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Fridgar teaches Alistair a thing or two about becoming.

The seven Duchies of Central Rynmere and their respective baronies, cities, towns, villages, and landmarks each overseen by a Duke of one of the seven noble families and ultimately controlled by the King of Rynmere.
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He and Alistair were sat around a table in his clinic, his Symptoms hadn't shown at all in the time he'd been there. As possible as it was that he'd been completely cured, he still struggled to believe it. He'd agreed to teach Alistair and Alistair had agreed to learn from him. Despite the events of the previous night, Fridgar was staying true to that. "Alright." he spoke suddenly, breaking the silence. "What do you know about becoming already?" Fridgar asked, resting his elbows on the table and pressing his mouth to his clasped hands. He listened as he spoke, taking in the details of what Alistair already knew.

Okay, okay. Not bad." Fridgar spoke, regardless of whether Alistair knew nothing or everything. "How high is your pain threshold?" Fridgar asked with a raised eyebrow. "The first thing you need to know is that when you commit to a transformation, you have to push through the pain of having your whole body torn apart and then rebuilt." Fridgar looked the human up and down, echoing the vision of an eagle. "Well, you clearly train. Have you ever pulled a muscle? That shit hurts, right? Imagine pulling a calf then sprinting for eight bits." Fridgar nodded, that wasn't too bad of a pain in comparison and Alistair would probably pick up on that. "Okay, now imagine pulling every muscle in your body, I mean every single one, including the ones used to move your eyes, and smashing out an eight minute whole full body workout." Fridgar made various hand gestures as he explained.

"That's nearly the sort of pain you can expect to have in regards to your musculature when you use your magic. As for the bones..." Fridgar sighed, this was the pain he disliked the most. "You remember growing pains as a kid? Like how your bones would ache for a trial or two as they grew a little bit at a time?" Fridgar smiled, in his case, his bones were being broken. "Well, imagine an amplified version of that pain, not just in your legs or arms, but your whole being as you stretch and shrink beyond the limits of the human body." Fridgar spoke without waver. "Alistair, I promise you. In all of my fights, I have never experienced any pain that can compare to the mind-blowing agony that comes from this magic. This shit hurts." he said this though his scarred face, disfigured from various wounds, some of which looked hard to believe that he'd survived, such as a Ryon's bite to the site of his head.

"But there's a catch." Fridgar spoke, waggling his eyebrows a little. "You will never find a greater trill of peace as when you are neither yourself or the thing you are becoming. The moment right in the middle of your transformation, you sort of... disconnect from the world, there is no pain, there is no sound. There's just... peace." The Lothar smiled, offering a nod. "Another thing about the transformation is that it shreds clothes until a certain point, and even then it only carries organic material like leather across." Fridgar's eyes widened a little, realising that at some point Alistair was going to have to get naked. He cleared his throat, looking away with a light blush. "Uhh, we call that 'Assimilation' and it can be used for your totems too." his gaze finally met Alistair once more. "So thats everything I can describe to you about using the arcana off the top of my head. I can demonstrate for you if you'd like?" Fridgar offered with a smile.
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The two were in Alistair's office, in Sabaissant, standing by the patient's beds and staring at one another as lessons upon lessons were given. It was a lot to take in, and he didn't have all that much knowledge to back him up. Being asked what he knew, the man replied quickly, throwing his limited knowledge onto the table. "You take on totems, from organic materials of other creatures. You utilize these totems to transform into different things. I also... think you have to make a totem for your original state? A self totem? I'm not the most knowledgeable on this subject." Partly because it was such a gruesome and undesirable magic.

Worst of all, a lot of it was terrifying. The most painful sensation imaginable? Why the hell would he want that? "Uh... eight bits of pure agony?" the man asked, skittish. He was a brave individual, but he wasn't a masochist. If there was anything that would scare him off the magic, it was that. "What if I want to go back?" he asked. "I can't just... revert? Will it really be another eight minutes of pain?"

Training this magic sounded horrific. The mage suddenly had a newfound level of respect for all of those Becomers out there, few of whom he'd actually met. Vincent came to mind. Having your whole body torn apart and rebuilt. Considering what he knew about the anatomy, that sounded even less pleasant than it would to anyone else. The anatomy of an individual was so . . . intricate. There was so much going into it all. If even one thing went wrong in rebuilding the body, everything could go wrong - one could die right then, and there, on the spot.

