powers taught; a knife in Llyr’s back; and the splintered mess of an already broken heart.

Llyr had done his best after that… as well as he could, losing another home and another possible future, and his heart ached again. So much that he couldn’t bear to have it anymore. In the cold season of Zi’da, he had locked himself away and buried what pieces of his heart remained in a fortress kept so deep within his soul that his heart might never risk being ground into dust under the heel of another. A heart that had never fully mended after his departure from Quacia and continued to only be snapped apart and crushed more, more, more.

How could he ever love again when this abstract heart felt so torn apart? Llyr often felt the torrential rushes of affection, passion, romance, and lust. Especially the latter, in recent seasons. In his travels and the dealings of his business, Llyr had turned both uncertain and certain. Uncertain toward all that he had once believed when it came to love; and certain about what he wanted, going forward. He now had little interest in commitment, the young mage recognized. It had been a conscious choice for him to sever vulnerable attachments. The distance between his physical affection and his emotional devotion continued to widen and they laid so far apart that he could barely see one with the other anymore.

With Llyr’s curious tug of the collar, Lars bared his neck in the sort of trust that had hardly been earned. Llyr could almost taste the willingness emanate from the other dreamer. That barely veiled interest had aged like a fine wine in his absence, rather than diluting and dissipating. When he let go and looked away, a panel of darkness blocked his view. Llyr tilted his head slightly. His eyes glittered in their opalscent colors. He watched the panel, and the trim, then looked over at Lars. The older moved away and Llyr tilted his head to the other direction, in quiet observation while he listened.


…I am not afraid of 𝖘 𝖆 𝖈 𝖗 𝖎 𝖋 𝖎𝖈 𝖊

if

I am getting what I 𝖉 𝖊 𝖘 𝖎 𝖗 𝖊 because of it…

Llyr said nothing. He watched, in wait for more. It wasn’t long after that when Lars removed the mask.

Do you mean the soul, Lord Charon?

Llyr nodded once, slow but in confirmation. He folded his hands at his lower back, index finger tapped against the palm of the hand. What interesting questions asked in return, ones he had not expected Lars to ask and that intrigued him more. Could Lars be the dreamer he’d been searching for, all this time, ever since he started walking through dreams?

Still, he remained quiet while he stared at the silver eyes that seemed to fixate on eye contact whenever Lars looked at him. Almost as if he were… uncomfortable to look elsewhere?

How?
If I wish to be where you are.
If you wish to find me here.
How?


“Simply,” answered Llyr without inflection either way. His voice maintained the same level of neutrality that Lars’ facial expression held. “Yes, the soul can remain without the body. The body is hardly as important as so many people assume it to be.”

“There are many ways in which the body can be shed, in favor of the soul’s intention. Magic that grants such freedom. Shapeshifting and transformation… masks and illusions… possessions and constructions. However, there are considerations when it comes to what is meant by whether the soul remains the same… Yes, the soul remains the same but that does not mean it will be expressed in the same ways when hosted by different physical bodies,” answered Llyr to the question before. He brought one of his hands back around and traced along Lars’ arm before gathering the golden silk of the outfit to admire the design.

“Would you like this outfit in the waking world?” he inquired. His voice lilted upward with a sense of teasing disinterest. As if he couldn’t care one way or the other how Lars answered.

Llyr considered Lars for a long moment, then wrapped an arm around the shorter blond’s waist. He lifted him, with incredible ease. His free hand tore open the dreamscape with a rake of his long fingers against thin air and the clawed digits left streaks of light in his path. The scratches widened and gradually melded to create an opening for them. He glanced down at Lars with his eyes of white beyond the mask of silver and said, “Hold tight to me, and do focus on keeping your outfit as it is. Wouldn’t want you to get lost again.”

Hardly slow enough to even recognize the actual travel, Llyr’s wings spread outward and they left Lars dreamscape together. The biqaj darted out of the one dreamscape, barely any moments spent in the Veil before he flew into his own.

As soon as they entered his dreamscape, a hall of polished granite and marble rose around them. He slid to the heels of his boots while he landed and set Lars to stand beside him. His hands caressed over the design of the gold fabric, memorizing the texture and the qualities that made up the cut and how the various shapes fell over Lars’ body…

…when he brought away his hands, as if holding a tray, he held a neatly folded replica of the outfit. He unfolded it, to hold it against Lars’ figure. It looked identical. Llyr smiled, then he said, “I will keep this ready for you...”

