Changing Views (Peregrine x Ashlio)

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Peregrine, Nov 30, 2015.

  1. There are few things more horrible than waking up at the bottom of one of the deepest cracks in the world, where even the sunlight only dared venture for a few brief hours a day during the peak of summer. It was the kind of place where people never went. Even the animals rarely ventured into places like this, where the roof of dirt that had been placed over the Old World caved in, and wild strains of magic drifted in between the ancient structures that still resisted the ravages of time. None ventured here. Not unless they were insane, suicidal, or had been thrown off the top of the cliff by a gang of furious criminals.

    Of course, Tristan hadn’t actually seen the event take place, but he didn’t need to in order to know that was exactly what had taken place. For one thing, there were very few other individuals who would think it was a good idea to throw a living person off a cliff. For another, it was still possible for him to watch the event transpire, through the eyes of a bird that could witness, and occasionally move through, the past and future.

    The gang had wanted him, whoever he might be, to land alive. Otherwise they would not have ventured so far down from the upper parts of the city to conduct their throwing. But that did not mean they wanted him to survive the fall. No, they wanted him to land broken, beyond repair, in one of the exposed parts of the old world. They had wanted him to die one of the most cruel deaths they could imagine; death by magic.

    Tristan had no particular desire to watch what was about to occur. There was nothing more painful than when magic invaded the body, creating and destroying and replacing at its own whim. He would know. He had experienced it himself. In a way, he was one of the lucky ones. He had lived, even if the magic had stolen his human form, giving him the body of a falcon. Most people who contracted magic died long, long before the process was close to completion. What was worse, even if this man survived the process, his body was broken. He would die moments after the wild magic released his body from its insidious grasp. No, this man’s fate was all but sealed.

    But it wasn’t completely sealed. Tristan knew this, too. He perched on a nearby branch, ruffling his feathers. The magic always took something from those it infected. From most, it took their life. From some it took their senses, their emotions, their courage, or their fear. These would not aid the man. But from others, others like Tristan, it took their body. Tristan had lain dying when the magic had found him, beyond all hope of a cure. The magic had taken his human body, and given him a perfect bird form in its place. It had, in a way, healed him. And, as Tristan watched, eyes peering into the future, he saw as the man’s broken body began to right itself. Whatever the magic was taking, the wounds were vanishing along with it.

    If the magic left both mind and life intact, it would give something back. Something that might make life a little better now that the infected one would have to life far from any vestiges of human civilization. Magic. There was no way of telling what the magic might give in exchange for what it took. Tristan had been given time, and the ability to mold his body temporarily to his will. But sometimes what the magic gave was deadly. The man’s chances were still small.

    Yet Tristan settled to wait. It was a whim, nothing more, but he had learned that all he had left now were his whims, and there was no point if he didn’t follow them. He waited in that little space, flying out occasionally to hunt, or forage on the ground for sweet-tasting herbs and roots in a half-human form that was easy to create, and easy to maintain, as the days slowly passed. He waited for the man to wake, to see what he had lost, and what he had gained. If he was still sane, he would know what he had lost. People always knew. Then it would be a matter of seeing if he could survive without it.

    Tristan knew when the man was going to wake. His eyes had seen it, when he was far away, stubbornly pulling at a thick root that was hiding a small animal’s stash of treats. Tristan turned and ran, transforming fluidly between bird and half bird to negotiate the sharp descents and narrow passageways that led back to the crack. When he got there he moved forward, crouching over the man.

    It didn’t occur to Tristan that there was indeed one thing more horrible than waking up in a place only the dead had any right to visit. That was waking up in such a place with the half-bird, half-human face of a curious shapeshifter only a few inches away from your nose, wide orange eyes unblinking, and wicked curved beak clicking rhythmically in curiosity, but which could be easily mistaken for hunger.

