[Venora][Mature] The next trial

The night after, Alistair initiates Fridgar

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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[Venora][Mature] The next trial

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16th of Cylus 717


Following the events of the trial prior, Fridgar awoke, a deep inhale through his nose filled his body with consciousness again. He was in Alistair's office, Sabaissant Venora, in one of the patient's beds. He was not the only occupier of the bed, however. No, next to him rested the unconscious body of Alistair. Fridgar resisted a gasp of surprise, he'd almost forgotten it, like a dream. He sat up on his elbows, what had he done? His eyes fell to Alistair's naked back, he had a tattoo? Perhaps the witchbrand for rupturing? He'd soon find out. The affair had been so wrong, but so right. Not wanting to think too much of the trials to come where he would have to confess to Rey'na, he slid back under the sheets.

His skin met Alistair's, he'd initiated the contact this time around. His shape melded with the mage's, pressing his front to his back and wrapping the smaller man's upper body in his arms. With his paws still wrapped around him, he pulled the sheets up over the both of them and relished in the warmth before dozing off once more.
They arrived at a hilltop through one of Alistair's portals, it was freezing cold, approaching night and all. The Lothar didn't flinch, despite how hard the cold tried to bite at him in the middle of Cylus. Unable to fight it off much longer, he gave a quick shiver, getting most of it out with a single movement. "S-so why out here?" Fridgar asked, forcing the temptation to shiver aside. He looked about the immediate area, seeing nothing worth noting. Had Alistair dragged him out here for a prank? He hoped not, while the cold rarely bothered him, Alistair's office had been warm and snuggly. The Lothar paused suddenly, what kind of brazen thoughts were these? Some would accuse him of going soft if he'd said that out loud!

"How does initiation work for rupturing then? I've only ever known becoming." Eric had some other magics up his sleeve, he knew that much. But none that he actively showed Fridgar, becoming was his major, the Lothar believed. "Is it dangerous? In becoming, you need a strong sense of 'who you are' or you'll transform into a monster forever at the initiation." Fridgar halted for a moment, he'd wanted to teach Alistair, the conflicted noble, to become? A palm met his forehead, by the immortals was he an idiot at times.

The Lothar cast his eyes to the frozen floor. "Alistair, I..." He stopped, emotions swelling in his throat. "I don't think I've got what it takes to understand this magic. Remember that conversation we had yestertrial? Where you brought up my smarts?" he continued, casting his eyes to the side, readying to confess. "I lied. I'm not smart. I don't get things as quick as most people, I might never get some things people get. Can I tell you something? Something I never told anyone?" He asked, his chest heavy with all the faith he was putting in the man before him.

His hands clasped together and he exhaled, readying to speak his darkest secret. "I... I don't know the order of the seasons." He spoke, failing to meet the human's eyes as he did so. His whole body drooped, defeated. Shame had all but robbed him of his strength, he appeared flimsy. "I'm not smart, I'm... I'm dumb." he fell silent, it hurt even more to acknowledge his short-comings with his own voice. Tears filled his black eyes and his voice shook. "I really want to do this, but I don't know if I can..." He swallowed and sniffled, wiping his eyes in his sleeve before looking to Alistair finally. He could at least stand to see the look of disappointment in his lover’s eyes for having led him on again.
Last edited by Varthakh on Wed Mar 08, 2017 7:00 pm, edited 1 time in total. word count: 684
Whenever one finds oneself inclined to bitterness, it is a sign of emotional failure.
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[Venora][Mature] The next trial

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Last night had been . . . something. They laughed, they cried, they cringed, and somehow they... consummated. He still wasn't sure how all of those previous things ended up in that latter thing, but he'd get there eventually. Something about a really, really comfortable hug. Damn. He winced; his butt hurt. Well, it wasn't like it hurt... it just... felt a little bit --

His thoughts were interrupted, as the other man wrapped his arms around him, the two of them making contact and keeping it; they were inseparable since they'd first made contact the night before, and somehow, that felt right. It didn't feel suffocating or burdensome, it just felt good. He melted into the Lothar's embrace, and as the other man's eyes closed shut once more, so too did his.

- - -

After fully awaking, the two of them set out to the top of a hill just northeast of Sabaissant. As if it weren't cold enough, the mage had determined it would be suitable for them to go out and experience it firsthand, without any insulation, people or buildings to retreat to. In truth, it wasn't like it mattered. With Rupturing at one's disposal, there was no reason to fear something like this. If it had gotten too cold to bear, they could just teleport back, easily. And, really, he knew they'd need a secluded place. If anyone walked in on the initiation and disturbed them, they could both die, unable to find their way back to their body. No one would come out here in the middle of Cylus, so this was the ideal location.

Plus, the view of the stars wasn't too shabby.

