Backdrifts

The shallow bay Egilrun is situated upon is used, these trials, for crafts and crafting. From boatmakers to weaponsmiths, glassblowers to metalworkers, the sound of hammers and saws can be heard almost every break of the trial, with crews working in shifts to produce the beautiful craftsmanship which they might, one trial, become famous for.

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Lars
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Re: Backdrifts

Sixteenth break, Cylus 2, Arc 720

It was a little easier to sleep the second time around. Although the pain in his head did not fade away completely, and his temperature had not yet returned to its normal, chilled state, he did not feel the same intense desire to pull his skin off and drown himself in a freezing lake of whiskey and rum. His sleep was still restless, still lighter than it ever was in his previous life (he suspected it was the stress of their recent situations rather than a common occurrence, as his body did not feel as if it was used to the lackluster rest), but once Carver fell asleep beside him, Laures joined him in unconsciousness soon enough after. He cuddled up close beneath the blankets, slipped his arms around his lover’s waist, and fell asleep with his chin tucked close between his shoulder and his neck.

By the time Carver stirred, though, Laures had already left the bed again. Awoken once again by the headache that he simply could not kick, he had pulled himself, reluctantly, away from his lover so that he might slink from the bed and find the various bottles they’d brought back to the room. He had… well, he supposed he had no knowledge when it came to mixing drinks, and so after spending a good quarter of a break inspecting each bottle and trying to make sense of the strange (fruit?) shapes, he opted to forgo the matter of presentation entirely. All that mattered was that it went into his mouth, and his stomach, and eased that persistent, frustrating pain - so he sipped at a glass of straight rum and sugar and took swigs of the strange juices in between. Because… fuck it. He did not have the energy to dwell on his inability to make a good drink.

Carver was good at it, better than he’d ever be. But he did not wish to wake him for such a pointless thing either. So, while he nursed his aching head and wandered quietly through the suite again, he did his best to let the younger man sleep for as long as he could. There may have been a few instances in which he had found his way to the bed and kissed his injured cheek, or fixed his hair, or trailed kisses down his neck in a simple test to see if he would wake… but for the most part, he left him alone. The world was a dreadful bore without him, and his anxieties grew as time went on and they were left, somehow, alone and at peace - as he could not imagine that it would truly stay that way for long - but it was nicer, still, to see his overworked, overtired, and likely overwhelmed husband finally getting the rest that he deserved. Perhaps, he thought, once they figured out this strange new place and found somewhere to call their own, without the threat of being kicked out or otherwise harassed, his lover might always get that same rest at the end of each trial. Perhaps, he thought more hopefully, that rest might not even be so needed.

He was awake for two or three breaks on his own before Carver joined him again. Laures spent this time doing little of importance: drinking (slowly, this time, as it was far easier to pace himself now, and easier, too, with a body that did not lose coordination as quickly as his last), stretching (because there was no way he was going to deal with these unpracticed, stiff limbs for long), reading (he was impressed with himself (or perhaps with Iver) for being able to comprehend things so easily, though the novel he picked was far from educational), and hesitantly inspecting himself in the mirror of the gilded vanity.

Iver looked like him. Iver looked… so much like him, yet indescribably different. There was something off that he could not quite place, something different that went beyond the matter of color and tone. There were the obvious differences; the scars, the height, the strengthened skeletal structure beneath, the various sites that’d been cleared of jewelry at some point before he’d found residence in the body (of which he found more each time he checked! Laures had had no idea that a tongue could be pierced through for the sake of style, and yet he could not imagine anything else belonging there, if not jewelry). It disturbed and intrigued him, to look to his reflection and truly see… his reflection. Himself. Not some amalgamation of selves, but one person, in one form - it did not matter that said form was a little different from his last. It was still far from a pleasant experience, staring into that mirror, and he did not linger there for long - but he was not repulsed with what he saw staring back at him.

Laures was standing nearby when Carver finally moved, looking through the drawers of the stand beside the bed. His head turned, and he offered a warm smile as his lover drew himself from the blankets and graced him with a kiss. Curious little search forgotten, he left the stand, and followed the younger to the hearth before settling down by the loveseat. Though their attempts at making plans had been stopped rather quickly by a need for rest instead, Laures did not bother bringing such things up again. Instead, he seated himself on the floor, resting his head against Carver’s legs and watching the fire flicker and burn. He was quiet, content to let his companion read and sort through things as he pleased… and after a while, when Carver moved to lie down properly, Laures lifted himself to join him on the loveseat. Mindful not to obscure his continued reading too much, the older blonde took his place lying over him, head resting comfortably over his chest while his arms held loosely to his waist. His eyes were closed, though he did not sleep, resting somewhere comfortably in between.