    At least, it didn’t occur to him until the man woke.
  2. Astor had woken up in a lot of strange places, more than he would ever care to admit. This however surpassed them all. If the waking-up-part wasn’t a surprise enough on it’s own (he should after all definitely be dead now), the bird leaning over him sure was. The thing looked ready to eat him right then and there, probably thinking it was the luckiest bird in the world for finding such a treat just lying around. The fact that it was the largest bird he had ever seen didn’t make it any less scary. Astor screamed out in terror and quickly jerked away. The reward for the sudden movement was shooting pains that ran through his body, all the way down his spine and out to the tips of his fingers. Gasping in pain, he rolled over on his stomach and started to crawl away.

    When they threw him off the cliff, he hadn’t expected to survive. Only an idiot would have. This is it, he had thought as he went stumbling down the rocky slope. Hitting his head and passing out on the way down had been a most welcome gift. He had no desire to witness his own demise, suffering for what could have been days before his body finally gave up, or something worse happened...

    Now that he for some reason had managed to survive his death penalty after all, he had no wish to be eaten by a bird instead. Mostly because it didn't seem like a fast way to go, being hacked to pieces by that sharp beak. He would rather be thrown off the cliff again. «Get away from me!» he yelled, but it came out like a dry gasp. His throat was dry and sore, a situation his vocal cords were not happy about. They would have to wait, there was a more pressing matters happening.

    He grabbed a small rock and flung it at the bird. It was a surprisingly bad throw. There was no strength left in his arm, so the rock didn’t even make it halfway to the… thing. Now that he looked at it again, he realized that it was in fact not a bird. Or, if it was, it was the ugliest bird he had ever seen. It looked like a half bird and half…human? No, that can’t be possible, he thought. Just a monster, nothing more. Although, he wasn’t sure if that was any different, or a better option. Hopefully this was just some weird vision, a result of hitting his head a little too hard…

    The rest of his body was already shaking slightly with exhaustion from the few feet he had managed to crawl, head pounding and world spinning. «Shit,» he groaned and slumped down on his side, unable to move any further. He lied there breathing as heavy as if he had run for a mile, trying his best not to pass out again. At least the pain in the rest of his body had started to calm down already, now only being a low throbbing in his arms and legs, and the ground was slowly stopping with it’s ridiculous swaying.

    Even with all that, he had to admit he felt better than expected. Being thrown off a cliff usually left its marks, and he couldn't feel a single broken bone. All his limbs felt fine, except for being stiff and tired. Now, if he could only escape becoming bird-monster feed. It would feel like a terrible waste of all this luck if not.
    #2 Ashlio, Dec 3, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2015
  3. When the man let out a cry of fear and scrambled away Tristan jumped back in surprise of his own, letting out a noise that was half human yelp, half the frustrated burbling of an irritated bird. He paused a foot away from where he had started, crouched down on two feet and one hand, watching the man desperately trying to crawl away from him. It might have been somewhat humorous to watch so little movement come from something that was obviously trying so hard, if it wasn't equally obvious that the man was in a great deal of pain. Tristan did feel a tad bit of guilt about making him feel forced to move so soon after he had woken from such an experience, even if all the blame ultimately rested on the man for overreacting so much.

    Despite the pain, the man seemed in remarkable good health, overall. It did seem, though, that Tristan was going to have to wait a little while for the man to calm down. He certainly didn't seem in any mood right now to let out anything more than frog-like croaks. Tristan was about to settle comfortably onto a spot of the ground to wait for the man to finish his panicking when his eyes suddenly caught the traces of a future event. There was a rock, small but relatively sharp, clutched in the man's hand, and he was obviously about to throw it.

    Tristan immediately leaped into the air, transforming even as he jumped back into the falcon. Of course, halfway through he realized exactly how far short of target the rock was going to fall, and felt a touch of embarrassment about overreacting himself. All the same, he finished the transformation, and let out a rough shriek to let the man know his irritation about such an action, even though it obviously hadn't had the intended result. Wings beating heavily, Tristan lifted himself laboriously up into the air, before gliding towards the side of the canyon to settle on a crag in the cliff. He let out another harsh call, just to make sure his point was abundantly clear, before ruffling his feathers and starting to preen.

