Myself of Selves

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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Myself of Selves

Twentieth Break, Cylus 2, Arc 720

The Lemon Messy, Egilrun, Scalvoris
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aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhh!!!!!!! AAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!

It was colder than he had hoped it would be. Then again, when he had left the lodge with Carver and set out to find somewhere that might’ve been more welcoming to his body’s previous host, he had not expected to wind up in a place like this.

After the first place proved useless (he was told to leave before he even got his foot in the door) and the second followed suit, Laures had become largely unmotivated in their search. While he did his best not to show it too clearly, it was wearing him thin, being so… unwanted. He was no stranger to the feeling, as he had not exactly been wanted in his previous life either - but it was different. He had been wanted in other ways, even if not the ones he would have preferred, and it had still felt better than this. Better than being glared at and told to leave, better than almost getting thrown out of the only place they’d found true shelter in thus far. He might have been little more than an object in his previous life, something to use and discard, but now, he felt like even less. He felt like nothing. He wasn’t even good enough to be used.

He tried to remind himself, as one break stretched into two and they continued on their cold search, that it was not him that these people so disliked. He did not even know any of them, and they certainly didn’t know him. All of their opinions, their judgements, their perceptions - all of them were based entirely on a man he had replaced, and did not reflect what they might think of him should they give him the chance to show himself. But it still did not feel good, when his lover was greeted with such respectful, friendly delight, and he was met with a glare and a grunt. But it didn’t matter, or it wouldn’t, soon enough. The people here might not have cared for him, or for Iver, but he did not care for them either, and did not plan on sticking around regardless.

So it was a turbulent blend of relief and reluctance when they came upon the Lemon Messy. Odd though it was, Laures found some comfort in the fact that he could not be shoved out through a door, should this place turn out to be like the others. Besides, the walls - or, the… ship? Was it an upturned ship? It was harder to tell in the darkness, but whatever it was, it would still provide some cover, some protection from the elements of the Cylus cold. So, with his scarf pulled up over his pink-tipped nose, Laures pulled his lover towards the strange establishment, his arm linked with the other’s to keep him close. The closer they got, the more his fingers itched to move, to tap against his coat and his perfect husband’s arm, but he forced them to remain still. This would be fine. As with the others… if he was not welcome here, then he would leave, and they could just give up this painful search.

But, by some good fortune (or perhaps because of the scarf concealing half of his face), they were not approached and told to leave once they’d stepped over the threshold. Under cover of the patched-up hull, the various lights provided more than enough illumination for Laures to get his bearings in the… tavern? Mess hall? What even was this place, exactly? A few heads turned as they stepped through, out of mere curiosity, but to his delight, there were no glares. No stern frowns, no rolled eyes, no hushed whispers that he could see. Laures sniffed, leaning slightly closer to his husband as he reached up to lower his scarf.

“Seems promising,” he mentioned lightly, if only to let Carver know that he had not completely given up just yet. “Maybe someone here could at least give us something more to go off of. Or at least let us know if we’re looking in the right place. I - oh, shit.”

It was the scarf, wasn’t it. He had only just lowered it moments ago, and already someone was striding over, likely on his way to kick him out. Laures straightened up, though he did not release Carver’s arm, and he watched in silence as a (much smaller) man approached. With his dark hair pulled back into a bun, his bright green eyes were revealed; his features were soft and rounded, though his body was small, short in stature and surely as skinny as Laures’ old body had been. Human, Laures thought, or at least close enough. He was not focused on much more than his face, too busy working out the emotion behind his expression. Was he upset? Pleased? Worried? Not quite, but something like that.

“What are you two doing here?”

Concerned. His tone gave it away, his voice high in pitch but low in volume. He approached them with his hands on his (lack of) hips, and looked from Carver to Laures with a strange look, almost like a mother might look at her worrisome child.

“Uh… what do you mean?”

The man (he must have been a few arcs younger than himself, closer to Carver’s age) raised his eyebrows, and Laures heard a quiet exhale from his nose, as if he had somehow amused him.

“I thought you were, uh - that you two had…” and again, he looked at Carver, and for once, someone seemed more wary of his husband than of him.

Laures held Carver’s arm a little tighter, and said, “change of plans. Is there a problem?”

Another little amused huff, before a small smile appeared on the young man’s face. Shaking his head, he began to turn, and motioned for them to follow. “No problem. Come on, Rausi’s here too. Where’s Avery? She coming by later?”

He had already started walking. Laures glanced at his husband, flooded for a trill with that same familiar nervousness, before he looked forward and moved to follow along.

“Yes - maybe. I haven’t talked to her.”

Didn’t know who the fuck she was, either. Laures loosened his hold on Carver’s arm (but did not let go) as the little man walked them through the tavern-mess hall-hull-establishment and down to the other end of it, where the tables were a bit less crowded. What would these people do, if they discovered him? Would it ever even occur to them, that he might not be Iver? That he might not be their… whatever Iver was to them? Or might they just think that he had changed, that he had suddenly adopted new mannerisms and all? What could they really do to him either way? Something about that question brought him comfort, and as they approached the table, Laures again looked towards his lover, to offer a small smile of reassurance. Whether it was for himself or for Carver, he did not know.

The little man sat down. There was a woman already seated - Rausi, he supposed - and she glanced up at them as they neared the table, but her expression did not change. Stern, or perhaps just unemotional - something about her seemed sharp. Her hair was short, slicked back, dyed blue; her dark eyes settled over them and Laures could not quite tell, in their depths, if she was pleased. When she spoke, her words were harsh not in nature, but in sound, as they ripped through the air like some shrill squawk.

“You,” and she smiled, somehow, as she looked at Iver. “I did not think I would see you again. Sit.”

Laures was grateful for the layers covering his chest, for he was certain that his heart would have been seen, beating as hard as it was against it. He released Carver’s arm with no small amount of reluctance, and moved to sit, glancing up at his husband in want for him to do the same.

