silent lucidity

Llyr

Stronghold of education and learning, this fortress is in one of the coldest areas of Idalos and home to many knowledge seekers in a variety of disciplines. However, unknown to most, below the city are those who suffer for the sake of science. While all are welcome, not everyone will be treated as they expect.

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Hart
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silent lucidity

Wed Aug 26, 2020 3:19 pm

preface

The Veil, to Hart, was like a sea of stars. In the distance Wren's dreamscape was unerringly bright. Hart put a hand to the strap of the sword, held up his other hand, and turned it at the wrist as if turning a dial.

The Veil moved around him, though really Hart wasn't sure that he himself wasn't the one who was moving. Wren's dreamscape was no longer distant- it was right before him. He reached to touch the dreamscape-
Wren was there. Then he stopped. Magpie had placed stipulations upon their next meeting. It was to be in the real world.

But Wren was there.

With effort, Hart turned away from the dreamscape. He was only able to do it because he knew he was going to where Wren was.

Under his gaze, the many constellations of dreamers that surrounded Wren became detailed, each constellation its own pattern, each dreamscape no longer a part of that pattern, but its own star.

Hart reached his hand out to the star closest Wren's. He touched it, stepping through into the dreamscape, and was gone from the Veil.
13th Ymiden, 720
night

The sea of stars, dark and wavy, disappeared. Hart stepped out of the Veil and into the dream.

It was bright. The sky was pale blue and the sun was hot. The ground was torn up and muddy, and the moment Hart's feet touched ground in the dream he felt his lucidity weaken.

The mud was tinged red and stuck to his boots.

The sun sweltered down upon him. There were sounds- screams of defeat and yells of triumph; the clamor of weapons and shields and armor. Smells- the fetid stink of the ground baking in the heat; sweat, hundreds and thousands of fighters battling and dying; the smell of death, strong, of the fallen bodies which lay on the bloody ground in the sun.

He was stuck in place.

Someone grabbed him by the arm and yanked. Hart stumbled, his boots unsticking. There was a girl beside him, perhaps nine years old. She was dressed in a gambeson and a metal helmet and she grabbed at his sleeve, her eyes wide. Her mouth screamed up at him. Her teeth were sharp, a fish's teeth. Strange transparent fins stuck from the sides of her neck like gills.

She wasn't part of the dream.

Dream.

It wasn't a battle. It was a dream.

"Hart, look out!" the girl screamed, and Hart turned, lucid. His arm thrust out and he swept the girl behind him. She grabbed at the swords on his back and tore one from its sheath, breaking the sheath's strap. It tumbled to the ground.

Hart swept her further behind him, nearly stumbling over her, as someone came down at him with a sword.

The man was tall and muscular and fire-haired. He held what Hart thought was a longsword, and his eyes were focused on Hart. Hart tried to put distance between them, the girl stumbling behind him, but the man pursued.

The girl thrust the rapier into Hart's hand, the wrong rapier- but the man swung. The rapier, damaged from fire, leapt up to parry. The man was strong, stronger than Hart- and no rapier was made to fight in anything but a duel. Their blades struck and Hart nearly lost the sword. He fumbled, and the man pushed him back.

"You're the dreamer," Hart said. His hand was still thrust to the side, keeping the girl back and away from the fight. He didn't think the man was lucid. "I'm not your enemy," he said. The man gave a thrust of the blade and Hart parried. Again his sword was nearly lost from his hand. "I'm a dreamer," Hart said. "I'm a dreamwalker. I'm trying to locate my son. His name is Wren. I need your help-"

The fire-haired man made a thrust and the rapier leapt up to defend. But it was a feint.

The blade swerved and struck at Hart, and Hart was slow. The rapier caught the brunt of the strike, but not all. The sword slid down the rapier's length. If the rapier hadn't had a guard Hart wouldn't have a hand.

He didn't know anything about footing and the mud stuck to him, mucking up his footwork. His feet were confused and he stumbled down. Get up. He got a knee under him and swung his sword arm up, desperately trying to parry. Somehow he caught the man's blade as it came down at him.

The man put a boot against his shoulder and shoved him. Hart fell back to the ground. But the man had touched him.

Hart tore the grasp of the dream from the man's mind. Lucidity pummeled him, and the fire-haired man hesitated.

The entire battlefield hesitated.

Hart stumbled back to his feet. He backed off, but the rapier remained in a position to defend. The sword trembled in his grip. His shoulder felt bruised and his wrist hurt from the fighting. "My name is Hart," he said. He tried to keep the tremble from his voice. "I don't want to fight you." If the man attacked him again, he would step out of the dream.

The girl glared at the man from behind Hart. "I'm trying to get information about someone you may know," Hart said to the fire-haired man. "There is a man named Magpie. And a boy named Wren."

"I'm sorry for interrupting your dream. I will leave if you want me to. But if you could, I would like you to direct me to Magpie's place of residence, outside of the dreaming world. I have business with him. Please."
Notes: The preface is from another thread. So it shouldn't be included in the word count of this thread. This post is about 750 words.

The fire-haired NPC in this post was used with permission by Llyr's player. He is Gerolf Vymont, Assistant L. I tried to play to both his and Hart's skill in blades. Gerolf is competent, Hart novice.

The girl in this post is an emeyan, Tamsen.