    The man would need time to recover from the whole ordeal, and he wouldn't be going far until he did. Tristan would wait up here, where he was well out of the range of any more rocks, until he calmed down a little bit. Then he would go on down to try speaking to him again.
  4. Yes, I’ve definitely got brain damage, Astor thought as the bird-thing flew away. It had been a bird all along, he was just seeing things. That’s what happens when you are dehydrated and suffering from being thrown of a cliff.

    With a groan, he turned over to lie on his back and stared up at the sky, the little that he could see of it from where he lied in the bottom of a deep crack in the earth. Never in his wildest fantasy had he imagined ending up here, and at least of all not alive. He had been well aware of that what he had done was a risky thing, but the money had been too tempting. Plus, he hadn’t been that close to the people in his gang, so why they took his betrayal so damn personal was beyond him. When they had found out, he had expected a nice beating and a knife to his guts. But no, they had of course taken it much further.

    They had hoped for him to survive the fall, just so that he could suffer immensely where he landed. Why kill someone quickly when they could suffer for days in a lovely rocky landscape like this, where powers no one barely dared to even imagine. That was probably what they had been really hoping for, that something dark and dangerous would turn up and rip him to bits. Maybe that’s what the bird is, he thought has he heard its insulted call echo against the rocky walls. The thing that has come to fulfill my lovely friends wish.

    Biting his teeth together in effort, he sat up and slowly started checking his body with touch and sight. His dark clothes were torn in several place and there was traces of blood, but he couldn’t find any wound. Not even a bruise to witness his trip down to the bottom of this hell hole. «This isn’t possible,» he whispered and leaned forward, taking a couple deep breaths in hope of chasing away the panic that he felt rising inside him. This wasn’t the time to freaking out, he could do that later. The mystery of his survival and unwounded state could also wait, because now there was nothing more pressing than to get water and food.
  5. It didn't take much watching on Tristan's part before the man started moving. Tristan kept one beady eye on him the whole time, watching his every move with the near unbeatable diligence of a raptor. His confusion at the whole situation was obvious, and Tristan chittered slightly at the man's foolishness. He was in a crack, a place where magic ran rampant. There was no place as steeped in legends about people becoming infected as places like this, where it was possible to actually see the ruins of the old world sticking through the wall.

    Then again, perhaps Tristan was being just a tad bit harsh. The man had just gotten his whole body reconstructed by magic, so perhaps he wasn't exactly in his right mind yet. Either that, or he was just being willfully ignorant about the whole situation. Maybe it was both.

    Either way, the man was starting to make his intention to leave the area very clear, and Tristan had no desire to let him go until he learned, at an absolute minimum, what the man had lost, and what he had gotten. Maybe, if he was feeling generous, he'd offer the man a few pieces of advice. He certainly wished someone had done something like that for him.

    Hopping forward from his perch, Tristan spread wing and glided down towards the ground. When he was getting close to the ground wings and tail spread out wide, bringing him rapidly to a halt as his body began to change around him. Tristan knew it would look very impressive. He had practiced it for precisely that effect. It was never possible to know when a little bit of theatrics could be the difference between survival and death. Plus, it was really fun.

    The figure that greeted the man was far more human and bird. In fact, it would have been nearly impossible to tell that Tristan was not a man, were it not for the fact that, rather than clothing, he wore a suit made of feathers. But his hair was short, dark, and wavy, his eyes softening from the fierce tawny of a raptor into a much gentler hazel. He was pale and tall and lean and strong, and generally everything Tristan thought a man should be. He was a shapeshifter. He might as well take advantage of it.