“So, what’s up with all this, then?” the little man asked, and Laures’ lips parted, though he did not speak. It seemed the man was directing his questions at Carver, anyhow. “Finally come to your senses and drop that girl of yours? Or… Ivy, you didn’t get him kicked out too, did you?”
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Carver
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Re: Myself of Selves

Twentieth Break, Cylus 2, Arc 720

The Lemon Messy, Egilrun, Scalvoris
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secret texts

Only two breaks passed on, but it felt like so much longer. As soon as they’d crossed the bridge and reached the warmly lit stretch of taverns, he wasn’t sure where to go after that. He let Laures choose their path - for maybe somewhere in the body, there was some sort of intuition of which way to go or the like. However, the first place had turned them away before they’d even got past the door – though the bouncer looked at him with no small amount of confusion. The second did much the same, and instead of confusion, Carver caught the slightest glance of an apologetic expression as soon as his lover had turned away. He didn’t like it, how these people treated his lover. He hadn’t liked the pointy-eared girl in the lodge and how she’d spoken to Laures, and he didn’t like seeing his husband get turned away like an undesirable. Carver understood what that was like. He’d been barred from more than a couple places back in their home city, and it was always annoying at the best and incredibly frustrating at worst. And if he’d been in his previous body, he might not have managed to stay so quiet about it.

Fortunately, anger didn’t take him over though. Instead, he just felt for what Laures must be feeling and kept close so that the older man might know that he was there for him. His feet hurt with almost every step and the stupid pointy shoes he’d slipped on proved to be a poor choice. His legs hurt too… his damn-near-everything hurt when it came to his muscles. So, Carver stayed quiet while they searched for clues and he tried to figure out how to approach the subject of traveling in a time of perpetual night. He’d brought along the thin almanac, curled up and kept in his coat pocket, but he didn’t find a chance to read it more yet with how they hadn’t even found an establishment where they might even sit down. Certainly, no matter what Scalvoris Town was like, Iver couldn’t have gotten banned in places there like he had in Egilrun.

Without the slightest hesitation, or resistance, Carver followed while his lover pulled him toward… was that a ship? He didn’t like it. Immediately, he felt wary. He set a hand over Laures’ hand and held him slightly closer with their linked elbows. A quick survey gave him a look that it was shaped similar to a ship’s hull, and most of the windows had gotten covered up but not all of them. He noticed that the place was crowded, conversations overlaid of some music played by a few interspersed minstrels in casual style. Carver glanced toward the bar area, and wondered if he might be able to pick up a gig – but then reminded himself that he was Antoni here and he doubted Antoni had ever worked a single trial in his pampered life.

A low hum was all the response he gave when Laures mentioned that it seemed promising. They hadn’t gotten kicked out, so, of course it was. His attention returned, however, when he heard the swear interrupt whatever it was his lover might’ve otherwise said. He looked forward and immediately noticed green eyes before anything else. Carver’s sore body stiffened, and surely Laures felt the change in the posture, while he raised himself as if to be slightly taller. Whoever the stranger was, they seemed to know them – or who they were supposed to be.

Uncertain how to act, or what to say, Carver thought about the tone given in the letters and the couple of people he’d spoken with in the lodge. The pointy-eared girl did not seem the same as the man before him… but Carver still wasn’t sure whether to act amiably or stand-offish. The letters suggested the latter, but then they were correspondences and not casual relations. When Laures glanced at him, he was busy looking elsewhere, as if trying to not be part of the conversation at all. He moved along, though, as he felt the other gently pull on his arm to do so.

At the table, Carver glanced at the blue-haired woman and then at the dark-haired man again. He hoped they were the sort to be friendly, rather than enemies of a kind. He nodded when Laures glanced at him, then took the seat directly beside his husband. Carver folded his hands in front of them, on the table, where they could be seen and easily at the ready if needed.

It took him a moment to realize that the diminutive man directed his questions at him. His dark eyes widened in his realization, and then he said, “No, not kicked out… yet.” he assumed the man meant the lodge. And by girl, he likely meant Jenny. He blatantly didn’t answer that question.

Carver glanced at Laures, then his gaze flitted between the two strangers across the table. He worried on his bottom lip, or started to, then stopped himself. “We’re going to be… or…”

He slid a hand over, tapped his fingers on the surface in front of Laures, and asked, “Did you want to tell them?” Carver didn’t know if they should tell these people, without knowing who they were, but he suspected that it could also be a possible route to figure out how they could travel. He drew his hand back and decided to answer his own hesitation instead. “We’re leaving Egilrun.”

Looking toward the bar, he set a hand on Laures’ shoulder when he started to stand. “Did you- What did you want to drink? I’ll grab us something, if... or if you two wanted something too? I'll pay.”

Though he stood, the younger blond awkwardly waited while he looked between his husband and the two strangers. An unusual insecurity filled him, and he wasn't sure what sort of posture he should be taking or what he should do with his hands, or the expression he should have. Carver had never been a stranger to lying, but he rarely had tried to steal an identity before. Not one so direct as to inhabit the body of the person. It felt different than the various facades and lies he whimsically wove in his previous life, and he didn't want to make the wrong choice that might result in too much oddity or give them away, but he also couldn’t just stay silent. The whole point was to find out more before they moved on, and while he would let Laures focus on figuring out Iver’s possible home - and anything else in that regard - he needed to focus on how to get from Egilrun to Scalvoris Town as safely and quickly as possible.

Once he had requests for drinks, or otherwise rejections to the offer, and given that Laures didn't refuse his attempt... Carver would head to the bar to order and try to ask some questions of the server there. He figured that maybe these strangers would speak more freely with Ivy, if Antoni wasn't sitting directly beside him.
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Lars
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Re: Myself of Selves

Twentieth break, Cylus 2, Arc 720

Whatever Carver was doing, Laures tried to play along with it. ‘Tried’ being the key word - he looked a little lost as they sat down, and as his lover replied to the little man that had called him Ivy. The older had almost completely forgotten the idea of pretending, of slipping into the role of Antoni and Iver, as soon as they had entered the establishment. But after a good trill or two, after Carver ignored the question he assumed was about this Jenny and tapped his fingers on the table in front of him, Laures seemed to remember. Right - they could not just sit down and speak with these two as if they were strangers, acquainting themselves for the first time. He could not just ask hey, where does Iver live? Not unless he wanted to end up getting thrown out of this place too.

