No Longer Dreaming

Once the epitome of advancement and wonderment, this ancient city has suffered an apocalyptic catastrophe and now drowns deeper into destruction as schemes and further disasters threaten to tear it asunder. Hope has long since left the land... but some have refused to surrender their place in the sun
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Llyr Llywelyn
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No Longer Dreaming

Fri May 17, 2019 6:52 pm

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66 Ashan 719

Within the loft of Lucretia Clement’s home, which was a modest space that sat at the top a spiral staircase and above the enclosed study and living area, the Biqaj named by his father as Zarik awoke drenched in sweat. He sat up from the stone floor. Nearby, Lucretia’s bed remained untouched. Though Zarik had been staying with the scholarly woman for a few trials, he still didn’t want to invade on her intimate sleeping space. Floors suited him fine, even if they were of hard, cold stone. The blanket he’d been using had gotten crumpled under his head. The pillow had somehow journeyed to several paces away. He placed his arms over his knees and steadily breathed. His mind fixated on the dream he’d only just experienced.

The wanderer who had visited him, asked questions of him, provided a glimpse of… he wasn’t certain what and yet he felt as if something profound had occurred. Zarik ran a hand over his scarred forehead. He traced his thumb along the Mark of Faith. His plain tunic was soaked through with sweat. Zarik pulled it off, then stood.

Unlike the state of his Emean avatar, in the waking world, Zarik’s sickly pallor accompanied hollow eyes of dark violet-gold restlessness. His lithe body appeared frail, dappled with golden bruises, and marred by scars on various large portions of his limbs and back. The consistent trait to his avatar proved to be his mutations: the crystalline legs that shimmered in contrast to the black undergarment shorts he wore; the gossamer wings that folded along his tall form; the halo that hovered above his head in gentle iridescent light; and the orphic inkblot tattoo that perpetually moved along the whole of his back in transformative designs.

The inky black designs curled around the silver welt scars that coated his lower back. Zarik could not see them, but he could almost feel them as the dark stain animated around his spine. He walked over to a table, gathered stale water from a basin, and rinsed his face. The youthful Biqaj started to rinse his pale hair then paused. He looked over his shoulder and he saw he wasn’t alone.

Instant recognition of the wanderer, the subdued young man with vibrant eyes, and Zarik asked in an aloof tone, “Am I still dreaming?”

“Of course not,” came the familiar, calm voice. He looked exactly as he had in the dream, right down to his near unblinking grey-green stare, plain clothes, and bare feet. The wanderer-turned-intruder had situated himself upon a small, stray stone stool and seemed oddly comfortable for a man who had, quite literally, popped right out of his dreams - and not in the sensual sense.

It seemed almost… like a hallucination. Zarik rubbed the sleep from his eyes. The irises were crimson dashed with grey pigment. He shook his head, then flicked the water from his hands before drying them with his tunic. The blond tossed the bundled fabric aside. His wings unfolded and fluttered in the dim cyan light of a lantern – the only illumination in the bedroom loft. He asked, “How are you here then?”

The other man tapped his own lower lip in the same place he’d touched Zarik in the dream. “As an etherist, you should know better than most how thin the veil between the waking world and Emea truly is.” He remained where he was, observing, as seemed to be his preferred state of being. “And, for those like us, that veil has the potential to become a doorway.”

Zarik approached the human whose eyes followed his every movement, but whose body remained nearly motionless save for the subtle rise and fall of his chest. He glanced over him, but nothing seemed to suggest that the arrival was one of malice or ill intent. The stranger proved as calm as he had in the dream, the countenance the same in every way that he could recall. He truly hoped that the dreamer was real, and that he hadn’t lost his mind in such a vivid fashion.

He quietly hummed. Had he read about the veil? There were very few texts on the matter of dreamwalking and even Lucretia found herself at a loss to explain it when he’d asked her. She was not a dreamwalker, after all, though she had plenty of theories to share that only confused him more. Zarik looked toward the space that led into the spiral staircase, and he wondered if Lucretia knew about the visitor to her home yet.

“I believe I told you, I am ignorant of a great many things,” he quietly said. He turned his gaze back to the other man. The crimson in his irises faded until they were merely grey entirely. “Why have you come?”

“To verify your truths, lord,” he replied. “I have lived in Quacia my entire life and never once come across a revealed mage.” There should have been at least a hint of recrimination in his voice. Should have but wasn’t. “But it does indeed seem as though you spoke true of your spark’s expressions.” He folded his hands over his lap, the very picture of polite patience - something that seemed wholly out of place given the fact he was there without invitation. “Would you be so kind as to prove to me you are, in fact, an etherist, lord?”