“But not tonight.” Llyr folded the gold outfit and set it in a messenger bag that had not existed the moment before, but now existed slung over his shoulder. He reached up, and took off his mask, then set it in the satchel as well. With his face exposed, he offered an expression of calm with little else to be read from it.

“You have done well, Lars, very well in the progress you have exhibited tonight,” he informed the shorter blond and he kept a close eye for any telling changes in either expression or posture. “If you continue, I can offer you insight into much. About other dreamwalkers and about the monsters who seek to devour our kind in journeys through these worlds, both waking and dreaming. There are many things in which I believe you could be capable of, such as traveling as well as… powers that a rare few even know exist, let alone understand, in the waking world.”

“I am a mage, as well,” said the etherist. “Of many sparks. I know of things never written down, and rarely spoken about.”

“I could teach you…” he mentioned. His hand raised to gently play with the strands of Lars’ pale hair. He twirled some around his etherlit fingers. “…but you will need to sacrifice. You must renounce your ties to anything else that might get in the way of your practice.”

“This includes…” his fingers drifted to the collar. He flicked the loop so that the metal lightly clinked. your husbandLowgarden.”

His touch traveled up to gently touch against the branded lips of the other dreamwalker. His warm fingers glittered against the pale pink. A slight curious tap of his fingers, as he wondered if Lars’ tongue would slip out to taste. He concluded, “No need to answer now. Think about it, Lars. As my apprentice, you could learn much about magic… far more than anything you could ever acquire in a place such as a backwater village of Etzos.”
word count: 1608
Please — consider me a dream.
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Lars
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Re: 1. Ars Magna Lucis et Umbrae

Sat Sep 19, 2020 11:15 pm

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EMEA
YMIDEN 48, 720

“There are many ways in which the body can be shed, in favor of the soul’s intention. Magic that grants such freedom.”

Dark brows drew ever-so-slightly together on the dreamer’s otherwise unbothered face. Lord Charon claimed the existence of many ways to shed one’s worldly form, but Lars knew only of what he had experienced himself. Of death; of the permanent loss of one’s natural-born vessel, that lingered still behind his eyelids and in the ethereal visage of his dreamwalking form. Never before had he known of any other power that could grant such a shift, and yet the other dreamer spoke of magic that could.

There was still so little he knew – and far less he understood – when it came to magic. The host of a Graft spark himself, he hardly even knew what it meant to be a mage, let alone what many impossible things one could do with it. What he did know, he had learned from watching Carver, or glancing through the books he found. Magic of transformation rang only the quietest of bells in his mind, but it was enough to trust in what the other man said.

As Lord Charon’s etherlit fingers traced the line of his arm, Lars’ silver gaze focused forward, in consideration of the questions and answers provided. It seemed the tall biqaj agreed, at the least, that the body did not make the soul – that worldly vessels were of far less concern than the contents within… and the human could agree with the point put forth about the difference of expression in those forms. Certainly he was the same man he had always been, and losing his natural-born body had not drastically altered his soul, when it settled within the vessel of Iver Sinclair. But there were differences, still, that went beyond the color of his hair or the scars across his body.

“Would you like this outfit in the waking world?”

The inquiry refocused him, pulled his eyes back to the reflective silver mask. Was that an offer?

It was an unnecessary one, either way; Lars gave a subtle nod but did not otherwise respond as he stared up at the other dreamer. For a moment, a silence fell over them. He could have existed within it, content, but all was broken when an arm slipped around his narrow waist. With a soft, short-lived whine, Lars lifted his legs and held comfortably to Lord Charon, with one arm around his neck and the other hand placed against his chest. A curious, wide-eyed gaze watched as the fabric of his dream was torn apart, scratched open by the lord’s long fingers – and then settled back over the pupiless eyes behind the mask. Again, the other man’s words were met with a dutiful nod.

With hardly any time at all spent in the Veil, he saw the darkened swaths of trees and mist pass by without a moment’s consideration. All in his peripheral view; but a blur around the edges of Lord Charon’s silver mask. Lars maintained what focus he could on the shimmering golden ensemble he wore, though he did not know nearly enough to understand why such focus was required…

Almost as quickly as they’d left the white void of his dreamscape, they entered Lord Charon’s, and Lars was set down with a quiet click of his heels against granite and marble stone. The delicate blond slowly withdrew his arms from around the other man. Quite a lovely hall, of Lord Charon’s imagination… and his eyes flitted from one place to the next in some distracted glance away from him, while he felt hands smooth over the silken fabric of his clothes. His own tapped against his thighs in disordered motions, even as Lord Charon pulled his hands away and displayed the newly-made copy of his outfit.