As soon as his husband made mention of leaving Egilrun, the faces at the table changed. The little man’s eyebrows drew together, his thin lips parting as if he thought to protest the statement. The woman only frowned, her dark gaze scanning over Carver’s form as if sizing him up. Whether she actually was or not, Laures didn’t know, but he would certainly prefer it if she stopped looking at his husband like that. Like some sort of… pest, unwelcome at their humble table. Compared to the reaction Carver had gotten thus far from everyone else, it would have been refreshing, if it was not centered on his soulmate. Laures shifted in his seat, and looked as if he meant to put an arm around Carver’s shoulders, but the younger was standing up before he could.

“Oh,” blue eyes widened for a brief moment, and he hoped the panic within them was not as clear as it felt. “Yes, uh - whatever is fine. Thank you.”

Was Iver polite? Would he thank him? He didn’t know. All he knew about Iver was that he loved and died with Antoni, and he seemed well enough scorned by the rest, besides these two at the table with him. Rausi merely shook her head in quick dismissal, while the little man straightened up in his seat and nodded, giving a somewhat reluctant (or perhaps surprised) request for a house ale. Laures swallowed down his nervousness, glancing down at the surface of the table for a few trills after his husband’s departure. What was he supposed to say? The other two were silenced as well, for a moment, before eventually the man leaned forward and spoke in a hushed tone.

“What’s he mean, you’re leaving? Where are you going?”

Laures forced himself to look up, then. Green eyes were filled with the same concern from before, and he did not know how to take it. “Scalvoris Town,” answered the blond, “can’t exactly stay here.”

He hoped that would make sense to the little man. It sure didn’t to him. But the green eyes darted away, and the man gave a halfhearted shrug, looking almost disillusioned with the older.

“You’re not just taking off like that, are you? What about Avery?”

“What about her?”

Another huff, a little less amused. Rausi’s dark eyes had lifted from him to watch someone at a nearby table instead, and he was grateful for it.

The little man asked in a serious tone, “are you feeling alright, Ivy?” Laures could not be certain, seeing as he did not know these people… but with the way the man’s eyes flicked to the bar for a quick trill, he could assume what he meant. While these two had not seemed as disapproving of Carver’s presence as the staff of the lodge had been with his own, they must not have enjoyed Antoni entirely either.

Laures leaned back in his seat. He did not answer, but let his eyes drift over the other man’s face, examining his rounded features curiously. It did not have the effect he had wanted; the little man did not squirm, nor did he blush, nor did he react at all. He only stared, as if it was a common occurrence. Alright, then. Iver could stare.

“You sound different, too.”

“Different?”

“Yeah. Accent? Come on, Ivy. I’m glad you’ve calmed down some, but I hope you’re not letting him… you’re doing this because you want to? You want to leave Egilrun? You’ve spoken with Avery? Is she going with?”

So Iver had an accent - or Laures had an accent. He was glad to know, but it did not help him all that much, when he was not sure how he was meant to sound. And he still had no clue who this Avery girl was, or what she was to him - nor did he know how to ask without giving it all away.

“Yes, I’m doing this because I want to. He isn’t making me. Which,” and gods, he hoped he was reading this right, “you would know, if you gave him a chance. As for Avery…”

Fortunately, the little man’s demeanor seemed quieted by his words, and Laures took it to mean that his assumptions had been correct.

“...I’m not sure where she is, otherwise I’d have talked to her first.”

“I mean…” he shifted in his seat, crossing his arms and resting them on the table’s surface, “probably at your place, right? You haven’t been home?”

At his place. That meant Avery was… hopefully family, because he did not want to deal with anything else. Surely though, if she had been anything more, these friends of his would not react so demurely to his companion? Laures gave a hesitant shrug, glancing down, “we… well, no. Someone broke in - she wasn’t there, and I was…” he gave a little nod towards the bar, “...and I haven’t wanted to go back by myself.”

Would that make sense? Would they believe it? Was it believable at all, for a man like Iver? It would have been for Laures, had he been in his old body, but if Iver had been drunk enough… and if he had been distressed enough, then surely it could be believed that he wanted some extra protection going home. Now that he had glanced over, though, it was hard to take his eyes off of Carver. He watched him, even as the conversation continued, one hand coming up to hold his chin while his elbow rested against the table. His calloused fingertips tapped against his lower lip, distracted.

He was just so perfect. Even over there, off doing his own thing… he was perfect. He wanted him to come back, then, desperately. Would Iver’s companions really care that much, if Carver sat on his lap? He just wanted to hold him. Maybe more. He was wearing too many layers. There was nothing wrong with that.

“Oh, really? Shit,” even Rausi glanced over, her dark eyes landing on him like pointed arrows. The man (he really needed a fucking name for him) continued, “we can come with, if you need.”

“I am busy, Andir,” countered Rausi.

“Yeah, well, whatever,” he waved a hand at her, before glancing between Laures and the bar, “if you need some more backup than just your… lover, over there, I can come with.”

He resisted the urge to correct the term. Carver was his husband, and he wanted it to be recognized. But for now, it was enough, and Laures allowed himself to smile at Andir.

“Yes. That would be appreciated,” he was still staring at his lover, even so.

Andir shook his head, his expression turning amused again, and Laures supposed it might have been his manner of speaking. “Sure, stranger,” he joked, and Laures couldn’t help but laugh, however quietly, at the truth of it.
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Carver
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Re: Myself of Selves

21st break, Cylus 2, Arc 720

Carver didn’t pay much mind whether the strangers liked him Antoni or not and hurried away with a swift stride to the bar area. He walked around the counter, to find a spot where he could keep an eye on the table rather than face away from it. Just in case things went sideways for Laures, he wanted to be able to notice and return. There were fewer people at the counter than at the tables, but it still was more crowded than he would have expected. He managed to find a spot between a rather angry looking redhead man and a…

…Carver stared. That wasn’t a person at all. It was like a large human-shaped alligator, tail and all. Snout and pointed teeth and slits for eyes and scales for skin underneath a ton of armor. His own face paled considerably. It took all of his meager restraint to not jump and move away from where he was because everyone else around him seemed to not notice that a huge reptile in armor sat at the bar, drinking from a tankard, like the rest of them.