I rolled to see whether or not Hart would successfully make Gerolf lucid. I rolled a d10, with a 5 or above meaning that Hart was successful [as Hart's skill in dreamwalking is 53, and a dreamwalker's success is determined at least in part by their level of dreamwalking]. Thankfully, I managed to roll a 5, so it was a success.
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Llyr Llywelyn
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Re: silent lucidity

Wed Sep 16, 2020 11:43 pm


13th Ymiden, 720
There is a man named Magpie...

...and a boy named Wren.

The bodyguard named The Crimson, or Gerolf Vymont by his parents, answered Hart’s request with something most odd. He offered for the man named Hart to Cross over to where he was – and whether he did or didn’t, Gerolf settled accommodations for the unexpected visitor.

Wren was there; in a little apartment situated in Viden, with musty damp walls and black-mold corners, and only a couple rooms of space. Despite the dismal home, the bed was clean and sturdy. There was a bookshelf filled with books for Wren to read from, as well as toys and various learning implements such as pencils and chalks. A dresser held an abundance of clothing, of thick fabrics with furs to keep warm. The food stores proved filled to the brim, and with plenty of variety for flavors. One would have never guessed from the rundown tenement that there would be such things inside the flat.

Gerolf remained near, not only bodyguard but guardian of Wren, as he explained to their visitor that Mister Magpie was away on business. That they would need to wait to hear word back as to when he planned to return exactly. Vymont insisted that Hart drink with him, in good Rharne manners (though frowned upon by the Videnese), while they waited.

Once word came, Gerolf relayed that Magpie didn’t intend to be gone for much longer. Only a handful of trials, at most. He also offered that Hart could stay in the grungy little apartment with them, to spend time with Wren on Magpie’s permission – but not alone. Gerolf stayed with them, for every moment he could. And when Gerolf slept, then another bodyguard showed up. A thin man who didn’t speak at all, and when he moved his hands, it became clear that he was a mute. Regardless, he kept a thin sword at his belt and his reflexes proved quick.

On a few of the trials, a couple known as Simone and Horacio visited who introduced themselves to Hart as Tribunals of the Theocratum. The dark-haired woman and man were, as they patiently explained to Hart, guardians of faith who helped guide the path of Magpie and thus, Wren. Robed in black and red, with silver lining along their priestly garb, they recited a sermon in Common for Wren about strength and about the importance of healing from wounds. Once finished with the faith, they remained to help tutor Wren in literacy, history, geography, and similar studies.

44th Ymiden, 720

It took 31 trials before Magpie finally returned to Viden.

Thirty-one trials in which Hart got to spend time with Wren and observe how he lived. That the worst of it was certainly the poor neighborhood and the grimy walls – but they were shelter and on the colder nights, and the days of rain or sleet, nothing got into the actual home. There were no bugs, either. In fact, over time, when one didn’t look at the water stains or mold spots, it could almost feel cozy.

In that time, Gerolf had gotten a bit friendly with Hart. He seemed to like the man, and even went so far to slip (while drunk) that Magpie’s actual name was Llywelyn… or was it Wellin? And Gerolf admitted that he couldn’t really keep up with his employer’s changeable ways. He explained that they had been nicely set-up in Etzos, and that he would have preferred to stay down there as that was where his sister was – plus all his nephews and nieces. Gerolf mentioned that he only agreed to keep with Wren up in Viden because the pay was so good. Better than anything he could make down in Etzos, he assured Hart.

On the early morning of the 44th, however, the door to the apartment swung open so fast that it banged against the wall.

Vymont tried to disentangle from his resting posture, in case of something worth a fight…

…but he eased when he saw who it was.

Llyr Llywelyn entered the home with a heavy exhale, as he tossed a rucksack to the side. He looked as natural as he always did – which was to say, the tall mortalborn biqaj had the halo above his head, wings at his back, and his silvery skin brightened in spots with the colorful arrays of his magically crafted tattoos. His pale blond hair was disheveled, with dark gold roots, and the bangs long and in his way. He had on layers of warm clothing that he quickly started to remove once the door fell shut behind him.

“Gerolf,” he called without actually looking at the bodyguard. He brushed some snow off his boots so he wouldn’t track in the slush. “There is a fellow I want you to meet. I’ve located him in the place down the way, you know where, please go introduce yourself and say hello. His name is Saza Mo—oh.”

While Llyr threw aside his coat, he rounded to look at Wren with eyes of rose pink and then Hart… and the eyes changed to a brilliant orange color. He blinked, as if confused, then clicked his tongue against the roof of his mouth with a knowing nod. How could he have forgotten? Well, he had. Regardless, he smiled at Wren and said, “There’s something for you…”

He pulled a messenger bag off, then handed it over for the child to search through (and find trinkets and study tools from the various cities and places that Llyr had traveled).

“I suppose you have been waiting to talk,” said Llyr, though he didn’t pause to reintroduce himself even though he wore no mask this time and his face could clearly be seen. “Shall we take a walk? Have you eaten, Wren? I know a place not too far from here, that has decent tea and cakes.”

Llyr paused at a mirror and preened for a moment before he went to grab his coat. The irises of his eyes glittered in topaz yellow and orange colors.

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Re: silent lucidity

Thu Sep 24, 2020 9:14 pm

13th Ymiden, 720

Hart agreed to step through from the dreaming world to Idalos. When he did, he offered his arm to the fire-haired man, if the man needed a Way back.

The man, it turned out, worked for Magpie as a bodyguard for Wren.