    But when his head tilted to the side to peer at the stranger, then the bird came back through. "So?" he asked, curiously. "What did you lose?"
  6. Preparing himself to stand up, Astor had concentred on gathering the last drops of energi he had left in his body. There was no water here, so he had to move no matter how hard it would be, and anyway, he didn’t want the last thing he did to be lying around and doing nothing. He had too much pride for that. But, before he got the chance to move a single muscle, the bird returned.

    He grabbed for a new rock as soon as he noticed movements in the corner of his eye, intending to scare it away again. But before his arm had even started lifting, the bird changed. The whole body grew into a more familiar shape, feathers started shifting position and some even disappeared, leaving smooth, white skin behind. By the time it landed, a human was standing before him. Or, at least it looked like one. The feathers had arranged themselves to looked like he was wearing a kind of suit, and even Astor had to admit it looked good. The whole transformation had been quit impressive.

    Mouth hanging hopen and eyes opened wide, he stared at the creature. Was this the same one that woke me up? he though, narrowing his eyes a little in suspicion. It didn’t look as scary now, but it didn't matter. This was the last place to start trusting strangers, especially when they weren't human.

    The creature said something, but the words made no sense to him, so he finally raised his arm instead. Lose? He hadn’t lost anything? «Stay away, monster,» he threatened, clenching his fist around the rock and completely ignoring the fact that his arm was already shaking from exhaustion. «I’m not your dinner!»
  7. "Dinner?" Tristan repeated, one eyebrow arching up in carefully positioned amusement. "Seriously?" His voice was low and smooth, and belonged with the body doing the speaking as well as any voice ever had.

    Tristan didn't agonize too much over the whole "monster" thing. It wasn't as though that was the first time he had heard such a thing. The humorous thing was, the only thing that made Tristan monstrous was the fact that magic had infected his blood. Which was a trait that the man in front of him now shared. He wondered briefly if the irony of this fact would ever register, or if it was one of those things that was simply going to drift away, forgotten, having never reached its full potential.

    "I guess your head is more scrambled than I suspected," Tristan continued, sitting down on the ground in front of that man and resting his chin on the back of his hand. "Which would be an achievement, if it wasn't so annoying. So stop flopping around like a fish out of water. It'll save me some time, and you some pain. Once you hold still, you'll be able to put that half-functioning brain of yours to work, and then you'll be able to tell me what you lost."

    Now that he had gotten a closer look at the man, Tristan was even more curious about what he had lost. As far as he could tell, although there was no saying for sure since he hadn't seen the man before he'd been tossed off the cliff, his body was exactly the same. So that meant it couldn't have been any variation of "form" that had been taken. What else was there that might heal his body like that?
  8. Slowly and hesitantly, Astor lowered his arm. It wasn’t like the rock would do it any harm anyway, at least not enough to stop it. If that thing really wanted to eat him, it would have noe problem doing so, especially with the ability it possessed. For all he knew, it could change into other things to. It… Astor guessed ‘he’ would be more appropriate, at least now that it–he had taken a human form. An annoying one.

    "What do you mean ‘what I’ve lost’?" he asked, already feeling inpatient with this person or creature or whatever. "No, never mind, I don’t have time for this. I have to find water before I die of thirst, so if you’ll excuse me…" He rolled his eyes slightly at how politely he had ended that sentence. He was probably talking to thin air anyway, just some weird hallucination. Part of the fun with hydration, he guessed.

    He looked around at the dry land surrounding him, seeing nothing but rocks and sand. How would he ever find something to drink before falling under to dehydration, or before meeting something else that wanted to eat him…
  9. "I mean exactly what I said. What. You. Lost." Tristan could feel a little bit of irritation starting to peak in him. Here he was, trying to be helpful, and this person was making it nearly impossible. Whether he was doing it purposefully or just out of sheer obliviousness remained to be seen. If he stuck around that long. "You've been infected, you dunderhead, and if you just go gallivanting off before you figure out what you lost, you are going to get yourself killed.