Why out here? the man finally asked, with the mage looking back, a silly jeer on his lips, as if to ask: problem? But, as that wasn't really his character, he decided to give the man a decent explanation as to why he'd chosen the outdoors. He had to admit, even just opening his mouth, he felt his jaw shivering. The man moved closer to Fridgar for good measure, trying to siphon some of that body heat, if he could. "Because it's open, and we can see the stars. And no one will bother us," he noted, looking around as if to illustrate just how few people were outside of the city. No one. In fact, looking down at the city from here, he could scarcely see anyone in the city. Everyone had retreated to their homes -- that'd been the standard every Cylus of every arc. No one in Venora was truly ever ready for Cylus, as the other seasons had all been so warm, at least comparatively to everywhere else.

"The initiation... well," he sighed. It was a lot to explain. "Essentially, I draw energy to the outline of your body, and with Rupturing, I bring that energy directly into your system. Your body and spark will reply... strongly, with the energy sparking a physical reaction that forces the initiation to trigger. At this point, our sparks merge by our mutual will, and the joining of our two sparks causes for our minds to become untethered; completely free, with no physical limitations or boundaries. This is the magical moment that is the initiation for Rupturing. It's something akin to becoming one with the universe, if only for a short time, fully capable of wading through all that surrounds us." He doubted that explanation meant much, though. Very few people really understood the initiation until they actually went through it.

"It... helps us to find humility, realizing how small we all are," he added, looking up to the sky. He could see the sun in full eclipse -- while it had snowed this morning, it was mostly clear right now, which was both a good and a bad thing. The heat wasn't held in, but at least they could see above them. That was important in setting up the mood.

As for the danger . . . well. "This initiation is one of the few that results in instantaneous death if you fail, but you don't have to take the risk at all. You can keep your conscious within the confines of your body, not exploring anything. You'll live, but you won't have the experience behind you. I personally recommend taking the risk, especially considering you have me. You'll know where I am -- you'll be able to feel me, like I'm a part of you. If you can't find your way back to your body, just go to where you feel my presence, and you'll be safe." He nodded his head. Bringing that forward, he decided this was a good time to be completely transparent.

"That link where you're capable of feeling my presence and location will never go away, by the way. Accompanied with a familial bond of sorts, we will always have a desire to be close to one another, and we'll know exactly where the other is. That's the bond that the master and apprentice share in Rupturing. If you don't want me to be able to sneak up on you at my discretion, then speak now, and we can hold off the initiation. Otherwise, you and I are stuck together, for the long haul."

Absorbing the rest of what Fridgar said, Alistair listened intently, not breaking eye contact or showing any sign of disrespect. He understood the man's insecurity about his intellect, as it was commonly held, especially by those who viewed themselves as intellectually deprived, or brutish. And, surely, that had to be the case with him - Fridgar was exceptionally instinctual, but relied little on the more learned methods of functioning. He applied only his gut feeling to a great deal of his life, though his cognitive functions weren't lacking. Alistair knew that he wasn't "too dumb" to Rupture. He was just doubting himself.

He couldn't speak the order of the seasons? So what? He could live them, and know them, and could probably survive them better than almost anyone. Fridgar had an intellect that others didn't.

"Fridbear," he referred to him, affectionately, "you're not dumb. There's no shame in not knowing something like that." He shook his head, and gestured for the man to sit down with him. Lowering himself, Alistair curled his legs together, arms resting against his lap. "Everyone learns differently. I'm willing to bet that you haven't had anyone try, genuinely, to teach you these things in a way you'd understand. Why don't I try teaching you the order? If you can't remember after this, then sure, we can say you're not capable of learning. But I know you are."

They just... needed something that would stick. What did Fridgar care about? Animals. That was an obvious one. How could they weave fauna into the seasons? Well, they'd have to try, even if they had to resort to alliterations and anagrams. The man moved closer to Fridgar, presenting himself for the man to sniffle and cry onto if he needed it. But he wouldn't.

"Think animal Kingdom, alright? Hell, think bestiary, too." Without further ado... came Alistair's horrible, barely rhyming, just-made-up-right-now... seasonal animal poem. Thing. The things he did for Fridgar. "Cylus comes first, black as the crow. Ashan follows suit, albatross soaring, the sun melting all of the snow. With Ymiden comes a new dawn, yellowjacket bees buzzing on. Not to rhyme too hard, but then comes Saun, the swan." He actually started laughing at that one. "Okay, okay, moving on," he rhymed again, smirking at Fridgar, "Vhalar's, of course, the season of the viper - because they're both vhalar-ous."

. . .

"And finally, zi'da's the bloody zebra. Alright, that whole thing was embarrassing, but hey, you do what you've gotta."
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[Venora][Mature] The next trial

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The doom and gloom in his face soon faded with Alistair's comfort. What had the human called him? 'Fridbear'? No, he broke into a smile, quite involuntarily too. This was meant to be his sulk time, though Alistair was good at changing his mind. That or he was simple and fickle. His eyes met Alistair's and he listened with intent. It appeared as though the human was telling the truth, or from what he believed anyway. Alistair was a smart guy, if he believed that Fridgar of all people was intelligent, did that make him a fool? Or perhaps blind? Maybe he just saw something nobody else did? He prayed for the latter, Alistair might not be fooled by his dullness for long.