The moment they were in the small apartment, Hart became exhausted. In the dreaming world, he could pretend that he was stronger than he was. But it had been a hard two days' walk, in the rain, from the wilds near Raelia to the Brand he had placed in Melrath. Though he wasn't aware of it, the mere moments he'd spent traversing from his dreamscape to Wren's had actually been days. And, though the fire-haired man hadn't wounded him, their sword fight had exhausted any remaining strength he'd had.

If the bodyguard allowed, he would stumble to the nearest chair to sit. Hart shut his eyes, trembling. It was a handful of long, silent moments later that he realized he was still dripping rainwater from Melrath. He looked over at the bodyguard, whose name was Gerolf Vymont.

" 'm sorry," he murmured to the man. His boots were muddy, though the red-tinged mud from the dream was no longer on him. Assuming the man let him, he would dig in his travel bag and put on something drier. He put his belongings where Gerolf directed, though the dry clothes didn't stop him trembling. "I'll clean the mud and water," he murmured. "Just," his eyes fell shut again. "Just a moment."

He was tired. But he would do whatever Gerolf directed that he needed to do.

Though he did decline the man's offer of alcohol. If the man asked why, Hart would respond that he didn't drink.

That first night, he didn't pay much attention to the apartment. He was very tired, and he needed sleep. However, he did request to spend time with Wren.

The small boy was sleeping, eyes lightly shut and expression restful, and the moment Hart saw him his breath stuck, hurting, in his chest. He looked at Gerolf, unable to speak, but the bodyguard seemed to understand. If Gerolf would let him, Hart would go to where Wren was sleeping. He didn't say anything, but he reached out a trembling hand and ran it, his touch soft, over Wren's head. He was still hardly able to get a breath past the sob stuck in his chest.

He would sit by Wren if Gerolf allowed. At some point that night he slept.

The first morning was hard, and Hart struggled against emotion.

It was hard for Wren too. He was quiet. He stayed near Gerolf and looked at Hart when he thought Hart wasn't looking. But by noon, Wren seemed to accept that Hart really was Hart.

That afternoon Wren showed him around the small apartment. By late afternoon, Wren was speaking. And he wanted to speak about everything that had happened.

Hart guessed this was what Wren had been leading up to.

He was just a boy, and Wren was quiet besides, so speaking about what had happened was hard for him. He had trouble speaking for such a long time, especially about something that upset him. But he persisted.

Eventually he got to the part where they had found him. Hart thought him must mean the man they had met in the dreaming world. By this time they were sitting on the floor with their backs to Wren's bed, and Wren looked up at him with anxious, dark blue eyes.

This, too, was what Wren had been leading up to.

Hart spoke about what had happened to him. He began where Wren had begun, when they had been pulled away from each other in Emea. Wren asked questions, sometimes, but mostly he was quiet. But Wren would not accept some of what Hart said. He didn't accept that Hart had not searched for him- that Hart had left him. He seemed to accept well enough that Hart had died, but he didn't seem to understand other aspects of it, like the man he had met in the dreaming world, and that death meant that Hart wouldn't come back. "But you did," Wren said. The boy also wouldn't accept that Hart had died because of Wish.

When Hart attempted to speak further about it, Wren shut down. They were quiet for a time, not speaking, until Wren abruptly came out of his mood. He wanted to show Hart his books, and Hart let it be.

In subsequent days, Hart attempted to speak to Wren again about what had happened. But no matter how Hart spoke about it, Wren would not accept some of what Hart said.



The first two or three days, Hart stayed in the apartment. But as the days went on, he began to go out. A number of times he went on walks, though he preferred running. He went out once to buy new supplies, mostly clothing, though he stocked up on rations and bought a couple of other things he needed. He went out almost every day to go to the university library, to get Wren books. When days and then longer went by, Hart thought about getting a job in Viden. But he wasn't sure how long he would be staying.

Mostly, however, he kept to the apartment. He liked Gerolf, and Gerolf seemed to like him. When he had been drinking, Gerolf sometimes referred to his employer by other names, or talked about Etzos, or his pay. Hart wasn't sure if the information Gerolf spoke of was privileged, but he never pursued the information further.

He struggled to speak with the other bodyguard, the thin man who sometimes came to the apartment when Gerolf was out. Hart knew some sign language, and it seemed like the man did too. But Hart had learned CS back in the Eastern Settlement, and that had been years ago. At times, though he did try to engage the man, he thought the man just didn't want to speak to him.

The first time Wren's tutors came to the apartment, Hart asked them about the Theocratum, and Quacia. If they allowed, he would stay when they were tutoring Wren. He himself had never had tutors, and he was curious to know what Wren was learning. Wren spent time learning what Hart assumed were the basics of many subjects, including subjects Hart had never considered, like Quacian religious studies. Hart felt, within a year or two, that Wren would know more on most academic subjects than he himself had ever learned.



Gerolf was lying on his back on the floor, relaxed, when the door to the apartment slammed open on the 44th. He moved- spilling the playing cards Wren had been balancing on his nose.

Hart moved as well. He had been curled on a nearby chair, his legs tucked under him. But he sank back down when he saw who it was.

Magpie had been wearing a golden mask in the dreaming world. Now he wasn't, and Hart's gaze moved from feature to feature. His first impression of the man was that Magpie was younger than he'd thought. His second impression was that he had met him before.