The man was visibly cringing. Maybe he was more of a coward than he'd thought he was. "Okay," he replied, frowning. "So, it's bloody misery. Lovely," he said, sarcastically. As for the . . . "peaceful" portion of all this, the man sighed. Was that really the most peaceful thing? The Lothar hadn't gone through the Transcension. Was anything comparable to that? It was a thing that Alistair felt upon every apex of every revelation. It was a beautiful thing to behold.

"Fridgar," he called his name. "Do you know why I chose Rupturing as the magic I would pursue more than anything else?" the nobleman asked. "Because of the peace and freedom it brought me, from the very beginning. When one is initiated into Rupturing, they explore the stars, they see the universe; they flow freely through planets, comets, and all such things... moving faster than all other things, yet aware of everything around them. It's how I imagine being a God is like. Nothing is more liberating, and peaceful. You entirely abandon your physical form, shedding it for a moment to meld with space. I have known what it is like to be nothing. I understand." He nodded his head. Thinking back on it now, the Transcension was something he'd missed. If he could do it all the time, he would have become addicted. It was a thing of beauty like no other. Abandoning everything, becoming everything.

Maybe the magics, in that moment, aligned. He couldn't say.

As for his clothes being shred, the man bit his lip. "My clothes happen to be quite expensive," he said, protective of them. If there was anything feminine about him, it was his love of fine silks. Plus, getting naked in front of Fridgar seemed a touch awkward, after last night. He knew the thought that could have gone on in both of their minds. Regardless, he nodded. "I don't want you to experience pain just to teach me, though..." the man said. "How long does it take for you to transform? Eight bits, still?"

He wasn't an altruist, to be sure, but he wasn't content to let Fridgar writhe in anguish just to give him a demonstration. This magic was a lot more brutal than he'd imagined it being, and his inner Venora ponce was coming out as a result.
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Fridgar looked to Alistair with a grim expression, I can't just... revert? the Lothar shook his head. "That would more than likely kill you, Alistair." He kept his eyes fixed on the skittish human, he wasn't taking his first lesson as well as he'd hoped. "Yes, it will. Another eight bits of pain." Fridgar clarified, his brow curled upward with discomfort as he saw the human's reaction, at least he'd answered his question though. 'Very low', not that he could blame him. Most nobles probably spent their entire lives in safety, pain being alien to them. As much as Alistair had struck him as 'different', he had to focus on the man's roots.

"Not at all, well... It might be at first." Fridgar smiled, shaking his head with a light exhale. "...Haven't you ever wondered what it would be like to become something else? Someone else perhaps? It's all worth it, I promise." Fridgar assured, maintaining eye contact with the fearful human. Fridgar listened with intrigue as Alistair broke into a speech, as he often did. He'd taken quite a lot of interest in rupturing. Being able to blink to people and punch them in the face would have been awesome. Sintih had been his inspiration at first, but Alistair was nothing short of a god with his level of skill. "I know what you mean, I think you'll get to like Becoming." Fridgar's lips parted in a toothy smile.

Dismissal came with the wave of his hand "Bah, Silk is organic right...? It'll probably assimilate once you're strong enough... I think..." Fridgar spoke, sounding very unsure of himself. What even is silk made from? Spiders came to mind. "I don't think it counts as pain anymore, for me anyway. It's just satisfying, in a way?" He spoke again, unsure. "Nah. It's two or three bits in my case. The more you use the transformations, the more your body sorta grows used to it. It's like... Hmm... You get stretchier? The transformation comes more natural and more quickly." Fridgar removed a necklace made of bone and bead from his person, placing it on the table. He stood up and stretched off, limbering up "Those are my totems, you met one of them before, back in Andaris' woods." The Lothar nodded.