When he heard his newlywed husband’s voice break through that thin wall of near-unconsciousness, he drew in a deep breath, and brought one of his hands to his face to rub uselessly at his cheek as if he thought something was there. “Hm?” Laures lifted his head a moment after, “Egg...run…?”

He squinted for a moment as he focused on Carver’s face, and then made himself pay better attention to the words that left those sweet lips. He wanted to kiss them… but instead he just stared, intently, as they moved, looking a little disgruntled from his momentary rest. Antoni had family in town, didn’t mention Iver, didn’t want to attend the Academy… the University... Laures pushed himself up slowly as Carver continued, though expedited the process a bit when the younger leaned forward to reach for something else. He moved back until he was no longer obstructing him, sitting back with a small, habitual frown while his husband spoke of magic and pointed to something in one of the various books. Brows furrowed slightly, Laures hummed in consideration… Antoni was magical by… choice? That was a thing?

But if magic had less to do with blood, and more to do with choice, then did that mean he might… or, that Iver might have also…

Immortals. Laures hadn’t heard of those before, but he hadn’t heard of any of the rest of it either, and it did not strike him as anything important. He leaned against the back of the loveseat and let his hands rest at his sides, fingers tapping idly at the fabric. Carver leaned forward and sighed, and the older watched him for a few quiet trills.

“Yes, it sounds right,” he said first, “so there’s… Scalvoris, then also Scalvoris… Town? And we’re in Egilrun. Alright.”

There was a lot to parse through, he’d admit. Laures leaned forward, scooting closer to his husband and wrapping an arm around his shoulders. He rested his head against Carver’s and looked over the papers and books, his mouth drawn into a thoughtful frown.

“So… if magic is more of a… choice thing, and Antoni was a sorcerer, do you think that maybe Iver also…?”

Laures’ soft voice faded away before he could finish his question, the blond unsure if he even wanted to ask it at all. So instead, he asked, “anything about Ms. Caldwell, or Jenny, or anyone else we should be aware of?”
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Carver
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Re: Backdrifts

17th Break, Cylus 2, Arc 720

Carver found it difficult to not get distracted by the man who kept near him. A little easier, when he remained on his floor but when Laures lifted and joined him on the loveseat, he found his focus drift in and out from the letters he read. He tried to not show it, too much, and kept one hand to gently rub from the other’s shoulder, spine, and lower back in absent caresses as if he were trying to keep his lover warm. He could smell the liquor on the other man’s breath, and while he’d brought the bottle of rum into their suite to help with what was obviously a dependency of some sort… he felt a slight concern. But Carver tried to ignore it for the time being. They were both trying to adjust to the new world, the new bodies, to life after death. Just as he wouldn’t want his husband to bother him about how much he was sleeping, he simply couldn’t be harsh toward how Laures went about the unexpected and confusing situation. He worried, though. He tried to not show it, but he did. The more he got ahold of things himself, the more room his mind created to concern himself with possibilities of the future and the more possibilities, the more he begun to fret about this and that and just about everything in between… and he felt restless within it. Carver didn’t like to sit in worry, he liked to get ahead of things instead. With action came change, and with change came the destruction of many possibilities that he’d otherwise ruminate over.

Yet there was action in learning, as well. Carver already knew this. He understood what could be held in the written word, all the information that could be jammed into sentences. It wasn’t the first time he’d lounged with Laures while he read and read, nor the first time he’d hunted through books to find knowledge, or even letters for that matter. In his previous life, he had grown up next to a university’s campus though the true knowledge had always been kept locked away – out of reach – in constant taunted derision of his inability to reach it. Regardless, he had known it was there and he always tried to prepare for maybe the trial in which he’d get past that wall and devour the books within. In the meantime, news and correspondence and poetry had kept him from complete despair for his known ignorance. While he acquired a gradual context around certain names and words from the letters, books, and map combined. He moved slightly away from Laures, to lean over the table with his elbows against the surface, and he surveyed the map. He set a (soft) fingertip on the scrawled Egilrun then traced over a thin line that he assumed must be a road to Scalvoris Town. He glanced over when he felt the arm wrap around his shoulders, then he weakly tried to smile as the other rested against him again.

He knew what his lover asked when he spoke of magic. Carver wished he had an answer. What it could mean to the other man… he bit on his worn and tattered lower lip, front teeth pressed into the picked apart skin. While his body had no care for it, he wanted a cigarette in that moment – for the first time since he’d sucked in the breath of life again. He shrugged, then deflected, “I’d have to find more to read about that. Or ask around.”

In consideration of the quickly followed question, he hummed and lifted one of the letters up. “Antoni’s family name appears to be the same. Caldwell. Though sometimes he puts Zyma instead, depending on the correspondence. Initials are inscribed as A.F.C.Z or ACZ. I’m guessing she must be his aunt, from how it’s mentioned, or maybe an older sister.”