“Oh,” silver eyes snapped back to the folded item, and Lars returned the smile with a bright one of his own. Why exactly Lord Charon had done such a thing, he was not sure, but he would not turn down the chance of acquiring such a beautiful garment in the waking world. He supposed Carver might question where he had found it… but then, it was just as possible that his husband would not question it, so long as it was easy and quick to remove. The thought widened his smile for just a trill, before the outfit was slipped into a bag at Lord Charon’s side, and the shorter breathed a repeated (and slightly disappointed), “oh.”

That was alright. As with everything else, he failed to completely understand – but he would not go against Lord Charon’s word. Quiet, he glanced down to his hands while the biqaj removed his mask, and his fingers tapped together at his waist. Shoulders back, expression neutral, nothing gave away the little blond’s thoughts while his winged companion spoke. It delighted him to know that Lord Charon was pleased with him, and with the progress he had made since they last met – he would not have even thought to try, without the motivation he’d provided. After a few trills, he raised his bright-eyed gaze to the pale, handsome face, in quiet admiration of the other blond.

“I could teach you…”

Lars wanted that. More than so many things he had tried, he wanted to learn more of magic. After so long of believing himself incapable, it had taken him a while to fully recognize and accept his newfound power – but now that he understood the capabilities, he wanted more. He wanted to be confused, if only to work through the understanding of it all. Lars watched from behind a veil of white lashes that fluttered as long fingers found his hair, as if the simple proximity to his face was enough to distract him again. The touch drifted downward… and he felt his heart drop with the clink of his grave-gold collar.

Warm fingertips found his mouth. This time, his lips did not part to allow them inside. His tongue did not slip from behind his sharp teeth.

His eyes fell from Lord Charon’s face to stare at his high-collared garb. Renounce his ties to… Lowgarden. And everything else that would take from his practice. There was another quick flutter of the blond’s eyelashes, nervous this time, as if his eyelids almost stuck. His head fell forward in some weak attempt to rid himself of the other man’s touch, but he did not fight against it if the hand still remained.

No. There existed not even the slightest of possibilities that he would ever, ever consider… that. The fact that Lord Charon dared even to suggest such a thing cut through the dreamer’s lighthearted delight and made him wince for how terribly he must have acted, for the other man to think him capable of leaving Lowgarden behind. How had he let himself stray so far, that he found himself standing here now? Faced with the man that had preoccupied so many of his waking thoughts since they’d met… forced into realizations that he had not wanted to comprehend.

Wanting him was one thing. Desiring Lord Charon – his warm, lovely touch, his comforting hold, his exquisite eye and appreciation for the sophistication Lars knew – it had ruined him, torn him up inside, filled him with a deep and heavy guilt that he had never felt before. Lars could not recall the details of the life he lived before, not now – but he had never cared about the hearts and minds of others. Faces blurred beyond recognition, names half-remembered; he knew only that he’d lied and that he’d toyed with hearts before, in a time before he understood the true weight of his words. But not once, before Lord Charon, had he considered straying from his love.

Even then, it was different. He knew his winged guide did not love him. He did not expect for him to stay, once he found he’d had enough. Wanting him had nothing to do with the desire to leave Carver behind, and everything to do with the strange connection he felt with the ethereal Lord Charon. Lars wanted to hate it for what it put him through. But he wanted him so badly that he couldn’t think to care.

Leaving Lowgarden behind, though – renouncing what he knew and starting over, yet again, under the guiding hand of Lord Charon…

“I… ah…”

Lars raised a hand. He brought it to his face and held his cheek, while his other arm wrapped around his waist. Silver eyes darted from one spot to the next as they stared down over marble and stone, as the delicate dreamer sorted through his thoughts.

“I don’t… I… I need…” time? But he only needed time if he was actually considering doing it. How could he possibly consider that? His eyes closed and he took a quiet breath to keep calm. Too many things threatened to overwhelm. Lars took a step closer to Lord Charon, even so, almost as if he wished to rest his head against his chest or embrace him.

He was not meant for… any of it. For any kind of magic, or power. For the attentions of Lord Charon, and the misguided potential the other man claimed to see within him. It was not there. It had never been there; he had been nothing in his life before, and he would be nothing now. He was unintelligent, underwhelming, undeserving. The backwater village of Lowgarden was not where he wanted to be, but it was more than enough, for a man like him. Carver understood all of that. He knew, and he loved him anyway, and he was hardly ever even around anymore but he was the best thing that Lars had ever known. The best thing that Lars could ever get. There was no observation of his soul without seeing Carver’s, too, entwined.