Did he unleash? Or did he take the full transformation? Nah, forget the fatigue. He focused his being on the necklace, staring intently. Which form did he assume? Alistair had already seen his bear form. With a shrug, his attention shifted to the Anaconda totem. Alistair's office was warm enough, he'd surely not freeze up like last time. He jolted suddenly, his eyes looking to Alistair as he began to shake a little. Almost like a nightmare, his arms melted into his torso under the leather jacket, taking the clothing with him. A sickening pop heralded the dislocation of his arms as more columns in his spine grew, bumping up his height a little at a time.

His legs also fused together, snapping from each joint and realigning into a singular spinal column as they warped in size and shape. Inevitably, he fell to floor front first, his head snapped upwards unnaturally as he fell, the back of his head melding to his body as it shrunk and elongated, flattening into a pointed snout sort of shape. His hair quick enough shrunk into his skin, disappearing. The eyes on his morphing head shifted to the sides as they changed in pigment in shape, the iris's thinning and lengthening to a slit. The skin all over his body broke up into scales as it shifted in pigment to a deep green with brown and black markings along its back. Along the newly formed spine, a series of ribs grew into a cylindrical curl, each thinning to a point while his organs realigned and adjusted to their new confines.

Finally, the transformation ended as the last few details brushed up, his rows of fangs poking through the replacements of old teeth, the reshaping of his tongue and other things. His tongue shot out, tasting the air before he raised up on the rear of his tail and plonked the upper section of his body on the table. The remainder of his coils sprawled the floor behind him, measuring up to an impressive 29 feet in length and weighing half a ton. Fridgar had almost died just trying to take this beast home, he was most pleased with its proportions. It was difficult to tell, but Fridsnake appeared to be looking to Alistair as if to ask 'What do you think?'.
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That would likely kill you, he said. Surprisingly, that wasn't the scariest of what he said, considering risk of fatality came naturally with usage of magic. If Alistair ever created an unstable portal accidentally, and stepped through it, he could have killed himself in an instant. If he ever lost control of a minion at a key moment, he could've been betrayed by his own magic.

If he drew on too much ether from his body, for whatever reason, he could face a variety of side-effects - one of which being, of course, death in the extremities of overstepping. He acknowledged that he should only utilize any Becoming form in dire moments, or if utterly necessary, based on everything Fridgar had said. Of course, he had to wonder whether or not those eight minutes of transition were even remotely worth it. During that time, could someone - or something - not murder him without any potential for self-defense?

What a magic, he could only tell himself, already becoming wary of it. Was abandoning one's form worth it, with such risks? With such pain?

What was notable in Fridgar's words was the 'someone else' portion, as if it were something Alistair would be drawn towards. Little did the Lotharro know, that had already been something the Venora was capable of. With Syroa's mark, for all of its disadvantages, had come some advantages. Alistair could disguise his face into something else entirely at a whim, without eight bits of pain. In fact, without even a second of discomfort.

"Silk is organic, I think. It's... made into a textile, but it's a protein fiber. At least, if medical school is serving my mind correctly," he said, pondering upon the thought. Though, his pondering was quickly shut off mid-way as he'd heard what Fridgar said. It's just satisfying, he said, without a single bit of shame in saying so. The mage nearly laughed, but instead just offered the Lotharro a goofy, almost coy look. "Oh, really?" he asked. "Several bits of writhing anguish, satisfying? What an outlandish fetish you've revealed to me. I'll need to inform Lady Rey'na," the man chuckled, being sure to embarrass Fridgar as much as he could with this.

He'd never heard of being satisfied by agony, but now that he thought of it, he knew at least a few Coven members who seemed most at home while flagellating.

Still, the man's totems were... cool, he'd describe them as, and this was all very educational. He listened eagerly to everything the man said, despite the jokes and weird thoughts his mind ran to. What was utterly the most intriguing was the man's transformation, which was as horrifying as it was unbelievable. His whole body retracted and reformed anew, gruesomely, with power in each twisted ligament and reformed organ. The man would've barfed if he'd seen this in a woozy state, but instead, he was just... morbidly intrigued.

The man had turned into a massive snake on the floor, and stared quietly at Alistair, as if asking for a reply. "Wow," he could only say. "That's a bloody big snake - where the hell did you find something like that?" Even with all his travels, he'd never seen anything like it. It was... amazing. The man leaned over to pick up the snake, whether or not it was uncomfortable for him, plopping some of it over his shoulder. Heavy, he thought to himself.