“As for Jenny, there is no specific use of that name, but this letter to his mother does mention a…” Carver paused. He glanced at Laures. Did he want to share this? Did he have to? Maybe it might be better for his fragile lover’s mind if he didn’t. He cleared his throat, then folded the letters up and started to put them back in the box. “It’s nothing. She won’t be a problem. None of it should be.”

“However, I do think we should leave this Egilrun,” mentioned Carver while he placed the top onto the box again, so the letters were hidden from easy touch. He picked up one of the thinner books and said, “This appears to be an almanac, and if we are in this Cylus, and that we were outside like we were but didn’t die again… I’d say it’s early on.”

He flipped through the pages until he reached a certain spot, then turned it over to show Laures the dotted lines that delineated each trial of the season with various predictions and advice. Carver pointed at a design that resembled a snowflake. The design repeated through the next page, and the next as he flipped it over to show. “It only gets colder. Which, if it stays dark like this, that makes sense, doesn’t it?”

“I think we might have better luck if we go elsewhere, soon… I know you wanted to stay here, my love, but it won’t be… There won’t be somewhere to settle like here, but dearest, it might be for the best to get away from where we’ll be recognized as we already have been,” he suggested. He set the almanac on the table, then looked to take Laures’ hands in his own. Carver gathered them, to lift and tenderly kiss at the scarred knuckles.

“We don’t know why it is that these men, Antoni and Iver, have died. It could have been purposeful like our’s… it could have also been murder. We don’t know. There could have been good reason for it, too. I can hardly find any coin around here, which seems odd for a man who seems taken care of like Antoni is. It makes me wonder if there’s a hidden storage somewhere or if he spent it all beforehand. And Iver… Iver must have stayed somewhere? We should try to figure out where, try to see if there are any letters or journals at his place of residence as well. It’s clear he didn’t stay here, anyway.”
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Lars
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Re: Backdrifts

Seventeenth break, Cylus 2, Arc 720

Laures told himself not to be disappointed, when his lover’s shrug preceded a small dismissal of his inquiry. He had not finished the question because of this - because he would have preferred the lack of response to the lack of interest. It did not matter, though, either way. It was a silly thing to wonder, and he recognized that. He had gone his whole life without magic, and he did not need it now, not when he functioned perfectly fine without it. So rather than dwell on it - rather than get his hopes up only to have them dashed when they discovered that no, he was still just as incapable as before - he gave a curt nod, and allowed his eyes to fall back to the letters and books before them. Carver had his magic, so what more could they need? It was not as if a man like Laures would ever even know what to do with it. A letter was lifted, and his focus narrowed, as he read over the lines and initials below.

“Oh - right. So that’s why he’s in this unmarked suite and all, and why everyone’s mentioning Ms. Caldwell’s disapproval like it should matter to you,” he sorted through the information given at a slightly slower pace. Unlike his husband, Laures could not recall ever even looking at a book before the current arc. Before now, he had hardly even known how to read, even when his poor eyesight had allowed him to - and, perhaps more frustratingly, he did not know how to search through books or letters or anything else and make proper sense of what he found. The peculiar novel he’d left by the vanity had been easier to follow, more similar to the things he had read before than the world of informational texts. He knew… stories. He did not know this, not without the important parts of it all being digested for him first and then given to him through simpler terms.

It was quite clear from Carver’s hesitance to elaborate on Jenny, that Antoni’s relationship with her had been something Laures would have found… inconvenient. He caught the way his lover looked at him, as if in some silent debate, before beginning to fold the letters and tuck them away. The older blond did not protest this, though he did pull his arm back to himself, letting his hands rest over his own knees. The pointy-eared girl from before had given him quite enough insight into that matter; he did not know why Carver might have worried for it. Laures did not believe himself to be that unsteady. It would have been a different story entirely, had this been Carver they were talking about rather than Antoni - but the former was his husband, and the latter was, presumably, dead and gone. He worried not for some poor girl that might have loved Antoni. Carver was not him, and so long as she kept her distance and did not interfere, he saw no reason to concern himself with her.

(Even so, he understood. He could appreciate, if a little abstractly, the fact that his dear husband did not wish to burden him with the knowledge. He remembered, after all, the things Carver had said before consciousness failed him. That he would rather lie. Laures wondered, then, what he might think if he knew the truth about his previous life, about the girl he had killed to keep him near. Things that felt so far away now; already he was beginning to forget the way the morning light looked as it spilled through his window and shaped itself through lace.)

The top was placed back onto the box of letters. Laures made no attempt to take it off again, as it was hardly necessary in the first place. A book was pulled closer, a thin one that made about as much sense to him as any of the others, but Carver’s explanations helped. He tilted his head, a guarded blue gaze sweeping over the pages and following the line of Carver’s finger. Dots and lines and snowflakes; he had not looked through an almanac before, himself, but he offered a nod regardless.