His body might have shown restraint. His mouth didn’t. “What in the fuck are you?”

The redhead sharply laughed, in a way that brought a glare (was that a glare? It was difficult to tell) from the human-reptile.

“Real funny, kid,” replied the lizardman in a deep voice and flat, unamused tone. In the same exact language, though he noticed an accent that he hadn’t heard yet.

“Did you want something?” asked the server at the bar, a woman with wildly purple eyes for irises and black hair twisted into an odd braided shape like a circlet. She had a couple vivid tattoos of similar purple-and-black traced in designs along her cheeks. Her ruby-painted lips pouted, but Carver didn’t look at them. He looked at the long dangled earrings that glittered with gold and gemstones. As if in reminder, rescuing him from his momentary shock, he hurriedly glanced to check on the table.

A low exhale when he confirmed that Laures seemed to be fine. Talking, by the looks of it. He returned his attention to the woman and nodded. He said, “Y-yeah, uhm… two house ales, and… do you have any juice?”

Beside him, the redhead laughed some more. Another sound joined it – like the crackling of a fire. He glanced at the man beside him. This time, he did jump when he felt something heavy land against his shoulder and looked to see clawed fingers that stuck out from a gauntlet. The lizardman had grabbed onto him. Adrenaline shot through him, quick and unrelenting, and it showed in his wide dark eyes so much that the lizard lifted his hand off and said, “Woah, buddy. Sorry. You okay?”

“Wh-what?”

“All I was going to say, you’ve got a funny sense of humor. But you go asking for juice, you’re going to get something you can’t handle or get knocked out,” said the lizardman.

“He knows that already,” sneered the bartender as she filled a tall glass with ale. “He’s just being an ass. Like usual.”

The redheaded man snickered some more, behind a drink of his liquor.

Carver turned his attention back on that man, not welcoming the constant laughs. He growled, “You’ve got something to say?”

This only seemed to amuse the drunk redhead even more, whose laughter burst out. The woman’s painted lips twisted up and she set the two ales in front of him, then a third glass with… the same green and orange juice that he’d gotten at the lodge. So she knew Antoni, then, enough to know what he liked to drink and apparently enough to glare at him while she chided, “Don’t you go getting Ivy into any fights, I won’t have it on my watch. Especially not with him.”

The way that she looked at the redhead, who now grinned at him, confused Carver. What was so dangerous about the man that it required that sort of look? The guy looked scrawny and didn’t even have a weapon unlike the lizardman who had a sword strapped to a belt. Carver might’ve been weak and sore, but he could tussle all the same – or he would try…

…but he noticed something, from across the tavern-mess-hall-hull-establishment. Laures. Staring at him. Carver muttered, “Fuck…”

How long had Laures been watching him? Could he hear what was being said? He doubted it. The way that he caught a glimpse of the other’s blue eyes – even from the distance between each other – it calmed him. Though it also made him want to just reach out and snap the redhead’s neck, then rip the earrings from the sassy bartender, so he could bring a smile to his husband’s face and then finally adorn those ears with the jewelry they so desperately deserved.

Right. Directions for travel options. That’s what he needed. That’s what he’d come to the counter for.

He turned to see that the woman had already wandered away to serve someone else at the counter. The redhead snickered at him, and… the lizardman drank from the tankard.

“I uh…” gods, this was weird. He turned to the scaly human reptile and said, “Sorry ‘bout before. Bad joke. You’re not from around here, I take it?”

“Nope,” answered the lizardman casually. “Just passing through for the Cylus Dusk, then headed up to Almund.”

Almund… Almund… that sounded familiar, and he thought of the various words he’d seen on the map. North of Scalvoris Town from what he recalled. Carver nodded slowly because that was good. Maybe even exactly what he was looking for. “Almund, right. I’ve been thinking about hitting the road myself soon. You, uh, you taking a carriage or wagon, maybe we could split the costs?”

“Carriage? You think I could fit into one of those things?” retorted the lizardman with – was that an eyebrow raise? It was difficult to tell without actual eyebrows to measure it by. “No, walking to Scalvy Town, then picking up a mount there probably. Damn tired of being out on the water and I hate flying.”

“Flying?” blurted out Carver. “That- uh- must be difficult in the dark like this.”

The creature hummed but didn’t say much else while he took another swig of his drink. Carver paused, glanced toward Laures while he noticed… Laures smiled at the dark-haired stranger? It was fleeting, and soon Laures looked at him again, but he'd seen the moment. He couldn't hear the gentle laughter that followed, but saw it just the same. A twitch suddenly made itself known underneath his eye, along his swollen cheek.

“Say, what’re you drinking?” asked Carver without even looking at the lizardman, his gaze fixed now on Laures who seemed to be enjoying whatever pleasant conversation he was having with the green-eyed stranger. Unable to hide his discontent, he frowned and quickly gathered the two ales and the juice into his hands. “Come join me and my… friends if you will. I could use someone I know up in Almund.”

“Oh, uh, alright,” said the lizardman. He waved for a refill to the large tankard that held far more than the glasses of ale. Once it had gotten topped off, foam spilling out over the wooden brim, the Thiussum Ithecal got to his feet.

“Daaamn…” breathed Carver when he looked over to see just how tall the creature was. He thought he’d gained some height by his new body compared to his last, even if only a few inches… but now he felt as tiny as a child next to the large 8-foot-10-inches lizardman. He had to crane his neck to even look up at the beast.

A hissed sound rose from the creature, and he realized it must have been a laugh from the way that the armored lizardman jostled his shoulder and gestured for him to get a move on. How in the hell did a creature as stocky and tall as that even need a sword, let alone chainmail armor that covered him from neck to toe?