"I guarantee you, if a patient came in right now, they'd probably drop dead at the sight of you. I'll have to be sure not to let you roam out onto the streets," the man said, laughing lightly. After that, he set the creature down, being sure to avoid it in case Fridgar wanted to play any strange jokes on him. "Okay, now... can you turn back? Or is that dangerous? I feel awkward talking to myself," he said, nervously grinning, his hand messing up his hair.
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Alistair seemed to get the wrong Idea about his satisfaction, implying that he got off to the torment of changing shape. Please, how could he manage such things without hands? He was going to tell Rey'na? Oh Ilaren, please no. While he doubted that Rey'na would have the heart to hurt him, she had her scary moments. "Please don't!" He begged suddenly after a moment of thought, being poisoned didn't sound like fun. But then, for most, having your body destroyed didn't sound like much fun either... Perhaps he'd ask Rey'na to poison him some time?

That's a bloody big snake If he had eyebrows, he'd surely be wagging them. 'You have no idea, buddy' his thoughts fell to the gutter. 'No please, don't...' He growled in his head, of course. Alistair had to go and touch him, no, he'd surpassed the touching part. He picked him up. It normally infuriated him, what did people think gave them the right over an animal's personal space!? He was still a person, with sentience and all. While it normally infuriated him, he found himself going with it this time. The sensation of skin on scale wasn't as unpleasant as skin on fur, to be honest. The snake remained calm, even when plopped onto Alistair's shoulders.

The human probably didn't realise the danger he'd put himself in. When Fridgar had been carrying the beast he'd used to make the totem home, it had crushed the air from his lungs and half eaten him - well, his entire head at least. Luckily, He was a person on the inside. He slithered about Alistair, wrapping him in a single coil. He'd only been this form once, time to experiment. His head hovered in front of Alistair's, tilting his head downward slightly to plant both of his slitted eyes on the human's. Could he put the human in a trance? Try as he might, no trance came. Despite his half a bit of concentration, he'd bared no fruit in this experiment. Mind controlling Alistair would have been fun. Once he'd uncoiled the human, he was swiftly place back down and asked to turn back. He raised up onto the table once more, approaching his necklace.

This time around, he quickened his Ether in preparation for an unleash. He radiated power during this process, it hung heavy in the atmosphere. His intent-filled focus fell to the Fridgar totem, which initiated the transformation. Within a trill or two, he'd rapidly changed back into his usual form. His shape changing in what appeared to be a ridiculously fast fashion compared to what he'd done prior. Once the process was complete, he was on his knees, leaning over the table and glaring at his totems, he turned to face Alistair as his eyes shifted pigment to black once more. "Pretty cool, right?" he spoke, standing up. With a free paw, he loosened the necklace before putting it back on his fully clothed form.

A grunt escaped his lips as he sat back in his seat. "What I did there was unleash. It's super exhausting at lower levels, I wouldn't have ever dreamed of trying it more than once a trial. But the stronger I get; the less exhausting I find it. I can totally to it two, maybe three at a stretch, times a trial!" Fridgar explained, he'd used it for convenience usually back when he was a novice, just last season. "Took me six arcs to figure out how to do it though, ha!" It then hit him, he'd been destroying and rebuilding his body for six arcs now. Was such a 'fetish' outlandish in his case? By the immortals, was this a fetish!? Had he purposely let himself get beaten by Warren among others simply for 'satisfaction'? Nah. Ali was being funny, is all.

"Anyway, you were asking about a self-totem?" Fridgar removed his necklace, placing it on the table and sliding it over to Alistair. While the noble didn't know it, this was a sign of absolute trust. Without those totems, he was powerless, completely vulnerable, he couldn't even heal himself without them. "You see that middle bead, between the two bone fragments, how it's coloured differently to the rest?" Fridgar resisted a sinister smile. "That's my toe."The Lothar waited for Alistair's response before continuing. "My master had me cut it off myself, after he'd shown me his." Fridgar gave a show of his hand, letting the human catch on to what he was implying.