“Which, if it stays dark like this, that makes sense, doesn’t it?”

“Right, yes,” fuck, he didn’t know. He was utterly unaware of how those things worked, he only knew that it was cold and dark outside and that he didn’t like it one bit. Why it was cold, what caused it, he didn’t know. This body at least proved more resilient than his last, so he was certain that he could handle being out in the cold for a bit longer than he might have before, but that did not negate the dreadful effect it had on his mood. He hated being cold. And if it was only set to get colder… well, Laures just hoped that they could at least bundle up properly before heading out again, if that was truly what Carver wished to do. It mattered little where they intended on going, if they froze to death before they got there.

Laures might not have liked the idea of uprooting themselves again, but what did it matter, in the end? He did not care where he was. He had no loyalty to a place he did not know, and if Carver wished to travel, then they would. Laures would follow him to the ends of the world, and if he wished to continue beyond those too, then he would willingly step over the edge with him. Damn the cold, damn the comfort of a warm bed that compelled him to stay - there would be more beds, in time, and more hearths, more crackling flames. There would be no other Carver.

The almanac was set down again, and Laures turned slightly to face the younger, as if expecting him to continue. His scarred (cold) hands were taken into Carver’s, and his fingers tapped gently at the other man’s soft palms as kisses were pressed to his knuckles. While he gave no verbal response, the older blond’s expression seemed to soften as he observed his sweet soulmate… and he made some very good points. Things that Laures himself had not bothered to consider, before now. Murdered… he supposed it was possible. Anything was. Whatever had truly happened to Antoni and Iver, he figured that it had been sudden, unexpected - no one that they had seen so far seemed to know that they had died at all. If it had been planned, purposeful, then the men had kept it to themselves. Laures’ eyes had drifted downward at some point to rest somewhere around Carver’s neck, and at the mention of Iver’s residence, they flicked upward again, attentive.

He adjusted their hands, moving so that he might intertwine their fingers and hold Carver’s against his own. Laures seemed to consider the suggestions for a few trills, before saying, “yes, I think you’re right. Staying here much longer seems to be asking for more trouble, and… we don’t want to be these people, either. As long as we can keep ourselves warm, we should go.”

He was not about to lose Carver again to some Cylus cold. They had coats, they had gloves… food might prove itself another issue, but they could manage, he was sure. They had to.

“I doubt that anyone here will give us anything useful about Iver, and… there was nothing in his clothes that could tell us where he lived,” they could ask around, he supposed, but how odd would that look? A man asking everybody else where he lived, as if he could not remember himself? But maybe… maybe Iver was the sort that needed others to take him home. He seemed a heavy enough drinker, and if he was anything like Laures, then perhaps he had often required assistance getting home. He chewed at the inside of his cheek, his thumbs brushing over the sides of Carver’s hands.

It was something to try, if nothing else worked. Laures lowered their hands, resting them over his knees. “We should try to find someone else that knows Iver. Someone that doesn’t hate him, preferably, that could maybe give us an idea about the places he frequented, or… or something. I don’t know. It’s better than waiting to get kicked out, at least.”

He let go of Carver’s hands then, to push his own forward onto the other man’s legs. His fingers kneaded gently against the muscles in his thighs, massaging their way slowly upwards and then down toward his knees again as he pondered.

“Let’s make sure to bundle up, then. I know you just cannot handle the cold,” Laures teased, a small smile gracing his features. Truly, he did not know how Carver did not get as cold as he did. Or perhaps he did, but was simply better at tolerating it… Laures could not imagine not being bothered by such disgusting temperatures.

“Shall we take our leave, then, or would you like to rest some more before we go?”
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Carver
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Re: Backdrifts

17th Break, Cylus 2, Arc 720

Carver doubted that Antoni and Iver had been murdered. He had said it, regardless, to give the idea as a possibility. But he recalled the way that their clothing had been so neatly folded. If it had been murder, then it’d been the type that wasn’t supposed to be seen as such. There’d been far too much care in how their shoes had been placed side-by-side on the end of the dock. No one sane could have gone swimming in that icy water and expected to live for long. Had they swum far out, or simply far enough… he tried to not think about it much. The fact remained that they didn’t know the circumstances around the deaths, and all they had were their various assumptions that could be made. While he didn’t regret what he had to do, to acquire the cottage temporarily, he was aware that it could come back around. He had tried his best to be careful, and to clean things up to make it not so easy unless someone did a complete search of the place, but if there was magic… and unusual beings with pointed ears and changing eyes… Carver didn’t like it. He didn’t like not knowing what could be used against them.

Their fingers intertwined, and Carver focused on Laures instead. He leaned slightly to breathe against his lover’s cold hands so they might be a little warmer.