He had a point did Alistair, the Lothar had learned everything himself, aside from his magic. Raised like he had been, there wasn't a school life for him or his brothers and sisters. Eric had done his best to teach them normal stuff while he trained Fridgar in becoming. These things didn't come naturally to him, he couldn't blame a lack of education for his own shortcomings.

The animal kingdom? Really? The Lothar looked to him with a gentle smile and raised eyebrows. Alistair was serious about this? He turned where he sat to face him head on, listening with intent. Cylus... Black as the crow... That made sense, looking about the area. Cylus was always in complete darkness, just the feathers of the crow. He listened to the rest Ashan follows... Albatross soaring... Those seagull thingies? What did they have to do with Ashan? He remembered, Crow, Seagull. Ymiden comes a new dawn... Yellowjacket bees buzzing on... hey that one rhymed! Alistair was getting better at this. Crow, seagull, bee... Birds and bees... His eyes narrowed a little, but listened all the same. Saun... Swan... His shoulders dropped. Seriously? Crow, gull, bee, swan. Well, at least Alistair thought it was funny! It was contagious in fact, he found a chuckle forcing its way from his lips, it hadn't been difficult with the smile he bared. Fridgar's smile dropped immediately and assumed a 'did you really just do that' sort of look.

Vhalar... Viper... ‘Cus Vhalarous... Fridgar hung his head "Ilaren, have mercy..." He wouldn't laugh in Alistair's presence for that one, he refused. It was just terrible; the man was a maniac. Finally came Zi'da... The zebra..., Fridgar grinned from ear-to-ear. Alistair had suffered through all of that for him? He really did care. Now wasn't the time to bask in Alistair's kindness, though. Now was the time to show some results, Alistair's suffering hadn't been in vain.

He shut his eyes, thinking hard as he spoke "Crow, Seagull... uhhh... Bee, Swan? Viper Zebra!" He exclaimed, triumphant. That was only have the battle though, now what did the animals represent? "Crow... Black feathers... Cylus? Seagull, makes no sense... Ymiden..? NO! Ashan! Cylus Ashan!" He fumbled with his memory. "The next one was Ymiden, birds and bees. Cylus, Ashan, Ymiden..." His eyes widened with disbelief, he was half way? "Uhh... Another bird, rhymed with the season... swan? SAUN! Cylus, Ashan, Ymiden Swan, I mean Saun..." The Lothar was amazed, his eyes met Alistair's, filled with joy. He was nearly there, his focused turned up a notch. "Viper... Pfft! The silly one, easy. Venom! No wait, Vhalar! Cylus, Ashan, Ymiden, Saun, Vhalar!" He spoke, almost crazed. This was a feat beyond all the Lothar had ever accomplished. The last one... No, he'd come so far... His face curled up with strain as he forced his brain into thinking. They both began with the same letter. "Hnnn... I want to say 'S'... No, 'Z'! Z for... zebra? Zebra the Zi'da!" His face dropped, counting with his fingers he spoke aloud. "Cylus, Ashan, Ymiden, Saun, Vhalar, Zi'da... That's all six..." he spoke quietly, under his breath before looking up at Alistair in disbelief. "THAT'S ALL SIX!!! Y-you...!"

Alistair had ridden him of his darkest secret. How could he help himself? He'd never been one for restraint. Without another word in a passionate frenzy, the Lothar would leap at Alistair suddenly, pushing off the snow with his foot. Had Alistair not blasted him with magic out of reflex, Fridgar would speak while hanging over him "Cylus Ashan... Ymiden Saun Vhalar Zi'da." before kissing him on the cheek gently. "Thank you, Ali..." he whispered, this meant so much more than just being able to remember the seasons, this was proof that the Lothar could learn, he just needed to reach out more and to the right people. Alistair was the right people.

"Alright... I guess you're right, maybe I can learn. You don't have to make a poem for every lesson though..." he kissed the human again. "Speaking of lessons... So it's like an out of body experience?"
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Whenever one finds oneself inclined to bitterness, it is a sign of emotional failure.
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[Venora][Mature] The next trial

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He had to admit, he was a bit embarrassed by all of the man's expressions and hints of restrained laughter. Still, with a blush glowing on his cheeks, he continued on with the terrible poem until it had finished. Crow, seagull, bee... swan... viper, zebra! the man exclaimed. Seagull? "I said Albatross, thank you very much," he replied, grinning. Crow... black feathers... seagull... makes no sense... Again, with the goddamn seagull!

"I said Albatross!" he corrected him a second time, though with a jovial expression lighting his features. "Plus, it does make sense. In Venora, Albatross start appearing again around the time of Ashan. They... go somewhere else, or something, during Cylus. Maybe you would know that if you didn't come from some landlocked barbarian territory!" the mage exclaimed, laughing lightly. He referred to Uthaldria, of course, despite the fact that Clan Nordhoff and Clan Valendale were not, in fact, landlocked. He didn't know that. He didn't care, either, frankly.