"The way I see it, magic, or at least this magic, is all about committing. You've gotta commit a permanent part of yourself before even getting the spark. If you still want to do this... Then I'll help you if you want it. If you don't, then I completely understand. I think no less of you." The Lothar looked to Alistair, hope filling his eyes. While he very much wanted to initiate the mage, he also prepared himself for the disappointment of being turned down. This stuff was scary, especially for people that weren't Lotharro or had outlandish fetishes, he imagined.
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So, there was a way to quickly turn back, called 'unleash'. That brought Alistair quite a bit of relief, as he was sure there would be at least one point in time where whatever animal form he took on would become . . . problematic, and he'd want to quickly revert back. Knowing that he could use magic in other forms, he knew he could always rupture away at the blink of an eye, but still - sometimes he'd want to remain, and fight, but not in the form of a chihuahua or whatever animal he'd decided to take on.

That also raised the question of what form he should take on first - something small and inconsequential? Something simple? This magic was really . . . unique in all the directions it could go. No Becomer was the same. It wasn't so formatted like Rupturing, where Alistair essentially just read all of Reyard's books and styled his lessons directly after the magic's progenitor. He invented fighting styles for Rupturing, but still - these were things that could've been invented by anyone else, if they had the creativity. Becoming was all about creativity, and invention, and utilizing the right form at the right time. It was interesting - he had to give it that.

What was the most . . . interesting . . . to him, was the fact that it was all encapsulated by totems. He'd seen Kaiserion use these totems before, but he didn't know too much about them. He only figured that one channeled ether into them to prime the transformation. When Fridgar slid his over, Alistair's eyes widened, and not because of the totems themselves - but what it meant. He did know how important they were. That he could have shattered all of them, and made those forms lost to Fridgar. If he was in a different form when he did so, would the real, original Fridgar be erased, and replaced by a slew of animals? That thought was horrifying, to say the least.

"Your toe," the man said, nodding. It only just now clicked that he'd have to give up a part of himself, too. A toe? A finger? Something else? Oh, lord.

The mage took a deep breath. Was he really ready for this? To commit to this kind of life, pursuing such a gruesome magic, and losing part of his sense of self? He knew Fridgar might have not seen it that way, but if those forms were like lives of their own, how long would it be before the original life was lost? They weren't temporary transformations like Sesser's - you could live in that form forever, if you wanted. And you -- your real body? It just became . . . another totem. Everything that Alistair was, everything he'd done, would only be considered as the life of a singular form of many. It was like becoming nothing, forming a collective of many creatures, but losing so much of the significance and the vision of your original self. Who you were born as. Could he live that life? Could he?

. . .

"Fridgar," he began. The man seemed . . . almost guilty. "Before I can accept this . . . gift, I need to know something - do Becomers stay the same? Do they lose their sense of self, because they're no longer confined to one body? I just feel that I've only really begun to accept myself for who I am, and to take this would be to abandon all of that. I told myself I'd stop surrendering what made me happy for the sake of power, and wouldn't this be the ultimate failure, if that's how I want to live? To have the man you see now only be a facet of a greater collective . . . that thought horrifies me. Because I love myself, finally, and I don't want to abandon that self. What if someone destroyed my totem? Would I not be gone forever? I couldn't live as another creature. I would despise it. I would take my life."

He sighed. He couldn't do this - or at least, he was afraid to do it. Unbelievably, the only reason he'd managed to give himself to say "yes" was that he wanted to become closer to Fridgar. He knew the bond would solidify the two of them, and he liked the man's company, a lot. For whatever reason, he didn't want him to just be a passing face.

Taking a grip of himself, the man decided he would make a proposition. He raised his eyes to look at the Lothar.

"Fridgar," he called him, "I will undergo the initiation, under one condition," he said. "These forms... these are not identities. These are just sources of power. That's how I want to live as a Becomer. If you'll help me remember that, and not slip, and lose myself to the life of a... dog or whatever the hell, then I'll take on this magic. If you can't at least try to guarantee that, then I'm sorry, but I can't follow this path."
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"...Mmhmm, my toe..." Fridgar nodded back, Alistair hadn't reacted as volatile as he'd first expected. People usually cringed, throwing the totem away in disgust when he told them that part, he'd have expected no less from Alistair. "I mean, it doesn't have to be a toe if you like your toes. You just need one of your bones, your blood, and some of your own skin or hair." The Lothar grinned, seemingly from nowhere. He could recall the sixth, the cabin spattered in gore from his rapid totem crafting, animal carcasses lining the floors. He'd stunk of death for trials after.