“…we don’t want to be these people, either.”

Carver glanced up at that. His lips parted, as if to say something, then he shut them quickly. He quietly hummed. Yes, it was true… He didn’t want to be Antoni. Not in any regard did he want that, but… Antoni did seem to have things. Better things than Carver ever had in his previous life. A warm home, a family, a mother. Useful things. Like the room they were currently staying in, and he hadn’t even had to pay for any of the food in the tavern, and… he wondered how much more he might be able to get without placing themselves in too much danger. Could he fool an entire family that he was still their soft-skinned Caldwell boy who they’d have otherwise tragically lost to the freezing bay waters of Egilrun?

He watched while his lover moved their hands about, then gently massaged against his thighs. A slight grimace, as his attention drew to the soreness in them. He ran a hand over Laures’ shoulder and he offered a slight forced smile in return to the tease about the cold. In regard to Iver, he had no idea where to even begin with any of that… but if Laures thought a good plan, then he wanted to give the other man some room to explore. He started to think about it some, to figure out a possible route to begin so they wouldn't be stuck out in the cold for long. Even bundled, he didn't want to walk about outside in the cold pitch-dark perpetual night any more than necessary.

“There was that… do you remember, the well-lit area across from where we woke up? Across the bridge. I suspect that’s a right tavern area. If Iver was a drinker, like he seems to have been and he wasn’t commonly allowed in places like this, ‘round here then… Cities have their sections opposite one another by rivers or the like to keep things separate, right?” He wasn't sure, but it seemed like a reasonable assumption. Carver lifted from the loveseat with a small rub of his palm over the older’s fluffy hair. Another forced smile, then he headed over to the armoire and opened it up. He gathered some of the thicker clothing, the warmer wear, and threw it over onto the chair.

“It’s a place to start,” he added lightly. “And in the meantime, I can see what it might take to get from here to…”

Carver paused. He ran his hand over a thick woolen sweater. The younger blond hesitated, unsure, then he said, “I think we should go to Scalvoris Town. What you said, yes, I don’t want to be Antoni, but- I, uh, if… if I can get access to a proper library. A university’s library, Laures. I could, maybe I could find out more about magic and see if- well, it could be good to do if possible? It can’t be any more dangerous than staying here, so…”

He held up two different sweaters, one woolen and navy blue, the other thinner but a pale green color. Carver looked at Laures with a slightly apologetic expression and asked, “Which do you want? This… this one looks warmer, so…” he held out the navy blue sweater in a slightly insistent way that Laures take that option.
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Lars
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Re: Backdrifts

Seventeenth break, Cylus 2, Arc 720

Carver’s sweet face twisted into a slight grimace, and Laures’ hands stilled. He did not remove them from where they rested upon the other man’s legs, nor did he allow the habitual frown that threatened at the corners of his lips show itself in full. (He was sorry, suddenly, for the little action, and the feeling felt familiar in a way that he could not place. Why did he feel so painfully sorry? Surely Carver did not think he had meant to cause discomfort, that he was only trying to relieve him of his soreness rather than worsen it. Still, it tugged at his heart, and he stopped.) A hand was smoothed over his shoulder, and he was given the illusion of a smile, and he wished he could return it. He had smiled at him mere trills ago, yet now it felt an impossible task, as it had before. Something wasn’t right with it all, he thought, something was off in Iver’s brain that was different from what’d been off in his own, or something had happened in death - he did not know the cause, but he felt the effects. It was troublesome, it was an unnecessary weight when he already had enough to pull him down without it. He would have to keep it in mind regardless, so as not to let things bother him more than they should. To remind himself that what he felt was… exaggerated.

There was mention of the well-lit area near where they had awoken, and Laures nodded - that was as good a place to start as any. He could only hope that Iver might have been a better man than it seemed so far, if only to be better-received himself… or at the very least, he hoped that he had not been deserving of anything worse than simply being thrown out of an establishment. Surely someone as upstanding a citizen as Antoni would not have involved himself too deeply with a true criminal, but he supposed they could not rule it out. Before he thought to respond, Carver was moving, and Laures drew his hands back to himself entirely.

He crossed his legs and leaned against the back of the loveseat, listening to his lover cross the room and open the armoire. Laures’ head rested over the back, his throat bared to the world while his messy hair spilled forth over the edge. Eyes closed for a moment of rest, his arms were drawn upward to rest over the back of the loveseat as well, and his fingers tapped idly against the furniture while he considered his husband’s words. To Scalvoris Town… there was no reason to say no, was there? He knew about as much as Scalvoris Town as he knew of Egilrun, besides the fact that said town had -

A university’s library, Laures.