    "But, fine," Tristan continued, pushing himself back to his feet. Maybe a little bit of an ultimatum would get this man's head in place. "If you want to be an idiot, be my guest. Be like those other infected who wander up from where the rest of society has decided they "belong", and get yourself burned at the stake because you don't take the time to figure out what you lost, and what you gained in its place. It's no mark on my feathers." He paused to glare down at the man, still seated on the ground. "Or, you can shut up and actually listen to what I'm saying. Your choice. But I know which one I'd choose."
  10. The words that came rushing out of the strangers mouth felt like being thrown into a lake of ice cold water. It was as if he finally woke up, and his head got back to working properly. Infected… That word alone was enough to make his heart beat slightly faster, and a cold shiver rund through him. Of course he was, what other explanations was there? No wounds, and the fact that he was still breathing. Something had stopped him from dying, and it probably wasn’t a blessing.

    He opened his mouth to say… something. He wasn’t quit sure. Demand the stranger to tell him everything he knew at once, or deny it all, claim that nothing that horrible could possible happen to him. He was a no body, and that kind of thing only happened to a friend of a friend and people in stories. Not losers like him. Not that he would ever admit the loser part, but that was a discussion for another time.

    So he just sat there, sticking to the ‘shut up’ option he had been offered, and looked down at his hands. Now that he thought about it, he did feel different. He wasn’t able to pinpoint exactly how though, and not really trusting that it wasn’t just his imagination. But he should feel different…right? The infection had taken something from him, that was what the stranger meant by asking him what he had lost. It had taken something, and given something else back…
    #10 Ashlio, Dec 4, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2015
  11. Tristan waited. He let the moment stretch into nearly a minute, just to make sure the man really was done with being an idiot. In some ways, Tristan almost felt bad for his words. This situation wasn't the man's fault. Well. Maybe getting himself thrown over the cliff was, but the infection? No one wanted that. No one deserved that. His terror was almost visible now, radiating off him in waves. Tristan remembered that feeling, too, when he had first realized what happened to him. When the pain had finally left his body, he had suddenly been surrounded by a world so many times larger. He had tried to push himself to his feet, only to find that his hands had suddenly been replaced with wings. He had never known such a moment of terror.

    The snarky retort of 'that's better' that had begun to form on his lips died away in a sudden burst of empathy. "Hey," Tristan said gently, stepping forward again to kneel down in front of the man. But what words of comfort could he really offer? Almost anything would be a lie. The common ones, it's going to be okay, you're fine, it'll get better... they were all lies. It was never going to be okay again. He now lived in a world where almost everyone would attack him the instant they knew what had happened to him. Even other infecteds might attack, out of stupid fear that they could somehow become double infected, that it could get worse. He wasn't fine. He had lost something important, and he would never get it back. Whatever had replaced it was going to be dangerous, and was going to take a great deal of time and effort to even begin to be able to control, let alone master. And it would never get better. Once infected, always infected.

    But he had to say something. If the common words of comfort wouldn't do, he'd simply have to try something else. "What's your name, hmm?"
  12. Astor sighed and slowly raised his gaze up to meet the stranger’s. His name? Was that really the most pressing thing to talk about now? «Astor,» he answers anyway, and then started letting his eyes wonder, taking in the persons body. It really was amazing, how the feathers acted like clothing. He wondered why he transformed into this state though. Was it because he didn’t have any clothes nearby to put on so he wouldn’t walk around naked, or was he incapable of transforming completely into human now?

    «How do I know what I’ve lost…?» he asked and closed his eyes, taking in a heavy breath. He wasn’t sure if he really wanted to know. «I don’t really feel any different… At least I don’t think so.»

    The thirst had been forgotten for a minute, and now that he remember the desperation for water he had felt only a couple minutes ago, he wondered why. He didn’t actually feel that thirsty, or hungry. The pains had also stopped now, and he wasn’t even feeling the exhausted any more. It must have been some panicked reaction to waking up in such a barren place. He probably hadn’t even been here that long. It was all just the shock of being thrown into what was supposed to have been his end that was messing with him.
  13. "You know," Tristan prodded gently. "There's no special thing you need to do, no tests you have to run. It was once something that was yours. Intimately yours. Sometimes the answer is obvious. The magic stole my human form. But even when it isn't obvious, when it isn't something you can see or feel, it was still something that was yours that has now been taken from you. You know what it is."