"It's not as gross as you think." he added, finishing his daydream. Alistair took a deep breath, Fridgar held his. It was a massive commitment, to take up magic, probably an even bigger one once you understood the cost. Alistair had come closer than most, people usually quit by now. The Lothar had high hopes, to say the least.

Alistair spoke, rousing him to attention. The fellow mage went ahead and asked his question in his usual tone; a massive speech. Fridgar listened all the same, something Alistair had taught him was to listen more often. Once the mage had finished, he'd nod solemnly. "Well, Alistair..." He started, his tone quiet as he thought of a way to phrase this that didn't sound like an idiot trying to be smart. "What makes you... you? Is it the skin you wear? The way you dress or how you style your hair?" He let his questions sink in. "Is all 'Alistair' is, something as shallow as a physical form?" The Lothar added, he'd not thought much of the topic in truth. "I am Fridgar, I often forget when I'm in Animal forms, my sense of being extends far past this body, this shell." he confessed. The way he spoke gave himself chills, did he sound crazy?

Alistair had more to say, Fridgar listened as he had prior. A sigh escaped his lips. "No. I can't promise you that, Alistair." he shook his head. There were no guarantees with magic, try as he might, he wouldn't be able to look after the man at all times. "I'm sorry. I won't make you do this." He'd been selfish, this is what he'd wanted. Alistair would benefit very little from becoming, seeing as he was already able to shape shift into some sort other-worldly creature. "I will not initiate you." He got up and approached, collecting his totems and putting them around his neck, smiling gently down at the frightened human.

Fridgar took the seat next to him, lacing his fingers together. "It's scary isn't it?" he spoke after a bit of silence. "I'll be honest, I even scared myself a little bit with that whole 'who is Alistair' thing. I'm sorry if I accused you of anything." he failed to meet Alistair's eyes, putting his hands behind his head and groaning while resting his elbows on the table. Come to think of it, it appeared as though he'd almost forced Alistair into this. It wasn't right. Not with a magic as taxing as becoming. Any magic at all even. There was, however, still a chance.

"That 'rupturing' magic you use, that's the one you use to teleport all over the place, right? A friend of mine called it 'blinking'?" In all honesty, he'd been jealous of Sintih since seeing him do that in the farms, it looked wicked cool. Think of all the people he could punch by teleporting to each of them! Fridgar took a deep breath and held it, looking to Alistair at last. His voice came quiet, hopeful. If he hadn't messed up things too badly with Alistair, there was still a chance for a Master-student relation between the two. "...Would you teach me?" He asked, almost pleading.
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What made Alistair . . . Alistair? Well, it wasn't all just skin and bone, but that was a part of it. Did one's visage mean nothing? What was a person if not a sum of their characteristics? The man's views on what the "self" was were clearly drastically different than Fridgar's views, who seemed to . . . confine it to the interior, but not even the interior. The soul? The spark? No. That was not a man. That was only a fragment of a man. The mage shook his head, disagreeing with the Lothar. "I'm sorry, but I don't see it that way," he said, bluntly.

"When you look in the mirror, or clear water, what is it that you see? Your own eyes looking back upon you, with the face that you've maintained, in a body you've grown into with characteristics passed down from generations of reproduction." He looked to Fridgar, taking in his features, his characteristics. His exceptionally defined musculature, which was partly due to his training, but largely due to his genetics. His shaggy hair and his strong face. These were things unique to him, and carried on for so long. They mattered. When Alistair thought of Fridgar, he thought of all these things, too. They didn't mean nothing, they meant a lot.

"In just your appearance is many things - how much you take care of yourself, your ancestry, the way others view you in the immediate, your physicality and musculature, and all of the history that's gone into your appearance. When you see me, you see Alistair. If you were to see someone else, even if they had the same exact personality, would you regard them as being "me"? They don't have the same voice. They don't have the same look, or eyes, or anything. They're carrying nothing but a fragment of my identity. That's the way I see it." He ended it at that. There was no reason to get into a philosophical argument about the self -- the "self" was a concept that had been argued about for a long time. Alistair had strongly different views on it than Fridgar, and the two realized that quickly, based on the words they'd shared.