- a university. Laures’ eyes flicked open at that, but he remained otherwise still. He supposed that a university to Carver meant something entirely different than it did to him. Something… good. Educational. An institution that could provide him with all the opportunities he had always been denied in their previous lives. Laures knew that, and he knew what he meant, and why he might jump at the chance to visit such a place. All the books that would surely be found there… Laures tried to ignore the nervous flutter of his heart, and the way his fingers jerked in quiet, chaotic motions against the loveseat, but he couldn’t. Not completely. What he could do, however - he could pretend. It would not be so hard, would it? This place could mean… it could mean gaining a better understanding of this world, and of why they had found themselves within it, and… gods, Iver’s heart skipped more than his own ever had.

He did not answer yet, for his attention was drawn temporarily to something else: two sweaters, green and blue, held up for him to see. Laures leaned forward, his hair falling over his eyes before he raised a hand to push it back and away again. Lifting himself from the loveseat, the older blond approached his husband, eyes shifting from one sweater to the next. The blue did look warmer, while the pale green was thinner, better suited to a mere chill as opposed to the temperatures that must have awaited them outside, and he had always dealt terribly with cold. Carver even held the blue sweater out farther, as if he wished for him to take it.

Laures grabbed the green sweater and did not speak of it.

After walking to the bed and seating himself at the edge of it, he pulled the sweater on over his head, pleased to find that it mostly fit. Carver was correct in thinking that it would not provide quite as much warmth, but he would wear his coat over it as well, and he would deal with it just fine. He would. He did not care how cold it got, he would manage just fine like this, and Carver could keep his warm blue sweater. Laures stood up again once he’d gotten it on, and his hands pulled at the bottom of it to adjust it. He even began to tuck it in, but stopped, and cleared his throat quietly as he fiddled with his sleeves instead.

“Yeah, alright,” he agreed, “let’s do that then. That shouldn’t take us too long to get back there. See what we can find out about Iver, see if we can find where he lived… maybe he’ll have some coin to take with us too, if Antoni’s is gone. Then... find our way to this university.”

Laures hoped that his reluctance was not as easily heard as it was felt. He stared at the edges of his sleeves for a moment longer, at the scars that peeked out from underneath them to continue onto his palms, and then gave a short nod. They had made it through worse together; they could make it through this. The former slave turned around then, quickly tidying up the blankets and pillows before leaving the bed to approach the loveseat again. He had left a few of the sepia-toned bottles near the table, when it’d been pulled near - he grabbed the rum, and was shocked to find that he had already finished the majority of it. But… he did not feel as if he had had that much. Was it because he had taken it so slow, as opposed to downing it all at once? The blond was lost; he had always been such a lightweight before, drunk after a sip or two and blacked out soon after.

Perhaps not quite that quickly, but close enough. The bottle was set down again, and he left it alone. Laures unpinned the map after taking another glance over it (not that it made much sense to him), and handed it off to Carver while he slipped into his shoes. Sweaters, map… he grabbed his coat next, pulling it on over his sweater and shoving his cold hands immediately into his pockets. If he had any other possessions, he was unaware of them - his lover might have effectively taken Antoni’s place, and therefore all of his things, but it was difficult for the older to imagine taking any of the rest of it with him. It all felt like… Carver’s, not his. And especially after their little confrontation earlier, Laures felt like more of an intruder in the suite than he already had upon entering it.

(It was not the first time that Laures had had nothing to his name, but it had been a while since he had felt so lost in the world around him. He had only just started getting used to being in the outside world of before, and now he had a new one to figure out. The weight was heavy, and only getting heavier the longer he stood there.)

With a soft, quiet sigh, he moved to the door, but did not reach out to open it. Rather, he stood in front of it and watched, waiting for his lover to join him.

“Onward, my love?” Laures tried a smile, and it did not quite take, but the attempt was there, and he supposed that was what mattered. “Perhaps we should find out what that green drink is before we go. I could start making it for you, if your body wants it. Maybe I could make it look prettier too.”

Not that he supposed Carver cared what a drink looked like. Laures shrugged, his expression neutral and demeanor light as he leaned back against the door.
word count: 1470
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Carver
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Re: Backdrifts

18th Break, Cylus 2, Arc 720

Green sweater taken, Carver also said nothing of it. He glanced over Laures though and tried to figure out what the older might’ve been feeling, or thinking, but found it difficult to read the way that the new features moved. Unless there was a smile… he found it difficult to figure out what it was that Laures might be feeling. He hoped he hadn’t somehow hurt his fragile-hearted soulmate in an unknown way that he could only guess at. Maybe he was just overly attentive, and the other man was as tired as he felt. So, he tried not to assume much while he watched Laures pull the sweater on. He also tried to not get distracted by other things; they couldn’t just stay in bed forever… not if he wanted to get ahead of possible danger. Carver had never been one for such luxury as giving time to rest, or lounging about, even in recovery he felt restless – or perhaps, especially in recovery, and that hadn’t changed in the slightest. Stubborn, he hated the idea of his body demanding how he spent his time. He hated how sore he felt, and how weak his newly acquired body still was. It could take a very long time before he regained the same sort of strength from his previous life, which only made him feel more anxious. His very soul proved turbulent and antsy, impatient with the lapse of time, and with disregard to whatever physical vessel he might inhabit.