BUT IS THAT THE TRUTH?

“What do you mean, is that the truth? Of course it is,” his soft voice hissed.

He is the other half of my existence.

“Is he?”

OR WAS HE ONLY THE FIRST TO EVER LOOK AT YOU
AND SEE SOMETHING MORE THAN A SLAVE?
IS HE THE ONLY ONE THAT CAN
OR THE ONLY ONE YOU’VE ASKED?


Lars dipped his head forward until it rested against Lord Charon’s chest.

“I couldn’t.”

He was… nothing...

...but he wanted to be so much more. He wanted magic, he wanted power, he wanted control. He wanted to be something – anything – more than just Lars.

The dreamer lifted his head. His hand fell away from his face, and both drew together at his waist, fingers cold and motionless. When he spoke, his words rang clear and quick, with no room for uncertainty.

“Not without knowing that I’ve made the right choice,” added Lars, as he turned and stepped away.

You can’t just decide these things yourself.

“All that you promise…” he raised a hand again, but this time, his fingers tapped against his lips. “...regardless of sacrifice.”

Fine features blanked of all emotion, he regarded the biqaj with one dark brow slightly raised. For a long trill, he only stared… and then, with the smallest of subtly wicked smiles, he said, “I want it.”
word count: 1930
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Re: 1. Ars Magna Lucis et Umbrae

Sun Sep 20, 2020 3:09 am

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Emea | 48th of Ymiden, Arc 720

Llyr noticed the slight refusal in that Lars weakly tilted his head as if to shoo away the touch on his lips. The taller blond considered for a trill, then slowly removed his touch. He folded his hands behind him, instead. A thin smile tested his pale lips in a forced smile that didn’t reach his eyes, as the white glittered and cooled into ice blue colors. He prepared himself for whatever denial might be expressed through words, as he assumed that to be the reason for the pivot in the other's willingness to display the same desiring interest as before.

Perhaps he had made things far too possible, too quick. Llyr did not assume that simply because the other man had a husband meant that he felt happy with that husband. While he had no information on the matter of such relation, he did have insight into the peeks to the other dreamer’s subconscious. He could observe Lars, and how the other blond acted. Perhaps it was due to Lars believing their interaction to be separate – away in the realm of dreams and therefore, untouching of the waking world. The falsity of such a belief would be one of the first lessons to learn if Lars did become his apprentice, though. That everything in Emea had the potential to touch the waking world, and influence what happened in the place that so many ordinary people assumed was the only reality because it was all they knew.

So, he observed while Lars seemed to struggle with the very first lesson of his apprenticeship. Stammered little breaths, uncertain glances, shy postures of abrupt reservations, what a little tease. As if Lars didn’t want to vocally admit to what he already wanted. Llyr patiently waited, silent while he offered Lars however much time he needed to respond. For it did not truly matter whether Lars agreed or not. Llyr had already decided for him. Whatever the other blond responded with would inform how it happened, not if.

Lars stepped closer, but Llyr kept his hands behind and away. He peered down at the overwhelmed dreamwalker, in a curious way with the forced thin-lipped smile stuck on his youthful features. He had told him there was no need to answer now, yet Lars seemed intent to try. Llyr wished he could observe the thoughts within, but he did his best to figure out what it might be…

“What do you mean, is that the truth? Of course it is,” hissed Lars. “Is he?”

Llyr held steady while Lars rested his head against his chest. He didn’t touch, nor did he step away. Was the man speaking with his spark? It wasn’t unusual for mages to do such things. He wondered if Lars was aware of it, though.

“I couldn’t.” The dreamer lifted his head.

With the same artificial smile, and the cool blue eyes, Llyr nodded in acknowledgment. He remained quiet, however, as he could tell there was more to be said.

“Not without knowing that I’ve made the right choice. All that you promise... regardless of sacrifice.” Fine features blanked of all emotion, Lars regarded the biqaj with one dark brow slightly raised. For a long trill, he only stared… and then, with the smallest of subtly wicked smiles, he said, “I want it.”

“Of course you do,” replied Llyr without pause, and in a blunt tone. His deep voice lowered into a purr of his languid accent. “I would not have offered if you did not. Unfortunately, knowing the right choice is rarely a simple matter or even knowable. What is right…”

Llyr lifted his right hand away from his lower back. He held it with the palm facing up, and a milky white sphere appeared. It floated above the palm, in slow motion of the liquid that made up the orb. He lifted his left hand, and above the palm, an oily black sphere appeared instead.