And that... was fine. They'd realized, mutually, that maybe Becoming wasn't the right thing for Ali. Not now, at least. Maybe later.

"Don't apologize, Fridgar," he requested, shaking his head. "It's not on you. I said I was interested -- I just didn't understand the implications at the time." Watching the man slip his totems back onto his neck, he seemed pleased. It felt right, looking at Fridgar like that. Becoming was definitely his kind of magic -- it fit him to its extremities, and he liked that. But it was a lifestyle, too. That was what he realized from learning all these things about it.

"It is scary," the man nodded. "I didn't realize it, but it's bloody terrifying. But, that makes me respect you a lot more, if anything. You've dealt with such a gruesome magic so well, relying on your outlandish fetish to deal with the pain, and your slanted views of self-identification to deal with the rest." He laughed lightly, continuing to tease the man. Alistair was, as always, a prick when he wanted to be - but it was all in good fun. And besides, Fridgar could handle it.

Listening to the rest of what he had to say, the man could only dismiss it, trying as he could to make sure Fridgar didn't feel guilty for scaring the human. He'd taught Alistair a lot about the magic, and had been very honest about everything. The way he went about this educational session had been indicative of being a good person, who genuinely cared about what Alistair wanted. There was no reason to feel guilt. He had to let him know that.

And he would've, but his train of thought was dismantled: the Becomer asked for Alistair to teach him Rupturing, the Venora's eyes widening with excitement. Thoughts were racing through his head, all of the things he wanted to teach Fridgar. He'd try as best as he could to enlighten the man's mind. And this relied on a fact that Alistair had discovered quite quickly through all of this -- that Fridgar's mind was more than capable of being enlightened.

"Hey, let me tell you something, Frid," he started. "I can tell that you don't have the highest faith in your intelligence, but honestly, you're a really smart man. Just think about everything you told me, just now, and how well you managed to explain it. The philosophy, too - whether or not we agree upon it, you think heavily upon these things, and I can tell. It's because of this that I fully believe you're capable of learning Rupturing, which is the most meticulous and knowledge-based magic of them all. So yes, Fridgar," he nodded his head, "I'll teach you."

"But first," he wryly smiled, stepping closer, "let me show you something cool." Aesthetically, sparks would appear above their clothing, like dark-indigo cracks and ripples. Holding his arms out, Alistair gave the Lotharro a firm hug, and he'd notice that it wasn't their clothes touching -- but their chests, directly, skin-to-skin. While this display might've seemed odd to the Lothar, it described so much about what Rupturing was, and Alistair would explain that.

"Can you guess what I just did? If you can answer this, then you already know what Rupturing is all about. This ability, called splintering, describes it all."
word count: 958
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Varthakh
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The immediate shift in Alistair's visage told him everything he needed to know, his own features shifting to match the mage's. Almost as though Alistair's excitement were contagious, Fridgar immediately began to bubble inside, being initiated the first time was so cool, he'd learned so much. To think he'd get to do that a second time, words couldn't describe his joy. At least, none of his words.

Fridgar's eyes narrowed, suddenly. What was Alistair trying to say? Fridgar didn't have faith in his own intelligence? Bullshit. "I know I'm smart." he spoke stern, in complete denial but stern none-the-less. A familiar burn filled his throat, why would Alistair feel the need to compliment him on his smarts if they were up to scratch? Nobody ever complimented his strength, which he excelled at. But his intelligence, why had that attracted the attention of the super smart guy? He swallowed hard, trying not to choke as he composed himself. No, Alistair was right. He doubted his own intelligence, and for good reason. If his eyes were white at all, they'd have been red and puffy, tell-tale signs of his emotional state. Thankfully, they were black. He rubbed his eyes in his sleeve before dropping his head on his arm.