Aside from the... minor misspeaking between Seagull and Albatross, he progressed quickly. Apparently the animal poem actually worked, as Alistair only needed to say it all once, and Fridgar hadn't yet made any errors. To be honest, he was surprised he didn't point out how little sense Saun-Swan made -- at least he was content with the rhymes.

Cylus, Ashan, Ymiden, Saun, Vhalar, Zi'da!

"You did it!" he raised his hands up to cheer, and without any warning or expectation, the Lotharro pounced onto him and pinned him to the ground. He was overwhelmed at first, but quickly found himself comfortable, staring up into the Lothar's black eyes with a calm, but joyous, expression. The man repeated the seasons again, and then kissed his lover on the cheek, causing for Alistair to kiss back -- but on the lips, catching him as his face rose. He nodded his head. "No problem, Frid. I never doubted for a moment that you could learn."

He was kissed again, his cheeks flushing, thinking about how difficult it would be to actually return from this sort of position and teach Rupturing with a cool head. Taking a breath, Alistair regained himself. Or, he mostly did. "Hey, roll onto your back for a sec, beside me," he requested. "That way, we can both see the stars together. It's not the same without the sky above us."

With the man rolling onto his back, Alistair snuggled into him, wrapping his arm over his chest as his eyes looked upward. "It is like an out of body experience, yeah. It's a projection of one's energy, not bearing any of their worldly tethers, just flowing... free. You're nothing, and also everything." He remembered the moment fondly, and with Fridgar to share it with him, he'd remember it even fonder. Not only that, but after looking at everything around them -- how was this anything but a perfect night for the spell? The skies were clear, after the snow had emptied the clouds. The moon blocked out the sun, gallantly shimmering amidst the stars, a black sphere to conceal a bright white. The houses of Sabaissant, and the palace, were all lit up, just like they always were.

And these two? They were on a great hill, overlooking everything.

He felt something swell up inside of him. Something he hadn't felt in such a long time. He knew what it was -- he understood it now, more than he ever had.

"Fridgar, do you want to just... do it? Be brave? To become a Rupturer, one doesn't have to think -- they only have to feel. I know you're better at that than anyone else, so I know you'll survive the initiation. Everything after that is a different battle, and there's a lot more practice, study and knowledge. But right now? We'll be fine, you and I. I'd like nothing more than to sail the stars with you, tonight." His eyes almost closed shut. He could feel the energy around them, and began to draw it closer. It was so empowering, and tonight, he was close to the Revelation. He'd never been more powerful than right now, and not only that, but never more confident, jubilant, and brave.
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I never doubted for a moment that you could learn "O-Oh." Fridgar replied, suddenly emotional. Alistair always had faith in him? Seriously? By the immortals, he was braver than he'd given him credit for. While he was more than content to just cuddle with Alistair for the entire time they'd be there, they were on a mission. The stars? "Oh uhh, okay... Like this?" he rolled over as instructed, taken away suddenly by the view he'd ignored up until this point. There were so many stars out, almost enough to break through the perpetual darkness of Cylus.

The touch of Alistair's hand on his chest had made him jump. He exhaled, calming himself. They were allowed to touch each other without permission now, right? He'd just pounced the man, so it was only fair, right? And they'd done a lot more... 'touching' ...just the night prior. This was a habit that would take some time to break, no doubt about it. But he was comfortable enough being the one to touch, as demonstrated by his arm reaching over and behind his lover, pulling him close to his form gently. Their eyes were cast to the sky. Something about this moment was spectacular, be it the cover of complete darkness, the beautiful view or the man in his arms. This night, he would not forget.

Alistair tried explaining the experience to him, from what the Lothar could tell, he would be without his body. Was that even possible? His body, though shapeless in his mind, was his anchor. Like changing clothes he'd change form, but he'd never been without a form... naked in a sense? His nerves crept up on him. "Okay... But I'll have you, right?" He asked, the worry in his tone was notable, as you'd expect with a commitment of this scale, one that he was already very familiar with. The last thing he wanted was to get lost in this... exploration.

Fridgar raised an eyebrow at his offer, was he ready? Taking a deep breath, he calmed his nerves "I picture it being something like the first time I tried flying, you just have to take a leap of faith. That is if you mean it about the whole feeling not thinking thing..." his thoughts were made to sound. "In which case, yeah... Let's do it..." He looked to Alistair's closed eyes. Oh no, was it happening? Fridgar did as Alistair did, closing his eyes and all, but held onto Alistair a little tighter. If Alistair believed he was ready, then he was ready. While he did not yet fully understand what Alistair meant, it sounded right, finishing his sentence he spoke "...I wanna sail them with you, too."
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...I wanna sail them with you, too. And with those words, he did. Alistair's eyes fluttered open for only a moment, to look upon the form of the other man, laying against the grass-turned-snow, with his eyes shut and his body still. He smiled slightly, and muttered a laugh beneath his breath. Not one of mockery or insult, but of genuine fulfillment. He was happy, he really was.