Face pale, Carver tried to recover while he led the way back to the table with his new acquaintance in tow. By the time he returned, however, his attention had fixed on the dark-haired human and his expression subsequently became one of barely hidden annoyance. He set the ale in front of Laures, then his juice at where he’d been sitting before, and then he neatly tossed the other ale so that it barely landed and the contents sloshed over and made enough of a mess that it dripped into the lap of whoever-the-fuck the green-eyed man was who had gotten Laures to smile.

“Oops, sorry,” he said in a flat, insincere tone. He gestured toward the ithecal, then pulled up a chair for the creature. “This is… uh…”

“Quintium, call me Quint,” answered the lizardman while he took hold of the chair, then flopped down with an audible thud while his chainmail settled in place over the mossy green scales. A long crocodile-like tail swished behind him. His scarred muzzle slid back to reveal a row of pointed teeth in - what was hopefully - a smile.

Carver returned to his seat beside Laures, and he set a hand briefly on the other’s thigh, while he told the older blond, “Quint, here, is headed to Almund but he’s stopping in Scalvoris Town first… I was thinking maybe we could travel together.”

He picked up the green-and-orange juice, glanced at the two human strangers and tried to figure out from their reactions what they might think of the idea.
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Re: Myself of Selves

Twenty-first break, Cylus 2, Arc 720

“So what is it that you’re planning on doing, once you get there?”

Laures did not have a good answer for that question. Thankfully, Andir’s tone was revealing enough of the motive behind it, and the blond could easily discern his intention in voicing such concerns. Clearly the little human doubted him, or perhaps he only doubted Antoni, or their coupling, the specifics hardly mattered - and was trying to talk some sense into him, so he must have had a close enough relationship with Iver to warrant such freely-given advice. Laures could not figure that part out though… what was Andir to him? Just a friend? And Rausi, was she a friend too? Admittedly, he did not know how one was meant to act around friends. He had not considered any of his fellow slaves friends, and… the closest thing he’d ever had to a friend was Carver.

He gave the makings of a glare, good-natured and light. He hoped. Rausi’s dark eyes had found him again, and they scanned over him now too, though the woman appeared far less critical of whatever she saw in him than whatever she had seen within his husband. She almost seemed concerned, but it was hard for him to tell. Andir’s cheek puffed out a little as his tongue pushed idly against it, his slender arms crossed over his chest, over the nice beige tunic he wore. He hadn’t looked away from Laures, not yet content with his friend’s answer. In the end, it was Rausi that spoke before either man could.

“He thinks you are foolish,” stated the blue-haired woman, and it took Laures a moment to figure out that she meant Andir. “I think so too. You have a life here.”

“A job,” added Andir, pointedly, “friends. Good ale. Better folks than him, too, if you could get over all that. What do you have in Scalvoris Town, Ivy?”

“Him,” Laures replied easily, and it earned a quiet groan from the green-eyed man to his left. In spite of it, the blond smiled, so sure was he of his answer. Not that the rest of it applied to him whatsoever - he had no job, he did not have friends, he cared little for ale besides keeping the headaches at bay, and he had not married Carver and died with him just to wake up and find someone else. Even so, Egilrun represented something to him. It was… a chance at normalcy, at comfort, at slipping into a life already made for him, difficult though it was. But he did not want that. He wanted Carver, wherever he was, and he had already promised him that he would go, even if the thought of visiting any university made his skin crawl and his stomach twist and turn.

If either of Iver’s strange companions had wanted to say anything else, they silenced themselves (and he supposed Andir had, with the way his opened mouth shut with a loud click of his teeth) when his husband returned to the table. And he wasn’t alone.

Although Andir and Rausi did not look all that surprised by the sudden appearance of such a creature, Laures’ blue eyes opened wide, the blond leaning back and away in his seat. Beside Carver stood a hulking thing, with scales and teeth and a tail, towering at least two feet above his lover. If the behemoth had been with Carver before, at the bar, Laures had failed to notice - too caught up in the sight of his dear soulmate, he had not even thought to look at anything else around him. It was not wise, perhaps, to have been so careless… but he could not help it, sometimes. Carver was distracting, even standing beside such an oddity, but he used that to his advantage now. In some attempt not to stare too rudely, he looked to his husband instead, questions written all over his fine features.

An ale was set before him, and another green juice before Carver, and then rather carelessly, another ale was tossed onto the table for Andir. Laures did not miss the pointed way in which the drink was given, nor the way the liquid spilled over and into the little man’s lap, soaking the corner of his beige tunic. And it… confused him, entirely, but he did not inquire about that particular matter. Perhaps, he thought, Carver was just playing his part - and he must have been doing a good job at it, too, because even in his shock, Andir did not look all that surprised that Antoni had done it. The little man muttered something, but it was too quiet for Laures to hear - Carver gave a meaningless apology, and then he heard more mutters, and heard something about the uppity bastard before his attention was drawn back to Carver and the… thing.

“Quintium, call me Quint.”

The godsdamned thing spoke. It - or, he? or - Quint grabbed the chair Carver had moved for him and sat himself down, and Laures’ eyes were still wide, while his mouth was opened in some sort of half-surprised, half-amused expression.

Andir gave the ithecal a friendly nod, despite the frown on his face, and offered a warm enough greeting that Laures didn’t pay much attention to, meanwhile Rausi looked displeased. The woman said nothing, and did not make any attempt to move away from the lizardman that sat between herself and Carver, but she gave him that same sort of pompous look that Laures had seen her give his husband. Like she was looking down at them, for some reason, but he could not figure out why. She didn’t seem like such hot shit herself, to him.

Teeth revealed, Quint at least seemed friendly. Laures took that as a good sign, and his mouth curved into a more obvious smile, his angular face warmed and pink at the nose and cheeks after sitting in his sweater and coat for a few good bits. Blue eyes sparkled with some sort of amusement as they shifted back to Carver, and he leaned a little closer when he felt a hand on his thigh. One of his hands grabbed Carver’s, so as not to let it stray, and he held it beneath the table while his other hand reached for his ale.