“You’re Quacian.” Zarik’s eyes widened as the other man nodded in affirmation. The grey of his irises vanished in a burst of yellowish-amber color. He settled in a lean against the nearby wall, beside the stool where the human sat. Arms crossed over his bare chest, he glanced over the stranger as if seeing him for the first time. He searched for things he might’ve missed, but would recognize now in the framework of the new information.

Momentary surprise drifted. He listened, and thought to respond, but didn’t rush to do so. Upon the request for proof of his magic, he shrugged. While perhaps it wasn’t the wisest course to trust a stranger who’d come into a home uninvited through a dream… for all he knew the human was a spirit of some sort, playing games of trickery… Zarik simply couldn’t find the will to deny his inherent curiosity. Though they no longer were in Emea, he obliged.

He placed a hand to his chest. Zarik closed his eyes. He grimaced, at first from the warmth in his chest causing familiar muddled emotions. He would have to request Lucretia to knot them for him… but as he focused on what was the simplest of conjurations, he realized an unusual strain. As if challenged by the abnormal resistance, he sent a greater amount of ether into the task and lifted his hand away from his chest. With it, in his palm, he held an orb of Brilliance. Iridescent rays brightened the room around them. He lightly tossed it. The orb bobbed through the air, gently drifting towards the wanderer’s shoulder.

The stranger raised a hand, as if to touch it, but, in the next moment, the light was extinguished. He murmured something under his breath, a slight frown on his lips but no real displeasure in the expression before his grey-green eyes settled once more upon Zarik. “Curious...” There was something - for once - in his eyes that suggested there was more to the comment, but he didn’t offer any further elucidation.

“Thank you for your compliance, lord.” When the stranger stood to offer a polite bow, Zarik felt a subtle weight lift from him, one he only noticed in its absence. “I apologize for my uncouth methods.”

To the apology, Zarik merely nodded. He wondered what the other man had done, what he had tested – as it was clearly a test of some sort – and what the results might’ve been. He said, “You are…”

The stranger raised a brow expectantly, but he didn’t finish the sentence.

Instead, Zarik shook his head and then smiled in a demure, but sincere manner. “You don’t have to call me lord… yet what might I call you?”

He seemed to hesitate, though whether it was out of reluctance or something else wasn’t clear. “You may call me ‘Kiwi’.” If it was a joke, there wasn’t a hint of mirth in his ever-steady gaze. “And you, lord?”

With a slow nod, Zarik made note of the name to remember and then he breathily chuckled when the man called him lord again. Whether spoken from rebellion or deference, he couldn’t tell. When it came to Kiwi, he couldn’t tell many things other than faint instinctual sensations regarding the fleeting sense of familiarity or notions like the invisible weight that had lifted from him.

The Biqaj also hesitated, though his pause displayed clear reluctance on his expression and in his voice. “Well… I… that is- it is…” He didn’t want to be called lord, but he struggled to find a name that might not acquire undue attention toward his reputation, as the Quacian didn’t seem to recognize him.

And as if he’d answered the man, though he had not, Zarik turned away. He went to a nearby dresser, took out a new tunic, then asked, “Would you care for some food or tea, Kiwi? If you’d like a meal, I could put something together for you.”
word count: 1606
Quick Note
Zarik is currently undergoing a name change to Llyr.
If threading in Quacia prior to 80 Ashan, refer to him in narrative still as Zarik.
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Mads
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Re: No Longer Dreaming

Sat May 18, 2019 3:43 am

It had been quite some time since he’d last felt the need to eat anything, a direct result of his own spark’s influence. “Thank you, but no.” Mathias replied, remaining where he stood. He watched the other man - the now very much intentionally nameless man - dress himself, but not so much the act as the man who performed it.

He was just as tall as he’d been in the dream, that, and his magical eccentricities, had been no exaggeration. The grandiose presence he’d emanated before was severely reduced in the waking world. Though he was a still a fascinating creature, his body was covered in marks and bruises. His voice was softer, meeker. Everything about him suggested subservience rather than command, making his Emean nature all the more interesting.

Is that what he longed for? To stand tall and proud, above the tremulous and uncertain sea of his own life?

Then there were the two very distinctive, very familiar marks of faith that the nameless man wore upon his chest and forehead. Punishment or pride? He didn’t seem to conduct himself in the pious and illustrious manner of the zealous devout within the privacy of his own home, but Mathias had never seen one of the Theocratum in such a setting. It was entirely likely they were all very much the same: worn and broken men and women donning masks and tucking their own misery behind grand shows of faith. And if the marks were bestowed upon him unwillingingly, it spoke to defiance or, at the very least, deviation.

He could use the latter, but the prior would most certainly clash with Fiona. There were millions, if not billions, of doors within the Veil, and if the nameless man proved to be too devout to be of use, he supposed it was a waste of time to spend much more of it in a city wherein they already had a reliable brand.