But the man's features didn't remind him of where they had met. Neither did his names- Magpie, Llywelyn, Wellin. His magical features, some of which very well should have identified him, didn't remind him either.

But still Hart felt as if he had met the man.

Magpie turned and saw him, and Hart glanced down, not wanting to be stuck in his gaze. Magpie's eyes had been rose pink for Wren, a soft color. When he looked at Hart, that color went away. Hart guessed whatever the man was feeling, he was not pleased to see him.

And Hart felt ashamed.

Here was the man who had needed to be there for Wren because Hart had left him.

Magpie didn't introduce himself, and Hart glanced up in affirmation when the man commented about taking a walk. Wren went to get his things, and Hart got up from the chair he was curled on. He picked up the scattered playing cards from the floor and set them on the arm of the chair.

Finally he looked at Magpie. "I'm Hart," he offered.

To Magpie, Hart would look different than the man he had met in the dreaming world. He was thin -he didn't eat much- but other than their build and their features, he and that man didn't much look the same. Hart was present in a way that man hadn't been, though perhaps still broken as Magpie had noted- just, broken in a different way. His eyes were blue, and not illuminated by Fractures inside. His shirt sleeves were pushed to the elbows, and there was no evidence of the Fractures that had slit his arms. In fact, there was no evidence of Fractures at all. Though he was Fractured on his chest, Magpie likely wouldn't be able to see the incandescent light that burned there, not through his clothes.

Hart was wearing the simple clothing he had purchased in Viden, dressed, as was the way of the northern climates, in many many layers. The layers he wore seemed to consist mostly of clothes that were soft and comforting, sweaters and long sleeves, and he wore simple colors, varying shades of cream, brown, and black that went well with fur. He picked up a fur-lined coat and a red knit-wool scarf from nearby and pulled them on too.

Wren came back with his own coat, and Hart glanced at Magpie, letting him have the opportunity to help Wren, if he wanted it. If not, Hart would help the small boy with his things. After a moment he unraveled the scarf he'd just put on and wrapped it around Wren, half-hiding his face. Wren tugged the scarf down from his mouth and smiled. Then he held a mittened hand out to Hart. He held his other hand out to Magpie, wanting Magpie to take it.

"Can I bring this with?" Wren asked the man. It was one of the things Magpie had brought him, a sort of hand-held puzzle, Hart thought. It seemed fit, almost, for an adult- but then, Wren liked those sorts of things.
purchases
4 average-quality outfits, -1wp
40 trials' worth of poor-quality food, -1wp
1 poor-quality small-sized "room", -2wp
1 domain bag, -200 point bank points

Notes: Three of the outfits are everyday wear. The fourth outfit is outerwear.

The "room" is a tent + supplies for the tent, rather than a room / small house + furnishings / household items.
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Re: silent lucidity

Sat Sep 26, 2020 3:14 am


44th Ymiden, 720
"I'm Hart," offered the guest to the home.

"Yes, yes, I know," returned Llyr in a distracted manner. He waved a hand in dismissal. Of course, he hadn't been completely blindsided by the man's presence. Not only had he received word, but in the trials leading up to his return, Llyr had visited Wren in his dreamscape. It was as common as anything, and part of his routine, to visit the branded boy's dreams and help him in his studies to do with Emea and ether.

Naturally, during these visits, Wren told Llyr about Hart's visit and about everything that Hart told him. Llyr did not try to sway one way or the other what Wren might think about such things. He listened, and then he answered the child's questions when they arose. He answered the best he could, though he was more than aware the sort of things he could have put into Wren's thoughts... he didn't. Llyr knew that the young dreamwalker was deeply confused about it all, and he tried to help ease that confusion rather than add to it.

So, Llyr knew about Hart. He knew about Eihr, and Hart, and everything that Hart had told Wren.

He did, however, wonder about the missing fractures. For this, his curiosity led him to want to touch and check that they were truly gone or not... but that curiosity could wait.

Llyr had been travelling in the clothes he currently wore, so while they were comfortable to a degree, there was also charcoal-colored leather armor in places of the various gray materials. He buckled his coat up, the silver fur collar tight around his neck. All but his face was covered by something gray. It was due to the traveling that his attire had wrinkles in certain spots, where otherwise it normally would be finely pressed and fitted.

As Wren came out with the coat, and Hart glanced at him, Llyr wasn't about to wait around in a game of who will help... in fact, it didn't even occur to Llyr to pause for such a thing. By the time Hart glanced, Llyr already knelt in front of Wren and helped him secure the outerwear. It was a simple thing for the biqaj, to provide such care, though his eyes turned silver while he did so. He forced a thin smile, and rubbed Wren's hair in a way that made the young boy act annoyed. Wren tried to fix the messed up hair. Llyr took the chance to take the scarf from Hart and wrap it around Wren.

Once finished, he glanced over to check himself and Wren, and then even Hart as if including the other man like he would another child. Llyr went so far as to grab another scarf from a nearby hook. He wrapped it around Hart and said, "It's rather cold out there. Wouldn't do for you to not have one either."

Llyr checked his reflection in the mirror once more, to fix his hair, then he looked to see Wren holding Hart's hand... and the hand outstretched for Llyr to take.

"Ah..." Llyr hesitated. He glanced at the item in question, then nodded while he set the puzzle in Wren's hand, rather than taking it to hold. "Yes, it is your's, Wren. Bring it wherever you like."