“Yeah, alright,” agreed Laures, and he took a healthy sip of his ale (which was fucking sour, and he didn’t understand it, but it somehow tasted amazing to him) before continuing, “nice to meet you, Quint. I’m, uh, Iver, and this is Andir, and Rausi,” he nodded toward the little man and the blue-haired woman, respectively. Partly for himself to remember, and partly for his husband’s use, should the need arise.


Another bit of ale, a gentle squeeze to the hand held in his own, and then Laures set the quickly-emptying glass down. His free hand was left on the table, fingers tapping gently against the wood, and he looked back at Carver. (He resisted the urge to kiss him, strong though it was.) How the younger had acquired such an odd companion, he did not know… but from the looks of him, Quint could prove himself quite useful. If not for information, then for protection, navigation, whatever the hell a big lizardman could do.

“Andir offered to come back to my place with us,” he mentioned, “just in case those guys are still there.”

Laures did not mention the fact that Andir looked like he would have been entirely useless against anyone, for he assumed the other man would understand his intentions. Surely Andir knew the way there, and if he just looked drunk enough, if he just hung back a little bit and let the little man walk ahead… well. They could figure out the rest of it once Andir got them there.

The little man had regained his composure, for the most part, and was leaning forward with his elbows on the table again. A bony hand reached over, tapping the table beside Laures to catch his attention, and Andir said, “not helping you break in again, though. If Avery’s locked the place up, we find her first. Last time she was furious with me. She made me pay to fix that window, you know.”

“I know,” came Laures’ quick response, “I told her to.”

It was not said like a joke, but Iver must have had a dry sense of humor, for the little man laughed. He settled back to sip at his (half-spilled) ale, and to question Quint about his chainmail. Where he got it, maybe, Laures wasn’t listening. A deep breath, quiet, and his leg brushed against Carver’s as he scooted a little closer in his chair.

“What are you thinking, love?” inquired Laures, considerably quieter than before.
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Carver
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Re: Myself of Selves

21st break, Cylus 2, Arc 720

It came as no surprise that Laures looked at him with all sorts of questions unspoken in those blue eyes. Carver understood. He hadn’t ever seen anything like the lizardman before either. Not even in storybooks. He’d seen lizards before, and creatures like that within illustrations mostly, but never one walking around as if human, nor with a sword and drinking ale from a flagon. Carver felt something just between pride and relief that Laures managed to not say anything untoward, or even get up and try to get distance away from the intimidating hulk of a creature. When he felt his husband’s hand touch his, he gently squeezed the thigh underneath to let Laures know that he wasn’t going anywhere – and his hand wasn’t about to stray away.

Andir and Rausi. He glanced at the two humans, though his gaze lingered on the green-eyed man who’d made no small amount of muttered noises from the spill. Andir, huh? Carver made the quietest of huffed noises, then looked away without much more care as he returned his attention to Quint… at least until he heard Laures speak up.

“Oh, did, Andir offer?” he replied, tone pitched slightly as if he weren’t surprised. He glanced at Laures, then rolled his eyes. Right. This was how they were going to find Iver’s home. Holding his tongue so he didn’t mess that up, he cleared his throat and forced, “How kind of you, Andir. Honestly. I don’t know what I would do with those guys. Just imagine, how frightening!”

Okay, maybe he was overplaying it some. But was it that out of character for some pouf like Antoni, with as smooth as his skin was? With his muscles as weak as they were? With how respectable people seemed to bend over backward for him the second he simply showed up? With that broad, tall man who’d come looking for him (and who Carver had shoved down a well) and seemed to have been a bodyguard of some sort? Were bodyguards meant to be shaped like that? What was it around this world of Scalvoris that required such immense strength, yet allowed for weaklings like him or that Andir across the way? What was outside of this village of Egilrun? Carver had never traveled much, and for what little he had, he couldn’t very much remember it. The very concept of roads and paths that had actual wilderness around it? That was something he only knew about through books and stories that others told. Carver might not have been a pouf, but he was still a city boy in his soul.

He rolled his eyes again when Andir seemed to mostly ignore him and try to continue conversation with Iver… …….Laures… as if Carver weren’t even there. The younger blond picked up his juice and took a long sip of it. It didn’t taste as good as it had before. Still sour, but his body didn’t crave it as much. He supposed he should figure out what it was… it tasted like fruits of some sort, but what kind? His eye twitched again when he heard Andir laugh.

Quint had busied himself with drinking, tail swishing up dust behind him. He easily fell into conversation with the green-eyed human about his armor but whatever it was, Carver didn’t understand most of the words said. None of them matched the words on the map he’d studied. He did catch an unusual name that made him think of the book about Immortals he’d skimmed through: Ethelynda?

“What are you thinking, love?”

Carver looked at Laures when the other moved closer. A hint of a smile showed at the corner of his lips when he felt the older’s attention fixed on him. He tapped their knees together, in a playful nudge, and his hand caressed along the thigh as if to warm the limb up. From his peripheral, he caught that the blue-haired woman – Rausi – seemed to be observing them. She tried to not make it blatant though, but he got a feeling that she was a suspicious sort by nature.

He didn’t care though. Whoever she was, she could be as suspicious as she’d like to be. Carver turned slightly, to face closer to his lover, and he leaned in to whisper, “Thinking about how handsome you are.”

His dark gaze examined Laures’ features, as he paused for a moment to let the words sink in. “…and that maybe we should move on, before it gets too late or w… you drink too much?”

While he knew the ale wasn’t much, he thought of the rum bottle back in the lodge that had nearly been emptied while he’d slept. Did Laures intend to simply take on such a lifestyle? Or did he know that he needed to ween himself back if he ever wanted to get off the bottle? It was a conversation that would have to wait, however. Carver sighed, then he leaned even closer and placed a light kiss at the corner of Laures’ lips.

Moving back away, he turned his gaze onto the other humans and said, “So, where’s th- where would Avery even be at, at this… break?”

He glanced over to Quint and asked without any further pretense to it, “When were you planning on heading out?”