“…may be wrong for another, but what is right for you… such can still be right in one iteration of who you are, and yet wrong for another iteration. We are constantly molded by our choices, and right and wrong may change depending on our future moldings. Right and wrong, at once, both or neither. What was right in the past, becomes wrong in the future…” He lifted the orbs and crossed them past each other in a juggler’s arch. They landed on the opposite palms. The milky-white orb darkened as an oily black bled outward from the core. On the other hand, the black orb did the same but with white lightening it. “…Or even what is wrong becomes right. Nothing is ever static between the two, nor do they always remain separate. In fact, right and wrong only exist because we allow them to. It takes only a snap of the fingers and a bend of the mind to remove such limitations from the self.”

Llyr grabbed hold of the spheres, tight in his clawed grasp, then he brought his hands together into a violent smash of the two orbs. They gave way immediately, melted into a sticky mess of black and white that dripped like tar and milk. The etherist let a puddle form on the polished floor, in the front of his pointed boots. It bubbled and churned, then he held his dominant hand with the palm faced down. The puddle boiled, then lifted to form a new sphere of mixed gray that resembled the colors of stone or rainy stormclouds. He tossed the orb over for Lars to catch.

“Right choice? There is no such thing,” he concluded. “There is no wrong choice either. There is only what you want, and what you are willing to do to possibly acquire it.”

“Yet I am not unsympathetic as to matters of the heart, or of obligation felt to those we care for. I am not an unreasonable mage, Lars,” he added with a quick glance of a smile. Though, it faded so quick that it could have easily not existed. “Tell me. What is it that would help you know you made the right choice?”

“I am unaware as to what sort of attachments you hold in the waking world, nor do I particularly care, but if you reside within the Etzori territories, I can provide anything that might ease your troubled mind about such a decision, whether you would require… an excuse, or… a false death, perhaps? Or… simply ridding you of such burdens, however you prefer…” he rhetorically danced around what he actually was saying. He smiled again in the same flash of barely sustained friendliness. The biqaj took a deep audible breath, in a heavy sigh, then looked aside with a disinterested gaze. “There are many dreamwalkers who I have brought to this place of mine… but I have taken none as my apprentice. None who I felt driven to even offer such a thing.”

“I suppose you should know that I am more than a mere mage,” he added with a glance toward Lars. “I am blessed by the Immortal of Intelligence… and my name is not Charon, nor am I a lord… Or, more accurately, not a proper lord anymore.”

“I was a lord once,” he added in a wistful pondering manner, while he started to walk. The heels of his boots clicked while he walked in a gradual pacing circle around Lars. He surveyed the other dreamer in lazy glances while he paced in predatory pattern. “Not too long ago, in a previous life. When I was married to my husband. I loved him, so very much, Lars. First love I ever had, completely unexpected for me too. I never thought myself to be anything much, until he decided I was better than a… slave.”

Though he considered the word of servant, Llyr went with what he did because it felt the most accurate to the life he had once lived with his mortal "father". He had contemplated his upbringing, in the past seasons during moments of quiet solitude, and he realized that even servants had the choice to leave. Servants were not held prisoner within the homes they served... but slaves were. It might have never been proper with a contract, but it had been as true as anything that his father had owned him - and the only way he'd gotten out of that, had been through the transference of ownership to his husband. In the back of Llyr's mind, he also knew that if his husband (the blurred shadow of a man that he could barely recall beyond the snippets of memories that he occasionally replayed in his dreamscape and the collected information kept written down) demanded him back... the exiled lord had every right to claim him again. Or at least, he could try.

“Ah, but he was fickle. I remember that much. Angry and controlling. Leaving me on my lonesome once he got tired of fucking. He shaped me as he saw fit, made me wife, and mother to his children, and promised me everything,” continued Llyr in his smooth, unaffected tone of voice. His paced circle narrowed inward, heels clicked with each step closer to Lars until he stopped behind the other dreamer. He gazed down, eyes of a silver that resembled the color in Lars’ own eyes. “When he left me alone, to care for his children and his house, he entertained himself with other men. Many of them, in fact. For a time, I ignored this. I didn’t want to believe it, I never saw it and he would never tell me about such things himself. I found out through other people, after all.”