He patted his gloved hands together, then rubbed them as if to collect warmth before he opened the door and gestured for the other two to leave. Vymont had already departed prior, with the instruction to meet Saza.

Once they had left, door secured behind them, Llyr led out of the tenement to the snowy street. He looked one way, then the other, while his halo flickered before he chose a route and walked a step or two ahead of Hart and Wren. His gossamer wings fluttered, as if by habit, before settling along his backside again. They had a sharper appearance than usual, shaped more like hornet wings than dragonflies.

"Have you enjoyed your time here?" he asked of Hart while they walked. He didn't necessarily need to ask, but he did anyway.

The walk to the cafe went quick, if only because Llyr kept a rather swift pace to the leading stride. He paused, in a moment's consideration to lift Wren up in his arm, but he decided against it. Instead, he held the door open for the other two again and offered a hint of a wink toward Wren. He smiled slightly, then led them past the tables to a particular corner booth. Positioned for privacy, he took off his coat and slid down in the curved empty bench then gestured for Wren and Hart to also sit.

A waiter arrived and set three cups upside down, then glanced at Llyr. With a single nod, the waiter nodded as well then left without a single word exchanged. Llyr fidgeted with his outerwear, neatly folding it beside him, though he left most of it on such as his gloves. He folded his hands on the table, and asked Wren, "When the waiter returns, tell him whatever it is you want."

Llyr had brought Wren here before, and used it as a means to teach the boy how to properly act in such places. However, Llyr never bothered to try and limit Wren either. He never told him he couldn't get something because it was expensive or because it was too sweet or so on.

"I hope you don't mind black tea," he offered to Hart with a glimpse of a smile. His eyes had been a pale warm red, but glittered with the oranges and yellows of topaz whenever he looked at the other man.

"So." said Llyr in a firm tone of voice. He slid backward against the seat, one arm rested along the back ridge. The topaz yellow in his eyes spread out past the rings, consuming the entire feylike shapes. His accent came through, obvious in his silvery voice, "You have come back from the dead. I suppose congratulations are in order? I never know the proper manners for something like that. Do you suppose people have revival parties like they do birthtrial parties?"

"I imagine it is quite a tale filled with fascination," a dissonance appeared between the tone of his voice (flat, dry) and the words he said. "Perhaps another time. Forgive me, I have gotten back from a long journey and numerous brushes with various deaths, and I'd rather not waste time in preening each other."

"You've come to claim Wren again, I assume?" he paused. His gloved fingertips tapped against the back of the booth's bench, then he added in a reluctant tone, "Or are you moving to Viden?"
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Re: silent lucidity

Sat Oct 03, 2020 3:53 pm

Hart guessed whatever the man was feeling, he was not pleased to see him.

He wasn't able to read the man's emotions entirely. But from the details of him, the dismissiveness, the shift of the color in his eyes, and the small but pointed hostilities that he directed toward Hart, Hart was able to read some.

Hart guessed that Magpie was more than not pleased to see him.

Hart murmured goodbye to Gerolf when he left, and then stood uncomfortably by as Wren and Magpie interacted. Magpie did up the boy's coat and helped him with his things. Hart had meant to put his scarf on Wren, but the other man took it and put it on Wren himself.

That was uncomfortable. What was more uncomfortable was when Magpie took another scarf and wrapped it around Hart.

"Thank you," Hart said, polite, but he didn't meet the other man's gaze.

Wren was smiling, and the boy seemed happier, now that Magpie was here. He offered his hand to Magpie, like he had to Hart. But Magpie didn't take it and walked in front of them when they left the apartment.

He walked quickly.

The man was walking quickly enough that Wren was having some trouble keeping up. Hart had Wren by the hand, and when it was evident that Magpie wouldn't slow, he grasped the boy's other hand and lifted, Wren's feet swinging up from the ground. Hart gave him some momentum with a lift of the arms, and Wren swung foward, laughing. His feet set down at Magpie's side, and Hart sped up so they were all walking together.

"Have you enjoyed your time here?" Magpie asked.

"I've enjoyed my time with Wren," Hart said, and offered a smile to the man.

He stopped abruptly, however, when they came to the cafe.

Magpie held open the door, and while Wren simply stepped in, Hart stopped at the threshold. He wasn't able to stop long, as the other man was holding the door open for him. Still he did pause, long enough for it to be noticeable.

He should have realized they would end up at a cafe. Magpie had mentioned breakfast.

"Just a moment," Hart said, and turned his focus inward. He felt the need to be quick, and so he rushed to adjust his physical senses. He wasn't able to enter a cafe without making himself sick, not after what had happened with the coffee in Melrath. So he rushed to mute his sense of smell, at least as well as he was able. It was a matter of focus, and balance, and Hart shifted his other senses in response. If he wanted to mute his sense of smell, he had to balance the deficit. He wasn't sure why, but that was how it was. So he shifted the balance of his senses toward touch.

Suddenly the heat of the cafe, coming out through the door, became much more noticeable. Hart braced for the strong smell of coffee to twist his gut, imbued within that heat, but the scent of the cafe was muted enough that he was able to step past it. With a sigh, he stepped into the cafe. Wren looked at him questioningly, and Hart smiled and said, "I needed a moment. I don't much like the smell of coffee anymore."

"Why?" Wren asked.

"I guess the coffee in Melrath wasn't very pleasant."

With that they walked to their table, a booth. It was perhaps the furthest they could have seated themselves from the other patrons, and the doors.