“Not too long now. Was just warming up with a drink or three before heading out. Any other time, I’d say dawn, but-” he hissed in a laugh and made a wide gesture with his clawed hand – presumably to gesture at the darkness outside the Lemon Messy. “Sooner, the better when it comes to the cold and not a lot of reasons to wait about.”

“Oh,” said Carver and he glanced at Laures with slightly widened eyes. “Then I guess, uh… you don’t mind if we tag along, do you?”

“Long as you can handle yourselves and walk on your own two feet, I’m not in the business of escorting people that can’t fight for themselves,” explained Quint with his unusual accent (or maybe it was the forked tongue that caused it). He pointed a clawed finger between the two men and added, “Unless you’ve got the coin to pay, that is. Got enough coin? I’ll damn-near carry you both on my shoulders if you wanted. A thiussum’s got to eat!”

Carver hesitantly laughed. It was said in a tone, with such a pointed toothy grin, that he suspected it was the sort of thing he was supposed to laugh at. It was still odd though, and vaguely disconcerting, to see a lizard talking and acting like a human… a very large human, at that. He looked over to Laures and said, “I’m ready, whenever you are. You wanted to pick up your stuff, right? Then we can… meet Quint on the bridge after?”

Quint nodded, then he added, “Or you could come back here. I’m not keen on standing about in the cold and dark if I don’t have to. Least here, I can be warm and drink.”

“Did… I can come along with you and Andir, right?” asked Carver, to Laures, with a slight pout of his mistreated bottom lip before the expression quickly vanished as if he’d belatedly realized he’d made it. “I might not be much help if there’s any trouble but I could explain things to Avery.”
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Lars
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Re: Myself of Selves

Twenty-first break, Cylus 2, Arc 720

Ah, now what was that all about? The corner of Laures’ mouth curved upward subtly as he observed the rolling of his husband’s dark eyes, and listened to his exaggerated response. Andir seemed about as convinced as Laures, but said nothing of it, clearly more concerned with other matters and largely uninterested in speaking to the younger blond himself. So the little man turned his attentions to the ithecal, while his tunic dried and his ale was slowly sipped at, and in the meantime, Laures watched his lover curiously. Had Andir somehow made him jealous? The petulant behavior with the ale made a little more sense then, beyond the role he seemed to have taken on as his body’s previous soul.

He was not sure that he had seen Carver… feel that way, before. Or if he had, the younger must not have shown it, beyond what had been expected when Laures had worked in the brothel. It would simply be untrue, if he claimed that he did not appreciate seeing it. He did not wish for his lover to ever feel that way - and there was hardly a reason for it, as the blond would surely rather die again than be touched again by anyone else - but it was some sort of comfort, all the same, that the other man was capable. Laures did not speak of it, but kept it in mind, and questioned him instead about what he might be thinking, in light of the information they had acquired about both Iver’s residence and possible (help with) transport after.

A knee nudged against his own, and Laures returned the little gesture. The older looked pleased on all accounts, with rosy cheeks and a glittering blue gaze, and a small (albeit happy) smile on his face. While he had not forgotten the cold, dark world outside, and did not intend to ignore all of the issues they both still faced, he seemed… better. Glad to not be looked at with disdain, glad to be warm enough, glad to have a drink in his hand, glad to have Carver right beside him - glad, above all else, to not… hide. It did not matter that these people around them were strangers to their souls, it felt fucking good to sit at a table with other people and interact with his husband so freely. To not worry about Carver pulling away and looking at him in bewilderment, like he had somehow offended him and tarnished his reputation. It felt good.

So when Carver leaned in and whispered, the rosy coloration to his cheeks only deepened, and the smile pulled at the corners of his mouth involuntarily. His eyes strayed, bashful, but he could still feel Carver looking at him. How sweet he was… perhaps he should have been used to it by now, but it still made his heart flutter so wildly each time. He could feel other gazes as well… Rausi’s, he figured, but he did not worry about it. From the sound of things, she was just concerned for her friend like Andir was. He did not feel a need to read into it further. The moment passed, and Carver continued, and Laures’ smile began to fade.

Before he… drank too much. Right…

Carver kissed the corner of his mouth, but the contact was light, and ended too quickly. Laures lifted his head afterward, and was grateful then that Carver looked away from him. As always, when the mood fell, it crashed hard against the floor and left him floundering for respite. His free hand reached for the ale, but his fingers did little more than scratch lightly against the glass, silent. A question was thrown to the humans, and then another to the talking lizard, with little time to answer in between. He was not sure if it was intentional, but did not care much either way; Carver could interact with them however he pleased. It was not like either of them would be around much longer to deal with any aftereffects from tonight, would they? So as far as he was concerned… he would play along for as long as it suited him, but once they had all that they needed, he was done.

Neither Andir nor Rausi made any attempt to answer the question about Avery, though their separate conversations had been quieted, interrupted just before by Carver’s inquiry. Rausi looked the same as she had when they had first arrived, meanwhile Andir seemed a little more comfortable in his skin, leaning casually upon the table while he watched the others and listened to them make their plans. Laures caught his gaze more than once, but thought nothing of it. He had not seen anything thus far that might have pointed towards anything else between himself - Iver - and the little green-eyed human sitting near him. But he supposed it could not be ruled out either… he raised an eyebrow when Andir frowned at him, as Carver and Quint made plans to meet again later on.

The lizardman’s joke - for that’s surely what it had been - would have made him laugh, if only he did not feel so fucking down. He thought that he would have liked that, being carried all the way to Scalvoris Town, and the peculiar, scaly creature was awfully interesting. He thought, too, that neither of them had near enough coin to pay for such impracticalities. If he wanted to be carried (and he did), he would help Carver build his strength and wait for him to do it. That idea was far more appealing to him. Laures lifted his glass, and downed the rest of his citrusy ale in one go. Andir had not finished his, but he didn’t care. Carver was ready, so he was too.

Another question, for him this time, and Laures’ eyes darted back to his husband’s pretty face. With those pretty pouted lips… that quickly returned to normal, as if the younger blond had done it unintentionally. His fingers brushed over Carver’s hand. Yes, they should go before it got any later, any colder… but first.