“He could fuck a dozen men, then come back that very same night and hold me tight and tell me how much he loved me and whisper sweet nothings about our future together, and how beautiful it would all be,” added Llyr. He paused for a brief few trills, in a thoughtful silence. The tall blond looked to one side of the marble hall where some light had started to glimmer in various designs. Barely noticeable, but to the dreamscape's owner, he could see the difference clearly... because he had not summoned it consciously. “And if I had never left… I would have remained nothing more than a very pretty ornament for a man who did not deserve who I was to become... because he did not want me. Only his idea of me, not the reality.”

“And thus, I would not have become... Who I am, now, in front of you. My magic and my power increased a thousand times over since the moment I refused those shackles and made my choice to follow my own path. It hurt, but most everything in life does.”

“I would hope your situation is different,” he added with a thin hint of a smile. He placed his hand against Lars’ cheek in a gentle touch. Deep voice lowered into what would have been a drone of a whisper, if they were not in the dreaming realm where everything could be heard regardless. “Know that I understand the darkness of this world, and of the heart, so when I say that I am willing to provide you with anything that would ease the decision you want to make… know that I so very sincerely mean it, Lars.”
word count: 1930
Please — consider me a dream.
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Re: 1. Ars Magna Lucis et Umbrae

Sun Sep 20, 2020 7:26 pm

EMEA
YMIDEN 48, 720

Lars’ hand fell away from his face to catch the stone-gray orb. Turned over in his cold grip, the item formed of darkness and light earned his silver-eyed gaze for a few moments longer than necessary. It was an excuse not to look at Lord Charon, and a good enough one for that. The matter at hand made more sense than the overwhelmed Lars was prepared to admit. For all that it was worth, it felt like nothing new to him. Words he’d never said, feelings unacknowledged; thoughts that had resided in his mind since before he’d ever known that they were different from the norm. Right or wrong, what difference did it make? What difference existed at all between the two? What made his feelings incorrect or unjustified beyond the veneer of forced morality that rested over the world they lived in? His eyes swept over the sphere and he deemed himself knowing of its plight; of existing always in-between, forged of both but home in neither. Not the shining light that he’d tried to be, and no longer the shadow of his naïve former self.

The orb was transferred to his other hand, where his thumb spun it over his palm.

The dreamer’s features did not shift from their careful, calculated apathy. Even after what hints of a smile faded and fell away, there was nothing left behind to replace the subtle smirk. A flat line played at his plush lips, unbothered and unaffected in spite of everything inside that threatened solely to break. Break, he thought, as if there was anything left within him that had not already been broken once before, and mended, and painted over again. As if it was anything new, to feel so twisted inside that he was made to question everything he thought he knew. When the man who called himself Charon spoke – the blessed former lord and mage of many sparks – the many men who called themselves Lars could do nothing else but listen.

It surprised him to hear that Lord Charon had been married before. But why would it come as such a shock? He was married himself; he had never expected such a thing either, nor had he expected to ever fall in love. Love was for… convenience, sometimes, in cases other than his own… and love was for satisfaction and contentment in others. It was for the privileged; it was for the people with no other concerns beyond a happy life and a lasting legacy. Lars married for the love that he’d taken, imprisoned, kept near. It was a love that grew beyond its cage. It was a love that had strangled and suffocated and choked him to death, that had raised him again from the dead. It was a love not of circumstance, as parts of him would believe, but of the most raw, tender, and violent things he’d ever felt. It was a love so tumultuous and heavy and twisted that no matter how many times it destroyed him, it always pulled his tattered strings together again.

Love was not meaningless to Lars. It ruled his life. In a time before Carver, his life had meant nothing. A harlot, a slave, he’d been nothing at all to anyone but a pretty, pliable thing. The marks of his wasted life ran deeply in his soul, etched into the tender lining, as visible to anyone that looked for them as the bruises that’d littered his previous form. Given the right commanding tone, he was more than obedient – he was incapable of thinking for himself. Given the proper touch, he’d conform, apathetic to the uses of his body – in contrast to the heightened sensitivities of his heart when he was shown better affections. He was naïve, though he’d learned much since his trials of unreadable contracts and forced prostitution. He functioned terribly on his own, without guidance or command – and terribly at other times too, when his heart could not accept the realizations of his mind. Lord Charon did not see that yet, how could he? And he would think him just as pathetic and weak as anybody else when he did. How could a man so willing to lose time to forced blackouts and unknown memory, be worthy of anyone else’s time? Yet Carver had cared for him, and he’d known.