“Are you a member of the Theocratum, lord?” The question was abrupt and direct, but there was no edge to it. Curiosity played at the edges of his tone as he remained still, like a living, breathing statue, not only waiting for a reply but keenly observing how it might be given.

The Biqaj finished with the tunic, cinching the thin fabric at his slim waist with a suede belt. He didn’t look over, he didn’t glance. He kept his gaze down, as if considering the nature of the dresser in front of him. His fingertips ran over the wood, and he lifted them as if looking for dust. Finally, he answered, “No, I am not. I’m sorry.”

“I see.” He turned, moving the stool back to its original position near the wall where it had been when he’d first stepped foot in to the room. “And what of your revealed mages, lord?” he continued, turning to stare once more at the other man, though now most of the room separated them. One mage was both useful but complicated; already he’d found that he and Fiona clashed more often than not - though, generally, such things were one sided and something he assumed would come to pass between any other Fiona came across.

Three ascended beings, however, were entirely complication and utterly useless. Just as one could not hope to completely manage one’s own spark, creatures such as those the dreamer had mentioned were much the same. A spark and psyche merged and personified, not to be controlled or utilized or even relied upon. They were too great of a risk.

Whether the question or the continued use of lord as a titled name, it wasn’t clear what caused the exasperation in the Biqaj’s voice and expression. However, he waved a hand as if in dismissal of a servant. He asked, “What of them?”

Mathias, to some extent, could recognize emotion, but he had never been very good at properly connecting it to its source. Though the other was clearly agitated, he simply assumed it was the nature of waking from restless sleep. In much the same way as before, he pressed on, calm and quiet but without a hint of gentle treading. “Have they gone or do you remain with one of them?” He frowned, thoughtful. Perhaps he was a progeny, a bearer of awakened sparks, expected to follow after them and, thus, why he appeared so worn and, generally, subdued. “Or… all of them?”

“What does it matter?” replied the pale blond. He turned around and gently leaned with the dresser behind him. His hands clutched at the stone edge. The irises of his eyes darkened into murky blue shades. “You… you made mention of an opportunity, an offer? Yet you continue to ask questions, even outside of Emea. How many will you ask before you are satisfied? Tell me what you seek or… why you ask these things of me.”

Green eyes blinked twice. “A partnership, of a kind.” The navy hue, at least, he understood to be exasperation or something like it. Fiona responded in much the same when when his questions flowed too freely, though, he imagined, for very different reasons. “But one I would be loathe to establish with the property of an ascended being, be it god or otherwise.” No accusation. No worry or fear or pity. It was a fact, an answer, and one that the nameless man had requested.

Each finger tapped against the edge of the stone dresser as the Biqaj regarded the answer thoughtfully. Unwavering eye contact, he slowly nodded in acceptance of it as if to acknowledge his belief in what Mathias had said. He licked his lips, a fidget to gain a few trills more to contemplate, then the bruised and sickly blond replied, “I belong to no one but myself.”

Mathias raised a brow at that but said nothing.

The dreamer’s jaw tensed, visibly, and his eyes narrowed slightly. Along the edges of their shape, the waterlines gathered a hint of tears that threatened to well. He cleared his throat, blinked them away, and added, “I do not shed my blood for the Wounded God. No Immortal shall ever sway me. And of the Revealed, they are hardly comparable to…” he cut himself off and pivoted without remorse, “-to answer your question, they are not gone but I do not remain with them.”

The shimmer at the corners of the dreamer’s eyes were clear, and Mathias knew there was much, much more to the matter than the other offered. Without asking for further clarification on that specific matter - he did not need a swell of emotions to sift through - he nodded once. “And they will not pursue you?”

“I… that’s…” hesitated the Biqaj. He averted his gaze to the floor. Again, he licked his lips. He tapped his fingers against the dresser. He frowned, then closed his eyes and shook his head – not as answer to the question, but as if to rid himself of some sort of burdensome thought. His eyelashes fluttered when he looked up again and he spoke in a quiet voice, “I cannot say for certain… I-I… hope not and I doubt it, but to try and gauge what resembles a mind for the Revealed… such is a futile task. They cannot be predicted as easily as mortals can be.”

“That seems a reasonable answer.” Mathias nodded, mostly to himself. “Have you any interest, lord, in the world?” Fiona had not explicitly told him to ask such things of strangers or potential informants and brands. They certainly had not done so with Carmella, nor did he imagine they ever would. Fiona claimed her goals were to change the world, to fix it, though she had never said such in so direct a manner. His own were still primordial, uncertain.

What then were the dreamer’s?
. . .continued. . .
word count: 1330
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