In his hands, he gathered a knit scarf he’d found at the bottom of the armoire. He examined it, then put it on the chair. Antoni had so many different styles of clothes, it confused him. Did he not just need a shirt and pants? Carver never had been much for a large wardrobe. There were only a couple things he ever cared about, yet somehow in all the crap shoved into the armoire, Antoni didn’t have any vests, nor did he have any boots. While he dressed, he noticed Laures tidying up the bed and then the room.

“Laures… Are you…” he tightened a belt around a pair of tan trousers he’d found. They were still fitted, but not quite as tight as the velvet pants from before. Carver worried on his lower lip some, then slipped on his shoes. He pulled the navy-blue sweater on, though it felt exceptionally heavy against his sore shoulders. Carver winced, unable to hide the glance of pain from his expressive features that he still felt unaccustomed to.

Scarf in hand, he approached Laures as the older waited by the door for him. Carver hadn’t put on his coat, yet. He noticed the attempt at a smile, but he had also noticed the quiet sigh. The younger blond looped the scarf around the other’s neck, then used his dual grasp to pull Laures closer to him and away from the door… for a few trills. Carver kissed his lover on the lips - and during the kiss, he pressed the other blond back against the door in an unrefined, rough motion. Bodies close, he felt warmth gather between the layers of their clothes. He wrapped the scarf, twisted the fabric into a knot and then tightened it snugly to Laures’ neck.

“Are you okay?” he asked in a murmur. “If you… if you want to stay here, longer, we can figure out how to make it work, love. I only want to avoid losing you. I don’t want anything, or anyone, to take you away from me. You know I don’t like sitting around. I feel so…”

Carver hesitated. Dark eyes stared downward between them while he stroked his hands over the ends of the scarf. He chewed on his bottom lip some, then licked away the torn skin that lightly bled. “…so pitiful when I do. No one else is going to care for us, except ourselves, so we have to move. We have to find ways to make a life. We have to. It- Back, in the- in our home, it was always just me by myself, and I had to keep moving, I had to. Now, it’s only you and me, Laures. So, we have to. But if you’re tired, I can do it all for us. It’s okay. You can stay warm here, and I’ll go ask around.”

He looked up, to find contact with his lover’s blue eyes. He brushed a hand to tuck some of the fluffy hair behind one of the pierced ears. His soft fingertips lingered and traced along the shape of the ear. He concluded, “I don’t want you to be cold or weary. I want you to be happy and safe. So, tell me if there’s something bothering you? You will, won’t you? You don’t have to pretend, or act stronger than you feel, with me… I love you, either way.”

It didn’t matter to Carver that Laures had agreed with the idea of finding Iver's home, and of leaving Egilrun, and of everything so far… in fact, he couldn’t think of a single point where Laures had disagreed with him. Which concerned him. He didn’t feel certain that his demure soulmate simply wasn’t going along with whatever to avoid potential conflict. Laures had seemed so set on staying in the suite for longer, for enjoying the comfort and warmth and presumed safety of it, together. Hadn’t Carver promised he would try to make that work? And here he was, already trying to move them onward – and Laures seemed willing to follow even though the green sweater was thin and the night was cold and everything remained so confusing. It could possibly be better in Scalvoris Town, or it could be worse, Carver didn’t know. All he did know was that he loved Laures, that he didn’t want to lose his soulmate – to anything, for any reason – and whatever was required of him, then he would do that… no matter what. Carver would do anything for Laures, all Laures had to do was speak.
word count: 1045
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Lars
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Re: Backdrifts

Eighteenth break, Cylus 2, Arc 720

The scarf pulled him forward, and he met his dear, sweet lover in a sorely-needed kiss. Both of Laures’ hands were drawn out of his pockets, to rest instead on either side of Carver’s head and to entangle his slender fingers in the other man’s hair. He was pushed against the door again, rougher this time than he had done himself, but he did not mind. Carver could have shoved him back and slammed his head against the wall, and he would not have minded, not really. It would have hurt, but pain was but a vessel through which his love was carried on. A stabilizing, grounding force that allowed him to continue on, to push through harder things, more painful things, to tolerate more and more if only it somehow benefited his love. He had tolerated death, sudden though it had come to him. And so the world deemed him fit to carry on, to learn how to accept whatever hurts followed death. He was grateful for the opportunity.