Lars was not blind to his husband’s many faults, for a good amount of them reflected in himself. Carver had to know of the many things that triggered the blond’s more malleable states. He knew the things that bothered him, and the things that easily made him forget. Emotional hurts were glossed over with the promise of love and gold. Lars was not innocent, either, in the manipulation of their connection. He’d lied before, to keep him around. He’d molded himself into things that he wasn’t. He’d toyed with his lover’s heart in ways that came so naturally to him, that he had never even thought of doing otherwise. But they loved each other. Through it all, they held on, and fought tooth and nail for the life they now had.

...But what kind of life was it really? A half-constructed shack in a rundown swamp. Lars had never even been to Lowgarden proper, as his husband wished for him to stay home, in the shack, taking care of what little they had. Carver expected him to cook, to take care, to listen, to fuck, to dance, to stay tucked away and isolated while he ran off and did… what? Carver was always fucking gone, always leaving him, always returning for just long enough to make him forget before he up and left again. His soulmate had always been restless, but how many times had Lars cried for him to stay and never leave, only for his love to agree and then depart the next day? How many times could they fall apart before the pieces lost all semblance of what they were before? How much of it could he take, when he knew that he would never truly get what he wanted – that Carver would never be content with what Lars alone could provide?

Carver made him into what he’d never wanted to be. What Carver had promised he’d never be.



Oh, my dearest, what have I done to you?


Lars was a toy. A decorated doll of ivory and gold. A pretty thing to set upon the mantle when its purpose had been served. He hadn’t seen it coming, not after everything they’d done. Carver had played with him until his little legs broke and he could no longer leave his dollhouse.

Over high cheekbones tears rolled, cascading slowly at first, and then mercilessly down to the floor. Glassy eyes bright and rimmed red, his expression still remained the same vision of apathy, even as his sorrow escaped his silver eyes. He was a toy. He was just a fucking toy.

Nothing that Lord Charon did… as he paced in slow, predatory pattern around the expressionless, teary-eyed dreamer… affected him greater than the memories shared. The confessions cut deep into the core of him and tore out, viciously, what reservations remained about the man he knew as Charon. As if the other blond was speaking not of himself, but of the life Lars had come to know, for how much of himself was reflected in the words. In spite of it all – and regardless of the fact that the other dreamer claimed to have never taken an apprentice before – Lord Charon sought to… help him. To ease the pain, and Lars could not have said if it was out of the need to not hear the human whine, or the true heart of sympathy behind it, but it did not matter either way. If he was to leave Lowgarden behind, he would take any help that he could get in making the process easier to bear. He felt the touch of warm, etherlit fingers to his soft, pale cheek, where his tears continued to fall in steady rains.

“Death would not stop him,” whispered Lars.

“Not my own and not his. In life, and after death…”



Maybe it isn’t important to remember.
Maybe it’s better to let all of that die along with our bodies?


The soft voice was swept away by the tides of his emotion. It was all too much. He closed his eyes and focused on the heart within his chest, and the way it beat against his sternum like the flap of fleeing wings. From his hand, the stormy gray orb was dropped to the floor, and his fingers curled into nervous, cold fists. His rings were heavy on his hands. He thought of the ring he wore in the waking world, that would never be removed from his skin. Lars brought his hands to his chest then, held together as if they were some item to be hugged.

He missed Carver. Even now, in his dreams, he missed the other man with all his heart. Where his love was concerned, it mattered not that he had been reduced to nothing but a toy in his soulmate’s collection. Lars loved him regardless, and he knew for certain that he always would. Carver was not just some lover that he could discard and forget about, he was –

“Wait…”

Slowly, his eyelids lifted to reveal his sorrow-stained gaze. Lars hesitated as he stood in clear consideration.

“...Anything,” he repeated, as he turned to find the gaze of Lord Charon.

“My love would not be stopped by any death, any excuse. He would find a way to find me again. And if he did not…” if… he did not even care to… “...it would ruin him, to know that I had left.”

Carver had been left too many times. Lars had always thought that his love would understand why it hurt so badly to see him go, since he had experienced it so much himself – but the blond could not stand the thought of doing the same. Although he could not remember the details of his lover’s life before, now, he knew that it had been rife with the loss of those he loved, and the abandonment of those who should have cared.

Lars cared. He cared more than anything, for his soulmate’s tender heart. But Lord Charon was right, and he could no longer live in that denial.

“I can handle this pain,” he claimed, though his heart could hardly believe it. Lars leaned his head slightly to the side, just enough to lean into the touch of Lord Charon’s hand.