But that was a luxury he couldn't rest on. The night could go much better yet. He moved himself back to where he was, and allowed the other man a moment of stability before... everything happened. Taking a breath, he pulled the energy into Fridgar. The man wouldn't feel anything at first, perhaps just an influx of... adrenaline, one could best describe it. Then, however, the feeling intensified. Their sparks had begun to weld themselves together, and in a way, form offspring of sorts -- a new facet of Fridgar, the spark of Rupturing. When the spark had truly begun to form, it formed with it a stimulation. A moment of utter greatness, more astounding than anything he'd likely ever felt. It was like... taking off to fly, but a thousand times that - being utterly removed from the confines of reality.

In that moment, Fridgar would feel himself transition, from a being of flesh to an entity indescribable. He was still him, in a way, but only subconsciously. He could not speak, he could scarcely think, he could only observe. All physical functions ceased. It was almost like a death, but its significance did not lie in permanence.

Alistair felt all the same things, and when all was said and done, the two were free. They could not really see the ephemeral form of one another, but they could feel it, and they could guide the other wherever they wanted to go. So, helping the man to not be afraid, Alistair took the first leap of faith. In an instant, his ethereal form had escaped the confines of Idalos' atmosphere, and he soared through space, fast as anything. As fast as he wanted to be, really. Another leap, and there he could see it -- something so great, he could scarcely imagine a more wondrous thing.

He witnessed the eclipse from a view utterly close to the moon, the outline of the sun consuming his view on all corners. He could hear a sound -- like a great movement, though he hardly understood what that was. He beckoned for Fridgar to follow, again, and he went further -- out of their system, out of their range of view. He came upon great rocks that looked like worlds, and upon nebulous arrangements of energy and light, and even upon a dying star. With each leap, he ensured the man followed, and through all of them, he waited for the feeling that he was ready to move on.

The initiation allowed them to abandon reason, and become something unchained by objectivity. This initiation, itself, was a lesson - that magic could enable within man great things, so great that they could rival even the Gods of Old, the Originals. At least, that was the dream, and one that Rupturers had always pursued.

Alistair's spark was pulled back, tracing the path he'd gone, using the tether he had with Ellasin to make his way back to Idalos. He ensured, always, that Fridgar followed behind him. When they returned to look from above, the two would see their bodies laying there together, as it was before. Alistair waited. If Fridgar wanted to go further, or to travel more, or even to fling his ephemeral form throughout the bounds of this world, then he could. This was a once in a lifetime experience. He would not end it too soon, if that was against his partner's will.
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Fridgar lay there, completely still with his eyes closed. The anticipation made the trills that went by feel like breaks, what was this going to be like? Would it hurt? Would it tickle? Would there be any feeling at all? Perhaps none of the physical kind, but Ali was excited, it must have been amazing in some form, right? Thankfully, the Lothar wasn't kept waiting long. Energy seeped into him, in the form of what he thought was adrenaline. Confusion hit, he normally had a firm grasp on his adrenaline, channelling and harnessing it were things he specialised in as a Lotharro. Then it happened, the strange new energy intensified, beyond anything he'd wielded before. His spark touched Alistair's, melded with Alistair's - it was happening. Invincibility, absolute freedom, omnipotence, what word could describe the feeling? No words that the Lothar knew of. He took a deep breath while he still could, who knew if he'd need it where he was going?

Then he shifted, the fullness of his lungs, gone. The cold of the snow at his back, gone too. All feeling of the physical kind was gone, could he move? Somehow, yes. He could see too, though he could not taste, touch, hear or smell. What had he become? Some sort of otherworldly being? He saw the two bodies below, one being Alistair's the other being... him? By the immortals, is that what he looked like? No wonder people feared him! Alistair was close by, though he couldn't see him, but somehow feel? It wasn't touch, a different sense that he'd never used before now. Then, he disappeared, flying off sort of? In a sudden panic, Fridgar pursued. He flew high, past the highest height he'd flown before with incredible ease. All Idalos shrunk beneath him. It was a circle? No, a ball? Incredible. He'd thought it went on forever, evidently not. Idalos was... huge. How fast could he go in this form?

Experimenting, Fridgar left Alistair's energy like a child running off. He travelled around Idalos, completing a full lap before discovering that he was right where he'd started, above Rynmere. Idalos was indeed round, it baffled him as he re-joined Alistair's energy at the view of the moon, seeing the rim glow a brilliant gold-orange. He could see it all, the entire thing. How? If he had a brain right now it would have fried. This was incredible, but they hadn't even started. 'Alistair' disappeared once more and he pursued. How did he know this energy was Alistair? Not some evil-space demon? He didn't, but it felt like Alistair. Alistair took him to a sort of colourful space cloud - his eyes? Alistair's eyes looked exactly like this! If he had a mouth, he'd be beaming. Time to move on, they sped off. To a ball of fire, burning red and massive, it consumed balls of rock in its expansion. He watched for a bit and Alistair waited, thankfully. He was glad that a ball of fire this big did not exist close to Idalos, he didn't want his ball of rock to burn. Once they were ready, they moved on.