The entirety of the black in his eyes lit up as his look of misery shifted to joy, excitement. Alistair would teach him. He sat up immediately, taking a sniffle through his nose. "You will?" The Lothar asked, ever hopeful. Alistair had something in mind before, however. Suddenly, sparks lined his clothes, cracking and all. Fear filled his eyes with realisation. Those cracks, that’s how the woman in the woods had made her entrance, cracking the air around her. Was she here? Good, he was so much stronger than last time they'd met. He'd been itching for a rematch, he wouldn't soon forget the attempt she'd made on- wait what?

Alistair embraced him... But something was weird with his clothes. He'd been stripped? Sort of? Their chests touched, he could feel Alistair's heart beat with his own. What the fuck even was this? His thoughts raced, distress and discomfort painting his face and all its features. Whatever the mage was doing, he wanted it to stop. He wanted to scream, throw the mage away, fight him, anything. Instead, he found himself wrapping his arms around the human. What had previously been a chorus of screams of protest in his head was now silence. This... Whatever Alistair was doing... he liked it. The mage could probably feel it, his heart like a drum beating at a hundred miles a break.

"I... I don't know." he choked, intimacy aside; this baffled him. How could his clothes be there and not be there? Not wanting to think of it any further. The Lothar's hand reached up behind Alistair's head, lacing his fingers with the mage's hair. Why? He'd told Alistair no just last night, why did it keep coming back to this? Why did he enjoy it so much? For now, he simply shut his yes and relished in the human's warmth. As terrifying as it was to be this close to someone, some part of it was nice, right?
word count: 567
Whenever one finds oneself inclined to bitterness, it is a sign of emotional failure.
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I know I'm smart, the man said, though it sounded more defensive than confident. In truth, he seemed to know that, too - his eyes nearly welled up with liquid, as if Alistair's words struck him to his heart. He wouldn't have noticed if the man hadn't rubbed his face into his sleeve, but alas, he did. Maybe Fridgar really did doubt his intelligence, and Alistair wasn't just speaking out of his ass. If that were the case, they'd need to change that, because the guy wasn't dumb by any means -- in fact, he had more basic common sense and more of an ability to learn than a lot of people. He was also... receptive. Understanding. Traits of a truly intellectual person, even if hidden behind enough brawn to lift a horse-drawn carriage.

"Yeah," the nobleman replied, with a nod. "I'll teach you."

Of course, the man ended up throwing things totally out of balance again, just like last time. They could never have a moment of rejoice without Alistair wanting to wrap his arms around the Fridbear, and always upon the instant of their contact, a realization seemed to appear mutually to both of them - that mentally, and physically, there was something else there. This hug, or embrace, wasn't just a friendly one - it was as if it had determined to be something different. He could feel the man's body heat rise in temperature, and his own heart began to beat faster, in tandem with the other. Shit, he told himself. After just the night before, with everything that had gone wrong, it was all happening again. This was going to be the second rejection he'd faced in two days, and the first came before he even did anything. It was like Fridgar read his mind. Or maybe he just read his own - they seemed to have similar intentions, and a mutual understanding, far moreso than he could comprehend.

I don't know, the man said. The words flowed directly into his ears, with the other man's lips speaking down to him. Alistair almost shuddered. Fridgar was so exceptionally compelling to him. Every word of his. The man brought his hands up to the back of Alistair's head, his fingers smoothing through the locks, as their embrace tightened. The man's eyes began to shut.

Cautiously, the man spoke, trying not to break the calm. He would tell Fridgar what he'd just done.

"I closed the distance between us, removing all obstacles." With those words, the man leaned forward, rising onto his toes. He knew this wasn't right, and maybe he knew he'd be rejected again, but... he didn't care. He really, really liked Fridgar, so much that he couldn't control it. And he felt that the other man was much the same, which was why after everything, he still continued - so easily - to melt into Alistair's embrace, the two of them mutually condemned in their instinctual want.

He kissed Fridgar passionately along his jaw, as his hands smoothed around and behind his chest, massaging his back. He'd never been so afraid as right now, trying to keep himself from shaking. He failed, as his legs began to tremble where they were, his knees going weak. Cursing to himself, in his head, the man tried to straighten his posture. He was still a shy and unsure man, even despite everything he'd endured in the last year. That was as clear as day, every moment he spend in this provocative dance with this hulk of a man.
word count: 608
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