    Tristan's voice was methodical, almost lyrical. Certainly melodic. It felt like it had been a long time since he had talked to anyone other than himself, or had rude, abrupt conversations (if they could even really be called that) with other animals. Yet all the same, the words seemed to come naturally to him. At the moment, Astor's mind was clouded by fear and panic. No one thought clearly under those circumstances. But if he calmed down, then he'd know. It would be the space that had once been familiar, which now was filled by something foreign. Unnatural.

    "I know it's scary. Of course it is. These are the things nightmares are made of. But it is your life now, and this is important. It is the first step forward. Just relax. Take another deep breath. Accept it as best as you are able. Now tell me. What did you lose?"
  14. Astor leaned forward and pressed his palms against his forehead, and leaned his arms on his knees. Just relax. Easy for him to say, he was a bird. This wasn’t the time to relax, he had an infection working it’s way through his body, he needed to do… something. Run away, crush some skulls, get revenge.

    «This isn’t right… It can’t be happening,» he said, feeling his heart quicken and hands starting to shake. How could he know what he had lost if he couldn’t see it? How was that even possible, to lose something like that, something within yourself. He knew it was of course, everyone did, but now that he was the one experiencing it, it seemed impossible. «I–I haven’t lost anything, I’m fine!»

    The pain gradually returned as the panic rose in him. It felt like lightning striking through every muscle, and small vibrations ran over his skin until it felt like his whole body was shaking slightly, the process taking only a couple seconds. Then he heard himself gasp, and everything went quiet, as if he suddenly had turned deaf.

    Opening his eyes to see what exactly was happening, a tear fell down towards his hand. It was falling so slow that it seemed like it was hardly moving at all. He could see how the sun reflected in it, light dancing through the drop. «What…» he whispered and lifted his hand, catching it. As soon as it touched his skin, it ran down his arm at normal speed.
  15. Tristan realized quite suddenly that his attempt to keep the man calm had failed. He could see the panic building in him, the rejection. And Tristan knew what was going to happen. He could see the way that power would soon start gathering around the man as his magic was triggered. But what he couldn't understand, at least not at first, was what this man's magic would do. He could see what would happen, but not in the same way he usually saw something that would soon come to be. This was different It was like time was being pulled towards the man, creating a pocket around him. Even as he knew it was coming, he could also see it happening.

    Time was grabbed from the grass, from the rocks, from the very air itself. Everything around him slowed, even as Astor started to blur as he moved. Everything, that was, except Tristan. His eyes, his own time ability, somehow spared him from the powers of this man.

    It truly was a remarkable thing to watch, and even more so through Tristan's eyes, where he could actually see the way that time was being altered around him. It was remarkable, fascinating.

    At least to him. It was in that moment that Tristan realized Astor must be panicking even worse now. And the more his emotions and stress spiked, the more out of control his own power was going to get. That was the way it worked at first. Tristan could remember his first time like it was just yesterday. The absolute panic of realizing what had happened to him, and then the sudden feel of his own body warping around him, uncontrolled, changing and warping until what sat there was nothing short of a hideous monster.

    He couldn't have Astor trying to flee. The way time was moving around him now, if he began to run Tristan would never be able to catch back up. And while this ability might grant him a certain measure of safety should he end up in a bad place, it would not be perfect salvation. He still needed protection. And training. And Tristan still had to know what he had lost.

    But what to do? Tristan moved forward, through a world that had slowed around him, only to notice that as he got closer to something, his own power seemed to grab it slightly, bringing it back towards the proper timeline. That was it. That was the answer.