So much detail, so much to see. Could all of this really exist? Was it a dream? Had he just fallen asleep while waiting for the initiation to start? No, this was real. He'd thought of himself a giant before, but he was so small, even on Idalos, there were creatures bigger than he, living mountains and all! All of existence, did it have a name? Reality? Browsing reality... to be seeing it with Alistair brought joy immense.

Alistair's energy returned, speeding back to their point of origin. It was over? So soon? But why? No, he needed to see more. Still knowing exactly how to find Alistair, he sped off. Where did reality end? Was there an end? What was inside those giant balls of fire? Were there other types of Idaloses? He flew into a ball of fire, finding liquid metal at its core? Was that not heavy? Why didn't it fall? No time to stop and think, he wanted more. Speeding off to an Idalos, one made completely of water, another made of gas with a super dense metal at its core. Fields of floating rocks, stars made of darkness balls of fire in all shapes and sizes, colours too. a white fire? Smaller than the rest. Holes in space that took you to different parts of space, so vast, so empty, so full. What was at the centre of it all? Was Idalos the centre of reality?

He flew up, maybe he could get a better view from there? What he perceived as up anyway. Beheld to him were the most glorious views in all of existence, in this formation, Idalos was but smaller than a grain of sand in comparison, what did that make him? A massive formation of balls of fire, all swirling into one great centre-piece of glowing energy, brilliant white of a spectrum he never thought possible. He saw the galaxy, though he didn't know it. By the immortals, no. Forget the immortals. The architect, the creator of all this. Who put it here? The Lothar might never know.

He'd seen enough and made his way back, stopping at one sight. A giant red ball of fire, he knew not why but the thing was adorable - until it exploded. Or imploded? Majesty, the colours of the spectrum that erupted from the body of flame were cast far and wide in a wave of destruction that wiped-out lots of Idaloses. a single wave of absolute power that cut through the rocks that span around it. If only Alistair had been here to see its glory. How often did something like that happen? He continued the journey home, to where he felt Alistair's being. On the way, he passed by the sun... Which was also a great big ball of fire? Realisation struck, he had to warn Alistair. In an instant, he was back on Idalos, Rynmere, Andaris, a small cabin in the woods. Rey'na's house... What was he going to do about her?

He returned to sabaissant, Venora, where he felt Alistair. He arrived above his body next to Alistair's being. Could his brain even handle everything he'd seen when he went back into it? Would he remember all this? The impending doom of Idalos? He needed to remember. He was ready to return.
word count: 1115
Whenever one finds oneself inclined to bitterness, it is a sign of emotional failure.
-- Bertrand Russell
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[Venora][Mature] The next trial

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Feeling Fridgar return, the man's projected energy returned to his body, and once again the spirit unified with the flesh. The mage's eyes blinked open, feeling a sudden blast of piercing cold across his body. He shivered dramatically, curling his knees more closely inward and leaning fully into Fridgar. The frost had really begun to take its toll; it was unhealthy for them to be up here for much longer. He waited for Fridgar to bring himself back, and with that, he would make a declaration.

"It's done," he said, nodding triumphantly. "You're a Rupturer now." The mage could feel the tether between them. Already, things had become different, with the two men sharing a piece of their spark. He'd forgotten this strange feeling of unity - that feeling of familiarity between he and Ellasin had long since faded.

Alistair stood up, groaning as he rose to his legs, nearly slipping on the snowy grass as his ascent was made. He held his arm out for Fridgar, assisting him in getting up, if he needed it. The mage continued to shiver, his jaw twitching rapidly, words scarcely able to escape his lips. "L-let's g-go home," he whispered, a tear in the fabric of space opening before the two of them, Alistair leading the Becomer into the swirling blaze. If he followed, the two of them would appear not in Alistair's office, but in his room in the Venora palace. It was much better insulated, for one, and a lot more cozy. No more patient's beds for them tonight. They deserved a good night's sleep.

Considering Alistair could finally speak without his jaw clutching, he would; though at first he attempted to warm himself up by running his arms across his chest, and crawling under the heavy blanket atop his bed. He exhaled in relief, the numbness in his cheeks beginning to recede. Okay. Okay.

"Sorry for not being a bit more celebratory," the Venora half-smiled, "I was just really cold. I'm not good with cold." Definitely not. "You've done well, though. Soon enough you'll be zipping from one end of the room to another, headbutting baddies. Or surprise pouncing me." Or headbutting goodies, depending on whether or not he was with Rey'na at the time. The thought made the mage almost sigh. That would become a problem... very soon. He realized that. The halcyon days before now were quickly going to end.

Life was never so idyllic.

Still, they could enjoy the time they had, in peace. Alistair looked over to Fridgar, intently, and beckoned for him to come over. If he did, he would take his hand, their cold fingertips lacing with one another. It was clear that the mage was... fatigued, of sorts. Fridgar's venture beyond drained more and more of Alistair's energy, as he was the one who'd primed the initiation. Still, he was fine. He doubted he'd overstep -- the mage's Rupturing energy was vast, almost limitless by the metric of the mediocre. It was just... he didn't know what it was. Maybe it was a fear.