It was wrapped around his neck and pulled tight, and for the shortest moment, Laures thought his love was going to kill him again.

Are you okay?

He wished he had not asked him that. It was not something he had been asked in a while, and it was not something he wished to answer, nor to even consider. There were too many other things to worry about, too many other concerns without adding another on top of it. Of course he was okay; he was here with Carver. He was breathing, he was feeling, he was alive. His heart might have fluttered nervously in his chest, and his fingers (which had fallen from Carver’s head to rest at his sides again) might have tapped, and the weight might have been crushing, but it was alright. It was a blessing to be able to feel at all, one that he had not known he would be granted. Surely, he thought, Carver understood that, and did not think him ungrateful. He was okay, and it didn’t matter if he didn’t feel okay, because he was.

Blue eyes caught on the other man’s lips, on the thin lines of blood unearthed and licked away. Carver had been doing that quite a bit, he noticed. Worrying at his poor lips, making them crack and bleed. Laures thought to push forward and kiss him again, to stop his little assault on his sweet, undeserving lips, but he had not finished speaking yet, and the blond would not dare interrupt him. He could not bear to do so, when he spoke to him so sweetly; he wondered if Carver knew how much it meant to him to be cared for. To have his feelings considered, even when they shouldn’t have been.

“You can stay warm here, and I’ll go ask around.”

Laures glanced up at the same time as Carver, and he was already shaking his head in disagreement. No, he did not want that. He did not elaborate, as he felt no good reason to do so, but he did not want that at all. It was not only a matter of not wanting to be alone (for he would have made them continue on even if Carver had offered to stay there with him longer), but a matter of not wanting Carver to go off on his own. But he could not say that without it sounding… well. How was he meant to say I love you, but I have not trusted you on your own since you left me and came home high and underdressed with scratches on your neck. Or to revise it, and offer the truth, to say I have not trusted you like that since I killed your pretty fiancée. No, he would not say it. It was one of many things that did not matter, when faced with the impossible depth of Carver’s love. One of the things to be tolerated and ignored. Carver’s hand found his ear, and he leaned into the touch; his soft fingertips felt like gentle feathers, lulling him to sleep.

His eyes were closed, his delicate features softened into a more relaxed expression. Laures’ hand reached forward, setting itself on Carver’s waist, and his fingers tugged gently at the wool of his blue sweater. “I love you too,” he offered first, matching the other’s quiet tone, before he opened his eyes to look at him.

“I’m alright, love. I’m tired, but so are you. You don’t have to worry about me - I’m happy, and I’m safe, as long as I’m with you. I promise,” Laures leaned forward, and pressed a soft kiss to his husband’s forehead.

“We’ll have time to rest somewhere eventually. Until then, I’m here to help clear the path.”

In truth, he did not have as much faith in the first statement - that they would have time to rest somewhere, sometime - if only because he did not think that his loving, restless husband would ever allow it. They might find that place one day, they might fix every problem known to man, they might figure out the secrets of the universe and be handed a perfect home on a silver platter, but would Carver ever let them rest a moment to enjoy it? Or would he keep on forever, always moving, always finding something else? Laures thought he knew the answer. But he knew, for sure, that he would always follow either way.

He rested his head against Carver’s for a quiet moment, gathering his resolve, before he let go and leaned back. Laures nodded towards his husband’s coat, and said, “now come on, darling, let’s brave this cold together, shall we?”
word count: 984
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Doran
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Re: Backdrifts

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Laures:

Knowledge:
Acrobatics x4
Caregiving x3
Resistance x3
Endurance x2
Deception x2

Loot: -
Wealth: -
Injuries: -
Renown: 5
Magic XP: -
Skill Review: Appropriate to level.
Points: 15

Carver:

Knowledge:
Endurance x1
Meditation x1
Mixology x2
Deception x3
Intimidation x3
Research x3

Loot: +1 Scalvoris Almanac. (basic book)
Wealth: -
Injuries: -
Renown: 5
Magic XP: -
Skill Review: Appropriate to level.
Points: 15

- - -
Comments: This was another extraordinary thread from the two of you. I’m amazed by all the details that you added to the story and how much attention you pay to their thoughts and feelings (and the fact that they are still adjusting to their life in the new world and in their new bodies). Their love for each other is obvious!

I can’t help but wonder who that Jenny that the server mentioned is. Was she Antoni’s girlfriend? And what exactly happened to Antoni and Iver? Will Carver and Laures ever find out how they died?

There is still a lot for them to discover about the previous owners of their bodies (if they want to, that is).

I also wonder if Laures will just keep on drinking alcohol or if he will eventually try to get rid of Iver’s habit.

I agree that it’s a good idea to go somewhere where they won’t recognized, by the way, and I look forward to reading the next parts of their story!

Great writing, and enjoy your rewards!

word count: 241

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