The waitstaff appeared and then left nearly as soon as they sat. Hart looked after the man, consideringly. Wren sat politely, and when Magpie removed his coat, Wren removed his. Very seriously he folded his coat and set it down beside him, looking up at Magpie for approval. He seemed like he wanted to keep his mittens on, perhaps because Magpie left his gloves on. But after a moment Wren took his mittens off and set them neatly with his coat. Then he turned toward the table, focused on the puzzle in his hands, and began to turn it this way and that. His small fingers tested it, as if he was meaning to take it apart.

Hart watched Wren momentarily, smiling, before he took his own coat off. He'd thought about leaving it on, but with his sense of touch heightened, he thought it might be too warm. His face softly blushed from heat, he removed the scarf Magpie had put on him, then his coat. That was all, however, other than his own gloves. He was still able to smell the cafe, his sense of smell not muted entirely, and though he set the scarf aside he held the coat on his lap. His hands played with the end of the coat's sleeve, his fingers buried in the soft fur. The feel of the fur, almost overwhelming with his heightened sense of touch, was a distraction from the light smell of coffee that pervaded the cafe.

"Black tea is fine," Hart said when Magpie mentioned it.

"So," Magpie said, and though the man spoke dismissively, Hart let it be.

Perhaps another time.

"Thank you," Hart said politely. "It's difficult for me to speak on such topics." He looked consideringly at Magpie for a moment, though the man's gaze seemed so sharp, to him.

But he glanced down, seemingly focused on the sleeve of his coat, not saying what he had thought to say. It must have been hard, for you. To come near death so many times. He kept his focus down when Magpie asked about his plans for Wren.

"Truthfully," Hart said with some hesitance, "I'm not sure what my plans are."

The waitstaff returned with their tea and to take their orders, and when prompted Hart requested, "Just some toast, thanks." He wasn't able to afford this place. But breakfasting here was what Magpie had wanted, and it didn't hurt to order some bread.

Wren seemed to be waiting for Magpie to speak to the waitstaff. However the man spoke, Wren would speak- not the content of what he said, but the manner of it. If Magpie spoke with precision and detail, Wren would do his best to do the same. If Magpie spoke as Hart did, simply, Wren would order simply. Though the boy did order a breakfast, he seemed happy enough with his tea, and didn't order another drink. "Thank you," he added at the end.

Hart waited for the waitstaff to depart.

"I do want to take Wren with me," he admitted. "But," and this was difficult to say, "I'm not sure I'm a suitable guardian for him, right now. I don't have a lot of, of money." It made him uncomfortable to admit that, the same way the scarf had made him uncomfortable. "And, to be honest, my life doesn't seem like it's going to get easier."

"There is a... stipulation placed upon me," he said, fiddling with his coat sleeve. He hadn't touched his tea, and when served, wouldn't touch the toast he had ordered, either. "I think it must be binding magic, of some type, though I'm not entirely sure. Whatever sort of magic it is, I am compelled to travel. And," he let a breath out, "The magic makes it so that I'm unable have a home. So that's difficult, because Wren deserves-"

He looked at the boy, who was looking at him now, his dark eyes questioning.

"-because Wren deserves a home."

"Hart?" Wren asked. He took hold of Hart's sleeve near the elbow, his expression uncertain. Hart smiled at him, and brushed a hand lightly at the boy's face.

"It will be alright," he said.

Wren looked over at Magpie, still holding tight to Hart's sleeve, and Hart stopped smiling.

"There are other complications in my life. But, to summarize. Things are uncertain, for me."

"What I've seen here, of the life you've provided Wren, is much more than I would be able to afford. He's being educated, and he doesn't want for such comforts as shelter, and possessions. He's comfortable where he is, and Viden, though cold, is lovely."

"But," Hart said. "I have some reservations. About you, specifically," he said to Magpie, and looked at him.

"I'm afraid that, though you're able to provide stability for Wren, you may not be able to provide for him in other ways." He hesitated. "You may not be able to provide yourself."

It seemed to Hart that Magpie spent a lot of time away. Hart wanted to speak about the man's lifestyle- specifically about his travels. But, from what Hart had seen, Magpie seemed to be a private individual.

"Perhaps it would be best to come to some sort of agreement," Hart said. "I like Viden, for Wren. I like the education he receives. But I myself wouldn't be able to stay in Viden, not all the time. And, to be honest, I don't think it would be such a bad option for Wren to travel with me, when I have the money."

"Of course, I'd like to hear your... your plans, as well," he said.
Notes: Hart shifting his senses around is an ability awarded to him named deprivation acuityHart is able to increase the effectiveness of one of his senses once per trial. This effect lasts for up to two hours. However, in order to do this he must aim to deprive himself of the other senses as far as is possible. If he is going to increase his hearing, for example, closing his eyes helps this. The more focused he is on that single sense, the better this [effect] gets. here.
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Llyr Llywelyn
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Re: silent lucidity

Mon Oct 05, 2020 8:30 pm


44th Ymiden, 720

Llyr felt ether press against the air, invisible and otherwise imperceptible... except for the talented etherist. He wondered what magic Hart had performed before entering the cafe, but it wasn't anything that seemed to extend outward towards others.