It took until that moment, where their sparks had begun to become one, for him to realize something: he was beginning to fall for Fridgar. He was so naive. Rey'na would always loom over his shoulder, always exist as a barrier between them. He shouldn't have done this. He shouldn't... go further. His eyes, again, narrowed until they were closed shut. He took a breath.

Then, he spoke honestly.

"Fridgar," the man began, "I understand that you're in a complicated situation, and maybe you'll leave, and scarcely come back. You could go off with Rey'na or -- whoever, I don't know. I just want to say that... you'll always be able to find me now, and I'll always provide support when you need it. You just have to trust the sense that guides you to me. Truth is..." The mage exhaled.

"I really care about you, Fridbear. I don't want you to go off and die somewhere, alone. You can get into a lot of trouble really quickly, and I've realized that. If that trouble starts to catch up with you, come find me. I don't care how big of a mess you're in. I'll get you out." He didn't want to say anymore. It would only remind the man that this was... an affair. Alistair wouldn't say I need you, or stay with me, or anything of the like. He knew that maybe he wasn't the first thing the other would think about every time he woke up. He knew that, in all possibility, none of this would ever amount to anything.

But they were bonded for life, now. The initiation was stronger than any ceremony, and its effects reached outside of ideology, belief or personality. No matter what they were, they were going to be something, and Alistair had to let the man know that -- that he'd be there, even if they were barely friends.
word count: 865
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[Venora][Mature] The next trial

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He awoke, deathly cold had stiffened his joints to the point that his whole body hurt to move. An exhale of frozen air left his lungs, had that been the same one he'd inhaled before transitioning? Alistair spoke, leaning on his body. "It is? I am?" A smile worked its way across his face, he didn't feel any different, but he hadn't upon acquisition of his first spark either. Alistair felt different though, an energy he could... sense? Like the sense he'd had in space, a sixth sense of sorts. Touch, taste, sight, smell, hearing, Alistair. Those were his senses now.

Alistair stood up, He followed suit by turning onto his front and putting his palms to the snow and pressing with one explosive extension, standing him up on his feet and catching himself with a forward food. He looked to the sky, the balls of fire all shining bright up there, they were stars. He'd seen them up close. With the portal open, the new Rupturer followed after his new teacher. Alistair had whispered home? Dread filled the bottom of his chest, where was home? Alistair had meant his home, they weren't in his office, like before. Loose frost lined his leather jacket, he brushed it off with his stiff, pale hands. The Lothar's eyes scanned the room; it was fancy. Very fancy, this is where Alistair lived? By the immortals, how rich were the Venoras?

His head turned immediately as Alistair moved before washing with relief. This sense would be difficult to get used to, he soon found out. The man curled up under his blanket, Fridgar stretched, limbering up from the cold. He put his hand to the Fridgar totem and refreshed his form, renewing his vigour and dispersing the cold. Fridgar grinned, baring his fangs "You bet! Justice will be served in the form of a big angry bear man!" He raised a clenched paw in victory, savouring their win while he still could. Surprise pouncing Alistair was going to be difficult if he could sense Fridgar's presence, however.

The look in Ali's eye filled him with dread, a sigh escaped him as he drew near to his lover. He knew what was coming, he'd wanted to avoid this as long as possible. Unfortunately, his time was up. He sat on the bed at Alistair's feet and looked to him solemnly. Alistair took his hand, lacing his fingers with his own. He looked exhausted, it wasn't much of a surprise with the past few trials being as they were, no thanks to Fridgar. The Lothar assumed the look of a child who anticipated scalding, slouching with softened eyes; almost a pout.

Then the mage spoke his name, Fridgar straightened up, bracing for what was probably a long talking to. His hand tightened around Alistair's as the man spoke... Rey'na. What have I done? came his thoughts as his throat swelled. He loved her, of course he did, but she wasn't the only one. The dread in the base of his chest had melded with a burning in his centre. The burning in his chest only grew with the beat of his heart when Alistair spoke after his sigh. Why did he have to call him 'Fridbear'? Sure, that was the first form Alistair had seen him in, but how was he to know it was his favourite form? Though having seen his body only bits prior to this, it probably wasn't too hard to guess.

He couldn't help but smile, a sad smile when Alistair had realized that he would be getting into trouble. He didn't look for trouble, but it found him easy enough. His smile faded with the rest of Alistair speaking, did he mean that? Alistair would get him out? No matter the colossal disaster he might be a part of? "Alistair..." Fridgar spoke, where did he begin? His other hand closed around Alistair's, encapsulating him in his warmth "I really care about you too..." His eyes shut tight suddenly and he looked away, holding off a curling of the lips. This was pain, not the kind he was comfortable with though. He let go of Alistair's hand and turned to face forward at the edge of the bed. His eyes buried in his palms, he spoke "What do I do...?"

Unable to cope, Fridgar stood and walked to the wall, resting his head against it. What was he meant to say? "You're so much more to me than... I can't..." He exhaled the would-be words, casting them away. A 'complicated situation' was probably the biggest understatement of all the seasons to come in the following arc. What's the point of doing something if it doesn't make you happy? were his words, but by following them, he'd landed himself in a position that no option made him happy. He could go home, confess to Rey and break her heart or live a lie and scarcely see the man he... Then on the other hand there was Alistair, the one he'd grown to care so much about in a very short time. Could he stay with him? Was there a chance for them?