    He kneeled down in front of the panicked Astor, and reached out. There was no way he would be able to grab the man, no matter how hard he tried. Even with his eyes, which would be able to predict the way the man would move, Astor was simply moving too fast. But he hoped, he would have silently begged the universe if he had believed there was anything listening, that Astor would somehow understand what he was trying to do. That he was trying to help. That he could help.
  16. The birds on the sky had slowed down, the strangers hair barely moved in the wind, and the grains of sand falling from his pants tok forever to reach the ground. Time had slowed down, and it was one of the most terrifying things that he had ever experienced. If he had just known why this was happening, he might have handled the situation better, but since he didn't, he saw no other options than to freak out.

    «Stop, stop, stop,» he started muttering while he shifted and looked around, trying to find some explanation or solution to his problem. But there was nothing, no signs or clues to where this was coming from. Even the stranger had slowed down. He just sat there, staring at him. From what Astor could see, he was the only one still moving at a normal pace. «Why…» he gasped and pressed a hand against his chest. His heart was beating faster than ever, and his lungs was almost struggling with keeping up. «Please… please stop…»

    He held up his hands and stared at them. It still felt like his skin was vibrating slightly, but the pain had stopped. He had never felt anything like it before, this was the first time, starting right when... «It’s me,» he said as it hit him. This was coming from him, whatever that made the time slow down. His eyes widened and he looked over his hands before he started shaking them, flapping them around like it was something he could shake off. «No. Stop it, stop, STOP!» he yelled, but to no use.

    Looking up again, he saw that the stranger had moved now. His hands had raised up and he was reaching for Astor, moving slightly closer with each second. Without thinking, Astor reached up and grabbed his wrists. «Help me, make it stop!»
  17. Tristan nearly flinched back when Astor lunged at him so quickly. For a moment the birdman feared that Astor had decided that he was the source of the time warp, and thought that removing him from existence would make it all stop. But, no, he saw Astor's hand's going for his own wrists just an instant before they seemed to blink there in his real eyes. Tristan pulled him closer towards his chest, wrapping his arms fully around his shoulders. He squeezed lightly, simultaneously offering some measure of comfort as his own power went to work at fixing this time warp that had gotten so alarmingly close to the body that held it. It was not something he could control. His shapeshifting had been his to master but time... it was such a fickle thing. Oftentimes it simply worked the way it pleased. All the same, he took his own ability in hand as best he could. He had used it in the past to blink backwards, leaping through a few seconds or a minute to a time that had already passed. Now he would use it in the opposite manner, to smooth a wrinkle in the fabric of time, rather than create one.

    And it was a surprise when it worked. But work it did. He saw the lines of time that connected Astor to everything around him start to fade, releasing time back to its proper place. It was possible for him to see things start moving normally again, although the effect must have been noticeably more drastic for Astor. When each of the threads had severed, Tristan loosened his grip on Astor, but he didn't move away. Not yet. He had no way of knowing if Astor was stabilized yet, and the last thing he wanted to do was rush the young man, and accidentally trigger another burst of magic. But, as soon as Astor chose to move away, he would release the man.
  18. Astor stayed completely still, for once not caring that another man was hugging him. Usually he would reward the person with punching them, but this time he couldn’t care less. The bird-man was his only chance of getting out of this, and he wasn’t about to do anything to ruin his chances.

    Slowly the vibrations stopped and sound returned to his ears. Relief flooded him when he saw the bird on the sky hurriedly fly away at normal speed. It had stopped. The stranger had made time work as normal again. Astor lowered his head as he pulled a little away from him, and his body started shaking slightly. There was no doubt about it anymore, he was infected. It had taken something, and given him the ability to stop or turn down time or… he wasn’t really sure actually, but he was sure that would become clearer soon enough.

    The infection had taken something, something only he could know. He took a heavy breath as instructed earlier, trying to calm down. It helped a little with the shaking, but everything still felt like a blur, so he took a couple more. Then suddenly it felt like something lifted from his head, and his thoughts were as sharp as ever. The answer was there, as if it always had been. How couldn’t he have known a minute ago? It was so obvious.