Once seated, Llyr glanced a few times at Wren. The boy acted rather serious, but he recognized those looks - and Llyr refused a sense of approval, until Wren took the mittens off, and the biqaj leaned ever so slightly. His gloved fingers tickled over Wren's hair, to mess it up, then smooth it down in a touch of approval instead. He patted the child on the head, then tapped at the next step on the puzzle before he leaned back against the bench. Arm against the back of the booth's couch, Llyr acted silently protective with the placement around Wren.

However, Llyr's gaze fixed on Hart. He noticed the soft blush, and the fidget with the coat sleeve. The mage didn't bother with any further lead-up, as he tossed the conversation onto the proverbial table for them all to look at. This was not some date, or family get-together, or whatever people did. This was also not a business deal. So, in Llyr's approximation, the fact that he had to take time for it... it grated on the young biqaj. He had known it was unavoidable (if Hart had survived his little visit before Llyr returned, which he had) but it still bothered him on a level he didn't fully acknowledge.

So, he had to hold his tongue when Hart admitted he had no plans. How does one not have any plans? Llyr didn't understand that, nor did he trust it. It had to be a lie. Why else would Hart have led with Truthfully before making the claim?

The tea arrived, and Llyr settled his own cup. No black tea for Wren, but he did have a mild herbal tea prepared for the boy. Such orders were given ahead of time, when he had first established with the cafe that this particular booth would be left empty for whenever he was in the city. It cost a small fee, but it was worth the convivence due to how close the cafe was to his current residence.

Hart ordered toast, and Llyr wondered if he ate lightly or if something else had caused the modest order. He tapped his fingers against the back of the curved couch. He leaned over, then whispered in Wren's ear: Toast does not make a decent breakfast, Wren. It has no meat, no oats, and no herbs.

Llyr could have simply telepathically related the statement, but there were a few reasons why he didn't. Whispering worked perfectly fine. He lifted again, offered a forced thin smile at the waiter, and said, "Soaked oats with rosemary, and do you have fox today? Yes? Then some strips of flank, not the sausage. Bloody."

He glanced at Wren while the boy ordered next, with the same simple expectation of being heard and respected. Llyr noticed the mimicry, and his smile twitched a little more sincere. Once Wren said thank you, Llyr made a small dismissive gesture with a wave of his fingers for the waitstaff to leave them.

While they waited for their food, the conversation returned to the important topic.

One arm still stretched along the back of the couch, the other rose slightly so that Llyr placed his gloved hand on the table. While Hart talked, he slowly touched each finger against the surface with a muted tap. He didn't interrupt or interject, but his smile faded soon enough. His eyes were blue in the hue of deep sapphires. For most of what Hart said, Llyr gathered his thoughts and started to gradually knot his own emotions so they wouldn't rise through his tangle. The blue in his eyes cooled to a paler tint.

Such was necessary because Llyr could not allow himself to feel the way he would have, otherwise. His thoughts would have gotten tripped and mixed up, and unsure how to respond to all that Hart claimed. He felt a lash of anger, and quickly knotted the thread, before it showed in his sensitive biqaj eyes. His hand lifted away from the table and he moved to instead play with one of the rings underneath the glove in a slow fidget. He had always agreed that he would bring Wren to Hart, ever since Eliza Soule had trusted him with the boy's guardianship...

...but that had been a long while ago. Nearly an arc. Llyr had, of course, grown attached to the boy who remained in his household for all that time. They'd spent plenty of time in Emea together, both in their dreamscapes where they manipulated the worlds around them, and in the Veil where they often strolled while Llyr told Wren stories of his emean travels. Sometimes, the boy spoke otherwise too and shared his hopes and his enthusiasm for whatever it was that caught his eye at the time. And Llyr would let him talk. As much as Wren wanted. And then he wouldn't press for any more information once Wren wanted to be quiet. It was a sort of relation that felt easy to Llyr. Few things felt so easy.

Llyr leaned slightly away from Wren while he adjusted his seated posture. His hands came forward, and he picked up the tea cup. The biqaj breathed in the black tea, then sipped. Warm, but not hot. He sipped again, then set it down and exhaled in a slow quiet manner.

"I see."

For a bit, he didn't say anything more than that. The waitstaff arrived with the food, quick as ever to supply the consistent patron with the meal. He hadn't given them the signal to delay it, after all, so they hadn't. He did set a nel on the table as a tip for the waiter though. Once the meals were in proper spots, and Llyr made sure that Wren had everything he needed to eat with, then Llyr examined his own food.

The oats looked more like porridge and the mere sight almost made him sick. The bloody strips of fox meat looked far more appetizing. He scraped a spoon along the thinly sliced meat, gathered the blood, then looked at Hart. The blond set the spoonful of blood against his lips, then his tongue glided out along the underside of the metal curve. Pale lips wrapped around in slow, gentle tease. His cheeks hollowed in a demure suck of the spoon's head, then he pulled the dining utensil away from his mouth with a quiet smack sound. The silver had gotten entirely clean of the blood, shiny with hints of Llyr's saliva.

A small drop of blood had caught on the corner of his lips. He felt the warmth, the tip of his tongue slowly licked it away while he kept his blue-eyed gaze fixed on Hart. The mage strummed his own threads, and the blue flecked with lavenders and sea-foam green within the irises. His halo flickered, a warm cast of light from the ring.

"If it is only a matter of money," said Llyr. His gaze slid away while he scraped the spoon over the strips to gather the raw animal blood again. "Then that is simple."