"I've never... done that with anyone... before... You were my first." he spoke, his voice fragile while he tried thinking of the best words for his following sentences. "What I'm trying to say is, you're not just some fling that I'll soon forget or 'scarcely see'. I don't want- ...I don't want to leave you." he looked to Alistair, eyes welling. "I don't know what to do..." Peeling his head from the wall, he made his way back to the bed, lowering to his knees at Alistair's side. "I don't want to be the bad guy, I don't want to hurt her, either." His voice shook as his throat swelled. "Do you want me gone? Please don't make me go. Just tell me what to do? Alistair I'm so sorry but I can't do this... Not on my own." For what seemed like the first time ever, his thoughts had caught up to him, and he didn't like it.
word count: 1066
Whenever one finds oneself inclined to bitterness, it is a sign of emotional failure.
-- Bertrand Russell
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Alistair
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[Venora][Mature] The next trial

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Alistair...

. . .

I really care about you too...

. . .

What do I do...?

You're so much more to me than... I can't...

God, was there ever a situation more painful than this? Watching Fridgar face the wall, his eyes welling, his heart confused. And why? Why'd he fall for this intolerable, cruel shitstain of a man? Alistair was so undeserving. He'd been so many bad things for so long. He'd been a monster, subjecting others to cruelties beyond comparison. He'd been a slut, at the hands of Syroa, taking liberties with his body and others. He'd been a murderer.

Fridgar helped him to see past that, and to understand that there was possibility for redemption. But even now, he'd continued to cause pain. He was Fridgar's first? He didn't know that -- he wouldn't have guessed it, from how confident the man was. The entire way through, it seemed he knew what he was doing. Perhaps he just let instinct take control. Still, it was a beautiful experience; it was something he'd never forget. Unforgettable had to be how he'd describe Fridgar best. Every night he spent with him, and each and every thing they did, was so wild. It was like a dream.

He never thought he could live like this, but he was living this life. For the first time in all his time on Idalos, he actually could see himself being happy just living. Just doing. Not plotting, or trying to take all he could, or asserting himself over others. As emotional as he'd been in the undercurrent of all of this, he'd also been... really fulfilled.

I don't wanna leave you, the man said. Me neither, Alistair thought. God, he didn't want that to happen. Nothing right now scared him more than the thought of the two of them separating, for good, or... or Fridgar deciding that this was just some fling. Perhaps he'd invoked the same fear in others before, only to be realized, when he left them to themselves; Patrick had been abandoned, and Avrae, and Duncan. Alistair had been a heartbreaker from the first. This time, he wanted things to be different. He wanted them to change.

The man stood up, after Fridgar had said everything. He offered his hand to the... gentle giant before him, though his expression didn't much change. Not yet, at least.

You were my first, he repeated in his head. He remembered his significance to him -- they'd become so much more than companions, or friends, at this point. They'd shared so much together. Beautiful moments, like tonight. They'd formed an everlasting bond. Of course he didn't want him to leave. How could he even think that? Alistair was just . . . afraid. So afraid. Of fucking it all up again. He thought Syroa came to him because he'd never know how to love. She was condemning him to lust, to rage, to being someone he wasn't.

Yet with Fridgar, that damn mark hadn't acted up even once. He was a different person with him. He could be better - he wanted to be better.

"Fridgar," he finally spoke. His lips were nearly buried in an invisible weight. The mage's eyes began to well up, too, as rare as that was. So rare. It had only happened a few times in all his life.

"I don't want you to go, obviously, you silly man," he whispered, bringing himself to meet Fridgar's eyes. "Can't you tell after all this that I love you? I mean, honestly," he shook his head, a weak smile upon his lips.

"Come here," he requested, moving to bury the man's head against his chest, his arms wrapping around his upper back. As far as they could, anyway. "I can't tell you what to do, Frid, or what choice to make. I can only offer you my arms, and a place to stay. If you want to be with Rey'na, then that's fine, alright? Don't be afraid. I won't just leave you out of anger. That's not the type of man I am, even with that bloody mark on my back," he remarked, almost bitterly.

"So, listen - right now, I need to rest my head. I don't feel so well - think I've been over-exerting a bit lately. If you're okay with it, I'd like to ask that you lay with me, as we did the night before. That would make me very happy." He nodded his head, any solemness fading from his eyes. He felt better now, getting that all off of his chest. Hopefully Fridgar felt better, too. Laying his back against the bed, and scooting over so Fridgar could move in, the man began to take off his attire and toss it onto the floor beside him. He'd sort it all out in the morning.

Whether he was watching the man join him, or leave, his eyes were invariably on Fridgar as he settled quietly into the bed. "I love you, Fridgar," he spoke, his last words for the night, as his eyes closed and he allowed himself the silence of rest.
word count: 885
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