Laures leaned in close, and his free hand raised to caress the other man’s soft, uninjured cheek. His thumb rubbed gently at the corner of his mouth, and then he kissed him, slow and passionate and uncaring for the people sitting around them. He hand over Carver’s gripped a little tighter, his fingers fitting between the younger’s and keeping them there on his thigh, and his teeth gently grazed the worn bottom lip. A thin string of saliva followed the pull away from his lips, glinting for the shortest trill like the light off a spider’s web.

He nodded once, and said, “yes, of course. Whatever you want.”

Hands were pulled away, and he would have taken another sip of his ale, if he had not finished it already. So instead, with nothing to do with his hands, Laures moved to stand. Andir seemed to have the same idea, though it took him a few trills longer to do so, a slightly disgruntled (although not disapproving, he noted, as he might have expected from jealousy) look on his rounded face.

(What, then, did the man enjoy it? He could not read him, not quite.)

“Hope you’re not screwing yourself over again, Ivy,” said the little man sincerely, as if he did not intend his words to mean anything but that. Laures reached out and smacked him upside the head, hard. To his surprise, after the initial whine of protest, Andir looked amused, as if it was yet another common occurrence. Brows furrowed, Laures lifted his chin slightly, and left it alone.

“Alright… well…” glancing back at the others, he said, “thank you, Quint, we will… see you then? And Rausi, um, until next time…?”

How strange it felt, to speak with a hulking lizardman… but he would not refuse his company. Andir grabbed a coat from where it rested at the back of his chair, and pulled it on, before stepping closer as if to follow. The green-eyed man extended a bony hand again, this time reaching up to fix the older blond’s scarf… he stared at him in clear confusion for a trill, before pushing the hand away. Laures reached for Carver’s arm, and moved to link their elbows again, while his other hand pulled his scarf back over the lower half of his face. Rausi gave a wave, but nothing else - she would stay at the table, it seemed, and keep Quint reluctant company.

Laures turned farther away from Andir, pulling at Carver’s arm to start moving. In a soft whisper, he leaned close and requested, “let him walk ahead of us. Sounds like the girl lives there, too.”

Andir had already moved ahead of them, and Laures suspected that the little man might lead them all the way there without much prompting.
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Carver
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Re: Myself of Selves

21st break, Cylus 2, Arc 720

Carver didn’t want to resist any kisses. He didn’t want to avoid them, for anyone’s sake or for any reason. He wanted to kiss Laures beyond the very end of time itself. Yet… despite this…. When Laures leaned in, and caressed his cheek, and moved in close for something more than a light tap of affection or bold declaration like the passionate kiss in the lodge’s tavern had been… Carver felt a jolt run through him, in a sort of instinctual response to defend from the sudden intimacy while so close to strangers. In the lodge, he’d been the one in control of the kiss – but here, while he felt Laures’ grip on his hand tighten to keep him close, and the slow kiss deepened, his dark eyes widened from surprise.

Then he shut his eyes. His pulse raced fast through his veins. These people didn’t matter. Andir didn’t matter, and the woman didn’t matter, and even the intimidating lizardman didn’t matter. All that mattered was Laures, and he didn’t want Laures to feel rejected because of reflex defenses that still lingered somewhere inside of him. Yet he still felt it. As if in defiance of his own uncertainty, he wrapped his free arm around the other man’s waist and nearly pulled him out of the seat as if to drag his lover onto his lap. He leaned after the break of the kiss, eyes still shut, until he realized that Laures had stopped to answer him.

A flutter of thick eyelashes, he opened his eyes. He looked at Laures, though, into the older’s gaze and past those blue irises to catch the soul beneath. A reluctant hum sounded from him, when their hands were pulled away, then he moved to stand as well in perfectly timed harmony. Carver fixed his coat some, checked his gloves, then looked to see if the lizardman had changed in any way. But Quint seemed unaffected by the romantic display between the two men. He just drank from the flagon, as he’d been before, tail swishing behind him.

He glanced over at the… what the fuck was that exchange? Laures treated Andir like some sort of little brother, he supposed. He tried to make it into something that didn’t bother him so much. Carver frowned and stepped away from his chair and… his meager attempt crashed to the ground when Andir got to the scarf before him. Now, Carver might not have been dealing with as much anger as he had in his previous life, but it didn’t mean he was immune to the emotion. Like in the lodge, it showed mostly in his eyes, and in the way that his fingers curled into a fist and stretched the glove over the knuckles. He exhaled lowly, calmed when Laures pushed the attempt away though. At least, he appeared to calm. It still bothered him. He quickly pulled Laures closer as soon as their elbows were linked, and fell into step with his husband.

Carver nodded at the quiet request to stay behind Andir, and he wouldn’t ruin that… but he reached over and roughly pulled at Laures’ scarf to bring it up more over the older's lower face, though it hardly needed any fixing. He kissed the older’s temple and then focused on their path – checking the surroundings, so they’d be able to find their way back through the dark, to the Lemon Messy.
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Doran
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Re: Myself of Selves

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Laures:

Knowledge:
Deception x3
Investigation x3
Psychology x3

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

Carver:

Knowledge:
Socialization x 2
Logistics x 3
Deception x 2
Discipline x 2

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

- - -
Comments: This was another well-written thread from the two of you. I’m sorry that the people in Egilrun make Laures feel so unwanted. I hope that things will get better once Carver and Laures move away from that place and start a new life in Scalvoris Town.

His thoughts on that matter were quite fascinating to read though.

Both of you are quite skilled when it comes to writing about emotions, and I like how you continue to reveal different aspects of Iver’s and Antoni’s lives throughout your threads.

Carver’s and Laures’ wondering how they should act in front of the people that know Antoni and Iver was described very well. There was also a scene that amused me though – the one where they met the Ithecal.

It seems as if they found a travelling companion though.

I have to admit, I already read the sequel, by the way, because I wanted to know what would happen next.

Anyway, great job, and enjoy your rewards!
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