“But I would have him forget.”

Lord Charon had said anything. Anything to ease the decision he made. But could he grant him that? Could he do for Carver what the world had done for them, as they lost all that they’d known in a world before their deaths? Could he take the details of the memories they’d made, and leave only the knowledge that they’d happened? Lars didn’t know what else to do. He could not stay, and yet he could not leave, knowing all the pain he left behind. Lars’ eyes shimmered still with tears, as he gazed up at the handsome mage and hoped, so desperately, that he could do what he needed. That if he left Carver, and ever returned, his soulmate might not recognize his face.

“Can you do that for me?”

He didn’t know what to do if he could not. He could not live, knowing that he’d leave his love behind to that pain. But what if Lord Charon refused? If it was beyond his capabilities? What if he was forced to choose the unique flavor of his lover's sorrow, rather than mitigate it completely?

“I would give anything just to keep him from that. Please, tell me you can. I have need of nothing else but that assurance. If you would not grant me that... then let him think that I have died, before I've left him alone.”
word count: 2061
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Llyr Llywelyn
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Re: 1. Ars Magna Lucis et Umbrae

Fri Oct 02, 2020 9:06 pm

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Emea | 48th of Ymiden, Arc 720

Tears fell slow, like the drip-drop of spring rain, at first. Then, they rolled down Lars’ cheeks… but the droplets did not reach the floor. The dreamscape evaporated the tears into a mist that coiled around the various pillars. As Lars cried, Llyr’s own eyes dampened. No great sympathy had arisen in him, and yet when he heard the first whisper from Lars… the same fierce tears rolled down the taller blond’s cheeks. His eyes cooled to light blue. He seemed almost a mirror, with his features drawn in neutral expression and his eyes as cold as ice despite the warm tears that fell.

Tempted to use his magic, and delve into the other’s tangle, he restrained himself. His fingers touched along the watery escape of what had to be emotions for the decision to be made. He wiped away some of the tears from Lars’ eye.

Death would not stop him… and Llyr knew what he meant.

Llyr combed his fingers through the other’s hair, in a touch to comfort while he waited for Lars to think through the opportunity before him. The gray orb fell to the floor, but Llyr let it. He waited, already, so when the other told him to wait, he offered the smallest of nods. Easy to agree to something he’d already been doing.

“Anything,” returned Llyr while he gazed back at his potential apprentice. He listened, but he did not say anything more. As the shorter blond leaned into his hand, he cupped the fingers so that it would be more comfortable to rest against.

…but I would have him forget.

Forget… Llyr’s fingers twitched, and that was the only external indication of any response. He had said anything. He hadn’t thought Lars would request such a thing. If only because he considered it off the table, but then not everyone had the same experiences he had undergone when it came to manipulation of memories. Llyr’s hand gradually lowered, though he traced his etherlit fingers over Lars’ tear-stained cheek, then down to the slope of his neck. They ran into the collar again.

Can you do that for me?

The desperation sounded obvious in the tone of the other’s voice and the way that Lars looked at him. Desperate hope. How could he deny after he’d already promised anything? How could he even start to explain the dangers inherent in such magic? That there was always a chance of failure regardless, and the trust that would be splintered and ruined by the very choice itself. Choosing for his lover whether he got to handle the pain, got to remember… any of it. Selfish, it was. Or so Llyr believed. He didn’t say any of this though. He listened to the justification to keep his love from pain, and it was quite a sacrifice to freely offer, but Llyr wondered…

“Very well,” he replied finally. His fingers traced along the collar, then they wandered lower over the other’s chest. “Such a thing will require me to locate some information on the matter, however. It is potentially something that can never be undone, so while I do so…”

Llyr leaned down, while he gathered some of the golden silk fabric into a gentle fist. He pulled Lars to lean closer to him, until their lips brushed against each other, then he whispered in a low rumble of his accented voice, “Wait for me.”

The dreamscape melted around them, the polished marble rolled like the tears that fell from both their eyes, and the floor gave out underneath their feet. Llyr pressed his hand against the center of Lars’ chest, with a simple push away, and then Lars fell. The winged mage watched as the human descended past him, and into the growing darkness of the dream, before ejecting the dreamer away and out into the waking world again. Llyr departed his own dreamscape, with a reluctant understanding of what he had to do next. There was only one person he could perhaps convince for a reasonable exchange of such a favor in quick time. Only one person he knew that was well-versed in memory manipulation and forced ignorance.
word count: 722
Please — consider me a dream.
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