    «My death,» he said in a low voice and slowly straightened up, staring into thin air. «It took my death.» He hadn’t died falling down the cliff, and now he never would. He couldn’t explain how he knew it, he just did. It was as clear to him as his name.

    Had someone told him that he would one day become immortal, he might have chuckled at the idea, and even welcomed it. Not being able to die? Great, he could beat anyone and do what he wanted then. Noe he knew that immortality was not a blessing. Seeing everything and everyone around you change and age why you stood still, always having to say goodbye to anyone you loved... It was a curse, nothing else.

    He swallowed and felt his shaking starting again, and his breath become a little faster, as if something was squeezing his chest. «I think I might be freaking out again now…»
  19. "It.." Tristan stuttered. "It took your mortality?" He had never dreamed of such a thing. Had never imagined that it could be possible. Sure, he might be approaching a pseudo-immortality due to his ability to shift out of any injury, and he was certainly much older than he looked, but... It was one thing to lose a form, or the color green, or the taste or sweet things, or the ability to walk forward, or the ability to have skin to skin contact with another person. Those were all things that were comprehensible. Tristan might not understand why people could do them in the first place, but he did understand what it would mean to lose them. But this... mortality wasn't a thing. It wasn't something that someone possessed. It was an abstract concept, a word to define something that naturally happened to everything in the entire world.

    Except... obviously not. As much as Tristan was baffled by this, he did not, even for an instant, consider the possibility that Astor was lying. That wasn't the kind of thing that you lied about. Not in a situation like this.

    Tristan nearly shuddered at the thought of what this meant. Of what would happen if someone were to ever actually find Astor. It would be utter chaos. People wouldn't understand what was happening. They understood so little about the infection, truly. And they would try and kill Astor over and over again, and it wouldn't work. In the end, it would cause a panic. People would turn against each other, fearing that this was some new sort of infection. Anyone who had come into proximity with him would be slaughtered, from the fear of the others that those people had somehow become infected. And all the while Astor would be suffering, with no way out.

    But Tristan didn't move. None of his thoughts showed on his face. If there was one thing he had long since mastered, it was control of his body. He couldn't risk sending Astor into another panic. But nor could he afford to play down the situation. He needed Astor to stay with him, at least long enough for the two of them to find somewhere safe. Somewhere that others would never find him.

    "I'm sorry. I know this isn't the most helpful thing ever, but we don't have time for that right now. I'm sure you understand why, at least in part. We need to hide you, until you can get a grasp on what the magic gave you. So right now, we are going to focus on running." He pulled Astor to his feet, before turning around slightly. "I want you to pay attention to my back." A small ring of feathers there shivered, before turning into a beautiful shade of iridescent purple. Even as he watched, they started to change colors, drifting towards red, before heading towards yellow. "Just stare at it whenever you feel yourself starting to panic, and pour yourself into running. Okay?"
  20. Running. Yes, he could do that. He just nodded in respons and stared at the circle on his back, and for a second he almost freaked out about that instead. It changed color. Why the hell did it change color?! Not wanting to give himself time to overthink it, he started running.

    The rhythmic pace he fell into helped clear his head. Having something to focus on beside the resent events, helped. One foot in front of the other. Easy, simple. Something that didn’t take much thinking. But his thoughts of course started to wander soon enough. The barren landscape didn’t help much, there was nothing to focus on. Just the person in front of him, with a changing rainbow-circle on his back.

    The reality of the situation started crashing down on him. Not the infection-part, all the other stuff. Astor was running through a crack in the earth, following a bird-man. Even more important, he was following a stranger. Since when had he started following strangers around without question? And even worse - while acting like a lost puppy.

    He stopped so sudden that he almost tripped over, and clenched his fist. «Hey, wait!» he called out, his voice slightly out of breath. «I need some explaining here. Who the hell are you, and where are you taking me?»