"You would be correct in your assumption that I am busy," he said while he used the second spoonful of blood to mix with the oats in a slow stir. "How else does one make money? It is the predicament of any father, because children require both presence and security. It is why I bother to have familiar faces that Wren knows, outside of myself. Certainly you are somewhat aware of biqaj traditions in this?"

"Do you have family, Hart?" inquired Llyr while he gathered some more blood to mix with the oats.

Llyr glanced once at Wren, then continued once Hart either answered or refused, "There are few places in Idalos that have such education as here, but tutors can travel anywhere. Maybe when he is older, Viden would be far more imperative to further his studies. However..."

He almost sighed. Almost. Llyr glanced out at the cafe, his eyes blue again, and avoided any eye contact with either Hart or Wren. He said, "...I have need of couriers for my company. Couriers able and willing to travel great distances between cities. If you were to do this for me, then I can easily provide for your monetary needs."

"I grew up traveling," he mentioned, though he spoke to Wren rather than Hart. "My father took me all over, on the seas and... elsewhere. It is important for any of us to learn how to traverse the waking world just as it is important to learn of Emea."

"Of course..." said Llyr while his blue-eyed gaze moved onto Hart in a sort of look that didn't allow for much hiding. The empath ethereally danced around to explore Hart's tangle; and thus emotions. "...a contract about such an arrangement would need to be drafted and signed. If it suits you?"

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Hart
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Re: silent lucidity

Sat Oct 17, 2020 6:44 pm

"Thank you," Hart said to the waitstaff. He hesitated... but when Magpie set a coin on the table for a tip, Hart did as well.

Hart had been handed an... unexpected financial reprieve for the time he'd been in Viden. Because Magpie had allowed him to remain in his apartment, Hart hadn't needed to pay rent. Because of that, paying for his breakfast and tipping the waitstaff didn't hurt him as it might have.

Still, he reminded himself that he couldn't make a habit of it. It simply wasn't within his means.

Hart sighed.

As Magpie and Wren settled their breakfasts, rearranging plates and cups of tea, Hart kept his gaze away from them. He was starving, and the muted smell of their breakfasts made his stomach hurt with hunger. Momentarily he focused on his toast.

But it didn't matter that he hadn't had breakfast. He wouldn't touch it.

Quietly, Hart set his plate and cup aside. He shut his eyes momentarily and leaned back.

Wren tugged at his sleeve.

Hart prepared for the small boy to question why he hadn't had his toast. But rather than question, Wren said, quite seriously, "Hart, you should have a full breakfast."

Dark blue eyes looked up at him expectantly, and Hart needed a moment. "I'm not... feeling all that well," he finally said. It wasn't a lie. But it wasn't fully the truth, either. "But your breakfast looks really good," Hart said. "I'll be sure to order a full breakfast next time, alright?"

Wren considered him, but he seemed to let it go. He tucked into his breakfast, and Hart watched the boy for a moment like he had earlier, half-smiling. Wren was being much more proper about his breakfast than Hart remembered. But, he thought, Magpie seemed very specific when it came to appearances and etiquette. It was something the other man seemed to want to impart to the boy.

Hart glanced over at Magpie consideringly.

Of course, the glance was meant to be just that. But when he looked at the man, he realized that Magpie was looking at him.

Magpie's eyes had shifted- they were different from the bright ambers and topazes Hart had seen before. But thoughts of why the man's eyes had shifted were quickly forgotten. Slowly, with some amount of grandeur, Magpie made a show of his mouth.

The moment Magpie looked away, Hart did as well.

"Wren, do you mind if I look at your puzzle?" he asked. The small boy hesitated, and Hart said, "I promise not to mess it up." That seemed to reassure him, and Wren set the puzzle in his hands.

It was an excuse to keep his eyes away.

"I'm aware of biqaj traditions," Hart said when Magpie mentioned them. He attempted to be polite, despite the... hostility Magpie had directed at him. "My mother is biqaj," Hart said. He seemed to be focused on the puzzle in his hands. "Perhaps your upbringing was different," he said, "But my mother always spent time with me. We traveled, yes, and I was brought up by community. But that doesn't mean that my mother was not there."

"You said that Wren is like a son to you." Hart didn't inquire. " 'It is the predicament of any father,' " he said, and let off quoting before he let himself become too rude, "To parent their child when it is both convenient and inconvenient to them."

"Yes," he answered simply when Magpie asked if he had family.

Hart turned the puzzle in his hands, keeping his eyes down, though truly he was focused on the conversation. When Magpie next spoke, his hands went still. Wren looked over at Magpie questioningly. He had been sipping on his tea, but now he set it down very carefully on its saucer. There was a very small clink. He seemed puzzled by what Magpie had said- to Hart, and to him.

"You're offering me a position in your company," Hart said. "A contract."

It was... Hart's manner to put away his emotions. He put what he was feeling away like an mug on a shelf, like his emotions were things to hide in a cupboard. He did this because he felt it was... what was needed. So he smiled and he seemed pleasant and happy, and he was polite.

But he wasn't able to shut the cupboard doors on magic, and Magpie would be able to look in on the emotions that Hart put away as he spoke-

the desperate need for money, almost like a rush,

the anger, not quite directed at Magpie,

the resignation concerning the man's offer,

the close, specific fear.

"Thank you," Hart said, and his voice was the very edge of polite. He set the puzzle on the table, almost as carefully as Wren had set down his tea cup.

"But it doesn't suit me," he said. "What now."
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